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Customer Engagement Reaching New Customers SEO Strategy

Microconversions: Unlocking the power of incremental steps in your conversion funnel

Introduction: What is a microconversion?

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, where every click and interaction matters, understanding microconversions is crucial. But what exactly are they? Let’s start by demystifying this term.

What is a microconversion?

A microconversion is any incremental step a user takes to show initial interest in your brand or product. Unlike the grand finale of a macroconversion, like a product purchase or subscription that constitutes a final goal and often achieves a financial outcome, microconversions are the incremental steps along the way that lead up to those final actions. Imagine a visitor to your website as a curious explorer embarking on a journey. Along the way, they encounter various signposts, each representing a microconversion. These small actions might not lead immediately to a purchase, but they’re part of the breadcrumb trail that leads prospective customers to that final transaction.

Learn more about the power of the “micro-yes” in sales.

Why do microconversions matter?

1. Trust building and brand advocacy

Microconversions are like the first handshake between you and your potential customer. At the earlier stages of the buying journey, some common microconversions include:

  • Email newsletter sign-up: When a visitor subscribes to your newsletter, they express interest in staying connected. This small commitment builds trust and opens the door for further communication.
  • Social media sharing: When someone shares your content on social platforms, they vouch for your brand. Their endorsement reaches a wider audience, potentially attracting new visitors and signaling trust and confidence in your brand.

2. Insights into user behavior and intent

Microconversions provide valuable insights into user behavior. By tracking these smaller interactions, you gain a deeper understanding of what resonates with your audience and gain insights into the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in and their needs at that stage. Examples include:

  • Page views: The number of pages a visitor views indicates their level of engagement. High page views suggest interest, while low views may signal disinterest. The nature of the content on the pages viewed can also illuminate stage and intent. For example, if a visitor navigates to specific product pages, adds products to a cart, or reviews a page on returns, those behaviors are all microconversions on the path to purchase that signal a higher degree of intent than a visitor that lands on your home page and then leaves.
  • Comments on blog articles: Engaged users often leave comments. These interactions reveal their preferences and pain points.

3. Optimization opportunities

Microconversions act as breadcrumbs leading you through the forest of user experience. They can also serve as a “canary in the coalmine” of your digital engagements, signaling friction that can then be resolved and highlighting areas for improvement. Consider:

  • Process milestones: These are linear steps toward the primary macroconversion. Analyzing them helps identify bottlenecks and UX pain points. For example, for one client, we pinpointed significant dropoff between the process milestones of viewing a product page and adding the product to a cart, particularly for mobile users. We discovered this was due to an issue causing the “add to cart” button to display much further down the page than intended, causing many users to overlook it and abandon the page. Addressing this issue allowed us to increase add-to-cart actions by 3.8x.
  • Secondary actions: These desirable but non-primary goals indicate potential future macroconversions. Examples include downloading an ebook, creating an account, or watching a video. Using these secondary actions as opportunities to deploy targeted outreach can be a great way to optimize the path to purchase with stage-specific content and messaging that nurtures prospective customers toward other high-value actions.

Monitoring and measuring microconversions: Enhancing your conversion insights

Understanding what microconversions are and the signals they represent is only half the battle. Unlocking their power to gain insights into the path to macroconversions and inform strategies for optimizing digital experiences to improve conversion requires ongoing monitoring and measurement. Both the types of data each microconversion produces and the methods for collecting and analyzing that data vary:

Qualitative data

Qualitative data can be invaluable for getting a sense for how effectively website visitors are navigating to and completing microconversions and where they may be encountering roadblocks in the path toward macroconversions. Here are some common approaches for gathering qualitative data on microconversions and examples of these measurement methodologies in action:

Heat mapping & scroll mapping

Heat mapping is like having a thermal camera for your website. It visually represents user behavior by highlighting the “hot” and “cold” areas of a webpage based on where users click, scroll, hover, and otherwise interact with the page (and where they don’t). Here’s how it works:

  • Heat maps: These colorful overlays show where users click, move their mouse, or spend the most time. Red and orange areas indicate high activity, while blue and green areas are less frequented.
  • Scroll maps: These reveal how far users scroll down a page. Understanding where visitors drop off helps optimize content placement.

Example: Imagine an e-commerce site. A heat map reveals that users consistently click on the “Add to Cart” button but rarely explore the footer links. This insight prompts you to enhance the checkout process and reposition critical links.

Session recording

Session recording is like a digital surveillance system for your website. It records user sessions, capturing every click, scroll, and interaction through the eyes of the user. Key points:

  • User behavior: Watch real users navigate your site. Understand their pain points, hesitations, and moments of delight.
  • Error identification: Spot usability issues, broken links, or confusing forms.

Example: You notice users repeatedly abandoning their cart during the payment step. Session recordings reveal that a confusing coupon code field is causing frustration. Fixing this leads to higher conversions.

Quantitative data

Quantitative data brings a numerical lens illuminating actions that can be counted, measured, or otherwise described in numbers. Where qualitative data can help you channel the perspectives and feelings of website visitors, quantitative can put that data into perspective in terms of its frequency and impact. Here’s how quantitative data on microconversions is often collected:

Basic analytics tools

  • Google Analytics (GA): The Swiss Army knife of web analytics, GA tracks user behavior, traffic sources, custom website conversion rates, and more. It’s free and essential for any website.
  • Built-in e-commerce analytics: Platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento offer built-in analytics. They provide insights specific to e-commerce, such as product performance, revenue, and customer demographics.

Example: GA shows that your blog attracts high traffic, but few readers proceed to the product pages. You optimize the blog-to-product link placement, resulting in increased sales.

Funnel reports

Funnel reports visualize the user journey. They break down the conversion process into stages:

  1. Awareness: Visitors arrive on your site.
  2. Interest: They explore content, view products, or sign up.
  3. Consideration: Users add items to their carts or engage with your services.
  4. Conversion: The final purchase or desired action.

Example: An e-learning platform’s funnel report reveals that most users drop off during the “Interest” stage. You tweak the landing page content, leading to better engagement.

Remember, microconversions are the stepping stones that pave the way for macro success. By combining qualitative and quantitative insights, you’ll create a conversion funnel that’s both user-friendly and revenue-boosting! 

Making the most of microconversions: Optimizing for conversion

The final step is putting qualitative and quantitative data-driven insights to work to optimize the digital experience to increase the microconversions (and ultimately macroconversions) your audience is successfully completing. This can be done broadly to optimize the digital experience as a whole or more narrowly to optimize for a specific high-value action through two distinct but interrelated approaches: 

Digital Experience Optimization (DXO)

Digital Experience Optimization (DXO) is the strategic process of enhancing user interactions with digital technologies to drive superior customer experiences. It encompasses a holistic approach to improving every touchpoint where users engage with your brand online. DXO aims to create seamless, personalized, and delightful experiences across websites, mobile apps, social media, and other digital channels.

Why does DXO matter?

  • Customer expectations: In today’s digital landscape, customers expect smooth, relevant interactions. DXO ensures you meet these expectations.
  • Business impact: Positive digital experiences lead to increased customer loyalty, higher conversion rates, and improved brand perception.

We discovered this was due to an issue causing the “add to cart” button to display much further down the page than intended, causing many users to overlook it and abandon the page. Addressing this issue allowed us to increase add-to-cart actions by 3.8x.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) focuses on improving the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up, or downloading content. It involves data-driven experimentation to enhance user experience and drive conversions.

Core elements of CRO

CRO applies a systematic approach to increasing high-value action completion by identifying and testing solutions to resolve friction points along the path to conversion to continuously improve performance. This process includes:

  1. Setting expectations: Clearly define goals and success metrics for each conversion action.
  2. User insights: Understand user behavior through analytics, heatmaps, and session recordings.
  3. Hypothesis development: Formulate hypotheses about what changes will improve conversions.
  4. Testing velocity: Regularly test variations (A/B tests, multivariate tests) to validate hypotheses.
  5. Cross-device testing: Ensure consistent experiences across different devices.
  6. Pre-test prototypes: Validate ideas before full implementation.
  7. Limit changes: Focus on impactful modifications rather than overwhelming redesigns.

Best practices for optimization

While CRO is focused on a specific digital experience, doing it effectively requires considerations that extend well beyond the specific microconversions you’re trying to improve, including:

  • Keyword research: Understand user intent and optimize content accordingly.
  • On-page SEO: Optimize meta tags, headings, and content for search engines.
  • User experience (UX): Prioritize intuitive navigation, fast loading times, and mobile responsiveness.
  • Content quality: Create valuable, relevant content that resonates with your audience.
  • Backlink building: Earn high-quality backlinks to improve authority.

Remember, DXO and CRO are ongoing processes. Continuously analyze, test, and optimize to create exceptional digital experiences and drive conversions. Let us show you how to incorporate this must-have continuous improvement cycle into your business!

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SEO Strategy

Swipe right on SEO: Can keywords play Cupid?

Algorithms are inescapable. They have the power to influence, nudge, and sometimes even manipulate our choices. Algorithms curate social media feeds, direct us to products we don’t even know we need (but somehow do), recommend movies we are practically guaranteed to like, and, for many of us, dictate our search for the perfect romantic partner.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 3 in 10 adults in the U.S. admit to having used a dating app or site in their quests for love (or at least some kind of companionship). Just like Google’s algorithm sorts through billions of web pages to find the best answer to our most pressing questions, dating apps use hidden algorithms to curate your potential matches. 

And many of the same factors that influence search algorithms also influence dating app algorithms. It’s totally possible to optimize your dating profile to find the best matches, just as you can optimize a website with SEO for the best rankings.

When two become one: Where search algorithms and dating app algorithms overlap

In technical terms, algorithms define a finite set of instructions executed in a predetermined order to achieve a desired result. 

But in application, you might think of algorithms as the secret blueprints behind every search or swipe. Just like Google or Bing connect you to the information you need, dating apps, like Bumble and Hinge, are compasses for navigating a sea of potential partners. When an advanced algorithm is at the helm, instead of randomly riding the waves and going with the flow, data drives a curated path.

Whether you’re looking for a quick answer to a trivia question with Google or swiping through an app to find a Valentine’s Day date, here are some things to keep in mind to help you maximize the “perfect match potential” of any algorithm, from search engines to dating apps:

Gathering data

Just as search engines analyze your search history and preferences, dating apps collect information from your profile, behavior—likes, profiles viewed per session, swipes, messages—and even survey responses. This data, which would be considered engagement metrics in SEO, becomes their digital recipe for understanding your unique “type.”

Identifying patterns

Think of algorithms as pattern information investigators, always on the lookout for recurring themes. If you consistently swipe right on outdoorsy extroverts with healthcare careers, the algorithm takes note and adjusts your match pool accordingly. It’s like Google noticing you frequently look for hiking trails and medical journals, and then prioritizing those in your search results.

Prioritizing profile

Once patterns are identified, the algorithm takes charge of your potential matches. It’s like Google ranking web pages with quality content based on relevance and authority. In the dating world, this means profiles that align with your preferences get bumped to the top of your swiping deck, while those that don’t match your “type” fade into the background.

Constant learning and adapting

Algorithms aren’t static; they’re constantly evolving based on new data and user interactions. Each swipe, message, or profile visit provides feedback for the algorithm to refine its understanding of your preferences. It’s like search engines updating their algorithms to reflect changes in user behavior and search trends.

While each platform might have its unique approach, they all follow a version of these basic steps. And just like you can use SEO for social media algorithm success, you can also rely on similar search engine optimization techniques to find your perfect match on the dating app of your choice. 

Organic magic: How to find love with SEO

The connection between dating apps and search engines goes beyond the algorithms. In fact, the processes of creating a dating app profile and optimizing a website for SEO have the exact same desired outcomes: to increase organic visibility and encourage action. Just like a business wants to see its products at the top of the SERPs, encourage clicks, and win conversions, the singles swiping on dating apps want to be on top of the stack, nudge potential matches to swipe right, and ultimately win a chance at love.

So, with these commonalities in mind, it’s time to consider using basic SEO practices to improve your dating app strategy. Here are some actions you can take to optimize algorithmic awesomeness, regardless of whether you’re working with a website or matters of the heart.

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

Consider user and keyword intent

Successfully optimizing a website or a dating profile means understanding your audience and their unique intentions. If you’re seeking high-funnel customers (or more casual matches) who are just browsing, aim for broad and informational keywords to pique their interest in general. If you’re looking for customers (or potential partners) closer to conversion (or a relationship), more specific and transactional keywords might be a better choice to build momentum and encourage a journey with the end result in mind.

Use linguistic profiling to speak your audience’s language

Linguistics plays a huge role in how we consume content and how we form relationships. Google and potential partners both use latent semantic indexing to understand relevency, and this means you must share high-quality content worded particularly for your perfect match.

Let’s say you’re looking for someone who is a bit of a homebody, great conversationalist, creative in the kitchen, and shares an affinity for little white dogs. Consider using terms semantically related to these traits like “cozy comfort,” “witty banter,” “culinary artistry,” and “petite powderpuff pups” to further display relevancy and spark a playful exchange.

Create compelling content

High-quality content reigns supreme in SERPs and dating apps. Share authentic anecdotes that reveal your unique qualities in your dating app profile just as you would with value propositions on your website. Visuals and creative content count, too.

Stay active and online

Consistent engagement encourages both search engine rankings and dating app views. For dating app users, this means logging in frequently and replying to messages promptly. When it comes to website optimizations, this means regularly posting new content and encouraging crawlers.

End on a call-to-action

We all need a little push sometimes. Call-to-action (CTA) language is essential for guiding clarity and direction. CTAs provide clear instructions and next steps, guiding your audience toward the desired action, whether it’s buying a product, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading content, sending a message, or even asking for a date. Without a CTA, users might be left confused and unsure of what to do next, leading to missed opportunities.

Whether searching for love or online success, you can use SEO strategies to find your perfect match. Remember, a clear call to action is critical to converting that click into a connection.

Ready to fall in love with SEO success?

While Tallwave doesn’t usually offer dating advice, we have written digital marketing love stories and we help businesses find their perfect matches online with powerful, integrated solutions. Reach out for a consultation today. 💕

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Strategy

The analytics evolution: Embracing the power of GA4 metrics

Now that we’ve all had a few months of working exclusively within Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it’s worth taking a moment to explicitly define some of the new metrics within the platform and how they compare to Universal Analytics metrics.

As clients and marketers navigate this transition and consider these metrics, understanding their distinct functionalities and how they diverge from their Universal Analytics counterparts becomes paramount for harnessing the true potential of GA4. This is especially true when it comes to metrics related to average duration.

Decoding the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 metrics

In Universal Analytics (sometimes called GA3), metrics like Average Time on Page and Average Session Duration were widely used to measure user engagement. However, with GA4, there’s a shift in how engagement and user behavior analytics are measured. GA4 introduces Average Engagement Time, which is an entirely different way of measuring user engagement. Let’s compare the differences with the new metrics in GA4.

1. Average Time on Page vs. Average Engagement Time

In Universal Analytics, Average Time on Page measured how long users spent on specific pages. It was calculated by measuring the time between consecutive pageviews, assuming that the last page of a session didn’t require a subsequent view. However, GA4’s Average Engagement Time takes a more nuanced, user-centric approach. This metric assesses the actual time a user actively engages with the page, disregarding instances where the tab loses focus. For instance, if a user switches to another tab or app, GA4 doesn’t consider this time in the calculation, providing a more accurate depiction of user interaction and true engagement duration. Let’s take a look at more examples below:

Average Time on Page (Universal Analytics):

Calculation method:

Utilizes the time between two-page hits to compute the average time on a specific page within a session.

Measurement Scenarios:

  • Sequential Page View Scenario:
    • Scenario: User visits “Page A” for 10 minutes, moves to “Page B” for 25 minutes, and leaves.
    • Calculation: “Page A” registers a time on page of 10 minutes, but with no next page to feed into the model, no time on page data is captured for “Page B.”
  • Interruption In Session Scenario:
    • Scenario: User spends 5 minutes on “Page A,” switches to another site for 5 minutes, then returns to spend 25 minutes on “Page B.”
    • Calculation: “Page A” registers a time on page of 10 minutes, but “Page B” remains unmeasured due to interruption.
  • Bounce Scenario:
    • Scenario: User bounces from “Page A” after spending 30 minutes, with no subsequent page views.
    • Calculation: “Page A” shows no recorded time due to the absence of subsequent page visits.

Average Engagement Time (GA4):

Calculation method:

Measures the average length of time the website remains in focus in the browser, excluding time when the tab loses focus.

Accurate measurement scenarios:

  • Sequential Page Views:
    • Scenario: User spends 10 minutes on “Page A,” then 25 minutes on “Page B.”
    • Calculation: “Page A” registers 10 minutes and “Page B” registers 25 minutes.
  • Interruption in Session:
    • Scenario: User spends 5 minutes on “Page A,” loses focus for 5 minutes, returns to spend 25 minutes on “Page B.”
    • Calculation: “Page A” accounts for 5 minutes, while “Page B” registers 25 minutes.
  • Bounce Scenario:
    • Scenario: User spend 30 minutes on “Page A” then bounces.
    • Calculation: “Page A” registers 30 minutes.

2. Average Session Duration in Universal Analytics vs. GA4

The Average Session Duration in Universal Analytics was a fundamental metric used to gauge overall session length. It calculated the total duration of a session from the first to the last hit, including the time spent on exits or bounces. Conversely, GA4 approaches this with a subtle yet crucial difference. Instead of calculating the entire session time, it focuses on active engagement within the session, excluding periods of inactivity or when the browser tab loses focus. This shift emphasizes active engagement, providing insights that are more indicative of genuine user interest and intent.

3. Implications of transitioning metrics

The transition from Average Time on Page/Average Session Duration to be more focused on Average Engagement Time results in some implications for Marketers who are trying to interpret user behavior. The new methodology in GA4 aligns more closely with actual user engagement, offering a more precise view of user interaction on the website. This transition necessitates a shift in perspective, especially for those accustomed to Universal Analytics metrics. Embracing this change unlocks the potential for more accurate insights into user behavior, ultimately empowering businesses to tailor their content strategies more effectively based on genuine user engagement patterns.

This shift in perspective empowers marketers and businesses to ditch vanity metrics like average pageviews and prioritize meaningful interactions. They can craft targeted campaigns based on engagement patterns, identify conversion pathways hidden in passive metrics, and ultimately, drive growth based on genuine user interest.

Learn more about Data Strategy & Analytics services from Tallwave.

So long Universal Analytics, it’s time to embrace GA4 and all that comes with it

As we bid adieu to the familiar metrics of Universal Analytics and embrace the increased customer centricity of GA4, it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend and welcoming a more insightful companion. The shift from both Average Time on Page and Average Session Duration to Average Engagement Time empowers marketers to better understand true user behavior.

By equipping yourself with the right tools and knowledge, you can leverage GA4’s advanced capabilities to gain a deeper understanding of user behavior to uncover hidden conversion paths and personalize experiences for targeted segments. Embracing GA4 and its new measures will also let you prepare for the future of digital analytics with a platform built for flexibility and adaptability. And you don’t have to go at it alone. We’re just a click away and can help you build a meaningful data strategy that enables actionable insight.

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Customer Engagement Strategy Uncategorized

Data-centricity: Takeaways from the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour 

We recently had the privilege of attending the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour event in Austin, Texas. It was a full day of presentations, demos, and customer breakout sessions dedicated to discussing the technical and cultural challenges that organizations face as they strive to become more data-driven. Industry leaders who have harnessed the power of Snowflake’s data processing technologies and platform experts convened to shed light on the evolving landscape of data utilization and the critical need for businesses to adapt.

In today’s business environment, where access to data has reached unprecedented levels, success hinges not on the sheer volume of data you have access to but on how effectively you can leverage it to make informed decisions on an ongoing basis. In fact, research by Mckinsey & Company found that insight-driven companies report above-market growth and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increases of up to 25%.

Our most significant takeaway from the event was the pervasive sense of urgency, coupled with encouragement, that resonated throughout the sessions we attended. In the fast-paced world of business, staying ahead of the curve is imperative. The lifeblood of modern organizations is data, and if your company hasn’t already placed your first-party data at the forefront of your decision-making process, you risk falling behind. While it’s one thing for decision-makers to prioritize data, it’s another to instill a data-centric culture throughout your entire organization.

During the event, we heard from business leaders who recounted their early efforts to get their data houses in order. Some of these efforts date back to 2017 and 2018 when these visionaries recognized the transformative power of data and embarked on a strategic journey. Fast forward, as 2024 approaches, data isn’t merely a choice—it’s a necessity. If your organization hasn’t embraced a data-centric approach yet, the time to dive in is now.

Right after returning from the event, we received a timely report from Experian Research, focusing on the “Data Quality Revolution.” The message was crystal clear: if your business isn’t placing a strong emphasis on access to high-quality data, you should be, and the time to act is now. Continue reading as we explore the key takeaways from both the Snowflake event and the complementary Experian report.

The shift towards data-centricity: Where we stand

In the realm of data-driven decision-making, businesses are no longer tentatively testing the waters; they’re taking a deep dive. As highlighted in the Experian research report, “Over a third of business leaders say that better and faster decisions using data is a top priority to respond to market pressures. A continuous influx of accurate data enables team members—technical or not—to act with confidence. This is a claim that we see year after year and is vital in a market that is moving faster than ever.” 

This sentiment echoes the progressive strides made by forward-thinking companies showcased at the Snowflake event. For instance, the Senior Director of Data Architecture, Engineering, and Platforms at a Fortune 500 athletic retailer shared insights into their innovative use of real-time data. By monitoring inventory levels and analyzing optimal pricing strategies in real-time, they’ve effectively maximized space utilization and ensured optimal profitability without compromising margins. This sophisticated approach underscores how organizations at advanced stages of data maturity leverage their data reservoirs to tackle genuine business challenges. Experian defines data maturity as “the extent to which your business can collect valuable data, derive meaning from it, and leverage this information in the decision-making process.” 

Successful companies are often able to point to a mature data strategy that is disseminated throughout the organization that lends them a competitive edge. Consider Netflix or Amazon, for example. Both companies utilize their data to personalize content and provide product recommendations that increase customer satisfaction and ultimately drive greater customer engagement, retention, and overall revenue. 

However, this level of sophistication isn’t universal. For numerous organizations, the journey along the data maturity curve is just beginning. Bridging the gap between recognizing the potential of data-centricity and effectively implementing it remains a common challenge encountered across various industries.

A graph going the data maturity curve

The challenges: Technical and cultural hurdles

One of the key challenges emphasized at the event was the demand for tools that can expedite the transition to data-centricity without subjecting organizations to extended development timelines. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, waiting months for development to design and implement complex systems is simply not feasible and leads to frustration throughout the organization. 

What businesses need are solutions that are agile, efficient, and user-friendly. Experian “[s]urveyed businesses are looking at their technology to plan for scaling, expanding, and innovating data quality initiatives including easy-to-use tools for business users (50%).”  The emphasis on user-friendly tools highlights a critical aspect of overcoming technical hurdles—providing accessible platforms that empower business users, regardless of their technical backgrounds, to harness the full potential of data, ensuring that the journey towards data-centricity is smooth and collaborative.

Learn more about building bridges between business and technology.

Embracing the potential, feeling the pain

Many organizations now find themselves at a crossroads—they’re acutely aware of the immense potential that a data-centric approach offers, but they are equally familiar with the growing pains that accompany this transformative journey. The heightened awareness of the benefits is juxtaposed with the acknowledgment of the challenges. This duality can be both motivating and overwhelming. The Experian research report echoes this sentiment, revealing a profound truth: “Year after year, we find that data investment equates to business growth. Our study shows that 95% of super performers—these high-achieving and data-mature leaders—believe that data quality is fundamental to business operations going forward.”

This statistic underscores the critical importance of data quality in the contemporary business landscape. It’s not merely a matter of investing in data; it’s about investing in high-quality, accurate data that can fuel informed decision-making and drive business growth. The realization that data quality is intrinsically linked to future success is a powerful motivator for organizations navigating the complexities of the data-centric journey. It signifies a shift in mindset from viewing data as a mere asset to recognizing it as a cornerstone upon which robust business operations are built.

While the challenges are palpable, so are the rewards. Embracing the potential of a data-driven approach means not only understanding the significance of data quality, but also taking proactive steps to address it. As organizations grapple with the intricacies of data utilization, this awareness becomes a guiding light, illuminating the path toward transformative change. By investing in data quality, businesses not only mitigate risks but also position themselves for sustained growth and innovation.

In this landscape of shifting paradigms, Tallwave stands as a strategic partner, ready to navigate the complexities of the data revolution alongside your organization. We offer tailored solutions designed to guide you and your teams to think through what data matters to your organization and build a culture that ensures your business is not just prepared for the future but actively shaping it. Let’s embark on this transformative journey together—where challenges become opportunities and data becomes the cornerstone of your success.

Tallwave: Your partner in the data journey

If your organization is ready to embark on the journey of embracing data-centricity but you’re uncertain about where to start, Tallwave is here to provide expert guidance. We know the intricacies of this transformation, offering expertise in both technical solutions and cultural adaptations across various teams in your organization. Our approach is tailored to your specific needs, ensuring a seamless integration of data-centric practices into your existing framework.

Ready to make the shift?

Don’t wait until you’re left further behind—take action now. Discover the business benefits, navigate the challenges, and transform your data potential into tangible results. Your journey toward a data-centric future starts today. We’re ready to lead the way.

Categories
Customer Engagement Reaching New Customers Strategy

Convergent commerce: Going beyond omnichannel retail this shopping season

The holiday season is just around the corner, and that means Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the annual avalanche of gifts, deals, and shopping sprees is practically upon us. It’s that time of year when consumers embark on an epic quest to find the perfect presents and snag the best bargains. But for frenzied holiday shoppers, a poor shopping experience goes over about as well as coal in the stocking. 

While overall holiday spending is expected to stay relatively flat with last year, shoppers are expected to purchase fewer gifts to balance the effects of inflation. That means retailers are likely competing for fewer total purchases. At a time when cost consciousness is high and consumer loyalty is low, brands that can offer consumers a friction-free, customer-centric experience all tied up with a bow will be the winners this holiday shopping season. 

Let’s delve into the latest shopping trends, highlight some common shopping experience pitfalls, and provide valuable recommendations to ensure a seamless and enjoyable holiday shopping experience for your customers that puts your brand on the nice list.

Macro Trend: What is convergent commerce?

Shopping has become an increasingly multi-channel experience, blurring the lines between digital and physical shopping experiences. While data suggested that preference for online retail was waning heading into 2023, e-commerce is expected to be a major channel for holiday spending with over 60% of consumers planning to do at least 40% of their shopping in that channel. But with channels evolving and new channels emerging, channel preferences get increasingly difficult to predict. It also makes the notion of omni-channel retail where a seamless shopping experience across several channels a less desirable goal. 

Consumers are less interested in retailers creating curated multi-channel experiences and more interested in climbing into the driver’s seat themselves. Consumers want an anytime, anywhere commerce experience where they call the shots and execute their shopping activities—from browsing products on live streams to comparing prices across brand apps and AI-powered search, checking items in person for quality, ordering online to ship directly to gift recipients and everything between—wherever they want, whenever they want based on their changing preferences. That’s convergent commerce. It’s a shift from an experience that offers optionality (online vs. in-store) with parity, to frictionless fluidity. 

If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. Shifting from either/or considerations for the retail channels you engage in to activating across multiple channels at once in an integrated and seamless way requires considerable thoughtfulness. Convergent commerce relies on a data-informed (and frequently validated) understanding of what your customers value and their shopping preferences, strong data quality management, and a commitment to breaking down silos across teams, technology stacks, decision-making processes, virtually every facet of your business.

But it’s also a tremendous opportunity to create a consumer experience that’s truly differentiated. Consumers aren’t looking for more of the same; they want experiences that are uniquely tailored to them. And for brands that embrace the concept of convergent commerce, a powerfully divergent experience that sets them apart from competitors can be the reward. 

Micro Trends: Delivering a better customer experience now

According to the National Retail Federation, this holiday shopping season is already underway with over 40% of consumers reporting they planned to begin their holiday shopping in October or earlier. That means today’s consumers can’t wait for your brand’s future convergent commerce strategies to take shape. And brands can’t let perfect be the enemy of progress when it comes to making this year’s shopping experience the best it can be. So what can brands do to better meet the needs of holiday shoppers right now? Reflecting on my own shopping experience, there may be more opportunities for quick wins than many retailers realize.

As both a holiday gift giver and receiver, my shopping considerations are the same as a lot of other holiday shoppers this season. Even though I regularly start my shopping before November, I’m always short on time. So convenience is key for me and online shopping is a great fit. I want to give gifts that feel personal and thoughtful, but with family all over the country, I’m concerned about the costs and potential delays of shipping. So like 55% of Americans who will buy at least one gift card this holiday season, experiential gifts in the form of gift cards, passes, tickets, etc. are high on my list. In what will be the dominant shopping channel (online) focusing on items that are subject to fewer inventory, stocking, and supply chain disruptions than a lot of other gift categories (gift cards), my shopping experiences have included a surprising amount of friction. So my gift to you is three ways you can ensure the holiday shopping experiences you’re serving up don’t leave consumers with a “bah humbug” feeling:

Consider the End-to-End Experience Gifting Experience

The actual purchase is only half the journey, but the gifting experience begins and ends outside the shopping cart. From the ability to effectively manage an influx of traffic from holiday browsers to ensuring gifts can easily be returned or exchanged, brands must consider the end-to-end experience to eliminate friction for both gift buyers and recipients. 

There have definitely been times in my own shopping experiences where a slow, laggy, friction-filled experience has driven me to abandon ship. In fact, this year I’ve begun using the app released by one of my favorite body care retailers. I’m a bargain hunter, but I’m not great about remembering to use my coupons before they expire. I was drawn into the app by the wallet and loyalty points features that keep track of both and give me anytime, anywhere access to them right from my phone. I could shop from the app, but I like to be able to “smell before I buy” when it comes to body products and using the “pick up in store” feature allows me to browse only the inventory I can actually test in the store. Unfortunately, the popup for selecting a store by zip code or my current location just spins. This has been the case up to the time of writing this post despite multiple app updates. So I’ve got two choices when faced with this friction: I can abandon the app and move to the website in hopes of a better experience or I can say “Scrooge it” and move onto something else. 

If you want to avoid turning gift givers and recipients into Grinches here are some tips for ensuring your delivering a gifting experience that sleighs from the first mile to the last:

  • Get your website traffic-ready: There’s nothing more frustrating than a website that takes forever to load. Consumers have zero patience during the holiday rush. A slow website will send them searching for alternatives so your website should be a well-oiled machine. Test its loading speed, ensure mobile-friendliness, and fix any broken links or errors. A smooth online journey will make customers stay and shop. 
  • Take deals directly to customers: Utilize customer data to provide personalized recommendations and offers. Making your customers feel special by proactively showing them that you understand their needs and preferences will help bring them to you.
  • Offer clear and flexible pickup and returns: With consumers moving between physical and digital channels across the customer journey, offering clarity around return policies and flexible pickup and return options will better allow you to meet customers in their channels of choice. Offer the option for customers to order online and pick up items in-store or return online purchases at your physical location for maximum convenience.
  • Have strong support standing by: The holiday season means long hours for your customer support team. Failing to respond promptly to inquiries or complaints can lead to disgruntled customers who won’t hesitate to share their grievances on social media. Implement chatbots, and set up a system for addressing inquiries and complaints promptly. Social media monitoring can help you spot and address issues early.

Make conversion dead simple

Optimizing high-value actions like purchases to the fullest extent means thinking beyond the point-of-purchase mechanics of your e-commerce platform to other experiential elements. Using language within the purchase experience that makes sense to consumers, providing the information consumers need to solidify buying decisions, making relevant payment options easy to use, and ensuring parity of experience across device types can make or break the buying experience. 

I was recently on the website for my favorite purveyor of chocolates with the goal of building a custom box of chocolates and I found myself getting tripped up at key points in the experience. After selecting the size and type of box I wanted to fill, it was time to select my candies. I specifically wanted dark chocolate and was surprised that there didn’t appear to be any search filters on the page; there was just a typical-looking search bar with “Search for flavors” as the hint text and a magnifying glass at the right edge of the box. I scrolled around the site to make sure the filters weren’t just oddly placed and after finding none, I begrudgingly opted to use the search. As I clicked into the box to search the word, “dark,” I discovered that what was designed to look like a typical search bar was actually a drop-down set of filters, which included a filter for dark chocolate. I proceeded to fill my box and initiated the checkout process and got all the way to the payment screen—the final conversion point—before realizing there was no option to select a store for pickup. At no point in the process did I have an option to choose a fulfillment option other than shipping (which also had a cost). Ultimately, I abandoned my cart after the experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. 

Here are a few tips for ensuring your conversion experience is as sweet as a box of chocolates:

  • Simplify checkout processes: Your customers are looking for a seamless shopping experience, not a labyrinth of forms and confusing steps during checkout. So your checkout process should be as easy. Offer guest checkout options that prioritize speed and simplicity, enable auto-fill features, and provide multiple payment options. Simplify the process, and you’ll see a boost in completed purchases.
  • Avoid hidden fees and charges: Shoppers hate surprises, especially when it involves extra costs at checkout. Display all costs clearly and be upfront about shipping fees, taxes, and any other charges. A transparent pricing strategy builds trust and encourages purchases.
  • Reduce the pain of out-of-stock items: Nothing’s worse than finding the perfect gift only to discover it’s out of stock, so it’s critical to stay on top of your inventory. Ensure your inventory management software is equipped to prevent overselling, notify customers promptly if a product is out of stock, and suggest similar items to keep them engaged.

Consider people and process

Successful convergent commerce experiences require a seamless transition from one channel to the next. That means that the people and processes underpinning the in-store experience need to be equipped with the tools, training, policies, etc. needed to support customers who began their shopping journey in a digital channel (and vice versa). 

I was gifted a digital gift card to one of my favorite restaurants. Because I have three kids, I tend to opt for take-out and delivery more than in-restaurant dining, and I was looking forward to redeeming my gift card for dinner after a particularly hectic day. However, I discovered I wasn’t able to redeem the gift card on my favorite food delivery app or the restaurant’s website. I had to call in and have them run the gift card over the phone. And because the restaurant offers delivery through its app partners only, I was forced to place an order for pickup rather than delivery. The restaurant is in a very busy area, and having to drive, park, and go into the restaurant completely undercut the reason why I decided to order instead of cook. To make matters worse, the staff working seemed to be confused and inexperienced with the restaurant’s pick-up processes. As a result, I spent 20 minutes sitting at the bar waiting for them to sort it out before I could pick up the dinner I’d originally intended to have delivered. I really love their food, so the experience won’t keep me away entirely. But I can tell you their gift cards won’t appear on my wish list until they offer the ability to redeem them for delivery.

Here are a couple of tips for keeping customers from going from joyed to annoyed as they transition between digital and physical experiences:  

  • Drive brand consistency across touchpoints: Your online and in-store experiences should feel like two sides of the same joyful holiday coin. That means these experiences should feel connected in every way. Avoid creating functional silos between in-store and online experiences when it comes to ease of purchase; redemption of gift cards, coupons, and promotions; and returns and ensure where differences do exist—like offering a broader range of product options online or running online and in-store exclusive promotions—they feel purposed and beneficial to your customers. 
  • Prepare your in-store team: Train your in-store staff to be knowledgeable about your online offerings and promotions. They should be ready to assist customers in placing online orders, redeeming digital gift cards, and answering product-related queries.

In the world of holiday gifting, experience is everything. Shoppers are looking for convenience, transparency, and joy during their quest for the perfect gifts. And gift recipients are looking for ease and flexibility when it comes to redeeming, exchanging, returning, and using gifts. By staying ahead of the latest trends, addressing common pitfalls, and implementing our recommendations, your business can ensure a memorable holiday shopping experience for your customers. Even if achieving truly convergent commerce is still a future destination on your roadmap, implementing these strategies will help you deliver a cohesive shopping experience that supports customers as they transition between online and in-store shopping. This flexibility not only meets the evolving demands of today’s consumers, but also positions your brand as one that truly values creating a differentiated experience that puts customers at the center. No matter where your brand is in your convergent commerce journey, we can help you ensure each step along the way creates value for your customers and your business.  

Categories
Customer Engagement Reaching New Customers Strategy

Mastering full-funnel marketing for lasting growth

Many companies have shifted their focus to bottom-of-funnel tactics, like paid search and retargeting ads, as economic uncertainty drives budget constraints and increases the pressure to make sales. However, this imbalanced approach will almost certainly have a lagging negative impact on revenue and ROI.

Implementing a full-funnel marketing strategy can fix the imbalance and ensure long-term growth and sustainability. Let’s look at the full marketing funnel, why stage-specific engagement matters, and how to bring them to life.

What are the stages of full-funnel marketing?

Marketing strategy is often compared to a funnel because of the shape it takes as consumers move through the purchase journey. 

A chart showing the conversion funnel.

Stage 1: Top-of-funnel

Awareness tactics (at the top of the funnel) are broad and cast a wide net to reach consumers. This might include things like radio ads, billboard ads, blogs, or public relations campaigns. 

The purpose of top-of-funnel tactics is to get your brand in front of your audience and generate brand awareness. As such, success for these individual tactics should be measured by publisher metrics like impressions, reach, frequency, and video completion rates or through survey metrics like lift in brand awareness and ad recall. A common misstep we see marketers make is trying to measure the success of a top-of-funnel tactic by the number of conversions it drives. Billboards aren’t going to result in a click-through conversion, but they do influence consumers who may not even know they want to buy your product or service yet. Similarly, an attribution model that ignores the role top-of-funnel tactics play as part of the confluence of factors that ultimately drive conversion can work against you.

Stage 2: Mid-funnel

Consideration tactics (in the middle of the funnel) focus on consumers who are familiar with and evaluating the brand. Tactics deployed at this might include product-specific emails, FAQ pages, and organic search strategy. 

This is the stage where we start to see consumers interacting with the brand so success metrics look different than those in the top of the funnel. Here, we are interested in engagement metrics like click-through rates, social media interactions, rich media interactions, average time on site, pages visited per website engagement, scroll depth, and non-conversion website events (e.g., PDF downloads, webinar registrations, video completions, etc.).

Stage 3: Bottom of the funnel

Conversion tactics (at the bottom of the funnel) get in front of consumers who are ready to make a purchase. Paid search is a major tactic at this stage of the funnel, but tactics might also include website content like comparison charts or savings calculators.

This is the stage at which we measure tactical success in terms of conversions. Consumers, influenced by the awareness and consideration driven higher up in the funnel from other tactics, are now ready to make a purchase or submit a lead form.

But it doesn’t end there! After consumers convert, they move into the loyalty part of the funnel. The tactics in this part of the funnel keep consumers coming back. It might include things like personalized content, rewards and loyalty programs, or incentive campaigns.

The success of your loyalty program can be measured by customer retention rate, customer lifetime value, and repeat purchases.

The lowest part of the funnel is advocacy, which is all about getting consumers to tell their friends about your brand. This often takes the form of customer reviews and referral programs and can be measured by metrics like customer satisfaction scores, online reviews and sentiment analysis, and social listening insights.

Why does a full-funnel marketing strategy matter?

Although marketers like to position their strategy into a nice, neat little funnel, the reality is that the consumer journey is not so nice and neat. It’s also not linear. On average, it takes 8-12 touchpoints with a brand to convert a customer! 

An image depicting the unclear path that often occurs between the first point of contact and conversion.

The beauty of a full-funnel marketing strategy is that it helps you meet consumers where they are in their journeys. It is a holistic, integrated approach that drives repeat exposure and facilitates multiple touch points with customers at different stages of their journey, which is critical for ensuring your brand is top of mind when the moment of truth comes and a buying decision is made.

The negative impact of a bottom-of-funnel approach

Conversion-focused tactics often get the most attention because they produce the most conversions. But consumers can’t convert if they aren’t aware of your brand. Consumers won’t convert if they know about your brand, but haven’t taken the time to consider what it means to them. By neglecting the upper parts of the funnel, you choke the funnel and restrict your ability to drive conversions in the long term.

Unfortunately, many companies get overly focused on the bottom-of-funnel tactics due to the very real and understandable pressure that marketers get from leaders focused only on transactional KPIs. This is especially true in times of economic uncertainty (check out our white paper on how to optimize your customer experience for recession resilience) when driving revenue takes on a heightened priority.

A broken funnel can manifest in many ways:

Poor engagement rates

If you skipped over the awareness part of the funnel, consumers may not be familiar with your brand. Trust and credibility have yet to be established and so they are not prepared to engage with your content.

High engagement, but low conversion

Similarly, if consumers are clicking, but not converting, may not be meeting them at the right point in their journey.

Conversion stagnation

Often a symptom of low-funnel strategies, you may have tapped out your available audience by ignoring critical awareness tactics.

Unintentionally over-indexing on first-time customers

It is 5-7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. If your customer base is over-indexed on new customers, you may need to double down on your retention efforts.

Decrease in branded searches

Customers can’t search for you if they don’t know about your brand. Investing in top-of-funnel tactics is crucial to driving brand awareness.

Increase in costs to convert

Persistent increases in cost per lead (CPL) or cost per acquisition (CPA) signal that you are competing for a finite, over-indexed audience and would benefit from upper-funnel tactics.

Bringing a full-funnel marketing strategy to life

If any of the scenarios above sound familiar, it’s probably time to evolve your marketing strategy to adopt a full-funnel approach.

Here are some key considerations when establishing a full-funnel marketing strategy: 

Teamwork makes the dream work

A full-funnel marketing strategy requires collaboration across multiple teams (think strategy, brand, paid media, creative, content, design, PR, email, loyalty… the list goes on!) to ensure thoughtful, cohesive customer experiences. Make sure you are pulling in representatives from all the appropriate teams to drive alignment and ensure consistency.

Measurement matters

An appropriate measurement strategy is key to keeping a full-funnel strategy on the rails. As we described when defining the stages of the funnel, KPIs must reflect where tactics sit within the funnel to properly measure success and make informed marketing decisions.

Similarly, an attribution model can make or break your strategy. Last-click attribution models in particular can influence over-indexing on bottom-of-funnel tactics by assigning credit to the last touch before a conversion. This model puts a thumb on the scale for bottom-of-funnel tactics, limiting the ability to optimize for the distinct goals of tactics that play other roles in the funnel. Linear or data-driven models are generally more effective at assigning appropriate value to tactics throughout the funnel. 

Be patient

The impact of a full-funnel strategy won’t be felt immediately. Upper-funnel efforts build future demand. Building loyalty and driving advocacy takes time. But this strategy sustains growth marketing investment in the long term by allowing you to reach more potential customers, extending the lifetime value of those customers, and generating more profit for less investment by driving efficiencies across the program.

The bottom line: full-funnel marketing strategies work

A recent Nielsen study of CPG brands showed that those with a full-funnel strategy had 45% higher ROI and a 7% increase in offline sales compared to marketing campaigns running in a single purchase stage.

We recently published a case study about how we helped a nonprofit client of ours drive efficiencies in their paid media program by enhancing their bottom-of-funnel paid media program to a full-funnel one. In the first year of running this full-funnel program, our client spent 9% more on paid media year over year, but produced 61% more donations.

Designing holistic customer experiences that drive growth is our strength. Because full-funnel marketing strategy is a team sport that requires participation from multiple teams, internal silos are the enemy of creating a holistic, integrated strategy. At Tallwave, we pride ourselves on two things: 1) relentlessly keeping the customer at the center of what we do at every stage of the journey and 2) driving integration and collaboration in the strategies that drive the customer experience so we can deliver successfully against your customers’ needs and your business goals. 

Ready to learn more about how Tallwave can help enhance your marketing program? Give us a shout!

Categories
Customer Engagement Reaching New Customers Strategy Value Realization

Driven by values: The new persona playbook

Target audience research and persona profiles have become a standard part of the marketing toolkit. Despite the changes I’ve experienced in my 20 years as a marketer as new technologies have emerged, channels have evolved, and customer expectations have become more demanding, the importance of persona profiles has been one of the few constants. A rich persona can be hugely beneficial in driving and informing how we engage with prospective customers, certainly through marketing efforts, but more broadly as well. 

Despite the rapid rate of change that has shaped the marketing landscape, how we approach persona profiles hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve seen personas with different levels of depth and layouts, but they’re generally pretty similar at their core. Most of the time, they include a combination of what your audience looks like, with details like their age, income, job title, and marital status. The more creative ones even include fictitious names and pictures. And the rest is some combination of consumer behaviors, statements, pain points, and information gathered from a fairly small number of representatives of your audience, often through interviews. 

But there’s one big problem with the traditional approach to personas. Nearly all the information they include has very little to do with what you care about most: WHY your customers buy and HOW to get prospective customers to do the same. The good news is we believe we have a better approach. In this post, I’ll share a method for audience research and persona development that taps into a huge repository of existing data to deliver insights on the values that drive your customers’ decisions.

Why Values Matter for Driving Consumer Behavior

Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and longtime senior executive for the Walt Disney Company, put the power of values into the most succinct statement I’ve seen yet: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” He understood that, just like our customers, we make decisions every day, not based on our demographics or our past behaviors, but on our values. And brands can tap into that power. If you know which values your best customers share, the values that motivate the buying behaviors you’re trying to inspire in prospective customers, you have the power to know what to do and say to get existing customers to say yes more often and to drive new customers to purchase.

The Disconnect between Values and Demographics

As it turns out, our values have little to do with our demographics. Our demographics might be part of the reason we don’t take a particular action. For example, odds are if I don’t have children, I’m not searching for pediatricians or childcare options. Being childless, which is part of my demographics, is the reason for my inaction. But for people who share the demographic condition of parents, that common characteristic only determines that searching for and selecting a pediatrician or a childcare option is a choice they’re likely to make. The demographic condition of being a parent has nothing to do with which choice they make and why. If it did, all parents would make the same choices. But of course, they don’t. They make different choices based on what they value. That’s why using demographics alone to connect with and influence your audience doesn’t really work. 

I think the values gap that exists within a traditional demographic and psychographic approach to audience research and persona profile development is something that most marketers recognize intuitively. But there haven’t been a lot of better options for uncovering the nuances of what an audience values in a scalable way. That is, until I listened to episode 331 of the Digital Marketing Podcast, The Death of Demographics, An Interview With David Allison. In it, David Allison talked about his book, The Death of Demographics, and the research data behind it that spawned the first big data tool that makes a scalable, data-driven approach to values-centric audience research and persona creation possible. 

The book is the product of a massive global research study known as the Valuegraphics Project (more on that in a minute) that finds that when it comes to values, humans agree about 8% of the time as a baseline. When you group by any demographic cohort—age, gender, income, marital status, you name it—that agreement only increases by 2.5%. So building a marketing campaign around what you think “Gen Z” or “working moms” or “retirees” care about is going to be only slightly more effective than throwing the spaghetti at the wall and deploying your campaign to anyone and everyone. Because while the year you were born, whether you have kids, and your employment status may influence decisions you will or won’t make, they don’t have anything to do with the “why” behind them.

So what will be more effective? The answer is valuegraphics.

The Valuegraphics Project

The Valuegraphics Project is a global mapping of core human values, the drivers behind all our decision making. Through nearly a million surveys deployed in 152 languages in 180 countries across the world evaluating 436 values-related metrics, 56 core human values emerged. And 15 statistical clusters of agreement around subsets of those values, which the architects of this project call “archetypes,” emerged from that research data. Those 15 archetypes can be used as the basis for valuegraphic personas, each representing an audience that is demographically diverse, but highly aligned on values.

So building a marketing campaign around what you think “Gen Z” or “working moms” or “retirees” care about is going to be only slightly more effective than throwing the spaghetti at the wall and deploying your campaign to anyone and everyone.

This focus on values doesn’t mean demographics and psychographics don’t have a place—they do. They can be practical and effective ways to limit your audience based on functional barriers to making the decisions you want them to make. But demographics and psychographics won’t help you understand what actually drives those decisions. You need valuegraphics for that. That audience data triad of demographics, psychographics, and valuegraphics all come together with your audience engagement strategy in the Value Thinking process.

A Venn Diagram showing Values Thinking. Values Thinking is a process for identifying the underlying values that motivate your target audience so you can build an engagement strategy around those values.
Values Thinking is a process for identifying the underlying values that motivate your target audience so you can build an engagement strategy around those values.

Valuegraphics in Action

Chart showing Value Graphics in Action: The U.S. vs the world.
Value Graphics in Action: The U.S. vs the world.

So how do you go about putting valuegraphics to work to better understand and engage your audience? It starts with understanding the valuegraphics profile for your target regions and then surveying your target audience to illuminate their dominant and least dominant valuegraphic archetypes. 

Regional Valuegraphic Profiles

One of the outputs of the Valuegraphics Project is a set of region-specific profiles that tell you the top values for each region. Looking at the regional valuegraphics profile for the US, we know that belonging, family, relationships, personal growth, and health and wellbeing make up the top 5 values for the region. Looking at the top 5 values for the US compared to the rest of the world, we see that family and relationships are valued similarly. But there’s significant divergence between the US and the rest of the world when it comes to belonging and health and wellbeing. 

If you’re targeting a US-based audience, that’s already much more useful than any demographic or psychographic data when it comes to not just getting in front of, but influencing your audience to take a particular action. No matter what else you say, if you can connect your product or service to the values of belonging and health and wellbeing, your efforts will be much more effective at striking a chord than they would be with demographic and psychographic data alone.

Valuegraphic Archetypes

Value Graphics in Action. This chart shows "The Adventurer" archetype.
Value Graphics in Action: Adventurer Archetype.

With the valuegraphic profile for your target region, you’re ready to uncover the most and least dominant valuegraphic archetypes of your audience. Let’s say you’ve surveyed members of your audience and determined that the dominant valuegraphic archetype among them is the Adventurer. This is the 7th most common archetype globally representing 10% of the population. So you’re already getting much more narrow than the regional profile. When you get down to archetypes and the values they contain, you’re tapping into a currency that not only drives human behavior, but drives it in remarkably similar ways for those who share these values. 

Comparing the regional valuegraphic profile of the US with this specific archetype, two points of meaningful distinction in the top 5 values are immediately apparent. Experiences aren’t in the top values for the region at all, so focusing on this value will be uniquely resonant to this group. Personal growth is in the top 5 values for the region, but it’s ranked much higher for this particular archetype. Tapping into these values will create an engagement strategy that’s uniquely relevant for this specific audience. So in this example, we’ve deployed a valuegraphic survey to the kinds of customers we want to find more of. And in analyzing that data, we uncovered the Adventurer as the dominant archetype. How do we get from here to a values-driven persona that marketing and other teams within our business can sink their teeth into? 

Building a Better Customer Profile: Valuegraphic Personas

We’ve taken this process one step further to create personas based on the valuegraphic profiles we’ve built around specific audiences. One of the first things that makes these personas stand out from the traditional fare is what they don’t include. What you won’t see in this kind of persona are the demographic elements you typically see (a picture, fake name, age, and bio). That’s by design because they generally have nothing to do with the action we want to compel. And including them can imply that they do. Best case scenario, it’s not helpful. Worst case scenario, it can cause us to arbitrarily limit our audience and cut us off from engaging with values-aligned prospective customers.

Here’s what you will find in one of our valuegraphic personas:

  • The valuegraphic archetype(s) represented and a brief description of it, including contextual statements from people who share the archetype(s)
  • Statistics on how common this persona is in your region and their degree of values alignment
  • Highlights of the most and least dominant values, which serve as driver and detractor values respectively
  • A list of qualities and characteristics that are virtually certain (in that they’re true for 90%+) and highly likely (75-89%) to be shared by people who represent the persona and implications for your brand

The information in the first three bullets helps us start to get inside the minds of this persona. But the last bullet contains the gold nuggets that have actionable impact on marketing and beyond. The certainties and likelihoods for valuegraphic personas cover broad and sometimes unexpected ground, from unique perspectives on values to common behaviors and preferences related to travel, mobility, money management, leisure, the list goes on. And they can inspire insights that can influence everything from product and service innovation to content and creative, targeting, affinity and partnership marketing, and more. And these insights aren’t the product of a handful of qualitative interviews; they’re the product of a massive global research study that included analyses on massive quantities of research data at a level of statistical rigor that would exceed the requirements of most major universities. 

Beyond B2C: The Value of Valuegraphics for B2B Brands

It’s easy to see how a valuegraphics-based approach to target audience research and persona profile development applies to B2C companies. But the applicability to B2B companies might not seem as obvious because in these scenarios, we tend to adopt an institutional view of our buyers. In reality, purchase decisions for businesses are still made by human beings (and in most cases, multiple human beings). That means that not only is the concept of connecting with the values of your buyers still very much in play, one could argue that the impact is compounded given that purchase decisions are made by multiple decision makers. So if you’re engaging in a way that’s not aligned to your target audience’s values, you’re going to hit the same snags over and over again with multiple decision makers. 

In the context of the traditional approach to target audience research for B2B companies, it would be typical to develop buyer persona profiles for the different stakeholders who play a role in making purchase decisions and develop distinct persona-specific value propositions for those different decision makers. In the context of valuegraphics, the same logic holds. Illuminating the values that drive decision making for your cadre of B2B buyers will make you more successful in aligning to those values and compelling the desired action.

Evolving Your Approach to Understanding and Driving Consumer Behavior

With the execution of the Valuegraphics Project, we now have a way to leverage a much bigger body of data in the art and science of developing persona profiles. As marketers and growth drivers for our businesses, that gives us the ability to develop a deeper understanding of our audience at scale and parlay that understanding into action both within and beyond our marketing strategies to align better, resonate more, and compel action more effectively. As the world around us grows increasingly privacy-sensitive and the data at our disposal to drive reach with our audiences becomes more limited and nuanced, the brands who know their audiences best will have the greatest advantage. 

If you’re ready to evolve your approach to target audience research and harness the power of valuegraphics data to drive your market engagement strategies, I highly recommend checking out David Allison’s book, The Death of Demographics. Or better yet, give us a call for the CliffsNotes and our playbook for putting it into action.

Categories
Customer Engagement Reaching New Customers Strategy

Customer at the center: Why human-centric CX matters now more than ever

Customers continue to be dissatisfied with digital experiences. The Wall Street Journal reported on the National Customer Rage Survey in March about the increasing issues Americans are experiencing with products and services. There are so many things to think about when we talk about “Customer Experience”, it is easy to misplace goals like “Best in Class Customer Experience.” At times, it just feels like a buzzword that digital products must use.  When you take inputs into account (like usage data, retention metrics or KPIs) without considering the human customer at the center, you put the quality of your CX at risk. Putting the customer at the center of all experiences will allow companies to return to excellently designed customer experiences. Learn what’s at stake when it comes to CX and how to put and keep the focus of your digital product strategy where it belongs: on the wants and needs of your customers.

The customer has spoken: Experience is everything

Customers care about experiences and they are not afraid to report on those experiences online. Social media and review sites are full of issues and complaints about experiences that fell short of customer expectations. And they’re not afraid to deploy “revenge” tactics to make companies pay extra for their bad experiences. 

To avoid negative interactions (and their cost to brand reputation), companies need to put customer problems directly in the center of their digital experience. Don’t solve for the perceived problem, solve for the human involved. Great digital products and services come from a human-centric approach to design that will take your customer’s experience from good to great. As Tallwave CEO, Jeff Pruitt, outlined in a LinkedIn article earlier this year, there are three key considerations for leaders who want to put their customer in the center.

Curate great automation

Automation can relieve the burden of live customer support on teams and lower costs for operations. It seems so simple to line up a workflow that customers experience often and give carefully scripted responses to their questions. When it works, it can save customers time and save companies money. Unfortunately, automation can easily fail. One misplaced automation step or edge case can trap customers in a maddening circular workflow or drive them to give up altogether. 

Automation can and should be used for straightforward and simple scenarios, but there should always be an exit strategy. Don’t let your customers get caught in a loop of wrong answers or assumptions.  Automation creation and testing is a great time to utilize cross-team collaboration. Working with multiple teams illuminates biases so you can eliminate them. Your customer support team probably has lots of examples of workflows that could be built into automation that would be good for customers. Giving a variety of teams an opportunity to test automation will bring a unified approach to automation experiences. 

Unify data collection

Many, many years after the Big Data revolution, we are still trying to figure out how to collect, manage, and utilize the vast amounts of data available to us. In digital products, we can collect and curate data on the usage of our own product as well as many other contributing factors to the customer experience (demographics, device type, traffic, etc). When we leave the marketing data up to the marketers, the usage data to the product team, and the support data to the service team, we miss the opportunity to visualize the entire customer journey through all relevant lenses. Centralizing and using quantitative data as an input in all company decisions, but especially decisions about digital product strategy, is critical for keeping the customer at the center of CX. Quantitative data isn’t the only input— research, field studies, and classic conversations about experiences are still important—but it can drive internal discussions across teams to act in a holistic way to enhance customer experience.

Fix organizational silos

How often has your company reorganized its teams in the last 5 years? Especially for growing companies, re-orgs feel like second nature. Your team may do it to shake things up or to re-align as priorities move or the market changes. While changing your organizational structure can certainly be commonplace, organizational silos shouldn’t be. Don’t let the company changing around you break your focus from cross-team collaboration and overall company strategy toward great customer interactions. 

Even without the fracturing effects of restructuring, preventing siloing between teams that all play a role in CX delivery is important. Product-led companies, in particular, need to align on problem statements across marketing, customer service, product development, and support. If a single team is out of step with the others, customers end up confused or misguided by the experience. When the customer problem statement is forefront in everyone’s mind, the alignment can be spectacular. Every single team across the organization working to solve customer problems with great customer experiences can create really powerful momentum and the collaborative relationships it fosters between teams can help solve automation and data issues that can pop up. When you focus on creating great cross-team dynamics, you will be surprised at what else will start to fall in line.

(Want to know more about AI/SGE trends, data collection and silos, and CX heartbreak? We have more on these topics, too.)

The bottom line: Delight and ignite

Keeping the customer at the center of digital experiences is more vital than ever. It won’t just create loyalty from both customers and staff, it will also change how you consider customer experience design. People learn and change every day and we must stay ahead if we want to succeed in delighting them. Being thoughtful and inclusive about when and where to deploy automation will break down organizational silos and keep customers feeling supported. Unifying data collection and usage across teams will keep alignment on the central issues and ensure teams are talking realistically about what the data is telling you. Keeping the customer at the center of the experience will create opportunities to work across teams, solve problems together and create great experiences that delight your customers and ignite your products. Are you ready to create human-centered solutions and experiences for your customers? We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to delight and ignite. Let’s chat.

Categories
Strategy

Building bridges between business and technology

There’s often a substantial divide between business and technology teams. It’s more than mere miscommunication; it’s a foundational misunderstanding of each other’s domains and a lack of shared context for each other’s needs and goals. Imagine architects striving to convey their visions to builders without comprehending the construction process, or builders attempting to decipher architectural blueprints without a sense of the broader design. This disconnect between business and technical realms can lead to frustration, costly errors, and missed opportunities. This is especially true for marketers and developers or technology partners.

There’s a unique power that comes with aligning technical teams with marketers to ensure a seamless and productive collaboration. When these two crucial functions get on the same page, the results can be transformative. Clear communication and a shared context for business goals, needs, and priorities eliminate confusion, accelerate project timelines, and enhance innovation. By bridging the gap between tech and marketing, you unlock the potential for more creative and data-driven strategies, resulting in a competitive edge. In case you don’t happen to have a magical marketing-to-tech translator, here are some tips for achieving shared understanding.

Speaking in Tongues: Bridging the Understanding Gap

There are many reasons communication breakdowns occur between business and technology teams. In many cases, divergent communication styles and thought processes are responsible for misunderstandings, but there’s often more to the story. Here are three common gaps and possible solutions to align teams and come together.

1. Language and Jargon: Standardizing Terminology for Clarity

One thing business and technical teams have in common is they love their jargon and acronyms. Ironically, that’s also the root of many communication breakdowns that occur between them. In many organizations, seemingly straightforward terms can have very different meanings when used in different ways or by different teams. For example, will terms like “lead” or “account” be interpreted the exact same way to your sales, marketing, and engineering teams? Odds are they won’t.

Standardization of terminology: Bridging this language gap requires standardizing terminology across organizational departments where possible, especially for terms that apply to the business as a whole. Ensuring a shared understanding of standard terms within the organization can eliminate a significant hurdle to effective communication and collaboration between business and technical teams.

2. Lack of Context: Fostering Alignment with Business Goals

Miscommunication often springs from a lack of context. This can happen when team members occasionally lose sight of overarching business objectives. But more often, the challenge is that different teams don’t understand one another’s roles in supporting shared business goals and the intersection points between them. This context deficit can lead to misinterpretations and misaligned efforts and expectations, impeding collaboration between business and technical teams.

Clarity in business goals: Shared context begins with a shared understanding of business goals. Whether achieving growth, reducing costs, enhancing customer satisfaction, or another objective entirely, each team needs to have a clear line of sight into business goals. Connecting actions to goals: Besides clarifying the business goals, teams need to understand their roles in supporting them. For example, a developer or technical SEO optimizing website performance may need help to grasp how their work directly impacts customer satisfaction and revenue growth. 

Transparent communication: Transparent and consistent communication on progress toward and contributions to business goals can be a potent tool for bridging the context gap. Regularly sharing updates on progress toward goals and highlighting how various teams’ contributions fit into the broader strategy can help drive alignment across groups and foster shared understanding and ownership over goals. 

3. Communicative Friction: Creating a Safe Space to Negotiate Meaning

Miscommunication is typically unintentional. Individuals introduce their own mental models, biases, and past experiences into what they say, hear, and interpret. People also tend to prioritize their own perspectives, needs, and priorities without considering the viewpoint of others, often without realizing it. This can lead to misunderstandings, even when the message seems clear. For example, a statement about cost-cutting measures may be perceived positively by one team and negatively by another, depending on their prior experiences.

Fostering a culture of open communication: Encouraging empathy, active listening, and open dialogue can help individuals become more aware of their biases and better understand the perspectives of others. Organizations should strive to create a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable seeking clarification and providing feedback. This can help prevent misunderstandings from festering and becoming more significant issues foster a more positive work environment, and enhance overall productivity and collaboration.

Come Together / Connect / Bridge the Gap

Understanding the three common challenges outlined above can help you avoid some of the most frequent culprits of the divide between tech and business teams. Here are a few actionable steps you can take across your organization to further bridge the gap, prevent miscommunication, and drive shared understanding.

Set shared and aligned goals

They say what gets measured gets done. If that adage is true, what gets measured collectively gets done collaboratively. In setting goals, ensuring clear connections between individual goals, team/department goals, and company goals can help get disparate teams rowing in the same direction. And when appropriate, establishing shared goals that require collaboration to achieve can incentivize teams to work together toward a common objective. 

Establish clear communication protocols

Develop and document communication protocols that outline the preferred methods of communication, frequency of updates, and responsible parties for different types of projects or initiatives. This will help ensure everyone understands the expectations and processes for sharing information.

Implement a project management tool 

Invest in a robust project management tool to centralize project-related information, tasks, and progress updates. This tool should be accessible to both technical and business teams, making it easier for everyone to stay informed and track project status.

Cross-train team members 

Encourage cross-training between technical and business team members to enhance mutual understanding. When team members understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, they are better equipped to communicate effectively and anticipate each other’s needs.

Foster a culture of transparency 

Promote a culture of openness and transparency within your organization. Encourage employees to share information, ask questions, and provide feedback without fear of repercussions. When information flows freely, it reduces the chances of misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Conduct regular feedback sessions 

Organize periodic feedback sessions where team members can discuss their experiences and challenges related to communication. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.

Use visual aids and documentation 

Encourage the use of visual aids, diagrams, and well-structured documentation to convey complex technical information more efficiently for non-technical team members.

Monitor and adapt 

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your communication strategies and adjust them as needed. Solicit feedback from team members and stakeholders to ensure that the solutions you implement address the specific challenges in your organization.

By implementing these solutions, you can foster better communication and collaboration between technical and business teams, ultimately bridging the gap and reducing the chances of miscommunication that can hinder your organization’s success.​​

Let a strategic partner facilitate clear communication

Just like a therapist can provide a trained, empathetic ear to overcome discord in personal relationships, enlisting a neutral third party can help break through the silos between business and tech teams to achieve mutual understanding. With a team of experts proficient in technical, marketing, and business strategy, our ability to translate between business stakeholders and technical teams is just as valuable to our clients as the work we do as data, marketing, and business strategists and practitioners.

By partnering with Tallwave, our clients gain more than an intermediary; they acquire a strategic ally capable of fostering collaboration and alignment across cross-functional teams and projects to create real impact for their businesses. Just as architects and builders seamlessly collaborate based on a shared blueprint, Tallwave facilitates the fusion of business and technology worlds, ensuring that your organization’s goals are not just spoken but realized.

Ready to bridge the gap? Let’s talk.

Categories
News Reaching New Customers Strategy

SEO isn’t dead: How AI and SGE are shaping the future

The artificial intelligence revolution has rocked our world in a few short months. OpenAI launched ChatGPT. Bing released a chat feature. Google opened access to Bard and the experimental Search Generative Experience. As these new tools emerge, almost everything about how we seek, access, and interact with online information changes. And it begs the question…

Could all these AI-enabled changes mean SEO is dead? The answer is a hard no; it’s just different. The days of optimizing websites exclusively for crawlers and bots are far behind us. We, as SEOs and marketers, must embrace the shift toward optimizing websites, content, and online experiences for humans and their information needs. As such, search engine optimization is alive, and will become even more important in your web strategy as AI tools advance in this new era.

Living in the moment: Understanding SEO, AI, and SGE

SEO, AI, and SGE are three of the most important technologies today, and they’re all becoming inseparably linked. AI is already used in a number of ways to improve SEO, from generating high-quality content to identifying and targeting the right keywords. 

As AI develops, it will likely play an even more significant role in SEO, helping businesses reach their target audiences more effectively. By staying ahead of the curve with these technologies and strategies, companies can position themselves for success in the future of search. Before we dive into the details of what comes next for SEO, let’s look at broader definitions and how these technologies and strategies impact each other today.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is nothing new. In fact, both the concept and the term have been part of the web-based world since 1997 — before Google existed. At this time, search engines functioned as directories or virtual yellow pages. And as more consumers adopted the Internet, more businesses became invested in making themselves visible on the Internet.

SEO is a complex and ever-changing field, but it is essential to any online marketing strategy.  Your web presence depends on organic SEO. Traditionally, SEO depends on fundamental factors that increase website traffic and search engine placement, which include:

  • Creating relevant, keyword-optimized content.
  • Optimizing the website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags.
  • Building backlinks from high-quality websites.
  • Ensuring that the website is mobile-friendly.
  • Improving the website’s loading speed.

What is AI?

AI, short for artificial intelligence, is a technology that mimics or simulates human intelligence. There are a variety of applications for AI, from self-driving cars to automated manufacturing processes. Machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive computing all influence how AI works. 

Conversational and generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing are natural language processing tools and can communicate in a human-like way. They provide information quickly and can generate new text, code, images, and other kinds of creative content.

What is SGE?

SGE stands for Search Generative Experience. It is a new set of search and interface capabilities that integrates generative AI-powered results into Google search engine query responses

SGE is still under development, but it’s designed to make searching for information online even more helpful, instructive, and insightful. By nature, SGE hinges on providing users with a more personalized and conversational experience. It is intended to do this by:

  • Generating concise and informative answers to complex questions.
  • Providing relevant visual content, such as images, charts, and graphs.
  • Suggesting follow-up questions to help users explore their topic of interest further.
  • Translating search results into different languages.

Here are some examples of how SGE can be used:

  • If you search “how to change a tire,” SGE might generate a step-by-step guide with images and videos.
  • If you search for “best restaurants in Phoenix,” SGE might generate a list of restaurants with user reviews and links to their menus.
  • If you search for “what does life even mean?” SGE might generate a summary of different philosophical perspectives on the topic.

SGE is revolutionizing the way we search for information. Using generative AI to produce more personalized and informative results, SGE can help searchers (consumers) find the information they need more quickly and easily.

The current state of SEO: ‘It depends’

We can’t ignore the fact that AI’s emergence and proliferation are rattling to SEO as we traditionally know it. 

According to Search Engine Journal’s 2024 State of SEO report, today’s digital marketers and SEOs expect disruptions from three major trends:

  1. Generative AI
  2. Google’s E-E-A-T ranking criteria
  3. Automation tools 

For many SEO experts, these new and rapidly evolving advances challenge how we think about what it means to optimize for search.  

These concerns check out, too. Google’s recent Helpful Content core algorithm update, which began rolling out in August and has extended into September 2023, is making one fact glaringly obvious: SEO no longer means optimizing content and website experiences for search engine crawlers and the only way to win top-ranking spots, boost CTR, gain qualified organic traffic (and lift conversions) is to optimize for the human experience.

While AI, generative tools, and even search algorithms gain a better understanding of what kind of content is helpful and informative to people, the notion of keyword-stuffed web copy created just for search engines is on its way out, and helpful content written by people, for people, has gained momentum as what it takes to win in the competitive SEO space. 

Welcome to the future: Embracing content strategy with SEO, SGE, and AI in mind

As more web users turn to AI and SGE tools to do research and make informed decisions, it is increasingly important to be visible to searchers no matter the medium they’re using and aware of how your business is perceived by both artificial and human intelligence in this new virtual realm. 

The only way to achieve this goal and prepare for future advancements is to embrace a website content strategy intricately interwoven with forward-focused SEO. This is evident with each Google core algorithm update as they increasingly move toward rewarding sites that relay information in an easy-to-understand, conversational, and unbiased tone.

Next steps for content strategy, SEO and SGE success

It might sound counter-intuitive, but embracing an organic content strategy with a human element is vital to success in today’s AI-driven landscape as SGE emerges. This especially rings true when your business and website tie into YMYL (your money or your life) topics like health, medicine, finance, and current events.

Google’s algorithms are designed to reward websites that provide high-quality content that is informative, comprehensive, and relevant to users. To appeal to Google’s E-E-A-T criteria, comply with Google’s Helpful Content updates, and succeed in SGE, businesses need to focus on creating content that is genuinely helpful to humans with UX and CX in mind. There are a few ways to accomplish this:

  • Understand your customers’ journey. Linguistic profiling and search journey analysis can help you define your target audience’s journey.  Where are they in their conversion journey? Understanding their needs and offering solutions improves their experience on-site and with your brand.
  • Write for your target audience. Before you start writing, take some time to think about your target audience. What are their needs and interests? What kind of content would they find helpful? What are the values that drive their decision-making?
  • Do your research. Make sure that your content is accurate and up-to-date. Cite your sources and link to other relevant content.
  • Be clear and concise. Get to the point quickly and avoid using jargon.
  • Write in a conversational tone. Imagine that you’re talking to a friend or colleague.
  • Break up your text with images, videos, and headings. This will make your content easier to read and scan.

Does this sound familiar? We’ve touched on the factors you see above before and it’s helped drive success landing at “position zero” in the SERPs. Learn more about featured snippets in SEO strategy.

Take the next steps in SEO and SGE now

AI is poised to revolutionize SEO, empowering businesses to reach their target audiences with unprecedented precision. Businesses must ethically embrace AI and other innovative technologies and position themselves as leaders in this rapidly evolving field. This requires an online strategy inextricably linked to forward-thinking SEO created by humans for humans.

Offering SEO solutions and website and content strategy is just part of how Tallwave wants to drive your success. As a leader in providing integrated marketing solutions and more to both established and up-and-coming brands, Tallwave is ready to deploy our customer-centric and cohesive approach in a way that is unique to your vision and creates exceptional experiences for consumers of all kinds. 


From conversion rate optimization to paid media services to product design and beyond, we’re ready to partner up and strategically future-proof your digital strategies.

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