All posts by Hayley Mullen

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Making Market Forces Work for You: A Q&A With Product Positioning Pro April Dunford

There are only a few instances when I wish I could travel back in time. One is when I’m reading the kid’s menu. One is when I stumble upon Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on TBS. And one is after I’ve launched a new product or campaign.

You and I may share that last one.

Though we typically know the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, it’s the pesky unknowns us marketers wrestle with before a new product launch that keep us up at night. Things like: Is the product’s name right? Is the copy clear, but boring? Clever, but convoluted? Is the value as obvious as it should be?

Beyond messaging, most often, it comes down to whether your product’s positioning is right from the start; whether you set the product up in the right conditions and market category in the first place.

We all know the market is more saturated than ever. But what if, instead of fighting it, we used that momentum to our advantage?

April Dunford is the Founder of Rocket Launch Marketing, the former VP of Marketing for a series of high-growth startups and previous executive at big-wig companies like IBM and Nortel. She’s also a speaker, author and in-demand consultant specializing in product positioning. Advising companies on go-to-market strategy and messaging, she ensures they’re going after the right category and communicating their offering in a way that grabs prospects’ attention and makes its value crystal clear.

Basically, April knows her stuff. And she’ll be bringing her smarts to the CTAConf stage in August! But we have the patience of a toddler waiting for an iPad to charge, so we peppered her with some burning questions in anticipation of her talk. She was the top-rated speaker at last year’s conference, so we know this year’s gonna be good. You can enjoy a little time traveling to 2017 via the clip below:


Check out our Q&A with April below and keep your eyes peeled for the exclusive-to-everyone-who-reads-this-post discount code to see her in person.

First thing’s first: What exactly is product positioning and how does it differ from brand positioning?

April: You might say “Positioning” has its own positioning problem! It’s such a misunderstood concept. For some folks it’s mainly a messaging exercise, while others associate it very closely with branding. But positioning is much, much broader than either of those things.

Product positioning describes the specific market you intend to win and why you are uniquely qualified to win it. It’s the underpinning of your go-to-market strategy and impacts everything from marketing to sales, to customer success and the product itself.

What’s the first thing a client asks when you sit down with them?

April: Most CEOs don’t know it’s a product positioning problem they have. They know their customers have a hard time understanding what their product is all about and why they should care. That confusion results in long sales cycles, low close rates and poor marketing campaign performance.

A lot of the work I do is centered around teaching folks how to create context for their products by focusing on making value obvious to customers. Positioning as a concept isn’t new but, until now, we’ve all been pretty terrible at actually doing the work it requires. I teach companies a process for finding and delivering the best position for their products.

What’s the most common mistake you’ve seen businesses make with their go-to-market strategy?

April: Hands down, the most common mistake I see is companies trying to market to a set of customers that is much too broad. The reasoning is that, by going after a massive market, it will be easier to claim a small piece of it.

In reality, the opposite is true. Broad targeting puts your offering in direct competition with established market leaders that can both out-market and out-sell you. Beyond that, it leads to diluted messaging that waters down your best features and differentiators.

The easier—and far more effective thing to do—is target a smaller slice of customers who are highly suited to your product’s key features and the distinct value they can deliver.

Customers who most acutely feel the pain you address will be the most excited about your solution to that pain. They’ll pay you more, close faster and love your product so much they’ll end up marketing it for you. (Editor’s note: AKA the Holy Grail of marketing.)

Once you’ve established yourself with these highly suitable customers, you can build on your strengths and start to expand your targets to larger markets.

Can you tell us about the most challenging product positioning case you’ve worked on?

April: At IBM, I led the launch of a family of products that demanded an entirely new market category built from scratch. We had to convince customers, experts and analysts that certain market forces existed and would inevitably redraw the lines around existing market categories. On top of that, I had to convince them that IBM was the only company capable of drawing those lines.

There was also a catch: The products we had in that family weren’t particularly innovative on their own, at least not at the beginning. So the story itself hinged on convincing people that all of this revolutionary change was going to be sparked by the innovative combination of some pretty ho-hum products.

We managed to pull it off through sheer guts, a sprinkling of good luck and the deep marketing talent of my team at the time. But mainly, guts.

Your upcoming talk at CTAConf is about how to turn “marketing headwinds into tailwinds.” What do you mean by that?

April: In any market category, you’ll encounter extremely powerful forces that can either work for you or against you.

We often position our products in markets with strong competitors who are already perceived as leaders. Like swimming upstream, or fighting headwinds, we have to work extra hard to win in that environment.

Luckily, most products can be positioned in many different markets that offer greater chances of success. We just have to find ones where that inherent force is pushing us forward, like a tailwind, instead of pushing back on us.

In my talk, I’m going to outline exactly how you can use existing market forces to your advantage and grow revenue faster.

Want to hear this talk at CTAConf 2018? Get 10% off all Early Bird tickets ($80 off for General Attendees) by using the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout.

What should marketers consider, before anything else, when launching a new product?

April: The success of a launch depends on how well you understand three things:

  1. The problem your product solves and the competition it faces.
  2. The true value your product delivers for customers.
  3. Which types of customers care the most about that value and, most importantly, why?

If you’ve got these down, you’ll know exactly who you need to reach, the channels you need to use to reach those people and the value proposition you need to communicate.

What should marketers be doing differently now in terms of product positioning vs. five years ago?

April: We should start doing it! Most companies don’t deliberately position their product. They assume a default positioning based on how they first thought about it.

For example, say you’ve built a new email client. But after you got it into the market, you got some feedback, added or removed features and continued to iterate on it. Now you may have a solution that’s best positioned as a “group chat” or “social network” or “team collaboration tool” instead of focusing on email capabilities.

The market frame of reference you choose will completely change the way customers perceive your product and their expectations around pricing, features, support and your competitors.

Because the markets are more crowded, more competitive and shifting faster than they ever have before, we can’t get away with ignoring product positioning if we want our products to be successful.

Get every actionable detail of April’s positioning framework and go-to-market guide in her upcoming talk at Call to Action Conference, this August 27-29. Use the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout for 10% off single, group and customer rates (that’s on top of the Early Bird discount, ending May 31st)! Want more reasons to go? Click here for a bunch of ‘em.

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Making Market Forces Work for You: A Q&A With Product Positioning Pro April Dunford

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Announcing Call to Action Conference 2018: A Revolution for Today’s Marketing Evolution

Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘conference’ as, “An event at which industry professionals talk at other industry professionals who’ve stockpiled seven complimentary croissants in their bag to eat later. See also: Room temperature orange juice.”   

Whether it’s to learn some new tricks, make some new connections or drum up some new business, conferences are a necessary (and sometimes cool) part of being a marketer—but not all of them are worth your time. While your typical marketing conference has morphed from weak coffee and dry PowerPoints to free t-shirts and celebrity thought leaders, it can be tough to leave feeling like you’ve really gotten something out of the event.

We saw a need to change the conference experience. Because the experience of being a marketer has changed. 

Marketing now is harder than ever— it’s hyper-competitive, oversaturated and comprised of tired tactics that used to work. We need new solutions to old problems and actionable solutions to new problems. Especially when we’re forking out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a conference ticket (money we could’ve sacrificed to the AdWords gods).

Enter Call to Action Conference.

“CTAConf has set the bar for what a marketing event should be: fun, engaging and insightful. No matter the experience level or skill set, every attendee left with a new set of philosophies and tactics to apply in their marketing practice”

Ray Silva, Strategy Lead at Apply Digital and CTAConf 2017 attendee.

Now in its fifth year (only 55 more ’til we get that diamond!), CTAConf 2018 is going to be more exciting, more targeted and more committed to your future success than ever.

Already sold on joining us? Get 10% off Early Bird tickets by using the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout.

Why this conference is different (we promise)

CTAConf merges carefully curated, usable content with…well, having a great time. It’s single track, allergic to fluff and ensures you’ll walk away with leading-edge tactics, all wrapped up in an amazing experience you’ll truly enjoy.

We’re talking hands-on workshops, a concert atmosphere, all-you-can-eat snacks and gourmet food trucks, organic networking, a genuinely friendly team and fun parties in the beautiful setting of Vancouver, B.C. (Credit to Mother Nature for that one.)

Even the sessions themselves, held in the historic and fully immersive Queen Elizabeth Theatre, will make you feel less like you’re at a “work event” and more like you’re at a Broadway show about email marketing called Don’t Spamalot. 



Most importantly, it’s designed to deliver practical know-how and future-proofing strategies from true experts covering every facet of digital marketing.

A glimpse at who’s talking and what you’ll learn

April Dunford, Wind at Your Back: Making your Market Category Work for You

April has spent her career launching innovative tech products and is a seasoned expert at getting traction in increasingly noisy markets. Prior to founding Rocket Launch Marketing, where she works with companies on market strategy and positioning, she was VP of Marketing at a series of successful high-growth startups and an executive at global companies including IBM, Nortel and Siebel Systems. She was also the top-rated speaker at last year’s CTAConf (she happens to be equal parts genius and hilarious).

In her talk, you’ll learn :

  • How to shift to a favourable market category to give your marketing programs added velocity
  • How to completely change the way customers think about your offering to remove friction in your funnel
  • The three steps for shifting market categories, from isolating your differentiators to finding your downstream customers and picking the best market current to ride
Rob Bucci, What Google Serves Up For Local Searches

Rob is the founder and CEO of STAT Search Analytics, a rank tracking and SERP analytics service for SEO experts. A developer and entrepreneur in the SEO space since 2005, Rob especially loves tackling big-data challenges in data mining and analytics.

He’ll be bringing his SEO expertise to the stage to teach us:

  • How Google interprets different levels of local intent and what searchers are seeing most often
  • How to refine your SEO keyword lists by comparing SERPs
  • How to better tailor your content to build more targeted ad campaigns that achieve better results
Hana Abaza, Product Marketing: Inside and Out

Hana is the Head of Marketing for Shopify Plus, a division of Shopify that powers some of the world’s fastest growing and most iconic brands (Rebecca Minkoff, Nestle, The New York Times and FAO Schwartz, to name a few). Prior to joining Shopify, Hana led marketing and growth in a variety of industries and has a proven track record for scaling teams, revenue and customers.

You’ll leave her talk knowing:

  • The guidelines for how and when to invest in product marketing
  • How to develop a go-to-market framework for your company
  • How to set up product marketing as a cross-functional powerhouse
Ross Simmonds, Beyond Google: How To Attract Relevant Traffic Through Diverse Channels

Ross is the founder of Foundation Marketing and creator and co-founder of content curation tool, Crate, and Hustle & Grind, an online store for entrepreneurs.

Over the last several years, he’s worked to help some of the fastest-growing startups and a variety of Fortune 500 brands succeed in their digital marketing efforts. His talk focuses on typically under-used and ignored channels as missed opportunities for quality traffic.

During his talk, you’ll learn:

  • What brands can do to spread their story beyond SEO & SEM
  • How brands can leverage communities and other networks to drive consistent traffic
  • Research and data on the importance of diverse channels
  • Examples of what happens when you embrace a more diverse content approach
Krista Seiden, Measurement for Growth

Currently a Product Manager and Analytics Evangelist for the Google Analytics team, Krista is a leader in the digital analytics industry and co-chair for the San Francisco chapter of the Digital Analytics Association. She has nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing, analytics, and product management, having led analytics and optimization at Adobe and The Apollo Group prior to joining Google.

Her talk will cover:

  • What growth marketing really is, beyond the buzzwords
  • How effective growth marketing is rooted in analytics, experimentation, and product development
  • How to strategically measure and use data for targeted growth
Cyrus Shepard, SEO Success: The One Engagement Metric to Rule Them All

Former Head of SEO and Content Development at Moz, Cyrus now runs Zyppy, a fast-growing SEO company. When he’s not consulting with companies big and small on how to improve their rankings, traffic and profits, he travels the world as a speaker, making complex SEO equations easy to understand.

This August Cyrus will take the stage to teach us:

  • How much speed and rankings matter and steps to improve the right areas
  • What “fuzzy” engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit really mean and what you need to focus on
  • How to use SEO data to improve conversions
Oli Gardner, Content Marketing is Broken and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You

Oli is not only an Unbounce co-founder, he’s an expert and international speaker on conversion optimization, data-driven design and landing pages (he claims to have seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet).

He’s often the highest-rated speaker at events around the world, including previous Call to Action Conferences. This year, he’ll be talking:

  • Data and lessons learned from his biggest ever content marketing experiment, and how those lessons have changed his approach to content
  • A context-to-content-to-conversion strategy for big content that converts, based on designing for your customer’s “aha!” moments
  • Advanced methods for creating “choose your own adventure” navigational experiences to build event-based behavioural profiles of your visitors 
  • Innovative ways to productize and market the technology you already have, with use cases your customers had never considered

What’s happening off stage

Learn by doing with Unbounce workshops

Get your hands proverbially dirty with interactive workshops on A/B testing, landing page optimization, PPC, analytics and mastering Unbounce for more conversions across every type of digital campaign. A full-day event prior to the conference, the workshops are a chance to work directly with seasoned pros on solutions to real marketing problems. Workshops have been so popular in previous years they were standing room only.

Make your first (or hundredth!) landing page, popup or sticky bar with us at the workshops, and learn all the insider tips you can take home to your team.  

Eat to your stomach’s content, on us

Call to Action Conference food trucks
When we say free food, we don’t mean “Enjoy these sweaty muffins! If you want lunch, there’s a Chipotle two blocks away.” We mean constantly replenished drinks, foodie-approved snacks and a lunchtime convoy of the city’s finest food trucks delivering everything from truly tasty salads to life-changing mac ‘n’ cheese. All included.

Meet, connect and party with great people


Call to Action Conference hovers around 1,200 attendees for a refreshingly intimate experience with the buzzing energy of a big-time event. Meet fellow passionate marketers from cities all over the world, mingle with industry leaders and see just how stereotypically Canadian the friendly Unbounce crew is.

“CTAConf was amazing! My favourite part? The caliber of attendees and the energy they brought. Met so many remarkable marketers!”

—Jes Kirkwood, Head of Content Marketing at ProsperWorks and 2017 attendee.

Soak up Vancouver at the best time of year


Business and pleasure do mix! Especially in summer. CTAConf 2018 is happening August 27-29, smack dab in the middle of Vancouver’s sunshine season. Take a seawall stroll between sessions, taste-test your way through a diverse food scene, hone your craft beer palate at one of many world-renowned breweries or tack on an extra day and get outside the city to those calling mountains. We turn into human prunes waiting out months of rain for a Vancouver summer and it’s totally worth it. Come see for yourself.

Enjoy champagne hotels at boxed-wine prices


We’ve secured 40-50% discounts on rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites, exclusive to CTAConf 2018 attendees and just steps away from the conference venue. Rooms are at first come, first serve and book up fast so grab yours ASAP and prepare your senses for the fluffiest of robes.

Join the revolution

Call to Action Conference 2018 is coming up fast and early bird prices are ending soon. Get your single, group or customer ticket before May 31, 2018 and come hold us to our promise. You’ll leave feeling inspired, energized and ready for marketing victory with tactics and strategies you can put into action the very next day. In other words, you’ll really get something out of this.

Don’t forget to sweeten that Early Bird deal. Use the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout to get 10% off all ticket rates. See you in August!

P.S. If you’re joining us from the United States, you’re in luck. Ticket prices are in Canadian dollars. Your boss basically can’t say no (and if you happen to be the boss, you can take your whole team). You’re welcome, eh.

Original article: 

Announcing Call to Action Conference 2018: A Revolution for Today’s Marketing Evolution

Join 14 Performance Marketing Experts for PPC Week, August 14-18

You know that opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Just when Indy thinks he’s successfully Jones’d the Golden Idol, the ominous rumble of a booby trap sounds and he’s being chased through a tunnel by what I’d wager to be the world’s most famous celebrity boulder.  

I’d also wager that PPC marketers are somewhat familiar with this feeling.

As soon as you get the notion you’ve got this whole paid marketing thing down, a Google update or new study (or surprising result from your own campaigns) appears out of nowhere to crush it.

The only way to save your butt is to stay ahead.

Enter PPC Week, August 14-18:

Fourteen of the smartest minds in performance marketing, hailing from LinkedIn, AdFury, Optmyzr and more, will be leading a series of sessions over five days to give you an edge on the competition and get better results from your campaigns.

And if you’re thinking, “As if I can make time for a week when I’m dodging boulders left and right over here!”, know that we’ve designed PPC Week with your (lack of) time in mind.

Each day is categorized by vertical and features three webinars:

  1. One for PPC beginners
  2. One for intermediate/advanced marketers
  3. An extra if you fancy a bonus round

Registration gives you full access, so you can choose to attend all 15 hours, hit up Wednesday’s sessions only to hone your Excel skills, or skip everything and watch the recordings on your own schedule.

Get your free pass to PPC Week

Once you sign up, we’ll send you a confirmation email. We’ll email you the agenda and webinar links a week before the event so you can access the live sessions straight from your inbox on the day.
By submitting this form you expressly consent to receive Unbounce Marketing and PPC Week Partners content such as best practices, tips & tricks and ebooks. You can always unsubscribe at any time.

So who are these PPC peeps and what will you be learning from them? Here’s what’s on deck.

Day 1: Search Advertising

AdWords Organization and Management Techniques for Maximum Performance (Beginner, 8am PT)

Matt Macchia, CEO of AdfFury

Google AdWords is the most effective yet complex web advertising platform around. Learn how to better organize and manage your AdWords account settings and see the performance of your paid ad campaigns skyrocket overnight.

How to Test Ads to Gain Insight (Intermediate/Advanced, 10am PT)

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of AdAlysis

Learn how to pull rich data insights from your paid ads to fuel your PPC campaigns. Specifically, we’ll show you how to use demographic testing data and data from thousands of ads.

Automate PPC with AdWords Scripts – No Programming Skills Needed! (Bonus, 12pm PT)

Frederick Vallaeys, CEO of Optmyzr

Learn how to get started with AdWords Scripts – the new AdWords tool that lets you automate virtually anything in AdWords, from reporting to managing bids, budgets, ads and keywords.

Banish those pesky spreadsheets for good!

Day 2: PPC Optimization

When (and How) to Optimize Your PPC Landing Pages (Beginner, 8am PT)

Corey Dilley, Director of Campaign Strategy at Unbounce and Joe Martinez, Senior Manager of Paid at Granular Marketing

If your PPC campaigns are driving good traffic but not converting well, your biggest ROI gains might come from optimizing your landing pages. Learn how good (or bad) your PPC landing pages are and when you should (and shouldn’t) optimize them. Come with your landing page conversion rates in hand to compare them to industry benchmarks.

Brilliant Facebook Shortcuts for PPC (Intermediate/Advanced, 10am PT)

Chad Powell, Senior Account Analyst at Hanapin

Learn the shortcuts and optimizations that can help your campaigns perform better and help you work faster. We’ll examine the ad creation process using the Power Editor tool, finding and tuning your audiences with the Audience Insights tool and structuring and segmenting your campaigns for success.

Properly Valuing and Optimizing Paid Search Traffic (Bonus, 12pm PT)

Emily Kirk, Paid Digital Marketing Manager at Workshop Digital

Aligning your paid search traffic with your business goals can be challenging. Learn how to set smart bids that align with your KPIs. We’ll explore bidding layers, setting predictive bids and valuing traffic based on lead type or conversion goal.

Day 3: Excel Tricks

10 Must-Haves for PPC Newbies (Beginner, 8am PT)

Alaina Thompson, Account Manager at Hanapin

Hanapin will share the 10 Excel skills that every PPC newbie should know, from conditional formatting to pivot tables. Join us to learn how to use Excel for faster, more effective PPC analysis.

Geek Out with Advanced (Yet Practical) Excel Tips for PPC (Intermediate/Advanced, 10am PT)

John Lee, Sr. Client Development and Training Manager at Bing Ads

Unlock your Excel merit badge with these PPC spreadsheet tips. Learn how to troubleshoot low Quality Score with the Bing Ads Intelligence Excel plugin. Discover a method for filtering search query data with conditional logic. And hey, while we’ve got your attention – let’s build a keyword health dashboard, too!

Visualize Your PPC Data Like a Pro with Power BI (Bonus, 12pm PT)

John Lee, Sr. Client Development and Training Manager at Bing Ads

Excel is nice. But are you ready to uplevel your PPC dashboard skills? Discover the reporting marvel that is Power BI. Learn the ins and outs of this dynamic reporting software and how you can easily plug in your PPC data to create beautiful (and insightful) visual dashboards. Build your Power BI skills by learning how to build reports for geographic, demographic and keyword data.

Day 4: Audience Strategy

How to Reach Your Best-Fit Customers Across Search and Social (Beginner, 8am PT)

Michael McEuen, Director of Marketing at AdStage

Some of the best opportunities to drive sales already exist in your database. Learn how to reach and nurture prospects and accelerate sales with audience targeting options from Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Getting Creative with Audience Targeting (Intermediate/Advanced, 10am PT)

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of AdAlysis and Maria Corcoran, Search Marketing Platform Manager at Adobe

Learn how to get creative with remarketing (including remarketing lists for search ads [RLSA]), customer match, similar audiences and demographics and leverage audience targeting to its full potential.

Audience to Outcome: The Next Generation of Programmatic (Bonus, 12pm PT)

David Simon, CMO of Steelhouse

As the next chapter of programmatic advertising begins, connected technology is ready to make millions of simultaneous decisions a minute, automatically moving ad dollars across channels, formats and publishers. Join our webinar to understand how dynamic, fully optimized ad plans that value outcome and sublimate the meaning of audience are the future of programmatic advertising.

Day 5: Tracking Conversions

Tracking Conversions That Matter: Aligning Your Business Goals With Your Digital Strategy (Beginner, 8am PT)

Zack Bedingfield, Search Engine Marketing Manager at CallRail

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for conversion tracking. Learn how your conversions goals differ between your landing pages, what kind of data you can pull from different conversion types and which on-site conversion actions you should be tracking.

Going Beyond Leads: Full Funnel Tracking from Leads to Revenue (Intermediate/Advanced, 10am PT)

JD Prater, Head of Customer Acquisition at AdStage

Learn how to track your campaign performance data from leads to revenue and how to use this data to optimize your maximum return on advertising spending (ROAS).

Delivering ROI with LinkedIn Demand Generation (Bonus, 12pm PT)

Tyrona Heath, Agency & Partner Education Program Lead at LinkedIn

B2B marketers are feeling the pressure to use complex data, but this can be pretty challenging. Learn how to use LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and LinkedIn Matched Audiences to get more ROI from your LinkedIn campaigns and get tips for improving your campaign’s success.

Are you in?

As mentioned above, join in for every webinar, a select few, or simply sign up to get the recordings and geek out on PPC, Netflix style. You’ll come away with more than a few Golden Idols in the form of actionable insights you can really use.

And no snakes, Jones, we promise.

Get your free pass to PPC Week

Once you sign up, we’ll send you a confirmation email. We’ll email you the agenda and webinar links a week before the event so you can access the live sessions straight from your inbox on the day.
By submitting this form you expressly consent to receive Unbounce Marketing and PPC Week Partners content such as best practices, tips & tricks and ebooks. You can always unsubscribe at any time.

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Join 14 Performance Marketing Experts for PPC Week, August 14-18

We Want to Put You on a Plane to Call to Action Conference [CONTEST]

Image via Shutterstock.

If you’re an active social networker, you already know that travel photos and social media go together like… aerial shots of brunch and social media.

So when we decided to throw a social media contest together for our upcoming Call to Action Conference, it seemed only fitting to make it travel themed. Not just because we like taking 10-second mental vacations by staring at pretty pictures of pretty places. But because Unbounce has done a little travelling itself.

After expanding to the German, Brazilian and Spanish markets over the past year, we opened an official Berlin office in January. Four walls, front door, ever-flowing kaffee and all. We’re thrilled that this year’s conference is the first we’ll host as a truly international company — and we want to celebrate by putting you on a plane with a free ticket to Call to Action Conference 2017.

The details

What we want to know is:

What’s your favourite place in the world?

Tweet and/or Instagram a photo of wherever that may be (be it from your iPhoto gallery or Google Images, we can’t tell and we don’t care) with the caption:

“Fly me to #CTAConf @unbounce and make me love Vancouver as much as I love [insert location]”!

The winner will be announced at noon PST on Friday, June 3rd and receive a $1,000 flight voucher as well as a free ticket to Call to Action Conference, worth $999.

Click below for more contest details if you want them. And if you’re thinking, “What is CTAConf and why do I want a ticket to it?” then see what all the hoopla’s about.

Originally posted here – 

We Want to Put You on a Plane to Call to Action Conference [CONTEST]

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6 Things We All Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Now

I love social media. I live social media! As in, I literally make a living off of it.

Working in social media means navigating some tricky waters. Contests that kill one time and flop the next, the all-too-familiar restraint of 140 characters, an angry Facebook comment popping up on the weekend when you’re already a few beers deep…

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There are always new mistakes to be made, fumbles to be fumbled, and don’ts to learn (the hard way).

But some social media lessons are learned the easy way. Say, from reading a blog post.

Here are six social media marketing don’ts that need to kicked to the virtual curb.

1. Automated messages

Ever follow a person or company on Twitter, only to have a message arrive in your inbox one nanosecond later with a “Thanks for following!” and a nod to their website, Facebook page, blog or [insert self-promotional link here]?

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FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMATED GIFS, PLEASE STOP.

Automated messages are my #1 social media pet peeve and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone. Only that bet would be rigged, because I know I’m not.

Sorry automated messages, but nobody likes you.

I get that on paper, they seem like a great idea. Engage with your followers immediately! Show them your helpful content! Lead them to your website! Win-wins all around! Sure.

But you know what else sounded good on paper? QR codes.

In reality, automated messages come off as lazy, detached and out of touch.

While I’m sure there are people out there who swear that automated messages have grown their follower count or resulted in a lead, the risk of leaving such a bad taste in your followers’ mouths just isn’t worth it.

For every response you get, there are likely 50 other people like me who silently cringe and wonder when you’ll get the memo.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for social media, but one thing that remains constant is that genuineness wins when it comes to earning the trust of your community and building relationships with them.

And those canned, self-serving, abundantly-clear-there-is-no-real-person-sending-it messages are anything but genuine.


Real engagement isn’t automated. On Twitter, skip the canned auto-replies. No one likes them.
Click To Tweet


2. Over-hashtagging

Hashtags are synonymous with social media itself – they’re great for categorizing your posts, finding and jumping into conversations, giving your campaigns their own special theme, or inducing a slew of eye-rolling when used in offline conversation.

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But just as one realizes when reaching the bottom of a movie theatre-sized package of Skittles, too much of a good thing can often be a bad thing.

Piling on the hashtags will either convolute the message you’re trying to get across or make it look like you’re desperately gunning for new followers instead of engaging with your current audience.

Most of the words people are hashtagging are so vague, they’re not doing much of anything for them anyway…

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When it comes to Twitter, try using no more than two hashtags per tweet. And be strategic about it.

Hashtag the most targeted keyword in your message or find ones that apply to it.

For instance, I’ll often slap #yvr onto any Vancouver-centric tweets from Unbounce’s account — and leave it at that.


Are you guilty of over-hashtagging on Twitter? You could be convoluting your message.
Click To Tweet


3. Blanket publishing across all networks

Not to be confused with my arch-nemesis automated messaging, automated publishing – scheduling posts to be published at a later time – is the best and essential for anyone working in or with social media.

Automated publishing saves a ton of time, energy and gray hairs (shout-out to Buffer and Hootsuite for making my job that much easier).

That said, deploying one post across all networks is a recipe for this:

linkedin-fail

I’m assuming the update above was triggered from Twitter to simultaneously post to LinkedIn (where I found it), which resulted in a strange “0 comments” image being pulled and the inclusion of a hashtag on a platform that doesn’t support them. Womp womp.

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If you’re sharing to your personal accounts, you may not care about formatting, but for businesses it’s important to optimize posts for where they’re going to be posted.

Each social network is its own beast with its own rules, and making sure your updates display properly puts you one step closer to more clicks and more engagement.


If you blanket publish across social media networks, people notice. Tailor posts for each channel.
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A vibrant image on Facebook or tagging the right people on Google Plus can make all the difference. Plus, it just shows that you give enough of a s@#$ to provide a more appealing experience for your audience. Thumbs up to giving a s@#$!

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4. Mishandling negative feedback

We’ve all been privy to the wonder that is the internet troll – the online equivalent of an angry Grandpa Simpson.

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This isn’t about them. Their problem isn’t you, it’s that their mother didn’t hug them enough. Or hugged them too much…

I’m talking about the not-so-nice comments, frustrated questions or criticisms from regular people that any business has to deal with.

Responding to negative feedback is tough, and it can even be a bit intimidating when dealing with an especially irate person.

It helps to remember that most people are reasonable and just want to be heard. A calm, prompt, and most of all, human response can go a long way.

What you don’t want to do is come off as apathetic, fake or defensive. I’d say any response is better than no response, but if you’re about to go all ape shizz on them you should probably hold off:

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The above example is admittedly extreme (most of us have enough common sense not to insult our customers).

But even a response with even a hint of contempt or listlessness — or straight-up not responding at all — can do a lot of damage to your relationship with your customers and brand reputation.

Talk to people like they’re people and do what you can to address their problem, whether that means clearing it up yourself or putting them in touch with a team member who can. If you’re doing your best to understand where people are coming from and help them, that will come through.

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Pro tip: When in doubt, channel the spirit of Amy’s Baking Company and then do the opposite.

5. Not optimizing content for sharing

Curating content for Unbounce’s social community is a big part of my job. I visit a ton of different blogs each day, ready to share the good stuff with our audience. The funny thing is, a lot of blogs don’t seem to be ready for me.

When I’m ready to share an article, there are two things I don’t want to have to do:

  1. Search for sharing buttons
  2. Search for a Twitter handle

I know, I know — if these are my problems, then my problems aren’t real problems. And the Buffer extension mostly takes care of this non-problem, on my end. But from one marketer to another, it’s just good sense to have your content be as easy to share as possible and optimized for doing so.

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That means putting sharing icons front and center, making sure the title of the post or a custom message is pre-filled (and under 140 characters with the link), and including your company handle so you’re credited by default.

If you don’t have sharing icons installed already, try AddThis or ShareThis.

6. Not sending social campaigns to a landing page

Obviously we’re all about landing pages here at Unbounce, but it’s not just because they pay the bills. It’s because they serve a real purpose and serve it well.

Landing pages allow you to send visitors to a super-targeted page that addresses their specific wants or needs.

If you’re a software company running a Facebook ad for your newest feature, sending the people who click on that ad to your homepage – which probably has a lot of general information about your product and a high attention ratiowill just leave your visitors confused and likely to bounce.

By sending them to a landing page focusing solely on that new feature with one call to action urging visitors to try it out, your chances of converting them increase dramatically.

For a more detailed explanation (with examples!), check out Tia Kelly’s awesome post on why sending social traffic to your homepage will leave you forever alone.

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Focus on what works

The landscape of social media will always be changing and with it, its best practices for engaging with and building our communities.

As we learn what works and what doesn’t, it’s up to us to weed out the bad tactics and focus on the good ones. In other words, find what works. And then keep doing it.

What am I missing here? Any social media marketing pet peeves you want to add to the list?

– Hayley Mullen
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6 Things We All Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Now