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How To Create Blockbuster B2B Stories That Sell [Rose-Colored Glasses]

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How To Create Blockbuster B2B Stories That Sell [Rose-Colored Glasses]

How many times have you heard advice on becoming a great storyteller?

And how many times have you wished that advice translated more easily to content marketing?

You’re not alone. I often get questions about how to transform marketing content into great stories.

Earlier this week, I talked with a team of content marketers who feel passionate about creating engaging content marketing for the medical device company where they work.

But they told me that they struggle to create compelling customer stories that include the details their product marketing colleagues request. The product team routinely sends four-slide decks filled with product features and technical specifications they want to see in the content.

The unspoken secondary part of their request: Make it exciting.

I told the content team they need a “pope in the pool.”

Read that sentence again to make sure you didn’t misunderstand – you need a pope in the pool.

Try the pope-in-the-pool #storytelling technique when you need to create #content that includes product features but doesn’t bore your audience, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The content exposition problem

Storytellers often need to relay specific details to help people understand what’s going on. This exposition (if handled poorly) risks boring the audience and causing them to tune out or skip ahead.

For example, consider what happens when Clark Kent meets his father, Jor-El, in Man of Steel. Jor-El launches into a nearly five-minute speech filled with information Clark doesn’t need at that moment. The writers use the speech to (theoretically) help the audience understand Superman’s background, the history of his home planet, and the motivations of the story’s central villain. It’s all relevant. But the way it’s relayed makes it dull.

Another kind of exposition no-no happens in the movie Big Hero 6. During an argument between two siblings, one yells, “What would mom and dad say?”  The other answers, “I don’t know! They died when I was 3, remember?”

Oof. Is the storyteller suggesting that the other character doesn’t remember that their parents died? That’s poor exposition because it asks characters to spout information that other characters already know, causing the audience to question the story.

Poor exposition causes audiences to question your story, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. #Storytelling Click To Tweet

HANDPLOCKAT RELATERAT INNEHÅLL: B2B Content Isn’t Boring Unless Your Writing Is

What it means to put a pope in the pool

In his book on writing, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder describes the “pope in the pool” technique, which takes its name from a scene in a script called The Plot To Kill the Pope. Snyder admired the writer’s choice to have the pope’s staff convey information to him (and the audience) as he swims laps in a pool.

The scene exploits the dissonance between how people expect to see a pope (on a balcony in ceremonial garb) and how the movie shows the pope (in a pool wearing a bathing suit). The audience feels intrigued enough not to mind the stream of facts and background information.

Steven Spielberg uses this technique brilliantly in Jurassic Park, a movie that requires the audience to understand some details of DNA replication. The director could have shown the characters staring at a dinosaur egg while one of the scientists in the park explained how DNA replication occurs. But some of the characters are experts who already understand the concepts. So that kind of scene would have insulted the audience’s and the characters’ intelligence (and probably bored them, too).

Instead, Spielberg pulls a great storyteller move. He shows the expert characters testing one of the rides (built for kids) in which an animated creature explains DNA replication. The experts bicker and fidget with the ride and make fun of the information. The scene sets these characters up as true experts and creates an entertaining and informative experience.

Can you put the pope in B2B content?

I use the pope-in-the-pool technique in my presentations whenever I need to deliver a litany of research results. Wrapping the research findings into entertaining anecdotes or side stories helps the audience absorb the data while the stories keep their interest (I hope).

Wrapping data into entertaining anecdotes helps you keep audience attention while they absorb the details, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. #Storytelling Click To Tweet

And I teach my clients to do it, too.

My clients at the medical device company had a compelling story to work with. An ex-army veteran (who is now CIO) developed the company’s portable refrigeration unit.

But the content team struggled to develop a way to insert technical information without taking the reader out of the story.

The typical approach to a customer story would get weighed down by details in exposition like this:

While working in a previous role, Sam Smith, CIO for ABC Company, sought refrigeration devices that could withstand extreme environments. The technical specs he wanted were:

  • Ability to withstand temperatures from -4 to 120 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • 48-hour temperature duration using only internal batteries (no ice required)
  • Safety alarms to indicate deviation in temperature

Our brand ultimately provided Sam with a refrigeration device he could depend on.

Instead, rather than use bullet points and a laundry list of specs, the content team could reveal exposition like this:

During his 11 months as an active medic in California, Sam Smith heard the state’s residents brag that it’s possible to ski at breakfast and surf at lunchtime. He never believed it – until the day he was asked to transport vital organs from a snowy mountaintop to the middle of the Mojave Desert. The temperature outside hovered near zero when he loaded the precious cargo into the refrigerated unit. By the time he arrived at the destination just a few hours later, the outdoor temp had hit 118 degrees. Despite the lack of skis or a surfboard, Sam finally understood the Californians’ claim. But even more impressive than the state’s varied climates? Not one safety alarm on the refrigerator unit sounded during the journey. Despite the dramatic swing in outdoor temperature, the interior temp didn’t shift more than 2.5 degrees.

Make the technique work in your content

The details of the stories you tell will vary. But you can steal the idea of wrapping information in an engaging, contextual element of the story.

Admittedly, it’s easier to throw your pope into the pool when you have an evocative story from the start. The medical device team had the CIO’s anecdote about his time in California. But what if they hadn’t?

That’s where imagination comes in. The next time you need to convey brand or product information, imagine adding something unique. Draw from a character’s history. Create a fun distraction for characters in the story (think Selena Gomez explaining synthesized collateralized debt obligation was using the game of Blackjack as a metaphor in the movie The Big Short).

You may not get to control what information must go into a particular story you’re telling. But you can control the way it goes in. Just remember, information doesn’t make a story memorable. The feeling the story evokes makes information memorable.

HANDPLOCKAT RELATERAT INNEHÅLL:

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just three minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckovisa CMI-e-postmeddelanden för att få Rose-Colored Glasses i din inkorg varje vecka.

Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Amazon Announces Auction System for FBA Storage Space [What Sellers Need to Know]

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Amazon Announces Auction System for FBA Storage Space [What Sellers Need to Know]

Amazon’s FBA program is a tremendous asset for brands who sell products on the platform. With FBA, retailers can outsource the heavy lifting of logistics such as warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution for a fee. In the last few years, sellers have expressed the need for more capacity, predictability, and control over their inventory. Amazon’s recent update helps sellers tackle those challenges and so much more.

Amazon just announced a new streamlined FBA capacity management system that will go into effect on March 1, 2023. With this new system in place, Amazon FBA will be turned into an auction where sellers can bid for additional storage space.

The system will now incorporate a single, month-long FBA capacity limit rather than weekly restock limits that can make inventory planning challenging for sellers. Now, capacity limits for the upcoming month will be announced in the third full week of each month via the Capacity Monitor in Seller Central and email notification. According to Amazon, the majority of sellers will now have access to greater capacity volumes than before.

With this new update, Amazon also announced they will provide estimated limits for the following two months to help sellers plan over a longer period. In a recent blog post highlighting the announcement, Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President of Amazon Worldwide Selling Partner Services stated, “We will forecast how much space and labor we expect to have to provide these estimates, but these estimates may vary up or down based on how efficiently sellers are using their capacity, as measured by the Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score.”

With the new Capacity Manager in place, sellers will also be able to request additional capacity based on a reservation fee that they specify. Mehta noted…

“Requests are granted objectively, starting with the highest reservation fee per cubic foot until all capacity available under this program has been allocated. When additional capacity is granted, sellers’ reservation fees are offset by earning performance credits from the sales they generate using the extra capacity. Performance credits are designed to offset up to 100% of the reservation fee, so sellers don’t pay for the additional capacity as long as their products sell through.

 

Our goal is to provide sellers with more control over how much space they can have while limiting unproductive use. We’ve piloted this feature with certain US sellers, and we’re excited that with this launch, we will expand it so all sellers can request higher FBA capacity limits.”

 

The recent announcement also highlighted how Amazon will set capacity limits and measure sellers’ inventory usage in cubic feet (vs. number of units), which better represents the capacity sellers’ products use in our fulfillment centers and transportation vehicles. As many sellers prefer to plan in units, Amazon will continue to show inventory usage in units but will also provide an estimate of how many units specific cubic volume capacity limits are likely to permit.

 

Tinuiti’s Take on the New FBA Capacity System

 

Change is certainly on the horizon. Let’s hear from Tinuiti’s own Bjorn Johnson on tips for how you can prepare for the FBA change coming March 1st.

“These changes are likely to be impactful, especially to sellers with larger products. Amazon reverting to cubic foot-based storage limits is likely to reintroduce previous issues for these clients in maintaining healthy inventory levels. Their difficulties look to be exacerbated by the addition of the bidding system. In order to keep their already high-fulfillment-fee products in stock, they’ll need to bid on large amounts of space. On the other hand, sellers with smaller products are likely to be able to store more units than before, and have the flexibility to bid on smaller amounts of space. The decision from Amazon looks like a clear effort to encourage small, light, easy-to-ship and fulfill products.”

– Bjorn Johnson, Operations Manager at Tinuiti

 

Want to Learn More About the New Auction System for FBA Storage Space?

 

We will continue to keep you informed as we learn more about the new FBA capacity system. If you’re interested in learning more about our Amazon offerings or if you have any questions concerning FBA, contact us today.

 

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How to optimize your online forms and checkouts

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How to optimize your online forms and checkouts



Forms are probably the most important part of your customer journey. They are the final step where the user entrusts you with their precious personal information in exchange for the goods or services you’ve promised.

And yet, too many companies spend minimal time on making sure their form experience is a good one for their users. They don’t use data to establish where the UX problems are on their forms, and they don’t run form-specific experiments to determine how to improve their conversion rate. As a result, too many forms are unnecessarily driving potential customers away, burning potential revenue and leads that could have been converted if they had only spent a little time and effort on optimization. Two-thirds of people who start a form don’t go on to complete it, meaning that a lot of money is being left on the table.

This article contains some of our top tips to help optimize your forms + checkouts with the goal of improving their conversion rate and delivering more customers and leads.

Use data to identify your problem fields

While user testing and session replay tools are useful in identifying possible form issues, you should also be using a specialist form analytics tool, as this will allow you to quantify the scale of the problem – where are most people dropping out – and prioritize improvements accordingly. A good form analytics tool will have advanced insights that will help work out what the problem is as well, giving you a head start on creating hypotheses for testing.

A/B test your forms

We’ve already mentioned how important it is to nurture your forms like any other part of your website. This also applies to experimentation. Your A/B testing tool such as Optimizely should allow you to easily put together a test to see if your hypothesis will improve your conversion rate. If there is also an integration with your form analytics tool you should then be able to push the test variants into it for further analysis.

Your analytics data and user testing should guide your test hypothesis, but some aspects you may want to look at are:

  • Changing the error validation timing (to trigger upon input rather than submission)
  • Breaking the form into multiple steps rather than a single page
  • Removing or simplifying problem fields
  • Manage user expectations by adding a progress bar and telling them how long the form will take upfront
  • Removing links to external sites so they are not distracted
  • Re-wording your error messages to make them more helpful

Focus on user behavior after a failed submission

Potential customers who work their way through their form, inputting their personal information, before clicking on the final ‘Submit’ button are your most valuable. They’ve committed time and effort to your form; they want what you are offering. If they click that button but can’t successfully complete the form, something has gone wrong, and you will be losing conversions that you could have made.

Fortunately, there are ways to use your form data to determine what has gone wrong so you can improve the issue.

Firstly, you should look at your error message data for this particular audience. Which messages are shown when they click ‘Submit? What do they do then? Do they immediately abandon, or do they try to fix the issue?

If you don’t have error message tracking (or even if you do), it is worth looking at a Sankey behavior flow for your user’s path after a failed submission. This audience will click the button then generally jump back to the field they are having a problem with. They’ll try to fix it, unsuccessfully, then perhaps bounce back and forth between the problem field a couple of times before abandoning in frustration. By looking at the flow data, you can determine the most problematic fields and focus your attention there.

Microcopy can make the checkout experience less stressful

If a user is confused, it makes their form/checkout experience much less smooth than it otherwise could be. Using microcopy – small pieces of explanatory information – can help reduce anxiety and make it more likely that they will complete the form.

Some good uses of microcopy on your forms could be:

  • Managing user expectations. Explain what information they need to enter in the form so they can have it on hand. For example, if they are going to need their driver’s licence, then tell them so.
  • Explain fields. Checkouts often ask for multiple addresses. Think “Current Address”, “Home Address” and “Delivery Address”. It’s always useful to make it clear exactly what you mean by these so there is no confusion.
  • Field conditions. If you have strict stipulations on password creation, make sure you tell the user. Don’t wait until they have submitted to tell them you need special characters, capital letters, etc.
  • You can often nudge the user in a certain direction with a well-placed line of copy.
  • Users are reluctant to give you personal information, so explaining why you need it and what you are going to do with it is a good idea.

A good example of reassuring microcopy

Be careful with discount codes

What is the first thing a customer does if they are presented with a discount code box on an ecommerce checkout? That’s right, they open a new browser tab and go searching for vouchers. Some of them never come back. If you are using discount codes, you could be driving customers away instead of converting them. Some studies show that users without a code are put off purchasing when they see the discount code box.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can continue to offer discount codes while mitigating the FOMO that users without one feel:

  • Use pre-discounted links. If you are offering a user a specific discount, email a link rather than giving them a code, which will only end up on a discount aggregator site.
  • Hide the coupon field. Make the user actively open the coupon box rather than presenting them with it smack in the middle of the flow.
  • Host your own offers. Let every user see all the offers that are live so they can be sure that they are not missing out.
  • Change the language. Follow Amazon’s lead and combine the Gift Card & Promotional Codes together to make it less obvious.

An example from Amazon on how to make the discount code field less prominent

Get error messages right

Error messages don’t have to be bad UX. If done right, they can help guide users through your form and get them to commit.

How do you make your error messages useful?

  • Be clear that they are errors. Make the messages standout from the form – there is a reason they are always in red.
  • Be helpful. Explain exactly what the issue is and tell the user how to fix it. Don’t be ambiguous.

Don’t do this!

  • Display the error next to the offending field. Don’t make the user have to jump back to the top of the form to find out what is wrong.
  • Use microcopy. As noted before, if you explain what they need to do early, they users are less likely to make mistakes.

Segment your data by user groups

Once you’ve identified an issue, you’ll want to check whether it affects all your users or just a specific group. Use your analytics tools to break down the audience and analyze this. Some of the segmentations you might want to look at are:

  • Device type. Do desktop and mobile users behave differently?
  • Operating system. Is there a problem with how a particular OS renders your form?
  • New vs. returning. Are returning users more or less likely to convert than first timers?
  • Do different product buyers have contrasting expectations of the checkout?
  • Traffic source. Do organic sources deliver users with higher intent than paid ones?

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Om författaren

Alun Lucas is the Managing Director of Zuko Analytics. Zuko is an Optimizely partner that provides form optimization software that can identify when, where and why users are abandoning webforms and help get more customers successfully completing your forms.


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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

Now that we’ve officially settled into the new year, it’s important to reiterate that among the most effective ways to promote your business are Google Ads. Not only do Google Ads increase your brand visibility, but they also make it easier for you to sell your services and products while generating more traffic to your website.

The thing about Google Ads, though, is that setting up (and running) a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy – in fact, it’s pretty beginner-unfriendly and time-consuming. And yet, statistically speaking, no platform does what Google Ads can do when it comes to audience engagement and outreach. Therefore, it will be beneficial to learn about and adopt some smart bidding strategies that can help you get the most out of your Google Ads.

To that end, let’s check out a few different bidding strategies you can put behind your Google Ads campaigns, how these strategies can maximize the results of your Google Ads, and the biggest benefits of each strategy.

Smart bidding in Google Ads: what does it mean, anyway?

Before we cover the bidding strategies that can get the most out of your Google Ads, let’s define what smart bidding means. Basically, it lets Google Ads optimize your bids for you. That doesn’t mean that Google replaces you when you leverage smart bidding, but it does let you free up time otherwise spent on keeping track of the when, how, and how much when bidding on keywords.

The bidding market is simply too big – and changing too rapidly – for any one person to keep constant tabs on it. There are more than 5.5 billion searches that Google handles every day, and most of those searches are subject to behind-the-scenes auctions that determine which ads display based on certain searches, all in a particular order.

That’s where smart bidding strategies come in: they’re a type of automated bidding strategy to generate more conversions and bring in more money, increasing your profits and cash flow. Smart bidding is your way of letting Google Ads know what your goals are (a greater number of conversions, a goal cost per conversion, more revenue, or a better ROAS), after which Google checks what it’s got on file for your current conversion data and then applies that data to the signals it gets from its auctions.

Types of smart bidding strategies

Now that you know what smart bidding in Google Ads is and why it’s important, let’s cover the best smart bidding strategies you can use to your advantage.

Maximize your conversions

The goal of this strategy is pretty straightforward: maximize your conversions and get the most out of your budget’s allocation toward said conversions. Your conversions, be they a form submission, a customer transaction, or a simple phone call, are something valuable that you want to track and, of course, maximize.

The bottom line here is simply generating the greatest possible number of conversions for your budget. This strategy can potentially become costly, so remember to keep an eye on your cost-per-click and how well your spending is staying inside your budget.

If you want to be extra vigilant about keeping conversion costs in a comfy range, you can define a CPA goal for your maximize conversions strategy (assuming you’ve got this feature available).

Target cost per acquisition

The purpose behind this strategy is to meet or surpass your cost-per-acquisition objective that’s tied to your daily budget. When it comes to this strategy, it’s important to determine what your cost-per-acquisition goal is for the strategy you’re pursuing.

In most cases, your target cost per acquisition goal will be similar to the 30-day average you’ve set for your Google Ads campaign. Even if this isn’t going to be your end-all-be-all CPA goal, you’ll want to use this as a starting point.

You’ll have lots of success by simply leveraging target cost per acquisition on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but you can take this one step further by creating a single tCPA bid strategy that you share between every single one of your campaigns. This makes the most sense when running campaigns with identical CPA objectives. That’s because you’ll be engaging with a bidding strategy that’s fortified with a lot of aggregate data from which Google’s algorithm can draw, subsequently endowing all of your campaigns with some much-needed experience.

Maximize clicks

As its name implies, this strategy centers around ad optimization to gain as many clicks as possible based on your budget. We recommend using the maximize clicks strategy if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website. The best part? Getting this strategy off the ground is about as easy as it gets.

All you need to do to get started with maximizing clicks is settle on a maximum cost-per-click that you then earmark. Once that’s done, you can decide how much money you want to shell out every time you pay for a bid. You don’t actually even need to specify an amount per bid since Google will modify your bids for you to maximize your clicks automatically.

Picture this: you’ve got a website you’re running and want to drive more traffic to it. You decide to set your maximum bid per click at $2.5. Google looks at your ad, adjusts it to $3, and automatically starts driving more clicks per ad (and more traffic to your site), all without ever going over the budget you set for your Google Ads campaign.

Slutsats

If you’ve been using manual bidding until now, you probably can’t help but admit that you spend way too much time wrangling with it. There are plenty of other things you’d rather be – and should be – spending your time on. Plus, bids change so quickly that trying to keep up with them manually isn’t even worth it anymore.

Thankfully, you’ve now got a better grasp on automated and smart bidding after having read through this article, and you’re aware of some important options you have when it comes to strategies for automated bidding. Now’s a good time to explore even more Google Ads bidding strategies and see which ones make the most sense when it comes to your unique and long-term business objectives. Settle on a strategy and then give it a whirl – you’ll only know whether a strategy is right for you after you’ve tested it time and time again. Good luck!

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