Part 1: An Introduction for Creating Your Marketing Plan From Scratch

Part 1

Have you been asked to put together a marketing plan? You’ve come to the right place. In this 5 part series, we’re going to outline the steps you need to follow to get the confidence in your vision and plan.

There is so much information- it’s actually making marketers doubt themselves. Making us second guess whether or not our strategies are effective. We live in a world full of answers, data, statistics, metrics and analytics. However, maybe with all this information, we are just getting overwhelmed and paralyzed by the choices (see earlier post on Cognitive Fluency). In fact, 19.8% of business time- equivalent to 1 full work day- is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively. As an e-business marketer you need to be able to sift thru the information and create a focused plan.

At Talkable, we want our community to feel empowered to attain the goals they set. These goals should be challenging, yet realistic. No need to try and boil the ocean. We advise on starting small, and adding intricacies as you go- crawl, walk, run. You can trust us to eliminate that wasted search time and give you the information to your job.

For the first part of this series, we will overview the media categories and channels and how they can work for your e-business.

The Media Categories:

Paid Media / Owned Media / Earned Media

Paid

Paid media is often termed ‘traditional advertising.’ It includes: TV, print, radio, direct mail, banner ads, paid search, sponsorships, and content syndication. Paid media is usually best for brand awareness as you have a mass audience. You have complete control over the message, the creative and the spend…but it’s expensive. In the paid space, you are often fighting for the consumer’s attention as it tends to be crowded and less personal.

Owned

Websites, blogs, communities, email, and social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are all considered owned media. It is the content that you have complete control over. Owned media targets your brand’s existing community and/or current customer base. Owned media requires content creation, investment (financial and time), conversation and engagement.

Earned

Earned media is the result of PR efforts, ad campaigns, events and the content created for the owned channels. It is the mentions, comments, reviews, and referrals. Earned media isn’t controlled by the brand- so it’s less biased and more trusted. 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content (credible, third-party articles, and reviews) when considering a purchase.

The Channels

In this article, we will focus on just two: Social & Search.

Search

What is Search? Search marketing is the process of getting visibility and traffic from search engines- thru both paid and unpaid (organic) efforts. Google AdWords is King for paid search. But investing in content development, not just advertising dollars, is essential to improving your organic search ranking. Therefore, making it possible for people to find you when they are looking. In short, you can buy traffic thru paid listing or earn traffic thru unpaid listings.

Social

Social media the collection of online channels dedicated to community, engagement, content share, and collaboration. It’s more than just Facebook. Social media is made up of paid and what is deemed unpaid community management. You can spend dollars on advertising and sponsorships in social channels and you can curate communities, while encouraging share and conversation. Of all the marketing disciplines- social media is well-suited to support every part of the customer journey, from awareness to advocacy and referral.

At Talkable, we want you to leverage this site for more education and focused information when it comes to your marketing plans. We will keep it digestible, thought- provoking and help to re-establish your confidence as a marketer. Everyone needs a partner, an advocate and we are here to support you. Subscribe to our blog to be the first to know when the the next installment of this series is available.

Getting What You Want by Defining Your Referral Objective & Target

Defining The Objective and Target

Now that you have asked for the referral, what are you going to ask for? Analysis from a recent B2C study, revealed that 62% of survey respondents cite referral as being one of the most effective strategies due to its ability to generate tangible results, compared to other marketing channels. To be super effective, it requires some forethought and planning as you start to build and design your referral marketing program. Consider it essential to do these two things as you create the foundation: first, determine your objective, and then, define your target audience.

Step 1: Identify your objective (The What)

In referral marketing, often this step isn’t considered or planned for. When you are going to ask for the referral, what is it that you want exactly? What is the end goal? More reach? Repeat customers? Increased Sales? Take some time to think about this and what is suitable for your e-business. Be sure to determine an objective that you can measure- one that will showcase your referral marketing program’s success. This objective will guide how you design the offer and what the call to action is for your campaign or program.

Let’s say you are an activewear clothing company, you want to use referrals to generate new purchases. Your repeat purchases are high as you have somewhat of a cult following- your happy customers come back time and time again for more.

Step 2: Define your target audience (The Who)

Being smart about defining your target will ensure your program’s success. Know your audience. Who do you want to be talking to? Existing customers? Advocates? Influencers? At Talkable, we advise if you are including advocates, to plan to divide your referral program to allow it to be accessed both on a public, standalone landing page, as well as post-purchase. Know your audience. Be sure you not only identify your potential customer, but customers who would be most likely to provide a referral.

Back to our activewear clothing example, you have identified the objective of new purchases. For this campaign we are going to target those who purchase 4+ times a month, incent and encourage them to refer a new customer. This target audience is already made up of brand ambassadors and believers, and are likely already talking about your product and/or brand.

Remember, referrals have the highest margin and best conversion rate from prospect to purchase. They also have a higher lifetime value and better retention. Your referred customer is expected to have at least a 16% higher lifetime value than customers acquired through other means. So plan for this program. Execute it well. Be thoughtful on how best to design the offer to reach your desired outcome.

You too can have a well-executed referral marketing program with higher conversion rates, shortened sales cycles, and improved customer retention.

You’ll Never Know Unless You Ask, How to Ask for the Referral

How To Ask For The Referral

Referrals are important to your business and your potential growth. But, do you know how important? According to Nielsen, 84% of people trust product and brand recommendations from people they know. Referral is considered the most trusted form of advertising.

Many business owners are afraid to ask for the referral. Are we begging for business? Does it cheapen our brand? What do we say without sounding desperate? In an upcoming Talkable publication, our research found that 91% of people are at least somewhat comfortable providing a referral, yet only 29% actually refer. This clear disconnect means companies need to ask customers for referrals, and provide them with a clear incentive and mechanism to do so.

Referral Marketing enables companies to get new customers cheaply by putting advertising dollars directly into the pockets of customers. However, in order to be successful in your customer acquisition, you must be efficient and effective.

Here are best practice tips we tell our clients on how to seal the deal:

  1. Be timely. The best time to ask is immediately after a positive purchase or experience.
  2. Take advantage of the moment. You have their undivided attention, now make the best of it.
  3. Make it easy. Require little effort or additional time. The referral process should be as frictionless as possible.
  4. And finally, make it interesting. Create a compelling offer that is unique to your brand, and more attractive than concurrent promotional offers available to visitors..

What is holding you back? Are you shy? Feeling awkward? Well, your competition doesn’t feel guilty asking for the referral- they’re already reaping the benefits! You will never truly know the power of referral unless you ask. And more often than you might think, you’ll be able to get the response you want. So, go for it, just ask.

Why Do You Always Make the Same Decision? Intro to Cognitive Fluency

Why Do You Always Make the Same Decision? Intro to Cognitive Fluency

The brain is a muscle. A powerful muscle. A remarkable device. However, like most muscles- it comes with limitations. Research has proven that our rational brain can only handle a few pieces of information at a time. It’s one of the flaws of the brain in decision-making. We often rely on decision shortcuts, or ‘decision heuristics’ as scientists call them, to help improve the speed at which we make decisions…and well, make our lives easier. These shortcuts keep us productive and progressing. For instance, when it comes to making purchasing decisions, 59% of people consult friends or family for personal advice.

Are you familiar with Cognitive Fluency. Fancy name, right? Think of it this way… every time you purchase a pair of running shoes, you buy the same shoes, from the same place, at the same price. It’s mindless. It’s easy. It’s proven. You won’t regret your decision, or even get shin splints. Your brain took the flat road, and you don’t need to spend time researching the latest technologies in running shoes, where to purchase and risk buyer’s remorse.

Cognitive Fluency explains brand loyalty and why you purchase the same thing every single time. You’ve tried it, it worked, and you don’t want to spend time researching alternatives or risk making a poor decision. With this concept in mind, you can easily see why investing in brand experience is so vital in establishing customer loyalty. When you provide a stellar experience, it becomes that much easier to drive referrals and repeat purchases. Now, doesn’t this sound like the easy decision?

Third-Party Research Reveals B2C Referral Marketing is Top Performing

Most advisory councils and analysts covering the referral marketing industry focus primarily on how the channel performs in a B2B context. Until now, we haven’t come across any B2C-specific third-party analysis detailing the conversion impact of referral versus other types of marketing channels.

In 2014, Audience Audit was commissioned to conduct small business trend research, through surveys and interviews, from 408 of its client’s customers and 429 external panel participants. In total, the respondent group consisted of 78% entrepreneurs operating on a B2C model. The survey asked questions about career motivations and challenges for small business owners. In the most recently released 2015 report, Audience Audit reveals additional insights from the same respondent group in how these small business owners face challenges specifically related to sales and marketing.

Business owners shared that they focus heavily on marketing strategies that generate tangible results. Referrals were cited by 62% of respondents as one of the three most effective marketing strategies.

Most Effective Sales & Marketing Strategies

This analysis falls in line with studies conducted in the B2B space on how referral is the best converting marketing channel. Last year, Implisit, a company that keeps prospect and customer data updated in your CRM, analyzed hundreds of clients’ pipeline to determine referral is the best converting channel. BrightLocal, a creator of SEO tools for small businesses, surveyed 700 customers to determine referral is the most effective at bringing in new leads and customers.

Recently, we published two case studies highlighting B2C customer successes. Plastc Card launched a pre-order campaign that generated $5.2 million in sales during the first week. Referrals represented 37% of total revenue, and that figure continues through today. Pura Vida Bracelets attributes 12% of weekly sales revenue to referral marketing.

Thus far, third-party B2C referral marketing analysis has been presented through surveys and interviews. We have yet to read a comprehensive study on actual conversion rate performance for B2C marketing channels, which includes referral. However, whether reviewing the small business B2C survey results, scanning conversion rate analysis conducted for the benefit of B2B companies, or reading our client’s success stories, one can easily infer that referral marketing works well for business models of all shapes and sizes. No matter the company, customers will advocate for your brand if you delight them properly.

At Talkable, we’re just starting to develop our voice in the referral marketing space. Empowered by the confidence that our clients express when using our platform, we’re innately curious on how to share the value of referral with prospects and current customers. We’re interested in supporting third-party research to understand B2C conversion rates of referral versus other marketing channels.

As we identify new sources and publish our own analysis, we’ll post findings here. Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for the latest on referral marketing.

We Missed You! Jobs Application Form Was Down. Please Re-Apply.

It just came to our attention that the job application form, for our currently open roles, broke at some point in the past few weeks. The issue is now resolved. Submissions made may not have been received.

We reply to every application received. If you haven’t heard back from us regarding the application you already submitted, please re-apply. We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to hearing from you.

» Check out https://www.talkable.com/jobs for current openings.

Talkable Begins Recruiting Campaign to Accelerate San Francisco Hiring

Customers have been communicating their delight with results achieved from the Talkable platform and Customer Success team. “The confidence that clients express when using our platform is the driving force behind ramping-up our sales footprint and building-out our San Francisco team,” explains Matt Belitsky, Director of Marketing at Talkable.

Matt continues, “We’ve always received a healthy response from talent in the market, but now we’re aiming to grow at a much faster rate and need to reach a larger audience. As we expand our team, culture fit is ‘priority #1.’ We’re seeking talented individuals to help grow with us.”

The Talkable team created a video to show prospective employees a preview of what to expect at the office in SOMA.

Talkable Recruiting Video:
(Transcript provided below)

Check out https://www.talkable.com/jobs for current openings.

Video Transcript:

Your social network impacts what you buy, and where you buy from. Today, referral marketing is the most powerful force in driving new business.

Talkable is a SaaS platform that allows companies to profit from the science behind referrals, while increasing sales revenue and preventing fraud.

We’re an early-stage startup with big plans for future growth.

The confidence that clients express when using our platform is the driving force behind ramping-up our sales footprint and building-out our San Francisco team.

Hi, I’m Matt Belitsky. I recently joined Talkable for three reasons:

First: Talkable has leadership position in the referral marketing space; second: every employee is totally committed to making sure every customer is as successful as possible; third: team members challenge themselves and status quo in a collaborative way.

We’re passionate about building an awesome workplace with talented people, seeking a fun, fast-paced and rewarding environment, built on trust and accountability.

If you think you’d be a good fit for our team, check out talkable.com/jobs and apply today!

Check out https://www.talkable.com/jobs for current openings.

Talkable Launches Happy Hour Bar Series at Redesigned SOMA Office

Talkable (formerly Curebit) is a SaaS platform that allows companies to profit from the science behind referrals, while increasing sales revenue and preventing fraud.

Happy Hour at the Talkable Bar
Happy Hour at the Talkable Bar
Mike Noonan, Brad Kam and Gar Lee
Mike Noonan, Brad Kam and Gar Lee

We recently refreshed the design of our San Francisco office. To begin and continue the celebration, we kicked-off our bi-monthly Happy Hour series. The format allows our team to unwind, while networking with prospective employees, current customers and other distinguished guests.

Sergii Iurevych and Maryna Yurevych
Sergii Iurevych and Maryna Yurevych
Pavel Rodl chats with guest Danielle Stadel
Pavel Rodl chats with guest Danielle Stadel

Tonight, we had three big reasons for celebration. First: we reconfigured counter space in the back of our office to serve as our Talkable Bar. Second: our company is now entering into a growth phase that will involve substantial recruiting. Third: we were able to acquire the @Talkable Twitter handle.

Allan Grant and Guest
Allan Grant and Guests
Guests mingling at the Talkable Bar
Guests mingling at the Talkable Bar

Guests arrived and mingled, as we served beer, wine and water. The music and conversation filled our loft-style office space. Overall, the evening was a success and we look forward to hosting upcoming Happy Hours at the Talkable Bar.