Author: Veronica Bark

Veronica’s extensive experience in developing complex search marketing strategies helps her deliver positive, ROI-driven results for clients. Her digital marketing prowess spans the areas of search marketing, content planning, data analysis and website forensics. By working closely with social, content and development teams, she is able to create integrated search engine marketing/content plans that drive traffic and increase conversions. Always on top of critical search engine updates, she creates strategies that withstand algorithm changes and focus on users first. When she’s not busy investigating user intent and the competition, Veronica satisfies her sophisticated palate by sipping fine wine and tasting fancy cheeses while discussing (and debating) politics.

Jay Baer’s “Hug Your Haters” Book Launch Recap

If you are at all involved in social media and content marketing, you probably know who Jay Baer is – or have at least heard his name. After all, he is the world’s most retweeted person among digital marketers. As a prominent business strategist, keynote speaker and the New York Times best-selling author of five books, he has traveled the world helping businesspeople get and keep customers.

That’s why we were so excited to get him to headline our latest AZIMA event!

For AZIMA’s February event, Jay Baer came to Phoenix to share his knowledge with our marketing community. He led an afternoon workshop and delivered an evening presentation around his latest book, “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Customers.” Everyone at the event received a copy of the book, as well as participated in a discussion around its key themes. Highlights from our time with Jay are noted below. He shared some fantastic advice for those looking to up their marketing game and turn haters into brand advocates!

After extensive research, Jay uncovered the following insights:

  • 80 percent of organizations think they are doing customer service well, but only 8 percent of their customers agree
  • Answering one complaint online increases customer love up to 25 percent
  • By 2020, customer experience will be more important than price

If this is the case, businesses need to make sure they handle customer complaints carefully and strategically.

Types of Haters

Jay says that online customer service is a spectator sport, and there are two types of haters: offstage and onstage. The majority of a brand’s audience are offstage haters. This group is composed of those who complain in private, either by calling the company directly or writing a personal email. Onstage haters generally want an audience, so they make their complaints public.

How to deal with each group should be part of your marketing strategy.

  • Offstage response: Contact the person via the platform he or she contacted you through. If they called to speak with someone, don’t respond with an impersonal email. These people call to get answers.
  • Onstage response: First, find all mentions of the issue across the web so you can get a complete picture. Then, practice empathy and answer publicly. Jay recommends keeping responses to only two per channel for this group. Violating this rule could drag you into a vortex of negativity and hostility – it’s also a waste of time. These haters contact to get an audience.

Your haters only know what they can see.

Knowing who your haters are and what they are looking for is only half the battle. To truly improve customer experiences, you need to be able to understand the challenges of your audience.

Haters might not know that all of your management staff was sick the week they had poor service, or that there was an equipment failure that slowed things down. They are simply reacting to their service. So, before responding to haters, try to understand their perspective and where they are coming from based on the information they have available to them.

The moral of the story is, don’t ignore your haters and assume they will go away. In an age of easy access to information, form a strategy to handle less-than-positive experiences and use them as a beneficial marketing tactic.

Thank you to all of you who made it out to meet Jay and hear him speak! We were so lucky to have Jay Baer give us a rundown  of his new book and share his insights with us. A special thank you also goes out to SpyFu for sponsoring this incredible event!

*A special thanks to Jessica Ropolo for her expert help with writing this post. 

Helping Small Businesses Manage Marketing in the Digital Age

The November 2015 AZIMA event invited Cory Elliot, VP of research at Borrell Associates, to share some useful and interesting research about small- to medium-sized-business owners and their perceptions of current marketing trends. For those who missed his presentation, here’s a recap with all the highlights.

Borrell Associates conducted a survey among SMB owners at 110 of its partnering entities in Q1 of 2015. This survey asked about spending on marketing now and in the future, as well as which tactics these business owners were most interested in using. The results pointed to a few common trends and challenges.

Overall Trends

According to the research, it seems SMB owners are overwhelmed by the number of marketing channels and options available in today’s landscape. They are interested in digital tactics, and there seems to be an increase in focus and spending on online marketing and advertising. In fact, digital ad purchasing exceeded print in quarter 1 of 2015, and the research suggests digital media will account for half of all local marketing efforts in 2016. Online and mobile tactics are also predicted to have the greatest increase in interest, while directories and local newspapers are expected to see the biggest decrease.

Based on the survey, it seems the hottest digital marketing opportunities for SMBs might not be ads. While search and social ad use are on the rise, small businesses are spending the most of their digital budgets on the following services (in order):

  1. Website design/hosting
  2. Social network support
  3. Lead generation programs
  4. Graphic design services
  5. Event marketing

Segment Trends

While many SMBs are increasing spending for online and digital tactics, some industries are doing more so than others. According to the survey, morticians, pet stores and government entities spend the very least on digital marketing. On the contrary, the automotive industry is quickly taking advantage of digital channels, as 66 percent of auto marketing budgets have been spent online and on mobile so far in 2015. Health care businesses are also beginning to spend more on digital marketing this year, with additional planned budget increases in the near future.

SMB Challenges

By far the greatest challenge noted by those surveyed was a lack of time. With so many options and how quickly channels change, staying on top of all of a small business’s digital assets is hard to do. Additional challenges included keeping up with social media trends and technology, as well as measuring marketing efforts.

Working with SMBs

To make this and other challenges easier to manage, Elliot suggests digital agencies and media companies consider the following when partnering with SMBs:

  • Establish ROI parameters first
  • Create “social” campaigns
  • Invest in social media management capabilities
  • Respect the SMB owner’s time and budget
  • Read up on beacons (fast – it’s the next big thing)

The insights provided by Elliot’s research provide marketers a better understanding of the perceptions the owners of small- to medium-sized businesses might have. We thank Cory Elliot for sharing his research with AZIMA and giving an interesting and valuable presentation.

A special thanks to Jessica Ropolo for her expert help with writing this post.