Understanding Social Gaming’s Marketing Application

first_img , business phone systems 7-Eleven teamed up with Farmville creator Zynga to, “allow millions of consumers the ability to redeem exclusive virtual items with Zynga games Topics: According to the Facebook page participants will, “date 60 different characters, including MTV CAST MEMBERS. Ask them questions, and then rate their answers. The I Woo You Meter lets you know if you’re a match. Go on a date and post your date photo on your wall.”  As a marketer one of your duties is to get your company’s brand awareness out to the right audience—and that is sometimes easier said than done.  Staying up to date on the latest tactics is a must for your niche market, and social media seems to be the golden child for some.  Although this is true, I think most of us are getting tired of reading about how Twitter will make your company thousands of dollars a week. Nielsen found that One of the main reasons many companies do not participate in social media in general is they can’t tie it to any type of ROI.  This is largely due to the fact that they don’t define any reason for participating other than other companies are doing it.  , said, “the true strategic question is how does your brand engage with your audience in a relevant and valuable way? We feel that this is one of those ways for us to be able to do that in a fun and engaging manner.” Resource Nation Depending on your company’s target audience, social media games could be a great way to keep them engaged in your brand and help with word-of-mouth marketing (which is why social media can do so well).  MTV is the latest company to roll out a to, “give 10 free Facebook Credits in exchange for trading their coins for a cash voucher at one of 10,000 Coinstar locations, which are usually in grocery stores. That’s about $1 in value. On the back of the voucher ticket, you get a web address that you can enter on your computer. Then you claim your Facebook Credits and can proceed to use them in games and other apps on Facebook.” Chances are if your major competitors are engaging in social media, you should be as well.  Before you dive in, make sure you take the time to plan out any initiatives you will be doing. (tweeting, blogs, creating games etc.) Start out small and test the waters before dumping a large amount of money into social media campaigns.  You might not be a heavy hitter like MTV and 7-Eleven, but that doesn’t mean social media games could be a waste of time for you.  Take the time to research and plan and you could be seeing a great benefit from these games. MTV is not the first to implement these type of games. At the beginning of summer, based in San Diego, California.  She writes extensively for Originally published Sep 16, 2010 3:00:00 PM, updated March 21 2013center_img Facebook game What’s the Point? (Farmville and Mafia wars) at their local 7-Eleven store.”  Rixty has decided to team up with Coinstar Social Media What to Look ForBefore implementing a social game you need to have two main points defined—is your target audience participating in social games, and how will you measure its success.  If you can define these two points, you will be able to decide how and if a social game can bring in revenue.  Taking the lead from this promotion, Damon Burrell, VP of marketing at MTV , “online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks – accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. Internet time. Email dropped from 11.5 percent of time to 8.3 percent.”  entitled, “I Woo You.” an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions. The following is a guest post by Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on So why are these heavy hitters participating in social games?  Well like Burell said above, it helps customers engage with your brand.  It is also a great way to collect information such as email addresses and other contact information—better than purchased lists and outbound marketing. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Review Your Marketing Analytics in Just 10 Minutes

first_img Keyword analytics 4. Monitor Conversions Got 30 minutes? . Got 30 minutes? forms lead generation best practices will allow you to review which channels are the most effective at driving website engagement. Review a line graph of organic search, social media, email marketing, campaign-specific, direct, and total traffic over at least two weeks. Any surprising trends? Review referral traffic by individual URLs — any surprising referral pages? Are your blog posts generating traffic from quality inbound links? Take notes of the sticky content, and incorporate more of those topics into your content calendar. Got 30 minutes? Make sure to also consider seasonality if that is applicable for your business by examining year over year data. 2. Track Sources sources report Review a HUGS 2011 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack and join their Birds of a Feather roundtable discussion, “Using Analytics Tools for Business Growth.” 3. Analyze Keywords lead G Most business owners and marketing managers are too busy to dive into Got 30 minutes? keyword grader Marketing Analytics Write down goals for each traffic source and at least one step to reduce costs for each source. Also review your lead nurturing campaign(s) to jot down failed experiments or new content ideas to introduce. A The conversion rate metric allows you to gauge the efficiency of your website’s performance. All the traffic in the world won’t help your business grow if your website isn’t able to turn visitors into business leads. It is important to note that every page of your website should offer opportunities for users to convert. In your review, jot down two pages with the lowest conversion rate. Examine those pages for any missed conversion opportunities. There are many different ways to optimize your pages for lead generation. For tips, review these Take a look at the inbound links driving traffic to your website to see if there are any cross-linking opportunities to build authority for your site with search engines. Be sure to add long-tail variations of top converting keywords to further refine your niche keyword opportunities.center_img 5. Measure ROI For a deeper investigation, review traffic on a line graph against your conversion rates and sales trends. Do you regularly review your marketing analytics to check the performance of your marketing? What other metrics do you track? is a top-line metric of website engagement that measures the amount of users visiting your site. Why is reviewing traffic important? Without sustained amounts of traffic to a website, regardless of industry, businesses will have incredibly low visibility online. Use your favorite analytics platform to review trends in website traffic over two weeks or more. Do the peaks in traffic from marketing campaigns or new blog posts match what you’ve done in the past? Were there holidays or other external factors influencing the traffic? Jot down a couple of notes about potential reasons for the trending up or down when compared to weeks past. Topics: . Be sure you have a compelling “hook” for users to fill out the form as well! . LyntonWeb helps companies grow with creative inbound marketing and technology solutions. Visit them at generation every day. However, it is important to keep a pulse on how your online marketing programs are performing so you can adjust them as needed. The following is a recommendation for a 10-minute, 5-point inspection to use weekly or bi-weekly in order to keep current on your latest metrics. website analytics principles ot 30 minutes? basic Break down your ROI by traffic source. Any surprises? can be digested in many different ways. The most beneficial to your business in a quick-hit analysis is analyzing lead conversions by keyword. While traffic by keyword will show you which keywords are popular, lead conversions by keyword will show you which topics are bringing in qualified visitors. Do the keywords accurately portray your business’ products and services to drive leads? Your top converting keywords are invaluable to guide your website content, advertising buys, and even how you sell your products/services. Also look for keywords with low conversions. Usually these are opportunities to drive more leads. Add more of these keyword-focused topics to your content calendar. Review your website’s two worst converting forms against these for Traffic LyntonWeb to access your site rank on the search engines compared to competitors for popular keywords. As a best practice, always leave your analyses with takeaways and action items. Having these will encourage you to continue to reviewing your analytics regularly. Prioritize analytics for 10-minute weekly or bi-weekly reviews. Capture all your notes and high level metrics in an easy spreadsheet to keep history and share with your team. Photo credit: LIBECK 1. Check Online Traffic Originally published Sep 12, 2011 5:01:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 This is a guest blog post by Samantha Schultz, an online marketing specialist and project manager at tool Finally, tie it all back to ROI. Take the sum of what you’re spending and divide by what you are generating in returns (sales) from the website. There may be other key performance indicators marketing managers can use for an online program, however. Perhaps you’re working against cost-per-lead. Has this changed over time as you’ve grown or taken on lower cost initiatives, like search engine optimization and email marketing? Jot down two ways to reduce overall cost to the program and/or get more leads to balance out the equation.last_img read more

Common Qualities of Insanely Successful Viral Videos

first_img Topics: Originally published Jul 5, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 We all love watching videos online. From an animal doing something adorable to a how-to segment on cooking a meal, people are constantly watching and sharing them with friends. In fact, over 4 billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube, and over 60 hours of video are watched per minute. Chances are, your potential customers are among those 4 billion watching videos today.Which is why your boss asks you to make a video. Oh, and can you make it go viral, too? First of all, what a frustrating question; virality can never, ever be guaranteed. But there are some common qualities to many of the viral videos out there that we’ve started to notice. And those qualities can be replicated to increase the chance that your video might join the ranks of the other viral successes out there. Read through the tips in this blog post to learn how to create a high quality video, as told through the stories of other online video successes out there — and who knows, it may just result in your own viral video!Keep it ShortAccording to the New York Times, 44% of people lost interest in a video after 60 seconds. So it looks like shorter videos are more likely to keep people’s attention, which means increased social sharing for your video. For an example of a short but effective video, take a look at this video of an owner teasing a dog about food, which received 25 million views in the first five days, and currently has over 110 million views to date.The video is under 90 seconds long, and has the entertainment factor of a talking dog. Come on, who doesn’t love dogs? It’s also perfect to share with friends, because the point of the video is obvious in the first few seconds, so it doesn’t require explanation or context. Keep your videos similarly short and to-the-point, and you’ll see those video views creep up.Demonstrate a Strong, Consistent Brand PersonaYour goal is to get people to immediately think of you when they see the person or object portrayed in the video, so your video needs to clearly demonstrate your brand to viewers. To do this, first create a clear picture of what you people think about your brand — and what you want them to think. If you sell men’s clothing, but people are actually buying your apparel because of the lifestyle it promotes, creating a video about high quality clothing will not do as well as a video about the awesome lifestyle that men who wear your brand have.Take a look at the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, for example. With Isaiah Mustafa, it made a very strong connection between Old Spice products and the manly persona men want to be like, and that women want in a man. And they did it in all of their videos. He always remained in character, and was such a strong parallel to the brand that it actually become humorous — never a bad thing for video virality! It resulted in over 290 million channel views to date, and over 35 million views within the first 7 days of launch.The Old Spice campaign was entertaining, but still portrayed the characteristics men want to be, and women want in men — what Old Spice wanted to be associated with. Create a persona that can be easily identified with your brand, then find a way to embody like Old Spice did — through mascots, tag lines, copy, everything!Is That Real?Creating a video that makes people ask, “Is that real?” is a great way to increase a video’s social shares — if people see something unbelievable, you can be they’ll be sharing it to get others’ two cents. The eHarmony “cat lady” is a perfect example of this, plus it brought brand awareness to eHarmony in a humorous way. This video, created by a comedian, was so outrageous and unbelievable that people wanted to show it to their friends; it received over 2 million views the first day, and now has more than 22 million views.Why did this gem go viral? The video was so crazy people had to share it with their friends and debate the validity behind it. The lesson here is that crazy content — that can still relate to your brand, of course — is a one way ticket to online video success. So think to yourself: Is there anything in my industry I could parody that millions can relate to?Hilarious ContentWe’ve mentioned it a couple times already, but if you make people laugh with your video, it’s far more likely it will get shared socially. Just remember to create content that’s not only funny to you, but entertaining for your customers as well. The talking babies video, for example, went viral in 2011 with 20 million views in the first ten days, and over 70 million views to date. The video depicts two babies talking in a language of their own, quite the unusual sight, indeed! This video was appealing to an extremely wide audience, thus making it easy to share with friends and rack up those high view counts.Another thing to keep in mind when creating funny videos is that you don’t actually have to directly promote anything — though you could if you’re able to make people laugh despite the blatant promotion, like Old Spice did. This video could have been used for a variety of baby products to increase brand awareness; just focus on finding material that’s universally entertaining and unique.Newsjack With ParodyMaking a parody of a popular event, person, or song to reflect your company or product will create an interesting video people may be more likely to share with friends — because it’s based off of something millions already recognize and love. The video “Barack Obama Singing Call Me Maybe” parody, for instance, has over 17 million views in under four weeks, making it one of the most viral videos in 2012.Not only does this video play on the nation’s president — bold move — but it also uses the most viral song to date, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” which is #1 on YouTube with over 100 million views. Hey, sometimes using pop-culture can help your video go viral, and there’s no shame in utilizing it!Leverage User-Generated ContentLetting your customers or fans get in on the content creation is a great way to generate a successful video. Not only will you save time, but you’ll engage customers and encourage sharing — a great boost for your reach and reputation. Content contests are an easy way to get the content you need, and allow users to engage with the brand while using word-of-mouth to spread the message to others within their social networks. If it’s feasible for your product or service, a contest can increase your reach to people you originally would not have been able to reach with your own marketing. If you can, have other fans vote on the winning video, further increasing the reach of your campaign!Aflac did this in 2012, when they created the “10 Second Challenge” in which users were asked to create a short video explaining what Aflac meant to them. The prize was internet fame and $25,000. Over 180 video submissions were entered, which resulted in 250,000 video views on Facebook and thousands more to date on YouTube. Letting your users create content for you can save you time, and because of their pride in their work, the result may be more creative than you could have ever imagined!What other qualities of viral videos did we miss here? Have you ever created an extremely successful online video?Image credit: googlisti Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Video Marketinglast_img read more

How to Painlessly Transition Your Company to Inbound Marketing

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Switching to Inbound Marketing We talk to people all the time that are totally sold on the inbound marketing methodology, but there’s just one thing standing in their way from becoming a full-fledged inbound marketer … they can’t convince their boss they can switch to inbound marketing without experiencing a painful blow to their current marketing.It makes sense — change is hard, and honestly, nobody is going to let you waltz in and, with the snap of your fingers, totally change the way your business and marketing department functions. If someone came up to you and said that the proper way to cut paper is by grinding your teeth on it because it results in higher levels of efficiency than traditional scissors, would you make the swap? Of course not. Even if it was true. (Note: it’s not.)That means if you’re really interested in transitioning your company to inbound marketing, it’s time get a little sneaky. It’s time to integrate your inbound marketing campaigns with your company’s more traditional marketing campaigns. Over time, you can not only prove the value of inbound marketing as your campaigns start to generate staggering ROI — numbers tend to do the convincing for you — but you’ll already have that gradual transition towards more inbound-friendly methods underway! So let’s start that transition to inbound marketing together, right now, step-by-step … here’s what to do.Merge Inbound Tactics with Outbound CampaignsMany marketers have already started fusing online and offline marketing techniques. According to Marketing Charts, 90% of marketers believe using online data to optimize the offline experience is important. Furthermore, 73% of company marketers say they will be using a cross-channel marketing strategy over the next few years.Clearly a large population of marketers are comfortable with weaving online marketing tactics with their traditional campaigns. So let’s start there. Kindly request to make inbound tactics a part of the outbound promotion. Here’s a few examples.Connect Your Commercials with a Social Media CampaignIf you work for an organization that uses commercials to advertise their business, ask if you can get social media in on the action just a little bit. Perhaps something small, like a hashtag? Just look at this screenshot from an Audi commercial, for example.This inclusion enables you to unify your online messaging with your advertising campaign, and gives you the opportunity to go to town with social content revolving around the hashtag. Use it in quotes, to start Twitter chats, when citing stats … anything that can help unify the messaging from your commercial and the content you’re publishing to social media.Attach a Landing Page to Your Print Advertisements and Direct MailYour print advertisements may get you noticed, it’s the call-to-action part that’s difficult. In other words, is there any way to get someone to actually take action when they’re inspired by your print ads? Well, when your team sits down to put together their next print ad, ask them for a little space for some copy that points readers to an online destination. This could be through a QR code like Gucci did below, or by simply including a URL.This allows you to create a customized landing page just for this advertisement — you know, something a little more personalized to the reader and the ad you created than just your homepage.Simulataneously Run Inbound Campaigns Alongside More Traditional CampaignsNow that you’ve started to integrate digital and print campaigns, ask if you can run a few additional “inboundy” campaigns of your own. Make this easier by promising you’ll still complete your routine tasks — these additional campaigns will be tests you’re running in addition to those. While this will require more of your time for a bit, it won’t require more of your budget, making it easier to sell your boss and colleagues on the subject. Here are some quick campaigns you can run to include in your ultimate portfolio for convincing your team.Repurpose Existing Content to Create Some Lead Generation OffersIf you’ve been in business for a while — even just a year or two — you’ve likely accumulated a bunch of content and expertise without even knowing it. And if you want to do a test drive of an inbound marketing campaign, you’re going to need that content and expertise. Gather your current sales and marketing collateral — case studies, testimonials, brochures, whatever you got — and start reworking it to spin it into offer content that you can put behind a form, and/or share across social media channels.Set Up CTAs and Landing PagesSee if your boss would be alright with you making some website tweaks. You’re not going to redesign the skin or anything, but you could improve upon what’s already there … and make some key new additions.First, create a call-to-action that lives right on the homepage. It’s easy, you can even make them in PowerPoint! That CTA should lead to a new landing page that houses one of those awesome new lead generation offers you just created. Make sure you consider what type of offer visitors to your home page might be interested in — if the bulk of your traffic is coming in on branded keywords, for example, something a little further down your sales funnel, like a case study or product-focused whitepaper, might be most appropriate. When your sales team starts to see people “raising their hand” to talk about purchasing your product or service, you can bet they’ll want to try more of that inbound marketing stuff.Create Visual Social Media ContentPut on your creative hat and think of a cool new idea for increasing engagement on your social media channels. Can you create a series of memes around a common industry fad? Can you create a few visual representations of important stats and data in your field? You don’t need Photoshop to do this, either. Just head over to memegenerator.net or use PowerPoint to whip up some visuals that can be easily shared, helping you generate more fans and followers and increase your overall social reach.Create and Share Your Blog Content StrategicallyStart writing posts on your company blog — and if you don’t have one, set one up! But be strategic. You can’t just write a post and hope the world stumbles upon it. Instead, start sharing that post with advocates of your brand or others who would find it valuable. And yes, that includes your social media fans and followers. You also need to make sure search engines can find it by writing about topics germane to your company and industry. It would also help to start writing guest blog posts for other related sites so you can get some of those coveted inbound links that help your site rise in the search engine rankings!Collect and Compare MetricsNow that you’ve got some campaigns up and running, you can start collecting metrics that speak to their effectiveness. Collect every metric humanly possible. Generate reports that show you the number of times your hashtags were mentioned on Twitter. Look at your website analytics to see how many users were sent to your customized landing pages or landed on your website because of your blog posts. See which keywords drove the most traffic to your website. You know, see what didn’t work, what did work, and what really, really worked. These metrics will show impact you can tie directly to business goals like generating revenue and closing new business.Then it’s time to organize all your results into a clear, succinct, and educational presentation so you can prove the ROI of inbound marketing to your team. And when you use data based off of recent campaigns — data that you can tie directly to leads and customers generated — you don’t have that difficult of a case to make!What tactics have you used to convince your boss and colleagues to invest in inbound marketing?Image Credit: IT Tech News Originally published Oct 8, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

What’s the Deal With This Whole ‘Context Marketing’ Thing?

first_imgSeveral years ago (in internet years, anyway) it became clear to some marketers that one of the best ways to capture market share was through creating amazing content. Whether through blog posts, ebooks, social media, cartoons, videos, whatever — helpful, educational, and interesting content was the name of the marketing game.Today, I think it’s fair to say that not just some, but most marketers are on board with this whole “content-is-important-for-marketing” thing. Our 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report, for example, showed that the average budget spent on company blogs and social media increased from 9% in 2009, to 21% in 2012. Furthermore, over 81% of marketers in the survey named their company blog as “useful” or better to their business. And LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter were considered “useful” or better by over 60%. Cool, so it seems like a good chunk of us are on board and rocking it with content. So …… What next? For a while now, the industry has been leading up to the next phase of marketing that is finally here in full swing — context marketing. Whether you know what that means or not (no worries, we’re about to tell you), I think you’ll find that it’s something you’ve either dabbled in, or wanted to dabble in, for some time. But now, there’s actually plenty of technology available to do more than just dabble in it! So this post is going to introduce you to the concept of context marketing, and show you just how powerful it can be if you incorporate it into your marketing strategy.What Is Context Marketing?Context marketing is using context in your marketing.:-)Okay, I’m being a little silly with that definition, but that is what it is. Actually, my favorite definition of context marketing is delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time. Let me explain what I mean by context a little more, though.Context marketing is like a spelling bee …When you have context around something, you have a larger, more telling picture — you know, those little details that help lend more clarity to things that would otherwise be pretty general, unspecific, and, well, uninteresting. Let’s use a spelling bee as an analogy here. If a judge asks a kid to spell the word “pour,” he might want to ask a host of questions to get more context before answering. What’s the part of speech? What’s the definition? Can you use it in a sentence, please? Answers to those questions all provide context that helps paint a clearer picture of the word he’s trying to spell.And it’s important context, too! Why? Because the word “pour” is different than the word “pore” — or “poor.” Without getting more context around what the judge is asking, how could that kid possibly provide an accurate answer? Getting more context around that word would be pretty useful to helping our kid become a spelling bee champ! And the same goes for your marketing. Do you want to be a marketing champ like our spelling bee friend? Or a marketing chump who sends emails about pore cleansing strips or poor lost puppies instead of new water faucets that pour ionized water?Context Marketing Champ, or Chump?The marketing champs in every industry are the ones who are leveraging context about their audience, leads, and customers in their marketing. For example, a marketer using context would know more about a lead than whether she’s B2B or B2C, and her first name. They might also know what industry she works in, what kind of content she likes best, through what channel she prefers to consume content, whether she’s currently using another solution to meet her needs, and whether her company has budget at this time of year.As a marketer, if you were asked to “market” to someone, and all you were given was a first name and that she works for a B2B company, wouldn’t your first question be … what else do we know about her? Probably, if you want to do your job way better. That’s the idea behind context marketing: Using what you know about your contacts to provide supremely relevant, targeted, and personalized marketing.Why Is Context Marketing Important?Context marketing is important for many reasons, but here are the two that I think trump them all:When you have context around your relationship with a contact, you’re able to provide more personalized and relevant marketing content that’s targeted at their needs. Personalized and relevant marketing is the foundation for creating marketing people love! What’s more, personalized and relevant marketing is typically not the kind of marketing that annoys the living daylights out of people. Win-win!When you’re creating marketing that’s targeted at people’s point of need, it stands to reason that marketing will perform much better for you, because you aren’t delivering marketing content that’s misaligned with their interests or stage in the sales cycle. Think about it: If you know that our B2B lead from the previous section is getting new budget in January, she’s downloaded a couple buying guides in the past two weeks, she’s visited your product pages, and it’s December, you’re able to send her insanely targeted content that addresses her needs — like, say, an offer for a custom end of year demo of your product with a rep that specializes in the finance industry — content that she’s pretty likely to convert on.Why not use the context around your relationships with your contacts to create marketing that they 1) love, and 2) convert on?How Would One “Do” Context Marketing?Alright, these ideas all sound lovely, but how does this “context marketing” theory manifest itself? What would it look like for you, as a marketer? With the help of integrated marketing software, here are some examples of where you’d actually use the principle of “context” in your marketing.1) Dynamic Calls-to-ActionYou have a bunch of offers that you want to use to convert traffic into leads, leads into qualified leads, and qualified leads into customers. So it’d be kind of a bummer if you went to, say, a case study web page — typically an action performed when you’re further down the marketing funnel — and you saw a top-of-the-funnel CTA, like an educational tip sheet.However, not everyone who visits a case study page on your website is necessarily ready to talk to a salesperson. You don’t want to turn them away, either, by offering a CTA that’s too bottom-of-the-funnel. This could be perceived as a conversion nightmare, but with dynamic CTAs that adjust depending on who is visiting the page, you can actually surface a CTA that automatically aligns with the visitor’s stage in the sales cycle … or any other host of criteria you want to set! Think industry, business type, location, past activity/behaviors, that type of thing. Dynamic CTAs … pretty cool, eh?2) Dynamic Email Content and WorkflowsYour forms aren’t the only things that need to be smart as a whip. Your email database — especially if you want to maintain your space in people’s coveted inboxes — needs to be segmented into highly targeted lists. But you already knew that. Beyond killer segmentation, your email lists need to be smart enough to know when to pull in a contact, and certain information you have in your database about that contact, into your email marketing. Remember, a great context marketer delivers the right content, to the right person, at the right time. So to send emails that are contextually relevant, you need the power of workflows — the tool that will put the right person into the right list …… And the power of dynamic email content, which will make your email content personalized and relevant for each recipient!3) Smart FormsSo you want to be a context marketer. You want to be lovable. You want to see higher conversion rates. Let me introduce you to your new best friend … smart forms! They’re just what they sound like, forms for your landing pages that are wicked smart. So smart, in fact, that they know if someone has already filled out the form fields you’re asking for in the past. Because they know that, they don’t make your site visitors fill out the same form over and over again, and can help you glean more new information about your leads, instead of just more of the same stuff. We’ve started implementing this functionality ourselves, because we agreed that filling out the same form over and over again was a huge bummer! Smart Forms: Using context to be more lovable, improve conversion rates, and get you even more context about your visitors, leads, and customers!How are you leveraging context, not just content, in your marketing?Image credit: Thomas Hawk Originally published Dec 4, 2012 1:08:00 PM, updated August 27 2017 Topics: Marketing Strategy Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Optimize Your Emails for Mobile: A Beginner’s Guide

first_imgOver the past few years, mobile email opens have seen explosive growth. While they are now holding steady around 45% of all email opens, three years ago, they accounted for only 11% of opens — which is a 309% increase since April 2011. Not only are mobile opens growing, but they’re also cannibalizing desktop and webmail opens. Desktop opens have decreased 53% in the past three years and now represent 28% of opens. During the same period webmail opens decreased 10% and now account for 27% of opens. This rise in mobile has left many brands and businesses wondering if they need to hop on the mobile train — and if they decide to do it, what they actually need to do to be “mobile optimized.” Keep on reading to figure out how to tailor your email marketing strategy for mobile audiences. What Does Mobile Mean for Me?When it comes to creating successful email marketing in general, it’s all about your audience. What type of content are they interested in? How often do they want your emails? Which email programs and devices do they use to read your emails? When it comes to reacting to the increase in mobile email opens, the answer to this last question is key. However, MarketingSherpa found that only 31% of marketers know their mobile email open rate.Since every audience is different, look into your analytics to see on which devices people are opening your emails. While some companies may see mobile open rates as high as 70%, others may see just as high Outlook opens. You should focus your testing and optimization efforts on the devices the majority of your subscribers are using to read your emails — and if that happens to be on mobile, so be it. For example, Auto Trader discovered that an increasingly large percentage of their audience was opening on mobile. With that information in hand, they knew it was essential to make their emails mobile friendly. With the help of Chalk and Pixel, they completely revamped their emails to be responsive and have noticed a 391% increase in clickthrough rates since the redesign! By providing their subscribers with a better experience, Auto Trader has seen great results.Designing for Your Subscribers’ NeedsDiscovering where your audience is opening your emails enables you to design for your subscribers’ needs — it’s all about making their email experience as smooth as possible. Once you’ve determined which email clients are most popular with your subscribers, the next step is uncovering the quirks of those clients and what techniques they support. Then, it’s decision time. Which design approaches will resonate best with your audience and their devices?For example, at Litmus, we have a high percentage of Apple Mail opens so using techniques like HTML5 video background is an option — Apple Mail supports video. Of course, we use fallback techniques so that subscribers reading our email in programs that don’t support video still have a great experience.If you’re seeing a high percentage of Outlook opens, it’s best not to use background images or text shadows since these elements will not be supported. Are the majority of your subscribers opening on the iPhone? If so, perhaps you should think about using responsive design. Mobile Email Best PracticesWith over 80% of subscribers reporting that they will delete an email if it doesn’t look good on their mobile device, it’s essential to optimize your emails for mobile subscribers if they’re a big chunk of your audience. Using mobile email design best practices ensure that designs are legible and easy to interact with not only on mobile devices, but also on tablets and desktop environments. Here are some tips for making your emails look great on mobile:1) Enlarged FontsTiny text is hard to read on a desktop computer, never mind on the small mobile screen. To avoid illegible fonts, we recommend 14 px as a minimum size for body copy and 22 px for headlines. Also, note that iOS will automatically resize fonts under 13 px, making them larger on your behalf.You can see how much enlarging fonts can help in the two emails below. Due to Company A’s tiny font (image on left), the text is difficult to read on the small screen of a mobile device. However, Company B (image on right) uses much larger fonts, allowing subscribers to easily read the email without having to zoom in.2) Streamlined ContentEvaluate the content in your email and get rid of the less useful or relevant links, copy, and images. Also be concise, but still approachable. The shorter the copy, the easier it is for people to scroll on mobile.3) Single Column LayoutWhile many newsletters are multi-column, mobile-friendly emails should consider switching to a single-column layout. This approach accommodates smaller screens and can help increase legibility. In addition, ditch detailed navigation bars. When viewed on a mobile device, navigation bars can break, are too small to tap, or simply aren’t relevant to the content of the email.Take a look at the emails below to see what I mean. Company A’s newsletter (image on the left) is four columns wide — on the small screen of a mobile device it appears busy, and images and fonts are extremely small. However, Company B’s one-column design (image on right) allows for imagery to stand out, and accommodates for larger text size and tappable buttons.4) Touch-Friendly ButtonsWhen it comes to reading emails on mobile, your call-to-action (CTA) must be touch-friendly. We recommend putting the CTA front-and-center and, if you’re using a button, make it a minimum size of 44 px x 44 px.In the example below, Company A’s social sharing icons (image on left) are extremely close together (and small), which could cause subscribers to click on the wrong link. Conversely, Company B’s CTAs (image on right) are large and have appropriate space between them, allowing subscribers to easily “touch” the CTA that they are most interested in.5) Image-Blocking TechniquesLike webmail and desktop clients, there are numerous mobile email apps that block images by default. As a result, it’s important to optimize your emails to be viewed without images. Luckily, there are a number of strategies to help combat image blocking.ALT text, which is short for alternative text, is one of the best ways to get around clients that block images by default. When images are turned off, ALT text often renders in place of the images. It’s a fantastic way to provide some context for subscribers when images are disabled. As an added benefit, ALT text makes your emails more accessible to visually impaired subscribers that use screen readers! Luckily, adding ALT attributes is extremely easy — all it takes is adding an attribute to the image tag.You can take your ALT text to the next level by adding a bit of inline CSS to change the font, color, size, style, and weight. This technique, known as styled ALT text, is a great option for maintaining branding and adding some fun to your images-off view.In addition, your touch-friendly buttons should be visible even when images are disabled. While text links are an option, bulletproof buttons allow you to have a bit more fun. Bulletproof buttons consist of live text combined with a background color, styled to look like an image-based button. While there are numerous options for creating this type of button, we prefer to use simple HTML and inline styles, which holds up well across most email clients.We also recommend using a proper balance of live text and imagery. It ensures that your emails are accessible, eliminates the HTML-to-text ratio spam issue, and allows for the email to be legible and easy to interact with regardless of whether images are present or not.6) Optimized Content in the Upper-Left CornerMany mobile email apps, including some Android and BlackBerry apps, will only display the upper left-hand corner of your email. Lack of autoscaling cuts off the right side of emails and forces users to scroll left-and-right in addition to up-and-down to view your entire message. As a result, it’s important to place important information and CTAs in the upper-left corner of your email. What other best practices do you follow to optimize your emails for mobile? Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Mobile Optimization Originally published Jun 23, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated August 28 2017last_img read more

Why People Buy Things Online [Data]

first_img Originally published Nov 11, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Buyer’s Journey Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Just because we’re marketing things doesn’t mean we really know the science behind what makes people buy. But marketing without that information is like walking outside with a blindfold on — it’s going to be very hard to end up at your destination without a scratch. To catch up on the latest and greatest research about online buyer behavior, keep on reading. Below, we’ll cover eight data sets on buyer behavior, their key findings, and the lessons you should take away from each piece of research. Take the ones that apply most to your business and then use them make smarter marketer decisions, like building or tweaking data-driven buyer personas, designing a new experiment for your website, or maybe even making the case to your boss to hire someone new. So let’s dive right in.1) “The New Normal of Consumer Behavior and How to Respond”This study, carried out by Quirk’s Marketing Research Media, interviewed nearly 2,000 U.S. buyers in 2014 in an attempt to understand how consumer attitudes and behaviors have changed after the Great Recession.Key FindingsConsumer debt is at its lowest point since 2006, indicating that buyers are prioritizing thoughtful purchases over conspicuous consumption.79% of survey respondents report at least sometimes checking reviews before making an online purchase.Consumer rank “a person like yourself” as a highly credible source of information, indicating a shift of trust towards individuals and away from institutions.TakeawayEncouraging satisfied customers continues to be an important priority for businesses, but this data reveals more than that — sellers should look for other opportunities to empower their buyers. Allowing buyers to control the number of options available for consideration, provide feedback during all stages of the buying process, and see how other customers have used your product can all help mitigate their distrust of larger institutions.2) “It’s All About the Images”MDG Advertising developed this compelling infographic, which drew data from the National Retail Federation, BrightLocal, PR Newswire, Skyword, Web Liquid, Alexa, and The New York Times, in order to highlight how important images can be in the buying process.Key Findings67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product (compared to 54% who feel the same way about long product descriptions and 53% who give ratings and reviews the same credence).Content featuring compelling images averages 94% more total views than content without images.TakeawayThis one’s pretty straightforward. If you don’t have good images on your website and product pages, add them now. And if you have images on your site, but they aren’t high quality, upgrade them now to appeal to today’s internet buyers.3) “Why Customers Shop Online”In this study, Shopper Approved set out to understand why consumers purchase online, rather than through brick and mortar stores. Their survey included 25,660 individuals who were asked “What key factor influenced you to buy online instead of locally?” immediately after they purchased from 207 online retailers in a variety of industries.  Key FindingsThe following factors came out tops in terms of encouraging online purchases:25.4% said larger selection25% said better pricing24.7% said more convenient 7.2% said time savings 3.6% said easy to compare 3.3% said no sales taxTakeawayIf you’re an online business, you have an advantage over traditional retailers in that you aren’t limited to the amount of shelf space available when considering which items to stock. Adding selection, therefore, may help you appeal to online buyers, as can keeping your prices below traditional competitors and streamlining your purchase process to create a convenient experience for shoppers.4) “The Psychology of Stuff and Things”“Fanboys” — those who will purchase any product offered by the companies they follow — are an interesting phenomenon that most businesses should strive to understand, given their implications for brand awareness and future sales. A 2010 study by Kyungmi Kim and Marcia Johnson shows that the strong associations underpinning this “cult-like’ following form at a neural level.  Key FindingsBy scanning participants’ brains as they viewed boxes full of items labeled “mine” compared with containers labeled with others’ names, Kim and Johnson were able to identify extra activity in the media prefrontal cortex — the area associated with the way we think about ourselves — when the owned items were viewed.TakeawayMany consumers subconsciously view the brands they associate with as being signals of their membership in certain groups (see fanatical Apple buyers and the video game console wars as evidence of how owned items can be used to convey certain personality traits). If you want your customers to identify as strongly with your products as they do with these notable brands, look for ways to encourage buyers to claim ownership of their purchases.5) “Take Advantage of Positive Email Attitudes”Interesting research by Forrester Research demonstrates that consumer attitudes towards email marketing are becoming less negative — good news for marketers that rely on this powerful channel. This trend comes from a survey of 33,546 U.S. online adults and is based on the following data points.Key Findings42% of U.S. online adults delete most email advertising without reading it, down from 44% in 2012 and 59% in 2010.3 in 10 respondents agree that they often wonder how the companies sending them messages got their contact information.The percentage of respondents agreeing that most email ads don’t offer anything of interest fell from 41% in 2012 to 38% in 2014.TakeawayConsumers seem to be feeling better about email promotions, but there are still some weak spots. As a result, it is important for marketers to balance promotions with other more engaging messages.6) “How Consumers Form Their Impressions of Companies”A recent study by Vanessa DiMauro and Don Bulmer in conjunction with The Society For New Communications Research indicates that the quality of a company’s products is the most important factor contributing to consumers’ perception of the company. To reach this conclusion, DiMauro and Bulmer presented survey participants with a list of several different factors and asked them to rate their importance in forming their impression of a company.Key FindingsThe following percentages represent the number of participants giving “very important” responses to the prompt above:Product quality – 80%Cost of products and services – 55%Company’s customer care program – 37%What trusted contacts say about the company – 34%Customer reviews – 30%Ratings on social media sites – 30%What the media says about the company – 13%What the company says in ads – 10%The company’s social media presence – 7%TakeawayProduct quality is king when it comes to boosting perceptions of your company — and fortunately, that’s one of the few factors in the list above that’s completely under your control. If you’re not sure how to improve your product, the easiest way to start is to ask your customers. Check your reviews for suggested improvements or use social media and other consumer-focused web tools to ask prospective customers directly what changes they’d like to see.7) “What Influences an Online Purchase Decision”Looking at research to determine what causes consumers to buy gives internet retailers the insight needed to improve their offerings and boost sales. Using a collection of studies, online store provider Bigcommerce identified the ten primary factors listed below that contribute to purchase decisions.Key FindingsProduct quality – 56%Free shipping – 49%Easy returns – 35%Customer reviews – 33%Visual search – 30%Great navigation – 26%Checkout ease – 24%Multiple options – 24%Special size – 12%New product – 10%TakeawayAs in the DiMauro and Bulmer study referenced above, product quality comes out on top in Bigcommerce’s infographic. They begin to differ after that, with free shipping and easy returns take an expected second and third (the success of Amazon Prime and Zappos highlight how important these factors are). If you aren’t already offering free shipping, see if a small price increase might cover the cost without affecting sales too significantly. And if there are any resistance points that complicate your returns process, minimize them as much as possible.8) “Consumer Psychology & The Ecommerce Checkout”Online savings code hub vouchercloud compiled the results of a number of studies to create its “Consumer Psychology & The E-Commerce Checkout” infographic. While the entire thing is worth a look, the key findings below should give you a starting point for making meaningful changes to your checkout or conversion process.Key Findings57% of online consumers will abandon a website if they experience more than three seconds of load time. 80% of these could-be customers will never return.Products are assessed and initial purchase judgments are made within 90 seconds.41% of shopping cart abandonments occur because consumers encounter hidden charges at checkout.53% of consumers say that low-cost shipping is a sufficient reason to change online retailers.Takeaway LessonsThe statistics showcased in vouchercloud’s infographic make one thing clear: Anything that adds resistance to your checkout process reduces your sales. When it comes to boosting online sales, consumers look for streamlined experiences that give them the best possible deals with the smallest amount of hassle. To see how your checkout process stacks up, go through each of your competitors’ shopping carts and try to make a purchase. Anything that makes your own system more complicated than theirs should be revised.Were you surprised by any of these findings?  If so, share your reactions — as well as how you plan to apply these lessons to your business — in the comments below.last_img read more

8 Clever Ways to Use Your Twitter Cover Image for Better Marketing

first_img Images Originally published Feb 9, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 There are plenty of ways to use your Twitter cover image to promote your business. You can implement different tactics at different times, depending on what’s going on in your business at the moment. It’s easy to mix your cover image up and keep things fresh, while always being consistent with your branding.To inspire your next Twitter cover photo change, check out some great examples below. 1) Build Instant TrustRebekah has an impressive social media pedigree. Using an “As Seen On” box and a half-circle badge, she doesn’t shy away from sharing some of the prestigious places where her work has appeared. With names like those behind her, she has instant credibility.Her one-of-a-kind gorgeous smile also draws you in and her trademark orange fits nicely with the rest of her branding, which means if you know her on other platforms, you’ll know for sure you’re in the right place here.Takeaway: Have something you’re proud of? Show it off! Keep your branding consistent with other platforms.2) Turn Your Twitter Image into a Quick Business OverviewNo need to wonder what you’ll get from the dynamic duo over at Web Search Social.  One look tells you exactly what you can expect. The beauty is in the simplicity.Takeaway: Use your Twitter cover image to tell people exactly what they can expect from your business and from your tweets. You know that compliment you give your most transparent friends, “What you see is what you get with her”? That’ll be you on Twitter.3) Highlight an Upcoming EventVincent is going to be speaking at the upcoming Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. This reinforces him as the Pinterest “specialist | speaker | strategist” he is. The background image also gives a little nod to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.Takeaway: Have an upcoming trade show, speaking event or other exciting announcement? Make it here!4) Promote the LifestyleNormally a suggestion for use on Pinterest, fitness tracker company FitBit does a great job of building on the desires of their followers to improve their lifestyle – on Twitter.  While the product does make a couple of appearances, the overall impression you get is that this is a company that promotes an active lifestyle. If that’s what appeals to you, you might be more inclined to follow and engage!Takeaway: If you have a lifestyle product or service, consider how you might depict that to your audience. You may find it more effective than a shot of your product.5) Highlight Your Recent Content and Provide Outreach ContextRecently, I completed an ebook on Houzz marketing. I wanted to do a little proactive outreach on Twitter to get it in front of as many people as possible. Since the people I was tweeting to might not know OverGo and the connection with Houzz marketing, the split screen Twitter cover image provides instant context.Takeaway: If you have some popular content on your site, direct Tweets to it from your cover photo. You might also temporarily change the URL on your profile to send them directly to the appropriate page on your site instead of the home page.6) Announce a New Product and Promote a HashtagMazda uses a gorgeous, eye-catching image of two upcoming new models to get people excited about them, and to highlight their innovations. The prominent tagline reminds superfans how to start a conversation if they so desire.Takeaway: Use professional photography when showcasing your products. If you want to promote a custom hashtag (and why wouldn’t you?) make it easy by including it here.7) Showcase Your PersonalityIf you ARE your brand, as is Gary Vaynerchuk, play up your fabulous personality. These images may be all about business, but they are full of personality. Bonus – he highlights his hashtag to let followers know how to easily join the conversation.Takeaway: You don’t have to be a big a personality as Gary Vee to appeal to people by just being you. Showcase your accomplishments, your passions, and your winning smile.8) Set the ToneThe vintage typewriter and bright flowers are perfectly Peg. Classy, bright, cheerful – her cover image sets the tone for what she tweets.Takeaway: Keeping all your branding consistent with the tone and substance of your marketing makes people want to follow and interact.So, how will you use your Twitter cover this month? Have you seen other clever uses of Twitter cover images? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics:last_img read more

How to Stay Calm Under Pressure [Infographic]

first_img Work Life Balance Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Feb 16, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 In small doses, stress can actually be good for us. It helps motivate us to focus on our work and can seriously fuel our productivity. When it’s over, if we’ve done a good job, it can provide us with an even greater sense of accomplishment than we’d have otherwise.But, as we all know, stress can also make us feel overwhelmed. It can take over our senses and make it really hard to concentrate.When we’re faced with a difficult situation and we feel our stress levels start to increase, the ability to stay calm can make a huge difference in the outcome. Whether you’re a doctor, a barista, or a marketer, using techniques to stay calm when you’re under pressure will do wonders for your career, your health, and your sense of well-being.What exactly goes on inside your mind when you’re stressed? And how can you learn to keep calm, trust yourself, and be a leader in the face of hard situations? Check out the infographic below from Pounds to Pocket to learn the answers to these questions and more. (And read this blog post to learn how 9 high-profile professionals stay calm under pressure.)6K+Save6K+SaveWhat other tips do you have on staying calm in times of stress? Share with us in the comments.last_img read more

What Motivates Member Engagement for Nonprofits? [Infographic]

first_imgWhile no two organizations are created equal, the motivations behind joining one often are.  By understanding what draws new members in—and just as important—what keeps them there, nonprofits can better understand where to allocate their marketing time and resources. Take a look at this infographic from abila’s Member Engagement Study, to see what universal truths members share across organizations.  To dig down deeper on these stats, try running a survey with your current members to see how their responses net out against the averages below. Supplement this data by creating ideal member personas (free template here), and then match your content to meet the needs of this ideal audience. And just like that, you have the bones of a content strategy for member acquisition, engagement, and retention. Want some more in-depth information on membership marketing? Take a look at our Guide, Growing and Engaging Your Member Base. 17SaveWe’ve got more nonprofit resources where this came from. Take a look at our latest ebook, A Crash Course on Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits >>  Originally published Aug 11, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Nonprofit Marketinglast_img read more

7 Types of Push Notifications Users Actually Enjoy

first_imgIf recent marketing news has made one thing clear, it’s this: Mobile is non-negotiable.A growing number of us are using mobile as our primary device for accessing the internet — over a quarter of us interact with our smartphones more than any other object, or human being, for that matter. And content, in kind, has to fit that format, whether we’re consuming it or discovering it for the first time.Brands are starting to respond to that. Just last week, for instance, Google announced that non-mobile friendly pages will be ranking even lower next year.Apps will be especially impacted most by this increasingly widespread mobile use. The push notifications we receive on our devices will play a vital role in the information we come across, and if we choose to consume it.Many of us are already receiving information that way. In 2015, the average opt-in rate for push notifications was 49.8%. But those messages have to be optimized — otherwise, brands risk being ignored or forgotten.Why is that, exactly, and how can it be avoided? Read on to discover the types of push notifications your users actually want to receive — and how each one will benefit both of you.Master the fundamentals of mobile marketing using this free guide.7 Types of Push Notifications Your Users Actually Want1) The ones that are encouraging — not shaming.Once upon a time, I had an activity-tracking bracelet. It was connected by Bluetooth to my phone, where I could use an app to log workouts and meals.One day, when I hadn’t worked out for a while as a result of having the flu, I received a push notification from the app.“You haven’t been your active self lately,” it said. “Log a workout now.”I can’t be the only one who would feel a little bit judged by a message like that, even if it was automated. I mean, was this app serious? I had the flu! No wonder health and fitness app have the lowest opt-in rate for push notifications — they shame their users.That doesn’t have to be the case — nor is it, for every health and fitness app out there. There are some, like 12 Minute Athlete, that let users schedule their own workout reminders. (And if you’re sick, you don’t have to schedule any.) Then, when it does come time for your workout, you get a notification that encourages you, instead of making you feel guilty.Source: 12 Minute AthleteMost health and fitness apps are traditionally created with a somewhat shared goal: To help their users get better at doing something. And one of the most ineffective ways of doing that? Feeling bad about not doing it. In fact, research has shown that it’s self-compassion and forgiveness that make us correct negative behaviors — not guilt.Consider giving your users the option of taking a break. That can be applied to a variety of app categories: Health and fitness, dating, or online shopping. Let them determine how long they want that hiatus to be — and feel free you set your own parameters for how long that can actually go on. Then, send a push notification to ask them if they’re ready to come back. That will remind them to launch the app, keeping them engaged after they’ve stepped away.2) The ones that make life a little easier.I’m one of those people who has to put everything in my calendar. But the one thing I never seem to remember scheduling is an online check-in for my flights.That’s why I absolutely love it when airline apps remind me to check in 24 hours in advance — and maybe that’s one reason why travel and transportation apps have the highest push notification opt-in rate.Many airlines notify passengers to check in via email, but let’s face it — with text messages outweighing email as the preferred method of communication by 23%, chances are that we’re looking at these quick notifications more than we’re checking our email.JetBlue is one airline that does this particularly well. Like clockwork, I always receive a friendly little note on my screen — “Hey there. It’s time to check in for your flight” — exactly 24 hours before I’m scheduled to take off. It’s one less thing that I have to remember to do and, therefore, these particular notifications are adding value for me.Ask yourself that question before you write copy for a push notification: How can we frame this in a way that creates value for the user? You’ll be glad you did — users who opt-in to push messages average three times more app launches than those who opt out.3) The ones that know where its users are — in a non-creepy way.When Localytics asked mobile users which type of push notifications they preferred the most, 34% responded with “a special offer based on my location” — the third most popular kind.And why not? If you’re already out, you might as well treat yourself with that special discount, right?Take this notification from Neoshop. It’s personalized on two levels — it includes the user’s first name, and it lets him know that there’s a shop location nearby where he can use some of the credits he’s accumulated.Source: Business 2 CommunityKnowing where your users are and responding in kind accomplishes two things: First, it lets them know that you’re paying attention. You’re not watching them in a Big-Brother-ish way — you’re looking out for them, and for opportunities around them.Second, offering them something special based on that information can make your brand relatable — like a friend texting to say, “I’m in your neighborhood. Wanna get coffee?”That’s another way to add value for your user. Instead of asking them to go out of their way to engage with you, you’re creating an opportunity when it’s convenient to them. That makes it easy for someone to find a reason to launch your app — and to remember that they have unused rewards.4) The ones that get people excited about something.There are also occasions when you might not be where you want to be — like a warm beach in the middle of winter, for example. And, there are times when a push notification can help you get there — like with a cheap airfare alert.Kayak, a travel search site, allows its users to set their own notification criteria — based on destination, date, or popular places to travel — and receive an alert when the price for any of those trips drops below a point of their choosing.Source: ArkeneaThere are few things that thrill me more than a good deal on airfare. And when it’s Kayak who lets me know about that deal, I associate that brand with my excitement.And that makes sense — “a special offer based on my preferences” was the #1 preferred type of push notification in 2015. The reward is twofold: Not only are your users receiving information that’s perceived as a great deal, but it’s the result of something they were able to dictate. There’s a return on their investment in your app — and they got to call the shots on what that return would look like.There are several verticals that could stand to benefit from this strategy. It’s the positive association I mentioned before that really stands out — just as it is with location-based alerts, these notifications send the message that your brand is looking out for its users. It’s as if the app is saying, “I know you mentioned that you were looking for one of these, so I picked it up for you.”It’s thoughtful, right? And since 52% of us prefer gifts that are truly considerate in that way, it seems fitting that we would respond well to brands that behave accordingly.So think about what’s really going to excite your users. Let your audience determine what they deem rewarding by letting them customize preferences. When you plan your push notifications, having that information will help craft the message that your app is going out of its way to benefit its users.  5) The ones that alert people to what matters to them.It might seem like we’re a bit overwhelmed with bad news these days — so much, in fact, that WNYC put together a Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook. As much as we like to stay informed, we also like the opportunity to tune some things out.But what about the rest of what’s happening in the world — the stuff that we want to stay in the loop for? At risk of sounding cliché: There’s an app for that.The Oregon Public Broadcasting app set a great example for how push notifications can be used for this kind of content distribution and promotion. “We’re not singularly a breaking news app,” said OPB’s Marketing Director, Paul Loofburrow, “but if there’s a public service announcement, we want to share that.”Instead, the app uses push notifications to alert listeners to live broadcasts, encouraging them to tune in. And it works — after sending these alerts, OPB saw a 483% increase in users listening to a specific radio broadcast.Source: Urban AirshipMedium, an online publishing platform, uses push notifications in a similar way. Users can receive an instant alert when someone they follow publishes a new post — and can decide if they want to Medium to select the top five posts of this kind, instead of receiving a notification every time something new is published. And if they want, users can also opt to receive notifications for stories that Medium recommends, based on their reading history.  Mobile Apps Topics: Originally published Sep 5, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated October 29 2019center_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Breaking News is another app that has quite a few content customization features. It lets users decide what they want brought to their attention, and when they want to hear about it. There’s an option to disable notifications for “major stories,” as well as a way to set “quiet time,” when no news alerts will be sent.Source: Breaking NewsBut here’s where the real value comes in — the features that allow users to pick the topics they want to know about.Source: Breaking NewsThat level of personalization is a tremendous asset to your audience. In fact, users are three times more likely to respond to a notification that directly affects them, as opposed to an alert that might have been sent to everybody.Depending on what sort of information is shared by your app, a best practice could be to let users pick and choose what they want to know about. And, instead of only giving them the chance to turn off notifications completely, let them choose a time of day when they don’t want to be disturbed.6) The ones that help people pick up where they left off.You’ve walked into a room with an intention. But then, something distracts you. The phone rings, someone’s shouting your name for your attention, and by the time that distraction has passed, you’ve forgotten why you walked into that room in the first place.That scenario often plays out when we’re using apps. Let’s say I’m using a grocery delivery app to place an order, when someone sends me a text message. If leave the app to respond, I’m probably going to forget what I was doing before that message came in, and neglect to finish my order. That’s no surprise, since studies now reveal that we have a shorter attention span than most goldfish — largely due to smartphone use.But Instacart is one app that helps me remember to finish a task. If I abandon my shopping cart without checking out, for example, it sends me this friendly reminder:How convenient! Not only do I now remember that I need to order my groceries, but I don’t have to wait that long for them to be delivered, either.This example goes back to the idea of making life easier for your users. But in this case, instead of being reminded of a specific, salient event — like a trip or flight somewhere — the app is helping me stay on top of my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.When you design your push notifications, keep two things in mind:How busy are your users?Is this alert going to help them, or just distract and disrupt them?Answering those questions will help you prioritize the alerts you want to send to your users, and limit the amount of overload they perceive from your app.7) The ones that keep people posted.Perhaps you’ve heard about the “hangry” phenomenon — an adjective that Dictionary.com defines as “irritable as a result of feeling hungry.”When you combine the cultural pervasiveness of hangriness with the fact that more and more of us are ordering meals online (by 2020, it’s predicted that mobile ordering will be a $38 billion industry), the outcome is as follows: We really, really want to know when our food will arrive.That’s why it’s smart for what Business Insider calls “aggregators” — platforms like GrubHub and Eat24 that allow users to order online from dozens of different outlets — to incorporate a live delivery update feature, to let us know when our food is on its way.Source: LocalyticsSource: AllThingsDIt’s important to note that we’re becoming a species of instant gratification — 43% of us think it’s unacceptable to take more than 10 minutes to respond to a text message, for example. And whether we like that direction or not, it’s important for businesses to adapt, especially in the mobile sector.If your app requires your users to wait for something, ask yourself:Am I making my users wait longer than they want or should have to?Am I keeping my users posted about what they’re waiting for?Am I updating my users to the point that I’m becoming disruptive?Do my users have a way to reach me if they need more information after I update them?Those last two points stress the importance of striking the right balance with push notifications. Share just enough information so that your users aren’t left completely in the dark while they’re waiting. And if they need more details, make sure there’s an easy way for them to get in touch with you.Ready to start notifying?There are a few tools out there that can help you create and implement push notifications. A few of our favorites:Aimtell: Aimtell is a push notification platform for re-engaging desktop and mobile visitors with hyper-targeted notifications. It allows users to send tailored notifications to website visitors with highly personalized content.Amazon Web Services: Among Amazon’s many developer tools is its SNS Mobile Push Notifications feature. Like other platforms of its kind, this feature allows notifications to be sent individually (to one person at a time), or to multiple users at once.OneSignal: OneSignal is a notification service that’s used by several apps that need to provide real-time updates to their users — think Uber (“where’s my ride?”). It also allows A/B testing, so that marketers can send two different messages to samples of user groups and see which one performs better.When it comes to creating push notifications, there’s an unspoken golden rule: Alert others as you would like to be alerted.These notifications are absolutely crucial to your mobile marketing strategy — users that enable them are 171% more engaged with the app than those who don’t. But choose them wisely.When in doubt, we find it’s helpful to use a checklist. So make sure your push notifications meet these basic criteria:They aren’t redundant or disruptive to your users.They keep your users informed of the things they want to know.They’re thoughtful — they keep an eye out and make life a little more convenient for users, without seeming overbearing or clingy.They encourage users — and don’t shame them.How do you use push notifications? Share it with us in the comments.last_img read more

The Public Apology Letter: 6 Brands That Nailed It

first_imgRemorse. While the email opens with some apology text, that accounts for a minute portion of the email. The majority of the copy is asking me to do something on behalf of the company that wronged me. Think about it — if you immediately ask someone to do you a favor after you apologize for a mistake, how genuinely remorseful will you sound? Not very. Originally published Mar 9, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Next steps. When you’ve made a mistake, people want to be sure of two things:That you’re truly sorry for your wrongdoing.That it’s not going to happen again. There are some people who just refuse to sincerely apologize. My favorite example of this phenomenon is taken from a U.S. television franchise called “The Real Housewives,” in which the cast members have become notorious for doling out feigned apologies. Instead of simply apologizing for hurting someone’s feelings, for example, it’s more common for them to say something like, “I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt.”That, my friends, is not how you say, “Sorry.”I get it — it’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong. There’s been so much conflicting data around the word “sorry.” While it’s something that most parents of young children believe should be taught, there have also been claims that apologizing makes a person look weak. In fact, some companies’ stock prices have fallen following an apology, depending on how it was delivered. There are even browser add-ons to prevent the use of apologetic language in emails. Download our essential guide to branding here for even more tips on branding your company. But to little old me, a sincere apology goes a long way. When I sense genuine remorse, it means a lot to me — perhaps because it’s so rare, at least in my experience. Combined with my nerdy affection for all things marketing, that sentiment applies to brand apologies, too. It’s not so much that I think, “Wow, that means a lot to me,” but more like, “Wow, that company really nailed saying, ‘Sorry.'”So, who’s done it best? We rounded up some of our favorite brand apologies to inspire you next time you make a mistake — and need to admit your wrongdoing.But First, Here’s What Not to DoWhen I was in business school and searching for an internship, a friend in a creative industry told me to try out a website that was created, supposedly, for people with my skills and background. But when I used the platform to create a profile and upload my credentials, I was turned away with no explanation. A few days later, I received the following email:Let’s outline what this apology is lacking:Specificity. The message notes that I was turned away — but it doesn’t explain why. When you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it in full, explaining exactly where you went wrong and why. Don’t forget to share this post! Of course, this series of events presents a much larger issue that isn’t limited to Airbnb and does raise the question, “How much can a corporation really do?” And while that is far from an easy question to answer, Airbnb seems to be continuing to do its part, and acknowledging its role within this landscape.So, Next Time You Mess Up……you know what to do.Granted, admitting when you’re wrong is still anything but a simple task. And figuring out how you’re going to make it right isn’t a process that can take place overnight. But one thing you can do immediately is to admit your mistake. Ask for feedback. Be transparent. And remember — “I’m sorry” can go a long way.How does your brand address mistakes? Let us know in the comments. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015center_img Not long after this unconventional apology was issued, Swift starred in an Apple commercial, which led some to speculate that the entire incident was an orchestrated publicity campaign. That said, it does illustrate some positive points of how big-name brands can apologize. With two tweets, Apple sent the message, “We hear your grievances, we get it, and here’s what we’re going to do about it.”2) ZocDocIt seems like you can use the internet to procure anything these days. From buying specialty products to scheduling meetings, so much can be accomplished and taken care of online.ZocDoc is one such provider of these services, and provides a platform that connects users with doctors for almost every speciaity in their respective areas. There’s just one problem — sometimes, the doctors don’t accurately update their schedules within ZocDoc, causing users to make appointments for times that aren’t actually available, leading to their subsequent cancellation.But ZocDoc isn’t one to say, “Not our fault, not our problem.” Instead, it’s constantly striving to gain and use customer feedback to enhance the user experience, like it does with this email:Here’s the thing — ZocDoc wasn’t really the one responsible for the cancellation. The doctor’s office was, but despite that, it still negatively impacts the user experience, which ZocDoc acknowledged and offered to make right, by not only asking what went wrong, but offering a gift in exchange for the feedback.3) NetflixWhen Netflix was looking to transition from DVD delivery to a streaming service (yes, we almost forgot about that, too), it had a few missteps along the way.At first, the company built a system in which its streaming and DVD delivery services would become different entities with separate billing agreements. Before, members had the option of subscribing to both for $10 per month. But the split meant a 60% price increase for current members who wanted both — the new system’s fees were $8 each month solely for the DVD service, plus another $8 per month for streaming. What’s worse, the company didn’t really provide a clear explanation.But CEO Reed Hastings wanted to shed light on the situation, and did so in an open letter on the company’s blog. He explained why the changes came to be, and noted that Netflix was “done” with pricing changes. But there was a problem — the company wasn’t doing anything to reverse the issue affecting most customers, which was the separation of subscriptions. People enjoyed having the option of signing up for multiple services with one bill. But Hastings didn’t fix that. Instead, he noted that the DVD service would not only remain separate, but would be renamed Qwikster.Source: NetflixQwikster was short-lived, to say the least. Three weeks later, Hastings issued yet another apology. This time, he kept it short and sweet, and essentially sent the message, “Okay, you’re right. Having two billing systems was a bad idea, and we’re doing away with that.” Netflix did suffer some initial damage, with a loss of 800,000 members and a falling stock price. However, the brand has since recovered and currently enjoys healthy financials.4) Naked WinesI’ve discovered a pattern to my email-unsubscribing behavior. It typically happens when I’m generally stressed out or overwhelmed, and might snap if I get just one more notification on my phone. The easy answer, of course, would be to turn off my notifications. Instead, I angrily unsubscribe from the well-meaning brand’s newsletters, for which I happily signed up, but didn’t really engage with.In my case, at least, it’s not the brand’s fault. So if that company sent me a witty, thoughtful email in response to my cancelled subscription, asking what went wrong and what could be done to fix it, I might happily oblige — after I calmed down, of course. And that’s exactly what Naked Wines did with the apologetic email below:Source: EconsultancyThe company openly leads with “sorry,” and acknowledges that the canceled subscription was likely due to something it did. So it asked, “What was it? Let us know, so we can fix it.”5) Toronto Maple LeafsIf there’s one thing that truly dedicated sports fan would be happy to never hear again, it’s the phrase, “It’s just a game.” And no one, it seems, understood that more than Lawrence M. Tanenbaum — chairman of Maple Leaf Sports — after a devastating loss by the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012.Source: National Hockey LeagueAs a somewhat diehard sports fan myself — go Red Sox — I can understand the desire for accountability from a team’s front office management after a bad season. And with this long, apologetic letter, that’s exactly what Tanenbaum accomplished, with the recognition of not only his team’s poor performance, but also, a public commitment on behalf of ownership to improve things.6) AirbnbIn December 2015, home-sharing platform Airbnb began to come under fire for racial profiling and discrimination taking place on its site. That month, Harvard researchers released a working paper, which indicated that travelers with “distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names.” That data was only compounded by reports on social media from travelers who experienced that discrimination first-hand, as well as a lawsuit over such actions.In monitoring the social media dialogue, it seems like the issue isn’t quite completely resolved. However, Airbnb isn’t trying to dodge it, and is actually quite proactively addressing this (big) problem. It began with this email from CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky:Chesky addresses the fault of Airbnb early in the message, acknowledging that the brand was far too slow to respond to the issue of discrimination, and apologized for it. Since then, the company has taken several actions to prevent and put an end to it on the platform, which it outlined in a 32-page report authored by Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. The report documented an audit conducted to evaluate where Airbnb was falling short on preventing discrimination, and the resulting measures that would be put in place. Since the report was released, the brand has very publicly campaigned on a platform of inclusion, capped with an ad that aired during the 2017 Super Bowl. Topics: Marketing Case Studies The above email does neither of those things, as per the “remorse point.” It’s also lacking any accountable language to address what it’s going to do to prevent this issue from taking place again, using non-committal language like “I hope.” And if you’re not sure what to do to make it right — ask.We chose the examples below due to their inclusion of all of these factors and, in some cases, even more.6 Brands That Brilliantly Apologized1) AppleBack in 2015, U.S. pop artist Taylor Swift announced a very public boycott of Apple Music. That was due to the service offering a one-month free trial of its streaming feature — but not paying artists for any of their music that was played during the free period.To right the situation, Apple enlisted the help of its SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, who went about a slightly unusual way of admitting to the brand’s wrongdoing — via Twitter. #AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015last_img read more

Challenges in Bridging the Idea and Practice

first_imgPosted on January 1, 2011June 20, 2017By: Faatimaa Ahmadi, Young Champion of Maternal HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This blog post was contributed by Faatimaa Ahmadi, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.One year passed. A fruitful year! Last year at this time I was very busy in Iran with developing the idea to take part in Ashoka’s Changemakers.com online competition. Fortunately, I was selected to participate in the Young Champions Program and now I am in my fourth month at the Joyce Fertility support centre in Uganda. I am experiencing a Christmas day in a Christian country and missing Norooz which is the first day of the Persian year. I am missing many other things and of course gaining the other ones to practically turn my idea into reality to bring change in the way of education in maternal health.I based my idea for maternal health on the educational program in the Iranian context where there is no shortage of health providers and no difficulties in access to health centers and hospital facilities. However, on implementing the idea I am in the Ugandan context where I find the opposite. Here I see a lack of midwives, transportation and hospital facilities in heath systems and many other things. Sometimes the differences in these two different contexts challenge me severely. On one hand we are educating women to go to the health centers, and on the other hand there are health centers without midwives that have little availability.So far we have introduced our project in two districts. We had 2 sessions with district health committees. The meetings were interactive. However, we learned from this session that the perspective of the health committee in one of the districts doesn’t match with the real conditions of the district. They told us they don’t have any problems regarding maternal health!But we had earlier visited 2 health centers in this area and we observed:An active health centre with a closed maternity ward because the midwife was on maternity leave without a replacementRefills in the drug store without the health centre supervisor’s input about the required drugsHigh antenatal care coverage but women were not coming back to give birth in the health centresWomen that came to the antenatal unit in their fifth month of pregnancy or laterDoctors and nurses not considering the privacy of pregnant women during their visits (part of their exams were being done in front of a group of people)Doctors holding the educational sessions in which the subject was inappropriate to participants needs (the educator was advising the clients about the importance of starting antenatal care at first month of pregnancy while most of the clients were at late month of pregnancy or postpartum period, so it was obvious to see most of the learners not paying attention to the educator)These days we are now trying to find ways to solve these challenges which have been valuable learning points for us through our activities.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

a month agoEx-Dinamo Zagreb chief Mamic: Levy included price for 5 shirts in fee for Spurs Modric deal

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Ex-Dinamo Zagreb chief Mamic: Levy included price for 5 shirts in fee for Spurs Modric dealby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Dinamo Zagreb chief exec Zdravko Mamic has recalled selling Luka Modric to Tottenham.The Real Madrid ace moved to Spurs in 2008.Mamic recalled to Four Four Two magazine: “We already had an agreement for Modric to move to London. I asked Levy (Daniel, chairman) for five Spurs jerseys and he told me that he would give them to me, but that at that point Tottenham would pay a lower sum for the player’s transfer, given that from the agreed €21m it would be subtracted. “Levy is the best negotiator in the world. This story made me realize how much he values every single euro coming out of Tottenham’s coffers.” last_img

22 days agoArsenal boss Emery: Martinelli’s long-term position?

first_imgArsenal boss Emery: Martinelli’s long-term position?by Paul Vegas22 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveGabriel Martinelli is set for more action with Arsenal tonight.Martinelli finds himself in line to feature for Arsenal tonight, when they host Standard Liege in the Europa League.Gunners head coach Unai Emery said: “He is with us because he deserves to be with us. Pre-season was his chance to show and to work with us and we are very, very happy with him. He is a very fast player and that is a quality that is very important. “He gives us good pressing ­without the ball, good pace in the final third, chances to score and he’s getting better. He is young but if his ­performances are getting better every day, it is good for him to carry on being with us.”On Martinelli’s long-term position, he added: “We used him in training and against Nottingham Forest as a striker.“It is not the best position for him but he played well and he played there sometimes in Brazil but he can play right or left.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

3 days ago​Alcohol banned in Amsterdam before Chelsea clash

first_img​Alcohol banned in Amsterdam before Chelsea clashby Freddie Taylor3 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveAmsterdam’s Red Light District will see an alcohol ban in effect before Chelsea face off against Ajax in the UEFA Champions League.The Dutch authorities in Amsterdam do not want to have any fan incidents on their hands.It is why they are ensuring that everyone is well behaved in the lead up to the 6:55pm kick off for the game.There will be no alcohol sales between 12pm and 6pm on that day, with any establishment that flaunts the law facing fines of up to 1,200 euros.The report of the alcohol ban comes from the AS newspaper in Spain.”Traditionally, foreign football fans go to the Red Light District before a game. This is accompanied by a lot of drinking. Previously, residents and businesses in the area have suffered huge inconvenience and the police have had to intervene,” said a statement in AS. About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Burgess Shale fossils add branches to tree of life says Royal Society

first_imgDirk Meissner, The Canadian Press VICTORIA — The tiny remains of an extinct bug-like creature discovered at British Columbia’s 500-million-year-old Burgess Shale fossil deposit add a new branch to the evolutionary tree of life, says a PhD student who tracked down the organism’s development.The discovery of fossilized soft tissue, including the unique digestive tract, antennae and appendages of extinct agnostids help solve a long-standing evolutionary riddle about the agnostids’ family tree, says Joe Moysiuk, an ecology and evolutionary biology PhD student at the University of Toronto.The peer-reviewed study, published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B in the United Kingdom, links the agnostids to trilobites as distant cousins. Evolutionary researchers have pondered if trilobites were related to agnostids and the new research proves the connection, Moysiuk said.“Agnostids appear to be what we call the sister group, sort of like a distant cousin of trilobites,” he said. “They are more closely related to other trilobites than other anthropods, like say, crustaceans or like arachnids, spiders and such.”Trilobites, which are also extinct, are similar to today’s horseshoe crabs, Moysiuk said. Moysiuk and Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron, an associate evolutionary biology professor at University of Toronto and a senior curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, conducted the research.Moysiuk said their research also helps answer questions about the origins of agnostids, which lived between 520 million and 450 million years ago.The work emphasizes the importance of continued exploration at Burgess Shale to trace the evolutionary process of other species, Moysiuk said in an interview.“This is an animal that’s been a big mystery in terms of where it fits into the tree of life for a very long time and so it’s always nice to fit in a little piece of the puzzle.”Agnostids are typically less than a centimetre long, with armour plates on their backs, a circular head shield and a similar looking tail shield, he said.Moysiuk said finding the agnostids in the Burgess Shale area is important because not only is the hard, shell-like part of the creature preserved, but so is the soft tissues such its nervous system and digestive tracts, sometimes even containing the last meal of the animal.“These fossils really give us this unparalleled insight into what life was like back in the Cambrian period.”He said the discovery of the crustacean-like soft tissue was “even weirder than what we would have imagined.”They found a pair of sensory antennae at the front of the animals body and two pairs of swimming appendages, that it would have used like oars to paddle its way through the water, he said.“They have lots of segments and these strange sort of club-like outgrowth coming off of them, which we hypothesize may have been used for respiration in these animals. So they were breathing through their legs, potentially.” Moysiuk said he’s been at the Marble Canyon site at Kootenay National Park where the fossils were found, but spends much of his time at the Royal Ontario Museum, where there’s a huge collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale.last_img read more

APTN opens the books on Peters reserve finds questionable payments INACs role

first_imgKenneth JacksonAPTN National NewsPeters First Nation’s three-member band council were allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period to operate a band with 12 homes on 131 hectares and little infrastructure.The money was much more than what band council claimed to Indigenous Affairs from 2013 to 2015 according to the First Nations Transparency Act.But the money just didn’t go to council.It was also allocated to members who are known to vote for council every two years. A close look at the finances over those years indicate that over 90 per cent of all expenditures to band members went to those who voted for council.This happened while the British Columbia reserve was in a bitter membership battle that continues to this day on a nation that receives around $300,000 in annual funding from Indigenous Affairs.But it doesn’t end there.Documents show questionable payments not only to the children of council but one of their mothers received tens of thousands in social assistance and allegedly didn’t qualify, while one councillor had over 10 jobs, an APTN National News investigation has uncovered.A recent audit uncovered that the band kept little paper trail of supporting documents for social assistance, and council members were signing cheques over to themselves, all of which the auditor said opened the band to the potential for “inappropriate payments” during the fiscal year of 2014/2015.Indigenous Affairs (INAC) approved the audit without question.More so, Indigenous Affairs funded the National Child Benefit program that year without any supporting documents, asking the band to submit details of how the money would be spent later.That was just one of the many programs led by Victoria Peters, a longtime councillor who is also – to name a few – the band manager, bookkeeper, income assistance administrator, community health representative, on the membership committee, accounts payable/receivable and social worker.Chief Norma Webb has refused to comment directly on any part of APTN’s investigation supported by confidential ledgers, audits, band council resolutions, internal emails, INAC documents and interviews with band members spanning more than three months.APTN has also been following two court cases involving Peters band council where band members are suing the council for breaching its fiduciary duty by allegedly misusing band money, not keeping records and appointing themselves to all the jobs.Peters First Nation along the Fraser River about 130 km east of Vancouver. Submitted.The band council, at the same time, is trying to enforce an injunction to have “confidential” documents returned to the office, alleging former employee Frances Genaille and her son, Andrew stole them and, in part, are using the documents against council to seek INAC to investigate the band council.“Andrew has disclosed confidential information regarding the Peters social assistance program that could only have been obtained from Peters’ files,” wrote the band council recently in its petition for an injunction. “INAC has requested an immediate review of Peters social assistance program as a result.”Andrew Genaille wrote to INAC March 20 alleging former councillor Leanne Peters’ mother, Donna Peters, had been receiving social assistance since 2011 and didn’t qualify.“Donna Peters owns her own home,” he wrote. “Donna Peters husband, Clifford Peters, already receives disability. Clifford Peters also receives a paycheque from Peters First Nations. Donna Peters is Leanne Peters mother, and sister in law to both Victoria Peters and Norma Webb.”Victoria Peters used that email to amend Peters’ petition for an injunction two weeks ago, that was first filed last November.APTN can confirm between 2012 and 2015 Donna Peters received all the social assistance funding – about $12,000 annually – based on the band council’s ledgers for those years. APTN can also confirm Clifford Peters received about $9,000 a year from the band during that time partially for odd jobs, like snow removal.When APTN called the home of Donna and Clifford Peters, Donna answered and quickly hung up when asked about the payments.Peters also refused to comment on the allegations. Webb first said she couldn’t comment because the documents were stolen, then suggested they may be fabricated and demanded to know APTN’s source of information.APTN informed Webb the ledgers showing the allocations were, at the very least, with their accountant who prepared them, as APTN has emails the accountant sent council during those years. The emails had digital copies of the ledgers as attachments.INAC was also told by another member of the band in March that she was aware that other people were being denied social assistance.“Due to all of the court proceeding in progress at the Band Level, this was used to deny access to the social program delivery at the request of Peters Band Members,” wrote Samantha Peters to INAC. “I would like it noted on record that Victoria is getting paid to deliver a program that nobody seems to have access to.”APTN is unaware of where Indigenous Affairs is with its investigation into the social assistance program but INAC has appointed a financial investigator in Ottawa to assist the Vancouver regional office.Samantha Peters has been a thorn in the side of council since 2012 when she first began fighting for 66 people to become members of the band. The majority had status through Peters but were not members and not has been approved for membership, including children of current band members.But it’s been a fight that started much earlier and has been happening since Peters got control over its membership through Section 10 of the Indian Act about 30 years ago.Council is accused of limiting membership since 1987, thus staying in power all these years as Peters band is basically one big family – everyone is related, yet don’t get along.It’s divided the nation, just not evenly as the one side has had the votes to stay in power leaving Samantha Peters’ side of the family, about 18 members, on the outside, as previously reported by APTN.In depth: Promise to dying mother sees daughter take on ‘rigged’ band council to bring her family homeRelated: Elder died wanting to be member of reserve she was born onA review of the ledgers between 2012 and 2015, show the lion’s share of funding those years went to members who are known to vote for council.In fact, in the 2014/15 fiscal year 93.1 per cent of funding, just under $500,000, went to council, their families and those who voted for them.The fiscal year before that it was 91.2 per cent of about $400,000 in funding.On top of the funding from INAC, Peters band also receives money for health and payments for hydro and forestry. APTN has learned the band council was able to draw from other revenue and trust accounts to make up for deficits, like in 2013-14 when it pulled about $285,000 from the accounts according to a band council resolution and an email from their accountant.Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.Some members who voted for council are said, according to court documents, to allegedly received “questionable payments”.Andrew Genaille, a filmmaker and writer, and his sister Lisa Genaille, who is taking steps to start medical school, are suing the band for “misusing their powers” by allegedly appointing themselves to paid positions, refusing band members “equitable access” to resources and receiving inappropriate payments.Both were once close to the council and describe growing up in the band office as their mother, Frances Genaille, worked there for three decades as the assistant band administrator until late last year when she was fired. She is suing the band for wrongful dismissal.The siblings were so close to council that when it received 66 membership applications in 2013 council hired the siblings to review the applicants.Lisa and Andrew say when they got access to all the band’s files and they learned how the band was allegedly being operated.“The band’s archives and record keeping were done very poorly and were very disorganized,” Andrew alleges in court, saying he was given “unlimited access” to files.He tried to hold council accountable but it didn’t last long.“Once I began questioning Victoria Peters about questionable payments being made,” Andrew details in an affidavit, “she would not provide answers to any of my questions and I was no longer allowed access to the archives.”Those questionable payments allegedly include money going to Victoria Peters, as a review of the ledgers show she was allocated much more than what she claimed to INAC in the band’s annual audits.Victoria Peters claimed about $90,000 in salary and $8,000 in expenses but a review of the ledger that year shows she was allocated closer to $170,000, while Webb claimed $35,000 and was allocated $63,000. Leanne Peters claimed $12,000 and was allocated $17,000.Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.In the 2013/14 fiscal year, Victoria Peters claimed $88,000 while the ledgers shows she allocated $142,000. Webb claimed $24,000 and was allocated $53,000. Leanne claimed $6,000 and was allocated $9,000.Various programs Victoria Peters was in charge of saw her collect large sums but when asked about them Victoria Peters refused to respond.Graph is based on the 2013/14 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.One of the questions was about allocations made to one of her children, a minor – one was for hundreds of dollars for “rent” and $6,000 under the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program and another $15,000 was allocated to Victoria from a total budget of $31,000.APTN has been told there is nothing to suggest the child qualified for the funding and Victoria Peters refused to comment when asked.Victoria Peters also controlled a large budget co-funded by the First Nations Health Authority and INAC.In 2014/15, the band council received about $140,000 in funding under the FNHA and $70,000 was allocated to Victoria Peters, while the majority of the rest was allocated to people who vote for council and just under $8,000 went to families known to vote against council.Victoria Peters would not respond to questions about her qualifications to hold the position or why she was claiming so much money from the programs.That same year the Peters band had its books audited by a firm in Chilliwack, B.C. who found a list of issues with Victoria Peters’ bookkeeping.“Supporting documents for social assistance and payroll transactions are weak,” wrote the firm MNP after an audit of the bands books. “Cheque requisition forms should be used to show evidence of council approval for social assistance and payroll expenditures.”MNP also found that social assistance reporting to INAC was not consistent with “actual expenditures incurred.”Program reimbursement forms and invoices didn’t have signed authorization of chief and council and complete budget information was not prepared for all band operations.“Expense approval process and supporting documentation is weak which could result in inappropriate payments,” wrote MNP. “In addition, insufficient processes and controls results in increased audit work.”MNP also had a problem with people receiving payments from the band that had cheque-signing authority, which was Victoria Peters and Chief Norma Webb.“Recipients of payments who have cheque signing authority should not sign cheques made out to themselves,” the auditor wrote. “Cheques should be signed by authorized individuals who are not also the payee on the cheque.”Meanwhile, the two elders on Peters say are not surprised by APTN’s investigation.“We’ve known this for 30 years,” said Robert Peters Jr., whose son is currently before the Federal Court of Canada asking the court to appoint him as a member as council rejected him.“It’s just awful how they treat people.”Robert Wilmer Peters. APTN photo: Luke Smith.His brother, Ed Peters, 74, is the eldest and his children are not members either as their applications were part of the 66 that were denied. They are members of the Seabird Island First Nation just across the Fraser River.“We just want it to be fair for everyone,” said Ed Peters, adding he believes council is fueled by “greed.”He also said jobs Victoria Peters holds, and all others held by Webb and former councillor Leanne Peters, were never posted to for everyone to apply.“My daughter is the financial advisor for Seabird. She could run the finances at Peters but she never got the chance,” he said.Samantha Peters also had to look for work at a different nearby First Nation where she works in the forestry sector of the band. Peters has logging rights to land and Samantha said she’s never been approached to help the band.“On more than one occasion I have openly extended an invitation to chief and council to help with negotiations, agreements, forestry, resources,” she said. “I never heard back from them.”She said there are a number of qualified people from Peters with various expertise but are not included.“They use their own personal discretion too often and it’s unprofessional and it costs the band money,” said Samantha. “This is what they learned and it’s dangerous.”kjackson@aptn.calast_img read more

New natural gas producer members back 3 million gas clean tech program

first_imgCALGARY, A.B. – An industry-sponsored fund designed to help develop clean technology using Canadian natural gas is launching a $3-million call for project proposals.The Natural Gas Innovation Fund says the call for applications, with a February deadline, is being made possible by the addition of seven western Canadian natural gas producers to a membership previously made up of six natural gas utilities.The new members include the Canadian branches of two partners in the proposed $40-billion West Coast LNG Canada project: Royal Dutch Shell and Petronas; along with Canada’s largest natural gas producer, Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Fund managing director John Adams says the new program will target projects in the upstream or producing part of the industry, making up to $1 million available per project to cover as much as 25 per cent of its eligible expenses.Adams says the fund, created by the Canadian Gas Association, has over the past two years issued about $9 million to projects focused on energy efficiency.The fund is also announcing a partnership with federal, Alberta and British Columbia governments to collaborate and consider co-funding successful applicants with projects that deliver significant greenhouse gas emission reductions.The upstream fund members were introduced at an event at the Calgary Petroleum Club on Wednesday.“As a producer of natural gas, we’re big believers in the need for affordable, clean energy for all people worldwide,” said CEO Mark Fitzgerald of Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. in a statement.“In an age where technology has become the catalyst for exponential advancements in our industry, we’re excited to be involved in the Natural Gas Innovation Fund which pursues diversity of thought and provides a platform for sharing solutions.”last_img read more

Rescued canine makes it to dog squad of WB Police

first_imgKolkata: A stray canine, rescued by the police, has become the first street mongrel to join the elite dog squad of West Bengal Police. Asha, as named by the Kolkata Police officers who rescued her from stone-pelting kids on the city streets, has been trained in the last one-and-half years to become member of the dog squad of the West Bengal Police Training Academy, Barrackpore, deputy inspector general of police Dipankar Bhattacharya said. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers”Initially, we did not have plans to train her or include her in our dog squad as we never had any street dog in the squad. But the then inspector-general (Training) K Jayaraman thought of providing training to the stray dog and see if she could be included in the canine squad,” Bhattacharya said. Asha who will be joining “pedigreed” members such as German Shepherds and Labradors in the dog squad, has proved to be a good sniffer dog in detecting explosives, the DIG said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “I am happy that Asha has proved that not only pedigreed dogs can be part of a police dog squad. She has proved herself to be as smart and intelligent as pedigreed dogs. “We are proud that we are successful in training a stray dog to handle situations. She is ready for work and will join the squad soon,” the IPS officer said expressing his willingness to try to include more street mongrels in the squad after training them. “Asha is a well-mannered dog. She picked up very quickly and started following instructions on how to heel and walk, crawl, lie down, roll over and salute just like others pedigreed dogs,” another senior officer in the West Bengal Police’s dog squad said. “But if you ask me, I will tell you that Asha was very good at training and most of the times, she was better than the pedigreed dogs. She is the fastest runner dog in our squad and quite clever. That’s her mettle,” the officer said.last_img read more