Ever wished that one action or event triggered another to help you more easily manage social media (or your life)?
Well, you are in luck. ifttt is coming to the rescue.
I’ve been tinkering with the tool for a few days and wanted to solve a few work-flow problems. For example, I don’t check the weather forecast daily. But, if it rains, I’d like to have an umbrella or a jacket to look like I was prepared. ifttt to the rescue.
Boom. If the forecast calls for rain tomorrow, ifttt will shoot me an email to say “Yo. Grab that jacket and umbrella today. Stay dry.”
This is a great tool to sync notifications across multiple channels.
Time flies when you’re having fun. After several fast-paced, exciting years at Phonebooth, I’m stepping out of the booth on December 1st. We’ve accomplished some incredible things together though! We’ve experienced great growth, significantly improved the product & marketing and been featured on almost every major press outlet.
I’m leaving a great team, some incredibly smart and talented folks and a growing business. While it is a difficult decision, I’m taking my talents (thanks Lebron) to Red Hat to tackle new, incredible challenges and continue growing their business that is changing the world through open source.
It is a challenge I’m excited to be a part of and I look forward to joining another stellar team. I’ll still be in Raleigh and will see everyone around. On December 5th, I’ll start a new journey with a slightly different shade of red.
Thanks everyone for the support and all the help along the way!
I’m passionate about testing. So much so, that I wrote a guest post for SocialFresh.com with a case study from our testing at Phonebooth.com. An excerpt is below, but check out the full post, “You are not marketing unless you are testing.”
An excerpt from SocialFresh.com
Ahhhh, metrics and analytics. For those of us that aren’t deeply involved in conversion (cough cough making money), we resort to labels for the “numbers people.” Some call them analysts, technical folks or SEO / analytics gurus and tend to think that this isn’t our job as marketers.
Friends, you are mistaken. Marketing without data is like diving into a pool with no water – it ain’t pretty. Gone are the days of creating messaging with a finger in the wind or creating ideas in your fancy ivory tower.
Good marketers cater to potential customers by learning. What works? What do they want to hear? What do they do with your product? Where do they go on your site? When do they buy? How do they buy? Where do they buy?
If you can’t answer a few of those questions, do a Google search for your local unemployment office and save that in your GPS.
An A/B testing case study
At Phonebooth, we launched a new website late last month after months of research, analysis, content creation, planning, stakeholder meetings and other things you do to try to make sure everyone is on board. One major element of our redesign was to become masters of testing. We hadn’t entirely neglected it in the past, but decided to make testing a focus.
Our first test was the main hero image (an elegant title for the stuff below the top nav / header). We had research telling us that customers buy our business phone solution because of value. Saving money makes people happy and we had data to confirm that.
We established five different messages with similar styles, colors, fonts, etc. The main variance was the actual copy.
Control: $20 per user / month
Variation B: Save up to 60%
Variation C: A usability version better explaining our product with a few key bullet points
Variation D: Save up to $2500 per year
Variation E: Free Your Voice – a creative concept
Visual Website Optimizer was our tool of choice and we built out the different variations. Each website visitor was randomly assigned one of the variations and that became their homepage thanks to a cookie. Every visit to the homepage would give each user their “unique” homepage and we had several goals to track.
Testing is nothing without goals
Metrics are great. Measuring the correct metrics is even better. It is critical to have a thorough understanding of what you are measuring and what it truly means. We created three distinct goals to track for this test.
Engagement – this is defined as clicking anything on the website. What this means is clearly debatable and it may be completely irrelevant, but I wanted to see how many folks clicked something on the page in a digestable way.
Enters the Store – we sell our business phone solution online. Tracking the funnel is extremely important and we wanted to see how many folks clicked into the store.
Buys Phonebooth – does this need an explanation? This is the most important metric for us. While entering the store and engagement are both important… frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I want money. It helps to keep a roof over my head
Pretty simple, huh? Now, we’re ready to see what happens. From here, we start our test early on a Monday morning – a clean week.
Have some fun and test for yourself
Before you run a test, I highly encourage you to make an assumption. Guess what you think will perform the best and why. Heck, create a contest amongst your team and have everyone pick their favorite. Give a prize to the winners!
Leveling the playing field for testing will help everyone understand that a website isn’t a symphony of dorks and geeks coding and designing away to make something that they think looks good. It is science. Well, if done correctly that is.
While my opinion is arguably worth two cents, I thought that our control would perform the best. $20 is a really low number. It is inexpensive for a business phone solution. Plus, I had stared at this version for two months. It was stuck in my head, but I thought that folks would gravitate to a killer price and buy our product.
I’m always amazed at how often marketers don’t take advantages of opportunities that present themselves. Virtually anything that happens can resonate in some way with a key value proposition or marketing message of your product.
I was reminded of this at lunch today near a closed and vacant Schlotzsky’s Deli.
I was eating a quick lunch and like to get out of the office occasionally to clear my head for a few minutes. I picked up lunch at Arby’s and parked in the vacant Schlotzsky’s lot to listen to sports radio and eat.
Two minutes after parking, a car drove up… parked… walked to the door of the completely empty building and then reluctantly walked back to their vehicle.
Another two minutes passed and a car pulled through the drive-thru, also completely empty. They paused for a few seconds and then slowly drove away.
In fifteen minutes, there were eight vehicles that approached a vacant restaurant (and note that it has been vacant for several months).
Why isn’t another restaurant taking advantage of this opportunity?
There is an Arby’s next door. A KFC / Taco Bell about 100 yards away. And even a Firehouse Subs across the street, with similar and arguably, better tasting sandwiches. Would it be that difficult for them to post a piece of paper to the door and drive-thru offering a $1.00 discount if they come to their restaurant instead and mention that they were at the vacant Schlotzsky’s?
I’d venture to say that in the fifteen minutes I was in their parking lot, someone could have gained at least eight more customers that may have liked their clever, albeit extremely obvious marketing ploy.
I know you are all very busy restauranteurs, so I’ve taken the time to make this simple. Just copy this format and see what happens.
5in5 is a new video interview series to ask smart people five questions in less than five minutes. It gives me the opportunity to learn about them and get answers to tough questions in a short amount of time.
Why the name 5in5?
Simple. Five questions. Five minutes or less.
What did you ask Steve?
1. What can marketers learn from product management?
2. What one word defines product management?
3. How has social media changed the way you do business?
4. What is the most important thing you do to prepare for leading a presentation or training?
5. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Pragmatic Marketing rocks if you don’t know about them. Steve led my training a few years ago and it has been extremely helpful in my career. They know their stuff.
5in5 is a new video interview series I’m launching to ask smart people five questions in less than five minutes. It gives me the opportunity to learn about them and get answers to tough questions in a short amount of time.
Why the name 5in5?
Simple. Five questions. Five minutes or less.
What did you ask Scott?
1. What is one thing we can do daily to make us better marketers?
2. What do you consider to be the most important marketing metric?
3. How has social media changed the way you do business?
4. How do you balance your personal and professional lives?
5. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Are you really in tune with your product? Can you name the top three issues that customers are experiencing? If you’re trapped in an elevator with a user of your product, could you solve their issues?
The 300 pound gorilla in the room… do you know your customers and the problems they face?
Too often as marketers, we focus on fluff instead of substance. There are plenty of fluffy things that have to get done and are valuable to do well, but distancing ourselves from our products is a huge mistake to make.
Coming from a product management background definitely gives me a little advantage, but there are ways we can make sure that we know (in detail) the product we’re branding, promoting, marketing and helping grow. I’ve helped support Phonebooth since I’ve been at Bandwidth.com, but in the last two months… I’ve been given a bigger responsibility in responding to our support tickets. While it can definitely be time consuming and requires patience, it is helping me to get to know the product even more intimately. Take into account that our Product and Marketing teams are joined at the hip… and I’m still learning a lot by assisting in the support charge.
Taking for granted the questions that are asked (or not asked) is a critical mistake. Not only does it help with product knowledge, it aids in the shaping and creation of new documentation, collateral and branding to make sure that your message is resonating with users.
So how can we improve our marketing by understanding customer issues?
Partner with Customer Support to listen in to calls or help respond to email or support tickets.
If you’re scared to make this jump, don’t be. Nearly every time I’ve reached out to another department at any company to learn about what they deal with… they have welcomed me with open arms. It is nice to understand what others do on a daily basis and you may even hear answers to problems or objections that you haven’t thought about… they may not even be on your Key Message Architecture (do you even have one?).
If you aren’t currently involved with the support of the product you are marketing… you have to get involved in some way.
Reach out to customers via phone, email, social media or face-to-face and ask them questions.
If you’re truly listening, you will never have a problem finding someone to talk. Think about it… if we face issues or have things we’d like to improve, what do you do when someone asks us to talk about it? This usually excites me because it means that even little ‘ole me can have a say and they may even act on the things I experience. Reach out to your customers.
If you don’t know where your customers are… that is a bigger problem. Odds are someone in your company can point you in the right direction with phone numbers, email addresses and even a few local contacts you could take to lunch. But are you talking with your customers on Twitter? If not, here are a few tips from an article I wrote for Pragmatic Marketing “Twitter for Product Managers.”
Create ways to receive feedback.
At @Phonebooth, we use @UserVoice to get a pulse of what our customers want (check out “How Phonebooth uses UserVoice” on the UserVoice blog). Many companies use Get Satisfaction, Salesforce Ideas or a number of other tools to get an idea of features that customers would like to see implemented. Creating these feedback channels gives you the ability to receive great insight into how your product is consumed and also allows you to create a dialogue with folks using your product. Don’t solely use those channels for status updates, start and engage in conversations.
If you’re not using a tool to manage your feedback, try writing a blog post soliciting feedback from your users.
Discuss the top issues with other folks in the company.
Internal discussion will teach you a lot. You may learn new issues. You may learn that internal communication needs to be revamped. You may learn new ways to solve existing problems. Don’t forget the power of talking to other people with different responsibilities and see what you can absorb from them. Everyone has a different perspective and can give you valuable insights as to what they’re facing. You may also be surprised to know how out of the loop some of your coworkers are about your product… find ways to remedy this…
Many companies still deploy job rotations and keep everyone on their toes and constantly learning. Are you doing the same? If not, how are you finding ways to get customer feedback and use it to improve your products?
Social Fresh Charlotte was the third @SoFresh branded event that I’ve had the honor of attending. The third time was the second as a speaker and the first as an exhibitor (stay with me), and gave me a new perspective of the event.
We had two goals going into Social Fresh as an exhibitor / sponsor – 1. build awareness – 2. help people. It is nice when you can use your product in a manner that isn’t directly trying to drive leads (although we all know that increasing sales is what keeps us all employed). Our idea was to pull together an incredible group of experts and allow anyone at the conference to step into the Phonebooth and ask anything they want. This was definitely a proof of concept and something that we can improve as we continue to build on the idea.
There were some really great questions asked and some even better answers given. We didn’t pay for this. We didn’t force this. We were just the means to facilitate the talking. Social media is cool like that because it allowed us to reach out to some amazing people and they were able to showcase how awesome and helpful they are.
It is a little more difficult to network while exhibiting, but there were definitely other times for me to do that and I still met some really great folks. My time was cut a little short on Monday night due to some of the packing and prepping we had to do, but again… it was worth it. We only had a few hiccups in our execution and know of ways to make it better for experts and attendees and will work on that too. 🙂
Please help me in thanking the following people for their help (follow these people with this convenient list):
Brad McCormick [@darbtx], Chris Barger [@cbarger], Chris Treadaway [@ctreada], David Neff [@daveiam], DJ Waldow [@djwaldow], Jason Falls [@jasonfalls], Jennifer Beese [@freeandflawed], Mark Hopkins [@rizzn], Marshall Kirkpatrick [@marshallk], Michelle Greer [@michellegreer], Paul May [@paulmay], Richard White [@rrwhite], Robert Scoble [@scobleizer], Scott Stratten [@unmarketing], Thom Singer [@thomsinger], Tim Hayden [@thetimhayden], Todd Defren [@tdefren].
For those of you who didn’t know, now you see why David B. Thomas [@davidbthomas], Lisa Hoffmann [@lisahoffmann], Brian Dresher [@bdresher] and Jen Ecclestone [@jeneccleston] are successful in what they do. It was an extremely fun panel to be a part of and I think that it offered some nice insight as to how each of us are handling dealing with limited resources and ways to overcome that.
Every panel that I’ve been on has taught me something new. It’s great having a moderator that is organized, prepared and able to think quickly on his/her feet (with humor). It was a great time and allowed us all to have several discussions about what is working, what isn’t and ultimately, it helps me to learn more about what I can be doing.
Managing Social Media with Limited Resources is a great topic and props to Jason Keath [@jakrose] for adding the panel to an awesome lineup of speakers.
Attending my third Social Fresh
Charlotte isn’t quite my back yard, but it is at least my home turf. I saw plenty of friendly NC faces and tons of folks I’ve met on the road (many were the great speakers that we all listened to). This was the first time attending SoFresh where I missed one or more sessions of content… and honestly, I was a little bummed. We had things to do at the booth and I was able to talk to other exhibitors, but I always learn something new in each session… so I missed that.
Amber Naslund [@ambercadabra] delivered another killer keynote and Jay Baer (@jaybaer) put family first, which makes me like him even more.
Justin Kistner [@justinkistner] is really funny, smart and blogs about beer – which means I now have two uber-successful beer blogger friends (see @schneidermike and @belchingmonkey as well).
All of the Blue Sky Factory [@blueskyfactory] folks are super smart.
Argyle Social [@argylesocial] will be successful despite me not logging in as frequently as I should.
Many of the attendees are every bit as smart as the speakers and have great stories and case studies to share… talk to them!
Wayne Sutton [@waynesutton] has a really good memory (thanks for the limited edition @SoFresh stress ball buddy).
Wei Yang [@wei_yang] has my favorite Twitter list – “Not an alien” – People I have met in real life and verified are not aliens.
North Carolina (not just Raleigh-Durham) has an incredible social media scene.
These are just a few of the key takeaways for me, from multiple perspectives. As you’ll see, they aren’t all content focused because honestly… for me… the best part of the event is always connecting with the people. Yes, there is great content, but meet cool folks too.
Now I just have to see if I can make it to SoFresh Atlanta… about that…
I’m taking trip number three to Social Fresh and making the trek to Charlotte for the rockin’ August 16th event. Social Fresh Charlotte is poised to be the biggest and baddest yet… and we’d love to make sure you get what you want ahead of time.
I’ll be talking about how we listen to our customers with social media and use their feedback to improve our product, Phonebooth.com. I’ll also discuss escalating issues and how to find ways to make your company more social (without increasing head count… at least until you’re told to do so). Everyone will be discussing some cool things that they’ve done and hopefully you can take our use cases and run with them.
What kinds of questions do you want to make sure we answer?
Hopefully, we’ll get a few good questions on Twitter or via comments and we’ll be sure to mention the question and who asked it during our 45 minutes.
Also… keep this hush hush… but this is the first time Phonebooth has had a sponsorship role at SoFresh… and let’s just say that we’re going to get our money’s worth. Look for the big red Phonebooth and something really cool to help everyone answer more difficult questions.