Friday, March 17, 2017

The basics of content marketing : Twitter

To content marketers, Twitter presents a unique challenge. We love creating content - lots of it. And Twitter only lets us post a little bit at a time.

Aside from the angst involved with limiting ourselves to 140 characters at a time, it’s so different from all of the other marketing channels we create content for. Sure, other social networks technically have character limits, but they’re so large that you’re never in danger of reaching them.
It’s also more “real time” than most of the other social networks these days. And there are countless other things that make it different from the rest of our content channels.
So, how can you adapt and succeed on the network responsible for introducing hashtags and replies into the social media world? Here are five steps to making it work for your content strategy:

1. Find your ideal customers

The first step to working Twitter into your content marketing is to identify your target audience on the platform. Different segments of your audience hang out in different places online - which of your customers are spending time there?
It’s never a good idea to focus on follower quantity instead of quality, but on Twitter it’s really shooting yourself in the foot. Because of how short each post is, users post pretty frequently. If you go connecting with anyone who will follow you, it’ll become harder to connect with those who matter.
Use a Twitter tool like Followerwonk or Hootsuite to find people that match the buyer personas in your content strategy. Follow them and engage with their content to start building connections. Have real conversations - don’t hide behind your brand logo and website.

2. Get content ideas

Twitter is a veritable landmine for new ideas. In addition to sharing the kind of info they would on other networks, Twitter is also a user’s go-to place to vent frustrations, rant, and contact a company’s customer service.
When you’re following what your target audience is saying on the network, this gives you incredibly valuable insight into what they need. You’ll see what they’re frustrated with, the kinds of questions they have, and what their interactions with your competitors look like.
In other words, they’re basically telling you what content you should create. Content marketing is about entertaining, solving problems, and giving your audience what it wants. Twitter is where people to share their thoughts - in unfiltered, short bursts. You’ll be able to fuel your content marketing calendar forever with the insights you’ll gain.

3. Promote content

Aside from sharing unfiltered thoughts, another staple of Twitter is sharing links. That makes it an undeniable go-to for promoting your content from other channels. While it feels pretty obvious, it’s worth talking about what kind of content you can promote on Twitter. You’re not limited to just blog posts, also:
  • Talk about new website pages
  • Share marketing offers like free downloads, giveaways, etc.
  • Reuse photos and graphics from other channels as standalone image tweets
  • Share YouTube videos, Facebook albums, and your most important and effective content from other social media channels
Cross-promoting your other social media profiles - and the content you publish on it - is often overlooked, but can be very effective in speeding up the time it takes to build a relationship that converts, since you’re more connected.
And don’t be afraid to self-promote. One mistake a lot of brands make with content marketing on Twitter is not promoting heavily enough. Tweets have a half-life of about 24 minutes - meaning less than half an hour after your send a tweet, it’s already reached most of the people it’s ever going to reach. You can’t assume your followers will see all of your tweets.
For each piece of content you release on Twitter, you can share it multiple times both in the short- and long-term. For example, when you share a new blog post, you can share the blog post title as the tweet text a few times. Then you can also create additional tweets linking to the post. Like ask a question the content answers, share a quote, or include a part of the post’s intro.

4. Convert followers

Connecting with users and sharing content will definitely take you a long way in building an audience. But we must remember that content marketing is about building an audience and making it lead to action.
You need your Twitter community to convert - into subscribers, customers, anything further down in your marketing funnel. There are many ways to do this either through your content on other channels or directly on Twitter.
One option is creating lead generation cards to include in tweets. They allow a Twitter user to sign up for an offer in just one click. You can use it to sign people up for your newsletter and email list, provide a discount, or any of your other email campaigns.
You can also use your existing conversion-focused content on Twitter to convert followers more indirectly. For example, instead of linking to your website’s homepage in your brand’s Twitter bio, you can link to a landing page for a marketing campaign or a blog post that drives a lot of conversions.

5. Connect with influencers

Finally, you can use Twitter in several ways to build relationships with your industry’s most important influencers and creators.
First, there’s curating content. As we established earlier, sharing links is popular on Twitter. You can start relationships by sharing content from influencers. Include their handle to send them a notification you’re talking about them. Add your own insights to get a conversation going.
There’s also reaching out to people directly. Lots of people like to call Twitter the cocktail party of social media - everyone’s there, everyone’s mingling. Don’t be afraid to send a tweet to the influencers you admire just to start talking. It’s a casual place - as long as you don’t come off as obviously self-serving, influencers will be receptive to replying!

Use these tactics and Twitter will strengthen your content strategy at every stage of the customer journey - all 140 characters at a time.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Why Do Users Quit Apps and Never Come Back?

The good news is, there are ways to tackle app abandonment, and as with any other problem, it starts with becoming aware you have a problem. The next step is to try and understand the reasons behind app abandonment. Only then will you be able to formulate quality strategies and execute them.
Below you’ll find some of the most frequent reasons why people abandon apps, as well as tips and tricks how to eliminate them.
 #1: Your onboarding experience isn’t top notch
The users’ first few moments with the app are the ones that usually define if they’ll stick around or not. So, first impressions are crucial to user retention and therefore, need to be executed flawlessly.
First impressions are usually generated through user onboarding – the short tutorial, hinting, or guide how to use the app, and that’s the first thing you should keep an eye out on, especially in terms of quick abandons. Preferably, pay a little extra attention to it.
After all, the user’s first moments in the app are the moments that define habits and create bonds. An awesome user onboarding strategy will make sure users think highly of your app, and that makes for a great start.
User onboarding is serious business, but it should not be too hard, for both the user and the app pro. It will differ, however, depending on what your app is about. Sometimes, just a couple of screens with a few short and clear pointers to the app’s main features is enough to get the users rolling. In other cases (for examples, with games), it would be wise to create a ‘progressive onboarding experience’, where users are gradually and progressively taken through your app, gestures and controls, and everything it has to offer.

Helping users solve a problem, or get something done, is what should be at the very core of every onboarding process. Yet, there are multiple ways you can get user onboarding wrong.
General errors when it comes to onboarding design are usually asking too much information from the users right from the get-go, or throwing all hints and guidelines into a single screen. Asking too much information can make users see your app as not trustworthy (something we’ll be covering further below), and putting all the information on a single screen can be a bit too overwhelming for users and can scare them away.
To make sure you don’t make these mistakes, don’t force users into registering right on the first screen, and explain to them why you need the information you requested. Also, if your app is filled with features, you might want to create a progressive onboarding strategy, where users get gradually introduced to the app, as they use it. Finally, don’t forget to add the ‘Skip’ button, so that users who might already be familiar with your app do not have to go through the onboarding process again.
Luckily for everyone, user onboarding is something that can be monitored, analyzed and tweaked, so make sure to use all the tools at your disposal. The qualitative analytics tool, Appsee, enables you to visually track user behavior during onboarding. For example, if you’re unsure how to go about your onboarding strategy, you can implement an A/B test and then utilize qualitative analytics tools like user session recordings to confirm which approach is more compatible with your users. This qualitative data can help you obtain actionable insights on your app and guarantee the utmost positive onboarding experience for your users.
#2 Your app isn’t trustworthy
User privacy is one of the main reasons why people decide to abandon apps. Mobile devices, besides being extremely useful and a virtual part of our lives, are also extremely personal. They hold a bunch of our private data, including contacts, social media login information, banking data, geolocation information and so on. Not to mention photos and videos! Things like the Edward Snowden event, Yahoo, LinkedIn or SWIFT breaches, the ‘Fappenings’ and all of the media coverage on how everyone’s trying to steal and abuse our personal data has made users extremely careful about who they trust.
And when it comes to mobile apps, that vigilance is most clearly seen through a few things: in-app permissions, registration and data handling, sharing, and advertising.
The best way to make sure people don’t abandon your app is to communicate clearly and concisely which permissions you need, and why you need them (the why is extremely important). We’d advise you to make app registration an option, and not a requirement, and to clearly state which methods you’re using to make sure user data does not get into the wrong hands (you can use Terms and Conditions to communicate this message). And please be extra careful when it comes to sharing.
Some people consider it embarrassing when an app posts something without their approval. Others might be considered ‘spammy’ by their friends if an app keeps posting things for everyone to see. Giving users total control over sharing, and not posting things on social media without their permission is crucial. If all of the things mentioned here are accounted for, you will come off as trustworthy and thoughtful, and those are the qualities which make users stick around.
#3 Your gestures are counter-intuitive
When reviewing an app or software, one of the main things a lot of reviewers pay attention to is the so-called learning curve, or intuitiveness. It revolves around how much time users need to get acquainted with the app and its features, and learning the app’s navigation gestures is an infallible part of that curve. Mobile app users are almost always on the go, and they don’t have the luxury of time to sit down and learn a mobile app, as they could do with a desktop app. That’s why one of the main reasons why your app might get abandoned is counter-intuitiveness. Mobile users don’t have the patience for the slightest bit of confusion in their UX. In other words, users need to know how to use your app after investing just a few moments in it. The simpler the designed gestures, the better it is for the app’s overall usability.
Everything about the app’s user interface needs to feel natural, quick to learn. That’s why both Google and Apple have user interface guidelines, and why some apps on both platforms *feel* the same, in a way. For example, virtually every photo management app (and a few mapping apps, gaming ones, as well as cameras), use the same pinch-to-zoom gesture. Sure, you could double-tap, or scroll at the edge of the screen to zoom in on some of them, but they all offer the same zoom-in and zoom-out gestures. That’s because it’s easy to associate the pinching gesture with actually pulling something closer in the physical world – it just like something we’d learned before. And that’s what it’s all about – being intuitive. Being known, logical and easy to use.
So how do you tap into those habits, besides following Google and Apple’s guidelines? By analyzing user behavior, of course! Qualitative analytics can help you dissect why people behave a certain way when using an app, and you can use that information to improve your user interface. For example, you’ll notice that just 35 percent of users access one of the main features of your app. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that they’re trying to swipe to use that feature when instead they should be double-tapping. By adding a small hint to teach users how to use the feature, or changing your gestures to better reflect what they think should be done, you’re most likely reduce app abandonment.  
#4 Your ads are offensive or annoying
Users are quite aware of the fact that ads are the reason why they get free apps. Users love free apps, so they’re willing to tolerate ads, and consider them something of an unavoidable annoyance.  However, many still consider them exactly that – an annoyance. If you’re not careful about the ads’ content, placement, and frequency, that annoyance might just tilt the delicate scale in favor of the app being deleted.
So yes, you may add advertising to your app, as long as you consider them placing carefully. Among the more common reasons why ads prompt users to delete the apps are:
  •         Inappropriate, offensive ads
  •         Too many ad positions
  •         The frequency of pop-up and interstitial ads is too great
  •         There is no “exit” button
  •         They’re not relevant to the user base
  •         They are disruptive
Imagine if you gave your five-year-old your tablet to play a game, and he or she ends up viewing a graphic war movie. That’s how you lose users to inappropriate, or offensive ads. Or if an app’s screen has more ads than content. Don’t forget that some people pay for mobile data, and if a lot of that data is spent on being served ads, it’s not going to end up well.
Or if (and this is something we come across way too often) your puzzle game serves an interstitial ad every time a user restarts a level? That frequency of interstitials is way too great. And if it just so happens (and boy, does it happen) that the interstitial doesn’t have (or has a very, very tiny) an exit button, you can be absolutely certain you will lose a bunch of your users.
Instagram is a great example of a well-built ad system. Its ads are made to look just like any other post in the app. They are not disruptive, their frequency is just about right, and you only need to swipe up to remove them. With proper monitoring, to make sure no inappropriate or offensive ads get through, Instagram has created a perfect ad system that blends seamlessly with its app.
Another solid example of how ads can be used (and not be a detriment to the app’s UX) is one of the most popular puzzle games, AA. In it, ads are placed in the bottom of the screen, where they don’t interfere with the game. After finishing a level, when the user is happy and taking a naturally-occurring break (between levels), an interstitial ad is served. Not too aggressive, not overwhelming – just about right.

#5 You’re pushing it with the push notifications

One of the worst things that you can do to your users is to be annoying, and if you’re sending too many push notifications, you’re definitely doing it wrong. Even though it might sound trivial, in practice it’s very dangerous, as it can make people abandon apps. Push notifications are a great communications and engagement tool, and when utilized properly can do miracles for your app. However, if you don’t exercise restraint – it can completely ruin you. The worst part is, once you’re labeled as annoying, it can really hurt your brand. That can be even harder to remedy.
But how do you hit that sweet spot? It can’t be the same for all apps, can it? Of course not. It is very important to properly analyze who your target audience is, and then optimize push notifications accordingly.
For example, if you’re running a sports results app, it makes sense to send push notifications a couple of times a week (maybe even a day), especially on game days. People who track sports results will want to know as soon as their favorite team scores. As results change multiple times during a game, it is generally OK to send a couple of push notifications.
However, if you have a travel app, there’s probably no need to offer new hotel deals every other day – there aren’t that many people traveling that often. Obviously, it would be impossible for us to tell you exactly how often, travel apps, in general should send push notifications. The best way to answer that question is to test, test, test. You can start with a lower frequency and then slowly increase it, while carefully monitoring how people react. As soon as they start opening the app just to get rid of the notification, you might have overdone it.
Having push notifications is a great tool for your app, but only if it’s not being abused. The type of push notifications reaching your users is also an important element. We are living in the age of personalization, where users expect the served content to be relevant to them and their interests. Based on user preference, and use history, make sure the push notifications are relevant to each user. App personalization is one of the best ways to retain users – they will feel as the app is really catering to their specific needs.

Final thoughts

If you want to hold on to the people that are already using your app, and make sure you attract others, you need to take a step back and take a look at several facets of your app(s). If you recognized them in any of the five reasons listed here, we’d advise devoting your full attention to these issues until they are resolved. Your users need to be happy if you want to consider your app successful, so start focusing on what’s important – right now. Having plenty of downloads is a significant metric, but so is having satisfied users.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing

One of the requirements for a sustainable content marketing campaign is the aptitude for generating topic ideas. It may sound easy, but at some point, you’ll realize that this can be harder than producing the content itself — whether it’s a blog post, podcast or any form of visual content.
Smart marketers capitalize on tools that randomly generate titles based on keywords. There are also content research tools like BuzzSumo that can help you identify what’s trending in your niche. While these can help you obtain rough ideas on what your next piece will be about, they rarely provide you with usable titles that are worth publishing.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Take note that you need a strategic approach when generating topic ideas. But before you finalize and start working on any title, be sure to ask yourself the following questions first:

1. Have You Done Anything Similar Before?

Some content marketers are guilty of reusing the same idea for multiple content pieces, especially if they contribute to different publications. If you’re really struggling to come up with something new, then you may revert back to old topic ideas.
Reusing a previous title idea can be advantageous as long as you’re doing it knowingly. Otherwise, you may disappoint subscribers who religiously follow your blog.
The first thing you can do is to explore the topic from a different angle or furnish it with a new set of actionable steps. If possible, you can also present it using a different format to appeal to new audiences. Old data-rich posts, for example, can be repurposed into infographics, which garner three times more engagement on social media.

2. Are There Sufficient Resources Online?

If you answered “no” to the previous question, then you probably lack comprehensive knowledge on the topic you chose. Sure, diligent content producers can relate to anything with extensive research, but it’s very difficult to instill value to new content if there aren’t enough information sources online.
Unless you have firsthand experience on a subject, make sure there are abundant research materials available before you get started. To establish yourself as a credible, authoritative brand, you should only provide 100 percent accurate information that’s validated by studies and other resources. And if you really need to delve into a topic, then be prepared to purchase reports and studies from certified research firms.
Additionally, make sure you only reference the most recent sources available. A simple trick is to filter results through search engines and content research tools by date instead of relevance.

3. Is There Similar Content Elsewhere?

Let’s face it — all content marketers have at least considered copying ideas or “borrowing inspiration” from other content producers. With millions of websites publishing content every second, it’s hard to come up with something that’s truly unique.
Although it’s fine if you don’t have first dibs on a new content idea, you should aim to make your version better in every single way. This is doable if you can update old data, add more information, or incorporate additional visual elements. But if you can’t do any of these, then you should ditch the topic and start anew. This involves getting links from authoritative websites that linked to the original content, making the technique highly beneficial for SEO.

4. Can You Offer Original Views and Add Value?

Take note that content marketing is now much more difficult than ever. If you keep on repeating everything that other publishers already shared, it’ll be impossible to cut through the content noise and make your brand stand out.
In addition to making your content better, assess if you can offer your original views to elevate its value. You can apply the information yourself to gain deeper insights and expound actionable steps. Finally, the content should also align with your brand’s voice — something that fosters familiarity between you and the online audience.

5. Can You Be More Specific?

Another way to be more unique is to dissect a topic into smaller pieces and focus on those individually. For example, if you initially wanted to cover influencer marketing, you can shift your focus on subtopics such as researching potential influencers, writing your outreach email and tracking relationships with brand advocates.
Every topic can be narrowed down with a little creativity and resourcefulness. Apart from finding subtopics, you can also tailor your new content to a different audience type. Play around with demographics such as age groups, employment status, income level, and location. This can unlock new topic possibilities with the same set of ideas.

6. Do You Have the Best Content Type in Mind?

In an interview with Mention, Rand Fishkin of Moz says that content marketers should explore new content types if they want to stay relevant.
“Content marketers are going to have to be more unique with the types of content they create,” says Fishkin. “They’re going to have more niche — serving smaller and smaller interest groups, but doing a better job of serving each of those.”
The good news is, brands don’t need a huge amount of capital to start diversifying their content arsenal. For example, simple visual content like infographics, quote cards and data visualizations can be created with a tool like Canva. It is a drag-and-drop platform that offers templates, icons and other features that can help you create shareable images within minutes.
Most modern smartphones are also capable of recording short video clips for social media. According to Cisco, videos will account for 80 percent of all online traffic by the year 2019. So rather than planning another blog post, consider writing an explainer video script instead.

7. Will It Come with a Catchy Headline?

The final touches of a topic idea involve crafting a captivating headline that’s searchable, audience-oriented, and compelling. After answering all the previous questions, make sure you can wrap everything up in as few words as possible.
According to Kissmetrics, the perfect headline is only six words long because readers tend to focus on the first and last three words. But since this is nearly impossible to pull off consistently, aim for anywhere from eight to twelve words. Ideally, you should use numbers and power words to make the headline more interesting.