TV

Video Hosting Platforms: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Google “video hosting platforms,” and you’ll get about 50 million results, along with several paid ads. How do you choose the platform that suits your needs?
There’s no single answer. The best video hosting platform varies business by business, depending on factors like:

How often you’re uploading;
How you plan to use the video;
The viewing experience you want to give your audience;
The analytics you need;
The cash you have to spend.

Here’s a breakdown of the key features—and drawbacks—for eight popular video hosting platforms.
1. YouTube
YouTube is an obvious and popular choice. You don’t pay to host videos on YouTube, nor do you need a license to create your own library of publicly available videos. Simply sign up using your Google account, create a channel, and upload your video files.
YouTube shines when it comes to brand awareness. It’s the second largest search engine in the world, and content from their platform reaches more 18–49 year-olds than any broadcast or cable TV network.
(“YouTuber” is now the dream job for 34% of children—beating traditional roles like athletes, musicians, lawyers, doctors, or actors.)
Since Google owns YouTube, videos rank highly in Google SERPs. Many occupy the Featured Snippet box, with snippets selected algorithmically. Here’s an example for “how to tie shoelaces fast”:

The basics of SEO (with some adjustments) apply to YouTube videos as well, giving YouTube publishers a chance to drive more awareness on Google and within YouTube.
All that said—YouTube has its downsides. The interface is designed to keep people on the platform. (The average mobile viewing rates are 40 minutes per session.) Suggested videos encourage people to increase their watch time not just on your channel but on the platform as a whole.
For example, my personal recommendations are a mix of business and pleasure. That makes it difficult to keep people focused on what you want them to do—like visit your website. As a result, YouTube works less well for engaging and converting users who are further down the funnel.

Recommendations can also be more than a distraction—they can highlight competitor offerings. As Kasey Bayne of DataTrue notes, “I love YouTube for the audience, but don’t love how they can show competitor or off-brand videos as suggestions afterwards.”
Pricing: Free, regardless of video upload volume.
2. DailyMotion
DailyMotion reports 300 million active users; they watch more than 3.5 billion videos per month. Those figures look impressive upon first glance.
But DailyMotion’s geographic distribution of users doesn’t mirror YouTube, especially within the United States. Just 138 million video views happen in the United States despite a population of 329 million (0.42 views per person).
Compare that to views in other countries, like Turkey, which averages 1.13 views per person, or France, where Daily Motion is located, which averages 7.13 views per person. (According to SimilarWeb, only 15.7% of all DailyMotion traffic comes from the United States.)
Like YouTube, you can monetize DailyMotion videos with in-stream advertisements. (Enabling ads is optional.) But the smaller audience—and more intrusive ads—reduce the potential for profitability and user enjoyment.
Indeed, DailyMotion viewers have expressed frustration at the overload of ads:

DailyMotion is another distribution option for media companies seeking to monetize content, especially if they’re located in one of the platform’s top countries. Beyond that, the use case is less compelling.
Pricing: Free, regardless of upload volume. Video files are limited to 60 minutes. (There are time-based upload limitations to limit spam.)
3. JW Player
JW Player is often cited as an alternative to YouTube. In fact, JW Player was the technology that ran the earliest version of YouTube. It has continued to offer technical capabilities at the forefront of online video.
For companies who live stream regularly, JW Player can host the original video and simulcast it to Facebook Live. That allows some to escape the trap of hosting videos on Facebook, which locks content into the platform.
JW Player also offers real-time audience analytics, broken down by:

Domain;
Device;
Geography.

(In comparison, Facebook Live shows overview metrics like minutes viewed, average percentage completion, and unique viewers.)
The platform also hosts video using HTML5, which promises superfast download speed. This helps retain the 80% of online users who will click away if a video stalls while loading.
The technical features of JW Player have attracted enterprise-level publishers (e.g. Fox, BBC, Vice, Univision) who have the development resources to take advantage of JW Player.
Pricing: If you’re a small business, plans start at $12/month, with a maximum of 50,000 video plays. Anything over that falls into the Business plan, charged at $50/month for up to 150,000 plays.
Alternatively, there’s a six-month Developers Plan, whereby you get access to all features except live streaming. The plan targets data scientists and video engineers.
4. Wistia
Wistia has been around since 2008. While it began as a hosting platform for individual videos, it has expanded its offerings.
The recent introduction of their “Channels” feature allows website owners to create a series of related videos and display the collection on their website—no coding required.
Here’s how Nextiny’s channel appears on their website:

Users can customize the look of a channel (e.g. video placement, landing page content), and—unlike YouTube—Wistia’s channels have no “recommended videos” or unwanted branding (for paid users).
As Wistia’s Phil Nottingham argued:
With Wistia, you can customize the look and feel, create branded Channels for video series, and measure impact rather than just impressions.
In terms of concrete features, it’s the look and feel of the video player, the speed and quality of video delivery, and ease of use of the platform.
Wistia’s analytics can help connect the dots between video consumption and conversions. They include features like engagement graphs and video-based heatmaps, and also integrate with Google Analytics and several CRMs.

Wistia can A/B test video components, like which video thumbnail drives more engagement. (Image source)
Wistia has a paid upgrade for multilingual, searchable captions. Once synced with your video, Captions are interactive. Viewers can search captions and jump to a specific point in the video by clicking the text. (The automated captions may require editing.)
Of course, with Wisita, you must create the audience for your videos—there’s no inherent distribution network (unlike YouTube). You’ll get zero views unless you’re driving people to pages on your website with the embedded video.
Pricing: It’s free to host up to three videos, but you’ll have the Wistia branding overlayed on your content. You’ll need to upgrade to a Pro plan (starting from $99/month) for up to 10 videos and to remove the branding. Additional videos are $0.25 each.
5. Vimeo
Vimeo allows users to embed videos on their website (like Wistia). It works especially well for content that’s gated behind a form fill or paywall.
Vimeo can deliver video passwords within purchase confirmations while keeping content hidden from non-purchasers and search engines. It’s why Chelsea Baldwin of Business Bitch uses the platform:
I use Vimeo for paid-access content, and I love it because its security and privacy settings are really malleable and let you do a lot as far as who can view, password access, and select embedding.
CXL’s own Kyle Brodeur, who manages thousands of videos for CXL Institute courses, likes it for similar reasons:
Vimeo has the cheapest cost for storing our videos with the feature sets we require. Some of these features are privacy controls, ease of updating video content in place, and integrations with caption services like Rev.com.
So far, Vimeo has kept us pretty nimble as course content creation has developed over the years.
David Peterson, who uses Vimeo for HealthMarkets’ video hosting, offers an example of what “nimble” is for them:
We often have to make minor updates to our videos, and Vimeo lets us replace a video without having to generate a new URL, which helps us streamline our workflow and keep track of our analytics.
That feature might not sound all that important, but if you have to make a series of small edits to a handful of videos, it becomes quite significant.
Also similar to Wisita, Vimeo’s benefits focus on the technical aspects of video hosting, not distribution (unless you’re planning to promote a show or film).

Vimeo’s audience comes to the platform to watch movies and shows, not check out “how tos” or promotional videos.
A note of caution: Both an article and a number of reviews state that, after upgrading to a paid account, any attempt to revert to a free account will remove videos from the site:
Basic Vimeo is great, but beware, if you ever upgrade, all your content will permanently become part of the process account and you will never be able to go back to basic without them deleting all your content!
Pricing: Start using Vimeo free with their Starter plan. You can upload up to 10 videos per day, or 500MB per week. Plans then depend on storage: 5GB per week is $7/month; 20GB per week is $20/month; unlimited is $50/month.
6. Vidyard
Vidyard allows businesses to create personalized videos at scale. As Vidyard’s Jesse Ariss pitched it:
We’ve introduced the ability to personalize videos on-demand, allowing our customers to put their viewer’s name directly into the video, with the end result being the most engaging, compelling video experiences that can be found today.
Arris also highlighted that Vidyard is “the only major video hosting platform with a native Salesforce integration.” You can also connect HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On, Zendesk, and Mailchimp accounts.
What does “video personalization” look like? Here’s a demo featuring my name:

Who is personalized video right for? It often makes sense for account-based marketing strategies (both for marketing and, if relevant, onboarding).
Boston University used Vidyard to create personalized videos that encouraged people to promote their fundraising event, “Giving Day.”
Their 36,000 personalized videos resulted in a 49% open rate (more than double the average for their sector), 7% click-through rate (triple the 2.3% average), and 1,000+ donations.

Personalized videos from Vidyard will set you back at least $5,000. (You need to send an inquiry to their sales team for an exact quote.) That price might be too steep for businesses with a small budget or for those who can’t show an ROI from personalized videos.
Pricing: Don’t need personalization? Start hosting up to 20 videos on Vidyard from $150/month. This Starter plan doesn’t include integrations; you’ll need to upgrade to their Plus plan, charged at $850/month, for one integration.
7. Loom
Loom isn’t a “standard” video hosting platform—it’s a screensharing tool. (Only videos you’ve recorded via Loom can be uploaded to their server.)
Still, it fills some video marketing needs. For example, it was how Loom’s co-founder and CEO, Joe Thomas, responded to me when I asked for information about the platform:

The platform uses Loom’s desktop app. You can record your screen or add a voice-over or video of yourself. It’s designed for two core use cases:

Internal training;
Product demonstrations.

Screen recordings upload automatically, and you get a link to share the video with co-workers or customers.
There are other screen recording tools that do this—most notably, Soapbox by Wistia. Loom doesn’t require an Internet browser; Soapbox, on the other hand, is a Chrome extension. Anyone using Firefox, Safari (or other browser) won’t be able to use the tool, and you’ll need a Wistia account to get started.
Adecco Group, the largest temporary staffing firm in the world, uses Loom to nurture leads. They record their screen as they talk candidates through roles they have to offer, which simplifies their process: “it’s a pain for companies to record a video and have to upload it to YouTube or send the big video file via email.”
It improved hiring, too, driving an 8X increase in applicants from 200 to 1,600 in just two weeks. Their email open rates also doubled, and they received “overwhelmingly positive feedback about the video.”
Pricing: It’s free to record and host 100 videos using Loom, but all content will be recorded in standard quality. Unlimited video storage, HD quality, and access to their editing suite is $10/month.
8. Brightcove
Do you need complete control over the videos you’re hosting? Brightcove includes:

Interactive content;
Transcription (with their SubPly partnership);
Digital rights management.

Brightcove also integrates with many other platforms, including HubSpot, Marketo, and Oracle, which allows you to easily view, embed, and use videos from products you’re already using (rather than learning to navigate another).
Their HTML5 player offers the highest standard of video playback. That high standard, however, does require high bitrates (to avoid buffering). Whereas other platforms deliver HD video with as little as 2.8 Mbps, Brightcove recommends a stable bitrate of 10 Mbps.
Brightcove also supports a number of custom viewing experiences:

Change button sizes. Adjust sizes to be mobile friendly or accommodate those with poor eyesight.
Overlay text. Display relevant links to content during in-video discussions of certain topics.
Adapt video sizes. Display the video in 16:9 format for desktop viewers, then automatically resize to square or vertical for mobile viewers.

Brightcove’s Players & Plugins Lounge details the extent of potential customization. Implementation is technical (i.e. developers required) but scalable.
Among reviews, common themes emerged:

Brightcove worked well for companies with large video libraries that distributed videos on multiple sites or platforms.
Brightcove analytics aggregated data effectively across those platforms.
The learning curve for its interface can be steep.

Pricing: Brightcove doesn’t display team prices on its website. Some reviews indicate that pricing starts from $199/month, with the exact cost depending on the number of video plays. A free trial is available.
Can’t I just host videos on my site?
There’s no point investing in another piece of software if you can house all your content on your website, right?
HTML5 made it easier to host videos on your website. (Before, running videos directly on your site required a plugin, like Flash.) If compatibility is a concern, HTML5 video code works with the latest versions of Chrome, Explorer, Safari, and Firefox.
So why do people still pay for third-party video platforms?

Not everyone is using the latest browser versions. (You can check what your audience uses in Google Analytics: Audience > Technology > Browser & OS.)
Uploading videos to your website using HTML5 requires coding aspects like video height, width, pause, play and volume buttons, etc.
Self-hosting requires a bespoke analytics setup (via Google Tag Manager, for example).
Hosting video on your website can negatively impact your page speed.

As with other video hosting platforms that don’t have a native audience, self-hosted videos also miss out on the distribution network built into a site like YouTube.
You can pick more than one
Struggling to decide on which platform best suits your needs? Don’t force yourself into a box. You can optimize videos for several platforms. Few solve every challenge.
As Brodeur noted, “I’m not really a fan of any of them right now. There are features from a lot of platforms that I wish were all in one.”
Nathan Gotch, for example, uses both YouTube and Vimeo for GotchSEO’s video content:
Video content with the objective of growing our audience, driving traffic, and driving leads is on YouTube [. . .] We use Vimeo to host our sales-driven video content because the goal isn’t distribution. The goal is to get the user to watch the video and then take a specific action.
We could host these on YouTube and keep them private. But it feels more organized to keep YouTube as our marketing vehicle and Vimeo as our sales vehicle.
Conclusion
There’s no definitive answer to “What’s the best video hosting platform?” But, generally speaking, this is what the platform-by-platform breakdown looks like:
PlatformBest suited toPrice point:

YouTube
Distribution, brand awareness
Free

DailyMotion
Promoting or monetizing videos to a non-U.S. audience
Free

JW Player
Technical control, live streaming
Free trial, $12+/month depending on number of views

Wistia
Customer education, lead generation
$99+/month depending on video quantity

Vimeo
Exclusive videos, password-protected videos
Freemium, $7+/month depending on storage

Vidyard
Personalized videos
$150/month (basic); likely $5,000+ for personalization

Loom
Recording, hosting screencaps
Freemium, $10/month

Brightcove
Technical management, video libraries
Free trial, $199+/month

Common Customer Experience Mistakes

A great customer experience has a positive impact on revenues. If you look after customers they will look after you. Avoid these customer experience mistakes and find out how to avoid them.
Customer Experience Error Page
Today’s customers expect all businesses to provide the same calibre of experience that they’d find with say, an Uber, an Amazon, or an Airbnb.
If we look back at the last decade in business, consumer preferences have been altered by startups offering standout customer experiences. These startups have since morphed into industry leaders by making customer experience a competitive advantage.
In the UK, Monzo and Revolut are raising the bar for CX in Banking. Large fintechs such as Transferwise have made sending money across the globe a dream for users. In the entertainment industry, Spotify and Netflix have been ingenious with their use of customer data to create personalised experiences and have made the customer’s experience a cornerstone of their strategy.
Much of what customer experience leaders build derives from listening to customers. It’s critical to ask customers what they want, listen carefully to their answers, and figure out a plan to provide it thoughtfully and quickly (speed matters in business!). We now live in an era where making costly mistakes when improving your customer experience can be damaging to your brand and the bottom line.
Customer experience transcends across multiple departments, touches on numerous disciplines from analytics, research, support and product. Poor performance in any one of those areas can be costly and see your brand slip into irrelevance with the customer.
In the following article, we’ll dive deep into the customer experience mistakes to avoid at all costs.
1. CX Isn’t Part of the Company Culture
True customer obsession is a principle that keeps companies relevant, competitive, and growing. Without it, companies stagnate, become irrelevant, decline and slowly fade away.
Company culture influences and projects onto everything a company does. A customer-obsessed culture creates the conditions where employees strive to design and invent to create delight for the customer.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is treating the customer experience as an external effort. Creating a customer-centric culture comes from within. A customer obsessed culture is a way to centre and align your business around the interests of the customers.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with companies like Uber, Zappos, and Spotify. One thing they all have in common is a strong emphasis on internal culture. They empower employees to make high-velocity decision making and optimise the customer experience at speed.
One key theme that emerges across all these great brands is the availability of information. In many organisations, customer data is locked in systems, silos, and storage places that are not immediately available.
Their customer experience data flow is designed to continuously collect all streams of customer information in real-time and democratise it. They are making the data accessible via any channel that’s used by those needing to make decisions. There is no need to log into a different system to view NPS, CSAT or surveys responses and email various departments for CSV files of data stored in excel.
All data collected is available in one platform, removing barriers to customer-centric data. This level of transparency is designed to allow anyone within the company to make customer-centric decisions.
Internally, there are a few things you can do to bring the customer experience inside the office walls.

Share the company vision across all teams, departments, and roles. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
Embed customer-centric goals into all company efforts from sales pitches to marketing, UX, and accounting. All departments must be in alignment–and have a clear understanding of how responsibilities connect to CX.
Train your team (regularly) on the latest CX strategies, tools, and best practices.
Provide a single platform to collect and analyse customer feedback data.

2. Poor Use of Data
Why collect data if you’re not going to use it the right way?
Companies must collect, analyse, understand — and most importantly use — customer data to learn how to make the customer experience better. If you aren’t utilising the latest technologies to analyse data you collect on customers, then you’re allowing competitors to be more customer-centric than you.
Today, companies are storing large amounts of data – terabytes and petabytes across several databases. Integrating all data sources into one platform gives brands a holistic view of the customer journey.
To unlock insights on the customer, leading brands invest in powerful analytical capabilities harnessing AI and Machine Learning to understand customer feedback at scale. Revealing the needs and wants of the consumer that would otherwise remain untapped and out of sight.
When you take advantage of the data collected, it allows you to:
Get Personal: Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have nailed the art of personalisation perfectly, suggesting books, TV shows, and songs that fit their users’ distinct tastes. None of this would be possible without analytics.
Identify what’s working: If you don’t look at the data showing what you’re doing wrong in CX and UX, customers will leave your site, store, or app. It’s no longer a question. There are too many other options available to accept a less-than-stellar experience.
Intelligent AI analysis of customer feedback using topic and sentiment analysis can help prioritise what matters to the customer the most. Is it a bug in your app? Delivery time of food being delivered? Pricing? Diving deep into customer feedback at scale can unearth key insights that help prioritise decision making.
Move Faster: Artificial Intelligence can process data in huge volumes in real time, identifying trends in the data, that is invisible to the human eye. You are unlocking the capacity to help you be more proactive to ever changing customer preferences. Top customer experience analytics platforms provide automated alerts that can notify the correct team member when a change in data or behaviour of the customer is registered.
A powerful feature that can easily fit into your team workflow, ensuring key stakeholders who own certain parts of the customer stay on top of customer satisfaction across their section of customer experience.
3. Not Understanding the Monetary Value of CX
Only a small number of companies can demonstrate in actual figures an ROI connected to Customer Experience efforts.
Many customer experience efforts stall out because leaders fail to show their team just how much value a customer-centric culture adds to your overall bottom line. The cost of inaction due to a lack of understanding of ROI can be devastating for businesses.
If you want to sell CX internally, you need to show internal stakeholders a clear link to its financial benefits. A few ideas for kicking off that initial CX conversation:
Choose the Business Metrics Most Impacted by Customer Experience
A few metrics often used to measure ROI of CX include:
Revenue: Top-line revenue is the most common business metric to consider. A recent Forrester study found that the revenue of CX leaders outgrew the revenue of their CX laggard competitors by 5 to 1.
Customer Retention: Improving customer experience has a direct impact on increasing customer retention and reducing churn. Happy customers are loyal and refer their friends regularly.
Cross-sell/Upsell: Customers who are delighted with their experience spend more with a business by buying additional products and services.
Cost-to-Serve: Improving customer experience has a direct impact on reducing the cost to serve customers as it results in streamlined processes, a reduced volume of complaints and refunds to the customer call center and greater efficiencies company wide.
__Use Customer Experience Analytics To Show Link Between Business Metrics and CX __
To show the link between CX metrics and customer experience, you have first to discover how CX drives changes in customer behaviour.
Understand how customers think and feel about their experiences by analyzing their feedback and understand the key drivers behind their experience. With text analytics, you’ll be able to identify which topics impact your CX the most across the entire customer journey. You may find that the temperature of the food on delivery is resulting in cancellations and refunds.
This insight will help you prioritize your investments and find quick wins to generate ROI from CX initiatives quickly.
Secondly, perform analysis to determine what a 1-point increase or decrease in Net Promoter Score, CSAT or your main CX metric tracked company wide is worth in terms of the business metrics you’ve chosen to measure ROI.
4. Review Customer Data by Cohort
Failure to segment your customer data is a huge opportunity missed to generate more profits. Your business may compete with different competitors for specific demographics or geographies.
Different customer segments may have different goals and pain points to solve. Look at customer data from past NPS survey responses and review the feedback by LTV for example and you’ll be able to see what matters most to Freemium users vs Highest LTV customers.

Segmentation adds a lot of context to data. As we see here in this chart, churn rate due to the negative customer service experience of Premium customers is arguably more of a problem than negative customer service experience of Freemium customers.
Gathering these insights and connecting the dots for internal stakeholders can help you get the buy-in needed to take CX to the next level.
5. Not Providing a Personalized Experience
Personalization isn’t optional in this day and age.
Given the fact that CX depends on collecting and analyzing data, there’s no excuse not to use that information to deliver a personal experience to every customer.
Amazon, for example, knows a lot about their customers based on their purchase history, so they personalize and offer their customers special offers based on the customers’ interests. This type of personalization not only increases customer satisfaction but also drives loyalty and repetitive purchases.
Netflix captures the intent of the users, continually researching the interests of its customers. Based on the user behaviour, you might find an actor that you recognize, an exciting moment like a car chase, or a dramatic scene that conveys the essence of a movie or TV show in your feed.
Personalized communication allows you to set the stage for a positive relationship, making customers feel valued while establishing a sense of trust. Brands that don’t make an effort to understand customer needs and preferences miss out on long-term loyalty and risk high rates of churn.
6. Failing to Act On Customer Feedback
Customers do not like it when you ignore them. If there is a customer complaint offering negative feedback, it’s essential to treat it like the learning experience it is.
Make sure you do the following:

Listen to your customers.
Acknowledge their concerns and offer a solution—don’t make excuses or argue with the customer.
Make the required change and follow up — in other words, close the loop to make sure that you’ve fixed the problem correctly.
Apologize and say “thanks” for the feedback.

Much of what is built at leading brands such as Amazon is based on listening to customers. If you don’t prioritise customer feedback and embed your learnings into your product roadmap, someone else will build something that meets customer needs better. Before long, you’ll see your product fall deeper into irrelevance in the mind of the customer.
Ultimately, reviewing feedback from all customers allows you to make improvements to your business and build better relationships with the people who make your organization money.
7. Asking the Wrong Questions
A mistake committed time and time again is failing to ask questions that produce insightful feedback from customers.
The whole purpose of capturing feedback is to provide data for analysis and insights that can drive ACTIONABLE change across an organisation.
It’s critical to remember your customer experience analytics system is only as good as the data you input into it. Asking the wrong questions of your customers won’t deliver actionable insights.
A good rule of thumb is to take stock of your desired outcome right from the outset: what is it that you hope to learn?
If you want to know what people think about your brand overall, then run an NPS survey. If the goal is to learn more about who your customers are and what they care about, consider asking a few direct questions.
Examples include:

What did we do that you liked best?
What could we do better?
What could we have done differently to improve the customer experience?
To what extent did X increase likelihood to recommend?
Which words would you use to describe us?
What function does our product/service fill for you?
How does our product/service solve your problem?
What questions did you have that you couldn’t find answers to?

We recommend sticking to a few questions (think three to five, max) and asking a mix of open and closed-ended questions. More importantly, the questions must be actionable, specific and attributable to a customer segment.
8. Asking Too Many Questions
It makes sense; you want to learn as much about your customers as possible. Initially, you might think it’s a good idea to ask your customers dozens of questions in one go. But customers will most likely see a long list of questions as a burden. Who wants to spend their time essentially doing work for free?
The length of your survey should be, at most, something the average user could complete in under five minutes. That means no more than ten (short) questions.
If you have a low response rate to your customer feedback surveys then that’s a leaky bucket in your CX program.
One tip we recommend is adding in a progress bar to your survey so the customer can see how close they are to completion. If the customer can see the progress, they are more likely to commit and complete all your answers.
That said, it’s unlikely that the average customer will want to read through ten questions, much less give a thoughtful response to each one. Instead, aim to ask two or three open-ended questions at a time. Fewer questions allow customers to share their experience, quickly, in their own words.
You might approach this as an NPS survey, where you first ask the customer to rate their experience with your company—and from there, include a comment box with enough space for them to explain the “why” behind their numeric score.
9. Neglecting UX and Design
Customer Experience is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship in terms of the digitally crafted experience solely for the organization.
UX is an inevitable part of the CX. It’s important for any digital product and creates a better customer experience.
User Experience is the foundation of a good customer experience. These fields are very much intertwined and one isn’t necessarily more ‘important’ than the other. Companies might focus on necessary service improvements like response time of customer support, but neglecting UX is one of the deadliest CX sins a brand can commit.
No matter how beautifully designed your site may be, if your users don’t know how to navigate and find what they’re looking for, they simply won’t come back.
Think about what you expect when you visit a website. What impression do you get from a site that is poorly designed, full of broken links, or is too hard to navigate? You might click away in frustration. Maybe you’re worried that your computer will get a virus or that they can’t process payments securely.
Poor UX is a fatal blow to the customer experience. When UX doesn’t match up with basic design principles, you’re getting a fragmented experience.
UX touches upon your users and if they have a good experience with your brand they will refer their friends.
10. Not Connecting with Customers on Multiple Channels
One of the biggest criminal offences committed by customer experience professionals is not providing your company with the best chance of capturing customer feedback.
We recommend having an omnichannel approach to collecting feedback. You want to cast a wide net, so you capture as much insight as possible. That means enabling customers to provide feedback across all the critical touch points in the customer journey, across websites, mobile apps, emails, or in-store.
Customers need the opportunity to come to you with feedback, as well as you actively soliciting feedback from them.

Active feedback refers to actively engaging your users and asking them for their input. Most likely about their experience in one of the hotspots of your customer journey, such as the checkout experience, delivery experience, or understanding what they think of a new homepage.
Passive feedback refers to feedback a customer feels compelled to give you on their own volition without being solicited, often highlighting issues that you simply didn’t know about.

Key channels to have a presence when developing your CX program.

Customer Surveys (NPS, CSAT, CES)
Onsite Customer Surveys
SMS
Social Media
Call Transcripts
Chatbots Conversations

More feedback means more insights, which adds up to more guidance on how to improve CX.
Conclusion
Avoiding these mistakes is a great way to start improving the experience customers have when they interact with your brand. When a brand starts to consistently offer customers an experience, just a little above what competitors offer, they are bound to control a greater percentage of market in a short time.

TV series ‘Little Britches Rodeo’ to film in Oklahoma

By Brandy McDonnellColorado-based Hodge Productions will begin filming the new season of the nationally televised series “Little Britches Rodeo” Tuesday in Guthrie.The series has aired on RFD-TV for a decade, and is produced by Hodge Productions in Pueblo, Colorado.Read more on NewsOK.com

Laid Off? 5 Ways to Slash Expenses Till Your Next Employment

Forget the financial perils, the worst part about getting laid off is that it wasn’t even your fault. You were doing your part right and yet, one fine day, you’re unemployed.
First off, know that you’re not the only victim of this impromptu injustice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 19.9 million workers were laid off or discharged from duty in 2016. Secondly, if by any chance you’re doubting your own abilities even the slightest bit, don’t. It had nothing to do with your performance and wasn’t personal. End of story.
Believe it or not, in the not-so-distant future, you’ll look back at this adversity as a blessing in disguise. Now you’re aware of the gloomy fact that “job security” is nothing but an illusion. And this is your chance to introspect, learn necessary life skills, and put an end to wastage by adopting a minimalistic lifestyle.
Understandably, you may not want to do any of that and carry on with that comfortable cubicle life. But no one is immune from layoffs, and it is better to go through this “ordeal” sooner rather than later.
Read on to find out how you can flip this supposed setback into a reinvigorating experience that empowers you to become healthier, happier, and wiser. Do these five things to not just save yourself big bucks until you find your next calling, but also to lead a more fulfilled life, from here on out.
1. Cancel that Gym Membership
Apart from negotiating a severance package, one of the first things you must do is cancel unnecessary memberships and subscriptions. For instance, your gym membership.
Of course, this is not to say you compromise on your health and fitness, but do you really need an expensive gym membership to get/stay in shape? Go for a jog outside instead of on a treadmill. Get inexpensive weights and do your lifting at home. And you obviously don’t need the gym to do push-ups, squats, sit-ups, crunches, and what have you.
Let YouTube replace your personal trainer for a while. It is not as difficult or as weird as it sounds. And if you can stick to it, it’ll grow on you and you’ll never need that expensive gym membership again.
2. Cut Back on Fine Dining
By fine dining, we mean everything from snacktime cravings and fast food to actual fine dining in lavish restaurants.
The biggest and perhaps the only benefit of eating out is the time saved. But as you’re out of work, you now have time to cook at home. The benefits? It is considerably less expensive and healthier than eating out. Plus, you get to learn cooking as a skill that’ll save you money even after you return to the workplace.
3. Start Shopping Sensibly, Not Impulsively
We are all guilty of succumbing to impulsive shopping, be it offline in a mall or online on Amazon. What starts as harmless window shopping often turns into an expensive purchase. While it was fine when you had a regular paycheck, now you have to be extra careful you don’t whip out your credit card every time something strike’s your fancy.
The layoff is your opportunity to knock some sense into your shopping habits (or your spouse’s) and appreciate the importance of spending wisely. When it comes to your purchasing habits, try to buy what you need, not what you desire. “Draw a line through every purchase or event that, in hindsight, was associated with being HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired),” writes Ellen R. Siegel, a certified financial planner in Miami.
4. Say ‘Hi’ to DIY
Again, as you have an abundance of time now, you can choose to do many day-to-day tasks yourself instead of paying people to do them for you. In other words, you can mow the lawn, wash the car, fix the door, paint the walls, walk the dog, and so on, yourself. All such little savings when combined make a significant difference in slashing your overall expenses.
Moreover, learning to do all these activities yourself will make you a self-sufficient individual, something we all must strive to become. And you can always start using these services once you get busy with a new gig.
5. Clip the Cable
Finally, now is the perfect time to cut the cord and cancel your cable TV service. If you absolutely need it, consider subscribing to Netflix or Hulu for your TV and entertainment needs, as that would be substantially cheaper. Of course, we won’t advise you to subscribe to such services when you should be looking for work and doing productive activities instead of watching TV. But some leisure can help keep your spirits high, so there’s that. And there’s always YouTube.
Besides, no good happens from watching excessive television. Unless you’re watching something educational, informative, or instructional, you’re literally killing your precious time on earth.
Final Thoughts
These simple yet effective tactics will make the pain of layoff a little less financially and hence, less mentally taxing. Additionally, you should surely consider doing part-time work or freelancing while hunting for a full-time job. Ideally, your part-time work should be related to your field and allow flexibility to actively pursue your job search, but anything that pays the bills may do for now.
Ultimately, you don’t want to settle for a job you’re not interested in just because you ran out of money. So, you must put these tactics into practice as soon as you can.
Have you ever faced a layoff? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Reasons Why B2C Enterprises Should Use Single Sign-on Authentication

Single sign-on authentication, or SSO, is becoming more commonplace as the digital revolution continues to evolve. With numerous benefits for customers and companies alike, SSO helps streamline user experience, aid movement between applications and services, and secure the transfer of pertinent information about customers between organizations.

Web SSO means that your customers have only one set of login details for all of your services and can switch seamlessly between applications. Mobile SSO allows your customers to switch seamlessly between mobile applications if you have more than one. SSO also allows user access to multiple applications without the need for separate login accounts.
Federated SSO uses a range of industry-standard protocols including SAML, JWT, OAuth, OpenID Connect, and more to allow the same seamless experience between service applications from a range of providers and sources.

Why is it time to use SSO as part of your customer authentication process? Here are three compelling reasons:
1. Customers Expect SSO
Today’s customers expect SSO. They might not be able to articulate this expectation in words, but as a matter of course, many customers already use single sign-on authentication in services every day. This means that the customer-facing features of SSO are now considered to be a minimum standard of customer convenience. Simply put, SSO is a service that most customers expect from every online company.
If you have more than one website or service that requires logging in, you need single sign-on if you don’t want to annoy your customers and appear behind the times. With single sign-on, you can eliminate several common roadblocks that can hurt your business.

For example, we heard from a consumer in the UK that there’s a customer experience disconnect between different divisions at Virgin. People getting cable TV and home broadband services from Virgin Media are encouraged to sign up for Virgin Mobile with several competitively priced offers. However, even though the sites look similar, consumers need to have two separate logins for the two Virgin services. They even have different rules for password strength.
I’m sure you can think of examples of your own, perhaps where (like with Virgin) you can’t even choose to use the same sign-in details if you want to. Maybe others require you to log in to different services from the same company repeatedly.
Don’t be one of these companies. You probably won’t end up with frustrated customers, since they’ll end up voting with their feet (and leaving you for another provider).
2. SSO Makes Companies Smarter

A unified customer profile is the first step to a smarter company. With CIAM, you’ll have a single location for everything about individual customers (including their login and service usage data).
What’s more, CIAM creates a unified customer profile on which to base all other metrics and predictions. Customer-specific data can be used in marketing, sales, customer support, content planning, product development, customer security, and more. Unified customer profiles are simply a brilliant resource for rich data, metrics, and analytics that multiple departments can use.
3. Single Sign-on Saves Money
By reducing the number of separate sign-in databases and systems you need to maintain and service, SSO reduces maintenance costs for every application or service that would previously have needed a separate login system.
A centralized identity solution also streamlines the creation of new apps and services by providing a “drop-in” solution for logging in, and for a multitude of useful data gathering methods. An effective enterprise SSO solution saves money in the long term and short term by making it easier than ever to collect customer data and user credentials in one secure spot.
So Why Do I Need SSO Authentication?
Single sign-on directly benefits your organization by gathering a wealth of customer data and credentials securely in one spot for your services, teams, and applications to use. Your customers will notice how your customer experience meets the expectations carved out by big names like Google and Microsoft, essentially showing them that you’re a modern, effective company.
Failing to use SSO authentication, or failing to use it correctly, will make your customers notice you in a bad way by frustrating them as they try to navigate your apps and services. By contrast, leaders who bring a SSO solution to their organization will stand out because of the multitude of benefits that single sign-on provides.
Find out more about enterprise SSO authentication and how to get it by downloading the LoginRadius SSO data sheet.

Google’s Neural Matching: Why It Matters and How to Optimize For It

Last September, Google’s Danny Sullivan told us the search giant had started using a new AI technology called neural matching to connect search terms with concepts. At the time, Sullivan said neural matching was impacting 30% of all search queries – so who knows how much this has increased since then.

Last few months, Google has been using neural matching, –AI method to better connect words to concepts. Super synonyms, in a way, and impacting 30% of queries. Don't know what "soap opera effect" is to search for it? We can better figure it out. pic.twitter.com/Qrwp5hKFNz
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) September 24, 2018

Neural matching is clearly playing a crucial role in where Google is heading and this means marketers need to get familiar with the technology and its implementation.
What is Google’s neural matching algorithm?
In many cases when people turn to Google Search, the query they type in doesn’t match the keywords of the content they’re looking for. This is particularly common when there’s a technical issue with devices and software or when people are trying to diagnose a medical condition.
People don’t automatically know the name of every condition; instead, they type in the symptoms. Or when something seems weird about their TV, but they’re not sure exactly what, Google has to try and match queries like “why does my tv look strange” to an issue known as the “soap opera effect”.

Source
Matching such a vague search query to a very specific technical issue is a real breakthrough for Google and shows how effective its AI technology is becoming.
How is Google doing this?
Our guess is that Google is looking at engagement metrics for vague, ambiguous and keyword-less search queries on a mass scale. When millions of people search “why does my tv look strange”, Google can pinpoint the right topic by ruling out content that consistently gets fast bounces for that search term, suggesting it doesn’t cover the right topic.
Pages that do cover the right topic will keep people engaged with the content and on the pages for longer.
There’s probably a lot more to it than that but the key thing to understand about neural matching is that Google is using it to match topics/concepts to search terms.
How is Google’s neural matching different from RankBrain?
Unfortunately, a lot of people writing about neural matching right now aren’t explaining what it does very concisely and this is leading to some confusion. We’re seeing a lot of questions asking how neural matching is different from RankBrain – another AI technology Google rolled out in 2016.
Well, Google has a pretty good explanation of this:

RankBrain is an AI-based system Google began using in 2016 to understand how pages are related to concepts. It means we can better return relevant pages even if they don’t contain the exact words used in a search, by understanding the page is related to other words & concepts…
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 21, 2019

How to optimise for neural matching
Most of the content we’ve seen covering neural matching over the past six months or so says there’s no way to optimise for it. This is something Google is doing to improve the way it handles search queries and all you can do is create the best possible content – a sentiment echoed by Google itself.
But whilst there’s not much you can do to optimise for neural matching on a technical level, there are plenty of things you can do on a strategic level.
1. Look beyond keywords
Neural matching exists because a lot of searches (at least 30%) don’t match the keywords used in the content people are looking for. Most people don’t know what “the soap opera effect” is and optimising for this keyword is going to have limited results. However, optimising for this topic is going to get results with neural matching, regardless of which keywords you optimise for.
The challenge for marketers is to pinpoint the topics their target audiences are searching for when the obvious keywords aren’t there. If you’re only using keyword tools to pick your content marketing topics, you’re probably missing out on a lot of potential traffic.
So how do you pinpoint those topics?
2. Focus on the problems your target audiences face
Based on the information Google has given us about neural matching over the past nine months, it appears to be most active when users have a problem they don’t know how to describe. They’re typing in medical symptoms instead of specific conditions. They’re describing the sound their car is making rather than typing in the name of specific problems. Or they’re using incredibly vague search terms like “why does my tv look strange”.
To capture these opportunities, you need to know what problems your target audiences are facing. You also need to pinpoint what information is going to solve their problem, help them accomplish tasks and make decisions.
3. Create the best content for each topic
Increasingly, Google Search is becoming an environment where one piece of content wins the race. This is a symptom of the mobile age and new search technologies such as featured snippets. When Google says you should focus on creating great content, it really means you need to be creating the best content for any given keyword/topic these days.

With neural matching, the focus is on topics rather than keywords but the same rules apply when it comes to making your content visible on Google Search. Featured snippets are particularly common for symptom-orientated searches and this means there’s often only one spot up for grabs – especially on mobile.
If neural matching was affecting 30% of all searches in September last year, there’s every chance this number has increased. In 2015, Google said RankBrain was used for less than 15% of all queries, but a year later Danny Sullivan confirmed it was now being used for every query.
This is a healthy progression though. Google is becoming less dependent on keywords and getting better at matching content to search queries. This opens up a lot of new opportunities for marketers and actually makes the optimisation process slightly easier – as long as you’re able to pinpoint those opportunities, create the right kind of content and deliver it in the right place.

The Meme-ification of Instagram

Social networks change and evolve, rapidly.
We’re seeing this happen on Instagram today: less polish, more authenticity.
In particular, we’re noticing an embrace of memes — that historically unpolished, yet highly relatable category of social media content.
Recently, we’ve picked up on the proliferation of memes across many major Instagram profiles, and we’d love to share how brands are making the most of this form of visual marketing and what it could look like for you to give it a try with your brand.
Keep reading for examples, inspiration, and directions on the meme-ification of Instagram and how to ride the wave.

The Trend on Instagram: Less Polish, More Authenticity
Especially at scale, there is an art to noticing the trends as social media moves.
One trend on the horizon: A shift in Instagram’s style.
Taylor Lorenz in The Atlantic wrote about the decline of the “Instagram aesthetic:” those images that look well-staged, highly-produced, and dripping with polish. In their place, a new style has taken over, and it’s largely moving in the opposite direction. Instagram seems to be embracing more raw, organic, and natural images on the platform.
According to an Instagram user quoted in the article:
“It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.”
And Lynsey Eaton who co-founded an influencer marketing agency added this:
“Previously, influencers used to say, ‘Oh, that’s not on brand,’ or only post things shot in a certain light or with a commonality. For the younger generation, those rules don’t apply at all.”
There are a few reasons behind this:

As highly-polished photos have proliferated, the “Instagram aesthetic” has come to feel bland and cookie-cutter.
We’ve spoken before about the red vs. blue ocean strategies, picking a strategy where there is less competition. Staged Instagram photos are achieving mass scale, and it’s harder to compete for attention.
We’ve reached “peak perfection.” Ugly Drinks’ social media and community manager Brittany Zenner calls it “influencer saturation.” There can be too much of a good thing.

The “standard” way to post to Instagram with your very best pictures of your very best self is no longer the only way to get engagement. And with this lowering of the bar comes a welcome to many different types of content.
Memes included.
Having seen memes pop up across social media before, we’ve found there to be a few defining characteristics of what makes this type of social media content so engaging. Memes are …

Relatable. This is a core element of a successful meme. They summarize a widespread feeling that everyone can relate to.
Witty. Memes are clever. They have a way of putting obvious things succinctly in a way that we hadn’t thought of before.
Entertaining. With the combination of relatability and cleverness, memes can be an incredibly fun piece of content, like being in on an inside joke shared with thousands of others.

For example:
The famous “This is fine” meme
It’s especially important to note:
Not all memes need to get a laugh.
And you can use memes in your feed and in your Stories, in DMs, and anywhere else you communicate with your customers.
Like a customer service interaction with an MVP customer?

Because of these factors and more, brands have began experimenting with memes on their Instagram profiles. Here are some examples of memes in the Instagram feeds of top brands.
10 On-Brand Examples of Memes in the Instagram Feed
1. Glossier
The beauty brand has over two million followers and often sprinkles in memes among its standard posts about beauty tips and products. Often times, you’ll see Glossier highlighting messages from its community, like in this tweet-turned-Instagram-post:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Glossier (@glossier) on Apr 10, 2019 at 12:00pm PDT

2. BarkBox
BarkBox delivers subscription boxes of dog toys, treats, and chews. Their Instagram feed is almost all memes. They’ll often add captions to photos of dogs, and these captions speak from the dog’s perspective. BarkBox has taken advantage of trending topics, too, posting memes related to the latest Taylor Swift song or Avengers movie.
Here’s an example of their capitalizing on a popular Instagram meme and featuring user-generated content:

View this post on Instagram

so get your likes in now ⁣ ⁣ @tikatheiggy
A post shared by BarkBox (@barkbox) on Apr 11, 2019 at 9:05am PDT

3. Curology
Curology, a skincare company, has the best of both worlds on its Instagram. In addition to a collection of beautiful photography and professional graphics, they sprinkle in the occasional meme:

View this post on Instagram

Acne can be a stage 5 clinger. Time to cut the cord.
A post shared by Curology (@curology) on May 9, 2019 at 7:00pm PDT

Curology is a good example of a mix of social media content types. They cross-post community tweets as testimonials, they show before-and-after images of their customers, they have marketing graphics and staged photos. And they use the occasional meme.
4. Ritual
Like Curology, Ritual places memes right alongside the more polished studio photography in its feed. Here’s a view of their feed at the moment:

The vitamin company uses memes to get across messages like “take your vitamins” along with empathizing with its audience when you’re just not feeling yourself.
5. Hims
Hims does a LOT of memes on their account. One of their specialties is reposting tweets:

View this post on Instagram

make future you proud
A post shared by hims (@hims) on May 5, 2019 at 10:35am PDT

Hims does a great job of finding tweets that are relevant to its brand message: Use Hims products to protect your skin, prevent hair loss and erectile dysfunction, and sleep better. These health problems are rife for memes because they’re relatable. As you can see from the Hims accounts, there are lots of examples to choose from.
6. Burrow
This example from Burrow combines the meme trend with user-generated content. The post is a reshare from @meme_love_you_long_time’s account, and it fits with Burrow because the furniture company sells fancy furniture like leather couches.

View this post on Instagram

Tag a friend that needs a leather sofa. #MyBurrow #StayOnTheSofa #NeverNormal #Memes #DailyMemes #MemeSlayer (via: @meme_love_you_long_time)
A post shared by Burrow (@burrow) on Apr 30, 2019 at 6:08am PDT

7. Ugly Drinks
Ugly Drinks has a really stellar approach to brand-building and creating a unique voice on social media. Part of that unique voice is sprinkling in memes to their Instagram content. Alongside pictures of their product (cans of flavored, carbonated water), Ugly adds memes with captions related to bottled water:

View this post on Instagram

You know there's a subscription service for that, right? #glugugly
A post shared by Ugly Drinks (@uglydrinks) on Mar 10, 2019 at 11:30am PDT

8. Slim Jim
The entire Slim Jim account is memes, many of which reference their snack foods directly. Slim Jim has a strong focus on many of its branded hashtags and communities like the #LongBoiGang. This meme below is one of the more obvious Slim Jim CTAs:

View this post on Instagram

Boom shakalaka
A post shared by Slim Jim (@slimjim) on Feb 20, 2019 at 1:09pm PST

9. SparkNotes
SparkNotes understands its core audience: students and learners who can resonate with pop culture memes. The company creates study guides for a variety of topics, and their Instagram content is rife with empathy for the experience of the student: what it feels like to study, to pass a test, etc.
The majority of SparkNotes’s memes are related to TV shows like The Office, Arrested Development, and Parks and Rec. Here’s one from The Office:

View this post on Instagram

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. #sparknotes
A post shared by SparkNotes Official (@sparknotes_) on May 10, 2019 at 12:54pm PDT

10. Bustle
Bustle, a premium publisher reaching millennial women, has built its Instagram audience with a content stream full of memes. This includes their primary Instagram Feed as well as Instagram Stories, where they routinely get 90%+ completion rates on their Stories content.
Much of their feed is full of Twitter memes or photos that resonate with their audience, like this Monday post:

View this post on Instagram

i am Leslie & Leslie is me
A post shared by Bustle (@bustle) on Jun 3, 2019 at 6:00am PDT

Resources for Meme-ifying Your Instagram Profile
If you want to hop on this trend, first consider:

Do memes resonate with my target audience?
Are memes a fit with my brand’s voice and tone?

We’ve found that the majority of brands who make memes work are speaking to a younger demographic of consumers and that the brands themselves have a more personable, casual voice and tone. It’s more rare to see memes used with B2B brands or with brands that have an older demographic … at the same time, it could be interesting to evaluate as a competitive advantage.
Regardless, if you’re interested in getting started with memes, here are a few of the resources we’ve found to help make your meme-finding fast and efficient:
1. Source memes from popular tweets
Twitter can be a useful space to hear about the latest memes as well as find content that you can repurpose for Instagram (note how brands like Glossier do the latter with user-generated content and testimonials). One of the best places to begin is by looking at a list of popular tweets from sites like Zeitgeist.
If you’re thinking about repurposing tweets as Instagram content, then you can rely on a feed of your brand mentions via an engagement tool like Buffer Reply.
2. Source memes from meme aggregators and Reddit
Memebase and Memedroid are just a couple of the sites that collect popular memes. You can get a good overview of what’s trending by looking here. In addition, some of the biggest communities on the Internet are also home to the latest memes. If you check out Imgur and Reddit, you’re likely to find a good pulse on which memes are popular now.
3. See what the top Instagram meme accounts are sharing
Instagram meme channels are a thing, too. You can find a solid list of these IG accounts in this story from Media Kix.
And the number one rule we’ve seen with memes: Tie the meme back to the product.
This can be a direct tie-in like the Slim Jim sample above, or it can be a subtle, emotional one like how SparkNotes does it. Either way, it can be tempting to use memes for the sake of using memes (they are quite enjoyable); the best brands find ways to make memes that engage with the audience and build brand loyalty.
Over to you

What are some of your favorite meme accounts on Instagram?
Do you find the meme strategy to be effective for brands?

9 and 1/2 Tips for Marketing Your Small Business

Small businesses around the country face a constant barrage of information, new tactics, the latest strategies, and a whole slew of garbage when it comes to modern marketing.
Whether it’s the latest snake oil salesman trying to convince a business owner to part with $5,000 of their hard-earned profits for an ad, or a $2,000 monthly contract for managing all the social media, it’s just too much for many entrepreneurs.
While we’re fans of innovation, we’re also well aware that not every business out there needs every new tool available.
News flash: You don’t really need to be on every new social media platform to do build your small business.

So, where should you focus when marketing a small business?
The answer is, of course, it depends. It’s not a simple answer. It depends because the answer should be tailored to your brand, your prospects, and your goals.
One quick note to start before I get into the 9 tips to marketing your small business (and the bonus ½ tip!) is this: Make sure you have a website.
In this modern era where digital rules, if you don’t have a website where your prospects can find you and learn about you, you are missing out. And no, you can’t build a business solely on social media. When a giant like Facebook changes the rules and you lose out on your reach, you’ll pull your hair out trying to keep up. So make sure you have a website.
Now, let’s explore some ways you can “do marketing” for your small business today. Keep in mind that these are all suggestions that you should test, but not necessarily jump into all at once. That’ll kill you. Figuratively, not like literally end your life. Probably.
How do I Market my Small Business Today?
1: Use Local Media– PR Versus Ads
Some of the most powerful sources of information for local audiences remain traditional, local media outlets. Your local TV news station, local newspaper (even if they only print once per week and live mostly online), and local radio still hold a lot of power.
While the days of popping an ad on these local outlets and getting a run on new customers may be gone, partnering with them for brand awareness and PR can help your business.
Maybe your business offers some unique event over the summer where a local crowd can gather. An interview on a morning TV or radio show could drum up interest. Then, when the media outlet puts the interview online, you’ll see the digital benefit of a link to your website and social media exposure.

I’ve personally seen this work well with local nonprofits. I once helped run an Honor Flight program, flying WWII and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials. We would promote the flight itself, the community connection with welcoming veterans home, and fundraisers with interviews in all of our local media. This exposure was one tactic of many that helped us bring hundreds of people together (about 2,500 each time) for events and raise more than $1,000,000 over 3 years for our mission.
2: Use Social Media Locally
If your small business relies on local customers or clients, connect on social media with your local audience. Maybe it’s a city-focused hashtag. It could be a local social media group. However it looks in your community, finding local people on social media to connect with will help build your audience.
Picture having a restaurant where you’re closed every Sunday. What would happen if you opened up one Sunday each month for a brunch with a jazz quartet? You could find fans of local music, community members who love jazz, or just people near you who share posts about brunch. Putting paid Facebook ads to work could get you in front of these prospects so they see your event, bringing a new audience to your restaurant.
Also, when local residents share their experiences with your business, make sure you’re thanking them with likes, favorites, reshares, and other social media interactions.
Finally, simply connecting and networking as the business owner can go a long way for your small business. People do business with those they get to know, like, and trust. Taking the old-fashioned networking strategy of making friends with your community online can be powerful.
Pro tip: Don’t connect and then spam people. Be authentic, be social. Share and comment with a genuine interest in your local social media community. If that’s not in your wheelhouse, grow beyond your comfort zone, find help with it, or skip this step. You don’t want to be spammy and constantly talk about your business. And for the love of everything… don’t tag people to get their attention or to gain access to their audience. That’s just tacky.
3: Facebook Groups
We recently shared thoughts on how Facebook’s 2019 changes and focus on Groups could impact how businesses use the social media juggernaut.
The bottom line is that Facebook is placing emphasis on Groups right now. Could you start a Facebook Group for your small business that brings an engaged audience to you?
For instance, at Impulse Creative, we have a brand called Sprocket Talk where we teach people how to use HubSpot. Our Facebook Group for Sprocket Talk is full of active users helping each other, looking to us as a thought leader in the space, and building awareness for our HubSpot tutorials and trainings.
Another way to use Groups connects back to the point above of going local. A lot of local communities have various local Groups in Facebook where community members connect. You, as the business owner, and even team members or staff, could join these Groups to connect and serve the community.
4: Local Networking
Whether it’s a Chamber of Commerce event, your local Rotary, or a BNI group, local networking still holds power. Face-to-face interactions beat digital communications in most cases.
Marketing doesn’t have to be an advertisement or a campaign. It can simply be getting people to know, like, and trust you.
Or maybe you can sponsor or host a local networking event. That leads to the next tip.
5: Sponsor Local Events
Beyond sponsoring networking events, consider sponsoring local festivals, events, shows, and other opportunities to get your small business in front of your community.
Of course, make sure the event aligns with your brand and your intended audience. You may not want to sponsor an art night in your downtown if artists and fans of art have no reason to know who you are.
If your small business has ties to your local community, be there. If your business goes beyond local and reaches regional or beyond, or has a specific niche audience, find those events to sponsor and take part in as a business. I’d suggest looking for an opportunity as a sponsor beyond just giving money in exchange for logo placement. Ask about speaking opportunities, placing information or gifts in bags if they have them, and other ways to reach event attendees.
6: Partner With a Nonprofit (That Makes Sense)
A great way to show your support for community is also to find nonprofits that align with your mission.
Maybe your progressive hotel hosts weddings, and there’s a Pride Month event coming up. You could have a booth there with support for LGBTQ couples getting married.

Perhaps your business hires veterans. You could partner with a VFW or American Legion hosting Bike Night or a horseshoe tournament.

If your brand aligns with pet shelters, can you donate a portion of every sale to a different shelter each month?

I personally love the example of a local ice cream shop that takes tips each month and splits them between the employees and a local nonprofit. It’s a great way to spur conversation, new partnerships, and build community.
7: Keep your Google Business Listing up to date
This one isn’t as shiny as nonprofit partnerships or as cool as a viral social media post. But this “boring” marketing tactic is critical. Your Google Business listing will drive traffic, contact points, and even social sharing for your brand.
The Google listing is that result that pops up on the right side of Google when someone searches for your business. It also comes up for results like “pizza near me” or similar searches. If you want to be found for that local kind of search, this is for you.
Basically, you just need to sign up for a Google account to start telling the world’s largest search engine about your business. After you’ve logged into the platform, it’s easy to add your site to Google by building your online profile.
Make sure you have your hours of operation, your contact information, your website linked, and your address all there.
8: Empower Word of Mouth
Whether you call it your Talk Trigger, your Pink Goldfish, your Purple Cow or simply your unique differentiator, turning that thing that sets your business apart into a word of mouth gem is vital to today’s marketing.
Allowing your happy customers to share your story starts with your website. Can they find you? Having social media accounts helps, too. If you’re able to at least monitor your profiles, have simple, recognizable social media handles so that customers can easily tag you.
Make your differentiator easy to remember and share. Maybe it’s an over-abundance of fries like Five Guys. Maybe it’s a stock-market-like feel to prices and market crashes like the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange. Whatever your unique thing is, it has to be memorable and shareable.
When you empower those happy people to share and tell their friends about you, you’ll have word of mouth marketing that sets you apart in this modern marketing age.
9: Try Something Traditional
Okay, we’ve covered some great new-world marketing tactics and strategies here. Some of them, simply new twists on old ideas.
But here’s the thing: Not everything old is dead. Just because we’ve done something in the past doesn’t mean it’s terrible. (It doesn’t mean it’s great either.) “We’ve always done it this way” should cause you to investigate the tactic. I know, it can seem confusing. I’m just saying that traditional marketing deserves a look.
For instance, I’m personally not a fan of outdoor advertising. But electronic billboards can offer a new way of looking at a traditional tactic. Or using a local billboard that hasn’t changed in years as a short-term test that will probably stick around long after your contract is up could bring you long-term benefits.

For local cafes, maybe placemats still work for advertising other local businesses.
You won’t know unless you test and measure.
Don’t be afraid of using a mix of what’s worked in the past with something new.
BONUS 9 1/2:
Know your audience. Define your personas. Go where they are. It makes no sense to support a local high school lacrosse team if your buyer personas aren’t parents. Start with your audience.
This is where you’ll have to take time to investigate. Ask your current customers questions about where they spend their time, how they research for purchasing decisions, and where they find information and recommendations for businesses. Ask them why they love doing business with you. You may discover new talking points for your brand along with some ambassadors!
Find out more about buyer personas with our ebook below. And as always, let us know your questions in the comments! Oh, and feel free to share your small business marketing tactics in the comments, too!

Small business coffee photo by Joshua Rodriguez on UnsplashTV interview photo by Sam McGhee on UnsplashPride Detroit photo by Enrique MartinezBike Night photo by Talons Out Honor FlightPuppy and cat photo by Krista Mangulsone on UnsplashOld ad photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

7 Marketing Terms You Better Know as a Modern Marketer

The evolution of marketing has grown beyond “The 4 Ps” and ad buys on local TV and radio stations. If you’re a modern marketer, you’re inundated with terms from SEO to ROI… from A/B testing to closed loop marketing… and more.
So if you’re in the marketing profession right now, which terms should you know? The list is nearly endless. But we wanted to bring you a few of those terms to get you started. This isn’t a “Marketing 101” piece. It’s not a deep dive, either. We just wanted to share seven marketing terms you better know as a modern marketer, with a look at some middle of the road terms you may or may not know. The bonus? Each term below has a video with George B. Thomas breaking it down for you.

Closed Loop Marketing
Marketing Automation
Account Based Marketing
Business Intelligence
Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
Gatekeeper
Inbound Sales

First, let’s look at what marketing looks like in the modern age. The relationship economy. The information age. Modern Marketing is a holistic, adaptive methodology that connects brands with real customers and drives business results by blending strategy, creative, technology, and analysis.
Whether you’re looking for a modern marketing agency, a marketing professional to hire, or a career in marketing, these terms will help you in your modern marketing journey.
1 Closed Loop Marketing
A closed loop marketing strategy relies on data and insights from closed-loop reporting. “Closing the loop” essentially means your sales teams report back to marketing about what happened to the leads they got from marketing, so everyone is on the same page.
Closed-loop marketing is important for your company because it means no more guessing! It helps you focus on the channels and campaigns that matter most. Plus it minimizes the cost-per-lead. When you know what channels and campaigns close the most sales, you can stop wasting efforts on those that don’t. Of course you can find many more reasons… but those alone make it clear that closing the loop is good for business.
How can you use closed-loop marketing for your company?
With good communication between sales and marketing, and with someone taking ownership of the process, your marketing will improve.
Here are three ways closed-loop marketing can impact your business.

You can use closed-loop marketing to make sure your buyer personas are locked in. The insights you gain from closing your loop between marketing and sales will give you the most comprehensive view of your leads and customers. Most companies assume they know their audience. With closed-loop marketing, you’ll really know them by dashing assumptions and using data!
You can use closed-loop marketing to shorten the sales cycle. Identify the pivotal touchpoints along your buyer’s journey. Lean into those, improve them, put resources like automation into play and help shorten the sales cycle. You’ll remove the noise that may distract or slow down the funnel.
Leadership will see tangible results of marketing efforts. This new way helps to see how marketing’s efforts truly impact the company because it shows which channels help make the most profit.

2 Marketing Automation
The term marketing automation essentially covers any software with the goal of automating marketing actions. Simple enough. Marketing departments everywhere want to automate repetitive tasks. With marketing automation platforms, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text. But it’s so much more than that.
Automation in any capacity allows humans to be more efficient. When we can automate repetitive tasks, we get to put machines to work and free to do more. In marketing, scheduling emails, setting workflows to handle messages, using artificial intelligence (AI) to get more done means we get to find better ways to market. So it stand to reason that marketing automation platforms allow your business to use humans better and make better marketing!
How can you use it for your company?
In short, you can use marketing automation to increase efficiency, make better marketing and drive more revenue. Here are three ways you can use marketing automation to impact your business.

Increase customer lifetime value – automate communications to stay top of mind with your customers, add personalization and do it all with fewer people – increasing the value while lowering the cost. If that doesn’t increase C-L-T-V I don’t know what does! That’s definitely better marketing and more revenue!
Increase efficiency by reducing admin costs – From automatically sending late-payment reminders to consulting clients who are late on paying an invoice, to automatically setting up reporting & project planning accounts when a client accepts a proposal, use automation software to reduce the amount of repetitive admin work.
Finally, put marketing automation software to work for your brand and improve engagement. Whether you’re upping open rates, getting a higher click-through-rate or simply getting prospects to reply and schedule a chat, marketing automation makes it easier to analyze your efforts and double down on what works.

3 Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to marketing based on account awareness. A business development team in an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. ABM is a very popular marketing strategy among B2B marketers. Through research you essentially decide which businesses, or accounts, you want to do business with and you laser-focus your marketing on the decision makers in those companies.
An account based marketing strategy really complements the traditional, short-term marketing goal of generating leads with efforts aimed at driving long-term revenue growth.
Account based marketing tactics can help your marketing team laser-focus on the best potential clients. For example, instead of a blanket approach like going after small businesses, SMBs, and enterprises – you might start by focusing on those accounts that have the highest need and the required budget.
How can you use it for your company?
Account based marketing is a win-win-win for sales, marketing, and customers. Here’s a look at what ABM can do for your business.

The whole strategy perfectly complements the account-based approach sales teams have embraced for years. When marketing buys-in and dedicates its resources to an account based marketing strategy, sales teams can better personalize their outreach. Nurturing targeted members of the buying committee with appropriate marketing messages helps speed up the sales process, allowing sales to achieve better close rates while closing bigger deals… faster. So get your marketing team to put A-B-M into play.
You can deliver better return on effort in the B2B world with account based marketing. When you implement A-B-M, marketing benefits because sales sees the marketing team as a trusted ally on a strategic mission. It brings the two teams together, creating a defined list that both teams agree make the most promising targets. Did you know that 84-percent of businesses using A-B-M say it delivers higher ROI than other marketing campaigns? BOOM.
A third way you can use account based marketing at your company is to enrich the marketing team with a much deeper understanding of the company’s overall target audience. Marketing can then apply their insight into what content and messages resonate to amp up the results of their efforts.
Finally, leverage account based marketing to better serve your customers. Buyers prefer personalized interactions, and A-B-M delivers just that. Serving targeted content and messages that resonate does take up-front work… but customers will recognize and appreciate this – and the fact that you don’t waste their time with ones that are off the mark will turn buyers into ambassadors.

4 Business Intelligence
What is business intelligence? It’s the strategies and technologies companies use for the data analysis of business information. At a basic level, it leverages software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that informs an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions.
What gets measured gets improved. We know that in marketing. It’s true at all levels of a company. Business intelligence is important for your company because people need data to do their jobs better.
Some companies have a business intelligence analyst on staff. Others use business intelligence tools and have teams put them to work. Either way, leveraging data to make decisions will help take your business to new levels.
How can you use it for your marketing, sales, and service teams at your company?
Business intelligence tools will help you better manage big data, make better decisions and move faster.

For instance, the first way you can leverage business intelligence is for better supply chain management. A company that wants to better manage its supply chain needs business intelligence capabilities to determine where delays are happening and where variabilities exist within the shipping process. This could be physical supply chain as well as digital supply chain. Think SaaS as well as manufacturing.
Another way you can put this all to work is to better understand the big data (and dark data!) in your business. Many organizations still struggle with how to wrangle their data, so you’re not alone. What if you could have an executive dashboard that gives prices by region and another dashboard that showcases vendor performance.
A third use of business intelligence is simply better planning. From marketing to sales to procurement, you can look at reports from the previous year’s numbers – that’s business intelligence – then create forecasts for the following year – that’s business analytics. Add to that the human creative factor of asking “what if,” and you’re putting business intelligence to work for your company.

5 Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
First, let’s define each term separately. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online content like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It does NOT explicitly promote a brand but aims to generate interest in its products or services.
Meanwhile inbound marketing is the technique for drawing customers to products and services via content creation, social media engagement, search engine optimization and branding. Think of it like a magnet for customers.
You know this fact: The world has changed. The consumer now holds the power in their interactions with brands, because they have the internet. Stats show that buyers are much further down their decision path now than any other time in history. They’re going to the web for answers.
We’ve also all become very good at tuning out advertising. We stream TV and skip commercials. We have ad blockers on our browsers. We change the channel on the radio – or go to streaming music. So ads aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Which means… If you aren’t using content marketing or inbound marketing to reach them, you’re missing out.
The question now becomes – which is better? Inbound marketing or content marketing? And how can you use the winner for your marketing?
Here’s the thing… It’s not an either-or situation! Basically, you can’t do inbound without content. And content without inbound is just traditional advertising. Think of like this. Inbound marketing is the vehicle that gets you to your customers. Content marketing is the fuel!
Now that we have that down… Here are three inbound marketing examples using content marketing… to help you grow your business!

Maybe you have some deep insight into your industry, data points and examples that tell a story… Create an infographic! Then you can take that content marketing and then put inbound marketing to work in the form of a guest blog post, snippets of the infographic for social media posts like Instagram and include an announcement in your company’s email signatures.
Got something to say? Create a video! Then you can optimize it for search, share it in social media, and email your supporters/fans/customers. You could even ask people to share if they find value in it. Having others share your content is a great measurement of quality content.
Finally… since you’re an expert in your niche, create an industry report. Then you can break up the content into smaller pieces and blog about it. You can also take the information to other sites and guest blog. You can also take the information on the digital road and go on podcasts as a subject matter expert. Of course, make sure the report is available as a download on your site, too! This could even help in the P-R world and bring the media to you!

6 Gatekeeper
A gatekeeper, or more specifically a business gatekeeper, is a person who controls access to something – in a literal sense they might be a gate attendant like a security guard… but in this context we’re talking about the person who controls your access to a person, or people. A gatekeeper stands between you and the decision makers in a buying decision. Most often this happens in a B2B situation. You don’t get access to the C-Suite without going through a gatekeeper.
And research shows that you have to convince seven people to do business with you in the B2B world. So it may not even be one gatekeeper… it may be several of them!
With this in mind, it’s easy to see if you don’t explain yourself in the right way, your message will never be delivered. So you need to know who the gatekeepers are, what speaks to them and how to turn them into ambassadors for you.
How does the gatekeeper affect your marketing and sales and what can you do about it?

Understand the gatekeeper. Maybe you can make this a buyer persona so you can understand their pain points and speak their language. Understanding the gatekeeper will help you focus your marketing efforts on them first, then the ultimate decision maker. In fact, you might even be able to empower the gatekeeper to bring their boss the idea and make them the hero.
Which brings us to point number two… Earn the gatekeeper’s trust. Whether it’s the “Executive Assistant’s Guide to Corporate Travel” or the “Marketing Manager’s Checklist to Wow the CMO” … creating the right content to earn their trust is critical. A second part to this point to consider is this: connect with them on social media like LinkedIn. If business comes down to relationships, you want to cultivate one with the gatekeeper in a professional manner.

7 Inbound Sales
Inbound sales is a personalized, helpful, modern sales methodology. It complements inbound marketing. Inbound salespeople focus on their prospect’s pain points, act as a trusted consultant, and adapt their sales process to the buyer journey.
The opposite would outbound sales, which mostly involves cold outreach like unsolicited emails, cold calls, surprise office visits and other interruptive sales and business development techniques.
It all comes back to the fact that the world has changed. We talk about it marketing. It’s so hard to get peoples’ attention today with ad blockers, commercial skipping devices and no-ad-streaming services. It’s the same in sales.
We’ve become very good at ignoring cold calls from sales reps, ignoring emails – especially from people we’ve never met who talk to us like they know us!
So if we ignore these outbound sales techniques ourselves, why haven’t more businesses adopted an inbound sales strategy?
If you’re convinced… then let’s look at how can you use inbound sales for your company!

Identify the right buyers. In the B2B space, this is called account based marketing. Whether you’re in sales to other businesses or directly to consumers, identifying the right buyers from the start (working with marketing most likely – and teaching them about your ideal buyer) will get you off on the right inbound sales journey.
Next, connect. Anyone focused on inbound sales will connect with leads to help them decide how to progress through the buyer’s journey. This should include the communication tools they choose – it might be texting, social messaging, email… be ready to communicate in the way your prospects do.
Also, explore. Inbound salespeople explore their qualified leads’ goals or challenges to see whether their offering is a good fit for them, the customer. Focus on their challenges, not your product or service. Show empathy and connect over those challenges, then share how your business can help.
Which brings us to our last point… advise. Inbound salespeople advise prospects on why their solution is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s needs. Skip the script and position your product or service in a way that highlights how it solves their unique needs.