Facebook Save ButtonFacebook’s recent addition of a “Save” button gives a limited measure of control to users. The algorithm changes that rendered organic Facebook marketing ineffective may be offset with the ability to archive posts, links, places, and media. In theory, it is a good first step to creating a more user friendly experience. In reality, issues keep it from being effective at this time.

Marketers have been challenged to create new ways to reach customers and prospects since the algorithm update that is designed to deliver “relevant information” as defined by Facebook’s engineers. Choosing to follow a company’s page doesn’t guarantee that you will ever see an update without scrolling through hundreds of posts. If you do see an update but don’t have time to interact with it, good luck finding it again!

The “Facebook Save” feature is supposed to make finding information you tag easy to review later. When the option was announced on Monday, I tested it for our clients. The first step was to test it on the desktop. The button works like this:

Click the down arrow on a post (it is hard to see):

Facebook Save Button Ross-Simons Jewelry Example 1

The dropdown box has the “save” option:

Facebook Save Button Ross-Simons Jewelry Example 2

A confirmation wasn’t received after clicking the save option. Clicking the down area shows that the option has changed:


To retrieve your saved posts, click on the “saved” link in the left sidebar:

Facebook Save Button Ross-Simons Jewelry Example 4

It appears like this:

Facebook Save Button Ross-Simons Jewelry Example 5

Saving an update for later review is easy once you know how. My initial thought was that testing a call to action requesting that people save the post would be a good idea. My mind changed after testing the feature on mobile devices.

The first test was on a smartphone. The down arrow was barely visible:

Facebook Save Mobile Phone

Clicking the arrow opened a blank box:

Facebook Save Smartphone

The second test was on a tablet. The down arrow wasn’t available.

Facebook Save Tablet

Perhaps the issues were caused by outdated apps. A quick check found the latest version on both smartphone and tablet.

Adding a call to action for the save button would create confusion and add more work to the marketer’s day. Hopefully, the Facebook engineers will work out the kinks and the save button will become effective. Until then, it is a good idea with little reward for marketers.

Ross-Simons Jewelry is a client. You can enter the sweepstakes by clicking here.

Secret Ingredients Systems and ProcessesFounders of successful companies are often asked the secret to their success. Their answers are dependent upon the individual’s area of expertise. Those with a marketing background credit explain how their marketing strategy launched the company. People who come from a service background tout exceptional service as the catalyst for growth. Both are right. A combination of solid marketing and quality service is a requirement for successful companies.

A company doesn’t have to have top-notch marketing and service to be successful. Great marketing can ease the pain of less than stellar service. Exceptional service creates its own marketing. But there are two ingredients a company needs for long-term sustainable growth that neither marketing nor service provides. Without them, the company will self-destruct.

The secret ingredients needed are systems and processes to effectively and efficiently fulfill the promises made to customers. You’ll rarely hear a founder attributing success to systems and processes because they aren’t sexy like marketing or praiseworthy like service. Systems and processes are functional and functional things are, well, boring. Marketing is exciting. Service is inspirational. Explaining a process that reduces costs while expediting shipping is “ho hum” at best.

High growth companies succeed when they have flexible systems and processes that adapt to changing demands. Without a systematic ability to streamline functions, they are doomed to failure. The business starts out strong, driven by marketing and service, and then self-destructs in a sea of customer complaints and out of control costs.

To create a foundation for sustainable growth:

Review every process in your company for need, efficiency, and effectiveness. Processes are often created for a short term need and then kept out of habit. Continuing to use outdated processes is inefficient and expensive.

Streamline processes to make them as efficient as possible. Eliminate every step that isn’t mandatory for success. Unnecessary steps reduce productivity and increase time for completion.

Evaluate systems on a cost/return basis. The combination of company growth and technological advances can render systems obsolete. If a system doesn’t deliver improved service or reduced costs, it is time to find one that does.

Look for areas that need systems and processes. Reinventing the wheel is a costly process. Find ways to expedite every function within the company.
Get organized. Implement a company wide organization initiative that provides easy access to the information needed. Timely access improves service and reduces cost.

Think people first. Systems and processes should always serve people. The experience of customers, prospects, and employees should always be considered when managing workflow.

To find out how improving systems and processes will help your business, email Debra at dellis@wilsonellisconsulting.com.

Replacing distractions with growth strategies

Change is mandatory for corporate growth. Everything in the business has to evolve for a company to remain competitive in an ever changing marketplace. Management, team members, systems, policies, and processes have to adapt to new realities. Today’s issues cannot be resolved by yesterday’s solutions.

Problems facing companies today are multidimensional and challenging. Seeking solutions begins with problem identification. If you cannot clearly identify problems, it is impossible to create successful growth and profitability strategies. Digging deep to find cause and effect is hard work. It is much easier to yield to the distractions that keep your company from identifying and solving the real problems.

Customer satisfaction is always the key component for success and needs to be top priority. Our multichannel marketplace is filled with opportunities to connect with customers on a one-to-one basis. Ideally, that connection is used to improve or solidify established relationships instead of whitewashing internal issues. Resolving customer care issues is necessary before a thriving community can be created.

The following five distractions seemingly identify real problems. Each of them has their own merit. None of them will create an environment that overcomes customer care issues.

  1. Traffic – Watching real-time site traffic is mesmerizing. Users come in, bounce around a bit, and leave. A small percentage submits an inquiry or makes a purchase. In theory, increasing traffic extrapolates into more leads or sales. This theory suggests that the problem is lack of traffic. In reality, improving user experience or the quality of traffic is more likely to increase sales.
  2. Engagement – The cry for more engagement across social media platforms is deafening. Companies with active communities are lauded for their social media prowess. Frankly, I find that very amusing because getting engagement is easy. All you have to do is post something cute or controversial. Both are unlikely to improve customer experiences, sales, or profitability but engagement will grow. The increased activity requires more resources to manage increasing costs without additional revenue.
  3. Big Data – The idea that we can pinpoint exactly what someone wants to buy and when they want to buy using data analysis is alluring. Imagine how much money your company could save if marketing was only directed at people ready to buy. The problem with big data is that people are investing heavily in the small details while ignoring the bigger picture. Targeted messages are ineffective on unhappy customers. The resources are better invested in delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  4. Follower/Fan Acquisition – Measuring success by follower or fan acquisition is a waste of time. To say that it is the quality not the quantity seems passé but it needs to be said because this is the metric that keeps rising to the forefront. I suggest that you take this distraction one step further and include customer acquisition. If your marketing efforts are only yielding followers, fans, and hit and run customers, your company is in trouble.
  5. Reach – What does “reach” really mean? The definition varies depending on the medium. Basically, “reach” is the potential views of a marketing message. You can massage and manipulate the number as much as you want but it cannot be accurately extrapolated into leads or sales. It is an interesting number in “ours is bigger than the competitors” comparisons with little effect the future of your business.

For specific information on how you can solve the problems that hold your company back, email Debra at dellis@wilsonellisconsulting.com.

Email is personalEmail marketing is the best kept secret in small business. Even though it is one of the most effective and affordable ways to stay in touch with customers and prospects, there is hesitancy about using emails to their fullest potential. When asking clients why they don’t start or ramp up email marketing campaigns, the answers are remarkably similar. They are lack of time, fear of being considered a spammer, and not enough skills.

The three top issues are easily remedied. Email service providers (ESP) have streamlined the process with templates and automation that allows small business owners to create effective campaigns without investing significant time or having extensive skills. The fear of being considered a spammer can be eliminated by simply following the CAN-SPAM rules. This is easy to do because ESP’s have compliance built into their system.

Create an effective email marketing program begins with defining the strategy that you will use to acquire addresses and engage subscribers. Once the strategy is defined and the initial content pool is created, maintenance is minimal. If you start small and build a solid foundation, your email marketing strategy is guaranteed to succeed. You’ll be able to capitalize on the benefits of email marketing that include lead generation, sales, and customer retention.

The secrets to success in email marketing aren’t glamorous but they consistently work to convert prospects to customers and keep customers coming back. They are:

  1. Consistency – Successful email marketing campaigns are consistent. Emails are sent at least once a month so subscribers are receiving messages that keep them connected to the company. To do this, create a calendar that includes all the emails you are sending. Color code each item so you can clearly see crossover between your welcome series, triggers, newsletters, and promotional messages.
  2. Segmentation – Segmenting customers and prospects so you can send them relevant information is the difference between a good email marketing strategy and a great one. Not all customers and prospects are equal. Proper segmentation let you send the right message at the right time. Segments to consider include acquisition source, qualification, subscriber activity, customer value, and customer behavior. Your specific business may have other areas to include.
  3. Targeting – The top benefit of email marketing is the ability to send personalized one-to-one messages. Proper segmentation makes it easier to target subscribers with messages designed specifically for them. Targeted email messages that work well include renewal information for subscription services, reminder to buy for consumable products, triggers (such as abandoned cart reminders), and events.
  4. Customer engagement – Email opens communication lines to provide interaction of customers and prospects with your company. Make every effort to encourage people to respond to your emails. Don’t be afraid that people will overwhelm you with replies because even the best programs have manageable responses. Telling recipients exactly what you want them to do and how to do it encourages engagement.
  5. Continuous improvement – Learning from others is a great way for a small business to improve an email marketing strategy. The retail industry has invested millions testing to see what works best. Use their results to find ways to optimize your program. This will get you started. As your program grows, develop ideas to test, send, evaluate results, and repeat the process. The more you learn, the better your results.

The secrets to email marketing success are fundamental. It’s surprising that every company isn’t using them to grow sales and profitability. Companies that do use them have a competitive edge. If you are not using them to grow your business, today is a good day to start. Every day you wait delays your progress.

Note: These points were made in a Cole Information Webcast. To hear the complete webcast, visit the Cole Community

For examples of best practices and information on why and how they work, check out the Email Marketing Toolkit.

Growth hacking to build a company

Very few buzzwords stimulate the strong feelings and controversy associated with growth hacking. Every company needs sustainable growth to be successful. The idea that you can “hack” growth is alluring to some and offensive to others. Growth hacking sounds a lot like “overnight success” to people working diligently to grow their company. They know that it takes years of preparation and hard work for most overnight successes to land in the spotlight.

Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010. He defines a growth hacker as “a person whose true north is growth.” This simple definition is a perfect way to identify people with the skill set required for growing companies. In its purest form, having a growth hacker in your organization will keep it moving forward. The problem comes when growth hacking is manipulated to fit existing infrastructures or put a new spin on a broken strategy. Growth hacking shifts from strategic planning to magical thinking.

Sustainable growth comes when opportunities are matched with solid foundations. Growth hacking can be a solid strategy when it encompasses all departments. Opportunities are typically found on the marketing and sales side of the business. The foundation is built on the operational side. Lack of communication between marketing and operations is the biggest challenge found in most companies. A growth hacker has to be able to comfortably cross interdepartmental lines and resolve the communication issue.

Growth hacking, as a function of the marketing department, is limited to finding opportunities. It is ideal for a startup needing a quick entry into the market or an existing company needed to revitalize lagging sales. Using a growth hacker to find untapped marketing opportunities can be the catalyst that begins scalable growth for the startup or a turnaround for an established business. It may be what is needed at the time but it won’t create the sustainable growth that builds companies.

Creating sustainable growth strategy requires a leader that can work with a team to evaluate the needs throughout the organization and create a plan that exploits market weaknesses while building a strong infrastructure. That individual has to have analytical skills, creativity, and the ability to unite departments for common cause. Growth strategies are best planned without departmental baggage. Limiting the planning and execution to one department minimizes the potential and increases the probability that your growth hacking will deliver more hype than sales and profits.

When tasked to grow Ballard Designs, we first focused on the operational side of the business. There were issues in all of the departments but without a solid service foundation, any growth would be short lived. The process was simple. We reduced the order turnaround and improved interdepartmental communication. The plan was to get our operational house in order and then work on the marketing side to increase sales.

Cause and effect can surprise you. Sales started increasing as we worked to improve our service. Ballard Designs was a pureplay catalog business at the time. There were no changes to the marketing plan yet sales began to exceed projections. An analysis of the incoming orders found that people were reordering at a faster rate. We also found that costs were decreasing. We were receiving fewer incoming customer service calls and seeing increased productivity in our fulfillment center.

Delivering orders sooner had the positive side effect of increasing sales and profits. Building a strong service foundation created the infrastructure needed to support the two and three digit growth rates Ballard Designs achieved during my tenure as Chief Operating Officer. The one thing we did that made the difference was to create a team to grow the company. The team members came from every department in the company. Sustainable growth was a corporate strategy not a departmental goal. There was no room for excuses or blame because everyone was responsible. There was much cause for celebration because everyone benefited from our success.

If you are seeking sustainable company growth:

Start with the team – Create a team with members from every department to contribute to the growth strategy. Having the right team members is critical because success will be limited if any department doesn’t buy into the strategy. Team members need to be open minded, inclusive, and have a good understanding of how their individual departments work.

Choose a leader – Management by committee never works. The leader needs autonomy, overall knowledge of the company and market, and the ability to unite the departments. If you don’t have someone in-house, consider using a consultant to develop the talent in-house or hiring an outsider.

Identify trouble areas – What is limiting your growth? Every department leader knows internal areas that need improving. Initially, require them to limit suggestions to things within their individual departments. This improves interdepartmental cooperation by preventing extensive finger pointing.

Create a process for requesting change – Departmental activities affect other departments. Creating a process for team members to request changes in other departments reduces communication challenges and interdepartmental animosity.

Identify opportunities – Every department has opportunities to improve sales and reduce costs. Start with self-analysis and then move to receiving interdepartmental suggestions. Sometimes an outsider sees opportunities missed by insiders.

Create a strategy in stages – It is impossible to create a comprehensive long-term strategy that doesn’t need modification. Think globally and long-term but limit detailed specifics to shorter terms. You can expand as you learn what works best.

Be flexible – Companies in growth mode have surprises along the way. Include flexibility in your planning so you can adapt as the environment demands. Be careful about creating ownership because if it is too strong, change is impossible.

For information on how you can create an effective growth team, email Debra at dellis@wilsonellisconsulting.com.

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