Tag Archive | "marketing"

3 Effective Ways to Use Chatbots to Increase Your Marketing Efforts

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of chatbots, is most likely “annoying.” We all have encountered them at one time or another, those pesky little windows that pop up when you are visiting a website. You know the one I’m referring to – the one that claims to either answer your questions or better yet help you make your latest purchasing choice.

There is a good chance that you have a bad taste in your mouth from a bad experience with a chatbot.  There is an even better chance that you ignored said chatbot all together.

If you should own a business, or inspire to own one (which I’m positive you fit within one or the other if you are reading this article) you simply can’t afford to ignore the benefits that chatbots could offer your business. eMarketer reports that 1.4 billion people interacted with a chatbot in 2015 alone. That is billion with a B.

Chatbots have evolved and wormed their way into everyday marketing life, thanks to the artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) that powers them. Long gone are the days that you would type in a question and have some nonsensical answer returned. They are now pretty sophisticated tools that can help you automate many of your business processes.

What are chatbots and why the heck do you need them?

 

Devin Coldewey, a writer for NBC News, states:

Chatbots have existed for a good while — at least since ELIZA, an early bot that attempted to psychoanalyze people, was created in the ’60s. But the last few years have seen an explosion of applications that make people interact with bots as though they’re talking to another person.”

True, chatbots are normally used to answer simple questions, including basic product information or company contact info. In some cases though, chatbot conversations might merged or combined with actual humans so that the answers generated become more complex and useful to the end user.

Here is the kicker though – thanks to AI, a chatbot can actually get smarter the more it is used. It can learn from previous conversations and interactions so that it continues to become even more effective.

Here’s a few simple ways to implement chatbots into your business:

1. A salesman built right into your website

If you own a small business that has a web presence, you are most likely short on time. You’re easily busy tending to other tasks that are higher on your priority list than simply waiting on a potential customer to write in or even send you a direct message.  Sure you can hire a customer service rep or even a service, but that costs precious dollars that you are trying to save.

Chatbots however, are relatively inexpensive to set up and run and are online and ready to answer your customer’s questions 24/7. This means while your pretty little head is fast asleep in your big comfy bed, your chatbot is hard at work answering all those questions.

2.  Wider demographic

Because chatbots never need to break for coffee, call out sick, or only work a strict 8 hour shift – they are available around the clock.  They are basically able to reach a virtually limitless audience (timezone wise). They can reach a new customer base for your brand that was once untouchable.  

3.  Increased engagement

Engagement is pretty much life to any marketing plan. If you can get your audience engaged with your brand, they will most likely be more likely to buy from you in the future.

Actions normally define engagement, such as clicking on a video, leaving a comment, or even sharing an article.  With chatbots though, this is starting to evolve into much more. A chatbot can actually converse with your potential customers in a way that not only answers their questions regarding your products, but also builds brand loyalty.

There are many more ways to increase your marketing efforts using a chatbot. What are some of the ways you are using them in your business or would like to use them? We would love to hear all about them in the comments below.

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Conversion Optimization, CPA Marketing, ecommerce, Social Media MarketingComments (0)

FTC Defense Attorney Alert: “Influencer” Actions Make News

FTC Defense Attorney Alert:  “Influencer” Actions Make News

The Federal Trade Commission has alerted influencers and those in control of them to three developments, including the FTC’s first law enforcement action against individual online influencers for their role in misleading advertising practices.

According to the FTC, the respondents deceptively endorsed the online gambling site CSGO Lotto without disclosing that they owned the company.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (also known as CS: GO) is an online, multiplayer, first-person shooter game.  “Skins” are game collectibles that can be bought, sold, or traded for real money. Skins have another use:  They can be used as virtual currency on certain gambling sites, including CSGOLotto.com.  On that site, players could challenge others to a one-on-one coin flip, wagering their pooled skins. In 2015, one of the respondents posted a video touting CSGO Lotto:

“We found this new site called CSGO Lotto, so I’ll link it down in the description if you guys want to check it out.  But we were betting on it today and I won a pot of like $69 or something like that so it was a pretty small pot but it was like the coolest feeling ever.  And I ended up like following them on Twitter and stuff and they hit me up.  And they’re like talking to me about potentially doing like a skins sponsorship like they’ll give me skins to be able to bet on the site and stuff.  And I’ve been like considering doing it.”

The FTC asserts that the respondent followed up with additional videos on his YouTube channel showing him gambling on the CSGO Lotto site.   In addition, the FTC alleges that he tweeted things like “Made $13k in about 5 minutes on CSGO betting.  Absolutely insane” and posted on Instagram “Unreal!!   Won two back to back CSGOLotto games today on stream – $13,000 in total winnings.”

According to the FTC, one of the respondents sell promoted CSGO Lotto in a similar way, posting videos that were viewed more than five million times.  In addition, he allegedly tweeted a screen shot of himself winning a betting pool worth over $2,100 with the caption “Not a bad way to start the day!”  According to another tweet, “I lied . . . I didn’t turn $200 into $4,000 on @CSGOLotto. . . I turned it into $6,000!!!!”  The FTC also calls attention to: “Bruh. i’ve won like $8,000 worth of CS:GO Skins today on @CSGOLotto. I cannot even believe it!”

The FTC alleges that the respondents failed to clearly disclose that they owned the company – a material connection required under FTC law.

The complaint also challenges how the respondents ran their own influencer program for CSGO Lotto.  Allegedly, they paid other gamers between $2,500 and $55,000 in cash or skins “to post in their social media circles about their experiences in using” the gambling site.  However, the contract made clear that those influencers could not make “statements, claims or representations . . . that would impair the name, reputation and goodwill” of CSGO Lotto.  And, according to the Commission, post they did on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook – in many instances, touting winnings worth thousands of dollars.

According to the FTC, the respondents falsely claimed that their videos and social media posts – and the videos and posts of the influencers they hired – reflected the independent opinions of impartial users.  The complaint also charges that the respondents failed to disclose the material connection they had to the company – and the connection their paid influencers had.

The proposed settlement requires the respondents to make those disclosures clearly and conspicuously in the future.

WARNING LETTERS

The next interesting development regarding influencers relates to more than 90 educational letters the FTC sent to influencers and brands in April 2017, reminding them that, if influencers are endorsing a brand and have a “material connection” to the marketer, that relationship must be clearly disclosed, unless the connection is already clear from the context of the endorsement.

A number of influencers who received the April 2017 letter just received a follow-up warning letter, citing specific social media posts the FTC staff is concerned might not be in compliance with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides.

However, the letters are different this time.  The latest round asks the recipients to let the FTC  know if they have material connections to the brands in the identified social media posts.  If they do, the FTC has requested that the recipients spell out the steps they will be taking to make sure they clearly disclose their material connections to brands and businesses.

UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR INFLUENCERS AND MARKETERS

The FTC has also released an updated version of The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking, a staff publication that answers questions about the use of endorsements and disclosures, including in social media.

The principles remain the same, but the updated Guides answer a handful of new questions relevant to influencers and marketers on topics such as tags in pictures, disclosures in Snapchat and Instagram, the use of hashtags, and disclosure tools built into some platforms.

Given the recent regulatory crackdown on influencer campaigns,

This article should be of interest to social media influencers and marketers.  Consult with an experienced FTC defense lawyer for assisting designing and implementing preventative compliance controls, or if you are being threatened with civil litigation or a regulatory investigation.

Follow the author on Twitter.

Richard B. Newman is an Internet marketing compliance and regulatory defense attorney at Hinch Newman LLP focusing on advertising and digital media matters. His practice includes conducting legal compliance reviews of advertising campaigns, representing clients in investigations and enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General, commercial litigation, advising clients on promotional marketing programs, and negotiating and drafting legal agreements.

 

ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result. Hinch Newman LLP | 40 Wall St., 35thFloor, New York, NY 10005 | (212) 756-8777.

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Top 3 Tactics That No Longer Work for Digital Marketers

Growing up in Florida, I can’t count the times I heard the phrase, “Just wait ten minutes and the weather will change,” which of course was true but that’s besides the point. In this case the phrase also fits very neatly into the world of digital marketing. Trends and tactics for the industry change faster than Clark Kent, making it so the only way to keep yourself in the game is to roll with the punches through innovation and information. 

Below are three of the top once “go-to sure winners” that have might have worked for digital marketers in the past, but just aren’t getting the horse to the finish line any longer.

1. Twitter

No this isn’t going to be a “Twitter is Dead” post or anything of the sort. Only simple numbers, statistics and reality here. Twitter is still a fine go-to tool for many marketers. It’s great for promoting your business and networking with (or following) other like-minded people. Let’s think about that though, what if the problem with Twitter wasn’t the platform but how digital marketers are using it? Stale tweets, low engagement with followers, and both over and under selling.

Is President Donald Trump helping or harming Twitter’s stock prices?

Just recently though, Twitter has begun to regain some of its previous momentum with the media hoop-la surrounding President Donald Trump’s Twitter communication (antics). Twitter was on a downward spiral prior to his campaign and now presidential tweets but encountered a quick spike during the campaign that they are desperately attempting to hold on to. Although, recent events are proving to make it more difficult to accomplish the task.

Reportedly, Twitter saw a sudden and massive drop in share value after some of their high profile accounts were hacked and used to post tweets in favor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodogan. Shares fell nearly 2% to $15.03 earlier this month.

2. SEO Black Hat Tricks

Black Hat Tactics could now harm you, just like the robots in HBO’s series WestWorld.

Today’s SEO efforts no longer look like yesteryears Wild West (or HBO’s Westworld) days of black hat tactics. Gone are the days when messy keyword stuffing, content packed with nonsensical links and spun content were not only passable but worked. Google’s updated Panda and now Penguin algorithms now sort out and condemn shoddy content.

If you haven’t already ceased the following tactics, now (as in immediately) would be a good time to change lanes in your SEO efforts.

  • Keyword stuffing – Keywords are still an essential part of any great piece of content, yet stuffing them willy nilly into posts is a great way to send up a red flag to search engines thus labeling your content as low quality.
  • Link schemes – Buying external links, swapping links with irrelevant audiences, or just filling your content with non-relevant links are all horrible practices that just don’t work any longer.
  • Scraping – Republishing content without permission. Say goodbye to copy & paste. Not only will you get penalized for duplicate content, you could face legal action.
  • Cloaking – If you promise a visitor something on the other end of the link and don’t deliver, then you are guilty of cloaking.
  • Automated content and / or spinning – There are tons of sites out there that will allow you to enter a batch of content that will then be “spun” into something similar. Problem is, it’s often too similar and will be picked up as duplicate content. Same goes for software that automatically produces “basic” content.
  • Invisible text and links – Search engines no longer fall for your hidden or super small text and links.

Bottom line: Do the work and put in the time to churn out proper content.

3. Batch and blast email

Long gone are the days of being able to load up an template inside your email list host platform, pound out a few hundred words or so of text, send it off to your entire list of subscribers and then sit back in your desk chair while hitting refresh to watch the dough roll in.

These days, it requires a little bit more effort to get those dollar signs flying.

While email is still very much the preferred method of communication, however according to Return Path seventy percent of spam complaints filed are from previously opt-in newsletters and offers simply no longer desired by the subscriber.

Pinterest has a leg up on one-to-one personalization.

In walks such platforms as Pinterest, who replaced the old batch and blast way of slinging mail with something that is completely tailored to the viewer. The fastest growing social “sharing” network partnered with SparkPost to ramp up their email efforts. Seth Weisfeld leads up Pinterest’s efforts around all notifications. Everything from desktop, email, push, and SMS he has his hands on.

“Email is an extension of the product. Pinterest itself is very personalized platform, so email needs to be, too.”

Westfield also has stated that the marketer’s dream of one day achieving one-to-one personalized engagement is right at the tip of being a reality.

“The vision we’ve talked about for years, a one-to-one marketing strategy that is natively multichannel, is actually achievable today. The quality of the technology to leverage big data and notifications is there.”

Bottom line.

What it all boils down to is simple. Roll with the tide of change. Don’t get caught up in your easy way of doing things just because it used to work for you. Read, research, and stay up to date on all current trends and changes in this ever changing industry.

Are your current efforts still working for you or have you switched up your game as well? We would love to hear all about it in the comments below.

 

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Content Creation, Conversion Optimization, CPA Marketing, Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization-SEO, Social Media MarketingComments (2)

Top 5 Crowdfunding Campaigns – Where Are They Today?

Since its establishment back in 2009, Kickstarter has been a level playing field where good ideas can find people with the funding to help make those ideas a reality.

Although the crowdfunding headlines seem to have died down a bit, however that doesn’t mean there is actually a decline in the arena itself.  

  • 84,652 projects were successfully funded on Kickstarter alone.  
  • $1,705,478,513 total dollars have been pledged to Kickstarter projects
  • 22,378,951 total pledges via Kickstarter
  • 2,603,947 repeat backers via Kickstarter

So the numbers seem to be on the rise, but what about all the success stories?  Who are they and where are they now?

Entrepreneur did an expose calling out the top successes and what they are currently up to.  Below are the top 5.

  1. Pebble Time –

Palo Alto based smartwatch maker Pebble earned its entrepreneurial wings back in 2012 with it’s record breaking Kickstarter campaign.  Not only is the company’s latest Pebble Time watch the most funded in Kickstarter history, but it’s also holds the title for the fastest funded. Pebble raised a whopping $1 million in less than an hour.  Pebble went on to raise a total of $20,338,986 (4,067 percent of the original set goal).

Today: Since it’s launch three of so years ago, the company has been working on perfecting the hardware.  They have upgraded the interface, added a Gorilla Glass lens and extended the battery life to 10 days.

 

  1. Coolest Cooler –

More than ten years in the making, inventor Ryan Grepper seemed to have struck crowdfunding gold with his Coolest Cooler campaign. Grepper pulled ahead of the group to become the most funded Kickstarter campaign to date, dethroning Pebble Technology from the top spot. With 62,642 backers, the Portland based company raised $13,285,226. (26,570 percent of the original set goal.)

Today: The innovative handy coolers are selling on both the Coolest Cooler’s website and via Amazon. You can get them in a variety of colors, but they all come with the coolest of technologies for a cooler: built in blender, bluetooth speakers, usb charger, LED lid light, bottle opener, and more.

  1. The Return Of the Reading Rainbow –

 

We all remember the popular children’s tv show that wall pulled off the air in 2006 after a 23 year run.  Well at least I remember it.  In 2012 host LeVar Burton took to Kickstarter to fund an iPad and Kindle Fire interactive reading “virtual field trip.”  It hit 540% of it’s funding goal and raised $5,408,916.  

Today:  Skybrary, comes as a subscription package.  For $50 a year children from all over the world have access to a library or children’s books.  Kinda like Amazon Prime for young readers.  

 

  1.  The Veronica Mars Movie –

The teen detective story went off the air in 2007 after only three seasons, but fans wanted more.  Series creator Rob Thomas started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Veronica Mars movie.  It raised $5,702,153 on April 12, 2013.  

Today:  The film premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest film festival and went on to gross $3,485,127.  

  1.  Neil Young’s Pono Music Player –

Music legend Neil Young came up with Pono – a device that promised to play your music how it was intended to be heard.  Pono raised $6,225,354, or 778% of its funding goal, on April 15, 2015.

Today: The $399 Pono player came up a little short in it’s delivery of stellar music.  The player commanded a premium price for an increase in music quality that just wasn’t all that noticeable to the average listener.  

Notable mention:  I simply can’t leave out the Potato Salad campaign.  The campaign centered around a guy that stated he was “basically making potato salad.”  The guy was ohio-based developer Zack Danger Brown.  The campaign raised more than $55,000 for his “potato salad” project with nearly 7,000 people pledging donations.  

When he hit the $3,000 mark he wrote: “My kitchen is too small! I will rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party (only $10 and above will be allowed in the kitchen)! The internet loves potato salad! Let’s show them that potato salad loves the internet!!”

He followed through on his somewhat comical promise with a big potato salad party in Columbus that was later dubbed the “PotatoStock 2014.”  

All the proceeds went to the Columbus Foundation, which fights to end homelessness and hunger in central Ohio.  

 

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Proven Tactics to Ensure Long-Term Success

Affiliate marketing is a fast-paced field that is continuously evolving, and one of the greatest challenges in our industry is sustaining long-term growth in an ever-changing space.  Mastering diversification is key to creating a business that will grow and flourish for years to come.  As an Affiliate Manager, I see the importance of diversification every day. Imagine focusing the majority of your time and money into one offer; you’ve finally scaled up and are making a ton of money, then all of a sudden the advertiser has to pause.  Money stops flowing in and your entire business plan would be shaken.  Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from ever happening.

In the ten-plus years Clickbooth has been around, we’ve worked top affiliates and advertisers who have achieved long-term success in this industry; we understand what it takes to evolve with the ebbs and flows of affiliate marketing while continuing to prosper and grow.  Time and time again we see that the secret to success of the biggest players in the industry is diversification.

Diversification will enable your business to maintain a competitive advantage; use these proven tactics to ensure long-term growth and stability in affiliate marketing.

o    Testing multiple verticals: You should always be running or testing multiple verticals at one time.  When deciding what new vertical to delve into, keep in mind that consumer trends fluctuate throughout the year and you want to have knowledge on how to profit in a given vertical before prime season for that vertical arrives.  Remember that to be successful in testing you must be patient and committed to constantly improving.  Before you test, familiarize yourself with all the pocket niches of traffic.  The key is to always be testing — never limit yourself to one vertical.

o    Multiple traffic sources: As the saying goes, don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket. Always test on multiple traffic sources, and actively do research for new sources to check out. Your goal is to keep a “waterfall effect” going – once you master a specific offer on one source, you should have traffic ready on the next source so you can easily continue to replicate your success.  Talk to your affiliate manager and ask your friends for advice on what traffic sources are looking hot and what is working best for them.

o    Multiple countries: In addition to traffic sources it is also important to be testing in multiple regions. Make sure you are up to date with all guidelines and regulations for each country. When choosing what regions to test in, first do research to make sure you can get quality traffic at low bids and high volume (so there is scaling potential).  If it’s a non-English region, make sure you have a solid translation service for your ad and lander.  Your AMs will be able to advise you on the top offers for each country, and keep in mind that while generally you can replicate success across regions, each country is unique, so be sure to keep an open mind when testing.

o    Research: In order to stay ahead of the competition you want to set yourself apart. Always do your research and know what is going on out in the space. You want to know what, where, and how your competitors are running. There are numerous resources for staying up-to-date on the industry landscape, from sites like AdBeat to your AMs to good old fashioned web-browsing.  Utilize your research and don’t be afraid to go a step further. Be innovative to stay ahead of your competitors.

o    Resources: You will find the most success when you are working with your affiliate managers.  Don’t ignore this valuable resource. AMs have a birds-eye-view of the industry and can provide knowledge to help you stay ahead of the game.

The best affiliate marketers think of the big picture – How can I get ahead and stay ahead? Achieving a greater understanding of the market through diversification will help you get there. In the end, you will gain many benefits of long-term sustainability by making the time to diversify.  Overall, you will have a better understanding of consumer behavior and what variables lead to improved performance, no matter what or where you are testing. Always be ready to change your strategy since what works one day may not work the next. If you enable your business with these tools you will find long-term success in affiliate marketing.

Jennifer Caputo,  Clickbooth Affiliate Strategist
Jennifer Caputo was born and raised in Darien, Connecticut — she graduated from University of Tampa with a Bachelors degrees in Marketing.  As a member of the CB Publishing team, Jennifer specializes in a wide variety of media including mediabuy traffic. In her free time she enjoys going out on her boat, spending time with family and friends, wine, and traveling.

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