Nine ways brands can improve emotional connections with customers

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It’s not easy to convince a customer nowadays to trust your company over another, but the right emotional connection may lead to a bond with multiple benefits.

Emotionally engaged customers have a higher lifetime value, as they tend to be loyal, satisfied, and ready to proceed to a new purchase.

According to Harvard Business Review, emotionally engaged customers are also:

  • At least three times more likely to recommend your product or service
  • Three times more likely to re-purchase
  • Less likely to shop around (44% said they rarely or never shop around)
  • Much less price sensitive (33% said they would need a discount of over 20% before they would defect).

Moreover, according to a survey by Forrester Research, companies that aim for emotional connection beat their competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth, with customers feeling more engaged and appreciated.

By tapping into emotion, companies manage to fulfil the consumers’ emotional needs, whether it’s the sense of belonging, security, freedom and other “emotional motivators”.

HBR has compiled the most popular motivators that affect consumer behaviour and how brands can use each one of them to create a more meaningful relationship with their prospect customers.

Let’s take a look at nine different ways brands appeal to these emotional motivators.

1) Standing out from the crowd

Nike knows how to create appealing content that is appreciated by its audience. There is an emotional connection between the brand and its customers and its consistent creativity is all about exploring the consumers’ limits with its new products.

Even the captions on its Instagram account (which is among the biggest ones on the platform) maintain the uniqueness of the brand, making its consumers feel like standing out from the crowd – “running will never be the same”.

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2) A sense of freedom

Quiksilver appeals to the emotions of freedom, excitement, motivation, focusing on an audience that appreciates sports and wants to feel part of a like-minded community. Its visual content is impressive, ensuring that images are still consistent with the emotional appeal that the brand wants to maintain.

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3) A sense of belonging

Apple is the best example on how simplicity and branding can create an engaged community of fans, mostly by relying on the appeal to the emotional, creating an urge for its audience to purchase its latest products.

Apple has managed to associate its products with a feeling of inclusion and social recognition, which is not easy.

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4) Social awareness

TOMS became popular for its focus on social awareness and its promotion of good causes, with each purchase contributing to a bigger goal.

Storytelling along with a strong social awareness led to a successful strategy that increased the popularity of the brand, making its customers feel more engaged with it, sharing the same values and aspirations for helping the world, one step at a time.

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5) Security

VISA and other relevant companies focus on the emotional appeal of security to promote their presence, as this is their main advantage in their industry. Consumers expect them to provide them the best level of security and trust and it has to be offered in every moment in their lives.

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6) Excitement

GoPro has become popular for its appeal to emotions, mostly focusing on excitement, adventure, and freedom. Its content is all about action and its audience is either fuelled with adrenaline, or wants to feel closer to a more adventurous way of living.

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7) Storytelling

Paypal uses storytelling as another form of branding, hoping to show its human side with the right stories, like the one below, which comes directly from Paypal’s team and makes more women feel close to the company and share its values.

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8) Brand affinity

Starbucks has mastered the use of appealing content with brand association and it has now reached a level that a simple photo of its Pumpkin Spice Latte is enough to welcome September, with no further explanation.

This post led to more than 23k likes, 2.2k shares, and 3.2k comments, proving that its audience is now engaged enough with the brand to be aware of the post’s concept and how they should be excited about it.

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9) Community

Coca Cola focuses on its wide community to promote its authenticity and its human side, and its campaign #ShareaCoke led to an impressive success, due to the inclusion of its fans in a fun and engaging way.

This is a quick way for a brand to find more content, but most importantly, it can be a great way to promote its values and its aspirations directly through the community. This creates a stronger bond that may facilitate the customer journey when needed.

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This is an adapted version of an article originally published on our sister site ClickZ: how emotional connection increases customer satisfaction.

Coalition for Better Ads to make digital ads great again

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A new organization, The Coalition for Better Ads, has been launched to “leverage consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising that address consumer expectations.”

Supported by founding members like Google, Facebook, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, GroupM and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the new organization represents the latest effort of players in the online advertising industry to cope with soaring ad blocker usage.

According to Randall Rothenberg, the president and CEO of the IAB:

Advertising funds the diversity of information, entertainment, and services on the free Internet, but that doesn’t give business a license to abuse the good will of consumers. It is essential that industry create standards to assure that consumers get safe, fast, secure delivery of the sites and services they love.

The IAB has already launched an initiative, LEAN, that aims to promote digital ads that light, encrypted, ad choice supported, and non-invasive, and a set of DEAL recommendations that publishers can follow to address ad blocking.

The Coalition for Better Ads looks to bring together a broader consortium of ad industry players to identify new standards that can improve the digital ad experience, implement the technologies needed for these standards, and promote the standards so that they’re put into use.

The Coalition will work with the IAB’s Tech Lab, which is already involved in implementing technical standards for the online ad industry, so it appears possible that some of the early work of The Coalition for Better Ads will build off of the IAB’s existing work, such as the LEAN initiative, which includes plans for ad scoring technology that can be used to determine whether ads meet the target user experience standards.

Is the industry too late?

While research shows that most consumers are not opposed to online advertising on principle, the continued growth of ad blockers reflects the fact that large numbers of consumers are simply fed up with the bad apples and would rather block all ads by default.

Absent broad change that can protect consumers from the bad apples, it seems unlikely that ad blockers are going away. And now that one of the most popular ad blockers is getting into the ad business with the launch of an RTB platform, the situation is becoming more complex, which could make it more difficult for organizations like the IAB and The Coalition for Better Ads to effect broad change.

The good news is that the industry isn’t helpless. Consumers are willing to disable their ad blockers when asked under the right circumstances, so while they wait for the industry-wide solutions The Coalition for Better Ads aims to deliver, publishers can fight back by producing high-value content and taking responsibility for the ads that they serve.

Yelp vs. Google vs. Facebook Reviews: which should you focus on and why?

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If you are handling the marketing for a small business, it can be a challenge to decide where review efforts should be spent.

We all know that reviews help SEO in a very real way, and why wouldn’t they?

Customers love to see reviews when they are going to select a new business for the first time. In fact, 83% of buyers claim that they no longer trust advertising, but most trust recommendations from users online (according to Local Vox citing Formstack).

Further, according to Search Engine Land, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people.

The problem is, there are a lot of review sites out there, and most of them are not set up to have reviews appear on one another.

Yelp, Google, and (increasingly) Facebook, are all platforms that present customer reviews, and this presents a unique challenge. Do you ask for reviews on all three sites? Segment the kind of customers you ask for reviews on each? Disregard a platform all together?

The answer is not an easy one. Larger businesses tend to have such a large customer base that reviews on all three sites (and others) just happen and increase over time, but when you are a small business, you want to collect reviews and have an effective online presence.

Let’s look first at the breakdown of each of these platforms, and then discuss differences and information that can help you to make a good decision on where to focus your marketing efforts.

Yelp Reviews

Let’s start with the toughest of the three sites (at least in my personal opinion). Yelp actively discourages its business users from asking for reviews. According to an article by Practical Ecommerce, Yelp was quoted as saying:

“Let’s face it, most business owners are only going to ask for reviews from their happy customers, not the unhappy ones. Over time, these self-selected reviews create bias in the business listing – a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away.”

Further, if you’ve ever experienced this, you will know that Yelp does not post all of the reviews you get (say what?).

It’s true; they do not post all of your reviews, and for businesses that have a limited number of clients, this can be a real bummer. They have an algorithm that determines which reviews appear and in which order. T

his mostly depends on the user – it favors users that have given a lot of reviews, have photos, and have Yelp “friends.”

For example, if one of your clients goes on to give a review and the have just created a profile to do so, with no picture or information on their account, you can bet that Yelp is going to prohibit that from being posted.

Additionally, if you were to send a mass email out to former clients and ask them for a yelp review, and then a ton of people went on to write a review within the same week, you can guarantee that not all of the reviews will be posted.

Basically, according to Yelp, you should not be “asking” your clients for reviews. This can be pretty challenging for small businesses that are trying to legitimately build up their SEO and online presence. However, there are still some ways that you can get customers to review without “asking” them per say.

  • Add a Yelp button to your website, which will prompt returning customers to review
  • Let customers know you are on Yelp by posting something in your storefront
  • Add the Yelp Review button to your email signature

Clearly, Yelp’s definition of reviews presents a challenge, but for good reason. People see Yelp primarily as a review site. Yelp holds that they only want worthy and quality reviews and that customers can sense when reviews have been forced or plagiarized.

That being said, it can be difficult to build-up reviews, but Google still takes Yelp reviews into account in search rankings. Number of reviews, rating, and comments can make a difference in your SEO.

Google Reviews

Someone can write you a Google review as soon as they type your company name in on the search engine (score)! You can also easily send people a link to your Google review page, by clicking on “write a review” yourself and copy/pasting the link into the body of an email.

We have spent a lot of time talking about challenges with Yelp reviews and their algorithm, and I don’t at all want to claim that Google will tolerate fake reviews (they won’t), but they don’t seem to have quite the stipulations that Yelp has as far as who makes the cut.

In fact, they have an even better engine for predicting “fake” reviews than Yelp. This saves small business a lot of frustration, since their customers put a lot of time and effort into writing reviews—and it is helpful for the business to keep any one they can.

google-reviews

It has been predicted that Google reviews will eventually overtake Yelp reviews. They are actually fairly new to the review game, only launching Google Local Search in 2012, while Yelp has been around since 2004.

Since Google has become king for online presence, it makes sense that they have enhanced their review features over the years, as well as integrated reviews from other sites (such as Groupon, Facebook, etc) into their review presentation.

In the case of restaurants and other industry-specific businesses, critic reviews can also be included (see screenshot below).

Plus, with Google reviews being directly linked to the search engine, it makes sense that reviews, or lack their of, will factor into rankings, particularly when talking about local SEO.

google-local-knowledge-box

Lastly, Google doesn’t have a problem with you asking your customers for reviews. You can also respond to the negative reviews you get, which accommodates or at least supplements you being able to stand up for your brand’s image in a very straightforward way.

Facebook Reviews

According to the Vocus study referenced above, 68% of consumers go to social networking sites to read product reviews.

Facebook is a very easy site for people that follow you to write a review and make their opinions known. What’s more, those who are following you are likely to write quality reviews as well.

As I mentioned above, Facebook reviews are also incorporated into the Google platform, so with Facebook reviews, you really are getting two for the time and investment in one, so-to-speak. Facebook is really a platform for brand awareness, pre/pos-purchase exploration, and branding support.

The cool thing about Facebook is that people actually prefer to leave reviews on Facebook, since they are on the platform frequently. In a survey by Review Trackers, it actually beat both Yelp and Google in user preference.

Below is a screenshot of what the new Facebook reviews look like:

facebook-reviews

For even more places your business can earn meaningful online reviews, check out this article from Search Engine Watch.

Verdict: which platform to focus on?

This answer is a little complex. After reading through this post, you probably see the value in all three sites, and yes, all three sites do impact SEO and ultimately make a difference in your online presence.

As I mentioned in the beginning, larger companies have no issue getting reviews on all three but if you are a small business trying to make some tough decisions, my recommendation is to start with Facebook. It will be easy to address your following and ultimately, those reviews will be going to Google as well. Yelp should be your last option, but a great one to keep in mind as you grow.

Which review sites does your business focus on? Do you have any advice for success? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comment section below.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for HigherVisibility, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Guide to Google ranking signals – Part 3: quality content

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Last week we published the second instalment of our complete guide to Google ranking signals.

It concentrated on keyword relevancy, frequency and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

This week we continue diving into on-page factors, with content. Or to be more exact, the quality of your content.

Quality content

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘quality content’ bandied around a lot over the last couple of years, especially in the context of ‘Google loves quality content’. But what does this nebulous term really mean? How can a machine learning algorithm determine whether an article is ‘good’ or not.

Well it will never judge for personal taste of course, but there are some technical things you can do to make sure your content is deemed worthy, not just to anonymous digital spider crawlers but also real human readers too.

1) I’ve pretty much already stated the number one most important element when it comes to creating content that ranks highly – write for human readers, not search engines.

Increasingly Google is moving away from giving keywords top priority when it comes to ranking signals and is instead giving preference to the user experience.

How do you achieve this?

2) Don’t overstuff your page with keywords and phrases, while shoe-horning in as many variations as possible. Instead write something a reader can genuinely engage with and enjoy or learn from.

This is what will keep a visitor on your page, navigate further around your site and ultimately share your very well written content.

3) Grammar and spelling: an obvious one sure, but it’s vital to double-check spelling and grammar with a thorough spell-check AND proof-read from a fresh pair of eyes. Google will probably spot multiple glaring mistakes, but more importantly if you’re making multiple typos then visitors will trust your content less.

Readability

4) It’s worth checking your content against the Flesch reading ease test. This will give your content a score based on how well it can be understood by readers.

Although this hasn’t been explicitly stated by Google as a ranking signal, Yoast uses the test in its WordPress SEO tool and it’s certainly something to consider when you’re trying to improve readability.

You probably want to be aiming for a readability score above 60%.

Yoast also offers a number of other recommendations to improve the readability of your text, these include:

5) Keep your sentences short. Make sure that no more than 25% of your sentences contain more than 20 words.

6) Keep your paragraphs short. Make sure each paragraph doesn’t exceed the recommended maximum of 150 words.

It’s worth double-checking that any lengthy paragraphs are covering only one particular topic.

7) Use an active voice. Only 10% of your sentences should be written in a passive tense.

8) If using subheadings, make sure the number of words following each of the subheadings doesn’t exceed the recommended maximum of 300 words.

9) Try to make sure that roughly 50% of your sentences contain a transition word.

transition words

Formating

10) White space: when writing for the internet, break up your paragraphs as often as possible. Lots of white space makes reading text on mobile phones a heck of a lot easier (more than half of most websites’ traffic comes from mobile), and clearly formatted articles are used as a Google ranking signal.

11) Opening paragraph: this shouldn’t be longer than one or two sentences. Make sure the thing you’re writing about is mentioned in the first sentence (i.e. your focus keyword or phrase). I like to bold the first paragraph to make it distinct.

12) Subheadings: use plenty of subheadings to break up the text. Follow a logical order of h2 and h3 tags.

h2 and h3 tags

13) Bullet points and numbered lists: these help break up the text and makes a page more readable. Remember: nobody ever skips bullet-points.

Length

14) It’s perhaps time to ditch the long-held notion that the minimum word count should be 300 words per post.

The latest research from Searchmetrics on ranking factors indicates that Google is moving further towards longer-form content that understands a visitor’s intention as a whole. Short posts naturally won’t be going into anything in great detail, so length is an obvious signal.

According to Searchmetrics, the average text length of the top 30 pages increased by 25% since 2014. Posts in the top 10 exceeded a word count of 1,285.

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Next week, we’ll take a look at content freshness, duplicate content and syndication best practice.

Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

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Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we have news from the depths of the irony-well, a few Google product updates and the social network everyone forgot about adds some pretty good ecommerce functions.

Adblock Plus launches its own ad service

Oh the irony of ironies. Well maybe it’s not ironic, maybe it’s just hilariously predictable. Adblock Plus is getting into the ad business with launch of its own RTB platform.

Yes apparently there are ads that should be allowed, you know, the ‘good kind’ – and they’re the ones provided by Adblock Plus itself

As Al Roberts reported this week, the launch of this new marketplace will allow publishers and advertisers to buy and sell ads that are not subject to ad blocking.

That initiative gives publishers and advertisers the ability to, for a fee, work with Adblock Plus to whitelist ads that meet certain criteria.

Insert Gif of Shia Labeouf furiously clapping.

Google announces Universal App Campaigns and YouTube ‘TrueView for Action’

At DMEXCO this week, Google announced two new mobile-first product innovations.

The first is a new update giving advertisers around the globe the ability to do event-based optimization in Universal App Campaigns.

This works by evaluating signals in real time to continuously refine ads so a brand can reach its most valuable users at the right price. As people start to engage with ads, Google learns where you can find the highest value users and serve ads to them in the most relevant channels.

The second announcement is a new TrueView campaign that allows brand advertisers to make their video ads more actionable with tailored to calls-to-action during and after the video, like “Get a quote,” “Book now” or “Sign up.”

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Ello enters the ecommerce world

As Rebecca Sentence reported in ClickZ this week, the new kid on the social block Ello has launched ‘Buy’ and ‘Hire Me’ buttons.

“We’ve always intended to move into native ecommerce and offer unique Creator buying and selling experiences,” says Todd Berger, who is Ello’s co-founder and CEO. “The effort to move into native ecomm is a big one, so we’re taking our time and evolving Ello in accordance with where we think the most value is for our Creator members and their audiences.”

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As Rebecca goes on to state, “Ello might be smart in going about this in a way that larger social networks have so far eschewed: by mobilising its creative user base and playing to their unique talents; by marketing with them, rather than to them.”

Google extends deadlines for expanded text ads

In July this year, Google introduced expanded text ads (which are 50% larger than standard ads) to all advertisers.

However not everyone has quite grasped this new feature.

According to Matt Southern at SEJ, there was an initial deadline of October 26 where standard text ads could no longer be used.

However in an effort to get everyone up to speed, Google is extending the deadline to January 31, 2017.

After this date you will no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads. Sorry.

I felt like I should apologise on behalf of Google there. Gosh, I’m so British.

Google AdWords now allows one email for multiple accounts

Save yourself a load of time having to log out of one account and log back in with another, thanks to Google now allowing you to use one email address to log into multiple AdWords accounts.

You can now connect up to five AdWords accounts to one email. Google has even binned the need for email verification when you add a new user to the account, so they can start accessing it straight away.

What are you going to do with all your free minutes? Invent an adblocker to block out Adblock Plus ads? Alright, good luck to you!

Google’s latest desktop SERP experiment: a whiter, more spacious background

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Google has begun experimenting with a cleaner, whiter, brighter user interface.

As reported by Barry Schwartz over at SER today, this new layout test appears to offer a more spacious, desktop experience.

Here’s the tweet that revealed the possible change…

#Google Rolling New SERP Layout | Change in Search Bar | Space b/w Results @rustybrick @AbhaySaxena87 pic.twitter.com/CHsIu0GcFj

— AbhisheK Kasaudhan (@abhikasaudhan) September 16, 2016

As you can see the top bar is less grey and larger, covering the tabs below the search box now,and the search button has been changed from a blue button to a white button with a blue magnifying glass.

Here’s Barry Schwartz’s screengrab of the normal SERP layout for comparison…

Hang on, let’s see the test page again…

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The button change is obvious, but I will admit to spending quite a lot of time flipping between both images to check whether the test really is ‘whiter’ than the standard view. It is.

This follows on from Google’s previous recent experiments with its desktop SERP layout, where it offered a mobile-style card view and an increase in the spacing between results.

It’s clear that big changes may be coming to the SERPs as we know them, although of course these things take time and various iterations – who knows what the SERP will look like this time next year.

One thing you can be certain of though, based on these latest tests, the layout will be more spacious, clearly-defined and user-friendly. However with space comes the further pushing down the page of organic results.

How mobile is transforming the restaurant order and delivery business

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To date the leaders of restaurant takeaway and delivery have prospered, largely, on an open approach, that allows customers to choose between mobile web and apps.

But a new breed led by UberEats and Amazon Prime won’t allow mobile web access, as they attempt to drive people download their native apps.

Whether consumers want to find/order a meal to eat in, takeaway or have delivered, increasingly the tool of choice is the mobile phone. But many restaurant businesses – with a few notable exceptions – have been slow to capitalize on this shift, which has allowed third-parties to gain a foothold in the market.

This is happening in many major cities worldwide, but let’s concentrate on London, where Amazon, as of September 2016, is the latest to join to join a scrum of companies, including Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats, offering delivery services to hungry consumers from a portfolio of London restaurants (who foot the bill).

In the first of two parts, this column will consider:

  • The importance of mobile in the takeaway market.
  • Multiplatform offerings from the takeaway leaders.
  • Mobile web as a driver for app adoption.
  • The app only approach from the newbies.

The subsequent column will discuss:

  • The pros and cons of restaurants using third-parties to deliver their takeaways.
  • The importance of restaurants taking a holistic approach to mobile i.e. offering table reservations, order ahead, pick up as well delivery.
  • Lessons to be learned from the mobile web presence of market leaders.

How big is the mobile takeaway market?

11 million (over 17% of the UK’s total digital population) visited one of the top three food delivery sites via a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) or PC, during March 2016, according to consumer research by ComScore.

  • Just Eat Group (platform) has 6 million unique monthly visitors in total in the UK, 73% or 4.5 million are mobile only.
  • Domino’s Pizza Group (Chain) has nearly 3 million monthly users, 70% are mobile only.
  • Hungryhouse (platform boasting 10,000 UK restaurants) has almost 2 million unique visitors, 80% are mobile only.
  • Number 4 and 5 in the UK were Deliveroo (delivery service) and Papa John’s (Pizza Chain). ComScore didn’t estimate monthly users for these.

Takeaways from ComScore’s research:

This proves how important mobile is in the restaurant business. It doesn’t matter if consumers are buying direct from Domino’s or Papa John’s or via an intermediary such as Just Eat, Hungryhouse or Deliveroo, mobile is the channel of choice.

This isn’t multichannel, 70-80% (depending on the vendor) of digital purchasers only use mobile to order.

It’s no coincidence that the two independents in the top five are Pizza restaurants. Pizza travels well. These businesses are built for delivery, they spotted the digital, then mobile, opportunity years ago and have transitioned with remarkable success.

Domino’s Pizza Group, the UK franchise of the international chain, has excelled in this regard. According to 1H 2016 results, ecommerce represents 81% of delivered sales in the UK and more than 62% of online sales are mobile. The recent introduction of a mobile responsive website led to a 62% increase in conversion.

The takeaway delivery intermediary

Takeaway ordering and delivery services fall into two categories:

1. Platform only

These companies have a searchable database of local restaurants with menus and reviews, they process the orders then pass them on, perhaps via a proprietary terminal, to the restaurant which cooks then delivers the meal themselves (with their own drivers), or holds it for collection by the customer.

The largest of these is Just Eat. According to company stats, in the first half of 2016, it processed 42 million orders – 78% of which are placed by mobile – for collection or delivery takeaway meals with 30,000 UK restaurants. Just Eat does not have its own fleet of delivery riders – but sources in restaurant business believe this is part of future plans.

Hungryhouse offers a similar service with 10,000 UK restaurants.

2. Order and deliver

These newer entrants do a lot of the above (but rarely offer collection), and also run their own delivery service. Delivery is often by self-employed couriers. In the UK these include Deliveroo, believed to be the leader, UberEats and now Amazon.

It’s unclear how many restaurants Deliveroo serves, but Uber and Amazon have about 150 each.

The Uber and Amazon is currently only operate in central London, offering approximately 150 restaurants each. Deliveroo is much more widely available, both in London and other larger UK cities. The number of restaurant partners is unclear, but there is an impressive list here.

Who pays?

All intermediaries charge restaurants a commission. But only Just Eat publishes (see H1 2016 results) its fees, which are currently 13%.

Other services keep fees a secret. Sources in the restaurant trade suggest the standard charge for Deliveroo is 20%-25% and UberEats around 25%. Competition to sign up bigger name restaurants, particularly with exclusive deals, means there is room for up-market/larger restaurants to negotiate deals.

With Just Eat and Hungryhouse delivery charges are set by the restaurant. Deliveroo charges customers £2.50 per delivery; UberEats is free delivery (currently); Amazon is “free”, but requires a paid membership.

We will look at the pros and cons of restaurants using takeaway intermediaries more closely in the next column.

Mobile strategies of the takeaway leaders

Multiplatform – web, mobile web and app.

Four of five vendors highlighted by ComScore have industry-leading responsive sites (Hungryhouse uses adaptive websites) as well as native apps.

A single glance at the web home screen, when viewed on a mobile device, of each shows they know exactly what their audience wants: to order food from a restaurant near them right now.

It’s clear all these companies are working really hard on perfecting their mobile presence. We will study them more closely in the next column.

It’s clever how they use contextual relevance, anticipation of intention and subtle personalization to optimize user experience and drive conversion. It’s a level of sophistication that puts many companies’ native apps to shame.

As you can see from the screenshots above, it is still common for mobile sites to encourage people to download a native app, certainly on the first few visits. But most have learned not to do this is not expense of mobile web sales, which can be substantial – particularly in the takeaway business.

According to the 1H 2016 results, 32% of total UK orders for market leader Just Eat are placed on the mobile web. That works out at 13.5 million orders. This is less than mobile app orders (46% of total), but it would be lunacy to jeopardize such a large proportion of your business… wouldn’t it?

Wot no mobile web?

UberEats, which launched in London in June 2016, has taken the opposite approach to the market leaders. It has taken the audacious decision to block – there is no other word to describe it – customers from making web purchases via mobile devices.

Visitors to ubereats.com/london on a PC are served an ecommerce site; visitors to the same URL on a smartphones or tablet are served a page that is no more than a promotion for the native app (it doesn’t even distinguish between iOS or Android devices).

The image below shows the web experience on PC, a tablet (Android) and smartphone (iOS), the latter two were rendered via Mobilizer. All the smartphones and tablets used by Mobilizer delivered the same results. The results were the same for US locations.

Uber confirms it is intentional that UberEats is only available via the native app.

dna30_uber_adaptive_sm

Uber appears to be using adaptive web design with device detection to stop people using their service via the mobile web rather than downloading the app. What ever happened to customer choice?

It will be interesting to watch if UberEats can succeed, or will continue indefinitely, with an app-only mobile strategy. It’s difficult to ascertain how well it is doing as the number of UberEats customers is a secret.

Cars v takeaways

Clearly, Uber Ride, which is app-only (in fact there is still no web-based service at all) was a massive success story. But that was different.

Back in 2011 (in the car ride business):

  • Uber was the innovator facing none or very little competition from other digital rideshare or taxi apps.
  • Uber rides were a lot cheaper, quicker and more convenient than hailing or calling a cab.
  • The gap between native apps and mobile web in terms of UX and functionality was much wider than today.
  • Launching an app and persuading people download it was considerably easier and cheaper.

In 2016 (in the restaurant business)

  • UberEats is a new entrant trying to break into a well-established and competitive digital market.
  • UberEats is a different app to Uber Rides (but it has a captive audience to target with ads).
  • There is no cost saving on restaurant meals, but free deliveries is likely to be a selling point.
  • Arguably native apps still have some technical/UX advantages over mobile web/web apps, but for the requirements of most mobile services this is rapidly becoming negligible.
  • The top players have many years head-start (10 years in Just Eat’s case) building their web and app business.
  • Selecting/purchasing a meal is a more involved process than ordering a car. It will be a challenge to stop consumers using mobile web for research and comparison.
  • The competitors have strong web presence – with huge and well-trafficked sites. A tiny brochure site with no reason for people to visit will struggle to compete for web search visibility (see below).
  • Substituting lack of mobile web presence, with paid search ads, could be a costly user acquisition strategy.

Web presence

The market leaders in the UK have a strong web presence which helps drive business and/or traffic to their apps.

The following graph was provided by Juan Gonzalez, Sistrix.

Sistrix calculates how visible a domain is in Google search results. With a web visibility index score in the UK of 15,420 (17,060 on smartphone) it would appear that just-eat.co.uk is a long way ahead of deliveroo.co.uk with 1,880 (1,910 on smartphone). Currently, the ubereats.com web presence appears very low at 0,023 (0,015 on smartphone).

dna30_web_presence_takeaway

Without the same mobile web presence UberEats has to rely on mobile advertising to drive downloads of the UberEats app and those who have downloaded to use it.

UberEats appears to be investing more heavily in mobile search ads (perhaps to counter its lack of web presence), than competitors, as it attempts to drive downloads of the new app. Research by Sistrix found that UberEats is purchasing search ads based on four times as many keyword combinations as either Just Eat or Deliveroo.

Wot no web presence at all?

Amazon has taken this one big step further. When it launched its restaurant delivery in September 2016, the service was only available to users of its Prime Now mobile app.

According to Amazon this service won’t be available via the mobile or desktop web, at all.

The service is also only available to subscribers to Amazon Prime (UK cost: £79 per year, £7.99 per month; US cost: $99 per year $10.99 per month).

Amazon has a big head start over Uber: its restaurant takeaway service is an extension of Prime Now, which has existing members, and various services e.g. grocery delivery – though the company refuses to say how many customers.

UberEats, as mentioned, is a separate venture to Uber Rides.

Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see Amazon a company that was built on web commerce, building a service that is exclusively available to users of its native mobile app.

The big question is: are the offering of UberEats and Amazon Prime Now services good enough to persuade people to download (and subscribe in Amazon’s case), when so many competing direct and indirect services are offering food delivery just one click away from a mobile search.

Just when you thought we’d put the mobile web v native app debate to bed forever, the whole thing became a lot more interesting.

Read the reports:

  • DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning
  • DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design

+++++++++++

This is Part 30 of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

Here are the recent ones:

  • Which is the king of mobile: China or US? Where is the biggest opportunity?
  • Mobile menu UI: bold buttons and intuitive types of navigation
  • Should the hamburger icon be on your mobile menu?
  • M-commerce: has the mobile web finally won?
  • Why do big US companies take mobile less seriously than Chinese companies?

Three small businesses rocking local social media marketing

red mango facebook

Local businesses may not have the same resources, budgets or social tools available to international retailers, yet somehow some of them manage to impress us with their awesome social media campaigns.

Here are some recent examples of local and small business campaigns that are rocking social media marketing…

Red Mango

If you like frozen yogurt and smoothies, chances are you have been to a Red Mango store for their all natural yogurt and juices. Apart from their delish yogurts, Red Mango is also well-known for their social media presence.

They have over 76.4k followers on Facebook and 58.9k followers on Twitter and highly engaged followers at that! Now let’s look at some of their posts to see what they are doing right.

1) Subtle product promotion

Social media provides a great platform for brand and product awareness. However, in their bid to appear funny, witty, or human, most companies lose focus of this purpose.

If you are spending your time and resources on building a social media presence, you need to utilize it in a way that it affects your bottom-line.

We often see Tesco’s funny tweets being shared on social media. However, it is their product knowledge posts that win them their bread and butter. Red Mango is straddling the line between social and branding quite competently with their subtle product promotion posts.

2) Customer engagement

Nothing works more effectively than a visual testament to your brand’s popularity. Red Mango utilizes these opportunities quite effectively by reposting their customers’ pictures and posts from various social media platforms.

However, you need a powerful social listening tool to be able to do this. If you have many fans who vociferously show their love for your brand/products, you must invest in a social listening tool.

3) Newsjacking

Whether it’s Trump vs Hillary debate or a90 movie release, newsjacking provides a great way to use trending hashtags. Even if you have planned your social media calendar in advance, make room for newsjacking as it will lead to greater visibility and affinity.

red mango dark side

Takeaway

Red Mango social media is a work of art with striking visuals and clever marketing. However, these three points really stood out when we were going through their social media accounts. You can begin by incorporating these points in your social media campaign if you haven’t already.

Ministry of Villas

Ministry of Villas is a Singapore-based travel agency run by a couple who is constantly on a run to find the best premium villas in Asia.

Ministry of Villas co-founder and CEO Alastair Loxton was recently interviewed by CNBC, which shows they are making the right kind of noise. Here are a few things you’ll love about their campaign.

1) About us section

They have a featured about us video titled Our Story. In this 2-minute video, they talk about the important bits about their business. The stunning visuals of the villas they have on offer, make their about section really great!

2) Transparent and honest

Not only do they mention the prices of most villas, so that you don’t have to visit their website to check out whether it fits in your budget or not, but also they are pretty honest about the villas.

For instance, they are pretty forthright about the nearby construction work in the following post. With that kind of honesty, you know you won’t have a holiday in hell when you book with Ministry of Villas.

minisry of villas fb

3) Informative posts

I wouldn’t imagine myself stepping out of those exquisite luxury villas, but many would. So they share informative posts and tips that relate to travel. If you are maintaining a website and a blog, don’t forget to share all your posts on social media.

twitter ministry of villas

Takeaway

Ministry of Villas is no Airbnb but their social media campaigns and rising popularity have certainly gotten a specific section (affluent but not absurdly affluent class) of the society talking. Their campaign is a textbook example of how to play it safe on social media.

Cutting Edge Haunted House

Cutting Edge is the largest haunted house in the world and is loved by everyone for all the right reasons. With over 5k positive reviews, 160k Facebook fans and 19.3k Twitter followers, the people at Texas-based Cutting Edge Haunted House know exactly how to give goosebumps to their social media fans.

1) Post behind-the-scenes photos

They post a lot of pictures from the event, giving you a glimpse of the scary things happening at their haunted house. They also have a few videos that show what happens in the scary house and behind the scenes. If you haven’t been to this amazing place, the video can lure you to the lair by itself.

2) Inject a dose of relevant humor

It is great to be funny and witty on social media but sometimes some jokes can go awry as found by many an unlucky brand. It is important that the humor is relevant to your business. If you thought Cutting Edge campaign would be gory and scary, think again. Their campaign contains a healthy dose of funny posts.

cutting edge facebook

3) Timely updates about upcoming events

If you are not using social media to spread awareness about your upcoming events, you are missing out on a great opportunity to bring visitors to your event. Apart from advertising and local PR, it is important to keep building excitement about your event with the help of timely tweets.

cutting edge tweet

Takeaway

Every local business should learn how to pepper social media posts with humor, wit, and subtle self-promotion like the Cutting Edge. Don’t restrict yourself to a singular tone that suits your business. Bakeries can talk about unicorns and rainbows and local opticians can talk about food.

This article was originally published on our sister website ClickZ.

Harsh Agrawal, a blog scientist, CEO of ShoutDreams Media and contributor to ClickZ. You can read his blog here: Shout Me Loud.

Adblock Plus gets into the ad business with launch of RTB platform

adblock-plus

Adblock Plus, one of the most popular ad blocking add-ons for browsers, is getting into the ad business with the launch of a new marketplace that allows publishers and advertisers to buy and sell ads that are not subject to ad blocking.

The marketplace is an extension of Adblock Plus’ Acceptable Ads initiative, which was launched in 2011.

That initiative gives publishers and advertisers the ability to, for a fee, work with Adblock Plus to whitelist ads that meet certain criteria.

Among other things, Acceptable Ads must be clearly distinguishable as advertising, can’t disrupt a user’s natural reading flow and must not exceed certain sizes or contain animation.

Because of the investment required, both in terms of time and cost, Acceptable Ads adoption has reportedly been mixed. Some publishers also object to the Acceptable Ads concept on principle, seeing it as a “protection racket.”

With the Acceptable Ads Platform, which Adblock Plus developed in partnership with ComboTag, Adblock Plus claims that it “will redefine RTB and help small websites” by “[cutting] the whitelisting process from weeks to seconds.”

According to Adblock Plus’ Ben Williams, the platform works by allowing publishers to select from a pre-whitelisted ad units that they can add to their sites using a single line of code. These ads units are displayed to users who are using Adblock Plus; the publisher’s regular ad units will continue to be displayed to users who aren’t.

A differentiating feature of the Acceptable Ads Platform is a feedback mechanism that allows users to rate ads. Williams explained:

The AAP [Acceptable Ads Platform] will offer a feedback mechanism embedded in each ad, which will let you say whether you thought that particular ad was great, good, bad or complete shit. This feedback will then figure into which ads get selected on a live auction.

This feedback mechanism, in turn, sets the stage for the second AAP benefit, making the real-time bidding process (RTB) better by making it more human RTB is the process by which ad inventory is bought and sold in real time on ad exchanges. It literally takes milliseconds for winners to be crowned on an auction, then appear on your page; which ads appear to you in particular is normally based upon a number of criteria, many of which are based upon tracking.

Will publishers and advertisers bite?

Williams believes the Acceptable Ads Platform “will turn [the RTB] model on its head, because instead of basing the auction winners on algorithms trying to figure out where you live, whether you like cool ranch or nacho cheese or where you just went on vacation, our system pick winners based on real feedback from real human beings, like you.”

But it’s not clear that the platform offers a proposition that will win over publishers and advertisers.

While some publishers might be increasingly willing to address the ad blocking phenomenon more pragmatically, it’s likely that “protection racket” concerns will persist, making some hesitant to participate in the marketplace.

Indeed, IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson calls it a cynical move:

“Adblock Plus, who spent years as the consumer champion squashing adverts – now sell ads!

We see the cynical move from Adblock Plus as a new string in their racket. Now they’re saying to publishers “we took away some of your customers who didn’t want ads, and now we are selling them back to you on commission.The fact is, in the UK ad blocking has stalled. It’s been stuck at 21% throughout 2016 because the premium publishers who own great content, and provide a good ad experience, hold all the cards. More and more of them are offering ad blocking consumers a clear choice: turn off your ad blocking software or no access to our content. And their strategy is working, with 25% to 40% turning off their blockers.

So with their original business model running out of steam, Adblock Plus have gone full circle to get into the ad sales business.”

While advertisers might be interested in the possibility of participating in an ecosystem that gives them the ability to reach consumers who are using ad blockers, the Acceptable Ads Platform’s use of human feedback instead of traditional targeting means that it apparently doesn’t offer the benefit that has attracted so many advertisers to real-time bidding: the ability to buy audiences across the web at scale.

Seven influencer marketing strategies that work

khloe_instagram_brand_plug

As influencer marketing grows in popularity, we’re also seeing it become increasingly commoditized.

We’re seeing marketplaces auctioning off influencers with the largest following to the highest bidder. And networks “matching” brands with any influencer they have available.

This commoditization eliminates the human matchmaking element. Taking away the smart brand match detracts from the meaningful engagement that influencer marketing can create.

This over-emphasis on making influencer marketing a ‘scalable’ tactic is resulting in spammy posts. Like the examples we’ve seen from Scott Disick…

You can avoid these pitfalls and find authentic success with your influencer marketing efforts by following some simple strategies.

1) Do it for the right reasons

The first step is to make sure that you’re entering the influencer marketing world for the right reasons.

Too many brands jump into influencer marketing because of the trend’s popularity. Influencer marketing’s purpose should be authentic storytelling. Trying to force an influencer program to support metrics like direct sales or app downloads will produce spammy content and leave you dissatisfied.

If you’re considering working with influencers, focus on how they can tell your brand’s story in a meaningful way.

2) Define the correct influencer personas

The first and most important step to any campaign is determining the ideal influencer personas. This means defining who is the right type of person to represent your brand. Finding the right influencer persona means that you can target the correct audience.

The influencer campaign supporting SpaghettiO’s 50th Anniversary and Star Wars themed cans are both great examples of strong persona development.

spaghettios instagram

SpaghettiOs knew that their product was a childhood favorite and a top choice for busy moms everywhere, so they chose moms and dads on Instagram who posted frequently with their families to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this beloved childhood snack.

Additionally, they used influencers who loved Sci-Fi, comic books, and video games to help promote the launch of their special edition Star Wars cans. The resulting content perfectly captures the fun spirit of the brand and put the brand in front of the most relevant audiences.

3) Consider micro-influencers

When you’re evaluating what type of influencer is right for your program, don’t overlook micro-influencers.

Too often, brands become hyper-focused on an influencer’s following. However, the audience size of these individuals is of secondary importance to the authenticity of the match they provide for your program.

Research finds that “while the influencers with a large following are useful, greater loyalty is found with the mid-grade influencers who have a smaller network of followers, allowing for relationship building.”

Think of it this way: while you may follow a celebrity because you admire their lifestyle, you know that cannot realistically achieve that lifestyle. But, if you follow a mommy-grammer in another city, you could very well mimic her DIY lamp, arrange your furniture the way that she does, or serve your kids the same brand of juice she recommends.

In many ways her recommendation is more valuable than the celebrity’s.

4) Know how to recruit influencers

Regardless of the size or type of influencers that you’re trying to pull, you need to know how to properly recruit them into your program. Influencers field many brand pitches per day, so what should make them interested in yours?

When reaching out to the influencer to recruit them onto your program, personalize the communication showing familiarity of their work. Approach them with the same enthusiasm as two friends doing business together. Being interested in their content and what they can create for your campaign will benefit you throughout the program.

Consider utilizing a partner for this recruitment because maintaining these types of personal relationships isn’t easy. By trusting a partner who has already established these relationships, you can expedite the recruiting process and set yourself up with a better response rate.

Influencers like Nathan Ochoa say that they like to work through influencer marketing partners because it provides, “a platform where creators and brands can come together on an equal playing field without one or the other being taken advantage of.”

Influencer marketing partners can represent both sides of the equation—like a realtor representing the buying and selling parties for a property. A third party partner can mediate expectations and make sure that everyone has a fruitful partnership.

The creator is able to gain the creative control they want, and the brand can get access to that audience while ensuring that the program is built on an authentic match.

5) Trust the influencer to tell your story

Influencer marketing is effective because of the influencer’s ability to communicate your brand message to their audience. But that effective messaging requires education. There are two things that brand marketers must do to empower creators to produce the best content possible.

  • Step one is establishing content guidelines for the influencer. This means providing brand education so they know how to talk about your brand properly and dictating clear, reasonable content expectations with creative guidance.
  • Step two is letting go of the reigns and giving them creative liberty. These individuals have built their audiences by posting in their particular styles. They know what content will resonate with their audiences and how to best interact with them. If you have done your job well when setting up a brand match, then you should trust their ability to interpret your brand’s message.

6) Use proper disclosure

It is absolutely vital to educate your influencers on how you would like them to disclose their partnership with your brand. There have been plenty of stories lately regarding the FTC cracking down on influencers and brands who aren’t following these rules. Don’t put yourself on the hit list.

Many brands, either out of ignorance or arrogance, neglect to include the proper disclosures required by the FTC in their influencer marketing posts. But the FTC has very clear rules to follow. The main question to ask yourself is “is it very clear that the influencer is being paid for this post?”

The FTC has recently announced that they’ll be taking these issues more seriously, we suggest you do too.

7) Cultivate a relationship

It can be difficult to cultivate meaningful relationships in any space, but especially in the social world. That’s why brands want to borrow on the success of influencers, they know how to do it and they do it well.

But often, brands fail to engage with their influencers properly. Brands who approach influencers as creative collaborators and equals end up with better content.

Think of influencers as creative professionals and solicit their input on your projects. When influencers feel valued and engaged with brands, they will create better, more authentic content. They will also be inclined to participate in future campaigns.

There are many brands that have found success with influencer marketing, which has led to an explosion in its adoption. More and more marketers are turning to this method to connect with their audiences. But as more people enter this field, it’s important to maintain the human element that makes it successful.

Build and maintain relationships with the influencers so that they can do the same for your brand.

Brian Zuercher is the CEO & Founder of SEEN and a contributor to SEW.