Archive for the ‘Others’ Category

How to Create a Successful TikTok Marketing Strategy

March 21st, 2023 No comments

Despite being a relatively new player in the social media space, TikTok has already established itself as an absolute powerhouse.

The platform is insanely influential, leading the way when it comes to viral trends and attracting a colossal audience of actively engaged users. 

Unsurprisingly, this also means that brands around the globe are frantically scrambling to capitalise on TikTok marketing opportunities. 

But in the race to stamp their mark on the TikTok app, many of these advertisers are overlooking the importance of a solid marketing strategy. 

The result? Rushed campaigns, mediocre content, and underwhelming results. 

If you want to maximise the full potential of TikTok marketing, then you’ll need an expertly planned, data-driven strategy that allows you to connect with your target audience and leave your competitors scratching their heads. 

Is TikTok marketing effective? 

TikTok marketing can be incredibly effective for brands, allowing them to reach a huge audience of younger users, produce creative content, and launch data-fuelled ad campaigns. However, if you want to drive optimal results on TikTok, then you’ll need a solid marketing strategy. 

A clear and actionable TikTok advertising strategy provides you with a strong foundation for everything you do on the platform. 

Your TikTok strategy will help you to establish who you’re looking to reach and how you can communicate with them. It will help you measure the impact of your marketing, create content that resonates with your audience, and differentiate yourself from the competition. 

If you’re trying to freestyle TikTok marketing without a clear strategy in place, you might as well run your campaigns blindfolded. 

But where should you start with your strategic planning? And what are the most important areas to focus on when you’re preparing to launch a new TikTok marketing campaign? 

Let’s run through the 7 key steps to a wildly successful TikTok marketing strategy. 


7 key steps to an effective TikTok marketing strategy 

Building a TikTok marketing strategy from scratch can feel a little intimidating at first – but if you follow these 7 steps, you’ll be equipped with all the insights you need to blow your objectives out of the water. 

Step #1 – Collect high-value UGC 

User Generated Content is extremely powerful on social media, and this is particularly true on the TikTok platform. 

UGC provides your brand with content that feels human and authentic. This helps you to generate instant credibility and authority with your target audience, which can build trust and ultimately lead to conversions. 

One study even found that UGC on TikTok outperformed traditional ads in several core areas, including attention, interest, and emotional engagement. 

Always ensure that you’re carving out a space for UGC in your TikTok marketing plans. 

There are several ways to gather UGC on TikTok, including:

  • Searching for hashtags that are connected to your brand 
  • Encouraging your audience to upload content (i.e. competitions, rewards)
  • Partnering with ‘UGC creators’ to produce assets 

If you’re smart, you can even set up a never-ending cycle of UGC production on TikTok by constantly harvesting, promoting, and incentivizing fresh content.


Step #2 – Learn the platform inside-out ½

Familiarising yourself with the TikTok platform is a must before you start planning and executing marketing campaigns. 

Take some time to scroll through the TikTok feed to understand what types of videos are resonating with audiences, and how users interact with branded content.  

How are the most popular brands communicating with viewers? Which types of videos are engaging your target customers? Where are the biggest opportunities for your brand? 

Applying a few TikTok best practices will also have a major impact on your performance.

For example, videos that include closed captioning (or text that displays a CTA) deliver a 55.7% lift in impressions compared to videos that don’t. Video duration is also massively important – 1 in 4 top-performing TikTok videos run between 21 and 34 seconds

Understanding what makes trending TikTok videos successful will pay dividends when it’s time to produce your own assets. If you’re keen to unlock expert insights about TikTok advertising, then partnering with a specialist marketing agency can be a wise move. 

Step #3 – Focus on your target audience 

Establishing your target audience is a hugely important part of your TikTok strategy.

Once you’ve identified the users you’d like to reach, you can begin to gather insights about them, tailor content based on their interests, and target them with paid ads

There are several ways that you can build a clearer picture of your target audience on TikTok. For instance, you might: 

  • Deep dive your existing customer data for demographic information 
  • Apply audience learnings you’ve gathered on other social platforms 
  • Analyse competitors to identify who they’re targeting on TikTok 
  • Explore relevant topics and hashtags to understand audience interests 

Once you’ve launched your marketing efforts, you should also frequently check TikTok analytics to understand which audiences are engaging with your content. 

You might discover user segments that you hadn’t even considered targeting previously, which can open up new opportunities for content strategies and conversions! 


Step #4 – Learn from competitor successes (and failures)

While your competitors may be working hard to capture the attention of your target audience, they can also provide you with a lot of useful performance insights. 

When you’re pulling together your TikTok marketing strategy, write up a list of relevant competitors in your industry. 

(If you’re a small business, try to balance established corporations with brands that are of a similar size.)

Once you’ve identified a few of your most important competitors, follow their activity on TikTok to gather as many learnings as possible. If they post a successful piece of content, analyse why it’s resonating with viewers – have they utilised a new format, or experimented with a different creative message?

Keeping tabs on the competition is also a great way to discover new opportunities for your brand.  

Monitoring other brands in your market will help you to differentiate yourself and avoid duplicating similar content. You might even spot a gap in the market that you can fill with a new product or feature, helping you to stay ahead of the pack.

Step #5 – Stick to a set posting schedule

It’s easy to obsess over the quality of your TikTok uploads, but you should also place an equally strong emphasis on the consistency of your posts. 

Maintaining an active TikTok profile is vital to feeding the TikTok algorithm. 

The more you upload quality videos and interact with other profiles, the more engagement you’ll generate, which signals to the TikTok machine that your content is worthy of promoting.

To help you stay consistent, draw up a content schedule that dictates how frequently you’ll post on TikTok. Plan out a few different content ideas, and make sure that you’re producing enough videos to keep your profile lively. 

Creating a viral post with a flash of inspiration is great, but steadily building your TikTok presence and growing an organic following will pay off massively in the long run. 


Step #6 – Measure your results 

Crafting an intelligent TikTok strategy isn’t much good if you don’t know how it’s performing, so make sure that you’re constantly measuring performance on the app. 

By monitoring and analysing your marketing results, you can: 

  • Identify (and expand) your best-performing content strategies
  • Understand who your most valuable audiences are 
  • Utilise performance data to optimise ad campaigns 
  • Quantify the impact TikTok is having on your business/revenue 

You can also leverage multiple platforms to stay on top of your performance data and track different metrics. 

TikTok’s built-in measurement tools are great for collecting basic performance data, enabling you to track the engagements, views, clicks and conversions generated from your marketing.

Step #7 – Test, test, test your ad campaigns

The best performing TikTok strategies are those that evolve and optimise over time.

To make sure that you’re consistently improving marketing performance, focus on setting up regular A/B tests that enhance your campaigns. 

The more you test and experiment with different TikTok tactics, the faster you’ll boost advertising returns and reduce inefficient spend. 

There are plenty of marketing variables that you can test on TikTok, such as:

  • Target audiences
  • Ad formats
  • Creative assets
  • CTAs
  • Ad text
  • Bidding strategies 

And to make life even easier, TikTok allows marketers to set up automated split tests quickly and easily. All you need to do is select your desired test variable, confirm your primary KPI, and launch your test ad.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to create a potent TikTok marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience, strengthens your brand identity, and allows you to capitalise on the mind-blowing potential of the platform. 

But remember – don’t take your foot off the pedal once your strategy is complete. 

There are always new insights to gather and new learnings to apply, so make sure you’re constantly developing your strategy to deliver the best possible results for your business.

Featured Image by Mourizal Zativa on Unsplash

The post How to Create a Successful TikTok Marketing Strategy appeared first on noupe.

Categories: Others Tags:

10+ Best WooCommerce Themes for 2023

March 21st, 2023 No comments

Are you looking for the best WooCommerce theme to help you build your online store, but are afraid of making a wrong choice?

For starters, you want to select a WordPress WooCommerce theme since not all WordPress themes offer complete WooCommerce support. If a theme doesn’t support WooCommerce, it won’t support all the available addons and extensions. And it will make it all the more difficult, if indeed even possible, to build the online store you have in mind.

WooCommerce is a free, open-source e-commerce plugin built for WordPress websites. The plugin allows you to easily sell almost any type of product while giving your visitors an intuitive and seamless on-brand buying experience.

The best WordPress theme for you will therefore be a WordPress WooCommerce theme, whether you’re about to create a new eCommerce site or redesign your current site.

The following list of the 11 Best WooCommerce Themes features one or more themes that will best meets your needs.

  1. Be – the Biggest WordPress & WooCommerce Theme

BeTheme, the biggest WooCommerce theme of them all, is more than capable of meeting your needs. BeBuilder, BeBuilder Woo, the Loop Builder, and 360+ professionally crafted pre-made websites are just a few of the 40+ powerful core features this popular (250,000 customers) website building machine places at your fingertips.

  • BeBuilder, the fastest WordPress website builder, lets you view each element as you customize it.
  • BeBuilder Woo helps you design versatile Shop and Single Product layouts that sell. 6 pre-defined layouts for Single Product are also at your disposal, you can create templates for Shop Archive or for Single Products, and BeBuilder Woo is loaded with customer-centric login, account management, and checkout features.
  • With the Loop Builder you can jazz up your website by designing any type of slider, blog, portfolio, or shop listing you can think of.
  • Add Be’s library of 650+ customizable pre-built websites and BeTheme’s flexibility becomes apparent.
  • Be’s updated Setup Wizard will help you get your project underway.

Click on the banner to learn more about what BeTheme can do for you.

  1. Jupiter X – Probably the Best WooCommerce Theme

Jupiter X, the go-to theme for many businesses, brands and marketers, is probably the best theme for WooCommerce with its huge WooCommerce base of exclusive shop features and capabilities.

Jupiter X is also the only Elementor theme that fully eliminates the need for an Elementor Pro subscription with its massive native widget library and native replacements to multiple Elementor features.

Key Jupiter X WooCommerce features include –

  • True shop builder: Build and customize product pages, membership pages, all checkout pages, and build single-step and multi-step checkouts
  • Checkout optimization features: Increase engagement and maximize profits with advanced sales funnels, order bumps, smart checkout notices, and more.
  • Fast Checkout features: Create Shopify-like checkouts with express checkout, sticky cart, checkout expiry and more.

Click on the banner to learn about Jupiter X’s many other WooCommerce features. 

  1. Blocksy – Best Free Ecommerce WordPress Theme

What makes Blocksy the best free eCommerce WordPress theme? Is it the selection of elegant pre-built starter sites? Or the powerful header builder and footer builder, both of which feature multiple content and design options? Or the fact that Blocksy is Gutenberg ready and features the latest web technologies?

Answer: Yes, yes, yes.  And there’s more.

  • Blocksy is fast and features thoughtfully written clean code.
  • A content blocks feature allows you to insert any piece of content anywhere in your site, plus any changes you make to a page, section, or item is synced in real time in the preview window so as not to slow your workflow.
  • Blocksy is also compatible with the popular Elementor, Brizy, and Beaver Builder page builders, is compatible with WooCommerce, is responsive, and features a White Label module.

Click on the banner to learn even more reasons why Blocksy is best.

  1. Uncode – Creative & WooCommerce WordPress Theme

The Uncode WordPress theme for WooCommerce gives its users the ultimate in shop building experience with its advanced drag and drop Product Builder, impressive Shop layouts, custom Cart and Checkout, Ajax Filters, and more.

Other reasons for making Uncode your choice:

  • 100,000+ sales that make it one of Envato’s top-selling themes of all times.
  • You can mix and match more than 70 carefully crafted and importable pre-made designs with over 100 builder modules to create custom pages.
  • The Wireframes plugin with its 500+ wireframes sections gives you a ton of design flexibility.
  1. Total WordPress Theme

Total is an aptly named super-intuitive WooCommerce-ready multipurpose theme that has everything needed to give your online store a unique and custom look and to get it up and running quickly.

  • Use a pre-made custom demo, Total’s extended WPBakery page builder, or both to create your custom website.
  • In addition, you have at your fingertips 100+ builder modules and shortcodes, and 90+ section templates, with no limits on customizing options.
  • With the native WordPress customizer and advanced Total settings you can change site colors, widths, and typography, and view your changes live before making them permanent. 
  1. Avada WordPress & WooCommerce Theme

With the Avada WooCommerce builder you can create a completely customized experience for your WooCommerce users.

  • You can design and build your own conditional layouts for individual WooCommerce Products
  • You can create custom Shop, Cart, Checkout and Archive pages using the design flexibility and power of Avada Builder, Woo Design, and other Avada Builder Elements.
  • Avada is lightweight, responsive, and built for speed and its impeccable code quality translates into exceptional performance.

Avada is popular. It’s the #1 best-selling theme ever, with its more than 750,000 happy users. 

  1. Rey – Exceptionally Intuitive WordPress WooCommerce Theme

The Rey WooCommerce theme is so fully equipped and flexible that you very likely will not need to rely on external plugins, plus its website demos are feature-rich yet designed with minimizing workflow in mind. With a few edits you can get a store up and running in a few hours.

There are plenty of supporting features as well, including –

  • 70+ internal optional modules and pre-made store templates.
  • flexible visual editing and fast search, filtering, and products navigation.

Rey is SEO friendly as well and puts you in good hands with its 5-star customer support.

  1. Woodmart – WordPress WooCommerce Theme for Any Kind of Store

WoodMart is ThemeForest’s most popular WooCommerce WordPress theme for a simple reason. It is loaded with features you will not find in most other eCommerce-oriented themes, such as –

  • shop and product page Elementor builders with an Elementor custom checkout feature, the WPBakery page builder, a header builder, and AJAX filters, product swatches, and search capabilities.
  • 80+ prebuilt websites to get projects underway or combine to create your pages.
  • 400+ templates you can use to prototype your website pages.

Woodmart, its plugins, and its dummy content can be installed in a few clicks. 

  1. Hongo – Most Powerful WooCommerce WordPress Theme

Hongo is a modern and multi-purpose WooCommerce WordPress theme which is specially curated for creating WooCommerce stores and company websites.

Hongo users have plenty to work with, including –

  • 12 Stunning and impressive store demos, 200 plus creative elements and a library of around 250 templates
  • Out of the box premium features like quick view, compare products, wishlist, catalog mode, advanced filters, color swatches, product tabs, and product videos.
  • WordPress Customizer and WPBakery custom shortcodes to support flexibility and customizability.

Users will also appreciate Hongo’s online detailed documentation and highly rated customer support.

  1. XStore – The Most Complete & Customizable WordPress WooCommerce Theme

The first thing people notice about XStore is its library of 120+ stunning and ready-to-go pre-built shops, which have become somewhat of a trademark for this theme.

Upon closer inspection, they find there’s plenty more to like about this WooCommerce WordPress theme including –

  • Its full support for Elementor and WPBakery, header builder, single product page builder, and 500+ prebuilt blocks.
  • $510 worth of premium plugins and a built-in WooCommerce email builder.

XStore gives every one of its users incredible value for a relatively small investment.

  1. Electro – Best WooCommerce theme for Affiliates, Dropship, and Marketplace Websites

Electro is a clean, modern, user friendly, responsive and highly customizable WooCommerce Theme with a 1.25 sec load time that makes it an ideal choice for your WooCommerce electronics store.

  • Electro’s compatibility with both Elementor and WPBakery page builders will enable you to take your design to the next level.
  • Electro’s design platform offers pixel perfect design, while producing 100% clean code.

You can choose from 7 awesome home pages and 3 different layouts to showcase your product, while using the power of Electro to add features like quick checkout and display product reviews.


WordPress WooCommerce themes provide an excellent pathway to create an eCommerce shop and sell your products thanks to the easy to use WooCommerce extensions.

The right theme will ensure that your store will be both fast and reliable while providing an exceptional shopping experience that converts visitors to customers and boosts your store’s sales.

Choose one of these 11 Best WooCommerce WordPress Themes to launch your successful online store. There are no wrong choices here.

Read More at 10+ Best WooCommerce Themes for 2023

Categories: Designing, Others Tags:

Smashing Podcast Episode 58 With Debbie Levitt: What Is CX Design?

March 21st, 2023 No comments

In this episode of the Smashing Podcast, we ask what is Customer Experience design, and how does it differ from User Experience design? Vitaly Friedman talks to expert Debbie Levitt to find out.

Show Notes

Weekly Update


Vitaly Friedman: She’s a Customer Experience and User Experience Strategist, Researcher, Designer, and Trainer. She spends most of her time helping companies of all sizes, big and small and large, medium, transform towards a customer-centric approach. Now she’s been teaching how to improve customer satisfaction, predict and mitigate business risk, and increase ROI by investing in, of course, great customer experiences. Now she lives east of Olbia-Sardinia, what an incredible city that is in Italy, out in the countryside.

Vitaly: Also, she has recorded over 175 episodes of her livestream podcast on YouTube and has over 600 hours of videos on the wonderful Delta CX YouTube channel and has just published a wonderful book, Customers Know You Suck: Actionable CX Strategies To Better Understand, Attract and Retain Customers. So we know she’s a great design strategist with a keen eye for customer satisfaction. But did you know that Debbie is often called the Mary Poppins of CX and UX? Why? Well, because she flies in, improves everything she can, sings a few songs every now and again, and flies away to her next adventure. While, in fact, a set of clients started calling her just that.

Vitaly: My Smashing friends. Please welcome Debbie Levitt. Hello, Debbie. How are you today?

Debbie: Hey, thank you so much for having me. And I’m almost Smashing. I’m unfortunately getting over Covid, so some people might hear that in my voice. Luckily it’s been mild, and I have to apologize, I accidentally sent you that I live east of Olbia. East of Olbia would be the Mediterranean Sea. I live west of Olbia. Totally my fault. Oh my gosh. I promise I live on land.

Vitaly: That’s okay. But you do not live in the sea, right? It’s not like fish are your neighbours, or?

Debbie: No, I’ve evolved and I live on land, and so I’m sorry about that. That’s what happens when you are multitasking. So thank you for putting up with me, but…

Vitaly: That’s okay. Well, I didn’t check where it is because… Actually I was in Olbia and-

Debbie: Oh wow.

Vitaly: … I was waiting for a bus four times in Olbia and it never came.

Debbie: I’m so sorry. Don’t do it. No, you must rent a car if you’re here.

Vitaly: Well, we will speak about that for sure in our future seasons as well.

Debbie: Come on back and stay with us.

Vitaly: Yes, that might be very reasonable. But when I look at all the wonderful things that you’ve been producing and you’re always there and you’re always advocating for the humans, right? It seems like you’re really care about people, don’t you?

Debbie: I do, yes. Thank you for noticing. I certainly do.

Vitaly: Yes, I think you do. But one thing that’s really struck me,.. I spent quite a bit of time in organizations, also large and small, and every now and again, I have to explain what CX means, what is different between UX and CX and so. Because there are many kind of ways of we can do that, and I think you also mentioned in your book as well. Some people see it as something that marketing does. Some people see it like customer support or customer success. Sometimes it’s like this magical overlap between business and customer experience. And what is it, Debbie, tell us what is it in the first place?

Debbie: Well, the way that I see CX is that it is end-to-end customer experience. It’s that everything our company can possibly do or offer touches our customers. And so we have to be considering all of that. They could be products, they could be services, they could be experiences, they could be digital, they could be all of these things. Very often when people think of UX, they’re thinking, well, that’s just screens, that’s just digital design or research for something that’s going to be digital. But when we think about CX, for whatever reason, CX is generally understood to mean that full customer experience. And so to me, I believe that when we’re doing CX and UX right, they’re the same thing because many people who work in UX don’t want to just think about the screens. They do want to think about the full and holistic journey that the customer has. They want to think about where the customer interfaces with the bank branch or the customer support or the hotel desk people. We do want to think about those.

Debbie: I remember when I was a contractor at Macy’s, we were fighting to be involved in the stores and they said, “No, you’re just the people who make the screens” and they wouldn’t let us. And we really wanted there to be that holistic tie between the digital experiences, website, mobile web and app, and the in-store experiences. And so again, I believe that when you’re doing them well, they kind of are the same thing and they can be the same thing. And we still use some different names for them, but I don’t want to fight too much over that today. I’m dying on other hills, as we say.

Vitaly: So what I hear is that basically CXs ideally would be also a wonderful world of beautiful, beautiful UX and the other way around. But I’m wondering actually still at this point, and maybe you can enlighten me at this point, Debbie as well, when I see companies thinking about how they should work, how they should operate, that often feels like it’s still a feature factory… So you just, let’s deliver that feature for that release and let’s deliver that feature for that cycle and then keep going, keep going. And it’s interesting to me because I think that we’ve been doing this now what for 15, 20 years, this UX, CX, whatever, that kind of thing, did we fail in communicating to companies the right way of running business? Or why is it that we are now by 2023 are still in the position where we kind of have to almost fight for the role of CX — or even UX actually at this point — in a company small and large. So why is that?

Debbie: To me it tends to be two things. I think that in many companies, the question is what’s the least we can do that we can pretend is good enough? And I think some of that comes from what I call “fake agile” because if you look at original Agile and the Agile manifesto, it cares about customer satisfaction. It cares about good design. But the idea of agility was ultimately to make engineering teams faster and more efficient. So we got into this way of thinking, how fast can we go? Can we go faster? Can we go faster? Can we release more? And I say, well, congratulations on going faster and releasing more, but if you’re not attracting customers, making them happy, keeping them, let’s not congratulate ourselves on whatever that agility was.

Debbie: Same for Lean. Many people are working from a definition of Lean that runs against Lean. Lean is supposed to be about finding defects and risks and waste early, mitigating them, proving your efficiency, not because the weapon, and you made people try to go faster, but because you were driven more by quality, and you were more likely to put out how great things that you didn’t have to cycle back and fix later. So think part of what we battle in most of our companies is really mediocrity because everybody who we work with knows that they hate every company that chips crap. You hate those apps, you hate those websites, you hate those hotels, you hate those airplanes, you hate those whatevers. You hate it. And then you show up to your job and you go, “That’s probably good enough. Just get it out there.” And it’s like people have really lost their sense of what customers define as quality and value. So I think part of it is that mediocrity of ads good enough.

Debbie: Let’s just say we’re fast and keep going. And this is going to be a little bit spicy, but part of it to me is UX leaders. I think in some cases, not everybody, we have some weak UX leaders. We have some people who are over-focused on making the stakeholder happy. They’re over-focused on the visual design. They’re over-focused on, “Look, we can pretend we’re agile and Lean too. We’ll just slice UX down to the least we could do, we’ll research for a day. We’ll run a survey, uh.. we’ll design for two seconds. Yes sir. Yes ma’am.” And I think that our UX leaders have done us a disservice and in many ways continue to when they are not fighting for quality, they’re dying on the wrong hills.

Debbie: They’re coming in and they’re saying, “Don’t you understand my job? These are artists, these are not artists.” And I say, stop dying on that hill. Talk to people about how great CX and UX work, mitigates risk, saves companies time and money, increases customer satisfaction, is more likely to increase that loyalty. You’re dying on the wrong hills and you’re saying yes to ridiculously short timeframes, UX work being badly done by a circus of everybody just to say, we got more done. And again, it’s all speed over quality. So I think this has not yet sunk in for companies because we’ve been selling the wrong things. We’ve been trying to sell the value of my job instead of selling the value of the outcome. Hey, remember that crappy project we did where we ended up having to go back and figure out what we did wrong and fix it and redo it? And our customer service had to give people some free coupons to apologize and remember the multidimensional disaster that was? Well, that would’ve gone better if we had done this research, this design, this testing.

Debbie: If we had spent three more weeks, three more weeks would’ve saved all of this wild expense and marketing problems and voice of the customer issues and customer support usage. We are not doing a good job showing the math of how much carnage and waste and money we can save if we just fought for, what sometimes is a few weeks, maybe it’s a little bit longer in some cases, but we’re not demanding generative research. We’re claiming we can work from assumptions and guesses. And I say no one wants that, Agile’s against that, Lean’s against that, Scrum is against that, Nielsen Norman group is against that. Nobody wants to see that. And yet I’m fighting some dude on LinkedIn last week who says, “Assumption-based methodologies are valid.” And I say, well, there’s a Grand Canyon between valid and a freaking good idea. You can work from guesses and assumptions, but this is where they’re landing us. We all see what this is like. We mostly hate our jobs. We need our leaders to be fighting more and differently.

Vitaly: Well, that’s interesting because I think in many ways I do find myself really in these positions where I still wonder sometimes, why do we even bother this position of I can over here or the side of the I can matters, but I mean the position and we went on the left, we test that with A/B testing testing and then we see if this works better or not. But then I always think this always goes into this notion of speed. I think this is very much the core of it really as well, because it seems like we are rushing all the time. We need to deliver, we want to deliver good quality, but in the end, we just want to deliver — be it features or anything else. And one thing that I find quite weird is that we ended up in this situations where we want MVP to validate a product. So MVP is important. We don’t want to spend too much time building and designing and all, but shouldn’t we be designing, I don’t know, the minimal first-class user experience kind of VP or something? I don’t know. What is your take on MVPs in general? Is it just me seeing it wrongly?

Debbie: No, I’ve been fighting MVP and Lean Startup for some time, and then I’m mostly fought back by a lot of white guys who want to comment on my Medium articles. It’s a very narrow audience there wants to fight me on that. But I think we do have to take a second look at MVPs and some of these, again, Lean Startup or other ideas. A lot of these things came from books from over 10 years ago and there’s nothing wrong with 10 years, but they haven’t been updated. And they come from these books that were really aimed at startups. The Lean Startup was for startups. It wasn’t for Oracle or Fang or whoever they are now. It was for startups. And it said, “Hey, if you want to go really fast” — and we have to remember where we all were in the late 2000s and 2010, one of the biggest problems with startups, and you’ll remember this because there was vaporware, there were people who were promising technologies and features and systems and they were never even built.

Debbie: So the Lean startup made sense as an answer to that, “Hey, stop waiting and waiting and waiting and never putting out your mysterious vaporware. Really something early. Just get it out there, give it a try.” And I think that advice can make sense for startups in 2010, but they really don’t make sense for our company and the size of projects we have, the amount of customers we have, the reliance we have on retaining those customers and making them happy. It’s not the same as two bros in Silicon Valley in 2010 who are going to rush some early version out.

Debbie:And the other thing I remind people is that the MVP can be reframed. There’s no reason why a solid realistic UX prototype can’t be your MVP. And in fact, in my book, I think in chapter 21 where we interview Steve Johnson, a product manager, he says, “Eric Rees admitted that he made a mistake.” He meant minimum viable prototype. He didn’t mean minimum viable product. He didn’t imagine that this early pseudo beta, almost beta early version was something that you would sell, something that you would expect people to pay for. He really expected that it was almost like an early prototype. But of course we have that in user-centered design and human-centered design. I don’t need engineering to build it for me to see if it’s going in the right direction. I’m a big fan of Axure (hashtag not sponsored), and I want to make sure that I’m making a highly realistic prototype, but not realistic from the perspective of visual design, from the perspective of usability flow —

Vitaly: User experience.

Debbie: Yes, process. Can you type in a field? Yes, you should be able to type in the field. And then I can bring that to usability and other testing and be able to say, aha, we are solving the real problem well or we’re solving the real problem, but we’re not there yet. Or wow, we’re way off. We are really not solving the real problem well or at all. And that’s what we should be doing early on and in cycles. But the problem is that people read Lean Startup and they saw a couple of things that said Agile, and they now think you can’t know if you’re going in the right direction without having engineering spend sprints, weeks, months, building it, testing it, merging it, releasing it, and then sitting around waiting for customer support complaints or an A/B test, which is often quite flawed or some sort of feedback.

Debbie: And then what do we do? We go, it’s probably good enough and we put it in the backlog or the ice box. So we have a lot of problems with our processes, we have problems with our standards. We have much lower standards internally than our customers have for us. So I think that the MVP is our problem, but I think it can be reframed. Ultimately the minimum viable product or prototype is an early UX prototype that can help us test a concept or one of its many endlessly, many executions.

Vitaly: Well, I think also when it comes to customers, standards are different, expectations are much different now as well. So it’s just a very, very different world. And coming back to your book, I rarely read one single chapter in which is so packed that I feel like, wow, there is so much stuff in it. And I usually don’t do that to be honest, I actually printed out chapter 18.

Debbie: Oh, thank you.

Vitaly: Just because I wanted to underline first because the reason I do it is like I read and then I underline and then I was so tired of underlining. I just said, I’m just going to put it next to me. So maybe just to make it a bit more tangible, I would say to all your listeners, so let’s imagine you’re working for a company that is just a regular conservative company, very much legacy ridden, a lot of good old processes in place, not really a culture of sustainability or interest in user-centric or ethical design or anything of that sort maybe.

Vitaly: But there is a strong need and there is a strong will to move there. But of course when it comes to little exercises like that, it’s a big shift. It’s a culture shift. It’s a shift of how people are working, what they believe in, how they embed their values and the way they’re working into the product, how the metrics are going to be working for that, namely specifically, how do we even choose metrics that fit? How do we track them? How often do we track them? What do we track and all that.

Vitaly: Maybe you could just give us a little bit of insight in that kind of scenario if you wanted, let’s say, to support in some way, some sort of a shift like that. I would say what is absolutely required for this to be successful? That would be question maybe number one. Question number two, how to get there? Because you are Mary Poppins, right? So you just come in, you fly in, you solve problems, you fly away. So what would be your magic dust that you would sprinkle all over all departments in the organization?

Debbie: I would say the first way to help yourself get there is to shift to the language that the business cares about. The business doesn’t care about delight, the business doesn’t care about empathy. The business cares about the usual stuff. Find more customers. We hope they’re happy because we want them to stay. That’s it. Attraction or adoption satisfaction and some sort of loyalty or retention. That’s it. Talk about those things. Talk about risk, talk about wasted time and money. Look up Six Sigmas, cost of poor quality. It’s a wonderful model that I go into early in the book. I think in chapter two, it’s a whole list of things that your company is wasting time and money on because you didn’t build something better for the user. So forget about some of the words we tend to use in UX and design because they make sense to each other.

Debbie: Makes sense when you and I talk about it, empathy, delight. But somebody who is just counting beans as they say, or looking at numbers and budgets and bottom lines, they don’t care. They just don’t. They want to know how do we make more people join and stay and we hope they give us some good satisfaction scores in the middle. So we have to start there and we have to make sure that’s our common ground. And that’s where I focus. I focus on how can we find ways to bring more customers in, make them happier so that they’ll stay. Focus there. And then the question is, what can CX or UX work do that augments that, supports that? How do we use early generative research to bring us customer intelligence we don’t have now? Because sure, we have endless analytics, we have surveys, we have, what do you want?

Debbie: We have AB tests, we’ve got lots of things that are mostly quantitative, but we don’t know a lot of the why. We don’t know a lot of the how. We get an NPS score that says negative 30 and we don’t really know why, but everyone will get together in a brainstorming session, guess why, and then guess how to fix it. And they’re surprised when that doesn’t work. So I drive people towards customer intelligence. Now some people think that’s just more market research. Let’s just find people who demographically fit into our sweet spot and throw more darts at them and give them $10 off and advertise more heavily to them. But I say, look, you can do that. That’s the adoption piece. But if you’re not building the better product, service or experience, you won’t have the satisfaction and you won’t have the retention and the loyalty.

Debbie: So all of these things are that longer arc. So I’m making it sound over simple, “Hey, you just have to speak the business’ language.” But it’s a huge shift that a lot of people in UX and design are not always doing. They’re still focused on we have to delight the user. Someone asked me, “How do you build a usability test to prove that people are delighted?” And I said, “I don’t think I would do that. I’m not usability testing for delight. I’m usability testing that we’ve solved the correct problem with a good execution of a good concept.” So we get hung up on some of these buzzwords. And so I say to people, forget the buzzwords. Take that MBA approach. That’s why I went and got an MBA. I could have gone out and gotten a master’s in UX HCI. Human factors.

Debbie: I went for the MBA because when I come in, I want companies to know that I care about how the business works, I care about how the business runs. I care about the business making money. Yes, I want it to be done ethically. Yes, I want it to be done with customers in mind, with DEI, with accessibility, but I am dedicated to good, solid, long-term, not quick shortcuts, ethical ways to attract those customers, genuinely make them happy, not fool them into some sort of weird high score or pay them for a good rating. And then loyalty because we’ve built something great. The example I use is I am a super wacky wild fan of (hashtag not sponsored). I just paid them for another year. They pay me nothing. They have no idea who I am. Can you think of a system that you freaking love that much that you are going to tell people this thing is the bomb?

Debbie: You couldn’t pull me away. When I left my previous project management system for Monday, the CEO contacted me, “You’ve been with us for 10 years. What can I do to keep you?” I said, “Nothing. I wouldn’t stay if it were free, I wouldn’t stay if you paid me.” Monday is a better match to my needs and tasks. I will be more productive there. Those are my standards. So we have to be using better research, earlier research, generative qualitative research to know our customers so that we can say we really built that thing. Was it 20 years ago, we talked about the killer app. We don’t seem to care about that anymore. We don’t seem to care about if we’re really building what customers need. We seem to care about checking stakeholders ideas off a list.

Vitaly: That’s right. I think I also read an article about the boring designer or boring products that we actually got. So in the past, as you were saying, we got so excited about building just that cool thing that’s going to take off and take over the world. But now I think that many of us have discovered the sympathy and I guess also interest in just boring product that help us sleep better. I always go in a medium and your collective and so on. And I read all these articles and I would love to see more things about, I don’t know, healthcare or enterprise, B2B, CX, UX, I don’t know, anything like that. Those kind of case studies. They’re not necessarily most exciting applications to some people, but they’re also so important. It’s so interesting to solve.

Vitaly: And maybe one thing I wanted to dive in a little bit deeper with you here as well is, so if you encounter a situation where you are in that legacy environment and corporate environment and enterprise environment and whatnot, the question is for me at least in my work, is to always prove that what I’m doing is moving in the right direction, kind of moving the needle in the right direction. So again, what you’re saying is just music to my ears, speaking business terms to people on who are your managers. I think this is an incredibly important skill for designers to have rather than having the design, I don’t know, design dish, I guess, which many people might not understand.

Vitaly: So I’m wondering though, how do you convert the needs that the company has in terms of business into something that’s necessarily customer-centric? Because at least this was my experience, it cannot not necessarily go hand in hand. Sometimes we end up with some business goals, which are we need to be aggressive on the market, we need to take over, we need to be better than every competitor. We need to be, I don’t know, newsletters all over the place. We need to be as prominent as possible. How do you balance it out with something that’s more, because it’s more like short term, long term? Because usually in my experience, you need a strategy for both.

Debbie: Oh, there are a lot of questions rolled into there. I’m trying to figure out where I start. I think that companies are looking very much at the short term a lot of times. So you have to have a short and a long term strategy. But a lot of people don’t even have a strategy. As you said, they’re just saying, “More newsletters, more content, just more things. And then we’ll throw those darts and see what happens.” And I think that companies have to get a little bit more focused. And a lot of that goes back to customer intelligence.

Debbie: If you don’t really understand who Debbie is and why she comes to your site or uses your product or is still at the trial version and hasn’t paid. If you are guessing or making things up about me or trying to assume something about me because I’m a 50-year-old white woman, then you don’t really have good customer intelligence.
You are probably going to be guided mostly by guesses, assumptions, and copying your competitors. And you can do that. But let’s not pretend you’re innovative. Do not sing the song of we’re innovative if you’re just going to copy your competitors.

Debbie: But I think that one of the biggest key steps that a lot of companies need to take that they haven’t taken is they need at least a few customer-centric metrics. Very often when we look at a company’s KPIs, not only are they business-centric, but as you said, very often they’re the opposite of what people want to do. When I see a KPI in a company or even a North star metric of how many people did we get to apply to jobs? And I go, well, that’s funny because we know that people want to apply to as few jobs as possible.

Debbie: So you’re going to try to make people apply more in a world where people want to apply less, there is a mismatch here. And what often happens is because we are feature factories and because we tend to be very stakeholder driven, the stakeholder says, “Look, we just want to see these numbers go up. We want to see more people applying to jobs.” And I say, what about the long term mark of their success or happiness? “It doesn’t matter. We just want to see more people applying to jobs.” And then they’ll do whatever it takes. And we see this reflected in traditional impact maps, which in my chapter 18, I blow impact maps out of the water and I give you a different version of them that’s more customer focused. But you see these impact maps that are like, “Hey, what do you want to make happen? You want to make people click on a button more? Well, cool, as you said, more newsletters, more discounts, more whatever, you more content, more emails.” Hands up who wants more emails?

Debbie: So I think we have to start with always looking at both, how does this create something the business wants? And we have the metrics to measure that and how do we make sure this is something that’s going to produce in our customers what they would want for themselves. We want them to be loyal, but we can’t trick people into being loyal. We can’t force them into being loyal, that’s a short-term win. It’s not going to be a long-term win. So we have to start with some of these metrics and being able to have some tough conversations around crappy metrics. How many page views did someone see? I have an example in the book where when I tried to log into an online stock investing account, I saw six pages before I could get into the account.

Debbie: Now we all know that that could be done in one screen. It absolutely can be done in one screen. Hey, what’s your username and password? Hey, we sent you a text to make sure it’s really you. Hey, it’s really you. Thanks for chopping by. You’re in. That could be one screen. This was six separately loading pages. And I swear one page was just a giant screen that said, “We’re going to text you a code.” Continue. And that’s how I know someone has a metric of more page views. Congratulations on achieving your more page views metric. That’s a vanity metric. It’s meaningless. It doesn’t improve the customer experience. So we have to start looking at both of these in terms of each other.

Debbie: Which is hard for companies. They’re going to need consultants, they’re going to need specialists. They’re going to need new people because the same old people that are there are probably used to tap dancing along with the way we do things and following and not making waves and not challenging the status quo. You’re going to need a few new leaders or a couple of consultants to come in and shake that up and say, “Look, it’s great that you’ve been successful thus far. You’re doing many right things, but there’s room for improvement. And you have to be open to that change.”

Vitaly: Yes, I think one of the funny things is that I often find so much passion, I would say around things like time on site as well, but what does it mean time on site? Does it mean that people like what they see? Does it mean that they don’t find what they need? Does that mean that they’re just totally frustrated and annoyed just try to find it all over the place because search is not working well? What does it even mean? All those things are not really reflecting in any way the customer experience at all. So that’s very much aligns to my experience I guess as well. There is one thing that’s really is probably to me the most problematic, and that’s the shift of culture in a company like that. So the problem is that very often, very different departments have their own set of KPIs and they track trying to improve their own KPIs and very much they’re not really aligned.

Vitaly:So maybe one department just wants to publish more just to be out there. The other department will be looking at traffic and other things and the other, what is our velocity in terms of their deployment or features that we have and things like that. But then we need to really change the culture so that we have this customer centricity as again, our north star. And so that defines what is going to happen in all these different departments, but that requires a lot of movement in organization, which is really slow and a lot of time as well. Now, fortunately, we have wonderful people like you who come in and just hoof and get it all done.

Debbie: Well, not quite. But yes, I try to push as many boats out and as many needles as I can. I usually can’t get all the changes on my list done. Sometimes I’m lucky if I can get half, but I can go into a place and I can affect change. But obviously that company has to want to change, but then you also have to have that change management hat on because that company’s afraid to change. They feel they’ve been really successful thus far doing it this way. Why should we care about that? Why should we prioritize? I remember having a conversation, I think I put it in the book where I said to someone, almost all of our app ratings in the last X months are one in two stars, and I’ve confirmed that the complaints are valid, we really are broken. And I said, what are we doing about that?

Debbie: And the person said, “Well, we have a 4.6 rating out of five overall on the Apple Store. So what’s the problem?” And so again, like you said, if you’re watching the wrong metrics, you can tell yourself any story you want. I can tell myself any… I recently lost 10 pounds. I thought I looked amazing until the pictures came back. And then I said, I’ve got more change to make. So you can see numbers and you can tell yourself any story you want. The better company with that better future is going to tell itself some more honest stories about that, which is, isn’t it great we’ve got a 4.6 rating in the Apple Store that’s probably going to help us get download a little bit more than if our rating was lower? But we probably should prioritize all of these complaints coming in, especially since we found that these aren’t just complainers.

Debbie: These are valid complaints. So what I have found in companies, what tends to block this is usually in some cases, a very toxic leader, a narcissist, a malignant narcissist, a person who the only way to do it is my way. A person who will make up fake facts and fake stories. A person who creates fear in people under them. A person who loves to put people on performance review plans or performance improvement plans when you speak up against the status quo or question something or want to try something different. So first of all, to me, there are a few toxic leaders. And the wacky thing is every company I go into has them and every company knows who they are. And I always say, you know who this is. And they stand out from other people, which means you’ve done a good job hiring.

Debbie: If they fit in and everyone’s like that, then this needs an atomic bomb to fix. But these people are different because they’re that bad. Why aren’t we removing them? Or why aren’t we shifting what they do? Why aren’t we demoting them? Why aren’t we putting them on a performance improvement plan? Why do we allow them to continue to create such negativity and carnage? And in some cases, attrition, people quit. They can’t stand to deal with that person anymore. So we have to do something about those toxic people and we have to work with corporate strategists on how they measure success. How do we measure success internally? If it’s making people click the button that nobody wants to click, that’s just going to come down the line. And especially in companies where CX and UX have no voice, then you just have the engineering team pushing for faster delivery and you have the product team pushing for I am unfortunately an order taking puppet who’s just going to do what the stakeholder says and not really push back and stuff like that.

Debbie: We need people. We claim we have empowered teams, we claim we want empowered teams. We don’t. We’re not even close. And somebody with some watts has to start saying out loud, we’re not empowered. We’re not empowered. We’re not living up to our company values. I saw a company last year who was not living up to their company values, changed their company values, and they changed them to the most watered down, meaningless things I’d ever seen in my life. You can do that. You can make your company values more meaningless if you’re having trouble adhering to them, but that also sends a message. So you’re right, it’s a complicated thing. There’s a lot of gears locked into each other and I can’t say, here’s that one thing that everybody needs to do that’s going to really help. It’s mostly speaking up against the status quo.

Debbie: Does it mean that your job could be on the line or you could receive some badness from saying those things out loud? Sure. At an unhealthy company, there could be that retaliation. There isn’t supposed to be, but there could be. So you take that chance. A lot of people don’t want to take that chance. And that’s why I say bring in the outside consultants. I will come in, I will say everything that needs to be said, and you know in six months I’m gone anyway. I have no horse in the race. I just want to tell the truth. But a lot of people working there can’t tell the truth anymore. And that’s a bigger culture problem, as you said. So I don’t have the one magic bullet. If I had the one magic bullet, my book would be 10 pages long. Three pages of introducing the magic bullet, five pages about the magic bullet and two pages thanking everybody for reading.

Debbie: But my books tend to be on the long side because I am trying to walk people through a lot of different instances and scenarios that they will run into at their jobs as consultants and say, here’s some things you can try to just chip away at that piece. Because if you try to look at the whole mountain of overwhelming BS at our companies, you just give up. You go, how am I ever going to change that monolith? But we have to look at some of the smaller pieces and how we can make small changes there just to start and just to show the company it’s worth it.

Vitaly: Debbie, we could be speaking for hours of course and have so many questions prepared, which I know didn’t get to, but I do have to ask one question that has been bothering me for a very long time, and I still haven’t found the proper answer to that. So can you make this shift? Like transition to customer centricity in an organization without a proper commitment from the top?

Debbie: Oh, definitely not. Because what I found is that everything comes from the top. You can certainly have a bottom up swell of support for this. It can be a bottom up person who goes to their manager and says, “Why aren’t we saying more about this?” And that person goes to their manager and says, “Look, we know this sucks. Why aren’t we saying more about this?” So there can be some bottom up support and action, but the change and everything else comes from the top. That’s it. Now, we may not have to impress the C level executive, they may be too high up. They may not care as much about some of the day-to-day. Sometimes it’s those mid or high level leaders, maybe the directors or heads or whatever it might be in a particular country or business’ hierarchy. Those are the people. The people looking at budgets, the people looking at outcomes, the people checking on the KPIs.

Debbie: It’s not always the C level. It’s probably somebody below them and they just report up. So it’s those people that we have to affect. Could be VPs. Those are the people that we have to go to and say, “Look, we know you want more adoption, satisfaction and retention. How’s that going right now?” “Not so well.” “Oh, why not?” “I don’t know.” That’s our first problem. Why don’t we know? They usually don’t know why. Or they’ve made something up. People are disloyal, they’re tire kickers, they’re broke, they’re whatever, echo. Cool, bro, you made that up. You don’t really know. That’s probably only true for a certain percentage of your customers. Let’s not work from guesses. Let’s not work from assumptions. Let’s use guesses and assumptions as an opportunity to dive deeply into customer intelligence. You think a survey’s going to answer that? Go ahead. Start with a survey.

Debbie: When the survey comes back, I’m going to ask you again, what do we know and what don’t we know? Is that survey enough to take action and do we know what action to take? If we’re guessing again and going into another brainstorming workshop to guess again, we still don’t know. And so I want to make sure that we are not creating these strategies or making these decisions or pushing these KPIs without better knowing some stuff, knowing some stuff internally about ourselves, knowing some stuff externally about users, customers, partners. Obviously this ends up falling into service design, which to me can also be CX and UX. These all float in the same ocean. But that’s what I tried to tell people is you don’t even know. You don’t even know why sales is losing people. They picked a competitor. That’s not the full answer. That’s the surface level answer.

Debbie: Oh, our NPS is low. Do you know why? We can’t seem to retain people. Sales even offered them 10 bucks. Do you know why? I just keep pushing for why don’t we know why? Shouldn’t we know why? Can you give me four to six weeks to start learning why? And some companies will go, “Oh, it’s only four to six weeks? I thought it was months.” It doesn’t have to be months. I can get you some preliminary data from generative observational or interview research in four to six weeks. Can we start there? Yes. Then you make sure you collect their-

Vitaly: That’s probably going to be very difficult to say no to that.

Debbie: Well, look, and especially as a consultant, I then put a number on that, and I don’t overcharge as a consultant, I’m very fairly priced. I hear, I’m under-priced. I say, “Hey, a six-week project, let’s just call it five figures.” It’s 60, 80, whatever, thousand dollars. Maybe I have to throw more people on it to make it go faster. It’s a hundred something thousand dollars. Hey, how much money are we losing right now in customer loyalty? How much money are we losing because sales couldn’t get those people to stay? Isn’t $150,000 worth it and six weeks for us to be able to answer all these questions of why and to replace these guesses and assumptions with knowledge? We don’t have to work from guesses and assumptions. We can work from really good knowledge that goes beyond our market research, that goes beyond demographics to look at behaviors and perspectives and tasks. I am task-oriented person 100%.

Vitaly: Well. I think also there are so many different other stories and companies that you also mentioned in your book of course. So this brings me to an important of probably the last question for today. Given the fact that you’ve been working again with small and large companies all over the place, what were some of the most interesting lessons you learned? What would say some patterns which emerge, you would say, if this is that kind of company, I have to do this. Or if that’s kind of company, I’m going to do that. If this, oh, no, I’m running away. This is not, no, no, no, I’m not going through that. So would you say are some of the most important notable lessons that you’ve learned? Just maybe a few personal stories. It’s always interesting to hear.

Debbie: Yes, sure. One of the things that I mentioned in my book and in the workshop version of the book, I talk about making sure… A lot of change management courses say, find your allies. But I say also identify your detractors. There are going to be those toxic leaders who want you to fail. They don’t want that change because even if that change brings something good, people might wonder why they didn’t make that change. It accidentally shines a negative spotlight on them. So you’ve got detractors, you’ve got toxic people who are probably going to work against what you are there to do. It’s important to identify them and to manage them. And I won’t have time to go into how, some of that’s in the book, but you’ve got to manage those detractors. You can’t just focus on who are my allies or who is excited about this or who’s buying in.

Debbie: You have to look at who might sabotage this or me. That’s definitely one of the things that I would warn people about. And another reason why I remind people, this may be an area where you do want to bring in consultants because that person can sabotage the hell out of me and undercut me as much as they want and make themselves look foolish, and then I’m gone. But if you work in a company and you try to do some of this stuff and that person sabotages, you could lose your job. You could be demoted. I’ve seen this. And so that’s a place where you want to put me in front of the target instead of yourself. Save yourself. That’s one thing. Another thing is you have to look for the company’s compelling reason to change. You have to figure out why should they change?

Debbie: Because again, many companies, even those who claim they want to change, they claim they want to be customer-centric, they claim they want more customer journey maps. Even when companies claim this, a lot of times they really don’t want to change. They’ve been profitable. They’ve been making money, they’ve been growing stock prices, doing okay, whatever ways that they measure themselves, they’re usually pretty happy. And so the question is, now, do you want to run away from that and say, these people don’t want to change, I’m not going to bother? Or can you find either that compelling narrative or that reason for them to make some sort of change or find the area in which they are willing to change? And that’s hard. Last year I was working with a 1 billion dollar European company that competes against Indeed there, therefore job posting and applying to jobs.

Debbie: And when you’re a $1 billion company and you’re the market leader of Germany, why change? Is it going so badly? Can we just say, this is going pretty well? And so that’s hard. So I had to find some places and some allies where we could get people to say, you know what? This part of things isn’t going as well as it could. And oh yes, our UX team doesn’t really have a voice, isn’t really treated well, are treated as order takers. What can we do to improve that? How do we elevate our user experience work and workers? So I think it’s a matter of, and I know that we’re supposed to stop saying things like, pick your battles because it’s violence based language. And I’m still bad at that, I apologize. But we really have to take a look at where can I make change?

Debbie: Where will they let me make change? That’s why when I do the Mary Poppins thing, I say, hey, look, I fly in, fix as much as I can, as they’ll let me, and then I fly away. So you have to find the places where that door is open or where you can create that compelling narrative. Has the company lost a lot of money in a certain area lately? Have they burned customer trust and now they’re over-utilizing customer support? And it would be great if people weren’t so unhappy in calling in so much that saves companies money. You have to start looking for all of that. And so one of the exercises in chapter 18, which I’ve been doing on my YouTube show on some Mondays, is the Delta CX version of an impact map. Where we start not with what the company wants to do, we start with the customer’s problem, and then we look at what’s the root causes of that, and then what’s the impact on the business?

Debbie: What’s happening in the business, what money, time, resources, environmental damage, what’s happening because we have this customer problem and these root causes we haven’t addressed. If you can start building something like the Delta CX impact map version, you now have that built in argument. We need to make this better for our customers because here’s all the stuff. Here’s all the waste and risk and lost time and money that our company is dealing with, and that’s what we’re going to save. These are the arguments that we need to start making on all levels. Could a junior make that argument? They could try. Why not? They’ll have access to some of that information, but it’s probably more for our managers and leaders. You got to find that small open door.

Vitaly: Well, if you the listener would like to hear more from Mary Poppins or also called Debbie, you can find her on LinkedIn where she’s, guess what? Debbie Levitt, but also on her website, Delta CX. And of course, get her wonderful book: Customers Know You Suck: Actionable CX Strategies To Better Understand and Track and Retain Customers, well, whenever you get your books. Now, thank you so much for joining us today, Debbie. Should I call you Mary? No, probably not.

Debbie: No, I’m definitely Debbie. Mary Poppins is somebody else. And I also want to mention we’re putting up a website at, which will have even more information because guess who owns that domain? And you can also grab my book at, which is where I’ve got information about our books and workshops, and we’ve got the digital version up for as little as $1. So if anybody is from a country or area or life situation where buying a book right now doesn’t feel affordable, we do have the $1 version to try to make it more available.

Vitaly: That’s wonderful, Debbie, wonderful. Well, as we often do in the end though. Well, imagine somebody listening to this 20 years from now thinking, oh, they had problems in 2023 mean, but by now, like 2043, we have solved CX issues for good. So is there anything you’d like to send out to the future or any parting words of wisdom you’d like the future generations to follow along? Like I don’t know, maybe aliens 200 years from now thinking, how do we improve CX of our ships?

Debbie: Yes, that’s a hard one. I can certainly hope for the future. I can certainly hope that in the future we’ve made more ethical choices, we’ve made more customer-centric choices. We’ve realized that we have no business, no staff, no money if we aren’t making customers happy. I don’t know. I wonder what our problems, I think in, I want to say 2043, but it really feels like it’s going to be 2025 where we’re battling for what should we let a machine learning machine do, and what should we let a person do? I think that’s going to be our first challenge. I can’t even think out to 2043 right now. I have to admit. I really think that the, we’re already seeing the question of what do we really need Debbie Levitt to do, and what can we ask a bot to do? And what I’ve noticed is a bot can rehash stuff that’s out there.

Debbie: For example, if you go to Google right now and you say, how do I be more customer-centric? See a load of great sounding things that aren’t actionable at all, you’ll see, “Care about your customer. Build empathy. Brainstorm and be innovative.” None of those are actionable. You’ve no idea what to do and what not to do. So I think if we can just talk about the nearer future instead of the distant future when it’s the robot uprising, I think that our more immediate challenge in the coming years will be how do we keep critical thinking about what the bots are feeding us or returning to us to make sure that even if we do find a place for what I’m calling bots to assist us in our work or be part of our adventures. How do we make sure we’re still critically thinking about what we’ve put into them and what we’re getting out of them?
Because I see a lot of stuff that people are very excited about that just looks like crappy rehashed articles you can find anywhere on Google or Medium and blog posts that just say, “Yeah, have more empathy and make a customer journey map and be more customer-centric.” That doesn’t help you at all. And that may be where our AI is for some time because it’s not yet a thinking robot. It doesn’t have my ability to be strategic. So that’s my wish for the immediate future because I can’t even think about 2043. Hope you don’t mind the answer.

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Safer Onboarding Doesn’t Have to Involve Friction

March 20th, 2023 No comments

Signup and onboarding are important to get right whether you’re a SaaS or online business – while many of your customers registering with you will be genuine, some accounts will be made by fraudsters. While you want to stop these users from registering with you, deep customer vetting during the onboarding process can cause user experience friction as it often involves asking for documentation or too many questions. Some B2Cs avoid customer vetting for that reason, but one key frictionless method of checking security at onboarding includes data enrichment. We’ll be going into detail about how this works and how it can protect you against suspicious customers.

How at risk are B2Cs when it comes to fraud?

When it comes to B2Cs, the e-Commerce sector is particularly at risk of being targeted by fraudsters. (And SaaS companies have a lot to learn from this too.) According to Finances Online, e-Commerce sites have to deal with an average of 206,000 attacks every month. The same article also found in another survey that: “companies that implemented fraud prevention programs were able to reduce their fraud attack response expenses by 42%, their remedy expenses by 17% compared to companies without such programs in place”. This goes to show that while fraud is big on the agenda for e-Commerce, implementing fraud prevention software can reduce your expenses greatly. A good investment surely, but often companies find they’re reluctant to take the plunge because of one important factor that affects customer experience – friction.

As a business, you’re probably looking to avoid increasing friction regarding a user’s onboarding experience. You’re perhaps looking at implementing ways of making the process more streamlined so that there are fewer boxes to tick or fill in during registration (which can put some customers or users off registering at all). However, Profitwell found in their study that good customer onboarding can actually lead to higher retention and willingness to pay – so if you get this right, it could be of great benefit in the long-run.

Unfortunately, one of the most popular forms of fraud prevention technique – Know Your Customer checks which include document or biometric verification for example – can introduce a lot of friction for your customer (and extra costs for you). Some checks like biometric verification are known as hard KYC checks. This means that they’re particularly hard for fraudsters to get around but also provide a great deal of friction to all of your customers in general.
If you ask every customer for document identification, it’s going to not only cost extra time for the customer in terms of them locating important, relevant documentation (such as their driver’s license or passport), but it’s also potentially going to take time to verify that these documents are valid. Verification is also importantly not completely failsafe. Criminals can also find ways around document or biometric verification. This could come in the form of forging ID documents using Photoshop or combining real and fake data to make a synthetic identity, as SEON explains in their guide to synthetic identity fraud.

How to check security without involving friction

Thankfully, there’s another route to safer onboarding, and that’s via data enrichment. Data enrichment handles many different data points along the entire onboarding process, like a user’s phone number, email address, IP address and device fingerprinting.

Data enrichment isn’t limited to just fraud prevention per se (although this is what we’re interested in here) – it’s generally a means to merge a primary data point with other data sets in order to provide a bigger context for your original data point. For example, you could start with a user’s email address as a primary data point. Using a data enrichment tool on the email address, you can combine it with other datasets out there such as via internet open sources or other records to find out whether it’s linked to any social media accounts.

Uncovering a very limited or non-existent social media footprint using data enrichment on a user’s data points means they’re more likely to be a fraudster or automated attacker. A customer is more likely to be genuine if they have a history of social media that’s over a few years. What’s more, a suspicious user is more likely to be hiding their IP address behind a VPN, using a web browser like Tor, and has a disposable phone number or an email address that’s not linked to any social media profiles. This entire process is known as digital footprint analysis.

These are all clues that create a picture of how likely a user is a fraudster – some fraud prevention tools that enlist data enrichment to find out more about your customers have a “traffic light” system, which involves providing each customer with a risk score. Phone numbers belonging to a blacklist will lead to a user receiving a very high score, as will a user using a Tor browser. You might ban them outright before or during the onboarding process itself, as they’re likely a criminal based on the information you’ve gleaned. When it comes to suspicious users with a high score, you might ask for additional details in the form of a phone call with your customer services, or extra documentation to show that they are who they claim to be. 

Blacklisting and flagging suspicious users early means you’re more likely to catch them. When a customer’s been flagged as suspicious, it’s fine to introduce a bit of friction, because you’re trying to decide whether they’re fraudulent or not – most of your regular customers not flagged as suspicious don’t have to undergo this level of scrutiny. This is dynamic friction – in other words, friction that’s introduced only when it’s deemed necessary, not all the time and for every single user looking to register with you. 

Bringing it all together: by enriching a customer’s email address, phone number or by looking at the kind of device they’re using, you can find out a lot about their identity during the onboarding process (or even just via them taking actions on your site). You might even be able to use this process instead of KYC-related verification checks to save money and reduce friction overall. That’s because this data can be gained fairly early on – you can even find a user’s IP address and device information just through them taking actions on your site. 
Using data enrichment to replace KYC is an option if you don’t have to comply with any KYC and AML-related mandates, which you might have to if you’re in the gambling industry. As Experian found, as more people become interested in gambling, this is leading to an increase in fraud targeted at the industry itself.

In sum

As we’ve explained above, there are several ways to go about creating a safe onboarding process that doesn’t let in fraudsters. Hard KYC checks like biometric verification can cause the kind of friction that leaves most of your genuine customers unsatisfied. But with the help of data enrichment, you can filter out fraudsters even before they reach the onboarding stage itself.

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10 Ways Cloud HR Software Can Improve the Workplace

March 20th, 2023 No comments

Human Resources are no longer restricted to the back-office, juggling piles upon piles of paperwork. The internet and modern technology have made HR a tech-savvy department. They can use cloud-based HR Software to manage time, hire, offboard, and manage time.

Human resources departments are often a hub of activity. Cloud HR software has made it possible for HR professionals to simplify and reduce administrative tasks such as record keeping and payroll. Instead, they can focus on the issues that will make or break a company’s success in an era of intense competition, such as employee engagement.

This video is a quick refresher course on cloud hr software. This vendor video is great for a refresher or crash course in cloud hr software.

These 10 Cloud Software Benefits Changed the Way We Think About HR

Small businesses who needed automation were the ideal target audience for HR software. It was developed in the late 1990s. As functionality became more sophisticated, innovation began to spread to larger companies.

The early 2000s saw a shift away from “one-size fits all” HR software to specialised systems capable of managing recruiting, training, evaluation and other HR-related tasks. Cloud-based HR systems provide businesses with the computing power they need to thrive and survive in today’s information age.

We’ll show you how cloud-based HR software has improved your workplace.

  1. There is less paperwork
  2. Performance assessments that are accurate and real-time
  3. Employee engagement increases
  4. 24/7 Access to Pay and Benefit Information
  5. Fast deployment
  6. Lower cost HR solutions
  7. Security: A new approach
  8. Access to innovation is easy
  9. How to bring HR up-to-speed
  10. Predictive analytics

1. Less paperwork

No more storing employee records inside large file cabinets. All files can be securely stored in the cloud with cloud-based HR software and accessed instantly using apps such as Box, Google Drive, or Dropbox. A cloud-based HR software allows HR employees to search for and print files in seconds.

2. Accurate, Real-Time Performance Assessments

Human Resources has a critical function: assessing employee performance. Assessments used to require a lot of paperwork and required a lot more time to complete.

Cloud HR software allows employees to be monitored in real time. Built-in dashboards, reports, and machine learning enable data analysis. Qandle HR solutions allow the HR team to quickly set up new systems or provide training.

3. Increased Employee Engagement

Cloud HR systems use big data and mobile technology for employee engagement. With Ceridian Dayforce HCM Software, HR is able to send out a pulse survey and collect feedback from employees in just minutes. Cloud HR systems can be used to track hours and manage employee payroll Software.

4. Access to Benefit and Pay Information 24 hours a day

Cloud HR software gives employees access to important information about their benefits and pay anytime, anywhere. They can see exactly how much of their salary goes towards taxes, 401(k) and other benefits.

Employees accessed outdated HR systems via telephone systems. These systems can be slow, may not be accessible at all, may take up more space and not have the same bandwidth as cloud-based HR systems. Cloud HR systems offer constant access at all times.

5. Quick Deployment

It is simple to use and manage HR software as a cloud service. It’s easier to use than legacy or standalone HR systems, according to reviews. As a SaaS provider, HR software is automatically updated and maintained.

6. Cheaper HR Solutions

Cloud-based HR software offers more value at lower upfront costs than traditional HR management software. Cloud solutions are immediately able to generate decent returns once they have been deployed. They also offer better data and time savings. This gives your company more resources to improve products and to increase employee satisfaction.

7. New Approach in Security

Security was not possible before cloud-based HR. Companies need to reconsider how they keep sensitive information secure, as employee records can now be stored digitally. International businesses are particularly concerned about data security due to the EU GDPR law. The GDPR defines personal data and makes companies responsible for protecting employees’ personal information.

8. Steps to Innovation

What happens when your proprietary HR management system becomes outdated? The total cost of ownership can quickly rise with upgrades, deployments, and training. Cloud computing gives startups and large corporations equal access to innovative cloud HR solutions. Cloud computing makes it easy to update existing solutions. Companies no longer have to spend extra on software and technology.

9. Bringing HR up to speed as a Strategic Department

The greatest impact of cloud-based HR software is the ability for HR to communicate with the rest of the organisation. The back-office has always been HR’s home, with a lack of information and poor communication.

10. Predictive Analytics

AI in HR systems is a great tool for employee retention and promotion. AI in HR systems can analyse data from the company and predict who is most at risk. It may reveal a dip in performance due to a lack of training or a problem with the workplace environment, among other issues.

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5 Proven Methods to Optimize Retail Store Operations

March 20th, 2023 No comments

Ensuring the store is functioning is essential, but more is needed to remain competitive in today’s market. Therefore, you should optimize every aspect of your business to stay ahead of the competition. One key area to focus on is optimizing retail store operations. 

By streamlining processes and fine-tuning strategies, you can save time and money. Moreover, it helps create a better work environment for your employees and a more enjoyable shopping experience for your customers. 

But with so much to consider, where do you start? 

To save you the trouble, we will share five unskippable ways to optimize your retail store operations and ensure that your store operates at peak performance. So let’s jump in and learn how to take your retail stores to the next level in 2023 and beyond!

5 unskippable ways to optimize retail store operations

1. Automate key business processes to reduce labor dependency

Running a retail business can be challenging, especially when managing time-consuming tasks like emails, expenses, and stock tracking. These tasks can also take your employees away from customers and consume their time.

On average, store managers dedicate 3-4 hours daily to administrative procedures. Remember, time is money! Therefore, to optimize retail store operations, you must focus on what matters and consider automating some of these processes. 

For example, you can leverage these automated tools to reduce labor dependency, such as

  • In-store cash-flow management
  • Time-tracking 
  • Purchase orders
  • Payroll management 
  • Point of sale (POS) systems
  • Inventory management 

This will allow your associates to spend more time interacting with customers instead of being stuck in the backroom.

2. Manage inventory and warehouse efficiently

As mentioned earlier, with the rise of online shopping, customers expect to be able to check if a product is in stock before they head to the store. That’s why it’s crucial for retailers to keep accurate track of their inventory and even predict how much they’ll sell each day.

Luckily, there’s an inventory software that can help retail managers figure out how much stock to order and when. And with auto-replenishment features, managers can even automate some of the work and order new items when inventory gets low.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

But keeping track of exact inventory levels can take time and effort. Stores are busy places with products being moved around, making it hard to know detailed what’s in stock. That’s where RFID technology comes in! With an RFID reader, your employees can quickly gather data about all the items on a shelf, which saves a ton of time. In fact, almost all RFID adopters have reported a positive return on investment for at least one use case. So, investing in technology like this can really pay off!

3. Create a seamless omnichannel experience for customers

An omnichannel gives customers a seamless experience no matter which channels they shop from. That means ensuring your in-store operations are just as excellent as your online ones.

Just picture that your inventory management is a mess, and you’re constantly running out of stock. Customers might be disappointed when they come to pick up their purchases. And if your customer service is inconsistent across channels, people might start to feel unsure about the brand’s professionality and look for other options.

But don’t worry. There’s good news! Companies with robust omnichannel strategies actually keep about 89% of their customers, while those with weaker plans only keep around 10% to 30%. So, if you want to keep your customers happy and loyal, investing in a solid omnichannel approach is worth investing in.

4. Gather customer feedback to improve business performance

Want to know another secret to optimize your retail store’s operational efficiency? It’s simple – just ask your customers! Feedback from customers can help you pinpoint areas where your business may need improvement.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

For instance, if customers consistently express dissatisfaction with the quality of customer service, retailers can take steps to improve the shopping experience. Retailers have many opportunities to gather feedback from customers, such as:

  • Asking for feedback immediately after a purchase
  • Requesting feedback after customers interact with a representative
  • Following up with customers months after a purchase

By focusing on your customers and their experience, you’ll improve their satisfaction and your profits. In fact, companies that prioritize customer feedback and implement a customer-centric approach are 60% more profitable. So, don’t underestimate the power of feedback – it could be the key to unlocking your store’s full potential.

5. Train your staff effectively to enhance customer service and sales

As the former CEO and chairwoman of Xerox Corporation, Anne M. Mulcahy, once said, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage.” 

And it’s true! Your employees are the key to your retail store’s success. They perform day-by-day tasks to keep your business running smoothly. That’s why optimizing your workforce should be one of the top 5 priorities if you want to streamline your operations. 

One effective method to do this is through continuous training and learning programs that give your staff the tools they need to thrive. In fact, many retail employees prefer ongoing training, which shows how valuable it can be for both the employee and the company.

Retailers can invest in specialized software designed for retail workers to make this training even more effective. Mobile-learning platforms are a great example of this, as they provide a convenient and engaging way for employees to learn and retain new information.

The bottom line

With the core elements of retail operations in mind, you can now implement these proven tactics to optimize retail store operations. Whether you are a new online retailer or expanding into a physical store, these strategies will help your business thrive in today’s competitive retail landscape.

If you need additional information or would like to improve your retail operations by implementing these methods, please feel free to contact us anytime. Thank you again for your interest, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

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4 Best LinkedIn Productivity Tools in 2023

March 20th, 2023 No comments

In today’s highly competitive job market, being productive on LinkedIn is more important than ever. Whether you’re looking for new job opportunities, networking with other professionals, or building your personal brand, using LinkedIn productively can help you achieve your career goals.

In this article, we will explore the four best LinkedIn productivity tools that you can use in 2023 to save time and boost your productivity.

How to Be More Productive on LinekdIn in 2023

  • Set Goals: Before you begin using LinkedIn, it’s important to set clear and measurable goals for what you want to achieve. This could include finding a new job, networking with other professionals, or gaining industry insights. By setting goals, you can stay focused and motivated, and measure your progress over time.
  • Optimize Your Profile: Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand and is often the first thing that recruiters or potential employers will see. Make sure that your profile is complete, up to date, and includes relevant keywords that align with your professional goals. You should also include a professional headshot, a compelling summary, and a detailed work experience section.
  • Engage with Your Network: LinkedIn is all about building relationships and engaging with your network. This could include commenting on posts, sharing articles, and reaching out to other professionals for advice or collaboration. By actively engaging with your network, you can increase your visibility and build meaningful connections that can benefit your career in the long term.
  • Use LinkedIn Productivity Tools: LinkedIn offers a range of productivity tools that can help you save time and achieve your goals. These tools can help you find job opportunities, connect with potential clients, and gain new skills and knowledge that can benefit your career.

4 Best LinkedIn Productivity Tools in 2023


LeadDelta is a Google Chrome extension that helps professionals manage LinkedIn connections effectively. With LeadDelta, users can organize their first-degree connections using tags, notes, and filters, in a CRM-like view. The platform provides a 10,000-foot view of your network, enabling users to unlock data, send personalized messages at scale, and use templates, bulk messages, and filters to nurture and grow their network.

One of the standout features of LeadDelta is its ability to export LinkedIn connections and manage them in a more personalized way. Users can create custom categories to put their connections in and use advanced filters to find exactly who they need.

The platform also provides useful features to improve workflows, such as a built-in inbox, message templates, and the ability to message your connections.

The platform is particularly useful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, digital creators, and executive recruiters who rely on their professional network to advance their careers or businesses.


SocialPilot is a versatile LinkedIn productivity tool that offers a range of features to help businesses and marketing teams optimize their social media marketing efforts.

One of its key features is the ability to schedule and publish customized posts for LinkedIn accounts, helping users to execute their content marketing strategies at the best times for maximum engagement.

SocialPilot also offers a visual content calendar that provides a cohesive view of monthly, weekly, and daily posts on multiple LinkedIn profiles and pages. With the drag-and-drop rescheduling feature, users can easily shift content around to refine their posting strategy further.

The tool also enables collaboration between team members and clients, allowing users to invite clients with shareable links and assign specific roles and permissions to individuals. With the team management features, users can streamline their workflows, grant access only to what’s needed, and open dialogue with their team or clients using comments on posts on the LinkedIn calendar, ensuring quicker feedback processes.

SocialPilot is also an affordable option for businesses of all sizes, making it an accessible solution for those looking to optimize their LinkedIn marketing campaigns without breaking the bank.


Expandi is an effective LinkedIn automation tool that comes with advanced features and is suitable for businesses of all sizes. With its cloud-based platform, users can enjoy an array of features that make automation easy and safe.

One of the most notable features of Expandi is the random delay between activities, which mimics human behavior and ensures that users remain compliant with LinkedIn’s terms of use.

Expandi also integrates with other marketing tools, allowing users to manage multiple accounts from the same dashboard. With smart limits, users can ensure that they only send up to 100 connection requests or messages in a day, and the auto warm-up feature gradually increases daily limits.

Overall, Expandi is a useful tool that simplifies the LinkedIn outreach process, and its market-leading features make it stand out from the competition. Users can launch their first campaign in 15 minutes and start seeing results within 24 hours.

However, it is worth noting that Expandi is relatively expensive compared to other LinkedIn tools on the market.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a premium subscription-based tool provided by LinkedIn that enables businesses to find and engage with potential customers on the platform. It is an ideal tool for sales professionals, business development teams, and recruiters who are looking to leverage the power of LinkedIn for lead generation and sales outreach.

One of the standout features of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is its profile navigation and segmenting capabilities. The tool allows users to search for potential leads based on various criteria, such as company size, industry, job title, and location. This feature is especially useful for businesses that are looking to target specific industries or market segments.

Another useful feature of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is its group messaging capabilities. Users can send personalized messages to multiple prospects at once, allowing for efficient and effective outreach. This feature is particularly valuable for businesses that need to reach out to a large number of prospects quickly.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is designed to promote business growth and generate leads. It provides businesses with valuable insights and data that can be used to better understand their target audience and attract potential customers. The tool is also fully integrated with LinkedIn’s CRM software, allowing businesses to access data, receive alerts, and gain insights directly from the platform.

Despite its many benefits, LinkedIn Sales Navigator does have some limitations. The tool does not offer automation functionality, which means that users will need to manually perform many of the outreach tasks. Additionally, the starter plan is somewhat limited in terms of its capabilities and features.

Over to you

LinkedIn has become an essential platform for professionals looking to advance their careers, build their networks, and grow their businesses. By setting clear goals, optimizing their profiles, engaging with their networks, and using productivity tools like LeadDelta, SocialPilot, Expandi, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, users can maximize their productivity on the platform and achieve their objectives more efficiently.

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How to Write Blog Posts That People Actually Want to Read

March 16th, 2023 No comments

Blogging is a marketing technique that allows brands to meet their buyers during the discovery or awareness stage of their buying journey. This type of content can be created in many styles and distributed in many ways, making it a great tool for businesses of any type.

Although hiring a skilled content writer is one of the most efficient ways to create high-quality blog content for your site, many small businesses don’t have the marketing budgets to hire these specialists.

Luckily, with a little knowledge and practice, it’s possible to take a DIY approach to build a successful blog from the ground up. You have to start somewhere, right?

In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to cover how to write a blog post that people actually want to read.

We’ll start by covering the basics of blogging before we dive into the step-by-step process of writing a blog post. To wrap up, we’ll provide tips and tricks for writing blog posts to keep your readers’ attention.

Are you on the edge of your seat?

Let’s dive in.

The basics of blogging

Blogging is a form of content marketing. In other words, a brand creates content that it believes to be relevant and interesting to its audience with the goal of it being discovered organically.

Blog posts are similar to news articles but broken down into lists or sections for greater readability. Some popular blog posts include listicles, reviews, comparisons, and how-tos.

Although plenty of emerging resources can help you improve the content creation process, it’s still a great idea to understand the mechanics of blogging to take the output from these tools and polish them into engaging, readable articles.

For example, GrowthBar, an AI copywriting tool, can help you create long-form SEO content that Google loves five times faster than a human writer. These tools save time, but the human touch is valuable for ensuring readability and engagement.

Pro tip – Before you start blogging, make sure you find a good name to brand your blog. A good business name generator can be a great place to get some ideas flowing.

Don’t worry. We’ll teach you everything you need to know.

How to write a blog post

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to write a blog post.

1. Choose a topic

The first step to writing a compelling blog post is choosing a topic your audience is interested in.

If you’re unsure where to start, it’s a good idea to check out your competitor’s blogs to see what topics they’re covering.

One great hack for streamlining your blog writing process is to keep a running list of topics to cover that you can add to as ideas pop up. That way, you always have something to work with, even if inspiration is lacking.

2. Find the right keywords

Google and other search engines are a great way to distribute blog content to get your brand in front of a larger group of people.

If you want to tap into search engine optimization (SEO) to distribute your content, you’ll need to choose keywords to target in your article.

Finding keywords is easy with the help of a dedicated tool.

Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner are among the most popular options. These tools tell you how much search volume there is and how competitive the search engine results page (SERP) is for a specific keyword.

You’ll want to choose a keyword that’s getting at least some search volume. Some people exclusively target words that are getting thousands of searches per month. However, don’t be afraid of a lower volume if you find a niche keyword that’d resonate with your audience.

Typically, you’ll want to choose one primary keyword to focus on and a few secondary keywords.

3. Create an outline

Next, you’ll create an outline for your blog post. This step is very important because it’ll help you create an article that’s well-structured and effectively organized.

You don’t have to follow MLA or any format you learned in school, but you should keep the general structure of separating topics in a hierarchy that’ll yield an article with a sensible flow.

4. Research the topic

Now, it’s time to fill in your outline with research.

  • Pull your information from reputable sources and industry thought leaders.
  • Find statistics to quantify your claims, and refer to studies where necessary.
  • Keep track of your sources so you can link to them in your article.

While conducting research is crucial, personal experience and expertise reign supreme. When you are confident that you have the correct method for doing something, utilize that understanding to supplement your outline.

For example, if you own a cleaning company that sells car cleaning products such as steering wheel cleaner or leather cleaner and have been using these products for years, you can simply pour the information from your brain.

Piece of cake!

5. Write the post

After researching and jotting down ideas, you can move into the writing phase. It’s as straightforward as it sounds. Turn your ideas and notes into legible sentences and paragraphs.

Assuming your outline flows well, you can keep your top points as your headings and subheadings in your blog post. You can tweak them to make them blog-appropriate, but leaning into that structure can be helpful.

To maintain readability, keeping your sentences and paragraphs somewhat short is important. Large blocks of text and run-on sentences are two surefire ways to lose your readers’ attention.

6. Edit the post

Once the post is complete, it’s time to edit. Read through your work to look for typos and grammatical errors.

It’s also a good idea to use tools like Grammarly and Hemingway App to help pick up mistakes you may have missed.

One tip that can significantly enhance your writing quality is hiring an editor. A professional editor can not only catch grammar and spelling errors but also provide valuable insights into the readability and flow of your writing.

Either way, editing can make a huge difference in whether people actually want to read your blog posts.

Tips for writing engaging blog posts

Now that you’re more familiar with the blog writing process, let’s review a few helpful tips to ensure your blog post is engaging.

Use a catchy title

Creating a catchy title is key to getting people to read your blog post. The title should be compelling and informative.

However, it’s worth noting that “catchy” doesn’t equal “misleading,” so it’s important to avoid using clickbait in your title. Make sure your article delivers everything the title promises, and don’t set false expectations.

Curate for the target audience

Ensuring your blog content is relevant and interesting to your target audience is key. You wouldn’t buy delicious bacon if you were a vegetarian. Consequently, your readers won’t read a blog post that isn’t interesting to them.

That’s why it’s important to define your target audience correctly before writing. You should get to know your audience well so you know exactly what content they are looking for.

For example, users of the platform Salarship mainly use it to find job opportunities, but they also actively read the Salarship blog. This is because the articles are informative and contain insights that are valuable to the reader. They make them feel that they aren’t alone in their professional challenges.

Your blog posts can provide a sense of community to your target audience.

Keep things interesting (but accurate)

One secret to keeping your audience interested is to write about something your audience already cares about.

If your goal is to write about a specific topic, remember that you must first create interest in that topic or find something that your audience has expressed interest in.

Let’s say, for example, your website is in the fashion niche, and a famous designer presented a new collection of linen suits on the catwalk this week. You can take this opportunity to talk about reasons to buy linen suits in your new article while linens are relevant.

On the other hand, if you’re writing in the medical niche, you should cover any topic with the utmost precision and empathy — including sensitive topics like sexually transmitted diseases or Viagra use.

When you use a mix of hot topics and real and raw content, your readers are more likely to trust you and start reading your blog posts for practical purposes.

Use graphics

Although the text is the star of the show with this medium, it’s important to use graphics to break up the text and improve its readability. This could include images, charts, graphs, videos, and gifs.

If you have the bandwidth and resources, you should try your best to create custom graphics for your blog. However, you can also find stock images on sites like Pexels, Shutterstock, and Unsplash.

You can also find images on Google, but it’s important to filter your results to those eligible for commercial use.

Final thoughts

With so many great tools available at your fingertips, writing a blog post is easier than ever.

And publishing high-quality blog content is great for improving your brand’s discoverability and connecting with your target audience.

So now that you know how to write a blog post, are you ready to start writing?

Featured Image by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash

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The Unexpected Benefits of Email Validation

March 15th, 2023 No comments

Email marketers eventually learn that periodic email validation is a must. Many find out the need to validate email addresses after experiencing a frustrating storm of email bounces. However, email validation is not just about avoiding email bounces. There are a lot of benefits to email validation. Let’s see what else you can gain.

Unexpected email validation benefit: it saves on costs 

At first, the baffled email marketer wonders, “What have I done to get so many bounces?” But they find out it wasn’t what they were doing but rather what they weren’t doing. They weren’t practicing email hygiene, which foremost means regular email validation. Email validation is an expense, but it frequently saves money.

How? Email services charge based on the number of emails on your list. If you’re sending emails to invalid or useless emails, you’re actually throwing money down the drain. With as many as one in four emails going bad in a 12-month period, trimming back your email list is a great way to cut costs.

Email validation can boost your metrics and ROI

You’ll likely boost every metric marketers use when you validate your list. For example, clickthrough rates (CTR), open rates, and ROI frequently climb because you’re purging ineffective contacts. In addition, some email marketers notice a morale boost when they see how much better their emails perform. It’s like they’re getting the real numbers.

You can’t make a sale to a dead-end email address. When you regularly validate emails, the quality of your list is enhanced. Better lists always lead to better results.

When you validate your email list, you reduce spam complaints

Ideally, your emails and everything you do should be miles away from anything that spammers do. Unsurprisingly, engaging in spam-like behaviors (like using spammy subject lines) can get you considered a spammer. It’s the adage: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

A similar thing to avoid is the email users known as abuse or known complainers. These people love to mark the emails they get as spam. You could have done nothing wrong, but they still want to hit the spam button.

Any email validation service worth its salt will be able to root out the pesky people associated with these types of email addresses. It can’t be stressed enough: spam complaints harm your list health and results. It only takes a couple to give you worry about landing in the spam folder. Email validation will help you stay on top of them.

Email verification builds customer loyalty and name recognition

Do you subscribe to any emails from which you haven’t bought anything yet? Many people get an email from a specific brand and continue to get those brand emails even though they don’t make a purchase. It’s still good for you as a sender as it helps your reputation.

Email validation ensures that if someone subscribes to your emails and keeps opening them, they will still appear in the inbox. You can’t put a price on having a direct line to people who expressed an interest in your company. They may eventually make a big purchase or recommend you to someone who will.

If you validate your email list, you’re unlikely to get blacklisted

Email blacklists are no joke. Anti-spam organizations, in cooperation with internet service providers (ISPs), maintain lists of IPs believed to be spammers. The lists are collected and maintained in order to block spammers. Spam is such a pervasive problem, and blacklists go a long way toward keeping junk from showing up in your inbox. 

So what’s the problem? Legitimate email senders sometimes end up on blacklists. A spam trap ends up on their list. It could be that it seeped in through a contact form that is not protected.  Sometimes abandoned email addresses become spam traps and will wind up on your email list.

If you regularly check your email list, you should be able to find those blacklists and save yourself a lot of trouble. Ending up on a blacklist is a hassle you’re better off avoiding. Wouldn’t it be better not to be added to a blacklist in the first place? 

You can verify emails in real time

Your readers are only human. They will make a typo! They transpose a letter or put one letter twice when they key in their email address. If that address gets added to your email list, it will result in bounces. However, there are even worse problems. Sometimes bots will infest an email list using those forms. You know you don’t want that, but you may think the email validator will catch it the next time you upload your list.

One of the benefits of a complete email validation service is that you can stop typos or harmful data from the beginning.  You can connect an email validation API on all of your forms to block harmful data from ending up on your list in the first place. 

Let’s say someone wants to take advantage of your freebie, such as an ebook or audio download. The supposed customer wants the gift but doesn’t want to give their actual email address. Instead, they use a disposable or temporary email address because they aren’t interested in your business. Unfortunately, those disposables bounce, sometimes in just a couple of hours. An email validation API would prompt them to enter a valid email address at the source. Same thing with typos because it checks the email in real time.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Regularly checking your email list puts you in a more powerful position. You’ll always know where you stand and can keep any poor email data at bay. In addition, it’s better to be aware of what your list health looks like than to be unpleasantly taken aback.

There have been plenty of accounts of email marketers who neglect regular email validation and find out their email providers have banned them. Something like that is shocking and certainly interrupts your email plans, but you can avoid it. You can have peace of mind by regularly setting up email checking

Email validation has many benefits. Most of all, it’s knowing that your efforts and resources will not be wasted.

Featured Image by Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels

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How to Reach More Global Audiences with Your Videos

March 15th, 2023 No comments

The rise in the popularity of video content isn’t set to decline anytime soon, and with 2.6 billion YouTube users around the world, content creators are reaching limits with videos that written content could never accomplish. But how can you reach more global audiences with your videos? The answer isn’t as simple as creating great content. In fact, the success of your videos relies heavily on whether they’re optimized for a global audience!

Although English is considered one of the most widely-spoken languages on earth, only 1.35 billion out of the estimated 8 billion people on earth are English-speaking. That means that if you produce your videos in just the English language, you’re missing out on the opportunity to target millions of viewers worldwide.

You might think that video script translation is the quick solution here. But optimizing your video to engage global viewers revolves around more than just language. You also need to consider viewers with hearing disabilities.

This post explores the fundamentals of optimizing your videos for a global audience to make them accessible to anyone.

Why Video Content is the Best Way to Reach a Global Audience

More people watch videos today than ever before. And there’s no sign of the trend declining any time soon. In 2020, more than 80% of global internet usage was driven by video content. On YouTube alone, 1.2 billion videos are watched every single day. The effectiveness of video has been shown to increase consumer trust, increase conversion rates, and keep audiences engaged for longer. 

Videos are one of the best ways organizations can maintain consistent global branding, even if they target multiple languages across multiple channels. Pairing video and written content can be a great way to improve the ROI of global campaigns that target specific local markets. 

How to Optimize Your Videos for a Global Audience 

Step 1: Perform In-Depth Research

To start creating videos that engage a global audience, you must determine where the majority of your viewers are based. Most YouTube users are generally based in Latin America and Asia, which rules out the idea of only using English content when creating video ads. Once you’ve researched the demographics of your target audience, it’s time to focus on cultural preferences across multiple channels, which have a massive impact on the type of audience you’ll have to cater to with your content.

After establishing which cultures you’ll cater to, creating content with a specific persona is important. This will help you create content that aligns with your viewers’ expectations. When you deeply understand who’s listening to you, you’ll have a much better opportunity to discuss the type of content they’re willing to listen to.

Step 2: Focus on Titles, Descriptions, and Captions

Audio-visual content intended for the international market must be delivered in a way that sparks global interest. This doesn’t necessarily only relate to the kind of content you produce but revolves around improving the accessibility of your content with video metadata as well.

You’ll need to optimize your video titles, descriptions, and captions according to the preferences of the local audience. For example, if more than 35% of your viewers are native Spanish speakers, it’s important to translate your original audio content into the Spanish language.

Using translated captions is a great way to improve the accessibility of your audio-visual content, as it ensures that you’re also catering to individuals that cannot listen to the audio of the video. It’s preferable to use professional language service providers when it comes to translating your captions, as machine translation often neglects to capture cultural nuances that are deeply engrained in language.

Step 3: Consider Subtitles

Adding subtitles to your videos is a great way to reach more global audiences if you’re sharing videos outside of YouTube, where auto-captioning isn’t standard practice. Subtitles can be very handy to help viewers understand you better and ensure that viewers that cannot listen to the audio still understand the content of your video. Since subtitles force viewers to engage with the video, it might help drive engagement with your videos as well.

Step 4: Time the Length Perfectly

A major aspect of creating high-impact videos is their length. The perfect video length is important to the product’s effectiveness in reaching a global audience. If your video is intended for international audiences, be brief enough to keep people interested. Dragging the video out for too long can have a negative effect and might lead to increased bounce rates. To maximize viewership, it’s important to do proper market research and balance out the timing to ensure you’re producing videos that are just long enough to deliver a meaningful message. 

Step 5: Create Localized Videos to Reach Specific Audiences

Localized video clips can address specific problems people face in specialized regions. Developing local video campaigns is important. You can start by creating a simple video that engages the audience. After this, you can develop a series of short films tailored to specific countries or cultural areas. A good example of localized videos is the content created by the National Institute for Health. Their videos are intended for American English speakers. However, the voice-out and the scripting are all Spanish to demonstrate that NIH has resources available for the languages their target audience understands best.

Ready to Reach More Global Audience Members with Your Videos?

Optimizing your videos to reach more global audience members isn’t rocket science, but there are some basic principles that you must keep in mind to appeal to and engage viewers across the world. When you translate your videos and their text elements, you’re giving your video the best shot at reaching as many viewers as possible, but translation is not the end-all and be-all of building a global reach.

By implementing certain tactics to make your videos easily accessible through search engines and localizing your keywords, titles, and captions, you’ll be catering to a global market and expanding your reach with ease.

Featured Image by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

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