Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/14/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).
The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.
You know how sometimes something gets famous and then we all make fun of it? It’s easy to forget that these are humans. Rebecca Black is out there doing some interesting work based on this and it’s worth your time.
Last year around this time, we asked reached out to a series of content experts (many of which are included in this post), to ask them for their top content prediction for 2017. By and large, the explosion of video content was a top prediction and rang true this year.
We also received predictions related to the mistrust of news sources (#FakeNews anyone?), the need for restructure within marketing departments as content marketing roles become more defined and the necessity for a defined content marketing strategy.
And while each of these predictions were spot on) or very close to what we’ve experienced this year), some of them were very aspirational. This year, content marketers have been through alot. They’ve had to do even more with less, focus even more on marketing performance and try to navigate a very saturated marketplace.
The platforms and tools that we use on a daily basis are in the midst of a revolution. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are having a significant impact on the industry, one that we can’t ignore.
As content marketers begin to rely more heavily on this technology, they’ll find that they will have even more insights and data which should make for better, more impactful content.
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
“We’re going to see new art forms emerge for content in 2018.” @annhandley tweet this
What additional data do we need to create more impactful content?
What tools and plugins already exist that can help to better inform the content we create?
How will technologies like AI and Machine Learning shape our approach in 2018 and beyond?
Marketing Will Become a Profit Center
Traditionally, marketing has been viewed as a cost center within organizations large and small. Marketing is the thing that costs money, that doesn’t create new business and is often the first department to experience budget or resource cuts.
Jump to 2018, and it’s time to change that narrative. Good marketers have been lead and revenue obsessed for years, and use data to show their worth. Now it’s time for everyone else to catch up.
If content marketers can narrow their focus and spend time nurturing their audience and developing marketing strategies that move them through the purchasing funnel, they’ll begin to see the direct correlation between marketing and sales made.
Author & Keynote Speaker
“What if we can build a loyal audience, and generate direct revenue from that audience and have marketing be self-sustaining.” @joepulizzi tweet this
How does my company value our marketing department?
Are we a cost or profit center?
What steps can we take immediately to gather, analyze and act on data to become more efficient?
2018 Will Leave a Content Crater
Everyone and their dog (literally), consider themselves to be content marketers. The landscape is saturated with crappy content that is leaving many audiences unsatisfied and turned off, even when it comes to the good stuff.
We are in an era where people know that they need to be creating content, but they aren’t always equipped to create the right content. In the coming year, we’ll see even more people creating even more content without purpose.
CEO, Owner Media Group
“We’re on the tail-end of people knowing they need to create content. Content 2018 is Applebee’s announcing $1 margaritas every day of the week.” @chrisbrogan tweet this
Does the content that we create have purpose?
What can we do to ensure we’re creating the right content for the right audience(s)?
Marketers Will Focus More on A/B Testing
Creating and promoting content a certain way because it’s “the way you’ve always done it”, won’t help you become a better or more successful marketer.
The best marketers, take the time to test different variations, analyze the data and optimize based on the results. When you do start an A/B testing initiative it’s essential that you keep the variables to a minimum. That way you can determine which variable had the impact and optimize your approach moving forward.
“In 2018, we’ll see a lot more companies A/B testing.” @amrynnie tweet this
What content or content promotion assets can we begin A/B testing immediately?
What types of content do we want to A/B test moving forward?
What tools do we have in place or need in order to effectively A/B test?
B2B Brands Will Inject Humor into Marketing
Most B2B marketers think that content is serious business. However, that notion runs counter to the buzzwords we’ve been throwing around for years about humanizing brands, showcasing authenticity and ultimately creating content for people.
Smart B2B brands will take the time in 2018 to begin testing adding humor into their marketing in a way that creates a more meaningful connection with their audience.
Writer & Producer, Cisco
“2018 will be the year that we’ll see more B2B brands using humor in their content. Using humor is a wonderful way to share our flaws as people.” @timwasher tweet this
Would my audience be open to consuming content from our brand that is more humorous?
How can we add humor to our content in a way that makes sense?
Content Measurement Will Reign Supreme
In 2018 marketers will need to be even more data driven than ever before. Reporting on KPIs will no longer be accepted as marketers have access to information that can help them measure true content impact and performance against business objectives.
Additionally, marketers will need to use this data to map the full buyer journey to determine the correct place for each piece of content.
VP of Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel
“Marketers will need to go above and beyond KPIs and determine what content is moving the needle for pipeline and revenue.” @dayroth tweet this
Do I have access to the data I need?
What impact is my content having currently?
How can we create more impactful content that maps to business objectives?
Marketers Still Won’t Have a Documented Strategy
Documenting a formal content strategy still seems to be a struggle for many marketers. And while there is a slight increase each year in the number of marketers who do have a content strategy, it’s not enough.
Without a plan, it’s impossible to meet or exceed expectations. Simply formalizing your plan can provide a framework for how you’ll approach content, what your goals are and how you can make decisions based on the data you collect.
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital
“We have to get to a point where every marketer is data driven and showing ROI.” @cnmoody tweet this
If you don’t have a plan, what is hindering you from creating one?
What are your biggest content marketing goals for 2018?
How can you work backwards to determine how you will reach them?
BONUS: In 20 Years, Content Marketing Will Be ______
As an added bonus, we asked our experts to predict beyond the coming year and share their vision for content marketing in 20 years. Here were their responses:
What is Your Content Marketing Prediction for 2018?
Content marketing changes so quickly that these predictions can’t possibly cover all of the changes that we will experience in the coming year. So that begs the question: what is your top content marketing prediction for 2018?
Disclosure: BrightFunnel & LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.
For the past two decades, the pinnacle of search sophistication was talking to a search engine like you’re Tarzan. “What are the best hiking boots for men?” became “best hiking boots men.” “How many ounces are there in a pound?” became “number ounces pound.” Question words, articles, adjectives, or any such linguistical fanciness would confuse the humble algorithms.
But search is finally getting smarter. Search engines can parse whole phrases, decipher intent, zero in on results that will delight the searcher. And search is moving beyond the desktop or even the smartphone touchscreen, accepting new kinds of input, and displaying output in other formats than the standard ranked list of links.
In short: What consumers expect from search engines has evolved, and search engines are changing to meet these expectations. Marketers need to adapt to the new search ecosystem. If we’re still optimizing for Tarzan, we’ll miss an ever-increasing amount of traffic.
Here are four major trends in search that made waves this year, and will continue to reverberate in 2018 and beyond.
#1: Visual Search
This first trend is the newest on the list, but it seems poised to change the search landscape substantially in the future. When every smartphone has a built-in camera, why bother typing or speaking queries when you can search with a picture? Google Lens is an app that can identify buildings, products, text, and read barcodes – and it uses machine learning, meaning it’s going to get more sophisticated over time.
Right now, you can take a picture of a movie poster, book cover, or even consumer products like shampoo or mouthwash, and the app will serve up search results based on the image. The technology isn’t perfect yet, but it should be on every marketer’s radar.
#2: Voice Search
Five years ago, the only reason to talk while using a phone was if you were having an actual conversation with another human being (gross, I know, but those were different times). Now, a growing number of conversations are with Siri and the nameless Google Assistant. Voice search has exploded in popularity, rapidly approaching the tipping point when it will overtake typed search.
Voice queries tend to be more complex, more like natural human speech, than a typed search query. Marketers optimizing content for voice search should think in long phrases, whole sentences, questions and answers, rather than short keyword phrases. Think of how someone would ask you in person for the information you’re providing, and make sure your content addresses that type of query.
#3: Home Assistants (Smart Speakers)
Voice and visual search ultimately lead to the same result: A screen displaying search engine listings. Search on home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo do away with the screen entirely. The entire interaction is verbal – you ask a question, the smart speaker responds with information.
There are over 35.6 million of these voice-activated assistants on the market right now, a 129% increase over last year. As these devices get smarter and cheaper, we can expect sales to continue to soar.
One of the reasons these home assistants are appealing is they simplify search results. Instead of a page of listings, they give a single definitive answer. To optimize for that type of search, marketers need to pay close attention both to local search and to sites that partner with home assistants, like Yelp and CitySearch for business reviews.
#4: Featured Snippets
For marketers, the point of a search is for the user to click on our link in the SERP and read our carefully-crafted content. For consumers, the point of search is most often to get a single piece of information. Google is on the consumers’ side in this case – they’re constantly adding new features to keep people from having to click search results.
Featured snippets occupy a “rank 0” space in search results, above the actual SERP:
Basically, Google pulls content from one of the top 10 search results and displays it, along with a link to the source. According to Ahrefs’ exhaustive snippets study, these little answer boxes can “steal” nearly 9% of clicks from the top organic listing. And Google is doubling down on the feature, displaying multiple snippets per query, increasing the length of text appearing in the box, even adding a carousel of options readers can browse without clicking through.
The good news for marketers is snippets most often appear for long-tail keywords. If your content is a comprehensive explanation of a topic with multiple sub-topics, you’re already optimizing for snippets.
Me Content, You Audience
Searchers no longer have to dumb down their queries, which means marketers shouldn’t dumb down content to please a search algorithm. Search is getting more convenient, more conversational, and accessible across a wider array of devices. So it’s time for marketers to evolve our content to match. Unless, of course, your target audience is actually Tarzan.
As our world becomes increasingly connected through the internet, social media and mobile technologies, consumer awareness and engagement around local and global social, economic, political and environmental challenges are soaring to new heights.
As a result, people desperately want to invest their time and money where their hearts are by supporting and working for companies that are making a positive and meaningful impact. And many companies are answering the call by throwing out conventional business models to tackle these challenges—while also bolstering and growing their bottom line. They’re finding and living their purpose.
For these companies, success isn’t grounded in simply offering “the best” product or service. Instead, it’s the purpose behind the creation and execution of those best-in-class products and services that drives success for all involved.
Of course, social media marketing is playing a major role in spurring awareness, engagement and action around what purposeful companies are all about. From breathtaking, tear-inducing photos to compelling video narratives, below I highlight a handful of these companies that have captivated my heart with their purpose and marketing mind with their social media work. And my hope is that you’ll feel the same.
#1 – Love Your Melon
If you’re regular reader of my example-heavy social media blogs, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded in hopes of making the lives of kids battling cancer in America a little better by providing them with a special hat. With each item purchased by the public, 50% of the profits are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer.
I encourage you to check out the video below about their story—of course, this has been uploaded natively to social to put all the feels out there.
Love Your Melon’s social media mix includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Across their channels, all the tried-and-true marketing best practices are working in their favor. But it’s evident that their purpose is the guiding light in how they tell their story on social. Using captivating imagery you don’t only see the amazing work being done—but you feel it, too.
#2 – cuddle+kind
If you aren’t familiar with cuddle+kind, allow me to introduce you to this amazing brand where every fiber of its being seems to be dedicated to making a difference.
Started by the Woodgate family, cuddle+kind produces hand-knit, heirloom-quality dolls that not only help feed children around the world, but also provide women artisans in Peru with sustainable, fair trade income.
“As parents, we believe all children should have enough food to eat and the opportunity to thrive, so when we saw a documentary on the devastating impact of childhood hunger on millions of children around the world, it inspired us to help,” cuddle+kind’s website states. “On that day, we decided to start a company whose purpose is to help improve the lives of children and to make a difference.”
For every doll sold, cuddle+kind is able to provide 10 meals to children in need. At the time this article was written, they had already donated 2,988,823 meals.
Like Love Your Melon, cuddle+kind’s amazing visual content on social media is what draws you in—like this little number below from Instagram.
Founded in 2007, Krochet Kids intl. (KK intl.) is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing job opportunities for women in need. Every product is hand-signed by the person who made it and each artisan has her own profile page on the organization’s website detailing her story—with room for shoppers to leave a thank you or words of encouragement.
In honor of its 10-year anniversary, the brand launched a video series (some of them short films) highlighting the people and the stories that have made their work what it is today, which were uploaded to YouTube and shared across some of their social channels. Here’s a little taste:
Facebook is the brand’s top-channel, boasting nearly 74,000 likes, but they’re also sharing the work of their community on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. What’s really working on Facebook are the great visuals, but they also take advantage of the “Products Shown” feature to make it easy to click and shop.
#4 – MudLove
MudLove was born in a tiny garage filled with big dreams and a lot of love back in 2009.
“With nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and a plan to support clean water projects in Africa, handmade creations emerged and MudLOVE was born,” MudLove’s website says. “We are artists and makers. Doers and thinkers. Number-crunchers and donut-munchers. With ‘mud’ in our hands and love in our hearts, the chance to make a difference is our inspiration to create.”
Through its partnership with Water for Good, for every product that’s purchased, a week’s worth of clean water can be provided to someone in need.
When it comes to their social media efforts, MudLove is on all the usual suspect channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Their posts are a blend of humor and hope, sharing their hand-crafted pottery pieces and bringing attention to clean water issues in developing African countries.
#5 – The Giving Keys
The Giving Keys bills itself as a “pay it forward company,” hoping to not only inspire the world to do just that, but also create jobs for those transitioning out of homelessness. Based in Los Angeles, the company makes jewelry out of repurposed keys, which are personalized with your choice of an inspirational word or phrase.
“We’re not a nonprofit, we’re a social enterprise,” the company’s websites boldly states. “So instead of raising donations, we sell product to provide jobs. A good job is a long-term solution for breaking cycles of generational poverty and homelessness. That’s why we place people on career paths and hand them the keys to unlock their fullest potential.”
On social media, their posts offer words of encouragement and inspiration, and stories of the people who they’ve been able to lift up. Of course, a smattering of pretty images of their finished products can also be found. This is one of my favorite recent Instagram posts:
What’s Your Purpose?
Purpose is not your company’s mission statement. Purpose is not a set of company values. Purpose is the unique and authentic underpinning of what drives the work you do and the impact you want to make. And these brands certainly embody that, and they’re bringing it to life on their social media channels.
From our perspective, all organizations have the opportunity to uncover their true purpose. In fact, TopRank Marketing recently embarked on our own purpose initiative, which is in the discovery phase as we speak.
What have we learned so far? Each and every one of us cares deeply about a myriad of issues plaguing our networks, communities and the world at large. So, we’re starting there—we care to make a difference. And that’s where you can start, too.
Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/11/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).
The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.
None of this goes by the book. But Denny’s scores tremendous engagement on almost every social media channel, and has developed a cult following of sorts on the web thanks to its quirky content. This has proven to be a significant differentiator for their business.
Right now, standing out with your content marketing efforts is more challenging than ever before. If you’re trying to adhere to the established “best practices,” I have bad news: so is everybody else.
This requires outside-the-box thinking. Those who go against the grain and pursue methods that counter the mainstream are frequently being rewarded, and in some cases maybe even setting new trends for the marketing world.
To illustrate, here’s a look at three unusual content marketing tactics and companies that have applied them successfully.
Get Ultra Niche
Sure, you could water down your content in order to make it appealing to the broadest possible audience. Plenty of businesses do just that.
Or, you could narrow your core following, and orient your messaging toward them directly. Speak their language, even if it might potentially alienate some folks who fall outside of that scope.
“Nasty Gal really emerged from a conversation. I’ve probably spent more time than any other brand reading every last comment. To listen to people the way you’re able to online is very powerful. I think other companies are just starting to figure that out.”
Four years later, many are still figuring it out. Or too risk-averse to boldly embrace a targeted content style that borders on esoteric. Meanwhile, Nasty Gal continues to build affinity and loyalty with its very specific, adoring audience.
Stir the Pot
Last month on this blog, Josh Nite wrote about brands taking a stand based on values. That can be a scary thing. The standard playbook calls for companies to stay neutral on social issues, so as to avoid ruffling feathers and potentially turning away customers who lean strongly in another direction. As divisive and volatile as things can be these days, this mindset is magnified.
But as Josh noted, adopting an emphatic public stance can differentiate your business, define your audience, and inspire your employees. It can strengthen your company’s relationship with customers (and draw in new ones) who share your values, and generate positive third-party coverage. In many cases these benefits will outweigh the negatives.
Recently, outdoor clothing company Patagonia made waves by blacking out its website and replacing the usual ecommerce interface with this message, in the wake of President Trump’s decision to roll back public land protections in Utah:
For several days, in the thick of the holiday season, it was a bit tricky to go and even order a jacket from Patagonia online. (You could still access their store by clicking an X up in the corner, but it wasn’t all that obvious.) That’s not a traditionally advisable business move, and probably costs the retailer some money in the short term. But ultimately, it has the potential to build brand loyalty.
Focus on One Social Media Channel Exclusively
It’s easy enough to maintain a presence on every major social media channel, especially with tools that enable you to post on all of them from one central app. Sometimes it’s as simple as copy-and-pasting the same message across different platforms, broadening your reach without a whole lot of addition effort.
The problem with this approach, however, is that it can dilute your brand and prevent you from achieving true greatness on any channel. Instead of trying to create social content that will work for every social network, why not focus on mastering just one? Determine where your customers mostly like to hang and then put all of your social media marketing effort into making that account as good as it can be.
One company that exemplifies this is White Space Studio, a creative agency in Hawaii that exhibits its design savvy through a stellar Instagram page. Sure, the company also has Facebook and Pinterest accounts, but doesn’t do much with them. And White Space doesn’t even bother with Twitter.
Does this limit their potential exposure? Perhaps. But by concentrating their attention on Instagram, they’ve built an exceptional showcase for their brand while achieving bigtime engagement.
TopRank Marketing has partnered with Onalytica for the Women in Tech: Hot Topics and Influencers List for 2018. The list features influencers in the categories of Artificial Intelligence, FinTech, Blockchain, BigData, IoT, EdTech, MarTech, InsurTech, Virtual Reality, and Cyber Security. Onalytica Blog
Study: 80% Of Brands Plan To Boost Video Spending In 2018. Of course Facebook and Google dominate video advertising with Facebook accounting for 39%, and Google’s YouTube, 27% of digital video ad spend. The cost of producing targeted high-quality videos is prohibitive, and many marketers rely on agencies to create the ads. MediaPost
Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger. Facebook is internally testing a tool called Messenger Broadcast that businesses would be able to use to send message blasts to people who had conversed with their accounts on Messenger. Of course that wouldn’t work of Messenger is down (see above). MarketingLand
Black Friday Twitter engagements totaled nearly 785M. Black Friday-related terms and hashtags on Twitter had a total message volume of 1,982,019 and a potential reach of 27.5 billion. “potential”, ha! What’s interesting is that 63% of the messaging came from mobile devices and 37% from the web. MarketingDive
Email Generates $1.6 Billion On Cyber Monday (But Search Rocked It). Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history with sales increasing to $6.59 billion. Mobile continues to grow as an integral component of retail marketing, as revenue driven by smartphones reached a record $1.59 billion. Search was crowned the overall winner of the shopping bonanza with 41.7% of online sales. . MediaPost
YouTube is testing its own version of Stories. YouTube announced it’s rolling out the Community tab to all creators with more than 10,000 subscribers as well as a new feature called “reels”, which is like Instagram or Snapchat Stories. Reels allow creators to stitch together short videos shot from their mobile devices and add things like filters, music and text. Engadget
Mobile Ad Spend Surpasses Desktop Spend. Mobile is now the world’s second-largest ad medium expected to reach $98.3bn in 2017, representing almost a quarter (23%) of worldwide advertising expenditure. WARC
There are now 25M active business profiles on Instagram. It looks like my favorite network for personal use is finally growing up into the business world. Instagram also says that more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business, with 200 million users visiting a business profile every day. TechCrunch
New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families. While there is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as Coppa, that requires services aimed at children to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information, how long before kids figure out how to “hack” that permission? I’m not a fan of this at all. New York Times
63% of B2B marketers currently buy advertising programmatically. Not only are B2B marketers combining programmatic and data to drive their ad buying and audience targeting, they’re also turning to data to drive their integrated marketing campaigns. In fact, almost 80 percent of respondents said they either use or want to use a solution that integrates ad tech and mar tech. Dun & Bradstreet (client)
Google is testing an answers carousel within the search results snippets. Even less reason to click through: Google has started testing and potentially rolling out a new feature in search that shows a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippets. Search Engine Land
2018 Digital Marketing Plans Survey Summary Report. Highlights include: Social media marketing, content marketing and the marketing technology that drives these tactics, are most effective marketing tactics. The most critical challenge to the success of a digital marketing plan is data quality and 93% of digital marketing budgets will increase in 2018, with 41% increasing significantly. Ascend2
Content is the No. 1 contributor to an overall good event experience for IT buyers. Four out of five IT buyers say they are more likely to visit a booth if they have heard of, read about, or connected with an exhibitor before an event. This is why conference ebooks make so much sense! MarketingProfs
Global AR & VR revenues to grow from $4.1 billion in 2016 to $79.4 billion in 2021. ARtillry Intelligence has devised a disciplined and non-biased revenue forecast for AR & VR, segmented into their product areas: enterprise AR/VR and consumer AR/VR. From Pokémon Go to applications in manufacturing and design, it looks like the AR & VR space is coming in to its own. ARtillry
Sprout Social Acquires Social Analytics Firm Simply Measured. The social analytics market is expected to grow to $9.54 billion by 2022 and with Simply Measured full-funnel analytics, Sprout Social is certainly moving in the right direction to capitalize on that growth. Sprout Social Blog
On the Lighter Side
Facebook Messenger Went Down Globally and Everyone Freaked Out. On Tuesday this week thousands of users reporting problems according to the Down Detector website, which logs reports of online service failures. Of course when one network is down, users flock to another to complain. In this case hundreds of users flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration. Fortune
Instagram adds content warnings for koala selfies. If you click on an offending hashtag like #koalaselfie, #lionselfie #koalahugs or #tigerpet, a new warning will pop up. “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,” the warning reads. CNN Tech
You should know that I rarely choose to use the privilege of your attention to bark at companies that rub me the wrong way, but when Jacqueline told me about her GoDaddy problem, I knew that I had to lay it all out in a post and get loud about it. While the problem is technically resolved, there’s a lot to learn from this and I have a lot to share with you.
First, I’ll Recap With New Understanding
So here’s what happened (corrected) from my perspective:
Jacq purchased a new domain name from GoDaddy.com, a domain “registrar” that listed the price of this domain as $99.99 (There’s more to this later)
GoDaddy sent Jacq a confirmation that the transaction went through
Behind the scenes, the domain registry for .health (the domain Jacq bought) KICKED OUT THE TRANSACTION saying roughly that they won’t accept the price (Again, more later)
GoDaddy sent Jacq an automated email a day later saying “Hey, we took that domain transaction out of your account” (horrendously worded and a big opportunity), thus REMOVING THE DOMAIN FROM JACQ’S account.
Jacq called customer service and was 1.) given bad information, 2.) refused a supervisor call or any further follow-up
Friends of mine reminded me who I actually know at GoDaddy (including great folks like Christopher Carfi and Heather Dopson). They started shaking some cages.
I get offered a call from GoDaddy
Johnny from the CEO’s office calls (because hey, angry blogger influencer type).
I get a lot of interesting information (covered below for YOU)
GoDaddy refunds my purchase and essentially gifts me/Jacq the domain (which wasn’t my goal whatsoever, but hey thanks, GoDaddy).
Just for fun automation facts, GoDaddy sends Jacq an email this morning saying hey, you abandoned your cart *for woman.health* so here’s a coupon if you complete the transaction. (Um.)
So that’s what happened.
Second, Some Facts About Domain Purchases
I learned a bunch from Johnny at the CEO’s office. (Jacq points out that GoDaddy should’ve offered to call HER not me, and she’s not wrong, but points for the phone call. GoDaddy has still not apologized to Jacq for this beyond a quick tweet. Apologies go a long way in these situations.) More on this in the next section. — **UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**
GoDaddy is a Registrar. They’re like the real estate agent for website addresses. When you purchase a domain from GoDaddy (or any registrar), they basically take your money, then issue a command to the Registry (the company that holds the actual domain real estate), get a confirmation, and then everyone agrees that you now own that domain.
.health is a Registry. dotHEALTH LLC is the company that can set the prices and make available the various permutations of that domain space. So if I want to buy donkey.health, I can go to my Registrar (GoDaddy), see the price listed there, and give GoDaddy money. GoDaddy then sends a note to .health and says, “Hey we just bought donkey.health for $69.99 so take that name out of circulation. We’ll use it.”
.health sets the prices and then GoDaddy is allowed a bit of a markup. This is business. That’s always what happens. Some domains are normal. Others are premium. The Registry sets which domain names carry a higher price in a database and then the Registrar just bumps up that price a bit to cover their costs. (Be really clear here: the Registrar has to make some money on this transaction or they’d go out of business.)
The handshakes are, in simplest form, like this:
Customer visits registrar.
Customer checks availability of domain name. (Registrar checks with Registry)
Registrar probably issues a very brief temporary “hold” on that domain so that no one else takes it during this transaction. (I didn’t confirm this.)
Customer sees listed price that Registrar displays based on data from Registry+markup
Customer clicks purchase and confirms financial details.
Registrar confirms the purchase on screen.
Registrar emails confirmation to customer.
Registrar messages Registry and says, “Give us that domain. Here’s the price.”
Registry normally says “Hey sure. Here’s the domain. Thanks.” (***)
Transaction is complete.
What happened to Jacq (and/or what could happen to you) is this:
Registrar displays price. Jacq buys at that price.
Registrar tells Registry “Hey, give us that domain at that price.”
(***)Registry tells Registrar, “Wait. That’s not the price in our system. Reject this.”
Registrar then cancels the order and refunds Jacq (spitting the domain back into the available domain pools).
Registrar emails Jacq saying they canceled her order (with a really poorly worded email).
Jacq calls customer service and gets bad/wrong information and no further recourse. Is told basically that instead of $99.99, the domain now costs $649, which makes Registrar look greedy, bad, wrong, and deceptive.
Angry Jacq. Angry Chris. Grumpy blog post.
Now, I want to walk through what needs to change in this, and some really good opportunities for Registrars such as GoDaddy and others. (This could’ve likely happened with any Registrar.)
Finally, How to Improve the Domain Purchasing Process
I have to say this up front: if this whole thing operated on a blockchain, this wouldn’t have happened this way. But that’s for the future. Let’s talk about now.
GoDaddy must improve the process of price verification before putting available domains up on their site. If the price says $99.99, then that’s the price. No matter who’s at fault here (and it seems like it might be .health from what I was told), the price facing the customer must be honored by the vendor taking that money.
The availability/purchase experience is clearly done in some kind of batch format and not real time. With something as important as a domain purchase, there either must be a real time option available OR there has to be a lot more/better communication flow explaining this experience. (Jacq and I have been buying domains for years – she has hundreds of them – and we never knew about this Registrar-Registry handshake and opportunity for rejection until now.)
This can’t have been the first time someone went through this. A customer service refresh training has to happen.
Customer service should never deny a supervisor or a supervisor callback. Ever. Resolution is far more cost effective than leaving a customer in a bad state. Dozens and dozens of people shared their frustrating stories of no resolution with GoDaddy upon reading my article. The whole reason I posted this was to flag that “regular” people who aren’t loudmouth bloggers/influencers wouldn’t have been able to resolve this easily. Nothing in Jacq’s experience shows otherwise.
GoDaddy’s BIG opportunity here is to live up to their own positioning and advertising. Jacq is a woman-owned small business who trusted GoDaddy to secure a domain for her project at the price they listed on their site. They failed to do that. They sent the worst error handling automated email I’ve seen to date. They failed to fix this via customer service. This ended up requiring a lot of escalation for something that could’ve been handled a lot cleaner and better and with a satisfactory resolution for the woman-owned small business person trusting GoDaddy with over a hundred of her other domains. And so far, beyond a tweet, they haven’t contacted Jacq directly to apologize. They handled their PR issue (me).**UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**
Validate the prices upon inventory loading. This is 100% the PROBLEM part. GoDaddy(Registrar) lists one price in their system and .health(Registry) has a conflicting price. To be utterly honest, if the price started at $650, Jacq would’ve bought it without flinching. She and I both own a few premium domains. But you can’t say $99. Oh wait. $650. It doesn’t work that way.
Explain the process in the purchase flow. 1. check availability. 2. purchase. 3. confirm order. 4. confirm transaction. If this can’t be handled in real time, then make the process flow better align with the communication flow.
Technology isn’t the story here. It’s improving the buyer experience. The farmer says the apples are ten cents. The grocer says the apples cost a five cents. The customer gives the grocer five cents and the grocer hands that to the farmer who says, “No! I said ten cents. Remember?” The grocer sheepishly eats the five cents this time, fixes the signs, and makes a process to ensure that everyone knows the price next time. How bout them apples?
A Final Note on Influence
For years, the way I’ve approached working with the companies I’ve had the pleasure to serve has centered around a really simple concept: “I just want every company to treat my mom better.”
I say it like this because at the heart of everything I’ve ever taught is that our job is to improve the buyer experience and serve our customers.
When I choose to go loud like this and complain at a company, it’s for one purpose: someone without as much of a spotlight and voice as I have didn’t find a straightforward resolution with a company they trusted to serve them and they’re frustrated.
I’m grateful that Heather Dopson and Christopher Carfi and others got the CEO’s office on the line and resolved this. But more than anything else in the world, I want the next person who chooses to trust GoDaddy with their business to know that THEY will be treated better than Chris Brogan whether or not they can tweet to 365,000 people.
“We treat you better than we’d treat Chris Brogan.”
That’s the goal.
And one last detail that Jacq pointed out: while it was me with the bullhorn and who went loud and who raised the ruckus, the CEO’s office didn’t reach out to Jacq. They didn’t try to talk to the customer they wronged. Just the guy who was bitching loudest. I’m glad I got the call, but Jacq would’ve preferred to have been treated like the primary focus of this. (Just a note for future such opportunities.)
I know this post was long. I had a lot to explain. I’m sorry about eating up your time like this but I hope it helped. If you need to reach me, I’m always at email@example.com
Can I interest anyone in an iPhone? No, not the iPhone 8 or X. I’m talking about this bad boy:
No takers? But it has a 320X480 pixel screen, 128 Mb of RAM, and a single 2-megapixel camera! Back in 2007, this was the hottest phone on the market. People lined up in front of stores just to get their hands on one.
You get the point: State of the art quickly becomes laughably outdated. What used to thrill a consumer’s soul is now something we wouldn’t give a toddler to play with.
That kind of obsolescence isn’t limited to the tech industry, of course. The cycle from next-big-thing to the dustbin is even faster in online content. Yet many content marketers are using tactics that, while they once worked, are now as outdated as that original iPhone. What’s worse, some of us are still in the flip-phone stage.
If you’re using any of the following content marketing tactics, it’s time for an upgrade. Here’s what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t, and what you should try instead.
Ditch These Outdated Content Marketing Tactics
1. Broad and Shallow Content
Content used to be about sheer bulk rather than quality. Search engines prioritized sites that had a lot of keyword-rich (more on that later) content. Whether that content was actually useful didn’t matter. So writers churned out blog posts like they were getting paid by the word – and sometimes, we actually were.
But search engines have gotten smarter, and our content needs to get smarter, too. Pride of place in the SERP goes to content that actually serves a purpose for an audience. Shallow content gets few clicks, low time on page, and high bounce rates. All of these factors push your content down to the hinterlands of Google’s Page 2 (or lower).
What to Do Instead: Content can no longer be a commodity, churned out in a word factory. We need handcrafted artisan content. It takes longer to create, but you don’t have to make as much of it, either. Focus your resources on a few pillar pieces that deliver real value. Content that inspires readers to spend time on the page, explore further, and share with others will beat commodity content every day of the week.
2. Single Keyword Stuffing
In the days of bulk content, a sure-fire way to get search engines’ attention was stuffing in keywords wherever they would fit. Keywords were stuffed in every header, every paragraph, multiple times in a sentence, and then in invisible text at the bottom of the page for good measure. It didn’t add anything useful to the content—in fact, it actively made the content worse – but it helped get eyeballs to your site.
Now, though, you’re likely to get the opposite effect from keyword stuffing. Google actively recognizes spammy keyword usage and moves that content down in the SERP.
What to Do Instead: Don’t focus on a single keyword. Start with a topic for which there is proven search demand. Then create a keyword group of similar terms, related topics, and long-tail derivatives. Use your keyword group to inform your content outline. Then, as you write your comprehensive, best-answer content, you will naturally include the relevant terms without stuffing them in. That way, you’re optimizing for humans and search engines alike.
3. Clickbait Headlines
Never has a tactic been so maligned and so effective as clickbait headlines were a few years ago. “7 of the Coolest Kazoos in the UK – Number 5 Will Shock You!” “They Said He Couldn’t Play His Kazoo at School – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed drove millions of views with these headlines, and marketers were quick to pick up on the trend.
The problem is, if everything is “shocking,” “mind-blowing,” or “brain-melting,” nothing is. Readers caught wise to the hyperbole and stopped clicking through. Upworthy is still around, but has a fraction of the audience. Buzzfeed is still going strong, but only because they ditched the breathless headlines and focused on great content.
What to Do Instead: Offer a clear benefit to the reader in your title. Don’t promise a life-changing, unbelievable experience – promise to meet a specific need, and make sure you fulfill that promise.
4. Focusing on Bottom of Funnel Content
One of content marketers’ biggest challenges is proving how their content contributes to a purchase decision. So it makes sense that, historically, we’ve concentrated efforts on content designed to close a deal. That is, content that’s more, “Why Our Kazoos Are the Best,” rather than “Why Kazoos Are a Vital Part of an Orchestra,” or even, “Our 10 Favorite Kazoo Players.”
It’s true that bottom of funnel content is easier to tie to revenue. But without top of funnel content, you won’t have an established audience for the bottom of funnel stuff. You can talk about how great your product is out the kazoo, but who’s going to read it?
What to Do Instead: Most of your audience is going to be in the early stages of the decision-making process. To strike the right content marketing balance, use the funnel image as your guide – create the majority of your content for top of funnel, a little less for mid-funnel, and less still for the very bottom. Then make sure each piece of content has a next step that leads the reader further down the funnel. Or kazoo.
5. “Viral” Content
There’s a potent high to having a piece of content go viral. Millions of impressions, thousands of shares, maybe even local news coverage, all organic and all free – it’s definitely intoxicating. When viral videos cracked the mainstream consciousness, marketers went chasing that high. And some of us are still trying to catch it.
As I’ve said before, viral is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant but unpredictable side effect of good content, and it’s ultimately irrelevant to your goals. How many of those millions of viewers are interested in your product? And how many just want to laugh at a dog playing a kazoo?
What to Do Instead: Don’t aim your content at the broadest possible audience and hope it goes viral. Focus on your most relevant audience and make a strategic plan to reach them. We use an integrated marketing approach that includes:
Best-answer, comprehensive content with SEO built in
Influencer co-creation for amplification
Social media amplification
Paid, highly targeted advertising
Get with the Now
The original iPhone was a technological marvel in 2007. Now, you’ll find it in a museum of technology, or on eBay as a “classic collector’s item.” But you won’t find it in anyone’s hip pocket.
Make sure your marketing stays up-to-date: Ditch outdated tactics like shallow, product-focused content and upgrade to valuable, customer-focused content, strategically planned and amplified.
After years of supporting GoDaddy (even through their rough times with public relations), I might be done defending them because of something they did to my fiance, Jacqueline.
GoDaddy Deletes a Domain Purchased From Their Site
So here’s the story. On Tuesday the 5th, Jacqueline calls me all excited and tells me that GoDaddy has new .health domains available. She purchases “woman.health” right then and there. She’s very excited about it. The price was $99.99 though Jacq had a coupon to drop it to 80.17. You can see that the purchase went through. Here’s the email confirmation:
Today, GoDaddy sends Jacq an email with the “helpful” subject line “We deleted some items for you.” As if they’re somehow doing her a favor. Look:
Note how the email says “If this is a mistake, please contact us.” Well yes it’s a mistake. This wasn’t Jacq’s request. GoDaddy changed their mind on the price.
Customer Service Doesn’t Help
Jacq proceeds to call “Breanna” who says that the domain was priced wrong. She puts Jacq on hold. She says it’s priced wrong. There’s nothing they can do. They can’t keep the sale because it’s not their policy. She says it’s Icann’s problem, and their price. And so they put it back on sale on the site. Here it is back on GoDaddy for $649:
(Mind you, Jacq bought it from GoDaddy.)
Breanna goes on to say that all .health domains cost a minimum of $500. Jacq says that’s crazy and proceeds to look up a bunch:
So clearly this isn’t accurate, either.
Breanna says “I don’t know. That must be incorrect.” Jacq asks if maybe there are more domains priced wrong? She couldn’t answer.
Jacq asked for a supervisor. Hold. Breanna says she can’t find a supervisor, but that even if she could find one, they wouldn’t be able to help her anyway, because they couldn’t honor the price, either.
No Resolution. GoDaddy Doesn’t Help
Now, I realize that this story will be published and lots of people will see this. So I panicked, because I realized that ultimately, Jacq wants this domain, so maybe I shouldn’t make a blog post talking about this without first securing the domain.
GoDaddy lets me buy it. Here it is:
So think about this.
Jacq buys the domain for $80.17
GoDaddy PULLS THE DOMAIN purchase from her account and emails her of this a day after the fact.
GoDaddy puts the domain back up for sale for $649.
I’m able to buy the domain Jacq thought she secured.
GoDaddy customer service says they can’t do anything about this. And blames Icann.
So, do you think I can recommend GoDaddy as a domain registrar? Do you think I feel really comfortable with all MY domains being registered there, given this experience?
Jacq has over 100 domains registered there. I have a dozen or so. It won’t be exactly easy moving everything off, but what else can we do? Seems difficult to want to trust a company that does what they did and then couldn’t offer resolution.
What would you do?
Part 2 Coming Soon
In a subsequent post, I’ll tell you what any company of any size can do to avoid this example of bad customer service, and I’ll also share how this problem is resolved (or not).