Not to End up “Just Following Up” Email

 

 

Just wanted to check in with you and see if you’d had a chance to check out my proposal for the 4 of July Business Party.

What? Really?

The opening to my blog post didn’t provide you with any value or reason to continue reading. I hate to admit it, but I even do it every now and then. So why do we still use it when we’re following up with prospects? Because sometimes we’re selfish and lazy. But messages like that are annoying and disruptive to the recipient.

 

The problem is that we all know that following up is critical to closing deals. According to Referral Squirrel:

  • 2% of sales are made on the First contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the Second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the Third contact.
  • 10% of sales are made on the Fourth contact.
  • 80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact.

However…

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of sales people make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of sales people make it more than Three contacts with a prospect.

It is well known that repeat customers and referral business are the two best (and cheapest to acquire) types of business.

We’ve all sent the “just checking in” email before. So what should you be doing instead? Hubspot (one of the Kings of content marketing…along with one of my virtual mentors: Seth Godin “virtual” because he doesn’t know me, I just obsessively read everything he puts out) says that there are three key ways to drastically improve these “check-in” emails:

  1. Google Alerts – Set up a custom Google Alert for your prospect’s company name, competition and industry keywords. That will create a trigger event to customize your follow up email.
  2. LinkedIn Groups – Find a LinkedIn Group that discusses their industry. That will provide you with content and an actual reason to follow up.
  3. Signals Alerts – Signals allows you to track when your prospect is actually opening and/or clicking your email. That way, you know when they open your email and will help you with the timing of your follow up. (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Hubspot or Signals…I guess I should be…anyway, there are plenty of email tracking services available. Just Google “email tracking software”)

Hubspot has a great slide deck that you can check out by clicking here.

The point is, you don’t get any value out of the emails you receive that say, “Just checking in” so stop sending them out to your clients and prospects and start sending something of value. You can’t afford not to nowadays in the modern world of constant interruption (how many emails, texts, phone calls, snapchats, etc. did you get while reading this 500 word Blog?)

Make sure your clients and prospects know that you are THE thought leader in your space.

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The Bargain That Is WhatsApp & 4 More Stories You Need To Know Today

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SUCH A DEAL! — There’s been no shortage of opinions on what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, ranging from “I don’t get it” to “You don’t get it.” But the only opinion that matters has now weighed in, and, in his view, WhatsApp was cheap. “I just think that by itself it’s worth more than $19 billion,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “The reality is there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world.” The reality is that WhatApp isn’t one of them — it has around 465 million users. But Zuck thinks it can be a billion-member platform, and, again, that’s all that matters.

 

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DIMON IN THE ROUGH — The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that JP Morgan Chase is set to fire “several thousand” more employees, above and beyond a recently announced round of up to 15,000 job cuts. The reason, per the FT: Better tech at branches and plummeting mortgage applications. Official word may come as early as today, when CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at bank’s annual Investor Day, his first address to shareholders since the bank’s record $13 billion settlement with the Feds over allegations of mortgage chicanery. The bank employs more than 250,000 people.

 

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HI, FIVE — The Samsung 5 got a nice enough reception from the tech press, which tossed around words like “refined” and “elegant.” Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone boasts some welcome features, like water resistance, fingerprint sensing, a built-in heart rate monitor, pedometer and fitness tracker. But the low-key kudos award goes to BGR Executive Editor Zach Epstein, who Tweeted: “Galaxy S5 is a nice iteration. Good job focusing on refinement vs feature spam but no BUY ME features.” Let’s hope, for Samsung’s sake, that’s not literally true. The S5 will be available in 150 countries on April 11.

 

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BAD DAY FOR BITCOIN — The virtual currency that’s beginning to attract mainstream attention is facing an “existential crisis” after a leaked document, allegedly from one of the companies which act like banks for the crypto-currency, reveals it was hacked for years. Missing from the Bitcoin exchange in question, Mt. Gox, are a total of 744,408 coins worth some $350 millionBitcoin lost 17% in value in the 24 hours after the revelation, but has since stabilized (to the extent Bitcoin ever does). Mt. Gox was once the biggestBitcoin exchanges and been offline since late Monday. Six other big exchanges — Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, BTC China, Blockchain and Circle — sought to isolate the problem: “This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company’s actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we’re seeing today.”

 

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ELEVATOR PITCH — In what should come as surprise to nobody — seriously, people — the person behind @GSElevator isn’t a Goldman Sachs employee sharing OH 1% disdain for the rest of us. The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin blew the lid off this three-year-old prank “after several weeks of reporting,” outing the Tweeter as John Lefevre. The Texas-based bond executive didn’t actually hear anyone at Goldman Sachs (New York/London/Hong Kong, not Texas) say things like: “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.” He tells Sorkin his parody was aimed broadly at Wall Street, not Goldman Sachs per se. The Wall Street brokerage was circumspect, telling the Times: “We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately.” Lefevre’s last Tweet was Feb. 15, leaving his 628,000 followers in the lurch for tone-deaf white shoe firm humor. Worry not! Lefevre has a book deal. Of course.

 

 

Is Google+ is future? At least Google believe it is !

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It’s common currency in internet punditry circles that Google won the battle to dominate search while Facebook won the battle for social, and that Google+ is just a failed competitor to Facebook. But Google hasn’t given up

It has been clear for a while now that, to make up for the fact that not very many people actively use Google+ as a social network, Google is turning it into a platformon which the rest of Google’s web services are evolving—something that has the effect of making people use Google+ by default. Results from Google+ already clutter search results. YouTube’s commenting system has been replaced by Google+. Chat and Talk, once stand-alone services, were combined into Hangouts and incorporated into Google+.

In a revealing interview with the Indian business newspaper Mint, Steve Grove, a Google+ exec who inks deals with content providers and influential figures, makes it clear that this is just the beginning. Grove tells Mint that “the reason for that is that Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google.”

Why? According to Grove:

There’s a lot of great value here, because Search also shows results from Google+ and this is going to bring more people into Google+; people are going to see that there’s a lot of value in logging into our services, before doing a search.

We’ve written before about how Facebook’s strategy for getting users in emerging markets is to convince people new to the internet that Facebook basically is the internet. Google’s strategy looks a bit like the obverse of this: convince people already on the internet that the internet runs on Google+

But when you look at it longer-term, Google’s strategy is actually very similar to Facebook’s. New internet users, such as the hundreds of millions expected to come online in India in the coming years, will find that being on Google’s social network is increasingly a prerequisite for using Google’s other services. Roping those new users into Google+ from the get-go is the company’s best chance for coming from behind and defeating Facebook’s dominance in social media. And that clearly seems to be Google’s goal, given how much effort it’s pouring into the network.“We focused a lot on Google+ here [in India], and it’s already very active, and people are getting on board on their own,” Grove said.

Facebook wants to know why you didn’t publish that status update you started writing.

 

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A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked on Facebook:

Do you think that facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting <enter>? (or the “post” button)

Good question.

We spend a lot of time thinking about what to post on Facebook. Should you argue that political point your high school friend made? Do your friends really want to see yet another photo of your cat (or baby)? Most of us have, at one time or another, started writing something and then, probably wisely, changed our minds.

Unfortunately, the code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it.* It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private.

Facebook calls these unposted thoughts “self-censorship,” and insights into how it collects these nonposts can be found in a recent paper written by two Facebookers. Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, have put online an article presenting their study of the self-censorship behaviour collected from 5 million English-speaking Facebook users. (The paper was also published at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.*) It reveals a lot about how Facebook monitors our unshared thoughts and what it thinks about them.

The study examined aborted status updates, posts on other people’s timelines, and comments on others’ posts. To collect the text you type, Facebook sends code to your browser. That code automatically analyses what you type into any text box and reports metadata back to Facebook.

Storing text as you type isn’t uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don’t expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.

Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

It is not clear to the average reader how this data collection is covered by Facebook’s privacy policy. In Facebook’s Data Use Policy, under a section called “Information we receive and how it is used,” it’s made clear that the company collects information you choose to share or when you “view or otherwise interact with things.” But nothing suggests that it collects content you explicitly don’t share. Typing and deleting text in a box could be considered a type of interaction, but I suspect very few of us would expect that data to be saved. When I reached out to Facebook, a representative told me that the company believes this self-censorship is a type of interaction covered by the policy.

In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts. But it’s certainly technologically possible, and it’s clear that Facebook is interested in the content of your self-censored posts. Das and Kramer’s article closes with the following: “we have arrived at a better understanding of how and where self-censorship manifests on social media; next, we will need to better understand what and why.” This implies that Facebook wants to know what you are typing in order to understand it. The same code Facebook uses to check for self-censorship can tell the company what you typed, so the technology exists to collect that data it wants right now.

It is easy to connect this to all the recent news about NSA surveillance. On the surface, it’s similar enough. An organization is collecting metadata—that is, everything but the content of a communication—and analyzing it to understand people’s behavior. However, there are some important differences. While it may be uncomfortable that the NSA has access to our private communications, the agency is are monitoring things we have actually put online. Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

This may be closer to the recent revelation that the FBI can turn on a computer’s webcam without activating the indicator light to monitor criminals. People surveilled through their computers’ cameras aren’t choosing to share video of themselves, just as people who self-censor on Facebook aren’t choosing to share their thoughts. The difference is that the FBI needs a warrant but Facebook can proceed without permission from anyone.

Why does Facebook care anyway? Das and Kramer argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, “[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation.” After all, Facebook shows you ads based on what you post. Furthermore, they argue that it’s not fair if someone decides not to post because he doesn’t want to spam his hundreds of friends—a few people could be interested in the message. “Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends—some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” they write.

This paternalistic view isn’t abstract. Facebook studies this because the more its engineers understand about self-censorship, the more precisely they can fine-tune their system to minimize self-censorship’s prevalence. This goal—designing Facebook to decrease self-censorship—is explicit in the paper.

So Facebook considers your thoughtful discretion about what to post as bad, because it withholds value from Facebook and from other users. Facebook monitors those un posted thoughts to better understand them, in order to build a system that minimizes this deliberate behaviour.

 

Top Video Ads and Brands making most of the Noise !!

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Which brands managed to take the most advantage of the burgeoning online video advertising space this year? A pair of new reports reveal the big winners this year: YouTube unveils this year’s Ads Leaderboard, while Unruly reveals the brands that scored the most shares of their ads. YouTube, recently forecast by eMarketer to generate $5.6 billion in ad revenues this year, puts Evian’s “baby & me” at the top of its leaderboard, which factors in paid views, organic views and audience retention when determining its rankings. Samsung, meanwhile, tops Unruly’s list.

The YouTube Ads Leaderboard tracks the most-viewed ads rather than branded content, measuring both paid and organic views. With more than 66 million views as of December 2, the Evian ad stood a significant distance from the second-placed ad, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” (59.6 million) which also happened to be the most shared video ad of the year, according to Unruly.

The other ads making the leaderboard were (all view counts as of December 2):

Internet Explorer’s “Child of the 90s” (47.9 million);
Pepsi Max’s “Test Drive” (39.6 million);
PooPourri.com’s “Girls Don’t Poop” (20 million);
Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” (20 million);
GEICO’s “Hump Day” (18.6 million);
Ram Trucks’ “Farmer” (16.6 million);
Volkswagen’s “Get Happy” (14.7 million); and
Audi’s “Prom” (10.7 million).
Not too surprisingly, 6 of those ads landed on Unruly’s chart of the most-shared ads of the year. One more might have made it if not for a later launch: Volvo Trucks’ “The Epic Split feat. Van Damme” took the 6th spot in YouTube’s top 10 trending videos of the year. It joined 2 other branded videos to make the list: Evian’s commercial and the Carrie promotion “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” were the others.

Top Social Video Brands of the Year

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Several of the above-mentioned ads were so successful that they drove the advertisers into an Unruly’s list of most-shared social video brands, which showed significant turnover from last year’s list.

Based on the number of video shares tracked between January 1st and November 18th, Unruly reveals that the top 10 brands were:

Samsung, with 7.3 million shares;
GEICO, with 4.93 million;
Dove, with 4.52 million;
Pepsi, with 4.02 million;
Budweiser, with 3.86 million;
Red Bull, with 3.75 million;
Evian, with 3.71 million;
Kmart, with 3.4 million;
Cornetto, with 3.39 million; and
EA, with 3.39 million.
Last year’s top viral video brand, Google, failed to make the list this year, coming in 12th. Unruly also notes that Nike, TNT Benelux, DC Shoes, P&G, Abercrombie & Fitch and Volkswagen also couldn’t repeat their successes from last year to make it into the top 10. The fairly high turnover from last year suggests that making the list is dependent on the virality of a limited number of ads: 6 of this year’s top 10 brands had a video ad make Unruly’s list of most-shared ads.

Opportunities and Threats in a Brave New Market Research World

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Much is written about how much Research has changed over the past few years – mobile is the latest big thing, social media is hovering in the background to be trawled for insights, ethnography is making a comeback, online qual. is proving extremely popular thanks to the speed and ease with which selected consumers can give their opinions on a whole range of subjects. Behavioural Economics has pointed out with much fanfare what qualitative researchers have always known – that context, social influence and emotions play a huge role in influencing what we say and do.

It’s exciting times, and from a Client perspective almost bewildering – the array of options from which to choose from is expanding rapidly, and the new normal seems to be that any one insights challenge requires a mixed methodology approach, using online, offline, qual and quant. We encircle our subject with an ever better (we hope) sense of what’s really going on – making Research an even more powerful tool.

So why the ongoing sense of Angst – that Research is threatened? Shouldn’t we be relishing change as an opportunity to become more influential with an upgraded toolkit?

My sense is it’s actually change per se, that is making many of us feel uncomfortable – margin-destroying, pervasive, ongoing. Low-cost technology software is putting MR tools into the hands of the potentially inexperienced. Our professional status is challenged; our sense of relative immunity to the ups and downs of economic cycles shattered; some of our assumptions on how best to model human behaviour are being shown to be wrong. It’s how we react to this change that will determine whether we will emerge strengthened or elbowed aside in a wave of MR disruption.

Here’s my take on the opportunities and threats.

Opportunities:

Data Experts = Insights Experts
Companies are exposed to ever more information, but we still live in a world short on real insights. This is a huge opportunity for Market Researchers: to widen the scope of our mandate – take on sales data, market data, financial data, feedback from Customer Service, sales force reports, and mine them appropriately for a given business question.

Nearer the Action
The traditional structure of a Research programme was invariably quant. survey plus groups/depths – solid, but hardly spicy and often regarded as costly and slow by Marketing people inspired by the speed with which their Internet Marketing analytics were available. All that has changed with a MR powered by technology which can now deliver data (not necessarily insights) in days not weeks, and where the visualisation of evidence produced by Smartphones gets us really up-close and personal.

This ability to be on-the pace pushes market research nearer to decision making – and helps ensure we are an ongoing and valued member of the marketing team.

New MR = Creative and Strategic
Market Research increasingly plays a strategic role in new product development: we are tasked with unearthing unmet needs, leading ideation projects; we often take the lead in multi-functional task forces made up of R&D, marketing and sales personnel.

This is a radically new position: we’re forced to develop hypotheses, not just evaluate them, to be pro-active, engage in lateral thinking, and step out of our analytical comfort zone. Get this right and you automatically upgrade the value of the MR effort.

Threats

Role-Usurption
Market Researchers used to be data-guardians, people respected for their in-depth knowledge of categories and brands, often gained over decades. The power associated with this knowledge primacy has effectively been exploded – data often bypasses the MR department; Marketing people with good business degrees often have a good grasp of how to use Excel, perform simple regression analyses, certainly track data, and establish benchmarks. The black box, if you like, has been replaced by Pandora’s box.

This data-freedom means Researchers need to work harder to be recognised and valued as the true go-to people when it comes to insights.

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“D. I. B.” (Do it Badly) Research
Low-cost, easy-to-use survey software effectively allows anyone with a database to do their own research – social media scraping (netnography at its best) is equally a field open to those with the time and inclination. The DIY trend is unquantified, often under-discussed, but a strong one in MR, driven by cost and speed – unstoppable forces, but with a downside: the lack of understanding of what makes good research, and what dangers and biases are involved in the whole Research process. I recently heard the phrase “Do-It -Together” at an Esomar Conference – which nicely encapsulates one way of addressing the danger of botched DIY Market Research, by collaborating and offering training, expertise.

Volume not Value Growth
The biggest single pressure I see on MR of the future is on budgets – either flat, decreasing, or simply not capturing a larger slice of the Marketing pot. More needs to be done with less, effectively – and once Marketing people have discovered the benefits of using a proprietary panel – radically reducing the per-survey cost – the floodgates can and do open.

This can lead to MR departments being bombarded with Survey requests, with less and less time available to evaluate the results. Larger Client side MR departments can split roles into more senior “strategic evaluators” roles and more junior “data-providers”, but for many smaller companies this isn’t an option.

Outlook

In summary, Research has a broader and arguably superior toolkit than say 5 years ago – we can get closer and closer to an authentic sense of what is driving choice, be it habit, social influence, visceral states or impulse. We have reason to be optimistic, but the hope that methodologies will on their own actually make a massive difference may be naive.

The most pressing challenge for Market Research in future is in my view actually using all the methodological innovations for superior business impact.

The most amazing tools aren’t much use in the hands of mediocre craftsmen, and vice versa: brilliant skills can create much out of nothing. It’s here ,at the coal-face of MR – the area of ROI and impact – that we actually need to see the needle move. I hope that we can look back in 5 years time and say that all our improved insights actually made a bigger difference, and that we captured the recognition for the additional value we bring to the party

My Mom always told me Sharing is a good thing; but I didn’t know it will get me Job !!

 

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How Sharing Other People’s Content Makes You an Irresistible Job Candidate

When it comes to standing out online, your best bet is to offer your own original content. Blog posts or tweets that revolve around your unique ideas will make you a standout candidate.

But the truth is, not everyone has the time, writing ability or even confidence to grow a quality blog or social media account, and plenty of people who don’t have a blog still want to move up the career ladder, into more challenging and better-paying positions.

What if there was a way to show the world just how smart you are, without creating your own content?

Well, there is, and it’s a tactic you should seriously consider: sharing other people’s content.

Whether you curate on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr or all of the above, here are five things sharing content created by others says about you — and why it can move your career forward.

1. You know your industry inside and out.

When you share an abundance of interesting information, people begin to realize you know your stuff. Not only do you know what’s going on, but you understand what’s valuable to people in your industry and what they want to read, which is just as important.

Even if you don’t consider yourself highly knowledgeable on a certain topic — if, for example, you’re looking to change careers and are using your online presence to pivot — you’ll become knowledgeable on that topic as you sift through blogs and tweets looking for quality information to share. In other words, curating content can help you become an authority in your field and help others see you as an authority.

2. You’re innovative.

Not only do you use the latest social tools to share advice and ideas, the information you share is often about your industry’s latest trends and developments, which suggests you’re forward thinking.

Anyone can say in an interview that they like to follow tech trends, but serving your community as a content curator shows the hiring manager you’re serious about learning, brainstorming and innovating.

3. You enjoy helping others.

So many people talk about themselves on social media. You’ll stand out if you get off the soapbox and instead offer helpful, valuable information, giving props to whoever created it.

This is helpful not only to the minions who read your tweets, but also to the industry leaders who wrote the blog post, tweets or updates to begin with, since you’re helping spread their content and ideas. Those thought leaders will likely appreciate your efforts and might even look to connect further with you, which could lead to more opportunities.

See why being generous online is one of the best things you can do for yourself?

4. You’re familiar with the big (and little) players in your field.

Knowing who the thought-leaders are in your field and where they hang out is just as important — if not more — than being in-the-know about innovative developments. Why? Because those people likely are part of those developing trends, or at least talking about them. In many ways, they are the trends.

In their book The Startup of You, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha wrote, “If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for people.” Knowing who’s doing what in your industry can go a long way toward helping you take the next step in your career. Curating content is a solid way to keep up with what everyone’s doing.

5. In some cases, you have access to those industry players.

Know what every employer wants more than an awesome, skilled employee? An awesome, skilled employee who knows people. Every one of your connections means a connection for your company.

If you don’t know any of the major players in your industry now, look to create those connections through sharing other people’s content. Your generosity could lead to online conversations with those people as they leave comments on your blog posts or reply to you through Twitter. Really want to get on their radar? Try an email introduction after you’ve mentioned that contact on your blog or Twitter, with the hope that they’ll recognize your name.