Try it Today: Customized Sharing Links

What makes sharing links better? Customized sharing links, that's what!

Control sharing with Watershed share.
From Flickr user Krissen.
Do you work for a non-profit with no social media budget? This isn't that unusual, and non-profiteers have become experts in combining free tools to drive engagement, analytics, and action. I've just come across a new tool that can make your email newsletters (and your whole web site, actually) a better catalyst for social sharing.

When you send out your emails, you want people to share your content on their social feeds, right? Are you always happy with the auto-generated Tweets and Facebook posts that are created when people click your sharing buttons?

Is the resulting Tweet or Facebook post a little too generic for your taste? Is the Tweet missing your Twitter handle? Is the photo that comes up on Facebook the wrong one?

Wouldn't it be great if you could create better Tweets and Facebook posts for people who clicked on your sharing buttons?

OK, that was a lot of questions. The good news is that there is a solution to this problem - a brilliant little tool called Watershed Share.


You can use Watershed Share to write your social media posts, including photos and shortlinks, and then link the resulting URLs to your sharing buttons.

Then, when people share your content, the Twitter and Facebook posts you created - with the right hashtags, Twitter handles, and photos, are populated right on folks' feeds. They can, of course, make some edits before they share with their fans and followers, but they are less likely to do that if you write better content for them.

This is a great tool for multi-article email newsletters, but also can work anywhere on your web site.


This is just one more way to better control your brand and your message, and one more way to better serve your customers by making it easier to share great content. So, thanks Watershed for the tool!

Have you tried this? How did it work for you? Let me know.

Why Testing is Key

A man I know who manages a high-end car dealership recently held an event for his top customers. To promote this event, he did three things:

Set up some tests to find out what approaches work best.
Testing helps you get results. Image from Dave Bleasdale.
1) Mailed a postcard that encouraged customers to call and RSVP.

2) Sent an email that encouraged customers to call and RSVP.

3) Sent an email that said "click here to RSVP."

Here's what happened:

1) 100 people responded to the post card.

2) 150 people responded to the first email.

3) 500 people responded to the second email.

4) 600 people attended the event, and about 50 of them decided they were ready to buy another car.

This was a great lesson for my associate in testing.

Until this point, he hadn't been a big believer in email, or in clicking on things, but this proved to him without a doubt that he had to make things easy for customers if he wanted results, and that an email with a one-click RSVP was far easier for customers than asking them to call.

Next time, he'll do the one-click email first, and follow up only with the people who don't RSVP with other methods. It'll be faster, cheaper, and more effective.

So what are your takeaways here?

  • Just because you've always done something a certain way doesn't mean that's the way you should do it this time.
  • You have to meet customers where they are. If everyone's on email, then that's where you need to be, no matter how much you'd rather they were on the phone, or on Facebook.
  • Testing often tells you things that challenge your assumptions, which is why you should do it. Don't assume that one approach will always work better because that's what conventional wisdom tells you. In this case, the business owner assumed a telephone call-to-action would work best because it had worked in the past, and because his high-end clientele liked a personal touch. It turned out that high-end customers still prioritized convenience over everything else.

What have you tested lately, and what were the results?

Need help setting up some tests? Let me know, I can help.

Related Posts

Email Isn't Dead! Make the Most of Your Email Program this Year

The Best Approach to Email Marketing

How to Write Great Tweets

Writing for Twitter isn't rocket science, but there's a method to the 140-character madness.

From Flickr user Danilo Ramos.
Here are a few pointers for writing tweets that make sense, have relevance, and drive retweets and other desired actions.

  • Simplify – You only have 140 characters, including your link, to state your message. Don’t cram in too many ideas. You can tweet more than once a day, and send more than one tweet about each piece of content. Stick to one idea per tweet. 
  • Don’t over-abbreviate. New people join Twitter every day, and new followers join our feeds every day. Assume that folks won't know all the jargon and make the content accessible. If you need lots of abbreviations, simplify the message. Don’t try to mash 500 words of copy into a single, undecipherable tweet. 
  • Use keywords associated with your SEO strategy (i.e. the same ones in your website metadata and your ads), but don’t overuse or insert where they don't make sense. 
  • Use #hashtags, but not too many. Hashtags help people find your content on Twitter and also can be used to tag tweets that are part of live Twitter chats or ongoing discussions. They also help you identify trends.
Here’s an example of a tweet with too many hashtags, including one that’s totally irrelevant:
  • You should read #WaPo! Great #paper! #news #local #finance #business #sports #food #entertainment #JustinBieber 

This tweet might better portray what we want to say:

  • Check out today’s #WaPo. Get the latest #news – local stories, business and finance, sports, entertainment, and food. 

But let’s go one step further – this tweet has a LOT of ideas. Let's treat these ideas separately, like this:

  • Check out today’s #WaPo for the latest #local news in DC, MD, and VA. 
This tweet is more relevant, engaging, and actionable. It simplifies the idea, focuses the intent, gives more details, and provides a link (something actionable) for more information. We’ve also limited ourselves to two hashtags, to make our tweet findable, but still readable.

What's your biggest challenge on Twitter? Let me know.

Click here to follow me on Twitter.

Related Posts

Which Social Networks Should You Be On?

Your Twitter Plan for 2012

Using Social Media Strategically

Right now, I'm doing some work with a client that's really starting to use social media more often, and more freely to promote its work and events.

Path to conversion
Path from Flickr user Runran.
Recently, I delivered a bunch of numbers to them, using Piktochart, a handy tool I found for creating simple infographics.

The good news was, as a result of promoting our work on Twitter and Facebook, all traffic measures went up. More people watched videos, shared our content, commented on our posts, used our hashtags, and became fans of our pages than ever had before.

So, what do we do with all of this great attention?

It's important to make sure that when we generate a lot of traffic and attention to our content, that we have a goal in mind, and that we're leading people down a path towards that goal.

If we have a great new video, we need to make sure that we think about what we want people to do after they watch it. Watch another video? Subscribe to our email list? Share with a friend? Complete another action?

We (and you) really need to think about the path to conversion.

If you find, for example, that in your businesses, most of your sales come from email, then when you do an attention campaign like we did last week, you should be including an email sign-up call-to-action with the content you're promoting. With your videos, on your Facebook page, in your blog posts and on your site.

If you're not thinking about the path to conversion, you'll be setting the wrong expectations for your team.  It may be that people who like your posts on Facebook just aren't ready to buy your product - they need a little more encouragement. So the conversion goal for your Facebook fans won't be a sale  - it'll be an email sign-up.

Once you've established your conversion goal for each of your channels, then you'll be able to better determine what content goes where and customize it appropriately.

How are you using Facebook? What about Twitter? How do you inform, engage, and convert on each of your channels? Send me a note or let me know in the comments.

Related Posts

Make Your Content Go Viral

What to Do When They Won't Go Social

How to Connect Your Facebook and In-Store Marketing

European retailer C&A has introduced clothing hangers that display the number of Facebook "Likes" for each piece of clothing in their store in Brazil. This means that shoppers will already know what's trending when they walk into the store - a far more direct way of using Facebook data than we've seen so far.

Most of us don't have the money to invest in the technology to make this happen at our own retail locations, but we know that many shoppers use Facebook to check trends or share favorite looks with friends.

So what can we do to leverage Facebook activity in store without a major technology investment?

  • First, make sure that items from your retail store are indeed being promoted on your Facebook page. For example, you could ask your fans, "What do you think of this dress?" Let them know that it's all about orange this summer and provide sample looks, or tell them that sunglasses are 2-for-1 this weekend only and invite them to come on in.
  • Once you have that level of interactivity going, you'll then be able to use in-store signage to highlight items that are the most talked about on Facebook. It's lower-tech than what C&A is doing, but still an effective way to promote popular items for sale.
  • Make sure you're set up on check-in apps like FourSquare and Facebook Places, and that you promote their use on your Facebook page.
  • Also use in-store promotions to encourage people to join you on Facebook, and vice-versa.
Your customers are expecting a seamless experience these days. They want a consistent interaction whether it's on Facebook, their mobile, or in your store. You can help by integrating your message across channels and inviting your audience to join you, wherever they are.

Want to know more about what C&A is doing? Check out this video from Mashable:

I'll Be Back

I'm on vacation this week, not thinking about marketing (too much). I'll be back next week, with a new post for you.

Thanks for reading this blog. I really appreciate all the notes I've received from those of you who have found it helpful.

If you're new here, welcome! Here are some posts to get you started:

Why Marketing is not Sales

Do You Need a Mobile App?

Why Social Media Matters, for Almost Any Organization

Low Cost Sales Channels

Why All Marketing is Local

Make Your Content Go Viral

Happy reading, and see you again soon.

How to Look at Traffic Sources for your Web Site

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about basic web analytics, and stats you should be pulling on a regular basis to better understand how your site is used.

Understanding sources of web traffic can help you work more efficiently.
Traffic. From Flickr user Zoonabar.
The most important stats to track for my clients are those regarding web site traffic sources. Where is site traffic coming from, and what does it do once it gets there?

There are several kinds of traffic you'll see on your stats, including the following:

  • Organic (unpaid, regular) search
  • Paid search
  • Online ads
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other)
  • Email
  • Direct (people type your URL into their browser or they have it bookmarked)
  • Referring Sites (any other web site that refers traffic to you)

First, it's critical that you understand what portion of your site traffic is coming from each source type.
  • It's essential to know whether most of your traffic comes from outreach like social or email, or customers reaching out to you through channels like search.
  • It's also good to know what sites are referring traffic to you. Finding out which blogs, etc. are linking to you and developing those relationships could bring you a lot more traffic down the road. 

It's just as important to understand a few things about the behavior of traffic from each source. 

  • Does one of your sources have a particularly high bounce rate (rate of one-page visits), for example? Say you find that the bounce rate from your ad traffic is far higher than for other channels. You might want to develop a special landing page for people who click on ads that better introduces your site and what you have to offer.
  • Is one of your sources responsible for most of the conversion behavior on your site? If it turns out that people who reach you from email or social media convert far better than other kinds of traffic, then your goal should be to get new visitors to sign up for email and join you on Facebook or Twitter before doing anything else.
How are you using web analytics to grow site traffic and conversions? Let me know or drop me a line if you want to talk about it. 

What You Need to Know About Basic Web Analytics

Web analytics sounds like rocket science, but it's not. You really should be looking at your web traffic on a regular basis  - it will help you better understand what's truly driving your business.

Web analytics can help you grow your web traffic
Image: Search Engine People Blog.
Which numbers are worth a look?

I always tell people to start with the basics:
  • Visits - how many different visits there have been to your site in a given period. A visit is a session on your web site, which might include multiple page views.
  • Visitors - a visitor is a person visiting your site. You'll want to check for new and repeat visitors, so that you can understand loyalty, and also understand how many visits it takes to convert a customer.
  • Average time on site - This is how long the average visit lasts. It's good to keep an eye on this - short visits could mean that people aren't engaging with your site the way you want them to.
  • Bounce Rate - this is the rate of site visits that only include one page. Bounce rates for blogs are typically high as people read that day's post and leave, but a high bounce rate on an e-commerce site means that people are leaving your site without buying. If this is the case, you need to figure out why. Are you, for example, rickrolling people who come to your site from ads or email?
  • Pageviews - this is the total number of pages viewed on your site during a given timeframe. Ultimately, this isn't a very useful number - numbers like Visits and Visitors are more instructive as to your traffic. However, this is always the highest number in your stats, and I find it's the one that the people in the corner offices always want to hear about.
  • Traffic Sources - this is the most important data you have. This tells you how people are finding your site - through your email campaigns? Via Facebook? Through search? online ads? Further to this, once you connect traffic sources with conversions, you'll find out what's really working for you. For example, if you find that email isn't your biggest source of traffic, but it is the one responsible for the most conversions, then you know you need to concentrate your marketing efforts on building your email list - your customers may need to hear from you on email a few times before they are ready to buy.

How are you using analytics to drive your business? Let me know in the comments or contact me and I'll show you what to do.