I just came back from my 2nd NMX in Las Vegas. I’ve been working in the Internet world since its baby days in the ‘90s, but even so I learned new things, and was reminded of others.
Here are some of the highlights. (You can also check out my Storify on NMX if you don’t want as much detail.) Unfortunately my notes got mixed up, so rather than specifically attributing who said what, I’ll mostly simply give credit to these speakers, from whose excellent sessions these notes come.
- Pat Flynn @PatFlynn, of Smart Passive Income (who will soon be on the Frank Reactions podcast! Woo hoo!)
- Chris Ducker @chrisducker (who has also agreed to come on the Frank Reactions podcast!)
- Mignon Fogarty @grammargirl
- Cliff Ravenscraft @GSPN
- Rob Walsh @podcast411
- Mark Ramsey @markramseymedia
- David Griner @griner
This year NMX was merged in with NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), which had 100,000 people attending! The first thing I learned was that I prefer small conferences to ginormous ones. Although I got lots of exercise walking the huge distances between exhibit halls and talks, it was harder to meet people and make those informal connections that are one of the main benefits of attending conferences. That said, many of the sessions were very good.
Advice from Pat Flynn
If you don’t know of him, and have any interest in starting or running your own business, especially an online one, check him out. He has been wildly successful but is still the sweet, aw shucks, kind of guy he was when he started online a couple of years ago. He started the transparency trend, showing his earnings and expenses from Day 1. Last month he earned $153,397.47!!!
So why am I putting him on a customer experience podcast, you ask?
I worried about that when I asked him. When I first approached him a year ago it was for the Frank Online Marketing Show, so the fit was obvious. To my delight, his keynote speech this year was totally about customer experience. You see, even online marketers are learning that to compete in the digital, social media era, providing excellent customer service and customer experiences is key for success.
3 Things Customers Want
He argues that there are 3 things customers want:
- Convenience. Going forward it won’t be enough to just be available whenever customers need you, you’ll have to anticipate their needs and offer solutions before they ask. Amazon understood that with their investments, right from the start, in developing great recommendation tools. Have you ever found yourself buying extra items at Amazon because of something they suggested? Most of us have.
- To be heard. That means, don’t be like the 1/3 of companies in our Twitter study who never answered a tweet sent to them requesting help. Even with email, Pat cited research showing that 50% of consumers expect companies to respond to email within 12 hours, but the average response time is 44 hours!
- To be loved. We’ve already talked about the value of things like handwritten notes of thanks (e.g. Vitamart) but Pat believes that equally important, going forward, is giving public recognition to our customers. Feature your customers in case studies (with their permission, of course) or on your website and social media. It is good for both of you: it gives them added visibility as well as giving you a testimonial.
Make sure you don’t miss my interview where Pat will give some great examples of companies doing each of these things: subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and/or sign up for the Frank Ideas Newsletter.
Podcasting To Grow Your Business
Podcast listener numbers are growing fast, and likely to surge as more and more cars will have podcast players built in. Once it is as easy to listen to a podcast as to turn on a radio station, it will finally be the era of on-demand learning and connection with your prospects.
Once it is as easy to listen to a podcast as to turn on a radio station, it will finally be the era of on-demand learning and connection with your prospects.
What Are Podcasts?
If you aren’t already familiar with podcasts, they are like radio, only via the Internet. You can listen to them whenever you want either by going to the podcaster’s website, or by using podcast playing software on your phone, such as iTunes or Stitcher. You can easily subscribe to them, have them downloaded to your phone when you are in a free wifi zone, and then listen to them when you go out for a jog, walk the dog, in your car or wherever you are. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the rhymes!)
Tips to Improve Your Podcast
If you are going to podcast, here are suggestions from some of the most successful podcasters:
- Break your podcast up into regular, named segments. For example, Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) starts with a “quick ‘n dirty tip”, moves to the “meaty middle”, and a final standard bit at the end. I sort of do this with my podcast, by having my introduction, the interview, and then the summary of key points at the end. But maybe I should break it down a bit more.
- Use Summaries. Don’t just summarize at the end of the show (as I’ve been doing). Mignon says you should summarize at the end of each segment. It helps reinforce your main points. So I may experiment with the format over the next little while, to have smaller segments with summaries. (Do you think you’d like that better? Please let me know!)
- Get & Play Listener Calls. I’d love to be able to feature your calls and questions on the show, but people tend not to call in even though I offer a toll-free line (1-866-544-9262 Try it! If you leave a message and include your website address, I’ll play it on the show!) If you don’t have calls yet, Mignon suggested reading questions that have been sent in email or on social media.
- Make transcripts of your podcasts available. We’ve started doing this recently. Why?
- It is faster to read than to listen.
- It easier to highlight the parts you find most interesting. (Though that might be changing, thanks to a startup called Clammer. I’ll write about them later.)
- If you want your boss or colleagues who are not podcast listeners to benefit from the episode, they may prefer a transcript.
Right now you can download individual transcripts here at FrankReactions.com, but that can be a hassle. So we are packaging up groups of them by topic, and going forward we will include links to directly download the latest transcripts with each of our newsletters, so if you want to consume our content that way, sign up now for the Frank Ideas newsletter.
SEO for Podcasts
- Always use a keyword tool (such as Google’s free Keyword Planner) before giving your show a title. This will help you use words that people searching for that episode’s topic are most likely to be using when they search.
- To promote your podcast episode on social media, find and use images that relate to those keywords. Remember to use those keywords in the Alt and Title tags that go with your image. (Not sure how? Contact me and I can walk you through it.)
SEO for iTunes
- Apple does NOT look at what is in your description of your podcast. But they DO look at the keywords you use in your iTunes title and author name. So, for instance, my podcast should be titled in iTunes as “Frank Reactions: Customer Experience & Customer Service in the Digital Era.”
- It is also a good idea to use relevant keywords in each episode’s title.
Growing Your Podcast Subscriber Numbers
When I’ve posted about my episodes on social media I’ve always used the link that would take people to that episode’s page on my site. I figured that was best because:
- I want to get people to discover my website,
- Many of my listeners listen on their computers, not via podcast players such as iTunes,
- I offer other content on the website’s page, such as key learning from the episode and downloadable transcripts. Since some people prefer to consumer written content, this seems like their best option.
Rob Walsh from Libsyn and Podcast411, however, made a compelling argument for using the iTunes link for that episode instead. The vast majority of podcast listeners listen via iTunes. So if you want to get discovered by more people, you want to be more visible on iTunes. As more people download and subscribe to your podcast on iTunes (and recommend it – hint, hint!) the more likely it is to be featured in either New & Noteworthy and/or in a Top Downloads list, which in turn vastly increases your podcast’s exposure to podcast listeners.
Another advantage of getting more people to listen to your show on iTunes (or another podcast player such as Stitcher) is that they make it easier than your website does to subscribe to the podcast episodes, so people following those links are more likely to become regular listeners.
I’m going to try alternating, so some of my tweets will link to iTunes and others to the podcast page, and see how that goes.
How to link directly to an episode in iTunes:
It is not as simple as it should be, but this blog post by Jon Loomer explains how to do it.
So, for example, this link should go straight the episode where I interviewed Cirque du Soleil’s Marketing Director, Lou D’Angeli. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/how-cirque-du-soleil-diamond/id963828461?i=339385529&mt=2&?ls=1
How to get more Android listeners:
Rob recommends having your own app in the app stores (for Apple and Android). That, he argues, is the best way to get found by Android phone users, as they search the Android Play store for apps and are thus more likely to find you there, since there is no dominant place to search for podcasts on Android phones.
How Long Should Your Podcast Be
Personally, I prefer it if the podcasts I subscribe to are around 30 minutes long (or longer). I often listen to them when I’m driving, and I don’t want to have to fiddle to find something new to listen to every five minutes.
Whatever length you choose, be consistent. It drives listeners crazy if one day you’ve got a 5 minute episode and the next it is 50 minutes. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same length each time, but keep it close.
New Social Media Tools
Instagram, which is still growing like crazy, now allows short video clips. If you are going to do Instagram video:
- make sure it makes sense even with no volume on, and
- have action instantly so people will realize that it is a video, not a still photo.
You can embed your Instagram videos on other platforms like your blog or on YouTube. Given the growth I’ve seen of video in Facebook feeds, I’m sure Instagram videos will take off quickly.
Pinterest now lets you pin videos. Pinterest is still growing and is often overlooked as a marketing tool. It is no longer just wedding dresses, flowers and food photos. I, for example, have Pinterest boards on e-commerce and customer experience. (Though I really should post on there more often.)
Tips for using Pinterest well:
- Images must be attractive
- Make them vertical
- @GrammarGirl recommends the podcast Oh So Pinteresting as a great place to learn more about Pinterest
How to Improve Your Podcast
(mostly from Mark Ramsay @markramsaymedia)
- The first 60 seconds are key to establishing who you are, what the podcast is about, and why they should listen
- Keep your intro music very short
- New Yorker politics podcast intro is really well done. Covers the basics, quickly.
- HBR Ideacast also has a good intro
- “The most important part of writing is not the writing; it’s the editing”
- Length is a major roadblock to the first listen (a new app called Clammr is developing an approach that may help overcome this barrier by making it easy to share very short clips from your episodes. I plan to give it a try over the next few weeks.)
- How will listeners decide if they should keep listening? Key factors:
- opening hook (listeners will decide if it grabs them in the first 5 – 7 seconds
- audio quality,
- pacing (take the time to edit!)
- teasing (about what’s coming up),
- 80% of your audience is passive; they listen now and then and they don’t care if they miss episode. This is your average listener
- 15% engaged; 5% are truly fans and will connect with you.
- Remember: “You are not the audience.” They will get bored with your content a lot faster than you will!
How to Write Better Headlines
(mostly from David Griner @griner. He’s a writer at Adweek)
- Avoid spammy clickbait; but present a mystery that can only be solved by reading further
- A great headline makes you emotionally curious
- Eg: The Story Behind One of the Most Beautiful Real Moments in Advertising. [subhead: Skype spot is a Cannes favorite and a lesson in listening.
- A great headline Is conversational
- g. Whoa, Walmart.com. Why Do You have a section called Fat Girl Costumes?
- A great headline is rarely written alone – use your network for ideas (friends, not twitter) [Anyone want to join me in a headline writer support group? Let me know!]
- A great headline has to fit a tweet but doesn’t have to be limited to 5 or 7 words. (Adweek headlines average 14 words]; err on the side of clarity
- A great headline Is it accurate
- A great headline does not oversell
- A great headline does not undersell
- Be clear what’s in it for the readier
- Almost never go with your first option
- Ask yourself, is this how I would explain this article to a friend?
- Ask yourself, would I click it if I hadn’t written it?
How to Build More Interaction With Your Listeners
(mostly from Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft @gspn)
- Get to know the individuals in your mailing list; they will then want to market you; start by looking at who actually opens them. Get at least 2 personal details about each person to help you connect with them
- Engage with their content; don’t wait for them to engage with you
- Who should be listening to your show? Follow them; connect with them; engage and add value to their lives
- Ask many questions (even if they post something personal)
- Shine the spotlight on your audience
- Prioritize your mailing list! (and promote it on your podcast)
- Create online community environments
- Reach out and touch someone; call them! Offer a Skype call
- Collaborate with your community members
- Try livestreaming (Google Hangouts, Meerkat, Periscope)
- Organize community meetups – do it when travelling to get your listeners together. Even if only a couple show up, you’ll develop great relationships with them.
Want to Learn More?
If you were at NMX, please add what you learned in the comments below. Or if this post raised questions for you, let me know and we’ll get them answered!