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TikTok’s new ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’ lets video viewers shop for products in the app

TikTok’s new ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’ lets video viewers shop for products in the app

August 19, 2019

TikTok, the short-form video platform favored by young adults and teens, has launched a new feature that allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge, without leaving its app. These sponsored challenges are Gen Z-friendly marketing campaigns where users are prompted to post videos of them using a product — like showing off favorite outfits from Uniqlo or Guess, for example. Or they might participate in some sort of manufactured viral trend, like singing favorite Disney songs ahead of a Disney-themed episode of American Idol.

The new e-commerce feature, called Hashtag Challenge Plus, adds a shoppable component to the hashtag.

In addition to creating and viewing videos featuring the brand’s sponsored hashtag, a separate tab features an in-app experience where products from the campaign can be purchased within TikTok itself.

Last week, Kroger was the first brand to try out the new feature, according to a report from AdWeek.

While not exactly a company that exudes youth appeal, Kroger found a way to reach TikTok’s young adult audience through their hashtag campaign.

In partnership with four TikTok influencers — Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney and Victoria Bachlet — Kroger prompted TikTok viewers to post videos of their dorm makeovers using the hashtag #TransformUrDorm. Digital agency i360 was involved in the videos’ creation.

What made Kroger’s challenge unique was that it also introduced a dedicated brand page where viewers could actually shop for products, too.

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Kroger paid for its sponsored hashtag to be given placement on TikTok’s Discover page for a week’s time. The tag can still be found via search, even though the campaign has wrapped.

Of course, many of its intended viewers found it by way of their favorite TikTok influencer’s profile, much like how Instagram ad campaigns work.

Since launch, the hashtag …

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How should B2B startups think about growth? Not like B2C

How should B2B startups think about growth? Not like B2C

August 16, 2019

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of B2B companies apply ineffective demand generation strategies to their startup. If you’re a B2B founder trying to grow your business, this guide is for you.

Rule #1: B2B is not B2C. We are often dealing with considered purchases, multiple stakeholders, long decision cycles, and massive LTVs. These unique attributes matter when developing a growth strategy. We’ll share B2B best practices we’ve employed while working with awesome B2B companies like Zenefits, Crunchbase, Segment, OnDeck, Yelp, Kabbage, Farmers Business Network, and many more. Topics covered include:

  • Descriptions of growth stages you can use to determine your company’s status
  • Tactics for each stage with specific examples
  • Which advertising channels work best
  • Optimization of your ad copy to maximize CTR and conversions
  • Optimization of your sales funnel
  • Measuring the ROI of your advertising spend

We often crack growth for companies that didn’t think it was possible, based on their prior experience with agencies and/or internal resources. There are many misconceptions out there about B2B growth, rooted in the misapplication of B2C strategies and leading to poor performance. Study the differences and you’ll develop a filter for all the advice you get …

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The secret of content marketing: avoid high bounce rates

The secret of content marketing: avoid high bounce rates

August 13, 2019

Advice on content marketing always talks about getting people to your blog.

But, what about once they’re there — how do you get them to then buy from you?

That’s the conversion half of content marketing, and that’s what I’ll cover: converting your readers into paying customers.

First, they read. Then, they buy.

When visitors arrive on your blog, three things should happen:

  1. First, they must start reading — instead of bouncing.
  2. Next, keep should keep reading until at least halfway through.
  3. Finally, they should be enticed to read more or convert: sign up, subscribe, purchase, etc.

Demand Curve’s data shows that when readers complete this full chain of events — as opposed to skipping step #2 — they’re more likely to ultimately buy from you.

Why? People trust your brand more after they’ve consumed your content and deemed you to be high quality and authoritative.

We’ve optimized tens of millions of blog impressions, and we have three novel insights to share in this post. Each will hopefully help compel readers to stick around and buy.

Let’s conquer high bounce rates — the bane of content marketers.

Entice visitors to start reading

First, some obvious advice: Getting visitors to read begins with having a strong intro.

A good intro buys goodwill with readers so they keep reading — and tolerate your boring parts.

There are three components to a good intro:

  1. Have a hook. Read about hooks here.
  2. Skip self-evident fluff. Read
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Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise to discuss customer experience management

Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise to discuss customer experience management

August 5, 2019

There are few topics as hot right now in the enterprise as customer experience management, that ability to collect detailed data about your customers, then deliver customized experiences based on what you have learned about them. To help understand the challenges companies face building this kind of experience, we are bringing Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 in San Francisco (p.s. early-bird sales end this Friday, August 9).

At the root of customer experience management is data — tons and tons of data. It may come from the customer journey through a website or app, basic information you know about the customer or the customer’s transaction history. It’s hundreds of signals and collecting that data in order to build the experience where Reinhardt’s company comes in.

Segment wants to provide the infrastructure to collect and understand all of that data. Once you have that in place, you can build data models and then develop applications that make use of the data to drive a better experience.

Reinhardt, and a panel that includes Qualtrics’ Julie Larson-Green and Adobe’s Amit Ahuja, will discuss with TechCrunch editors the difficulties companies face collecting all of that data to build a picture of the customer, then using it to deliver more meaningful experiences for them. See the full agenda here.

Segment was born in the proverbial dorm room at MIT when Reinhardt and his co-founders were students there. They have raised more than $280 million since inception. Customers include Atlassian, Bonobos, Instacart, Levis and Intuit .

Early-bird tickets to see Peter and our lineup of enterprise influencers at TC Sessions: Enterprise are on sale for just $249 when you book here; but hurry, prices go up by $100 after this Friday!

Are you an early-stage …

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How to Use LinkedIn Groups to Generate Business Leads

August 2, 2019


Social media can be a powerhouse tool for making valuable business connections, if it’s leveraged correctly. But it can be difficult to know how and where to make these connections.

Carrie Dunham, owner of the Carrie Dunham handbag and accessories line, asked the businesscompany.us community how to generate leads through LinkedIn Groups: “I am curious how others use social media and social networks to generate leads. I used to like LinkedIn Answers and Groups, but they got rid of Answers … they just released their new navigation, and groups are being buried. Seems like they are moving to being just your online resume and helping people find jobs. Social media is important, but I am just getting my feet wet.”

We spoke with social media and marketing experts and outlined the steps to generating leads on LinkedIn Groups. [Interested in social media management? Check out our best picks.]

1. Join the right LinkedIn Groups.

The first step to creating leads from LinkedIn Groups is finding and joining a group full of potential customers. To do that, decide who your ideal client or audience is. Once you know who you want to market and sell your product to, find a group the caters to that community. [See related article: How to Reach Your Target Audience.]

“Using that profile, go to the groups that have a large number of individuals as members,” said Bill Corbett Jr., president of Corbett Public Relations. “For example, if you want to market to accountant groups, you go to accountant groups. To effectively convert sales, you have to be in a target-rich environment.”

Popular LinkedIn groups for small business owners and entrepreneurs include Executive Suite, Band of Entrepreneurs, and Social Media Marketing. [For more great LinkedIn groups

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Small Business Marketing on a Budget

July 31, 2019


However, even though you do not need an unlimited budget to market digitally, you do need a solid strategy so that you are targeting the right audience and creating the right message about your small business. Among some of the cost-effective: strategies you an employer are

  • Use free social media wisely.
  • Use free social media to give away “free” offers.
  • Publish high-quality content, or recycle old content.
  • Build and maintain your email subscriber list.

Digital marketing does not have to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. However, digital marketing will take some time and effort, so you will need a plan to efficiently run your social media platforms, keep your website up-to-date and consistently communicate with your customers.

When it comes to digital marketing, it is imperative that small business owners have a solid mixture of videos, blogs and online promotions through various social media platforms. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, global consumer Internet video traffic currently accounts for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic and will account for 82 percent of traffic by 2022.

Not only that, but Facebook currently has more than 2 billion active monthly users and generates 8 billion video views daily. Then there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Quora…the list is endless. But, using these forms of digital communication to market your services is a bit more complicated than simply signing up your small business and hoping customers will come. Here is more on the different low-cost stratgies you can employ.

Use free social media wisely

Social media is an effective, and free, way for small businesses to engage and interact with customers and potential customers. In fact, 77 percent of small businesses in the United States now use social media for marketing, sales, and customer service, according to data aggregated by SCORE, …

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Europe’s top court sharpens guidance for sites using leaky social plug-ins

Europe’s top court sharpens guidance for sites using leaky social plug-ins

July 29, 2019

Europe’s top court has made a ruling that could affect scores of websites that embed the Facebook ‘Like’ button and receive visitors from the region.

The ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU states such sites are jointly responsible for the initial data processing — and must either obtain informed consent from site visitors prior to data being transferred to Facebook, or be able to demonstrate a legitimate interest legal basis for processing this data.

The ruling is significant because, as currently seems to be the case, Facebook’s Like buttons transfer personal data automatically, when a webpage loads — without the user even needing to interact with the plug-in — which means if websites are relying on visitors’ ‘consenting’ to their data being shared with Facebook they will likely need to change how the plug-in functions to ensure no data is sent to Facebook prior to visitors being asked if they want their browsing to be tracked by the adtech giant.

The background to the case is a complaint against online clothes retailer, Fashion ID, by a German consumer protection association, Verbraucherzentrale NRW — which took legal action in 2015 seeking an injunction against Fashion ID’s use of the plug-in which it claimed breached European data protection law.

Like ’em or loath ’em, Facebook’s ‘Like’ buttons are an impossible-to-miss component of the mainstream web. Though most Internet users are likely unaware that the social plug-ins are used by Facebook to track what other websites they’re visiting for ad targeting purposes.

Last year the company told the UK parliament that between April 9 and April 16 the button had appeared on 8.4M websites, while its Share button social plug-in appeared on 931K sites. (Facebook also admitted to 2.2M instances of another tracking tool it uses to harvest non-Facebook browsing …

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The Knight Foundation launches $750,000 initiative for immersive technology for the arts

The Knight Foundation launches $750,000 initiative for immersive technology for the arts

July 27, 2019

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is looking for pitches on how to enhance and augment traditional creative arts through immersive technologies.

Through a partnership with Microsoft the foundation is offering a share of a $750,00 pool of cash and the option of technical support from Microsoft, including mentoring in mixed-reality technologies and access to the company’s suite of mixed reality technologies.

“We’ve seen how immersive technologies can reach new audiences and engage existing audiences in new ways,” said Chris Barr, director for arts and technology innovation at Knight Foundation, in a statement. “But arts institutions need more knowledge to move beyond just experimenting with these technologies to becoming proficient in leveraging their full potential.”

Specifically, the foundation is looking for projects that will help engage new audiences; build new service models; expand access beyond the walls of arts institutions; and provide means to distribute immersive experiences to multiple locations, the foundation said in a statement.

“When done right, life-changing experiences can happen at the intersection of arts and technology,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for arts. “Our goal through this call is to help cultural institutions develop informed and refined practices for using new technologies, equipping them to better navigate and thrive in the digital age.”

Launched at the Gray Area Festival in San Francisco, the new initiative is part of the Foundation’s art and technology focus, which the organization said is designed to help arts institutions better meet changing audience expectations. Last year, the foundation invested $600,000 in twelve projects focused on using technology to help people engage with the arts.

“We’re incredibly excited to support this open call for ways in which technology can help art institutions engage new audiences,” says Mira Lane, Partner Director Ethics & Society at Microsoft. “We strongly …

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How to go to market in middle America

How to go to market in middle America

July 19, 2019

There comes a time for many startup companies where they either realize they need to do a nationwide rollout, or they need to actively target buyers in the middle of the country. If you are a startup on either the East or the West Coasts, it’s worth thinking about how this market might present its own set of unique challenges, and how you plan to overcome them.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what some people call “flyover country,” and as a San Francisco native who spent two decades in New York, Washington DC, and Boston before moving to Pittsburgh, I can assure you they are almost all wrong. Without getting into specifics, the reality of “middle America” is that it’s the same as anywhere else.

Income, education, world view, and waistlines are all varied. It’s pretty accurate that San Francisco possesses a culture obsessed with fitness and entrepreneurship, but California isn’t necessarily all like that, and if you think it is, I encourage you to go to Bakersfield, the Central Valley, or Eureka sometime.

In addition, just because the stereotypes are wrong doesn’t mean there’s nothing different about doing business here. As you think about how to conduct your rollout, here are some things you should consider:

Table of Contents

Research

As with any market, research is key since it informs every other aspect of the rollout. Start by looking into who your competition is.

Since there are fewer VC-backed startups in middle America, and smaller companies tend to get less press, the research may be harder. However, …

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9 Steps to Lead Conversion Success

July 17, 2019


  • Audience research helps you generate leads and create a conversion plan.
  • Persistent follow-ups are important. Researchers say that 80% of sales require five follow-ups after the initial contact.
  • Pay attention to more than just the content on your business’s website. SEO, keywords and calls to action often point leads in the direction of a sale.

Generating leads for your small business can yield great results, but only if you can turn potential buyers into actual customers. Without that, any leads gained through lead generation servicesdirect mailing efforts or any other marketing campaigns won’t add up to much.

To better understand how to convert leads into sales, we spoke with experts to find actionable tips that you can apply to your small business’s lead generation strategies.

1. Offer a freebie or discount.

Getting something for free always feels good – whether there are conditions attached or not. Giveaways are a solid way to get people interested enough in your business to potentially make a purchase.

The free item doesn’t have to be particularly lavish or expensive, but it should remind people of your business. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, told The Atlantic that the concept of freebies and samples work because “they give you a particular desire for something. If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”

Along with turning your leads into sales, Donald D’Souza, a content marketer at eSire, said giveaways can also help your business home in on what gets the most brand engagement from customers. Once you have that information, you can then personalize future communications and deals to convert your existing leads into more sales.

“Personalize your email and make …

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