Photo by our friends at The Poor Man’s Guide To Alcohol

Another User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaign Gone Wrong

Imagine walking into a restaurant with friends and colleagues, everyone taking their seats at a table and, on queue, your server arrives and drops a couple of coasters at your table before taking drink orders. Then, wait a minute…

“Why is there a picture of me with a fake mustache drinking a Natty Light on the the coaster in front of me and my colleagues???”

We couldn’t imagine it either since we don’t drink much Natty Light here at BYLINED, but that’s exactly what happened to Kayla Kraft. Kayla found her photo, on a coaster, fake-mustachioed, sipping on a bottle of Natural Light as part of the “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign.

Kayla apparently didn’t want her story to be a part of their story, and as a result, sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

“Defendants reproduced, distributed, and publicly displayed the Kraft photograph without the authorization or consent of Kraft or (her friend), and have created unauthorized derivative works incorporating the Kraft photograph,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants have engaged in a widespread pattern and practice of misappropriating the names and likeness of others for commercial purposes without permission or compensation.”

According to press reports, Anheuser-Busch says that Kraft’s picture was submitted as a contest entry and the content rules grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the UGC in any and all media for any purpose.

It will be interesting to see how this case evolves and is eventually decided. It also serves as a reminder to brands the importance of explicit user consent when using user-generated content in promotional campaigns.

Also, hat-tip to our friend and advisor, Shaun Pannell, for making us aware of this real case.

stock trading

Strong and sustainable growth is challenging to discover. Growth stocks provide the ideal opportunity as they see earnings and revenues rise at above-average speed. One risk of investing in growth stocks is that future potential is considered instead of current operations.

As a result, growth companies may keep low-profit margins, reinvesting most of the earnings back into the company. Investors, therefore, should be willing to sacrifice current return as long as the revenue keeps on increasing at an above-average rate.

For 2017, the following 4 companies (with a proven track record of growth) offer investors an opportunity to take shelter in an optimistic future:

1. GoPro.

NASDAQ GPRO has an opportunity to be impactful due to the growth of GoPro enthusiasts and the strong growth of the company’s drone business. There was a 33% year-over-year growth in camera unit sales from the recent Thanksgiving to the Cyber Monday period, indicating that consumer demand for GoPro units continues to be strong. If the Hero 5 sales surpass expectations continuously, there could be a significant pop in the GoPro stock. Moreover, the company’s performance in global markets (last year the unit sell-through increased 90% in China) could work well in favor of investors.

2. Netflix.

The stock went up 70% in 2016 and the company’s growth is expected to become gradual after the recent uptick in subscriptions. Yet the future prospects of the stock look as promising as they’ve ever been. Despite the fact that Netflix introduced higher prices to its US –base, it didn’t affect the increase in subscriptions. In fact, people ended up paying extra fees as they returned to Netflix. The CEO of the company indicated that this year the business will begin generating more earnings after two years of significant investment in expanding internationally. Profits should rise to 7% this year, up from the 4% of the last two years.

3. Snap Inc.

Snap Inc’s stock SNAP increased 44% from the initial IPO rate on the first trading day. The public offering started at $17 per share, more than the expected $14-$16 range. Shares started trading at $24, reaching highs and lows of $26.05 and $24.48 on the same day. They’re still trading above $20. The company’s outlook is strong for 2017. For instance, it has a partnership with Shazam that puts the latter’s music-identification technology inside Snapchat. This would be useful for personalization and cross-user acquisition. The user base is expected to grow to 217 million users by the end of this year, with millennials occupying the largest user base. Expect these developments to have a positive impact on Snap Inc’s stock in the long run.

4. MercadoLibre Inc.

The Latin American electronic commerce venture has benefitted from strong demographic tailwinds. Because e-commerce, web, and smartphone penetration is still behind the United States, the trend is going to positively impact the company’s stock in the foreseeable future. The company’s user base has grown consistently over the last 5 years and is expected to increase 22% annually on average. The stock – MELI – has seen estimates increase over the previous month for 2017 at about 3.8%, which has brought it strong buy ratings. This is definitely one of the hottest growth stocks for investors to consider in 2017.

Which growth stocks are you eyeing for 2017? Did any from the above 4 make your list?

Creatives are prone to messiness – it’s science. In fact, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, “being around messiness [can] lead people away from convention, in favor of new directions.” Creative types across the globe will rejoice when reading the findings, “finally – an excuse to leave my desk just the way it is – a mess!”

In all seriousness, creatives have a unique approach to problem solving. And, as it turns out, their unkempt environment can actually trigger innovative solutions. Because it would be a disservice to require a rigid routine and reporting structure from your left-brained design team, it’s important to find common ground. Achieve cross-team efficiency by addressing the below reasons your creative team is always missing deadlines.

Answer: They’re trying to keep the process a secret

It’s no surprise that creative types like to hoard their work. Oftentimes, it’s easier for them to keep managers in the dark until the end of the project. In the grand scheme of things, this causes tension and conflict between departments. From the creative point of view: designers often feel like if they share their ideas, there will be an endless amount of critiques and miniscule, seemingly-pointless changes. From the account point of view: managers tend to become irritated by not knowing the status of their ongoing campaign. Knowing that creatives prefer to work in secrecy, how can you, as a manager, allow them the autonomy they desire, while also providing transparency to your account team? It’s a delicate dance. And the answer is simple: deadlines. At the beginning of a campaign set a minimal amount of hard and soft deadlines for everyone, and enter them into a tool with open visibility to the entire team. While it may be difficult for creative roles to stick to an entire, detailed process calendar, more often than not, they will respect a hard deadline and use it as motivation, a finish line.

Answer: They’re working in silos

It’s nearly impossible for creative directors at large agencies to keep tabs on what each member of their team is working on – there are simply too many moving parts. Usually, creative departments get segmented into role type. You’ll see small “creative departments” pop up inside of a larger agency – anything from social, digital, print, TV, outdoor and packaging could each end up with their own design team. This approach quickly puts team into silos, which are not effective when trying to keep everyone on the same page. The problem arises when your employees are unaware of the progress of a project because they are in their own little creative bubble. Switched the direction of your outdoor campaign and never told digital? Great, your designers now have to toss hours of work because they were never brought into the loop. A simple solution is to begin breaking down communication barriers by providing an overall, collaborative vision for the whole team to work towards. Once that vision or goal has been decided, most likely by the leadership team, it’s time find a way for the goals to be visible to everyone.

Answer: They don’t have the right tools

Creative potential can quickly be squashed by managers who are unwilling to provide their team the tools they need to succeed. Most creative teams are currently working in or on a singular platform and maybe even (kids, cover your ears) in spreadsheets. But with a more integrated solution, one that provides one-click access to an overarching, visual view of your monthly, quarterly and campaign-specific creative, you will be able to keep everyone on your team up to date. Even better: choose a tool the automatically integrates with the scheduling and design systems that your team is already using. This way, they don’t have to onboard any new software systems for the benefit of their managers. With the right tool, those who need orderly processes and a view into the artistic process will get what they need, and your creative team won’t feel stifled.

Don’t force your most influential visionaries to adhere to a company-approved process simply because it is comfortable for management. Instead, bridge the gap by addressing their unique set of needs. Make sure your creative team is armed with the appropriate communication channels, and content planning tools, and they’ll never miss a deadline again. The cleanliness of their desk, on the other hand, there’s not much hope for.

Procrastination is the root of all evil. At least that’s what my mother used to say whenever I said, ‘I will do it later.’ Fast forward twenty years, and she couldn’t be more right. Replace ‘evil’ with ‘lack of sales’, and tell me, I am wrong? I am a BIG procrastinator (there’s no shame), so when it comes to understanding the nature of how it affects your eCommerce-bottom line, I get it.

About a month ago I stumbled onto this Ted lecture about procrastination and it was like Tim Urban was talking about me, to me…

And I am not alone. Turns out, it’s not only a human condition, but an online shopper human condition. Behavioral psychologists say that when one finds oneself in an urgent situation, it causes us to suspend deliberate thought (which is just a fancy way of saying procrastination) and act quickly.

So as an eCommerce store owner, why should you care? Because procrastinators like me are costing you boatloads of cash.

By creating a sense of urgency, you can turn all those procrastinating window-shoppers who think too hard or wait too long, into customers far more quickly. In other words, sales conversions – lots and lots more sales conversions.

So, how do you use urgency to your advantage? Certainly NOT by using ‘Only one left’ in big bold red letters on all 350 product pages you have, or running one-time sales every day of the week – unless you’re Groupon and your whole business model is built on urgency.

Example of Goupon using urgency

The trick is to balance a well-optimized store with good CTAs (calls to action) and strategic urgency placements, to encourage those lookie loos to put their money where their mouse is – without making your store look like Spam City.

So without further ado (and procrastination) here are 8 ways eCommerce stores can use urgency to increase conversions.

1. Create a Catastrophe

According to Psychology Today, loss aversion is what we have when we avoid losing something at all costs. By leveraging a loss aversion response in potential shoppers, you create a sense of urgency and therefore make them more inclined to act. A good place to start is through your marketing emails announcing that a deal is coming to an end, there are limited seasonal offers or there are only a few hours left to get those orders in.

example of limited time eCommerce deals

Alternatively, by using your home page, like the store below, and well-placed CTA buttons that let customers act then and there.

An example of big retailers using urgercy

Want some banner-design tips? Visit our Create Banners that Convert post.

2. Make it Competitive

Competitive situations breeds a good level of urgency. I am not just talking about hosting a competition – although contests for free goodies can make even the biggest procrastinators wake up – but about creating a sense of competition. You only have to think of eBay bidding wars to know this works, or at, who tell you how many people are looking at the hotel room you’re interested in.

example of online hotel booking

But how does that translate for your online store? Using stock numbers, showing that you only have a few left, gives the impression that you need to act fast to beat another shopper to the punch. Forever 21 are on the money with theirs.

eCommerce screen shot of out-of-stock

Plus, the ‘Do you still want it’ email capturing button takes their competitive urgency to the next level.

example of eCommerce email capturing

3. One-Time Offers

Create urgency by threatening to take offers away, similar to the way a brick-and-mortar store may have a ‘last-of-the-season’ sale. Using CTAs and emailers to drive the message home that there are only limited items left of this season’s best-sellers can push those undecided shoppers into buying.

4. Challenge Them

There’s a theory that says when people have to work hard for something, they value it even more; it’s called effort justification. Really, it’s a thing, and it even had its own Wikipedia page. This challenge sparks urgency in people, making them gung-ho about overcoming the challenge. Think of it in terms of Candy Crush (yes, I am going there): the harder the levels get, the more people play and the more likely they are to spend to get those power-ups to take them to the next level.

There is a number of ways you can leverage this psychology on your online store, through the use of limited offer promo codes and onsite promotions for real-time discounts and limited-time VIP offers.

5. Give Your Products the Feel of Scarcity

When something is scarce, it not only creates the sense of limited time, but it also makes that product more valuable. By intentionally limiting the amount of stock or the amount of time on an offer, people will want it more. This can be particularly powerful when used in checkout. Cart abandonment rate is around 67.91%, which is no small number!

John Lewis basket

Using a strategic counter, counting down how long the deal is valid for or how many items are left, will create scarcity in the checkout box, and therefore not only increasing sales conversions, but reduce cart abandonment.

Example of eCommerce store using urgency

Want to add a checkout countdown to your Shopify store for free? Try this free Shopify countdown app to create as many types of timers and for as many types of products as you want.

6. Add a Countdown

Like we discussed in last week’s 12 Easy Tricks to Optimize Your Store For More Conversions post, when the clock is ticking, it’s instinctive to act faster. This is why countdowns make for compelling converters for online retailers. A perfect example of this is Amazon’s one day deals, which counts down how long the deal is valid for.

They’re not the only ones.

Screenshot of AliExpress flash deals

7. Revamp Your Copy

The easiest way you can create urgency is in your product copy and your CTAs. Words and phrases like ‘don’t miss out’, ‘approaching’, ‘hurry’, ‘instant’, ‘close’, ‘now’, ‘fast’, ‘today only,’ ‘last change’, etc. subtly awaken urgency inside even the worst procrastinators.

This is not just reserved for product copy, CTA buttons and email marketing; why not give your AdWords ads and metadata a little boost as well?

8. What NOT to do

Lastly, and oh so importantly, let’s talk about what NOT to do when using urgency methods to drive sales. So how do you keep it legitimate?

  • Don’t use urgency terms, copy and strategy just for the sake of it.
  • Don’t send email blasts daily announcing limited one day sales.
  • Don’t use special deals, emitting extra costs, and surprise shoppers with a different total in checkout.

Don’t believe me; here are the words from a customer explaining how online stores using false urgency destroyed his loyalty, and I quote: “There is a dark side to this technique. If the urgency is false and the customer catches your lie, you will lose them. They will see you as manipulative. Their loyalty will be destroyed.”

Have some share-worthy urgency tactics of your own? Share them with us in the comments below.

Keeping up with customer demands can be difficult. That’s why when two companies decide to do business, they often work together to create Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that outline what is expected from each other. Let’s take a closer look at SLAs and, more importantly, how to manage them efficiently so they become an asset instead of a liability…

  • What are SLAs in customer support? – SLAs in support are a set of service-related goals that a company creates for processes that have a quantifiable outcome. Some of the more common SLAs are based around how quickly a support ticket will be replied to or how fast a ticket will be closed. For example, an SLA may indicate that 90% of support requests received (on a normal support day) will be responded to within 6 hours. Many companies also use SLAs to organize their support tickets and better understand customers.
  • Why do companies use SLAs? – Simply put, SLAs provide companies a standard to hold each other accountable in regards to customer support efforts. They also create a goal for employees to meet so they remain productive. Most importantly, they can prove that negotiated promises between companies are being kept. Depending on the agreement, failing to meet an SLA (often called an SLA violation) can result in a cash payment and/or a discount to the customer. This compensation is for the business inconvenience that may occur from the poor support experience.
  • How do companies start with SLAs? – One of the most common examples of SLAs to start with is based around ticket severity types (low/normal/high/urgent) with different response and resolution timeframes assigned based on the severity. It should be noted that some companies prefer “private” and “public” SLAs – this means showing customers one thing with the SLAs stating another. For example, a company may tell customers to expect a support ticket response within 6 hours, but their SLA requires a 4 hour response. This gives them wiggle room and makes them look better to customers if they are able to respond faster – classic “under promise and over deliver”.

Want to learn more about how companies are utilizing SLAs? Click here to watch our webinar on SLAs with new and improved SLA functionalities and features

  • How can you efficiently manage SLAs? – You can do a lot with SLAs and keeping track of them has sometimes been a job within itself. That’s why many B2B (business-to-business) companies are looking to simplify the management of these SLAs by utilizing new capabilities found within customer support software solutions. Some key features to look for in a solution to efficiently manage SLAs include…
    • General customization – Find a solution that allows you to set up SLAs similar to how you have them structured in your agreements. Don’t settle for a rigid system that makes you try to fit a square peg into a round hole
    • Pause capabilities – It’s common for companies to agree to not enforce SLAs on certain days such as weekends or holidays. This is a common usage of “pausing” SLAs so violations don’t erroneously occur
    • Customized hours – This is ideal to have in place when agents work across different time zones and different sets of business hours. There’s no need to keep agents up late responding to low priority tickets just to meet SLAs
    • Product specific options – Some products are more critical to customers than others for operating their business. A software solution that allows for creating different SLAs based on unique products can be crucial in prioritizing agent time
    • Displaying violations – It’s important to see exactly how often agreements are not being met. Make sure your SLA solution can report on violations and ideally go into detail about these violations at the company or customer level
    • SLA cloning – Maybe you need to create a new SLA with just a small tweak to an existing one. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel, choose a solution that has a “clone SLA” feature to simplify the process

To summarize, SLAs can be the backbone of customer support relationships between two companies. Creating and managing SLAs are important to make sure you’re not only meeting the expectations of your agreements but to also hold yourself accountable. Getting started with SLAs is easy and selecting a help desk software solution to manage multiple unique SLAs will help to ensure you are doing your best to keep business relationships prosperous.