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Last week I attended a virtual book launch event hosted by a DC-based networking group called Cadre where former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke about his new book Togetherness. The book explores how loneliness is an underappreciated public health epidemic – a particularly relevant topic today at a time when many people have been forced into working isolation and offices have been closed.

It is natural to crave human connection, and people new to working remotely often cite the isolation and loneliness as their biggest struggle. As I explored the topic over the last several months as part of the research for my own newly released book, the first thing I realized is that isolation and loneliness are usually two different problems.

Isolation is a feeling of disconnection that can come from processes or a workplace culture that removes them from colleagues or information.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is an emotional state and can happen with those working remotely as well as those who go to an office and are surrounded by people.

Working without colleagues around can be lonely, and the sense of isolation can lead to depression or a feeling of disconnection from everyone else. Even if you have virtual meetings regularly or visit the office on occasion to meet with people, this is one of the most common and natural emotions you may feel.

The good news is, from my research and many interviews with smart people who have been working remotely successfully for years, I discovered there are some smart ways that you can address both issues, be more productive, keep your sanity, and connect with others while working remotely. Here are the biggest lessons I learned:

1. Audit The Isolation Moments

Back when I was working in an office in D.C., I used to get interoffice emails about colleagues’ birthday parties. Then I started working remotely in the same job and one day they stopped. Modern workplaces are full of moments like this when remote workers are unintentionally cut off from the team, but we can prevent that if we can understand when they happen. Back then I never mentioned to anyone how it made me feel to be taken off the list, and no one ever asked. Looking back now, I use the example as a reminder for myself and leaders whom I advise that sometimes you have to ask about these small things in order to identify them … and then you can do something to fix them.

2. Connect With Individuals, Not Groups

Contrary to what some people think, spending too much time on social media seeing how connected everyone else seems is a recipe for making yourself lonelier. Instead, reach out to reconnect with people individually. The individual part of this, is key. One on one time is valuable in real life, but it can be valuable virtually too. You might be surprised how many friends who appear to have amazingly complete lives on social media are just as hungry for a real connection as you are.

3. Focus On Giving & Sharing

Could you find a volunteer group where your time might be valued? What about sharing your expertise online with people who could benefit from it? There are many places, causes, and people who could use your help right now. When you focus on what you can give instead of what you miss, you can change your perspective. Not only can this be of great value for your community, but also you can feel positive yourself and make some connections in the process.

4. Accept More Invitations

Anytime I started to feel disconnected from colleagues, I realized it was at least partially self-inflicted. I was too busy to go to the events I had been invited to. I would retreat into my home-based cocoon. Don’t make the same mistake. When you are invited to participate, make it happen. And seek out those events or interesting gatherings happening (virtually now, and real life later) where you can be part of something bigger.

5. Find A Mentor (Or Become One)

Many modern companies are using programs such as reverse mentors to ensure everyone feels connected – even those working remotely. If your company has a program like that, join it. If not, try to find a similar group in your area that runs this type of program. Similar to the benefit of having one on one time with someone, this type of learning-based relationship can really help you feel socially connected, whether you’re the one doing the mentoring or you’re the one being mentored.

6. Spend Money (And Time) On An Experience

Any number of self-help books will tell you that the path to happiness lies in focusing on experiences instead of accumulating more stuff. Think about how you might spend money on an experience that can allow you to feel more connected with other people and challenge yourself to do something new and unusual, whether it is jumping out of a plane or trying a new cuisine via takeout.

These insights are excerpted from my latest book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings & Remote Work that is now available. You can pick up a full copy of the book by visiting your favorite bookstore online or buying directly from

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Having trouble viewing the text? You can always read the original article here: Mobile Ecommerce Checkout: Maximizing Conversions

Concerned with your mobile ecommerce checkout conversion rates? Discover how to maximize these seemingly fickle mobile visitors. There are approximately 50 million mobile-only users in the US alone. That’s roughly one in five American adults who are “smartphone-only” internet users. If all they have is a smartphone that’s what they will use to shop from […]

The post Mobile Ecommerce Checkout: Maximizing Conversions appeared first on Conversion Sciences.

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As Covid-19 measures are slowly being lifted, marketers need to make sure they can emerge from lockdown and regain ground as quickly as possible. Whilst there is still a lot of clarity required around what the eased safety measures will mean for businesses and all areas of daily life, for retail marketing teams the preparation work for trading in the new normal must start now.

Marketing in the post-pandemic world doesn’t mean simply reverting back to the plans and activities that were in place before the crisis. As we all know, a lot has changed in a short space of time and will influence consumer behaviour on the other side. The tactics that were effective in early March may not be so powerful now, so understanding how shopping patterns and business requirements have changed is going to be more important than ever. Whilst in-store retail has been shut, and may remain impacted in coming months, many online sectors have seen a dramatic increase and represent a huge opportunity.

With potentially the biggest recession for 300 years on the horizon, retail brands need to look to the marketing tactics that will deliver maximum value across the channels they own – email and the website. Post-pandemic, purse strings are likely to be tighter and competition even more fierce, so getting the basics right will matter more than ever: Demonstrating a deep understanding of an individual and making their life easier.

Let’s look at three key marketing tactics that brands should focus their attention on now.

Focus on loyal customers

With acquisition marketing budgets cut, it makes more sense than ever to focus efforts on re-engaging shoppers that have bought from you in the past. We all know that encouraging loyal customers to purchase is more cost-effective than attracting new shoppers, but it requires a brand to provide a tailored experience. Don’t expect a customer to simply re-purchase because they have done so in the past. Having web and email content primed for their individual preferences and behaviours will be vital to convert them.

Remember that the experience counts more than ever when consumers are more cautious with their spending. Move quickly to get products they buy regularly in front of them and make it easy for them to find items they might be interested in. With customers more likely to comparison-shop to find the best deal, the goal should be to make their experience as convenient and seamless as possible. Times of recession will bring out bargain hunters, so tailoring product recommendations around a customer’s price point is going to be effective in capturing their attention in the first place.

Setting the scene with contextual data

Whilst an increased focus on your existing customers is a sensible decision in an economic downturn, it’s also critical to convert the new shoppers that come to your website. Relevant offers and experiences will keep their interest for longer, increasing the likelihood that they will go on to purchase.

The challenge that many marketers come up against, however, is having to do this without any previous purchase or browsing data. This often leads to estimated guesses in terms of what products and offers to display on the homepage, in the hope they might strike a chord.

In tapping into contextual data – of which there is a lot – brands can quickly add a layer of personalisation to the experience, even before a visitor begins to browse or cart an item. From the consumer’s geolocation, the weather at the location and time of day through to the type of device and operating system they are browsing on, all of these factors should be used to inform the type of experience a new shopper is given.

Armed with these insights, marketers can then apply it to show targeted, dynamic website content to the individual, making them feel instantly understood. From displaying items available in their nearest store, to recommendations tailored to their local weather forecast, it all contributes to providing a relevant experience.

Don’t dismiss a lost sale

Shoppers add items to their basket and then leave the site without completing the purchase. It’s an ecommerce challenge that has faced the sector for as long as online shopping has existed. Cart abandonment can be caused by many different reasons, from the shopper being distracted during the checkout process to having second thoughts about parting with their money.

Having smart tactics in place to help recover these lost sales should form a key part of your recovery strategy. Sending triggered emails with the subject line and creative tailored to the items in the abandoned cart are an effective way to remind a customer of what they have left behind. Incorporating social proof elements, such as reviews from happy customers or showing how often the item was purchased in the last 24h, helps build trust in the product and gives the shopper the confidence to complete the purchase.

As the nation looks towards the next stage of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s likely to bring with it new challenges, as businesses and consumers slowly adapt to the new world. For retail marketers, putting the right plans in place now will empower them to deliver experiences that matter to shoppers during this recovery period and beyond.

For more on this topic, see Econsultancy’s retail hub.

The post Key areas of retail personalisation strategy in a post-pandemic world appeared first on Econsultancy.

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interactive content

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Which Disney princess are you?

That was the first major encounter I made with interactive content.

I was cruising the web, looking for some distraction, and I landed on one of BuzzFeed’s notorious quizzes.

Yeah, I found it cringeworthy and clickbait-y, but with some quizzes reaching up to 22 million views, I discovered they belonged to a group of content that is more shareable and attention-grabbing than regular ads and content.

And while these quizzes have lost their novelty, interactive content itself is more prevalent than ever.

The Digital Marketing Institute named it one of the top marketing trends in 2020.

But, first of all…

What is interactive content?

Interactive content is anything that people can click on, swipe, or interact with online. Quizzes, polls, 360-degree videos, and scrollable graphics all count as interactive content.

Perhaps you have created interactive content yourself.

Think about it — the moment you launch a little poll on Twitter, you are asking for user participation and creating interactive content.

In a world with content shock and banner blindness, you have to push your content (and brand) further, and classic ads won’t cut it anymore.

According to a 2014 Goo Online Advertising Survey, 73% of Americans ignore online banner ads, followed by social media ads, ignored by 62%.

Contrast that with content like the BuzzFeed quizzes where 96 percent of users who start the sponsor quizzes actually finish them.

On top of that, they a tendency to go viral through their built-in share-ability. Some of the most popular quizzes, such as “What City Should You Actually Live In?”, have been viewed up to 18 million times.

How to use interactive content

Whether you want to grab attention and retain it, educate your users, convey a specific brand message, or simply collect leads, interactive content has a variety of popular uses.

Entertainment and lifestyle brands use this technique to entertain and/or raise brand awareness. The main goal, e.g. in BuzzFeed’s case, was obviously to raise the pageviews for ad revenue.

Publicly-funded institutions like the BBC use it to educate their audience. They launched an AI-related search box, backed up by research from the Oxford University. The question simply read:

Will a robot take your job?

After filling out your profession in the box below the question, you could check your job’s risk of automation.

It’s a simple hook that appealed to millions of people. After all, which adult doesn’t fear (to some extent) getting replaced by a robot or algorithm?

The BBC provided tons of additional links and AI-related content below the search box, turning the site into an evergreen content hub.

In 2018, the Pew Research Center created a 10-question quiz asking the user whether they could tell the difference between factual and opinion statements.

The goal was to educate the user about fake news. While doing research for this article, I took the test myself, got 3 out of 5 factual statements right, as well as 5 out of 5 opinion statements.

But it’s not just quizzing that functions as interactive content. Before the mega-blockbuster Infinity War launched, CNN created a massive interactive timeline of all prior Marvel movies.

interactive content

As a user, your only involvement comes down to scrolling, but the mix of stunning visuals, digestible info chunks, and minimalist animation make this content easy to consume and irresistible to share.

Since all the major social media platforms incorporate visual imagery, it makes sense to include them in your interactive content strategy.

Speaking of which…

How to leverage interactive content

There are a couple of issues to keep in mind when you plan to incorporate your own interactive content. Consider the list a primer to jump-start your interactive content idea creation.

1. Bring value to your user, but don’t pitch

Since you’re asking for engagement, the user must feel they are getting something valuable in return, whether that’s entertainment or knowledge. Otherwise, your interactive content feels like yet another (banner) ad, and risks getting ignored like it.

2. Target specific niches, fandoms, and identities

This is an easy option if you’re creating interactive content in your field of expertise. You simply have to know what drives your audience and gather as much information as you can.

Using polls on Twitter or surveys with SurveyMonkey are the simplest ways to collect information from your target audience.

3. Know the goal of your interactive content

Do you want to entertain like a BuzzFeed quiz, educate your user about your brand or even learn from them?

Since interactive content takes more effort to create than regular content, you want to 100% nail your content’s purpose.

4. Make your interactive content visually appealing and easy to share

CNN’s Marvel timeline is stylish and flashy. BuzzFeed’s quizzes have big letters and lots of imagery.
They’re meant to be consumed and shared quickly.

After all, no one wants to share unappealing and cluttered content.


So which Disney princess are you?

Apparently, I’m Belle from Beauty and the Beast, since according to the quiz result, “I have the uncommon ability to see the best in everyone”.

Ok, jokes aside…

Will we see more quizzes, polls, 360-degree videos, and augmented content in 2020 and 2021?

With no sign of content shock or banner blindness going down, brands and companies will have to offer people more memorable experiences to stay relevant.

Mars Dorian is an illustrating designer and storyteller. He crafts words and pictures that help clients stand out online and reach their customers. You can find his homebase at and connect with him on Twitter @marsdorian.

The post Will interactive content finally become mainstream? appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

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A strategy is an overarching diagnosis, guiding policy and direction, while a plan is the steps in the process that allow a business to progress with confidence. At its heart, every strategic process answers the same four questions:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to get to?
  • How do I get there?
  • How do I know when I’ve got there?

A good content strategy therefore needs to begin with a good understanding of context drawn from the competitive and brand situation as well as customer insight, which can then inform an objective, strategic direction and plan that can be executed through a coherent but responsive set of plans, actions and measures.

This enables businesses to set out a comprehensive strategic process for content that ensures the maximum opportunity for success.

The fundamental elements that may form a part of content strategy can be summarised in the following taxonomy:

1. Research/insight

This includes understanding user need, customer segmentation, the development of personas, review and understanding of existing assets and position via content inventory and audit, competitor and gap analysis and formulation of measurement frameworks.

2. Content management/resourcing

Incorporating content management structures necessary to establishing and maintaining appropriate structures, organisation and resourcing – information architecture (site structures, taxonomies, metadata frameworks); content management tools and practices; backup, versioning, archiving practices; analytics configuration; governance and standards; budgeting; resource requirements.

3. Content planning and objective setting

Including guidelines, plans, objectives and KPIs – brand positioning, purpose, point of view, guidelines, tone of voice; aligning content objectives with marketing/organisational objectives; targets, KPIs, success metrics, mapping outcomes to business value; concept development; themes, messages, topics; content calendars, channels, content type, format, integration; workflow (e.g. RACI); role of third-party/user-generated content.

4. Content production

The creation and production of content, including authoring, editing, asset production; content optimisation, accessibility, SEO; tagging and classifying; insourcing/outsourcing in production; the role of third-party tools and technology; content reuse.

5. Delivery/distribution

The execution and delivery of content incorporating the role of agencies and third parties such as syndication and aggregation, content distribution and channels.

6. Content review/optimisation

The evaluation of content, adaptation and optimisation – analytics evaluation, optimisation, revisioning, test-and-learn, user experience.

The PROSPER framework

These fundamental elements combined with a good strategic process support the definition of a good campaign process for content strategy, built around the acronym PROSPER:

Figure 1: The PROSPER framework

The PROSPER framework

Source: Econsultancy

This model follows the outline for effective strategy and planning:

  • Prepare and Research stages: Where are we now?
  • Objective: Where do we want to get to?
  • Strategy, Plan, Execute: How do get there?
  • Review: How do we know when we’ve got there?

Taking each key stage of this seven-step model in turn, more detail around this process can be defined as follows:


This initial stage is concerned with establishing and understanding the available resources, assets and capability, as well as appreciating positioning, context and environment. It is essential when setting out a strategy to develop an appreciation of the resources and capabilities that may be at the disposal of the team, so that the full range of possibilities are understood. This way, the team can avoid duplication of effort and maximise resources, also understanding what needs to be outsourced or supported by partnership.

The key question the team need to answer at this stage is: Where are they now, and what do they need in order to succeed?

Key activities include:

  • Content audits to establish an understanding of available assets that might be used or repurposed, or areas of opportunity/gaps that need to be filled.
  • Capability audit to establish what competencies, tools and technologies are available and what might need to be outsourced or supported through external partnership.
  • Competitive analysis to understand competitive positioning and context and help define and map territory and opportunity.
  • Situational analysis to develop understanding about the current environment and situation that might inform a strategic response. This might include the key stakeholders in the business (stakeholder mapping).
  • Development of brand positioning/personality/tone to establish a voice. Good content strategy is rooted in a clearly defined brand positioning that brings clarity to tone of voice, territory, point of view, content themes.


This second part in the “where are we now?” stage is focused on defining and developing understanding of customer needs, wants, fears in order to define the opportunity for strategic response.

The key question that needs to be answered at this stage is: What are the key insights providing the foundation for the campaign?

Key activities include:

  • Research commissioning, aggregation and analysis: pulling together the relevant research material and outputs (quantitative and qualitative) for analysis to draw out key insights that can inform strategy.
  • Talking to customers/users: there is no substitute for getting in front of real users or customers whenever possible in order to inform activity and response. The earlier in the process this is done the better.
  • Audience segmentation: this covers the process of dividing people into subgroups based upon defined criteria such as demographics, psychographics, customer lifecycle, product usage and behaviour, media use. Econsultancy’s Segmentations and Personas Best Practice Guide contains useful frameworks and practices in this area.
  • Persona generation: the development of user or customer personas as a representation of key customer segments, and the use and application of customer journey mapping. Econsultancy’s Customer Journey Mapping Best Practice Guide contains practical and useful guidance in this area.


Next the business needs to set a clear objective and goal in order to define what success looks like and set a target that can inform direction.

The question that needs to be answered is: Where do we want to get to?

Key activities include:

  • SMART objective setting: this involves establishing objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound.
  • Aligning goals and objectives: the brand’s over-arching goal should set a target that defines what success looks like. This should be measurable and time bound. The team may then set a number of objectives that ladder up to the over-arching goal.
  • Identifying measure of success: what are the KPIs that will show when the campaign or activity has achieved its objective/s?


This stage is concerned with identifying the key ways in which the team will achieve the objective that they have set. A good strategy should detail high-level actions, considerations and preferences.

The question that should be answered at this stage is: How do we get there?

Key activities include:

  • Strategy definition: this includes identifying how the start point relates to the end point, how activity can be integrated right from the very beginning, identification of the key channels to deliver the objective, the balance between consistency and channel specialisation, principles for governance of activity and opportunities for test and learn.
  • Strategy communication: give clear, concise expression and communication of the objective and strategy in order to ensure alignment from the start.
  • Strategy development: taking account of changing contexts, circumstances and environment, strategy needs to be consistent enough to define a clear direction but fluid and responsive enough to reflect shifts over time.


The plan sets out the specific actions, activities and steps that the team are going to take in more detail, and defines how they are going to utilise specific channels.

The question that needs to be answered here is: What are the specific steps that we will take?

Key activities include:

  • Plan definition: laying out the order of activities and key actions to be taken, including detail of how the team are to use individual channels (e.g. keyword strategy for search, content deployment, targeting methodology, media schedules), identification of tests that they are going to conduct, tracking and testing methodologies.
  • Plan communication: give clear, concise expression and communication of plan and activities and how this relates to the objective and strategy.
  • Plan development: plans change faster than strategies, so plans need to be responsive to changing contexts, circumstances and environments.


When executing, the team need to ensure good governance so that the plan and strategy are executed well, but they also need to have a clear understanding of the opportunity for in-campaign optimisation.

The question it is important to answer at this stage is: What are the key actions and who will take them?

Key activities include:

  • Assigning responsibilities: this involves identifying in advance who is responsible and accountable, and who needs to be consulted and informed (using a simple framework like RACI[7]). It includes identifying key responsibilities across agency partners and internal team members for channel and activity management and execution.
  • Tracking, testing and optimisation: the team should not wait until the end of the campaign to capitalise on the opportunity to optimise against their key objectives and goals. Tracking, testing and optimisation should be built into execution as a continuous process.


At the end of campaigns, or at regular intervals, the team need to take a step back and identify what learnings they can take from the activity and how that can contribute towards continuous improvement.

The question that needs to be answered at this stage is: How did we perform, and how can we improve?

Key activities include:

  • Measurement: identifying performance against the set goal and objective/s.
  • Learning and optimisation: deriving insight and learning from the measures of performance, including identifying opportunities for improvement, efficiency, future testing hypotheses.

This article is an excerpt from Econsultancy’s Content Strategy Best Practice Guide.

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Having trouble viewing the text? You can always read the original article here: Mobile Ecommerce Checkout: Maximizing Conversions

Concerned with your mobile ecommerce checkout conversion rates? Discover how to maximize these seemingly fickle mobile visitors. There are approximately 50 million mobile-only users in the US alone. That’s roughly one in five American adults who are “smartphone-only” internet users. If all they have is a smartphone that’s what they will use to shop from […]

The post Mobile Ecommerce Checkout: Maximizing Conversions appeared first on Conversion Sciences.