We’re putting Italian businesses on the map

Yext partners Italiaonline

Yext has partnered with Italiaonline, the country’s largest digital media company. The partnership will bring Yext’s powerful technology to Italian businesses via IOL Connect, Italiaonline’s new service, which allows businesses to manage their location data online. By joining forces with Yext, Italiaonline will help businesses improve their searchability on any of the 100+ maps, apps, search engines and directories in Yext’s PowerListings Network — including Google and Facebook.

“Together with our partner Italiaonline, we’re excited to put hundreds of thousands of Italian small businesses on the map,” said Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext. “Using the Yext Location Cloud, they will be able to manage their location data online easily and in real time, reaching more customers and driving more visits.”

The partnership between Yext and Italiaonline comes at a critical moment in Italy, as mobile search continues to gain dominance throughout the world, and as the country’s ever-growing Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) community increasingly demands a one-stop-shop for making real-time location data updates.

“IOL Connect is an integrated digital location system that, thanks to the partnership with Yext, we are proud to launch exclusively for the Italian market,” said Antonio Converti, CEO of Italiaonline. ”Being found on the web is essential, especially for local businesses. We now have a powerful tool — together with our sales network and local ties — including over a thousand agents and a hundred media consultants specialising in digital marketing.”

Yext is expanding its European integrations and network rapidly, partnering with leading digital platforms and directory services throughout the continent. This latest expansion comes on the heels of several new product launches, including the Healthcare Location Cloud in the US, as well as a partnership with Snapchat to make sponsored Geofilters easy.

Avanti tutta!

For more information, check out Italiaonline’s press release.

Is Every Brand a Consumer Brand Now? What to Know About Embracing DTC Tactics

DTC tactics

If you’re not already working the direct-to-consumer (DTC) angle, you should be. And you don’t need to dance, wave a machete, or drop “F” bombs to be successful (but more on that in a minute).

Complex times often call for simple solutions, and DTC brands “cater to people’s desire for simplicity,” says Caroline Forsey of Hubspot. Noting that analysis-paralysis “is a real thing,” she writes that DTC companies “eliminate the hassle of researching, browsing, and choosing from hundreds of options, making shopping practically effortless.”

By selling cheap razors, for example. That’s the road Dollar Shave Club took to achieving DTC holy grail status. Pushing the marketing envelope, the subscription service’s YouTube video launch featured dance routines, a shaving baby, a guy in a bear suit, and “Mike” (Dollar Shave founder Michael Dubin) wielding a machete and asking questions like, “Are the blades any good? No, our blades are f**ing great.” The minute-and-a-half-long spot, released in 2012, went “supernova-viral” within 72 hours of being posted, and received 4.75 million views in just three months.

As Hubspot’s Caroline Forsey notes, the video doesn’t land like an ad. Instead, it comes off “like a funny video your brother’s goofy friend made in his garage — which probably explains why so many people sent it to friends and shared it on social media.”

Views are great, but subscriptions are even better, and in the case of Dollar Shave, it’s apparent those video shares paid off. Why? Because in addition to being clever, the company clearly understood its target market (because being clever is never enough). In the first two days after its launch, Dollar Shave saw 12,000 subscribers jumping on the no-middleman, cheap-razor bandwagon. By the end of the year, the company had logged $6 million in sales, and $250 million in 2016, when Unilever purchased it for $1 billion.

And while not every company eyeing DTC marketing can hope to achieve the viral fame Dollar Shave enjoyed straight out of the gate (though, hey… goals), plenty of other companies — makeup company Glossier, eyewear company Warby Parker, clothing retailer Bonobos, and pet products company Chewy, among many others — are proof positive that the DTC market can be a lucrative one, especially given the many ways to connect with consumers. Back in 2012, when Dollar Shave launched, YouTube was, as Dubin says in Inc., “the only place to go if you wanted any hope of going viral.” Today, of course, companies have many more platforms across which to flog their wares, including social media, podcasts, and other online channels.

Research conducted before the pandemic from Epsilon-Conversant, a marketing services agency, found that 80% of CMOs believed DTCs were impacting their markets — everything from toothpaste to mattresses to pet food. It also found that 82% of marketers are losing sleep fretting about DTCs’ popularity with digitally native Gen Z and millennials. 

While COVID-19 initially put a crimp in consumer buying behaviour, Adweek reports that consumers have since become more open to trying new brands for products they see as comparable. One study estimates that 81% of consumers intend to purchase from a DTC brand by 2023. As for the other side of the register, changing shopping habits have provided brands with an opportunity to explore customer substitution behaviour — and avoid too much of a revenue hit by taking advantage of it.

Which means that every brand stands to gain from a DTC approach — even those that haven’t traditionally sold directly to consumers, or marketed to them at all. The benefit of adopting DTC tactics isn’t just about boosting revenue through direct sales (thought that’s a bonus); it’s also that DTC strategies allow brands to better understand consumer behavior, build customer profiles, and inform future business decisions.

To gain a foothold in industries long dominated by legacy companies that controlled supply chains and were flush with fat advertising budgets, DTC brands have forged direct connections with consumers, often via shared values or causes — as, for example, in the case of Glossier, which has a cult following on social media beauty sites. Capitalising on that following, the company has provided grants to Black-owned businesses and contributed generously to organisations fighting racial injustice — efforts that have further expanded its reach and burnished its brand.

Building a connection with your customer base doesn’t require advocacy or donations, of course. The first task of any DTC company (any company, actually) in search of a following is to provide a customised, accessible, and seamless customer experience. And that comes from understanding your target market — which in turn is the first step in driving sales, cementing loyal customers, and creating advocates for your brand.

“Given the volatility of today’s world, now is a good reminder for direct-to-consumer brands to double down on what they do best,” writes Andrew Caravella in Adapt, a publication from social media management and optimisation platform Sprout Social. “What makes these brands so successful is their ability to build one-to-one, authentic relationships with their customers and foster communities online.” He adds that companies looking to hang on to customers and drive long-term growth, “should take a page out of the direct-to-consumer marketing playbook and prioritise connections — now.”

Fail to connect with or please, and an estimated 68% of people won’t return to your site. Indeed, Caravella warns that unless you know how to connect with your customers, “there’s a good chance they will shift their Likes and loyalties to another brand that does.”

Search plays an integral part in drawing consumers to your website and into your purchase funnel — all of which paints a better, more textured picture of your customer, and provides data and insights that help your brand build that coveted one-on-one, authentic relationship. It’s a picture that also drives sales, since as Sprout notes, when people feel connected to a brand, 57% will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from that brand over a competitor.

As we’ve noted before, DTCs have thrived by zeroing in on two key segments of the customer journey: online research via search engine, and research directly on a brand’s website. That’s why evaluating how people search on your website — the questions they ask, what they click on, and how that journey plays out — can yield incredibly valuable information, particularly in the DTC world, where consumers must rely in great part on the information you provide. Which is also why it’s imperative that your brand information be up to date and easily accessible (that includes everything from shipping costs to your return policy) not only on your website, but also across third-party sites such as Yelp and Google My Business. Should anything change, you can instantly be on it.

And that’s half the beauty of operating as a DTC brand. As Econsultancy, a marketing consulting firm in London, puts it, DTC brands are focused, nimble and agile, giving them the ability to more easily react to a change of circumstances — “a winning formula for any brand when no one quite knows what will come next.”


How to Redesign Your Website to Deliver Answers And Drive Conversions

Redesign for conversion

We recently wrote about the importance of having a website that is functional, not just well designed. If you’ve done the work to ensure your customers can easily find answers to their questions — thus eliminating the tax on your customer service team — great job. However, you still have more work to do.

Reducing support costs is key, but ensuring your website is optimised for conversion is critical for driving your business. It doesn’t pay to invest time and money in a web redesign if your shiny new website can’t help you with concrete business objectives like winning new customers, retaining existing ones, and driving more revenue. 

Focus on function

When it comes to your redesign, form should always follow function. According to Entrepreneur, websites that lack functionality have high bounce rates, which has a negative effect on both user experience and SEO. An Adobe report comes to a similar conclusion, noting that more than nearly three-quarters of those surveyed indicated that content “must display well on the device.” This is why discovery — and, in turn, site search — is arguably the most important aspect of any business’ website.

But here’s the thing: When it comes to search, bombarding people with a ton of content doesn’t equal a better experience. Quite the opposite, writes Jes Scholz in Search Engine Journal. Too much material results in the content paradox — i.e., the more interesting content choices people have, the harder it is to sift through and make a decision. 

Even if it’s true that content-rich pages result in higher ranking for organic search, and thus potentially more optimisation, if every page on your website is fat with content, even quality content, it becomes difficult for visitors to find what they’re looking for. And when people visit your site but can’t quickly and seamlessly find what they’re after when they search, it leaves them with a negative impression of your brand. That’s the last thing you want, since if they can’t find what they’re looking for after a couple of attempts, they’ll leave and likely never come back. In fact, nearly 70% of people say they won’t return to a site that provides a poor search experience.

Even worse, consumers who show up looking for something specific but leave in frustration are exactly the customers you don’t want to lose. In fact, they’re your most valuable customers — the ones most likely to convert — since the 15% of people who use site search account for 45% of e-commerce revenue.

Think inside the box

A well-designed search box is the first thing most people look for upon landing on a website. Done right, it enables them to easily find the information they want, when they want it, and in response to any query, no matter where or how it’s phrased. As Scholz puts it, “interacting with an optimised on-site search function is the digital equivalent of a passionate and helpful librarian.”

But not all librarians are created equal. Sholz counters that “search boxes typify a librarian who sits disinterestedly behind the desk, giving a curt response of ‘over there’ if you ask for information.” Scholz offers tips to combat that kind of digital experience, including a search box that features a user-friendly size and placement, predictive search in the form of drop-down menus presenting query suggestions, relevant answers, a call-to-action button, and AI-based natural language processing (NLP) that can decipher the off-the-cuff, “human” questions typically asked of digital assistants.

Another plus of a “passionate” search box is that it allows you to track exactly what your visitors are looking for and where they’re getting stuck. Such insights enable you to address those and other roadblocks by adding or updating information on your website, as well as across third-party sites (Yelp, Google My Business, etc.). Accurate, easily accessible information is the bedrock of a good customer experience and the first step in delivering a higher ROI. 

Think of it this way: Smart companies already try to organise their websites in accordance with what they think a customer wants — (dropdowns, directories, and the like.) But a well placed search box and a high performing search engine deliver real-time insights so you can actually know what customers want. 

Mobile or bust

Whether asked to Siri or via fast-typing thumbs, more searches are taking place on mobile devices than ever before. According to Statista, 56% of organic search traffic comes from mobile phones. So, if your website isn’t optimised for mobile phones and tablets, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your audience — especially when you realise that two-thirds of mobile customers who seek out your website are looking to make a purchase.

A mobile-optimised experience allows users to view your website on their phones without having to squint, zoom, pinch, or scroll too much to find what they’re looking for. Any brand that ignores mobile does so at its own peril: Consumers are five times as likely to leave a website that isn’t mobile-friendly.

Be pretty and smart

If you have optimised your site for mobile and for organic search — as we wrote in a previous post on this topic — then you’ve boosted your chances of success in getting customers onto your site. But once they’ve arrived, you have to create an experience that keeps them there. Ensuring your website is optimised to deliver answers that drive conversion is mission critical.

Designing a visually appealing, even stunning, website is a laudable goal, but it shouldn’t be your overriding concern. So go ahead, design an eye-catching, award winning website — just make sure that beauty doesn’t come at the expense of meeting your customers’ real needs.

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