To Stop or Not to Stop the Shoplifter: Is This Still a Question?

first_imgA male shoplifting suspect has been coming into Store 153 three times a week for as long as anybody can remember. Store management has even attributed this guy as a major cause of the store’s shrink woes that have put them on the corporation’s “target store” list for the last two inventory cycles. As the store’s loss prevention agent, you have tried to stop him in the past, but it seems like you have always been just one step behind him and unable to make the shoplifter apprehension.“Today is going to be different,” you say to yourself.You can feel it. Today he is finally going to get what’s coming to him, and, more importantly, your apprehension dry spell is going to end. No more excuses needed for the boss. Today you are going to be stopping the shoplifter that nobody else has been able to get.- Sponsor – You have spent the last ten minutes following the suspect through the store, tracking him carefully from the moment he entered. You know and understand the steps of the apprehension process. You have observed him approach, select, and conceal multiple computer accessories that you estimate to be worth over $200.“Just maintain constant surveillance.”You never lose sight of him. He definitely still has the merchandise as he passes all of the open and operating registers, failing to declare the merchandise in his coat.“He’s heading for the door…”Decision TimeAt this point, most seasoned loss prevention agents (LPA) begin to experience a rush of adrenaline and a stream of internal dialogue:Am I sure that he is attempting to steal this merchandise? “Yes, I am sure.”Is there any possibility that the merchandise could have been paid for by the suspect or anyone else? “No.”Can I handle this shoplifter apprehension on my own? “He looks pretty manageable. I’ve dealt with bigger and scarier shoplifters, and come out okay.”Could he have a gun on him? “Oh, good question. It is a pretty big coat, but I’ve been doing this a long time and have never seen a gun.”What about a knife? “Nah, I’ve got this.”Needle in his pocket? “Okay, enough with the questions and second-guessing. Today is the day for this guy!”You decide that your pre-stop requirements have been met and cautiously follow the suspect out to the sidewalk in front of the store. You approach him and say: “Good afternoon, sir. I am an LP agent with this store, and I need to speak with you privately back in store, please.”What happens now? How have you presented yourself? Did you run up and grab his shoulder? Did you walk past him to approach him from the front? Were you professional, yet firm? Were you nervous and unsure, or perhaps a bit aggressive and confrontational? Does the shoplifter run? Does he swing at you? Does the shoplifter return to the LP office willingly? Does he produce unpaid merchandise when asked?The safety of the LP agent, customers, and the shoplifter, as well as thousands or even millions of dollars in potential litigation, are all at risk and dependent upon the answers to these questions during an apprehension scenario. If any portion of this scenario is handled incorrectly, even just slightly, the results could be inconvenient, expensive, or even tragic. Even if everything was handled correctly, was it worth the risks?Is Stopping the Shoplifter Worth the Risk?Anyone who has worked in the LP industry for more than ten years has probably seen some significant changes in loss prevention processes and technology. We have seen evolutions from analog “still” CCTV cameras to digital PTZs to facial recognition security cameras, from dusty VCRs to DVRs with remote access, and from padlocks to RFID to sensor fusion. In addition, exception-based reporting programs and advanced prescriptive analytics have evolved into enterprise-wide data-mining systems that are helping to diagnose shrink issues throughout the store.But one aspect of the industry has not evolved over the years. One process that remains essentially unchanged over the years is the shoplifter apprehension. Regardless of the new technology or technique used to get to the point of detention, once LP agents get outside the store and are face to face with the suspect, the process is about the same as it has always been. They are unarmed, unequipped, and often alone. Their job then requires them to confront an unknown suspect about a crime that has just been committed. These facts have remained the same since the first shoplifter was detained many decades ago.For years, we have hired entry-level LP professionals and, in most cases, provided them with rigorous training dedicated to the apprehension of external theft candidates. We have embedded in their heads the necessity to ensure that they observe some form of the following steps prior to making an apprehension:ApproachSelectionConcealmentConstant surveillancePassing all points of saleExiting (in most companies)We have gone to great lengths to warn the trainee about the danger of the non-productive detainment (bad stop) and the potential for dangers that can occur when engaging physically with a shoplifter. But there is a push for results. A constant pressure upon LP agents every time they speak with their supervisor, send in weekly productivity reports, talk with their competitive peers, or even when talking with the associates that work in the store—”Say, when are you going to catch that shoplifter who keeps stealing all of our Beats headphones?”So emphasized is the need for productivity that some companies still base loss prevention associate reviews and performance metrics, if not entirely, at least in part, on apprehension statistics. Raises, promotions, and even continued employment are often contingent upon agents’ ability to produce stops and apprehend shoplifters.The typical metric of performance assessment involves “quota” demands, though that term is often avoided strongly. Instead, a more politically correct description is used—hours per apprehension (HPA), that is, hours worked divided by number of apprehensions made during the week, month, or year. Some companies go so far as to mention specific “goal” numbers, which are usually around 17 or 18, meaning one apprehension for every 17 or 18 hours worked.So, rather than using the actual LP program report card—the shrink number—some store-level LP teams, as well as many LP field managers, are still judged by their “body count.” Could this constant feeling of pressure lead to mistakes or poor decision making? Could this pressure also lead to the associate displaying increased anxiety, excitement, or adrenaline-fueled behavior during the apprehension process? “Yes,” said Jason Scheel, LPQ, former director at Compass Loss Prevention. “I have seen the unfortunate side effects of some LP agents feeling too much pressure to make shoplifter apprehensions, resulting in non-apprehension approaches [bad stops] or fights. I still see too many of them, or at least more than I’d like to see.”Shoplifter Apprehensions Turning ViolentAside from mistakes by the LPA that lead to a conflict with a shoplifting suspect, there may also be unknown variables in play pertaining to the suspect. Even if the approach and confrontation by the LPA is “textbook” and professional, any of these variables could result in a “simple” shoplifter apprehension escalating to something much more serious. For example, the subject could have an active arrest warrant, could be in possession or under the influence of a foreign substance, or could be experiencing a feeling of desperation with nothing to lose.A significant number of the LP professionals interviewed for this article believe that violence in shoplifter apprehensions for whatever reason is increasing, leading to more injuries and even deaths of, not only, LP personnel, but customers and shoplifters as well.In 2012, the National Retail Federation released results of a survey of their members that found shoplifting incidents turn violent 13 percent of the time. You can still find examples of apprehension-related violence in our Breaking News posts on a regular basis.Changing TimesSenior loss prevention professionals have lived through changing times. “If you stay in this career long enough, you are going to have a violent encounter,” said Brian Harless, an LP supervisor with a major discount retailer, “but the difference between when I first started and now? Take the weapons, for example. When I first worked in LP in the 1990s, there were maybe a handful of knives that we would take off shoplifters. Now, however, I have a small shoebox full.”Many LP departments were forced to drastically cut payroll with the economic downturn. This may have been a contributing factor to apprehension-related violence. In many retailers, departmental cuts led to only one LP agent working at a time. It has reduced options for the LPA in acquiring help from the store teams.One former LP manager for a big-box retailer explained it this way: “When I first started in LP, I had about 448 hours of coverage per week for each of our superstores. The team was making shoplifter apprehensions with three people outside and one in the camera room. It was rare that someone would run, and even rarer for them to fight. Now it’s a different story. The teams are running at 80 to 100 hours per week, and people are making shoplifter stops on their own. We started the whole ‘no-contact’ thing a few years back, and it seems to be helping a bit. But it’s still a scary thing to be out there by yourself.”Being alone, the scary feelings, the rush of adrenaline–all of those factors contribute to poor decision making and potentially disregard of no-contact or non-apprehension policies.Consider the scenario presented at the beginning of this post. The LP agent actually watches a crime unfold, and then approaches the shoplifter alone immediately after the fact, when the suspect’s emotions and adrenaline are probably running at their highest. Anyone with any foresight would probably agree that this is creating a situation fraught with potential disaster.Even police officers rarely have the opportunity to see a crime through from occurrence to detainment, at least not with the same frequency that LP agents do. Police officers typically arrive after the crime has taken place and are well equipped with batons, handcuffs, pepper spray, actual arrest powers, side arms, and plenty of backup. The LPA intervenes during the crime and often has nothing more than a walkie-talkie or cell phone for backup.Value of Shoplifter ApprehensionsTraditionally, loss prevention programs were built on the foundation of shoplifter apprehension. This function was leveraged as one of shrink reduction, not one of crime prevention or punishment. It is the very job function that led to our industry’s creation. In an earlier time, when we didn’t have strong operational knowledge, data analysis, or predictive modeling capabilities, spending our time and resources on this function may have made sense. But does it make sense now? Does stopping shoplifters have the kind of impact on shrink that we once thought? Again, the answer is no.The impact of shoplifting and the apprehension of offenders on shrink is still an open question and often a topic of heated discussion. Ask twenty different members of the LP industry what percentage of their shrink issues can be attributed to shoplifters, and you will likely get twenty different answers.In a 2012 poll, more than 70 percent of participants placed shoplifting at less than a quarter of their yearly shrink. Most of these professionals agree that shoplifter concerns vary with different retail models, but that regardless, the actual impact is a small fraction of yearly shrink when compared to other causes. Add to this that we are probably only actually apprehending a small fraction of that small fraction, and questions can be raised about the necessity to focus on shoplifting at all.According to recent retail theft statistics, retailers show a figure of approximately $48.9 billion in shrink for 2016, with an external theft apprehension recovery figure of just over $120 million. This comes out to less than 1 percent of total shrink. One percent! If this is accurate, this is a staggering statistic. Even when a substantial margin of error is factored in, this data does not support the philosophy of any loss prevention program that spends the bulk of their time and capital investing in the apprehension of shoplifters. And when the high control risks for injury, death, and litigation are thrown into the equation, it makes even less sense.In analyzing a 2012 report developed by Merchant Analytic Solutions, if we credit shoplifting (external) as roughly 24 percent of yearly shrink, consider all of the control risk that is associated. Now look at the 76 percent of other losses. These represent the bulk of our concerns and have the lowest risks associated with mitigation. As an industry, we allocate 70 to 80 percent of our budgetary distribution toward the high control risk, low-impact factor of external theft. How does this make sense?Why This Approach?“Shoplifting is an easy scapegoat for the shrink woes of some stores, districts, or retailers as a whole,” says one former vice president of LP at a major specialty retailer. “Shoplifting is that one consistent, universal, uncontrollable evil that exists in all of retail, and is often used as an accessible and believable excuse.”There is some truth in that quote. Shoplifting is an easy-to-identify, easy-to-blame occurrence that happens in every retailer. The gut feeling for many in retail, especially operators, is that shoplifters are the primary cause of shrink. Even though we have multiple data with colorful pie charts that say otherwise, shoplifters still somehow get top billing. Perhaps then, just showing the pie chart isn’t enough.Think about your last visit with the store manager in one of your high-shrink locations. Assuming that you discussed shrink strategy, what was the first thing the manager blamed? Typically, it’s shoplifters. How often have you heard something to the effect of, “There’s one guy that comes in every other day and wipes out my batteries and deodorant. When are you guys going to catch him?”More often than not, something along this line is the default answer, and often through no fault of the store manager. They may know that internal theft (“My employees won’t steal from me.”), administrative errors, and vendor issues contribute to shrink, but not to what extent. Perhaps they also have not been trained on how to actually diagnose and fix the other 76 percent of their losses. So what they are left with is what is happening right in front of them—shoplifting.How Do We Evolve?Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you ask that store manager about shrink, they answered in the following way? “We had to rush through our seasonal change over after Christmas, and, as a result, our price-change processes and overall pricing integrity has gone by the wayside a bit. This has led to a tremendous influx of SRAs at the front registers, manifesting themselves as line voids, price modifications, and generic SKU entries. This could have led to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in deteriorated margin and shrink across multiple SKUs in a number of categories and departments. But my LP associate caught it, and now we are working together to ensure that the issue is corrected.” This would be a welcome change, no?A companywide shift in LP culture and focus can help get you to that point. Moving the focus away from external theft and more onto the controllable elements of shrink can help:Reduce shrinkImprove gross marginIncrease net profitIncrease stock valueDecrease the pressures associated with the “need” to apprehend shopliftersThese decreased pressures result in a decreased risk of injury, death, and/or litigation in shoplifter apprehensions.Some retailers are at the forefront of this evolution in LP culture. Consider the results of a Fortune 25 specialty retail chain that began undergoing a shift in culture in 2002 with excellent results. The company focus–not just LP–was shifted from an apprehension-driven external-theft mindset to one of operational knowledge and holistic vision. The program was centered on the mitigation of SRA (sales reducing activities) and their operational causes.This retailer did not forbid external apprehensions completely, giving the option to the store management team, but only if they felt they had no alternative. The company adopted and enforced a no-touch, no-contact policy, as well as a stringent product-protection, theft-prevention program. They reviewed their LP team based on a combination of overall shrink numbers, SRA mitigation, and company performance.As a result of these changes, over the next five years, this retailer saw a 94 percent improvement in shrink (over $800 million), 11 percent improvement in gross margin, and an impressive 85 percent bump in net profit. The shift in LP focus had a tremendous effect.Similar culture changes are being tested in other forward-thinking retailers worldwide. Access to data across the entire business enterprise, as well as our ever-improving abilities to analyze and interpret it is giving us a much more holistic view of loss prevention’s ability to control shrink. Maybe this is leading us toward having more influence on the 76 percent of shrink that is controllable, rather than having to place quite as much risk, emphasis, effort, and expense in trying to manage the uncontrollable 24 percent.To Stop or Not to StopYour department and company need to consider how much impact shoplifting is actually having on profits–and then react accordingly. There are other aspects of shrink occurring in your buildings that contribute to the bulk of your shrink woes. These aspects are more controllable and much safer to address.However, if your company has decided that shoplifting apprehensions are a necessary part of your shrink strategy, consider implementing or revisiting the following measures:Us shoplifter apprehension as a last resort.Institute and enforce a zero-tolerance no-chase, no-touch policy for all employees.Anytime labor reductions necessitate a cut in LP payroll, revisit and revise safety practices with the remaining team members.Encourage a “buddy system”—could be manager, floor associate, uniformed security—to avoid LP agents making shoplifter apprehensions alone.Hire LPAs with good business acumen and the ability to learn company operations as well as theft mitigation.Ensure that new hires are aware of the differences between working in law enforcement and working in loss prevention.Ensure that they are capable of always making decisions that are in the best interest of safety, shrink mitigation, and the overall company brand.Expose LPAs to category, department, and/or SKU-related shrink results, and ensure that their focus is prioritized appropriately.Encourage the practice and recognize the success of prevention technique recoveries as a part of the LPA job description.Train and require continued training on all facets of the business operation, including perpetual inventory process, price changes, markdowns, seasonal changeovers, DSD and receiving processes, POS system operation, SRA analysis and mitigation, and others.Use shrink results as the LP report card. Review and promote LPAs on their ability to impact shrink through productivity and a combination of these measures. Their success and the shrink success of their stores or spans of control should go hand in hand.On this subject, the bottom line does not refer to company profits. Be safe. And remember that nothing in your store is worth your life or anyone else’s.This article was originally published in 2012 and was updated July 18, 2018. You’ve just read one of LPM’s most popular articles. Discover more high-quality industry content from LP Magazine with a digital or print subscription. [Start my FREE subscription today.] Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Intel and Alan Turing Institute form Strategic Partnership to help solve Big Data Healthcare Challenges

first_imgResearch into the fundamentals of algorithms for data science;Training the next generation of researchers;Addressing ways in which scientific advances can be taken into practice;Collaborating with a range of public and private organizations.If you want the deep dive on the ATI’s forward looking vision, I’d highly recommend reading Andrew Blake’s (Institute Director) Alan Turing Institute Roadmap for Science and Innovation.Alan Turing is a name that is familiar to many of you I’m sure and as the person who many see as the founder of modern computer science we are delighted that new algorithms developed by the ATI will feed into the design of future generations of Intel® microprocessors. Intel will provide the ATI with world-class High Performance Computing solutions including Intel® Xeon®-based workstations, Intel Software tools and access to an Intel Data center cluster based on Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Xeon Phi™.People and TechnologyBut great technology is just one part of the story of Intel’s strategic partnership with ATI, so I’m excited to tell you that we’re supporting the development of the next generation of data scientists too. Alongside hiring a number of talented individuals to work at the ATI we will be supporting the PhD and Research Fellow programme which will help fulfil one of the core aims of the Institute in helping to bridge the skills gap and place the UK in a strong global position in this sector.Solving the Big Data Challenges in HealthcareAnalysis of big data has the potential to solve some of the biggest challenges in healthcare which will help us deliver better patient care, including All-in-One-Day personalized medicine, unlocking the value of electronic medical records through natural language processing and making sense of the ever-increasing data produced by wearables and sensors. It’s an exciting time and we’re eager to see where this fantastic strategic partnership between Intel and the Alan Turing Institute takes us in the coming years. I look forward to keeping you updated in future blogs. Learn more about Intel Big Data and Analytics in HealthcareAlan Turing Institute websiteStay in touch with Intel Health and Life Sciences news Realizing the potential in big data is a challenge we’re enthusiastically tackling head on here at Intel and a recently announced strategic partnership with the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) in the UK is just one example of where working with key partners can help us drive scientific and technological discoveries.We want to help turn the rapidly increasing volume of data into meaningful insights which will help solve global challenges across a number of areas, including health and life sciences. The ATI’s vision is an exciting proposition, and that is to be a national institute which supports the UK in becoming a world leader in data science, through:last_img read more

3 Really Bad Internet Marketing Mistakes I Bet You’re Making

first_img  I:  PR: What makes it really bad is that, if you are making these mistakes, it’s hard to predict, measure and constantly increase your traffic and lead volume. If you can’t do that, you can’t determine an ROI on the time and money you spend on your internet marketing. Anyone in business, should be in control of how resources are being used to grow it. If you’re making these mistakes, you’re not really in control. .  wait… This mistake is even more common. A tleast most people attempt keyword research when they Hawaii VA Loans: Fortunately with internet marketing, success requires a lot less effort than soccer. It doesn’t require the span of adolescence to master, and you won’t ever get over the hill as long as you keep your skills fresh. Like a good coach, internet marketing requires a good analytics package to determine “how to improve”.  Social Media Marketing Kit Understanding Your VA Loan Benefits and Homebuyer’s Guide You should also notice that it’s not about having one or two offers. It’s about coming up with multiple offers that will resonate with your audience and that can help your prospects start making the correlation betwen their challenges and goals and how your product helps them get where they need to go.  redesign their site  SD: Allyrose18 few well designed landing pages & Keyword research Request an AED Grant wait… Aussiegall custom demos I usually ask people, “Have you done keyword research?”. They say “yes”. However, after a few more questions, I usually determine that all they’ve done is write a list of keywords awhile ago when their webmaster asked them for some. Some people have used some keyword research databases to find some keywords. Some people have even looked at search volume before they made decisions on how to optimize their pages, write blog posts or set up their social media profiles. However, almost noone I’ve spoken with in the last 6 months has already implemented an ongoing keyword research process that helps them continuously determine what keywords to use in order to maximize organic search traffic.  Keyword research enables you to predict and constantly increase the traffic you attract to your site. Lead generation best practices enable you to maximize the number of visitors you turn into leads. Analytics enable you to measure what’s working and constantly increase your traffic and lead volume. Closed loop marketing enables you to calculate a true ROI for your online marketing and zero in your marketing activities on the things that produce the most sales ready leads that turn into the most profitable customers.   Mistake #3: You’re not Measuring Where Your Leads are Coming From. Originally published Oct 28, 2008 9:53:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 SEO Kit , I’ve been able to demonstrate to people that the ROI on their time and money spent on their traffic acquisition activities can be positively impacted by 2-10x if they follow a rigorous and regularly occuring keyword research process. they’ve generated 350+ leads so far , , , etc. Please notice that the offers are educational in nature. They give the visitor what they’re looking for. Nonetheless, they perfectly qualify a prospect and capture their contact information so that leads can be nurtured. Is the web an important tool for generating new clients in your business? Should it be? Can you afford to continue making these mistakes?  Again, by implementing these best practices, a company can start converting a larger percentage of their visitors into leads. In the case of Safety Trainers above, Darcy Cook and her team generated only 5 leads in all of 2007 through the web. Since February 2008, closed loop marketing If you’re not making these 3 mistakes, kudos to you:center_img Safety Trainers: Mistake #2: You Don’t Have Lots of Great Offers, Calls to Action and Well Optimized Landing Pages on Your Site. Bonus kudos to you if you’re already doing Topics: wait… Each week, I have numerous conversations with small business owners, professional marketers and webmasters. If you’re like most of these people, there’s 3 mistakes I can assume with almost 100% certainty that you’re making. , with relevant offers and great calls to action: Free Website Redesign Kit The mistake that most people make, however, is to focus on the wrong metrics. If I spent all my time analyzing how the ball moved around the field instead of getting faster, getting better, refining my shooting abilities, I would have never played in high school or college. With internet marketing, you need to determine exactly what traffic sources (eg keywords, email blasts, refering links, social media sites, etc) are attracting visitors who convert into leads. So many people focus on the ball moving around the field: number of page views, number of visitors, or how long someone stays on their site. These things are pretty irrelevant if you’re not converting web site visitors into leads and paying clients; if you’re not scoring goals. . People usually don’t even have calls to action on their site. They rarely ever have great offers that are relevant to the interests of their prospects. And most people wouldn’t know what a well-designed landing page looks like if it smacked them in the face. What most people do is place a “contact us” button in their navigation and call it a day. That’s the equivalent of having a retail store and asking your cashier to stand in the back right corner of the store with their eyes closed and a small non-obvious button on their chest that says “Wake me up only if you want to buy something.” Was I Right? Are You Making These Mistakes? wait… Photos by , Inside Sales Best Practices Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack wait…  I: Web Analytics  L: wait…  LD: The Bridge Group: where you’re able to track exactly what traffic sources generate leads that convert into customers. Kalandrakas wait…  C: HubSpot: You need to identify what keywords are relevant, have high search volume, are relatively easy to rank for, monitor where you rank now for each keywords, how much traffic you’re getting from each keyword and whether the visitors coming from that keyword are turning into leads. Based on the data that we’re able to show in our People aren’t going to contact you until they’ve determined that you can help them solve their challenges or that you have the product they need. Many companies only put a “request a demo” or “free live evaluation” link as calls to action. However, this is just another way of saying “contact us to talk about buying”. Your offers must be relevant to the challenges that your prospects face. Below are a wait… Press Release Marketing Kit Mistake #1: Keyword Research Doesn’t Guide Every One of Your Online Marketing Activities ,last_img read more

Can Google Make Ebooks Like Water?

first_imgToday Download our inbound marketing kit Originally published Dec 1, 2010 10:45:00 AM, updated July 03 2013 goXunuReviews Marketing Takeaway Free Download: Inbound Marketing Kit that The Wall Street Journal Google’s entry, even though it may be late, is possibly the final push that digital books need for mainstream adoption. What does this mean for marketers? Looking at sales of e-readers as well as tablet devices, it looks like 2011 is poised to be a year on continued shift in the way people consumer information. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, it is critical to provide news, information and thought-leadership content in a format that allows for maximum consumption and engagement from prospects, leads and customers. 

This likely means keeping a close eye on how your audience is accessing your content online. Additionally, you may consider looking for industry research or conducting a survey of your target customers to see how many of them consume ebooks and long-form digital content. Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journalcenter_img Google’s goal with this project seems grand: ebook ubiquity. The company seeks to make ebook distribution and access as ubiquitous as drinking water. Can Google do this? Well, that is yet to be seen, though the general approach has worked well for them in the mobile device market. Google Inc. is in the fine stages of launching Google Editions, the company’s own online ebook store that would compete with Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and others. Reports state that Google Editions could launch by the end of 2010. With this launch Google is making an effort to open up a closed ebook market, in a similar philosophy that it has taken with its Android OS.Google’s goal is to provide ebooks that consumers can read anywhere. Users will buy books directly from Google or from other online retailers—including independent bookstores. These books will then be added to an online library tied to a user’s Google account. From this account users will be able to access books on most devices with a web browser, such as smartphones, tablets and computers. Dominique Raccah, publisher and owner of Sourcebooks Inc. “The Google model is going to drive a lot of sales. We think they could get 20% of the e-book market very fast.” Learn more about inbound marketing and how to combine blogging, SEO and social media for results. “Google is going to turn every Internet space that talks about a book into a place where you can buy that book,” said for If you find that ebooks are an important part of the information mix that appeals to your target audience, then you might want to consider distributing your long-form content, like whitepapers and product catalogs in ebook formats. This will add an extra step to your content production process, but using a service like Lulu.com, you can self-publish an ebook quickly and create a new way for your inbound marketing content to be consumed. . reported Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

60% of Social Media Messages are Links to Published Content [Data]

first_img Topics: data shared by eMarketer of all shares, 60% were of links to published content It’s an inbound marketing no-brainer: the best way to get your prospects to find and learn about your company, its products, and its services is by publishing content. And the latest as the top sharing vehicle for content with 93% of internet users using it, it’s not ahead in the race by much. Social networks trail slightly behind at 89%, and sharing through blogs is a close third at 82%. In addition, this data helps us understand that people share differently with different groups of people. Understanding the specific sharing behaviors of different groups can help marketers pinpoint the best methods for reaching their prospects. how people share content online. Is your business taking advantage of the power of published content? Email Marketing The study also revealed some data about the methods by which people are sharing content online, and more granularly, with whom. Overall, while . Additionally, 36% of shares were of embedded content. The third subset of shares? A measly 4%, which is made up of URLs for brands or corporate websites. This means that, whether people are sharing links to your content or embedding it into social networks directly, an overwhelming 96% of the sharing that happens online is of even smarter Smart inbound marketers understand the need to create and publish content in order to get found online. The , not websites. content Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Content is the Fuel of the Social Web,” AOL and Nielsen Online gathered data from over 10,000 social media messages to analyzecenter_img That means even if you’ve gotten your website up and running, your next step needs to be to come up with a solid Carlos Maya ones are creating it on a regular basis and are planting their content seeds in social media so it gets shared and spreads to a much larger degree. What This Means for Marketers Photo Credit: In their April 2011 report, ” Originally published May 19, 2011 5:02:00 PM, updated July 19 2013 . email still leads the pack Social sharing can be extremely valuable and effective in getting found online. The bottom line is, even if you have the prettiest looking website in the world, without content, it will likely stay hidden in a black hole of the web. content strategy When it comes to online sharing, it’s not enough for businesses to simply have a website; long gone are the days when a “web presence” just means having a website for your business to call home. The results? We think their most noteworthy finding is that, Social Media only confirms it…last_img read more

Why Focusing on Blog Word Count Is Stupid

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Remember that kid in class who always asked your teacher how long his term paper needed to be? Most teachers (the good ones) responded, “However long it needs to be.” Length as a poor indicator of content quality rings just as true in business blogging as it did in school.Just compare Brian Solis’ latest 1,000-word blog article with Seth Godin’s latest 100-word post. They’ve both been shared hundreds of times on major social media networks; so what gives? Let’s break down the reasons why word count in business blogging is unimportant and talk about the more important things you should be focusing on for your blog instead.Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates NowWord Count Doesn’t Matter, But Mobile Optimization DoesAccording to mobiThinking, half a billion people worldwide accessed the mobile web in 2009. That number is expected to double by 2014. In fact, in the U.S. alone, 25% of mobile users are mobile-only, meaning they don’t even use a desktop, laptop, or tablet to access the web. It’s unwieldy for mobile readers to browse through content on mobile screens that are too small to display it.What You Should Focus on Instead: Optimize your blog for a mobile environment. Your blog should load to fit screens on an iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android device so users don’t have to scroll and pinch to make your content fit. Then either write short-form content that can be easily absorbed by professionals on smartphones, or long form content that displays nicely on them.Word Count Doesn’t Matter, But Effective Formatting DoesPeople aren’t reading every word on the page. Readers have short attention spans, and they’re scanning your content for its main takeaways. The July Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter tells us the average time on site in the U.S. is 6:06 minutes, viewing 4.7 pages per visit. That averages out to people spending a little less than a minute and a half on each page of your site. That doesn’t sound like an in-depth read.What You Should Focus on Instead: Make it easy for readers to absorb the main takeaways by getting really good at formatting. Include images, break up content with bullet points and numbers (like Godin), and use bolded text to tell the reader where to focus their attention (like Solis). This will make it easier for people to glean the main takeaways, thus more likely they’ll keep reading your content and sharing it with their social networks.Word Count Doesn’t Matter, But Clarity & Depth DoSome topics take 100 words to explain, some take 1,000 — and that’s okay. Great bloggers are concise in their writing. They recognize that some great points may only take a couple hundred words to get across, and they avoid writing more just for the sake of writing more.However, if a longer blog post will make communicating your idea more effective, will ultimately help your readers either learn how to do their jobs better, or provide them with valuable content that they can share with their networks to make them look super smart, then let the words flow. Just as belaboring a simple point will increase your bounce rates, trying to squish a complex concept into an arbitrary low word count will disappoint readers who expected a deeper discussion of the topic when they clicked on your blog post.What You Should Focus on Instead: Before you start writing, put in time up-front to narrow down the scope of your topic and outline the points you want to cover. Completing this exercise will help you understand if your topic is appropriate, or if you’re writing about something that is better covered in something like an ebook or whitepaper. And if you refer to other concepts throughout the blog post that require more in-depth discussion, don’t be afraid to link to longer form content you’ve developed around that topic. It not only enhances the reader’s experience, but it also helps move them through your site to landing pages that can capture them as leads.Have you found your shorter blog posts perform better, or do your readers prefer lengthier blog articles?Image Credit: Maria Reyes-McDavis Originally published Nov 11, 2011 1:30:00 PM, updated October 02 2019last_img read more

Shameless Marketing Tactics That Totally Work [Infographic]

first_imgWe’ve all done it. You know, used that shameless little marketing tactic that catches the attention of your audience and gets them clicking because, well, they just can’t help it. Admit it. Or don’t — you know who you are. Last month we wrote about 7 of the most shameless tactics marketers use to lure their audiences. But you know what’s even better than writing about them? Visualizing them!I’m not sure whether this qualifies as an infographic (it is a graphic with info on it though, right?). Call it an entertaining, pretty image if you want. All I know is that you’ll likely nod your head in agreement as you breeze through it. Either you’ve employed these marketing tactics yourself, or fallen victim to another marketer’s seduction. Am I right? (Click the infographic for a full-sized version.) Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jul 25, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 Inbound Marketing Topics: Have you ever made use of — or fallen victim to — any of these shameless marketing tactics? And as always, feel free to shamelessly share away!last_img read more

A Simple Breakdown of All Your Facebook Advertising Options

first_imgIn the new Facebook ads platform, you’re also able to create a Sponsored Story for any of your ads. I’ll explain what that means in this next section, but know that you can do this for any post of a page, app, or offer that’s on Facebook. 2) Sponsored StoryA Sponsored Story is a post generated because someone interacted with whatever you’re promoting. So if I promoted HubSpot’s business page, a Sponsored Story would be generated if someone Liked our business page. This story will appear to the user’s friends’ newsfeeds, and it will look like this: You are not able to change the copy of the ad generated, so when posting something on your wall, keep in mind that only the first sentence will appear in the ad. Remember to make the copy of the post as engaging as possible to get people to click on your ad.This ad can lead either to an external link, or another part of your Facebook page. This is dependent on what kind of offer you post on your Facebook page. If you post a photo, and sponsor that photo, clicking on the ad will only lead the user to your photo album on your Facebook page. To send a user off of Facebook onto your own landing page, you can post a link to an external page on your Facebook page. The image that’s generated in this case will link to your landing page. We do this to drive traffic to our ebook offers, for example, which can be a great lead generation tool.4) Sponsored AppIf your business has an application on Facebook, you can also sponsor an app. Simply select the app in step one: Facebook Advertising To send a user to a Facebook page:To promote your Facebook page, you’ll create an ad in a different way. In the first step where you choose your destination, you’ll select your Facebook business page. After you select your page, the new Facebook ad platform will give you three options. To promote your page to get more Likes, thus increasing your reach, you’ll want to click on the first option: Get More Page Likes. Originally published Nov 19, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Once in the Power Editor, you start by creating an ad. Again, Facebook will generate ad copy for you, so you’ll need to change that to reflect something more appropriate.When promoting your Facebook page, you’re able to select the ‘Landing View,’ which is where the user will end when they click on your ad. To get the most Likes, sending them to your timeline would be best, where they can see the summary of your company and easily Like your page. But if you want to promote another part of your page, you can send them to another app, just be careful — make sure you’re clear in your ad copy as to where they’re going after the click to avoid post-click desertion. If people expect one thing in the ad, and land on a page unrelated to what they saw in the ad, they’re much less likely to remain on the page and engage with your content.  You can then create your ad headline, text, and image. Try to use “attention grabbing” copy and an image to increase engagement with your ad. CTRs on ads can be very low, but can be improved with more entertaining and attractive creative material.Facebook will try to pull material from the URL you have typed in and generate an ad. Make sure the headline and copy is correct, as it will pull the first sentence it finds, which may not be what you’re looking to promote. For example, when I use the URL www.hubspot.com/3/ which promotes our latest software release, the headline of the ad comes up as “Marketing Software That’s,” because the headline can only be 25 characters. I will go back into this ad and change the headline to one that actually make sense! You’re given three option again: Get New Users, Increase App Engagement, and See Advanced Options. The final step in creating an ad on Facebook is the bidding and pricing. Name your campaign — the name is just for you, so make sure you name it something unique that you’ll remember — and input your budget on a daily or lifetime spend basis.OptimizationFacebook can auto-optimize your campaign budget for clicks or impressions. This means Facebook will set your cost-per-click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) to best spend your budget while getting the most clicks or impressions. You can also choose to manually set the CPC or CPM. I personally like to use a CPC bidding for my campaigns, as I’m usually creating ads that send people to a landing page for one of our offers. This way I only pay when someone actually engages in my ad.  If you select option two, ‘Increase App Engagement,’ your ad will be shown to current users of the app to try and increase the current users’ engagement with the app.Selecting option three, ‘See Advanced Options,’ gives you more choices on bidding and cost-per-click optimization, which we’ll discuss later on in this post.Sponsored Story Within an AppYou can also choose to have stories promoted about people sharing and using your app. Just like with Sponsored Stories of wall posts, these often show a higher CTR and lower volume, as they have the element of social proof and interactions with friends lending a helping hand. These also show up in the news feeds of friends who are using the app. What I think is one of the most valuable parts of Facebook advertising is the ability to target based on interests. You can select as many interests as you wish and target people that have stated this as an interest, or have liked the page. This allows you to find the people that you want to reach and are qualified for your business.Facebook will also let you know the size of the audience. You’ll want to make sure you’re targeting the right audience, but if the volume is very low, you may want to think of broadening your targeting in order to reach your lead generation goal. Luckily, Facebook has over one billion users, so most audiences will be very substantial! Sponsored ResultsFacebook recently came out with a new form of advertising on Facebook, Sponsored Results. Marketers can now sponsor results in the search bar on Facebook. By sponsoring a result, when people search for certain profiles that you’ve bid on, your page, app, or event will appear in search results. 5) Event SponsorshipThe last form of traditional advertising you can do on Facebook is a Sponsored Event. Here you can increase the attendance of your event by showing the ad to people who are likely to sign up for your event. Facebook seems to be launching a new form of advertising — or some new feature within the advertising — every day. From the launch of Sponsored Stories to the mobile promotion of app downloads, Facebook is working hard at post-IPO monetization.And while they know that marketers’ interest in digital advertising is a great place to start with this whole monetization thing, they also know that they can’t rest on their laurels. These days, marketers expect options, personalization, and ROI. As a reuslt, they’ve responded with tons of new types of advertising, and targeting and optimization features within those different types.Great! Right? Well, yes, except now it’s hard to keep all the new ad types and features straight. Heck, it’s hard to even remember what advertising options exist, and how they all differ from one another.So we’re going to break down all of the advertising options Facebook has to offer, and explain when they should be used. This should help you keep all the Facebook ad options straight!Facebook’s 5 Forms of On-Page Advertising1) Facebook AdThese ads appear on the right of a user’s Facebook profile and newsfeed. They appear as ads from the specific company, and have no social interaction component. This is a simple ad form that can send the user to an external page, or your Facebook business page. To start your advertising campaign, go to https://www.facebook.com/advertising.To send a user to an external page:Once in the Facebook ad platform, create a new ad by selecting the first option on the destination drop down menu. Here you can type in the URL you would like to send people to. If you select the first option, ‘Get New Users,’ your ad will be shown to people that are not already using your app in order to get more people to use the app. Facebook will generate an ad for you, which you can go in and edit to reflect the benefit of using the app. You can then select what you want to send people to when they click on your Sponsored Result. Here, I have chosen to send people to our business page. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack To create a sponsored result, you’ll need to use Power Editor, which can be downloaded through the facebook.com/ads platform.  Topics: Choose to advertise something you already have on Facebook. These types of posts can be very beneficial as they show up to people who aren’t necessarily engaged yet with your brand, but have “social proof” because their friends have liked the page. We at HubSpot have seen higher clickthrough rates for these types of advertisements on Facebook, as well.3) Promoted PostsPromoting a post that’s already on your page can help you get more visibility for a specific offer, event, image, or announcement — it sends the person back to the offer on your Facebook page, and helps increase engagement on these posts. To promote a post, select the second option, ‘Promoted Page Posts,’ after you’ve already selected to promote your business page: Once you’ve hit the radio button, you can select which recent post you’d like to promote. The past 20 or so posts will be generated, so if you decide you want to promote something older you can go back and find the post.  Targeting & Optimizing Ads on FacebookAll the ads above have the same form of audience targeting and bidding that will help you streamline your expenditure. Here are the options you have:TargetingYou can target by location, from country to city, as well as age and gender. If your business has a local audience, it would make sense to only have your ads appear to the people that may actually become customers in your specific area.  Further, you can target the type of connections you want your ads to reach. You can target:Anyone – This will show your ads to all people who are within the targeting you already chose.People connected to your brand – This will help increase engagement with the people who already Like your brand.People not connected to your brand – This will increase the reach of your brand.Advanced Targeting – This allows you to target people who are connected to specific brands that you want to reach. This could help you if you know of a brand that is followed by people similar to your target audience.Friends of Connections – You can target people whose friends are fans of your page. This can help grow the brand awareness of your brand to people who may be similar minded as the people who are already your fans. To make this a Sponsored Result, you need to choose Sponsored Result in the ‘Story Type’ tab. The ‘Destination tab’ is where the user will be sent within your business page (here I have Default, which goes to the Timeline), and the body is the copy that people will see in the Sponsored Result next to your logo. Make sure this is as interesting as possible to get people to click on your result and go to your page. RetargetingWith Facebook Exchange, advertisers can now use Facebook ads for retargeting people who view their website. These ads appear in the right side of a Facebook profile instead of in the news feed as Sponsored Stories. These ads cannot be created in the Facebook ads platform or the Power Editor; advertisers work with a third party DSP or retargeting agency. Facebook has partnerships with many of these, making it easy for advertisers to use this form of marketing. Advertisers place a pixel on their website, dropping a cookie on each viewer who visits their website. These people are then “retargeted” with ads on their Facebook profiles from the company. Retargeting is a interesting way to reach people who may already be interested in your brand. These people have already gone to your website, but may not have taken the next step in the buying cycle. A retargeted ad can help them move down the funnel, and eventually become a customer!Facebook advertising can be a great way to generate fans, leads, and customers. Now go test these options out and see what works best for you. Good luck!Did you know about all of these Facebook advertising options? Are you going to try any of them out for the first time? Have any given you surprising results?Image credit: Guudmorning!last_img read more

7 Ways to Create a Long-Lasting Relationship Between Content and Design

first_img Growth-Driven Design Topics: Originally published Mar 17, 2015 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 When it comes to building a strong brand, no matter what your industry, every company’s key to success starts with stellar content and equally stellar design. Whether you’re creating a website, infographic, print ad, email campaign, blog post, social media account, etc., there’s always a need for some degree of both parts. But as with many companies, individual schedules often get bogged down with tasks, meetings, and strategy planning, putting time for Content and Design to collaborate, plan, and lay out the groundwork on the back burner. Or they simply get frustrated with the whole process because both teams haven’t communicated properly about the project specs. So how do we still ensure those stellar results we want so desperately?Even with limited time and other related restrictions, there are still many ways for both parties to create and maintain a happy, healthy and long-lasting relationship when creating projects. Here are seven first steps to help set yourselves up for success: 1) Brainstorm together.No matter what platform you’re creating content and design for — whether it be a website, an e-book, a print ad, etc. — the initial brainstorming session tends to bring up the age-old “chicken or the egg” debate. Do we start the content creation or the design first? While there are many arguments for both sides, that’s not what’s most important to think about in this stage of the game. What’s important is to start generating concepts and spinning ideas off each other as a team — concepts and ideas that are creative, user- or viewer-friendly, and realistic to execute within your timeframe or budget. If limited time for in-person meetings is one of your hindrances, write out your ideas and send them over via email. Or, if you share the same office space, sketch it all out and old-school paper airplane it over to the other team’s room. That would definitely be the start to an awesome partnership.2) Don’t get married to any one idea.Let’s admit it: we’ve all done it. Whether planning a social event, completing a college project, or organizing a large-scale business plan, we’ve all had that one epiphany idea that we were 100% sure would move people to tears when they heard about it. Sometimes these ideas really are as ingenious as we know they are in our heads, and other times they’re better left forgotten. But even the ingenious ones that blow everyone’s socks off have the chance of being unrealistic, out of the budget or not within the brand guidelines. When that occurs on either side of the design-content spectrum, it’s essential to remember that marrying any one idea can be harmful to the project’s overall purpose and success. Many of us know that user experience (UX) is “the new black” in the marketing arena, and if you’re in it for anything else, it’s just simply a fashion faux pas. Deterring from a user-centric focus – whether from the designers or the content developers – for the sake of one “great” idea could result in a poor user experience and potentially the loss of a valuable customer or lead.3) Provide feedback, not criticism.You’re good at what you do. That’s why you do it. What’s easy to forget sometimes though is that someone else is good at what they do, too. Designers are not content developers and content developers are not designers.And while feedback is important — we all need it to grow, learn and succeed in life — if it’s nothing but opinion-based, subjective criticism that is all but constructive for the other person, there’s no value in that viewpoint.In a Huffington Post blog article by Diane Gottsman, “Business Etiquette: 5 Tips to Turning Negative Feedback Into Constructive Criticism”, five great ways to keep criticism as helpful as possible are brought to light, touching on focusing your feedback on the action at hand rather than on the individual; being specific; providing assistance if needed; and more. This is a great way to help the other person get a different perspective on their work without feeling like they’re being attacked. 4) Start learning your partner’s native tongue.A content developer probably wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing about parallax scrolling, in the same way that a Web designer probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what a past participle is. This goes back to what we mentioned in the previous tip, where people are good at what they do for a reason. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for communication among the language barrier.If you’re a content developer:Learn a little about coding; there are many free “crash course” resources that will help with understanding the subject matter, even if from a helicopter point of viewView a short tutorial about design basics; you’d be surprised at how knowing some best practices for layouts, typography, white space, etc. can benefit you when creating contentWatch a designer in action; take note of some common first steps a designer takes and see how you could apply those to your contentIf you’re a designer:Read some stellar content; check out some examples of content written on Web pages, infographics, etc. to get an idea of what the copy might look like in your designConsider where specific content should go in your design; especially for website content, make sure you have a good understanding for what content is most important and where it would be most helpful to the viewer in the navigation menu; if there’s an opportunity to build out more original content (i.e. blogs, e-books, etc.), chances are the content developer is going to generate a lot of copy for those sections, so they should be very visibleWatch a content developer in action; notice what he/she does frequently with copy in terms of length and placementThe key here is to accept your individual areas of expertise, but to also challenge yourself to understand your partner’s everyday lingo. 5) Do your job with the other’s job in mind.Depending on your company’s structure, the project might start with one team before another. It might be one company’s best practice to have the design done prior to content because a client may prefer for the site to be more visually appealing than informational. Or vice versa. Ideally, the more interaction between teams, the better. But no matter what structure you fall in, you should be prepared to always have the other team’s work in mind while doing yours.If you’re in a position where the content must come first, make sure the content generated is organized in a way that can be easily designed around it. Don’t make content too heavy if it isn’t necessary – be clear and to the point where possible. If you’re in a position where the design must come first, be sure that the structure is centered around creating a positive user experience, with practical places for content to be placed.6) Work in tandem to fix problems.Uh-oh. You’ve run into some unexpected issues while putting everything together. Maybe your website design doesn’t match the format of the content structure. Maybe your content is too lengthy for your print design. Maybe both are great separately, but not combined. Now what?If your first thought was either to run and hide, or start playing the blame game, you should think again. Fixing problems can be as easy as:Pushing away the urge to get defensive about your work Asking questions to the other party about the issues you’re running intoListening and really understanding the other party’s questions or concernsAnswering the other party’s questions with as much detail and explanation as possibleOffering a solution (or two) to a problem the other might be facingBeing prepared to adjust your work to better the project as a wholeRemembering to look at the entire picture when making adjustmentsAdditionally, if you’re creating a project for a client or for a major stakeholder in your company, be aware that your ideas or work could get a nod of disapproval at any time… and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. 7) Understand that you both have the same end goal.Google is a star example of this. All of the changes, the algorithm updates, the ever-shifting ranking factors, etc. – all of it is to give their users the best possible experience. That’s what should always be in the back of your mind when creating any material that includes both content and design: user experience. If both parties remember that it’s not about each other, but rather the end user, you might find that you both have a lot more to agree on than you thought. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

8 Tips for Giving Great Peer Feedback

first_img Giving and Receiving Feedback The last constructive criticism I received was from my cat. After presenting her with the organic, gluten-free food that I’d spent arguably too much money on, she refused to eat it. Can you believe that? Does she even care that I consulted blogs and veterinarians about the best diet to put her on? Unfortunately, we’re not great at communicating feedback to each other because we’re of different species.Luckily, that’s not the case when giving feedback in the workplace. It’s easy to communicate criticism, but it’s not always easy to do it effectively. This can especially be the case when providing peer feedback, which is a trend that’s growing in different workplaces.Part of assembling a great team means providing helpful feedback so they can grow, and peer-to-peer discussions of strengths and weaknesses is a way to round out the top-down feedback employees receive from their supervisors and glean a fuller picture of how they can improve. In this post, we’ll discuss why peer feedback matters and how to deliver it effectively.Why Feedback Is ImportantFeedback is an important and necessary part of anyone’s career path, whether you’re in your first job out of college or have been a CEO for many years. Feedback from managers, peers, and reports is critical to identifying performance strengths and weaknesses. It provides employees opportunities for growth and education in their roles. What’s more, it often results in improved communication and better understanding of expectations between employees.You might think that employees dread giving or receiving feedback, especially if it’s negative, but that’s actually not the case. There are some surprising statistics about the importance of feedback to employees who receive it, especially if it’s negative:Zenger/Folkman surveyed nearly 1,000 employees, and 72% thought their performance would improve with the help of feedback. Additionally, 57% preferred corrective feedback over praise, and 92% of those surveyed agreed with the statement that negative feedback, when delivered correctly, is an effective way to improve performance.It’s clear that negative feedback is not only desired by employees, but it’s beneficial. So, now the question is how to deliver constructive feedback correctly so employees aren’t demotivated and discouraged by it. One answer to this question is the peer review, or the 360 review.Peer reviews are designed to provide a broader picture of employees and how they work with others, not just their supervisors. They’re not intended to replace or contribute to regular performance reviews or salary negotiations.Instead, they’re designed to help employees set goals related to interpersonal and professional skills in the workplace based on feedback managers and peers provide. The goal of peer review is to provide a clear picture of a team’s performance from the inside, out, and to create a team culture and spirit of positive reinforcement as well as constructive feedback from those who know the employee best.To shed some light on ways to give feedback to your peers that’s helpful, actionable, and not uncomfortable, I’ve rounded up suggestions from my own peers and trusted leadership sources to get you started.8 Tips for Giving Great Peer Feedback1) Assume good intent.This is good advice for anyone on the receiving end of constructive feedback, but it goes for those giving peer feedback as well. As uncomfortable as you might feel providing feedback to your peers, they want to hear from you: 76% of employees surveyed were motivated by positive feedback from their peers.I asked my colleague, HubSpot Marketing Director Rebecca Corliss, what advice she gives for providing great peer feedback.“For those who feel uncomfortable giving feedback, I hear you. Especially if you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, it can be really difficult.” Corliss suggests that peer reviewers and feedback recipients view the comments as a gift. “If your feedback is shared constructively and with genuine care for the other person, you’re doing it right.”HubSpot Sales Blog Editor Leslie Ye echoed this sentiment. “Your peers are there to help you improve, not cut you down or make you feel bad,” Ye says. “Their feedback isn’t a reflection on your worth as a person. Remind yourself of this to make feedback feel less personal.”   2) Review regularly.If peer reviews are incorporated regularly over the course of a working relationship, they won’t be viewed as a sporadic and dreaded event only followed by an employee’s mistake. Instead, peer reviews will be part of an ongoing two-way discussion that allows for honest and open communication and faster problem-solving.I have a weekly check-in where I receive feedback from my manager, and I receive peer feedback each time I submit a blog post to HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Carly Stec for her review. Communicating regularly about my progress and growth makes it feel less like a review that I dread and more like an ongoing conversation that I look forward to as a way to improve my work.Stec suggests, “make giving and receiving peer feedback a consistent habit, and it’ll start to feel less intimidating.”3) Come prepared.Fractl surveyed 1,100 employees about how they felt about difficult conversations in the workplace, and they found that respondents were more likely to be somewhat or completely satisfied by feedback conversations with a direct report than with a superior. The promising result? Nearly 50% of respondents were somewhat or completely satisfied with difficult discussions with peers.How do you ensure that feedback conversations between peers are productive and leave all parties satisfied? Come to feedback meetings prepared. A whopping 85% of the survey respondents said they prepared for difficult conversations in advance, and that’s smart advice for any feedback meeting, no matter how casual.When preparing for a feedback meeting with a peer, have the following questions in mind to ensure that the time is well-spent:What are your goals? What are you both seeking to get out of this meeting?How can you both work together to achieve them? How can you help your peer grow and improve?4) Learn the other person’s style.As you may already know from previous career experience, feedback can sometimes rub you the wrong way. It might be the content of the feedback, or you might be taking criticism personally, but it could also be because you and your colleague delivering feedback have different communication styles.Stec suggests that peer reviewers “take time to learn how the person you’re working with prefers to receive feedback — and package your notes accordingly.”Ye encourages expectation-setting prior to giving feedback so colleagues know what to expect from you early on. “I’m a very direct person and my feedback is the same way. I know that my feedback can come off as blunt or abrupt, so I set the expectation early on that that’s my style, so people receiving feedback aren’t taken aback.”The easiest way to learn your colleague’s style is to ask: Do they prefer in-person discussions, or emails? Do they want big-picture feedback, or do they want to dive into making changes? Consider asking colleagues about personality assessments, such as the DiSC test, that might provide you with greater insight into how you colleagues communicate and work best.5) Get to the point.We’ve written before about the importance of not giving feedback in the form of a “sandwich,” wherein constructive feedback is preceded and followed by positive feedback to lessen the sting of criticism. It can often make your peers feel patronized and condescended to, so skip the sandwich.Instead, try a feedback flatbread (bear with me here, I’m hungry). Instead of prefacing constructive criticism with praise, dive into the feedback head-on, and follow it up with discussing how their strengths can be used to solve the problem.In another study, Zenger/Folkman surveyed nearly 4,000 employees who’d received negative feedback asking them if they were surprised by the criticism they’d received, and 74% had already known and weren’t surprised by the feedback. So when you’re preparing to meet with a peer about ways they can improve their work, it’s safe to assume they know themselves fairly well. Address areas of growth and ways they can use their strengths to improve, rather than following a compliment-critique-compliment sandwich recipe.Ye notes that the compliment sandwich can “obscure the true feedback and often lead to more rounds of back-and-forth,” but she echoes the need to interweave positive comments into peer feedback discussions. “It’s discouraging to not receive any positive feedback, and it’s a missed opportunity to call out and reinforce good habits.”6) Encourage a growth mindset.Are you familiar with the fixed mindset and how it compares to the growth mindset? For a quick overview, these concepts were coined by psychologist Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.”When providing peer feedback, phrase your comments and challenge your colleague to think in terms of a growth mindset. Instead of focusing on individual tasks your coworker didn’t accomplish, give them feedback about how the skills they’re learning to tackle contribute to the bigger picture of their professional success.Praising or criticizing peers by telling them what they are — right or wrong, good or bad — can inspire a fear of failure and making mistakes that stagnates learning. Corliss says it best: “Most folks see feedback as a time to sit down and tell people what they’re doing wrong or what they need to do better. While that can be true, I think there’s a better way to view feedback: offering people a reflection of themselves that they may not be able to see.”Producing successful work is important, but as a peer, it’s important for you to provide feedback that gives your colleagues a fuller picture of their progress and growth that empowers them to experiment and learn new ways to define “successful.”7) Use the passive voice.I know, you probably read the title of this section and wondered, “wait, doesn’t this advice go against a cardinal rule of writing?” Before you write me off, hear me out: The passive voice is integral to giving productive peer feedback that’s helpful without being personal. It allows your feedback to focus on the problem, not the individual who you’re critiquing.Compare these two styles of feedback on the same hypothetical article:“You didn’t support the claims you made in the article.”“This article would be stronger with more research to back its claims.”See the difference? While the two critiques are communicating the same thing —  the article needs more support for its claims — the second is a more productive way to provide feedback to a peer. Focusing feedback around the subject instead of the individual makes it less likely that your peer will become defensive of themselves and will lead to an altogether more productive conversation.Remember, 57% of Zenger/Folkman’s respondents said they preferred corrective feedback. Your peers and colleagues want to know how to improve, and if it’s your job to help them in that process, you owe it to yourself and your coworkers to have the most productive conversation possible.8) Embrace technology.It’s 2016, and it’s time for peer feedback to get with the program. As we mentioned earlier, it’s courteous to learn how your peers like to receive feedback to tailor an approach that works for their learning style, and that can include technology.Experiment with different ways to deliver constructive criticism electronically, such as via email, Google Drive comments, Slack, or Evernote. One benefit to communicating peer feedback electronically is that it can be documented and saved for future reference.On the other side of the coin, there are many ways to electronically harness positive peer feedback as well. Here on the HubSpot Marketing team, we use TinyPulse to gauge employee engagement and happiness, but also to give “cheers” to our peers for great work that their supervisors might not have noticed. YouEarnedIt lets employees provide similar real-time praise.Your peers want to succeed in their roles, and feedback from managers and peers is integral to making that happen. The next time you sit down for a feedback conversation with a peer, ask yourself if you’re doing the best you can to make your criticism fair, actionable, and empowering.What’s your favorite way to receive feedback from a peer? What’s your advice for giving constructive criticism to your coworkers? Share with us in the comments below.Want to learn more about giving feedback? Check out How to Give Negative Feedback Without Sounding Like a Jerk.  Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 5, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated April 18 2018last_img read more