We interrupt your life to bring you this

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
Just In From Twitter One Minute Ago…

Twitter. 140 characters. 340 million tweets per day. 500 million followers. Overwhelming. It is the ultimate in, “Get to the Point” communications and the ultimate panacea for short attention spans. It has become THE source of real time data. Even then, although many sign on, many sign off. About 47% of followers are no longer active on Twitter, according to ExactTarget. They leave because there is too much clutter in their world of communications. 52% of Followers stop following brands because the messages are too boring. This is not a good start, but having a Twitter presence can have significant benefits for a brand.

Let’s look at the profile of a frequent follower on Twitter. According to Edison Research: one third is between the ages of 25 – 34; they are more educated and have higher incomes than average; they are early adopters of technology. They are voracious consumers and contributors of online information. They will follow a brand on Twitter for the usual reasons – real time deals, promotions and sales, being the first to know and of course, that exclusive content that “club members” always have. We have seen them before. They are ME, but with a twist. Not only do they say, “What’s in it for ME?” but, they say, “What’s in it for ME Right Now!” For this article, let’s call them Digital ME.

So, while the passive users of Twitter continue to decline, the active users continue to grow. Digital ME are the users that you want. Digital ME wants to know more about the personality of a brand. When it finds out, Digital ME is a very influential distributor of information. In fact, much like Facebook that we discussed earlier, this is your real target in the world of Twitter. Digital ME, the influencers are 79% more likely to recommend brands they follow. ExactTarget has a phrase, “What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.”

Again, like the Facebook approach, try to link Digital ME to your permission-based email subscriber activity. Offer exclusive content or promotions on the email account for the Twitter followers. Constantly link your multimedia activity for higher returns.

Follow Michael and the Allegra team on Twitter: @allegra_ca

Next week: Marketing The Tangibles… Now, how about something we can really get our hands around?


Social Media: Fans, Friends and Cascading Media

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
Facebook is a party. It is not a trip to the mall. Facebook is a doorway to family and friends. We bring our pictures and all kinds of information about us to the party. We share. We play games there, connect to old friends and make new ones. We review our past and we plan our futures on Facebook. It’s fun. According to a recent ExactTarget study, 30% call it their “guilty pleasure” It has become an alternate life, a place to kill time, an escape. It is a place of serendipitous discoveries where we discover things we were not even looking for. It has been called the “default social community” and most of the community says that marketers are not welcome. Period. Yet…here’s the rub, the ultimate tease, according to a Nielson study in 2009, 90% of the Facebook community trusts product recommendations from Friends. We are not allowed in, but, but, if we can get there, then Oh Boy, Look Out. We are on a rocket ship to marketing nirvana.

So, focusing again on ME. When ME goes to Email, Google and LinkedIn, ME takes their wallets. That’s the trip to the mall. ME is going to shop. ME is looking for deals. If ME met and Liked You at the Facebook party, ME might look you up if you gave ME a deal. 58% of Fans expect this according to ExactTarget. Remember, just because ME Liked you at the party, it doesn’t mean you have permission to call ME. If you start constantly calling (marketing to) ME without permission, then ME will drop you. 44% will Unlike you if you post too frequently. The question remains: How do we get ME, that we met at the Facebook party, to Like our company and visit us at the mall and shop with us?

First, be entertaining when you are at the party and every time you call. Remember it’s a party. ME is there for fun. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not ME it’s you. A recent report, “The Power of Like” a collaboration between comScore and Facebook, talks about how social marketing works. It states that accumulating Fans is only the first step. The next step is accumulating Friends of Fans and thus amplifying the marketing message. They talk about Fan Reach, Engagement and Amplification. Once the brand has been seen on Facebook, presumably for this discussion from “paid media” (an ad), it then attempts to Reach its Fans via the News Feed and their Brand Pages. If it is “entertaining” enough, Fans become Engaged and they talk to their Friends about the brand. This is “earned media” and thus we have Amplification. Yes, it’s all about gossip. One Fan talks about the brand to a Friend and that Friend talks to another Friend etc. etc. So, although an initial brand Engagement rate might be just 1%, it is Amplified to a factor of 10 or more. It cascades.

That’s the theory with some supporting data. The author, Andrew Lipsman was reported in Time Business on August 7, 2012 as stating that there was still not enough data and that the process will play itself out over the next couple of years. Right now, it appears that the stock market has decided not to wait. It’s hard to sell products at a party when people only attend for fun.

Of course, the next step in cascading Fans and Friends of Fans into customers is to seek permission for one to one marketing via ME’s favourite digital marketing channel – Email. You, know, the shopping channel. One more step in cascading media.

Next week: We Interrupt Your Life To Bring You This… Just In From Twitter One Minute Ago!


Social Media: The Twilight Zone of Marketing

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
Check out the introduction to this old TV series, The Twilight Zone. So what do you think? Does this represent marketing’s journey into the world of Social Media? Using the key of imagination unlocking the door to another dimension, one of sound, sight and mind into a land of shadow and substance of things and ideas. Crossing over into The Twilight Zone. Well, If your answer is yes, there are many marketers and financial analysts that would agree with you. The highway behind us is littered with the bodies of those who have tried and failed, but the good news is that some have succeeded. Let’s see why. “The key of imagination unlocking the door to another dimension” or we might say, “Two guys in their parent’s garage fiddling with the internet”.

I like the first version better, but the second speaks to the reality of social media. The other reality is that these social media vehicles rise and fall with amazing speed. Think Digg, Friendster, MySpace and Napster as some of the names from the past. Today we are witnessing the following companies drop in value from their initial public offerings: Zynga down 81%,Groupon down 77%, Facebook down 45%. On July 2, 2012 Microsoft took a $6.1 billion dollar write-off of aQuantive, the online advertising company it purchased in 2007. It has never made money for Microsoft. On the flip side we have Google up 80% and LinkedIn up 130%. Here we are with the “shadow and substance of things and ideas”.

Some good news facts are: Syncapse Social Trac Report states that 28% of fans are loyal users and that
the average fan is 41% more likely to recommend the company. 48% of people aged 18 – 34 check their Facebook when they wake up. The Hubspot March 2012 report on the State of Inbound Marketing states that 65% of companies have acquired B2B customers through LinkedIn and 77% of companies have acquired B2C customers through Facebook. In a 2012 social media study comScore reports that Fans and Friends of Fans spend about 2x as much on average in Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

Who will survive and who will not? Why do some make money and stay in existence while others lose money and eventually disappear and why should you care? The answer to both questions is: ADVERTISING. Some sites do this well and some do not. People on some sites accept advertising and people on some sites do not. You want to be on a site that implements advertising well and that people accept the advertising. In other words, ME accepts YOU.

Reflecting back on our many discussions about ME and you will recall that ME has a firm grip on the channel changer. ME controls the conversation and they are not giving that up. If the relationship falls apart, it’s not ME it’s you.

Here’s a tidbit for you: the July 7, 2012 issue of the Economist magazine quoted a representative of Moonbeam Development (yes, you read that right – two guys in a garage again) that used the company Leadbolt to PUSH ads into people’s mobile notification bars without their consent. They received death threats. How’s that for a tight grip on the control of the conversation for you? That is a world of crazy. So how do you win in this environment? One word: PERMISSION.

As pointed out in our discussion about Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing requires PERMISSION. It also requires respect, empathy and relevance. Content is king. As Lyris pointed out in their November 2011 report, email and social media are the only two permission based channels. You don’t just barge in with your offer. They are not the “interruption based advertising” of TV and radio. The psychology of this seems not to have hit home with the advertising crowd. In their pursuit of the social media gold rush they see lots of targets (i.e. potential customers) gathering on a site and they deploy the old “push” style advertising that they are used to, the “spray and pray” method of marketing. Successful marketing in the social media world is achieved today through content and cascading media.

Next week: Social Media…Fans, Friends and Cascading Media


Direct Mail: Testing, Testing, Testing can you hear ME now?

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
To continue with our dance theme from the last entry, let’s look at the start of the dance. We need to be heard. We need a microphone. One that works. We need to test that mic. Direct Mail needs to be tested. Tap, tap, tap. Do you hear ME? We are fine tuning here. Not everything will work. Some tunes bring everyone onto the floor. Some do not. Ever been to a dance where no one is getting up? Conversations are low. People are looking around checking out the ceiling, the floor, the shape of their paper cup, their watches. Looking for the exits. When do we get to leave? Have we spent enough time here? Shouldn’t I be somewhere exciting right now? Then, suddenly, a tune breaks out. It’s alive. You love the beat. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Your feet are moving. Everyone crowds onto the dance floor. They are coming to the party. Moving to the sound. In Direct Mail, you want to be that sound. Over and over. They never want you to go away. They keep coming back. You have found the magic. The right tune. Testing, testing, testing is your route to finding that song and becoming what everyone longs for. With that objective, let’s focus on ME.

Is the Direct Mail message getting through to ME? We won’t know until ME communicates with us loud and clear. Although we send the message, it is ME who determines if the message is ever received. It is ME who decides to contact us. They control the channel. Think of the intro to “The Outer Limits”, a 1963 Sci Fi television show. That’s us on the couch in front of the TV. How do we get that remote to work?

As we know, marketing is a continuous process constantly evolving to meet the needs of ME and like all marketing, testing is critical to the success of Direct Mail. Marketing is not a one hit wonder. It is not a home run. It is a series of improvements until we load the bases and the runs start to come in. It takes time. Marketing is like the movie, “Moneyball” for those of you who like Brad Pitt and sports. It is a focus on the stats, on the numbers, on the results. Some of the methods we use to separate and measure the results of our campaigns are things like: numbered coupons, gift cards and reply cards, various offers, different toll free #s and email response addresses for each campaign, specific QR Code and PURL landing pages tied to each campaign.

We send Direct Mail to segments of our markets to gauge the response to our offers. These segments might consist of geography, gender, age, customers, prospects, income and previous purchases etc. It is important that we send a sample size that will yield “statistical significance”, but not one that uses up a large portion of our list. We might send out 5-10% of our list to a minimum of 500-1000 per campaign. We will need to measure the results of each modified campaign so that we can focus our efforts on what has provided the highest responses and alter the offers accordingly. Remember that our success depends upon the list accuracy (50%), the offer (30%) and the creative (20%).

There are Power Locations on every Direct Mail piece. These are locations that will be noticed first by ME. They are: the outer envelope, the opening or heading of the letter, the closing of the letter, a PS section in the letter, a burst in the letter or card, the lower left portion of a postcard and an insert in a letter. Straightforward offers or calls to action should be at these locations. In other words, it answers the question, what’s in it for ME?

Next week: Social Media…The Twilight Zone of Marketing


Email marketing: Becoming better at it

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 

 
So, why write about, “Becoming Better at Email Marketing”? Isn’t email marketing dying the proverbial slow death? Isn’t it falling under the wheels of those racing chariots called Facebook, Twitter, SMS Texts, LinkedIn, Pinterest or whatever other communications channel that will be launched next month and worth a billion dollars two years from now? Well not really.

Current surveys of consumers’ communications preferences by companies such as ExactTarget illustrate that every day

  • 91% use email
  • 57% use Facebook
  • 57% use SMS Text

Since 2008, personal communications via email has declined from 66% to 45%. It has been moving to social media channels. However, permission based email marketing communications has increased from 72% to 77%. In other words, 77% of people prefer to receive product information via permission based email marketing instead of social media channels. This cuts across all age groups from 15 years to 65 years of age. The preference for permission based email marketing is so far ahead of other methods of marketing that it is almost a one horse race.

More good news – 66% of respondents have made purchases as a result of email marketing messages and 63% use email to share content with their friends and family. Sharing of content on Facebook was 33%. That’s 30% less than email marketing.

Here’s some suggestions from MarketingProfs, Silverpop and Target Marketing that will improve your email marketing:

  1. Ask for permission to send information via emails (permission based email subscribers) and make it easy to opt out with one click.
  2. Make the content relevant to the recipient. In 50 characters or less tell what’s in it for them and what they should do.
  3. Deliver the emails to arrive at the times in my previous article.
  4. Do not send email “blasts” or the internet service providers (ISPs) will start to block your messages. Narrow your focus to the right people.
  5. Send a loyalty offer to subscribers who most often open your emails.
  6. Avoid spam trigger words like “Free”, “risk-free”, “guaranteed” and “!!!”
  7. Keep the offer text above the “fold” area (top 200 to 259 pixels). This is prime real estate area for the 3 to 5 seconds they focus on your message.
  8. Use one-line pre-header text to outline the offer. These are ideal for mobile devices.
  9. Use a clear call-to-action button and clickable URL link above the “fold”.
  10. Aim for 450 to 500 pixel width for both desktop and mobile users.

 

Next week: More Email Marketing Tips