Monday, June 20, 2011

Key Facebook Changes Marketers Need to Know

As Facebook continues to innovate at a rapid pace, it is the marketer's job to translate those innovations into an enhanced experience for their current and potential fans and customers. In the last few months, there have been several changes that affect the looks of Facebook Pages, how they can be promoted, how brands can communicate on Facebook, the impact of sharing, and much, much more. But don't worry. We know that there is a lot to keep up with, so we wanted to lay out all of the recent changes in one spot to serve as a helpful guide.

What's new with the Facebook platform?

Updated Pages
Some of Facebook's changes are minor, but the recent Facebook Pages update is one of the biggest recent changes Facebook's community has seen. The main difference? Pages now look and feel more like user profiles. Page administrators can "Login as Page" and interact with Facebook as they would from their personal profile -- with brands and fans alike. Page admins will even see a specialized news feed and will be able to comment and "like" things from the brand's perspective, making for a more cohesive experience.

The appearance of Facebook Page tabs has also changed.

Iframes are here...
...and they have forever changed the way brands interact with their fans. We can now build even more robust user experiences inside of a Facebook Page, and best of all, we can more effectively track each user interaction.

Basically, many of the things brands have been used to doing with their creative agencies or analytics providers for the last 10 to 15 years was not possible (or at least, very difficult) to do in a Facebook Page tab. For those looking for a deep dive, read more here.

FBML might be gone, but iframes appear to be here to stay.
Sharing is caring (Sponsored Stories)Sponsored Stories marked Facebook's first attempt to let marketers amplify the actions their customers, potential customers, and fans are taking on Facebook.There are now four types of sponsored stories (all of which can only be seen by Facebook friends). The four types are:
Likes: When people "like" something on a Page, brands can employ that "like" in their Facebook advertisements.
Wall posts: The same goes for wall posts. Anything posted on a wall is open to be sponsored by a brand and included in their Facebook ads.
Check-ins: When people use Facebook Places (don't worry, we'll get to Places soon) to check in to a location, that information can be displayed in an advertisement.
Custom apps: Interactions taken on custom applications -- for example, taking a quiz or poll -- can be sponsored.

The launch of Sponsored Stories confirms Facebook's commitment to its Page product, as three of the four initial triggers for Sponsored Stories are tied to Facebook Pages.

Targeting ads to updates

Facebook has started testing ads based on status updates. For example, if a user says something like, "I'm having a baby," or asks, "Hey, what's your favorite hotel in Turks and Caicos?" the ads on the right-hand column will reflect their immediate updates. Instead of saying "Sponsored" above an advertisement, it will say "Related adverts," which makes the presence of the ad seem more natural.

This is essentially the next evolution of "Sponsored Stories." It's still in its infancy and has only been rolled out to about 1-2 percent of Facebook's users for testing. But, if Facebook can combine people -- who they are, how old they are, where they live -- with intent, it essentially becomes the most massive ad platform ever…so stay tuned.

Facebook Places
At the time of the launch of Facebook Places, only 4 percent of Americans had even tried location-based services, let alone used them regularly. Foursquare and Gowalla combined have just a few million users. So when Facebook decided to get into the check-in market, location-based services finally reached the masses. Brands follow consumer habits, and with the implementation of Places, Facebook's huge scale - 700 million accounts - turns an increasing number of consumers into geo-social users. And with the launch of Sponsored Stories, Facebook is reinventing the impact of check-ins by turning them in to targeted advertisements.

Brand tagging (aka, Facebook's biggest minor update)
According to Facebook, 3 billion images are uploaded to Facebook each month -- which is 10 times more than the entire Library of Congress. That's a lot of photos -- and a lot of opportunities for marketers to be featured in real-life product placements.

Not surprisingly, photos represent the most popular Facebook application. Fast Company even believes that the popularity of photos will help "brand tagging" surpass the "like" button. If you think about it, tagging a photo with a brand that's actually represented in the photo is a natural behavior. And it's the embodiment of brand advocacy.

Facebook Deals and social commerce
For those that have been waiting for "the year of social commerce" (we've all been hearing about it since 2008 or so), it's finally here. The launch of Facebook Deals marks Facebook's biggest -- and most notable -- social commerce endeavor. As of now, Deals is only being offered in limited markets, and while the nationwide rollout will be gradual, so was the rollout of Facebook itself (and now we're at 700 million users.

As of now, commerce on Facebook is growing, but limited. Right now, most people are not on Facebook to shop. However, people are shopping in massive numbers on the internet, and sharing the purchases and purchase decision-making process with their social graph. According to Wired magazine, 90 percent of all purchases are subject to social influence.

Right now, we see the value of bringing Facebook to your commerce, rather than (or in addition to) bringing your commerce to Facebook. For example, many brands have sharing buttons on their websites, but they don't know how much revenue is being driven directly via social sharing. Buddy Media recently acquired social commerce company Spinback, which enables brands to answer that question.

There's no such thing as "wasting time" on Facebook
We can't stress this one enough. Understanding the user experience is the most important element to any successful marketing campaign. And with Facebook changes rolling out regularly (there are a few more that have been announced recently), it's the only way to understand the complex and wonderful world that is Facebook.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Consumer Trends to Watch in 2011

Eleven key consumer trends to watch in 2011 include acts of kindness from brands, the developed world launching products for emerging economies, and online status symbols, according to consumer insights firm

Following is a brief overview of each of the 11 consumer trends which predicts will have a global impact on marketers in 2011.

1.Random acts of kindness: Consumers’ cravings for realness, for the human touch, ensure that everything from brands randomly picking up the tab to sending a surprise gift will be one of the most effective ways to connect with (potential) customers in 2011, especially beleaguered consumers in North America, Europe and Japan. advises that the rapid spread of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook among consumers gives brands previously unavailable insight into their moods, wants and locations, and also provides a new direct channel to deliver acts of kindness.

2.Urbanization: Urbanization remains one of the absolute mega trends for the coming decade, with about the global population currently living in urban areas. Urban consumers tend to be more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced, more prone to trying out new products and services. In emerging markets, these effects tend to be even more pronounced, with new arrivals finding themselves distanced from traditional social and familial structures, while constantly exposed to a wider range of alternatives.

3.Pricing Pandemonium: Mobile devices and social networks allow consumers to constantly receive targeted offers and discounts, even at the point of sale from a rival brand, as well as join interest groups. Brands should target consumers with offers and features such as instant mobile coupons and discounts, online group discounts, flash sales, and dynamic pricing based on real-time supply and demand.

4.Made for China/Emerging Economies: In 2011, expect an increasing number of ‘Western’ brands to launch new products or even new brands dedicated to consumers in emerging markets. Growth in consumer spending in emerging markets far outpaces consumer spending in developed markets, and Western brands are favored more than local brands in emerging markets. Western brands including Levi-Strauss, Apple and BMW have already capitalized on this trend.

5.Online Status Symbols:
In 2011, recommends that brands supply customers with any kind of symbol, virtual or ‘real world,’ that helps them display to peers their online contributions, interestingness, creations or popularity. This includes personalized social networking memorabilia as well as location-based games and contests which award virtual or real-world prizes.

Growing numbers of consumers will expect health products and services in 2011 to prevent misery if not improve their quality of life, rather than merely treating illnesses and ailments. Products such as mobile health monitoring devices, as well as online health apps and health-dedicated social networks, will serve the multichannel wellness needs of consumers.

7.‘Twin-sumers’ and ‘Social-lites:’ Both of these types of online consumers identified by are critical to spreading positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Twin-sumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes, and who are hence valuable sources for recommendations on what to buy and experience, while social-lites are consumers who consistently broadcast information to a wide range of associates online.

8.Emerging Generosity: This trend is about brands and wealthy individuals from emerging markets (especially China) who will increasingly be expected to give, donate, care and sympathize, as opposed to just sell and take. And not just in their home countries, but on a global scale. It’s a profound cultural change and a consumer demand that their counterparts in mature markets have had a few years to getting used to.

9.Planned Spontaneity:
With lifestyles having become fragmented, with dense urban environments offering consumers any number of instantly available options, and with cell /smartphones having created a generation who have little experience of making (or sticking to) rigid plans, 2011 will see what calls full-on “planned spontaneity.”

Brands can expect to see consumers in 2011 rushing to sign up to services (the planned part) that allow for endless and almost effortless mass mingling with friends, family, colleagues or strangers (the spontaneity part). A developing segment of this trend is consumers signing up for mobile services that passively and constantly broadcast their location.

10.Eco-Superior: When it comes to ‘green consumption’, brands should expect a rise in “eco-superior” products; products that are not only eco-friendly, but superior to polluting incumbents in every possible way. says brands should think of a combination of eco-friendly yet superior functionality, superior design, and/or superior savings.

11:Owner-less: Fractional ownership and lifestyle leasing business models have re-emerged, with services such as car-sharing and public bike programs enjoying success around the globe. For many consumers, access is better than ownership.

Emerging Economies Provide Consumer Innovations

Emerging economies are an increasingly important source of consumer innovations, according to earlier findings from The company cites a number of statistics to support its premise that emerging economies are becoming a major source of consumer innovations that will have a global impact. For example, these economies have accounted for nearly 70% of world growth during the last five years, accounted for 34% of global GDP in 2010 and will account for 39% in 2015, and will account for two-thirds of world trade in 2050.

In addition, says emerging economies contain a growing middle class of 2 billion people who spend $6.9 trillion USD annually. That figure is expected to rise to $20 trillion by 2050.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2011 Marketing Trends to Watch

Trends to key an eye on in the coming year...

Leveraging the power of social media:
to drive commerce Groupon is setting the bar and we're watching for how its success may fundamentally change distribution, effectiveness, and efficiency of promotional value offers to consumers. For example, Groupon recently launched “Grouponicus,” a holiday dedicated to “filling your loved ones’ gift buckets with experiences, not gift cards.” The daily deal shopping Web site also recently entered into a partnership with eBay to offer incentives to eBay loyalty members who participate in Groupon deals.

Integration of mobile(handheld): into shopper marketing programming As marketers and retailers look for new touch-points along the path-to-purchase we're seeing the use of more digital applications such as QR codes. Interestingly, marketers are trying to get on the leading edge of the trend and capture the early influencers while driving greater awareness and usage for the majority vs. waiting for overall adoption rates to hit critical mass. Canon was one such brand, testing QR codes in September on its printers in a number of retail stores, including Best Buy.

Marginalization of "" promotional websites Virtually all clients are looking to platform their promotions on social networking sites (Facebook), sharing sites (You Tube) or partner with existing content/audience relevant sites (e.g. WebMD) vs. building their own stand alone sites.

Localization of promotion:
We're having a lot more discussions about driving promotion down to the local grass roots level. The Web is certainly enabling this but also indicative of a trend toward greater personalization/customization and a backlash against big high-profile events as the economy continues to teeter. We’re seeing this realized often in cause marketing and at retail.

Continued blurring of the line between content and promotion:
we're looking at, and our clients are asking for, more content integration opportunities across all platforms (TV, print, digital, social, gaming). Marketers want the promotional message to be almost indistinguishable from the content because of the ability to deliver promotional messages in high-value brand environments. We're working on a host of videogame integration opportunities right now and traditional CPG marketers are seeing that as a new frontier to reach their audience.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Successful Holiday Marketing - What Works...

Every marketer knows there are certain selling seasons that cannot be ignored -- Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukah, Valentine's Day. However, they may not be aware that today's digital marketing should go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, regardless of consumers' natural inclination to shop more at certain times of year. Marketers need to start going above and beyond offering deep discounts or clinging to catchy marketing messages.

With consumers spending more time and money online, marketers must prepare their digital marketing strategy to proactively target today's savvy shopper -- or risk losing prime revenue to the competition. This year, Channel Advisor's 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits survey found that more than 58 percent of consumers are very likely to purchase gifts online, as opposed to the 41 percent who choose to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

According to comScore, consumers spent $29.1 billion online alone during the 2009 holiday shopping season, and eMarketer predicts that e-commerce spending will reach $51.4 billion by the fourth quarter of 2010. With numbers like these, the online opportunity -- both during holidays and off-season -- has nowhere to go but up. That said, driving online retail traffic is only the beginning: Marketers must step up their game and begin to truly engage customers by personalizing and tailoring the seasonal shopping experience.

What works
Improving web traffic via analytics and SEO methods has been digital marketers' focus for so long that most have pretty much mastered it. And while landing page optimization strategies are often given careful attention, content and design decisions are typically based on subjectivity. It's time to stop guessing and concentrate on what happens after visitors arrive. By neglecting the real tactics that convert browsers into buyers, marketers continue to miss out on tremendous revenue growth.

As consumers evolve, marketers attempt to improve website complexity and messaging -keeping it fresh and up-to-date. But sites that do not employ methods to truly remain dynamic are not equipped to optimally perform during seasonal holiday spending surges. Changing your content and adding new product offers isn't enough to drive double-digit revenue growth...

You'll need to go a few steps further:
1. Cater to your customers' mood. Create a seasonal site design to demonstrate your brand's holiday spirit. Display items most likely to sell during a particular season on your most popular website pages.
2.Target and recommend. Prominently display product offers, discounts and promotions targeted to match customers' needs. Make sure everything they may want to buy is easily located in a single virtual aisle.
3.Make it easy to buy. Thoroughly A/B test and improve important forms. If the registration, login, or checkout processes are too cumbersome, shoppers will simply give up at the point-of-purchase.
4.Use live multivariate testing and iterative tweaking to drive higher conversion rates. Subtle changes such as font size, color, and copy can have a huge impact on revenues. Test different variations to see what yields the best results based on your live visitors' interactions.
5.Monitor and learn from customer behavior. A one-size-fits-all website doesn't deliver the best brand experience. Improve behavioral targeting to deliver a better online experience by offering page layouts, product recommendations, sequences, content, and offers that have been dynamically selected based on users' demonstrated preferences.
6.Make navigation effortless. Shoppers won't fill their shopping carts or click anywhere near the checkout line if they are bounced around a poorly designed website. Go back to the basics: Make it easy for customers to find their way around by including a search facility; make the checkout page prominent; and avoid zeroing out filled-in forms every time they change pages.
7.Make it personal. Go beyond the standard "people who bought this, also bought this" suggestions by using website personalization. Product suggestions and wish list options that are relevant based on the individual shopper's site activity will vastly improve revenues.

Make every season a success
All the time and money spent on search, SEO, advertising, and landing page optimization will be wasted if true optimization strategies aren't put into place. Solutions such as multivariate testing, website personalization, and behavioral targeting make marketers' job easier every day -- they also automatically improve the digital experience with fluctuations and changes in seasonal spending and customers' shopping moods. Ensure every seasonal shopping experience with your website is a happy one, for each and every individual user, and never miss your revenue mark again.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Creating Lifelong Subscribers Through Email Marketing

You Guys Met Online. It started with a visit to your site, and there was an immediate attraction. Maybe-Maybe not. Are you making it easy to be “introduced” to potential subscribers? It’s essential to make it “easy” to sign up. Whether it’s through your corporate website or promoted through your social media outlets, keep the following rules in mind when considering your introduction tactics:

Think Sex Appeal
Okay, not really, but do think about appealing to your subscriber. How does the term “Subscribe” compare to the term “Sign up”. It may be a small component of your registration process, but it’s an important one because it’s the first call to action. Consider all of the elements of your subscriber process and identify elements that may be less than appealing and may cause fallout. Don’t Be Afraid of a Little Self Promotion.

Reinforcing the benefits of your email marketing program is critical to increasing opt-ins. It also serves a great purpose of setting expectations. Regardless of whether it’s content or frequency that you are promoting, it helps give the subscriber a clear description of what to expect and helps them make an informed decision.

The reality is that your subscriber relationship is very similar to any relationship. It starts with a date, doubts can occur, breakups may happen, or lifelong partnerships are made. As a marketer, these steps are all part of the lifecycle so it’s important to be able to identify the phases and read the cues of your subscriber relationship. This paper will outline the elements of a strategic email marketing program that takes the subscriber from introduction to a lifelong relationship.

Be Careful of Coming Off Too Eager
Many subscribers are willing to subscribe in return for something that is valuable to them. You can consider different offers for signing up. The offer may include free shipping, dollars off, content offer, “exclusive” opportunity, or a percentage discount. Be careful, though. Often times a contact that has been incentivized through an offer is less likely to be retained. You will have to work that much harder at making it a lifelong relationship.

Think About How You Make Connections
It’s critical to be where your possible subscribers are. Just like when you are in your twenties trying out the various social scenes looking to make a long lasting connection , so should you try out the various channels that your “would be subscribers” are hanging out. If you haven’t leveraged social media to promote your opt-in you should consider it. Including a permanent spot on your Facebook page is a good start, or tweeting about it every so often will spread your reach. Don’t forget the more traditional paths such as SEO/SEM as well.

These are just a few ways that you can raise your game in facilitating matchups. The challenge as well as the opportunity lies in finding ways to be creative, get yourself out there, and get those opt-ins.

The First Date
Oh, the nervousness of the first date. You guys are introduced, you feel a connection, there’s a “how do we get to know one another better?” moment, and then there’s magic…or there’s a disconnect. This can also be true of your subscriber’s first experience with your email campaign. If expectations weren’t set or there wasn’t reinforcement of those expectations, it may end in your subscriber feeling as though you aren’t really in tune with their needs. Subscribers should receive a welcome message immediately following their opt-in to your email marketing program.

This welcome message is the first date. It tells whether or not you guys are going to last or if this relationship will fizzle fast. A well-crafted welcome message not only reinforces the benefits of subscribing, but it also puts content and frequency in the hands of the subscriber. If you aren’t allowing your subscribers the opportunity to choose what content is relevant to them, how often they would like to receive it, or what types of campaigns they would like to receive, then you are doing your email marketing program a disservice. If you want to create compelling campaigns that speak to your subscriber and drive relevancy, start with letting them do some of the talking. Let them tell you what piques their interest and use that data to create customized experiences unique to them. It will definitely get them intrigued to see what’s next.

The Blind Date
A blind date is awkward at best. You have friends that match you up because they think you would be PERFECT for each other, just to find out that you have nothing in common. You stumble through the evening and both hope that it will end sooner rather than later. Now let’s talk about buying a contact list. The reason we use “subscriber” throughout this whitepaper is because the fact remains that someone who subscribes or opts-in to your email marketing program is much more likely to:

Achieve Higher Subscriber Retention Rates
According to a report by Forrester Research titled “Email Marketing Needs Permission”, opt-in lists retained 49% of their subscribers while those that didn’t utilize opt-in lists only retained 28% of their subscribers.

Engage More Valuable Prospects and Customers
Those that are willing to opt-in to receive your messages are also going to be more willing to provide additional data, such as preferences, allowing you to create more relevant campaigns.

More Profitable (higher conversion rates)
It’s inevitable; someone who requested to receive content from you is much more likely to open, read, and convert. Remember to use the data that you have collected to ensure that the message is timely and meets the needs of the customer. In other words, deliver what you promised at registration.

Reinforce Reputation
The worst mistake we as marketers can make is to assume that what we have to offer is what the subscriber really wants. Making the assumption that a person wants to receive your message without their explicit opt-in can hurt your campaign performance as well as your brand reputation. Put the choice in the hands of the contact and you build a relationship that will last from opt-in to win-back.

“We’re Dating”
You’ve announced it to everyone, you guys are officially dating, which also means you’re “off the market” for others. Now if this were only true for our marketing programs. Once you get through the “get to know you” stage and start relating to your audience with relevant content that converts, you can create a real brand advocate. How do you do this? We’d love to say it’s easy, but as in any relationship, it takes work.

Don’t Treat Every Date the Same
A “one size fits all” message approach will not retain your subscriber. You need to segment and craft campaigns that are compelling. The possibilities are endless as to how you segment: purchase behavior, website history, demographic data, and preferences are just a few ways to target your audience. Ultimately the key is to begin to think of each subscriber as unique, instead of thinking of them as one whole sum. Your subscribers will thank you and the return will be well worth it.

Be Responsive
Nothing can be more relevant than an email campaign that responds to the lifecycle of your subscriber. Whether it’s a transactional message triggered from a purchase, or a win-back message triggered after 60 days of inactivity, creating campaigns that respond to activity or inactivity are highly targeted and keep the subscriber engaged. Allow Communication to Happen. It’s easy to get into a push mode. Push campaign after campaign without eliciting a response from your subscriber. In today’s social environment, you must be willing to give your subscriber a voice. Whether it’s through user reviews, polls, or video, giving your subscriber a voice builds trust and brand loyalty, not to mention it adds credibility to your product or services.

Stop Smothering Me
It happens to the best of us. We get over-eager. We stop thinking about the needs of our subscriber, and begin only thinking of our needs. There are warning signs, but we always seem surprised when we are faced with our subscriber saying “no more” or even less appealing, marking our campaigns as SPAM. Why does this happen? Easy. We aren’t relevant to our subscriber any longer. This action can happen from one event or a series of events. Regardless, it’s important to keep in mind not to over-do it. Just like your constant texts can annoy your significant other, so can over-sending annoy your subscriber. Set frequency caps. Also make certain that every message that you are sending out is truly relevant to your subscriber.

Don’t send for the sake of sending.

Marital Bliss
Creating a lifelong subscriber is hard, but the payoff is huge if you are willing to make the commitment. As in any long-term relationship, there will be bumps in the road. Win-back campaigns are a must, just as flowers are after a big fight. Here are just a few ways to keep the dialogue fresh and the relationship alive. The Power of Exclusive.

Exclusive can go a long way in your subscriber relationship. Exclusive offers, content, and previews are just a few ways that you can make your subscriber feel special and distinguish them from the rest of the crowd.Keep it Fresh.

The key to a lasting relationship is to not let the romance fizzle. This too can be said of your email marketing program. Prevent your campaigns from running on auto-pilot and always consider ways to optimize. Testing is a viable component of email marketing that other marketing channels don’t have the advantage of incorporating. Consider subject lines, offers, time of send, or call-to-actions as a start. It’s just good practice to not ever feel like your relationship is good as is. There’s always room for improvement.

Build Loyalty
A brand advocate can do more for your business than you realize. Create a subscriber loyalty program that allows them to reap the incentives of tweeting out your email promotion or making purchases. Showing appreciation for the subscriber relationship is an underutilized tactic in many email marketing programs.

Win-Back Their Love
Before they hit that unsubscribe button, be cognizant of how the subscriber is engaging with your email marketing program. Make every effort to win them back before they disengage completely. Create a trigger-based campaign with an “I must stay committed to this brand” offer that sends to your inactive contacts after 30-60 days. Try to win them back before they have already said goodbye. At the end of the day, creating a lifelong subscriber should be a priority for your email marketing program. Reducing churn and increasing loyalty positively impacts your bottom line. Not to mention, it can create real brand advocates. Deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time and reap the benefits of a lifelong subscriber.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Customer Loyalty - How to improve close rates and average deal size with the right CRM solution and features

Hosted CRM solutions are not all created equal. Some cater to a company’s sales force automation needs, while others focus on marketing campaigns and forecasting. There are vendors that offer both hosted and on-premise CRM tools, and those whose bread and butter is strictly delivering on-demand offerings. But regardless of a solution provider’s area of expertise, all of today’s CRM solutions should include the following features:

Lead Management: Lost revenue is often a result of allowing prospects to fall through the cracks. With lead management, however, every lead is promptly routed to the right salesperson. What’s more, leads can be tracked and managed through the entire sales cycle, from initial identification to final sale.

Feedback Management: By capturing customer feedback across all channels of communication, salespeople can capture a better understanding of the needs, wants and buying patterns of their customers. Furthermore, armed with feedback from countless touch points, a company can establish the processes required to deliver an optimum customer experience.

Order Management: When more than one department plays a part in processing an order, the margin for human error grows, as does the mound of paperwork. With order management, however, quotes are easily converted to orders, modified and saved in a single system.

Territory Management: Keep your sales reps from stepping on each others’ toes with territory management, which easily creates sales territories and manages territory-based processes with workflow rules and reports.

Email Management: One surefire way to anger your customers is by failing to respond to their emails. These days, email correspondence is used to log complaints, issue requests and offer feedback. Fortunately, email management can chronicle customer-related communications with automated tracking of customer emails. As a result, emails can be responded to in a timely fashion, and end users can establish alerts if a message has not been handled within a predetermined time frame.

Contact Management: When it comes to staying on top of your customers, Microsoft Outlook is simply not enough. That’s why most CRM solutions include a contact-management component to provide employees with a complete, 360-degree view of their customers. Sales reps can view all contact and account information, as well as a customer’s purchasing history, from a central location. And reps can better manage their to-do lists by establishing alerts notifying them of upcoming tasks and events so that each customer is treated in an individual manner.

Reporting: From standard templates to heavily customized documents, CRM tools can generate detailed reports featuring contact information, opportunity pipeline information, lead-status analyses and specific customer case studies. In the end, these reports are an ideal way to organize a company’s collection of customer information and insights.

Opportunity Management and Forecasting: Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Opportunity management and forecasting provides a complete view of the sales and production pipeline so that businesses can accurately and quickly handle the orders they’re generating.

Marketing Campaign Analysis: How do you know if you’re getting the bang for the buck you’ve invested in a marketing campaign? CRM solutions can help monitor and analyze your advertising efforts, from trade shows to direct mail, so that every marketing dollar spent is spent wisely.

Marketing Revenue Tracking: So positive customer feedback isn’t enough to convince upper-management that a costly marketing campaign produced results? With marketing revenue tracking, a company can identify the marketing activities that generate the most sales revenue by directly linking every sales dollar back to its related campaign.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Search Engine Optimization

Anyone with half a decent website gets bombarded with phone calls and e-mails everyday from people claiming that they can get you to the top of Google. The notion that someone can make that claim without understanding your business thoroughly, your target clients, and the competition you face to reach those clients is completely baseless. Choosing the right partner for Search Engine Optimization work can be very tricky. Regardless of who you decide to work with, do your homework before making a decision.

Discovery and what you should expect
The first step to creating a successful search engine optimization strategy is to understand the business that wants to be found in the search engines. Through discussions with you or your marketing team, the chosen agency can develop a thorough list of keywords and phrases which describe the products and services offered by your company. From this list, the agency will then expand it to include keywords and phrases which will ensure that your business is found when customers are searching for your competitors. The next logical step is then fine tune the list by reducing the amount of keywords and phrases, by eliminating those that are too competitive for the search engine optimization budget which has been allocated to the project. It is also important to include keywords and phrases which your customers will search for, and not necessarily the ones you might use to describe your own business.

Setting the Budget
Most businesses that are shopping for a search engine optimization partner get easily frustrated when trying to determine the expected cost of the project. This is mostly because you cannot pinpoint an exact cost for an exact result as you normally can with paid online advertising. As explained above, the agency should work closely with you to determine a list of keywords and phrases for which you can achieve measurable results given the budget allocated. In other words, it does not make sense to promise you a top spot in Google for a very competitive keyword if your budget does not allow your company to achieve those results. If you have a set budget in mind, you should be given a realistic expectations level about the results you can expect with that budget. If you have a certain goal in mind in terms of search engine rankings, your agency can tell you what budget will be required to achieve those goals.

A tried and proven Process
There are many facets to search engine optimization and it is too cumbersome to get into all of them here, but the essential elements are to ensure that your website is built in a way that is friendly to the search engines, modifying your website content to attract the consumers that you are interested in attracting, and building links from other websites to yours. Achieving higher organic rankings will have a tremendous impact on your business as a whole, and should be measured accordingly.

If anybody has told you that search engine optimization can take months to show results, they were right. Unfortunately this has allowed many scam artists to make false promises and charge their clients for months without doing anything until the client realizes that there are no results. This is another reason why it is important to choose your search engine optimization partner carefully, and work with an established reputable firm rather than someone who calls you randomly. It is also important to understand that Search Engine Optimization is not something that you purchase… it is an ongoing process. While you usually can expect to see results within 3 to 4 months, it is also common to see companies drop off the search engines because they decided that they were no longer interested in investing into SEO since they had already achieved the high rankings they had hoped for.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
With the implementation of specialty SEO plug-ins for the websites we build, you will have access to a comprehensive set of reports from Google Analytics. These analytics will give you insight on how your website is performing, and where people are looking when visiting your site.

Ongoing Support
Don’t have the time to update your site? Busy doing the things that company owners have to do to be successful in managing and building a small business? Some agencies will update your site and keep your blog, news and/or press sections full of current and relevant information about your company. Finding the right agency to facilitate your search engine optimization and related interactive needs, will allow you to concentrate on your clients.

Ask for their Unconditional Guarantee
Make sure that your chosen agency can assure you that they only use the most current technology and that you always will be managed on the most cost efficient, most user-friendly, and effective technology platform for your company.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Europe: New Decade Heralds The Age Of Digital Mobility

Europeans are more mobile and engaged with online than ever

Key European Findings

· Europeans are spending more time on 'internet-on-the-move’ (6.4 hours a week) compared to reading newspapers (4.8 hours) or magazines (4.1 hours)
· A rise in laptop ownership is driving greater media convergence – 36% of Europeans use the internet whilst watching TV
· There are now 121 million wireless broadband users in Europe allowing a greater mobility for internet users
· 71 million Europeans use the internet on their mobile each week – for an average of almost one hour every day
· Eastern European markets demonstrate opportunity for marketers to engage users via mobile internet

The European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) reveals the findings of new research that shows digital mobility making its way into the mainstream. Technological innovation coupled with a diverse range of access points for consumers is driving deeper usage online, presenting marketers with a vastly mobile pan-European audience to target and engage with in 2010 and beyond.

The EIAA’s Mediascope Europe study across 15 European markets highlights how consumers are extending the ways in which they enjoy and engage with the internet and its growing influence on everyday lives. With a majority of people now aware they can use the internet via their mobile phone (48% vs. 47%), and a growth in wireless broadband and laptop use, the findings demonstrate how the increased diversity of internet-enabled devices is allowing consumers to go online at any time of day and in more locations than ever before.

Increase in internet-on-the-move

Overall, 71 million Europeans browse the mobile internet in a typical week and, with almost an hour a day actively spent going online via their mobile (6.4 hours per week), 'internet-on-the-move’ is proving a more frequent pastime than reading newspapers (4.8 hours) or magazines (4.1 hours).

It is the younger generation of early adopters that is largely driving this increase with almost a quarter (24%) of 16-24 year olds and 21% of 25-34 year olds already using the mobile internet, spending 7.2 and 6.6 hours on it respectively each week. This trend of increased consumer reach and time spent online looks set to continue with improving internet coverage, speeds and services. Marketers would therefore be well advised to recognise how consumers are increasingly engaging with the internet, at more times throughout their day and across a myriad of interactive touch points, and ultimately use this insight to develop effective multi-media marketing strategies.

The internet as an entertainer and enabler

The internet continues to prove a popular source of entertainment with one quarter of Europeans (25%) gaming or listening to the radio online (25%), and one third watching films, TV or video clips online (32%) at least once a month. With over one quarter (29%) of Europeans following brands more as a result of the internet, the medium is being used for fun and for function signifying that users have high levels of both emotional and rational connection with the medium. Amongst those with an internet enabled phone, half (49%) claim to receive video clips, websites or images on their mobile and four in five (80%) say that they pass on the content they receive. This suggests that those online via their mobile are both technologically sophisticated and deeply engaged - highlighting a prime opportunity for marketers to build brand awareness and peer recommendations.

Additionally, 'Word of Web[1]’ continues to play a central role in communications with almost three quarters (71%) of European internet users admitting that they stay in touch with friends and relatives more as a result of the internet. Again, mobile seems to be a big driver with almost half (48%[2]) of Europeans using their internet enabled phones for more than verbal conversation. 16% state they communicate using social media via their mobile, with 16% also using mobile instant messenger. Advertisers can therefore benefit from the growing consumer appitite for constant updates and entertainment on the go and use this insight to plan for multi-media campaigns that engage with consumers across a number of platforms.

Converging media experiences

Media convergence is on the rise with the research revealing that one third (36%) of European use the internet whilst watching TV. With recent technological advancements such as the iPad, and given almost half (46%) of European households already own at least one laptop and 121 million Europeans (52%) now use wireless broadband, increased mobility and convergence seems inevitable. Marketers should no longer look at media in isolation but rather embrace the media-meshing trend and the wealth and diversity of advertising opportunity it affords.

Extending scope: changing the status quo

This year the Mediascope Europe study has been extended to incorporate a further five European markets in addition to the original ten. The research now includes Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey to capture the different ways in which consumer media habits and behaviours are developing across Europe.

While these markets all display very different characteristics and are at varying stages of internet development, one trend that stands out is the speed of mobile internet growth. This is particularly apparent amongst the larger Eastern European countries, all of which show no signs of the time-lag observed in larger Western countries when dial-up internet and broadband connections were first adopted. Poland tops the chart of markets that spend the most time on mobile internet, with Russia also appearing in the top five. Interestingly, there are more mobile internet users in Turkey compared to those that access internet via their PC (21% vs. 20%) demonstrating that consumers will engage with new platforms if it makes the internet more accessible for their everyday lives.

These 'newer’ markets such as Russia, Turkey, Poland and Portugal are regarded as rising stars, with a rapid increase in weekly internet use expected in coming years. With an average growth in European internet use of 11% every 2 years, we can predict how internet penetration in these markets might grow in coming years - a useful indication for media planners as they as they increase the scope of their pan-European campaigns:

* Actual % internet use taken from EIAA Mediascope Europe 2010
** EIAA predictions (created using findings from Mediascope Europe 2004-2010 and externally sourced local market data)

Alison Fennah, Executive Director of the EIAA said: “Better devices and connectivity as well as enhanced consumer motivation all started coming together in 2009 to improve and extend the overall online experience. As a result, the internet is now being consumed across PC, laptop, mobile and gaming devices, providing 24-7 access to digital information and entertainment. This presents a compelling case for brands to explore and incorporate a growing number of complementary interactive platforms into the marketing mix.

“Indeed, new age patterns of media consumption indicate that marketers should be looking to develop multi-platform strategies that reach and connect with consumers more effectively and increase ROI. This is opposed to making media decisions based on an 'either or’ basis if they want to reach all demographics.”

Michael Kleindl, Chairman of the EIAA and Managing Partner of Valkiria Network said: “Technological innovation coupled with consumers’ continued desire to merge their media presents a huge opportunity for advertisers as we move into 2010. It is important for brands to adapt to this shift in internet mobility and use this insight to shape their marketing strategies.”
[1] The developing trend of 'word of mouth’ to 'word of web’ or communicating online
[2] This is an aggregate of: communicating via social networking sites and sending / receiving emails and instant messenger

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Power of Marketing Friends in Social Media

If you knew five of my friends have tweeted or posted on Facebook rave reviews about their Audi, Q5, wouldn't you push that listing higher? Sure you would, but it's impossible to ask me questions about every topic I'm searching for. Of course, there is a better way to get to the same result, and it takes us back to the "Wisdom of Crowds" -- in this case, my crowd.

My friends and I happen to share similar geography and circumstances for the most part, which causes some amazing similarities. Moreover, I am much more likely to trust my friends' opinions than those of strangers. Anyone that's recently been on the search for a good doctor or dentist or accountant knows intimately how important it is to get recommendations from those you trust. This is "friendsourcing" -- the concept that people I know give better and more reliable answers for me than the world can as a whole.

To say this means we're on the edge of something big is a catastrophic understatement, but marketers have only started to scratch the surface of what this means for them and their clients. At very least, we've got three fundamental paradigm shifts to deal with:
1. What brands say and do in social media has an increasingly direct effect on how they will appear in search engines, both in search results position and in description.
2. The more friends in my social circle (aka my "social graph") talk about your brand, the more likely I am to see your brand, click on your brand's listing and become another voice talking about your brand.
3. Many brands have recognized that their impact in social media is both powerful and tangible, but now that impact will easily spill over into other channels. "Social" isn't just a silo in your channel mix anymore, and the lines will be increasingly blurred with mass media, CRM, SEO/SEM or other channels.

The good news is that it's never too late to stake a new claim in social media for your brand. So to get your team or your clients started, here are some quick first steps: Listen, record, observe and compare

There are a million tools on the market for searching or filtering social media conversations, and many of them are free -- Chris Brogan has an excellent list of the ones he uses here. Most organizations are doing this already, but it's usually in a vacuum from other marketing efforts. Instead of just looking through your "ego feeds" (conversations about your company), start checking on the conversations around your search engine marketing portfolio of keywords, or use Google's keyword tool to analyze your site and start your own list. It's often interesting to see the gap between what people say about you and what they say about your product or service -- this can lead to ideas for new content on your site or places for your social media team to try to change conversations. For extra credit, start comparing the trends on these terms to your offline media: are my mass communications moving this needle? Did my latest direct-mail piece with the killer offer spark some new conversation?

Start holding everyone responsible, but make someone accountable. Your organization's social "footprint" can't be managed as a hobby. Large or small, it's time to take this seriously, because the impact will be felt from cyberspace to the cash register. Almost all marketing units are affected by (and will probably have an opinion on) social media, so it's often good to start with some kind of a "task force" comprised of representatives from each. However, the business needs to make a decision of exactly which person will own its social presence. This person doesn't need to be the one running it day-to-day, but they need to be able to speak to it fluently and have the power to make a difference.

Create a social media "lodestone" within each of your marketing efforts. Even with a cross-functional team or steering committee, it's hard to keep the social media conversation from gravitating to just a couple of marketing functions. To be truly effective, each discipline needs to know how they intersect with social media, and needs to define that in a way that attracts and excites new projects. PR, for example, can own reaching out to specific voices and generating influential conversations. CRM, however, has the opportunity to focus on longer dialogues with individual customers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Online Newspaper Advertising - Latin America

Online newspapers are the essential link for people to stay connected to information, news and their home countries.

When they read the news directly from online newspapers such as La Prensa from Panama or La Republica from Costa Rica, they are receiving un-biased news and information directly from their country. Readers review their local news covering subjects from politics to the latest gossip from their countries' entertainment. Now the technological enhancements of the internet makes reading online newspapers easier than ever!

I stumbled upon an article by Mort Goldstrom about the reasons why to advertise in online newspapers. I think this very much applies to Latin America and reinforces why it is so important for advertisers to include this in their online marketing mix. I hope sharing this with you increases your knowledge and helps you understand more in depth how the online newspaper opportunities can really work for your clients.

10 Reasons to Advertise on a Newspaper Website
Frequency- The online newspaper Web site user spends more than twice as many hours online than the general user. Online newspaper users are three times as likely as general 'Net users to be online during the workday when out of reach of other media - 8-11 a.m. is a new "primetime" for media consumption (Source: "Power Users," 2006, MORI Research)

Credibility- Branded content brings a higher quality audience. A study from the Online Publishers Association (OPA) showed that OPA audiences were more likely to buy products and services in a number of key categories, including automotive, entertainment, financial, home, travel and business to business.

Targeted- If you want to focus on a particular backyard, advertising in an online newspaper is more personal and more relevant because it is local. Newspapers also publish a plethora of niche sites (youth, women, movie fans, Hispanics, are illustrative) for virtually any demographic advertisers could possibly hope to reach. - "Newspapers know more than ever about their web audience because of online registration programs and audience segmentation software"]

Purchasing Power- Eighty-nine percent of newspaper Web site users purchase online compared with 56 percent of general users. Forty percent of online newspaper users have incomes higher than $75,000; 69 percent own their homes. Eighteen percent of online newspaper users have spent more than $2,000 online in the last six months.

Content- Excluding e-mail the most popular online activities and content categories include national and local news, sports, financial information and entertainment news and things to do. [Shopping, cited in the original, is lower on the list.] Fifty-four percent of general Internet users visit online newspapers for local news, compared with 40 percent for the local TV station Web site and 20 percent for the local radio station site. ["Power Users," 2006, MORI Research]

Advertisers Believe in Newspaper Sites- Online newspapers have enjoyed eleven consecutive quarters of double digit increases for advertising since NAA started reporting online ad spending in 2004.

High Profile- Online newspapers generate very large gains in Online Ad Awareness among C-level and other higher management job holders: C-level managers showed a 23 percent increase in Aided Brand Awareness, VP/director-level managers showed a 38 percent increase and other management showed a 37 percent increase following their exposure to an ad campaign in online newspapers (across all industries.) When the brand metric shifts to Message Association, C-level execs showed the largest increase in lift after exposure to campaigns on online newspapers, at 88 percent. No management category showed less than a 51 percent increase. (Dynamic Logic's MarketNorms database, 2006)

Reinforcement- Fifty-six percent of online newspaper users also read the newspaper in the past five days, and repetition increases awareness.

Cutting Edge- Newspaper Web site users are more likely (by almost twenty percent to own some kind of portable electronic device. They are also more interested in receiving advertising and product offers through those devices. Forty percent of online newspaper users are aged 18 to 34. [Source: "Power Users," 2006, MORI Research]

Mix- A variety of recent studies have demonstrated the power of online, when included in a mix with traditional media, to elaborate the brand message. Newspaper, print, and online products combined have the highest penetration and most desirable audience of any other local medium.