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If you stick around long enough in the digital marketing business, you get to read a lot of these types of columns — one expert or another prognosticating about the future. If I had such a talent, my sense is that it would be put to best use in selecting next week’s lottery numbers. Like you, I have no crystal ball. But I have spent a great deal of my career meeting with marketers in search of innovative ways to acquire and retain new and existing customers, build lifetime value, and win back lost customers.

What follows are five digital marketing predictions for 2012 that are a direct result of numerous client and prospect meetings. 

1. The year of the tablet. All of this is likely to occur in the next 13 months:

  • the installed base of tablet devices will continue to grow exponentially;
  • consumer adoption of tablets will continue to accelerate;
  • new tablet devices will enable traditional print units to be displayed effectively;
  • the rising cost of paper, printing and postage will continue to fuel marketers’ desire for more cost-efficient delivery formats;
  • the web makes a comeback in terms of tablet applications; and
  • the App StoreOpens in a new window still dominates, but will have new competition.

 

2. New demands for greater attribution analysis tools and methods. As a result, be prepared for the following:

  • company finance departments will require greater proof and validation of cost efficiency;
  • marketers will demand greater accountability from channels on media plan optimization; and
  • there will be a new focus on integrated marketing proficiency and effectiveness.

 

3. Get mobile … and fast. The following trends around mobile will emerge next year:

  • consumers will spend more time accessing and communicating via mobile devices;
  • marketers will get their websites in shape to reap the benefits of the new mobile economy; and
  • mobile search and advertising will ramp up dramatically.

 

4. Social media grows up. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to social media marketing in 2012:

  • most marketers will aggressively launch a new array of social strategies and programs;
  • growth in social gaming will flatten out;
  • marketers crack the code in terms of turning community building into measurable transactions; and
  • websites will play second fiddle to social media destinations.

 

5. Digital will play a pivotal role in presidential politics. With 2012 an election year, don’t be surprised to see the following:

  • candidates will be smarter about how to use the full spectrum of digital tools at their disposal, following President Obama’s lead when he leveraged social media in building a coalition and donor base four years ago;
  • the battle will heat up in late 2011 and throughout the primary season; and
  • whoever wins the battle online will win the White House.

 

It’s challenging to predict trends in a marketplace that continues to evolve and change as quickly as the digital landscape. I continue to watch for signs that marketers are getting smarter about using the digital tools available to monitor the dialogs they’re having with their customers in real time.

As we watch the tremendous shift in media consumption patterns and the lamentations about the demise of direct mail, my sense is that digital still has a long way to go before it can be viewed as much more than electronic junk communication. It’s our responsibility as marketers to step up and show consumers that we can be trusted with their data. In earning this trust, we must build more meaningful relationships with them.

Of all of the predictions that could be realized, my sincere hope is that a new awakening to the power of the digital tools and strategies within our current toolkit comes to reality. Consumers have been waiting for years.

 

Provided by Al Diguido

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Email SpamAccording to Google, spam is either a canned meat product made mainly from ham or irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.  Either way, it’s not something I want to see on my computer in the morning.  And since I don’t think I’m in the minority on this one, it’s probably not something that should be a part of your email marketing.

Enjoy this fun infographic, and make sure to check out the bottom to see best practices so you won’t look like a spammer.  Enjoy!

 

The Evolution of Spam – An Email Marketing Infographic

 

Provided by marketo.com

Why should companies use content marketing? Risk mitigation, lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring are some of the benefits today’s companies are reaping from their content marketing efforts.

How are companies using it? Some of the most popular ways, by percentage of companies, are non-blogging social media (79%), article posting (78%), in-person events (62%), e-newsletters (61%), case studies (55%), blogs (51%), white papers (43%) and webinars/webcasts (42%).

Are content marketing budgets growing? Most definitely, with 51% increasing spending over the next 12 months, 45% maintaining their current level of spending, and only 2% planning to decreasing content marketing spending.

For more facts and statistics, have a look at the the graphic below:

Is Content Marketing Traditional Advertising’s New Rival? [Infographic]

Provided by http://www.marketo.com

If you want to participate in the kickoff of the holiday shopping season without feeling too much like a market-driven drone, check Small Business Saturday with the help of these social networking tools.

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the unending onslaught of online deals, there is another holiday shopping day that might get lost in the shuffle: Small Business Saturday. This year marks the second annual such event, a new tradition that tries to steal some addition from chain retailers and big e-commerce sites and give it to local vendors.

And this year, the fledging ritual is getting some serious attention from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all pledge their efforts in support, offering and encouraging small business owners to use their sites’ tools to promote shopping this weekend.

Local retailers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit this weekend. What happens to consumers who want the discounts but sans the chain names (that are sometimes attached to controversy) they go hand in hand with? Small business Saturday can fill that void along with the help of some geo-social applications.

Foursquare

amex-foursquareFoursquare has been at the top of the social-meets-location game since it began, and Small Business Saturday will be no exception. If you have an American Express card, sync it to your Foursquare account following these directions. Then when you check-in to shops who have partnered with the service via Foursquare on Saturday, you will see a button that says “load to card.” Then when you spend at least $25 or more at the participating store, you’ll get a notification saying $25 was credited to your Amex account. American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, so ratcheting up sales is in its best interest, but turns out they’re willing to compensate you for helping make the event a success.

 

etsy_iconEtsy

The purveyor of all things handcrafted is a natural fit for small business Saturday—and will appeal to those who want to buy “local” without leaving their living rooms. Just searching “Small Business Saturday” on the site brought up a slew of items that will be on sale this weekend, andthis blog catalogued some of the best e-shops on the site that offered discounts last year.

 

 

thedealmixDaily deal sites

While the likes of LivingSocial and Groupon tend to offer food and spa deals, the occasional local retailer pops up. Between now and Small Business Saturday, a minimal amount of homework and creating an account with one (or all) of these sites could save you some Monday. We’d advise getting with something likeThe Dealmix, which collects a large variety of all these local deals. Keep an eye out on any of these applications for vendor or shop deals in your area. Then make a call or check Facebook to see if they are participating in Small Business Saturday. Then add those savings to whatever discount the daily deal site was offering. Of course, you should check that you can use coupons during the Saturday sale.

 

 

 

Facebook

Facebook is offering a slew of tools for small businesses to take advantage of, but the site is also catering to consumers. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and you’ll have access to a variety of information, including city guides for optimizing your local shopping in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as organized events in cities nationwide. Some of them include raffles, free gift wrapping, Santa visits for the kids, and community breakfasts.

 

 

 

 

smallbiz twitterTwitter

Be sure to follow your favorite local business on Twitter, if you haven’t already. We’re sure a great many of these sites will have implemented a Follow button (one of the tools in the Small Business Saturday kid), and will be using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallNov26, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBusinessSaturday to spread word of their discounts this weekend.

With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.

Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.

Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.

Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.

Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.

 


1. Be Fast


When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.

Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.

 


2. Be Visible


Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.

Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.

 


3. Be Consistent


It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.

 


4. Be Organized


If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.

Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.

 


5. Be Human


As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.

Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.

Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.

 

Provided by Duke Chung

Does the requirement that you must use your real name onFacebook and Google+ make you shy away from saying anything risqué on those networks?

If so, you might want to sign up for Anybeat, a social network that aims to become a hub of conversation about controversial subjects. The site is officially out of beta as of Monday.

Founded by Dmitry Shapiro, the former CTO of MySpace Music, Anybeat separates itself from other social networks by encouraging its members to use pseudonyms. The hope is that not using their real names will embolden users to participate in conversations they’d never have on Facebook.

“We, as humans, have different needs when it comes to socializing,” says Shapiro. “One is to communicate with people we know, and that’s Facebook. But we need a place to get away from family and friends, and a place to get away from work, a place to socialize with people we don’t know. We want to create an open social place that’s inclusive.”

That sounds good in theory, though anyone who’s ever skimmed the comments on a YouTube video is familiar with how anonymous discussions can get ugly quickly. Shapiro emphasizes that what Anybeat is really offering is “pseudonymity,” which is subtly different from anonymity.

While a user’s real name is hidden, his or her profile name stays consistent, and reputations are created over time.

“YouTube is less of a social network,” Shapiro says. “A lot of it is culture. If [ignorant comments] are what you see, then that’s what it becomes. For us, every profile has ‘Cred’–it’s like a Klout score, or feedback on eBay. And we have moderation tools in place, like you’d find in the old BBS days.”

What sort of content would be off limits to a social network that prides itself on controversy? Shapiro says hate speech, threats, and porn would all make the list.

As Facebook and Google+ have risen in popularity, so have their real-name policies, leading the Web to move away from the anything-goes anonymity of decades past. Shapiro believes a total loss of online anonymity would be a bad thing.

“I think pseudonimity, using the Internet for casual conversations and not just formal ones, is critical.” he says. “It was the reason I fell in love with the Web: AOL chatrooms. I found the conversations I had there to be extremely meaningful. If you ever had a conversation with a stranger and you found that the stranger might have understood you in a way that your closest friends didn’t, that’s what we’re trying to facilitate.”