Tag Archives: Social Media

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Introducing ‘INNW’ (a new marketing acronym)

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I’d like to propose ‘INNW’ as a new acronym* to guide marketers in 2017.

These 4 letters stand for a relatively simple statement – If Not Now, When?

As (almost) everyone in business and marketing knows, the world has changed. A lot. If you’re in the business of selling a product or service, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to manage a decreasing marketing budget amongst an increasing array of media options. “Do more with less” seems the mantra nowadays.

As 2016 comes to a close, and in the spirit of new year resolutions, I propose that “If Not Now, When?” be the slogan that inspires your approach to marketing in 2017. Marketing demands bold ideas, innovation and bravery. That means marketers should always be looking to test new strategies and tactics.

So next year (not next decade), see if one or more of these are right for your business.

Get mobile-friendly.

This message has been hammered into everyone for a number of years. Australia’s smartphone penetration is #2 in the world (77% in 2013 as per SMS Global study).  More searches are done on a mobile device than PC and ‘search’ is the most frequently used shopping tool for mobile consumers (according to a Google USA study).

So any business that hasn’t yet thought of a way to embrace a mobile-optimised web presence – or any other mobile-friendly tactic – then it’s definitely time to act! Put at the top of your list. Let me know if you need some help with this.

Accelerate digital-based innovation.

Now is the time to start embracing not only change, but the method of making change happen.  A recent report by Accenture details the benefits that accrue to companies that actively innovate to add value. Their key findings contains one element that successful innovators are doing: “Incorporate digital as part of the customer experience.”

Breakdown your whole go-to-market plan and identify touchpoints that can be strengthened by applying a degree of digitisation. This can be either customer-facing or an internal communications/workflow solution.

Accenture: Rewriting The innovation Playbook

Social selling.

This is a relatively new concept so if you’re unfamiliar with it’s premise: social selling is when salespeople use social media to connect directly with their prospects. There is much more it than simply connecting, as the idea is that salespeople use social media as a means to establish a relationship that  might lead to a future sale.

Social selling is a B2B marketing strategy that mostly occurs online using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, Pinterest and YouTube. The premise is that a salesperson publishes content of interest to his/her prospects, who will then follow/like/share that content.  Over time the salesperson and prospect develop closer ties, including meeting in person, that may lead to a sale.

Read more about this strategy in this Forbes article. Better still, ask me for some advice.

Programmatic media buying.

Digital advertising is now dominated by programmatic media buying.  Proponents laud its ability to efficiently display an advertisement to the right audience at the right time and in the most measurable context.  It has been primarily for large advertisers but the scale of programmatic means that even small ones can use the platforms.

This Digiday article looks at 5 key charts to explain the big growth in programmatic. Then allocate some ad budget and give programmatic a go. It’s so highly measureable that you’ll know if it’s working soon enough.

Customer experience improvements.

As Lee Tonitto, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute says, “A good CMO is chronically obsessed with the customer.” Lee goes on to say in the MediaScope article predictions for 2017, “Organisations must undergo radical shifts in their structures to align themselves with how customers act in a new world obsessed with digital experiences. This starts with the CMO closely collaborating with the CIO, and building from there.”

If you’re going to improve something, you need to know a baseline to grow from. In terms of CX, that requires a forensic examination of the pathway to purchase. And beyond. A great way to achieve this is to conduct a customer journey mapping exercise. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

Make smarter use of Facebook and Google.

How’s this for a staggering stat: “In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook” (NYT 13 Dec 2016).  These two online brands now dominate the online advertising landscape so much that they must be part of every marketer’s plans for 2017.

Whether it’s Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, use a specialist agency to ensure you are getting the most value from the ad budget spent with them. And if you need help choosing a digital agency – ask me for advice.

Data capture and usage.

If you’re not collecting data about your prospects and customers, then you’re already behind the eightball. If you’re collecting data but have no strategy for how to effectively use it in marketing communications, then you’re only doing half the job.

To manage data effectively you need a good CRM, a customer segmentation strategy, and a publishing platform that leverages the data sets being captured through online interactions, social media connections, search results, real life transactions, and post-sales interactions.

Read my blog post about leveraging the ‘Data Funnel’ and contact me for more thoughts on how you can improve your data strategy.

Which strategy or tactic should be included? Add your comments below.

* Sorry…I know everyone hates acronyms. Hopefully it’s a useful one 🙂

P.S. When I came up with this idea, I didn’t realise the phrase was the title of a novel by Italian author Primo Levi, published in 1982. Read more about the book. The book inspired American alternative rock band Incubus to use the title for its 7th album, released in July 2011.

 

 

 


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The social network I didn’t use during the holidays.

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The Christmas/new year holidays is a perfect time to reflect on how we use social media to share these festive times and keep in touch with distant or travelling family and friends.

There is a plethora of social media platforms to use for a variety of purposes. Looking back over the past fortnight, the social networks that I mainly used during this holiday season were Facebook and Twitter. A distant ‘second’ were Instagram and Pinterest. googleplus_angled

The one network I didn’t even think of using was Google+.

Writing this post prompts me to ask “why?” The answer lies somewhere between not enough family/friends/colleagues are on Google+, those that are there don’t use it very often, and the interface is far less user friendly than the other platforms I use.

Considering the first point, it is intriguing to contemplate the scarcity of personal and professional connections given that it’s hosted by the world’s most popular search engine, with the world’s largest active webmail user base.

Why aren’t more people using Google+? I have about 60 in my Circles (people and/or companies) but almost all are technology-oriented who probably joined G+ some years ago to complement their online profiles. There’s no one from my immediate family, no one from my school/uni social group, and very few friends from my current regular social groups.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.52.08 am

Unfortunately, a check of the activity of those I have in Circles reveals that many haven’t posted there for many months! But I know they have posted on Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn in the recent past. It may be a case of G+ being one social network too many.

Unless there’s a compelling reason for the ‘average’ person to join and use G+, it will fail and Facebook will retain its dominance as a pure social network.

The interface issue is much more problematical for Google. It’s not as simple as Twitter, nor as embracing as Facebook. Even LinkedIn has a more intuitive design. Visit the G+ web page and you see too many posts by people/companies you don’t follow, that have been Shared by those you do. Open the G+ app and it’s worse as the screen is small and the content lacks relevancy.

And what’s with having two ways of sharing: “+1 this post” and “Share this post”. Google, you need to simplify Google+.

Chris Messina, ex-Googler and originator of the hashtag, recently wrote a thoughtful piece on where he thinks Google+ has gone wrong and how it might be able to correct course. On Nov 29 last year he asked “Is there any hope that Google+ will find a compelling reason to continue to exist?” Read Chris’ thoughts here.

What will Google+ become in 2015? I believe it will survive, however not in it’s present form. It must veer away from directly competing with Facebook. This is also an argument made by Chris Messina in a Dec 23 post, where he demonstrates how G+ has begun changing and “moving towards competing with Pinterest and/or Instagram/ WhatsApp and Snapchat.” Interesting times ahead for the world’s fifth largest social network that is, amazingly, just over 3 years old!!! (It opened to the public on Sep 20, 2011.)

Happy new year to everyone.


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Anatomy of a digital marketing campaign

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OVER my career I have planned and produced a wide variety of digital marketing campaigns. One certainty is that it’s not getting any simpler.

In an attempt to demystify the process of creating a digital-led communications campaign, I have developed a 5 Stage overview from planning to implementation to measurement. This post summarises each discipline/tactic, basically in chronological order, although this will vary depending on the complexity of the campaign elements.

[Note:  I have not included offline marketing processes, however there are some key digital decisions that enhance integration between the two disciplines.]

Stage 1 – Brief

The marketing brief must align with the overall business objectives.  Audience profile, budget and timing are also imperative elements of the brief.

The brief will inform the creative development process, leading to ideas that will be communicated to an audience through multi-channel digital strategies.

digi_mktg_ball

Stage 2 – Planning

The content of the campaign messaging must be reviewed and, in effect, cleared for use across ALL  digital platforms that will be utilised in the campaign.

Search terms
A successful online marketing campaign starts with choosing the right terminology so you optimise SEO (organic) to minimise SEM (paid). Develop a strategy based on SEO-friendly content, judicious use of paid search terms, and don’t underestimate the importance of social media to support SEO. Check out sites like Google Trends, Google AdWordsBing Trends or Twitter Search to learn about relevant search terms’ popularity.

Keywords
Build a Keyword & Key Brand/Product Messaging matrix. Prioritise the matrix and ensure it is followed by everyone who is writing copy for the campaign’s online and printed material.

Short URL
Sometimes called a vanity URL, this is very useful for print media (ads, brochures, posters, etc.) where you want people to easily remember the URL. A number of options are available:
– create a landing page within the main website with a URL like ‘www.yourdomain.com.au/campaigntheme’;
– create a stand-alone microsite with a new domain name based on the campaign theme; or
– register a new domain name based on the campaign theme and redirect the URL to a landing page within your main website.

Hashtag (#)
Over the past few years the humble hashtag has become the marketing weapon-of-choice for major advertisers. They’re now used liberally on TV, posters, sports ground signage, and social media where they originated. Search multiple platforms to see if your chosen hashtag is available, using tools like TagBoard. The main ‘trap’ to watch out for is who else is either using that hashtag now, or might over the time period of your campaign. Acronyms are especially susceptible to have multiple meanings. Another hashtag ‘trap’ is the unwitting blending of letters when multiple words run together, creating a completely different meaning to the original campaign theme (for bad examples see this Guardian article).

Social media
Review existing SM channels and consider if new ones can be launched via the campaign (of course they must continue to be used after the campaign is over). A high level SM planning document should identify the audiences and related social network/s, and how the the Brand/Product Messaging matrix will drive the publishing cycle and content.

Stage 3 – Content

Landing page
Further to the discussion above re SEO and short URL, the landing page is the ‘destination’ for all digital marketing call-to-action (CTA) elements. People will arrive here after they have clicked an online ad, a link in an email, a social media post, read it in a brochure or on a poster. What is written and shown here must present the brand/product information in the most engaging way. It must also take the CTA to the next logical step – a buy/checkout option, download a report, request a sales call, or subscribe to an eNewsletter.

Email
Ideally your business has a regular eNewsletter with a substantial subscriber database. Include the campaign message/s within the existing eNewsletter template, or create a bespoke email to promote the campaign. Use the exact same campaign keywords/terminology in the email as that used on the web, in social media posts and search marketing.

Blog
Not every business has a blog, as it requires significant time and effort to publish consistently and professionally. For those that do blog, it can be an ideal ‘launch pad’ for a campaign. The selected keywords and brand/product messages must be written into the copy, also links to the landing page/website, as these are what search engines will be looking for. Blogs should also include ‘rich media’ like video, audio and photographs as these are known to encourage reader sharing.

Social media
Preparing a social media publishing and content calendar will optimise the use of these channels. Ideally it should include video and visual content to accompany written posts/updates, as these are proven to receive much higher rates of user engagement and sharing.

Video
The success of video to support digital marketing initiatives has grown significantly in the past few years. The variety of ways to use video makes it such a flexible tool for digital marketers: ‘how to’ videos are amongst the most searched on YouTube; crowd-sourced videos make for some amazing and entertaining films; and authoritative speakers filmed at a conference (or to camera) are highly valued by audiences.

Online ads
There are many options to use paid online media to reach an audience.  Dependant on budget and campaign messaging, a professional marketer can identify appropriate online media to reach a business’ prospects. An excellent resource is MediaScope, a comprehensive directory for marketers and agencies to find the right media for their needs.

Stage 4 – Channels

Owned/earned

Website
This is where all the action will be when customers come looking for information, to buy your product/service, to subscribe/download/engage/etc. Ensure it is optimised so people can find what they are looking for quickly and do what they want to do easily.

Microsite
If the campaign requires a microsite, ensure it is designed to complement the brand identity and the main website. It can harm your brand image if a microsite has a completely different look & feel to the brand’s other digital assets. Launching a microsite also means starting your organic search performance from scratch- this can inhibit the campaign’s early results. Thus ensure SEO-friendly keywords/metadata and optimise the home page user experience.

eNewsletter
Include campaign messages  within an existing eNewsletter or send a custom message to an established email subscriber database (opt-in permissions permitting). Purchasing a 3rd party email list is a tactic that is becoming much harder to get satisfactory results given the improved performance of spam/junk email filters and firewalls.

Blog
A well-subscribed blog is the place to start a conversation around the campaign theme. Don’t sit on the fence, invite audience discussion, and that will encourage sharing. Link to the blog post from all your social channels plus from the website/microsite. Where appropriate find related blogs to contribute your point-of-view in conversations that can lead back to your own blog/website.

Social media
There is a huge array of content marketing that can be implemented via SM. I won’t go into the many strategies and tactics of using your own presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc., suffice to say they are powerful platforms to reach existing and new customers when used to their maximum potential.

Mobile app
Building a new mobile/tablet app is a big investment in time, money and resources. If this solution meets the brief then it will need a fully scoped plan to design, test and launch – and regularly maintain content and functionality!

Paid

Online ads
The budget for online advertising will determine the scope for buying media space in relevant online media. Keep in mind the click-through-rate (CTR) of banner advertising is very low (in the 0.1%-0.4% range) and due to their abundance, banner ads are basically ignored (called ‘banner blindness’). However there are design and placement strategies that can deliver suitable returns on investment.

Search (SEM)
SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) model with a bidding (auction) process. Two key factors determine if your paid ad appears in Google search results: your maximum CPC bid and Quality Score (QS) – the latter is a key metric to determine how relevant your ad is to the user and good SEO practices impacts your QS. Check out Google Adwords site for more info. Engaging a professional search marketer is recommended to ensure your SEM investment returns positive results.

Social media
New audiences may be reachable via paid advertising on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Buying that reach is not a simple prospect, and is best considered when budgets and resources allow proper planning to ensure a successful investment.

3rd party apps
Advertisers can now reach customers through mobile (or in-app) advertising. This is a new medium with the potential to reach niche targets like gamers or fitness fanatics. A detailed explanation of mobile advertising can be read on this Wikipedia page.

Stage 5 – Analytics

Google Analytics (GA)
GA has become the default product for measuring website traffic, behaviours and technology. For the casual user GA provides valuable high level data. For the power user the data provides deep insights into your digital marketing performance. Setting up a campaign to be tracked using GA code is a key element in the production phase, and a job best left to an expert. Google regularly improve/change the functionality and design of the GA interface so it pays to engage someone who is proficient with the tools that Google provide for free.

CMS Analytics
Many content management systems (CMS) have their own analytics service to track and report website performance. In some cases this will provide more useful data and better reporting functions than GA, especially if the website is integrated with other internal systems like CRM and eCommerce.

Email Analytics
Sending emails is one of the most measurable digital marketing tactics. Whichever email system is used will come with an analytics function that provides all essential data to measure the responses to sent emails. Set benchmarks and test different creative solutions to continually improve your email performance.

Advertising Analytics
Online advertising can be measured at both the source (ie. the media owner) using the media owner’s analytics software, and the inbound destination (usually the website) using Google/CMS Analytics. Confusion can arise when data differs between systems, however the best policy is to compare ‘apples with apples’.  Google provides a good overview here showing how to set up the tracking codes for online advertising.

CRM Reports
There are some powerful CRM systems that can report on customers that visit your website then transact with your company. Data that identifies who buys what is always going to be the most valuable to a business; this is especially critical for an eCommerce business that must deliver online after-sales service, customer loyalty programs, and a continuously improving customer experience.

The digital marketing eco-system is actually far more complex than I have attempted to describe here. Due to the proliferation of ‘owned’ media channels, business owners would be excused for thinking that customers can be reached at an ever decreasing cost. Even the management consultant, educator, and author Peter F Drucker said, “The new information technology, Internet and e-mail, have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications”.

However intangible costs have moved in the opposite direction – in skilled personnel, in software, in services.

My advice: plan, test, measure, learn; re-plan, re-test, re-measure, re-learn; and so on. Marketing has become an iterative process.

 


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TV ads using #hashtags for tag lines…is just wrong

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There is a worrying trend amongst advertisers to substitute TV advertising tag lines with hashtags.

For example see #RaisedOnWeetBix and Carlton’s #hellobeer TVCs below.

This is just plain wrong. Why?

Firstly, because the majority of people would have very little idea what the # symbol means. It’s only been 4 years since Twitter introduced the hashtags ‘Trending Topics’ tab in March 2010. And Facebook only introduced hashtags and a ‘Trending’ section in recent months.

Secondly, hashtags work best when they are seen and used in context, in the medium where the consumer can respond. I can’t imagine many people jumping on their phone/tablet/laptop/desktop after seeing a TVC and firing up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to start tweeting/posting about the brand using their advertised hashtag.

Thirdly, a brand has no control over how their hashtags are used. Simply plopping one at the end of a TV spot invites the cynics and troublemakers to hijack the hashtag and use it totally out of context.

The use of hashtags during TV programs like #MKR, #QandA and #sbsdoco is a different matter, as the producer is actually inviting viewers to participate in a discussion based on the program’s live content.

So, my advice to advertisers is stick to ‘traditional’ tag lines in TV spots and leave the hashtags to the medium they are intended. Such as this tweet on the Weetbix brand account that does use the #RaisedOnWeetbix hashtag appropriately:

weetbix tweet

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AoTKLpvL1A]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYSwcV8odms]

Finally, here’s that clever skit about hashtags that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon performed on Jimmy’s TV show…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA]


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Is the #hashtag mightier than the sword?

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Forgive the cheesy headline, but it seemed an appropriate way to start a discussion about one of the most powerful tactics in modern communications – the humble hashtag. 

Wikipedia explains hashtag as  “a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #… Short messages on microblogging and social

hashtag

networking services such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ or Facebook may be tagged by putting “#” before important words, as in: #Wikipedia”. Read here to learn more about its origins and uses.

Twitter is where the hashtag’s popularity really took off.  No self-respecting marketing or public relations campaign, social or political event, charity or commercial venture gets mentioned on Twitter without a custom hashtag to give the message ‘virality’ and ‘shareability’.

Of course the global nature of hashtags makes it difficult to select a unique one. Recently, a business event in Australia started tweeting a hashtag that was already being used for World Breastfeeding Week 2013. Oops. Another had to change its hashtag that was also promoting a European beer festival.

The lesson here: do your research, and avoid acronyms as they can mean anything.

What is really interesting is how the hashtag has become as important to a campaign as the sharp headline, the pithy protest poster, or the try-hard tag line. It is now appearing on sports fields and ground signage, on clothing, in TV and print advertisements, and even for a marriage proposal. Numerous musicians have discovered the power of a hashtag – generating serious buzz about their latest release or tour.

Hashtags are becoming the primary digital call-to-action, usurping the simple “search for my brand/product/name/event”. Why? Because marketers are discovering the value of leading a customer, not to a ‘traditional’ sales message, but to a place where people are already sharing their thoughts about the topic at hand. Often this is a more valuable entry point for a prospect to start to get more familiar with a brand/product/service.

The other advantage of hashtags is their versatility. Once established, it can be used in merchandise, as a rallying cry to the faithful, and to communicate a simple idea. One of the most famous is the global #Occupy protest movement.  Demonstrators in each city held signs identifying their particular location/target (e.g. #OccupyWallSt). The movement funded their activities through the sales of #Occupy merchandise, such as the tie, bag and cap.

occupy1

wwwww

occupy3occupy2occupy4

One of the more original and flamboyant displays of a hashtag to express support for a cause can be seen in the picture below:

hashtag_trayvon

Not everyone thinks favourably about the ubiquitous hashtag. In the U.S the National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned their display on college football fields. France takes its language very seriously, so seriously in fact that it has banned the English phrase, instead insisting all French people refer to it as “mot-dièse” – which translates to ‘sharp word’. Sacre Bleu!

The humble hashtag has truly become the mighty idea communicator, the ‘weapon of choice’ for a new generation of social communicators. And the most feared hashtag of all is #fail. Of course social media is also replete with silly hashtags – maybe none more so than #CribsBetterThanBeatles.


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Paying for Twitter

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It’s a question on most digital marketers minds: will Twitter survive without a revenue model to underpin it’s operations and expansion? Asked another way, what will be the revenue model that Twitter will adopt to ensure it’s long term survival?

As a committed user I have come to rely on Twitter for news, updates, connections, information, and to follow the fortunes and activities of companies, brands and people. It’s often the first web site I visit each morning, and the last of the day. Using Tweetie on the iPhone makes Twitter easily accessible when I’m on the move.

So could I, and millions of others like me, live without it now?  The short answer is no. It got me thinking “what would I pay to keep using it”?

The value that Twitter adds to my professional and personal life is well worth paying for. By way of example, I have had more success resolving Optus phone and wireless issues by using their Twitter account than by phoning their call centre. Professionally I have connected with some smart people who are supportive and willing to provide real business opportunities.

I would also prefer to pay for an ad-free Twitter. My threshold is about A$25 p.a. Assuming that this was an option, how much would you pay? Answer the poll below and also let me know your thoughts on paying for Twitter.

[polldaddy poll=2939040]

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