I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone that lives their life entirely online. Each day we’re all exposed to a variety of media and marketing messages. So why do some marketers feel that they have to choose between online and traditional advertising?
Social media doesn’t have to mean writing a blog or creating a widget. When a viewer repeats the tag line from a TV spot, spontaneously sings a jingle they heard, tells a friend about their experience with a certain brand, or posts reviews online—they’re engaging in a form of social media too. Whether a brand sets out to create a social media campaign that starts people talking or something else causes lots of people to begin chatting up the brand, that public buzz, for better or worse, is social media.
You can’t control social media
Many companies have shied away from social media marketing because they’re concerned about loosing control of the message and fear what their brand message might become in the hands of the public. By integrating traditional advertising and marketing—tactics where you can control the message, with the influence and reach of Social Media, marketers can guide the message instead of control it. Marketers remain in control of crafting the strategy and executing the “official” version of the message; all of which sets the stage for customers to base their opinions on—opinions they may choose to share.
Defining what that brand experience ultimately means to the customer is neither the job or privilege of the marketer. It’s up to your customers. The more your brand means to them, the more they connect with it. That in turn determines their purchase decision, their loyalty, and whether they feel strongly enough to advocate for the brand in the future.
When marketers control what is said about their product, as in the case of an ad, people view it as biased and self-serving. When a third party, like a customer writes an online review of a product, it’s viewed as honest and credible, and THAT is the secret to the power of social media. In a 2009 online survey by Forrester Research showed that “people trusted the purchase advice of strangers online more than TV or print ads.”
Traditional marketing clarifies Social Media
While social media marketing can be great for spreading your message, it has a significant short fall: people don’t necessarily spread the same message you would like them to. While its authentic and honest, it may not be a message that fits your strategy and may even be detrimental. Traditional marketing can help to create the foundation of information and guide the brand message as it is passed throughout the social community. By cross promoting the contents of one marketing effort, for example TV with another like social media you increase the “volume” of the message, focus the accuracy and add frequency—thereby maximizing the effectiveness of both efforts.
In a 2008 study by Yankelovich and Sequent Partners called “When Advertising Works,” it was found that “ads that make an impression in traditional media were more likely to stimulate word of mouth than ads that make an impression in digital media.
Social media amplifies traditional marketing
Balancing the free-form messaging of social media with the control, consistency and mass reach of traditional media can offer the best of both worlds. Today the focus needs to be on building an opt-in audience in order to create community, foster loyalty and generate conversations.
A great example of this is a recent promotion by Estée Lauder. They took a free makeover promotion to an entirely new level when they used social media to drive women to participate and later bring awareness to this in-store event. In order to attract digitally savvy women to the makeup counters at leading department stores, Estée used social media and online PR to offer free makeovers and free professional headshots. After each makeover, women would have a glamour photo taken of them (including of course an Estée Lauder logo in the background) and upload the image as their social profile photo before ever leaving the counter. By uploading the glamorous photo with the logo, the customer introduces her entire social network to the brand, a personalized example of it’s benefits and hopefully even spark a few conversations along the way.
Testimonials: the mother load of social media
In a full-page print ad in USA today, Trident made social media the focus of their ad by sharing unsolicited tweets it had received from customers (with their permission) who authentically and passionately tweeted about their new product, Trident Layers. Using testimonials to sell a product is nothing new, but highlighting the enthusiastic and unsolicited statements in a nationwide mass marketing print publication reinforces the shift toward integrated marketing strategies.
In each of these cases, marketers integrated traditional marketing with social media to allow the audience to communicate with the brand and with one another, generating more involvement and interest. As markets fragment, an integrated marketing strategy is quickly becoming the essential method to coordinate and focus efforts for greater marketing success.
What do you think?
Before you review your site optimization report next time, think for a moment about how your tactics are perceived by your audience. Do viewers find answers to their search queries on your page or are they the victim of some clever SEO trick that got them to click? If your bounce rates are high, not only are you wasting time and money, but you’re likely annoying the heck out of a lot of people.
In a recent article in PC Magazine, John Dvorak claimed that the process of search engine optimization (SEO) “ruins the search experience for users” because “every hit is some commercial site trying to sell you something”. Well guess what John, you just found the secret to the internet…it’s not really free!
While judging from the comments on the site, I don’t think too many other people agreed with him either, but I will concede that over commercialization of any medium, without offering value in return is annoying and frustrating to the viewer. SEO is a prime example.
Viewers are looking for specific answers to their query. They deserve to get that answer without being lured to a site that offers some irrelevant sales pitch.
Google seems to do the best job of keeping their focus on the user’s experience. They penalize advertisers for high bounce rates by charging them more for paid search keywords. Google became one of the worlds biggest corporations by giving away the best FREE service. When that service no longer includes the best user experience—which is returning the most relevant and accurate search results—that’s when Google stops making so much money.
The fact is, I don’t know of anyone that wants to see their favorite free online content restricted to subscription only access. You know there’s no such thing as a free lunch—that goes for online content too. If the content has any real value somebody has to pay to make that information, entertainment, image, video, review or whatever available. And that somebody is either going to be viewer paying for a subscription or the marketer that runs an ad next to it.
The user experience is not limited to what a marketer has on their landing page. It’s the overall connection between their ad or organic meta description, the landing page it connects to, and how they offer and deliver whatever it is they are promoting.
If consumers want to continue to access valuable content — be it network TV shows, online magazines, games or search engine results for free, then marketing including SEO, PPC, display advertising, etc. is a must.
And if marketers want prospects to be receptive to their message, then focusing on the entire user experience is essential.
What do you think?
While a sale is always the ultimate conversion, generating a lead is the next best thing. By creating an “intermediate conversion” measurable opportunities are created that didn’t exist before.
An “intermediate conversion” is simply offering an opportunity for a prospect to request more info, discounts, membership into a community, survey info, opting-in to a list or in some other method to indicate interest.
Offers must provide real value to the customer and have little or no barrier to entry — which includes the amount of information that prospects must provide in order to receive whatever it is they are requesting.
It’s a simple step that many forget about or choose to ignore in the rush to closing a deal. Marketers can not only generate more leads, but can also learn a great deal about their prospects and what their interests are. It provides the opportunity to open a conversation with their prospects and find out what’s really on their minds. Understanding why a prospect chooses NOT to become a customer can often be more valuable to a marketer than why they do.
Additionally, allowing prospects to self-select into specific segments and areas of interest they are indicating which topics might interest them for follow up contacts. In short, it provides another opportunity for the marketer to get to know their prospects better, begin a relationship and can potentially fill a pipeline with new prospects that might otherwise have been lost.
Interim conversions are a basic, measurable, knowledge gathering, customer-centric marketing practice that’s a win-win for everyone — but it’s a sometimes overlooked solution.
Let us know what you think.
Call it what you want. Social Marketing. Viral marketing. Buzz marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing. They all have the same goal — to get people talking about a product or brand. I just call it “C2C” which simply means Consumer to Consumer, or Customer to Customer marketing, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Setting a brand on fire
What makes viral and buzz marketing catch on is usually it’s association with something timely, extremely unique or otherwise memorable. In some way it touches people personally and specifically. It’s the way a brand solves a customer’s problem. For example it may be that a product was delivered faster than expected, the service rep went way above and beyond or the customer recognized greater value after the sale. C2C is simply providing your customers with a consistent brand image, value and experience that they appreciate and it is unique enough to talk about.
No Special Equipment Needed
There are no new strategies or tactics to talk about here, just basic marketing and business acumen. Good marketing and advertising brings value to the customer by providing information, entertainment or validation.
Marketing in any form is still all about helping people solve their needs. Often “needs” they didn’t even know they had. Whether they “need” that hot new perfume, a cereal their kids will like, or a new computer system with brand new features, the customer has a need. Marketing should be all about creating a consistent brand message across marketing channels that customers associate with a solution to that need. That kind of marketing creates a more personal sort of recall and gets talked about in the form of social exchanges and recommendations both online and off. That’s C2C.
B2B is still about C
The immense popularity of social media, specifically B2B social media confirms what I’m saying here — people will talk about brands that interest them, inform them or entertain them. Selling to a business is still selling to people — the main difference is in the needs that they have and what makes them personal.
So while your looking at strategies and creative for B2B and B2C marketing, don’t forget about the C2C effect.
What do you think?
Where would Travelocity be without their commercials? How is Apple’s web traffic affected when they aren’t running their memorable “I’m a Mac” campaign? And would Barack Obama have made history if he had to choose between online and offline media?
It seems that even with all of the talk about the demise of the 30 second spot, many of the most popular web sites would suffer without mass market advertising.
Just because it’s hard to measure the connection between traditional media and online, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Traditional and online advertising play very different roles, and both are needed to compliment one another.
All target markets have one thing in common….they’re all made up of people. And people have diverse lives. They don’t just live online or off. The same people that are online also watch TV, read newspapers or magazines, pass billboards on the road or ride on a public bus from time to time.
The messages and the branding people are exposed to through traditional media have a very real effect, even if it is subtle at times. And that subtlety can make the difference between a casual interest and active consideration or between a simple familiarity and a sale.
If marketing was a sport, I think it would be most like basketball. A team effort, actively passing the responsibility back and forth until as a group, you score — but always staying focused on the customer.
Online marketing, just like all traditional B2B and consumer advertising, should be focused on the customer. While we’re all psyched about the ability to calculate and compare statistics down to the smallest detail, the true measure of marketing success is still in the minds of the customer.
Many online marketers have lost sight of marketing basics. With technology moving so fast, many of us have gotten caught up in the latest and greatest digital gizmo or gadget. Having the ability to track and target people more precisely or better understand their buying habits is certainly an asset to the marketing process, but it still can’t replace or even become the strategy.
I was with a client yesterday discussing the cause of their slumping conversion rates on their B2B web site. Despite having a excellent product, a terrific sales team and outstanding customer service, they didn’t understand why their inbound marketing efforts were sagging.
One look at their ads, web site, and landing pages told the entire story. Since they are a technology company, I can understand how these guys view their business through an analytical prism. The problem is that their customers don’t. Their marketing sounds like it’s talking to their management team, not to their customers. And while they’re doing a great job measuring the results, the adjustments they’re making to the creative make the numbers may move slightly, but don’t get to the root of the problem, and that shows in the bottom line. These guys have lost the forest and are stuck in the technical trees.
The focus now seems to be on who can be the first to leverage the newest mobile platform or how fast you can utilize a certain new software. Digital marketing, whether your using social media marketing, pre-roll ads or just PPC is still about the end user and what is important to them. The metrics will come. Marketing must still be about the value of the message and the content first — and less about how it’s delivered.
Ask yourself this: in a year from now when the technology you are using today becomes common place, will your message your sending still resonate? Channel selection is and must always be a result of where your customers are, not just what happens to be the hottest technology today.
If you ask most marketers if they do multi-channel marketing, you’ll likely find the vast majority resoundingly say YES!. But if you ask about their plans to coordinate the effort to ensure proper timing, the right amount of consistency without redundancy and an overall reliable brand message, the answer is surprising. It seems that most marketers sort of “wing-it” and don’t plan on how to use these multi-channel marketing efforts to multiply the results. They just happen to be running at the same time.
While there are several channels that historically work well together, such as email & direct mail or direct mail & print, there should be a more systematic approach to execution as well as to analyzing the results. Not surprisingly, even though these multi-channel marketing programs are often unplanned or uncoordinated, they most often yield better results than individual efforts.
With the increasing number of new marketing venues and the shift in consumer behavior from observer to participant, it’s pretty tough to always know the best or most cost effective way to reach the market.
Consumers move between markets seamlessly as they multi-task without even realizing that they are doing it. When asked “How did you hear about us?”, often customers are unsure. But if the same message is repeated across a multitude of media without any new content, consumers tire quickly and just it shut out.
Simply put, integrating timing, content, responses and metrics amplifies results.
Companies are in business for one reason only, and that’s to make money. Since methods for defining the true ROI of social media are still a bit fuzzy, some CEOs are getting frustrated at the time it takes to see results.
Social media has a reputation of requiring almost no investment to the point of being virtually “free”, but that’s not true at all. TIME is money. To give social media a real chance to succeed, it requires a substantial investment of time. Time to listen to the market, to develop strategies, to cultivate relationships to build trust and time to review incremental results and make adjustments. And we’re NOT talking about just days or weeks.
Social Media is a long term, ongoing process, not a project.
I have read so many articles about the impact of Twitter on society and how it has “democratized media”, but I must say, I think that most of these guys have missed the big picture. As I speak to people that have tried Twitter only to walk away confused and disappointed, I realize that Twitter’s greatest strength is lost on the masses.
Newbies open an account and begin following a few big media outlets, celebrities, or possibly a major brand or two. Many of these accounts are less personal and tend to “broadcast” instead of interact. These newbies often send out their first and sometimes only Tweet that says something like “OK, so I’m finally on Twitter. Now what?”. They hear nothing back and leave wondering “what the heck is everyone making such a fuss about”?
This “twit-nomenon” is reflected in a study by Sysomos Inc. (@sysomos) that revealed ” Only o.29% of all Twitter users follow more than 2,000 people, 92.4% follow less than 100 people and 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers”. What I take away is that people are treating Twitter like TV. They dial into a familiar channel (say the New York Times, Ashton Kutcher or maybe Barack Obama), then sit back and wait for a show.
The simple interface of Twitter is deceptive.
Twitter doesn’t easily give up the gold that lies beneath it’s surface. Finding this buried treasure takes some effort from the user and a little curiosity. What is interesting is that it’s first valuable asset has nothing to do with sending out Tweets or getting people to follow you. Yes, I love the interaction and two way communication aspect, but for a newbie, first there must be a sense of value. Their initial Twitter experience should be about finding people worthy of following that offer personal value for them. They need to find and listen to the conversation before jumping into it. Then the value grows exponentially as you become involved, make friends, develop relationships, and share knowledge.
I’m a passionate sort of person and when I’m interested in a topic, I like hearing everything I can about it. I look for people that are both experienced in the subject as well as those that are new. Those that are the influencers, and those that are influenced. Of course there is much more to Twitter than listening.
One of the reasons people get caught up in this cycle is because of a tool that’s overlooked: the unfollow button. Using it regularly keeps your stream clear of spam and annoying comments about who had what for lunch. I have seen how following fewer but more valuable Tweeple can dramatically improve a persons entire Twitter experience, leaving you much more time to interact with those you have chosen to keep.
Sure there are plenty of users with thousands of followers, automatically sending out hundreds of tweets a day, like the 5% of Twitter accounts that generate 75% of all tweets and racking up followers like trophies. But as far as I’m concerned, those folks have missed some of the best parts of Twitter.
Yes, Twitter is awesome for it’s two way interaction and communication abilities. But for me, the most priceless part is having an endless stream of customized and fresh material served to me, whenever I want it…..(now if only I could get my kitchen at home to do that for me).
Do you agree?
We all know that a brand exists in the minds of the market. The overall impression your audience has about your product or service is the only one that counts. We also know that despite all our best efforts, a brand’s impression on the market is only partially within the control of it’s marketing team. Much of that impression has to do with external forces such as current events and competitor efforts.
Brand awareness is a valuable first step in almost any sales cycle. “While 80% of advertising and marketing professionals say they are “strongly aware” of their brand’s positioning, only 25% of them can clearly articulate their company’s brand position”.1
A well planned and executed brand strategy aligns a company’s corporate objectives with marketing, sales, customer service and R&D and has them all marching to the same beat. More importantly, it gives customers a song to sing along to as well. The problem is that very often, a company thinks they are delivering one message, but the audience is receiving something entirely different….and sometimes contrary.
Social Media is an important and easily accessible tool that allows a business to “play back” what their customers feel about their brand, whether they are using social media as a marketing medium or not. It’s also very effective to understand public sentiment regarding their competitors brand as well. It can easily determine if a brand strategy is believable and relevant to the market and if the message being received as it was intended.
Results from a listening program can and should be reflected in all media, not just Social Media. By utilizing an integrated marketing approach, these results can be reflected quickly across a broad range of media, reaching the widest possible audience and once again, aligning your brand strategy from the very top corporate levels all the way through to your customer.
What do you think?
- Louws Management Corporation Survey, 2007