Archive for April, 2013

Marketing Tools to Promote New Products

Having a large social media following is great when you need to get the word out. What’s the word? You have some new services or products that you want to educate people about. Whenever a business rolls out something new, sometimes one of the hardest parts is getting people on board. If you have a sizeable social media following, your job becomes exponentially easier.

There are a multitude of methods for doing this; here is a quick rundown of some suggestions for promoting your new product or service:

LinkedIn: Add to your services tab on your LinkedIn profile. All of your LinkedIn connections will see how your new service works. Additionally, your LinkedIn connections may already be involved with your business and may be more inclined to research your new venture.

YouTube: Depending on what your new item is, you may be able to create a video showing what your product is and how to use it. Video is a reassuring medium. You can have some of team members sit down and walk through the product. Explain how it’s used and how it can help businesses.

Discount/Giveaways: On Facebook and Twitter, you can use your following to get people to sign up for a discount or giveaway of the first product, trying to get some interest. By having the product in the hands of as many people as possible, it can increase the rates of positive feedback and testimonials.

Photos: If it is a product, create a photo album on Facebook. Show how to use it and some of its practical applications.

Special Website Page: On your homepage, create a new tab that advertises the product or service. Ideally, your website gets a good deal of traffic through your social media sites and you can have all of the information you need right there on the page.

QR Code Campaign: By placing a QR code on your direct mailers, this will give you the chance to bring more information or discounts of the new product to recipients who scan the QR Code. Have the code direct to a mobilized landing page with more information and exclusive content for those who scan.

All of these tools can help you put together a fantastic multi-channel marketing campaign, by introducing the product in many different channels to many different audiences.

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Big Data- Dating or Committed?

When you’re dating, there is still this sense of the noncommittal. You can say “Yeah, we’re committed.” But, especially early on in a relationship, you can still have your eyes wandering about and making sure that you’re not missing the Next Big Thing.

Data can be like that. When you’re “dating” your Big Data, sure, you’re cozying on up to it. You’re checking it out. It’s new. It’s exciting. Who doesn’t like to look at new data and imagine all the possibilities?

But there comes a time when you have to decide…are you going to make a commitment to this data? Are you willing to make decisions and plan out long term strategies and goals using this data?

Think about that date with the man (or lady) who seemed a little off kilter. You weren’t sure why. You couldn’t put your finger right on it. But after a few dates (maybe more than a few) you just knew. You knew that this person wasn’t for you. Maybe you look at your data and it’s not making sense to you. You can’t quite figure it out. Or it’s just not clicking. And when that happens, you shouldn’t force it. Like any forced relationship, it will fall apart eventually. So if your Big Data isn’t grabbing you full in the face and bringing you to that “yes, I want to be with you” moment, then it’s likely time to take a step back.

It could be an “It’s me, not you,” scenario. Have another member of the team work with your data. Not every marketer is cut out to be a big data dater or mater. And to force such a situation can possibly wreak havoc on your marketing efforts.

Another team member may look at your big data differently. Different strokes for different folks, right? So if you’re not the right person, don’t assume it’s time to toss the big data out the window. Look for the marketer in your group that might be the right fit.  Because there’s somebody out there for everyone. And your team member might just click with the big data and know how to work with it.

Once you have the “right fit,” it’s imperative to shoot for long term commitment. If you only dabble and fool around with the big data, you won’t really see any long term benefits from it. And that’s the end goal – creating lasting strategies and basing decisions and goals off of big data analysis. This isn’t about a temporary high or a feel good marketing campaign that brings in a few sales here or there. By committing to the data and developing on-point marketing campaigns, goals and other business decisions, you will find that the cultivated relationship will bloom and business will boom.

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Inbound Marketing Sharing Is Caring

Sometimes, yes, your mother really did know best. Remember how she would tell you that you need to be generous with your things? Share your toys with your sibling? Share the playground with your friends?

Now, as an adult, your toys are likely expensive and you really aren’t required to share them. But sharing is still important, especially in the business world. Being a giver – a giver of information, a giver of resources, a giver of wit and personality – can get you quite far with your target market.

With inbound marketing, your website is your hub and you want your audience to not just visit, but stay and interact. To do this, you need to make sure that you are providing a wealth of information (without giving away the proverbial milk for free) and keeping your brand consistent. Hopefully, while you do this, you are displaying your ultra-cool company persona as well.

By sharing your expertise and know-how via blog posts, video clips and more, you will attract and encourage your audience to pass it along to their colleagues and acquaintances. In essence, you are inviting your audience to share your materials so you reach an even larger number of people over time.

But you can’t just throw things up on your website and assume they will be shared. You can’t just upload or post items and think that they will be received well and be the next viral email or Facebook post. Here are some tips to make sharing easy and encourage your audience to share your content over and over again:

  • Don’t assume that your viewers are already connected with you. Many will not be. So make sure that visible buttons and links are available on your website for the audience to hop on over to your various social media profiles and connect with you via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and so on. Having the graphic buttons on your HOME page with direct links to those profiles is a must. But don’t be shy. You can add them to every web page. You can also whip up a blog post discussing social media and inviting your audience to come and hook up with you via the social media platforms they are active on.
  • Make it easy. There are plenty of plug ins that will make it a simple action for the viewers to share your material. Ideally, every blog post will have the ability to quickly and easily be distributed across multiple social media platforms if the audience feels compelled to share.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s okay to ask your audience to share something that you feel especially important to pass along. You might not want to do this with every single thing you post on your site, as it may get old real quick with your audience. So do this selectively. But don’t be too shy about it either.
  • Make sure your items are share worthy. Not everything is. And that’s okay. But you want a majority of your material to be passed along. So try to be timely by tying material into current topics, a calendar item or hot button issue. Also, take a look at your headlines…are they eye-catching? You have a second or two to grab your audience’s attention. Make your headline work for you.
  • Talk to your audience. This is not monologue time. Think and post with a dialogue in mind, every single time. You are inviting interaction. You are nurturing a budding relationship. You want your audience to speak back to you, to pass along your amazing materials and spread the word about you. So don’t toot your own horn with every upload and offering. Ask for feedback. Ask for comments. Pose questions and start that conversation up.

Over time, you will come to see what types of items are passed along via social media platforms and what topics receive more interest and dialogue. As this happens, you should evolve your materials to fit that “need.” Remember, sharing is caring. So be a giver!

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5 Customer Service Tips For Your Business

A lot goes into customer service.  This is where we foster and nurture relationships, and really go the extra mile to ensure a long-lasting relationship with them.  To keep your long-term customer service efforts going strong, here are five tips to use!

Communicate – Strong communication skills are vital to a long lasting relationship. You can’t possibly know what is going on with your client if you don’t talk (or email). Make sure you stay in contact with your clients. Let them know you are thinking of them. Send them some resource materials. Mention that article you found online that you thought would be of interest. Whatever you do, stay in touch and let them know that you are available and interested. You want that virtual door to remain open so that your client can feel completely comfortable coming to you.

Show the love – Everyone likes to feel appreciated. How do you show your clients that they are truly appreciated? Do you provide them with special discounts? Do you send them notes or tokens of appreciation from time to time? It’s important to show that you care for your clients and are grateful for the business.

Be faithful – Yes, we are usually the ones who want our clients to be faithful, right? We don’t want them falling for the next best thing that just happens to be a few bucks cheaper, a little shinier…But the same goes for us. We must be faithful. Faithful to our marketing messages, with which we must stay consistent and reliable. And we must be faithful to our clients in providing them top notch service that they can depend on.

Be supportive – If you don’t provide support to your clients, you will see them leave. One by one. Because everyone wants support. No one likes to feel like they are not listened to, or that they have no one to lean on. Once the sale is made, now you must provide the support necessary to show that you really care and that yes, you are there for your clients. 110% there.

Have fun – Don’t forget to have fun with your clients. As you get to know them, understand their likes and dislikes, then make sure to incorporate that into your phone and email contact. Business doesn’t have to be stuffy and impersonal. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Your clients are people too. And they have senses of humor and interests. Use this to further develop your relationship and let them know that your business has personality too!

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3 Trends That Will Affect Your Email Marketing Strategy

Are you looking to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing program?

If so, there are always different things that we can look at — this might include content, delivery rates, Subject Line testing, and more. Along with those items, I wanted to share three trends that may help companies to experience more success in their email efforts.

P.S. These trends are not necessarily new. But even though people may have been aware of them for a little while, many of us have still not taken any action.

Mobile Devices and Reading

As the number of smartphone owners continues to rise, more and more people will become quite acquainted (and addicted) to having the ability to check their email at any time, wherever they may go.

This will mean that marketers will need to invest time and effort in doing the following:

  • Testing how their current emails appear on various mobile devices
  • Finding ways to tinker with their content, layout, and underlying HTML/CSS to ensure their email looks good across as many devices as possible

Of course, many will acknowledge that designing emails for typical desktop and laptop viewing was already a challenge, due to the fact that various email clients render the code differently!

However, there are various resources popping up that do provide some help on how you can design your emails for mobile devices.

Social Networks and Sharing

We all know the power of word-of-mouth marketing. We want our content to go viral. But do we make it easy for people to start sharing and spreading our messages?

When it comes to creating and designing emails, we often spend most of our time worrying about the content and layout. And while that is important, we certainly do not want to overlook adding features that might encourage people to share our content. This may include:

  • Adding a “Tell-a-Friend” link or button
  • Displaying icons and links for sharing specific articles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Dropping subtle hints that might remind someone to pass along an article to someone else

Personalization

Technology has made it easier than ever before for marketers to build & manage databases. It has also made it easier for people to create emails that will have variable content based on the data that you may have.

However, this is an option that is often ignored. Many marketers feel the pressure to simply “get the email out the door”. Thus, taking the time to plan and create multiple versions that will offer up unique content might seem like a tactic that could stall a project.

But it may be worth investing the time to try and test out some form of personalization in your next email. Whether it’s simply serving up an article that might appear to specific industry that is represented in your list, or customizing your wording based on the types of products & services that your subscribers may offer, you may be able to increase the effectiveness of your emails.

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Developing Relationships with Online-Only Customers

You may create opportunities for more business by developing relationships with customers that only order online. These relationships might enable your business to help the customer with their other needs.

Here are 5 ways that you may be able to build greater relationships with your online-only customers:

The Order Confirmation E-Mail
When someone places an order from your site, they certainly expect to see key details in the confirmation email. But don’t be afraid to put a personal touch on it. This may include placing your logo in the email, choosing a “friendly” font, and also phrasing the email in a way that makes people think of the humans that will be fulfilling the order.

Also, you should add links that make it easy for people to check on the status of their order, as well as to check out your company’s social media pages.

Send a Thank You Note/Gift
Alright, we know that you may not be able to do this for everyone. But from time-to-time, send a thank you note to people that have done business with you. By doing this separately from the confirmation email, you are reaching the customer multiple times but in slightly different formats. If you can send this “Thank You” in the form of a hand-written note, or accompanied with a small gift, you may make a lasting impression on that person.

And since they are already comfortable with being online, perhaps they’ll talk about your kind gesture on their social media pages.

Cross-Promote on the Web-to-Print Storefront
Certainly, you do not want to overly distract people while they are placing an order on your online storefront. However, you may reap benefits by cross-promoting other products and services in under-utilized real estate. This may entail putting a banner advertisement somewhere in your site that highlights something else that you offer.

Connect via Social Media
After someone places an order, take some time to search for their social media profiles. Chances are, you will find a great majority of people on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. You can use these channels to learn more about your customers, and perhaps identify ways that you can offer additional value to them in the future. This may start by simply saying “Thank You”. Or, you could comment on or “Like” content that they have posted. Also, if you add their profiles to your CRM solution, you will provide valuable data to your customer service team and marketing department in the future.

Invite them to Opt-In for Further Communications
Does your company offer a free eNewsletter? Do not hesitate to mention this to people when they are registering to use your online storefront. If they’ve enjoyed your company enough to order products from it, they may also be inclined to receive helpful information from you in the future.

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4 Ways to Promote Social Media with Direct Mail

There is no doubt that social networks are continuing to grow in popularity among all age groups. Recent statistics from Pew Internet & American Life Project indicated that 65% of online adults use social networking sites.  Marketers should continue to devote resources into using that channel to reach customers and prospects. However, this can also create an opportunity for your mail and print channels.

Direct mail and social networking efforts can both be improved when they are integrated together. Here are 5 ideas to make that integration happen:

Put the Social Media Badge on your Direct Mailer
Alright, this one is probably the easiest and most obvious of the bunch. If you’ve invested the time in creating and managing social media profiles for your company, you need to make sure that people know about them. Sure, some might find about them via links that you’ve added to your corporate website or via their own searches.

But to ensure that everyone knows, try adding the “badge” of social media icons to your direct mail pieces.

Simply seeing the “Facebook” or “Twitter” logo on your postcard may help your target audience become aware that your company is sharing information via those channels too.

Post Links to Your Landing Page on Social Media Sites
Let’s say that you’ve created a landing page that is filled with compelling information and a form that asks the perfect amount of questions. Will people only get to that page if they receive a direct mailer that contains a personalized URL?

Give this a try — in addition to the personalized landing pages, create versions that will be available to the general public. Then, post links to the general version of the landing page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites that your audience uses.

Throughout the campaign, measure how people are getting to your page. Is it via the PURL on the direct mailer? Or via Twitter or Facebook? These types of reports may help you to better invest your resources in future campaigns when it comes to segments of your audience.

Make the Mailer Interactive with a QR Code
Companies of all sizes and varieties are creating videos with their Flip cameras and smart phones and uploading them to YouTube. Those videos can certainly help to spread your company’s message and to increase your SEO efforts.

But online video can also be re-purposed to make a direct mail piece interactive.

Simply create a QR Code that points directly to the YouTube video or to a mobile-optimized site that provides a link to the video. Place the QR Code on the direct mailer with a call-to-action, and then watch how your growing mobile audience responds.

Enable Landing Page Visitors to Easily Share the Link with Others
This might be the one idea where you can truly start to see growth in the overall success of your campaigns. When someone visits your landing page, make it easy for them to share a link to your content on their social media profiles.

This could be via a simple “Tweet This” button for Twitter, a ”Like” button for Facebook, or some other sort of social media plug-in.

If your content is truly helpful and you make it easy for people to share it, your audience will grow with the help of others.

Drive People to Your Social Media Sites from the Thank You page
Let’s say that someone responds to the call-to-action on your direct mailer, types in their PURL, and fills out your response form. What do you then? Do you simply say Thank You?

Well, you could do that and then follow-up with them later. Or, you could try to further the engagement at that moment.

Try integrating your social media profiles into your Thank You page. This could mean simply putting icons that link to your social media pages. It could also mean embedding a YouTube video onto the page as well. Since the person has already shown interest in your company, perhaps they’d be more than willing to take a few minutes and learn a bit more about who you are and what you can do for them.

————

These are just a few ideas for integrating direct mail with social media. I hope that they help improve the success of your marketing and educational efforts.

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3 Ways to Utilize Data to Improve Direct Mail

One of the biggest ways you can reduce your costs (but also increase your ROI!) is to segment your mailing list. Once you do that, you can then use the following techniques to improve the success of your marketing efforts:

  • Present targeted text and graphics: While segmenting your mailing list, you should be able to identify key attributes of each group. Those attributes might be based on demographics or previous purchasing history. Use that data to tailor the creative and messaging on the direct mail piece specifically to each group. If you want someone to respond to your mailer, you must reach their heart. The right graphics and words may help you accomplish just that.
  • Tailor the call-to-action: While considering the attributes of each group in the mailing list, you must identify what triggers will appeal to your audience. Are they more apt to respond to messages about discounts and limited-time offers? Or, would they be more excited to respond to offers that will give them special treatment or status? Appeal to them properly in the call-to-action, and you should increase the response rate of the effort.
  • Provide multiple response mechanisms: Whether it’s a personalized URL, a QR Code, an SMS short-code, or a Facebook “Like” icon, offer a response mechanism that utilizes more recent technology and channels. However, you must be willing to accept the reality that not everyone on your mailing list is on Facebook, has a smartphone, or wants to see their name in the URL. Thus, increase your chances of success by providing multiple response mechanisms on the mailer.

 

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