How To: Digital Marketing

digital marketing
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In today’s How To, I’m sharing perspectives about digital marketing – which includes all electronic efforts to promote your products. I know I’ve done this before, but digital marketing evolves quickly meaning you’re constantly adapting your strategies and tactics to succeed. Take a look at the infographic provided by Sydacast to see some trends for digital marketing in 2014.

Some examples of digital marketing

  • Social media
  • Corporate website/ blog
  • Electronic kiosks
  • Mobile marketing
  • Apps

Basically, any electronic location where brands can promote to their target market is part of digital marketing.

How to: digital marketing success

Content marketing

Content marketing is all the rage in the digital marketing space now. Of course, many of us ALWAYS focused on creating high quality content on a consistent basis and Google is now giving us our rewards for refusing to play backlinking, keyword stuffing, and otherwise gaming the search system. That’s because we knew high quality (valuable) content converts and, what is traffic if it doesn’t convert?

For those of you new to the content marketing game, check out my new content marketing ebook for some pointers.

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update was the final nail in the coffin for questionable SEO and new rumors that Google is reducing (or eliminating) the impact of backlinks creates the necessity for better content marketing strategies. Storytelling, video, and other content tools for driving emotional engagement are critically important for success in digital marketing.

Analytics

Big data is a phenomenon unique to digital marketing, since traditional marketing suffered a distinct LACK of data. But, are we better off for having so MUCH data? Most experts agree: No!.

Instead of helping, big data ensures we waste valuable time trying to make sense (and better decisions) from all that mess — BTW, take a look at my Four-Factor Model for generating actionable insights from big data. Despite problems, having data is better than having no data, so analytics are a big part of what’s changing in digital marketing.

Mobile

We’ve said this for years, but mobile is now a BIG part of digital marketing success. Not only is responsive design a must for websites — destroying the model of having 2 different websites — but mobile apps are both more ubiquitous and resonate better with users. Think UX (user experience) and gamefication in your app development.

Advertising

Social media was never free — hiring folks (or agencies) with the right skills was always expensive. But, now platforms are maturing and need revenue streams ie. ads. Facebook ads will likely be de rigour in the near future if brands want to show up. BTW, we’ve always suspected Adwords impacted Google search results and my own experience suggests a strong correlation between Adwords spending and search results.

As a result, I’ve added Adwords as a service offering and several team members are well on their way toward Adwords certification to supplement our existing Analytics certification.

Social retail

The line between online and offline retail was never clear and is blurring even further. Smart stores offer coupons through mobile devices (and mobile apps) so customers can simply swipe their device rather than bother with clipping coupons.

Retail stores now feature kiosk allowing customers to order online from the store, QR codes to discover more about the products they’re seeing, and apps like Shopkick to incentivize customers in the store. What’s needed is better WIFI within the store and enhanced apps to allow customers to consult friends for opinions prior to making purchases.

Need Help?

Whether you need a complete content marketing strategy, some help with Adwords, or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

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Customer Insights Create Competitive Advantage

Online commerce is changing — FAST! A customer insightsstrategy where tech weenies used to dominate is quickly changing as the importance of online and mobile sales increase dramatically. IS YOUR BRAND READY FOR THESE CHANGES ????

Not only are more customers shopping using their computers tablets, and smartphones, but digital influence dwarfs the voice of brands’ paid advertising. Frankly, I’m appalled that offline advertising still makes up the lion’s share of a brand’s marketing budget.

So, what’s driving this change? Well, a number of things. Let’s take a look, courtesy of IBM’s graphic.

Social Media

Word of mouth is nothing new. We’ve always known the power of social influence on consumer purchase intentions is strong. Social media just provides a platform for social influence to spread like wildfire.

But, the importance of social media for marketing doesn’t end with encouraging amplification and positive sentiment about your brand. Possibly the most important aspect of social media is the customer insights provided by all that data about customers and their lifestyles, wants and needs, problems and triumphs, how they express themselves, what they like and hate, etc. This unstructured data is a gold mine of customer insights that’s hard to collect using standard market research tools.

Yet most firms ignore this rich vein because they lack the tools and skill to effectively manage unstructured data. Others ignore customer insights from social media because they’re uncomfortable with the touchy-feely nature of these sociological customer insights. I remember teaching some folks for a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company which shall remain nameless, but their initials are P and G. These entry level engineers managing consumer brands thought it was crazy to use this type of customer insight to guide management decisions. They needed hard numbers, not some squishy “emotional” stuff.

But, social media offers much more than just customer insights in terms of “emotional” stuff. Using tools designed to handle big data, such as IBM’s Big Insights, can convert unstructured data into structured customer insights used for predicting things like demand in real time. Customer insights from social media include segmentation by classifying consumers into behavioral groups and developing strategies for optimizing marketing ROI from each group. Social media provides additional customer insights such as geographic clusters to help guide location strategies, consumer hot buttons to guide promotional strategies and many other customer insights that give you a competitive advantage with your target market.

Cross-channel customer insights

We no longer live in a world where customers choose a single channel for their purchases. As you can see in the graphic, consumers combine in-store search with online purchase almost as much as they use the internet to help guide in-store purchases. These shoppers spend 400-500% more than more traditional shoppers — making them a fantastic opportunity for retailers.

 

So, what do these customer insights suggest? Why not make it easy for in-store shoppers to use their smartphones and increase sales?

For instance, ShopKick enables retailers to track customers through the store, offering incentives for purchase and offering information to stimulate buying. Even without the high cost of this technology, Macy’s effectively uses QR codes to promote purchase. Shoppers can access information throughout the store using QR codes to provide more information about products, suggest options for accessorizing or complementary items, or just giving shoppers insights from clothing designers.

And, consumers are perfectly comfortable using their smartphones to make purchases. So, why not reduce frustration and shorten lines (especially problematic during the Christmas season) by letting customers use their phones to buy products in your store. I recognize retailers fear theft, but look at the opportunity cost of NOT doing it. Grocery stores are ahead of the curve on this one. My Giant store offers scanners that allow customers to scan and bag items as they shop through the store. When they get to the register, customers simply upload the scanner data and swipe their credit cards. It’s only a short step from this to replacing the scanner and register with smartphone apps. As a bonus for consumers, smartphone grocery apps already provide coupons that could automatically reduce purchase price. Everyone wins.

But, don’t forget the wave of data available when consumers use these digital devices. Analyzed effectively, these customer insights further enhance the retailers marketing strategy.

Need help?

Wanna learn more. I’ve got a lot more insights on social media analytics from my week with IBM.  So, be sure to bookmark this site so you can come back tomorrow. Or, better, sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media analytics and marketing strategy. If I’ve whetted your appetite to use more analytics to optimize your marketing, let me show you how Hausman and Associates can help with our unique virtual agency model that provides cutting-edge social media at a reasonable cost.

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Integrate Your Social Media with Offline Advertising

social media marketing successIntegrating Online and Offline Marketing

Cross listing

Set up your social media with memorable vanity links so when you share them offline, customers can find you easily.  This way, when you put your Facebook symbol in your ad, customers can find you easily on Facebook (or Twitter or Foursquare, etc).  Getting a vanity URL on Facebook is easy.  You request a vanity URL and, unless someone is already using that name, it’s yours.  It’s a good idea to claim your vanity URL even if you’re not ready to launch your Facebook page yet — so someone else doesn’t claim it first.

Now you can put your Facebook logo (plus Twitter, Google+, etc) on everything from advertising to stationary to business cards.  With so many smart phones, it’s also a good idea to use QR codes — those funny boxes composed of black and white elements.  These connect your print ads to everything from your website, to your social media, coupons, to specific information.  Now, you can even get QR codes in the shape of your logo — like a Coke bottle — to further connect your branding with your digital presence.

Make it easy

You can also put Facebook symbols around the store and encourage folks to fan you.  However, you’ll probably need to give customers a reason.  One local business we visited gave customers a coupon to use on their next visit if they promised to LIKE the company on Facebook.  Now, you can argue that not everyone who gets a coupon will go to Facebook and LIKE you.  But, the law of reciprocity suggests many of them will.  It’s a tit-for-tat situation where I give you something and you feel obligated to give me something in return.

Besides, even if they don’t join your social media platform, they’ll likely visit your store again and may become a regular customer.

Use QR codes

QR codes are very versatile and   There are lots of places to get QR codes, like here.

You can put QR codes around your store and encourage folks to scan them with their smartphones to get coupons or other special offers.  It appeals to the geek in us and draws folks into your store.  You can also put these in advertising to make it easier for folks to Like your Fanpage.

Foursquare

Foursquare, Google Places and others use what’s called location-based marketing.  You encourage folks to check in to your Foursquare site from your store — they have to be within a short distance of your store for this to work.  When they check in you might offer a coupon or discount or you can encourage frequent visits by offering specials to the “mayor” of your store — the person who checks in the most.

These mobile technologies have huge opportunities for businesses because the person is already in your store and they give you the opportunity to modify their behavior.  Larger businesses might also use Shopkick, which is a more expensive technology that allows you to communicate with customers in the store based on which part of the store they’re in. For instance, a customer visiting the children’s department might receive a discount coupon for toys (encouraging them to visit that department).  Visitors might also get coupons/ discounts for behaviors that translate into sales, such as visiting a particular department, the in-store restaurant, or the fitting room.

Yelp and other review sites

Don’t forget to encourage customers to comment on Yelp and other review sites.  And, don’t neglect filling out your Yelp profile including your menu and service hours.

For many small businesses, this is the most cost-effective way to create an online presence.  But, don’t forget to integrate your social media with offline advertising.  Include those great Yelp comments in your print advertising or brochures your create for your business.

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How To Create a Marketing Plan: Part 2.

My prior post covered the first half on How to Create A Marketing Plan.  Today, I’m covering the second half of how to create a marketing plan.  Specifically, we’ll be covering using findings from the situation analysis to develop a marketing strategy that helps you reach your objectives.  The last part of this series will show you how to develop an implementation plan and elements to measure to see your progress in reaching your goals.

Strategic Plan

Linking findings from the situation analysis to your strategic plan is critical.  Developing plans without these insights or with incomplete or inaccurate insights means you’re missing some opportunities to make money and may even fail because what you’re doing aren’t the right things.  Opportunities and threats identified in your situation analysis can be used to guide development of new marketing strategies while weaknesses uncovered in the situation analysis should be fixed to the extent possible in your strategic plan.

A strategic plan only contains elements of the 4P’s — or internal elements including Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (or Distribution).  You can get a better idea of these elements from my earlier post.

Product Strategies

Issues involved in managing existing products dictate some strategies likely to be more successful.  Among these issues are (we’ll cover each of these topics in future posts):

  • Product life cycle
  • Product class
  • Product form
  • Product positioning

A major focus of managing new products is the issue of branding.  A brand is like a hologram — not real in a tangible sense but clearly “visible” to consumers.  Another way of looking at branding is as a personality for the product.  Companies can about their brand because it is this personality, more than any other aspect of the product, that controls buying decisions.  Its just like with friends, you have many with different personalities, but all have something about their personality you find attractive.  When a brand appears to be “for me” I want the product and when brands are “not for me” I avoid them.

Brand image (or brand personality) comes from advertising and other promotional efforts, from where you see the brand sold and who you see using the product, and from what friends say about the product.  In a world dominated by social media, increasingly it is these non-commercial communications that control brand image.

Promotion Strategies

Promotions include advertising, public relations, direct marketing (email and mail marketing, plus newsletters), and sales promotions (those hats, pens, calendars … plus coupons, rebates, sponsorships, and other elements).

The internet is becoming increasingly crowded with promotions because of their reach and low cost.  However many firms fail to recognize promotions in online environments, especially social spaces, are fundamentally different than traditional media because they require customer engagement.

An important element of promotional strategies is the integration required to maximize effectiveness.  Hence, rather than choosing a single medium for your message, a firm must use multiple outlets in a coordinated fashion.  You might use cause marketing as a basic strategy to promote your business, get fans and followers on board to support the cause by retweeting your message, liking your fanpage, or sharing your message with their social network.  You reinforce the message using traditional advertising and evoke PR to tell everyone about the program and what a socially responsible company you are.  You might offer premiums like t-shirts to consumers who promote your cause.  Everything would be integrated using the same message, similar graphics, and the overall strategy.

Price Strategy

Many business people think consumers want the cheapest product available, but this is often wrong.  What consumers really want is value — which is the difference between price and benefit.  Price also tells us lots about the product, especially when its difficult to judge the quality objectively.  For instance, we assume a diamond ring that is more expensive is a better quality diamond.  We figure the same about a physician or hospital — that’s part of the healthcare system that’s broken when we choose expensive physicians since we don’t pay for them ourselves.

Cialdini tells a story in his book on influence where a retailers couldn’t sell her jewelry so she DOUBLED the price and sold out — at the cheaper price it was considered junk.

Place Strategy

Distribution is an important aspect of marketing as much of the cost of many products is tied up in distributing it to the ultimate consumer.  Place also has meaning for consumers as store atmospherics provide clues about the products sold at the store.  Issues such as stock-outs, merchandising, store layout … also must be considered in developing your place strategy.

One of the most interesting opportunities in place marketing right now comes from integration of social spaces and retail spaces.  Foursquare and Facebook places are among those linking these two domains.  QR tags and Shopkick are changing the way retailers and other service business can merge social media, geolocation, and marketing into one powerful tool.

I hope you find this valuable.  Next post we’ll finish covering How To develop a Marketing Plan.  Meanwhile, join Marketing That Works, our training site, where we’ll be posting live case studies, step by step demonstrations of social media and marketing tools, and introducing detailed marketing tactics to help you make the most of your business.  Sign up for our newsletters and our next webinar on Market Samuri at http://www.MarketingThatWorks.TV.

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