12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now (Part 2)

Direct marketing formulas applied to video sell products, generate leads and raise money for non-profits. The leap to online video is exploding, and if you keep up with what’s hot today, you know it’s video. But too often, the video effort doesn’t bring in responders because of the lack of structure and call-to-actions

Direct marketing formulas applied to video sell products, generate leads and raise money for non-profits. The leap to online video is exploding, and if you keep up with what’s hot today, you know it’s video. But too often, the video effort doesn’t bring in responders because of the lack of structure and call-to-actions that a disciplined direct marketer includes. That’s why, if you’re a direct marketer, video can be profitable for you because you’re not afraid to sell, you know how to test, and you track the analytics.

12 Reasons to Integrate DM and Online Video (Part 2 in a 2-Part Series)
In our last blog post, we outlined the first of six reasons to fuse direct marketing techniques with the reach of online video marketing. We continue today with the final six reasons on the list:

7. Video can go viral. But don’t count on it. Your chances of a video going viral are about like that of getting struck by lightening. A recent example of a successful new product launch for what we as direct marketers would consider a classic DM continuity program is the Dollar Shave Club. You’ve probably heard about it. Thousands of orders, small start-up cost, everything you admire if you’re a marketer. But consider this: a few years ago it was impossible to make money selling a $1 a month (plus S&H) continuity program. The marketing cost was too high. The Deep Dive: With effective online marketing, marketing costs are slashed and you can make money selling a commodity product via a continuity program using a low price point.

8. Use a short video on your website to convince someone to opt-in to the rest of the story in another, more in-depth video delivered immediately. You can set up an intriguing premise, reveal a little of the story, and importantly, you bring people into your sales funnel when you capture an email address. The Deep Dive: if selling your product doesn’t typically happen on impulse, and you must first build trust, you can tell your story over short, strategically sequenced video clips, delivered via email autoresponders over time.

9. You can bring a complicated story to life. Imagine trying to describe the inner workings of your artery and heart using video footage! Suddenly, what was difficult to show in print can be brought to life in a video and the viewer is engaged. Using the opt-in strategy as identified in #8, over a few doses of video, you engage the viewer more so that they salivate at the idea of getting your product. This is a good strategy for selling products that require more explanation. The Deep Dive: Video can shortcut the visualization-and engagement-of a complex concept that words on a page can’t accomplish quickly enough before the reader loses interest. The willing suspension of disbelief can magically transform your viewer to a place unachievable with still photos and words.

10. Video can describe products that appear in a catalog. Catalog-browsing apps on mobile devices are now commonplace, but soon that could be replaced with short videos that can be watched on a tablet. By 2014, it’s predicted that more Internet content will be viewed on mobile devices than desktop/laptops. The Deep Dive: Watch the mobile space and video closely. Convergence of technologies will enable consumers to be entertained while using a mobile device, giving you opportunity to prompt intrigue and build a relationship.

11. Non-profits can save an enormous amount of fundraising cost by moving online and creating compelling video for constituents. Interview people you’ve touched. State your case. Engage. You bring your non-profit to life online and at a fraction of the cost of other media. The Deep Dive: If you’re a non-profit, get your advocates and supporters on video and let them tell your story for you. It’s more credible, and it builds community.

12. Integrate social media with online video and encourage comments, recommendations, and shares. It’s easy to add the feature for people to post their comments and share your video with Facebook plug-ins. Its costs you virtually nothing and is the most powerful way to get your word out. The Deep Dive: you can no longer afford a silo approach to marketing. You must integrate outbound, inbound, social media, search, text, video, desktop, mobile, and so on.

In a future blog, we’re going to illustrate how to convert a successful direct mail letter that has been mailed to millions of consumers, could be converted into a direct marketing video. When that blog appears, you’ll see how using direct response copywriting techniques in video script writing can work. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse together the power of direct marketing with online video. Today we begin with the first 6 reasons.

1. Now is the early stage for the blending of DM disciplines and online video. While DM and video have been around for years, many marketers have yet to blend the methodologies together. The Deep Dive: Early adopters have been using video with streaming words and voice-over, interviews and product demonstrations. But the next stage of successful video uses proven direct marketing copywriting techniques and call-to-action in video script writing, and uses DM design techniques that will move production values to a higher level.

2. Online video use and views are exploding.

  • In just one recent month, 181 million U.S. Internet users watched 43.5 billion videos averaging over 22 hours per viewer.
  • Over 84% of internet users watched an online video.
  • Americans watched over 5.6 billion online video ads. In fact, online video ads are 38% more memorable than TV ads.

The Deep Dive: According to comScore.com, a global source of digital market intelligence, online video viewing was up 43% from Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011 This video is a summary of comScore’s findings about the explosive increases in online video viewing during the past year. (By the way, we’ll show you, in an upcoming post, how you can drastically improve upon their really distracting audio quality for about $30.)

If you’re not incorporating video in your marketing strategy, you’re out-of-date.

3. Consumers’ attention span is shorter than ever, and it’s not likely to increase. People will give you a few seconds to watch a video. Engage them quickly, and they’ll stick with you long enough to get your message across and prompt enough curiosity to check you out more. The Deep Dive: Does this strategy sound a lot like using a compelling teaser on an outer envelope, or a strong subject line in an email? Of course it does! So, set up your video strategy properly by getting the viewer to opt-in to watch more of your future videos.

4. Websites with video are perceived as having higher importance. When you add videos, you attract more in-linking domains than with plain text. The Deep Dive: Video inclusion on your social media or blog posts has been shown to triple inbound linking. The following chart is from a well-respected seomoz.org blog post that goes more deeply into this topic. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1.

5. An inbound marketing strategy may be a challenge for a traditional direct marketer to accept, but video has the power to draw prospective customers to you. The Deep Dive: Video on blogs and posted YouTube can be shared on social media and will draw traffic to you. This is a far more powerful-and less costly-marketing strategy than pushing your unsolicited message using outbound marketing strategies.

6. Online video analytics are amazing. Post your video on YouTube and over time you’ll see not only how many times your video was viewed, but second-by-second you’ll see retention levels and discover at what point you lost your viewer. You’ll see demographic information. You’ll be smarter so much faster that your head will spin. The Deep Dive: If you’re a traditional direct marketer, you surely love numbers. With video, you get a lot of data to crunch that will make you smarter and your selling more effective.

In our next post, we’ll reveal six more reasons why you should fuse direct marketing and video marketing now. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.

There’s an Ad for That

As the expression “there’s an app for that” reaches its cultural saturation point, advertisers need to gain a clear understanding of the differences between mobile web and in-app advertising, as well as the importance of context when setting performance expectations.

As the expression “there’s an app for that” reaches its cultural saturation point, advertisers need to gain a clear understanding of the differences between mobile web and in-app advertising, as well as the importance of context when setting performance expectations.

According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending in messaging, display, video and search is expected for the first time to top $1 billion in the U.S. this year, showing the highly fractured nature of the mobile ad market. Research from several mobile ad network providers shows the difference in performance between approaches and resulting user behaviors, with expanding ads performing extremely poorly in terms of clickthroughs versus simple animated banner or video ads. Adding to the challenge of choosing the right approach and setting expectations of performance is the sheer number of ad formats and networks available.

Consider Context
Don’t just think about how and when users are exposed to ads on their phones, but also where they are and what they’re doing at the time. This establishes a complete picture of the context for the ad. Some formats don’t make sense in a broad variety of contexts, therefore a critical consideration would be to ensure that whatever network you’re using offers this type of contextual placement in addition to other targeting options.

There are real differences when considering advertising in apps vs. mobile websites. While casual web surfing on a mobile or tablet device would support the use of display ads to reach an audience, in-app behavior is distinctly different from surfing. This means that even if in-app advertising is available, you need to carefully consider its effectiveness during real-world app usage and the overall impression it would give users encountering it in a particular context.

Consider the following: Do mobile users really need or want a banner ad consuming valuable screen space in the apps they frequent most? It’s this total picture of context that should be the driving consideration for design, placement and expectations of performance. Even if ads aren’t currently available in that location, the ability to leverage background application processing or emerging geo-fencing options allows marketers to take advantage of what would normally be a missed messaging opportunity.

Let’s consider in-ad gaming for mobile, specifically ads during active gameplay. Even at a load screen, would you really expect an ad to drive a clickthrough? Would it do anything but generate an ad impression? As a gamer, I’m not likely to click if I’m stealing a few minutes during the day for a casual gaming session to relax before resuming my day. However, seeing that ad still works for branding purposes as past data suggests.

Mobile is Actually Local
The reality is that the mobile device is inherently local, which needs to factor prominently into planning a mobile campaign. While mobile users are unlikely to be surfing and clicking on banners while walking within the proximity of a nearby coffee shop, you can use technologies such as geo-fencing and background application processing on mobile devices to offer them $1 off an oh-so-satisfying latte. This example makes a strong case for carefully considering branding versus direct response versus promotional programs. It definitely reinforces the importance of context.

Where this gets even more interesting for advertisers is in the ability to exchange data and share interaction points for local, geo-targeted ad or promotional models. If a loyalty or transaction app is already installed on a consumer’s phone, and it enables proximity notifications through access to the device’s location, a retailer can let five other retailers within walking distance leverage this trusted channel to provide truly localized messaging opportunities at a premium.

They can even support a performance-based model, which could accurately determine if the consumer subsequently walked into the establishment. This is all no more complex than any self-service ad model in place today, with legal and privacy concerns addressed via proper disclosures and notifications during installation and/or activation of the app.

Display advertising on mobile obviously isn’t going away. The sooner you realize that it’s not the web as you know it today, stop trying to force current ad models into current mobile platforms, and that context is key, the sooner you’ll be able to generate not only results you can brag about, but returns clients can truly appreciate.

Mobile’s Role in the In-Store Shopping Experience Growing, Survey Finds

I came across a very interesting report this week from White Horse, a digital marketing agency based in Portland, Ore. The Future of In-Aisle Mobile: A Framework for Consumer-Centered Innovation found that 84 percent of smartphone users have engaged in some type of in-store mobile activity related to shopping.

I came across a very interesting report this week from White Horse, a digital marketing agency based in Portland, Ore. The Future of In-Aisle Mobile: A Framework for Consumer-Centered Innovation found that 84 percent of smartphone users have engaged in some type of in-store mobile activity related to shopping. I think this is a pretty high percentage.

The report examines how consumers use smartphones to supplement in-store shopping while also offering tips on how retailers can take advantage of this behavior. For the study, White Horse conducted 13 videotaped shop-along trips to retailers including Anne Taylor LOFT, Best Buy, Sephora and Bed Bath & Beyond. It then conducted a survey of 390 U.S.-based smartphone users to validate the field research.

The 16 percent of respondents who haven’t used their smartphone for shopping tasks in-store cited very consistent reasons for not doing so: most haven’t found a utility that allows them to shop and gather information in-aisle easily, and many want a speedy shopping experience, according to the report.

Electronics stores are where shoppers are most likely to use their smartphone to aid their purchase decision (79 percent), followed by discount retailers (67.5 percent), department stores (48.6 percent) and supermarkets (42.6 percent).

The report also found that while price-checking is the most common activity for mobile shoppers (72 percent of respondents report doing so), it’s by no means the dominant activity. Searches for product reviews and recommendations (67 percent), and seeking a retailer’s store information (61.1 percent) followed closely behind.

What do you think of these findings? Surprised by them at all? Please leave a comment below.

Which is Better for Mobile Shopping, Tablets or Smartphones?

Are you wondering whether it’s worth providing your online retail offering on tablets, particularly the iPad? Are you also facing the challenge of how to get your mobile strategy on track? Before you decide which course to follow, here’s some data to consider:

Are you wondering whether it’s worth providing your online retail offering on tablets, particularly the iPad? Are you also facing the challenge of how to get your mobile strategy on track? Before you decide which course to follow, here’s some data to consider:

Although only a small percentage of users, tablets are poised to more than double their U.S. installed base penetration in 2011 to 7.6 percent of the population, or 24 million devices, according to eMarketer. Two out of five consumers considering purchasing an iPad cited shopping on the device as a reason for their interest, according to research from Vision Critical in November of last year. This isn’t surprising since online shopping is a visual experience and tablets are content-consumption devices.

Early results show that targeting tablet owners rather than smartphone users may be the wise choice, according to the e-tailing group. One in 10 tablet owners used their device to browse or buy online every day versus 6 percent of smartphone owners. The research also shows that once owners start buying via a tablet, they return. Nearly 25 percent of tablet owners made at least six purchases during the past six months, compared to 15 percent of smartphone users who did the same.

Furthermore, tablet owners tend to be gadget-buying early adopters. iPad owners tend to be young, educated and affluent, an ideal target market, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Forrester Research.

Due to the tablet’s larger screen and better user functionality for browsing, consumers preferred the tablet shopping experience (88 percent thought it was satisfactory or very satisfactory) to that of a smartphone (73 percent thought it was satisfactory or very satisfactory).

While smartphones are great for shopping in-store or gathering information on the go, they’re not user friendly for extended research activities. In part, this is attributable to the fact that less than 5 percent of retailers have a mobile site, according to October 2010 research from Brand Anywhere and Luth Research.

Here are three tips to consider when planning your company’s mobile strategy:

  1. Take advantage of the tablet’s visual presentation (but avoid using Flash).
  2. Check how your content is formatted and renders on different tablets.
  3. Make sure that shoppers can easily purchase once they’ve seen enough.

Now is a good time to start testing tablets to enhance your customers’ shopping experience, especially if your products are highly visual in nature or need to be seen in the environment in which they’ll be used. Bear in mind that tablets and smartphones fulfill different shopping needs for consumers, therefore you shouldn’t choose one option over the other.

Influencing Consumer Decisions at the “Last Meter”

Forget about the last mile, it’s all about the last meter. Where the rubber meets the road. The final chance to whisper “choose me.” As marketers, you’re pros at top-of-funnel techniques like building brand awareness and generating interest and desire, which (fingers crossed) will convert into sales. But the one place where you have the least control is at the moment of decision, where consumers decide what to buy and what to bypass.

Forget about the last mile, it’s all about the last meter. Where the rubber meets the road. The final chance to whisper “choose me.” As marketers, you’re pros at top-of-funnel techniques like building brand awareness and generating interest and desire, which (fingers crossed) will convert into sales. But the one place where you have the least control is at the moment of decision, where consumers decide what to buy and what to bypass.

Are location-based apps the answer?
The latest entries to the last meter game are location-based applications. Every company, from the corner dry cleaner to the nationwide chain, has been jumping on the bandwagon. This is the godsend you’ve been hoping for — or is it?

Forrester Research provided a reality check earlier this year when it concluded that only 4 percent of U.S. online adults have used location-based apps, and only 1 percent use them regularly. Expectedly, the believers countered with stats about the unstoppable momentum of smartphone adoption and argued that the current state is not an accurate indicator of future potential. We do know who’s embracing these apps today — men ranging from 19 to 34 years old. But even if that is your target audience, there are no guarantees. And if it’s not, the road to adoption may be even longer.

What’s the ROI for your customers?
To start, you have to consider your customers’ return on investment. This universal formula applies to anything that requires a shift in behavior, and location-based apps are no exception. Let’s start with the “I.” What are you asking them to invest? In the case of apps, it’s the effort of seeking out, downloading and using the application, hopefully over and over again.

And in return, what’s the “R” that they’re getting back for their investment of time? That is, what exactly is it that you’re making better, cheaper and faster to justify the additional effort? Until recently, the sole focus had been on the gaming aspect, where virtual rewards such as mayorships and badges are earned for check-ins. But there’s a collective realization that it will take more for these apps to break out beyond being a mere novelty.

Services like Shopkick, Foursquare and Loopt are offering deals and savings, or other real-world rewards. But will their appeal extend beyond those hardcore deal seekers who will do whatever it takes to get a bargain? For most consumers, all this stuff feels like work. For them, the discounts or whatever rewards you’re doling out need to justify the effort. And if you’re not willing to give the farm away and bump up the “R” of consumer return, are there other ways to reduce the required “I” of investment?

What else should marketers be thinking about?
 Beyond apps, the conversation should embrace other innovations that are already hitting stores near you. One excellent example is Stop & Shop/Giant Food’s hand-held Scan It! device. It lets customers scan items as they’re placed into their shopping carts for faster checkout, while also proactively sending alerts of special savings throughout the store. Purchases made using Scan It! account for 13 percent of the grocer’s sales.

A bit further out are other innovations, such as radio frequency identification (RFID). Unfortunately, RFID has been battered and bruised by privacy concerns and sky-high implementation costs, but it’s still standing. Wal-Mart, one of the early adopters of RFID-tagged pallets for logistics purposes, recently announced it will implement RFID tags for individual products. Further out yet, but already in trial, are intelligent digital displays like those from NEC Corp. that use facial recognition to recommend products based on your estimated gender and age.

Maybe these won’t be the ultimate solutions. One thing they have in common is they require little to no investment on the consumer’s part; they work with the way consumers shop today and at the same time deliver additional value.

There are a lot of options out there to bridge the last meter. Just don’t forget the two critical questions: One, how hard are you making your customers work? And two, what’s in it for them?

Should the iPad be in Your Channel Mix?

The iPad launch has been manna to procrastinators everywhere, between all those endearing toddler/house pet and iPad videos, the countless tweets and retweets, and a guaranteed handful of daily news articles and blog posts (add this one to the count). Beyond a source for personal amusement, the iPad has turned out to be a surprising gift to the marketing community. I’ll get to that later, but let’s start with a dose of reality.

Or, you might already be in it and not even know it yet …

The iPad launch has been manna to procrastinators everywhere, between all those endearing toddler/house pet and iPad videos, the countless tweets and retweets, and a guaranteed handful of daily news articles and blog posts (add this one to the count). Beyond a source for personal amusement, the iPad has turned out to be a surprising gift to the marketing community. I’ll get to that later, but let’s start with a dose of reality.

It’s imperfect. It’s no secret, the iPad is flawed. It’s expensive, it’s awkward to hold, it’s heavy and its most compelling feature — streaming videos — limps along or not at all when you try to use it out of Wi-Fi range. And let’s not even get started on the lack of Flash support. But despite all its faults, it’s a device worth paying attention to.

Does the iPad change everything? At the recent “All Things D” conference, Steve Jobs described the iPad as a revolutionary device that’s nothing short of “magical,” while Steve Ballmer countered at the same event that the device is “just another PC.” In a way, Ballmer’s right. The iPad is “just another PC” in that it, too, is a container — a vehicle for content delivery. But how that content experience comes to life is raising the bar and making us rethink existing paradigms.

Blurring the lines. Until now, the idea of “lean-forward” versus “lean-back” media consumption has been a useful shorthand to delineate the active, more engaged nature of internet usage versus the laid-back, take-it-in mode of watching TV. However, this framework doesn’t neatly apply to the iPad. Steve Jobs alludes to this key difference when he describes a more “direct and intimate” nature of media consumption, and that with the iPad “it’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away.”

Spectacipation. You heard it here first. What the iPad offers is an experience that resides between that of spectator and participant. The perfect example is a well executed magazine on the iPad. Among the early crop of iPad-enabled publications, Wired stands out. First of all, the issue loads in its entirety locally, and is accessible even when you’re not online. You can be lazily flipping through the latest issue much as you would the print version. As you’re reading an article, you can effortlessly listen to a related audio clip or view a video montage with a tap of your finger.

It’s not about the apps.
If you’re a marketer, it’s not iPad apps you should be thinking about; it’s the iPad-enabled magazines and newspapers. With the iPad, and unlike the iPhone, you have a way to fast-track your presence through these publishers. In addition to Wired, other iPad-enabled monthly titles include Men’s Health, Popular Science, Vanity Fair and Time, with many more publishers planning their debut over the next few months.

If you advertise in print, chances are — whether you know it or not — you’re heading to the iPad. Take advantage of the opportunity; instead of merely embedding your 15-second ad, think about the “ideal” experience. Make it entertaining, make it fun, make it unexpected. In short, make it worth the reader’s effort to shift from spectator to participatory mode.

Should the iPad be in your channel mix? Likely, it already is.

Easy Fixes for Your Website Mistakes, Part 2

Last week in this space, I discussed the first five web design mistakes highlighted in an Oct. 13 Target Marketing-sponsored presentation titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the event’s sponsor. I moderated.

Last week in this space, I discussed the first five web design mistakes highlighted in an Oct. 13 Target Marketing-sponsored presentation titled 10 Mistakes Your Website Is Making (And How to Fix Them). Speakers included Amy Schade, a director at the Nielsen Norman Group, and Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, which was also the event’s sponsor. I moderated.

(To tune in to a replay of the presentation, register here.)

This week, I’ll discuss the last five mistakes, which were presented by both Amy and Matt.

6. Blocking your users’ progress. Don’t make people go through extra steps to get the information they need from your site, Schade said. Instead, make your users feel like they’re flowing through your site and making progress toward reaching their end goals.

7. Saying way too much or way too little. Before offering any details about a product, offer a synopsis of the product you’re selling, Schade said. Users will not scroll through pages and pages of information about a product unless they know exactly what the product is. Also, be specific when categorizing your products.

A good way to do both of these things, according to Schade, is to use a concept called layering, where you offer different layers of product information on your site.

At the top of a page, for instance, you could show a picture of an item, along with some identifying characteristics. If users are interested, they can scroll down the page and see a highlights tab that summarizes more detailed information about it. Then if they’re still interested, they can click through and read more detailed information. This is a nice balance of presenting the right amount of information in a very usable way, Schade said.

8. Not taking a walk in your users shoes. This applies to users web usability and technical perspectives, Poepsel said. Make sure the experiences they have in terms of website availability, performance and load time are excellent. If not, users will be frustrated, your brand will be at risk and you’ll incur higher operational costs, among other potential problems.

9. Not checking your work twice. Validate how your website looks, displays and performs not just in the most popular browsers — such as Internet Explorer 7.0 — but in all the possible browsers consumers may use when visiting your site, Poepsel said.

10. Not preparing for success. Make sure your website can perform well in both your lowest traffic times and your highest, Poepsel said. You don’t want to have the performance of your website flounder after sending out an email blast about a special promotion. Despite the influx of people going to your website at the same time, it should perform just as well as it normally does.