Direct Mail Planning for Your 2020 Marketing Goals

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

As we start the new year, direct mail planning is essential. The strategies we used in 2019 need updates to be more effective in 2020. According to the DMA, direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. How do your response rates compare?

Looking at more than just response rates, how did your other metrics do this year? Starting with the worst performing ones, devise a different strategy to increase performance in 2020.

About 66% of mail is opened and reviewed. Direct mail not only cuts through the daily marketing clutter, but has been proven to drive digital activity and influence online purchasing decisions. Are your direct mail campaigns as effective as they can be? In the digital marketing arena email fatigue, ad blindness, and the increase in ad blocking, have combined to result in stagnating and sometimes declining performance. Direct mail should be combined with these types of channels in order to boost overall performance. Are you taking a multichannel approach for 2020?

Direct Mail-to-Multichannel Marketing

We live in an interconnected world, your customers expect you to communicate with them through the various channels they use. The companies that do this effectively see the best results. When you use campaigns that include both digital and direct mail, you, on average, receive 39% more attention than a digital-only campaign. Research shows messages delivered via direct mail can be powerfully motivating, with 92% of people driven to digital activity and 87% influenced to make an online purchase. Are you planning how to be more effective at this for 2020?

Personalization

Are you using the true power of direct mail? Personalization through variable printing is powerful. You can alter copy, offers, and even images, based on each person in your list. There are even ways to utilize more information, such as demographics, geographies, psychographics, and behavioristic data to go beyond a regular piece to a truly specialized one. When you are able to do this, you drive response much higher than before. What are you going to try in 2020?

Retargeting

Want to try something new for 2020? What about retargeted direct mail? What do we mean by that? You can retarget online activity by reaching out with direct mail. Some of the most common ways retargeting works are: for abandoned shopping carts; people who visited your website, but did not purchase; contacting lapsed customers; or creating new customers. So how do you get the mail addresses for online contacts? You can take a list of email addresses and append mail ones, or you can take a list of IP addresses that have visited your site and append mail addresses to it, or you can use mobile devise owner information to append mail addresses.

Mail Formats

For 2020, we need to think outside of the box and try new things. If all you have sent are letters or postcards, try a new format to gain more attention. Consider sending larger pieces, because they get higher response rates. If you are selling a high-priced item, consider using dimensional mail in order to drive more sales. These are more costly to send, but the ROI is much better.

Get creative and have some fun planning out your 2020 direct mail strategy! Are you ready to get started?

Why Include Direct Mail In Optichannel Marketing?

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing.

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study, “Multichannel Marketing Maximizing Program Engagement and ROI”. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing and the power of intentional, coordinated marketing efforts.

The goal of the study was to collect data to identify best practices and help marketers know how to reach specific audiences, and when to use particular tactics within their multichannel campaigns. The results indicate that direct mail needs to be a part of your optichannel marketing strategy.

Key findings:

  • When direct mail is personalized and tightly integrated into the channel mix and campaign technology: Average response rates improve significantly, with a 62% increase in those reporting good or very good response rates. The ROI of multichannel campaigns improves significantly, with an 80% increase in those reporting good or very good ROI.
  • Just over half of this study’s participants include direct mail in their multichannel campaigns, and 80% of them report that direct mail improves multichannel campaign performance.
  • The executive, or C-Suite, audience is the most sought after by study participants. Events and direct mail are the most effective channels to reach them.
  • While postcards are the most frequently used direct mail format, the dimensional format does the best job of representing the brand.
  • More channels produce higher response. Respondents using seven or more channels in their mix are 26% more likely to indicate their multichannel programs produce good or very good response.

Respondents use a multitude of channels that include:

  1. Email: 91% usage
  2. Social Media: 81% usage
  3. Events: 73% usage
  4. Display Ads/Remarketing: 60% usage
  5. Direct Mail: 56% usage
  6. Search/PPC: 51% usage
  7. Outbound Business Development/Sales Development: 47% usage
  8. Content Syndication: 35% usage
  9. Other: 5% usage

Most marketers are using between three and five channels on any given campaign, but results show that you should consider adding more channels. When marketers use seven or more channels, they report a 77% “very good” or “good” response rate. The report also found that marketers are not consistently using the most effective channels. The top three most effective channels are: events at 83%, integrated and personalized direct mail at 78%, and Search/PPC at 73%. What are you using?

Direct Mail Needs More Attention From Marketers

The report shows that marketers are most familiar with postcard and letter formats, and report that they use those formats most. Postcards are the least expensive direct mail format. Many marketers favor postcards because there is nothing to open: the message is easily visible. Dimensional mail formats are a close third in usage. This format includes pieces that are not flat, like the other types, but have an element of depth to them. A dimensional mail piece is often sent in boxes or tubes, and its very form invites opening it. These pieces evoke natural curiosity and tend to drive higher response rates. Have you tried dimensional mail?

According to study participants, direct mail clearly enhances multichannel campaign performance. In this study, 52% report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when direct mail is one of the channels. When direct mail is part of the channel mix, campaigns have slightly better response rates. Personalized direct mail generates significantly better response rates to multichannel campaigns. Are you using direct mail enough?

As you can see, adding direct mail to your optichannel marketing campaigns is significant. The more personalized and integrated it is, the better your response rate is going to be. Are you ready to get started with more personalized direct mail?

4 Mistakes Multichannel Marketers Make and Lose Customers

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Most businesses today understand the importance of multichannel marketing. They invest in SEO, PPC, social media, and even trade shows and conferences. However, if your hard-fought marketing budget is not able to increase your customer base or pool of prospects consistently, then you can be sure your funnel has developed a few holes in the wrong places.

Unfortunately, both B2B and B2C businesses are guilty of making sales-killing mistakes again and again; oftentimes, putting off customers without realizing it. These simple blunders could cost your business big-time, hurting growth opportunities and diminishing returns from existing customers.

Here are four pitfalls you should be wary of while implementing an integrated, omnichannel marketing strategy, so that you don’t lose any targeting opportunities. All of these tips apply to the technology, methods, and tactics that are currently used by entrepreneurs, companies, and marketers, cutting across industries and geographies.

Preferring Safe Over Sorry

Taking risks is a big part of running a business, and something that many entrepreneurs are used to. However, once they start experiencing success and growth, many begin to shy away from taking chances.

In the long run, many business owners admit that playing it safe was one of their biggest mistakes. In terms of marketing and sales, going the safe route can actually hurt your brand. Why? Because it is simply boring.

According to a study by Adobe, 54% of marketing experts know that they should be taking more risks, and an alarming 82% of companies believe that they need to reinvent their branding in order to succeed. Remember, your customers’ needs and mindsets are constantly changing. If you rely on the same tactics, the same advertisements, and the same marketing messages, people will eventually get bored and your results will diminish.

multichannel graphic
Credit: Adobe on SlideShare.com

Reassess the methods and tools you use for audience analysis, and take a look at how the demographics have shifted over the years. Compare your past results with your current numbers to see if there are any noticeable differences. It may be time to take some risks, try something new, and see what happens.

Relying on Imperfect Bots

Saving on customer support by passing on the majority of your customer service workload to an automated chatbot system sounds like a dream come true. If used correctly, these bots answer customer inquiries, resolve issues, and even make sales. This is why the AI-powered chatbot has exploded in recent years, with 15% of consumers reporting that they have used one to communicate with businesses over the past year, according to Drift’s 2018 “State of Chatbots” report. (Opens as a PDF)

However, just because this customer service channel may be working for some businesses, it does not mean that it is a one-size-fits-all solution. When creating a chatbot, the overarching goal is to solve the cognitive puzzle that fills in the gaps between a bot conversation and a human conversation. When a conversation is initiated, in any capacity, there is an exchange of data that sheds light on emotional engagement between the two parties. Take away the emotional exchange, and empathy is unachievable.

Programming an online bot to handle all sorts of customer queries and interpret exactly what someone is looking for does require a bit of technical knowledge and understanding, despite what off-the-shelf chatbot sellers will have you believe. A poorly programmed chatbot could easily result in lost revenue.

Just one bad or frustrating experience with a chatbot will likely push away 73% of customers forever. If a bot is simply not answering their question or simply offering irrelevant information, then it is doing your business far more harm than good.

multichannel chatbot
Credit: SherpaDesk.com

In order to determine whether or not your chatbots could use some help, take a look at some important metrics. Has your sales cycle lengthened? Are fewer leads moving down the buyer’s funnel? Are you facing an increase in helpdesk escalations, despite an improvement in response times? An effective sales bot should be boosting conversions — or at least micro-conversions — so if numbers are shrinking, that’s a definite red flag.

You can also try adding a short satisfaction survey at the end of each chatbot conversation to gather some customer feedback and help identify any weak points that are killing the customer experience.

Ignoring the Micro-Influencer

It seems like everyone and their grandmother is “leveraging” influencer marketing these days, trying to reach the promised (read, purported) 11-times ROI of other digital marketing methods. It is easy to get blinded by the numbers; especially in terms of “reach” and “engagement.” Just because an influencer has a huge following doesn’t necessarily mean that their promotion will help your business.

Micro-influencers (accounts with 100,000 followers or fewer) actually perform better, in terms of audience engagement and actual “influence” — purchase rates. In fact, these smaller accounts generate over six times more engagement than influencers with massive followings. Customers are also more likely to buy a product that is recommended by a micro-influencer than they are to purchase something recommended by a person they know. Additionally, the cost per lead and cost per acquisition is lower than paid ads and regular influencer marketing.

multichannel chart
Credit: Mavrck.com

If your brand has dabbled with big-name influencers in the past, it may be time to consider a partnership with a micro-influencer to reach more relevant audiences. Because these accounts have smaller followings, they tend to be niche-focused, meaning that their content is highly pertinent to their audience’s needs and interests.

Obsessing Over Any One Stage of the Sales Funnel

Marketers love to talk about the importance of the sales funnel and creating marketing plans designed to “nudge” customers through it. While the sales funnel is definitely a great blueprint to guide your strategies, getting caught up in any one phase could spell disaster for conversions.

Remember, every visitor, prospect, lead, or target must go through several steps, go back, forward, and run around in circles before they become a full-fledged customer. They must be introduced to your brand during the awareness stage, learn more about your business and products during the interaction phase, get interested and place their trust in you, and ultimately make and stick to a decision to buy from you.

However, many marketing teams tend to forget this trajectory and get caught up in either building brand awareness so potential customers grow bored, or spend too much time promoting sales jargon that people totally disengage, due to advertising fatigue. If your customers are unfamiliar with your business (thanks to a lack of top-of-the-funnel marketing), the pressure to “Buy Now” will be ineffective.

Keep in mind, it might take up to 13 interactions with a brand before a lead can even be classified as a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Focusing on any one section of the sales journey can narrow the funnel significantly, meaning that fewer people flow through.

Focus a good chunk of your efforts on educating and raising brand awareness. Once people start tuning in, give them more specific information about your content and everything you offer. As you gain serious interest, then it’s time to start talking about price points, deals, and how potential customers can take proper action.

Most importantly, you need to place emphasis on the transitions between stages. They need to be smooth and organic if you want your sales funnel to function properly.

Fix Your Strategy, Fix Your Sales

Selling is an art form that no one has truly perfected. There are so many ins and outs, little details, and psychological factors that play into it — making it a deeply complex and ever-evolving practice. Online sales add another layer of complication by removing that up-close and personal factor. However, once you’ve plugged the leaks in your sales funnel, you’ll see a larger number of customers coming in and coming back. Good luck!

Don’t Settle for Last-Touch Attribution in Marketing

Last month, I talked about factors marketers should consider for attribution rules. Here, I would like to get a little deeper and discuss last-touch attribtuion, as just talking about contributing factors won’t get you anywhere. As in all data-related subjects, the devil hides in the details.

Last month, I talked about factors marketers should consider for attribution rules. Here, I would like to get a little deeper and discuss last-touch attribution, as just talking about contributing factors won’t get you anywhere. As in all data-related subjects, the devil hides in the details. How to collect the data, what to consider, how to manipulate clean and dirty data, and in what order one must execute different steps.

I wonder sometimes why last-touch attribution is such a popular industry, with all of the flaws embedded in that methodology. Without even getting into geeky programming details, let’s think about the limitation of last-touch attribution, in a logical sense.

First off, by giving all of the credit for a conversion to “one” medium of the last touch, you would be ignoring all of the previous efforts done by your own company. If you are the lucky channel manager of the last touch, you wouldn’t mind that at all. But is that fair? C-level executives should not accept such flaws in the name of efficiency or programming convenience.

Why You Shouldn’t Settle for Last-Touch Attribution

Let’s use my own experience as a buyer to illustrate a typical customer journey in a multichannel marketing environment. Like any man who shaves daily, I’ve always felt that most quality brand blades were way overpriced. And I found it quite inconvenient that I had to visit a physical store to buy them, when I knew that I would need new blades at a regular interval. All of that changed when a few blade delivery services popped up in that lucrative men’s grooming market a few years ago.

I was one of the early adopters who signed on with one of the programs. But after cutting my face a few times with defective blades, I just canceled the delivery service, and went back to my favorite brand of my adult life, knowing that it would cost more. I considered that to be an affordable luxury.

Then one day, I saw an ad on Facebook, that my favorite brand now offers home delivery service, at a significantly lower price point in comparison to store purchases. Call that my first touch before conversion (to the newly offered service). But I didn’t sign up for it at that time, even though I clicked-through to the landing page of its website. I was probably on my mobile phone, and I also wanted to examine options regarding types of blades and delivery intervals further when I had more time.

That means, I visited the site multiple times before I committed to the subscription model. I remember using Google to get to the site at least once; and later, I hit on a bookmark with its URL a few more times. Let’s say that Touch No. 2 would be labeled as “Organic Search,” and touches No. 3 and No. 4 would be considered “Direct-to-Site.”

If you employ last-touch attribution, then Facebook and organic search would get zero credit for the transaction here. That type of false intel may lead to a budget cut for the wrong channel, for sure. But as a consumer, I “know” that it was the Facebook where I first learned about the new service from the brand.

Imagine if you, as a marketer, had a toggle switch between Last Touch and First Touch rules. When thousands, if not millions, of touch data points are aggregated in an attribution report, even a simple concept, such as “the most important acquisition channel,” will have a different look depending on the attribution rules. In one, Social Media may look like the most effective channel. In another, Organic Search may take the cake. The important lesson is that one should never settle for last-touch attribution, just because that is how it’s been done within the organization (or by the analytics vendors).

There Are a Few More Attribution Methods

The Last and First Touch rules are the easy ones — if you have access to all touch data on an individual level (because you’d have to line touchpoints up for each buyer, in sequence). As I briefly introduced last month, there are a few more methods to consider. Let’s dig a little deeper this time:

  • Last Touch: Although there could have been many touchpoints before conversion, this method would just give all of the credit to the last one. As flawed as it may be, there are some merits. For one, last touch would be the one that is directly attributable (i.e., connected) to the transaction (and the session that led to it) without any assumptions or rules. I suspect that the simplicity of it all is the main reason for its popularity.
  • First Touch: This would be useful for the study of acquisition sources. Timeline is an important consideration here, as effectiveness of channel or offer may decay at different rates, depending on product and channels in question. A consumer may have researched for a washing machine four months ago. And saw a newspaper insert about it three weeks ago. And then got an email about it a week ago. How far back can we go with this? A catalog that was mailed six months ago? Maybe, as we are dealing with a big-ticket item here. And are we sure that we have any digital touch data that go back that far? Let’s not forget that the word “Big Data” was coined to describe click-level data to begin with.
  • Double Credit: If a person was exposed to and engaged in multiple channels before the purchase, why not credit all involved channels? Overkill? Maybe. But we use this type of reporting method when dealing with store-level reports. There is no law that one customer can visit only one store. If one visits multiple stores, why not count that person multiple times for store-level reports? So, with the same reasoning, if a transaction is attributable to multiple channels, then count the transaction multiple times for the channel report. Each channel manager would be able to examine the effectiveness of her channel in an isolation mode (well, sort of).
  • Equal Credit: This would be the opposite of Double Credit. If there are multiple channels that are attributable to a transaction, create a discount factor for each channel. If one is exposed to four channels (identified via various tags and tracking mechanisms), each would get ¼ of the transaction credit. When such discounted numbers are aggregated (instead of transactions, as a whole number), there will be no double-counting in the end (i.e., the total would add up to a known number of transactions).
  • Proportional Credit: Some channel managers may think that even Equal Split is not a fair methodology. What if there were eight emails, two organic searches, three paid searches and a link on a Facebook page that was clicked once? Shouldn’t we give more weight to the email channel for multiple exposures? One simple way to compromise (I chose this word carefully) in a situation like this would be to create a factor based on the number of total touches for each channel, divided by the total number of touches before conversion.
  • Weighted Value: An organization may have time-tested — or politically prevailing — attribution percentages for each employed channel. I would not even argue why one would boldly put down 50 percent for direct marketing, or 35 percent for organic search. Like I said last month, it is best for analysts to stay away from politics. Or should we?
  • Modeled Weighted Value: Modeling is, of course, a mathematical way to derive factors and scores, considering multiple variables at once. It would assign a weighted factor to each channel based on empirical data, so one might argue that it is the most unbiased and neutral method. The only downside of the modeling is that it would require statistically trained analysts, and that spells extra cost for many organizations. In any case, if an organization is committed to it, there are multiple modeling methods (such as the Shapley Value Method, based on cooperative game theory — to name one) to assign proper weight to each channel.

I must point out that no one method would paint the whole picture. Choosing a “right” attribution method in an organization with vastly different interests among teams is more about “finding the least wrong answer” for all involved parties. And that may be more like Tony Soprano mediating turf disputes among his Capos than sheer mathematics spitting out answers. That means the logically sound answer may not void all of the arguments. When it comes to protecting one’s job, there won’t be enough “logical” answers as to why one must give credit for the sale to someone else.

While all of this has much to do with executive decisions, people who sit between an ample amount of data and decision-makers must consider all possible options. So, having multiple methods of attribution will help the situation. For one, it is definitely better than just following the Last Touch.

Start With Proper Data Collection

In any case, none of these attribution methods will mean anything, if we don’t have any decent data to play with. Touch data starts with those little pixels on web pages in the digital world. Pages must be carefully tagged, and if you want to find out “what worked,” then, well, you must put in tracking requests properly for all channels.

A simple example. In a UTM tag, we see Medium coded with values such as Paid Social. A good start. Then we go to Source, we would see entries like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. So far, so good. But the goal is to figure out how much one must spend on “paid” social media. Without differentiating (1) Company’s own social media page, (2) Paid ads on social media sites, and (3) Referrals by users on social media (on their Facebook Wall, for example), we won’t be able to figure out the value of “Paid Social.” That means, all of the differentiation must be done at the time of data collection.

And while at it, please keep the data consistent, too. I’ve seen at least 10 different ways to say Facebook, start with “fb.”

Further, let’s not stop at traditional digital tags, either. There are too many attribution projects that completely block out offline efforts, like direct mail. If we need to understand where the marketing dollars must go, why settle with one type of tracking mechanism? Any old marketer would know that there is a master mail file behind every direct mailing campaign. With all those pieces of PII in it, we can convert them into yet another type of touch data — easily.

Yes, collecting such touch data for general media won’t be easy; but that doesn’t mean that we keep the wall up between online and offline worlds indefinitely. Let’s start with all of the known contact lists, online or offline.

Attribution Should Be Done in Multiple Steps

Attribution is difficult enough when we try to assign credit to “1” transaction, when there could be multiple touchpoints before the conversion. Now let’s go one step further, and try to call a buyer a “Social Media” responder, when we “know” that she must have been exposed to the brand at least 20 times through multiple media channels including Facebook, Instagram, paid search through Google, organic search through some default search engine on a phone, a series of banner ads on various websites, campaign emails and even a postcard. Now imagine she purchased multiple times from the brand — each time as a result of a different series of inbound and outbound exposures. What is she really? Just a buyer from Facebook?

We often get requests to produce customer value — present and future — by each channel. To do that, we should be able to assign a person to a channel. But must we? Why not apply the attribution options for transaction to buyers, as I listed in this article?

That means we must think about attribution in steps. In terms of programming, it may not exactly be like that, but for us to determine the optimal way to assign channels to an individual, we need to think about it in steps.

Conclusion

Now, if you are just settling for last-touch attribution, you may save some headaches that come with all of these attribution methods. But I hope that I intrigued you enough that you won’t settle so easily.

SEOs: Forget Keywords, Focus on This One Thing to Zoom Up Search Rankings

Every time there’s a whiff of a Google Search update in the air, SEOs around the world lose their minds. Everything from rumors to conjecture to plain fiction flies around, till the dust settles and search rankings go back to “normal.”

Every time there’s a whiff of a Google Search update in the air, SEOs around the world lose their minds. Everything from rumors to conjecture to plain fiction flies around, till the dust settles and search rankings go back to “normal.”

This environment of confusion and Google’s famed reluctance to divulge the real details of its search updates means we see any number of “SEO authorities” publishing their “complete list” of definitive search ranking factors. Most lists are pretty interchangeable, with keywords and links dominating lists in various avatars: keyword in backlink, keyword in TLD, keyword in title tag, link anchors, number of links, authority of links and so on.

The problem is, everyone reads these same articles. And implements the same advice. You and your competitors.

So how would you break out from the cage of keyword and backlinks? By leveraging that one thing which is uniquely yours: your brand.

Your brand is what will help you beat the competition to the top spot on SERPs; everything else remaining constant. Rand Fishkin explained in detail Google’s site-quality-score-related patent in one of his Whiteboard Fridays, and implied that the algorithm might give additional prominence to brand names used in search queries. This could be taken to infer that the more often users search for a keyword along with a brand name, the higher the brand moves up in the rankings for that keyword.

Credit: MOZ

Let me explain.

If users search a lot for “Skechers” + “running shoes,” the brand “Skechers” gets an automatic rankings boost for the keyword “running shoes.” This means when people search for just “running shoes,” the likelihood of Skechers running shoes coming up in the results is a bit higher.

So you see, your brand does help your search rankings. How, then, do you boost your brand salience to nudge along those rankings? Here are some thoughts.,

Invest in Your Brand (and Get Partners Along for the Ride)

The one thing that business owners worry the least about could prove to be their online graveyard. With the plethora of options out there, it’s simply unforgivable to not even lay a foundation for your brand.

Starting with a memorable brand name and logo, work on creating a definitive identity for your brand. Brand colors, typography, imagery, all come together to give your brand that elusive “X” factor that is rewarded by search engines. That saves you from spending big bucks on something as frivolous as chasing the Google algorithm, as Fishkin explained.

Partnering with a complementary brand that talks to your same audience is one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching a large pool of potential customers. Whether you care about your SEO ranking or not, this is one tactic every business must leverage.

In essence, brand partnerships are about reaching out to your partner brand’s audience at zero cost, in exchange for offering visibility to your brand partner to your audience, bartering free gifts for your partners’ users and more.

This partnership between Starbucks and Spotify exemplifies how customer experience can be improved, while retaining individual brand identity of both partners.

Here’s another example from the marketing industry: Online visibility platform SEMrush (disclosure: author’s employer) and inbound marketing software HubSpot frequently partner to do webinars for the benefit of their shared audience, which is digital marketers.

Credit: HubSpot

Don’t Miss Trade Events

Do you operate in the B2B or SaaS space? Then trade events are a must-do for you, no matter what. From getting visibility and growing brand awareness in your niche to meeting potential buyers face-to-face, a tradeshow (which could be a conference, a seminar, or a meetup) is a no-brainer to promote your brand.

There are many ways you can milk a tradeshow for SEO traction:

  • Tradeshow website linking back to your website with a URL linked to your brand name. Even if there’s no backlink, a brand mention from high-authority sites helps your own brand visibility and ranking.
  • Blog posts on your own site promoting your participation in the tradeshow.
  • Speaking opportunities at the event that mention your brand and your business or workshops that show potential customers how to use your products.
  • Using tradeshow hashtags on social media to promote your business and brand during the event.

Go Multichannel (Both Online and Offline)

The offline and online worlds are increasingly blending together. While even the most traditional retailers and businesses have now gone online, we’re also seeing digital businesses dip their feet into the physical world. Amazon and Apple are leading the charge with their brick-and-mortar stores. For lesser retailers (or even Facebook), the concept of pop-up retail is also catching up fast.

Credit: Go—PopUp

Integrated marketing involving digital and physical channels has a lot of advantages in branding:

  • More touchpoints for engaging the customer
  • Better brand awareness and recall
  • Broader, but consistent, brand messaging
  • Contextual and relevant audience targeting
  • Personalization in terms of channel and viewing/interaction preferences
  • More (and accurate) data on the customer

No surprise, then, that e-commerce platforms like Shopify are offering e-tailers the option to sell natively on multichannel digital platforms, making it easy to build visibility from the ground-up and convert visitors once they arrive via digital sources, like search or referrals. This visibility and brand recall cycles back to organic search results via branded searches.

Make Influencers Your Ambassadors

With every second person on social media claiming to be an “influencer,” the up-and-coming niche of influencer marketing is already getting muddied. However, the reason why we see so many so-called influencers out there is simply because brands can’t get enough of this absolutely punchy marketing tactic. According to research, a whopping 94% of marketers believe influencer marketing has a positive effect on their brand awareness and preference.

Credit: Social Media Today

Connecting with the right social influencer can be a total game-changer for your brand. Take Bach Flower RESCUE as an example. Their line of homeopathic remedies was a perfect match for a number of natural and healthy living bloggers. So, RESCUE gave these influencers some of their products to try and asked them to share their thoughts. They also included a “buy one, get one free” code to share on their posts to encourage people to give the product a try.


Credit: Real Clever

The results of their campaign? An impressive 258% increase in Instagram followers, 6,000 clicks to claim the BOGO special, and they were even a top trending topic on Twitter.

When your brand receives social signals, backlinks, endorsements and mentions from celebrities and niche thought leaders who command high search volume themselves, the authority rubs off on your brand and domain, boosting your rankings.

Crush Local SEO With Citations and Brand Mentions

Everything that you can do to get your brand out there potentially contributes indirectly to your rankings. As you work on strengthening your local SEO via citations, directories and business listings, the fact that your brand name is going up on multiple niche websites, probably getting backlinks from many of them, and also drawing reviews (engagement) from users, helps boost your visibility slowly but surely in the SERPs.

In fact, mentions and citations might be almost as powerful as links. The Google Panda patent refers to citations as “implied links” —

An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource, but is not an express link to the target resource.

Using Google’s own platforms and tools is an obvious win from a brand awareness, as well as SEO, perspective. So, waste no time in creating your own Google My Business Page and fill out every last detail about your business, adding images and videos to push visibility.

It’s also important to keep updating your business pages to keep your listings fresh and relevant when Googlebot comes crawling again.

Who’s Afraid of Keywords?

Even though it’s ingrained into digital marketers’ psyche that content and links are the two pillars of SEO, we need to realize that there’s more to this game than just pulling longer and longer lists of keywords to rank for. Sometimes the most “human” of marketing strategies is what it takes to get the bots and algorithms to take notice and deliver results. Onward and upward, brave brand custodians!

5 Multichannel Video Marketing Tactics to Engage Holiday Shoppers

Utilizing a multi-pronged holiday video marketing approach enables marketers to take their seasonal performance to the next level by increasing visibility through social media platforms and search, while also boosting the brand’s and its products’ popularity among shoppers during the critical holiday season.

It’s the time of year again for marketers to kick their holiday marketing efforts into high gear. As consumer buying behaviors and media consumption continue to change, it’s crucial for marketers to understand that shoppers increasingly use a variety of channels to find inspiration and make purchases, and therefore marketers must align their messaging across channels to effectively engage customers at optimal touchpoints along their purchase journey. Once they grasp the basics of these channels, marketers can start to utilize more advanced strategies as part of a holistic approach during this critical time of the year.

Among the channels consumers seek out when considering purchases, social videos have become a staple of product research and consideration. Social media marketing puts products right where consumers spend their time, and consumers expect product videos from brands, with many shoppers searching for a product video before visiting a store. Marketers often use social video ads to capture demand throughout the year, but during the holidays, they should be more proactive. By leveraging a multi-channel approach with targeting precision to be more assertive, they can take greater control in driving demand and expanding their results.

Retail marketers should consider the following tactics for developing a multi-channel holiday marketing strategy centered on social video ads to better align marketing with the customer journey.

Utilize Video Across a Variety of Social Platforms

There are many places marketers can reach their target audience, so investing holiday budgets by leveraging video ads across multiple channels generates more opportunities to create impressions and engage with shoppers.

After establishing which social channels target audiences frequent most, marketers can better determine what type of content and video ads to plan and post to offer a seamless experience between preferred platforms and capitalize on different stages of the holiday shopping experience.

Fostering Interest on Pinterest

Pinterest remains a popular destination for consumers to visually interact with brands and discover new products. With many users flocking to the platform to create lists for the holiday season and aid in their gift purchasing decisions, it’s vital for marketers to get their products and brand on the platform immediately.

The ability to showcase branded videos on the platform received a boost just in time for the holidays with the rollout of wide-format promoted video ads, driving efficient costs-per-view and lifts in brand awareness. With 67 percent of Pinterest video viewers saying videos on Pinterest inspire them to take action, there’s ample opportunity for marketers to capture interest for their products heading into the holidays.

Pinterest users’ inspiration period can start up to three months prior to an actual purchase; therefore, it’s important for marketers to reach customers early with video ads to cultivate their interest and move users toward conversion. Marketers looking to land on shoppers’ holiday radars should utilize Pinterest as a visual catalog. For example, a toy retailer could leverage video ads on the platform to reveal the hottest toys of 2018 or a clothing retailer might showcase their winter apparel line as customers look for inspiration for their holiday party attire.

Once they’ve captured interest through Pinterest video ads, marketers need to consider engaging customers by retargeting and remarketing to push their customer even further than the purchase funnel.

Tap Into the Enduring Influence of YouTube

YouTube continues to be a driving influence when it comes to making purchases, especially around the holidays, with mobile watch time for product review videos on YouTube growing each year.

As part of marketers’ holiday strategies, they should leverage YouTube TrueView followed by bumper ads to target prospective audiences and new customers. The best part is marketers only get charged when a user chooses to watch the full 30 second ad – a win, win!

Utilizing companion banners to drive click through rates (CTRs), bumper ads exist as a reminder to customers to purchase specific products. These products should be served via remarketing lists and similar audiences to maximize efficiency and reduce cost per impressions. Additionally, with Google’s mobile-first focus, these ads will serve in a format that is easily viewable for customers on-the-go.

Marketers should also consider running a brand lift study alongside these video ads to measure impact on metrics like brand awareness, ad recall and purchase intent. By doing so, marketers can tweak their strategy within the first week of results to better connect with audiences and more effectively drive results throughout the holiday season.

Leverage Facebook and Instagram for Merchandising, Not Just Branding

Aside from being among the most popular social networks, Instagram and Facebook both command a greater interaction frequency than YouTube. Undoubtedly, video ads on Facebook and Instagram serve the purpose of effectively stimulating a marketer’s target audience on highly actionable and engaged channels. On Facebook alone, views on branded or sponsored video content increased 258% in 2017, with the highest numbers generated around the holiday season as shoppers sought inspiration for gift ideas. Facebook Carousel ads are a favorite among retail marketers because they encourage consumers to interact with their ads and allow greater opportunity to showcase products through images and videos with the potential for several different calls-to-action.

Instagram also recently expanded its ad offerings to more marketers with its Collection ad units, enabling online retailers to add the Shopping Bag icon within their Stories for the holiday season. The images and videos used within the carousel display can link to the brand’s site or product pages to drive e-commerce purchases.

Targeting users that have shown an interest or interacted with holiday topics across Facebook properties should be a key consideration in marketers’ holiday strategies. Marketers can utilize dynamic product ad offerings as an effective way to get in front of new customers with specific product sets or SKUs; for example, targeting users interested in a holiday sweater, gift wrap or children’s toys, or leveraging parental or relationship targeting to hone in on those most likely to convert.

Complement Video Strategies With Highly Relevant Keywords

Driving the desired targeted traffic that converts requires a varied strategy designed for a marketer’s specific brand and product set. To capitalize on the demand social videos generate across channels, marketers should create highly-relevant holiday-specific keywords as consumers who watched a video and are searching for the brand or products by name are likely deeper within the sales funnel. Marketers should develop and expand coverage on relevant keywords that reinforce messaging from their videos to include search terms like “gift ideas,” “best,” “kids,” and “holiday deal,” along with brand and product-specific terms.

Likewise, leveraging remarketing lists for search ads with proper messaging helps ensure marketers can reach customers in their exact moment of need to foster engagement and move them through the purchase funnel with greater precision to drive better results.

Utilizing a video-centric, multi-pronged holiday marketing approach will better enable marketers to take their seasonal performance to the next level by increasing visibility through Pinterest, YouTube, social media platforms and search, while also boosting the brand’s and its products’ popularity among shoppers during the critical holiday season.

The One About the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE.

Join us at #IMV15 !We’ve dipped our toes into June, and lots of exciting things happening already. Election things, hockey things, Starbucks’s new cold brew vanilla coffee, lots of equally important and life-defining events. And since a good marketing coordinator never misses out on the opportunity to subtly self-promote (aka blatantly announce when she’s about to do so) I thought I’d add one more notable event to the June pool.

Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, the brainchild of my people here at Target Marketing, goes live on June 23. Please, take it from the girl who’s been adding every speaker, session, sponsor and giveaway to the website: This year’s show is inSANE. Every time I think we can’t possibly have another huge name or more impressive content, I get a notification in my inbox that it’s time to update the site again. With eight live sessions, 10 on-demand sessions, more than 20 speakers (and counting!), this is the biggest and most comprehensive IMV to date.

Wanna join the party? Click here

The up-to-the-minute agenda is here, and it all looks incredible, but for today’s post I thought I’d just give a shoutout to a few sessions that might be of particular interest to the copy/creative-focused marketer.


Messages That Move: How Video Should Play In Your Marketing Mix and Content Strategy

Starts: 12:00 pm | Ends: 12:40 pm

Video killed the radio star, and now it’s back to dominate the internet. But what makes a video a successful cog in the marketing machine? Learn it all in this session, featuring Jon Mowat, the owner of Hurricane Media — the UK-based video production and content marketing agency taking the world by storm (ha HA!!!!!!).

Jon will address points like:

  • How to adopt a “video” mindset
  • Trends in how marketing videos are being watched
  • Types of video marketers are using, and how to make them
  • How to make use of video across channels

Get ready for your closeup.


Online Marketing Strategies That Work

Starts: 12:55 pm | Ends: 1:30 pm

Self-explanatory title? You bet it is. You do marketing? Check. Online marketing? Check. Want it to work?

I’m guessing … check?

For this session, we’ve got Anne Ahola Ward, CEO of CircleClick and O’Reilly Media Author, to share how to make the sale with Image-centric content marketing, simple and mobile-centric messages, diverse social media usage and retargeting.


The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company

Starts: 1:35 pm | Ends: 2:10 pm

You’ve probably heard of Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at Content Marketing Institute. He’s kind of a big deal. We’re thrilled to have him at IMV this year, presenting a session titled after a Lamb Chop song.

We all know how key good content marketing is in the current landscape. Successful, solid content marketing pieces can continue to grab attention, inform and inspire long after their premiere. Feel like your assets might be stuck in a spin cycle, losing value and getting those nasty little sweater pills with each re-use? Carve out a half hour and join Robert in this session. He’ll share a new approach to building a content marketing media asset that never goes stale.


AR for Marketers: How to Implement Augmented Reality into Your Marketing

Starts: 2:15 pm | Ends: 2:50 pm

Okay, even though I pretty much know what Augmented Reality is at this point, to me it still absolutely sounds like it belongs in the Doctor Who universe. Like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because of Augmented Reality, no??

If you’re like me, or even better, if you’re not like me and actually have a handle on the reality of Augmented Reality, how it can pump up your print and direct mail marketing, this will be an engaging and worthwhile session. Cindy Walas, Principal of Walas Younger Ltd., is leading the charge to discuss the latest and greatest in the AR world, and all the “how-to’s” you need to know to create and launch a killer AR program.

I’m still banking on alien involvement.


There you have it, just four of the eighteen sessions that will be available to you at the show on June 23. Plus, for the first time, the virtual conference will feature several on-demand sessions spotlighting marketing issues and know-how in several specific industries like travel, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

The opening and closing keynotes feature superstars Jay Baer (President of Convince & Convert) and Dr. Jerry Wind (The Wharton School,) and word on the street is attendees to their sessions can win a copy of one of their best sellers.

And so friends, here is where I leave you The Link, and bid you adieu.

THE LINK. CLICK THE LINK. YOU DO LIKE THINGS THAT HELP YOUR MARKETING, RIGHT? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Hope I’ll see you on June 23 — say hi to me in the networking lounge or info booth!

Adieu!

5 Tips for Effective Multichannel Campaigns

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. Multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more than one channel. A good multichannel campaign could be the key to your marketing success. Customers these days rarely communicate with any brand through one channel alone. These tips will help you craft your multichannel marketing campaign to not only include the latest digital channels, but also direct mail.

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more than one channel. A good multichannel campaign could be the key to your marketing success. Customers these days rarely communicate with any brand through one channel alone. These tips will help you craft your multichannel marketing campaign to not only include the latest digital channels, but also direct mail.

5 Tips for effective multichannel campaigns:

  1. Start with your goal: Some common goals are to promote a product or service, increase sales, generate inquires or leads, brand awareness, build relationships, etc. Have your goal or goals clearly in mind so you can plan every stage of your campaign to best meet them. Laser focus on your goals will give you better results.
  2. Who is your audience: Before you start building your campaign, know who you’re talking to. Use sources such as previous campaigns, customer feedback, demographic information, and website or social media metrics to build a clear image of your audience. Make use of customer profiles to focus on your ideal customer, their wants and needs, and the kind of message that appeals to them. The more targeted the message the better your response will be.
  3. Choose channels carefully: A multichannel campaign doesn’t mean using every possible channel. Rather, figure out which combination of channels is likely to resonate best with your target audience. Use what you know about their past interactions with you, to help you make that decision. Pick the channels that will give you the most bang for your buck. Remember that the newest channels that have a lot of buzz, may not be the best channels to reach your audience.
  4. Consistent messaging: A good multichannel campaign gives your audience a consistent experience across channels. The value you offer them and your brand voice should remain consistent across channels. After all, your customers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of what your message means to them. Make their transition between channels (such as scanning a QR code to go from direct mail to online, or clicking your email link) seamless.
  5. Vary delivery: Consistency is important in a multichannel marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean saying the message the exact same way in each medium. Each channel has its own best method of communication. The essence of your message will be the same, but the way you convey it in a 140 character tweet will differ greatly from how you say it on your direct mail piece.

Planning a multichannel campaign takes time and effort. By breaking the process down into clear steps and always keeping your goals and your audience in mind, you can plan a campaign that will put your message in front of the right people, at the right time and in the right way. One reason that direct mail is so effective in a multichannel campaign, is that it facilitates the cross over from print to online. Direct mail can drive online engagement and still have all of the tangible benefits. The fact that it can be highly targeted, kept for long periods of time, used over and over, and then easily shared with others is a real bonus. Get started on your multichannel marketing campaign today.

Creepy Marketing and Social Media: How to Scare Away Your Customers for Good

Halloween is around the corner, so for this week’s post I wanted to turn to a topic that is most definitely apropos: creepy marketing. No, we’re not talking about marketing for Halloween. What’s creepy marketing, you might ask? Creepy marketing is what happens when personalization goes horribly wrong—when good intentions morph into, well, disturbing communication that has the opposite of its intended effect and, instead of helping a brand push a product or service, sends recipients running for the hills.

Halloween is around the corner, so for this week’s post I wanted to turn to a topic that is most definitely apropos: creepy marketing. No, we’re not talking about marketing for Halloween.

What’s creepy marketing, you might ask? Creepy marketing is what happens when personalization goes horribly wrong—when good intentions morph into, well, disturbing communication that has the opposite of its intended effect and, instead of helping a brand push a product or service, sends recipients running for the hills. With the rise of social media and its nearly universal adoption by marketers, it’s high time that marketers learn what not to do when they engage with their customers and prospects.

Fact is, marketers use personalization because it works extremely well. How well? Generally, the more you personalize a message the better it will perform. In a landmark study by Banta Corp. on multichannel marketing, it was reported that incorporating three or four personalized elements in an email boosted its clickthrough rate by 63 percent, and seven or more elements lifted it by an amazing 318 percent!

Wow! With stats like these, you can see why marketers of all stripes have been jumping on the personalization bandwagon like it’s going out of style. During the past few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of personalized content across the marketing spectrum—direct mail, email, SMS, landing pages … all spiced up by including personalized content or messaging. Out of all of this personalized communication, some has been good, some has been great … and some has been downright creepy.

Last year, I put out a post titled “Creepy Marketing—When Database Marketing Goes Awry,” in which I defined creepy marketing as “if it looks creepy and feels creepy, then it probably is creepy and you shouldn’t do it.” I then go on to point out that an actual example of creepy marketing includes writing out a customer’s name along with other personally identifiable information anywhere visible to the general public. I also include displaying a customer’s age, marital status or medical condition in marketing messaging.

Turning to social media, avoiding creepy marketing takes on a new urgency in the medium where stakes have been raised considerably. The reason why is two-fold: First, because social media involve networks of individuals with public exposure, it’s way easier to creep people out. Second, if you do offend someone on social media, then good luck handling the ensuing social media disaster. Offended parties now have the ability to let everyone on their social networks know right away just how unhappy they are—and they usually don’t hesitate to do so.

So how do you avoid creeping people out in social media? On a strategic level, a thoughtful post by Laura Horton that appeared on VentureBeat.com offers five pointers:

1. Be helpful but not pushy;

2. Be a thought leader, if you can;

3. Be careful what you say, even if you know a lot;

4. Reach out if you see active interest in your brand; and

5. Stay on top of social marketing best practices and trends.

I think this list is a good place to start. More tactically speaking, in her blog Kristen Lamb gives us five examples of social media marketing tactics that not only creep individuals out, but probably don’t work very well, either. Her list includes automatically adding people to your firm’s Facebook fan list, and sending out annoying automated promotional messages on Twitter to random people who might have tweeted about topics you think are relevant to whatever product you’re trying to push. Yuck.

Again, I think this list is a good starting point. Though of course, the possibilities for abuse by marketers are probably endless. Have you ever been creeped out by a company on social media? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please let me know in your comments.

Happy Halloween and happy marketing!

—Rio