A Map or a Matrix? Identity Management Is More Complex By the Day

A newly published white paper on how advertisers and brands can recognize unique customers across marketing platforms underscores just how tough this important job is for data-driven marketers.

As technologists and policymakers weigh in themselves on the data universe – often without understanding the full ramifications of what they do (or worse, knowing so but proceeding anyway) – data flows on the Internet and on mobile platforms are being dammed, diverted, denuded, and divided.

In my opinion, these developments are not decidedly good for advertising – which relies on such data to deliver relevance in messaging, as well as attribution and measurement. There is a troubling anti-competition mood in the air. It needs to be reckoned with.

Consider these recent developments:

  • Last week, the European Court of Justice rendered a decision that overturned “Privacy Shield” – the safe harbor program that upward of 5,000 companies rely upon to move data securely between the European Union and the United States. Perhaps we can blame U.S. government surveillance practices made known by Edward Snowden, but the impact will undermine hugely practical, beneficial, and benign uses of data – including for such laudable aims as identity management, and associated advertising and marketing uses.
  • Apple announced it will mandate an “opt-in” for mobile identification data used for advertising and marketing beginning with iOS 14. Apple may report this is about privacy, but it is also a business decision to keep Apple user data from other large digital companies. How can effective cross-app advertising survive (and be measured) when opt-in rates are tiny? What about the long-tail and diversity of content that such advertising finances?
  • Google’s announcement that it plans to cease third-party cookies – as Safari and Mozilla have already done – in two years’ time (six months and ticking) is another erosion on data monetization used for advertising. At least Google is making a full-on attempt to work with industry stakeholders (Privacy Sandbox) to replace cookies with something else yet to be formulated. All the same, ad tech is getting nervous.
  • California’s Attorney General – in promulgating regulation in conjunction with the enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (in itself an upset of a uniform national market for data flows, and an undermining of interstate commerce) – came forth with a new obligation that is absent from the law, but asked for by privacy advocates: Companies will be required to honor a browser’s global default signals for data collection used for advertising, potentially interfering with a consumer’s own choice in the matter. It’s the Do Not Track debate all over again, with a decision by fiat.

These external realities for identity are only part of the complexity. Mind you, I haven’t even explored here the volume, variety, and velocity of data that make data collection, integration, analysis, and application by advertisers both vital and difficult to do. As consumers engage with brands on a seemingly ever-widening number of media channels and data platforms, there’s nothing simple about it. No wonder Scott Brinker’s Mar Tech artwork is becoming more and more an exercise in pointillism.

Searching for a Post-Cookie Blueprint

So it is in this flurry (or fury) of policy developments that the Winterberry Group issued its most recent paper, “Identity Outlook 2020: The Evolution of Identity in a Privacy-First, Post-Cookie World.”

Its authors take a more positive view of recent trends – reflecting perhaps a resolve that the private sector will seize the moment:

“We believe that regulation and cookie deprecation are a positive for the future health and next stage of growth for the advertising and marketing industry as they are appropriate catalysts for change in an increasingly privacy-aware consumer environment,” write authors Bruce Biegel, Charles Ping, and Michael Harrison, all of whom are with the Winterberry Group.

The researchers report five emerging identity management processes, each with its own regulatory risk. Brands may pursue any one or combination of these methodologies:

  • “A proprietary ID based on authenticated first-party data where the brand or media owner has established a unique ID for use on their owned properties and for matching with partners either directly or through privacy safe environments (e.g.: Facebook, Google, Amazon).
  • “A common ID based on a first-party data match to a PII- [personally identifiable information] based reference data set in order to enable scale across media providers while maintaining high levels of accuracy.
  • “A common ID based on a first-party data match to a third-party, PII-based reference data set in order to enable scale across media providers while maintaining high levels of accuracy; leverages a deterministic approach, with probabilistic matching to increase reach.
  • “A second-party data environment based on clean environments with anonymous ID linking to allow privacy safe data partnerships to be created.
  • “A household ID based on IP address and geographic match.”

The authors offer a chart that highlights some of the regulatory risks with each approach.

“As a result of the diversity of requirements across the three ecosystems (personalization, programmatic and ATV [advanced television]) the conclusion that Winterberry Group draws from the market is that multiple identity solutions will be required and continue to evolve in parallel. To achieve the goals of consumer engagement and customer acquisition marketers will seek to apply a blend of approaches based on the availability of privacy-compliant identifiers and the suitability of the approach for specific channels and touchpoints.”

A blend of approaches? Looks like I’ll need a navigator as well as the map. As one of the six key takeaways, the report authors write:

“Talent gaps, not tech gaps: One of the issues holding the market back is the lack of focus in the brand/agency model that is dedicated to understanding the variety of privacy-compliant identity options. We expect that the increased market complexity in identity will require Chief Data Officers to expand their roles and place themselves at the center of efforts to reduce the media silos that separate paid, earned and owned use cases. The development of talent that overlaps marketing/advertising strategy, data/data science and data privacy will be more critical in the post-cookie, privacy-regulated market than ever before.”

There’s much more in the research to explore than one blog post – so do your data prowess a favor and download the full report here.

And let’s keep the competition concerns open and continuing. There’s more at stake here than simply a broken customer identity or the receipt of an irrelevant ad.

8 Ways to Keep the Rust Off of Brand Trust

We in the marketing and public relations business talk a lot about brand trust. Do we walk it? With trust, simply put, you have a chance to succeed with prospects and customers. Without it, well, you do the math.

We in the marketing and public relations business talk a lot about brand trust. Do we walk it?

With trust, simply put, you have a chance to succeed with prospects and customers. Without it, well, you do the math. In data-driven marketing, where data is often described as the currency of customer engagement, here, too, trust is the bank.

Right now, sad to say, trust appears to be available only at a premium. There seems to be less and less of it at a time when we really need more and more of it. This is societal. It’s not just advertising and business where trust may be in short supply. Government, institutions, education, medicine, media all seem to be scrutinized, with a loss of trust in the balance. At a time when and where factual information has never been so available and transparent, fears of misinformation, opacity, and malevolence also appear to be heightened.

Believability is at risk.

I can’t fathom how to regain trust in all these institutions just now. But I can think of our world of marketing. Brand, and brand trust, matter more precisely now, because trust everywhere appears in short supply.

Recently, Edelman, a global public relations concern, published its annual “Trust Barometer” report, looking at trust issues among consumers across eight nations, among them the United States. I find the results illuminating, because it helps provide a blueprint of where brands might concentrate efforts to bolster trust.

MarketingCharts.com summarized some of the findings here:

brand trust chart
Chart Credit: MarketingCharts.com, July 2019

(Re)Gain the Trust Some Insights From the Report

Here’s my take on eight areas of the findings:

Product Must Perform

While it’s increasingly a customer-centric world, product still matters. Quality, performance, convenience consumers won’t even entertain trust if the produce/service fails the bar. In fact, it’s the biggest trust factor. Reputation may enable consumer consideration, but 67% of customers report they won’t come back if the product fails. More than eight in 10 consumers cite quality, convenience, value, and brand trust as a “deal breaker” or “deciding factor” in a purchase decision.

Trust: Why Now?

Consumers report several reasons why trusting brands is more important: 62% cite concerns about product experience (can’t afford a bad purchase, need products to keep pace with innovation, and reliance on brands for increased automation); 55% about customer experience (use of personal data, use of tracking and targeting, and use of artificial intelligence in customer service); and 69% about societal impact (fake news and misinformation, brand involvement in social issues, and affinity with personal values).

Yet There’s Considerable Room for Improvement

Just 34% of consumers trust most of the brands they buy and use. While some might see this as in indictment, I choose to see it as a huge opportunity. In the United States, overall, 54% trust businesses to do the right thing trust in government, by the way, is 40% .

The Trust Dividend Is Real

When trust is earned, the payback is pronounced. The difference between not fully trusting brands and trusting brands for a long time is a 28-point lift in percentage when considering what brand to buy first; 33-point lift in staying loyal; 27-point lift in being an advocate; and a 21-point lift in defending a brand.

We Must Walk the Talk

Remember greenwashing environmental benefits? “Trustwashing” is also a concern regarding brands and authenticity. Worldwide, 56% of consumers feel too many brands use societal issues as a marketing tactic to sell more product. Trust in business vs. trust in government has fallen off year-over-year between 4% and 6% in brands’ ability to effect positive change on societal impacts. If you’re buying into social good, it had better be the real deal. That means an enterprise commitment that’s followed through rather than a marketing promotion.

Most Consumers Have Taken Steps to Avoid Ads

I think it’s a mistake to say all ads are held in low esteem they’re not. Other surveys have shown that eight in 10 consumers still rely on advertising to discover new products and services. But three in four consumers have taken steps in their lives – ad blocking, paid subscriptions, and changed media habits to curtail the amount of advertising they see. More than three-fourths of consumers says they pay attention to ads from brands they trust!

Enable Reviews and Influencer Involvement

Most consumers say they trust what others say about a brand, more than what the brand says in advertising about itself. Working in combination peer review then owned, paid, or social content (ads) can work together to lift trust.

Run Hard

Interestingly, the more saturated the message (meaning, engagement across media channels), the greater chance for trust. One might think this doesn’t square with the previous ad avoidance message, but it goes to show repetition and reinforcement work. But only when the message is on-point, resonates with the user, and conveys authenticity.

Conclusion

Those of us who worry and work a lot about “trust” we have some mighty work to do. But even in an age of consumer skepticism or simply skepticism the hard, honest work of trust-building often becomes its own greatest reward, regardless of business payback. Despite all the doubts and pushback, consumers do want to believe this necessary work is getting done, and brands and ourselves can be all the better for it.

Media Outlook 2019: Spell Marketing with a ‘D’

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

Bruce Biegel, senior managing director at Winterberry Group, keeps everyone engaged, taking notes and thinking about their own experiences in the mix of statistics regarding digital, mobile, direct mail, TV and programmatic advertising.

“We will be OK if we can manage the Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit,” he noted, all of which weigh on business confidence.

Suffice it to say, marketing organizations and business, in general must navigate an interesting journey. Biegel reports estimated U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.3 percent in 2019 down from 3 percent in 2018, while total marketing spending growth in 2018 had dipped below its historic level of exceeding two times GDP growth.

In 2019, we are poised for 5.3 percent growth in advertising and marketing spending a slight gain from the 5.2 percent growth of 2018 over 2017.

Watch the Super Bowl, By All Means But Offline Dominance Is Diminishing

Look under the hood, and you see what the big drivers are. Offline spending including sponsorships, linear TV, print, radio, outdoor and direct mail will spot anemic growth, combined, of 0.1 percent in 2019. (Of these, direct mail and sponsorships will each post growth of more than 3 percent, Winterberry Group predicts.)

But online spending growth display, digital video, social, email, digital radio, digital out-of-home, and search will grow by 15.5 percent. Has offline media across all categories finally reached its zenith? Perhaps. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Digital media spend achieved 50 percent of offline media spend for the first time in 2018. In 2019, it may reach 60 percent! So who should care?

We do! We are the livers and breathers of data, and data is in the driver’s seat. Biegel sees data spending growing by nearly 6 percent this year totaling $21.27 billion. Of this, $9.66 billion will be offline data spending, primarily direct mail. TV data spending (addressable, OTT) will reach $1.8 billion, digital data $7.85 billion, and email data spend $1.96 billion (see Figure 2.)

Figure 2.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Tortured CMOs: Unless She’s a Data Believer

Marketing today and tomorrow is not marketing yesterday. If marketing leadership does not recognize and understand data’s contribution to ad measurement, attribution and business objective ROI, then it’s time for a new generation to lead and succeed. Marketing today is spelled with a D: Data-Driven.

Unfortunately we don’t have all the data we need to manage Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit. That’s where sheer luck and gut instincts may still have a valid role. Sigh.

Healthcare Marketing: Where Is the Puck Headed?

While there may be more professional ways of saying it, 2017 was a crazy year in healthcare marketing. Will they repeal and replace? What will happen with CHIPS funding? Will Medicaid be turned into a block grant program? Will CMS continue to move toward bundled payments?

Four signs point to where healthcare marketing is headed.
Four signs point to where healthcare marketing is headed.

While there may be more professional ways of saying it, 2017 was a crazy year in healthcare marketing. Will they repeal and replace? What will happen with CHIPS funding? Will Medicaid be turned into a block grant program? Will CMS continue to move toward bundled payments?

If the uncertainty at the federal level didn’t make your head spin, the pace of health system mergers might have — reaching an all-time high of 115 announcements. Now that we are three months in 2018, what can we expect for the rest of the year?

To be an effective marketer, you need to be aware of the macro forces shaping the industry and try to gauge what they could mean for the health of your region and your hospital or health system. It’s about considering where the hockey puck will be in two to three years, not just where it is right now. That type of thinking is great when the trends are fairly clear but harder to do when the environment is uncertain. There’s some bad news and some good news.

First, the bad news. The federal government will continue to roil healthcare in 2018, even though the likelihood of substantial legislative change diminishes as mid-term elections get closer. Merger activity will continue as providers try to develop sufficient scale so that future financial uncertainties can be managed. The number of consumers who have health insurance through the Exchanges will gradually decline because of the elimination of the penalty for tax filings in 2019.

The good news is that some tasks and trends will continue onward, and March is an ideal time to solidify your plans. Here are four things that haven’t changed:

The Move Toward Mobile

Hopefully your site already is mobile-friendly, but what does it let you do? Is your provider directory mobile friendly? Do the search results display in a click-to-call format? Can new or established patients request or schedule an appointment right from their phone? Does it render a map with location-aware driving instructions?

Time invested in improving the functionality of your mobile-friendly site is time well-spent.

Increasing Growth of Voice-Based Search

The popularity of voice assistants for the home is accelerating the use of voice-based searching. Voice-based searches often involve phrases such as ‘near me’ or ‘open now’ (or are implied) and are constructed differently than a keyboard-based search.

Find a search engine optimization firm with specific experience in voice-based search to ensure your visibility remains high as this type of usage increases.

Increasing Medicare and Medicare Advantage Coverage

Demographics are driving up enrollment in these programs, which has an impact on who you target, messaging, fulfillment, and use of communication techniques that increase Annual Wellness Visits or that decrease costly inpatient readmissions.

Dig into your local demographics and seek out multi-year sponsorships or tie-ins that elevate your brand among aging-in beneficiaries. Develop an outreach program that encourages seniors to use their Annual Wellness Visit benefit.

Research Is Worth It

When the environment is uncertain, you may notice an increase in suggestions about what you should be doing. Marketing is really about understanding the needs of your prospects and meeting those needs through services, communications, intake, and retention elements that make the journey a breeze.

If you have an objective, third-party research study about what your audiences want, you have a better chance of reframing conversations to how to address the needs of end-users.

Need help organizing your thoughts? This template can help.

Early Results of Our Omnichannel Marketing Survey

While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing, the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.

While our “2018 Omnichannel Marketing Survey” is still ongoing — we’ve only sent out the first of at least three emails for it, with another coming out today — the early results are surprising. Far from being a retail-only issue, over 75 percent of respondents say the omnichannel customer experience is important in their industries.

The early returns on our Omnichannel Marketing survey find that 75 percent of marketers, across all industries, think omnichannel is important.
The early returns on our Omnichannel Marketing survey find that 75 percent of marketers, across all industries, think omnichannel is important.

What’s more, only 6 percent of respondents so far are in the retail/e-tail sector; more responses are coming from a host of other industries, from non-profits to CPG to financial services in both B2B and B2C.

So far, omnichannel is proving to be an essential concern in 2018 for marketers of all stripes, enough that budgets are shifting to handle it. The early results show that 53 percent plan to spend more on omnichannel marketing in 2018 than they did in 2017, and 7 percent are more than doubling that investment.

What are they investing in? According to the early results, a lot of that investment is going toward customer data, customer service and customer identification.

In the early results, new omnichannel investment is overwhelmingly going to data, customer service and customer identification.
In the early results, new omnichannel investment is overwhelmingly going to data, customer service and customer identification.

Based on tha, it appears that customers are continuing to face challenges in the core capabilities of omnichannel marketing: Knowing who’s engaging where, and putting that together with what they did on the other channels to create a worthwhile experience.

Now, these are only the early results. The survey is far from done, and I’d love to hear from you. There’s still time to be entered to win the $100 AmEx gift card!

So, if you haven’t yet, click here to participate in the Omnichannel Marketing Survey yourself. And keep an eye out in March for the final report and a lot more coverage!

A Popular, Yet Failing Cold Email Technique

It’s shocking. Sales teams across the globe are telling prospects, “You should invest in what I sell — because this research says so” and expecting to start conversations. But using research as a means to break the ice in cold email is a non-starter. Unfortunately, most sales teams are using this failing technique.

It’s shocking. Sales teams across the globe are telling prospects, “You should invest in what I sell — because this research says so” and expecting to start conversations. But using research as a means to break the ice in cold email is a non-starter. Unfortunately, most sales teams are using this failing technique. Often because they’re under pressure to send non-personalized, cold emails to large numbers of contacts … in hopes of starting a conversation.

Targeted (one-to-many) email prospecting is not the best strategy to start conversations with B2B decision-makers. Tailored (one-to-one) earns better response rates. Yet targeted campaign-style messages are used by most BDR/SDR and digital demand generation teams.

2 Quick Examples

One of my students emailed me: “I think I have a good hook from a research perspective to get a prospects attention that also aligns with the service I offer.”

His idea is a common one: Write an email containing research as a means to compel his prospect to open a discussion with him.

For example, an opening email like this:

“Andy, IDC reports more that 90% of retailers are focused on improving their digital customer experience. Are you among them?”

Here’s another example from a different student:

“Hi John,

A customer service benchmark report released revealed 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, however only 8% of customers agree.

Expectations of customers are at an all-time high. Customers are busy, multi-tasking, on-the-go and are more sophisticated than ever before. Loyalty is built with positive interactions over time, therefore it is a continuous process to earn a customer’s loyalty.

It is expected by 2020 that the customer experience leader will be the key brand differentiator over product and price … “

Why Research Fails to Engage Customers

Pushing research at clients via email is ineffective because decision-makers are:

  • bombarded with long, mail-merged email “written at them” rather than quickly provoking them;
  • not swayed by research being used in a persuasive context;
  • often not aware of a problem to be solved (the pain has not yet surfaced);
  • already aware of the facts presented in the research;
  • not interested in being persuaded by a rep’s cold email message!

Telling prospects, “You should consider X solution because Y research says so” is a non-starter. Pushing information at customers works far less than provoking them.

“People generally opt in to receive marketing newsletters, but no one chooses to get cold emails. This simple fact is one of the most important differences between the two,” says cold email expert, Heather Morgan.

Morgan reminds us also how cold emails arrive without context. This is often the first time prospects have heard from you. Further, “you haven’t yet earned their trust or attention yet,” she says.

Context is key. Why talk at when you can talk with? Why push when you can pull, attract the conversation to you?

What You’re Really Saying to Prospects

Sending research to customers (without being invited to) says to customers, “I’m biased to convince you … but know you won’t believe me … so here is someone else to persuade you.”

The technique is weak. It attempts to persuade and convince.

In a Contest of Opinions, You’ll Lose — Research in Healthcare Marketing

How do you know? It’s a question difficult to answer and defend without supporting data. That’s why research is so important to healthcare marketers.

How do you know?

It’s a question difficult to answer and defend without supporting data. That’s why research is so important to healthcare marketers.

Healthcare is a field used to working with data. Physicians use it when considering treatment options. Administrators use it for assess performance and trends in financials and patient satisfaction. Insurance companies rely on it to gauge claims risk and establish premiums. So, a healthcare marketer who doesn’t use data as the foundation for strategy, messaging and tactics faces an uphill effort.

There’s a growing risk to marketers who don’t conduct research. When resources are constrained, leadership looks to marketing to demonstrate ROI. If marketing only relies on taking internally popular messages or assumptions to market, the audience response rate may be underwhelming.

Marketing strategies and campaigns need to be based on the attributes, values and preferences of the intended audience. The only way to gain that level of insight is through objective, third-party research.

Why third-party research? Because it’s easy to unintentionally incorporate biases in the wording of questions, the sequence of questions, the scale that captures feedback, the population being included in the survey, and reporting of statistical significance and findings. An experienced research firm can probe for insights using a methodology that stands up to scrutiny, creating a credible foundation from which to start. The only thing worse than not doing research is to conduct it and have someone point out flaws in its methodology.

Thought it’s tempting, research shouldn’t be conducted to advocate a pre-existing position. It’s to obtain insights that allow you to better advocate for how the organization can go to market most effectively. My recommendation is to do quantitative studies first, to give you hard numbers, and then do qualitative research among a subset of the same participants to provide emotional context and verbatim quotes that illustrate your quantitative findings.

There are several types of research you might consider based on your needs:

Awareness, Usage and Preference (AUP)

This is the most common type of market research. It should be conducted to set a benchmark and repeated either after a major campaign or on an annual schedule to track changes. Its objectives are to measure unaided, aided and total awareness of your brand within your service area, how those numbers compare to competing brands, perceptions of all brands based on various attributes, and the likelihood of yours being chosen over others. You might conduct this for your Masterbrand, a facility or a service line.

To get an accurate picture of what the market thinks, a great deal of thought should go into screening criteria for who you include/exclude from the survey pool, the quotas to set based on demographic criteria, the geographic dispersion of respondents and total sample size. These criteria should be stated whenever you report results.

Drivers of Choice

One of the hardest marketing challenges is determining what to emphasize in messaging. This can be the subject of internal bias and fierce debate. Whether it’s a short online video ad or a 60-seond radio commercial, there’s only so much information you can include. And you already know, as a marketer, that the more you pack into a message the more likely it is to be forgotten. A ‘drivers of choice’ study sheds insight on how the overall market ranks certain attributes or features when considering a choice.

A Simple Guide to Building Backlinks Via Outreach

Backlinks are the backbone to good SEO, and they have been since the earliest days of Google. There’s no better way to establish a website’s credibility than to see which other sites link to it. In a sense, a backlink is a tacit endorsement of another website’s content. Build up enough of them, and your search rankings will flourish.

Backlinks are the backbone to good SEO, and they have been since the earliest days of Google. There’s no better way to establish a website’s credibility than to see which other sites link to it. Think of it like buying a new book — are you more likely to pull a random title off the bookstore shelf, or do you want to read the latest New York Times bestseller? In a sense, a backlink is a tacit endorsement of another website’s content. Build up enough of them, and your search rankings will flourish.

That said, building a substantial number of backlinks is easier said than done. It doesn’t happen without a process. You need to know which websites to approach and how to deliver your pitch. Plus, you must have quality content. Read on to learn more about how to start developing a network of high-quality backlinks to boost your site’s SEO.

First, a Warning: Don’t Game the System

Back in the olden days of SEO, unethical marketers got big-time results by spamming blogs, forums and defunct websites. This created the appearance of an expansive network of backlinks – but without any real quality or credibility.

Don’t think for a second that this approach still works. Not only will Google ignore your website’s fraudulently large link network, but your website will likely be penalized for attempting to game the system. There are no more shortcuts to building high-quality backlinks. It’s extremely important that you build links the right way.

Start by Making a List

Before worrying about sales pitches and content generation, make a list of all the different websites where backlinks could help your SEO. A good way to start is by searching Google or Google News for the keywords most relevant to your business. Then, ask yourself the following questions when determining a website’s potential value:

1. Is the website authoritative?

Backlinks from credible, authoritative websites are far more valuable than backlinks from low-traffic websites. Look for websites that have higher domain authorities. You can find free tools available online to measure domain authority.

2. Is the website relevant?

Domain authority is important, but so is content relevance. If you sell used cars, then don’t seek backlinks from websites about home improvement or cosmetics. An exception to this rule is getting a backlink from a journalistic organization such as the Wall St. Journal or the Washington Post. If you can get linked by a credible, regional or national news organization, then by all means, do it.

3. Is the website local?

If you operate a brick-and-mortar business, then you’ll benefit from getting backlinks in local business organizations such as a chamber of commerce. Your city or county media is also a great resource for localized backlinks.

Research Names and Contact Information

Going one-by-one down your list of websites, start finding email addresses for people to contact. Your goal is reaching people with influence or decision-making power. Editors and managers are best. However, bloggers and journalists usually hold fair amounts of sway as well.

What Target Marketing Readers Want … We Think

We want to improve the quality of the content and the user experience on Target Marketing, and I need your help to do that. We’re in the middle of a reader survey to get a better idea of what our readers, like you, want to see. Click through here, and I’ll tell you a little bit about the answers we’re getting so far, and give you a chance to add your input, too.

We want to improve the quality of the content and the user experience on Target Marketing, and I need your help to do that. To that end, we’re in the middle of conducting a reader survey to get a better idea of what our audience members, like you, want to see.

The results so far have been pretty surprising. For example, I never would’ve guessed that PDFs would be one of our readers’ favorite formats for content, but it came in second, right behind articles and blog posts, and above webinars, video, and other format that seem more popular. On a scale of 1 to 5, here’s what the average responses looked like for each format.

Target Marketing Reader Survey - Favorite FormatsWhen it comes to the type of content respondents think are valuable, best practices, research and tips and tricks are rising to the top, followed by case studies and interviews with marketing practitioners.

Target Marketing Reader Survey - Valuable TopicsAnd Another interesting response comes from the topics survey takers thought were valuable. Here are the top six topics they found most valuable:

  1. Marketing Strategy
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Customer Acquisition
  4. Email
  5. Customer Retention
  6. Branding, Creative and Content

And the bottom six they found least valuable:

  1. DRTV
  2. Mergers and Acquisitions
  3. Legislation and Taxation
  4. Personnel, HR, Career Development
  5. International Marketing

So, my question for you is this: Do you agree with these results? Are there other points of view you’d like us to keep in mind when we planning our content for 2018?

I’d love to hear your feedback. You can let me know in the comments or, if you haven’t already, go and take the survey yourself! We’ll leave it open for about another week to try to collect more of your point of view.

Millennial Irony: Now They Eat Out Too Much

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager. Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager.

Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

The new information comes from a survey by BankRate. And they at least had the sense to let a Millennial break the news to her fellow Millennials. Apparently Millennials money woes shouldn’t be blamed on avocado toast at all, it’s all the happy hours. (The Yahoo Finance article the video comes from had additional commentary on it as well.)

(Aside: Is she talking to me? Born 1977, am I Gen X, Millennial or a damn Xennial? I can’t freakin’ tell! Can we please make up our minds at least about this? Studying generations is like discovering a very uncomfortable version of time travel at 40. Like trying to Instagram while spinning in one of those old, banned metal merry-go-rounds. … I do not cook at home a lot.)

Let me tell you folks, I am SHOCKED!

Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.
Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.

Every time one set of data comes out saying this is what Millennials are and the impact they’re having, just wait a couple weeks and a new set of data will say the opposite.

So, are they killing restaurants or keeping them in business? And if they’re out eating and drinking multiple times a week, but classic bar and grills can’t bring them in, is the younger adults’ faults?

One thing’s for sure: They are spending money. In fact, judging from that video, Millennials are spending money more freely than just about any generation in history. So if you’re not getting a piece of that, that’s on you.

One other thing I’m sure of: Even though almost all the Millennials are out in the workforce now, a lot of corporate America and the researchers feeding them data still don’t know Jack about who this generation really is or how to reach them. (“Us”? I still can’t tell.)