Sara Steinnagel serves as Community Manager at Gold Lasso. Follow her on twitter at @Sara_C_Stein

Trend: Email and Social Media Marketing - The Dynamic Duo

A recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey that assessed “why consumers engage via email and Facebook” found that though social media has a strong following and excellent ability to increase brand recognition and loyalty, email is the preferred channel. Over 50% of email users polled said that they regularly engage with a brand via email for the purpose of receiving discounts and special offers, whereas 41% of social media users cited the same interaction.

Takeaway: Social media is a great booster, but email still remains king.

The primary difference between these two channels lies in the public aspect of the social media experience. While email subscribers remain virtually anonymous, users who “like” a Facebook page do so with full knowledge that their “friends” and “followers” will see their action. This sort of publicity is unparalleled. Even though it may have been solicited by a special offer or deal, personal recommendation of a brand shows support that email interaction cannot. However, email is and will remain to be the backing force behind any well rounded digital marketing campaign. It continues to be one of the most cost effective methods and according to Marketing Sherpa, B2C email marketers are reporting an average ROI of 256%.

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Trend: Marketing Masters: They’re Publishing Content. Are You?

If you’re not creating content, start! If you are, create more!

These days marketing success goes beyond banners, email and search engine marketing. With the proliferation of digital channels and the screens that support them, marketers need to invest more in content development that entertains, delights, educates and moves their customers to buy. In the past decade, the quants overtook marketing departments at the cost of creativity, resulting in a sea of mediocre content.

Since the demand for content is growing to a louder beat, balance is gradually being restored as companies rush to strengthen their customer bonds through videos, blogs, social media and games. Contrary to the trend, effective content development doesn’t require big budgets. In fact, small to medium sized businesses in particular can master content marketing without blowing their creative budgets and in a way that adds value to their brand.

Almost a year ago, we wrote about the value of a strong content marketing campaign in our post “Giving Content Development High Priority”. Back then we stressed its importance as a foundation for marketing automation. However, today the value of quality content goes far beyond that. Tony Quin, CEO of IQ, a full service agency said in a recent post for Marketing Daily that “compelling content is the currency that buys your customer’s attention and affection long before they reach the stage of comparing features and benefits.” Knowing this, its obvious that every business CAN and SHOULD be a publisher. There is an immense amount of marketing clutter out there for businesses to compete with. Creating content that adds value to your brand will be what separates you from the competition.

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Trend: Designing for the tablet experience: Marketers will need to brand for optimization within the tablet interface.

iPad passes Mac computer in sales. The tablet is the new frontier.

It’s official. Consumers are tablet crazy; so much so that they are choosing the mobile devices over computers. It’s that time again marketers, just when you’ve finally optimized for mobile…

A look into Apples record breaking year provides an impressive example of the tablets’ rapid rise in popularity. In 2011, the company sold over 156 million iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch), 55 million of which were iPads. To put this in perspective, in just one year combined sales of these mobile devices have exceeded the 122 million Mac computers ever sold. Since it was first available for pre-order in March of 2010, the sales trend of the iPad has blown all other Apple products out of the water (see figure below). CEO Tim Cook commented “This 55 is something no one would have guessed. Including us. To put it in context, it took us 22 years to sell 55 million Macs. It took us about 5 years to sell 22 million iPods, and it took us about 3 years to sell that many iPhones. And so, this thing is, as you said, it’s on a trajectory that’s off the charts.” There has been buzz for some time of the possible upcoming announcement of the iPad3, and today we have verification via Mashable that Apple has sent out invitations for an event on March 7th. The invitation states simply “We have something you really need to see. And touch” and according to Mashable is "superimposed on what is almost certainly an iPad". Knowing this, it is more crucial than ever for marketers to take to heart the magnitude of this trend. It has been rumored that the newest generation iPad will have a full operating system, providing the user with a full blown hand held computer, and conceivably further intensifying this trend. Yes, Apple is just one example, but I think it’s safe to say they are usually ahead of the trend. Assessing how we communicate via tablet will be paramount. 

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Trend: Increase referral traffic: Get your customers “Pinterested”

Pinterest, a highly visual social media tool that focuses on creating virtual bulletin boards, has been making waves lately as it now drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. Initially used to share creative ideas for home decorating, art, DIY, cooking, fashion etc, it has now expanded to include classifications like history, sports, geek, and technology. Always eager to benefit from the newest advertising platform, marketers are taking notice.

Takeaway: Build a visual presence

We have written in the past of marketing being most successful when it creates a strong visual presence: this visualization is most likely why Pinterest has developed such a cult following. It is simple, logically oriented in “post it” style and very easy to use. The visual experience is astounding. A simple click allows users to “re-pin” another users content, or “pin” something visual they have encountered online, a feature that helps create a strong culture of sharing. So what will make a successful Pinterest account for your brand? Find a way to effectively visualize your products and/or culture.

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Trend: Privacy Policy Revamp: How Google is Paving the Way for Marketers

Google recently announced a change in their privacy policies. The new format will combine existing privacy policies into one, gathering customer data from all of its services including search, Gmail, YouTube, Google+, and Google Docs. Essentially Google is making a move to be more competitive with the likes of Facebook who has been collecting a wider spectrum of data while providing its customers a more personal experience. Having a unified privacy policy that applies to all products will allow for data integration across multiple mediums and will improve the personalization of a user’s experience. So what does this mean for marketers? Overtime customers will become desensitized to such policies as the all inclusive privacy model becomes the norm. Google is leading the way and opening the flood gates for other marketers to revamp their privacy policies as well.

Takeaway: The winners will balance privacy with increased value through personalization.

In order to make this work to your advantage, you will need to reassess your privacy policies and find a balance that customers are comfortable with. Most privacy policies were created between 2001 and 2005 when the public was still sensitive about this subject and therefore are due for a makeover. However, in order for a revamped privacy policy to provide balanced benefits, it must be carefully tailored to fit the behaviors and comfort levels of its customers. You will need to dig into your existing policies and adjust accordingly.

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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!