The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

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: 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: Facebook Timeline for individuals is here. Learn now how to make it work for your business.

Back in September, Facebook unveiled their newest update, “Timeline”, poised to eventually replace users “Walls”. At that time, the update was only available to developers; but according to a Facebook spokesperson, the roll out should be completed to all users within the next few weeks. If you have yet to make the switch on your personal profile, it’s about that time. You must be rolling your eyes and sighing at the thought of yet another Facebook update. However, this one’s worth it. It’s going to be a game changer. Marketers need all the time they can get to acclimate themselves with the new interface before Timeline is launched for brand pages.

Takeaway: Tell the story of your business.

Facebook Timeline for businesses is unknown territory, but the question is not IF it will happen, but WHEN. According to a recent Mashable article, it’s a known fact that “consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook” but logically, they need to have their base of personal users switched over before delving into business profiles. So for the time being, marketers need to do as much research and planning as possible. I have come up with a few notable predictions for when the Timeline rolls out to brand pages…

The “cover photo” will be the golden egg. It will allow marketers free reign to customize a billboard-like space above their page, essentially affording them prime real estate for free. The possibilities are endless. Additionally, it has been suggested that the new Timeline will create an increased emotional experience between brand and customer. It will no longer be a blasting of “check out this sale!” or “Like our page!” Customers and brands will now interact in a way that is more peer to peer. Sharing “life events” with each other via the Timeline will help solidify this. Finally, the switch from a “wall” view to a Timeline now allows page owners to change dates/times/places of past events, as well as add in new “life events”. I see this leading brands to post such “life events” within their timeline and challenging customers to engage in a scavenger hunt of sorts. A post embedded within the Timeline that includes a deal or special offer will not only drive traffic to the page but will increase engagement beyond the typical news feed skimming. I predict the Timeline change will alter the way customers interact with businesses. According to a Facebook representative, so far “very few people ever return to a Facebook brand’s page after liking it. People are 40-120x more likely to see your posts in their news feed.” The Timeline is like a brand’s own personal news feed. Marketers will need to make the most of this change and reward returning customers.

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Trend: Google Introduces Search Plus Your World

Google recently introduced its newest feature upgrade, Google Search Plus Your World, or Search+ for short. Essentially this feature will draw information for search results based on social circles and interaction. (research by Nielsen suggests that 42% of people trust search results, but 90% trust recommendations from friends). So far, Search+ pulls heavily from Google+ users, but not yet from Twitter or Facebook. The feature, which aims to “improve quality of search results through increased trustworthiness and personalization”, appears to be Google’s way of gaining market share in social networking.

Takeaway: +1 will have impact on other channels besides search and social.

Of course this change in search results is only applicable to users with Google accounts and can easily be turned off by clicking an icon on the right side of the screen. So this is not a function that will immediately and permanently affect every Google user. However, it may not be a game changer (just yet) but it certainly has the capability to be one in the future. Because Search+ relies primarily on social data, relevance on social sites and quality content creation will become more and more important for SEO in the future. Marcus Taylor of SEOptimize said “If I’m right, then I can see a shift in prominence in the SERPs to content producers with an active audience, but only in niches where communities exist.”. Essentially, if your industry has a flourishing online community, it will be increasingly important to be active within it.

Yes, this is our second Google-centric post in a row, but we just can’t let this trend go unnoticed. It definitely seems as if Google is rocking the marketing world yet again. Tech authorities are even comparing the magnitude of this new feature to that of Google’s switch to Universal Search in 2007 (for those of you who don’t know, this update marked the official demise of the old 10-listing SERP. Search results were now integrated with news, video, local and other verticals).

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