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Welcome! Today it is essential to be engaging in online communication no matter what industry you’re in. As majority of the consumer base moves online it is vital that you reach them where they are. A good relationship is no longer just providing a channel for communication to happen but engaging with your audience. With active listing and constant two way-flow of information from both organizations and their consumers, companies are able to climb to the top of online communication. 

Please join me in the search for interactivity at it’s best. Comments are always welcomed!

For centuries companies have tried to entice customers with coupons. Once every store had coupons companies moved on to offering bigger and better deals than their competition and today some stores, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, even except competitor coupons to guarantee a sale. A recent article from the Wall Street Journal describes how an online engagement attempt thExample of email couponrough coupons became deal breaker for a smoothie shop owner.

The general idea of a coupon is to generate so much buzz that a store is able to sell a huge amount of a product at a lower price but still come out on top because the numerous smaller profits they are earning per unit in total is greater than the sum would be if they sold a less amount of units at a higher price. Get in? Even when coupons fail, stores are able to attract customers into their stores which normally leads to additional purchases and a chance to build the client-store relationship for returning customers.  For those non-math lovers take a look at this WSJ article, Online Coupons Getting Smarter,  to get a better idea how the new boom in online coupons can backfire.

Impressively Jennifer London whose intentions where to promote her smoothie shop with coupons through an email worked a little too well for her liking. Within six months London had over 900 new customers who had come in just to use the free voucher that had gone viral online. As these new customers arrived London could tell that not many where locals and there was a good chance she wouldn’t be seeing much of them again.  London watch her profits from the coupons slip away as she agreed to pay half of her coupon profits to the online deal making company Groupon. This type of business has become smilingly popular as consumers have moved their researched and buying habits online.

 In this case, the buzz marketing that was created did not go hand in hand with goal London had in mind. What London failed to realized and what online engagement didn’t do is make an accurate reach to the customers who London really was looking for. The article above, Online Coupons Getting Smarter, might suggest that store owners these days should be holding their advertising agency accountable for the most accurate online reach out there.

 It’s one of the first things I learned, there is no such things a general public or a target market that consist of everyone out there. Now it’s time for better online demographics, but at what privacy cost? To check out a situation where online coupons really did work please read one of my earlier post The New ROI is ROP.

the new ROI is the ROPIf today’s the day you have that year review meeting to showcase last year’s progress or you just don’t see the glory in all this social media hype, then pay attention to this.  Social media measurement and its ROI have begun to see some common trends which were discover by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club. In an attempt to reach the true expectations of social media marketing you must know what your objectives are before you start; i.e sales, registration, referrals, conversation.

Studies showed that most executives didn’t even bother to measure the ROI of the money they spent on social media in 2009. That’s crazy, or is it? Companies realized the need to get involved in social media but jumped in blindly withExecutives don't measure their online ROI few studies to prove which investments would be the best. In 2010 thats all about to change. Money that was originally borrowed from other internal divisions is now providing insight based on three metrics to prove the correlations of business goals on social media. The importance of tracking revenue, monitoring conversation and measuring average order value  are being used to show promise for an effective business process of the future.

In early measurements of online social media, the “I” for Investment in ROI has been replaced to find value in other ways. A survey from The Maturation of Social Media  article mentioned that of those who did analyze the return, 89% tracked on the basis of social media traffic, page views, and the size of their social graph or communities. Some examples used included Return on Involvement, Return on Engagement, Return on Attention and Return on Trust but an overlying focus on Return on Participation. All of the measures mention above in someway tried to gain insight on the duration of time the consumer spent interacting with the brand online.

Those who were quick to measure their efforts werent off track. According to the MarketingProfs published study 80% of respondents did rely on other customer stories and suggestions when making a decisions about a product or service. Other findings from the report showed that there will be even more opportunities for companies using social media this year. Predictions believe there will be a 400% increase in the use of Twitter comments as a source for information about  products and services, a 59% increase in the use of customer ratings and reviews to make a purchase decision and a 24% increase in use of social media for pre-sales question and answer.

Dell makes millions on Twitter!

All of this has already proven to be succesful for many companies. Dell alone has increased sales by millions from Twitter. A Dell employee, Lionel Menchaca, was quoted saying “Our @DellOutlet is now close to 1.5 million followers on Twitter, and back in June we indicated that @DellOutlet earned $3 million in revenue from Twitter. Today it’s not just Dell Outlet having success connecting with customers on Twitter. In total, Dell’s global reach on Twitter has resulted in more than $6.5 million in revenue. ” 

Although social media networks are free, the time and effort spent on engagement is a result of hard work by your employees. As new forms of measurement are used to depict the effectiveness and efficiencies we are able to shorten the gap of information about the return of your social media investments.

Content Checklist.

content checklistJust as quick as some can pass over a title, they can click the back button if they don’t find what they’re looking for. The presences of social media isn’t enough anymore; consumer are driven by the content you offer them. Back to the very first post of this blog, Rule #76 No Excuses, Interact Like A Champ! it is clear consumer want more engagement to information provided by a company.  Social media gives a company the opportunity to brand itself,  develop loyalty and receive feedback but at the cost of interaction. The types of content offered and the overall layout of the page can affect the success of consumer involvement. For examples of  leading industry techniques check out Kate Sutherlands’ Blog and her post on TEKgroup International’s Top 20 Elements to include online.

Regardless of content consumers want to control how they receive their information. Whether it’s through an RSS, search engine or email alerts they want options. Given the fact they have chosen to receive news from your company they are already aware of your company’s basics- logo, position, products or service offered and recent accomplishment but they now want to know who is responsible for all that. A good way to provide this is a CEO Blog. Putting a name and face to your company helps create a stronger visual and branding message when building a relationship with your consumers.

Everyone who is engaged in your company’s news is also their because of a common interest. In addition to the communication channel provided by the company consumers also want a way to connect with others who have that same interest. Providing a place for users to interact with each is a great way to keep them coming back for more. One example of a company who benefits from social media tools, that I also discussed in my Talk About Instant Service post, is Virgin American who is on Twitter. Poter Gale from Virgin America explains why companies these days don’t have to devote many employees to regulate their social media. Consumers use interactivity within the page as personal recommendations. The peer-to-peer engagement is something they trust because they can feel they can relate to the person on the other side of the post.  With consumers constantly replying to each other it’s a free way to gain personal selling for a company’s brand.

As consumer get use to timelessness of society they want to be able to get an answer now. Having a good navigation is important because ansearching tools easy and cohesive layout between all pages will direct the consumers to find what they are looking for. TEKgroup International labels search capability as the most important tools a website can provide.  In case a consumer cannot find what they are looking for a second resort is providing an instant chat that connects them to a direct source of the company. An easy layout with quick reach to information avoids the possibility of someone turning to another provider in their search for information. All of these features aren’t good without content value. Detailed facts are no longer in style unless there is a clear message behind it. People are looking for information in way they can apply it to their everyday lives.

GPS Required?

If you are traveling somewhere new for lunch, then you might need a GPS but traveling among the web shouldn’t require any extra directions. The navigation and layout of your page falls into the fourth important criteria, discussed in my earlier post Before You Jump, for developing good interactivity among social media. Besides the main reason of functional usability, keeping a clean and easy to use site helps your audience understand your vision and will keep them from venturing to a competitor’s site when looking for information.  Here is a link to MarkingProfs.com, a website for marketing professionals, which discusses in more detail Tips for Building a Better Website

Most people think color, design and layout of the homepage when developing their website but it is just as important to consider other pages and sub-links within your website. Providing consumer with multiple pages is a good way to SEO mapkeep them engaged but if there are dead links or confusion with the content layout your efforts might be lost among the mess. One way to cease the confusion is to provide a site map. A site map allows visitors to understand the layout and structure of your website ultimately understanding what your website has to offer. This tool also creates positive affect on search engine optimization.  For example, if you have a page that it typically visited through sub-links a search engine might not be able to detect the site when first viewing your page. In cases like these a site map guides the search engine directly to the page instead of hunting for links and will add your site to their database.

Every company uses several media vehicles to enhance the view of  their company and can often forget that their website is included in that advertising package . Consumers view the layout, content and design of your website as a representative of the company.  If you wouldn’t launch a commercial without editing then you should consider the same detail overlook for your website. Here is a link that provides additional insight on good navigational tips for websites.

In a recently conducted report, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Brian & Co. released a “roadmap” that will guide industry beliefs about online brand building and advertising. IAB met with close to 100 top industry executive to overturn their finding from last year which showed a commoditization between online advertising and consumer based networks.

IAB’s research included in-depth survey, 700 brand marketers, and communication with ad agencies determined five barriers that have limited online branding as well as five solutions. An overlying finding within the report showed a low perception between the value of online advertising in relation to online branding.   Those who participated in the surveys felt there was no measurable effect between online engagement and direct response, such as economic transactions, from consumers when using online advertising. Here are the five barriers the report found:

Ad formats and creative are not innovating with the medium.
We are awash in undifferentiated, low-cost inventory.
Metrics, metrics everywhere… but not the ones that brand marketers really need.
Media companies lack ideas, strategic expertise and engage too late in the planning process.
Marketers want cross-platform campaigns; instead they get a model rooted in platform-specific silos.

In efforts to show a positive correlation between online advertising and branding IAB president Randall Rothenberg describe a “tripe play offering” that included brand reach, transactions and brand engagement. To overcome the five barriers Rothenberg suggest to follow the “roadmap” to online branding:

1 Measurement: Work with other associations to establish clear standards for measurement of brand impact and reach/frequency.
2 Targeting: Address current scale and data limitations for targeting. Identify ways to adjust for overlapping audience in reach buys.
3 Automated process: Help develop low-cost and/or automated buying processes for brand reach and response buys. Establish common technical standards for the industry.
4 Online creative: Identify and communicate success factors for marketers, agencies, and publishers in executing cross-platform creative.
5 Engaging marketers: Create ongoing forums with marketers for discussion of branding approach, limitations, and key developments.

The barriers and solutions couldn’t be more on point. Today the options are endless and require a lot of effort to stay on top. It will be easy to get lost in the rubble but hopefully these suggestions well get you back on track. To view the whole report click here.

The content within your page must rely on several factors to be newsworthy. Regardless of the Social Techonographic theory which analyzes audience type, all segments are discussed in my earlier post Numbers Aren’t Enough, when you’re providing content there are nine measurable factors to consider good value.

 1. Timeliness – Who cares about what happened last week? A focus should be on what is currently happening and the cause they could formulate. Consumers have developed the need for immediacy and expect it with the options that technology provides. Your information must be the most current it can be.

2. Novelty – How is this different from anything else your audience has seen? When something is truly novel the effects of viral spread can set in. The topic must be unique to catch the eyes of many.

3. Human Interest – Why would this interest me? Stories such as Exxon’s cleanup efforts after its disasters spill or actions by Tide providing free laundry services as hurricane relief provide touching insight to a company’s social responsibility. Building the connection between consumers and your company requires an emotional reaction to your story.

  • Look how Tide uses their website to engage their audience in emotional ties to their efforts.

4. Proximity – How does this directly affect your audience? When you are engaging in a consumer relationship you need to keep them interested by showing them how it relates to specifically them. Even though the overall movement may be geared worldwide use examples to show how it personal effects each customer by localizing the content.

5. Conflict – Why is this happening? Supporting news with quantifiable facts and logical reasons behind an idea is a good way to get your message across to your audience. Defining the problem and your steps to a solution helps a user identify with your company morals.

6. Suspense – Curiosity will kill the cat…or just your user base. Your audience wants to know what information you can offer at the height of an event. If you don’t provide your audience with what their looking for they will find it somewhere else. Avoid speculation and losing your audience by providing information early and visibly before they come looking.

7. Prominence – Going back to customer desired content one essential component is a face for your company. To do this, show who is collectively contributing to the success of your company. Seeing cohesion will make others want to join.

  • Deloitte & Touche ran a contest with its employees to create videos answering the question, “What’s your Deloitte?” Check out the top winners.

8. Progress – Someone who has invested time into your company wants to know they made the right choice. Providing innovation or big decision details to your audience allows them to feel more engaged than if they were to find out from a news media outlet.

9. Consequences – What’s going to happen if your audience doesn’t know? Consequences don’t always have to be good or bad but they can indirectly affect other important decisions. The more people who could be affected, the more important it is to tell your audiences.

Read Me! Read Me!

Roughly 80 % never read beyond the headline… On the average, 5 times as many people read  the headlines as read the body copy… Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90%of your money… In a print ad, 75% of the buying decisions are made at the headline alone.”

 

Do you get it yet? If you don’t have an eye-catching title you fail. The title of your post will be the first thing people see but it could also be the last. Shannon Paul who works as a communication manager on social media strategy guest stars on Brain Soli’s Blog PR 2.0 to discuss the need for eye-catching headlines in If This Headline Doesn’t Catch Your Attention, I Failed. She mentions that mistakes often include labeling all lead stakeholders or an attempt by lawyers to clean up the headline but also suggest many positive ways to present your title. Generating interest for your audience is based on how relevent and attention worthy your title fits to their needs.

rational-emotional2Depending on your audience and how you are trying appeal to them can determine the attack of your headline. Two basic forms of appeal include emotional and rational. Rational is an important aspect because it often leads people to more in-depth emotional appeal. It is essential to provide enough information so your audience can validate their reasoning for choosing your headline over the next.  

To be unique, most firms rely on the 5 types of emotional appeal to connect with the reader. Fear, humor, sex, music and scarcity can all provoke the reader’s rational desire to read a post.  A title related to fear can strike the reader as an opportunity lost if they do not read the post. The second form of appeal humor is a good choice because who doesn’t want a laugh. The next two appeals, sex and music, don’t necessary apply directly to the title but could enhance the readers decision by providing a relevant picture or sound clip embedded close to the title. Lastly, an approach of scarcity can be used to create a sense of urgency in the audience to read your post on the basis they will be the first to know or may miss out on a limited time deal. One thing to be careful of when choosing emotional appeals is the extent of use. Having a title that is too gruesome or sexual could be offending to some people will steer readers away.

But let’s not kid ourselves into think that having a great title is the only thing you need, there are these things called meta description tags. This little description that appears underneath the headline is your chance for extra advertising in 30 words or less and should not be taken likely.

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 It’s true that the title first grabs the reader attention but the short paragraph below of is a deciding factor. The leading paragraph should flow nicely as if a quick overview that will entice the reader to want more. When writing your meta description tag be sure to check out Making the Most of Meta Description Tags. If your still not you’re not sure what your headline should be Paul suggests a source from Copyblogger with great examples provided in 10 Sure-Fire Headlines Formulas That Work or check out Google Adwords Keyword tool to use as guidelines.