The Heinrich Report Blog

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Archive for the ‘Social Media Marketing’ Category

Twitter: Campaign Advantage?

When Super Bowl XLVII was played earlier this year, most of us were focusing on the closely fought contest, while others were simply waiting on the next comedy-filled Bud Light© or Doritos© commercial to debut. But, something else was happening behind-the-scenes that illustrated an interesting social media marketing trend.

According to Marketing Land, during the Super Bowl this year Twitter was leveraged in more than 50% of all nationally aired television commercials compared to Facebook, which was mentioned in only 8%. Companies ranging from Audi to Samsung created hash tags for their commercials as part of their marketing campaigns and encouraged viewers to follow. Hash tags are used for topic categorization, used primarily on Twitter in effort to create and drive a topical discussion involving keywords and allow consumers to quickly display information on their portable device.

Many brands are running marketing campaigns containing hash tags because they are good for tracking and funneling conversations that might drive consumer reviews, measuring brand engagement, and increasing buzz for the brand (by means of re-tweeting the hash tag). For example, the Doritos Super Bowl hash tag was re-tweeted more than 33,000 times on Super Bowl Sunday alone. With so many hash tags surrounding thousands of marketing campaigns, the key is to create one that can successfully break through all the clutter and digital noise. Hash tags should be focused on capturing the key elements of a campaign, compressing them into a memorable phrase, and remaining consistent with that hash tag throughout the campaign.

Social networks born as websites are fervently trying to evolve into a viable mobile product. The unique thing about Twitter is that it was born as a mobile platform, making their service intuitive and easy to use via mobile. The 140-character limit, hash tag overlay, and easy-to-access home and user profile links make Twitter a more attractive substitute for accessing and sharing breaking and timely information than on social platforms like even Facebook.

Mobile devices and tablets will likely continue to replace traditional desktops and laptops, particularly for content consumption, revealing a bright future for Twitter as brands look to engage with consumers via mobile marketing.

Sources

“Brands Adopt Hashtag Strategies | Digiday.” Digiday | Digital Content, Digital Advertising, Digital Marketing. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013. <http://www.digiday.com/brands/brands-adopt-hashtag-strategies/>.

“Game Over: Twitter Mentioned In 50% Of Super Bowl Commercials, Facebook Only 8%, Google+ Shut Out.” Marketing Land – Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <http://marketingland.com/game-over-twitter-mentioned-in-50-of-super-bowl-commercials-facebook-only-8-google-shut-out-32420>.

“tweets per day – AllTwitter.” mediabistro.com: jobs, classes, community and news for media professionals. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/tag/tweets-per-day>.



Focus on Relevant Content — and Watch Your Facebook Fan Base Increase

With over 160 million users per day, Facebook is the de facto social media, advertising and marketing platform. In comparison, Twitter has only 20 million unique visitors each month (source: comScore) — despite it being the source for news as it happens.

According to comScore’s report, The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing, “Facebook represents the vast majority of U.S. social networking activity, accounting for 90% of all time spent on social networking sites in the U.S.” Wow!

So it makes sense that big name brands from Axe to Starbucks use Facebook to stay in touch with their audiences. And thanks to this ability to communicate directly with brands, consumers are now able to vote, not just with their pocketbooks but with their very visible feedback, too.

Witness Netflix’s debacle when it doubled its fee AND tried to separate its streaming and DVD services (and change the DVD-by-mail service name to Qwikster, too). Fans on Facebook howled. Netflix backed off on the name/business change, but kept the higher fee structure.

Of course, you don’t have to be a big business to have a Facebook page. Many small and mid-size companies have a Facebook presence, too.

Until recently, the focus has been on garnering fans; the more fans you have, the greater your reach. Due to comScore’s research, however, Facebook is now emphasizing the importance of how well you engage your fans.

According to the comScore report, the largest portion of users’ time — 27% — is spent on the individual’s home page, which features the Newsfeed. Research showed that people spend very little time on branded fan pages.

Even more important, the comScore report noted, “the Facebook Newsfeed uses an algorithm to rank content based upon the likely interest to a user so, unlike in other social media settings, only the content determined [by Facebook] to be most relevant to a user is delivered at a specific time.”

New Page Insights Emphasize “Engaging Content”

Hence, Facebook’s revamping of its page metrics. With the new Page Insights, you now have data on how fans are interacting with your content. As with your Web analytics, you can now use Page Insights to help drive your Facebook campaign decisions. Facebook’s Insights include:

External referrers — This data point tells you how people found your page from outside of Facebook. Now you can instantly see if people are clicking through from your website or blog, from a website where you placed an article, or if they found you through a search engine. One question to ask your marketing team: Of these unique visitors, how many converted into Likes?

How you reached people — This Insight is particularly cool because it tells you how many fans saw your page versus how many of their friends saw it through Likes, comments, sharing, etc. This is where Facebook is emphasizing engaging content — the more people Like, comment and share your content, the more “viral” (and relevant) it becomes.

How People are Talking About Your Page — Facebook now gives you data by story type, including mentions, Likes and photos. You can use this data to determine which story types drive engagement.

Even better, you can now see comprehensive data for each individual post in one screen on the main Insights page, making it much easier to determine which topics drive reach, “talking” and virality.

Data Is Good. Putting It to Use Is Better.

To increase content relevancy and engagement, consider the following tips.

1. Listen, don’t sell — Although Facebook is a powerful advertising medium, using traditional mass marketing practices will backfire, causing people to Unlike you. Instead of pushing out content that talks about your products, focus instead on content that encourages your fans to talk to you.

2. Test, test, test — Test various types of content (e.g., surveys/polls, photos and video, offers, events, and links to trending topics, etc.), times of day and days of the week to see when your audience is online and most engaged.

3. Create a brand “story” — Facebook is a social network where people expect to be entertained. Use this freedom to create a story or personality for your brand — one that resonates with your audience. Then, don’t be afraid to have some fun.

Creating content that’s relevant will go far in engaging your fans, ensuring your content appears in their Newsfeeds — and over time, building your fan base. Do you have examples that you’ve used to engage your Facebook fans? Feel free to post them below.

 


Not Using Facebook Yet for Your Business? That’s OK. (Really!)

As Greg Sterling said in his Search Engine Land article, “There’s been a boatload of survey data released in the past six months documenting the adoption of social media by small businesses (SMBs).” (See the rest of Sterling’s article, Report: 58% of SMBs on Social Media Sites, Most Have Only Limited Engagement.)

Unfortunately, this data doesn’t give a clear picture of how and how many SMBs are using social media — and in particular, Facebook.

Hiscox, a company that provides insurance to small businesses, surveyed small businesses and found that nearly 50% weren’t using social media at all and that of those who do use some form of social media, only 19% use Facebook.

Data from Palore’s research, however, paints a different picture: 54.2% of SMBs have a Facebook page, with 22.3% of SMBs having both a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Jason Falls, social media expert and author of the forthcoming book, No Bullshit Social Media, on the other hand, states that only 27% of small businesses are using Facebook.

Although Facebook usage data may be unclear, these social media experts quoted agree on one thing: SMBs need to use social media to market their products and services.

But is this really the case? Maybe, maybe not. From Heinrich’s perspective and in working with small and mid-sized businesses, there is no universal answer; it really depends on your audience, budget, and business objectives.

Why you may not need a Facebook page

When our clients ask whether they should be on Facebook, we say, “It depends.” This is because social media is just one marketing channel, and Facebook is just one platform within that channel. Facebook should make sense within the context of the overall mix.

Although the Facebook “Like” button is ubiquitous, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a Facebook page is right for your business. When deciding whether to begin a Facebook campaign, it pays to look at a number of factors:

1. Your audience — The question to ask yourself is, “Will my customers engage with me on Facebook?” For many big-name consumer brands, a Facebook presence can be a must.

This isn’t always the case for local businesses, something Francine Hardaway points out in her article, “Most Small Business Facebook Page Fans Not Local” for the Business Insider blog.

According to the research data she cites, only 15% of “Likes” on the average small business page are local — the rest come from “fans” outside of the area. “From that,” states Hardaway, “you can extrapolate that the Facebook pages of most small businesses do them little or no good for targeted marketing efforts.”

Just because you can create a Facebook page doesn’t mean you have to or should, especially if your local customers would rather engage with you during the course of face-to-face transactions in your store.

2. Your budget — Common advice states that social media is “free” and therefore a cost-effective tactic for SMBs. Yes, opening a Facebook page or Twitter account is free. But maintaining these accounts requires a huge investment of time and resources to create fresh content on a regular basis, respond to people’s comments, and provide damage control to manage negative commentary about your business.

If you don’t have internal resources, you may have to hire an outside agency or consultant to maintain your presence for you.

3. Your business objectives — If your objective is to generate leads — for example, you’re a fencing company that needs to keep its installers busy — Facebook may help you build brand awareness but it won’t necessarily provide you with the leads that you need. In this case, your business objectives and marketing tactics don’t match, and while you may see some business lift from the additional awareness, it’s certainly a much more passive sales path to take.

Instead of using social media, you’ll want to consider an integrated lead generation campaign that rewards people for word-of-mouth and online referrals (reviews on your Google Places page), takes advantage of targeted direct mail, and includes pay-per-click and SEO.

Has your business developed a Facebook presence? Why or why not? Leave your comments below.

 


Heinrich Must-Reads for 2011: Your Guide to Success

Article re-post from January 18, 2011.

What’s on your agenda for the new year? Popular goals we’ve heard include:

  • Tackling a major new product launch
  • Fostering more innovation from marketing staff or an agency partner
  • Turning up the dial on productivity for your marketing efforts in light of the economic recovery
  • Looking for a new career challenge that really drives your passion

The Heinrich Report’s “What We’re Reading” series is a great resource that can help focus your priorities and clarify your 2011 goals. Here’s a list of our top choices, ones that we think can help you dive into the New Year with confidence.

Books

1) Do More Great Work: Stop the Busywork. Start the Work That Matters

by Michael Bungay Stanier

Why we like it: A quick read with helpful insights on how to jumpstart your passion for the work you already do — or hope to do.

2) Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters

by Bill Tancer

Why we like it: It’s a great big Internet out there, and it’s always in flux. This book helps you understand how people keep up, and how they harness the Web as a resource.

3) UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

by Scott Stratten

Why we like it: Engagement has been a big theme for us the past year, and Stratten keeps us motivated.

4) Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

by Scott Belsky

Why we like it: It’s one thing to have a great idea. It’s quite another to make it a reality. And that’s something almost everyone can relate to.

5) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

by Chip and Dan Heath

Why we like it: See #4!

Blogs

Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/

Insightful writing on current marketing happenings and trends.

Junta42: Joe Pulizzi’s Blog: http://blog.junta42.com/

Always a Heinrich favorite, Joe drives his points about content home over and over again, but makes it sounds fresh and exciting every time.

Convince and Convert: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/

For crystal-clear analysis about the impact of social media on businesses (and help making it work for yours), bookmark this website.

Personal Branding Blog: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/

Because people are brands, too.

Forrester Blogs: http://blogs.forrester.com/

Data and smart analysis from research leaders.

The Financial Brand: http://thefinancialbrand.com/

Financial institutions face unique challenges when it comes to social media, content and brand identity, and this site gets it.

Mashable: http://mashable.com/

Find the most up-to-date digital and social news here.

Apps

Evernote: Tagline, “Remember Everything.” Enough said.

Chronicle: Everything you need to start a journal on your iPad.

Webster’s Dictionary: No more excuses. Correct spelling is in the palm of your hand.

Dragon Dictation: A real time-saver. It lets you “talk” a text message, and more.

Pandora: Background music for your life.

 


Trends We’re Watching: Social Game Marketing

I’m not a gamer, but I can’t help noticing that games have become a big part of how marketers are engaging consumers with their brands; Foursquare, for example, is a game that rewards people for “checking in.” In fact, there’s an official name for games used in marketing: social game marketing.

Mashable ran an excellent post showcasing five brands that have incorporated social gaming into their marketing (Why 5 Big Brand Marketing Campaigns are Betting Big on Social Gaming, May 3, 2011).

According to stats cited by author Brian Anthony Hernandez, the social gaming population is expected to reach 68.7 million players by the end of 2012. Big brands haven’t ignored this fact, with many offering “branded virtual goods, integrated ads and offers as well as games that combine digital and real-world incentives.”

MasterCard is one company that’s using a social game to engage customers and prospects. In the You Play, We Give campaign, players shoot at colored balls on the brand’s Facebook page. For every minute someone plays, MasterCard donates 10 cents to Junior Achievement Hudson Valley. As of this writing, 36,000 people have “liked” the page and MasterCard has donated over $100,000 to the charity!

Pop star Lady Gaga last month partnered with FarmVille (another huge game played on Facebook) and began offering tracks from her “Born This Way” album on a new partner site — GagaVille. According to Entertainment Weekly, players can “undertake lightweight tasks to unlock tracks.”

Why games matter: they’re part of the human condition

In her 2010 TED talk, Gaming Can Make a Better World, Jane McGonigal gives an impassioned talk about how games can help us improve our society and our lives. Games, she says, offer the following benefits:

  • Clear and compelling goals
  • Challenges suited to our capabilities/skill level
  • A chance to work hard to improve our skills
  • Non-financial rewards and recognition
  • The chance to become a hero by saving the world

We all like games, says McGonigal, because they make us feel good. Even more important, research has shown that we like people better after we play a game together, which is why brands like MasterCard and Lady Gaga are using games to connect with their audiences.

According to Aaron Dignan, author of Game Frame: Using Games As a Strategy for Success, people have turned to games because they’re bored — bored at school, at work in their lives — and games offer an escape. In fact, McGonigal cited a statistic that gamers spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games!

I find social game marketing fascinating, especially since many of the ideas being put forth by people like McGonigal and Dignan resonate with what I see in my own life.

Games, says Dignan, give gamers the motivation and internal drive to do something (e.g., get to the next level, meet a challenge, solve a problem, etc.), and they give players the necessary skills and tools to handle the challenges presented — something that’s often missing in real life. They also allow you to score an “epic win” — a positive outcome so extraordinary you can’t even imagine it, according to McGonigal.

While developing a game may not be something your company can implement right now, I highly recommend that you read Game Frame and watch McGonigal’s TED talk if only to gain insight into consumer behavior and how games affect us. Both Dignan and McGonigal are brilliant.

You can also follow how marketers are using games by subscribing to the Inside Social Games blog (scroll down and click the “Marketing” link under “Topics”).

Do you have examples of social game marketing that you like? Let me know in the comments section!

 

 


Three Easy Ways to Develop Content That Builds Trust and Sales

Heinrich clients continually ask, “What is content marketing and why do we need it?” Content marketing, according to Joe Pulizzi, co-author of Get Content, Get Customers and publisher of the Junta42 blog, “is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

To put it more simply, content marketing isn’t about selling. Instead, it’s about offering your prospects and customers information that’s relevant to them — in their jobs, in their personal lives, or both. This is one reason social media has become so huge: It’s the one place where content is all about “me” the individual versus “you” the company.

Does content marketing work? Yes! According to a statistic cited by Pulizzi, Roper Public Affairs posted data that shows:

  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus advertisements
  • 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company
  • 60% say that company content helps them make better purchasing decisions

Here at Heinrich, we’re dealing with the content marketing revolution too. Many of our clients don’t know that we can develop and implement both their content and social marketing campaigns, so instead of telling you what others are doing, I thought I’d show you how we’ve been incorporating content into our own marketing mix:

1. Turned our e-newsletter into a blog.

Like direct mail, email marketing is the workhorse for many companies. Email is wonderful because you can measure response almost immediately, and because performing A/B split tests on headlines, images, or copy is cost-effective. However, email lacks social’s engagement. And as you know, our inboxes are overflowing, which has lead to reduced open and clickthrough rates.

For all these reasons and more, we turned the Heinrich Report e-newsletter into a blog. (Lucky for us, we implement and manage blogs for our clients, so this process wasn’t difficult.)

A blog offers many advantages over an e-newsletter as it allows:

  • People to subscribe via RSS, which reduces inbox overwhelm.
  • Marketers to produce content very quickly, an important consideration if you’re in an industry where you need to comment on current events or breaking news.
  • Prospects and customers to engage with you through direct feedback.

The third point is the most important because it’s this engagement that builds trust over time. People who read your blog learn how you think, as well as how you handle positive — and not so positive — feedback. As the marketer, you have the opportunity to get to know people and, over time, turn those online relationships into business.

2. Became more engaged on Facebook.

For those of us who didn’t grow up with the Internet, using Facebook for business-to-business purposes has been a challenge because it’s just so . . . different from what we’re used to; however, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

Because Facebook is all about conversations (and definitely not about selling), it allows companies to show their personality — much more so than is possible with email or even a blog.

On the Heinrich Facebook page we’ve been experimenting with posting pictures of some of our office events and using questions and polls to conduct research. (Pay us a visit and give us a “like”!)

How does using Facebook help build trust? As with a blog, Facebook is a place where prospects can engage with you one-on-one. You can use the platform to ask questions — the way Netflix does about movies — or you can deliver information related to your products that your audience finds relevant.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative in Vermont, for example, posts recipes that incorporate its famous cheeses. In a recent post, someone asked the company to bring back its sliced cheddar “without animal rennet.” Gail from Cabot responded by saying the company uses a “microbial-based enzyme” in its cheeses. The customer replied, “Good to know!”

Not only is Cabot positioning itself as a company that cares about its customers and building trust, it’s also learning what its audience values, which allows it to develop products that meet people’s needs — and thus increase sales over time.

3. Developed a special report.

When I meet with my banking clients, I hear their pain with regard to content and social media marketing. As Pulizzi says, today’s customer expects a brand to be a resource of relevant information, not just sales messages, which is why Heinrich developed a new special report about content marketing specifically for financial services.

Whether or not you’re in financial services, download the report to see how we used nine real life examples of banks, credit card companies and insurance firms using content and social media marketing to reach out to their audiences. (Another report about how to incorporate social into direct mail is in the making!)

Special reports like this one help you build thought-leadership and trust. If the content is particularly valuable, others will pass it around to their networks (think Twitter and LinkedIn).

Content marketing is important because it allows you to communicate with people who have learned how to tune out overt advertising messages.

If you’re ready to develop or need help managing a content marketing campaign, Heinrich can help you. From blogs and social media to special reports and landing pages, we have the big picture perspective plus the tactical know-how to help you grow your business.

Feel free to give me a call at 303-239-5213.  In addition to replying to blog comments, I also love talking to people on the phone.


Listen, Ask, Learn: How to Use Social Media in Your Marketing Planning

When marketers think of social media, they generally think of how to use it to increase engagement and marketing ROI.

Social media, however, is also a great way to discern what people are talking about – a point borne out by a 2010 Carnegie Mellon University study featured in the Mashable post, “Could Twitter Data Replace Opinion Polls?

CMU researchers found that “people’s attitudes on consumer confidence and presidential job approval were similar to the results generated by well-reputed, telephone-conducted public opinion polls, such as those conducted by Reuters, Gallup and Pollster.com.”

Social media chatter isn’t limited to current events, of course. As you know, you can also see what people are talking about with regard to your company and its products and services.

By listening in – and soliciting feedback from – your network, you’ll learn about the challenges people are facing, the questions they have and the thoughts they hold about your industry / company / products / etc.

You can then use this information to create or fine-tune your marketing strategy.

How do you get started? It’s easy – just use the tools available with each social media platform.

Listen: Use search and curator functions

Every industry has its challenges. In financial services, for example, one of many conversations is about debit card interchange, which affects banks’ ability to fund debit card reward programs. As pointed out in the Mashable post, and also in a recent BusinessWeek article, “Most ‘Liked’ Silicon Valley Companies,” social media lets you take the temperature of people’s sentiments fairly quickly.

In order to learn about what’s being said by industry experts, your peers, and especially consumers, you could read lots of publications as well as spend hours searching the Internet.

Or you can use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Alerts / Google Reader to deliver this content to you. Here’s how the search function works for each platform:

Twitter: You don’t need an account to use Twitter’s search function – just go to the home page and type a phrase into the search box. If you do have a Twitter account, simply use Twitter’s “Save a Search” function to follow multiple searches. (Other Twitter applications, such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck, have similar search functions.)

LinkedIn: A very new application, LinkedIn “News” delivers the industry news that people in your network are talking about in real time, right to your “home” page. You can also click on the “News” tab to see the full scope of what’s being discussed.

Google Alerts / Google Reader – These two tools are “must haves” as they allow you to quickly skim through content that’s been curated for you automatically.

Use Google Alerts to follow specific topics, keywords, people and companies in your industry – including your own. Anytime anything is posted that pertains to your Alert, you’ll receive a notification. Tip: Set Google Alerts as RSS feeds and have them delivered to your Google Reader rather than email, otherwise your inbox will be inundated.

Use Google Reader to follow industry blogs and publications (and your Google Alerts). Each time your favorite blogger posts something new, you’ll see it right in your reader. You can easily click through to the actual post to leave a comment – as well as read comments that others (i.e. your peers) have left.

Ask: Use Polls, Answers, and Questions Functions

Want to do quick yet effective market research? Integrated and third-party tools make it super easy to ask your industry peers and consumers easy-to-answer questions.

Twitter: A third-party app, TwtPoll is easy to set up and use. Below is a screen shot of a Twtpoll I did asking people how often they open their direct mail.

Facebook: This new app works the same way as Twtpoll. American Express, for example, used Questions to ask its customers which rewards product they should offer at 50% off.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has both a poll function and its very popular Answers feature. The Poll app works the same as Twtpoll and Facebook. Answers lets you ask questions – and get dozens of responses in very little time. To find the Poll app and Answers, click on “More” on the top navigation menu within LinkedIn.

Learn: Take Action

By listening to and asking for feedback from your audience, you gain the insight you need to make educated marketing decisions – especially those that can help create goodwill and reduce complaints:

  • A bank, for example, may learn from listening in on Twitter that its customers are complaining about the lack of ATMs in a specific metro area. While this is a customer service issue, the marketing department could create a campaign that includes a QR code that goes to a web page listing ATMs in the area.
  • According to the BusinessWeek article, Netflix learned from Facebook comments that its customers love watching movies and TV shows instantly over the Internet. I’m sure Netflix is using this data to further refine its offerings.
  • Cap’n Crunch, a consumer brand using Facebook and Twitter, routinely asks “fun” questions: “Do you eat your cereal out of the bowl or the box?” “What’s the strangest thing you’ve added to your Cap’n Crunch?” Think about what this data tells Quaker Oats about the cereal’s fans – and the product itself.

These are just a few ways you can use social media to aid you in your marketing planning. Do you have others? Leave your comments below.


Practical Tips for Incorporating Social Media into Direct Mail

In my last post, Direct Mail Should Be Like Social Media — Yes or No?, I raised the question of whether marketers should be adding some of social media’s innovative aspects to direct mail in order to increase response rates and better engage prospects.

In this post, I cover some practical tips for incorporating social into your direct mail pieces. The first three of these tips are fairly simple. The last two, augmented reality and “checking in,” are to inspire your creativity.

1. Add social media calls-to-action.

According to a 2010 DMA research study that quoted Nielsen findings, consumers are spending 43% more time on social media than they did in 2009, with social media and blogs topping online games and email.

In addition, the research study points out that marketers are spending more on social media to help increase brand loyalty and brand awareness.

Whether you’re doing postcards or traditional direct response letters, you can easily add “Like Us on Facebook” or “Follow Us on Twitter” calls-to-action to your outer envelopes, the letters themselves, lift notes, and even statements and other “official” mail. According to Jay Baer, publisher of the Convince and Convert blog, you’ll get more traction if you tell people why they should “like” your page, e.g., to receive discounts, etc.

If your budget allows, consider giving people an incentive to “like” your page the way BankAtlantic does. For each “like,” the bank gives $1 to that person’s favorite local charity. (To read the full story, download our free special report, “Attract and Retain Customers with Content Marketing.”)

2. Add QR codes.

I covered QR codes a few weeks ago in my post, “Use QR Codes to Boost Business Response.” As with adding social media calls-to-action, adding a QR code to any of your direct mail pieces is relatively simple:

  • Create the offer or piece of content — You’ll need to create something that people can download, whether it’s a landing page for a free report or a video.
  • Produce the QR code — A simple iPhone app, such as quiQR, will allow you to quickly generate a simple QR code. For more complex codes, or to create thousands of individual codes for PURLs, you’ll need a more robust application.
  • Add the QR code to your printed piece — I’ve seen QR codes on everything from catalogs and postcards to credit card offers and even mortgage statements!

3. Create offers based on what people are talking about on social media.

Many social media gurus advocate that you “listen in” on social media conversations. What this means is that if you’re on Twitter, use hashtags to follow discussions in your industry, including those that revolve around a conference or workshop or specific topic (e.g., #dma, #direct mail, #b2b). Listen to the questions people are asking. Can you use this information to create content, such as an e-book or report, that you can then offer via a direct mail lead generation campaign?

Ditto for Facebook. If your company has an active Facebook page, analyze which posts elicit comments and pay attention to what people are talking about to see if any ideas jump out at you for creating content offers.

4. Consider the future opportunities of augmented reality.

A very new and very cool technology, augmented reality (AR) apps add a virtual object into the real world. You view the “real world” through your smartphone camera, and the AR application adds virtual objects to what you see.

Although it might sound like a “so what” application, the implications are huge for marketers. A new iPad AR app, Magic Mirror, for example, scans your head and face and then adds virtual objects, such as a wig or a mask, to make it look like you’re actually wearing the item!

Total Immersion, developers of the app, is “a company known for the way it incorporates AR into online and print ads,” according to The Wall Street Journal article, “Why Smart Phones Can See More Than We Can”:

One online ad includes an interactive driving game that made users feel like they were driving the Volvo S60 through whatever their iPhone or Android camera displayed as AR obstacles fell into the road. In another campaign, people printed out a PDF of the Olympus PEN digital camera, held it to a webcam and saw animated demonstrations of the camera’s features, as if the camera — not a piece of paper — was in their hands.

Although a new and unproven application, augmented reality, if it plays out, could add tremendous innovation to your direct mail campaigns.

5. Let people “check in.”

The media world is abuzz that Pepsi let TV viewers check into its TV commercial — and win a free Diet Pepsi — using the new IntoNow app. (See the Ad Age article, “On TV Now: Watch an Ad, Get a Free Pepsi,” for details on how this works.)

Although relatively new, “checking in” has reached the tipping point. All kinds of companies here in the Denver area, including banks, let customers check in via Foursquare. And of course, you can let your friends know where you are with Facebook’s Places feature.

If people can check into TV commercials, why not your direct mail piece? You can easily encourage people to use Foursquare or Facebook Places in your direct mail. Going even further, you could find a way to literally let people check into your direct mail campaign — the same way Pepsi let people check into its TV commercial.

As with augmented reality, this tactic is sophisticated and requires some real research and planning. But the implications for direct mail are huge and bear watching.

As you can see, adding some of social media’s creativity and innovation to direct mail is fairly easy, and you don’t have to worry about displacing proven formats and formulas. Adding “Like” buttons, calls-to-action and QR codes can potentially increase engagement with your brand as consumers connect with you online.

If you test these ideas, let me know your results. I’d love to feature your campaign here on the Heinrich Report blog.


Direct Mail Should Be More Like Social Media — Yes or No?

American Express® is using social media to encourage customers to spend rewards points in “less traditional ways.” According to the Advertising Age article, “AMEX Campaign Positions Rewards Points as Social Currency,” the company is rolling out a new campaign that includes print, social media and TV.

Take a look at their new Facebook page “Points” tab.

This clever page includes American Express’s popular Twitter feed where people talk about how they’ve redeemed their points. It also includes the “Deal of the Week,” which members can redeem at a 50% rate.

Deborah Curtis, vice president of advertising at American Express, says, “Card members and consumers are looking for options and choices. There’s also education…because they aren’t aware of what they can do [with their points]. Some of it is an entrenched way of thinking about rewards programs when they were heavily travel-based and people saved up points for a big trip.”

“Entrenched way of thinking.” This phrase stood out for me with regard to direct mail marketing.

Despite the wonderful innovation in the digital space, and despite the fact that so many companies are using social media to engage and interact with consumers, direct mail packages still look the way they did 5 or even 10 years ago.

We’ve been doing direct mail for more than 30 years, and there’s no argument: Direct mail is still a workhorse, especially for Heinrich’s financial services clients. A proven, response-generating direct mail package still includes:

  • Envelope with teaser
  • Letter
  • Lift note with bonus offer
  • Reply card
  • Reply envelope

Because many of our clients still rely on direct mail — and because it does produce results — we don’t want to change proven formats and formulas just to be creative.

But I, and those of us here at Heinrich, are asking lots of questions in light of consumers flocking to social media:

  • Should direct mail change its ways even though the components of direct mail have been thoroughly tested?
  • Do relatively low response rates mean direct mail is perceived as staid and boring?
  • Can direct mail take a lesson from social media and become more engaging?

A look at direct mail response rates

The Direct Marketing Association’s 2010 Response Rate Trend Report shows the typical response rates for direct marketing campaigns for five mediums: direct mail (five formats), e-mail, paid search, Internet display and telephone. According to the DMA:

“Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the past four years. Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate this year of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list. In addition, nearly 60 percent of direct mail campaigns in financial services aimed to produce a direct sale. The average response rate was a comparatively low 2.66 percent to a house list and 1.01 percent to a prospect list.”

According to John Schlagel, director of strategy for Heinrich, these numbers are in line with what Heinrich clients see with their direct mail packages.  However, many clients base campaign success on lift over the control.

As John explains it, “Many clients evaluate results based on lift over a hold-out group, so while even 2.66% sounds like a strong response, it’s not unusual that the hold-out group has a 2.25% sales rate, indicating that, of the 2.66% responders receiving the direct mail, only .41% of the audience responded due to the direct mail.”

My questions are: Is this good enough? And, can we do better?

Why aren’t direct mail marketers taking a cue from social?

The American Express “social currency” campaign caught my eye because it’s different. The company is featuring real customers in its print, TV and social media outreach because it’s these “savvy” customers who are telling their friends how to redeem points.

With social media, we as marketers have the potential to start a conversation — versus making an actual sale. Writing out a 140-character tweet is a hook to get people to click through to your content. In other words, the purpose of social media is to capture people’s interest.

Direct mail, on the other hand, is a direct sales opportunity. Direct mail packages haven’t changed in five years precisely because direct mail is still a direct selling opportunity — and because it’s profitable for our clients.

But, would we engage more people and get better response rates if we incorporated some of social media’s innovations?

Here at Heinrich, we’re asking ourselves these questions. In Part 2 of this article, I’ll give you a few ideas of how you can add some of social’s innovations to your direct mail packages.

Until then, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below.


Special Report: Attract and Retain Customers with Content Marketing

Download now: Attract and Retain Customers with Content Marketing: A Special Report for Financial Services

Heinrich financial services clients ask lots of questions about content marketing:

  • “What exactly is ‘content’?”
  • “Why has content become so important?”
  • “How can we make content marketing work for our firm or bank?”

In this new Special Report developed by Heinrich Marketing for financial services firms, we answer these questions.

As a financial services marketer, creating content that helps you attract and retain customers must become a priority, especially now that educated, savvy — and connected! — consumers can quickly get up to speed on banking industry news, as well as shop for banks, credit cards and insurance, all with the click of a mouse.

Content developed by your firm lets you enter into these conversations with people, whether it’s through a blog post, Tweet or Facebook page. Content helps you communicate your message and educate prospects about changes in your industry, what’s happening at your firm and why you’ve had to make difficult decisions (e.g., cutting your rewards program).

When it’s done right, authentic and engaging content helps build trust in your company and turns prospects into customers — who then tell their social networks about why they like your brand.

But how can you make content marketing work when your company has yet to take a first step? Or, maybe you’re wondering how to integrate your Facebook page and Twitter presence into a more comprehensive content marketing strategy. Relax. We’ve got the answers!

In our Special Report, you’ll find 9 real-life examples of financial services firms, large and small, that are successfully using the following content marketing tactics:

  • Article research libraries
  • Special reports for lead generation
  • E-newsletters
  • Social media — Twitter and Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • Customer reviews
  • Community forums

Our goal is to inspire and excite you by showing you how your peers in the industry are reaching out and building relationships.

To learn how you can use content marketing to grow your business, simply fill out our short form to receive Attract and Retain Customers with Content Marketing: A Special Report for Financial Services.

Then, if you have additional questions, call me. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

 


LinkedIn: It’s Not Just for Résumés — 4 Online Networking Tips

“LinkedIn is just for job seekers,” said a commentator on a blog I read a while ago. “What?!” I heard myself saying aloud. Of course job seekers use LinkedIn, but the site is also all about business — finding it, building it and nurturing it.

LinkedIn is one of my marketing tools of choice. I use it to connect with clients, prospects and vendors, and to conduct research “on the fly” while on conference calls. For example, if someone on the call chimes in with an astute observation, and I don’t know the person, I’ll look him or her up on LinkedIn that very instant.

As I wrote in my post, Three Ways to Jump into Social Media (Even If It’s Not in Your Job Description), social media fluency is an essential skill marketers must have, and one important way to show this fluency is by developing a LinkedIn profile and proactively maintaining it — even if you’re not looking for a job.

Can your peers find you?

In a March 22, 2011, blog post, 100 Million Members and Counting, LinkedIn posted some of its numbers:

  • The site is growing at roughly 1 million members a week
  • 44 million members are U.S.-based
  • 73 of the Fortune 100 are represented
  • The three largest sectors are Service (20%), Finance (9%) and High Tech (9%)

Google isn’t the only search engine in town. In 2010, people performed over 2 billion people searches on LinkedIn. Having an optimized and complete profile ensures your peers (and possibly recruiters) can easily find you.

Getting started: Develop or improve your LinkedIn profile

Despite the relative maturity of the site, I still meet people who say they haven’t taken the time to develop a profile. As the numbers above show, however, it’s vitally important that you do.

If you already have a LinkedIn profile and want to improve it, you can find lots of articles on how to do so. I especially like this one by executive job search coach Meg Guiseppi, 29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes.

If you’re really all thumbs and can’t figure how to get started, I recommend that you get a how-to book, such as Neal Shaffer’s Windmills or LinkedIn for Dummies, and then spend a weekend setting up your profile. Or, ask a well-connected peer whose profile you admire to help you.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t “set and forget” your profile. To be effective, you need to continually manage and update it.

How to use LinkedIn to drive business

The best way to get maximum benefit from LinkedIn is to view it just as you would a face-to-face networking event. This means you can and should do the following on a regular basis:

1. Invite people you know to join your network

Invite your present and former co-workers, friends at other companies, people you meet at conferences or seminars, vendors and customers. Should you accept invites from people you don’t know? That’s your call — some people do, others don’t. The important thing is to connect!

2. Participate in group discussions

Look for and join one or two moderated groups (meaning, the owner or manager is actively removing spam posts and moderating discussions) and begin participating in the conversations. Why is this important? Because you learn new information as well as meet people (maybe your next customer!).

3. Regularly update your status with business-suitable news

You can post your achievements, links to articles or blog posts you find interesting, or a quick factoid from a business book you’re reading. Keeping your status updated ensures your name regularly appears in the news feeds of the people in your network.

4. Create and share non-promotional content

One of the nice things about LinkedIn is that you can customize your profile by using one or more of the many apps available.

These apps help you build non-promotional content that can spark discussions with people in your network, which is how new business is often generated. A few of the apps that business professionals may find useful include:

SlideShare Presentations: Do you speak or give presentations for your company? Are you an expert on a specific topic? SlideShare is an easy way to share your expertise as it allows you to upload presentations for others to view.

Reading List by Amazon: Being an avid reader, this app is near and dear to my heart; it lets me post the books I’ve read along with my opinion about each one. The nifty thing about this app is that people can follow your Reading List, further enhancing your personal brand and sparking discussions with people.

Polls: This easy-to-use app lets you quickly gather market research from your network — a mini focus group as it were. The poll appears on your profile; you can also post it to your various groups or in the Questions section and ask people to take part in the poll. Post the results to spark more discussion.

As you can see, LinkedIn is far from being a simple résumé site. To get the most from it, make sure your profile is up to date and then experiment with the various apps as well as participate in one or two groups. You’ll quickly see the benefits of using LinkedIn to help grow your business.

Have you generated new business from LinkedIn? Post your story below.

 


Use QR Codes to Boost Business Response

You’ve heard the buzz — QR codes are the hot new thing marketers are talking about. Heinrich clients have certainly noticed them and want to know, “How can we use them in our business?”

Short for “Quick Response,” QR codes are also known as “2D datamatrix” codes. In fact, QR codes are simply barcodes that have been supersized. A standard barcode is limited in the amount of information it can hold: Typically a barcode holds up to 40 characters in ASCII or “text” format.

Datamatrix codes, on the other hand, can hold up to 2600 characters in non-ASCII format, which means that you can include a URL (and lots of other info!) in your QR code.

Quick QR code how-tos

To scan a QR code, you need a smartphone and a scanner app. I use quiQR, an iPhone app (cost: $1.99). Whichever app you choose, I recommend that you read the reviews as the quality level and ease of use varies greatly among apps.

Once you’ve downloaded your app, simply scan the QR code to be taken to a web page. Because Heinrich clients want to know how QR codes work, I developed a quick video showing how to scan a QR code using one I had printed on the back of my business card.

To make your own QR codes, you can use quiQR, bit.ly, which generates a QR code whenever you shorten a link, or Kaywa, an application developed by Datamatrix, the pioneers in datamatrix codes.

Integrating online and offline marketing

So how do you use QR codes in your marketing? I recommend using them to connect online with offline marketing tactics.

Remember, people don’t readily recall a URL and they aren’t always near a computer — but many of us don’t go anywhere (at least intentionally) without our smartphones and carry them everywhere with us. QR codes allow you to engage with people where they are — whether they’re standing in the grocery aisle or walking past your storefront — as they’re very mobile friendly.

While adding a QR code to a business card is pretty cool, you’re limited only by your imagination in how you can use these fascinating codes. Here are a few of the ways we’re seeing businesses use QR codes to integrate offline with online:

Direct mail lead generation: Many banks and financial institutions still communicate with their prospect and customer audiences using direct mail. Using QR codes can add an element of digital interactivity to their direct mail campaigns, connecting customers and prospects to the online channel — and moving them further along the sales cycle.

Store signage: For businesses with “brick and mortar” locations, adding a QR code to a store window sign allows passersby and store customers to access a coupon via their mobile device, encouraging people to stop in and browse or make a purchase.

One-to-one marketing: In a March 30, 2011, interview with B2B Magazine, Martha Willis, CMO of Oppenheimer Funds, discusses how her firm is using QR codes to great advantage. When you scan a QR code found in an Oppenheimer print ad, it pulls up a video of a fund manager talking about investment opportunities. Says Willis, “From my perspective an advisor looking for an asset manager wants somebody on the forefront of knowledge. If they’re using dated instruments or tools, they don’t look like they’re on the forefront of knowledge.” Amen!

From “Cool!” to “How did we live without them?”

Although QR codes are benefiting from the coolness factor at the moment, their potential for powering truly integrated marketing is huge — and something you as a direct marketer don’t want to dismiss. My colleague Neal Sceva, an Integrated Solutions Specialist at CPC Solutions, recently commented,

“I sat back not knowing what to do a decade ago while the Internet and email marketing virtually decimated direct mail and now I believe there’s a huge opportunity for direct marketers to become thought leaders with new mobile-driven marketing efforts such as QR codes. I’m really excited!”

The key to realizing the potential for QR codes is to understand that they give people the ability to click on something flat and then get taken to a rich interactive experience — anything from a website to a video.

We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on this exciting technology and bringing you updates as they occur.

What do you think? Have you used QR codes in any of your campaigns? Are you thinking about it? Do you have other questions that I or someone else at Heinrich can answer for you? Post your comments below.

 


What We’re Reading: UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

Social media is still a new and rapidly evolving channel. As marketers, we’re optimistically (yet cautiously) investing our budgets and our time learning, researching, testing and applying social media’s strategies and tools for our businesses and brands. Most of us are working overtime to stay informed about new strategies and techniques that can drive connections, engagement and bring benefit to customers. There’s a sea of information out there and little time to take it all in.

That’s the primary reason we’re reading — and recommending — Scott Stratten’s book, “UnMarketing,” this month.

What we liked: As his subtitle, Stop Marketing. Start Engaging, suggests, Stratten preaches the importance of building trusted relationships via online conversations (mostly social media) as a means to build your business. In conversational bite-sized chapters easy for a busy marketer to digest, he offers helpful advice that can work for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and larger companies alike, especially since many are still trying to find the right way to enter the social media space.

Another plus: The book forces you to ask some important questions:

  • How can I integrate social media into my overall marketing plan? And stick to it regularly?
  • How can I use social media to recognize when my customers are having bad experiences and respond with authenticity?
  • How can I leverage social media’s ability to build trust, influence and customer engagement within my other marketing channels?

What challenged us:

Through smart phrases like “the experience gap” and the “trust gap,” Stratten manages to articulate many of the marketing tensions between social media and other marketing methods. But we don’t always agree with his quick dismissals of the “old ways” (like networking). And from the perspective of working marketers, we’d say his ideas might not be practical within the structures and systems of daily life at agencies and businesses alike.

Worth a read? Yes.

For every chapter we argued with, another struck a chord because of its ambition and insight. ”Your goal should be simple: Give people enough value on your site that they want to stay in touch and learn even more. Get them onto your value-driven list, make it easy for them to do so, and deliver them great content. (Chapter 24, page 103) On this, we agree. There is something to be said for finding the “unmarketer” in all of us, and figuring out what steps we can take to engage our customers in more meaningful ways.


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