Online Marketing, the New Word of Mouth
By: Jonathan Shapiro, CEO of MediaWhiz
Many traditional service providers do not give much thought to marketing services beyond word of mouth. They may not fully appreciate that increasingly competitive verticals require a strong online performance marketing presence, especially since more customers are turning to the Internet to complete purchases. By leveraging cross-channel performance-based solutions, service providers can engage consumers and join the online conversation – the new word of mouth.
Affiliate marketing connects potential interested clients to a specific service provider. It offers advertisers a low risk, high reward investment strategy, one that only asks advertisers to pay after the prospective client is introduced to them. It also enables firms to maintain profitability and stay consistently in front of the shifting client base.
Another channel service providers should leverage is Social Marketing. Social media advertising is poised to grow exponentially in 2011 with the majority of growth driven by Facebook. Having a Facebook presence, where existing clients can recommend you and your services, is the epitome of modern word of mouth advertising. But a presence alone is not enough. Service providers need to be active participants in the social conversation. They need to be present when a client need arises. Properly leveraging Facebook and the entire social media landscape is a cost-efficient way to stay part of the discussion.
Paid Search (PPC) and Organic Search (SEO) can help service providers engage highly actionable customers. The benefit of Search is immediate relevancy. Users searching for products and services online are looking for your store, your service, your brand. It is essential that your online presence is easy to locate. PPC experts can help you determine the most cost-effective keywords to drive customers to your site. An integrated PPC and SEO program can improve your search engine rankings. It can also enable you to engage and persuade potential customers at their “moment of relevance” – the moment they are actively seeking information on your product or service. This will help deliver qualified traffic and increase sales.
In addition to PPC and SEO, service providers must keep their online brand reputation top of mind. Negative comments about advertiser products and services on social sites, searches and blogs can be detrimental to your overall online conversation. Online Reputation Management experts will effectively audit the search space ensuring positive messaging is at the forefront of the conversation.
Service providers often depend on returning customers for continuous profitability. But even the most loyal customer can be influenced by lower cost services offered by online competitors. To stay competitive, service providers should implement ongoing email marketing, list management and data acquisition campaigns for their existing and prospective clients. This will ensure that their marketing messages are highly deliverable, functional and hitting the right target. These will also keep your services top of mind with existing and potential clients.
Lastly, display advertising enables advertisers to engage their target audience while driving highly valued, relevant traffic to their sites. Display advertising can allow service providers to target products and services to users who have expressed prior interest. Utilizing other performance-based channels like social media and search with display advertising will increase click-throughs, conversions and ROI.
Incorporating cross-channel online performance-based solutions will drive efficient customer growth, increase revenues and engage online users year round. By leveraging Affiliate Marketing, Social Marketing, Search, Email Marketing, Data Acquisition and Display Advertising, service providers can facilitate conversations with interested clients and actionable customers. These conversations will drive results that will really be worth talking about.
Choosing the Right Affiliate Network
By: Daryl Colwell, VP, MonetizeIt, the MediaWhiz Affiliate Network
For online direct response marketers, deciding which affiliate network(s) to align with can be daunting. But with a little guidance, the process can be much simpler and far less stressful. Here are three keys to consider when choosing an affiliate network:
Experience in the Vertical:
The significance of finding an affiliate network with experience in your vertical can not be overstated. To determine if an affiliate has the level of experience you are seeking, you need to ask the right questions:
- Does it specialize in one-time sale offers, or are their offers more subscription-focused?
- What are some similar products they’ve worked with and how much success did they have?
- Do they abide by industry recognized and vertical-specific best practices?
It is important to ensure the affiliate network under consideration has worked with the types of products you are marketing, understands your unique challenges and goals, and has the appropriate affiliate base to generate new sales.
Internet Marketing is a rather young industry so it’s highly doubtful you’ll be able to find a forty year old affiliate network to suit your needs. But you can find affiliates with five, even ten years of experience working with pretty reputable clients. Steer clear of companies that do not have a long tenure or tangible track record.
Excellent Client Service:
As for client service, do your research. Make sure your primary salesperson won’t disappear the moment you’ve signed on. Ask to meet your dedicated account manager or client services leaders prior to finalizing a contract. Establish from the start that you want to keep the lines of communication open. At minimum, you’ll want weekly feedback in the form of a report or call with your account manager. Regular check-ins are critical as you move toward the launch of a program. It will ultimately drive increased sales and better results. If you don’t feel comfortable with the people handling your account, trust your instincts.
By aligning with an affiliate network that has vertical expertise, experience and excellent client service, you can expect to drive fairly long-tail customers and improved ROI.
How Facebook ‘Likes’ and ‘Fans’ Drive Performance
By: Adam Scott Riff, MediaWhiz GM of Search
Digital advertisers and online marketers have fallen in love with the idea of being “liked” and rightly so. Brands leveraging Facebook likes are providing customers with a highly personalized and targeted experience that drives awareness, user engagement, referrals and most importantly – sales. In fact, according to eMarketer, 60% of Facebook users who like a brand are more likely to recommend that brand to a friend. Likes are also enabling search engines to customize their search results with products that their user’s friends endorse. That’s a win-win for consumers and brands.
For agencies, by incorporating the engagement benefits of social media, marketers can extend their reach with actionable users and, in turn, ROI. This is especially true with regard to Facebook. These “likes” are very likely, pun intended, to generate clicks and conversions and the best part is, with the right technology, you can track it.
Driving campaign results for a PPC or SEO social program requires more than sticking a “Like” button on your corporate website. Understanding the intrinsic metrics, analytics and algorithms behind like building is essential to changing the game for your clients.
adNet, the MediaWhiz Display Advertising Network, is Liked by Facebook
By: Andrew Chou, MediaWhiz GM of Display Advertising
Facebook is poised to make 2011 a memorable performance year for display advertising. According to eMarketer, the social media giant’s display ad revenue will hit the $2.19 billion mark giving Facebook 21.6% of the total display ad pie. The social network’s popularity has spurred the creation of a whole new market segment – Facebook Apps. In March, Facebook reached out to its developers letting them know they should only align with specific ad providers who would thus become ideal partners. Preferred ad partners have shown both the willingness and the ability to follow specific Facebook guidelines, namely not tracking user data or serving intrusive, evasive or misleading ads. This translates to better user privacy protection. adNet, the MediaWhiz Display Advertising Network, is among those ad networks identified by Facebook as a preferred partner for their app developers.
adNet serves over 2 billion display impressions monthly. Preferred ad network status on the Facebook platform is an acknowledgement that adNet is adhering to display best practices. It offers our display network access to over 500 million global users who are viewing Facebook pages in record numbers. As a preferred ad network, we are able to further our presence in the online media world and expand our reach to give our advertisers an easier pathway towards buying effective media.
Most importantly, in keeping with our programs of continuous improvement, becoming a preferred ad partner with Facebook will enable us to continually drive not good but exceptional results for our clients.
Are you Being Anti-Social?
Your company has a Facebook page. You love tweeting about your overall corporate brilliance. You are hip to the idea of Foursquare even if you aren’t entirely sure what the heck it is. Fantastic. Go you! So what else are you doing? Wait, that’s it? Oy… Take heart. According to a survey taken by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services earlier this year, you are not alone. The survey revealed that just over 10% of companies believe they are effectively leveraging social media. This clearly illustrates that the social network as a corporate communication vehicle has a long way to go before it can truly earn the collective title of “game-changer”. Social networks need some help. They need the fab five channels of online performance marketing – Affiliate Marketing, Data Acquisition, Display Advertising, Email Marketing and Search Marketing - to drive brand awareness and results.
Affiliates can utilize social media to monetize publisher traffic, blogs and websites. Advertisers and publishers can increase brand awareness and product buzz by leveraging Facebook Likes, Tweets and Foursquare Badges. Becoming part of the social conversation will result in social conversations-to-sale across the affiliate marketplace. But affiliate marketing is not the only online performance channel that should empower social.
Social media and online blogs have greatly benefited data and customer acquisition initiatives. According to a report published by marketer Hubspot, 4 out of 10 companies have acquired customers through social channels. In this instance, Facebook is the dominant force helping 44% of companies land new consumers. Data acquisition experts have effectively leveraged Promoted Tweets to engage their target audience, enhance brand awareness and increase buyer intent.
Promoted Tweets have driven great results for display advertising campaigns. Yahoo! Finance reported that twenty four hours after purchasing their Promoted Tweet, Coca-Cola drove 85 million ad impressions with an engagement rate more than 5.5% above normal levels. Display advertising has become a billion dollar revenue generator for Facebook. Intent on driving similar results for our clients, we are proud to have recently had adNet, the MediaWhiz display advertising network, named as one of Facebooks’ display ad providers.
The dynamic duo of email marketing and social media provides immediate and cost-efficient user engagement. According to Digital Life, online users spend on average .2 additional hours on social sites than on email. Time is money. Social can extend your consumer reach, drive sign-ups to email discount campaigns and e-newsletters and ensure that your message is hitting your intended target.
In 2010, the online analytics firm Compete reported Facebook had eclipsed Google as the top source of search engine traffic. The earned media element of social is consistently trumping paid media. Trust is the new black: prospective customers are more likely to trust a user blog than a corporate branded message. Facebook Likes only heighten this type of traffic; therefore, it should come as no surprise that according to eMarketer.com, 48% of shoppers use a non-traditional search engine – the social network – as their purchasing path.
Online performance channels drive results for clients and continuously improve upon them by incorporating technologically advanced metrics for ongoing optimization. To invoke a little sports speak, they are the winning starting lineup. But every team needs a great sixth man. This should be the role of social media. Without performance-based programs, your current social media strategy is, well, anti-social.
Drive Engagement, Drive Results
In the January edition of The Marketing Profit, MediaWhiz outlined specific best practices to follow to drive great results for your email marketing client campaigns. We first discussed HTML and how applying best practices can ensure the effectiveness of your email messaging. Text is next.
In the second of a five part series highlighting email marketing results-driving solutions, we turn our attention to text campaigns offering easy-to-follow tips and guidelines designed to maximize message deliverability and functionality:
- Text creation: Write and save text messages in Notepad or a similar .txt format
- Keep it simple: Settings vary. Avoid using bold, unique font, tabs, true bullet points, underlining, colors, different sizes, italics, or symbols (Â©, , â„¢, Â¼, etc.). If a character or symbol is not visibly available on your keyboard, it cannot be used in a text message
- Go au naturale: Avoid hard returns. Let text wrap naturally from line to line. This will eliminate unnatural sentence breaks when the text is interpreted in different email applications
- A is for Arial: Stick with Arial 10pt font. It is standard in most email applications and highly legible for message readers
- Punctuation makes perfect: Punctuation should never immediately follow a URL address, even if the URL is at the end of a sentence. It may “blend” into the link, making the link inoperable
- Compliance is key: Avoid obvious SPAM words like Free, Coupon and Cash to ensure deliverability
- Clearly state your benefits: This will engage readers to encourage click-throughs. And click-throughs lead to conversions-to-sale
- Repetitive call to action: Early and late calls to action result in better reader responses
- Keep it short: At most, keep your text content 2-3 short paragraphs. But less really is more Sentences of 10 words or less work best. Keep the subject heading length at 50 characters or less Don’t lose the reader with too much copy
- Essentials come early: Important info should be featured at the top of your message. Details and explanations should come later in the copy
To deliver the best open and click-through rates for clients, it is important to reference best performing competitive offers. This will help you gage what is working and what isn’t in the digital space.
Coming soon – The third part of our five part series “Drive Engagement, Drive Results” – Best Practices for Maintaining Your Email Marketing Campaign Checklist