Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

Email Marketing Still Going Strong; Social Media Not a Threat

MarketingSherpa just released its 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report with information gathered from over 1,400 marketers. The biggest trend to come from this year’s report is the effect (or lack thereof) that social media is expected to have on the future of email marketing. Some of the highlights are listed below. email

 What’s gaining importance?

  • Competition with social media for recipients’ time and attention (a 48% increase from last year – in 2008 only 23% of marketers said it was important, compared with 71% this year)
  • Getting people to opt-in to lists (a 10% increase)
  • Measuring and proving ROI of email campaigns (an 8% increase)

Conversely, delivering highly-relevant email content has decreased in importance by 6% and email deliverability has decreased by 5%.

Email marketing budgets are still steady overall…

  • Business/financial services saw the biggest increase in email marketing spend, with 51% increasing budgets in 2009; 38% of technology companies increased email marketing spend
  • The industries with the biggest decreases in budget included publishing/media and hospitality/travel (18% decline reported for each)

Social media’s impact on email marketing…

  • 81% agree that social media has extended the reach of email content to new markets and over three-quarters believe that this has helped increase brand awareness (check out an article from B2B earlier in the year on tips how to do just that)
  • However, social media is not aiding in lead generation – 57% of marketers say they can’t prove that social media has helped them generate more qualified leads and 43% don’t think it’s helped grow their email list
  • Social media has not “killed” email marketing – yet. When asked how marketers share something from the Internet with others, 78% said they email them the link. Only 22% said they share it through social media tools.

It will be interesting to see if these metrics change next year, although other studies also support the claim that email is here to stay despite the increase in social media usage. A recent survey of SmartBrief on Social Media readers found that 59% say email use has stayed the same despite the growth of social networks and an ExactTarget 2009 Channel Preferences Study found that 75% of online consumers prefer to receive permission-based promotional messages through email—up 3.6% from 2008.

 — Posted by Melissa Coyle

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DEMOfall09: Six Picks

The other day I blogged about some of the really passionate entrepreneurs I met at DEMOfall09 and I referenced the products that caught my eye. While I did not get to dig into all 70 or so companies while I was there, here are a few that I found worth noting:

Waze – This is a way cool, and I think much-needed, application that brings real-time traffic intelligence/information to the masses via the masses (crowd sourcing). The app works on GPS-enabled Smartphones and sends back GPS points as you drive.  The idea is that through the Waze community, traffic, road changes and other information is collected automatically and anonymously. Drivers can also take a more active role by reporting on new situations from their mobile device.   I need this for my suddenly hellish morning commutes and can’t wait to find out when it will work on my Windows Smartphone (they’ve promised Symbian and Win support as of this week). It also supports iPhone and Android.

WhoDoYouKnowAt, LLC – Think of this enterprise app as LinkedIn on Steroids or perhaps more aptly, LinkedIn With Security Layer.  It is a free and private (note: NOT social networking) networking application that allows you to leverage relationships for personal, business or civic gain in a confidential and tiered manner. CEO Lee Blaylock is a guy I’d bet on or want with me in a foxhole.  He developed the application after years working at Oracle, and I think he’s onto something. After all, how many introductions have you ever made or been asked to make via LinkedIn? What makes this app different is a “Levels of Trust” system that allows your online relationships to more accurately reflect those in the real world. With each connection, you can set their “Level of Trust” to reflect your real-life relationship. For example, when sharing a contact’s information with certain contacts, you can choose to remain anonymous. With your more trusted relationships, however, you can choose to share all of your network information.

Traackr – This is a Web 2.0 application for brand marketers, PR and marketing firms and in-house communications professionals. It allows users to harness the gold mine of information in social networks, blogs and Twitter. The application is called “A-list” or “Authority List,” and it helps you identify the people with the most clout so that you can target and track them. The company claims it can provide you a list of the most influential people online for any given subject as measured by the three “Rs” – reach, relevance and resonance. I plan to check it out in more detail soon.

MoLo Rewards, Inc. – This company has developed a wireless coupon application that allows users – via a cell phone – to scan items at the point of sale to instantly redeem coupons or loyalty rewards using either Near Field Communication (NFC) or RFID. MoLo Rewards also will allow consumers to link and join participating retail loyalty programs and earn points for every purchase by simply waving their cell phone in front of the cash register at the time of purchase.  These guys need to lock up some of the top pharmacy chains and then try to tackle the grocery giants. If they succeed, the coupon book goes the way of the daily paper or weekly shopper. CEO Robert Sprogis brought his “A” game to the DEMO stage, which further impressed me.

 

Enthusem – Can direct mail make a comeback? Enthusem is betting it can with a little Web 2.0 assistance. The company has set up an elegant approach to sending very high quality, personalized post cards through an online greeting card site that lets users send personal printed greeting cards that include a URL and a pickup code, which the recipient can type in online to see a custom video, read an extended note, or listen to an mp3 that you uploaded. This is CEO Steve Tingiris’ third company and maybe it will be the charm.

POWR – Believe it or not, these guys are bringing a new hardware solution to market. POWR (Point of Wealth Register) is a kiosk with an ATM-like interface that helps “unbanked” or hourly employees like bartenders, waiters, blackjack dealers, etc. make fast and easy deposits to personal accounts (think 401K or 529)or to make money transfers, pay bills, etc. These guys had a lot of spunk. CEO Doug Lindstrom is a veteran bartender so you know what his “light bulb” moment for his company must have been – many a morning waking up wondering where all of his tips went.  If POWR doesn’t end up getting bought by CoinStar or Western Union, I think they just might succeed on their own.

DotSyntax’s Digsby – If you have not tried it out (I have been using it for about a year), Digsby is an easy-to-use desktop application that helps people save time by managing their IM, email and social network accounts all from one location. DotSyntax unveiled the latest version of its social-media management tool at DEMO, and the new version is geared specifically towards helping solve the Twitter clutter and chaos problem. One of the key new features is a reversal from the Twitter client standard, in which tweet streams are displayed newest first. Digsby shows the oldest first with the logic being that it is easier to read threads from the beginning. I am not sure I agree, and I have yet to check out the new features yet. That’s what weekends are for …

— Posted by Tim Hurley

It’s a ‘Mad’ World

On Sunday night, one of my favorite TV shows of all time premiered its third season. For those of you who haven’t already caught ‘Mad Men’ fever, the show is set on Madison Avenue in the early 60s at the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency, and provides a glimpse of the “good ‘ol days” way before email, social media and political correctness. It also showcases the industry when it was largely male-dominated, clients and bosses were happy according to how many martinis were consumed at lunch, and budgets were seemingly sky-high – a stark contrast to today’s world.  Competitiveness is revered and the few women who get ahead struggle with being taken serious compared to their male counterparts.

Every time I watch, there is a part of me that wishes it was still as simple as it was back then – sexism aside, of course. I mean, how great would it be to get a client to agree on a campaign strategy over a three-martini lunch instead of battling over creative briefs and budget constraints? And to breeze into a meeting 5 minutes late, paint a picture of how the ad might look and leave in an air of confidence, a la Don Draper.

But of course, we’re very far away from that world now. TV ad sales are declining and the focus is on user generated content and getting more bang for the buck via social media platforms. Twitter is a recognized verb and noun, and the facebook phenomenon is still rampant (just think how happy would Don Draper and his cronies would be if they could have selected their secretaries using facebook!).

Although set in the 60s, the show has crossed generations to leverage these new marketing techniques to its advantage. You can take a personality quiz online to find out which Mad Men character you’re most like, or MadMenYourself and create your own Mad Men avatar. You can follow Mad Men on facebook and get constant updates on the show and its story lines.

My 'MadMenMyself' Avatar

 All of the Mad Men characters even have twitter accounts, and tweet completely in character – something I still haven’t totally wrapped my head around…I mean, they are supposed to be in the 60s! @PeggyOlson recently tweeted: “I swear @JoanHolloway gave me the worst secretary in the office. I’d rather work w/ @SecretaryPool than listen to @Lola_Secty gossip all day.” And @Roger_Sterling: “I don’t care if Stoli is made by commies. Life is too short for bad vodka, although it’d be even shorter without it at all.”

If you work in the industry, then you especially appreciate Mad Men’s portrayal of client service and agency-life, even if it’s a far stretch from what it’s like today. And even if you don’t work in the industry, the quippy one liners and fashion are enough to make anyone a fan. Till next week… in the words of Don Draper, “What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.”

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Too Much “Me” in Social MEdia?

I tuned in to today’s HubSpot webcast on How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation. I fancy myself a bit of a HubSpot groupie – they do some really cool things (HubSpot TV, cartoons, etc) and manage to keep it “real” and have fun while doing them.

Well, let’s just say that webcasts clearly aren’t their strong-suit. Aside from major audio, video and slide issues, I was hoping for a good example of how a real company has managed the “social media led-gen funnel” from start to finish. Instead, I got 45 minutes of HubSpot commercials and maybe 15 minutes of valuable takeaways. I do want to give the presenter props – you could tell he was nervous and it can’t be easy reading your “critweets” while trying to present.

At any rate, once I got passed tech issues and zoned out the self-promotion, there were a couple good points on why social media can be an integral part of driving traffic to your site. Some points to ponder:

  • In the “old days”, traffic was generated purely by search. Now, social media should be on the same par of search in terms of driving traffic to your site. But the same challenges exist. Sure, social media might drive traffic, but how to you make sure it’s the right kind of traffic?
  • His advice on how to start? Listen (twitter/blog searches), follow the conversation, participate in the conversation, build a network, distribute your content and then hope it gets shared.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Blog, do podcasts, try video, publish photos – you can share all these things on social networks like facebook and twitter to help drive traffic back to your site (and increase search rankings).
  • How do you convert a website visitor to a lead? With a good call to action and an effective landing page. He nailed it when he said, “Don’t write about your products; address the customers’ needs.”
  • When it comes to measuring, don’t just track site traffic/referrals. Track the whole funnel PLUS conversion rates to know if the campaigns are truly successful.

Other pearls of wisdom (from HubSpot and twitterers):

  • “Social Media – just like going 2 a cocktail party – meet people, balance info you share & want to learn from people, and build trust!”
  • “Write about the needs of the target market not your product. If @zappos tweeted about shoes would we follow? Probably not.”
  • “It’s not possible to succeed in social media without a continuous stream of relevant content.”

HubSpot made some interesting points about using social media as a traffic-generator and how to convert that traffic into leads. And I agree that most companies engaged in social media are putting too much “me” into it. Meaning, just because you have hundreds of followers, not a single one of them is going to care or listen to you unless what you’re saying is relevant to them and not overtly salesy.

Though not without issues, I think today’s webcast was actually a good example of the point HubSpot was trying to make. Certainly people tune into a webcast hoping to learn something (and not be “pitched” a product). That said, the whole idea is to get people talking and paying attention to your brand. The twittersphere may have been complaining and bashing the webcast throughout the entire session (#hubspot), but show me another webcast that’s generated 2500+ live views and so much conversation on twitter (it made it to #5 trending topic)! I bet today’s webcast increased HubSpot’s site traffic at least two-fold, and no doubt some of those will convert to leads, and ultimately sales. Which – after all – is the whole point, isn’t it folks?

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Latest trends in B2B marketing

MarketingSherpa has just released its 2009-2010 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. You can download the 9-page excerpt for free or purchase the entire 200+ page report for $447.

Though I’m not convinced the full report is worth its hefty price tag, there are a few good tidbits of information:

  • The majority of B2B marketers are optimistic that the economy will recover in the remainder of the year
  • B2B is ahead of B2C when it comes to adopting social media strategies and tools, including social networks and company blogging
  • While B2B marketers plan on increasing investments in programs like webcasts, search, website improvements and social media, they are majorly decreasing spend in other areas, especially tradeshows/face-to-face events and traditional advertising
  • There is still a noticeable breakdown in the marketing-to-sales process – the majority of B2B marketers do not have a process for nurturing leads that aren’t sales-ready, do not have closed-loop tracking from source to conversion, and do not have a process for handing leads back to marketing
  • When it comes to a company’s website, B2B marketers struggle most with clear and compelling messaging, efficient/regular updates and optimizing the site for search

The full report contains more detailed info breakdown of marketing budgets by program, industry and company size; average leads generate by program investment; outsourcing key marketing functions; effectiveness of different email tactics; analysis of PR effectiveness; case studies; and more.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Corporate Uses of Social Media

While some companies are still trying to figure out how to involve their brand or company in the social media landscape, others have a large amount of resources dedicated solely to this vehicle. One such company, Southwest Airlines, is using Twitter to alert travelers of flight delays and last minute availability on flights.

Not only are corporations using social media tools to promote their brand and events and stay top of mind, but many are also using it as a means of managing customer service. Companies such as Zappos, Comcast and HR Block cite scalability and ease of management as huge advantages for using this medium (http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/12/08/southwest-airlines-uses-twitter-alert-flyers-bad-weather). Using one porthole keeps customer complaints under control – they can be responded to quickly and directly, and companies can even mitigate complaints by communication with consumers proactively.

Companies that use social media platforms as part of their customer service efforts often don’t sit back and wait to be directly contacted. They use alerts to monitor conversations surrounding their brand, and often will respond to negative comments through customer service identities in an attempt to keep customers happy.  Some companies, such as Trip Advisor , do this by posting responses to negative customer reviews, while other companies are using services such as Dialogix to monitor social media conversation and sediment and aggregate the information to keep track of key influencers.

While many larger companies have seemed to “master” the use of social media, others are still left wondering how they can leverage this growing medium.  The recent Permission TV video seminar on “Building an Audience in the Digital Age” and Scott Kirsner’s recent book, “Fans, Friends & Followers” provide a few great tips to bear in mind:

  • You don’t have to leverage every social media vehicle; find one that helps you best connect with your audience.
  • Build a presence and use it to engage followers, customers, etc. with special promotions – and don’t forget to ask for feedback.
  • Find the right voice for your social media efforts; a passionate employee is best in this role, not necessarily the most senior.
  • Keep it up! Starting to use a social media site and then dropping the ball does nothing for brand image.

Good luck in your social media involvement and branding efforts, and until next time, keep tweeting!

— Posted by Danielle Millerick

60 seconds or less…

Breaking down hot topics in technology, media and marketing for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • File under, “Really?!”  A charity auction for an internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. What’s worse…college grads so desperate for a job that they’ll pay five figures for one, or media companies trying to make their margins by selling internships?
  • Entrepreneurs, fear not! After meeting with more than a dozen Boston-area VCs, Tech Journal South reports that venture funds have available cash to invest, are actively looking for new deals and don’t expect the rest of the year to be as bad as the first quarter.  
  • The Wall Street Journal issues “Social Media Rules of Conduct” for its staffers. Among the rules? Editor approval is required before “friending” sources in Facebook or twitter.  Check out the entire list here.
  • What did you do by the time you were 25? Did you start a company that has generated 200 million users? Were you named one of the The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine? Were you ranked one of the richest people in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $1.5 billion? Had you made $240 million off of Microsoft? Well Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned 25 yesterday, has checked all those times of his list. I know, it hurts.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle


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