E-Mail Marketing – The First Social Network

email marketingE-mail has been around since before the dawn of the internet.  That’s right, in the early 1970’s, the Federal Government was sending messages through the United States Department of Defense network, which handled over 30 million messages per month.

As we began to move more onto the information super-highway, services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America On-Line began to proliferate, making it incredibly easy for everyone to have an e-mail address.  In fact, at the height of AOL’s dominance, they had over 30 million members worldwide (they only serve about 2.9 million subscribers, as of October 2012).  In contrast, Facebook has over 1 billion members, as of September 2012.

What made e-mail so “social” was the ease at which your messages could be forwarded to your entire address book.  If you wanted to share with friends and family, all you had to do was hit the “forward” button, and they were all able to participate in the discussion.

Fast forward to today, and most businesses are marketing through e-mail, but that doesn’t mean that they are “doing it right.”  Just using this “social network” isn’t enough.  We need to ensure that our e-mail marketing is accomplishing its goals of increased business, increased lead generation, and increased market share.  The big question, then, is what are some best practices in e-mail marketing?

Best Practices

1.  Write compelling Subject Lines

Keep it short and simple and incorporate the benefit of opening the e-mail.

2. Set your objective and then choose the appropriate frequency

Are you trying to promote, inform, or relate to your audience?

3. Call your audience to action

You are sending the e-mail for a reason.  Make sure they know it.

4. Make sure they recognize the “From” address

They may know your company name, but not yours.  Make sure the email comes from someone they “know.”

5. Keep your main message and call to action “above the fold”

This is “news speak” for making sure that the important information is seen without scrolling the message.

6. Be mindful of mobile devices

Statistics say that 38% of email is opened on a mobile device and only 33% is opened on a desktop, so make sure the fonts and images will look good on your recipients mobile devices.

7.  Make sure to use alt-text for your logo and pictures

This is text that describes the pictures and logos should images be turned-off on your web browser, smart phone or e-mail client.  That way your recipient knows what should be in the image’s place.

Can-Spam

In addition to the tips above, always make sure that you are abiding by the “Can-Spam Act”, which requires the following:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information;
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines;
  • Tell recipients where you are located;
  • Honor opt-out requests;
  • There needs to be a relationship between the sender and receiver.

If you follow these best practices and requirements, then your e-mail marketing is on the right track to continuing the social nature of e-mail marketing.

What subject lines to you find work the best? The worst?  Do you feel that you get too much e-mail?  Sound off in the comments below.

Resources:

Wikipedia – Email

Wikipedia – AOL

Constant Contact – The Value of E-Mail Marketing Video

9 Email Marketing Best Practices to generate More Leads

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

Constant Contact

AWeber

MailChimp

Mobile email usage statistics

The Ever Changing Facebook

New Facebook News FeedI’ve been writing this blog for for almost 3 years, and it seems that I’ve written about changes to Facebook at least once every few months.  This month is no different.  On Thursday, March 7, 2013, Facebook announced drastic changes to its newsfeed.  They have decided to unify the newsfeed across all devices, desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile, and to provide a better “newspaper” like experience, providing “all the news that you want to see.”

In addition, Facebook will begin to sort the newsfeed chronologically, and will place a greater emphasis on pictures and videos.  In fact, they are increasing the size of the newsfeed, and decreasing the size of the two sides.  There is also talk that they are removing the ticker from the right side, and that sponsored stories are now going to be placed within the newsfeed, as they currently do, only bigger.

The question remains, how does it affect business?

The biggest change for businesses will be the increased size of posts, pictures and videos, but a decrease in screen real estate where ads currently reside.  But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Facebook is unifying the look across all platforms, ads will begin to appear in their mobile apps.

BUT, Facebook is also introducing (or re-introducing) sub-feeds, where you can organize your newsfeed according to specific criteria.  Through the new “all friends” feed, users will be able to see only those updates that their friends have posted.  There will be no updates from business pages at all.  Users can even focus their newsfeed to their closest friends, excluding all others.

Facebook is also going to implement feeds specifically related to photos and music, which may be a boon for advertisers within these respective genres.  They can target their ads to only show up for users within these respective feeds, which may lead to greater engagement.

They are also implementing a new “following” feed, which will aggregate all the stories from the brands that you follow, and also will show ads from all brands.

So, will these new changes be accepted, or will their one billion users revolt, as happens whenever a change is implemented?  Only time will tell.  What do you think of these changes?  Will they affect your use of Facebook?  Will they affect brands ability to connect with you?

 

Resources

Facebook Newsroom

The NEW Facebook News Feed: Everything You Need to Know

What Facebook’s New News Feed Means for Marketers

Facebook’s new News Feed: Bigger is Better

Hands On With the New Facebook

Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation

Connected CultureAfter appearing with Jerry Allocca on a panel discussion, he provided me a copy of Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation (amazon affiliate link), a book that provides a small business with a step-by-step guide to connecting in todays’ digital world.  And, after reading through this book, and partaking in many of the on-line resources, I can say that this book accomplishes its goal of offering an in-depth look into the “who”, “what”, and “where” of our connections within this new digital age.

Jerry Allocca, founder of CORE Interactive, offers his readers a step-by-step journey into the oftentimes confusing world of social media.  Allocca takes us through why we connect, who we are connecting with, and most importantly, how we can connect with our target audience to ensure that we, as businesses, leave no stone unturned.

And how does Allocca do this?  By following a great formula of offering readers the “why” we are connecting, and then offering them the tools to ensure it is done correctly.  Each chapter is followed by a downloadable workbook, so that readers can begin to implement the many ideas and actions Allocca outlines.

Should you read Connected Culture?  Absolutely.  But, more importantly, you should download and complete all of the downloadable workbooks, so that you are not only learning about the “Connected Culture”, you are able to participate in it.

Top 10 On-line Social Media Resources (plus one more)

Top 10After attending a continuing legal education seminar recently, I noticed many questions centered around where the attendees could find some of the best information regarding social media marketing on-line.  To help my fellow attendees, I have compiled a list of my top 10 social media on-line resources.

So, here we go:

10.       Social Media Explorer is a great site operated by Jason Falls, author of No BullShit Social Media, (check out my review here)which covers how you can use social media to grow your business.

9.         Social Fresh is a social media education company, whose goal is to create better marketing through social media.  This is a collaboration between Jason Keath, Corey Creed, and Katey Dietz, and they offer seminars and training, as well as a great blog.

8.         Mashable Social Media  The tech blog, Mashable, has several sections within their site covering several different industries, including entertainment, US and World news, videos and business.  And they cover social media with articles posted throughout the internet.  They also have a great e-mail newsletter, covering the “hot topics” of the day.

7.         JeffBullas.com  Jeff Bullas works with companies and executives to help optimize their brand with digital marketing and social media.  His blog’s focus is helping businesses get found on-line, and he offers all aspects of how-to as well as the why you should be.  I recommend you sign up for the e-mail updates!

6.         HubSpot Blog (and e-books).  Hubspot is one of the biggest inbound marketing agencies there is, and they produce an amazing amount of free educational content.  In addition, I receive a new downloadable e-book from them at least once a week, and they all provide some bit of information that even the novice social marketer would find useful.

5.         Pushing Social This blog, from Stanford Smith, provides practical blogging tips and resources for all small business owners, whether new to blogging or a seasoned pro.

4.         Business Grow by Mark Schaefer offers great insight into all things social marketing, with a bit of “humanity” thrown in.  And I look forward to his weekly “GrowToons”, which characterize social media in humorous cartoon fashion.

3.         Chris Brogan is a marketer with 12 years experience, and although his business caters to larger companies, his thoughtful insight into business is helpful to even the sole practitioner.  In addition, he offers several different newsletters, all of which I look forward to on a weekly basis.  He is also the author of several books, including Trust Agents and Google Plus for Business.

2.         Convince & Convert  This is the blog from Jay Baer, author of The Now Revolution, which covers social and content related topics in a “hype-free” way.  Another newsletter that I highly recommend.

1.         Social Media Examiner  This blog, run by Michael Stelzner, author of Launch: How to Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, promises to be your “guide to the Social Media Jungle”, and he does so, offering help and advice in simple, non-technical terms.  In addition, he offers several “Success Summits” throughout the year, covering blogging, Facebook, and Social Media.

So, there you have it.  My top 10 social media resources, and I did promise you one more.  So, drumroll please…

DigitalEthos.org  That’s right.  The very blog where this will first appear is a non-profit organization responsible for facilitating awareness and education through training and interactives.  Make sure to sign-up for our Digital Media Monthly newsletter, and feel free to support us in our goal of helping businesses embrace social media (full disclosure – I am on the Board of Directors of Digital Ethos).

You can also check out Social Media Examiner’s top 10 social media blogs 2012 winners for even more great social media resources.

Do you have a favorite that you visit daily or receive a newsletter from that you can’t live without?  Please make sure to share it with us!

Resources:

Social Media Explorer

Social Fresh

Mashable Social Media

JeffBullas.com

HubSpot Blog

Pushing Social

Business Grow

Chris Brogan

Convince & Convert

Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner’s top 10 social media blogs 2012 winners

Article originally appeared at DigitalEthos.org

Don’t Market Like it's 2006

Marketing Like it is 2006On Wednesday night, I watched an old recorded episode of the West Wing.  In fact, it was the Pilot episode, which aired before the series finale on May 14, 2006.  As an aside, this is one of my all-time favorite T.V shows, and I still miss the incredible writing and wonderful acting.  But I digress…

As I was watching the episode on my DVR, and beginning to fast-forward the commercials, it dawned on me.  The commercials from 6 years ago are no different than the ones aired today.  No different at all.  NBC showed the same car commercials, the same travel commercials.  Maybe the songs and offers have changed, but the actual commercials are no different.

Really?  Nothing in the way of T.V. marketing has changed in 6 years?  That is a major problem.  But what’s worse is when marketers today try and use social media to market the same way they do in traditional media.  The same way they did in 2006.

Social marketing requires much more than creating a flashy ad and adding some music.  But, what, exactly does digital marketing require of businesses?

To be successful in social and digital marketing, businesses need to ensure that they are accomplishing the following:

  1. Have a strategy in place for your marketing
  2. Advertise where your clients are
  3. Engage the “right” audience
  4. Meld digital and traditional marketing, if necessary
  5. Monitor results
  6. Focus on clients’ needs
  7. Don’t just take the traditional and use it in digital

And, the most important point, as we move forward in the world of marketing:

Don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over!

When  you are looking to grow your brand or business, the most important thing to do is continually evolve your message.  Make sure it fits with the medium.

Don’t market like it’s 2006.

What are you doing to change your marketing for the new digital world?  How are you measuring results?

Top Five Marketing Mistakes Companies Make…And How to Recover!

Top 10 B2B Marketing Mistakes

Top 3 Marketing Mistakes from History That Can Teach Internet Marketers a Thing (or Two)

The West Wing

My Appearance on Marketing Made Simple TV

With the show’s host Jeff Ogden, owner of Find New Customers, away on vacation, the show’s Producer, Alison Gilbert steps in to interview the reformed attorney and social marketing expert Craig Yaris, owner of Esquire Tech Solutions. Thanks for pinch-hitting for our host, Alison!

Thank you, Jeff for giving me the opportunity to interview our colleague and fellow blogger from Digital Ethos.org, founded by Basil Puglisi. Craig is a very special person. He embodies the qualities that make him, in one world, an excellent professional:

  • he is the consummate pro with marketing clients
  • he is a superb educator/social media instructor

Although he calls himself a redeemed attorney, he still keeps up his legal credentials. More importantly, he possess the qualities that make him this professional’s professional. He researches. He studies. He discovers the best solutions to his clients needs.

Craig Yaris, redeemed attorney, social media expert and today’s guest.

Likewise as an educator, he is ardent is his efforts to stay ‘ahead of the game’. This is no easy task as we are in a field that waits for no one and never stands still. Yesterday’s information is old news.
For anyone interested in being a social marketing pro, becoming better at serving one’s clients and/or wishing to be an educator, this video is invaluable. I hold Craig in very high esteem as a model for both and this video illustrates his attributes.

Note from the host and producer:
This video was so fascinating to tape that the editors allowed it to go the full length for about 26 minute rather than the 12-13 minute max previously. This requires and is the inspiration for a change in our show format.

Marketing Made Simple TV | Craig Yaris – reformed attorney and social media maven from Jeffrey Ogden on Vimeo.

We welcome your comment, suggestions and of course, your compliments. We want to know that the show is meeting your needs and interests. We really would love to hear from you.

Social Networking Like Mad Men

Social Networking like Mad Men First, let me say that I have not yet watched the show Mad Men, but understand the premise.  That doesn’t mean I can’t use the show as the backdrop for an interesting social networking event I witnessed this past week.  It made me realize that social networking, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or in person, only provides connections to those you feel connected to.

The story is simple.  At a recent networking event, I met a professional.  Someone who was a partner in a large firm.  After exchanging pleasantries, I realized that I had heard of his firm before – in a job posting that had come across my desk and that I forwarded to a friend.  We began speaking, and I mentioned to him that my friend may have applied for this job, and his first questions was simple, “How old is she?”

WHAT????

He asked again.  I looked at the other person standing with us (I’ll call him Fred), and we exchanged amazed glances.

The conversation continued, with this professional telling Fred and I how he was “looking for a girl” to handle all his social media, event planning, PR, and to network with him at events.  That this “girl” should be young, and that he would even hire a “girl” right out of college with no experience.

Wow.  I tried to steer the conversation towards the hiring of a social media firm, such as mine (as we are want to do at a networking event), but he was insistent about hiring a “girl”.  He even indicated that he expected an e-mail from me telling him how bad his website was and that I could help him (I assured him he would receive no such e-mail).  But the conversation continued for about 5 more minutes before he left.

After he left, Fred and I spent the rest of the evening discussing the social and legal implications of the conversation.

We took away the following tips:

1.  Lack of etiquette occurs off-line as well as on-line.

2.  People are going to be who they are, no matter where they are.

3.  First impressions really do matter.

4.  You should always treat people with respect.

5.  You can’t always teach old dogs anything.

So, in the end, I say this to the small minded professional – thank you.  Your behaviors helped cement what I hope will become a lasting friendship.

Between Fred and Me.

Don't Stink at Customer Service

Don't Stink at Customer ServiceThis has been written about, time and again, how the best way to succeed at customer service it to not stink at it.  I just wanted to highlight a quick story about how simple this really is.

On Saturday, June 9, 2012, I was in a local Dunkin Donuts buying some breakfast for the family (I admit it, we love the breakfast sandwiches).  As I was getting ready to pay, an older women interrupted us and indicated her half-empty coffee cup was cold.  Without blinking the person behind the counter took the coffee, confirmed whether it was decaf or regular, and proceeded to fill it up.  There was not a moment’s hesitation.  He even made sure that there was enough milk in the cup for her.  She didn’t say a word, and just sat back down.

I watched her return to her seat, and in front of her was an almost finished egg sandwich.  She had completely finished her breakfast when she decided that the coffee was cold.

But the wonderful employee at Dunkin Donuts didn’t care about that.  He knew how long she had been there.  He knew that her coffee was probably cold because she didn’t drink it.

But, and this is the great part, he DIDN’T CARE!  He made his customer happy (even though there wasn’t even a thank you).

However, I have now written about it, and will share this post on my Facebook Page, my personal Facebook profile, and my two Twitter accounts.

So, if you are ever in the Deer Park, NY area, visit the Dunkin Donuts on Long Island Avenue and Commack Road.  You will be glad you did.

Do you have a story like this to share? I’d love to hear it (and even share it).

How Not to Market on Twitter

I had attended the NYXPO on May 2nd and 3rd, and enjoyed meeting many new people and connecting with many more over Twitter.

In fact, I love Twitter.  It makes it easy to connect with those people you may not otherwise get to connect with, and it gives you access to people you may not be able to access.  For example, I arrived early on theTweet from Frank Eliason second day of the conference to attend a panel discussion that included Frank Eliason (@FrankEliason), and after a 10 minute delay because of sound issues, the panel began, but Mr.  Eliason’s chair remained empty.  So I did what any self-respecting social media person would do — I sent a tweet that said, “Where is @FrankEliason for the morning panel at #NYXPO?  Was looking forward to him.”. Seconds later he replied that he had “complications”. And so began a conversation with Mr. Comcast Cares himself (he is no longer with them).

How cool is that?  Very cool.  Social media cool.

Really Bad Twitter AdvertisingSo imagine my surprise when my Foursquare check-in at the Javits Center resulted in some of the worst marketing I’ve been involved with on Twitter.  One hour later, I received a tweet from someone that said, “Gdm! I see you used to be Attorney.  Ever heard of XXXXX (product name hidden to protect the guilt)?”  and, so began our “conversation” which included him telling me to go to a friend “in 5 minutes”, and to call several different phone numbers and press several different options, so I could learn more about this product (his website is all video, no words, because “too much to write.”)

Really Bad Twitter MarketingOh, and did I mention that he doesn’t follow me, nor I him, on Twitter?  We have absolutely no relationship.  We’ve never even “tweeted” to each other.

Social media marketing is about engagement.  It is about conversation.  It is about listening.  It is not about the hard sell.  What gave this person the idea that I wanted to hear about his company or product, or that I needed to know about it so badly that I should meet an “assoc” within 5 minutes?  Oh, and had he really read my profile, he would have noticed that I am a FORMER Attorney!  My profile is very clear:  Chief Social Marketer at EsquireTech Solutions, father, husband, traveler, Trekkie, former attorney.

So,  how do you market within Twitter?  You engage people in conversation.  You offer assistance when needed, and advice when warranted.  You share valuable information, you share what others have tweeted.  Then, and only then, do you even have the right to “ask for the sale”.  And don’t make it difficult.  It should be incredibly easy for me to learn about your product.  And since we already know each other, the sale should be easy.
So, how do you market on Twitter?  By not marketing.  By not selling.

This person will never get me to recommend his product.  It could be the best thing since sliced bread, but it wouldn’t matter.  I’ve been treated like nothing more than a dollar sign.

 

How to Market Your Business – Twitter

The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Marketing

5 Proven Twitter Marketing Strategies

How to Market on Twitter The Genuine Way – A Beginner’s Guide

 

Blog originally appeared at Digital Brand Marketing Education

The State of the Facebook Ad

On April 4, 2012, I received a copy of the 2012 Facebook Ads Report, since I had participated in the study.  This report was produced by SocialFresh with help from Likeable Media, Webtrends, Blitzlocal, ConvinceInfographic Facebook Ads & Convert, and Buddy Media, and was compiled based upon feedback from the 347 Facebook advertisers that had completed their survey between February 16th and March 2nd, 2012.

The respondents were experienced marketers, with an average age of 34.3 years and 8.3 years of marketing experience.  The average participant had been managing Facebook ads for about 2 years, and nearly 21% of the advertisers worked with a Facebook ad representative (which usually requires a monthly ad spend of between $10,000 and $20,000).

The survey started out questioning the goals of the marketers, and the final results indicated that Facebook ads are generally used for one of four goals:

  1. Awareness
  2. Engagement
  3. Conversion
  4. Audience Growth

The goals listed most often was awareness, resulting in 61% of the respondents, with engagement only 35% of the total respondents.  However, it would seem that the most money is spent on audience growth, where 44% of the respondents indicated they spent the most money, and awareness only receiving 22% of the budget vote.

The survey also inquired as to the targeting criteria used by Facebook marketers, and age and country were the largest demographics that advertisers were targeting, indicated by the 55% and 53% responses respectively.  However, what surprised the surveyors was that gender ranked 9th out of 15 possible criteria for segmentation.  This struck me as odd, as well, since gender can be a very important motivator for action.

On average, Facebook marketers (57%)  are using between 2 and 5 different audience segments to target their ads, and almost a quarter of the marketers are only using one segment.  Again, a surprise to me, since the depth of available targeting options is large, I see no reason to generalize my advertising.  Why not entice the exact client or prospective customer you are looking for, instead of casting too wide a net?

One aspect of the study I found most fascinating referred to the lifespan of ads presented on Facebook.  According to the study, the average Facebook ad ran between 1 and 14 days before the campaign was changed or ended.  However, according to data cited in the study, the average Facebook ad has a peak click-through rate during the first 72 hours, and that the longer an ad runs, the more it will cost, as the click-through rate declines.

But, what are the challenges faced by marketers using Facebook?

As I expected, the biggest challenge listed was return on investment, or ROI, with 46% of the respondents indicating this was an issue.  Even after 4 years of Facebook ads, we are still grappling with the ever-present question of their return on investment.  Yes, I believe the ads are part of a larger “return on relationship” program, but there needs to be value in our ad spend.  A bigger question might be, how are you determining your return on investment?  Is it more fans?  Increased engagement on your page?  Or increased sales?  And if the goal is increased sales, how can you determine that a sale didn’t occur because someone clicked through your ad.  It is something that will continue to cause issues, at least until we have specific goals in sight.

Finally, where are businesses sending people with these ads?  According to the study, 70% of the respondents are more likely to point traffic to a Facebook app, which will keep the cost per click lower, as research has shown that people who point their ads off of Facebook report a 50% higher cost per click than those that are pointed to Facebook app or page.

So, what does this all mean?

In a nutshell, I believe it means we are still learning what’s best, when it comes to Facebook advertising, and that there are many nuances that the average business owner may not be aware of.  It means that we are better off directing our customers to Facebook pages and apps, and that we should be changing our ad copy frequently to make the most of our advertising dollars.  It means we should evaluate our goals before running our ads and decide, as specifically as possible, the best target audience for our ads.  Facebook provides more than 15 different criteria to segment our ads, and we should make use of this information.

 

 

SocialFresh Facebook Advertising Report

Convince and Convert

Likeable Media

Buddy Media

BlitzLocal

Webtrends

 

Article originally published at Digital Brand Marketing Education