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Posts Tagged ‘viral marketing’

Debate Team (Part 1): Does the future of media companies, ad agencies, and content marketers lie in technology or content?

July 28th, 2010 3 comments

Around the MarketingExperiments labs, we are constantly debating the future of Internet marketing. Unfortunately, for the really big picture stuff, our normal answer of “test it” simply doesn’t work. So we’re taking our latest brawl into the streets (so to speak), and asking you to judge what the future holds.

But there’s a bit of a twist. In this debate, we’re forcing our team to take the opposite opinion of what their day-to-day role would suggest. On Friday I must hide my content-creating hat and make an argument for the centricity of technology. But first, read on as Boris Grinkot, a technology (among other things) guy, touts the merits of content. Use our Twitter and comment features to tell us who you think is right.

Executive summary (in three sentences)

The Internet is swarming with content. Technology helps make the content easier and quicker to digest by auto-summarizing, sorting, classifying, or repurposing it in various user-preferred formats. By enabling conversation, technology helps us choose content to consume based on deliberate recommendations or computed popularity. However, technology doesn’t impact content quality. Read more…

Email Marketing: Building Valuable Subscriber Lists on the Cheap

December 4th, 2009 2 comments

This has not been a banner year for marketing budgets by any estimation. So you might be surprised that two tactics actually garnered increased budgets in 2009 – email and social media. Your peers consider email a highly cost-effective tactic and see social media as a way to extend that content to new markets. This research comes from MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, which contains practical data to improve your budgeting and grow your overall business.

We’ve found email marketing to be a hot topic as well, with near-record attendance at Wednesday’s web clinic (If you couldn’t attend, please subscribe to the free MarketingExperiments Journal to be notified when the replay and research brief are available). To build on that clinic, which explored ways to maximize revenue from your house list, here is a cost-effective way to grow your list:

In the past year, low-cost has become the most popular modifier of the word “campaigns” for most marketers. Of course, you never want to sacrifice results simply for the sake of cost.391609724_6a85f6981b According to the 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, blog contests are an inexpensive way to quickly gain motivated subscribers. Here are the seven key steps to making the most of blog contests to rapidly grow your list:

Bullseye

There are highly relevant audiences for blogs on almost every interest under the sun, including Sun (Microsystems, that is) and, likely, an audience with interests very similar to your best customers. But, contrary to popular belief, these audiences aren’t all micro. According to the web-traffic analysts at Compete, some so-called “mommy blogs” get well over 100,000 unique visitors a month. For an example, see Dooce (if you’re a parent, you know what she’s referring to).

Lay down the law

Make sure you clearly define a set of rules to keep everything running smoothly. For example, you could give extra entries to readers who refer friends. Or even host a second, private contest for the blogger who generates the most entries. And remember, the more compelling the prize, the more motivated your audience will be.

…and he told two friends…and she told two friends

After you set up a landing page to explain the contest and capture entrant’s information and referrals, email referred prospects automatically and invite them to join the contest as well. With luck (and a compelling contest), you may reach the Holy Grail of cost-effective online promotion – going viral.

Seek the source

To understand which channels deliver best, create coded links to track traffic originating from blogs (with unique links for each blog), referrals, newsletter emails to current subscribers, social networks, etc. If you hold a separate blogger contest as well, you could create an anonymized tracking page to show bloggers how many entries they’ve generated compared to competitors, which may encourage them to step up efforts.

Release the hounds

Once you have the mechanics of the contest in place, finding the right bloggers will take a bit of hunting on your part. Here’s one simple strategy. Use basic Web searches to find applicable blogs. When you spot a likely target, use its “blog roll,” or links section, to find similar sites. Look at the sites’ number of RSS subscribers (if publicized) as well as the freshness of its content. Then, you can reach out to the bloggers (using info found on the site or a “Contact Us” form) with an email that includes a description of the contest, a coded link to the landing page, a link to the stats page, and a link to a promo ad.

Remember your members

While these bloggers will hopefully drive new subscribers, don’t forget to let the current members of your virtual fan club enter as well. The contest deserves at least a mention in your email newsletter, Twitter feed, Facebook group, social networks, weekly coffee klatch, Pinochle tournaments, and any other place you regularly communicate with your most loyal customers. Not only are you deepening your relationship with existing customers, making it easy for them to pass the contest on to friends is another cost-effective, viral way to grow your list.

Rinse, wash, repeat

If you do not prevent multiple signups, you will have to scrub your list of duplicates. You may also want to remind new subscribers why they are receiving your email newsletter (“Thank you for entering our contest and signing up for…”). Include an easy way to unsubscribe, a must for the CAN-SPAM Act, since some may have focused more on your prize than the fact that they were also signing up for an email newsletter. This is also a way for your least motivated list members to self-select and get removed before too many of them hit the “SPAM” button and hinder your deliverability.

After you’ve counted all your new subscribers, look at your metrics to see what you could have done better. And then, start another contest with your newfound knowledge pushing you to even greater success.

For a real-world example of a marketer that used these tactics to grow a small email list to 20 times its previous size, turn to page 129 of the 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. MarketingExperiments blog readers can receive a $100 discount.

And for a more in-depth look at making email and social media deliver for your bottom line, check out Email Summit ’10 in Miami from January 20-22. PLUS, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin will teach a Pre-Summit Live Email Optimization Workshop to help you maximize your email capture rate and quality. Register by January 8 to receive an early bird discount of $200.

Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/idogcow/ / CC BY 2.0

The Twitter #webclinic that broke the interwebs — now with Q&A

June 16th, 2009 No comments

With our June 10 web clinic, Twitter Experiments: Getting beyond the “now what?” featuring special guests Jason Breed and Marc Meyer, we knew we had a full house going into the session.

But we never expected to break into Twitter’s top 10 trending topics by taking down a chunk of the interwebs.

What our crew and 1,001 clinic participants also didn’t expect was that the webinar hosting service would go down three times due to a “service disruption … a result of unscheduled maintenance in our network.” Nice.

Despite all that, we managed to plow through the webinar and we’d like to send a special thank you to the 862 folks who stayed with us. This post includes some answers to your questions from the web clinic.

You can now access the presentation: Twitter Experiments: Getting beyond the “now what?”

clinic-2009-06-10-twitter-550w


Pamela Jesseau
, our razor-sharp new content queen, tackled the following clinic questions to help you set up your Twitter account, build your following, and expand your business. (Also check out her post: Twitter for businesses: 7 articles + tools you don’t want to miss.)


Q: How do I search Twitter for mentions of my company? What do I do with the results?

The simplest way is to use the search box in the right-hand sidebar of your Twitter page, or Twitter’s search page at search.twitter.com.  These will find mentions of your keyword within all Tweets.

One tool that was featured in the web clinic is Twazzup, a third-party application that can help you track mentions of your brand. Just enter your company name or search string to find out who is Tweeting about you. For example, the image below shows a search for a company that was recently in the news in North Florida.

twazzup-landmar-news

You can also set up a search string within an application like TweetDeck, which will alert you when someone sends a Tweet with your name. Then what? Listen to what they are saying, address their concerns, thank them for their feedback, and follow them to engage the conversation and build your community.


Q: What if your company name is too long for a good Twitter name?

Twitter only allows 15-character usernames, so there are many companies which have to improvise. We ran into this issue ourselves and abbreviated MarketingExperiments to @MktgExperiments.

Your Twitter handle should still make sense and be fairly easy for people to remember.  Other examples of organizations that got around this issue using abbreviations, shortened forms, or acronyms include:


Q: If you are not tweeting with a big following, what is the point?

Everyone has to start somewhere.  You can build on a small following by first engaging and bringing value to those that do follow you.

Add yourself to the user-generated Twitter directory WeFollow and choose three tags that describe your business and industry — such as marketing, SEO, and software for example.  Others with similar profiles will find you when they are looking to expand their networks.  In turn, take the time to search for people in your target group and follow them.  But don’t stop there — start a conversation.  Retweet an article you found valuable, or start a discussion on a topic relevant to your sector.

Fridays provide the opportunity for you to recommend a colleague or partner by Tweeting their name to others and tag it with #followfriday. Some may return the favor, or at least tweet a thanks with your name to their followers. (Learn more about #followfriday and other hashtags at … wait for it … Mashable.)

Build and nurture your following, the same way you might do with other leads. You wouldn’t try to hard sell a new prospect in person, would you? So don’t do it on Twitter. Build the relationship, get your brand and yourself out there, and be there to respond to feedback.


Q: I understand why someone would have a lot of followers. But how can you follow thousands of people? It’s not manageable. It doesn’t make sense to me. Any advice on this would be great.

One of the most valuable tools that we have found for smart Twittering is TweetDeck. As mentioned above, this free application allows you to manage the tweets you receive with columns of separate, customizable feeds and filters.

You can group certain people, and create search strings to monitor mentions of your company, industry and even competitors. That way you can skip all the weather updates and lunch reports, without missing the feedback on your product, or opportunities to connect.


Q: Any results on running price specials via Twitter?

Dell Computer made news earlier this year when it revealed that $1 million in sales could be attributed to their Twitter feeds. Dell has several feeds, each targeting different segments. As we discussed in the web clinic, the company used @DellOutlet to Tweet discounts with a link to purchase the product from the Outlet Store. Shortly afterward, Dell started to offer exclusive deals to its followers. Twitter is still an emerging channel, but results like these show it does have real value for businesses.


Twitter training: Putting practical know-how into action to drive business results

In addition to the questions above, the live audience polls from our web clinic indicated that many marketers still aren’t sure how to use Twitter to improve their bottom line.

That’s why we are pleased to be able to team up again with Jason Breed, Senior Director of Business Development of Neighborhood America, and Marc Meyer, CEO of Digital Response Marketing Group, for a new training eWorkshop on using Twitter to boost your business results.

While our free web clinics provide new research findings, case studies and actionable ideas, our training eWorkshops are designed to help you advance from the “what” and “why” to the “how” and “how-to” with detailed, hands-on guidance and tools.

In this interactive eWorkshop, you’ll learn specifics on:

  • Where to start (or restart) and how to map out your Twitter presence/s
  • How to develop the most effective Twitter business strategy for your organization
  • Ways to build and engage a following that’s more than just a numbers game
  • Tools that will help you save time and maximize your efforts

eWorkshop: How to use Twitter to boost your business results
Tuesday, June 30
4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT
Training session: $129

Join us if you want to accelerate your knowledge, cut down on the learning curve, and start using Twitter to drive revenue, build equity and decrease costs.

Twitter web clinic attendees can save $30 on this eWorkshop when registering with the special savings code. Please check your clinic follow-up email for the code and secure your spot for this special training eWorkshop. (We’ll keep the interwebs intact this time.)

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Twitter for businesses: 7 articles + tools you don’t want to miss

June 10th, 2009 3 comments

With hundreds of lists of Twitter tips and tools, and dozens more popping up each day, it’s getting impossible to keep up unless you work for Mashable.

So in advance of today’s Twitter Experiments: Getting beyond the “now what?” web clinic, we wanted to share some of our favorite tips, tools and articles related to the business side of Twitter. Instead of a laundry list of 87 tools or 143 people to follow, here are seven of the most valuable articles and resources we’ve seen lately. Enjoy …

  • 10 ways Twitter will change American business: A look at how businesses can drive hyper-local marketing, conduct marketing research, and charge for goods and services on the large independent economy that will emerge on Twitter.

We hope you’ll find this list particularly useful because you can skim all the articles fairly quickly.

Let us know what you think in the comments field — or @MktgExperiments — add your own favorite articles, and Tweet this post yourself. Then join us for today’s free Twitter Experiments web clinic and look for a special announcement.

UPDATE– Follow-up Twitter eWorkshop on June 30:

Due to the overwhelming response to our Twitter Experiments web clinic [and the ensuing system crashes with the free clinic] we are pleased to announce that we’ll be conducting a special eWorkshop: How to use Twitter to boost your business results.

We’re teaming up again with our featured presenters, Jason Breed and Marc Meyer, to help you get from the “why” to the “how” with hands-on guidance on using Twitter to drive revenue, build equity and decrease costs. Join us on Tuesday, June 30 for this virtual training session.

In this interactive Twitter for business eWorkshop, you’ll learn:

  • Where to start (or restart) and how to plan your Twitter presence
  • How to develop the right strategy for your organization
  • Ways to build and engage a following that’s more than just numbers
  • Which tools can help you maximize your efforts

Take advantage of this opportunity to accelerate your knowledge, reduce the learning curve, and capitalize on this rapidly expanding business community. (Attendees from today’s web clinic will receive a special code to save $30 off this eWorkshop. Today’s clinic will be freely available on our site, as always.)

Note: This eWorkshop is limited to 400 participants, and spaces will fill up quickly, so register today and secure your spot for this special eWorkshop.

What do great viral videos have in common?

April 29th, 2009 7 comments

It’s always fascinating to see smart, unique, and occasionally crazy concepts come to life. Most interesting are those that somehow connect with a brand and really support brand awareness.

Just a couple weeks ago, Ad Age released its Viral Video Chart for the week of April 6, 2009. Here a few of my personal favorites from the complete list:

Besides being funny and eye-catching, what have these videos done right?

They connect in a personal way with our minds and more than grabbing our attention, they create a rush to share them with friends.

However, we can share videos all day long and enjoy happy feelings, but still be left with no connection to any brand in particular. Here is where, I think, great videos differentiate themselves.

The power to make connections

What really makes some of these videos stand out in terms of their marketing objective is how they help viewers intuitively connect the message with the product or brand.

For example, E-Trade jokes that babies could master their product but, within the joke, manages to plant the idea that their product is seriously easy to use. In other words, E-trade’s video overtly displays their product strengths and subtly addresses the anxieties prospective customers might feel about getting involved in the online stock market.

By showing shepherds developing a sheep-borne light show, Samsung engages the “can-do” energies of creative and scientific professionals who will watch the video and simultaneously be amazed and think, “I can top that.” ( Doubt me? I forwarded the email to two performance artist friends and within a day received their email proposals for mobile LED displays based on four-legged, two-legged, and wheeled choreography.)

Furthermore, Samsung’s video showcases the same energy and teamwork that goes into any performance and also points out that their product is tough, versatile, and will perform in difficult conditions.

Engaging viewers is merely the beginning

It is important to have an engaging concept for your viral video. That’s what makes people watch, and more importantly, forward or, even better, stick that link on the ol’ Facebook page.

But it is vital for the success of your campaign to choose a creative concept that makes an intuitive connection with the benefits and advantages of your product, service or offer. Then you’re not only making a video people will pass along, but spreading a brand that viewers will want to remember and reengage with.

With New Year’s parties long gone, one “Best of” post is still standing

January 29th, 2009 1 comment

As the old year rolled into the new, the blogosphere filled up with posts about reflections, predictions, and compilations. A month into 2009, it’s time to ask which of these posts has become a resource to return to and which are about as useful as flat champagne.

One post that I’ve gone back to so often I’ve considered making it my homepage is Tamar Weinberg’s Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2008.

While Techipedia, Tamar’s site, is consistently relevant and interesting, this post in particular orients novices or technophobes to new trends yet still provides plenty of “A-ha” moments for experienced marketers.

The post literally includes everything: SEO, social media, strategy for social sites, Twitter, Sphinn, LinkedIn, Digg, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon, Fark, Facebook, Delicious, Flickr, FriendFeed, blogging, viral marketing, link building, reputation management, content development, internet marketing, AdWords, PPC, and, quite possibly, the kitchen sink and a partridge in a pear tree.

Not only that, the post links to her equally comprehensive Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2007…which in turn links back to the 2006 version of the list.

My reflection? All year long I’ll peruse these posts for a quick hit of knowledge or perspective. My prediction? You will too.