The promise of digital marketing is the ability to connect buyer and seller at the precise moment the consumer is about to decide and take action. It is what marketers call the promised land of precise targeting and (almost) zero wasted marketing spend. It is what consumers call the ultimate convenience; being presented (almost magically) with the opportunity to obtain the very thing they need when they need it.
CEOs and business owners recognize the power of this working in practice, but should also be wary of over-reliance on the big platforms and the implication of under-development or squandering of their company’s data capabilities, resources, and customer-acquisition expertise.
Are We There Yet?
This digital marketing promised land calls for a confluence of predictive technology and a large dataset of past behaviors. While it might appear magical to the consumer, from the marketer’s perspective it is achieved by raw computing power fed with a series behavioral correlations. Some can’t wait for this confluence to occur. Others are not so sure, noting privacy concerns and wondering if the next step is not just predicting behavior but creating behavior. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, internet service providers, and cellular carriers are collecting a lot of data on users, and working towards a new (utopian/dystopian – you pick) future, and maybe at some higher level that future is here, but for most smaller marketers it is a different picture.
The Current Marketing World
Let’s leave the futures behind for the time being and talk about what this looks like to smaller marketers right now. Platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft (LinkedIn) offer effective user targeting on their advertising platforms. Most of the targeting is based on ‘static’ factors; age, geography, professed interests, to name a few. With these targeting tools, smaller marketers can get their content to basically the right people at generally the right time – a vastly improved alternative to their advertising options in the past. Well-placed and well-constructed ad campaigns on these platforms can be an effective, sales-generating game-changer for many smaller marketers.
Marketers are, however, relying upon the data held and interpreted by others. You tell them what you want, the platforms deliver your ad and then tell you after-the-fact what it cost. We dare say that is a proposition business owners and CEOs would not accept in most scenarios, and the fact that they do in this case is a testament to the power and effectiveness of these online advertising platforms.
What About Your Data?
Smaller marketers can build an even more effective digital marketing program by adding their own data into the mix; in effect leveraging the data collected by Google, Facebook, and the others. What does that mean? Use their advertising platforms to drive online traffic to your own data collection platform. Once you start tracking visitors to your website and social, you’ll start to build a fuller understanding of who is interested in your offerings and what they respond to. In addition to having tighter control of your own acquisition process, another virtuous cycle begins; armed with the data you’ve collected, your next ad campaigns on the big platforms can have even tighter targeting – yielding better results and return on your advertising spend.
Do You Believe in Magic?
Smaller marketers could just sit back and rely on the capabilities and services offered by the big platforms. But business owners and CEOs, in their never-ending quest to find the best way to align their organizations, will immediately spot the risk in an over-reliance on this “sit back” strategy and the concurrent under-development/squandering of their own data capabilities and resources. A more balanced, hybrid strategy leveraging external resources while building internal capabilities that ultimately drives more efficient customer acquisition better is clearly the superior approach.
We achieve this hybrid integration with the use of marketing automation. Applying marketing automation processes in the correct manner is very straightforward and the strategic implications are quite rich.
To learn more about leveraging platform data with your own, fill out the contact form below and select marketing automation from the drop down.
There are many reasons why email marketing remains popular, not the least of which is if it is done correctly it is very effective and has a positive ROI. Creating an effective email marketing program and campaigns for your business is not overly complex, but there are some fundamentals that you need to keep in mind. This article addresses Content – what you actually put in your email marketing pieces.
These are the top content tips to remember:
Write for your audience. Sounds simple, but what you put in your email should be what the recipient expects to see, needs to see, or wants to see. To do that effectively, you have to understand your audience. Keep in mind that your business may have many audiences and sending slightly different versions of an email, with the content tweaked for each group or segment, will be more effective that one single email that ignores the nuances between segments.
Your email content will be more effective if it is tied to things that your readers are already thinking about. Marketers call this seasonality. Think about tying your content to the literal seasons or holidays as appropriate (e.g. President’s Day Sale!). You might also tie your content to events in the community or news items. Business-to-business marketing might correlate with annual conferences or trade shows (even the virtual ones). Including seasonality will make your audience more likely to read your emails.
Images & Videos
People love images. Humans are drawn to images, particularly if they are images of people where you can see the faces and the hands. There is a lot of research that ties these preferences back to cave-dwelling times, but you only need to know faces & hands. Think about the copy that will be in the email to determine if the people in the image should be looking at the reader, looking down or up, or at another person. All that makes a difference.
People love videos even more. While you cannot actually send a video in the context of an email marketing message, you can incorporate a clickable image that links to a You Tube, Vimeo, or other hosted video service. Email marketing templates in services like Constant Contact have a video content block that you can put into an email. Enter the web address of the video, and the system will display a preview image that will go directly to the video when clicked. Keep the videos short (15 – 30 seconds). The first eight seconds are critical; the viewer will decide within 8 seconds if they like the video and will continue watching.
Personalization means inserting names or bits of data that are specific, or personal, to the reader. An obvious example is a Dear <First Name> salutation, where the <First Name> is filled in from the contact database built in to the email marketing platform. Each email that goes out is personalized with the first name associated with the email address that is being sent to. Any bit of information that is in the database can be inserted into the email, too. We’ve all received emails that remind us of our most recently purchased item from a retailer, or a membership renewal date for an organization. People pay much closer attention to an email when they recognize their own details. Putting the person’s first name in the subject line works well, too.
Email marketing campaigns are the foundation of many online marketing programs, from responses to website form fills to drip campaigns to regular newsletters. Doing them right and helping clients create the copy and content that tells the story of their unique ability to help their customers is what we do best.
To learn more about the power of email marketing, fill out the contact form below.