Say goodbye to e-blasts and hello to engagement

one way e-communication via eblastIf you are sending “e-blasts” to your customers or supporters – please, stop doing it now. This outdated style of email marketing has the same results as fax broadcasts of press releases; your message is ending up in your recipient’s trash.

While email marketing is still an effective way to communicate with an audience, the one-way communication style of the “e-blast” is over. Messaging your subscribers today means doing more than sending emails with commands like “buy, buy”, “click, click”, or, “register now!” If you want to communicate with your subscribers effectively, think “engagement”.

Engaging your subscribers means looping them into a two- or multi-way communication versus subjecting them to one-way communication. The fact is, social media have raised the overall expectations of e-communications to this level. The prevalence of social networks and their popularity in comparison to Websites suggests that subscribers are more drawn to engagement and the communication arena where they are able to give feedback and participate.

E-blasts - do they work?
Example of an E-blast

Here are examples of steps you can take to make these three popular email marketing asks more appealing:

1. Donate. You’ve stated your worthy cause and have asked for a generous donation. Make it engaging by inviting your subscriber to join a community of volunteers, attend a Meetup in their area or present an opportunity for your would-be donors to get up close and personal with a beneficiary or your organization’s leadership. Even if most of your subscribers don’t take up the invitation to engage, the fact that you present this opportunity will help to legitimize your fund-raising effort.

2. Register. You’ve stated the what, where, when and have asked your recipient to “REGISTER NOW!” Make it engaging by inviting your subscribers to also meet other registrants in your organization’s social network on Facebook or elsewhere. Email solicitation for event registration typically have the recipient asking “is this worth my time and money?”, “will I know anyone there?” or “who’s going?”. Creating a social network around your event is a great way to create buzz and a community that will engage your subscribers – and hopefully motive them to register.

3. Buy. You’ve included a nice big picture of your product with an attractive sale price – and a big “Buy Now!” button. Make it engaging by including the opportunity to share or “Like” the product on Facebook and other networks and allow subscribers to share their thoughts, enthusiasm or questions about your product in their network of friends and family. This simple step could help promote your product further than you imagined.

A popular concern for marketers considering a more engaging e-communication strategy is negative feedback. But the best approach to managing negative sentiment is to create the space for it and be a part of the conversation. So say goodbye one-way communication via e-blasts, and hello to engagement and higher conversion rates!

Spirit Airlines Jumps on Hard to Resist ‘Weiner’ Keyword – Should You?

Spirit jumps on weiner
High performance keyword?

They say, ‘any publicity is good publicity’, but embattled U.S. Congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) may not be in agreement with that statement these days. The Congressman’s ‘x-rated’ sexting has made him both a laughing stock and a trending topic. But while his colleagues were busy rebuking him, Spirit Airlines’ marketing team were busy launching their “Want To See Our Weiner?” e-mail marketing campaign – all puns intended.

Thousands of Spirit Airlines customers got an email today with the subject line “Want To See Our Weiner?”, announcing their “BIG Weiner Sale” with “Fares Too HARD to Resist” (yes, emphasis on ‘big’ and ‘hard’ included). No word yet on open rate, unsubscribe or click rates but this bold move is bound to have businesses wondering if it is ever a good idea to capitalize on trending topics from negative press.

If you are not sure jumping on a negative trending keyword is for you, here are three steps you can take to get in the limelight.

  1. Start your own trending keywords – promote your events, sales and overall business with keywords that are powerful enough to anchor your campaign. Seasonal keywords are great examples – “summer”, “Memorial Day”, “pool party” are just a few.
  2. Associate your brand with positive trending keywords. “International Women’s Day”, “Yoga”, or “love” could do the trick.
  3. Find your customers funny bone – How? Ask them. You can get a sense of whether your customers might find something funny or irritating by asking them about their favorite TV shows, songs and pastime. You might be surprised by what you learn.

One thing’s for sure – if Spirit Airlines’ “Want To See Our Weiner?” e-mail campaign is a success, we’ll be seeing a lot more bad puns in future interactive marketing taglines.

Face Recognition Software; From Creepy to Facebook

face recognition on facebookHow Facebook used the rules of customer engagement to get users to embrace technology once regarded as creepy.

If you upload a series of photos to your Facebook profile, you’ll notice that some of them are pre-tagged with your friends’ names. This is because Facebook now uses face recognition technology and software to help reduce the time users spend tagging their uploaded pictures.

So how was Facebook able to deploy this technology once regarded as “creepy” with minimal outcry? They followed two cardinal rules of customer engagement

1. Meet your customers’ needs: provide relevant enhancements.
When Facebook redesigned their users’ profile layout earlier this year, the photo gallery that now forms a banner at the top of user profiles made it easier to for users browse their friend’s photos – and encouraged users to upload their own. Face recognition technology became relevant to Facebook users because it simplified the image tagging process for users uploading lots of photos. As users accept or reject Facebook’s recommendations of pre-tagged images, they also help to refine the accuracy of the technology.

2. Honesty: allow customers to choose to engage your product enhancements.
Tricking your customers into using products and services they might otherwise decline is not cool. So Facebook allowed users to opt in – or out of being pre-tagged in their friend’s photos via the company’s face recognition technology*. If you are introducing an enhanced service that might compromise your customers’ privacy or raise damaging concerns, always allow customers to decline or embrace your services and honor their wishes.

Visit us next time to learn how face recognition technology can help boost the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

*Opt out of image pre-tagging via face recognition on Facebook by going to account –> privacy settings –> scroll down to “Things others share” –> Suggest photos of me to friends –> click [Edit Settings] –> Disable.

What Microsoft Thinks of the iPad

What Microsoft Thinks of the iPadStarting today, the iPad 2 is finally available at an Apple store near you. The revamped device is 33% thinner, 15% lighter, and outfitted with HD cameras, improved battery life and other delights. Apple fanatics the world over are excited and ready to test Apple’s latest gadget – but what about Microsoft? Is Bill Gates intimidated by Apple’s latest smash hit? What does the Microsoft founder think of the iPad?

Well, just last year one brave soul dared to ask Mr. Gates that question after a lecture at Stanford University. The CEO did not give any indication that he was intimidated by Apple’s iPad, instead he explained that portable devices like the iPad are “great advances” for computing and said that Microsoft is still a key player in the industry.

Computing is destined in a way to almost disappear because all the walls [and] desktops around you will be capable of displaying, and you’ll be able to do input though gestures, and through voice — that’s not to say that keyboards and pointing devices will go away,” said Gates, “but they’ll be supplemented by an ubiquitous type of computing where every surface is a output and every action is an input.”

He also stressed that getting prices down, and improving the quality of content are improvements he’d like to see with portable devices such as the iPad. Mr. Gates also acknowledged that iPad computing could be key to the digital delivery of textbooks – something his foundation would regard as good for the environment.

Checkout his lecture to Stanford MBA students on ‘Education for the Real World’ – and let us know what you think of the iPad.

How to Tweet

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform accessible via the Web and mobile phones. In just 140 characters or less, users can share thoughts, ideas, news, feedback, images, video and more. Twitter is also a searchable database of shared content and user generated ideas. It is a primary source for many realtime search engines and is useful for tracking trends and measuring sentiment about brands, events and topical issues as they occur. Continue reading “How to Tweet”

Celebrate a Holiday – It’s Good for Business

Everyone loves a holiday – especially smart marketers. There is no better time to promote a product, service or cause than when your target audience is in a celebratory mood. The reason some top brands spend millions promoting holiday festivities is clear – it’s great for sales and brand awareness.

If you don’t have a seasonal campaign calendar, it’s worth it to start thinking about putting one together. A seasonal campaign calendar will help you anticipate upcoming holidays so you can turn them into sales and marketing opportunities for your business.

Running a successful seasonal campaign involves more than sending a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ type email. You’ll have to come up with cleaver ways to engage your audience, pair your brand with the festivities, and present an opportunity to convert your audience to customers.

Here are three smart steps you can take towards seasonal campaigning –

1. Get a list of holidays that work for your product, service or cause. Start with the holidays your client’s are most likely to celebrate; if you don’t know what they are – ask them. Demographic information could also offer some clues. Holidays that align with your brand are also great places to start – for example, if you are running an Irish pub, St. Patrick’s Day could be a winner!

2. Engage your audience. How do you communicate with your target market? Get your modus operandi into holiday mode. Your e-newsletter, Website, social network presence should be dressed up for the party!

3. Convert your audience to customers. Create a buzz with giveaways, events, coupons – whatever will get your target audience in the door to sample your wares and have a great time.

If you came up with some great ideas you’d like to share – let us know!

What Sucks About Facebook’s Page Design Updates

If you are using a Facebook page to promote your business or organization,  you already know that come March 2011 your Facebook page will have an ‘updated’ layout. Some of the updates are great for page administrators – but from a marketing perspective, some of the updates are a headache. Here are three potential hitches and what you can do about them –

1. Hello photos, goodbye tabs. Info that was once accessible via tabs at the top of your page has moved to the left column – as ‘links’. Photos have taken over the space that was once dedicated to tabs. This might have been a great update for profiles since people enjoy looking at their friend’s photos – but are people as interested in photos from the businesses and organizations they choose to ‘Like’? This update is not going to bode well for businesses that use customized tabs for promotions.
What to do: Set your preferred customized FBML tab as your landing page.

2. Where is my ‘Like’ prompt? Most customized tabs have an arrow or some kind of prompting text reminding visitors to ‘like’ the Facebook page. You may need to update the alignment of these prompts as your Facebook page now has a breadcrumb navigation that pushes the ‘Like’ button to a new position.
What to do: Embed a ‘Like’ button on the customized FBML tab.

3.  They traded my wall size for…? Your wall got narrower – and the ad space to the right got wider. Businesses and organizations are not going to be happy about losing 50 pixels of messaging space to ads from competing brands. Marketers on the other hand will be happy about having more space to promote their wares.
What to do: Run ads to promote your business and organization – social media advertising is always worth it.

Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)

Google Teach Parents Tech Google has joined Yahoo! in converting its email login page into a billboard – but what Yahoo! is using as premium ad space, Google is using to promote its products through a new project called “Teach Parents Tech”. The project is a Web-based video resource that allows users to select any number of simple “how to” tech support videos and send the videos to mom, dad or just about anyone. It takes about a minute to watch any of the videos and they cover a range of topics including, how to find information, upgrade your browser or manage electronic media files.

So, how can businesses and nonprofits benefit from this great idea? Continue reading “Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)”

Non-profit fundraising – from email to donation form

Care2 hosted a great Webinar today: The Procrastinator’s Guide to 2010 Year End Fundraising. We’ve remixed four great take-aways for organizations using email to get visitors to give through online donation forms:

1. Get to the point
So, you’ve sent your appeal with a nice “click to donate” button. When your readers click that button they should be taken to the donation form – not to another ‘please donate’ pitch. Your email already made the pitch and the donor is ready to give; inserting another pitch before donation form can be distracting and could lower your conversion rate.

2. Keep your donor focused
Suppress your global navigation if you can. This will help your visitor to focus on why they came to your Website: to make a donation. Continue reading “Non-profit fundraising – from email to donation form”