Well, if you’re like me and are tired of the Christmas season starting in October and certainly not appealed by the endless Black Friday ad invasion, then you’ll be disappointed to know that Black Friday was yet another success with an estimated 22 million shoppers visiting Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving day alone (according to the Wall Street Journal).
An advocate for boycotting Thanksgiving Day shopping, I don’t mind the midnight madness for Friday. It’s kinda thrilling to be there. But its no longer just in person discounts that are getting retailers top marketshare.
The WSJ article noted that Amazon is now a major player in the holiday retail business. Online shoppers accounted for 40% of sales during Black Friday weekend last year. The new threat of online shopping may have been cause for so many retailers including Macy’s to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on rivals this year. Target, Wal-Mart, ToysRUs and others even shared Black Friday deals with virtual shoppers.
For 2013, sales by third-party retailers on Amazon rose 31% on Thursday through noon on Friday, according to ChannelAdvisor. Amazon’s strategy was to keep customers glued to its site by adding new bargains as frequently as every 10 minutes.
Best Buy however, used a three waves of deals to keep shoppers on tap including midnight door busters, online and super in-store bargains, some of which were not revealed until late in Thursday evening.
Other store chains used rolling discounts to keep shoppers lingering and competitors guessing. Wal-Mart started “Manager Specials” on Friday which included unannounced promotions set by individual store managers who received a set budget to spur sales.
Overall, marketers are getting bargain crazy to make up for a loss of annual sales from consumers whose disposable income is dwindling. Regardless if you hit the stores or not, Black Friday will continue to be a spectacle of deals and discount rivalry.
And while I haven’t read the total sales for the weekend yet ($59 billion in sales for 2012 Black Friday weekend)… I’m sure it will set a new standard for next year.
This really great article from Fast Company identified 5 bad content marketing habits and gave us ways to improve them.
1. Marketing needs an internal “crack team” to create and disseminate content. Marketing cannot support your online content alone – and shouldn’t have to when you have a team of experts on hand. Consider your sources including product marketing, analysts, external experts and authors, customers, customer support and sales. Using these resources together you can develop great content for numerous topics, while keeping your audience engaged.
2. Focus your marketing on a handful of tactics, and do those tactics well. Good advice, but you don’t need to limit yourself. Because of modern marketing methods and feedback models, marketers can experiment, measure and retool campaigns quickly. According to MarketingProf’s 2013 Content Marketing Trends, today’s B2B marketers average 12 marketing tactics. The most effective tactics include social media (other than blogs), articles, e-newsletters, blogs and case studies. To maximize your entire marketing toolbox, also consider short webcasts, executive breakfasts, e-Books and educational videos.
3. Webinars and other live streaming events should be broadcast. While this may have been the case a few years ago, conversations today should be facilitated. Being able to monitor and intervene if necessary during a webinar will keep customers focused on the current discussion and less likely to hijack a webinar agenda to critique a company or its products.
4. Content needs to reflect your point of view. While its important to take a stance and provide thought leadership in your area of expertise, these types of articles are not the only forms of communicating. The best marketing content engages its audience – consider live polling, contests, surveys or offering giveaways in exchange for input.
5. Content has a shelf life. Not always true… some of the best content can influence prospects for months, if not years. If you have a good response from a report, case study or series, consider making it part of your annual communications program – something your customers expect and want from you.
Do you agree with these bad habits? Have your own “bad habit” to add?
Want to know who’s going to spend mega-millions on 30-seconds of your Super Bowl viewing pleasure this season? Well I did, and an early peek at Super Bowl XLVIII’s confirmed buyers are somewhat expected…
Anheuser-Busch InBev (while its the exclusive beer advertiser through 2015, I still love these ads)
Butterfinger (Nestle) – Creative plans to promote the new Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups. I’m drooling already
Chevrolet (GM) – GM sat out in 2013 Super Bowl but has bought time this year… maybe a reflection on a loss of sales from not advertising?
Doritos (PepsiCo Frito-Lay) – “Crash the Super Bowl” contest returns for its eight year in a row but with a new twist – entries are open to people in all 46 countries where chips are sold. Creators of the winning ads will get the chance to work on the set of “Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron”
GoDaddy.com – Two 30-second spots, one in each half featuring spokesperson Danica Patrick
Hyandai Motor America – Two commercials lead by Innocean
Intuit – The winner of a contest for small businesses will have this 30-second ad spot
Jaguar – FIRST Super Bowl for this brand. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Mars – Currently holding a shootout to determine if Snickers or M&Ms will have the best creative spot – and therefore have the air time in the Super Bowl
PepsiCo Beverages – Two 30-second ads and the Halftime Sponsor
Wonderful Pistachios – 30-second ad which may be split into 15-second spots
Stay tuned to see who teases their creative in the coming months… possible YouTube leak?
According to a New York Times article, Water for Life (with help from agency DDB New York) dared New Yorkers to drink up water from subway stations and other polluted sources in Brooklyn to raise awareness for its cause to provide fresh water to villages in developing countries.
Unfortunately, some donors are beginning to tune out or get angry because of the constant bombardment of charities asking for our dollars – in the mail, at the grocery store/department store, on TV and online. In fact, the number of registered nonprofit organizations rose by more than 21 percent to 1.58 million from 2001 to 20011 (National Center for Charitable Statistics).
Focus groups conducted by Public Agenda found that too-frequent mailings and aggressive telemarketing led to “a high level of annoyance” among donors. And that report was published in 2005, a year before Twitter enabled charities to send 140-character fund-raising appeals. A recent study examining 55 nonprofit organizations found the volume of email appeals received by typical subscribers jumped about 16 percent from 2011 to 2012. Sarah DiJulio, principal of M & R Strategic Services, which conducted the study, said that one way nonprofit organizations broke through the clutter was “just to send more messages all the time.”
So does that mean nonprofits need to get crazy and wacky? Or have big agency resources to make a creative message? Probably not. For some campaigns the unconventional marketing has succeeded in getting attention and donations, but many more have been successful using consistent messaging and traditional tactics.
Historically, the 1891 deployment of the Salvation Army’s bell ringers during the Christmas season was one of the first guerrilla marketing campaigns by a charity. As was the introduction of Christmas Seals in 1907 by the American Lung Association.
Then, some brands are trying to connect with donors by using trends like “WTF?” which can be attention getting but not necessarily effective for your message… In this case, WTF refers to What the Fact?/historic sites in Canada or Where’s the Funding?/ Humane Society of the US.
In a great bit of advice, one marketer commented:
“Anything you do has to be true to the tone of the cause that you are advertising for. When you say ‘WTF?’ and it’s art, I get a real good connection. Art always challenges people. If you said WTF? for giving shots to children in Africa, I think your shock value is going to override your message.”
While it can be exciting to have a big agency on board to help with marketing, its not necessary to engage audiences to care about your cause and communicate effectively.
What has been your favorite nonprofit campaign? Which nonprofit campaign was the most shocking to you?
One of my many marketing trends focused newsletters had this article about 8 effective email strategies backed by research… which is always an area we strive to improve communications with clients… but what really caught my attention was their first rule – Not to personalize an email with the recipients name. The reasoning was solid enough:
In fact, research by Temple’s Fox School of Business suggests that this particular kind of personalization could be harmful.
Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of emails, particularly those with personal greetings.
However, I still feel strongly that personalization in an email message can enhance your customer relations. Consider segmenting your list further by how long they’ve been opt-in, long standing customers would expect you know their name and product preferences.
Second email rule to consider is subject length. Lengthy headlines (over 70 characters) are great for pulling your audience to click-through while short headlines (under 49 characters) tested best for open rate.
In fact, Adestra found that subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58%.
Either way you go, just be sure to avoid the “Marketers dead zone of subject length. Yeah, for some reason 60-70 characters gets no increase in either clicks or open rate, so either go long or cut it short.
When do you send your brand messages and enewsletters to customers? Most would think that the standard 9-5 would be best but top email strategies send at night.
Inbox crowding and the deployment times of other marketers go hand-in-hand; if your email goes out when few others do, it stands a greater chance of getting noticed (so quick, start sending between 8:00 and midnight before everyone else catches on).
In reality, test, test, test your messages and see when works best for your audiences’ preferences.
The Fourth Tip is to give something away… consumers love a free lunch or sample! A study from Bluewire Media showed that that the highest rates for opens and clicks from its 6,300 customers was for content such as tools and templates.
With today’s smartphone society, we should also consider mobile email. How does your email look on an iphone or Droid? Mobile opens accounted for 47% of all email opens in June from email marketing firm Litmus.
Here are some quick mobile design tips:
- Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
- Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
- Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
- Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
- Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.
And while social media is great for engaging your customers and building awareness, research proves that email has a better conversion rate for new customers.
Of the 300,000 referrals who became new customers, 50.8 percent were reached by email, compared to 26.8 percent for Twitter and 22 percent for Facebook.
Another tip from the article is to send your email on weekend.
While not as overwhelming a winner as the 8:00 p.m. to midnight time of day, Saturday and Sunday did outperform their weekday counterparts in Experian’s study of day-of-week performance.
Finally, re-engage your inactive subscribers. These customers signed up for valuable content – give it to them. Try a different approach to getting their attention and consider them a test group for new message format or content.
Research has found that the average inactivity for a list is 63 percent, meaning that once someone joins they are less likely to ever follow-up with your follow-up emails.
Overall, this article gave me some new things to think about for my next eblast and to keep testing new content.
Well, if your business is not in someway on social media – crawl out from under your rock and get with it… Social Media offers a number of benefits to businesses wanting to engage their customers, build loyalty and grow their bottom line.
And while everyone gives you the advice to get there, they don’t always give you the strategy to make it work. First, there is no golden ticket to 1 million likes. You need to give your audience what they want – valuable content.
If you’re starting from the beginning or don’t know what you should do next, here are 20 great tips from Courtney Seiter at MarketingLand.
1. Fill in the blanks. Make sure anyone that wants to find you can which means filling our your profile as completely as possible. Pay attention to your contact details and the words/phrases your audience is likely to use when searching for your brand.
2. Think Visual. Your cover photo, profile picture, avatar, etc is likely the first thing potential customers are going to see. Make sure all your images are high resolution, properly sized and reflect your brand.
3. Put your site to work. Capitalize on the traffic you already have by adding follow/fan buttons for your social networks to your site’s main page, blog and anywhere else that makes sense.
4. Tell your customers. If you have a physical location your customers visit, make signage that shows off your social media presence. If you have an eNewsletter, add your social contact information to it and promote that you’ve just joined Twitter, Instagram, etc.
5. Add a perk. Its great to be a follower on Facebook but its even better to give these followers incentive – special discounts and coupons offered only on social media will keep people coming back to see your best deals.
6. Enlist help. Encourage employees to follow you online, not only will it help you add followers but they can help spread the word to friends, clients and customers – and give great ideas for new content.
7. Assess the field. Keep an eye on competitors, connect with major news sources for your industry or just follow complementary brands – they might return the favor.
8. Visualize your audience. Think about what your customers look like, read, watch on TV or at the movies. The more defined your intended audience, the easier it will be create the type of content that will help them discover you.
9. Stockpile sharable content. Each share extends your network and introduces you to a larger audience. You will want to create your own content but there’s nothing wrong with sharing whats already out there.
10. Join relevant conversations. No matter what network you’re targeting, chances are there are already conversations going on that your brand can contribute to as a smart, informed source. The more valuable your input is to these conversations the more likely people will find and follow you through other channels.
11. Cross promote. When starting a new profile, let existing fans know so they can follow you there too. Just be sure that your content is different enough to make it worthwhile for them.
These are just a few to get you started, you can read more great tips in the cited article above.
An interesting observation by The New York Times, notes that the more scary the real world seems (like our looming financial crisis and government shutdown), the less scary Halloween ads are. Conversely, when consumers are upbeat, marketers produce more frightful ads.
So what is the tone for 2013?
It seems a majority of marketers this year have chosen more tricks than treats. The article cites, Booking.com which has launched a spooky campaign centered on haunted hotels. The trailer is almost a horror movie in itself, intended to “scare the pants off them” according to a creative director at Widen & Kennedy. Meanwhile a national pizza chain uses Halloween to convince parents that pizza is the treat to “keep your little monsters happy” this year.
It could be that marketers are choosing to create more ghoulish ads because of current pop culture trends. Consider how many hit series are focused on giving consumers that spine tingling feeling: “American Horror Story: Coven,” on FX; “Bates Motel,” on A&E; “Grimm,” on NBC; “The Originals,” “Supernatural“ and “The Vampire Diaries,” all on CW; “Sleepy Hollow,” on Fox; “The Walking Dead,” on AMC; and “Witches of East End,” on Lifetime.
“It’s kind of extraordinary,” said Ed Martin, a longtime television writer who is an editor at large at MediaPost.
“And we’re not even counting ‘Dracula,’ ” he added, a series that is to make its debut on NBC on Oct. 25, or “the horror shows on Syfy, BBC America and Sundance.” That was a reference to the annual spate of holiday specials on cable channels that also includes presentations like the 13 Nights of Halloween on ABC Family.
And its doesnt even have to be Halloween for marketers to have scary themes in their ads anymore. Hyundai and Microsoft have used zombies in their “off season” ads.
But on the lighter side of things, you can always trust that some marketers like M&Ms or Cheetos will keep the laughter rolling.
In fact, Project TP lets you work with Chester Cheetah to practically cover any place you can think of… try it here.
With all the tricks and treats Halloween brings, what marketers do you think hit the mark for Halloween 2013?
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