Category Archives: Advertising

‘Ooohh, Shiny!’

alex-headshot-revised3I love new, shinny toys. I love to upgrade. I’m an early adopter, and have to have the latest and greatest…

I’ve been a business owner my whole life, and have a much larger list of what I’ve done WRONG than what I’ve done RIGHT. I’m constantly obsessing over how to grow my business; do I need more advertising, is the messaging right, will I get a higher open rate if I sent simple text emails instead of HTML, and on and on.

It’s easy to lose sight of business fundamentals as we’re approached by new opportunities to spend our money, uhem…’invest in higher ROI and more measurable small business marketing solutions.’ I’ve tried them all. Some work, some don’t…but few things have stuck around over time. When I need a good laugh, I open up the scrapbook and take a stroll down the ‘advertising/marketing’ expense column of my P&L and reminisce about all of the dollars I spent trying to grow more dollars. Nice.

Then I had lunch with a buddy of mine years ago, and when I expressed my frustration with this schizophrenic world of advertising/marketing, he looked at me with a calm grin on his face and said “Alex, the key to growing your business is relationships. You need to make more of them each day, and invest in the ones you’ve already got. Simple as that. If you stayed in touch with everyone you’ve ever done business with, what kind of impact would that have on you right now?”

There’s me: deer in headlights. So simple, and obvious…dammit! But that has little to do with the shinny gadgets and widgets I love to spend money on. Now what!?!

At the core of every successful business is a good CRM (Client Relationship Management) tool – a way to help organize and manage those relationships that are the life blood of business growth. Different industries have different solutions, but the premise is the same: know who your customers are, and treat them as an important part of your business growth by investing in a relationship with them.

  This is not an easy thing to start, but once you’ve made the investment and committed to making it a part of your growth strategy, you’ll never run your business the same way again.

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How Mobile Marketing Can Help Your Business

You may have seen the statistics – one study claims that more than 80% of small businesses that invest in mobile marketing see increased business as a result – but how can you go about capturing some of those gains yourself?

Small Business Computing recently looked at a few companies that are engaged in mobile marketing to find out.

Ron’s Auto Repair Center of Ames, Iowa, uses Yodle, a service that helps small businesses with mobile-optimized websites, listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing maps, and paid-search services across multiple desktop and mobile outlets. The service doesn’t require much sophistication to use. Using a unique tracking number, Ron’s Auto Repair can tell where calls come from and see how many of them are a direct result of online and mobile marketing spending. The service has so far been worth about $9,000 in new sales a month, the business estimates.

Rok Bistro of Sunnyvale, Calif., uses FanMinder to send out marketing messages to all channels, including Twitter, email, texts and Facebook. Mobile coupons have turned out to be a good marketing tool for Rok Bistro. The coupons, which are trackable through FanMinder, allow the restaurant to see how many people click on the offer and redeem it at the restaurant. When a customer shows the server a coupon on his or her mobile device, the server simply clicks a button to redeem it.  In the restaurant, customers can also scan QR codes or send a text message to get an immediate discount and sign up for the Rok Bistro mailing list.

At a minimum, all businesses should have a mobile-optimized website, and make your website mobile-friendly by placing your location and contact information in a prominent place. Clarity, simplicity and speed matter most for mobile users, so make sure it’s clear what you do and how you can help customers. And monitor mentions of your business on Yelp and other sites that can influence consumers.

Adapted from Small Business Mobile Marketing Strategies That Work by Vangie Beal at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.

The Power of Text Message Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

As brands focus efforts on keeping up with broadcasting trends across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, many are neglecting a tried and true marketing tactic that could propel them even further: narrowcasting.

Narrowcasting marks an emerging trend by which consumers are sharing content with smaller, more selective audiences. In contrast to broadcasting, narrowcasting is about tailoring information to better compel the recipients. It’s a competitive alternative, as evidenced by this infographic from Mogreet. While broadcasting gets a brand’s message out to a massive group of people, when it comes to who is actually reading and engaging with the content, the numbers are staggeringly low.

For example, 84% of Facebook news feed stories aren’t viewed, 71% of tweets get ignored and 88% of emails go unopened. Meanwhile, 98% of text messages are opened, and therefore, companies that market through SMS/MMS have a far truer reach.

Do these statistics surprise you? If you’re a broadcaster, does this graphic make you want to give narrowcasting a try? Share with us in the comments.

6 Steps to Build Brand Loyalty

How do you build an enduring brand with loyal followers?  As marketers, how do we focus on mastering loyalty marketing initiatives, and stay relevant and consistent with an amplified global competitive landscape?

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is gaining and retaining customers.  According to Mark Di Somma, what customers need at first is awareness, authenticity and excitement over the brand in order for a brand to gain top-of-mind.  But once customers are passionate about a brand, they need different things.  They don’t need to be sold to, according to Di Somma, nor do they need to be reminded that they’re making the right choice every time they buy.  They need to feel rewarded in order to make the decision to lock-in and stay loyal to a brand. Often at times, marketers offer no real sense of reward and ignore their loyal customers.  So how do you sustain the appeal for those who believe in your brand – establish brand loyalty.

Brand loyalty is built on the foundation of every interaction your customer has with your service.  The key to brand loyalty is to always meet or exceed expectations with every customer encounter.  When customers become loyal, they not only buy your product/service, they become emotionally attached to your brand.  They may recommend your brand to their friends and family, develop an emotional connection, and act as a brand evangelist.  These recommendations known as “word-of-mouth” marketing, continue to be most effective, as they can articulate the value proposition of your brand, and address an emotional connection that resonates well with others.

At Couch & Associates we build a loyal customer base which we hope results in brand advocacy, by continuing to engage and deliver consistent brand experiences to our customers. To deliver compelling value across the customer lifecycle, we developed FIREFLY, a loyalty marketing initiative that defines a clear strategy for how to engage with customers along different stages of the buying cycle.

To help ensure your customers will remember your brand, we’ve outlined six (6) steps to build brand loyalty:

1)    Establish brand storytelling – Create stories that communicate the personality, values and experiences of your brand.  Genone Murrary, Course Director in Internet Marketing at Sail University, argues that companies should base these stories by analyzing and understanding the personality, values and experiences of your customers.  Create a brand story that connects with your product/service and target demographics.  Don’t equate your brand story with a list of products, services or prices.  Build your brand story by determining what sets your company apart from your competitors and what establishes a unique identity for you (unique selling proposition – USP). Create brand storytelling and experiences both in-person and online.

2)    Connect with your customers – Be present at touch points which matter most to your customers and provide an emotional connection.  As brands are battling for higher affinity, connect and engage with your customers on a regular basis.  Increase awareness amongst your customers.  Provide your customers with value and motivation and create a community that builds buzz around your brand.

3)    Anticipate their needs – Don’t start selling to your customers, listen to their needs and focus on what your customers want. Your customers are looking for the next experience, so offer them additional value or incentives (i.e. loyalty cards or programs), as these customers are typically more profitable and will most likely reciprocate by staying loyal to your brand.

4)    Deliver on promise – Make it a habit to deliver happiness every step of the way.  Show your customers that you truly care by surpassing their expectations.  Offer something new or exciting and stay true to your brand mission and promise.

5)    Be consistent – Consistently delivering the same message and performance through all lines of business is reassuring and helps keep your brand top-of-mind.  Being consistent helps re-affirm your customers’ trust and credibility in your brand, and helps provide clarity of distinction from competitors.

6)    Deliver personalized experiences – Digital marketing enables us to connect with customers in different ways.  Drive a strategy of conversational marketing that orchestrates one-to-one seamless messaging across all channels.  Profile, segment and analyze your customer base and past buying patterns and create personalized, two-way interactions with your customers that are relevant and customized. Don’t group your customers as stats. Keep your focus on building customer relationships.

To establish brand loyalty you must live by your company’s core principles and go above and beyond customer expectations.  Go the extra mile to set your brand apart from anyone else.  Determine your company’s inside advantage.  Find something uncommon about your offering, and find a way to become well-known to your core customer base by offering a differentiation. Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi describes the goal of marketing as the creation of “loyalty beyond reason.”  Marketers should focus on creating more brand loyalists and “brands that create an intimate emotional connection that you simply can’t do without.  Ever” Your existing customers are the most valuable to your business, so start to create an emotional connection and reward them.

As a marketer, how much effort should you invest in growing brand loyalty?  Do you believe that if you attain brand loyalty, everything else will naturally follow?

Click here to find out more on how Couch & Associates brand loyalty marketing initiatives can help keep your brand top-of-mind with your existing customers.

Article Source: http://www.technicallymarketing.com/index.php/2013/03/21/6-steps-to-build-brand-loyalty-stay-top-of-mind-with-your-customers/

Mobile Marketing Budgets to Balloon in 2013

Budgets for mobile marketing will get bigger next year, according to a new study run by Strongmail and presented by eMarketer.

The study in question suggests that 70% of marketers will ramp up their mobile budgets in 2013.

“A lot of brands have spent far too much money on mobile applications,” Scott Forshay, a mobile and emerging technology strategist for emarketing company Acquity Group, tells Mashable.

The time for greater emphasis and financial backing on mobile marketing has finally come.

This year, mobile ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $2.6 billion. That includes spending on display, search and messaging-based formats. And another estimate shows mobile advertising on smartphones will be a $5.04 billion industry by 2015.

“Of that $2.6 billion spent, $2.5 [billion] of that was probably wasted,” Forshay admits. “Probably the biggest error brands have made as they venture into mobile is that they think mobile is the same thing they’re doing for the website, just down to a 4-inch form.”

“Mobile users are not tethered to a desktop. They need timely information to drive them into stores with positive purchase intent,” he says, adding that marketing on mobile devices “will need to be timely, personal and contextually relevant (people expect their phone to be customized to who they are), in order to work.”

Article Source: http://www.mobilemarketingwatch.com/mobile-marketing-budgets-to-balloon-in-2013-24180/

Successful Loyalty Programs vs. New Groupon Rewards Program

The “loyalty” aspect of our service is what has really fueled a lot of the interest we’ve been getting recently. There has been a huge spike in interest in SMS and other mobile marketing services since the beginning of 2012. And, for the past few years, the Groupon model has been relatively popular. The concept of social buying and heavy discounts was very compelling to small businesses that were looking for ways to drive business. However, we saw some backlash with this model.

The deep discounts and one-time buys are not ideal for the goals and needs of certain businesses. I’ve seen about 60-90% of business owners say they will never do another Groupon again. So if you look at the business market and see that most businesses will not use Groupon again, then how does Groupon have any kind of future?

We always knew that the No. 1 fail point of Groupon was that they had no client retention model. We knew they would eventually have to evolve into a loyalty company—and they did when they came out with Groupon Rewards.

Now, the company is distancing itself from small businesses. They realized their model failed to deliver loyalty, so they started offering a lot of other type of products. Now their focus is on “rewards”, which they obviously did out of demand in the marketplace. But, many businesses dislike Groupon because although they can offer great discounts to customers, they aren’t able to get their hands on the list of people who bought the Groupon. That list is important in building loyalty and personal, engaging interactions among customers.

At SMS Masterminds, we have taken the time and energy to build a very campaign-based and service-based program. We understand the concept of loyalty and how it relates to the needs and opportunities of small business marketing.

There are several elements of a loyalty program that absolutely must be included for the program to be successful. And guess what—Groupon has incorporated virtually none of them. Here are some of the must-have components to a successful loyalty program:

Personal Relationship Building

Whatever system you use for your loyalty program should be one that rides the trends of the loyalty marketing industry and the demands of consumers. Consumers are demanding relationships—they want to feel important and buy from people that they like. If a brand can create a personality and get people to like it, that brand will win over customers. It’s about making an effort to make the customer experience personal and engaging.

Engaging Ongoing Messaging

A loyalty program needs to have consistency in its touch points. We are in a very fast-paced industry today and people expect instant gratification. With our loyalty marketing program, consumers are constantly engaged—receiving text message updates and rewards for checking-in on the Loyalty Rewards Kiosk. With Groupon Rewards, there is no engagement. It’s a system that tallies up totals, and who knows when you will receive your reward.

Timely Push Technology

You want to be able to PUSH your message out there. In order to continue that personal relationship with consumers, you must be able to reach them and provide them with something of value. Push technology is so important in marketing—and that’s why mobile is so big right now—because being able to push out your message and almost INSTANTLY reach consumers is unbelievably powerful.

In-House Engagement Element

You need to have something in-house that people can engage with when they walk into your business. There needs to be something they can do, touch, see, feel—whether it’s a table tent or some other form of signage or a Loyalty Rewards Kiosk conveniently located at the point of purchase—so customers can see, in that moment, how many check-ins they have so far, how many rewards they’ve earned, etc.

Habit Forming Consumer Use

A loyalty system needs to teach your customer how to buy. A successful program can help them develop habits that they will continue to act on over time. Consumer buyer habits are one of the most critical elements of any analytics because understanding what your customers are doing and helping them further mold their buying habits will directly affect your bottom line.

Social Media Integration

It’s 2012. If you are still aboard the anti-social media “I don’t see how it will help my business” train, then you should probably get off at the next stop. You can no longer turn a blind eye. Social media is out there, it’s big, and you can’t deny the success that many businesses have using it to promote brand awareness. A system with elements of loyalty, brand building and consumer engagement should absolutely include social media to round off the entire experience.

If you’re in the marketing industry, you’re going to have people ask you about the differences between Groupon and other loyalty marketing programs. Be prepared to answer those kind of questions by being informed.

Anyone can buy a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, but it’s what the ad says and how it looks that makes the difference of whether it works or not. It comes down to service. When we see other companies providing a technology-only solution, it comes up short in terms of what expectations should be. Value is the key, which is why our system has been built the way it has and how it has remained sustainable among all the other variations that are out there.

Restaurant Industry Is Leading the Pack in Mobile Adoption [INFOGRAPHIC]

The restaurant and food industry is embracing the mobile movement more than other business sectors, according to a new infographic.

DudaMobile, a service that makes websites mobile ready, found that restaurants and food services from pizzerias and bakeries to food trucks take 28% of the total percentage of small to medium-sized businesses that have a mobile-friendly site.

This category is far more advanced than other industries looking to reach out to smartphone users, including professional services such as locksmiths and attorneys (16%), health and wellness including spas and salons (10%), travel and tourism such as hotels (8%) and automobile/transportation (6%). Retailer was number six on the list (5%) for small to medium-sized businesses.

DudaMobile also noted that nearly 20% of visits to a mobile-optimized website result in an immediate call to the business.

The infographic also noted that 70% of smartphone owners use their device while shopping. In addition, about 51% of business travelers use mobile devices to find out information while on the go.

For a full look at which industries are embracing mobile, check out the infographic below.

Article Source: http://mashable.com/2012/06/14/mobile-adoption/

Reaching the Right Audience with Mobile

Today, smartphones allow businesses to better reach their target audiences. The ubiquitous nature of mobile helps brand engage with consumers in real-time, unlike any other marketing channel before.

But reaching your audience on mobile requires a different strategy than reaching your audience through other mediums, so it’s important to recognize the differences and plan your campaigns accordingly.

Businesses can reach their mobile audience through a number of ways, including standalone mobile apps, text messaging, mobile-optimized websites, mobile display ads and more.

I recently participated in a Mobile Marketing Association webinar titled, Reaching the Right Audience Through Mobile & Social Media. The webinar panel featured Michael Becker, Managing Director, North America, MMA and speaker representatives from airG, one of the world’s largest mobile social media products.

As noted by the airG executives, some of the core advantage of mobile are relevancy, scale and the ability to control the who, what, when and how of their message.

Mobile is relevant because it’s about capturing the right audience with the right message at the right time. Providing consumers with relevancy in terms of content or location is very powerful.

The scale is impeccable. There are 1.2 billion mobile Web users and 5.9 billion mobile subscribers worldwide.  The global penetration of mobile devices continues to skyrocket, and thus the opportunity is constantly growing for marketers.

Another benefit of mobile is the ability to control your message content, the recipients, the time and the method. You can target mobile users by demographic, location and interests, and control their engagement and interaction.

With that being said, to reach the right audience through mobile there are a few things your brand should do. First, know your campaign goal. What is the desired outcome of your marketing or advertising efforts? Identify the audience you are trying to reach!

Next, target core prospects—not everyone. Don’t waste your time throwing your message out to everyone when, in reality, you only want certain ones to see it.

Lastly, run your campaign and measure the results. The only way you will know if it worked is to analyze the metrics. Know what success looks like and don’t accept anything less.

The Scope of Mobile Today

We’re almost halfway through 2012. Can you believe it?

The skyrocketing number of smartphone users and amplified mobile marketing budgets tell us one thing: the scope of mobile is broadening more and more each day.

As we near 2012’s median, here are insights into the booming world of mobile:

Mobile Web

  • Mobile Web is predicted to reach 2 billion users by 2015.
  • The largest age group of mobile Web users is ages 25-34, making up 25.6% of the user population.
  • When looking at the entire population of mobile Web users, 51.3% are male and 48.7% female.

Mobile Activity

  • An average mobile device user has their smartphone with them 23 hours per day.
  • The most common mobile activity is text messaging (74.3%), with photos (60.3%) and email (40.8%) trailing close behind.
  • 58% of all SMS opt-ins are done by the 25-34 age group.

Mobile Advertising

  • The average mobile marketing/advertising budget is between $75,000 and $100,000 per campaign.
  • The mobile advertising market is expected to surpass $5 billion by 2015 (compared to the $1.24 billion in 2011).
  • Mobile search makes up the largest investment of advertisers (49%), and following that are display advertising (33%), SMS/MMS marketing (12.2%) and mobile video (5.8%).
  • 71% of smartphone users have used mobile search after seeing an ad.

Mobile Shopping

  • Nearly 1/3 of consumers say mobile is their go-to shopping method.
  • 87% of consumers shop via websites on a laptop, 14% on a smartphone and 9% on a tablet.
  • Men and women engage differently on mobile devices when it comes to shopping: women use smartphones to make their shopping experience more social, while men use it to find information about their potential purchases.
  • Mobile coupons generate 10x the redemption rate as traditional coupons.
  • 70% of smartphone users use their devices when shopping in-store, and 29% who do end up purchasing the item online–this is called the Showroom Effect.
  • 53% of those mobile searchers have made a purchase after a smartphone search.

QR Codes

  • 50% of smartphone owners have scanned QR codes, and 18% of them made a purchase after scanning.
  • 48% of companies plan to invest in advertising with QR codes in 2012.

So, there you have the numbers and be you informed! Ignorance is no longer an excuse for marketers not tapping into mobile. It’s clear that advertisers certainly have a wide range of mobile options to choose from, with mobile Web, advertising, SMS, coupons and QR codes at their fingertips.

Hello generation mobile!

Check out the following sources to see where the numbers came from:

Mobile Marketing by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Is Mobile Advertising the Future of Marketing?

How Consumers Engage with a Mobile Device

Should You Use Facebook Ads for Your Business?

We all know that making your advertising dollars count is critical to the success of your business.

Many people have asked me what I think about advertising on Facebook.

Is it effective? How does it compare with Google AdWords? Will it track my ROI?

Well, for starters there are over 800 million people on Facebook that you could potentially reach with your ad. That’s impressive.

Aside from that, Facebook allows advertisers to choose the audience they want to reach by filtering by location, age and interests. It offers the ability to test different image and text-based formats for the ad to see which gets the best response. You can also set a daily budget and adjust it at any time, so you have complete control over how much you spend on ads on a daily basis.

On top of all these features, Facebook just recently announced they are rolling out some new changes to Facebook Ads, giving marketers more opportunities for targeting and tracking results.

Coming soon, Facebook advertisers will be able to see what actions consumers take after seeing their ad on the social networking site. Before, Facebook Ads only permitted optimization for clicks, Page Likes, app installs and check-ins, but now marketers will be able to see whether the particular ad elicited the desired behavior (ie. visiting the website, making a purchase, redeeming offers, posting a comment, etc.)

Also with the new changes, advertisers will be able to target their ads to the people who are most likely to take the desired action. Eventually, Facebook will be able to tell which people are most likely to purchase online, share links, redeem coupons,etc., and then target their ads to those people.

Why is this new data so important? Measurement is EVERYTHING!

One thing about this kind of advertising is that you really need to pay attention to the metrics to make sure you’re getting the most out of your ad dollars, or else you can end up losing a lot of money.

You need to be analyzing how many impressions and clicks you’re getting and the conversion rates. You should also alter the messaging of your ads a few times to see what works best—which ad gets the most clicks? Which gets the most conversions?

So, what’s my answer? It all comes down to your goals.

Do your research and find out the average cost-per-click, the targeting options, tracking abilities for Facebook Ads and its competitors. See which one makes sense for your business.

Facebook Ads can definitely be a good idea. Just be sure to keep an eye on your results to ensure you’re getting the most out of your ad dollars.

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