Friday, August 19, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Online Coupons Boast High Redemption Rate
The recession has encouraged a host of deal-seeking behavior among consumers, including searching out online and mobile coupons as well as taking advantage of daily deal offers, which have risen in popularity dramatically. And thanks to television shows like "Extreme Couponing" where shoppers save hundreds of dollars during strategically planned supermarket visits, old-fashioned coupon-clipping is back in the spotlight, too.
Though shoppers still scour the Sunday paper for coupons, those free-standing inserts have the lowest redemption rate of all formats, according to NCH Marketing Services. Instantly redeemable grocery coupons featured on the outside of a package were the most likely to be claimed, followed by coupons downloaded from the internet, at nearly 17%. Health and beauty products had a 13.6% redemption rate for the same digital format.
The high redemption rate for online coupons could be attributed to both a growing familiarity with the process as well as the increased availability of online offers. NCH also found a 15% increase in promotions distributed digitally in the first half of 2011 versus the first half of the previous year. eMarketer estimates that overall, 88.2 million US internet users will redeem an online coupon for either online or offline shopping this year, up from 83.6 million in 2010.
In addition, opt-in email lists and other targeted offers, along with the fact that many online coupons are found by searchers directly seeking out deals, mean digital offers are more likely to reach consumers who want to redeem them. Free-standing inserts, by contrast, are distributed more widely, likely depressing the redemption rate.
Home-printed coupons not only stand a better chance of being redeemed, they also attract more new buyers than traditional coupons. According to Knowledge Networks, nearly half of consumer packaged goods (CPG) coupon redeemers from 2008 to 2010 had not previously bought the promoted item compared to 34% that had used free-standing inserts.
Overall, 35% of consumers surveyed by SymphonyIRI downloaded coupons from manufacturer or retailer websites, while 31% did so from dedicated coupon sites. Coupons were popular across all incomes, though preferred sources varied. Those making less than $35k over-indexed most heavily for manufacturer sites, whose offerings in many ways resemble the same types of packaged goods deals found through free-standing inserts.
Only daily deal sites gained in popularity as incomes rose, reflecting a tendency of wealthier shoppers to embrace new digital sources first. According to a Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) study, coupons were the preferred discount among all internet users (80%), while daily deals landed closer to the bottom (16%).
Coupons show no sign of falling out of favor with shoppers, no matter the format. However, retailers should be aware of the differences between delivery channels and formats. Digital's ability to attract new buyers and provide solid redemption rates makes online coupons stand apart
(Source: eMarketer, 0/18/11)
||8 Essential Rules for Social Media and Business
Social Media is a complex and evolving medium that many businesses struggle to figure out. Few find quantifiable success with it, many have failed, and most have yet to truly form a social media strategy.
Failure is often a result of using social media before taking time to understand it, including asking the questions why do people engage on it and what are the unwritten rules that govern its use. It's free exposure, and often organizations fail to intentionally plan their message as they would for an expensive ad campaign. It's like trying to run before one has learned to walk. Consider this: In 2010, Nielsen and Facebook did a joint study on the effect of social media for enterprise using the benchmarks: Ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase intent. Social media had significantly better results than traditional marketing.
Whether an individual, a non-profit, or a business (B2B or B2C) -- social media strategies must be well thought out and planned prior to execution. Questions must first be answered, primarily the question of "WHY?" "WHY are we getting into social media?" And, "WHY will this motivate individuals to find out more about our organization." Before every post, "WHY will our followers find this post valuable?" Social media is permission based engagement - it is the most effective way to engage people and receive measurable results. When someone gives an organization permission to speak to them, the organization's messaging must be "on" 100% of the time. It's like dating, an organization must woo, cultivate, and meet the needs of their network. The following rules apply to almost every social media user who seeks to develop a platform, client acquisition, increased sales, and better brand awareness.
1. Social media is relational, not transactional, according to social media innovator Michael Hyatt. Probably the most important rule for any individual or organization seeking to expand exposure and acquire new customers through an online presence. Keep the "keys" to the social media account away from the Sales department. Traditional marketing has no place in social media. Overtly trying to sell a product or service will quickly damage a social media reputation (reputation is quickly damaged and long to repair). Consumers no longer need to jump through hoops to end their relationship with an organization -- no more signing up on the do-not-call-registry, no more trying to figure out how to get off a direct mail list, no more trying to figure out how to say "no" to a good salesperson -- they simply click an unfollow button and, *poof*, an organization becomes vapor in their social stream. Resist automated responders that thank individuals for following.
2. Organizations must have a dedicated social media evangelist. An organization should have an independent social media manager who reports directly to an executive on the leadership team. The social media manager should not be accountable to a supervisor who is commissioned or expected to generate a sales quota. They should be the keeper of the keys and the protector of an organization's network of followers. Because social media is incredibly fluid and changes at the speed of light (in its first 9 months, Instagram acquired an astonishing 7 million registered users) -- this person should have a natural proclivity toward Web 2.0, much like a surgeon, always reading, learning, and staying up to date. They should be fluent in related technology in order to track and report on the efficacy of the organization's social media platform -- Google Analytics, A/B Testing, Content Management Systems (like WordPress), and third party social media software like HootSuite - so as to assign metrics by which to assess and respond quickly.
3. An organization should focus on engagement and not on numbers. The numbers will follow but should not be used as a performance indicator. There is significantly more value in having a smaller network of followers who engage on a regular basis than to have a large network of followers who view your page once and are done. Phantom accounts abound in social media for numerous reasons (do you smell SPAM?). A single engaged user is worth more than one hundred unused or phantom accounts. People participate in social media because it's an effective venue to build professional networks, exchange ideas, and build their own platform -- if you're selling, they're not buying. A critical component of engagement is dialogue. Organization's who respond to and provide exposure to their more valuable followers will find their generosity reciprocated. Corporate and product development based on follower feedback is magic.
4. Define your core audience and identify your area of expertise. Do not try to be all things to all people. If you want to reach the decision makers in organizations, you may design your social media messaging and expertise around content that educates about organizational development, as an example. It does not sell your product or service in a direct or traditional way. But the decision makers who follow will begin to view an organization as an expert in their particular area of interest, they will click on links when enough credibility is built and they will share the content. In time, they will take the initiative to find out more about the organization including what products and services are offered. The trust built in social media will transfer to trust in the product or service. When users see a new post in their stream, they should immediately associate it with positive psychology -- they should know that the post will bring them value and it's not simply trying to sell them a product or service. They should be inspired to be an active participant as a result of content.
5. Content is king. As previously mentioned, social media is not the place to make overt sales pitches. Posts should be succinct, not impulsive or emotional, but rather should be thoughtfully constructed and politically correct. On Twitter a post is given 140 characters. In order for followers to RT they must be given enough characters to retweet (subtract 2 characters plus the number of characters in a username). Posts should add value to followers free of charge, no gimmicks and no strings attached -- they may provide information, best practices, or free resources. Develop free resources to give away on a website or blog. While posts should provide stand-alone content, most should include a link providing the user an opportunity to find out more. At least once daily the link should direct the user to an area of the organizations website where they can find free content or resources, such as a blog page. That's where users will find out more about the company, its products and services, and share content with their followers. Those who manage social media for business must understand that the premise that users have given an organization permission to engage them with an implicit trust that the organization will not abuse or misuse the access they've been given.
6. Updates should be consistent and frequent. Social media is always on and so should an organizations presence. Social media management is not a job relegated to weekdays between 8 and 5. It takes time and consistent impressions with other users to build the credibility needed for them to engage. Posts should be daily and typically should occur a few times and not more than 8 or 9 (depending on the network). When there are dark periods (a day or more without updates) followers get dubious, brand awareness fades, and credibility that has been built diminishes.
7. A Social Media platform must be manifested. Social media streams and accounts should be integrated into every page of an organizations website and communication including "like," "tweet," and "follow" buttons. Clients and followers cannot evangelize if an organization doesn't provide them with the tools to do so. It improves engagement, it says that an organization is serious about their social media platform, it is a big factor in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and it ensures that website content is fresh without internal redundancy.
8. A Profile must be Perfect. The profile is the most viewed page and too often the most neglected. Users decide whether or not to follow an account based on it. Images, background, and messaging should be consistent with an organization's brand. It should be concise and not superfluous. It should include a link to the organization's website or blog
(Source: Social Media Today, 08/09/11)
||Mobile as an E-Commerce Supplement
The buzz around mobile applications, mobile design and mobile advertising can distract Internet retailers from their core mission, which is to sell products.
Today's most successful e-commerce merchants, however, understand how to best use these technologies and platforms to increase revenue and deepen engagement.
The most effective way to do that is by using mobile as a supplement to an existing website's promotional efforts. Below we will explore several strategies for excelling in what has become a challenging and competitive environment.
For several years now, online retailers have anticipated and prepared for a dramatic rise in mobile commerce. Many have gone so far as to invest in elaborate applications or optimized their websites specifically for smartphone and tablet users. What the Internet retailing community has learned in the past year, however, is that consumers are still unsure about making actual purchases from their mobile devices.
Smaller screens, unfamiliar interfaces and slower load times are but a few of the obstacles facing both users and merchants. One humorous survey from Tealeaf Technology reported that most users consider mobile transactions more frustrating than going to their Department of Motor Vehicles. The same study revealed that 23 percent of mobile users have cursed at their devices while making a purchase; 11 percent have screamed at their devices and 4 percent of mobile shoppers have actually thrown their devices when things didn't go as planned.
As a result, today's retailers must remain relatively cautious with their mobile strategies. The "all-in" approach is no longer advisable, as evidenced by the fact that most merchants receive only about 2 percent of their overall revenues through sales made directly from mobile devices, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.
That percentage is sure to increase over time, making mobile a vital component to the success of every e-commerce enterprise in the future. The key is in knowing how to supplement a company's existing online presence through the implementation of a well-conceived mobile strategy.
"It's been a transition that's taken the past three to four years, and it is still very much going on," says Tom Nawara, vice president of digital marketing firm The Acquity Group. "No business should shut down its website and jump into mobile 100 percent. It is about providing customers with multichannel engagement -- testing the waters to find ways of augmenting sales through mobile."
Augmenting sales through the mobile channel -- rather than relying on sales directly from mobile shoppers -- is the best approach for merchants to take in the current environment.
Most of today's smartphone and tablet users rely on their devices for searching, browsing and gathering information, and not necessarily making purchases. Mobile consumerism is still very much a work in progress, but the convenience of finding a business' Web pages while stuck in traffic or in line at the bank is a significant draw for users.
Before investing in mobile applications that only a handful of users may utilize, business owners should ensure that their companies are readily available through mobile searches. At the very least, that will require a noticeable presence on Google and Bing -- most fundamentally creating a Google Places page that includes all of the information that a user might need. To take it a step further, business owners will want to enlist the services of comparison shopping engines, making their products and prices available to mobile shoppers in real time.
Mobile customers may not intend to make purchases directly from their smartphones, but they will very likely want to research products, compare prices or simply find a brick-and-mortar establishment. Make the process easy for them, or they will move on to the next option without hesitation.
Most retailers think of mobile as a vehicle for customers to find them, but too few consider the flip side. The mobile channel is also ideal for merchants who want to increase their visibility, and SMS or text-message marketing is an effective tactic for doing just that.
Incorporating the mobile channel into a marketing plan requires significant effort. E-commerce websites should require that an option to include mobile telephone numbers is available on each registration form, and the most successful companies know how to use that information advantageously.
The idea is not to be intrusive but accommodating. Ways of doing that may include sending out discounted deals via SMS, or conducting contests exclusive to mobile subscribers. Any tactic that invites engagement through the mobile channel is a viable strategy -- but they should not be limited to building applications or optimizing websites.
"A proper SMS program should be viewed not just as a potential way to communicate and cultivate a relationship but also as a relevant connector to other aspects of your brand experience for a customer," says Dave Lawson, director of mobile engagement at Web marketing firm Knotice. "It can include alerts, branding messages, discounts, exclusive content, etc., but it works best when it is combined with a mobile website and is relevant to the message, works in conjunction with push notifications in apps or contests, and sweepstakes to activate sponsorships or a social media presence."
If you're considering getting involved with SMS marketing, vendors to evaluate include Mobile Storm, Trumpia, SumoText and CallFire.
The mobile landscape is constantly changing, which makes strategizing all the more difficult for merchants. The best course of action is to gain an intimate knowledge of your audience before considering a mobile application or optimizing your company's website.
Both options may require a significant investment, and might not be completely necessary depending on your company’s vertical. A flashy application for the iPad can be an alluring prospect but makes little sense for a business whose core users are not yet tablet-savvy.
Customer research is an essential element in the process, the goal being to gauge your visitors' needs based on their habits. Surveys provide the best insight into user behavior, as do simple analytics and even A/B or multivariate testing.
"Try taking a look at the way your customers are interacting with your website on mobile devices and optimize for that," says Lawson. "Look at referrals from search, opens and clicks from emails, affiliate and social media paths to your site -- even QR codes. All are things that you can first quantify, then determine how valuable that type of mobile user is. You can optimize the most important pieces first with the long-tail customer types becoming fast followers."
A company's most effective mobile strategy will depend on what is determined through this research. Whether it be an app for tablet or smartphone users, a mobile-optimized upgrade to an existing website, a brand new microsite or some variation of them all, the one thing we know for sure where mobile is concerned is to proceed with a certain amount of caution and a lot of optimism.
Local.com announced recently the launch of its first integrated solution resulting from the recent Krillion and Rovion acquisitions. The dynamic, geo-targeted rich media ad units from Rovion provide real-time data from Krillion on products that are geographically local to each user, including information on current discounts, pricing, product details, store locations and in-stock availability. Local.com plans to distribute these dynamic ads across its network of 1,400 regional media publishers’ websites, as well as third-party partner networks, which will create additional reach.
(Source: Website Magazine, August, 2011)
Daily Sales Tip: Build Your Personal Brand Using Social Media
I recently read an article with tips on successful Tweeting. Do you have a professional Twitter account or Facebook page you promote to your advertisers? Use these social media tips to best communicate marketing information to your advertisers and prospects:
1. Be Original
When most people find an article they want to share with their followers, they copy the title of the article and paste it into the tweet. While this gives your followers an idea of what the article is, it's bland and will mix in with all of the other tweets in their timeline. Try coming up with your own creative title for the article. This way, if the article is popular, your tweet won't be the same as everyone else who has also tweeted the same article.
2. Be Short
Twitter limits the length of tweets so you can provide useful information in a way that is easy to read. While 140 characters may already seem short, make your tweets around 120 characters if you can. This ensures that there is enough room for others to retweet (the classic way) and include any opinions or thoughts they have on the subject.
3. Tweet Like You Are Writing A Headline
Along with being short, your tweets should be straight to the point. Imagine your tweet is a newspaper headline and your goal is to get a person to read the story. You need to make the headline catchy and easy to read, while still grabbing the reader's attention and hopefully luring them into the article. Treat tweets the same way, grabbing a follower's attention and getting them to either reply or click on an included link.
4. Offer Interesting Statistics
People like to be shocked with interesting facts and statistics. If a follower reads something they can't believe, they'll be inclined to click the link and look into it more. Going back to the very first tip of being original, use an interesting statistic instead of the title of an article as the body of your tweet.
5. Be Real
Twitter, and social media in general, is about connecting people and sharing interesting things. Nobody wants to talk to a robot because it has no real thoughts or emotions. Use your own voice to tweet and make it personal. If you feel you must schedule tweets ahead of time, be sure to check and respond to any replies you get. In addition, show your followers you appreciate them by replying and retweeting them as well.
6. Time Your Tweets
Timing your tweets doesn't mean you should time them to publish every half-hour. It means you should know when your followers are most active and when you should be most active as well. If you get the most replies, retweets, and updates in the middle of the day, then you should be on Twitter interacting and tweeting during those times as well. The eastern time zone is the most populated time zone in the U.S., therefore it would also be wise to time your tweets when those people are most likely to see them.
7. Focus and Provide Value
People use Twitter for various reasons, whether it's to learn about marketing or to learn about teddy bears doesn't really matter. Find your reason for using Twitter, and stick to tweeting mostly about that subject. By focusing on one or two subjects, people will see you as being a valuable contributor who they can learn from.
8. Be Engaging
You shouldn't focus on just growing the number of followers you have, you should rather focus on getting your followers to interact and discuss what you tweet. Ask your followers questions to get them taking and giving ideas, but also remember to respond to their questions, too. If you do have a large following, asking for a good restaurant recommendation in a foreign city is always a bonus!
9. Include Links
Unless it's the score of a game or an update to something ongoing, 140 characters isn't usually enough to provide much information. You should use the space to attract people and lead them to your site or to an article that expands the brief information displayed in the tweet. Twitter is a gateway to limitless information, not so much a place to learn directly from.
10. Provoke Thought
Going along with being original and offering interesting statistics, your tweets should leave your followers questioning and wanting to learn more. A tweet that creates no ideas is going to be read and passed along without further thought. A tweet that makes a follower think will have a better chance of being retweeted or replied to, exposing you to a greater pool of potential followers.
Source: John Potter, VP/Training, RAB -- with content from Jay Vasse, Social Media Strategist, NowSourcing, Inc.