The key to success in digital marketing = Happiness

I posted a version of this article originally on my Blog in 2011.  I am excited to share that the LinkedIn Pulse Publishing platform is certainly worth the investment of time and commitment to good content.  I am thrilled and humbled by the feedback I have received from this article both on LinkedIn and Twitter.  I look forward to ongoing contributions.  The response is inspiring!

 

LinkedInPulse_AliciaWhalen_SocialSellingWorks

 

 

This is a fast paced digital world we live in and we as marketers are always looking for new ways to get customers to buy.

Why is this relevant now in the age of an exploding digital media landscape where consumers are living online and across multiple devices like never before?

 

Perhaps we need bring marketing and advertising back to basics and take a queue from our favourite MadMen Ad exec. Don Draper says: 

“ Advertising is based on one thing:  Happiness. “

 

Bring digital marketing back to the basics.  There is content coming at us fast and furious – whether in search engines, on social networks and news portals.  We are witnessing a digital media convergence where more and more media is available online across multiple platforms, and to add to that we are accessing digital content across multiple devices. How do we really make consumers happy now?  Is it still as simple as delivering on a promise and providing a product or service that makes your customers Happy?

I think so!  Now, how do we engage with consumers who are changing their online user behavior as quickly as Facebook changes its profile layouts?  We are marketers are constantly second-guessing where we are allocating our marketing dollars, seemingly because of the following fears:

 

FEAR of missing the next big thing.

RESOURCES – both financial and human.

CONFUSION about what tactics to focus on as the online world shifts again – and again – and again.

 

My advice? Bring it Back to Basics:

  1. Know Your Customer (this will make them Happy)
  • Check your website analytics for top referral traffic and keywords used to find your website, then continue to build on the content that is attracting and engaging your customers to ultimately buy from you.
  • Use a social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social or free tools like Google Alerts, Facebook insights, Twitter analytics or others to “listen” to your customers and understand how to make them Happy.
  • Allocate time and resources to understand changes in how your target audiences are researching and transacting online.  Read and educate yourself about digital marketing tactics that work to make customers happy.  I know a few things that work.  Price transparency and the delivery of a brand promise.  Pretty back to basics right?
  • Most importantly, if you’re taking the time to ‘listen’ to your customer’s online– be sure you act on that information. Simply monitoring the conversation without adjusting your strategy, or communicating with your brand ambassadors will not help you understand how your consumer wants to receive your messages now and in the future.
  1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize. Understand Your Objectives
  • What are your objectives in your digital marketing campaigns?  Are you looking to increase sales? To build a new audience? Launch a new brand? Increase brand engagement?  It will make both you and your customer happy if your advertising is delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right consumer.  Win win win = Happy!
  • With all of the new tactics available to marketers today, it is more important than ever to set specific and measurable objectives for campaigns. This makes me nostalgic for the Mad Men days really.  This whole marketing thing has become a little bit mind numbing.
  1. Stick With What Works.
  • If you have already developed an active Twitter following and you’re seeing ROI (in sales and or website traffic etc) keep going!
  • Continue to build on what works to make your customers happy. Build a team of Tweeters to help in building and engaging your audience further or in providing CRM – think about what would take a successful campaign to the next level.
  • If Google AdWords campaigns worked well last year to drive targeted traffic during need times, or to sell specific packages or products – build on it and do it again with a new twist, or put some dollars towards other search channels such as the Yahoo/ BING network that might provide a smaller reach but more conversions.  Don’t be afraid to test new channels.  Consumers are spending a great deal of time online, therefore advertising budgets need to adjust.
  1. Search is still king.  Your customers are Happy when they find what they are looking for.
  • Focus on making sure you have a strong web presence across all online channels that help to guide your consumers to transact.
  • Ensure you have taken care of the basics like search engine optimization, good creative and content, Google Places optimization, a good mobile version of your website etc. and then you can focus on other channels to build your traffic.
  1. Integrate. Integrate. Integrate.
  • Make sure you integrate your campaigns online and offline.
  • Your brand’s digital footprint should have a consistent tone, creative brand message, and should always drive your target consumers to transact. This is key and is sure to make them Happy.  Ensure that all your brand web assets are navigating customers to act.
  1. Test + Measure and then Adjust.  This makes stakeholders Happy.
  • Measure performance in analytics and benchmark against past campaigns to continue to improve advertising efficiency. Make sure you have defined KPI’s in place such as increases in unique website visitors, increases in time on site and of course –  sales.
  • Did you launch a new Blog that has increased traffic to the website by 20%? How do you grow it from here or how do you encourage more transactions on the website as a result of the Blog traffic? Test, measure and adjust.
  • Have your efforts on LinkedIn increased leads to your sales department?
  • What can you do to ensure you grow these successful marketing channels?
  • Do the tactics outlined in your Marketing Plan work to build on what you have already started?

Keep it simple – stick to the digital marketing tactics that will help you achieve your objectives and don’t worry about all the noise.

It can get overwhelming to look at all that is available to us today. If you execute marketing programs efficiently, with the proper focus on measurement of ROI, which is very do-able in the age of digital media, you may have the confidence and extra resources to be able to adjust and try new things.  This will make you a Happy marketer!

To take a lesson from Mad Man, Don Draper – Budget + target demographic + medium = time for a scotch.  

Just make them Happy!

 

ABOUT:

Alicia Whalen is a digital + social media marketing strategist, author and speaker specializing in the travel and tourism industry. Alicia has spent over a decade driving successful digital marketing campaigns and educating tourism professionals about how to embrace digital and social media. She is the co-founder of www.acoupleofchicks.com and the digital marketing conference for tourism www.onlinerevealed.com  An avid tweeter and lover of travel, technology and the Ah-Ha moments.  Connect with Alicia on TwitterLinkedIn or at www.ideahatching.com 

 

Social Marketing Steps To Success

Social media – the most overused term in marketing since Web 2.0 – is not simply changing the nature by which we consume online media, it has morphed into a way of life on the Web.

We are no longer talking about simply building websites, writing blogs, or optimizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising campaigns; the media world in which we live has become location-based, review dominated, App heavy, text happy, plug-in this and plug-in that – and do it all within 140 characters!

Planning a Social Media Strategy is about as straight forward as asking a toddler to “sit still for a minute”. So what is a Marketing Director (or Community Manager, or Digital Marketing Manager or anyone else for that matter, we don’t even know what to call ourselves anymore!) to do?

Social Media has morphed many skill-sets together and may be managed by a variety of different people or positions within an organization.  Generally, an outside agency should be brought in to set up a social strategy, as well as train and execute a brand social community – but long term, the heart and soul of your brand should be managed by trusted and skilled team members within your organization.

Having said that – stick with the three S’s and your digital media efforts will be integrated with your overall marketing efforts and will ensure success and ROI.

Strategic, Streamlined and Sexy:

1. Be Strategic

Build your Social Media and marketing campaigns with a strategy in mind, and with the right resources and a plan in place to make it happen.  Start with what channels you need to build a presence on.  Don’t jump in on every channel until you are doing one really well.  Maybe you have a killer Facebook business page but it’s time to grow the community.  Perhaps you have not had the time or knowledge to dedicate to LinkedIn for your Sales team, but you know the networking tool could really make the sales process easier.

Write a pain point about each social channel you are already using or think your brand needs to have a presence on.  What are you (or your competitors) doing well, how could you improve, how you measure your ROI, what resources are in place to manage it, and goals for each community for next year.

As one wise Chick on our team always says “plan the work, and work the plan”.

2. Be Streamlined

No one marketing campaign has ever worked in isolation.  At the same time, each of your communities will be different in the way you deliver content, respond and engage with your followers and brand champions.

Be smart and streamlined with your messages.  If you are looking to run a contest on Facebook – ensure you plan it out properly, and ensure all roads lead to a point of conversion.  Conversion may be more “likers” or traffic to your website, but ensure that your target audience follows a path to enter the contest and do what you intend them to do.

Also, be streamlined in your efforts overall – avoid trying too many tactics on too many channels.  Stick with what’s working and make sure you streamline your resources to be able to manage your social brand over the long term.

3. Be Sexy

Yes I said sexy.  Digital media allows us to think outside the box.  Try some unique marketing tactics and have fun with it!  If you are going to dedicate time and resources to develop a presence on social communities – you better use them to their fullest potential.  You have to stand out, shout out, and be proud of your brand on the social web.  Learn to listen and respond instead of pushing out messages to your target audiences.  The social web is the place to show the personality of your brand and really engage your consumers – not to announce a 20% off special.

There are many other must do’s as you are building out your digital media campaigns for 2012, but if you keep these points in mind, focus on good design and content, and at the very least commit to allocating resources to get in the game in 2012 – you will be ready for any “likes” “Diggs” “pokes” “plus’s” “sparks” “circles” or “huddles” we may be talking about next year.

 

Chicks…and Butterflies?

As Week #1 as the newest Chick comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the irony in being asked to write a piece for the official Chick blog on the topic of “The Social Butterfly”.  While I‘m typically more of a behind-the-scenes kind of gal – the opposite of a social butterfly in the traditional sense – just thinking about writing a Blog is actually causing me to have butterflies; huge-winged moth-like Jurassic creatures are literally wreaking havoc on my insides.

Can I write anything of relevance using more than 140 characters? (I’m a seasoned Twitter-er.) What if no one reads this?  What if everyone reads this?  Do I have anything important to say?  What if there is criticism, and I‘m attacked by the grammar-hammers?  And, more importantly, what if The Chicks think I suck???  Lot’s of what-if angst…

[insert deep breath here]

In Chick-dom we refer to “The Social Butterfly” as most commonly found between the age range of 15-25 and being big influencers on buying decisions.  Social butterflies “fly” or “flit” from site to site based on popularity or what’s cool amongst their peers – wherever the nectar is the sweetest.

Butterflies are sharing their experiences through sites like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.  This group has grown up online and is comfortable sharing personal information and interacting with other online users.  I know this from personal experience with having a 15 (going on 25) year-old; as I’m constantly amazed at how they can chat, text, take photo’s and video’s, and put together a Christmas list (with links to the products and their websites) – all at the same time (yet the simple task of cleaning her bedroom is simply overwhelming!).  This is the same kid who put together a Powerpoint presentation at the age of 12 on why she should be allowed to go to a bon-fire party with no parents.

My point being that butterflies are multi-taskers and have a zero-tolerance attention span.  They do their research online and value the opinions of those within their online community through ‘word of mouse‘.  As marketers to said butterflies, we need to go where they are.  Must-haves include the capability for uploading media, personalizing their space and being able to invite their friends to visit; we need to accommodate the thirst and inherent need to socialize.

In January 2010 a Facebook Fan Page for “If you remember the L’OrealKids FISH SHAPED SHAMPOO BOTTLE” was created and to date there are almost 1.2 million fans.  Fans have uploaded pictures of L’Oreal products, and pictures of themselves holding L’Oreal products.

The page does not look like an official L’Oreal page, and the page creator goes by the name “Tanner Be”.  Tanner Be might be just a highly creative teenager with a lot of time on his hands, or he/she might just be a cleverly-disguised digital marketer (hey…we do what we have to) for L’Oreal.

This is a perfect example of a brand “being social”, whether intentional on the brand’s behalf or not.  This also illustrates the glaring fact that you need to brand yourself, or someone else will most certainly do it for you.

Get your butterfly nets out, and remember to have fun along the way!

2009 Reflections – isn’t there an APP for that?

The answer is yes, there is an APP for getting a snapshot of your 2009 status updates on Facebook. This APP took me through the sound-bites of my life in a cheesy card-like summary – which is now displayed on my wall for all to see. Looks like it was a pretty fun year!

2009 saw Facebook take a page from Twitter with live feeds of content replacing the display of content listed by friends most frequented – much to the initial resistance from many a Facebook user. Now we have to work to stalk our ‘friends’ because if they are not updating what they are doing by the minute, we are going have to dig deep to see what they are making for dinner.

With live feeds of content from social media channels such as Twitter, and Facebook- integrated media consumption became the norm in 2009.  Google and CNN are no longer the only sources for breaking “news” stories, and live television now leads to online discussions and minute by minute commentary from millions of people in online communities discussing such important topics as which man the bachelorette should choose, and why the dude with the bad muscle shirt should be ousted from the list of hopefuls – if only for his poor choice in wardrobe.

Social networking online went to new levels in ’09 with live content feeds on Facebook allowing us to capture everything from where we are, to how we are feeling, to what we look like in an instant, appearing to hundreds of our closest friends.

2009 was also the year that “gone viral” was actually something good – it meant people liked you! Even if your most embarrassing moment was being viewed by 15 million people – instant celebrity can now be achieved. Just ask the poor kid who was living out his fantasy of being a Jedi warrior (which was secretly captured on video and posted to YouTube). Not only did 15 million see this, but they also commented and created spoofs with special effects and music to further add to our experience. Ahhhh the new tools of virtual voyeurism.

And then there is the mobile phone. With the SMS – or text, a whole new language has emerged and has been adapted by multiple generations. Kids are texting hugs and kisses to their Grandma’s, wives are sending reminders to pick up the milk…some are even breaking up with a quick one-line SMS.

It is amazing how 5 letters appearing on our mobile screen can make us feel connected, happy, relieved and loved. When did ‘LOL’ and ‘TTYL’ become code for “you are so funny and I feel that I must validate your last message by telling you that or you might misconstrue my silence for lack of interest” and “I am thinking of you too and can’t wait to send you cryptic messages again later when I have more time to think about how to be smart, witty and and down with the new technology at the same time.

If 2009 was the year of the Tweet, 2010 may be the year of the APP. Mobile browsers in phones such as the Blackberry and iPhone have enabled access to everything online at any time. Want to know the name of the song that is playing? Want help with your golf swing? Want to know what to make for dinner with what is in your fridge? There is an APP for that! Perhaps by 2011 we will rely on APPS to tell us it is time to have a nap or take out the garbage.

The capturing of the sound-bites of my life in Facebook status updates, in video and photo uploads, in daily tweets of conversation (with the 14,000 people that have chosen to listen to my rants) has ironically taught me to be in the moment, to enjoy the people I am sharing the moment with – as it is happening.

My final reflection for 2009? It looks like a pretty fun life on Facebook – take some time to enjoy it in reality too!

2009 Reflections – isn't there an APP for that?

The answer is yes, there is an APP for getting a snapshot of your 2009 status updates on Facebook. This APP took me through the sound-bites of my life in a cheesy card-like summary – which is now displayed on my wall for all to see. Looks like it was a pretty fun year!

2009 saw Facebook take a page from Twitter with live feeds of content replacing the display of content listed by friends most frequented – much to the initial resistance from many a Facebook user. Now we have to work to stalk our ‘friends’ because if they are not updating what they are doing by the minute, we are going have to dig deep to see what they are making for dinner.

With live feeds of content from social media channels such as Twitter, and Facebook- integrated media consumption became the norm in 2009.  Google and CNN are no longer the only sources for breaking “news” stories, and live television now leads to online discussions and minute by minute commentary from millions of people in online communities discussing such important topics as which man the bachelorette should choose, and why the dude with the bad muscle shirt should be ousted from the list of hopefuls – if only for his poor choice in wardrobe.

Social networking online went to new levels in ’09 with live content feeds on Facebook allowing us to capture everything from where we are, to how we are feeling, to what we look like in an instant, appearing to hundreds of our closest friends.

2009 was also the year that “gone viral” was actually something good – it meant people liked you! Even if your most embarrassing moment was being viewed by 15 million people – instant celebrity can now be achieved. Just ask the poor kid who was living out his fantasy of being a Jedi warrior (which was secretly captured on video and posted to YouTube). Not only did 15 million see this, but they also commented and created spoofs with special effects and music to further add to our experience. Ahhhh the new tools of virtual voyeurism.

And then there is the mobile phone. With the SMS – or text, a whole new language has emerged and has been adapted by multiple generations. Kids are texting hugs and kisses to their Grandma’s, wives are sending reminders to pick up the milk…some are even breaking up with a quick one-line SMS.

It is amazing how 5 letters appearing on our mobile screen can make us feel connected, happy, relieved and loved. When did ‘LOL’ and ‘TTYL’ become code for “you are so funny and I feel that I must validate your last message by telling you that or you might misconstrue my silence for lack of interest” and “I am thinking of you too and can’t wait to send you cryptic messages again later when I have more time to think about how to be smart, witty and and down with the new technology at the same time.

If 2009 was the year of the Tweet, 2010 may be the year of the APP. Mobile browsers in phones such as the Blackberry and iPhone have enabled access to everything online at any time. Want to know the name of the song that is playing? Want help with your golf swing? Want to know what to make for dinner with what is in your fridge? There is an APP for that! Perhaps by 2011 we will rely on APPS to tell us it is time to have a nap or take out the garbage.

The capturing of the sound-bites of my life in Facebook status updates, in video and photo uploads, in daily tweets of conversation (with the 14,000 people that have chosen to listen to my rants) has ironically taught me to be in the moment, to enjoy the people I am sharing the moment with – as it is happening.

My final reflection for 2009? It looks like a pretty fun life on Facebook – take some time to enjoy it in reality too!

Twitter for Tourism

Coming off busy few months of speaking to groups about online marketing strategy, I must conclude that this year the big burning question is Why Twitter? The Facebook phenominon has continued to evolve. I remember when there were only one or two people in a room that would admit to being on Facebook. Now audiences happily admit to their addiction to and even share stories about their experiences and successes.

    The verdict is still out on Twitter it seems. Although we have run across some great Twitter success stories over the past few months, there are also some very confused marketers who are wondering why they signed up and what they are supposed to be doing there.

    Last week in Halifax, we met the tweeting “Hotel Dog” as an example (aka http://twitter.com/thehoteldog or @thehoteldog as she is known as in Twitterland) who is a chocolate lab at the Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been tweeting now for a few months to a loyal following and is even now featured on the home page of the hotel’s main website http://www.ChocolateLakeHotel.com .

    She gets fan tweets, fan mail, and has become an attraction unto herself at the hotel. Having a dog like Cocoa (her real life name) as a concierge also allows the hotel to engage with an audience of dog lovers who may also like to travel with their dogs. The Best Western Chocolate Lake is pet friendly of course. Now there is a great use of Tweeting in Tourism to engage a consumer audience!

    I too keep hearing the research that reports that only 5% or less of North American’s are actually active on Twitter and that other social media channels like Facebook continue to expand to audiences that now include all demographics etc. etc. (It has now been confirmed though that my 82 year old Grandma Ivy is not the oldest Facebook user in Canada – but she is one active social networker!)

    Interestingly I put a call out to my “tweeple” this afternoon asking the question (in 140 characters or less of course so please excuse the grammer)

    Tweet: http://www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks “Looking for feedback…Twitter working for B2C or just a great place for networking and B2B? thoughts?”

    This is the beauty of Twitter – one can shout out to their peeps and get some great feedback fast. A second validation for Twitter to consumers came from the http://www.fairmont.com/empress“>Fairmont Empress Hotel Tweeter who responded with the following via Twitter:

    www.twitter.com/FairmontEmpress “BOTH…success has to due with part instinct and part response. I get excited when I see RT of special offers & events posted.”
    With more than 900 followers I think it is working for Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel.

    Specifically I was looking for some comments about measuring the ROI of Twitter for a business to consumer audience. When we are asked in our workshops whether or not someone should be Twittering, the answer is always “it depends.” I can definately attest to the power of the Tweet for building professional credability, business to business networking, and for me and many of my fellow tweeters – fun!

    Then we come to the most recent news that Search Engines Google.com and Bing.com will index not only Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages and profiles, but also Tweets and updates in the very near future.

    Wow – now there is a game changer!

    The implications to this are too much to discuss in one Blog post, but it will definately shake things up in the future for businesses that rely on the web to reach their consumers (are there any that don’t anymore really?) Check out this “Marketing on the smart web” Blog post by Joe Buhler who discusses some of the implications in some more detail.

    In summary – at this point I will stick to the mantra that you should not jump into any form of social networking intiative for business (or personal for that matter) without a full understanding of the channel and the people using it.

    But I will say that the indexing of real-time results from status updates and tweets is reason enough to take a good look at all social networking vehicles as perhaps a necessary marketing and PR focus in the future.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
alicia.whalen@gmail.com
905-401-2249

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