Direct marketing encompasses all forms of marketing communicated straight to the consumer, via a range of advertising and communication techniques. This can include: mobile messaging, online adverts, email and now, even social media.
Direct marketing may be the bugbear of many; no one likes spam, but now-a-ways, there are lots of effective filtering programs to block it out and there are now regulations in place that make it much harder. Direct marketing is regulated by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations. Regulations state it is illegal to send un-solicited emails unless in specific circumstances. Therefore, consumers need to first be interested in a product or service, to be able to contact them.
For businesses however, it can be a powerful way of promoting services or products, as messages can be tailored for specific target audiences. If the sender knows the organisations or individuals on the mailing list are interested in what is on offer, the more successful this medium can be. Social media and direct marketing both focuses on individual networks of people based around a specific passion or interest, for business or pleasure, and can work fantastically well together.
For direct marketing to be successful, it is imperative marketers remember:
Be Relevant: Target the right people, people who are already interested, are already customers or could be. If people already have an interest they are more likely to opt-in. Email can be an effective and economic way of engaging with consumers, if you can get them to request information through this medium. Many e-commerce sites require customers to register before purchasing.
Give Incentives: If you give consumers an incentive to opt-in, they will. Understand what interests them and use that as inspiration. Special discounts, pre-release previews of products, will entice your audience, but you must give them the option to opt-out. This is a legal requirement and if you don’t, you will be breaking the law.
Don’t bombard people: You will only annoy them and make them opt-out. Use user analytics tools to understand what times of the day are best to attract the attention of your target market and communicate with them when they are most likely to be receptive. Put all the information into one document and send it periodically. Once a month, allows enough time for the information to be appreciated properly.
There are many ways you can engage your consumers and prospect, these are only the beginning, but they are certainly a good place to start.
To many, guerrilla marketing may sound like a description for door to door salesman. It may be an alien concept, but unless you’ve been cooped up indoors for the past five years (and even then you could have been sat watching YouTube videos) you will have undoubtedly seen some form of guerrilla marketing. The mass of people who all started dancing in the T-mobile advert at Trafalgar Square Station and amazingly, all knew the routine – what we now know to be called a ‘flash mob’ – is probably the most famous example of guerrilla marketing.
It is effective, interactive and cost effective, and now with the increasing power of the internet and social media, sites like YouTube can guarantee these stunts, even if they aren’t created for or by an organisation, go viral. The term was official coined by Jay Conran Leveson in his 2007 book, ‘Guerrilla Marketing’. Since then many marketing executives and PROs have adopted these tactics.
The beauty of guerrilla marketing, which Leveson highlights in his book, is its low-cost and high profile. Campaigns must be creative, interactive, innovative and implemented at the right time and place. And these tactics aren’t just for large, global corporations; small businesses can do them too.
One of my personal favourite examples of guerrilla marketing is UNICEF’s dirty water campaign. It was simple and effective. UNICEF took an everyday vending machine and put it on the streets of New York. The twist was the bottles that were expelled from the vending machine were filled with disease ridden dirty water – the same water that millions in the developing world drink every day. With a choice of malaria, cholera and typhoid, it’s no surprise no one drank the dirty water. It did however, draw a lot of attention.
Guerrilla marketing, when successful, can promote itself, by grabbing the public’s attention. With the use of Smartphones, it is quick and easy for people to capture such campaigns and share via the internet and social media channels. Brands can post and link to these videos via their own, branded pages such as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. With technology constantly evolving, campaigns can become more and more sophisticated.
Guerrilla marketing is about being creative and innovative, not expensive. Truly unique and clever campaigns will capture the public’s eye.
For those who work in social media and in fact many businesses, the company audit is no stranger to you. Whether it’s a new client or even a blogger you’re considering outreaching to, it is vital to understand everything you can about the subject in question. Its history, products, markets, USP’s, the structure of the organisation, values and mission statement are all vital pieces of information. What will also put you in good stead for creating an effective strategy for your new client, is an understanding of brand perception and the internet is the best place to look. Nowadays, all of this information is on the web and with the right tools it is easy to compile a professional and insightful audit, one that will measure online sentiment and brand perception.
The importance of an online audit may have been as imperative as now. MD of Immediate Future, Katy Howell, for the CIPR confirms, “Consumers who engage with companies using social media spend up to 30% more than consumers who don’t.” Not only do these consumers spend more but research conducted by Bain & Company shows that these consumers “are more loyal and emotionally connected than consumers who are not socially connected.” (conversation.cipr.co.uk, 2012)
For many, social media is a scary and alien concept. Many organisations realise it is something they should or need to get into. A common problem is a lack of time and effective social media management can be time consuming. What many don’t realise is that, whether an organisation or agency has incorporating social media into the marketing mix or not, there is already an online conversation going on where people are talking about the brand, products, and are sharing their opinions and experiences of both. Even marketers struggle to grasp the impact of digital marketing. A recent McKinsey Global Survey uncovered: “Marketers are unable to translate analytic results into insight, or identify the right metrics in the first place.” (Yu Lam, C. We Are Social, 2012)
The survey also uncovered “31% of marketers feel that online metrics do not adequately quantify the financial impact digital marketing has generated for their companies. Alarmingly, 24% can’t even understand what these metrics actually measure.” (We Are Social, 2012) The problem with this statement is that there is an abundance of tools online that can deliver results, invaluable insight and provide return on investment.
A simple Google search is a great place to start your audit.
Understanding influence is key and tools such as Alexa are a great starting point. Alexa is simple to use and understand. By entering a URL into the search box, Alexa will give you a traffic rank - the traffic driven to the site, the site’s nationality, how many sites link in to the page, for example by hyperlink, search queries that drove traffic to the site and audience information.
Another simple tool is Google pagerank. This can be downloaded as a browser add-on and will give the site a rating between 1-10 based on how many visitors the site claims.
Tools that enable you to manage communities, monitor consumer comments and response in one place are a fantastic and effective time saver. One of the first and simplest I ever used was HootSuite, which enabled me to do all of the above, for multiple accounts, all in one place.
Sysomos Heartbeat and Map is a brilliant tool for monitoring and evaluating conversation and sentiment insight. Based on specifically selected search terms, it will listen to conversations across social media channels and platforms, which can be sorted and recorded into reports.
These are only a few of the never ending list of tools available. Over the coming weeks I will endeavour to post about individual tools for social media auditing, monitoring and measuring to give a more detailed look at each tool.
It has been a while since I wrote a blog post – blame the mountains of uni work and text books I’ve been hiding under, so please forgive me for the absence. For those of you who won’t have seen it, I’d like to share with you a little piece I wrote for Behind the Spin, a PR student blog, about PR, online fashion, influencers and my placement year. I was really pleased to be featured in the online magazine, especially writing about my placement year, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
If you want to read the full article on Behind the Spin, it’s called A Passion for Online Fashion.
Understanding platforms and channels is fundamental to successful online public relations. Any organisation operating in the online space, looking to engage with its publics via the modes of digital media needs to appreciate this, and act accordingly. According to Clay Shirky, “We live, for first time in history, in a world that being part of a globally interconnected group is the normal case for most citizens.” Today, access to the internet or devices with internet capabilities, like smartphones and iPads, are everyday objects that the average Joe can own. On and offline media regulators Ofcom, have published on their website statistics stating that not only are “37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens…‘highly addicted” to smartphones, but that “Smartphones are beginning to affect social behaviour”.
With information like this, social media platforms and channels have never had more potential for effectively communicating a brand’s message, as long as they are used properly!
Platforms and channels go hand in hand. Platforms, such as smartphones, laptops, PCs and tablets allow users to access, share, produce and download content. Channels are the way in which these acts are communicated to others across the internet via an appropriate platform or platforms.
In order to effectively communicate with their prospective online audiences, organisations wanting to engage with platforms and channels should look to the five key drives of online public relations:
Transparency is vital in online public relations and social media. With the rapidity of sharing across channels, brands cannot afford to not be transparent when communicating with their consumers. Some organisations have done this and paid the price. You can be assured that if a brand makes an online ‘fail’ it’ll be blogged about, tweeted and re-tweeted. Brands that prove to have gotten this right are open and honest with their public and in return are widely praised. It is common practice now for organisations to use social media channels as a space for their ‘fans’ to access and communicate with them, often for customer service purposes and as brand advocacy portals. Without transparency, these channels can turn into brand bashing arenas.
Agency is all about encouraging your audience to participate. Bloggers often invite their readership’s input into what they want to see on the blog. This is a great way of making your audience feel important, listened to and by posting things of interest, you will engage them. Furthermore, you will start to build a relationship with them.
Porosity is something that will always affect organisations; large volumes of information are passed around an organisation and can be leaked. Usually, these leaks are unintentional. With the majority of organisation using online wikis, communicating via online channels like email and Skype, it is not surprising this can happen. However, it is not always bad. Leaks can promote transparency within the organisation as a result to combat the event reoccurring.
Richness not only drives visitors, but keeps them coming back for more - the richer the content the better. Updating your Twitter and Facebook accounts daily, having more original content on your blog, making your website more interactive and displaying clearly, all your social media platforms is a good place to start.
Reach is a high priority for most online operating organisations.The higher the reach the better. A websites influence is measured by its reach and there are vast numbers of programs that profess to analyze and measure the reach of a website. Influence in other words, is the popularity of a site and therefore represents how widely it is read, how many new daily users it may have and how many new visitors it has.
In the most technologically and communicatively advanced society in history, an organisation cannot justify not taking advantage of the incredible access they have to their publics. With this five drives as a starting point, effective communication is inevitably going to promote online brand awareness on a mass scale. Many organisations I have encountered are concerned with the level of access their consumers might have to them through online platforms and channels. By focusing on transparency overall, organisation will find success.
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