The importance of understanding your target audience when using social media.

A blog post previously has touched on considering the target audience that use social media and what they use it for. This seemed particularly important to a company’s marketing initiatives through these platforms, as each company has a different target audience they need to reach. It may be an easy form of engagement with customers, but if you are not engaging the right customers then it is not likely to add value, or revenue to your company, and with so many different forms of social media this can be a tricky path to navigate.

The first and most obvious to start with is the veteran of social media; that is Facebook. Put it this way, if Facebook was a country, the only two countries with larger populations would be China and India.  This is a crazy number of people that businesses have placed at the palm of their hands for marketing purposes, especially if they are a multinational company that expands over several continents (Smashing Apps, 2011) . The diagram below shows where Facebook reaches:

world map of facebookSource: PBT Consulting, 2012

This shows the reach to the scale that it is, with only regional social media sites being more popular in certain areas, although, that is something to consider for certain areas and marketing.

However, even though Facebook is the largest it does not necessarily mean it is the best for your companies marketing needs, so I will move on further into age and what each company is best for.

Age

The answer to who uses social media to communicate is not a simple one, but it would be a mistake to only consider it to be young people. While there are predominant user age groups over others; this does not mean that older generations do not engage. A recent study found that 66% of all adults have more than one social media platform and they have been the fastest growing communication device. To put it into perspective it took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million listeners and Facebook only 4 years to reach 500 million users showing the popularity cannot just be in youthful users (Walaski, 2013).

For the U.K here is a break-up of the percentage of people on some of the most popular social media sites:

GenderSource: Social Media Chimps, 2012

Here this shows the different patterns of usage between male and female, and even though there is not a massive difference, some lean more towards having more male or female users. This may be something to take into account if you are targeting a particular gender.

However, another important factor is age as so many companies have different age targets for their products or services. For example, you wouldn’t be trying to promote brand awareness and customer relationships providing retirement products over the site Flickr as only 9% of that age population use it. It also shows that Facebook and YouTube have consistently high usage within all the age groups, so these channels may be best for reach if the product is quite generically used by all age groups.

Social media usage is shifting slightly though, the 45-54 age brackets are the ones still growing in usage of Facebook and Google + whereas the younger generation have stagnated. This could be due to the more likely chance that they take up newer sites and ideas when they are introduced (Buffer Social, 2013).

ageSource: Social Media Chimps, 2012

What are the sites used for

The differing audience ages and site offerings are also something to consider. There are the photos and video based platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest YouTube and Flickr. The social networking platforms Facebook, Twitter, Google + that focus on group identity, posting comments, uploading and sharing content like videos, pictures, blogs etc. Then there are the ‘other’ sites such as the professional page LinkedIn, the blogging site Tumblr and the search and discovery app that allows you to see where your contacts have been Foursquare. (Social Times, 2014) This is not even a collective list but for a business to be able to use these sites effectively they must know what they are for and whether that could be channelled into marketing.

Age is also a consideration in the common uses of social media sites. The 18-44 age groups are the easiest to reach via social networking sites and are the most eager to pass on messages and make referrals for specific brands. For the age group between 45-64, it is necessary to contact them on social networks that they are already a part of and creating that ‘share worthy content’. Whereas the 65 + are most likely to use social media to connect to others such as family and friends, however, they also use the platforms to comparison shop for low prices (Pitta, 2010). This gives a short guide to develop and consider what social media platform is right for your company, as it is smart to consider whether it will reach the target audience, and be used as a benefit to your company’s brand, products or services. However, it is worth to note that Facebook generates 66% of total shared content over social media platforms (Social Times, 2014) and 80% of consumers would prefer to connect to a brand over Facebook (Buffer Social, 2014). So this platform has definite benefits over others for a digital marketing strategy.

To sum up there are definite benefits over using the large giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as they reach such a wide ranging audience but it is important to consider how the age group they are addressing is using the sites and for what purpose? It is relatively obvious that the benefits of using some will work with some companies better than others, but the key is to getting to the right target audience.  For example, using Pinterest to promote a male clothing range would be great as it is very visual but with 68.2% of users being female and 97% of fans liking Pinterest’s Facebook page being female, it may not reach as well as using another form of social media marketing (Pinterest, 2015). This is just a few considerations to ensure the right research is carried out before the initiative is carried out.

 

References

Buffer Social (2013) 10 surprising social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy. [Online] < https://blog.bufferapp.com/10-surprising-social-media-statistics-that-will-make-you-rethink-your-strategy> [accessed 28/04/2015]

PBT Consulting (2012) World Map of Social Networks [Online] < http://tommytoy.typepad.com/tommy-toy-pbt-consultin/2012/12/not-complacent-at-a-billion-users-facebook-is-parachuting-into-markets-all-over-the-globe-but-overseas-growth-that-once-see.html> [accessed 28/04/2015]

Pinterest (2015) Infographics. [Online] < https://www.pinterest.com/pin/234257618087475827/> [accessed 28/04/2015]

Pitta, D (2010) Using Social Media. Journal of Consumer Marketing. Vol. 27, No. 5.

Smashing Apps (2011) 34 Infographics to understand the world of social media. [Online] http://www.smashingapps.com/2011/11/24/34-stunning-infographics-to-understand-the-world-of-social-media.html [accessed 28/04/2015]

Social Media Chimps (2012) UK social media demographics. [Online] http://socialmediachimps.com/?attachment_id=6053 [accessed 25/04/2015]

Social Times (2014) What (and why) do people share on social networks. [Online] http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/what-why-social-sharing/500025 [accessed 28/04/2015]

Walaski, P (2013) Social Media. Professional Safety. Vol. 58, No. 4, pp 40-49.

Is email marketing dead or just evolving and is it worth a company pursuing it as a digital marketing strategy?

Email marketing has been under intense scrutiny by the public and public bodies, as it has become increasingly more irritating in the eyes of the consumers with unsolicited and irrelevant emails flooding mailboxes every day. It is also difficult to avoid giving out an email address as any online business asks a consumer to sign up with a valid email address before purchase. There is also the tick to ‘opt out’ instead of ‘opt in’ boxes, which leads consumers to end up in email databases without sometimes realising it. So with this in consideration is it really worth a business using email marketing as a strategy?

This post will look into some of the main aspects that take effect on email marketing to assess whether they are still worth the time and energy for companies to introduce or continue doing.

Legal Restrictions

The increasingly irritated consumer has led to legal restrictions being put into practice that stop businesses from using an email address that has not been permitted to receive emails, using fraudulent means of getting email addresses e.g. harvesting from websites or routing information, creating false or misleading content, continuing to send emails after the opt out option has been requested, and regulate misleading subject lines and misleading as to where the email has been sent from. They must also be able to produce the permission for each individual account if requested, where the address was obtained from and some areas prohibit ‘spam’ altogether. This provides the insight into the only way to protect your company from email marketing legal restrictions, is to ensure they are permission based and honest in the communication of content (Freeman, Nemiroff & Zeltzer, 2003).

For a company already implementing email marketing or about to set out this could be a deterrence as it is so heavily regulated and likely to continue; so it is for the company to ensure they follow the rules in order to stay within the law but also have an effective email campaign. This may require more inventive ways or more expense to keep this form of marketing relevant to the company.

Industry

There is also the factor of whether your company is likely to receive good open rates for their emails as certain industries report differing success. Open rates for industries differ from 13% for voucher, daily deals and coupon companies and 29% for companies that relate to hobbies or lifestyle. This is a big difference as it shows certain industries can have more than twice the success in open rates, so therefore are closer to getting some form of return on investment through the emails. Some of the top industries that have the higher open rates out 47 industries researched are; sports, religion, photo and video, non-profit, home and garden, hobbies, government, and arts and artists. These industries all have a 25% or above open rate (Mail Chimp Research, 2015). This shows that it is worth investigating your industry before setting up an email initiative as you may decide it is not worth the time or investment from the average industry results.

However, it has been found that the size of the company does not make much of a difference to the open rates that range from 21-23%. This is a positive showing that the size of your company will not gain an advantage or disadvantage for open rates compared to other companies (ibid).

To check out the full list of industries, afore mentioned, and further information about the measurements of effectiveness in email please see the link below:

http://bit.ly/1dZWyeh

Mobile

It is a common occurrence with today’s technology that most emails are opened over a mobile device, which has made text heavy emails illegible and difficult to read. This has had a major effect on email marketing and could be the reason for some industries, which rely on a rich source of information to get their message across, receiving a drop in open rates (Minsker, 2014). It is becoming increasingly important for companies to adapt and change to this technology as it has been found consumers scan emails rather than reading them (US News, 2015). This is even more important in a mobile format as it is difficult to read emails that have been designed to view on a computer screen (Minsker, 2014).

An example of how it should be adapted is below:

email marketing mobileSource: (ibid)

 

Here it shows how they have developed by being the right size and scale for the phone, as previously they had too much content to be legible. For an email to take notice they must have usability features designed specifically for mobile so that the recipients can scan in the same they normally do.

This post has examined some key features a company should consider before taking up an email marketing strategy as it is evolving due to legal restrictions and technology updates. The differences between industry results vary as well, so with that in mind the question to ask is; is the content your industry communicates going to be successful or suited to the new face of email marketing? If you believe it is you may be interested in a previous blog post exploring how to write successful emails. The link is below:

http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/sb653/?p=21

References

Freeman, R., Nemiroff, E., Zeltzer, A. (2003) Email Marketing: A Survey. The Licensing Journal. Vol. 23, No. 5, pg. 18.

Mail Chimp Research (2015) Email Marketing Benchmarks [Online] http://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/ [accessed 30/04/2015]

Minsker, M (2014) The future of Email Marketing. CRM Magazine. Vol. 18, No. 2, pg. 24.

US News (2015) 8 tips for writing an email people will actually read. [Online] <http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/11/19/8-tips-for-writing-an-email-people-will-actually-read> [accessed 14th February 2015]

You have created interesting and relevant content, but how do you get the blogs read by your audience and direct traffic to the original source? Some simple advice and steps you should know.

I have already previously discussed how to gain attention to a blog post over social media in several different ways; however, this just developed another question to answer; what platforms are best to get views and traffic to the original blog source? This is an important question to ask, for any company, before setting off on a blog strategy as they need to ensure that they are getting the best out of their blogging.

With so many different platforms including; Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google +, Linked In, Pinterest etc. it is difficult for a business to recognize where their best chances of success lie. They all have benefits to organisations in their own right, but for generating views and accessibility to blogs some may be more efficient than others. To ensure the right method is chosen, a firm must first recognize the social media landscape using the honeycomb framework (Kietzmann et al. 2011).

Social Media FunctionalitySource: Ibid.

This outlines some of the key functions of social media to consider and evaluate, which areas are best for the features needed for blogs, what platforms offer for blogging, and audiences that utilize them. For blogs to gain exposure the following features should be available through social media sites:

Sharing: This key feature will determine whether readers share to other potential readers and how willing they are to do this. Some key social media platforms that allow the sharing of blog type content are Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn and are some of the top examples of users that want to share content with their contacts. However, you must consider what each platform is generally used for in the ‘sharing sphere’, for example, LinkedIn is for professionals and businesses so is the content suitable for that environment (Kietzmann et al. 2011) and Twitter and Facebook generally share a variety of thing including photos, other users status’s and articles or opinions (Social Times, 2014). Take a look at the percentages of what people share via social media here:

http://bit.ly/1DUpsdM

Conversations:  There are many forms including tweets, writing a status, blogging etc. and for many different reasons. The key is to tap into which platforms again have each type but also to find out what people are conversing about and providing something from your business blog for people to converse with each other. For example, Unilever gave its community something to talk about by introducing the ‘Dove Real Beauty’ campaign, which attracted positive discussion boards over several social media platforms (Kietzmann et al. 2011).

Relationship: This is in terms of how users can relate to each other and share content, so will require some form association by friends, followers or the like (ibid).

 

Demographics

The demographics of social networks are an important factor to ensure the blogs are reaching the right target audience of your company. The table below shows a general view of the percentages of each generation that is currently maintaining a social networking site profile (Pitta, 2010).

Although here is a link to a more comprehensive breakdown of age groups using each of the most popular sites: http://bit.ly/1y3VXq8

Demographic tableSource: Pitta, 2010

This gives you a general idea although there are different general user functions in each age group. The millennials and generation X age groups are the easiest to reach via social networking sites and are the most eager to pass on messages and make referrals for specific brands. For boomers, it is necessary to contact them on social networks that they are already a part of and creating that ‘share worthy content’. Whereas matures are most likely to use social media to connect to others such as family and friends, however, they also use the platforms to comparison shop for low prices (Pitta, 2010). This gives a short guide to develop and consider what social media platform is right for your company, as it is smart to consider whether it will reach the target audience, and be used as a benefit to your company’s brand, products or services. It will also give you a further guide on blog content.

 

Hoot Suite

Now that you have determined what platform suits for blogging and the age group of your audience, how do you get that traffic to read and be directed to the original blog source? There is a simple method for this that is available for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +. It allows you to post content to all of these platforms at the same time, put a link to the original content site, helps to make sure that the content is seen, and customize the images that can be seen to interest readers to click on. A further consideration of sharing on Facebook is to share it to your Facebook page and not to a personal profile page, as this can be shared later. The reason for this is due to Facebook’s edge rank that pushes very few page posts into other people’s streams unless there is interaction of liking, commenting and sharing (Social Media Examiner, 2012).

Here is what the tool looks like:

Hoot SuiteSource: Ibid

 

Tumblr

Tumblr is also a very easy way to share content as it is a blogging platform and can let you use a text or blog option to post your blog. Just after publishing a blog post all you have to do is put the HTML code over to Tumblr (Social Media Examiner, 2012). The only thing with Tumblr is the relatively young user demographic so this would have to suit your purpose of blog posts (Social Media Examiner, 2014).

Overall, this is just but a few considerations for when a company wants to get the most out of blogging as a digital marketing tool. It is also important to ensure the content is interesting to gain the views, which have previously been examined in my blog post. If you are interested the link to this is below:

http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/sb653/?p=34

 

References

Adweek (2015) Infographic [Online] http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/new-social-stratosphere-who-using-facebook-twitter-pinterest-tumblr-and-instagram-2015-and-beyond-1622 [accessed 23/04/2015]

Kietzmann, J., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I & Silvestre, B (2011) Social Media? Get Serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons. Vol. 54, No. 3, pp 241-251.

Pitta, D (2010) Using Social Media. Journal of Consumer Marketing. Vol. 27, No. 5.

Social Media Examiner (2012) How to promote your blog with social media. [Online] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/blog-promotion-social-media/ [accessed 24/04/2015]

Social Media Examiner (2014) How to use Tumblr for your business. [Online] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-tumblr-for-business/ [accessed 23/04/2015]

Social Times (2014) What (and why) do people share on social networks. [Online] http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/what-why-social-sharing/500025 [accessed 23/04/2015]

The Things We Should Know About Blogging For SME’s.

The Things We Should Know About Blogging For SME’s. 

When considering using blogs for the small B&B business in Brighton, I had to think to myself, how do you get the views and interest of a small businesses target audience? I have had personal experience reading blogs but I read blogs that are interesting and relevant to my lifestyle; whether that be reading about diet or exercise tips, recipes, or travel guides. These blogs are generally written by a popular ‘blogger’ and not by actual companies. So I find myself asking are companies blogs a successful marketing tool?

Blog posts appear to be gaining momentum as a tool for marketing and are used for strategies and processes, such as; branding, managing reputation, developing customer trust and loyalty, and promoting a company’s online presence. However, there is very little research and blog posts generally seem to be adopted by larger corporations rather than the small to medium businesses. The reason as to why is unclear as the SME may benefit from the relatively low budget marketing tool (Chuah, Deans & Parker 2009). With this in consideration, the question for this blog post is to determine how SME’s could benefit from this form of digital marketing and what would make for a successful blog post?

The first important point to consider is that SME’s should not be considered as homogeneous and that this marketing technique may not be suitable for every business. It depends on the type of customers a business carries on whether a blog post is necessary or effective, for example, do the customers use or take notice of blogs, is the type of product going to gain interest through blogs, and customer preference i.e. if the customers prefer a face-to-face approach/ have trust in online resources (ibid).  A study by Kaye & Johnson (2011) found that there was seven types of blog post deemed to be highly credible by users, which are; general information, media/ journalism, war, military, political, corporate and personal blogs. This provides the insight to suggest blog posts could be a beneficial marketing tool for SME corporations.

Some Key Things to Consider When Making a Successful Blog Campaign:

Reputation and Trust

One of the key ways companies, small through to large, are using blogs is to gain reputation and trust by showing the company in a more personal way to the customer. It also allows a two way street of communication with the customer, to hear opinions and values in a kind of discussion (Chuah, 2009).

Adding Value

If the blog you are about to embark on creating is not adding value to the customer experience it will likely fail. One of the biggest tips to adding value to a blog is by going bigger than just your company and brand; instead look to the market that your brand is situated in. This can be done through getting outside blog experts in the industry to contribute to the companies blog or guides to customers. It is worth to note that sales messages should be delivered as low key as possible to gain a trust with the readers (Social Media Examiner, 2011).

Here is an Example of How This Can Be Done:

CitrixSource: Social Media Examiner, 2011

Citrix uses this strategy for their work/lifestyle blog that really downplays their involvement and concentrates on creating interesting content for their readers .It is based on creating a better working lifestyle and doesn’t focus on their product of business software (ibid).

Brand Awareness

Blogs are a great way of creating more brand awareness as they invite readers to read, not just solely about a product or service, but a wider market that they are interested. This is a good thing for when the customer then wants to search for a product or service as this brand is already remembered from another source (Ho et al. 2015).

Killer Titles Make the Difference

The title of a blog post determines whether it is read or just scrolled past, and if it is shared. This is why the ultimate importance is to create a compelling title that will attract traffic and shares. Some of the commonly used phrases that work are:

  • ’10 things you need to know about…’
  • ‘Make sure…’
  • ‘The secret trick to…’
  • ’10 things you should know…’
  • ‘How [your field/ hobby] is like [interesting/ novel example]
  • How I did [something unbelievable/ interesting achievement]
  • Positive adjectives e.g. amazing, awesome, intelligent, sexy, incredible etc. Using these words is likely to benefit the SEO of a blog.
  • Are you making this mistake that’s [leading to a bad result]?
  • How do you do [activity]?
  • ’10 simple ways to improve [activity/ role]?

These simple phrases are a way to bridge the curiosity gap as it creates an emotional response e.g. ‘a mental itch’ that finding out or seeking the knowledge will ‘scratch’ . This creates a direction that companies should take when creating blogs as opening them is the first and possibly the most important step (Wish Pond, 2013). Retaining customers by adding value in my opinion is the second.

Encourage Engagement

It is a simple way to get customers to share their opinions, not just about the company, but the content in general. For example, the Marriot did this by getting Bill Marriot, one of the biggest corporate blogger, to blog about his visits to over 300 hotels around the world. This encouraged users to respond to the stays they found relevant to them (Grow, 2015).

Blogs as stated above are better to create awareness of a company and brand, so do not expect as soon as you create a blog that sales and leads will be created, although this could be a long term result or a side-effect (Serps, 2015). With this in mind a few of these considerations stated above could improve a company’s blog strategy and content, as they are definitely a beneficial marketing tool.

References 

Chuah, A., Deans, K. & Parker, C (2009) Exploring the types of SME’s which could use blogs as a marketing tool: a proposed future research agenda. Australian Journal of Information Systems. Vol. 16, No. 1.

Grow (2015) The 10 best company blogs in the world. [Online] < http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/01/05/the-10-best-corporate-blogs-in-the-world/> [accessed 15/04/2015]

Ho, C., Chiu, k., Chen, H & Papazafeiropoulou, A. (2015) Can internet blogs be used as an effective advertising tool? The role of product blog type and brand awareness. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 28, No. 3 pp. 346 – 362.

Johnson, T. & Kaye, B. (2011) Hot Diggity Blog: A Cluster Analysis Examining Motivations and Other Factors for Why People Judge Different Types of Blogs as Credible. Mass Communication and Society, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 236-263.

Serps (2015) The actual purpose of business blogging is not what you think. [Online] < https://blog.serps.com/the-actual-purpose-of-business-blogging-is-not-what-you-think/> [accessed 15/04/2015]

Social Media Examiner (2011) 10 top business blogs and why they are successful. [Online] < http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/10-top-business-blogs-and-why-they-are-successful/> [accessed 15/04/2015]

Social Media Examiner (2014) How to create a successful business blog [Online] < http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/create-successful-business-blog/> [accessed 15/04/2015]

Wish Pond (2013) 10 sure-fire blog title formulas that attract readers. [Online] < http://blog.wishpond.com/post/60276168559/10-sure-fire-blog-title-formulas-that-attract-readers/> [accessed 15/04/2015]

Social Media Marketing: 3 Important Things to Consider!

Social Media Marketing: 3 Important Things to Consider!

Marketers have always known that the best recommendations come from a friend. This, in many ways, is the wholly grail of marketing. When a customer has a good experience with a product or service they likely recommend to a friend or review. On Facebook, the average action is shared with the average number of friends, which is 130 people. This is the elusive goal marketers have been searching for, for a long time; making the customers the marketers. (Fisher, 2015)

This is done through several different ways when a user does either of several actions: likes a page, likes or comments on a page’s post, RSVPs to a page’s event, votes on a page’s question, check-ins to a place, uses an application or plays a game, or likes or shares a website. (ibid)

However, the difficult part is how to get social media users to carry out these actions. So several techniques and ideas will be evaluated through this blog post:

Incentives

Incentives generally work by having some kind of offer or prize draw for a product or service if the user either carries out an action, as stated before, or follows through with the recommendation to buy something. However, incentives have only really been found to work when they are related to the product or service that is being marketed or recommended, for example, an IPad may be a great incentive, but when offered through a prize draw to like a washing detergent page it may not work. This may be a great incentive to grab people’s attention, although, the majority of those people may not be the targeted customers or leads wanted. (Schluze, Sholer & Skiera, 2015) An example using a relevant incentive is below:

 

OdeonSource: Instagram, 2015

 

Another thing to consider, when using incentives is, what type of product or service being marketed? It was found that the most important sharing mechanism for fun products, such as, games and leisure products/ services was an incentive. This is different for useful products as it has been found that the use of incentives has no significant bearing for the practicality of the social media marketing. This shows a clear direction of the effectiveness and when they should be used.

Relevance

Creating a relevant message to the relevant people is key to the success using this marketing channel. Here is a way to create a database of people that are likely to add value to the campaign through genuine interest in the product or service:

Twellow

This is a useful website to find new followers on Twitter as it is like the ‘yellow pages’ which can find and follow targeted users for every category, industry and interest imaginable. This useful site is also free, unlocks specialized twitter search prompts, and is one of the most powerful market research tools available. With these tactics a marketer can expand the audience to reach people who are actually interested in seeking the products and services. (Social Media Examiner, 2014)

 

TwellowSource: ibid

Interesting

Above all the message must be interesting, as there is no point wasting time creating a valuable database, and spending money on incentives if the messages or recommendations are just down right dull! Social media has generally been found to be used for fun and entertainment, which affects how the user responds to certain messages. This makes fun products or services, used in leisure, the easier area to market through social media over more everyday useful products. That certainly does not mean that it is not worth doing as there are several techniques, for example, using pull marketing again to make the information available to those seeking it. However, 64% of Facebook campaigns use push marketing which reduces the effectiveness due to unsolicited messages. Schluze, Scholer & Skiera, 2015) An example is displayed below:

FacebookSource: Wix, 2013

 

In my personal experience these types of messages are ignored unless they are relevant and if I have clicked on an advert it is likely to produce other advertisements for similar products. This shows that pull marketing is taking affect and putting something interesting for each user. This is something to consider, when looking to advertise through Facebook or Twitter.

Overall, this is a few useful areas to consider before planning and implementing a social media campaign.

 

References

Fisher, E (2015) ‘You Media’: audiencing as marketing in social media. Media Culture and Society. Vol. 37, No. 1, pp 50-67.

Instagram (2015) Odeon Offer [Online] <https://instagram.com/p/02pQxaJSc8/?taken-by=aminaanibaba> [accessed 02/04/2015]

Schluze, C, Scholer, L & Skiera, B (2015) Customizing Social Media Marketing. MITSloan Management Review. Vol.56, No. 2.

Social Media Examiner (2014) 20 social marketing tips from the pro’s [Online] <http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-tips-pros/> [accessed 02/04/2015]

Wix (2013) Quick guide to Facebook advertising for small business [Online] <http://www.wix.com/blog/2013/06/facebook-advertising-for-small-businesses/> [accessed 02/04/2015]

Email Marketing: The key to a successful email?

Whilst thinking of the possibilities for digital marketing techniques to help a local Brighton B&B I came to be thinking of my experiences of being targeted by Email marketing campaigns. My first thought came to the email address that I use to sign up to various websites or companies, and how it is littered with hundreds of unopened emails sent daily of various offers that I have neither the time nor the patience to sift through. This almost automatically put me off considering the technique as useful to a company looking to get results from this method. However, I have to admit, in moments of boredom I find myself scrolling through the recent emails and can’t seem to help but clicking on those that have a ‘50% off” or similar in there title, even if I had no intention before hand of buying anything. Whilst I find them an irritating extra (that is if you ever want to buy or sign up to anything online) I find myself signing up to more and more for those times where I want to be thrifty and hunt for a good deal. This view is what brought me to explore what makes email marketing successful and what it takes for a company to get results from this method.

Before embarking on an email campaign it is worth to note some key factors that could influence consumers choice of signing up to receive this correspondence or taking notice of it. Cases et al. (2009) identified three factors that could influence and effect sign up to receive email correspondence.

Perceived Privacy- emails classified as ‘spam’ can cause real concern for a consumers as they have no control over receiving them or how that company or website got their email account details. So this could cause worries of what other information can be accessed by the companies spamming them. An email inbox could be seen as a personal form of communicating so it may affect consumers attitudes towards advertising this way. However, there can be permission based emails that provide the consumer with the ability to opt in or out. Although, the willingness for a consumer to give sincere permission may lie with how much they trust that organisation. Some of these privacy issues can be addressed in what is offered through the website e.g. safe pay methods. (Cases et al. 2009)

Trust- Again works along with privacy in how much the consumer trusts the particular organisation. Perceived privacy is likely to culminate trust. (Chelleppa & Pavlou, 2002, as cited in Cases et al, 2009)

Attitude toward a website- Karson & Fisher (2005, as cited ibid) found that the design and layout of a website not only affected whether a consumer purchased an item on that usage and whether they would make a repeat return. Brunar & Kumar (2000, as cited ibid) showed that consumers attitudes towards a website have a positive and significant impact on web advertising effects which is similar to that in direct email marketing. This is due to companies often taking similar design to the website ‘spilling over the positive attitude’.

Showing that if you have a good website design set up with trustworthy sources it is likely to put a consumer at ease and more likely to read into email marketing. This should be something to consider before taking up an email marketing campaign.

The issue of ‘spam’ again irritates consumers, which gives an issue to those using permission based email marketing as it affects the message being viewed due to information overload. A company should note this before taking on email marketing as it can effect short term return on investment. (Pavlov, Melville & Plice, 2008)

Moving on to actually carrying out an email campaign. What does it take for a company to be successful? Chadwick & Doherty (2011) have several execution tactics that should be considered.

Knowing the target audience- Permission based emails are on the increase as it is found to create twice the return on investment than other forms of online marketing such as web banners and online directory adverts. (ibid) This is likely due to the fact it is permission based so people want to receive these emails, making it important to target the right people for building the database.

Subject Line- The subject line is possibly the most important part of the email as it is where it grabs the attention of the reader and determines whether its opened or ignored. Some examples are below. These all have potential to have something of interest or value to a consumer so are likely to act on it. A lot of them also have a time limit so there is a sense of urgency in using the deals. Other examples of good subject lines could be using humor, being controversial, personalizing, being mysterious, asking a question etc. (Word Stream, 2014)

effective email

Length of Email and message content- It obviously depends what sort of email that is being sent out but the majority will need all the relevant information to be viewed on the first page before scrolling as it is found that readers only scan and do not read the whole content. US News (2015) This makes it important for the right information to be easy to be picked up through a quick scan of the first page.

Some Good Examples…

Email-Marketing-OMNI-Hotels3Source: Marketing Cloud Blog, 2015

This includes a personal message to the reader which is likely be valued by the recipient including an offer which is often gains interest. It is simple with only short bursts of relevant information so the reader doesn’t actually have to read it with an obvious call to action button. My preference is emails like this as I click out if there is any heavy reading.

 

 

wowcher 2Source: Email inbox of author

This is another example of simple email that shows potential savings for its recipients with all the relevant information displayed on the first page. In my opinion these types of emails are the best to read as they do not hold a lot of information and generally have some form of usefulness; whether that be to buy something then and there of value, or to remember that the company have good deals in the future. It generally doesn’t irritate me to receive certain emails of this nature.

Timing when the messages are sent are also very important. Experian Marketing Services found that the ideal time to send email marketing messages is during the times of 8 pm until midnight with an open rate of 22% compared with 16% at 8 am until 12 pm. Buffer Social (2013) This is something to consider if a company was to execute an email marketing campaign.

Looking at several of these factors it shows there is an art to influencing people with email marketing that is very important. This will all be considered when creating the initiative for my chosen B&B in Brighton. Adding value and giving people deals seems to be an important part of email marketing as so many of the emails concentrate on this. Sifting through sales racks in overly busy high street shops is a thing of the past as it has been delivered straight to your inbox!

References

Buffer Social (2013) 8 effective email marketing strategies, backed by science. [Online] <https://blog.bufferapp.com/8-effective-email-strategies-backed-by-research> [accessed 14th February 2015]

Cases, A., Fournier, C., Dubois, P. & Tanner, J (2009) Web site spill over to email campaigns: The role of privacy, trust and shoppers’ attitudes. Journal of Business Research. Vol.63, No. 9-10.

Chadwick, F & Doherty, N (2011) Website Advertising: The role of email marketing. Journal of Business Research. Vol.65, No 6.

Marketing Cloud Blog (2015) Why birthday emails can be a retailers best friend. [Online] <http://www.responsys.com/blogs/nsm/email-marketing/birthday-emails-can-retailers-best-friend/> [accessed 14th February 2015]

Pavlov, O., Melville, N & Plice, R (2008) Toward a sustainable email marketing infrastructure. Journal of Business Research. Vol. 61, No. 11.

US News (2015) 8 tips for writing an email people will actually read. [Online] <http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/11/19/8-tips-for-writing-an-email-people-will-actually-read> [accessed 14th February 2015]

Word Stream (2014) The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates. [Online] <http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/31/> [accessed 14th February 2015]

Email Marketing- A review of Asos

Asos Email Asos Email 2 Asos Email 3

The first area of importance in the Asos email was the subject line before the email was opened. It stated ‘Get up to 60% off party wear’ this title is catchy as it is coming up to the season where there will be a lot of Christmas parties and events, so customers may be looking or planning outfits for this busy period. Even if this isn’t the case they may be inclined to have a look anyway as 60% off is such a large discount. In seeing this email myself, I would have been tempted to see what was available even if I wasn’t committed to buying anything. Managers, according to Chadwick’s article, stated that the subject line is the most important message conveyed and they always try to produce something that will attract the reader to click through e.g. ‘up to 60% off’ will not necessarily mean every item offered in that sale but it is the most attractive offer they have to portray.

Once the email was opened, the first prominent feature was the countdown clock showing how long the sale lasted. Instantly a time scale is put on the reader as they would feel pressure not to miss out on a possible bargain, or kick themselves later for having to pay full price for something they knew they would need at some point. It is quite a simple email on first look with only the clock, a small description explaining why this sale would help any possible party season challenges, a #tick tock shop, another 60% off title and a ‘shop now’ hyperlink. This appears to do everything the email set out to do which was click on to shop at Asos for the sale, but there is no personalized touch for the customer, which I have experienced in other emails with ‘suggested buys’ or my name at the top.

After first look the email continues further to another 2 pages. The article by Chadwick states that some companies like the fashion industry  do produce longer mailings, for example, this email has taken a catalog approach. The only issue I found with this is it got less an less relevant to the party wear subject e.g. Timberland boots were advertised at the bottom of the page. This agrees with management comments stated in the Chadwick article that the longer an email appears the weaker the subject matter gets.

The other aspect that was included as you scrolled down the email was pictures and animation which made the email seem brighter and more interesting. As a result of this I wanted to keep scrolling through whereas the top page felt more clinical and to the point. According to the article by Chadwick less that 2% of emails use animation e.g. twinkling stars for a Christmas advert, as they questioned whether they resulted in any more ‘click through’s’. I felt that it did add something to how visibly attractive or interesting the email was but wouldn’t have necessarily visited the website as a result.

To be continued…

Ellis-Chadwick, F., & Doherty, N. F. (2012). Web advertising: The role of e-mail marketing. Journal of Business Research, 65(6), 843-848.

 

Big Data 1 (From Big Data to Big Impact) My Thoughts

Evolution of Big Data

The main elements drawn from the article written by Chen, Chaing and Storey was the huge increase and importance of big data in today’s business environment, as 97% of companies with revenues exceeding $100 million were found to use some form of business analysis. There are many methods of analyzing the vast amount of information which has evolved and developed with technological changes and access to more and more data. Some of these include online analytical processing (OLAP) which is used to explore important characteristics of data, business performance management (BPM) which uses scorecards to help analyze a variety of different performance metrics and data mining. These were all used by large companies that used business intelligence and data analysis within their systems. However, the amount of data available and what the company needs in its data analysis is forever changing and here are a few examples.

Now big data has moved to a much more public sphere where web based analytics are used to understand customer needs. The use of search engines has allowed businesses to post more online and understand where there websites should be in order to create the most traffic onto their sites. Another form of web based data is through the use of social media which allows businesses to see the different pages that individuals visit either by liking pages as they go through, sharing, what adverts they click or posting about them. Businesses could target marketing techniques through this platform and careful analysis will show patterns or interests that could prove advantageous.

 

A further development of the use of big data is through mobile methods. For example, smartphones are literally the web in your pocket, so businesses will now be able to see everywhere an individual ‘checks in’ to and what their browsing preferences are when on the move.

The examples above for the evolving nature of big data has a big impact on marketing and how a business will choose to use data to help their marketing campaigns. It has created a pathway for all marketers to see what everyone is browsing, where they have been, what they like and main interests are etc. It has opened up the opportunities so they can map where their adds should be placed over the internet due to past movements; especially with social media that now suggest adds or pages due to past activity.

To be continued…

Chen, H., Chiang, R. H., & Storey, V. C. (2012). Business Intelligence and Analytics: From Big Data to Big Impact. MIS Quarterly, 36(4), 1165-1188.

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