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Online Advertising: Tips based on The Leading Hotels of the World’s campaigns

January 26th, 2016 No comments

Unlike many hotel brands that strive for a consistent look and feel, part of the value proposition of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), a hospitality consortium with 425 hotels worldwide, is that each hotel is unique. From the fabled King David Hotel in Jerusalem to The Ritz Hotel in London (featured in the film “Notting Hill”), customers have a plethora of experiences to choose from.

With such a diverse offering, online advertising, content and customer journey challenges that face every brand loom especially large for LHW.

I sat down with Debbie Johnsen, Director of Interactive Marketing, The Leading Hotels of the World (and Adjunct Instructor at New York University teaching Integrated Marketing, Ecommerce Marketing and Web Analytics), to get some tips that might help you improve your marketing campaigns.

“It’s key to understand your target audience. And for us, being a luxury brand, we’re looking for people [with] higher income, higher propensity to travel, people who travel more frequently [and] are looking for unique experiences,” Debbie said.

We discussed paid search, travel-specific Meta Search Networks, A/B testing, attribution modeling, the customer journey, content and customer reviews in this conversation.

 

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Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

January 12th, 2016 1 comment

The challenges of today scream at you. How can I increase sales? Get more people to subscribe to my opt-in list? Ensure my emails end up in the inbox? What is the next technology to keep up with?

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a look back to see the future more clearly. Getting a sense of where we have been as email marketers helps us to better understand where we’re going. To quote Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

To help you do that, and find inspiration and ideas for your current email campaigns, let’s take a look back through the archives of the MarketingSherpa Email Awards.

 

Idea #1: Email is not a one-way communication medium (from 2006)

When email marketers talk about engagement, we’re typically talking about metrics, analytics, data — numbers like clickthrough or read rate.

But don’t overlook human interaction as well. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center did more than ask people to click in its Wildlife Watch newsletter. For example, the 1,800-acre natural wildlife conservation center asked readers to name a new baby giraffe.

Wildlife Watch email

 

Because of this very human (and giraffe) form of engagement, traditional engagement metrics also performed well, with the newsletter getting average open rates of 35 to 40 percent and clickthrough rate of 16 to 20 percent of those received.

Learn more from the award-winning email marketers of 2006 — Winners included Blockbuster, Vanguard and Canadian Blood Services.

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Using the Science of Habit Formation in Customer-First Marketing (interview with Charles Duhigg)

December 11th, 2015 No comments

As much as 45 percent of what customers do every day is habitual. That is just one interesting piece of research we shared in Tuesday’s MarketingSherpa blog post, which was part one of my interview with Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times and author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

In today’s blog post, we share part two from the interview. You’ll learn about the reward schedule for customers, conducting research that informs effective writing and optimizing the habits in your day-to-day life, along with a question that was really nagging me — can you leverage the science of habit and still be an ethical, customer-first marketer?

If you’re interested in learning more about Charles’s research, we’re giving away a copy of his book in this week’s MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway (enter by December 13 for a chance to win) and Charles will also be a featured speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 in Las Vegas.

 

Understanding the reward schedule for customers

MarketingSherpa: So, in the book, and what you’re talking about, you talk about the ways that brands or marketers influence customers to create habits essentially like, hey, marketing to have milk with cookies, or what have you, or Febreze. Have you seen any examples of customer habits actually influencing the brand? So working vice-a-versa or a smart brand out there that’s doing some research and really sees what natural customer habits are and taps into them as opposed to creating them?

Charles: Oh yeah! Absolutely, all the time. I mean, one of my favorite examples of this is video games. Right? When a video game designer designs a new game, the first thing that they decide upon is what the reward schedule is. What that reward schedule is, is really looking at when people play games, when do they expect to get some type of thing that makes the playing continue to feel kind of fun, when you get a reward that you can anticipate, when you get a reward that you don’t anticipate.

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Marketing Research: 45% of consumer behavior is habitual (interview with Charles Duhigg)

December 8th, 2015 No comments

Let’s pretend for a second you are an alien from outer space studying economics. You’re presented with these two options:

  • Option A: People can make a cup of coffee for 16 to 18 cents in the comfort of their home.
  • Option B: They can haul themselves out of bed earlier, stop at Starbucks and pay two … three … four … five dollars for a cup of coffee.

As a rational alien studying economics, you would know that people will certainly choose Option A.

Except, as we all know, people don’t. They choose Option B. Not everybody, of course. But enough people to generate $16.447 billion in revenue for Starbucks. So many people, in fact, that you must look at this purchase decision — which we’ve become so accustomed to being a part of daily life — as an alien economist to even notice that it’s not a rational economic decision every time people make that purchase.

 

Why people make repeated, economically irrational decisions

So why do people act this way? Because they are no longer making rational economic decisions; rather, they are on autopilot following automated habits. Starbucks’ marketing department has helped turn a simple cup of coffee into a cheap luxury habit.

It’s not just Starbucks, of course. It’s the daily newspaper on your driveway. Movie night. And even, according to Charles Duhigg, the mundane act of brushing your teeth.

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Social Media Marketing: How an online diamond retailer got 6 million Vine loops in one year

December 4th, 2015 No comments

When you think of social media marketing, you may think of the behemoth — Facebook. Sure, it has almost 1.5 billion monthly active users, but where there is a lot of sound, there is a lot of noise. It is difficult to get your message heard.

I interviewed Danny Gavin, Vice President and Director of Marketing, Brian Gavin Diamonds, about using emerging social media platforms to create brand awareness.

 

Here are a few lessons I learned from our conversation.

 

Focus on branding, not selling

Since many emerging platforms are, well, emerging, there hasn’t been a lot of commerce on them yet. Most social platforms focus first on building an audience, and only later on actually monetizing that audience.

New social platforms tend to have a loyal, niche audience that is looking for authentic, organic conversations and wary of the nefarious effects of commercialization. So whatever content you create, make sure it rings true with what the social platform is known for.

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Social Media Marketing: When your product delights your customers, customers will help sell it

October 16th, 2015 No comments

Where does social media success begin? In many cases, it begins well off of an online platform like Facebook or Twitter. It begins with a valuable product.

Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics, sat down with me to discuss the natural and organic grocery company that sells entirely through ecommerce. She shared how it started with a valuable product that customers loved and built off that base to grow its social media fans more than 600% in less than 18 months.


Start by producing share-worthy products

“We were really proud of getting our hands on the best organic produce. We weren’t necessarily looked at or aspiring to become this strong ecommerce player with a really strong technology savvy. And what has grown, being a pure ecommerce player, is our customers were finding us on social media,” Cambria said.

The product itself had enough appeal that it spurred a passionate base audience organically promoting it to friends, family and connections on social media.

“We had organic visuals that were popping up on Instagram and Facebook before we even had a presence on Instagram — just our customers taking photos of their box and of their delivery,” she said.

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How Advance Auto Parts Uses Online Videos to Increase Conversion

September 29th, 2015 No comments

“We see a lift, definitely, in conversion, whenever we have video on the page,” Val DuVernet, Senior Program Manager, Advance Auto Parts, told me during an interview in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015.

Read on for three of the biggest lessons I learned from my interview with Val, and watch the below video to get your own ideas for using video to improve your brand’s conversion.

 

Three important points stuck out to me from this interview …

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How to Sell Your Marketing and Advertising Ideas to Your Boss and Clients (with free template)

September 22nd, 2015 No comments

Some ads, campaigns and branding ideas are pretty bad.

So much so that an old “Saturday Night Live” sketch — featuring Jerry Seinfeld playing the host of a “Jeopardy”-like show with stand-up comedians guessing the punch line — included the frequent answer from Adam Sandler’s character, “Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one!?”

"Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one!?"

 

Cold comfort, though, when your own advertising and marketing ideas don’t see the light of day: “How is that dreck getting made, while my brilliant ideas are being overlooked?”

Poor Marketing Tweet

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SMB Marketing: How an online store generated 659% three-year revenue growth

September 1st, 2015 No comments

On the MarketingSherpa blog, we report on every conceivable element of marketing success — from customer service to content marketing, email deliverability to responsive design.

One element of marketing success you shouldn’t overlook is passion.

Push-through-all-obstacles, make-the-impossible-possible, Teddy-Roosevelt-man-in-the-arena passion.

I met Marc Lobliner, Chief Marketing Officer, TigerFitness.com, at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015. TigerFitness.com has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for three years in a row with 659% revenue growth over that period to $5.6 million in revenue (as of 2013).

You can watch the interview to hear Marc’s passion for yourself.

 

TigerFitness.com is not Marc’s first business. He helped create a new $100 million-plus category in the fitness industry — the Intraworkout category — with a product called Xtend.

“When you’re first to market, the brand lives on,” Marc said.

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Dimensional Weight Pricing: How a “17 pound” feather can affect your ecommerce profit margins

August 25th, 2015 No comments

Ecommerce has long been considered to have a cost advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers. After all, real estate, inventory and human resource costs are all lower.

However, these reduced costs come at an expense — Internet retailers rely on a third-party for fulfillment. Which means their margins and perhaps overall business model is at the mercy of other companies.

This dependency became all the more clear recently when UPS and FedEx announced a significant change to shipping policies by applying dimensional weight pricing (also known as DIM) to all ground shipments. This means that the size (length, weight and height) of even lightweight objects could cause increases in shipping costs for ecommerce vendors.

A concrete example of this is The Wall Street Journal estimating a 37% increase in price for a 32-pack of toilet paper and a 35% increase for a two-slice toaster.

At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, I spoke with Abe Garver, a contributor to Yahoo! Finance and an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) banker, to discuss how these shipping changes are affecting ecommerce companies. Abe used the example of a peacock feather — which may really only weight six ounces, but due to its large size is considered weighing 17 pounds when calculating the cost of shipping.

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