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Keyword: ‘email’

Sharable Holiday Wish Lists

November 12th, 2009
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Marketers at multichannel music equipment retailer Guitar Center this week launched customizable wish lists to help customers steer friends and family toward their desired holiday gifts.

The lists are designed by professional concert poster artists to resemble posters from different musical genres, says Scott Archambault, Director, Customer Acquisition, Guitar Center.

Guitar Center Wish Lists

Shoppers can browse, click to add products, and launch a browser-based Flash app to choose a design. Dragging-and-dropping automatically blends products with a design, and shoppers can add a title and an image to certain lists.

Shoppers can click to share lists on several social networks including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

The posters won’t appeal to everyone, and shoppers have the option to create and share a more traditional list, Archambault says.

Why offer sharable lists? Archambault says that gift shopping for musicians can be difficult due to the range of product choices and each player’s preferences.

“It’s not enough to just buy a guitar off the shelf,” he says.

The team created the effort with Organic of San Francisco and expects it to extend into next year. They later intend to drive custom marketing efforts based on the products customers select.

“If you have a lot of guitar instruments or something that maps toward an instrument preference, the emails that you get and the reminders that you get will speak to those very specifically.”

Homepage Overlay Boosts Subs

October 19th, 2009
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The folks at PETCO  tested an email registration overlay ad that helped lift subscriptions more than 400%.

Carol Ott, Director, Finance Reporting and Web Analytics, PETCO, and the team used Amadesa’s Customer Experience Suite to A/B test the ad (and other offers) on the homepage since June.

As you can see in the image below (click for a larger one), the overlay offers visitors two rewards for submitting email addresses:
1. Chance to win a $500 gift card
2. A free shipping offer

PETCO Email Registration Overlay

“We were impressed with the results. We were testing offers that we thought would drop our average order value and were pleasantly surprised when it did not have any effect,” Ott says.

Campaign Measurability and Creativity

September 17th, 2009
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Marketing has undoubtedly benefited from the control and measurability of online channels. Teams can use search ads, email and websites to test and tweak their way to astounding returns on investment. But has this come at a cost in creative license?

Marketing requires creativity. All those commercials, direct mail pieces, and landing pages have to be written and designed. However, tests often dictate their ultimate layouts and content. Is this trend brining us toward formulaic, uncreative marketing?

These questions arose during a recent conversation I had with Brian Maynard, Director, Brand Marketing, Jenn-Air & KitchenAid. They were an aside to a conversation we were having on a KitchenAid promotion strategy (full article coming soon).

“As we get better at measuring marketing,” Maynard says, “I fear a bit that in the future, unless you show a positive ROI on every single tiny effort, that you won’t be bold. You won’t step out and do something that’s exciting and innovative because you cannot prove that it works.”

Maynard also noted that he worries that marketing could become like factory work, where switches are thrown and 3,000 more units are sold. That kind of environment would not be conducive to risk taking and creative thought.

“The best marketing ideas have come from people who take a chance,” he says.

Where do you stand? Have you lost some creative license since the Internet’s arrival? Or does measurement simply guide your decisions, rather than make them for you? Let us know in the comments…

How to Be Cool

August 12th, 2009
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Referrals from friends are a strong influence on how teens and tweens learn about “new brands and cool new stuff,” according to survey results released last week by Pangea Media.

Pangea is an entertainment an online advertising company that operates a network of quiz-related websites. The survey received 2,396 responses, and allowed for multiple selections when asking “How do you find out about new brands and cool new stuff?” The results:

o 76.4 % friends
o 75.5% stores
o 56.8% television commercials
o 52.6% magazine ads
o 39.8% online ads
o 35.0% Web/search engines
o 27.7% television shows

The results from asking how they “learn about new stuff” online (only one answer could be given):

o 27% ads in search engines
o 24% social networking sites
o 21% when friends email or IM
o 15% pop-up ads
o 13% trusted website

The results underscore that one of the best ways to earn your brand the elusive “cool factor” among consumers age 10 to 19 is have your brand referred to them by a friend. Stores are another powerful place to reach this demographic, even more so than any type of advertising queried, according to the survey.

38% Decline in Direct Mail Predicted

July 14th, 2009
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I recently had a conversation with Gordon Borrell, CEO, Borrell Associates, Inc., in which he made some startling predictions for the future of several advertising markets. Borrell’s team specializes in tracking local advertising and reporting how much advertisers are spending in a channel by region.

The most surprising prediction Borrell shared is that spending on direct mail will decline 38% over the next five years. Marketers spent about $48 billion on direct mail last year, Borrell says. While that size might suggest stability, Borrell says that it is actually an indication that the platform is in line for a mighty fall.

“When something grows really fast and gets up to a high level, and there’s a disrupter in the market place, some other technology that provides pretty much the same level of service but in a more efficient way, then you can expect there to be a roller coaster decline.”

That disruptor is Internet marketing in general, and email marketing in particular, Borrell says. Email is an affordable way to send personalized and targeted messages, and the technology continues to improve.

Also, recent reports that the United States Postal Service is considering eliminating Saturday service is contributing to his team’s prediction, Borrell says.

“If the day they cut is Saturday, then that really hurts direct mail. Marketers love to get pieces into homes on Friday and Saturday, because that’s when the buying is done in households.”

Borrell and his team base their predictions, in part, on a disruption model. They analyze what happened to markets of the past when disrupted by a new technology, and apply those lessons to current events.

Has your team cut direct mail this year? Or do you plan to in the next five years? Let us know in the comments…

More Efficient Marketing

June 15th, 2009
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“In a bad economy, the last thing you want to cut back on is marketing,” says Jeremy Farber, President and Founder, PC Recycler.

Farber’s team added between 20% and 30% to its marketing budget over the last year to avoid losing ground, and in hopes of gaining market share, he says. That created several new processes and a lot more work for the electronic waste management service’s marketing team.

Last fall, after the budget increase, the marketing team was distressed. It could not keep up with looming deadlines unless cuts were made or an additional person hired. Being based in the metro Washington D.C. area, Farber did not want to hire another marketing manager.

“A white collar job around here is expensive.”

Instead, the team tested using Lyris HQ, a search, email and analytics software package. The tool combined several of the team’s separate processes into one platform — saving a ton of time, Farber says.

“We’re getting more work done now with the same budget and the same people, which obviously is translating into better ROI.”

Farber estimates that using the tool is about 60% to 70% less than the cost of hiring another person. On top of that, the tool proved more effective than some of the separate systems that the team previously used. For example, the insights gleaned from Lyris’ Web analytics revealed ways to boost conversion rates from paid search marketing — the team’s number one lead generator.

So even though the Chinese word for crisis is not exactly “danger” and “opportunity,” a down economy is still not a good time to cut a marketing budget. Instead, it’s a time to look for greater efficiencies.

Google Making Waves

June 4th, 2009
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Google is rocking the boat in the blogosphere with its latest announcement: Google Wave. I had a chance today to check out the video of a developer’s preview of the tool. It’s long — about 80 minutes — but it’s very clear and jam-packed with feature demos.

At first glance, Wave looks like an email and instant messaging hybrid built for the browser — but that’s just the beginning. Users can take their conversations and embed them into blogs and other websites with ease — and the conversations can be added to at the blog or the users’ account page. Users have a centralized place where they can add to conversations that are happening all over the web, “which will make flame wars so much more effective,” quips Lars Rasmussen, Software Engineer Manager, Google, and co-founder of the Wave team, in the video.

The tool has many other features, including:
– Drag and drop photo functionality
– Drag and drop friends into conversations
– Reply to specific portions of conversations
– Watch replays of how conversations developed (useful for those coming late to a discussion)
– Real-time conversation capability — to the point where you can watch your friends’ every keystroke
-And there’s more

Also interesting is a comment during the presentation’s introduction by Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering, Google, that those watching the demo will surely forget that they were watching a browser client — not downloaded software. And in my case, he was right. I was blown away when I realized that the tool is hosted elsewhere — like Gmail. The only capability that requires a download is the photo functionality, which requires downloading Google Gears.

On top of all this, Google Wave will be open sourced — allowing any developer to create new uses and features — which is huge. The feature set will likely explode after launch.

Ah, yes — launch. Did I forget to mention that this is not yet available to the public? If you’re interested, Google will notify you when Wave is ready to go live sometime later this year — as my colleague Sean Donahue noted last week.

The potential for businesses — and communication in the Web in general — is large. Businesses can have an easy, free way to communicate and collaborate on projects. And it will be much easier for the public to socialize and interact online — which might give a very large booster shot to Web 2.0 in its infancy. This is certainly worth keeping an eye on — and it’s Google — you know that ads will eventually be squeezed in somewhere.

Capitalize on media attention to build relationships: Two approaches

May 29th, 2009
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This week brought us dueling product announcements from Google and Microsoft that, naturally, got a lot of attention from media and bloggers. But as I was reading about Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, and Google’s upcoming Wave communication tool, I noticed something interesting about how the companies are trying to capitalize on crush of media attention and Web traffic.

– Google’s Wave homepage features a prominent blue button that says, “Let me know when it’s ready,” which takes users to a quick survey and email sign-up form to be sent future updates about the product.

It’s a smart tactic: Product-launch alert campaigns are a great way to capture opt-ins, and those messages tend to generate strong open and clickthrough rates.

– Microsoft’s Bing homepage, on the other hand, doesn’t feature an email sign-up form (as far as I could see). Instead, it appears the Microsoft team is using social media to make connections with interested visitors.

The Bing site features a link to a Bing Facebook group, and invites visitors to follow Bing on Twitter.

I haven’t seen data or done a case study yet on using social media to keep potential customers in the loop about product announcements. I’d be very interested to see how it compares to email in generating interest and activity after launch.

But in both cases, Google and Microsoft are being smart about weaving an engagement strategy into a big publicity push. Whether you’re using email, Twitter or another channel, you can make a direct connection with your audience that turns a sudden, transitory wave of interest in your company or products into the first step of a long-term relationship.

Twitter Surveys for Quick Opinions

May 19th, 2009
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Marketing decisions are best made with a level of certainty about an audience’s preferences. You don’t want to start offering a feature that customers aren’t interested in. And you don’t want to push a marketing offer that they don’t care about.

Social media and data mining can be used to find an audience’s preferences. And as we outline in a case study recently, online surveys are still effective strategy. Then last week I interviewed Glenn Edelman, VP Marketing, Wine Enthusiast, who has recently combined social media and surveying.

Edelman is responsible for Wine Enthusiast’s wine accessories ecommerce site, and WineExpress.com’s direct-to-consumer ecommerce wine sales. His team uncovered a great strategy for selling wine via email with product pages that include “virtual wine tastings” in two- to three-minute videos (the case study will be published by eTail later this month, and then by MarketingSherpa).

When adding video to the wines’ product pages, Edelman’s team wondered whether the videos should automatically play, or wait to be clicked by visitors before playing. The team asked Wine Enthusiast’s Twitter followers about the idea.

“We thought about testing it but said ‘hey, let’s ask our audience.’ And we got a huge, huge response to never do auto-play. ‘We hate auto-play,’ they said. It was such as negative response that we didn’t even bother testing,” Edelman says.

There you have it. Twitter can be used as a quick way to get your audience’s opinion, in addition to its other marketing applications, such as branding, PR, and promotion.

Reaching Local Searchers

May 12th, 2009
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I had an interesting conversation with Scott Dunlap, CEO, NearbyNow, last week. NearbyNow helps consumers find products in local stores through its website, mobile apps, and the major search engines.

A consumer looking for a particular product in his or her area will typically be alerted via an email or a text message on the product’s availability. This service has several interesting applications for marketers–such its OnTheWay ads. These ads allow marketers to advertise in the alert messages to consumers who’ve indicated that they’re planning to visit a store near their own.

Some marketers, Dunlap says, have leveraged these ads to emphasize the core motivations that consumers have for searching for local products. The top three motivations that Dunlap’s team has uncovered,:
1. Consumers want the products immediately
2. They want to see, hold, and test the products (particularly relevant for apparel, shoes and gadgets, Dunlap says)
3. They do not like the hassles or costs of shipping

How have these motivations been applied to the ads? Some marketers are pushing immediacy to the extreme. They will give 20% off products in their stores for the next two hours. That can force some consumers to consider visiting the advertiser’s store before visiting their intended destination.

Local search and sales for products–with real time inventory updates–looks like it holds a lot of potential for retailers and brands alike. I expect the major search engines to start rolling out more ways for marketers to connect with consumers looking for products locally.