Article Archive by Gerard Tollefsen


May 31 2011

Social Media Marketing On The Rise With Small Business Owners

by Gerard Tollefsen

According to a study conducted by Webs, and reported in a recent Media Post blog, “Currently 69% of small business owners surveyed by Webs are using social media — including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs — at their companies; another 13% said they plan to begin using social media in the next three months. In terms of specific platforms, Facebook was the clear leader with 68% of small business owners saying it is the social media tool they use most for their businesses.”  These are encouraging figures for marketers who have been promoting the usage of social media sites as an effective way to promote products and services.

On the flip side of these numbers lay the real challenge small business owners face with social media marketing.  How do you effectively manage these social media channels to get the most out of your advertising dollar?  Unfortunately, the study also uncovered that “Of the small business owners surveyed by Webs, 59% said social media has “not met” or only “slightly met” their expectations as a marketing tool, and 43% said they currently allocate 10% or less of their marketing budgets to social media.”  How to bridge the gap between channel presence and channel success is the key for all businesses leveraging social media as a means to promote their brand, specific product, or services.  The study has encouraging statistics that illustrate businesses both large and small see the need for a presence in social media.  However, just like a company website or even a physical store, the iconic “If you build it, they will come” does not apply.

If you want to be successful in leveraging these social media channels, which by the way have captive audiences in the multi-millions, you need to plan out a specific strategy.  Here are just a few things to consider before jumping head first and opening company pages or accounts in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for example:

  1. How do you want to brand the channel?  Will it be used to promote the company as a whole or a specific product or service?
  2. What creative elements will you include in the channel design?  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have varying degrees of customization when it comes to designing the page in your company image.
  3. How will you attract people to follow you on Twitter, or like your page on Facebook?  Social media users are not going to just stumble upon your page, you need to have a clear plan in place to build a following around each channel.
  4. How often and what type of engagement will your company be willing and able to maintain once you have built a following?  If you do not keep the audience engaged, they will leave.  It’s no different with your website or physical storefront…if you do not give them a reason to re-visit, they won’t!

I am simplifying the process here, but only to illustrate why it’s not a surprise 59% of small business owners feel social media marketing has “not met” or only “slightly met” their expectations.  You can not expect success without a plan of action and too many small business owners, as evidenced by the aforementioned study, are willing to use social media, but have no strategy to make it work.  It’s all in the planning once you make a business decision to branch out into new markets or new marketing channels.  Be prepared to take action once you create that social media presence and you will find success tapping into the 600+ million people who use social media channels in their every day lives and who fit your customer demographic.

May 25 2011

Mobile Marketing Strategies

by Gerard Tollefsen

The growth of mobile internet usage is without precedent right now.  More people are using their smartphones to access the internet and engage with downloaded applications than ever before.  Thanks to the advancement of mobile devices, smartphones and tablets specifically, marketers have completely new channels in which to develop their promotional strategies.  In today’s business climate, there’s a great opportunity for marketers to take advantage of this shift in user behavior, as more people conduct business and use their mobile devices for personal use.

I recently read an excellent whitepaper on Permission and Privacy within the mobile marketing space and thought it was worth noting the 6 C’s as outlined in the whitepaper:

  • Choice. The consumer must “opt-in” to a mobile marketing program.  Consumers have a right to privacy and marketers must therefore gain approval from consumers before content is sent, and include clear directions on how to unsubscribe from communication should it become unwanted. This ensures consumer pull rather than consumer push.
  • Control. Consumers should have control of when and how they receive marketing messaging on the mobile phone and must be allowed to easily terminate or “opt-out” of an unwanted program.
  • Customization. Any data supplied by the consumer must be used to personalize content (eg: restricting communications to those categories specifically requested by the consumer), making content as relevant and useful to the consumer as possible.
  • Consideration. The consumer must receive or be offered something of perceived value in return for receiving the communication (product and service enhancements, requested information, entry into competitions, discounts etc.)
  • Constraint. The marketer must effectively manage and limit mobile messaging programs to a reasonable number of programs.
  • Confidentiality. Marketers should commit to refrain from sharing consumer information with non-affiliated third-parties.

These 6 C’s, or guidelines, offer thoughts on Best Practices of how to effectively manage a mobile marketing strategy.  Unfortunately, in the land of “spam” too many unscrupulous marketers, and I use the term marketers loosely, choose the easy path of ignoring these important steps looking to simply play the percentages.  Typically, spammers ignore all measure of ethics and simply cast as wide a net as possible ignoring Best Practices.  No matter how irrelevant the marketing message may be, given the sheer volume of spam that is sent, spammers believe if they can get even .05% to convert, the “spam” campaign is profitable.  But for real businesses, who want to protect their reputation and brand, these 6 C’s should be referenced whenever new mobile campaigns are considered.  Customers will take notice of the extra effort and in the long run it will increase your reputation and the effectiveness of your mobile marketing strategies.

 

April 29 2011

Local News And The Impact of Mobile Technology

by Gerard Tollefsen

In a recent Pew Internet study, it was revealed that “Nearly half of all American adults (47%) report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer.”  I have written multiple blogs over the last few months regarding mobile technology’s impact on search marketing, and this recent examination by the Pew Internet and American Life Project illustrates my strong belief in mobile marketing.

The simple fact that 47% of all American adults disclose they use their smartphone or tablet to get local news and information does not bode well for the traditional print media companies.  Newspapers, for example, can not be happy to see their subscriptions dwindle, and many of them have been late to the party in establishing a prominent online presence.  Even the New York Times, one of the most respected news organizations in the world has struggled with declining paper subscriptions and recently implemented a “pay wall” to help recoup their losses.

While nearly half of all Americans access their mobile phones and tablet computers to get news and local information, it is how they use these digital devices that marketers need to better understand.  Conventional wisdom would lead many to believe that the explosion in the app markets for Android and Apple are driving forces of this migration to mobile devices and news consumption.  However, according to the Pew findings, “Just 13% of all mobile device owners report having an app that helps them get local information or news, which represents 11% of the total American adult population. Thus, while almost half of adults get local news on mobile devices, just 1 in 10 use apps to do so.”  This is an extremely important statistic for anyone looking to take advantage of mobile marketing.  While I believe serving ads within apps will continue to grow, if you want to reach the vast majority of mobile device users, mobile search marketing is the area of focus.

If someone is using their phone to access news and local information, and they are not using installed apps on their phone to do so, it is safe to assume a large majority of those people are conducting searches on their phone’s browser.  Here is where business owners and paid search marketers can take full advantage of a largely untapped market.  Mobile search marketing is still in its infancy stage compared to the maturity of the standard paid search via stand alone computers.  As people migrate to mobile devices, they are carrying over their traditional online habits, such as using Google to find everything from pizza parlors to general contractors.  Now is the time to execute a marketing strategy to position the product or service you promote, to a growing mobile community still relying on search queries to find what they need on the go.

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