Archive for the ‘websites’ Category

Is your Facebook Advertising plan part of a bigger plan?

November 9, 2016

Digital advertising is getting a lot of attention and is generating a lot of buzz. For many small to mid-sized businesses, the risk is chasing the latest shiny object, the newest silver bullet. Keep in mind advertising is a marketing tactic. To clear through the noise, stay focused on your objectives and then evaluate if the tactics (e.g., digital advertising) will attain the objectives as effectively and cost efficiently as other alternatives. There are many aspects of digital advertising – PPC, Facebook Advertising, geofencing and the list goes on. One’s head could be spinning trying to evaluate what makes sense for your business. This blog highlights Facebook Advertising and how it is integrated into the overall marketing strategy to achieve both awareness and leads for a FMM client. The intent of the below is to highlight the importance of integration and coordination. Ultimately that is critical to effective and efficient planning and execution.

Assumptions before you read any further:

You have carefully reviewed all marketing tactics to achieve your defined objectives and have affirmed that money spent on Facebook advertising makes sense.

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Integrating Facebook Advertising into your Marketing Plan: Review your marketing efforts – are they tightly integrated or is each effort (e.g., website content, banners and promos on your website, email marketing to drive leads, and Facebook advertising) a separate, disjointed effort like pieces from multiple puzzles? Are the messages cohesive? Do all the graphics support a consistent and cohesive brand? Think of your marketing plan including digital advertising as building one puzzle, not a bunch of random, puzzle pieces (e.g., tactics).

To help you integrate digital advertising into your plan, review the below simplified (yes this is simplified!) flow chart of 4 tightly integrated marketing work streams for one of FMM’s clients. Each month once the promotions have been confirmed with sales management, 4 tightly integrated work streams are kicked off. For this client, sequencing and timing is critical to have all elements orchestrated and live as promotion time periods are generally short (generally ~21 days ).

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The 4 integrated work streams are:

  1. Email marketing with A/B testing – driving consumer to unique landing pages added to websites.
  2. Research – specifically competitive research and demographic profile building to support ad campaign building and website content.
  3. Website content – click throughs from email marketing campaigns go to unique landing pages; Facebook ads link to unique landing pages for additional details of specials. Pages include calls to action, competitive research to assist consumer in decision-making with all pages using Google Analytics for reporting and analysis by campaign.
  4. Facebook Advertising campaigns – multiple campaigns are developed for targeted audiences leveraging competitive research and demographic profiles to create a Facebook custom audience. Each campaign has unique ads linking to custom website landing pages. Each Facebook ad also includes a tracking URL, for accurate measurement of response using Google Analytics.

Your business may not be as time sensitive. For us, the tight orchestration is critical to not miss market opportunities and reach our ideal target audience through 2 primary marketing strategies: targeted email marketing and Facebook advertising allowing us to reach a distinct target audience with the same promotions.

Even if your business is not as time constrained, some things don’t change by incorporating digital advertising into the marketing mix. The same fundamentals apply that have always applied in effective marketing:  get the right offer out to the right audience.  Make sure the pieces fit together.  completed-puzzle-dreamstime_xs_70193339

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Why Look in the Rearview Mirror?

October 18, 2016

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What’s the point of looking back? 

As CEO, what can you learn from looking back?  For Marketing Matters (FMM) starts year 10 this week. Given that milestone, I have been reviewing the past 9 years to update the business plan to grow and move forward. Part of that work has been ‘eating my own dog food’: updating and revising FMM’s marketing messaging and positioning.  It is from this place that I have been looking in the rearview mirror.

4 Key Takeaways from Looking in the Rearview Mirror:

  1. What a long, strange trip it’s been:  Revisiting the past 9 years by reading business plans, positioning, and reviewing clients has been fun! The path has taken many turns – some planned and some not. People I have met over the years, distant clients that helped launch FMM, and networking organizations that I was involved with. While time flies by, this is the longest ‘job’ now on my resume – wow!  So while it has not felt long, it has been strange! Some strange people along the way, but that is part of any journey! And with the strange moments being a blur in the rear view mirror it is actually comical to recall…and worthy to recall and learn from.
  2. The Cobbler’s Kids…I am a classic example of the Cobblers Kids not having shoes. So my takeaway is to not be so consumed with work that you don’t MAKE time to work on your own business strategically.  We are our clients’ outsourced marketing department. We develop and revise marketing messaging, design and build websites and keep all marketing materials current. Yet we (FMM) have gone years (yikes!) without updating our own website and our own marketing materials. Key takeaway – make it happen before year-end. I am now on a mission as this is embarrassing.
  3. Go Back. It is not wasted time. It really is enlightening to go back and review the journey. Where have clients come from? What networking efforts are bearing fruit? Make the time to go back and review your journey with an open, inquisitive mind.  There are key nuggets to affirm, to remember and to bring with you as you go forward. And if you are a Kenny Chesney fan like I am, listen to his song I Go Back as you take a stroll down memory lane and take notes.
  4. Celebrate. Celebrate progress. Celebrate accomplishments and how far you have come.  Whatever your milestone, take a step back and acknowledge the progress and the hard work that has taken you this far. It is not easy. However many years you have been doing it, feel good about how far you have come. Reflect on what you have built. As business owners we push ourselves and we work hard. A key takeaway for me is to pause and feel good about where FMM is now and how it started. I encourage you to do the same.

Looking in the rearview mirror has helped create a renewed sense of focus and energy!  Now I look forward to the road ahead and the journey to partner with more savvy CEOs of small and medium-sized growth-focused businesses.  I hope you too find benefit in taking a look in the rearview mirror for insight to help you move forward. And another final takeaway I have come to learn…enjoy the ride.

 

Are you delivering at all stages?

August 17, 2016

Each consumer or client transaction has multiple stages. How is your company doing on delivering at every stage to attract, convert and serve your customers so they are champions for your business?

Below is an overview of a personal experience as a consumer that spanned several months from initial research to purchase to ‘using’ the product purchased. I hope this helps you review your key stages and address gaps that may be adversely affecting the total experience. This company did a great job from start to finish.

Stage 1. Looking to fill a need 

I was the consumer looking for a father’s day gift. Not the typical gift, but something that really was fun, unique and special. Not a gift for my own dad, but for my husband, the great father of our two kids.

I don’t have much time to shop. So I took a little bit of time online to search for ideas and see if anything struck me as a cool gift. I did all my shopping online relying on offers already in my inbox (opt ins) as well as solid SEO tagging as I did various online searches to help find ideas.  As is usually the case, I was in a bit of a time crunch to find something. I was ready to buy and now just needed to find the right thing.

Stage 2. Evaluating the offers.

My husband likes cars. I searched for an experience where he could drive a cool sports car on a race track. I came across some options, but several offers weren’t good enough – they only allowed the person to be a passenger, not to actually drive the car. I dismissed these and kept looking.  I quickly reviewed different options, striking off options as I learned more. Specific factors that affected my decision in addition to driving included location (needed to be in the general vicinity) and the vehicles needed to be cool, quality vehicles. He is a car snob.

Stage 3. The purchase.

I found exactly what I was looking for with Xtreme Experience. The experience included the option to drive the vehicle and they had many cool vehicles to choose from – Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari. The website was informative and the selection options were very clear and easy to choose. They also had brilliantly ‘packaged’ their offer for Father’s Day and had multiple packages from which to choose. The available dates at two different race tracks made scheduling easy and they wisely offered add-ons for their profits and for the consumer’s enjoyment. red lamborghini

My toughest decision was which vehicle to choose as there were so many and I am not a car snob.  I relied on my 19-year olds son’s insight to confirm my choice of the Ferrari 458 Italia. That was my first inclination as my research showed this vehicle seemed in high demand by the time slots so I figured it was a top choice. I made my choices and paid for the experience and printed out the information. After buying a small red sports car Match Box at Target, I had a prop for the father’s day gift.

Stage 4. The full package

I applaud Xtreme Experience in thinking through and delivering on the full package – from providing information easily on its website, developing unique offers with options, sending clear and thorough confirmation emails, providing periodic communication prior to the actual experience (well-timed and not too frequent) and last-minute communications offering other time alternatives due to the risk of storms on the day of the experience. They had detailed the key points affecting a buyer’s experience and had done a great job all the way through to anticipate questions and deliver on the promised experience.

Stage 5. The experience itself.

Two months after the initial on-line research and on-line purchase, Drive Day arrived.  I had not spoken to anyone from this organization. Up until today, everything had been done via their website. This past Sunday we drove to Palmer, MA (we saw parts of MA that we have never seen before) and spent 2+ hours in the car each way to check out Xtreme Experience and see if it would live up to expectations.

My checklist as the passenger and the consumer:

  • Signage:  great; very easy to know where to go.
  • Check-in: very easy; friendly staff; no hassle despite all the forms and waivers to sign including for those of us just watching from the Pit!
  • Amenities: Free cold bottled water provided for all including spectators (perfect as it was 95+ degrees)
  • Organization: very organized; we purchased a time slot; they had the timeframes down pat; everything worked like clockwork.Ferrari 458 Italia sign

In the training, they effectively cross sold my husband to encourage him to be a passenger in the lead car prior to his driving experience so he could see the track and all the 14 or so turns. He agreed (so the company had yet another offer that made sense and that he really enjoyed) and took off first with a seemingly professional driver who gave him a big thrill with his driving prowess.

Then he got his chance to drive and loved it. They delivered on all promises of the offer I had paid for and expected including the T-shirt and video of his actual drive. The vehicle was exactly as marketed and the day went off without a hitch.ferrari car

Two suggestions for Xtreme Experience

  1. Activities – it is a long time waiting as a friend/family member of the driver. It was nice to have a small umbrella and chairs but it would be great to have activities that those of us waiting around could do. Something as simple as a few  corn hole games, food to buy other than out of a machine, mini races with remote control cars…
  2. Survey after the experience. Get feedback. You do a great job but the one stage that I have not experienced is the final loop of sending me a survey as the buyer and asking for the email of the gift recipient to also get their direct feedback.

Great job Xtreme Experience.  Your brand reflects what you deliver and you have done a great job understanding and delivering during every stage of the consumer experience.  Well done!

 

 

Who knew? Inaccurate website leads to happiness

July 2, 2015

Scenario:  Need to renew my passport and get a passport for my daughter (a minor).  Rely heavily on websites to print the paperwork, complete it in advance and to confirm details to ensure I have everything in order to get this done…today. Find her birth certificate, confirm document notarized to ensure she is not getting a passport without her father knowing it.  I am confident I have everything so final search prior to leaving the house was to confirm a post office location that did not require an appointment.  Conduct my online search – confirm passport application hours all day, call to be sure, but after being on hold give up after 10 minutes.

Drive 45 minutes (to be near another errand) to enter the Medford Post Office on Forest Street. Signs greet us apologizing for service delays due to training going on as well as signs indicating appointments required for passport applications – uggh! Wait in line to see if there is a chance of an appointment for today already knowing the answer.  Yep – nope – can’t help you today.  Go to Malden – gives me the address. Why doesn’t anyone ensure the website information is accurate??!!

I remain calm (surprisingly) and plug in the address to the Malden post office.  Off we go.  Wait in line…a friendly woman calls us up and confirms no appointment needed and they also do photos – yes!  Things are looking up.  Until we are told that I am missing information to proceed. My daughter’s passport can’t be processed.  Here is where technology is a wonderful thing: my daughter calls her Dad; he emails me what I need.  We drive to a Staples and sure enough, they are happy to print out the document we need. I offer to pay them for their help and the associate declines – happy to help.  Very nice. Thank you Staples.

So where does happiness come in?

Next door to the Malden Post Office is the Malden Y. Once we have successfully completed passport #2, I suggest we go into the Y. My daughter cleaned out her bedroom yesterday – a thorough cleaning.  In my car are bags of clothes, girly pillows, stuffed animals, and a small wicker rocker.  I speak to a woman and a man at the Y and explain that we would love to donate these items if they could use them to give to young girls. They are thrilled to accept the items and that is where the real happiness came today. They explained that the majority of the families they serve are low-income. What Meredith has outgrown would bring a smile to a young girl’s face.  Thank goodness the Medford post office could not help us earlier today.  We would never have ended up next door to the Malden Y to donate bags of items.

This time, I am not criticizing an entity for having inaccurate information on their website. I can’t stop thinking about young girls finding something they like to put a smile on their face.

Is Anyone’s Customer Service WOWing you this Christmas?

December 13, 2013

Tis the season…to be wowed by fabulous customer service.  Are you feeling the love?

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I do a lot of shopping online for Christmas.  I find it easy, efficient and productive.  This year?  not so much.  Cyber Monday was a disappointment for me due to a variety of bad online experiences.  I understand if I was shopping on December 20th, but promoting products that aren’t available early in the shopping season is frustrating and does damage to the brand.

Here are my bad brand experiences to date followed by my one wow experience so far:

1. Negative – Timberland.  Their top sellers are out of stock yet they promote 30-40% off online.  The reality is you can’t get the product you want in any ‘normal’ sizes.  Who planned their inventory for the holiday season?

2. Negative – Vineyard Vines.  This brand has taken off like a rocket, yet their inventory was wiped out very early – I am talking November.  Their catalog arrived and immediately I checked on some items and there was limited to no availability by color, size and item.  Bummer.

3. Negative – Carbon 2 Cobalt.  I like their styles and last year had great luck with this store and ordering online last Christmas.  This year?  Not so much.  I found a sweater I wanted to buy for my nephew, went to the site, searched for the item number – nothing.  No message.  Searched by name – nothing.  Searched by product type – Men’s Sweaters.  The sweater I wanted to order was the featured image on the landing page – perfect I think!  There it is – now I just need to order it.  That was the problem.  The sweater is nowhere to be found on the website.  Huh?  No one thought to have a message appear that the product is sold out, out of stock, something?  I left the site and they lost my business.

Being a glass half full person, I kept on shopping online, determined to find something I liked.  I started to do a search to address my frustration with BOTH Vineyard Vines and Carbon 2 Cobalt and I found the online Bloomingdales website with available product for me to order.  Not only did I find items I liked, they had sizes in stock!  Bonanza!  As I started my order for 3 nephews, I noticed a promotion to get an additional 10% off by signing up for emails.  Perfect.  The 10% represented a decent savings so I signed up, received my text alert that I was enrolled…but then there was no promo code to complete my online order.  Bummer.  I picked up the phone and called customer support as chat was not available at the time.  (Odd as chat should be available late afternoon during Christmas don’t you think?)  Anyway, my wow moment was about to happen so back to the point.  The customer service person was great – friendly, empathetic, and resourceful.  I explained I did not get a promo code for the additional 10% off my order.  She explained that that code would not be sent for 1-3 days (no where on the website) and she apologized for that not being clear.  She offered to give me 15% off my order and placed the order for me to ensure it went through and the discount was applied.  WOW!  She exceeded my high expectations.  Kudos to Bloomingdales for doing what no one else has done this holiday season.  I got great deals and had a wow experience.

Let me know what business is wowing you this Christmas season.  I want to know!