Cats really do RULE the Internetz

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by Pam Sahota
If you haven’t seen the collab between Friskies and Buzzfeed, you must be hiding under a rock (or actually doing your work).
But, just in case you did miss it – watch right now!
The first two videos in the playlist are the two in the series (so far).  I have a soft heart for the sequel about the Dog. Especially the line about dogs being excellent marketers – “man’s best friend.” So true.

So as I was saying…Cats.

They have been kind of kicking marketing butt lately – from Grumpy Cat to other cute felines that have been making regular appearances in movies (Jinxie in Meet the Parents) to Taylor Swift carrying around her white furball on the street of NYC. And if you see a youtube clip of a kitten chasing that damn red dot, can you really not help but laugh? Or say aww? (Or perhaps you’re just not human).
The collab was a pivotal step.
Buzzfeed has been in the collaboration business for a while now and this branded content series with Friskies is a great testament to that. They made an advertisement, that is something people actually want to watch (over and over), and share out with others to do the same. I just played it at the dinner table with my family. When would you have done that about an advertisement in the past?
Visible Measures did a great job of capturing why these video content series are a success and how Buzzfeed is on top of its game when it comes to producing such shareable content. It’s not about the cat food or even the fact that the cats do eat Friskies in the commercial. It’s about the heartfelt emotion and connection that people can feel while watching the video content. Aka it’s content. I give credit to both Friskies for taking that leap and for Buzzfeed who has taken brands from thinking past the 30 second ad to creating content that is social gold.
Can you say that?
I can honestly say, I cannot wait for the next installment (please say there is another?) … and when did you say that about an advertisement? I repeat. Social Gold.

For the Win: When Brands and Consumers Connect

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by Pam Sahota

Working in digital marketing on a day-to-day basis, it makes me stoked to see when brands and consumers truly connect. When a brand takes a beat and steps back to reflect and understand what their consumers really want. Even cooler, when a brand reinvents part of itself to be with the times. One such brand is Banana Republic. Perhaps I’m biased, because they now sell so many leather oriented clothing, but so what? Here’s what we can learn from BR as of late:

1. They Hired a Kickass Creative Director – one to help reinvent BR and shape it into a new, cooler, fresher brand. Marissa Webb. I salute you. You took BR from being a stuffy, conservative office brand to one that women are excited to wear. The brand now exudes confidence, sex appeal, and best of all, amazing clothes that fit just right.

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2. The advertising fits the new brand – The new ads are edgy and they standout. Best part, Marissa herself touts the clothes, makes personal ads through her instagram (without being an ad), and allows people to connect with the brand in a way people never could before. In a way, (sorry Tory), she’s the new Tory Burch. She is a visionary for the brand. Is that a bold statement? Perhaps.

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3. They are human – By far my favorite characteristic. The brands replies, comments, and favorites posts by its fans. They thank people for purchasing their clothes. Reward them with fun loyalty gifts. And best of all, are just kind and nice. Not to mention, Marissa herself “favorited” my last tweet about the brand. That is huge in my book!

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What brands stand out to you? Which brands make you say – yes, I love this brand?

 

 

Don’t Kick Off Your Social Media Strategy Without these 3 Key Data Points

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by Elisabeth Michaud

Thinking of getting your brand into a new social network (Ello, anyone?) or revamping your social goals? Are you kicking off a new campaign soon and want to support it with a social component? Before you jump in, you’ll need to be armed with the key data points that will help you decide where, when, and what to do on social. Knowing these metrics will help you determine what success looks like, how to adjust when things aren’t going as planned, and when and where to execute your strategy. There’s much more than that goes into creating a really quality social media strategy, but brand voice, creative, and copywriting can’t operate on their own.

Don’t launch your plan without first collecting and considering these data points:

1. Social network demographic info
Before going all-in on a big Instagram campaign or jumping into a new network, you’ll first need to find out whether your efforts have a chance to succeed: are your customers (or desired customers) even using the platform? Know the demographic makeup of each platform you’re planning a presence for: the gender split, most common age range, which countries the network’s users typically live in, etc. This information will help you decide which networks to have a presence on and how to adapt your brand’s voice for each to achieve the best engagement for each.

2. Best Times to Post
There are a number of metrics you’ll need to look at to determine what the ideal times are to share content for each network, and these vary depending on your individual brand’s audience. The more information you have for this data point, the better, but even a few general stats (such as the time range the each network is most active overall) can help. It’s great to get specific here, drilling down on your own past efforts and seeing which times generated most success. Some social media tools can even do some of this work for you, automatically “smart scheduling” posts at the best time. (Full disclosure: Yes, I work for uberVU via Hootsuite, and both the uberVU and Hootsuite platforms offer this option.)

3. Google Analytics Benchmarks
Don’t embark on a new content-based social campaign designed to drive traffic to your website without first knowing what’s the norm for your brand. Google Analytics can show you where your social traffic typically comes from, and how well those sources convert–both great data points if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck with social ad spend, for example. Really dig into your web traffic tracking data before kicking off a new strategy or campaign to see where social can help the most.

These are just some of the basics you should examine before launching your social media strategy–what others have proven crucial to your planning process?

How to: Make Blogging a Priority that Sticks

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By Pam Sahota

I’ve been asked a multitude of times…”How do you find time to blog?” It took me a while to realize how I did find time. And then I realized the answer was quite simple: “I find time.” Blogging, like other marketing objectives, just needs to become a priority that you make time for. Whether it’s your personal blog, a brand you are starting, or a well-established brand that is trying to demonstrate it’s expertise in a particular vertical. We all know the general benefits of blogging – SEO, thought leadership, partnered content, awareness, engagement, etc. And the value to the blogger? Promotion of their personal brand, subject matter expert, social promotion, so on and so forth.

But again…when? how? Let’s lay out some quick wins for tackling your blogging woes:

Your Calendar is your friend

We all know that each week is different and new commitments come up all the time. But that’s no excuse. My way around that is planning ahead. I plan out the posts I need to do a month in advance. That allows me to see what is going on each week and each weekend and when is best to tackle the posts I have in my pipeline. Typically I have on average 8 posts a month. Sounds like a lot, and it can be if you aren’t managing your time. I usually block off one day a week where I can polish off 2 – 3 posts in a morning. Now I will admit, that I have it down to a science and usually have prepared what I’m going to write in advance (see divide and conquer below). And for when life gets in the way? Find a new day that works, but don’t push it to the next week unless absolutely necessary.

 

Divide and conquer

Yes it’s nice if you have a team to divide and conquer your posts, but even when you have a team, you still need to find time for yours. Rather than leaving the ideation, research, creation, and review all in one sitting – split it up! For example when I look at my week ahead on Sunday evening, I usually look to see what blog posts I have to tackle that week. Sometime between Mon – Thurs I tackle a quick topic ideation by surveying what’s popping in culture, any new social media trends that have risen to the top, and/or pain points that people are discussing. Then I find some quick sources that support my thinking and leave it be. I let that stew a little and when I get to the day I plan to write (normally Saturday or Sunday morning before/after the gym) I am primed to just hit the keyboard. Additionally, it helps if you’re not the only editor reviewing your post. And if you don’t have an editor ask a darling friend to take a glance over for any glaring issues that you may have missed.

 

Be Passionate

This is probably the most important. The reason I am less stressed about writing posts each week or month, is because I’m typically passionate about it. Yes not every post is riveting, and I may procrastinate at times, or pour a glass of wine as I debate it. But at least 85% of the time I am excited to write (or will be when I finish) because it’s about something I’m proud to be writing about. I am proud to spread more knowledge into the digital marketing space as well as provide my inspirational rantings around style and confidence (my other blogging adventures). So, please, before you pick up that “pen” think if you’re actually excited about your blogging.

And speaking of that glass of wine…sometimes that helps write a little more creatively too!

Image source: Kikolani

How to Identify Where Your Brand’s Audience Hangs Out

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By Kristin Dziadul

It’s as important as deciding what group you’ll sit with at lunch.  It’s as impactful as deciding if you want to go with the latest iPhone or Android phone. It’s like choosing your 3 favorite TV shows. It’s a bit decision that requires research, intuition, and commitment. I’m talking about choosing where your brand will “hang out” online to reach your target audience.

Many times new clients say to me, “We have a Twitter account set up and I think a Facebook page. Where else should we be?” But I encourage them to step back and think about if Twitter and Facebook even make sense. If their audience is a segment of 40-50 year old security experts, for example, Facebook prooooobably isn’t the right place for you. But is Twitter? Maybe.

So before just jumping onto the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ bandwagons, first understand if it’s the right lunch table, the right smartphone, or the right show for you.

Here’s how:

Internal Resources

If anyone on your team is actually within your target market, or knows someone who is, talk to them! Ask them where they spend their time online, what they like to read, what their goals are, etc. And then check out their profiles to see who they engage with, who they follow, and what they post. You can even go deeper by looking at who the people they follow follow, and what they post, and so on. I do this for a lot of my clients when we’re starting from scratch on social media. And starting off with someone you know and building your web of research from there can be a great start.

Research, Research, Google

When I say research I really mean Google so let’s leave it at that. Search for key terms related to your target audience and see what types of people show up, what social media groups show up (sub-reddits or Google+ communities, for example), and what some of the latest topics are. This will give you a good sense of some of the influencers in the space, what social profiles they have, and what topics they share and care about.

Search Individual Channels

Once you’ve found some initial hot topics in the space from your Google searches (or Bing, if you dare…):

  • Twitter: Start typing in those searches to Twitter to understand the volume of tweets and profiles of people tweeting about those topics. Is there heavy volume, aka a large audience? Are the people who are sharing on par with who your audience is? Are the conversations valuable or spammy?
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn has many professional groups where targeted people gather to discuss specific topics. If you suspect that your audience is the type to be on LinkedIn regularly, conduct a few searches using the keywords you’ve identified to find relevant groups. Are there just a few and have they not been updated since April 2013? Or are there dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, with daily updates and comments?
  • Google+: Same as with LinkedIn, Google+ has community groups where specific interest groups can gather and chat. By searching around in there (good luck navigating Google+ in general…) you can get a good sense of the number, type, and quality of community groups there and if they’re worthwhile to join.
  • Facebook: Considering that the Facebook demographic has changed drastically and the types of content that rise to the top has changed (i.e. baby pictures over company announcements), Facebook isn’t the right channel for many B2B companies. For some it may be though, so investigate the groups that are active here, and even how many people are engaged with the Facebook pages of your competitors, to determine if it’s an active channel for you too.
  • Technical groups (reddit, StackOverflow, etc.): very niche and engaged audience. It’s not always a good practice to have an official brand presence here that is actively promoting company stuff (you will most likely get shunned for being “spammy” by every user on there), but if your individual team members can commit to contributing regularly to relevant threads, that can help boost your entire team’s perception in the industry. And there are some genuine ways you can slip in your company’s messaging by just responding to a comment — and in a non-salesy way. I’ve done this many times.

The same here goes for how you search for targeted PR outlets, timely topics to blog about, etc. It’s all about doing your research on where people are talking, who they are, and how engaged they are. Especially if you’re a startup, you don’t have time to waste on a channel that simply won’t produce because your audience isn’t there. Take the hour or two it may require to vet a few initial channels and then hit the ground running!

Want to chat more about social media and broader startup marketing strategies? Let’s do it! Shoot me an email at kristin at kdmedianow dot com.

 

Image courtesy of mjhappenings.wordpress.org

How Keeping an Eye on Competitors can Inspire your Content

 

4140394881_7f97443ecf_oWe all know that, as a brand, being self-centered can hurt you in social. A great content strategy is created when brands take a turn listening to their audience to find out what they’ll want to hear. Brands that aren’t self-centered created a dialogue with fans and customers, digging into their likes and dislikes to find out how they can better communicate with them.

Listening and engaging with your brand’s fans is a key component of any content strategy, but at times, it can leave you feeling uninspired. For a fresh source of inspiration, keep an eye on your competitors, too!

Here are 3 things you can learn from your competitors’ content (and no, they’re not sneaky or rude!) to inspire fresh ideas for your own brand:

1. Take a peek at not just your competitors’ posts, but the posts of others who post about the competitive brands. What do people say about them? Learn what likes and dislikes people have about your competitors’ products or services: it’s great fodder for future content for you! Are many of them asking the same questions? Could they be wondering the same thing about your product? Sounds like it’s time for a blog post that can help clarify the benefits of your own brand–no need to mention the competitor in your content, just focus on being helpful and useful.

2. Take a consumer’s perspective, then look over your competitor’s content with a critical eye: what mistakes are they making? Is their content too repetitive, not visual enough, or written in a tone that feels “off” somehow? Consider whether those areas are opportunities for you–dazzle your audience with a wide range of content that’ll spark their interest, or find a share-worthy visual way to get their attention. Even if you’re not stealing fans away from the other brand, you can create better interactions with your own fans to learn still more about what makes them tick.

3. Analyze the audiences your competitor reaches: do they have a big following with a specific demographic where you’re somewhat lacking? Are their messages reaching a set of people across more countries or languages you haven’t targeted yet? Learning from the success your competitors are having with audiences that are as-yet untapped by your own brand can give you inspiration as to how to start targeting them. See what works well for these competitors, and what isn’t getting much traction, and save those learnings for your own efforts to speak to these new audiences.

Do you keep track of what competitors are doing in social? We’d love to hear how you put their information to work for your own company–share your strategies with us in the comments!

Photo Credit: @Doug88888 via Compfight cc

Looking Ahead: Marketing to Generation Z

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By Pam Sahota

Generation Z – a generation not born just on the web, but born into social media at their fingertips. They use iPhones and iPads before they begin preschool. They are the generation who has already begun to dictate how we as brands market ourselves across social.

Let’s first define Generation Z and their preferences/behaviors:

  • Born in 1995 or later (although there are some sources that say after approximately 1990).
  • Dictate family purchases
  • Expect transparency and honesty from brands
  • Choose a product over a brand
  • Choose to turn off geo-targeting over privacy settings
  • Communicate in images over text
  • Prefer social channels such as Snapchat
  • Entrepreneur-minded
  • Want to change the world
  • Care how they spend their $ (more than their millennial counterparts)
  • Multi-task with up to 5 screens at once
  • Prefer curation over sharing
  • Want to be successful over discovered

Sounds great, but now what? Generation Z means we need to change, tweak, and focus our marketing in new ways once again. If Generation Z is your brands ultimate target (if not today, then maybe 5 years down the road), then you need to start adapting and evolving now. Be ready for when your brand is of their consideration.

Consider the following tips for today, as you move forward:

  • Focus on image based content
  • Use multiple social channels, especially channels which are more visually focused (i.e. Snapchat, Instagram)
  • Do not delete or ignore poor commentary by the audience; face them head on.
  • Allow your content to be curated across social platforms (i.e. Polyvore, Wanelo)
  • Give them a microphone for expressing their views and educated thoughts
  • Help them with their causes, or give them a new one

This is just the beginning. As Generation Z continues to grow, adapt and determine our new technology, and challenge brands by saying what they want as the best product ever…marketing will continue to evolve. We must continue to observe this generation’s consumer habits and everyday behaviors when it comes to content consumption, technology adoption, and of course how they prefer to engage with one another, and our brands.

Image Source: Business Insider

Further Reading:
http://www.businessinsider.com/generation-z-spending-habits-2014-6
http://mashable.com/2014/08/20/generation-z-marketing/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/11002767/Gen-Z-Gen-Y-baby-boomers-a-guide-to-the-generations.html

Why It’s Not Just A Social Media Campaign

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By Kristin Dziadul

There is no such thing as a “social media campaign” anymore. Social media is no longer the new kid on the block — it’s pervasive, it’s intertwined, and it’s here to stay — in some shape or form. It is not an island off on its own as it once was a few years back. Anyone who is deeply embedded into the digital marketing scene understands this by now (…hopefully). And if you are in the weeds of digital marketing, this serves as a good refresher for other channels you can combine for maximum reach and results.

It’s integrated with landing pages. It incorporates content in the shape of blog posts, photos, slide decks, ads, and so on. It’s a part of everything we as marketers do today.

That is why it’s so important to consider social in ALL of your marketing and advertising efforts. It would be a failure NOT to.

Let’s evaluate a few marketing initiatives that weave in social media for multi-channel campaigns:

Company Announcements

It’s safe to say that a good number of your customers and broader audience follow you on Twitter, Like you on Facebook or have +1’ed you on Google+. But that is not reason to keep big company announcements such as a new product launch just on social. Many of your customers and total potential audience may not be on any one of those channels or paying attention at the exact moment you publish your announcement on social.

Channels to incorporate with social for announcements:

Blog posts, email blasts, online ads, landing pages.

How these combined channels boosts these announcements:

By spreading the word of what you’re announcing far and wide, you’re ensuring the largest amount of targeted people will see it. Never assume one channel accomplishes all (although there may be a few rare exceptions).

What I typically recommend to clients is to have a supporting landing page or blog post that accompanies the announcement and tells the whole story. You can then use that content to post on social media, email to your list, send advertising traffic to, etc. And several of those campaigns should be done at once, never just alone. Every marketing channel is meant to boost up another. For instance, if you email out your new product announcement and have share buttons at the end, you are encouraging people who are excited about it to share the news on their networks.

Customer Feedback

Many say that social media has replaced small-scale customer survey/feedback efforts. While that may be true in some cases, it doesn’t fully work. You can never get the in-depth, detailed feedback you can from surveys run through SurveyMonkey or the like. It will never beat an in-person or phone interview. So while asking quick questions to poll your audience on social media can be a good way to get some quick feedback on one particular area, you need to do more.

Channels to incorporate with social for feedback:

Use a survey tool like SurveyMonkey or an email blast to send out the survey.

Depending on how large of a study you’re doing, you may even incorporate paid ads to gather broader feedback. You may also want to create a landing page with the survey embedded right in it.

How these combined channels boost feedback:

A good strategy here would be to create the full survey using your tool of choice and then select some of those questions to ask candidly on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. across a period of time. Never just rely on social all of the feedback you need unless it’s just one small question here and there. Simply use social media to support the larger campaign here.

Lead Generation

I consider social media to be a lead nurturing and long-tail lead gen channel. It’s certainly not for immediate conversion purposes (although that may happen if you get very, very lucky). I emphasize to every one of my clients that social media’s purpose isn’t just to make money — it’s for many purposes surrounding lead gen that are equally important and can eventually lead to making money.

Channels to incorporate with social for lead generation:

Lead gen should certainly be a multi channel effort. And depending on your budget, lead qualification capabilities and sales team bandwidth, it’s something you can expand very quickly. Lead gen can be done through online advertising, eBook/whitepaper/data sheet/etc. downloads, specific landing pages, paid lists (although I am morally against this), events (trade shows, conferences, meetups), and on and on.

How these combined channels boost lead generation:

As I mentioned, having several other stronger lead gen channels (such as a whitepaper download, and online advertising campaign(s)) running as well as constant social media activity is the ideal. Use social media to continue educating the market on what you do, what your company stands for, and why they should want to work with you. When your followers happen to stumble across an ad or piece of content you’ve published elsewhere on the web, and they’re now familiar with you, they’ll be much more likely to convert since you’re a known name to them.

In a wrap

Long story short: weave social media into every other activity you’re already doing. Whether it’s a product launch announcement, customer feedback initiative, lead gen goal, or other activities like hiring and branding, use social media in the mix and treat it equally to other channels you’re also using. A holistic approach like this will allow you to run the widest reaching, most successful marketing campaign.

 

Image courtesy of deviantart.com

 

When does your back to school audience shop?

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Teresa Valdepenas, a creative strategist at DigitasLBi. See more about Teresa below.

It’s back – back to school season that is. We all know one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year is here and according to eMarketer digital spend is slated to increase 16%. But BTS shopping is no longer 3 weeks before school starts and no longer just about the pensive mom and her cart in the store, examining one among the myriad of notebooks 3 weeks before school starts.

If she’s not your one audience, then who is? When should you connect with the shopper and is the shopper Mom, Dad or child? What motivates your consumers to purchase and how do they do it – selectively over time or do they wait to pounce on last minute deals? Take a look at who purchases your products when and where. I’ve listed 5 possible mindsets for a little insight into how timing can play a big role in deciphering your consumers when they shop.

The Prepared & Productive

For some BTS shoppers, the race begins 2 months in advance (see here.) This group of people is driven to be productive, check to-do’s off their list and feel prepared. They actually start early enough to enjoy the process. It’s for these novelty-seeking preparers that we’re seeing the season arrive so early this year. More than ever, it’s forcing traditional shoppers out of their regularly scheduled 3-weeks before routine. No one wants to miss out on the latest styles, so reinforce their decisions to buy the latest and greatest. Both mobile and in-store browsing are significant and ongoing behaviors here, so continue to reach out to them throughout their browsing period.

Last Minute Rushers

For those who don’t feel such a rush of accomplishment and pride when it’s all done and paid for, Last Minute rushers may be just your typical procrastinators. Many of us avoid whatever we aren’t excited to do or fear having to do. These guys likely see shopping for needs in general as a chore, waiting until the very last minute to do them. Make their job easier by bundling items together based on what they typically need to get started so they can run in and run out with what they need.

Value-Conscious Deal Thrilled

These cost-savvy consumers are willing to wait until the sales hit. They aren’t loyal. But they have a sense of pride knowing they’re getting the best deal, and feel smarter for having the willpower to wait. Convince them with price but also messaging that lets them feel all the wiser for getting a bargain.

Wait and See Observers

These guys are not motivated by feeling prepared, avoiding the negative or by getting a good deal. But they are motivated by quality and will wait to see what shakes out as the best or most widely reliable. Use reviews and advocates to work in your favor – post school-start, find ways to bolster your greatest products to hit home with this crowd.

Entrepreneurial Influencers

Lastly, there’s a new group of young folks whose entrepreneurial spirit causes them to become their own brand (especially apparel.) They buy the latest sneakers to resell to their fans or buy to DIY and then resell to peers, known as ‘me-tail.’ Such opportunists naturally could be seen as competition for some brands, but others are willing to embrace this behavior and win the affection of these influential consumers (ie. ASOS, who have their own marketplace that allows people to sell new and used clothes.) Like these brands, you can encourage them to buy, help them customize and sell your products in a way that you can control.

Consumers 101: Timing is everything. Cater your messaging to your target in a way that’s most relevant to them at the right time and it will certainly resonate.

 

Further Reading:
Back-to-School Time Is Now All the Time, eMarketer May 14, 2014
Mobile-weilding Dads embrace back to school shopping, 12 September 2012, Iconoculture
 http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/07/29/survey-back-to-school-shopping-kicks-off-2-months-before-school-starts/
http://rocketfuel.com/downloads/backtoschool8x11.pdf
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/181644/back-to-school-shopping-bringing-up-daddy.html
 
Image Source:
thinkmarketingmagazine.com
 
About Teresa Valdepenas
Teresa is a creative strategist at DigitasLBi. When she’s not traveling to seek out remote cultural experiences, she loves burying her nose in the latest book on social psychology and helping brands achieve their goals in an effective but creative way. She believes that understanding people and their behavior is the most valuable (and fun) part of successfully marketing a brand. And after all this reading, conversation and deep probing thought, she still believes good old-fashioned whole hearted laughter, whatever it’s about, is truly the answer to most things we need or want in life.

Market to the Trees, Not Just the Forest

by Elisabeth Michaud

As a digital marketer, much of your job is a numbers game: you’re focused on the quantity of website traffic, email click-throughs, social media shares, new prospects and how to push them above a certain score when you’re nurturing them with campaigns. All these elements of digital marketing are important, of course, but it’s an easy trap to fall into focusing ONLY on these metrics. The funnel can be a blessing and a curse for us as marketers armed with Google Analytics and a finite budget.

However, step out of your marketer’s shoes for a moment and imagine the most powerful draw to a new brand you’ve experienced lately: most likely it wasn’t the email copy in a promotion that appeared in your inbox or the Facebook sidebar ad that linked you to a new whitepaper. What probably made you want to try a new brand or product was a recommendation from a friend or a story you heard about something the company did that stuck in your mind. The interactions we have with brands and products as individuals can be far more powerful than the digital marketing numbers game that we all play (and need to play, to keep our marketing engines humming, test improvements, and more).

Some of the most successful marketing for online companies has revolved around the way they’ve treated individuals, and how the individuals or news outlets spread that message when the company spent extra time or effort to take care of their customer. Think of the countless stories we’ve heard about Zappos, a major online footwear and apparel retailer, whose customer service associates have ordered pizza, sent flowers, and gone to extreme lengths to ensure their customers had a good experience. You can buy advertising that will reach as far as these stories of Zappos employees’ goodwill did, but you’ll never get the same return on investment from it.

Similarly, consider the payoff Canadian Airline WestJet saw when they created a fun Christmas surprise for just one flight’s worth of passengers (and captured the event on video) by showing up at their destination with gifts they’d told Santa they wanted just before departure. Listening to the request of each individual passenger on that plane, and making a big investment in one small plane’s worth of customers to reap major PR and marketing benefits throughout the rest of the holiday season, and beyond.

As another example, think back to a time you may have received a little extra special attention from one of your favorite brands. For me, I remember trying out a new fashion brand with an online purchase and receiving a hand-written note from someone in the company, telling me she hoped I enjoyed the garment I had ordered and thanking me for being a new customer. It took that person a few extra moments to write the note, but the return on her time? I told several friends about the incident, ended up Instagramming the garment and note, and posting a thank you to the company on Twitter, too – all creating ripples that spread from the little extra attention this company gave a new customer.

So when it comes to your next digital marketing campaign, think about how you can maximize the resources at your disposal to make a positive impact on the individuals who buy from you – not just the masses who receive your email blasts and trickle through your customer acquisition funnel. Like Zappos, WestJet, and many other brands who use this strategy, you’ll be glad you did when the “free” word-of-mouth marketing and publicity comes rolling in.

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