Marketing on Twitter: #2 in Low Cost Marketing Series

marketing on Twitter

In this series on low cost marketing, I’m sharing how to use marketing assets, like social media, to build awareness and drive traffic (to your webpage, mobile app, etc.).  While social media is not free, used correctly, it can certainly help you efficiently find your posse online.  With this post, I focus on marketing on Twitter.

All social media is not created equal.  So, while there are tools that will allow you to create one post and send it to every social media account you have, this is not the optimal use of your resources.  What works on Facebook may not work on Instagram, even though Instagram is owned by Facebook and the company makes it easy to advertise one message on both platforms.  Similarly, what works on Instagram may not work on Pinterest or Twitter.

For years, many have wondered Will Twitter Live?  Yes, Twitter is still alive and getting a much needed boost from prominent personalities worldwide (with notable exceptions, like British royalty, who are not allowed to Twitter accounts).

Twitter, Not Just for Celebrities

Twitter has been a strong social media for actors, entertainers, politicians, athletes—basically for any “celebrity” who wants to bring their message to the masses.  Consider the following:

  • Katy Perry has 108 million Twitter followers
  • Barack Obama has 99 million
  • Ellen DeGeneres has 77 million
  • Jimmy Fallon has 40 million
  • Donald Trump has 47 million
  • Oprah Winfrey has 41 million
  • LeBron James has 40 million

You get the picture.  When these individuals tweet anything, their instant audience is informed.  But don’t be tempted to think that Twitter is just for celebrities and their followers.  There are many corporate brands that have been successful with marketing on Twitter as well.  Just look at MoonPie, a small dessert brand made by Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Their $35 million in revenue is paltry compared to Hostess Brands at $2.5 billion. That didn’t stop @MoonPie from going after a Hostess’ Twitter claim that is was the “official snack cake of the elipse”.  MoonPie’s response resulted in millions of impressions beyond Twitter as the tweet went viral with over 500,000 likes.

Find other examples of strong brand marketing on Twitter in my July 2014 post.

Engage in Trending Conversations

For many brands, getting marketing on Twitter right involves engaging with trending topics.  Like most social media sites, Twitter is about strategy and timing.  Timing is key and tweets live and die on trending topics.  When a hashtag trends on Twitter, it is hot, hot, hot…but only for a limited time.  Given that success on Twitter is linked to timeliness, the more time spent on the social media site, the more opportunities to get noticed.  Therefore, posting several times per day on Twitter is optimal.  (Warning: This is not a universal truth for all social media accounts.)   If you do not have the time or resources to login and post several times a day, use a scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer as Twitter does not currently have a scheduling option on the platform.  It is absolutely essential to use the trending hashtag when posting on a trending topic.

Be Your Own Publicist

While Twitter is a good platform for getting into conversations about trending topics, it can also be an effective PR tool.  With all the celebrities on Twitter, you can be sure that the media is there as well.  Successful marketing on Twitter often includes engaging with media.  In fact, many TV news outlets will say “Join the conversation on Twitter at #XYZ” when they want to carry a discussion into the digital realm.  No other social media site bridges the digital-broadcast gap in quite the same fashion.

There are media publishers, national media personalities and many, many local reporters on the social site.  You can find, follow and engage with relevant media on Twitter.  Once you find them, don’t limit your engagement to the social media site, connect with relevant followers and contacts offline as well!

Follow Relevant Accounts

Not only should you follow the media, you should also follow accounts that are relevant to your business.  Gaining an audience is a key component to marketing on Twitter.  But if you follow and unfollow too much, Twitter will freeze your account—either temporarily or permanently. So be judicious about who to follow.  You can start by following accounts that are engaged in conversations that you want to be engaged in.  Don’t feel compelled to follow every account that follows you.  It’s very easy to set up a fake Twitter account and there are plenty of fakes on the site.  So take the time to investigate a user that follows you before you follow back.

Engage Through Lists

The Lists feature on Twitter allows you to create a group of users into a single social stream.  Lists are useful for organizing follower types on Twitter.  For instance, you can create a list of suppliers or a list of media contacts.  Lists may be public or private.  Private lists are great for researching competitor activity or tracking a client list that you do not want publicly disclosed.  Lists are a great tool to enhance marketing on Twitter.

It is important to not only post tweets but also to engage with other users on Twitter.  This is true for every social media platform.  If you use social sites as a broadcast platform but do not engage, your followers will not be engaged either.  Use Lists to initiate engagement.  For instance, if you want to retweet influencers, create an Influencer List and view that stream to find relevant content.

Indeed, Twitter is still alive.  Marketing on Twitter can be a low cost marketing strategy but will require man-hours.  Finding your way on the social site is a matter of strategy and timing.  As you engage with others on the platform, you will increase awareness of your brand and deliver more impressions to the market.

Using Facebook Organically: #1 in Low Cost Marketing Series

Organic - Facebook Marketing

Businesses need to be fueled by funding, whether that funding comes from a lender, an investor or a customer (i.e., sales).  “Low cost marketing” is not “no cost marketing”.  This post, which focuses on Facebook marketing, is the first in a series on finding low cost marketing solutions.

Businesses need money to survive.

I have had discussions with several individuals who want to start businesses or grow a business with little or no money.  As a marketer, the first question they ask me is: How do I market my business without spending any money?

It is possible to hustle and build a business, but even that takes an investment.  And, the investment is your time—which is valuable.  If you are working with only “blood, sweat and tears”, you are looking for customers to fund your business.  Your hustle, then, needs to focus on what will drive customers to purchase from you.

Through a series of posts, I will outline marketing tools that you can use to get started without much cash outlay.  Let’s start with the ever popular social media space.

Engagement on Social Media

Social media is NOT free marketing.  It never has been and it never will be.  There are many abandoned business social media accounts that belonged to entrepreneurs who thought that they would easily build a customer base on social.  That said, let’s explore what can be done with sweat equity.

Facebook First

Let’s tackle Facebook first.  If you are in the B2C space, it is the behemoth to understand.  The first thing to do is decide what type of content you will post.  Think about your target customer.  What is she concerned about in relation to the product or service you provide?  While it’s acceptable to post content unrelated to you brand occasionally, you will be more successful in finding potential customers if you post relevant content.

Get to Posting

Once you’ve decided upon what to post, get to posting and do it regularly.  If you are not a publisher, the rule of thumb is to post at least daily.  Facebook allows you to schedule posts which will save you from having to log in daily to add a post.

Monitor Your Page

While you won’t have to log in to your account daily if you are scheduling posts, you probably should if you aren’t spending much money on advertising elsewhere.  You will want to monitor your account regularly to respond to any messages or reply to comments on your posts.  Do not feel obligated to reply to every post but use the platform to engage and be social.  After all, that’s what it’s for!

Engage with Others

You also should decide which pages to follow and follow them as you page (not as your personal account).  This will allow you to view your page feed and interact with those you follow.  You may like, comment or share the content of those pages you follow.  Sharing also counts as posting content.

Boost Your Posts

At the time of this post, you can advertise on Facebook for as little as $1 per day.  At that level, you can boost your posts.  Boosting is a promotion for your Facebook posts.  It will allow you to send traffic to your website or drive interaction with posts.  You are able to select geographic, demographic and behavioral targets for the audience you want to reach.  Don’t waste your money boosting to a broad audience.  Instead focus on the individual who will respond to your post.

Advertise

Facebook offers other advertising opportunities that start at just $5 per day.  These include driving traffic to your website, promoting you Facebook page to garner likes, getting more app installations, finding leads for your business and more.

Facebook is a good place to start if your target audience uses the platform.  And, chances are, they do!  In future posts, I will explore other social media, public relations, blogging and other low cost marketing ideas.

Twitter is Useful but It’s Awfully Messy

Twitter Is Messy

For the past year, I have told anyone who has asked me about social media that Twitter is messy.  If you are in a relationship with Twitter, you know what I mean.

There are stalkers on Twitter.  You know the kind.  They follow you but you have no idea why.  You read their profile (if they’ve bothered to create anything beyond a username) and you still don’t know why they are following you.  And, I do not understand the value of “I follow back.”  People who write that in their profile mean that if you follow them and they’ll follow you even if they have no idea why.  What is that about?

Well, at least I can block the stalkers and the follow-backers….and anyone else I want to.  Maybe Twitter uses the block feature to find spammers and deactivate their accounts.  I’ll hold on to that thought.  It’s such a nice one.

It is getting harder to find the people you know on Twitter.  

One year ago, you could import contacts from Gmail and Yahoo.  Not anymore.  Now there’s just AOL and Outlook/Hotmail.  No disrespect—that’s what my son says when something kinda mean is coming—but do people who are on AOL even know what Twitter is?  Here’s the odd thing about searching for people on Twitter: if I want to look up a friend, like my friend John Smith, who’s email address I know and who’s name is too common, it’s impossible to find him unless I have AOL or Outlook.  How frustrating!

There is one feature I LOVE on Twitter.  It’s the mute function.  Sometimes I just have to mute someone I’m following.  Too much noise in my feed.  I know it’s crazy:  why not just stop following them?  Well, sometimes you have to follow people who are following you so that the people they follow will know you’re following them.  Are you following me?  I told you Twitter is messy.  Twitter relationships are messy too.

Search is also messy on Twitter.  I have found content and people on Twitter through a Google search that I could not find on the Twitter site.  So sometimes you have to leave Twitter to find what you need on Twitter.  Messy!

And, on a desktop, surely I am not the only person who logs out of Twitter to log in as a different user with a different account.  (Perhaps I’m the only one who still uses a desktop??)  For a whole host of reasons, individuals manage multiple Facebook pages from a single login.  Facebook makes it easy.  And, they get tons of information from allowing it.  I wonder if it counts as multiple users.  Or single users with multiple pageviews, time spent on the site, etc.  All the things advertisers want to see regarding an engaged audience.  Why, oh why, can’t Twitter allow me to manage multiple users/accounts/pages/whatever?

Because Twitter is messy.

But all is not lost.  Everything in this message can be mitigated.  Twitter knows it but they are not starting from scratch.  They first have to undo the damage left by the (mostly product) folks that Mr. Dorsey just got rid of.  Hopefully they do so before we all leave for good.

7 Ways to Get Better Engagement with Email Marketing

Email Marketing - Open rate

If you are sending regular email marketing campaigns and your click-through rate falls below industry average, you are not engaging your customers.  In fact, you may be annoying them and damaging your brand.  The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your email marketing.  These seven proven strategies will help you improve customer engagement with your emails.

#1.    Send fewer, better segmented emails

There are two key components to this tip: (1) evaluating the number of emails you send to each contact and (2) determining which contacts get sent which emails.  Your contacts will let you know if you are sending email too frequently.  They will either ignore your email or unsubscribe altogether.

Both of these actions are painful and expensive.  Most email marketing services (like MailChimp and Constant Contact) share industry average click-throughs or alert you if your unsubscribe rate is way above average.  Use these metrics as benchmarks along with the past performance of your own email campaigns to decide if you should send fewer emails.

To determine which contacts get which emails, you will need to segment your contact list.  Choose segments that are related to the content you are sending.  If you are sending an email about a specific product, create a segment of leads that previously expressed interest in that product (for instance, by viewing it on your website).  You can segment by demographic characteristics, by purchasing behavior (such prospect, customer or advocate) and other attributes of your contacts.

#2.    Send targeted, relevant messages

Once you have defined segments that work for your business, avoid sending mass emails to your entire contact list.  You will improve open rates and click-throughs if leads and customers feel like you are speaking to them directly.  It’s not only important to address contacts by name, but also to develop a habit of sending relevant information so that your email isn’t “filed” in the trash bin or spam folder.
When an email click-through rate (CTR) performs below average, look for opportunities to refine segmentation and send more targeted messaging to a specific audience.

#3.    Create inviting subject lines

Subject lines drive email open rates and open rates are a key metric in the email marketing funnel.  However, a subject line serves another equally important purpose.  A subject line tells the reader what is to come.  It is an anticipation builder.  If an email contact opens an email expecting to find content relevant to the subject line and the content does not meet expectations, it is likely that the reader will abandon the email without a click.  Using an inviting and relevant subject line helps to optimize CTRs.

#4.    Ask for the click

Facebook has added an optional call-to-action (CTA) button to the profile for business and community page owners.  The CTA button encourages visitors to engage by doing a specific action.  Similarly, it is useful and effective for email marketers to use a CTA to ask for the click.  Emails with CTAs are more likely to get a click than those without.  Use “Register now”, “Download”, “Sign Up”, “Play now” or other CTAs to increase engagement with your emails.

#5.    Create a sense of urgency

Contacts are far more likely to open an email sooner if there is a reason to not delay.  While it’s important to not overuse this tactic, emails with a deadline experience higher response rates as they are less likely to be relegated to the “I’ll respond later” pile.  (How many of those emails do you really get back to?)
You create this sense of urgency in the subject line.  Retailers are especially savvy with this approach.  They use “Last Day” or “Ends tomorrow” frequently in promotional sales emails.  When contacts have a short window in which to respond, they are more likely to open and engage sooner.

#6.    Use compelling images

Emails that are too dense (or too long) simply will not be read.  Consider the scan-ability of email and break up text with compelling images.  Be careful not to use images that are too large, as they can slow load times.  Use relevant alt text with your images so that when an image does not load, the reader gets a sense of the subject matter.

#7.    Multiple links for a SINGLE call-to-action

Your CTA is the action you want a reader to take.  Use links for buttons, texts and images to drive readers to a single CTA.  Keep your marketing emails brief and focused.  Multiple messages or calls-to-action can be overwhelming for a reader and lead to indecision and ultimately no engagement.  Whenever possible, limit your email to one focused point.

Email Marketing as a Key Digital Marketing Tool

Stand out with digital marketing

Email marketing continues to be a strong marketing tool for a variety of organizations.  Whether you’re a nonprofit looking to raise funds, a government agency promoting new programs or a business looking to sell more products, email marketing can be an effective digital marketing tool.

Email is a low cost promotional vehicle.

Email is a low cost digital marketing option for many organizations. There are a number of email marketing software companies that offer competitive pricing for an automated email marketing platform.  Small businesses can opt for a no frills, high value package at no cost.  Organizations with more than 500,000 email subscribers can purchase an online email marketing service for less than a penny per subscriber. These automated systems keep a history of email marketing campaigns and help users stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM regulations.

Email marketing can be used as market research.

Organizations can use email marketing to introduce new products to customers.  Open rates and click-throughs inform the sender about customer interest.  When a customer or prospect opens an email, he implicitly expresses interest in the topic or product included in the subject line.  A clickable call-to-action (CTA) in the email gives the email opener an opportunity to further engage.  Whether the CTA is “buy now” or “reorder” or “subscribe”, clicks tells the sender which customers are interested in engaging further with the company and how.

Senders can use emailing marketing to test pricing by simply A/B testing different price points and sending the test emails to separate (but similar) email segments.  Senders can gather information about effective messaging by testing subject lines.  The dynamic nature of email marketing allows users to gain insights about customer preferences through observation of their behavior.

Personalized emails encourage future customer engagement.

The best email marketing campaigns are personalized.  If an organization is holding an event at a specific location, it may be prudent to send an email campaign only to recipients near that location.  If an organization has a program or product for a specific audience, personalized emails with relevant messaging can be sent to just that audience.  No matter if the email list is consumers or businesses, a well-built email list, with pertinent and relevant data, can be an incredibly effective marketing tool.  Sending targeted emails to specific segments increases open rates and click through rates and increases the likelihood that future emails to the same recipients will be opened.

Despite the flood of emails that can accost consumers’ inboxes, a robust, opt-in email list represents a powerful marketing opportunity.  Email marketing is a cost efficient form of digital marketing that can used to grow sales or gain insight.  It is an efficient promotional vehicle that should be a part of most organizations marketing strategy.

Good Content That Isn’t Found Doesn’t Matter

Good Content - Shared

Content marketing drives search engine optimization (SEO).  Developing content is relatively easy, but it simply does not matter if it cannot be found by your target audience.  And, if your content is found and found NOT good, it may not matter.

Good content is (highly) rated
In the 1970s and much of the 1980s, we watched whatever was on television—good or bad.  We did not have much choice.  Today, consumers have many choices, including unplugging completely or turning to another device.  This is exactly why we have come to a place where much of the content we have access to is rated.  If we are looking for a movie on Netflix, we check out how it’s rated.  If we search for a book on Amazon, we check out its rating.  Developing content that is rated differentiates the good from the bad and the ugly.

Good content is shared
Shared content is a practical evolution of rated content.  Rated content could come from any source, someone we know or someone we don’t know.  But shared content usually comes from someone within our circle.  When a Facebook friend shares content on our timeline, we value that content a bit more.  So, when developing content , remember that shareable content is more likely to be consumed.

Good content trends
For sure, “good content” is relative.  However, in the spirit of understanding that “good content” is not good until it’s read or viewed, we must acknowledge that good content trends.  Trending content is crowdsourced content.  What we collectively read and watch becomes good content.

You can surely create excellent content that is never read.  It will do nothing for awareness, nothing for growth and nothing for anyone else.  It’s like the tree that falls in the forest when no one is there to hear it.  Did it make a sound?  Doesn’t matter.  Turn your content into something that matters.  Get it ranked.  Find ways to share it.

Social media is not “free” marketing

Social Media - Not Free Marketing

Many business leaders, especially those with limited marketing budgets, think of social media as a free way to deliver their brand’s message in the marketplace.  While it is true that the barriers to getting into the social media fray are low, there are costs to developing successful social media campaigns.

This post is not meant to deter any business from setting up a social media account.  By all means, pick a username, set up your profile and post a few logos and pictures, but be sure that you have considered the following:

  1. You will need to develop content regularly.  Simply developing an account and linking your website to your social media account is a futile exercise.  If you do not have a plan to deliver content—that is, posts, pictures, videos, infographics, etc.—regularly, you need to rethink your social media strategy.  The point of the social media account is to initiate a relationship with your target audience, which can only be done through regular communication.
  2. You may need multiple accounts.  Consider why you are setting up a social media account.  Are you trying to attract new customers?  Do you want to build brand awareness of a specific product?  Are you ready to answer customer questions?  If you search for Amazon on Twitter, you will find @amazon, @amazonkindle, @amazonvideo, @amazonassociate, @amazonappstore and @amazonhelp, among several other Amazon accounts.  Each one serves a different market need.  It is not likely that you will need as many accounts as Amazon, but it may be desirable to give customers a social service “line” that is distinct from your primary brand-building account.
  3. You should have an integrated marketing plan.  Your social media marketing strategy should be one component of your overall marketing strategy.  Think of it as an extension of what you do in other marketing channels and be sure your have consistent messaging across media.
  4. You must measure your social media efforts.  Given the time spent doing #1 through #3 above, you will want to be sure that there is value in your social media activity.  Are you getting enough views of posts to efficiently build awareness?  Are you reaching your target audience?  How has your customer satisfaction changed as a result of creating a social service account?

All of these things will affect the marketing budget but there are a few things you can do to mitigate the above costs.  For instance, there are tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that increase the efficiency of managing social media accounts.  These solutions allow users to manage multiple accounts from a single platform.  They also allow users to schedule posts for a future day or time.  So, executing a social media strategy often becomes less arduous with these tools.

Being selective about which social media platforms you use can also mitigate costs.  It is not likely that you need to be on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and Google+ and Instagram and every other new social media.  Select the platforms that are most relevant to your target customer base and focus on optimizing your presence there.

Consider hiring a social media expert.  It may seem counterintuitive but if you are inefficient because of lack of familiarity with Hootsuite or because you do not have the bandwidth for developing content, it may make sense to hire an expert so that your time can be spent where you add the most value.

Social media is not free but with the right support and tools, it can be an effective and efficient component of the overall marketing strategy.

Marketing Basics Still Apply on Social Media

Marketing Basics - Social Media

Many seasoned marketers are all too eager to leave the social media marketing to younger professionals. The ever-evolving social media space can feel daunting to traditional marketers accustomed to broadcast and print marketing. But while the technology is different, the basic building blocks of marketing still hold true.

When creating a marketing campaign delivered through any media, you must…

  1. Identify your target market. In traditional marketing, we get to know the target market through quantitative or qualitative market research. With social media marketing, we can get to know the target by “listening” on the social media platform. What are customers saying about the product? About what they want? About how they use the product? Same questions, new media.
  2. Create relevant messaging. In traditional marketing, the development of the message can be a very long, intensive process. With social media marketing, the creative development cycle is usually much faster. Some of the most effective social media campaigns will build on current trending topics or hashtags.
  3. Measure your campaign results. With traditional marketing, effectiveness can be measured by reach and frequency. With social media marketing, engagement is king because the platforms are inherently interactive.

Let’s take a few examples of how these marketing fundamentals apply in a social media context.

Oreo seizes social moment at 2013 Super Bowl

Oreo’s 2013 Super Bowl social media campaign spoke to a large audience at the right time. When the lights went out at the Superdome during the 2013 Super Bowl game, Oreo saw an opportunity and tweeted, “You can still dunk in the dark.”

By contributing to an ongoing trending topic, Oreo received nearly 16,000 retweets. The now-famous blackout tweet demonstrates how relevant messaging can reach a targeted audience and ignite viral engagement.

Yeti Coolers engages Facebook fans

Social media can also improve the playing field for lesser known brands. Igloo and Coleman are strong brand names in the cooler market, but the (once) lesser known Yeti now has cooler sales revenue that rivals its competitors. Yeti makes rugged coolers for those who have a passion for outdoor activities. The company’s social media strategy speaks to this audience in their language. On its Facebook page, Yeti regularly shares imagery of its product featured in the fun and adventure of the great outdoors.

The company’s more than 207,000 Facebook fans routinely engage with these posts. In fact, it’s quite common for the company to get 500 likes per Facebook post. That works out to an engagement rate of 0.24%. Compare that to Disney, one of the most recognized brands in the world, which gets about 35,000 likes per Facebook post. Disney has 48.4 million Facebook fans, an engagement rate of 0.07%. Yeti may have a smaller presence, but it is more effectively engaging its audience.

You’ve heard this marketing refrain before: Deliver the right message for the right audience at the right time. It is as relevant today as it has always been.

Social media hasn’t reinvented marketing: If anything, it underscores that the basics of marketing are as valuable as ever.