Putting people at the heart of your brand #AWEurope #OwnTheMoment #Marketing #Advertising

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Putting people at the heart of your brand. #AWEurope #OwnThe Moment #BrandMe

Consumers are constantly creating their personal brand. What they do, what they say, what they wear; it’s all part of their own brand narrative.

Technology has only served to enhance this trend, making it easier for people to express and broadcast who they are and what they stand for.

This personal branding revolution has not gone unnoticed by marketers. Businesses know they need to engage consumers in a two way dialogue. The smart ones are already putting the concept of personal stories at the heart of this dialogue; making their brands more focused on fans they serve.

Providing an opportunity for people to tell their own story is a shrewd business move. In fact, 56% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that allow them to take an active role in personalising their products.

This is unsurprising when we look at the future of brand engagement and brand storytelling. My colleague James Whittaker stated recently that brands are going to have less time and opportunity to make an impact on consumers. With this in mind they need to focus storytelling on the audience not the business. Personalisation provides a powerful way to do exactly this, using products as a forum for people to express their own story.

Converse is one of the organisations leading the charge when it comes to this type of people-centric marketing. Its starting point was the insight that a pair of Chuck Taylor’s is at its worst when it comes out of the box. “Converse customers are interested in their personal journey with the product,” said Chris Marsh, head of EMEA Social Strategy at Converse.

With this in mind, Converse positioned its sneakers as a blank canvass on which fans could tell their own story, curating the best examples from around the world via social media. “We took the approach that the brand now belongs to the fans who engage with us,” continued Chris.

By invite their fans into the creative process and proving a forum for them to express themselves, Converse found a compelling way to enable personal story telling and to enable fans to tell the brand story on its behalf.

Nick Romero, founder of The AVE Venice has taken this concept of personalisation a step further. He uses Converse and a range of other products as a blank canvas for consumers to create their own designs. “The AVE is a service not a brand. We enable people to express their identity through the clothes and shoes they wear.” The approach is clearly working with The AVE generating a huge fan base that includes masses of Hollywood celebrities.

So what is the lesson for brands in this story? For me, it’s that the future is about empowerment not control. Marketers need to tap into the notion of personal brand, putting people at the heart of their products and services and creating new platforms for consumers to express themselves.

Jonathan Oliver, Global Head of Innovation, Microsoft @jcolly

March 28th 2015 Marketing

How to Build an Online Portfolio and Drive Traffic To It

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by Jayson DeMers

When you’re a web designer, graphic designer, or similar professional in a creative field, you have two essential tools for attracting new clients: word of mouth and a stellar portfolio. The latter can be invaluable so it’s critical that you’re able to build a strong one and drive traffic to it.
Neglect these tasks and you’ll be at a disadvantage, but if you can maximize your portfolio you will increase your chances of landing new opportunities. 
Quick tips for building a killer design portfolio on line
While you might still have reasons to carry a physical portfolio, nearly everything is done online these days. And that’s an advantage for you.
It allows your work to be seen through the medium it was designed for, and permits optimal clarity and quality. Although the nuances in a portfolio may be many — and you could spend hours researching best practices in that respect — the simple tips below are all you’ll really need to get started:
Aim for simplicity. Don’t confuse this with taking a shallow approach. You need to do your work justice, but don’t overcomplicate things by incorporating elements that shouldn’t be there. Showcase the complexities and quality of your work in a manner that’s easy to digest.
Sell yourself. You’ll frequently hear business investors say something along the lines of “We invest in people, not ideas.” Keep this in mind when you build your portfolio. Of course your work needs to be good enough to pique the interest of potential clients, but the real focus should be on you, the artist. Sell yourself by creating a compelling “About Me” page and respond to any questions they might have at this point.
Make yourself reachable. According to Chris Whitling, Director of Marketing for HostGator, one of the leading hosting services for online portfolios, “Sharp website owners will always include plenty of contact information. Don’t limit yourself to just an email address on your portfolio. Some potential clients may be inspired to pick up the phone and call you. A detailed contact page will enable you to connect with more leads.” 
Stay current. As a rule of thumb, you should revisit your portfolio at least once every three months to update it and add, or at least alter, content. Ideally, you should do this as often as once every three or four weeks. Design trends change rapidly, and you’ll want to showcase your most up-to-date work.
Optimize your portfolio and pull in traffic
While the design aspect of your portfolio may come naturally, the optimization and SEO aspects may seem a little foreign to creatives such as yourself. Don’t allow that to make you underestimate their value, though.
Your portfolio can be beautiful, compelling, and informative, but it’s pointless without a viewing audience. After you complete it, shift your focus to optimization.
In particular, you’ll want to consider some of the following tips: 
Maximize titles. Always include the client name and the type of work in the title tag. This will assist search engines that crawl your site so they can more easily identify what each item is in your portfolio. In addition, you should insert the most important information on each page within the heading tags (<h1>). 
Include descriptions. One of the biggest disadvantages of an online design portfolio from an SEO standpoint is that almost all the content is visual. Currently, search engines aren’t able to search, identify, and display visual results with much accuracy or speed unless there are keyword-rich descriptions to accompany them. Always include textual descriptions on each page in order to satisfy the needs of search engines, as well as provide added value for the readers. 
Build inbound links. While you have to be careful about how you build inks to your portfolio — always check the latest Google guidelines before committing to a particular practice — it’s worthwhile to have some sort of strategy. For beginning designers with few connections, it may be helpful to talk with other designers and trade links.
Utilize valid code. If you want your portfolio to be spidered correctly, you need to ensure you’re using valid code. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website has all the information you’re likely to need. 
Build a blog. In the design arena, investment in content marketing can go a long way. That’s because very few designers are doing that. By building an onsite blog and committing to creating regular posts (somewhere between three and five entries per week, ideally), you can increase your SEO credibility and attract plenty of human traffic to your site. 
Make your work shareable. One of the best ways to pull in traffic is to make the content within your portfolio easily shareable. This gives visitors the ability to share your work on social networking sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, where unique content has a chance to go viral. 
Getting noticed: the name of the game
In the design industry — as in many other professions and fields — it’s all about getting noticed.
Though you may have the same skillset as some of the top performers in your niche, you won’t get a chance to showcase those talents unless you put yourself out there and make yourself known. Use these helpful tactics to build a killer online portfolio and drive highly targeted traffic to it.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

March 24th 2015 Marketing, Online Marketing

How Lyft’s CEO Plans to Overtake Uber in the Ride-Sharing Race

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Hey, look. There's that Zimride dude, Logan Green, in the South by Southwest program. Remember him? How did he get there?

For those of you who happened to meet Green during the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, in 2011, it's a fair question. When the Lyft co-founder and CEO, now a king of the ride-hailing space, attended his first SXSW that year, he drifted through town without so much as a hotel room or a pass to the conference. He was forced to hustle making contacts in the tech and investment world outside the convention hall.

"I just ended up crashing with friends," the 31-year-old recalls. "And honestly, that's the best way to do stuff. I think the best way to go is without a badge. Everybody you meet, you know, it's a really unique experience."

At the time, he was pitching that original moonshot Zimride, a faltering startup that was similar in concept to Lyft but had the misfortune of launching before the world became so mobile-obsessed. Fast-forward and this guy who couch-surfed four years ago is now a keynote speaker at this year's SXSW Interactive. Here's why:

Green would go on to co-found Lyft, a ride-hailing service that competes primarily against Uber. It was at first seen as a spinoff of Zimride, which he and partner John Zimmer launched in 2007 from their Cornell University dorm as a carpooling and road-tripping service for college students. Zimride was born prior to the first iPhone hitting the market and never drew the spotlight.

"When you are talking about transportation, people aren't making their plans while in front of a computer," Green explains. 

Lyft has seen business explode in San Francisco. | Photo: Winni Wintermeyer

San Francisco-based Lyft became Green's focus after selling Zimride to rental car giant Enterprise Holdings in the summer of 2013. The wisdom of the move now appears beyond question. Some $320 million in funding has since flowed to Lyft from such tech-investor giants as Andreessen Horowitz and executives from Alibaba—a virtual stamp of approval from the Chinese e-commerce site's CEO genius Jack Ma. Their financial interest in one of the sharing economy's rising stars seems apropos if you search SXSW's online events program where you'll find dozens of panels addressing the topic.

"The sharing economy changes the way we look at our cars, our property, our goods and our public space," says Gadi Ben-Yehuda, an innovation fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, and a SXSW speaker.

Last summer, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the sharing economy would balloon to $325 billion in the next decade. Green's company won't disclose financials but claims its January 2015 revenue was five times greater than a year prior (it has expanded from 20 markets to 65 in that same time). Lyft has competitors in addition to Uber (Hailo, RelayRides, Flywheel), as the larger sharing marketplace includes lodging sites Airbnb and HomeAway and food delivery service Instacart, to name just a few.

One should expect an evolution of just what the sharing economy means. Launched in recent weeks, Roadie is a neighbor-to-neighbor delivery service that has its eye on grabbing share from the likes of FedEx and Craigslist. Roadie has already partnered with the Waffle House chain for the drop-off and pickup of goods. The startup will show up at SXSW to beat the drum in a similar bootstrapping approach to Green's first visit to Austin.

"The South by Southwest crowd is something we need to be around," says Valerie Metzker, head of field marketing at Roadie. "Like our drivers, the people at the festival are not the types to sit still—they are on the move."

That is in part why Lyft is readying for a major presence this year at SXSW—that, and to celebrate the service having set up shop in Austin last May. Lyft is, in fact, the official ride-hailing partner of SXSW this year. It will offer Lyft Line, which lets multiple parties share the same car during the 10-day run of the SXSW tech, film and music exhibitions. Also in Austin, Lyft will unveil a SXSW-dedicated promotion called Magic Mode. Using the Lyft app, the feature lets conference goers ride in style, ordering up hot wheels like a 1963 Bentley, a '60s-era Mini Cooper, a Tesla Model S and a Range Rover.

But Magic Mode is not just about living the high life. The feature also addresses a common practical issue—and pain point—for SXSW attendees: finding a cab to and from one's hotel, especially in the wee hours.

"And it's in the general spirit of South by Southwest, where you are connecting with other people, learning, engaging and networking," says Kira Wampler, Lyft's CMO. "So it's not just about getting from point A to point B; it's about bringing something more to that transportation experience."

The tech brand's advocates like to hammer at the "experience" talking point—and the term does, in fact, relate to Green's journey of bringing Lyft to life, which started decades ago in his hometown of Los Angeles and included time he spent in Africa. 

Green and a Lyft team member share a ride. | Photo: Winni Wintermeyer

"Growing up, I was scarred by the terrible traffic in L.A.," he explains. "When I was in college [at the University of California, Santa Barbara], I was appointed by the Santa Barbara City Council to the local public transit district. I spent three years on this board to improve public transportation—very unsuccessfully. I then wound up over a summer taking a trip to Zimbabwe where it's kind of like a crowdsourced transportation network. Entrepreneurs run these transit lines, using mini-buses, and they set their own market rates. I started Zimride eight years ago on this concept. Now, taking Lyft Line in San Francisco is cheaper than owning a car."

Lyft Line is a primary focus these days for Green and his colleagues. The service is similar to UberPool, the offering of the market leader that puts total strangers together for rides. The very notion does beg the question: Isn't that a little creepy?

No, insists Green. "In San Francisco, we've seen usage explode—it's more than 30 percent of all our rides," he says. "It's relatively new in L.A. and New York, but we've seen similar growth there."

A driver in New York who works for both Lyft and Uber—increasingly common for stoplight Jedis in big cities—was asked which brand gives him more business. "It's Uber," answers the driver, who asked to remain anonymous. "But Lyft just got here, what, eight months ago? Uber's already been here for a few years."

Indeed, Lyft is the brand playing catch-up in the space. While both companies are tight-lipped about user numbers, Lyft trailed Uber by about five times in credit-card transactions in the month of May 2014, according to FutureAdvisor research. The stakes are ultimately huge: IBISWorld estimates that the taxi and for-hire ride industry in the U.S. tops $11 billion per year.

On the public relations front, Lyft has watched as its rival has endured one media firestorm after another—from that executive who suggested it might not be a bad idea to dig up dirt on journalists who are unfriendly to Uber to the several assaults reported against female passengers, leading to calls for women to delete the app from their smartphones. Green's team is quick to point out that women make up 60 percent of its customer base.

Yet Lyft hasn't enjoyed universally positive press either. Last November, a Lyft passenger in California was killed in a highway accident during a rainstorm. Meanwhile, legal battles with taxi companies have been a headache for both Lyft and Uber, though the law has generally favored the services.

"The consumer wants fast response, dependability, a safe and easy experience—and both services provide this," says Julie Baccelli, a tech consultant at TurnKey. "What will differentiate the two companies is respectable social business, consistency and reliability."

Which ride-hailing brand establishes that kind of street cred and social media rep will likely determine pole position in the long haul. To that end, Lyft has taken its marketing game to a new level. In August, it poached Jesse McMillin from his role as creative director at Virgin America for the same, newly created position at the app. More recently, Lyft enlisted San Francisco shop Eleven, which also services Virgin America, as its agency.

In fact, Lyft's promoters point to Virgin founder Richard Branson as a model. "That ethos and the whimsical nature is what separates the brand [from Uber]," says Courtney Buechert, CEO of Eleven. "If my basic expectation is met by both [Lyft and Uber] as a consumer, then the ethos of each brand matters a lot."

Generally speaking, Lyft's marketing message is a departure from its earliest days when it resorted to the gimmick of slapping a big, pink mustache on the front of its cars. (The mustache now can be found inside the vehicles, in a much subtler execution.)

"There's a misconception that Lyft is just a better version of the taxi," says Green. "You know, I think that's just scratching the surface of what we're doing."

When asked whether Lyft can generate the same kind of buzz in Albuquerque, N.M., and Omaha, Neb., as it has in the Bay Area and Manhattan, the CEO hints about a peer-to-peer future that might grab the attention of the aforementioned Roadie.

"We have a lot of things planned that I think will work in suburban communities," he says. "We're not just into the idea of semiprofessional drivers. The idea we are [embracing] is that every car on the road can be a Lyft. You know, every mom in a minivan, every person commuting. Anytime they are on the road, they should be able to go into driver mode and give a ride to a neighbor. That's how we achieve scale."

What's interesting about both Lyft and Uber is the goal of each to become a media platform for other brands. Lyft has partnered with Budweiser, MasterCard and Chobani over the last year. Lyft and Chobani offered new customers cases of pumpkin spice yogurt in exchange for booking a car, resulting in 19,000 people joining up across just two hours. Last year, Uber ran a promotion with Casper that had its mattresses delivered to customers within 60 minutes, and last week it announced a quarterly magazine.

"Any opportunity we have as a brand to partner with a service that our guests use or want that we do not directly offer would seem to me to be a win for all parties involved," says Kevin Scholl, digital marketing manager at hotel chain Red Roof Inn.

How to connect brands to in-car consumers and yet not come off as intrusive remains a challenge.

But who knows? There could well be a kid catching some shut-eye on somebody's old futon in Austin this week who has figured it out already.

"The [sleeping-on-the-sofa] story is a pretty legit one for startups," notes Kelly Hoey, a venture capitalist based in New York. "The question is not how many start on sofas at SXSW but, rather, how many go big after?"






March 10th 2015 Marketing, Mobile, Technology

Adware Advertiser Sidesteps Liability

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Photo credit: "ADWARE red Rubber Stamp over a white background" // ShutterStock

Photo credit: “ADWARE red Rubber Stamp over a white background” // ShutterStock

This case involves a browser plug-in from IMS, whose affiliates allegedly surreptitiously installed the plug-in on users’ computers. The plug-in allegedly caused pop-up ads to appear when users visited designated websites. Reed Elsevier allegedly advertised via these pop-up ads, triggering ads when these individuals visited law firm websites. The ads sought to get prospective clients to complete a lead generation form. Reed Elsevier then allegedly qualified the leads by phone and referred the leads back to IMS for referral to other law firms (there seem to be a lot of fingers in this pie). The plaintiffs in this case are law firms that allege that Reed Elsevier’s pop-up ads diverted their prospective customers to competitors.

The plaintiffs alleged that the pop-up ads confused consumers into believing the ads were part of their websites. The court responded that Reed Elsevier didn’t commit trademark infringement if it didn’t “use” the trademark (oh god, are the trademark use in commerce debates going to reemerge?). The court doesn’t clarify what triggered Reed Elsevier’s ads, but I assume IMS determined the websites were law firm websites and sold Reed Elsevier inventory across numerous law firm websites. If that’s true, Reed Elsevier wouldn’t have purchased the plaintiffs’ trademarks as keywords. Citing the classic Second Circuit WhenU case (but not citing the Rescuecom case, which distinguished WhenU in important ways), the court goes on to say:

This Court finds that the pop-up advertisement at issue does not constitute “use” within the meaning of the Lanham Act because it appears in a separate window and does not divert or misdirect consumers away from Plaintiffs’ websites.

The court further indicates there isn’t likely to be any consumer confusion because Reed Elsevier’s ad copy has “no bearing on whether the customer was confused about the origin of the pop-up advertisement.” I believe the court is trying to say that the only relevant consumer confusion is the consumers’ understanding of why the pop-up was displaying, so Reed Elsevier is off the hook if its ad copy is silent on that topic. OK….

The tortious interference claim fails because there’s no existing business relationship with the website visitors:

Consumers’ visits to their websites create nothing more than a mere hope that the consumers will ultimately contract with Plaintiffs for legal services.

My, how far we’ve come from the days when courts would assume 100% conversion rates from website visitors! It would have been nice to see the court cite the Overstock v. SmartBargains case here.

We don’t see many old-school adware cases any more. However, the parties apparently incurred some pretty high transactions costs to source new legal clients. That makes me wonder if there could be a business case where these complex adware-driven efforts still make sense.

Case citation: Allen v. IM Solutions, Inc., 2015 WL 881247 (E.D. Okla. March 2, 2015).

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March 5th 2015 Marketing

The Power of Ideas and Collaboration, and a Brief History of Social Media Marketing

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I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Bill Sobel for CMS Wire, where I shared some thoughts on ideas and collaboration, but also on how past experiences laid the groundwork for the present state of marketing. For instance, I shared a few thoughts on the evolution of search and social:

It was, at the time, a Herculean effort for marketers to shift from focusing on their reputation in Google to their actual reputation. Google was almost a distraction. It’s as if marketers cared so much about sweeping the sidewalk in front of their store that they weren’t paying attention to the people shopping there.

Another big change is that media companies didn’t have any great ways for brands to reach people via social channels. Facebook in its fairly early days was tapping Microsoft to sell banner ads on its site. Meanwhile, MySpace let advertisers somehow make its site even uglier than it was before. It’s as if every ad was designed by Michael Bay. Marketers could also connect with bloggers, but even the word “blog” sounded like a noise people make once they realized they got food poisoning. Marketers weren’t in a rush to change tactics.

Read the full interview and let me know what you think. 

March 4th 2015 Marketing

How To Build An Email List

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[This is part of short series I am doing on explaining the basics. I’ll be linking to other parts of the series from the bottom of each article as they come]

build-email-listNo matter where you are in our promotional stage, you need to build yourself a good email list. Here is why: emails go to people. They go directly to their inbox, on their request, and provides them with important information and links, while giving you a chance to sell to them. All while you go to them, not the other way around.

With social media, you are competing with constant content from others around the web. On a Twitter feed, your tweet can be lost in an instant. On Facebook, it may never even reach their primary page. Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn? Same problem.

But when you use an email to connect, you are going right to their inbox, where they check every day. There are no distractions, as they will take more time to go through messages they find interesting or engaging, without flipping over to that cat video their second cousin tagged them in.

How to Build Your Email List

There are a lot of step-by-step email-building tutorials out there, but they make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Building an email list is as easy as just gathering names. More important is the work you put in to let it grow.

Here are some tips to take your email list from zero to hero fast.

Tip 1: Create A Call To Action On Your Website

Your biggest asset for a mailing list is your website. Your sidebar or footer can mention your list, or allow them to sign up for a newsletter. You can create a popup when they visit a page that asks them to sign up. Not to mention, you can put a CTA at the end of blog posts, telling them that they will never miss an update or important information again.

Just asking people to sign up will give you a lot of results.

Tip 2: Use Social Media To Drive Traffic

Social media is an important marketing tool, but also a tool for traffic. People click links to websites, they follow those links to your content, and from there you can advertise your mailing list. That is how the two can be incorporated into a combined strategy. Then you can increase your social followers by promoting your profiles in your emails.

Tip 3: Create A Landing Page

A good landing page is worth its weight in gold, especially when it comes to gaining email signatures. It is attractive, to the point, and creates a direct link to you and the user. According to research done by Search Engine Land, the conversion rate of landing pages can be as high as 5.31%. You should consider creating one specifically for your mailing list.

Tip 4: Use Registration For Perks

Having content that is only accessible by members is a great way to get people on a mailing list. It could be for special content, ebooks, videos, or posts that have more information that the usual articles posted on your site. They have to give you their email address to gain access.

You can also offer discounts and other perks.

Tip 5: Host A Webinar

Webinars are becoming increasingly popular, especially free ones. Not only does this offer you a chance to expand the content you provide, but it also gives you a great email mining opportunity. You can even provide “materials” for the webinar, such as resource lists that will be helpful to those who watch. So you will have permission to begin sending emails on a regular basis, in a more creative way than your average newsletter.

Take It To The Real World With QR Codes

If you provide a tangible product, or if you go to a lot of events that allow for networking, you should consider creating a scannable code that can be used through a smartphone and immediately signs people up for your mailing list.

Plenty of people have code scanners now, as they are offered free on both iOS and Android platforms. So start expanding into the real world, so you can target an even bigger audience.

If you have business cards that you have out locally, this is an absolute must. Just imagine how many people you can attract in your own neighborhood!

Tools For Creating Your Email List

If you want a professional tool that will help you send emails more easily, you can try these. They offer both email list building, custom newsletters, compatibility with design editors, and monitoring software for seeing your reach and success.

  • Customer.io: A pricy option in comparison to many others, it is also a lot more thorough. You have the option of four different accounts, starting at $50 per month for 5,000 profiles, and a per profile cost for anything after that. It send 10,000 free emails, and then adds to the bill as you increase your use. The higher the account, the more content and profiles allowed.
  • Campaign Monitor: This service is cheaper, and works with both a basic and unlimited account. You have a set amount of subscribers, and then emails you can send to them. It starts at only $9 a month, or you can pay per campaign.
  • MailChimp: With three plans to choose from, MailChimp will tailor your plan to your needs. So pricing will depend on your selections and what you can budget, making it more customizable.

Conclusion

Having a mailing list is crucial, and also rather simple. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap the benefits. So get started today, because every day counts.

“Let’s get to basics” series:

The post How To Build An Email List appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

March 3rd 2015 Marketing

10 Simple Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

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Finding employment isn't easy in this competitive job market, but social networking site LinkedIn is a logical place for job seekers to start their search and get a foot in the door. And after landing a job, the site—which boasts more than 347 million users globally—can help users keep up with thought leaders and industry peers. 

Job seekers can make their LinkedIn profiles stand out from the crowd with simple changes like updating their information regularly, and posting and sharing content. We sat down with LinkedIn director of corporate communications and career expert Catherine Fisher, who gave us 10 tips to help bolster your profile. 






February 26th 2015 Marketing, Technology, video

Franchise SMBs To Spend 1/2 Of 2015 Ad Budgets Online

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Franchise small and midsize businesses plan to spend about half of their annual ad budgets on digital, according to a new report from BIA/Kelsey. It found that these businesses, on average, spent $87,165 on advertising and promotion during the 12 months ahead of the survey, which is up from $57,072 the year prior. On average, they spent 39.1% of their total ad budgets on digital media during that time.

Those same businesses said they intend to increase their digital spend to 42.9% of their total ad budget during the 12 months following the survey, which compares to 33.8% for SMBs overall.

“Franchises are one of the most distinctive SMB segments,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “In almost every metric, franchises act differently from the overall SMB sample. In general, franchises are taking a tighter and more disciplined approach to their customer relationships. They’re using more marketing tools and platforms, loyalty programs and social media.”

BIA/Kelsey says the the businesses it surveyed “demonstrate a remarkable willingness to experiment” with digital media and platforms. When it comes to social, 26.4% use Twitter, 24.6% use Twitter ads, 15.7% use Instagram, and 11.5% use Pinterest.

The Twitter numbers are interesting. Earlier this month, Twitter announced a new ad offering aimed at SMBs called “Quick Promote,” which lets them promote their best performing tweets from the Tweet activity dashboard.

“Promoting a Tweet takes just a few clicks and your Tweet will automatically be targeted to users who have interests similar to your followers — the audience that is most likely to be interested in your message,” said product manager Buster Benson. “Whether you’re Tweeting about a new product, promotion or blog post, Promoted Tweets can help you drive measurable business results. In fact, we found that users who see a relevant Promoted Tweet from an SMB are also 32% more likely to visit that business.”

If you’re a small to midsize business just getting started on Instagram, Gary Jordan of TheInstagramExpert.com recently shared some thoughts on that with us here. On the subject of Pinterest, we also spoke with with longtime Pinterest marketer Vincent Ng, and got some great tips about that.

2.6% of those franchise SMBs surveyed by BIA/Kelsey use mobile banner or display ads, while 21.6% use mobile deals, and 19.3% use text messaging. 23.6% use online deals, while 22.6% use website video, and 16.3% use video banner or display ads.

“Many franchise SMBs work with digital or advertising agencies, with 49.3 percent reporting they have worked with an agency for two years or more,” the firm says. “Among those that work with an agency, 87.7 percent are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘extremely satisfied.’ The most widely used channel by franchise SMBs for purchasing online advertising is their advertising/digital agency (36.5 percent), followed by TV stations (28.9 percent), self serve without assistance (28.2 percent), self serve with assistance (27.9 percent) and newspapers (26.9 percent).”

Take a look at this infographic they put together illustrating some of the survey’s findings:

We recently looked at another study by BrightLocal, which found that despite finding online marketing effective, half of SMBs allocate less than 30% of their marketing budgets to online channels.

“I found this figure a little perplexing when you consider the other responses SMBs gave,” BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson told us in an interview. “75% said online was effective at bringing in new customers & 3 of top 4 most effective marketing channels are ‘digital’. Yet SMBs allocate a disproportionately low % of their marketing budgets online.”

That study also found that there is a direct correlation between the number of employees the business has and the monthly online marketing budget. Here’s a look at company size vs. planned spend on internet marketing for this year:

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it now has over 2 million active advertisers, building on its 30 million businesses using Pages. It also launched a new Ads Manager mobile app, which will help businesses manage their budgeting from their phones (iPhone only for now, Android coming later this year).

Facebook has not been incredibly kind to small business online marketing budgets over the past year or so. What businesses were once able to get for free, they’re now having to pay for more and more.

We recently talked about this with Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, who told us, “I would recommend that low budget[s] be allocated to what are called ‘dark posts.’ That is, ads in the News Feed that look like a Page wall post, but don’t actually appear on the Page. With very granular targeting to reach the exact target market, small businesses can do exceptionally well using Facebook. In addition, making use of custom audiences is a must. This is where a business can upload its own email database, or segments thereof, and place ads in the News Feed to that target group. Plus, using website custom audiences helps a business to retarget its website visitors with Facebook ads.”

“Being able to boost (and target) posts that are already performing well is a great help to small businesses,” James Whatley, the social media director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, London, recently told us in another interview. “The SMEs we work with tend to put aside a small ‘slush fund’ of media spend to work into their social channels as when these opportunities arise. Definitely worth doing.”

Here’s more on how SMBs can deal with Facebook’s recent News Feed changes.

Image via BIA/Kelsey

February 25th 2015 Marketing

Email marketing for your online shop

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Email marketing for your online shopWhile writing last week’s post about email marketing, I decided to also write a post about email marketing for ecommerce shops. This post will go into how you can leverage email in your ecommerce business to gain new, lost or recurring clients.

Every subscriber counts

It’s much easier for people to subscribe to your newsletter than it is to actually spend money and buy something at your online shop. So you’re probably getting a lot more newsletter subscriptions than you are getting sales. This is fine, of course, because you’re still able to reach out to these people. That’s why every subscriber counts: they’re all special and valuable to your business.

A few days ago I got this email from a Dutch webshop:

Newsletter email marketing for online shop

Email from Dutch webshop fonq.nl stating VIP discounts

They’re offering special “Exclusive VIP discounts” in this email. Basically they’re offering a discount to everyone, but as a newsletter subscriber you get ‘early access’ to those discounts. I’m not sure how legitimate this actually is, as I think the discount was available to everyone from the start. However, it is a nice idea to give your newsletter subscribers just that little edge.

You can even think about giving your newsletter subscribers a discount, but our preference is to leave perks such as this for your loyal customers. More on that later in this post.

Recovery

One great way to use emails in your ecommerce business  is by sending recovery emails. Recovery emails are emails that are sent when someone has abandoned their cart without finishing the transaction. You could email them reminding them there’s still something in their cart and they’re welcome to complete the purchase. Usually there’s a time limit to this, so do mention this. This will actually also create urgency, which can actually help. Some businesses even choose to give discounts after a cart is abandoned. We personally don’t like to use discounts this way, as it seems unfair to the rest of our customers. However, it does seem to work, so I’m just putting it out there!

bol com recovery email - email marketing for online shop

Email from Dutch webshop bol.com telling me I’ve left something in their shopping cart

It can be as simple as this. They’ve reminded me I’ve left something in the shopping cart. And just to make it a bit less pushy, they also tell me: “Maybe you wanted to save this item for another visit to our site. If that’s the case, please put it on your wish list and be sure it’s saved.” So apart from just telling you to go buy the stuff you’ve left, they also inform you on a helpful functionality. That makes it a lot less intrusive and you’re actually more likely to go to their site. And whether you end up buying that exact product; it got you back on their website.

Retention

Email is a great way to increase your customers’ retention. What this means is that it’ll increase the amount of customers that purchase repeatedly, instead of just once. So this would help make your clients recurring clients. By emailing your customers on a regular basis, your brand will stay top of mind and they’ll return more quickly to buy something again. Of course your emails would have to be interesting, enticing and engaging for this to really work:

Amazon retention email - Email marketing for online shop

Email from German Amazon asking to review the product you recently bought

Now as with a lot of things on Amazon, this is a stroke of genius. It gives you a good reason to go back to their site, without sounding salesy at all. You end up on their website and before you know it there’s another dvd, eBook or iPhone 6 in your cart.

Related products

There’s another way to get your customers back to your website and maybe ordering some things. My colleague Michiel got an email confirming his order at Wehkamp.nl. The confirmation email included this:

Related products in email marketing for online shop

Related products in email

He had ordered sweaters from this webshop and wehkamp.nl was smart enough to show related products in the confirmation email. The only thing that I’m thinking is that showing sweaters when you’ve just bought 3 sweaters might not be the best product group. T-shirts or maybe some pairs of pants would make more sense. But then again, it could just be me and other people might like 10 new sweaters.

Admittedly, this is a bit more aggressive than the Amazon example, but cross-selling items in your confirmation emails has been found to increase your transaction rates by 20%. The aggressiveness also comes down to where you place these related items. Wehkamp showed these related items quite close to the bottom of the email, so that makes it a bit less agressive. However, I can image that this also means less people will be enticed to buy something else. This comes down to what works best for your business and what you feel comfortable with.

Reward your loyal customers

A few months back I wrote a post about creating loyal customers. Email is a good tool to give something extra to your loyal customers. You can even make different segments of loyal customers and email these groups accordingly. This can start from people who bought just one product to people who have bought a multitude of items in your online shop.

By giving these customers something extra, you’re expressing your gratitude that they’re you customers. And, of course, in return you’ll get another nice revenue boost from your most loyal customers.

How’s your email marketing?

I’m really curious as to whether I bored you out of your skull or you’ve actually learned something. Do you think you’re doing a good job at your email marketing, or did this post just wake you up? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as Email marketing for your online shop on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

February 25th 2015 Marketing

Damages from Competitive Keyword Advertising Are “Vanishingly Small”

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Photo credit: "Score on the finger" // ShutterStock

Photo credit: “Score on the finger” // ShutterStock

Competitive keyword advertising lawsuits typically lose on their merits, but in this particular case, the defendants conceded that their AdWords campaign contributed to trademark infringement. Nevertheless, the defendants contested damages, and the court tells an oh-so-familiar story:

Apparently, Defendants bid on 14,057 keywords with their AdWords accounts. The evidence shows that 14 (or 0.1%) included the word “bandago.” Of those 14 AdWords, only three generated any clicks at all. Each of those three keywords generated exactly one click. In other words, Defendants’ bids on infringing keywords from November 2008 to April 2009 resulted in a total of three visits to Defendants’ website. Even assuming all three visits were from different users, that each would have rented from Bandago absent the advertisements, and that each of those users proceeded to rent vans from Defendants instead, Digby’s actual damages attributable to the infringing AdWords must have been vanishingly small.

How do you think the judge reacted when he realized these stakes? I imagine he thought to himself, “REALLY????”

Yet, this is hardly the first time we’ve seen a federal case made out of something as trivial as 3 clicks (to be clear, the keyword ads were an ancillary issue in this particular litigation). Here’s a roster of some other dubious keyword advertising lawsuits:

  • Storus v. Aroa: the defendant advertiser got 1,374 clicks over 11 months. Based on the low cost of the goods at issue, I estimate each click was worth about $1–making the lawsuit’s value less than $1,400.
  • King v. ZymoGenetics: the defendant advertiser got 84 clicks.
  • Sellify v. Amazon: the defendant got 1,000 impressions and 61 clicks.
  • 800-JR Cigar v. GoTo.com: the search engine defendant generated $345 in revenue (not profit, just revenue) from the litigated terms.
  • 1-800 Contacts v. Lens.com: Lens.com made $20 of profit from competitive keyword ads. 1-800 Contacts unsuccessfully tried to hold Lens.com responsible for affiliate ad buys which generated about 1,800 clicks, which under the most favorable computations were worth about $40,000. 1-800 Contacts spent no less than $650k (and was willing to spend $1.1M) on its lawyers in this case.
  • InternetShopsInc.com v. Six C, the defendant got 1,319 impressions, 35 clicks and zero sales.

As I’ve said repeatedly, suing over competitive keyword advertising is almost certainly a bad business decision.

Case citation: Digby Adler Group LLC v. Image Rent a Car, Inc., 2015 WL 525906 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 6, 2015)

Some Related Posts

* More Defendants Win Keyword Advertising Lawsuits

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails Badly

* Duplicitous Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuits–Fareportal v. LBF (& Vice-Versa)

* Trademark Owners Just Can’t Win Keyword Advertising Cases–EarthCam v. OxBlue

* Want To Know Amazon’s Confidential Settlement Terms For A Keyword Advertising Lawsuit? Merry Christmas!

* Florida Allows Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Unceremoniously Dismissed–Infostream v. Avid

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails–Allied Interstate v. Kimmel & Silverman

* More Evidence That Competitive Keyword Advertising Benefits Trademark Owners

* Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners

* Florida Proposes to Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising by Lawyers

* More Confirmation That Google Has Won the AdWords Trademark Battles Worldwide

* Google’s Search Suggestions Don’t Violate Wisconsin Publicity Rights Law

* Amazon’s Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn’t Violate Trademark Law

* Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights

* With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally

* Yet Another Ruling That Competitive Keyword Ad Lawsuits Are Stupid–Louisiana Pacific v. James Hardie

* Another Google AdWords Advertiser Defeats Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

* With Rosetta Stone Settlement, Google Gets Closer to Legitimizing Billions of AdWords Revenue

* Google Defeats Trademark Challenge to Its AdWords Service

* Newly Released Consumer Survey Indicates that Legal Concerns About Competitive Keyword Advertising Are Overblown

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February 14th 2015 Marketing