Marketing

Social Media Marketers: Memorial Day is Not a Happy Day

Social Media Marketers- Memorial Day is Not a Happy Day (1)

While we see messages promoting a fun, extended weekend, barbecues and sales, Memorial Day is not a happy day for millions of Americans. It’s not a celebratory day to have fun. It’s a somber day to remember those who died while serving in the nation’s armed forces. And while it’s become traditional to have fun and sales during this time, it’s also important to be respectful and honor those who serve and the families of those who serve.

There are many who will defend using the word “happy” in a Memorial Day social post, but keep in mind the backlash companies have gotten from doing so. Is defending your business and reputation something you want to spend Memorial day weekend doing?

Here’s some “Happy Memorial Day” examples from Facebook and the reactions they received (click on the links below the images to view the posts & comments on Facebook):

The responses were pretty consistent on these posts:

I never understood why we put “Happy” in front of Memorial Day. It is a time of mourning and remembrance.

Anyone that puts the word “happy” before Memorial Day is suspect of having never observed the holiday for the purpose of which it was created. (And the exclamation mark adds insult to ignorance.)

Just as a reminder. It’s not “Happy” Memorial day. Memorial day is a day set aside to remember those that have died serving our country.

Happy Memorial Day? What is so happy about today? Families are missing and remembering their loved ones that fought for our freedom. The ones that fought for you to be able to be free and where you are today .

Not to hate but a reminder .. Memorial Day is to celebrate the lives of the brave men that lost there lives to give u this wonderful life u r enjoying ..so it’s not a happy day .. Sad day to the mothers and children that list there fathers .. So please respect this day ..

Happy? There is nothing happy about this day. It’s a day for reflection. Poor choice of wording for such a day.

May I suggest purchasing a copy of 100 Questions & Answers About Veterans so that you will read why the statement “Happy Memorial Day” is really offensive to many veterans as well as thanking them for their service.

Final verdict? Be respectful and honor those who died in the line of duty as well as their families and save “happy” wishes for more appropriate occasions.

Want some more examples? Check out these Memorial Day social media fails from the Observer.

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A Simple Facebook Marketing Trick to Target Inactive Customers

Anyone who’s worked for a successful business knows that it’s much easier and cost-effective to keep current customers versus trying to gain new customers. While there should always be a focus on getting leads and acquiring new customers to grow the business, many companies forget the simplest way to keep a successful business is repeat customers.

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The Stats

According to KBB.com, vehicle retention is at an all-time high with Americans keeping their new vehicles for nearly 6 years and pre-owned vehicles for more than 4 years. If your dealership is only focusing on vehicle sales and not service, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Depending on mileage, vehicle owners typically require service multiple times per year, whether it’s oil changes, new tires, parts replacement or other services. What they may not know is how affordable dealership service can be. Independent oil change and repair businesses make dealerships out to be expensive and unreliable when in fact, technicians at dealerships are factory-trained and are constantly working on the vehicle makes they sell. It’s actually quite logical for vehicle owners to have their vehicle serviced where it was purchased.

So, how can you get customers to come back to the dealership? Is this something your dealership is currently doing or is the focus on new customers?

How Are You Currently Advertising?

Your dealership is probably emailing any customers with email addresses. And so is the OEM and any other business that has gotten their email address. And they are very likely ignoring all of those emails or marking them as spam.

But you’re advertising on TV right? Do you pay attention to commercials on TV? Do you actually watch live television or do you DVR it or watch it on demand? Or do you watch TV at all? Technology has made it very easy for consumers to avoid commercials, so yours may very well not even be seen, and further – how do you know your customers are even seeing your TV commercials?

Billboards? Newspaper ads? Again, specific targeting is nearly impossible and with newspapers dying out among the younger generations (and in general) and so many distractions while driving, people aren’t noticing traditional advertising as much.

Where are people spending their time? On social media.

According to Pew Research, 71% of internet users use Facebook, a statistic that has held steady and one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook is users age 65 and older. 70% of Facebook users engage on the site daily and 45% use it multiple times a day.

So why not target your customers on Facebook?

Advertising on Facebook is very inexpensive and Facebook allows for very specific ad targeting. Polk data allows advertisers to target Facebook users who are in the market for vehicles with targeting specific down to make, models and vehicle condition. Even with this specific targeting, you’re missing out on the number 1 best market: your previous customers.

But there’s a solution for that.

Facebook also allows advertisers to create custom audiences to target advertising to. Where this benefits dealerships is the ability to target service customers who haven’t serviced their vehicle at the dealership recently.

Here’s how to target your previous service customers who have not come in recently:

  • Export a list of your service customers who have not serviced their vehicle at your dealership in the last 6-18 months (be sure to include their email addresses & cell phone numbers in the export file)
  • Use this list to create a custom audience in your Facebook ads manager
  • Create relevant service ads and offers targeting your custom audience
  • Track the success of your campaign two ways each month:
    • Export a list of service customers over the last month and compare to your previous customer list to see if any of the previous customers you targeted on Facebook came in
    • Have your team keep track of all customers using a Facebook offer (although keep in mind, this is only as successful as your team’s diligence in recording this information)
  • Repeat each month, creating new audiences and ads to continually target previous customers

Bonus Tip: Have Your Employees Share Service Content with Their Facebook Friends

If you weren’t aware, Facebook has been taking measures to encourage paid page advertising by decreasing the percentage of posts that are seen by page fans. So if your Facebook page has 1,000 fans, chances are only 20-40 of your fans will see that post, unless you pay to boost the post. However, if an employee with 400 friends shares that same content, about 280 of their friends will see it. This doesn’t cost anything. Furthermore, since the employee’s friends got a reminder that the employee works at your dealership, they are much more likely to visit your business because they know someone working there.

4 Steps to Building a Successful Marketing Campaign

When building a marketing campaign, creating a solid plan can be the path to success. Naturally, the more time you have to plan, the easier it will be to execute your plan, however, in the world of marketing, time is often not a common commodity.

Planning a marketing campaign is similar to planning a road trip; first decide where you’re going, then decide how you will get there, how much you will invest on the trip, and what stops you will make along the way.

A marketing campaign can be any marketing effort to achieve a goal and the marketing plan should change and evolve as the planning goes on so each step logically leads to reaching the intended goal successfully.

1. Initial Questions

Before building a plan, there are several questions that should be answered to aid in planning:

  • What goal(s) are we looking to achieve?
  • Who is our target?
  • What is the budget (and is it realistic)?
  • What is the time frame?
  • What mediums do we want to use? (i.e. email, mail, TV, social media, newspaper, etc;)
  • What is the message?
  • What are the expectations of this campaign?

You should also consider whether you’ve done something similar in the past and review the results to determine what was done, what worked and what could have been done better. You may also want to determine if a specific theme is to be used to mesh with other marketing campaigns or current events.

2. Work Backwards

Whenever planning a campaign, I like to start by examining the end goal. What do we want to accomplish through this campaign? This provides a focus that can be looked toward any time there are questions on direction while planning. It also helps lay a solid foundation for all marketing efforts.

For example, if you have an excess amount of a particular product that you want to sell, the below questions can help you plan a successful marketing campaign:

  • What is the goal? To sell all 10,000 widgets and still make a profit.
  • Who is the target? Widget buyers who have purchased in the past 5 years, but not the past 6 months.
  • What is the budget? While it’s costing us to store these 10,000 widgets that aren’t selling, but taking up room in our warehouse, we want to earn a profit on them. If our cost is $5 each and we normally sell them for $10 each, we could normally expect to receive $50,000 in profit. If we offer them for 25% off at $7.50 each, we will still bring in $25,000 in profit. If we allow half of that to be our marketing campaign budget, that will allow for $12,500 budget and the same in profit, less any expenses incurred.
  • What is the time frame? If we’re expecting a shipment of new and improved widgets in 8 weeks, let’s set the campaign to end in 6 weeks or less to allow 2 weeks of buffer time. This allows 2 weeks in case the new widgets arrive early or if our campaign is not as successful as planned and we need to try another attempt to get rid of the rest of the widgets.
  • What mediums will be used (and will  they realistically work within the set budget)? If this business is a warehouse that sells nationwide, certain mediums such as newspaper and TV won’t effectively reach the target market. Since we’re focusing on previous customers, email and mail will probably be the most effective marketing methods, followed by salesperson follow-up calls.
  • What is the message? It’s vital to choose a solid message to keep all marketing and sales efforts consistent and you want to keep a message that is appealing to your target. “Stock up and save BIG on widgets” is a lot more appealing than “we have too many widgets so we’re hoping you buy them from us so we don’t have to throw them away.” Also be prepared to answer why: “we have more widgets coming in so we need to make room for them!” Keep the message exciting, logical and limited so your target will want to take advantage of your offer.
  • What are our expectations? Of course we want to sell 100% of the widgets and still turn a profit, so maybe we’re willing to go as low as $6 a widget to sell them.
    • What’s more important: actually selling the widgets or making money? If it’s just going to get more difficult to sell the widgets as time goes on, lowering the price can be an option.
    • Another expectation is the quantity each customer will buy. If our target is 1,000 customers and the average sale is 100 widgets, we know we need a 10% sell rate from this campaign. Is that realistic? If not, this would be a time to change the marketing plan to include a larger target.
  • Does the plan need revision? After answering and reviewing all the above questions, you’ll want to determine if the plan still makes sense or if it needs revision. You may also get partway through the campaign and realize what you’re doing isn’t going according to plans and expectations and need to make revisions at that point as well.

3. Communication

One of the most obvious, in my opinion, but also highly overlooked steps in a marketing campaign is communicating the plan to all those involved. Generally, the marketing team builds a campaign for the sales team, however, the sales team is often left out of communication until the very end, as are other maybe less obvious team members such as accounting and reception.

Don’t assume that anyone has been notified about the campaign unless you tell them, and it’s important for you to control the message they receive to ensure they understand the purpose, goals and expectations of them.

When planning a marketing campaign, it’s important to consider who the targeted market will be contacting. Would they call the main phone line and speak to reception? Would they call accounting to clean up their account before participating in whatever special is being marketed to them?

It should be assumed that not all campaign recipients are going to follow whatever instructions are listed, especially if they’ve built relationships with other team members within the company.

The more informed your team is as a whole, the higher quality customer service they will all be able to provide and the more successful your marketing campaign will be.

Something that has worked well for me is to create a marketing or event overview. This should include the following:

  • Name & dates of the campaign
  • What the purpose and goals of the campaign are (make sure to exclude any information you would not want provided to customers such as profit so employees do not accidentally pass this information along to customers)
  • How it’s being marketed with samples of everything (i.e. screenshots of web banners, copies of emails and mail pieces, etc;) so all employees know exactly what was sent to customers and have a copy for their reference

After the campaign, I also add sections for results, what worked well and what could have been done differently to have made the campaign more successful for reference when planning future campaigns.

4. Analysis & Reflection

One of the most important things to do after a marketing campaign is to take a look at the campaign overall to determine how effective it was and to provide real examples for future planning.

  • Was each step taken as planned?
  • What percentage of the target market was reached? (i.e. opened emails)
  • How many responses/attendees were there?
  • What were the final costs in comparison to the budget?
  • Were the goals reached?
  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work well and how could it have been done differently to have been more successful?

While particularly successful campaigns are useful for planning future campaigns, unsuccessful campaigns are an incredible learning tool to show what to avoid in future campaigns to make them more successful. Perhaps the reason for failure has nothing to do with your campaign, but everything to do with bad weather conditions, fierce competition or other circumstances out of your control. But by noting these, you can better plan future campaigns with continued success and learning each time.

Sending From a Web-Hosted Email Address May Bounce Your Email Marketing, Web Inquiries

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If you use an online email marketing service such as MailChimp, iContact or Constant Contact and are sending from a web-hosted email address (such as from Google, Yahoo or Hotmail), you may soon notice a significant increase in bounced emails. This is due to a new Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance or “DMARC” authentication policy these mail receivers have implemented.

Additionally, if your website allows users to “email this to a friend,” those emails may also bounce as well.

An article from Yahoo reads “All DMARC compliant mail receivers are now bouncing emails sent as “@yahoo.com” addresses that aren’t sent through Yahoo servers. Any messages without a proper Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) signature or Sender Policy Framework (SPF) alignment will be rejected.”

What Exactly Does This Mean?

Oftentimes, when spam or phishing emails are sent, they appear to be from one email address, but a closer look at the email header shows it was actually sent from another email address. That means the email address DKIM signatures or SPF alignment don’t match. When they don’t match, this sends out a red flag to the recipient’s mail host that it may not be legitimate and there’s a good chance the email could be marked as spam or bounced, preventing the message from being received.

If an email appears to be from a web-based email address but is not sent through their server, the email will be bounced.

  • If email marketing is sent from a web-based email client (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo), it may be marked as fraudulent and not be delivered
  • If a website has an “email this to a friend” option, those emails may bounce

How Is This Affected by Online Email Marketing Services?

When an email message is sent through an email marketing service, the service inserts its own authentication in the header. So while the email address may be perfectly legitimate, its DKIM signatures or SPF alignment don’t match up, making the email appear to be spam or fraudulent.

Why Is This Happening?

It’s extremely easy to sign up for a web-hosted email address, so if someone is looking to send spam or phishing emails, they could simply sign up for a new email address and send out fraudulent emails until their account was shut down by the host. They could then just create news accounts to continue sending fraudulent emails.

Since the emails came through the web-hosted email servers, it became pretty easy to block such accounts to prevent them from spamming. So spammers found a way around that by using online email marketing services to continue sending the emails without getting blocked by the email host. The email marketing services would put their own authentication in the header so it didn’t appear the email was coming from the email host, but rather another source.

This is a step by email providers to protect its users and prevent their domains from being used to send spam.

How Can I Get Around This?

  • Don’t use web-based email for marketing. The simplest way to get around this is to not send from a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email address since these are the kinds of sites blocking these kinds of emails. Instead, the best option would be to use an email address from your company’s own domain (i.e. email@yourcompany.com).
  • Authenticate email with a domain key. Users can add a digital signature that is embedded in the email header so emails can be authenticated.
  • Keep sending consistent. When sending marketing emails, to improve your chances of delivery, be sure to send from the same email and IP addresses.
  • Sign messages with a DKIM to validate your domain name.
  • Create an SPF for your domain to confirm email validity.
  • Publish a DMARC policy to authenticate emails and prevent them from being marked as spam.

 Considerations

While this may be a hassle for those trying to send legitimate email marketing messages, it’s ultimately a good thing because email providers are taking big steps to protect consumers. The biggest drawback is that those who are attempting to get around these precautions can often quickly find ways to trick the system, so the email providers are always having to catch up to fight fraud.

2014 Study Reveals Instagram, Twitter Most Important to Teens

Are you marketing to teens only through Facebook? If so, you could be missing out on reaching the majority of them.

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Teen Social Media Importance Study

A recent Piper Jaffray & Co study of 7,500 teens in 48 U.S. states  revealed the top social media site for teens is Instagram at 30%, followed closely by Twitter at 27%. Facebook follows at 23% and 5% of teens reported not using social media networks.

The biggest surprise of this report is the rapid decline in teen use of Facebook. As recently as Fall of 2012, Facebook was reported as the most important social networking site for teens at 42%. Now, just a year and a half later, Facebook’s popularity among teens has declined by almost half, while Instagram has nearly tripled. Twitter has remained fairly steady in the mid to high 20% range.

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post, Piper Jaffray

What Does This Mean?

With all the stimulation we are exposed to on a daily basis, our attention spans have been decreasing significantly over the past several years. We have so many more things to pay attention to, many simultaneously, so messages consisting of images and short text blurbs are easier for us to process versus lengthy text. So it’s no wonder teens are more attracted to Instagram, which is made up of images and Twitter which has a 140-character tweet limit, keeping communication very brief.

Targeting the teen demographic now requires more images and minimal text. Messages will need to be designed to attract through imagery, catchy phrases and relevant hashtags.

What About Facebook?

Facebook is still the most popular social networking site, so it’s important to maintain a healthy presence there. However, it would be wise to take tips from Instagram and Twitter to keep Facebook posts high in imagery and low in text characters to appeal to a more visual audience. Also, to reach a larger audience, it would be wise to set up your Facebook page to share content to your Twitter account.

Best Practices

This report goes to show how quickly social media usage can change among a demographic. While it’s important to continually adjust  your social media strategy to hit your target market effectively, it’s also wise to maintain a consistent presence on multiple networks.

Most social media sites allow and encourage sharing content to other social media sites. This is a great way to easily maintain a presence among multiple sites without a ton of effort. For example, it’s a good practice (if relevant) to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare when uploading to Instagram. One photo, six social media sites, all at once.

Report Source: Piper Jaffray & Co., company reports

Need Content? Create Your Own Custom Newsroom with Paper.li!

A constant challenge for social media marketers is to find quality content to keep your audience engaged. Although having a quality Twitter feed is a great way to find content, it’s time consuming to sort through all the data.

Allow me to introduce you to a content solution: Paper.li

Paper.li is a content curation service that allows users to create custom online “newspapers” containing content the users select. In addition, Paper.li can send out automatic tweets to publish fresh content to your Twitter feed to increase engagement.

Once you sign up for Paper.li (which is simple—just use your Twitter account to log in!) click the link to create a paper. You have two options: to create a paper based off your Twitter account or to create a custom paper. Both options allow customization, so if you’re hesitant to create a paper from your Twitter account because it may not be as relevant as you want, be aware that you can tailor it to your needs.

Once your paper is created, you can find and select additional sources or create filters for your current sources. While I am interested in local news, that’s not a topic I want included in my content, so in my timeline links source, I created a filter that will pull only specific keywords I want in my paper.

To set up automatic tweets, click on Promotion & Emails and check the Twitter box. You will also want to go into Settings to set the update frequency to daily, morning & evening or weekly editions. The more often it updates, the more tweets will be sent out.

Once you have reviewed your settings, click on the Update Paper button, then click on View Paper to review the content. Adjust your sources to increase or decrease the content as well as relevancy.

Paper.li also has a bookmarklet you can simply drag and drop onto your bookmark bar to add content from anywhere on the web to your paper.

So now, every time you need content, simply bring up your Paper.li page and share away!

For business and marketing content, check out my paper: http://paper.li/sallyulianich/1371488938

Google Plus: How I Went From Zero to 60 Overnight

Recently, I had the opportunity to try my marketing abilities with Google Plus. As a marketer, I try to have at least somewhat of a presence on the majority of social networks. In fact, whenever I see a chart showing the popularity of social networks, I make sure I’m signed up for most, if not all of them, to ensure I have a foot in the door of the social media world.

Working for a large automotive group, I try to keep my company well-represented online, not only to build relationships, but to take advantage of SEO achieved through posting regularly. This week, I tried my hand at Google Plus.

I’ve been maintaining several social media sites and learning more about them in the process. Facebook and Twitter have become second nature, but what about Google Plus? How can I get people to interact with us there? I was determined to find the answers.

How to prepare:

  • Make sure your page is set up completely and properly. As the representing social media page of your company, you must make sure it is branded consistently with the rest of your sites and has accurate information.  (Here’s a handy guide for Google Plus covers & images, although it’s highly littered with ads)
  • Follow companies, brands and groups relevant to your company.  Because we are an automotive group, I follow our brands as well as automotive review sites, local interests and related groups for fans of our brands. Following these groups will give you content to share and lead to followers and fans.
  • Post regularly. This should be pretty obvious, but if you’re not posting regularly, it becomes obvious that you are not monitoring the page and people won’t want to follow you because the page appears inactive. By posting even just once a week, you are showing your online presence and increasing your chance of gaining more followers.
  • Post photos. Lots of photos. Engaging photos. If you hadn’t noticed, the average consumer attention span is decreasing faster than the speed of light. They are bombarded with so much content on a steady basis that they don’t take time to read much (are you even reading all of this blog post? Probably not.) Share photos, helpful links and anything they can consume in very small bites. Be concise and clever and don’t overload them with too much content or they will simply skim right past it.

Now for the pièce de résistance: the simple things I did to gain 60+ followers overnight:

We received 3 amazing Ford Shelby GT500 Mustangs from a car collector with dash plaques autographed by Carroll Shelby AND each had less than 100 miles, even though they were 3 and 5 years old. These are not something you see very often and to have THREE of them is even rarer.

So I took artsy photos of them and created a photo album on Google Plus. I described the cars in each caption for SEO and included links to our site, since they are all available for purchase. Once the album was complete, I had the option to share it. Since we follow a 3,500+ group of Mustang enthusiasts, I shared it with that group.

Instantly, many of them received an email of the post and within 1 minute of posting, I already had 3 comments. Within an hour, our + count had increased by 30 and I was responding to as many comments as I could to keep the fans engaged. By morning, we had more than 60 +1’s on our profile and even more on our photos. As the day stretched on, our photos were going mildly viral through the Ford and Mustang community and we were steadily gaining popularity.

Next Steps

As much as I don’t want to admit it, that burst of popularity was accidental. I dabble in Google Plus to gain experience using it and to learn more about it, but Facebook and Twitter have been my comfort zones. However, because of the SEO, targeting, and ability to share links with a much larger audience without having to pay for advertising, Google Plus is definitely a platform to pay attention to.

So now, I will be duplicating my “Shelby project” with other photos, increasing our +1’s, sending potential customers to our site, and placing efforts into growing our other brands.

I’m so impressed with how quickly the photos went viral, if even for just a few hours. I felt the energy of increasing our popularity and that is the momentum needed to continue surfing through the waves of Google Plus.