Tag Archives: marketing

10 Reasons That Prove Email Marketing Should Be Your Top Priority

10 Reasons That Prove Email Marketing Should Be Your Top Priority
By Michelle Hummel

People tend to think email marketing does not get the same attention as social media. However, what people don’t realize is it proves to be one of the most effective direct means of growing your business.

10 Reasons That Prove Email Marketing Should Be Your Top Priority:

1. Email Use
With over 3.2 billion email accounts in the world today, 95% of the world’s population have direct access and 91% check their emails at least once a day. Email is an integral part of our daily lives and no one can really quit emailing.

2. Reach
The idea of reach for email is completely different than social media. For social networking, reach refers to the number of followers and likes who have seen your message. With email, reach is determined by whether the person has opened it or not. Research shows 18% of emails are blocked and 4% are delivered to the junk or spam folder. However, on Facebook, 74% of the messages are missed. Therefore email proves to be more reliable.

3. Life Span
75% of Facebook posts last around 2 hours while the life of a tweet is just 5 minutes. However, an email stays in your inbox and it requires an additional action, even if you want to delete it.

4. Return on Investment
As per the Email Marketing Benchmark Report of 2014, 60% of marketers stated that email marketing produces ROI. For every $1, the standard return on email marketing is $44.24.

5. Analytics
Email has set up solid metrics that have served as the standard for many years. Open Rates, Unsubscribes and Growth can be easily tracked with sales and profits. With a simple formula, you can determine the value of your email subscribers.

6. Engagement
People don’t usually talk about email and engagement in the same sentence. However, emails are excellent engagement vehicles and can serve as a two-way street. Best practice is not to send emails with a no-reply address. Be sure you make it easy for your customers to communicate with you.

7. Integration
The best part is that social media and email are friends. Many services allow you to post your email messages out to various social networks. This connection is great for business growth and helps in establishing cross platform initiatives.

8. Promotional
Around 77% of people prefer to get promotional content via email, while only 4% prefer it via Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is viewed as a platform for establishing connections and to interact with family and friends. Emails are perceived differently, mainly due to its privacy and simplicity. In a recent survey, 70% of recipients stated that they have used discounts and promotional coupons received in promotional emails.

9. Mobility
Litmus stated that 66% of Gmail inboxes are accessed via mobile phones. A major number of transactions will be done online, and mobile email amounts to 13% of it. Smart marketers have learned how to embrace email and carve out a whole new channel to promote their products.

10. Personalization
Email has the power to send promotional content to hundreds of people at one time while still maintaining the same standards of personalization.

In conclusion, Email marketing has proven to be a networking channel that can truly help you establish a valued relationship between you and your subscriber.

Michelle Hummel is a passionate internet marketer with over 10 years of successful online business development, sales and marketing experience. She also holds a valuable internet marketing degree; however, with the ever-changing world of web marketing, she strives to learn something new every day. Michelle travels nationwide to share her wisdom and provide social media keynotes with in-depth training. She is writing a book titled: “The Social Media Magnet: Everything You Need to Know to Attract Customers with Social Media.”

What to Look For in
eCommerce Analytics

What to Look For in eCommerce Analytics
Akbar Jaffer

Analytics and eCommerce go together naturally. Before the advent of convenient eCommerce tools for analytics, simple site analytics could be informative for eCommerce site owners. But analytics have come a long way just over the past few years, and the more advanced analytics can help enterprise level businesses make the most of their online stores regardless of size.


Standard eCommerce analytics include information on where your traffic comes from, page interaction and navigation, conversion rate measurements, and “fall-offs,” which detail how and why people leave your website. But you need more, like information on shopping behavior during sales, checkout analysis, how site content affects sales, and which activities lead to more conversions.

Differences Between Site Analytics and eCommerce Analytics

Where site analytics tell you, for example, the sources of page traffic, eCommerce analytics tell you the origins of sales traffic. Furthermore, they can not only tell you about page interactions, but about shopping cart interactions. In other words, you can ask: “Where do my visitors convert, and where do they not convert?”

Three important items you can track through eCommerce analytics include:

• Multi-channel funnel reports showing which traffic sources convert best
• Shopping behavior analysis to determine why shoppers abandon carts
• Product performance reports to show where revenues are generated

As an example, multichannel funnel reports help you identify first and last channels before conversions and your best channel combinations. This allows you to focus more on productive channels in terms of page optimization, content creation, or advertising.

Identifying and Addressing Problems Using eCommerce Analytics

eCommerce analytics also helps you uncover and address problems before they can negatively affect sales numbers. Shopping behavior reports can identify phenomena like:

• Visits with no shopping activity
• Products that are viewed, but not added to carts
• Products added to carts but not purchased
• Ratio of sessions that check out to abandoned sessions

These indicators often point to simple problems that can be fixed easily such as by content-to-product linking, better shopping cart visibility, or increased clarity of pricing or shipping information. Other actions taken may include increasing stock of best sellers, investing more in promoting highly profitable products, analyzing pricing to ensure it’s on target, and creation/timing of promotions.

User Behavior and eCommerce Success

Advanced eCommerce analytics help you understand user behavior better so you can tailor your site more to customer needs. User behavior analytics can lead you to take actions like:

• Using targeted display ads for specific products
• Focusing social commerce efforts on visitors coming to your site from top converting traffic sources
• Re-targeting people who showed interest in specific products by offering special promotions on those products
• Identifying poorly performing products and adjusting marketing and social commerce efforts toward improving their sales performance

Segmenting Users for Better eCommerce Success

One size fits all marketing and social commerce strategies are not ideal. Your visitors are probably quite diverse, and your site analytics can let you know for certain. Advanced analytics can help you customize pages to maximize conversions based on traffic characteristics. Additionally, you can use segmentation as a framework for creating intentional, well-planned A/B experiments on your site to help you provide a more engaging shopping experience.

One example of segmentation that could be valuable to your eCommerce strategy is differentiating mobile from non-mobile users. You can even get tools that let you segment by device type so you can run experiments and be confident that a single device type isn’t skewing results. You can also segment based on things like repeat shoppers versus first time site visitors, users who have purchased recently versus users who made purchases a long time ago, and high “cart value” purchasers versus casual buyers.

Predictive Analytics and eCommerce

Predictive analytics combines techniques including statistical analyses, data mining, and operations research to help you understand data in the proper context. Combined with forecasting models, you can use predictive analytics to make more accurate predictions about future buying trends. Predictive analytics used to be reserved for bigger enterprises, but today tools are available to enterprise level eCommerce organizations of all types and sizes, along with the great insights they can reveal through processing and analysis of big data. Predictive analytics solutions customized for eCommerce allow eCommerce managers to make smarter strategic and operational decisions. Predictive analytics combined with customer engagement is expected to ultimately lead to a world of “hyper individualized experiences,” according to research firm Forrester.


Analytics are critical for your eCommerce and social commerce strategy. eCommerce analytics go beyond traditional site analytics, and today include exciting techniques like predictive analytics that can help your organization maximize sales numbers while wasting less time on techniques that are less beneficial.

Akbar Jaffer is the Vice President of Marketing and Products at Social Annex, Inc.


5 Ways to Collaborate with Influencers to Produce Content

This is a guest post by Evy Wilkins, VP of Marketing at Traackr. Traackr is a sponsor of our Realtime Marketing Lab event, but this post is not sponsored.

If you practice content marketing, you also need to create and sustain relationships with the people who influence your customers. Why? Because your content is only as good as the people who read it and take action on it.

Content and influence marketing

When you build strategic relationships with influencers, you open your content to new audiences and more relevant eyeballs. It’s how you grow your traffic, reach more people and get more leads.

You’ll find the more you build relationships with your influencers, the more opportunities you uncover to keep the ball rolling. One tweet becomes one comment becomes a few emails becomes an interview becomes a partner.

I’m passionate about how content marketing and influencer relationships work together. I’ve interviewed experts on this topic, I incorporate it in my work and I wrote a guide on how to do it.

Here are a few of the ideas from that guide with examples of businesses doing awesome work involving influencers in their content marketing and social engagement.

#1 Answer Their Questions on Your Blog

  • Level: Easy
  • How: Listen to your influencers’ content to find moments when they ask questions or open the door to a healthy debate.
  • Ex: Gathering Clouds, a blog by Logicworks, keeps tabs on the cloud computing conversation and provides timely insights.

#2  Incorporate Their Tweets in Your Content

  • Level: Easy
  • How: Instead of publishing a curated list of posts, write your own piece and highlight other people’s points of view by embedding their tweets.
  • Ex: We analyzed the trends at a social media conference and sprinkled the best tweets from influencers throughout the post.

#3 Use Your Assets To Support Your Influencers

  • Level: Medium
  • How: Leverage your publication platforms and channels to showcase your influencers and the work they do.
  • Ex: Concur celebrated Small Business Week by featuring small business professionals on their blog.

#4 Help Your Influencers Tell a Story

  • Level: Advanced
  • How: Use your data to produce infographics or studies they can incorporate into their own work.
  • Ex: Trulia, a residential real estate site, used their data to analyze dating trends. It was so interesting the New York Times picked it up.

#5 Provide Exclusive Experiences to Inspire Their Content

  • Level: Advanced
  • How: Find ways to incorporate special opportunities (interviews, early access) for influencers in your product development process, during your launches or at your events.
  • Ex: IBM involved influencers at its Smarter Commerce Summit, resulting in wide coverage of their event to many different audiences.

The goal is to start seeing your content as a way to create relationships with the people who matter most to your business. When you put people at the heart of your content, you end up producing higher quality pieces that resonate with your audience.

Shares go up. Engagement increases. What ideas do you have for incorporating your influencers into your content strategy?

Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author

Guest author Evy Wilkins

Evy Wilkins is the VP Marketing at Traackr, a leading influencer marketing platform. She’s co-hosting Traackr’s Advanced Influencer Marketing Workshop in NYC on 10/15, the day after Realtime Marketing Lab.

89% of CMOs Say Social Data Has Influenced Their Decisions

89% of CMOs Say Social Data Has Influenced Their DecisionsA recent study of 100 CMOs by Bazaarvoice reveals that nearly half of CMOs have used social data to make predictions or forecasts.  The survey asked members of the CMO Club (a forum for top marketing executives) how they value social data, as reported by MIT Sloan Management Review.

In general, CMOs surveyed expressed a high opinion about the value of social data.  Over 82% believe that social data has a “measurable impact on brand awareness.”  Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) say social data has influenced their decisions.  However, CMOs are not (yet) frequently relying on social data for decision-making: only 21% of those surveyed said social data affects at least one in five decisions they make.

The survey also asked CMOs when social data is the most effective: 83% said when indicating “discernible trends or patterns that may impact the business” and 81% listed “consumer demographics and/or psychographics.”

CMOs also may be using social data “to enhance their influence and improve their personal brand within the organization,” says MIT Sloan Management Review.  The study authors concluded that CMOs use social data to drive discussion in the C-suite, which makes them “owners of the brand-consumer relationship.”

Social data may be an “unexpected and potentially new source of legitimacy in the C-suite,” concludes MIT Sloan Management Review.  Do you agree?

Survey respondents were all among the 600 members of the CMO Club, which is focused primarily in North America. It includes executives in both B2B and B2C companies, and over 80% of members represent brands valued at over $50 million.

Cutting The Mustard With The Grey Poupon Facebook Society Of Good Taste

I should have seen it coming. The buzz of ‘Downton Abbey.’ The 76-page Ralph Lauren catalog that arrived last week – Ralph looking most un-cowboy-ish behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, British flag on the door, RL girls posed, now on raked gravel courtyards in impeccable tweeds, now on horseback in black velvet evening dress, the fine saddle leather a dreamy contrast and rhinestone collar providing a certain edge. Restoration Hardware’s tome also arrived, reeking of Manor–upstairs and down, plus adjacent stables.

Then Elizabeth Olson of The New York Times reported that Grey Poupon’s Facebook-based “Society of Good Taste” was about to go exclusive.

“Starting Wednesday, in a new advertising campaign on Facebook, would-be fans can have their profiles checked to see whether their proper use of grammar, taste in art, restaurant check-ins, books read and movies selected combine for a score high enough to merit membership in the Grey Poupon ‘Society of Good Taste.’”

Can Grey Poupon make marketing history by rejecting Facebook fans?From Rolls to DijonGate ’08 to Miracle Whip.

Who of a certain age does not remember the “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” of the original early 1980s television commercial? Or appreciated the later version:  in one Rolls, Ian Richardson, evil Tory politician Francis Urquhart in “House of Cards,” in another “Yes, Prime Minister” actor Paul Eddington in need of mustard. Convincing Americans that a plastic squeeze bottle of Grey Poupon is A-OK was oh so easy: Is that Grey Poupon on your weiner?

A 2004 New Yorker piece (“The Ketchup Conundrum”) tells the great story of how these commercials and print ads created by Lowe Marschalk convinced Americans to switch from bright yellow French’s to the real French Grey Poupon.  Actually, it was by then made in Connecticut with New York State wine, and there was no proof that anyone in the U.K. actually used it to spice up anything whatsoever, but who cared? “By the end of the nineteen-eighties Grey Poupon was the most powerful brand in mustard,” ends the mustard section of the piece, which goes on to tell a sad tale in which one poor bloke seeks and fails to find the Holy Grail – the Grey Poupon of ketchup.

And who can forget DijonGate of 2008, in which then-candidate Barack Obama ordered a burger, politely requesting mustard, and very specifically for “a spicy mustard or something like that, or a Dijon mustard, something like that.” A Grey Poupon fan, I purchased an extra jar as the hay was made with that!

Miracle Whip and Grey Poupon are both Kraft brandsSo the news that this particular mustard brand was emerging from its low profile in the marketing world to defend its market share (a second-place 12.6 percent in a saturated market of mostly oldsters) by rejecting wannabe Facebook fans was intriguing. Adding spice to the news, sister brand Kraft Miracle Whip recently engaged in risky behavior on Twitter and has current TV commercials featuring a dark and tortured village square scene remixing Hawthorn’s The Scarlet Letter (the new red MW replacing the “A”) with a generic Salem witch hunt.

Others were intrigued and jumped on the story. In all the coverage, only the Whopper Sacrifice campaign, also created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the creators of the new Grey Poupon Facebook campaign, is called out as something remotely similar. That campaign challenged fans to dump their Facebook friends for the Whopper.  They did, although Facebook put a swift end to the fun.

The Baroness of Banality. Are You Talk’n to Me?

Confident in both my grammar and my good taste in condiments, I decided to sample the  experience that Grey Poupon was serving up. One week after the campaign began (with an existing fanbase of about 22,000 according to reports), I “Liked” The Society of Good Taste and the application process began.

A charming app, in which I was seated behind a group of judges viewing a screen, scoured my Facebook page. Everything whizzes by – photos were commented on too quickly to take notes, but the judges did seem to like one photo of our chocolate Lab on his surfboard. Fiery political links and comments from like-minded friends appeared as well. A sour observation that I should get “out and about” more often gave me pause, but then it was over.

The Grey Poupon Society of Good Taste Rejects Facebook Fans“The Baron of Banality” (to which I snapped, Baroness to you!) headed the statement: “You’re in the 33rd PERCENTILE” (no period, a word in all caps) above a paragraph, written in faux-Euro/Brit, inviting reapplication after a finishing school course or visit to a museum or “online literary hub.”  (I take my Trotsky solo, thanks).

Stunned. What was it? Why had I failed this test?

“LOL” is reportedly frowned on, and I’ve used that twice. OK, two of three restaurant check-ins were to an establishment known as Liar’s Saloon, but surely… No, it was true.

The Baron of Banality notice and all the gory details had been auto-posted to my Facebook page – and had already been “liked” by one of my exclusive group of 53 friends.

Retaliation (Engagement?) and The Return for More Abuse

I swear it was only to grab a screenshot of the judges oohing at the chocolate Lab on the surfboard that made me decide to reapply the very next day.

Long story short, as soon as the app started, my new computer froze.  I let out a few choice words and waited. Ten seconds later, an acceptance letter — my PERCENTILE had jumped to 68!  How had this happened?

I’ll admit to two things that may have convinced the judges. Immediately after being rejected, I – for the first time mind you – engaged on Facebook with a brand. No way was The Mustard getting away scot free. Not when a large jar of Grey Poupon had been laid in just last week. So, as can be seen above, I had responded to the notice posted by The Society with a comment: I’m All Shook Up! and threw in a video of Elvis singing the same to a crowd of screaming girls for good measure.

And, to demonstrate my good taste, I had also shared a lovely photo of a mountain with my Facebook friends, adding the elegant comment “Oh to be there.” This was heart felt — it is my favorite Colorado mountain — so I felt no shame. A friend’s unsolicited “It’s beautiful” reply doubled the impact.

Other than that, my post-rejection Facebook activity quickly returned to normal as I forgot myself and used “dag rat it” once, and “wing nut” appeared in a reply comment. Another friend’s “Pray that this lead holds until the election” may have been what really clinched membership in The Society on second try.

Critique, Questions and Predictions

(1)   The app itself is fun and well done. My only gripe is that now I’m a member and can’t go back for that screen shot of the judges critiquing my Labrador on his surfboard.

(2)   Will rejected fans return that unopened jar of Dijon?  Or take their rejections in good humour as they reach for the gold?

(3)   The whole point of this campaign is to get young people engaged with America’s faux-French mustard via a centuries-old, secret love affair with all things British. The original wildly successful appeal made advertising history. This Facebook campaign will not live up to the same standards of class. The Rolls are gone. The Prime Minister is gone. Some of the judges (we see only their silhouetted backs) could be the butler and the chambermaid from the shape of the hats. Further, the very first “perk” — already on its way — is a tote bag.

(4)   Something’s up with that algorithm. From the gutter of 33rd percentile to 68 with just a couple of new posts? Hmmm.

A would-be member of the The Grey Poupon "Society of Good Taste" on Facebook(5)   It’s all in good fun. According to reports, The Society of Good Taste started out last Wednesday with an existing fanbase of 22,000 (where they came from we do not know). Today, my fellow Society members number 35,057 (up from 34,810 yesterday). And I’m truly interested to find out whether a certain Peter Holländer will ever be admitted. Yesterday, he politely posted: I LOVE your mustard on a well done McRib, so would you please let me in?

Your turn – and let us know: Do you cut the mustard?

Influence Measurement Tools: A Big Topic (Announcement & Request for Help!)

Influence Measurement Tools: Much Drama, Little Information

The Influence Measurement Tools Drama: Holy Grail, Sheer Evil or Just a Game?

I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.   Or rather, more than I can finish without a little encouragement from you, and the pressure that I’ll create for myself by announcing that I’m actually doing this.

So, I’m announcing The Realtime Report’s Guide to Online Influence Measurement Tools — a guide for brands, agencies, developers and anyone interested in understanding the rapidly evolving, innovative, controversial and potentially very disruptive field of influence measurement.

Online influence measurement goes way beyond Klout and the current raging debate about scores, algorithms, perks and privacy issues.  There are at least five companies that measure your influence and assign you a score.  Each has a different methodology, uses different data sources and publishes different information about you.

In addition to these single-score tools, there are a set of very sophisticated tools that identify influencers across a given set of topics, find audiences specific to keywords, and  even measure opinions.  The analytics that are possible with these tools are pretty mind-blowing.

So right now,  I’m down the rabbit-hole doing research and collecting information.  What started as an idea for a simple blog post became a plan for a series of blog posts as I started mapping out the breadth of the material to cover.  Now I’m thinking it may even become an e-book, or a downloadable guide of some kind.  I mean, who wants to look at comparison charts in a blog template?

Here’s what I plan to cover.  Don’t get mad if I end up leaving some of this out, and please let me know in the comments if I’m missing anything important!

  1. Single-score influence measurement tools:  Klout, PeerIndex, TweetLevel, PeekYou, and Kred
    • how the profiles are created
    • how the scores are created
    • what else the tool measures
    • what data the tool displays about users publicly
    • follow the money:  what’s the business model
    • API and the key developer partners
    • privacy issues
    • key use cases for each platform
  2. A few fun comparisons of an influence profile for the same users  (I’m thinking Mark Zuckerberg might be good for one of the subjects, since he doesn’t believe in privacy…)
  3. Contextual influence measurement tools:  Traackr, Appinions, and SpotInfluence 
    • data sources and methodologies
    • screen shots & key features available to paid users
    • how brands can use these tools to define and target audiences
    • key customers
    • developer information
    • what’s in the pipeline:  many of these tools have plans for new features that will take this game to a whole new level
  4. Brands and Best Practices in Measuring and Identifying Influencers
    • If you’re in PR or marketing, what can you do with the free tools?  What are some best practices for how to incorporate them in your tool set?
    • What’s the justification for spending $500+ on a more sophisticated paid tool?
  5. Users and Influence Measurement
    • These tools are here to stay.  Is there a value in them to the user — or should you try and opt out of every tool you can find (we’ll have links)?
    • Is it a game?  Or a meaningful metric?  What’s really being measured?
    • We’re going from indexing online content, to indexing people.  What about the privacy issues?

Ok — see why I need some encouragement?

If I’m going to tackle this big of a project, I want to make sure that I’m doing something you’ll actually find useful (stop me before I spend much more time on this!), and that I’m not leaving out anything important.

So please comment & let me know what you think:  what do you want to know?  what are the big issues that need to get addressed?  and what am I leaving out?

68% of CMOs Underprepared For Social Media

A new study from IBM looks at how prepared CMOs are for the future, including an increased focus on social media.  The majority – 52% – of CMOs do not feel prepared to deal with the high level of complexity developing in the marketplace, largely from the “empowerment of the consumer” due to “increased connectivity.” The study examines the challenges faced by public and private sector CMOs in the next five years.

Percent of CMOs Reporting Social Media Underpreparedness via IBM StudyOut of 13 key market factors, social media is just behind data explosion as the factor CMOs feel least prepared to deal with. Over two-thirds (68%) of CMOs feel underprepared to deal with social media over the next 5 years.

Respondents were also asked to rank each factor in terms of its expected impact on the marketing function over the next three to five years.  Charted along with the level of preparedness, social media emerged among the top four areas of concern, which also included data explosion, growth of channel and device choices and shifting consumer demographics.

Other highlights from the study:

  • 82% of respondents plan to increase the use of social media
  • while two-thirds believe that ROI will be the primary measure of effectiveness by 2015, only 38% believe that social media metrics are an important measure to gauge marketing success
  • there was only a small gap between the level of social media unpreparedness of outperforming organizations (66%) and underperforming organizations (70%)
  • only 25% of CMOs believe social media expertise is necessary to be personally successful over the next 3-5 years

The study concludes that “The vast majority of CMOs believe there are three key areas for improvement. They must understand and deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms.”

The 2011 IBM Global CMO Study includes research from over 1700 top marketing executives, covering 19 industries in 64 countries.

Business Use of Social Media: 96% Advertising, 86% PR, 75% Customer Service

A new report from Buddy Media and Booz & Company shows that 95% of companies are planning to invest more in social media, and breaks down how companies are planning to direct those investments.  Based on input from more than 100 leading companies, the report looks at the business use of social media:  the platforms being used, which company departments are handling and using social media the most, and measures the projected spend on social media.

The report measures how companies use the various social media platforms:

  • Facebook (94%), Twitter (77%) and YouTube (42%) are the basis of most social media strategies, and have the highest priority
  • Companies use multiple social platforms – 4.6 on average
  • Blogs and company-owned platforms are still important outlets, used by 25% of respondents
  • Location-based social media is only just beginning to emerge as a platform
  • MySpace has faded completely into the background, with only 2% of companies using it
  • These social media platforms are being used for: advertising and promotions (96%), PR (88%), customer service (75%) and market research (56%)

Business Use of Social Media: 35% Have Senior Level Exec Responsible for Social MediaThe research breaks down how social media is being handled within companies:

  • The departments responsible for leading social media are mainly: marketing (81%), digital (62%), PR (48%), customer service (26%)
  • Just over one-third (35%) have a senior-level executive who is responsible for social media company-wide
  • 38% of companies say social media is on their CEO’s agenda

What kind of spending are companies planning for social media?

  • 95% of companies will spend more on social media – of those, 57% will invest in ‘somewhat more resources’ and 39% will invest in ‘substantially more resources’
  • Only 5% of companies expect their investment in social media to stay the same, and no respondents expected their social spend to decrease
  • Of these projected investments, spending is directed toward: hiring full-time employees (57%), services provided by partners (48%), creating more content (39%), and media buys (38%)
  • The portion of digital media budgets spent on social media will grow significantly over the next three years
  • Much of the money (79%) that will increasingly be spent on social is being pulled from other areas of digital media spending, although some (21%) will be pulled from TV spending

How are companies measuring all of this social media spend and effort? Most respondents use a variety of metrics, with the most popular being engagement (forwards, shares, posts, retweets, likes)  at 93%, followed by participation (fans, followers, check-ins, sign-ups) with 92%, reach (uniques, PVs, video views, time spent) with 88%, and advocacy (comments, feedback, participation in polls) at 81%.

See the full report on the business use of social media below.
Booz & Co Buddy Media Campaigns to Capabilities Social Media and Marketing 2011

How to Use Realtime Marketing To Deliver Value to the Right Customer at the Right Time.

It's Time to Go Realtime: our article from the Social Media Monthly September issue

===== This article originally appeared in the September issue of The Social Media Monthly, the first print magazine focused on social media.  We are sharing it here with permission from Bob Fine. Look for more articles and extended case studies from The Realtime Report in future editions! =====

It’s Time to Go Realtime.

If you think social media is about being friends with your customers or winning more followers, you’re missing the point.  The social graph is the conduit that allows brands to create real business value, rather than the value itself.

With the rise of social, mobile, geolocation and realtime services, brands have a massive opportunity to solve the two age-old problems of advertising:

  1. How do you get a customer’s attention when they don’t really want to be interrupted?
  2. How do you get the right message in front of the right customer at the right time?

Traditional advertising strategies involve bullhorns, 30-second spots, pop-ups and pre-rolls—all designed to interrupt consumers and force them to pay attention to your message.  Demographic profiles are ineffective when consumer needs, behaviors and interests change. Context and timing are even trickier: I may be a gadget geek, but that doesn’t mean I will pay attention to your ad for a new cell phone while waiting for my movie to start if I’m distracted or just not interested at that particular time.

Realtime marketing solves these problems.

Social consumers can be targeted based on an expression of interest in realtime.

Today’s social consumers publicly and willingly share information about themselves.  Through status updates, comments, video uploads, check-ins and “Likes,” social consumers provide actionable information about their location, preferences, mood and specific interests.

These fleeting, time-and context-specific expressions of interest provide the opportunity for brands to get attention by creating value.  Social consumers are engaging in behavior that is unstructured and not necessarily directed to a specific outcome.  Brands can interject themselves into that conversation and become a part of it, influencing and redirecting the consumer’s interest or behavior.

Do this inappropriately, and it’s spam.  But if you do this correctly, the customer will welcome the interruption, thank you and possibly even share their enthusiasm with their friends.

The Realtime Marketing Formula: 

Value = Time + Location + Shared Interest

Realtime marketers are not interrupting when they reply to a Twitter message with a solution or an offer for help, reward a Foursquare check-in with a special offer, or add a customer-produced video to a branded Facebook page. They are offering something of value, in a way that consumers are likely to find interesting, relevant and worth paying attention to.

That’s saying, “Thank you for telling us something about yourself. Because we know what your problem is, we can help solve it.  Because you’ve shared your location, we can serve you better. Because you’ve shared something that we think our other customers will like, we’re going to promote you and make you feel good about being part of our brand.”

In each case, the marketer has identified a shared interest—a need, desire, customer service issue, geographical proximity, useful or entertaining content—and found a way to create value for that specific customer, in realtime.  And because the marketer’s message is personal, immediate and relevant, it is going to earn the customer’s attention.

Realtime marketing solves the traditional advertiser’s dilemma because you are targeting a customer based on an expression of interest, and you are reaching out to them in a way that’s time- and context-appropriate.

Realtime marketing lets you target customers based on an expression of interest.

Let’s look at some concrete examples of how realtime marketing can create value, from the customer’s perspective:

  1. I arrive at my hotel on the first day of a trip and check in via Foursquare. I see a message saying that there’s a special nearby, and learn that the Mexican Grill on the corner is offering half-priced beer with a meal. Done!
  2. I’m on my way to the airport, and share this information in a tweet. I receive a reply message from an airline account Twitter account—not even the airline that I’ll be using—giving me a heads up that there are weather-related delays and a link to check flight status information. That’s a level of helpfulness and service that I’ll remember the next time I’m choosing my airline.
  3. I’m a sports fan, and have “liked” my team’s Facebook page in order to receive early notice on ticket sales.  I see a special on tickets for tomorrow night, but already have plans for a big date, so I share the ticket information with my Facebook friends, and one of them ends up buying two tickets.  Now he owes me!

In each case, the social expression of interest—sharing information about what I’m doing, about where I am, or about my interests—has allowed a business to create value for the customer, and to win new business in exchange.

Realtime Marketing is simple and scalable. The time to start is now.

Note that none of these examples require the marketer to deliver a personalized, individual message.  Today’s platforms and tools allow brands to create and manage realtime marketing campaigns that touch millions of potential customers.

It all boils down to three simple activities:

  • Define a potential expression of interest for your product, service or brand.
  • Listen—actively, by monitoring content, or passively, via a location-based service or mobile network—for customers to share information that will let you recognize and identify that interest.
  • Deliver an offer or a service, in a format that is easy for customers to respond to, and make it easy for them to share your offer with their social graph.

How you do each of these things for your brand is going to vary dramatically based on the type of business you’re in.  But the time for you to start becoming a Realtime Marketer is now.

Because somewhere out there, a customer is expressing interest.

Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook Promotion: Be The ‘President’ Via Foursquare, Facebook Places

Dunkin' Donuts Promotion Uses Facebook, Foursquare, Facebook Places“Who wants to be mayor when you could be President?”

Dunkin’ Donuts just launched a new promotion giving their Facebook fans a chance to become the “President of Dunkin’ Nation.”  Customers compete by checking in on Foursquare or Facebook Places, and a new “President” will be named each week until September 23.

How this social media promotion works:

  • customers ‘like’ Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page
  • these new fans register via their Foursquare or Facebook Places account
  • checkins are allowed once per hour, up to 10 times per day
  • the fan with the most checkins each week is eligible to become the ‘President of Dunkin’ Nation’ for the week (5 winners total)
  • a leaderboard on the Facebook page allows participants to track their competition in realtime

Each ‘President’ will win a 50″ LCD TV, a $200 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, a Dunkin’ Nation President t-shirt and mug.  There is also a potential reward for those who are less fanatical followers of the brand – 33 ‘Daily Sweeps’ Winners will receive $25 gift cards just for checking in over the course of the promotion.

Dunkin’ Donuts shows a clear desire to raise their number of Facebook fans (currently just under 4 million); hence the choice to ‘like-gate’ this social media promotion.  According to Kevin Vine, Dunkin’s brand division interactive marketing manager, the company hopes for 100,000 participants in the promotion. However, he told Mashable it’s more about brand loyalty – with the aim of “celebrating and rewarding” the company’s “dedicated fans” on social media – than it is about driving traffic to actual locations.

The ability to checkin up to ten times per day raises concerns about spam, according to Mashable, especially since Facebook Places users cannot opt out of broadcasting their checkins to friends on the social network (Foursquare users do have this option).

Will this be an advantage – the more notifications about Dunkin’ Donuts in user newsfeeds, the better?  Or could the frequency of checkins become a detriment, as friends get frustrated by the number of Dunkin’ Donuts mentions on their newsfeed?

How much brand awareness is ‘too much’ on social networks? Let us know what you think.