QR Codes: Secret No Longer, They’re A Key to Smart Marketing

Nowadays you’re probably seeing QR or quick response codes and other two-dimensional barcodes on all sorts of printed materials – from direct mail pieces to brochures to POP displays and more. And, for good reason.

By employing these small square grids of typically black modules on white backgrounds, a lot of marketers are seeing green – as in increased responses and higher sales.

Why? It’s no secret: QR codes are readable by most smartphones. And by holding up their iPhone or Android to them for scanning, users can instantly call to their screens just the kind of information you’d like them to see. Like a discount coupon or other special offer. A landing page that showcases a favorable product or service comparison. Contest entries or giveaways. Promotional or informational videos. A Facebook or Twitter page. Or a link to the nearest retailer who carries your products.

With benefits like these, shoppers as well as marketers are catching on to these 21st century barcodes. Eighty-three percent of North American consumers are aware of QR codes, and 47% of those have used their mobile device to scan one, says Brand Spark International.

 

 

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Bull’s Eye! Message by Database Markets to Obtain Better Results

Database marketing is a type of direct marketing that employs databases of customers to create highly targeted lists for direct mail campaigns.bullseye

Typically, your database will include customer names and addresses, phone numbers, emails, purchase histories, information requests and other data you’ve collected among those who have opted in for continued communications. You’ll collect these names via trade show registrations, social media responses, contest entry forms, product warranty cards, subscriptions to newsletters and e-newsletters and even simple sign-up forms in your lobby.

With database marketing, the more names the better. Why? The larger your pool of data, the more opportunities you’ll have to pinpoint groups of customers or prospects that can be reached with your customized communications. Of course, if you want to expand your collection of candidates beyond the customers and interested parties in your own database, names of prospects must be purchased from third parties such as list vendors.

At this point, the real work – and true promise – of database marketing begins. By filtering and mining the data for actionable information (often with the help of an analyst), you can hone in on all sorts of audiences with targeted appeals. Recent purchasers of your products, for example, might be prime prospects for service contracts, while long-ago buyers may be especially receptive to promotional offers on replacement models.

Like to begin benefiting from database marketing? We can help!For expert assistance, please contact us.

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Direct Mail: Segmented Lists Deliver Better Results

shutterstock target groupsSmart direct marketers know that when it comes to customers, one mailing list does not fit all. By narrowing your focus and directing your messages to more highly select groups, your targets will find your campaigns more relevant … and relevant campaigns invariably gain better results.

So, how best to harness the power of mailing list segmentation?

To begin, you’ll need to develop a good understanding of your prospects and customers – including an appreciation of who they are, where they are located, and what motivates their purchase of a product or service such as yours.

Reaching highly targeted groups may be easier than you think. Larger list providers commonly sell mailing lists through various “selects” that you can specify. These include demographics (gender, age, occupation), geography (city, state, zip code) and firmographics (a company’s annual revenue, number of employees, SIC code), as well as purchase behavior (product or service usage, attitudes, responses) and psychographics (lifestyle, values, personality).

With such list segmenting, a private school for example might send one mailing to parents of younger children for its preschool program, and then choose slightly different list selects to reach families with older kids to promote the benefits of its elementary or middle school classes in a separate effort.

For more information on how direct mail can deliver for you, contact us today.

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Building Brand Preference with Lead Nurturing

Okay, so you’ve identified some promising leads but they’re not yet ready to buy. Time to give up? No! It’s time for lead nurturing. Primarily employing cost-efficient, email communications, this marketing practice not only suggests you stay engaged,shutterstock nuture plant but also actively build a strong brand preference among these targets. Why? So that when they’re ready to make a purchase, they make your product or service their leading choice.

So how do you go about lead nurturing? Here are three recommendations.

  1. Gain – and maintain – permission to stay in contact. If distributing an e-newsletter, keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience. Whenever a prospect loses interest, you lose the opportunity for a future sale.
  2. Educate by establishing key ideas and points of differentiation. Your messages should work to position your product or service as a preferred solution in the mind of prospects.
  3. Focus on the next stage – which may not necessarily be the final sale. An opt-in for an e-newsletter, for example, may result in a request for more information, which may provide an opportunity for a “Did you have any questions?” phone call.

One final tip? Do as much as you can, but don’t feel pressed to do it all. Start small, enlist the aid of a qualified marketing services provider, if needed, and build from there.

Want to know more on how lead nurturing can benefit you? Call us today.

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Building an Online Community

shutterstock_communitySmart marketers have discovered that one of the most cost-effective ways to strengthen their brand is to build an online community via their website, blogs and social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Note that “community” is different than “audience.” While laudable, gaining a huge number of followers doesn’t mean much in and of itself.

Why?According to a Nielsen study, 90% of consumers rely on the recommendations of their peers, while just 33% trust online ads. So your objective should be to turn those in your user base into active advocates who spread the word on your goods or services in a way you cannot do on your own.

All that said, how do you go about building an online community?

Begin by paying close attention to your followers to determine what content they deem worthy of sharing. With these insights, you will want to provide them a steady stream of content they value most – be it tips, videos, interviews or otherwise. Never go silent for lengthy periods, and always seek to be different as well as relevant.

Next, strive to make your content shareable. Brief and catchy headlines will help, as will built-in plug-ins that enable one- or two-click sharing from one social site to another.

There are, of course, dozens of other methods to employ. But if you construct a solid foundation of valuable content that’s likely to be shared, you’ll be well on your way to building an online community that will help build your brand.

Need help in creating – or strengthening – your online community? For expert assistance, count on us.

 

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Tips on Writing a Successful White Paper and How to Promote It

Generic-Q3-Guide-ImageWhite papers can be an effective content marketing tool. Besides building credibility and trust and establishing your company as an expert in its field, the real value of white papers is in lead generation.

To be successful, your white paper must capture and keep the attention and interest of your reader. There’s a valuable exchange of information that goes on here. Your reader needs to recognize that in exchange for their precious contact information, they are receiving something of real value.

Keys to a Winning White Paper

Make sure the content is compelling and offers solutions for the reader. With your target audience in mind, answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Other suggestions to make your white paper a success include:

  • Use interesting and powerful titles that arouse interest and curiosity.
  • Write in a conversational tone as if you are talking one-on-one with a person.
  • Every white paper needs a cover. Make sure it’s engaging.
  • Keep it relatively short, around 14 pages.
  • Make it easy to read. Break up the text with headlines, sub-headlines, bullet points, graphics and charts.

Getting Found

Even the best written white paper is only useful if it gets opened. And to get opened it needs to be found. Here are some ways to make it easy to find your white paper:

  • Showcase the offer on your website.
  • Send an email to your contact list to let them know about it.
  • Post an announcement on your social media channels.
  • Send a direct mail piece that leads the reader to a PURL (personal URL) to download the paper.
  • Offer free copies through pay-per-click ads.
  • Distribute printed copies at trade shows.

Plan for a Safe Landing

Don’t forget to include a landing page for your white paper campaign. All of your promotional channels should drive the reader to a landing page that gathers their contact information before enabling a download of the white paper.

In need of an effective copywriter and strategies for promoting your white paper? Give us a call.

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Webinars: A Smart and Cost-Effective Marketing Tool

First of all, what’s a webinar?shutterstock webinar

A webinar is a live online presentation during which participants can submit questions to an expert. Typically, prospects phone in to participate or, if unable to attend, review the presentation later if you post it on your website.

And what makes webinars a valuable marketing tool?

By allowing you to engage with people anywhere around the world, webinars are often an ideal way to introduce a new product.  With them, you can satisfy the needs of that growing group of prospects who seek information (i.e., content) without the old-style hard sell – all while earning trust and demonstrating your expertise.

Webinars also allow you to generate new leads and nurture existing relationships. And, did we mention webinars are achievable at a relatively low cost?

Sounds great! So, how do you set up a webinar?

After determining the topic, time and date – and practicing your presentation – you’ll select a hosting platform to collect registrations and facilitate call-ins. Some popular platforms are Adobe Connect, AnyMeeting, GoToWebinar, MeetingBurner, WebEx and ZipCast.

Next, you’ll promote registration for your upcoming webinar via blog posts, emails, news releases, newsletters, postcards, social media pages and your website. One tip to spur attendance: Tell your audience you’ll announce a special discount, giveaway or download at the end of your webinar!

Need help in creating and hosting a webinar? Count on us for expert assistance.

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Jump Start Your Website Viewership with Pay-Per-Click

shutterstock PPCThe idea behind pay-per-click marketing (PPC) or paid search is simple: Google, Bing, Yahoo and others allow you to buy listings on their results pages when consumers go online to search for goods or services such as the ones you offer. These listings appear along with the natural or organic, non-paid search results.

To place your ad, you’ll bid against competitors on the keywords people commonly use to search for your goods or services, and pay only up to a budgeted campaign amount. When someone clicks on your PPC ad and arrives at your website, you are charged the amount you bid.

But why “buy” website viewership when other methods are no- or low-cost?

Organic search, for example, is inherent to any web marketing effort. Through careful selection of keywords of interest to your targets and employment of search engine optimization (SEO) measures such as page titles, site structure and XML site maps, you’ll enhance your search engine rankings and grow your audience at no added cost.

Of course, including worthwhile content such as guides, videos, updates, offers, events and more will attract website viewers, and keep them coming back for more. And yet another no- or low-cost technique to boost viewership is to claim your local listings at Google My Business or Bing Places for Business, among other sites.

Speed is the key advantage to pay-per-click.

While more costly than organic search, paid search has its advantages – among them quick implementations and potentially rapid results. So consider a pay-per-click campaign if you are launching a new product or service, announcing a special event, promoting a sale or publicizing some other time-sensitive communication.

Another great reason to consider pay-per-click? If you are a new business or one that is establishing or renewing its web marketing effort, and would benefit from a jump start in the growth of your audience.

Need help in creating a PPC campaign for your business, organization or nonprofit? Call us today for expert assistance.

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5 Ways to Effectively Use Video to Promote Your Business

Have you thought about creating videos to promote your business? Besides the fact that YouTube ranks second only to Google as the most widely used search engine on the Internet, videos also have the power to engage customers and increase the time they spendshutterstock video on your website.

Here are five ideas for using video to boost your marketing efforts

  1. Demonstrate a product or how to do something. Showing how a product works is more meaningful than a written description. Plus, video lends credibility to your product and brand, inspires customer loyalty and ultimately will translate into more sales.
  2. Interview customers that are advocates for your products or services. Or invite your customers to upload their own videos using your product. This kind of activity generates interest and excitement about a brand and encourages engagement that a written testimonial won’t achieve.
  3. Encourage repeat visits to your site by keeping it fresh with frequently updated video content. Consider sharing news about activities, projects and promotions.
  4. Give your business some personality. Feature various team members or film a “day in the life” piece. This type of content makes your business seem more human and approachable.
  5. Advertise special events or sponsor a competition and share the link to the video on your social media sites for maximum exposure.

Keep in mind that your videos need not be the same quality as Oscar-winning movies. There are affordable cameras and editing programs available that will yield you an effective product. Need help getting started? Give us a call. We can help.

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Finders-Keepers: Help More Web Searchers Locate You with Local Listings

shutterstock local searchIf you own a small or mid-size local business, you know how important it is for online searchers to find you when they enter keywords such as “take-out pizza Poughkeepsie” or “welding services Duluth.”

In fact, 70% of searchers use local search to find offline businesses, according to Google.

You’ll help these searchers find you – and benefit your business, too – by claiming your local listing. In fact, if you operate a brick-and-mortar business, there’s a good chance a local listing has already been created for you by a search engine, online directory or social media site.

To establish or “claim” your local listing, you’ll work with search engines and directories to verify all key facts of your operation (e.g., location, hours, phone, payment methods, business category) to thereby signify “ownership” of it.

The good news? It’s easy. And the better news? You can do it at low or no cost!

Begin with a Google My Business listing (google.com/business) which helps people find you no matter what device they’re using – and no matter if they’re looking for you on Google Search, Google Maps or Google+.

Another key service – Bing Places for Business (bingplaces.com) – lets you claim (or add to) your business listing on Bing and be found by millions of users who are searching online. According to eBizMBA, Bing is the second most popular search engine after Google, and ahead of the next recommendation …

You should also consider local business listings on Yahoo (smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings). Offered through Yahoo Localworks, you can get your business listed on Yahoo Local, Yelp, WhitePages, Bing, MapQuest and Superpages.

The sources suggested above are just for starters. You can continue your quest for even more customers by claiming or establishing additional local listings on Yellowpages.com, Angie’s List, Yelp, Merchant Circle and Facebook.

Need help in claiming your local listings or with other digital marketing initiatives? Call us today for expert assistance.

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