Is Your Push Strategy Making You Pull Your Hair Out?

You spend plenty of time and energy segmenting your lists, crafting the right message, designing the look, and executing on time and on budget. You ship, you mail, you Tweet, you share, and then...*crickets*.

Well, what did you expect? A sale? An opt-in? A new customer? A higher Klout score? Ask yourself this the next time your results underwhelm:

Did you pull your audience in, or just you just push more marketing at them?

The Push Strategy has its merits in brand awareness as long as your push is strong and consistent. And if you have a big enough budget you can literally push your marketing all around the world. The current trend in marketing is asking people to "join the conversation", but that is a very passive approach. You need a huge push to reach enough people in your target audience to find a tiny fraction of people who are willing to "dialogue" about your product or service.

Talk is cheap. New customers and sales are the brass ring.

If you want to do more than get a few people talking about you, you need to incentivize them to respond. You need to draw the audience closer to you, to your landing page, or to your store. You need to be direct about it. You need a Pull Strategy to engage your audience, nurture their attention, and encourage them to take a specific action.

No fisherman has ever succeeded by throwing all their bait into the water, then sat back and waited for the fish to jump into their boat.

The ABCs Of F-Commerce

E-Commerce is the process of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing and paying for products and services on the internet. Typically, this means building a website to interact and transact with your customers. Your marketing drives people to the site, and the experience those customers have on the site will largely determine the chances of them coming back.

But “F-Commerce”, or Facebook Commerce, is different from E-Commerce. It’s almost the reverse perspective of E-Commerce in that customers and prospects are already on Facebook—it’s the marketer who must put their business there.

Facebook isn’t a website, it’s an internet platform. It’s a daily destination for the vast majority of regular internet users, almost regardless of demographic categories. It’s a consumer behavior that is increasingly relevant in peoples’ lives (whether they will admit it or not, 750 million people can’t be wrong).

Some of the world’s biggest brands are selling their goods and services on Facebook, and industry watchers are predicting that in 5 years more sales will be transacted on Facebook than on Amazon. This isn’t hard to believe when you consider how many ways a marketer can do business on the world’s busiest internet portal:

F-Stores: Facebook’s development platforms allow brands to install widgets that convert their Facebook page to an online store, with the ability to tap directly into their e-commerce website and supply chain, process orders and payments, and manage their customer relationships.

Group Buying: Trade “likes” for dollars. Provide your Facebook followers special offers that get better with every person who clicks the “like” button associated with your offer. Or generate significant social network buzz by announcing that a special deal will “go live” when an X-amount of people click the “like” button. It’s not just word-of-mouth, it’s crowd-sourced purchasing power.

Exclusive Offers: With traditional e-commerce (not an oxymoron anymore) you can make special offers to a known group of people—the folks on your list. On Facebook your offers go directly to your page fans, and any action they take on your offer is announced and opened up to their social network. You don’t need to ask them to forward the offer to a friend because all activity on Facebook is viral to begin with.

Facebook Connect: This permission-based marketing approach is conceptually similar to the opt-in, but it goes beyond allowing the marketer to connect with the prospect 1-on-1; it’s a 1-on-1-on-infinity relationship because Facebook Connect asks the individual for permission to look at their entire network and gather information on everyone. Think there’s a huge hurdle to get over regarding privacy? Think again. Every Facebook app from Angry Birds to Scrabble to Twitter on Facebook, asks for permission to tap into the users network first using Facebook Connect. The global success of Angry Birds means millions of people decided that protecting the privacy of their network wasn’t so important after all. If the offer is great, people will do whatever it takes to get access to it.

Shop-And-Tell Plug-Ins: Built into your e-commerce site, these plug-ins will tell a shopper’s network about their recent purchase (with appropriate permission granted first), not only on Facebook, but on your e-commerce site itself. When someone visits your site, they can see if someone from their own Facebook network has purchased something from you. It’s a virtual testimonial, almost as if your friend were waiting at the store for you to say “hey, I just bought this here and you should too”.

Check-In Deals: Facebook took the Foursquare concept and potentially became the biggest check-in network on the internet and in mobile, with their already-huge user base. Incentivizing your customers and prospects to check-in at your brick and mortar location with a special offer is one of the most effective ways to drive foot traffic (remember real, actual stores?) to your business. If you operate a restaurant, offering a small discount off the bill in exchange for a Facebook check-in is not only a great way to advertise your existence and location, it’s also a tacit recommendation. And if the customer checks-in on Facebook and includes a favorable comment about their experience, then you’ve just received a review even Zagat’s can’t measure up to.

F-Commerce isn’t an alternative to E-Commerce, it’s an additional component of a fully integrated marketing campaign. Instead of driving customers to your business, F-Commerce drives your business to your customers. And in turn it can potentially drive your customers’ social networks back to your business.

Seismically Speaking

Mid-afternoon in the Midwest yesterday you could feel the earthquake, even if you didn't feel the earthquake.

From just south of Baltimore: Just experienced an earthquake at Walmart

From Westchester County, NY: Holy F*****g earthquake!!!!

From Columbus: whoa...did anyone else feel that?!? Ohio earthquake??

From way up on the north side of Chicago: did my desk just shake or am I imagining things?

From Brooklyn: a link to Loretta Swit singing "I Feel the Earth Move" on the Muppet Show, posted on YouTube

From Maryland: who felt the earthquake on the east coast of the USA? i did not. I was leaving my gym in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Did not feel a thing. It was 6.0 or something??

Back to Chicago: Holy s**t! My desk was shaking!

From North Carolina: Shakin' in about you? Which earned responses of confirmed seismic activity in New Haven, CT, Boston, Northern Virginia, Jacksonville, NC, and Mount Vernon, NY. California reported stability, "tectonically speaking".

Sitting 16 floors up above a very busy Wacker Drive construction project in downtown Chicago, we didn't feel the earthquake. And if we did we probably confused it with a jackhammer. But we knew about the earthquake with the East Coast epicenter moments after it hit because people from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River started Facebooking about it.

All of the above Facebook postings were made in the span of less than two minutes. It's safe to say that they were most likely the first reactions these people had to just experiencing an earthquake--to immediately post something online about it. Almost 50% of the postings were made from a mobile device, which makes us wonder how many of these people were posting while evacuating a building. Each posting received an average of 4 responses (either comments, or likes). All in the span of less than two minutes.

Wouldn't it be amazing if your marketing could generate that kind of activity? It can.

Understanding Email Metrics

At The Weinstein Organization, tracking and measuring our work is at the core of what we do. Which is one of the reasons why we love email—the metrics available for us to analyze are truly fascinating (yes, we admit to being data nerds). And what we can learn from email metrics is fundamental to the effectiveness of our clients’ email campaigns.

Following are some of the more commonly used email metric terms and their practical definitions:

Email Conversions: Whether driving a purchase or attempting to acquire a confirmation, email conversions are a measurement of your specific call-to-action. This metric tries to answer the question “How many specific actions were taken by the recipient as a direct result of this email?”

Email Delivered: This metric describes how many emails were actually delivered to the intended recipient’s mailbox provider without getting “bounced” or kicked back to you from a delivery error. But this is not a bulletproof measurement of success. Your email can still be spam filtered into a recipient’s junk mail folder where it will appear to the sender as being delivered. A good way to ensure higher delivery rates is to take the proper steps and perform email list hygiene, which will help keep your list current and accurate.

Total Opens: Measuring how many times your email was opened is more of a measurement of the strength of your subject line, but there are too many variables involved to make this a reliable correlation by itself. Total opens alone do not indicate a successful email campaign, as there can be false open reads when an email is loaded into the preview pane, or when clicked-on just prior to deletion. Open rates are not a reliable metric for success alone, but they can help you understand the success rate of your delivery.

Unique Opens: are a similar metric to total opens, but it eliminates duplicate opens (ex: multiple opens by the same recipient) and tries to answer the question, “how many unique individuals opened my email?” Again, there are too many variables to rely on Unique Opens: alone as a measurement of success.

Click-Throughs: This may tell you that your email has been intentionally opened, and even the likelihood that someone has read it. However, you have to look at which links were clicked before you can measure effectiveness. If your offer link was clicked then your email is more likely to be doing a good job. But if the unsubscribe link was clicked then you have an indication that your email was worse than ineffective—it may have lost you a customer. Many clients will applaud high click-through rates at face value, but they do so at the risk of ignoring their customers’ true intentions.

Email Forwards: Understanding how many of your recipients forwarded your email to someone else is an excellent measure of several things: readability, relevance, the strength of your offer, and the appeal of your campaign to your target audience. As always though, it still doesn’t tell you by itself if your email is effective—conversions give you a better read of that. But conversions and forwards taken together can tell a marketer that they have a potential viral campaign in the works that might garner exponential reach.

On their own, no single email metric should be used as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of your email. Which is why at The Weinstein Organization we have the capabilities to measure our email campaigns from a wide range of metrics. When you look at all the metrics together you get the total picture of how effective your email is, where it can be improved, and what can be understood about your prospects and customers.

Google+ or Minus: Do We Need Another Social Network?

Earlier this week I got a coveted invitation to Google+ from one of my Facebook friends, and like the other 10 million early adopters I spent a good chunk of time kicking the tires and experimenting with it.

In essence it really is not very different than earlier versions of Facebook, albeit with a radical new way of grouping members of your network into different "circles". Circles allow you to post to a select group in your network; you can allow your "friends" to see different content from what you broadcast to your "family", which can come in handy for college students who don't want their folks back home to see what they're up to. There's a live stream, you can post pictures and video, and comment on other peoples' posts. Google+ even has an answer to the Facebook "like" in the form of a "+1", which is already popping up on other web pages for full web integration.

At this point, Google+ is not yet allowing business pages, and advertising opportunities are not yet apparent. However, Google says this will change soon as they want individual users to populate the network first. Ultimately advertising and marketing will find their ways into Google+ because, let's face it, Google doesn't exist to not make money. And advertising provides the money that fuels the web machine.

But for most of this week I couldn't escape one nagging question: why do I need to be on Google+ if I already have a well-established and highly-interactive social network on Facebook? I've never asked that question about LinkedIn because of its focus on creating a business atmosphere, and i've never asked that question about Twitter because it's a different animal altogether. But the Google+ question is bothering me.

It's easy to write off Google+ as being a second rate version of Facebook at this point because it is out-of-the-package brand new. There are only about 10 million users as of right now, and the overwhelming majority are male. There have been a few bugs and kinks to work out and the user interface is (in my opinion) a bit clunky too. Proponents will say that this is an opportunity to escape their old network on Facebook with its heavy advertising presence, and Google+ claims it will offer privacy options that Facebook doesn't have. But is that enough?

It's tempting to try and compare this with the original TV networks that sprang up in the late 1940s and early 1950s, saying that consumers deserve options for where they get their content. But TV networks developed original content themselves--in social networks, the users develop the content and the network is just a platform for interaction. This is more like the telephone. Originally there was only one phone company and it stood alone for decades until deregulation created Baby Bells and communications conglomerates. But the phone companies are just networks too, and they integrate very well with each other unlike Facebook and Google+. They are both competing for social media dominance, while desperately trying not to become parity products of each other.

And that is what makes the introduction of Google+ so great: the users will ultimately decide which social media network wins. This will keep both networks on their toes catering more and more to the users, because social networks without a thriving, interactive and dynamic user base have nothing to offer other than a portal to connect.

As proof, we offer Exhibit A: Myspace.