Twittercasting: Why Searchers are More Valuable Than Followers

“How many Twitter followers do you have?” is one of the most over-hyped metrics in social media marketing. What good is a large audience if they don’t act? If you are trying to attract an audience ready to actually do something, then you need to treat Twitter more like a search engine and a broadcast medium simultaneously.

There are 400 million active global monthly tweeters, and they perform hundreds of millions of Twitter searches every day. Twitter has a search engine that searches live, constant, global conversations, instead of static indexed web pages.

Twitter is a multilateral communications and broadcast medium that can actually be searched. And Twitter offers marketers something that no other search engine has: the hashtag.

By prefixing a keyword in your tweet with a hash symbol (#), you get a #hashtag.

The # takes your tweet beyond your followers and enters your #keyword into Twitter's general timeline, where it can be found in a Twitter search. It can be in front of #one word, #ormanywordsstrungtogether. The more popular hash-tagged keywords get vaulted into the list of trending topics, which can be geo targeted as well. This is very much like organic SEO.

It’s great to have a large Twitter following, but it’s better to find people on Twitter who are actively searching for something that your product or service can offer. So use Twitter as a broadcast medium with a purpose—target your message to people who are actively looking for you “in the moment”. This is a pull-marketing approach to generating response in real time.

Followers are great because they might share your message with their networks and initiate a viral marketing effect, but they are a passive audience who might be looking for what you have to offer.

Searchers are actively looking for you, and they are more likely to respond if you Twittercast the right keywords with the right hashtags at the right time.


PURLs of Wisdom: Using Personalized URLs as a Data Source

At The Weinstein Organization, we’ve been integrating personalized URLs (PURLs) in our direct response campaigns for several years. PURLS are personalized web site addresses that are often integrated with direct mail or email campaigns, leading the recipient to a personalized landing page.

PURLs are an excellent way to engage your audience because of the allure of personalization. When a prospect sees their name on a web page that appears to be created just for them, it triggers a sense of belonging and delivers personalized communications that encourages them to interact more with the marketer.

But why stop there? As a data collection method, PURLs stand poised to become the next frontier in acquiring consumer information that can potentially rival any other source. PURLs can tell you things about your customers and prospects based on the behavior they exhibit deep inside the sales funnel in real time.

For example, a PURL can track response timing to the delivery of an email. A prospect who receives an email and clicks the link to their PURL is actually telling you something about the quality of your creative and offer. You can measure the amount of time from email delivery to open to response, via arrival to the personalized web page.

Once a responder goes to their PURL you can capture information regarding their communication preferences (video, mobile, social, etc.), collect feedback on the current offer and use this information to provide a subsequent offer that is targeted to an audience of one.

Response to a PURL can also help to generate verified, real-time leads to your sales team. A responder to a PURL is raising their hand and saying that your marketing efforts are making progress with them. They are showing interest even if they do not complete the exact conversion you seek.

There are an infinite number of ways you can learn about your customers and prospects by integrating PURLs with your marketing campaigns. Of course use them as the response vehicle, but they are an excellent way to engage your audience with personalization and learn more about them while they are in a responsive frame of mind.


SEO IS Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a well-known term, but it can be made to seem overly complex. Unpaid search, or more precisely “Organic SEO”, is simply your web site’s ability-by-design to break through the clutter and rise to a top position on a search engine ranking page (SERP).

According to comScore, Google clearly owns the US market share of search engine users at over 66%, while Yahoo and Bing each hover around 15%. Google flat-out dominates the global market share with over 80% of all search engine users.

With SEO, the marketer is your web site’s data, and the audience is the search engine’s algorithmic “spider” that crawls all the indexed pages on the World Wide Web. The spider is looking for relevant information that will satisfy a search query. It similar to how someone looking to buy life insurance is more likely to open up an effective direct mail piece from an insurance company, then sort through the contents looking for relevant information that satisfies their definition of a good offer.

Successful SEO is not a “one-and-done” process of optimizing your site with keywords and indexing the pages with a search engine. Just like a marketing campaign, there are several elements to an SEO campaign that work together for maximum effectiveness.

  • Keyword Management = Strategy Development: Discovering, analyzing, grouping and organizing large numbers of frequently searched keywords that are highly relevant to the content in your web site. This forms the basis of your web site copy and impacts design of the site.
  • Keyword Action = Creative Development: Authoring the website copy around your strategic keyword selection is literally crafting the message, making your web site relevant to the search query, and more attractive to the spider.
  • Keyword Indexing = Media Planning: Keyword indexing, or “page-tagging”, most closely resembles the art of making your marketing most visible to your audience in the most efficient way possible. Spiders crawl through your page tag first, and begin assigning value to the overall content based on what it is instructed to read. Indexing helps the search engine select your site by making your site’s relevant content more visible in the right place at the right time.
  • Website Aging = Campaign Evolution: Over-saturation of the same execution can lower effectiveness of any marketing no matter if it is an email, direct mail package or an online banner ad. Same thing goes for the content of your web site. Small changes to the content and re-indexing the updated pages at regular intervals keeps the spider interested because it detects something new and interesting.
  • Link-Baiting = Social Sharing: Establishing links back to your web site from other relevant web sites are the equivalent of someone “liking” your ad on Facebook or re-Tweeting your post. They are votes of confidence to a search engine spider and they raise your relevance score. A web site that sells football gear will be more popular to search engine spiders if there are links back to the site from espn.com or nfl.com, for example. Those sites are likely to have a lot of football-themed keywords and ultra-high relevancy scores for football-related searches.

Beware of unethical or “black hat” techniques offered by some SEOs, such as keyword stuffing and link-farming. Search engines will eventually bust you and dramatically lower your relevancy score, or ban your site altogether from the search index.

Organic SEO is a craft just like any other form of marketing. It requires research, development, creativity and execution. And it is most effective when the above techniques are employed together over time as a campaign.


Social Media As A Living Focus Group

There's an old saying that loosely goes "bad press is better than no press". It's better to be known for something, good or bad, than to be unknown. Or so the theory goes. And due to social media marketing that theory is being put to the test all the time now.

Take for example the latest campaign for Dr. Pepper Ten, a new diet drink that boasts only 10 calories. Their campaign theme is aimed directly at men, and their Facebook page is branded in kind with the "Dr. Pepper 10 Man'Ments"--a code of how to live life like a real man. The all-man-all-the-time approach is familiar--many brands have gone down this road before with varying degrees of success--and even goes so far as to offer the tagline "It's Not For Women". Ok we get it. It's a man's drink with only 10 calories. But that is not what Dr. Pepper is now known for.

Spend a few minutes on their Facebook page and you'll find that Dr. Pepper Ten is now the big instigator in the most recent battle of the sexes. 10.6 million people have liked their page as of this writing--this is enough to make any CMO smile--but an unofficial analysis of their wall comments tells a different story. Alternating in almost a perfect back-and-forth debate, comments range from the defensive ("I'm a woman and I'll never drink this misogynistic soda") to the offensive ("if you don't like it, get back in the kitchen and make my dinner"), from the analytic ("this campaign will kill your sales") to the humorous ("as a lesbian, am I manly enough to drink this?"). This is enough to make any CMO cringe. Or maybe not. Maybe they intended to cause a controversy to rally people around their drink.

In one sense, marketing's job is to create brand awareness and increase sales. This campaign certainly raised awareness (10.6 million people are definitely aware of the campaign), and likely prodded their target audience (men) to buy the product. It definitely alienated some women, but there were plenty of comments from women who shrugged off the controversy and declared their affinity for the brand ("laughing at this *fake* controversy--it's a joke people! Going to chug a Dr. Pepper 10 right now!"). Even some men were offended, but they remained engaged ("going to check back tomorrow to see how Dr. Pepper has ruined women's lives").

The bottom line will be the sales figures, but the line just above the bottom line simply cannot be ignored: more than 10.6 million people know about the new drink. For better or for worse, this very public airing of instant reactions to a marketing campaign mark the rise in power of the consumer. Now when you launch a campaign you get an immediate reaction that is quantifiable and qualifiable. There is no silent majority in social media marketing because the message now gets shaped after the launch by the audience, just as much as the agency creatives and planners who developed it. Dr. Pepper launched a men-only campaign, but women have taken over the message surrounding the campaign to a large degree. The campaign is now a controversy, and garnering plenty of earned media coverage on top of it. The continuing dialog surrounding this campaign will ultimately determine how long it lives or how soon it dies because it is being tested in-market. And the results are coming in every second.

The influence an audience has over what a brand does goes beyond a marketing campaign. Recently there was so much social media backlash against Netflix and their plans to launch a brand for their DVD-only subscriptions called Qwikster, that they scrapped the whole idea before it even launched. What this tells us is that brands are listening to their customers more than ever before. Not because they're suddenly more interested, but because now they have this real-time ability to track and measure audience reaction and response.

Social media is the world's most dynamic focus group.


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.