It Used To Be Called "Interactive"

Remember way back (circa 7 years ago) when digital media was called "interactive"?

It seems as if many marketers have forgotten that the roots of digital/online/social media are in the now time-worn idea of interactivity. Isn't that the wonderful inherent advantage of marketing and communicating on the internet? The ability to engage in a real-time back-and-forth with your customers and prospects is something that can't be replicated by TV, Radio, Print and Mail.

Instead of just simply pushing out content on your social media portals, email campaigns and web pages, use them simultaneously as broadcast networks and response channels. Instead of just requesting a like or a follow, incentivize a click to a landing page. Lead them to a pURL. Reward people for sharing your content. Encourage them to come back and bring their networks to your brand.

Think responsively. Promote interactivity. Push Marketing and Pull Marketing can coexist on the internet.


Behavioral Targeting and Ad Preferences

You may or may not have noticed it, but online ads are watching you.

If you've ever seen an online display ad for a website you previously visited, then you have experienced Behavioral Targeting. This amazing technology is pretty simple: your browser receives a cookie from a website when you visit it, and the cookie monitors whether or not you took a specific action on the site. Depending on your action or inaction, you may see an ad for the company that owns the site when you are viewing another site.

For advertisers this is a wonderful way to refine your message, extend the sales funnel, and get another shot at converting a web visitor to a customer. And in theory, this should be a welcome form of advertising. In this overly-cluttered media landscape, a highly-targeted ad should break through because the prospect is not being randomly selected. They are being targeted by their actions.

Imagine if you changed the channel when a TV commercial came on, then later saw a commercial that addressed the fact that you didn't watch it the first time it ran. Would you be more inclined to view it because it specifically targeted you based on your action? Or would you feel as though your privacy was invaded and your preferences were ignored?

Follow The Weinstein Organization on Twitter (@twochicago) and let us know what you think of Behavioral Targeting using the hashtag #ourTWOsense.


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.


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 Raleigh...how 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.