When you want to hide from Google

Really interesting article over at econsultancy about the retraining of online consumers to use means other than search to find deals.

In these recessionary times, now more than ever people love a bargain. I’ve lost count of the homes and offices I’ve gone into in the last year who’s bathrooms are stocked with those telltale brands that are only found in the low price foreign chain supermarkets. We’re all well past the no thought of price consumerism (are we?) of the early naughties and now the middle classes are just as comfortable in Lidl as those making do on benefits.

But discounting is a no go back cycle. If you’re offering stock at slashed prices with minimum profit margin you don’t want your cash rich clientele to know.  Loose out on the disposable income they would otherwise quite happily have spent. – not such a great positioning strategy.

So online coupon and crowd sourcing sites need to stay off the general search radar in order to win those heavily discounted deals from brands.  Hiding product pricing from Google as part of their business model means that they have to find other ways to get the attention and the conversions from deal savvy audience.

Enter email – how many times has it been written off only to rise again as a champion. Women are subscribing to email to find deals. Brand loyalty/reward meets targeted low wastage marketing. But don’t stop at email, think Facebook, Twitter and even geo location couponing.

It’s all to play for and how refreshing to look at business models where search visibility isn’t a major part of their tactical marketing!

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Five Christmas Email Marketing Tips

Christmas is a great opportunity to boost your email marketing results. Here are our top tips for making the most of it:

1.Timing is everything:
If you’re in a business to business sector, this may be a slow period for you – use your emails to give you a seasonal boost, or to help you line up extra business for 2008. Bear in mind that during the build up to Christmas, workers take more half days off, therefore send your email in the morning. But be considerate about the quantity of mailings during the Christmas period as they might irritate some of your recipients.

2. Get creative
Christmas is a great opportunity to get a bit more creative with your email designs and content. Create a seasonal theme to add more substance to engage the attention of the recipients.

3. Focus:
Christmas is a very busy time of year. Make your campaign easy to remember by focusing on one offer over an extended period rather than on multiple offers over shorter periods. One generous promotion will be remembered better amongst the multitude of competing offers sitting next to it in the inbox.

4. A good time to re-establish relationships
Christmas is an ideal time to try and re-establish relationships – why not target them with an extra special seasonal offer?

5. Clear for landing:
Keep in mind the ultimate goal of your campaign – new business. There’s no point if your Christmas email campaign was successful at bringing customers to your site but failed to convert any of that traffic to sales. Make sure your call-to-action is clear and direct your emails to the correct landing pages.

Email marketing – Look to your existing customers to help you weather the credit crunch.

In times of less cash, it’s all about about sustaining revenue.  With customers being more discerning with their disposable income, you need to work a lot harder to keep existing clients spending or from shopping around at the competition.

Email is a great channel for making sure that you are communicating as effectively as possible with your existing customer base. There’s no harm in having a review of your basics to make sure that you are keeping your customer’s attention and are their no brainer choice when it comes to purchase.

1 Plan your campaign
What is your objective from the email campaign? Decide what it is before you start your campaign and create your email with your goals in mind.

2  Get permission
To ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation make sure your email marketing is permission-based which means you need the customer’s consent to contact them. To build up your contacts database, collect email addresses from your customers at every opportunity!

3  Call to action
Include a call to action in every email you send. For example you could invite customers to download discount vouchers, purchase a discounted product online, or agree to attend an event.

4  Be personal
Try and speak directly to the individual customer, the more personal you are, the more successful your campaign is likely to be. Follow up the campaign with a ‘thank you’ or a special offer.

5  Be relevant
The first question the recipient will ask is ‘What’s in it for me?’If you don’t sent them information which can save them time, money or give them information then they are unlikely to take action.

6  Unsubscribe Link
The recipient must have the ability to request that they no longer want to receive emails. Their details should be removed from your database immediately.

7  The Subject line
This is very important and influences whether the recipient bothers to open the email. Think very carefully about the title, keep it short, to the point. Do not use capital letters and exclamation marks and never use words like Free!

8  Provide plain text as well as a HTML version
Have two options as some recipients will have their images turned off. Also when sending HTML versions, make sure the design works in the different email client interfaces (test test and test again!) and there are no mistakes. Keep the content short, be consistent with your layout, and design elements – it reflects the professionalism and brand of your company.

9  Deliverability
The main obstacle with email marketing is the email actually ending up in the recipients in box. ISPs delete billions of emails each day. Research an Email Service Provider with good deliverability rates. (blatant self promotion – we have a very rigorous email marketing set up which has great deliverability across Europe and the US ).

10 Statistics
Review the statistics after  each campaign. How many emails were delivered and opened, and which links customers clicked on within the email.  Each subsequent campaign can be fine tuned with new information collected. The power of email marketing is being able to segment your database based on consumer behaviour.

Digital Marketing in a Downturn

What happens if the credit crunch becomes the marketing budget crunch where wrestling with the CFO becomes a grim weekly reality? God forbid!

A lot has changed since the dark, fearful days of the last recession at the end of the 80’s, early 90’s. Back then it was the era of faxes and regurgitated Kotler and McLaren. But from adversity comes success. Recessions can be a breeding ground for marketing innovation in the face of tremendous financial challenges.

Online marketing wasn’t really around during the last recession, nor for that matter were most of Britain’s online marketers out of college (or indeed secondary school!).

Very probably the cost effective aspects of digital marketing would take a larger share of the overall marketing budget in a time of recession. Here’s a few aspects to ponder on.

Metrics – The good times and bigger picutre marketing go hand in hand, a down turn is a time of detail. If you’ve only been giving those stats a cursory look, it’s time to get into the detail. Mine it for the gold.

Competition – Keep a good weather eye on the competition through online tools and be opportunistic. Remember they’ll be feeling the pinch too.

Brand Equity Marketing – inevitably a target of the brown suits in accounting but a refocusing of brand spending to online and more granular activity of Social Media Optimisation will help.

Consumer Decision Making & search – test going against the usual agency SEM mantra of investing in generic keyowrd paid search. Refocus on terms which show a clearer intent on purchase e.g. “value egyptian cotton sheets” rather than “bedsheets online”. Measure the effect of this over a quarter in terms of both ROI and revenue.

Natural Search – it’s cost effective and sustainable if you spend some time getting it right. 90% of all site visits in UK have an element of search engine so make sure your infront of your potential customers when they are looking for you.

Online Inventory – harden up on your online media buying. Relook at the basics of time and geography, layer on context and investigate behaviour opportunities in large networks.  Negotiate!

Social Media Optimisation – can be very confusing for most marketers at the start. Invest in putting a strong strategy together and you’ll find that for ongoing minimal effort will reap strong returns.

Email – get into the detail and segment your database. If your email set up doesn’t give you the detail you want invest consider investing in software or move operations to an online emarketing provider. Focus on building loyalty and repeat sales with existing customers by creating incentives that match their behaviour/interests.