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Are You Ready for Some Football? (The Second Screen Edition)

Historically, the Super Bowl has been one of the most viewed telecasts of the year.

According to The Nielsen Company, five of the six most watched prime-time telecasts of all time in the U.S. were Super Bowls.

In fact, the last four Super Bowls played (2008 to 2011) are on this list. And, there is no reason to believe that this year will be any different.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that advertisers are willing to spend huge amounts of money to air their 30-second spots during the game. (According to CNNMoney, the average cost to air a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl is whopping $3.5 million a pop.)

Extending the Story Online

As I mentioned in a blog post in October of last year, brands need to understand the importance of utilizing the tools that are available to consumers on their smartphones, tablet computers and laptops to extend the story online and keep the conversation and connection going, long after the television commercial is over. (Gary Vaynerchuk likens this to the game of Ping-Pong.)

This year, it looks like many brands are going to take advantage of this opportunity during the Super Bowl.

For some brands, this could be as simple as requesting that viewers visit their website, Facebook page or their page on any other social networking site out there.

Other brands have taken it one step further by partnering with companies that own certain smartphone apps to help facilitate the interaction.

Hopefully, this will enhance the experience that viewers have during the Super Bowl.

Required Game Day Gear

In order to participate in the experience that the advertisers intend to provide, viewers are going to have to be aware of what they need to do and have the right tools at their fingertips.

For brands that ask viewers to visit their website, Facebook page or their page on any other social networking site out there, a laptop or desktop computer is the only thing that will be required. In fact, a pencil and a piece of paper or a strong memory could suffice if viewers want to wait until after the game is over to go online. (Here is where SEO and paid search could play a big role in helping the brand continue the conversation online.)

However, several brands will be taking advantage of the fact that many people will have access to a smartphone or tablet computer during the game and have partnered with companies that own certain apps to help drive viewers directly to a specific landing page or possibly provide them with an in-app experience.

Shazam and IntoNow are two of the apps that viewers might want to download to their smartphones or tablet computers before the Super Bowl begins. Other apps that could possibly come in handy during the Super Bowl include Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and GetGlue.

There are also apps available that will allow people to watch the game on their smartphone and others that are dedicated to letting people watch and rate the commercials before, during and after the game.

Final Thoughts

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched telecasts in the U.S. each year.

For many people, especially those who are fans of teams that aren’t participating in the game, the commercials might be more important than the game itself.

This year, several brands will take advantage of the fact that many people will have their smartphone, tablet computer or laptop in front of them during the game. These brands will be asking viewers to continue the conversation online or within smartphone or tablet computer apps.

In this post, I’ve linked to a few articles and blog posts that provide people with additional information that might be helpful to them before, during and after the game.

I also plan to tweet links to some additional articles and blog posts this weekend. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter at: @sunbeltbadger.

Also, if you hear of something that is worth mentioning, please send me a tweet or let me know in the comments section below.

Photo credit: rmlack22 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Is Your Business Ready for Some Football?

The NFL playoffs are in full swing.

That means that the Super Bowl is only a few weeks away.

Is your business ready?

If your business hasn’t developed a strategy to help it get found when your potential customers use Google or any of the other search engines, then your business might not be as ready as you think.

Sage Advice From a Former Google Employee

Major brands pay millions of dollars to air commercials during the Super Bowl. However, if they forget that those commercials can cause people to search online for additional information about their products, services, brand or even their advertising campaign, then they are missing out on a huge opportunity to extend their message and further engage with their potential customers.

For the past few years, Vanessa Fox, former Google employee and founder of Nine by Blue, has analyzed how well brands integrate their television commercials with organic search (i.e., she takes note of which Super Bowl commercials cause search spikes and then examines what brands show up in the organic search results.)

Last year, brands did very well. In fact, according to a blog post that she wrote in February of 2011, with the exception of movies, 100% of brands had at least some search visibility. Furthermore, when URLs were included in the commercial, they were almost always visible in the search results.

However, this wasn’t always the case in the past.

In fact, in her book, “Marketing in the Age of Google,” (affiliate link) she points out that during the 2009 Super Bowl, Hyundai spent approximately $13.5 million to sponsor the pregame show and run ads throughout the game, only to drop the ball when it came to integrating organic search into their advertising campaign.

For additional information about this topic, you might want to check out a guest blog post that I wrote for the strategyessentials.com blog a few months ago. In it, I summarized that particular section of Fox’s book.

The Super Bowl, SEO and Small Business

It’s true that most local businesses don’t have the marketing budgets to run a commercial during the Super Bowl.

However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from the search traffic that the Super Bowl generates.

First of all, while your business might not be airing a commercial during the Super Bowl, it might be selling some of the products that are being advertised.

For example, if auto manufacturers run Super Bowl ads, it will be beneficial for local dealerships to be included on the first page of search results.

Likewise, local grocery stores might want to optimize their sites so that they are visible when consumers search for the consumer packaged goods that they see advertised (e.g., Doritos, Budweiser, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Snickers, etc.)

Furthermore, local businesses can benefit from the search traffic on the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

When people search for supplies for a Super Bowl party online, the businesses that appear in the search results will have a better chance of making the sale.

Also, if people are looking for a place to watch the game, there is a chance that they will search the web for ideas. That’s why bars and restaurants that are looking to get people to watch the Super Bowl at their establishments should also optimize their websites.

Note: Keep in mind that optimizing your site for highly competitive keyword phrases might not always be achievable. Therefore, it might be a better idea to optimize your site for less competitive long-tail phrases that are still searched for by your potential customers.

Paid Search Marketing

Also, don’t forget about running a paid search campaign to help get additional clicks.

Paid search campaigns will get you quickly listed on search engine results pages for keyword phrases that you don’t rank for organically. This can potentially be a way to drive more people to your website in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

It is also noteworthy that according to a Google study, sites that appear in both the organic and paid search results have a higher number of site visitors than they normally would achieve from their organic listings alone.

Final Thoughts

Search engine optimization should be a part of your marketing strategy all year long.

However, if your business sells the products or services that will be advertised during one of the most watched sporting events of the year, then it only makes sense to optimize your website so that your business will be found when your potential customers search online.

The same holds true for businesses that sell the products or services that consumers will be looking for in the days leading up to the game.

Therefore, with less than a month to go before the Super Bowl is played in Indianapolis, I again ask you the question: Is your business ready for some football?

Photo credit: Eric Kilby on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Market Research Is Marketing

Market research is marketing.

This statement might sound completely ludicrous to some people. To them, market research is all about collecting information about their customers, the products that they are selling, the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, economic conditions or anything else that can influence their bottom line. It’s a huge part of developing their marketing strategy. But, it isn’t marketing.

If you are one of those people, you either haven’t embraced inbound marketing as a viable way of generating leads and increasing sales or you don’t understand what market researchers do.

Inbound Marketing

If you look up inbound marketing in Wikipedia, it lists two definitions.

The old definition of inbound marketing is market research.

However, the other definition is more in line with what people often refer to when they currently mention inbound marketing. This definition states that inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on getting found by customers.

HubSpot, a leader in inbound marketing, teaches that in addition to getting found (i.e., creating, optimizing and promoting your content), you also need to find ways to maximize conversions and analyze the results of your efforts in order to be a successful inbound marketer.

In a blog post, titled “Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing,” Brian Halligan, CEO and Founder of HubSpot, writes, “Rather than doing outbound marketing to the masses of people who are trying to block you out, I advocate doing “inbound marketing” where you help yourself “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in your industry.  In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a “hub” for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, the blogosphere, and social media.  I believe most marketers today spend 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and I advocate that those ratios flip.”

Market Research

Now that we have a basic understanding about what inbound marketing is, let’s now look at what many market researchers do.

Part of the purpose of doing market research is to uncover information that will help identify what your potential customers need, how your products or services are fulfilling their needs, what your competitors are doing to fulfill their needs and what environmental factors will have an impact on what your potential customers will need in the future.

After collecting the information either through primary research (e.g., surveys, focus groups, observational studies, experiments, etc.) or secondary research, it is usually the job of those in market research to organize the data in an accurate and easily understandable format that can be delivered to the client. The data is often presented in written form (e.g., reports, white papers, blog posts, etc.) However, it could just as easily be delivered in person or via podcasts, webinars, online videos or any other way that people can communicate with each other.

Furthermore, after doing research on specific topics, the market researchers who conduct the research often gain so much knowledge about the topics that they are researching that they become thought leaders or subject matter experts in that particular area of business. This will often give them access to even more people who they can collaborate with.

In other words, market researchers are huge content creators.

In fact, I would argue that most of the content that your potential customers find valuable has some information that was influenced by market research in one form or another. (Note: I am focusing on information that was created to educate consumers about a product, service or industry, not content that was created for entertainment purposes.)

Inbound Marketing and Market Research

We have already established that market researchers are by definition content creators.

But, I would argue that the other areas of inbound marketing also involve a form of market research.

Market research adds value to the content and valuable content helps generate links to your website or blog. Therefore, market research helps with search engine optimization. (It also doesn’t hurt to conduct market research to find out what your potential customers find valuable in the first place.)

I’d even argue that search engine optimization, itself, is a form of market research. It definitely requires many of the same skill sets.

And, when promoting your content, it is always suggested that you measure and test the effectiveness of your efforts. Testing and measuring the effectiveness of your content promotion efforts are forms of market research.

Measuring and testing also play a part in maximizing the conversion process.

And, analyzing the final results of your inbound marketing efforts… yep, that’s market research.

From Market Researcher to Marketer

If you asked me 10 years ago what I did for a living, I would have told you that I was a market researcher.

At that time, even I didn’t really think of myself as a marketer even though I was involved in the marketing of the research products and services that I helped create. (Note: CUNA Research was using inbound marketing techniques to market their products and services before the term was even coined. Need proof? The Research Review articles that are listed in my publication list could very well be described as blog posts. Blog posts, that in my opinion, delivered value to the reader.)

It wasn’t until I started learning about inbound marketing and content marketing that I started to see myself as a marketer, rather than a market researcher.

Final Thoughts

As more marketing campaigns move online, businesses will gain additional access to analytics that will help them better understand the needs of their customers.

Furthermore, with the increased use of smartphones, savvy businesses will make it extremely easy for consumers to find them no matter where they look. Providing relevant and useful information to consumers when they search for their products, services or industry will give these businesses an edge over their competition.

This makes it even more important for businesses to have people on staff who have the knowledge and training to accurately interpret data and present it in a clear and concise way so that it can be effectively communicated to their potential customers.

With that said, the line between marketer and market researcher is being blurred, so much so that they are often one and the same.

Therefore, the next time you are looking to fill a marketing position, don’t overlook job applicants who have a background in market research. Their skill sets may be more valuable than you think.

Photo credit: jeckman on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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An Excellent Resource for Internet Marketing Advice – HubSpot

HubSpot Inbound Marketing UniversityIf you are looking to leverage the power of the Internet to help grow your business, one of the first places I’d suggest that you look is HubSpot.

According to the “Company Fact Sheet” on hubspot.com, “HubSpot is an Internet marketing startup whose software helps businesses get found online, generate more inbound leads and convert a higher percentage of those leads into paying customers. HubSpot’s software platform includes tools that allow professional marketers and small business owners to manage search engine optimization, blogging and social media, as well as landing pages, lead intelligence and marketing analytics.”

However, you don’t need to be a paying customer to benefit from HubSpot’s expertise.

HubSpot provides many free resources that your business can use to keep up with the latest inbound marketing trends and best practices.

I have been a fan of HubSpot ever since I first tuned in to the Marketing Update (formerly HubSpot TV) back in the summer of 2009. This is a great resource if you want keep up with the latest inbound marketing news. (You can watch HubSpot’s Marketing Update live at 4 p.m. EST every Friday.)

Since then, I have learned a lot from HubSpot’s many white papers, webinars and blog posts.

HubSpot also speaks at, sponsors and participates in various industry conferences and events, including OMMA Global, PubCon, Business of Software, Online Market World, Search Engine Strategies, SMX, Venture Summit, Inbound Marketing Summit,  etc.

In fact, earlier this year I attended an AMA Tampa Bay event that featured HubSpot’s Ellie Mirman. As you would expect, it was a very informative event.

Inbound Marketing University

Recently, I earned my Inbound Marketing Certification from the Inbound Marketing University after completing its comprehensive Internet marketing training program.

The training program currently includes 18 in-depth classes covering each facet of inbound marketing.

The courses are taught by some of the most respected names in Internet marketing today, including New York Times’ best-selling author Chris Brogan, Google Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, best-selling author and international speaker David Meerman Scott, best-selling author and co-founder of Alltop.com Guy Kawasaki, and more.

Inbound Marketing Certification from HubSpot's Inbound Marketing UniversityTo earn the Inbound Marketing Certification, students must pass the comprehensive certification exam that includes 50 multiple choice and true & false questions.

As stated on the site, “The Inbound Marketing Certification acknowledges the recipient’s proficiency in Inbound Marketing principles and best practices. These principles include: blogging, social media, lead conversion, lead nurturing, and closed-loop analysis.”

In order to earn the Inbound Marketing Certification, the student must receive a score of 75% or higher on the comprehensive certification exam.

The Honors Distinction is awarded to the top 15% of exam takers. To receive this honor, test takers must earn a score of 90% or higher.

The Inbound Marketing University training program is administered by HubSpot.

And, the best part… both the training and certification are completely free.

For more information, visit inboundmarketing.com.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I have been a fan of HubSpot since the summer of 2009.

They are a very respected company that definitely delivers value to their customers.

According to co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah, “The average HubSpot customer grows their lead generation by 32% monthly, and over 80% of customers report increased web traffic and lead generation when using HubSpot software. 85% of HubSpot customers recommend the software to their friends.”

However, as I mentioned before, you don’t need to be a paying customer to gain from HubSpot’s expertise.

Chances are that your business could benefit from the wide range of free resources that are available from HubSpot, including their many webinars, white papers, and blog posts.

Futhermore, even if you don’t take the certification exam, HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University is definitely worth the time and effort. And, it’s free.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to hubspot.com to find out more information.

Photo credit: jameskm03 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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1911 Main Street’s Top 10 Social Networking Sites for Business 2011

Photo credit: Montage Communications on Flickr.This is the time of the year for holiday parties, college football bowl games, Santa Claus, and looking back at the year that was.

It is also the time of year for “best of” lists… and lots of them.

So, in keeping with the tradition, I submit to you my list of the top 10 social networking sites for business 2011.

Note: There are many smartphone apps that could be considered social networking sites that I haven’t included on this list. I plan to write a post in the near future dedicated to smartphone apps, so if some of your favorite apps didn’t make this list, check back in the next few weeks.

The Top 10 List

1. Facebook

A “best of” social networking site list would not be credible if it didn’t start off with Facebook. The site was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with the help of some of his roommates and fellow students, including Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Facebook was initially limited to Harvard students. However, it eventually opened up to the general public and now boasts more than 800 million active users worldwide. With numbers like that, it isn’t hard to see why this site is number one on my “best of” social networking site list.

On its site, Facebook has several resources to help businesses connect with current and potential customers.

2. Twitter

Founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Twitter enables users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, also known as “tweets”, in real-time. Twitter’s “About” page mentions that, “Businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and influential people. From brand lift, to CRM, to direct sales, Twitter offers businesses a chance to reach an engaged audience.”

For more information about using Twitter for business, check out the “Twitter for Business” page.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and launched the following year. It is one of the premier social networking sites for business professionals. According to its website, as of November of 2011, LinkedIn had more than 135 million members in over 200 countries. LinkedIn mentions that all of the 2011 Fortune 500 companies have executives who are members of LinkedIn. Futhermore, LinkedIn’s hiring solutions are used by 75 of the Fortune 100 companies.

Check out the LinkedIn “About Us” page for additional information.

4. Google+

Launched in June of this year, Google+ has grown rather quickly. (A recent Mashable article stated that it has an estimated 40 million users.) With the recent launch of Google+ Brand pages, Google+ should definitely be on your radar.

For more information about Pages for Google+, visit the Google.com website.

5. Myspace

Launched in 2003, this once dominant social networking site has experienced a massive exodus in recent years. However, according to comScore, Myspace still had over 28.4 million unique visitors in October of 2011. This is a sizable number. Furthermore, Myspace was recently purchased by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They plan to relaunch the site in 2012. Will this be enough to revive Myspace? I don’t know. However, it might be a good place to buy ads in the short-term, as people will most likely revisit the site to see what changes are made.

6. Tumblr

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, businesses, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr. According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

For more information, check out my blog post about Tumblr.

7. Foursquare

Around 15 million people worldwide are using Foursquare. Therefore, it’s not surprising that over 500,000 businesses are using the Merchant Platform. While other sites have tried to compete, Foursquare is currently the most successful location-based social networking site. Will it ever gain widespread acceptance? Probably not. However, there are a lot of cool things that can be done with location-based social networking sites. Furthermore, as a recent Adweek article points out, the early adopters of location-based social networking sites tend to be influential and young. The article also mentions that these early adopters are more likely to share product information, promotional coupons or discount codes than average online U.S. adults. This is definitely something that businesses should think about.

8. YouTube

The YouTube website states that more than 3 billion videos are viewed per day on the site. It also states that 98 of AdAge’s Top 100 advertisers have run campaigns on YouTube and the Google Display Network. Furthermore, the number of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased 10 fold in the last year. If your business is already creating engaging video content, you might want to consider sharing it on YouTube. You might also want to consider video podcasting as a way to get the word out about your business. But remember, don’t just talk about your business. Instead, focus on a topic that is related to your business and deliver content that your customers and potential customers will be interested in.

9. Yelp

According comScore, Yelp had 31.3 million unique visitors in October of 2011. This alone should give businesses a reason to make sure that they have a presence on the site. Good reviews will help drive Yelp users to your business. And, keep in mind, Yelp reviews can also show up in Google Search Engine Results Pages. Therefore, it pays to monitor what people are saying about your business on Yelp and other user-generated review sites and respond to your customers concerns.

This summer, I wrote a blog post about how user-generated online reviews can influence sales. You might want to check it out.

10. Flickr

According to Wikipedia, Flickr was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. Flickr is a site that allows users to post photos and videos. The Yahoo! website states that Flickr has 20 million unique U.S. visitors (nearly 80 million worldwide) that spend an average of 2.7 minutes per visit on the site. Therefore, it might be a good idea for your business to upload visually appealing photographs and videos that highlight its products and services. As an added bonus, many people use Flickr to find great content to share on other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Flickr is also a great source to find photos for blog posts.

Note: You might want to give the content that you post on Flickr a Creative Commons license to encourage sharing.

Final Thoughts

This is my list of the Top 10 social networking sites for 2011.

Are there any social networking sites that I should have included? And, if so, what sites would you take off the list?

Photo credit: Montage Communications on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Social Media and Television Part Two: A Game of Ping-Pong

Photo credit: xploitme on Flickr.Lately, there has been an increased focus on social media marketing as social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, virtual gaming worlds, etc., have become more popular with consumers.

However, traditional media (e.g., television, print, radio, etc.) is not going away any time soon.

As I mentioned in a post, titled “Social Media and Television: A Symbiotic Relationship,” the rise of social media is not necessarily hurting television ratings.

In fact, when combined, social media can actually make the audience’s television viewing experience more enjoyable and social.

This is something that many brands and their advertising agencies have taken note of.

The ones that haven’t should seriously consider integrating social media into their traditional advertising campaigns.

The Thank You Economy

In his book, “The Thank You Economy,” (affiliate link) Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VaynerMedia and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author, gives several very interesting and useful case studies that showcase some successful and not-so-successful social media marketing campaigns.

He points out that when brands run television ads, they should use social media to keep the conversation and connection going.

Vaynerchuk uses Reebok as an example of a brand that successfully executed this strategy when he talks about its marketing campaign for Speedwick training T-shirts.

Reebok started by running a television ad that featured Sidney Crosby and Maxime Talbot from the 2009 Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The ad features Crosby and Talbot paying a visit to Crosby’s childhood home in Nova Scotia.

During the commercial, they head down to the basement and admire a dent-riddled clothes dryer that caught every puck that Crosby didn’t get into his practice net when he was growing up.

The commercial continues with the two shooting pucks into the clothes dryer—the first to get nine pucks in the clothes dryer wins.

Tablot was leading 3-1 when Reebok abruptly flashed the words, “See who wins at facebook.com/reebokhockey” on the television screen. (Click here to watch the commercial on YouTube.)

In order to see who won, viewers had to become a fan of Reebok on Facebook.

And, that is exactly what many viewers did.

According to Vaynerchuk, in a short amount of time, Reebok saw the number of fans of their Facebook page (or the number of people who like the page, as it is now called) increase by the tens of thousands.

In addition to all of the free word-of-mouth advertising that the campaign generated, it also gave Reebok the ability and permission to remarket to these people in the future.

That’s pretty cool.

Ping-Pong

Vaynerchuk explains how brands should combine social media and traditional advertising by having his readers think about the game of Ping-Pong.

“When traditional and social media work well together, as they did for Reebok, it’s like a friendly Ping-Pong match,” writes Vaynerchuk. “Instead of spiking their traditional media and ending the match, Reebok hit the ball back over to social media. Ping. Then they gave social media a chance to return the shot. Pong. Anyone can do it. Develop creative work that allows the platforms to rally, to work together to extend your story, continue the conversation, and connect with your audience.”

In March of 2011, fastcompany.com published an excerpt of Vaynerchuk’s book in a blog post, titled “Old Spice Man Marketing, Redux: What Went Right–and What Did Not.”

You might want to read it, as it has some very interesting insights.

Don’t Forget About SEO

If your business does decide to integrate social media into its traditional marketing campaigns (or even if it decides not to), don’t forget about SEO.

For an explanation about why SEO is so important to the success of your marketing campaigns, check out a recent guest post that I wrote for the strategyessentials.com blog, titled “When Developing Your Next Marketing Campaign, Don’t Forget About SEO.”

The post has some very interesting insights from Vanessa Fox, former Google employee and founder of Nine By Blue, including an example of a brand that understood the importance of taking the story that it started during a Super Bowl advertisement and extending it online.

However, the brand dropped the ball because it forgot about SEO.

Conclusion

When combined, social media can help make the audience’s television viewing experience more enjoyable and social.

Brands that take advantage of the opportunity to extend their story online can definitely benefit from their efforts.

Not only will it help fuel online conversations about the brand, but when properly executed, it can give the brand the ability to remarket to its target audience with very little effort.

And, if the brand makes sure that consumers benefit from future interactions in some way, the ROI of its marketing efforts might be immeasurable.

Photo credit: xploitme on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Sometimes It Pays to Trust Your Gut

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.As I mentioned in my last blog post, it is important that organizations measure the success of all of their marketing efforts.

In most cases, measurement is required to justify the costs associated with each marketing campaign.

Furthermore, when you monitor the results of each campaign on an ongoing basis, you give yourself the required information to make adjustments midstream. This will allow you to add more resources to your more profitable campaigns, and eliminate the ones that are underperforming.

Hopefully, this will also prevent you from having to scramble to meet your monthly, quarterly or yearly goals at the last minute.

The Counterpoint

The reasons for continually monitoring your marketing campaigns are very clear.

However, the proper actions to take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so obvious.

The problem is, there may be some residual benefits of your marketing efforts that are not so easily measured.

For example, as I pointed out in a blog post, titled “The Hidden ROI of Social Media Marketing,” when you add social media into your marketing mix, you might not be getting the desired short-term increases in sales. However, your social media efforts might help decrease expenses, put out fires or have a positive effect on where your brand appears on a search engine results page. All of these can have a positive effect on your bottom line.

There is also the chance that while you might not be reaching a lot of consumers with your marketing efforts, you might be reaching the right consumers.

In other words, you might be reaching the key influencers who have the ability to spread the news about how great your product is and, in the process, persuade others to buy it, instead of purchasing your competitors’ products.

In his book, “CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion,” (affiliate link) Gary Vaynerchuk gives a perfect hypothetical example of how this might happen.

“What if your analytics tell you that you’ve only had seven views on Break.com in two months?” writes Vaynerchuk. “Are you going to stop posting to that platform? The data are telling you that you should probably drop it, but what you don’t know is that one of those seven viewers is a producer for The Today Show. There’s no reason to think that can’t happen.”

In Vaynerchuk’s example, if you stop posting to Break.com, you might be cutting off your only line of communication to a person with the power to spread your message all over the world.

There is a chance that the hypothetical producer for The Today Show would like your content so much that he or she would seek you out on other platforms.

However, he or she might not.

Are you willing to take that risk?

Conclusion

As I have said before, it is very important to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

However, the actions that you should take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so cut and dried.

As a previous blog post alluded to, it is very possible that you might not be measuring the right things.

And, as Gary Vaynerchuk points out in his book, it is also possible that you might not be able to measure the true reach or effectiveness of your marketing campaign, if you are reaching a key influencer who is willing to become a brand advocate and spread your message to a wider audience.

This points to the fact that while the metrics may be telling you to do one thing, the correct response might be to gamble and do the opposite.

In the end, it might be prudent to trust your gut.

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Power of a Positive Online Review

Photo credit: sunbeltbadger on Flickr.As I have mentioned in other blog posts, the Web has changed the rules when it comes to spreading information about local businesses.

This is particularly true when we look at reviews that are given to local hotels, stores and restaurants.

Before the advent of the World Wide Web, when a local hotel, store or restaurant was given a good (or bad) review, it was usually read in the few days after it ran in the newspaper or magazine that it was written for. (If it was syndicated in other publications, it might have been read by even more people for a short duration of time.)

If a hotel or restaurant was lucky, it would get a positive review in the Forbes Travel Guide (formerly the Mobile Travel Guide) or some similar type of publication.

However, even when the business is given a positive review in this type of publication, it doesn’t reach as many potential customers as a similar review could, when it is posted online.

A Food Critic’s Online Review

An online review can potentially be available to readers for years after the review is written.

In her book, “Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy,” (affiliate link) Vanessa Fox gives a perfect example of this when she talks about how a positive review can influence sales for many years as a result of a high ranking on a Google search results page.

“I’m writing this from Bologna, Italy, and a little earlier today, I decided to venture into the town for lunch,” writes Fox. “But how do I pick a location in a city famous for its food? With the help of search, of course. Searching for [best place to have lunch in Bologna Italy] brought up an article in The Guardian called “24 hours in Bologna: Foodie Heaven” that listed five promising choices. These five restaurants didn’t only get the lift in visibility during the week that article initially ran in the paper and only among regular readers. The article was written in 2000 and was still showing up on the first page of search results. One positive review has been sending customers to these restaurants for nine years (and counting).”

That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.

User-Generated Reviews

With websites like Yelp, Epinions, Facebook and Angie’s List, your customers have the ability to become your best or worst critics. Even with sites like Twitter and Foursquare, customers can leave comments that can influence your bottom line.

As mentioned in a previous post, titled “A Case Study on the Importance of Good Customer Service: Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co.,” numerous positive user-generated reviews on these sites can bring you business, with the help of Google and other search engines.

Mainstream Media

Okay, maybe this doesn’t technically count as a review, but even a positive mention of a restaurant by a celebrity, online, can send customers to a restaurant for many years.

Case in point, after reading a post by Anderson Cooper on ac360.blogs.cnn.com, titled “Anderson’s View: The calm (and crabcakes) before the storm,” I decided that the next time that I was in New Orleans, I would have to visit Oceana to try the crabcakes.

After visiting Oceana, I let my Twitter followers know about it with the following tweets:

“Oceana Grill is the bar in the French Quarter that Anderson Cooper ate at during Hurricane Gustav. http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/08/page/2

“I had the Louisiana Crabmeat Cakes topped with crawfish cream sauce yesterday…”

“It’s the crawfish cream sauce that makes them delicious. www.oceanagrill.com

Yeah, my tweets were a little cheesy, but the crabcakes were tasty.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the last post, the World Wide Web has changed the world… literally.

And, with the “permanency” of information on the Web, a good online review can have a positive effect on your business for years after it is published. This is true whether the review is coming from a well-know critic or one of your regular customers.

This is another reason why great customer service, combined with a great product, is even more important in a world where people can find information about your business with only a few clicks of a mouse.

Photo credit: sunbeltbadger on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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