Friday, July 13, 2012

How will the new cookies law affect your marketing efforts?

Extract: The Direct Marketing Association has told marketers to consider a range of steps to ensure they comply with the cookies law.

It is likely that you will have heard a great deal over recent weeks about the new cookies law, but how will it affect your company's efforts to increase lead generation?

Last month, the UK government implemented an EU directive requiring websites to obtain visitors' permission before using cookies to track them and to make clear what data is being tracked and how it is being used.

What steps should you take?

In light of this, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has published a ten-step guide to cookie management, which advocates that organisations engage all key stakeholders, including marketers, in debates about what cookies policy they implement.

Furthermore, it advises companies to check all the areas where cookies may be used and to assess their level of intrusiveness and their function, as well as to develop and test any solutions they do implement.

Firms also need to consider how they will obtain consent from web users to track cookies; there are many ways of doing this: pop-up boxes, homepage headers, providing terms and conditions and so on.

They will need to use these to provide access to content that tells users what cookies are being used, what they are doing and how users can provide or withdraw consent for their data to be tracked.

Non-compliance still rife

It is advice many firms should take on board, but to date it seems that very few are doing so as yet.

Earlier this month, a study of 55 major organisations' websites by KPMG revealed that just ten of them were compliant with the cookies law, despite potentially facing fines of up to £500,000 for breaching this regulation.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last month expressed concern at the continuing high levels of non-compliance, but acknowledged that the heavy workload involved in meeting this new law would take time to complete.

Dave Evans, who has led the ICO's work on cookies, told BBC News that the regulator would instead expect companies not yet compliant to be able to demonstrate what steps they had undertaken over the past year to adhere to these new regulations.

Do your company's integrated marketing services obey the new rules on cookies? What policies should you adopt in response to this law change?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is Google+ good for business or just universal bullying?

I’m a little behind with Google and its steely determination to penetrate the social media universe, so decided to do some research on its latest (ish) newborn, Google+ Pages.

33 per cent of British firms have set up a brand page on Google+, possibly made up by statistic munchkins in Statisticland but I’m clearly not alone in failing to take advantage of the wonderful lead generation opportunities. Phew!

For those more backward than me, Google+ was launched in June 2011 and in November was updated to include Google+ Pages.  These Pages allow the likes of us marketers to share information with and offer deals to potential customers via the “social networking site”.

My initial reaction is it’s just another bloody marketing channel to monitor.  Look what you’ve done. I’m melting. Melting! Oh what a world.

But apparently I’m missing out! I’m not taking advantage of this potential addition to my integrated marketing services offering and I have no idea how this service will affect my search marketing efforts. Eeek!

Andrew Warren-Payne, research analyst and not a munchkin, at Econsultancy said: "Google+ results now feature heavily on the search engine results page. With Google making significant moves in this area, companies should look to incorporate Google+ as part of their social and content marketing strategy. Those that do not are likely to miss a significant opportunity."

Hmmm, using Google+ to help increase my SEO ranking. Duh really! Of course it will - they bloody own it! (That’s my swearing quota done – no more I promise).

I don't like Google, but that's a whole other blog entirely. I feel that I'm being bullied and I either join the Plus One Club or I am missing out on one precious ranking factor. Google have full control and I'm really not happy and really trying not to swear.

I know that I should want to have anything and everything I can get my grubby hands on in order to increase my ranking. But it’s the principle. Surely?
Another report (Simply Measured) indicated that average weekly circle engagement for those that are already playing has increased by 112 per cent for the top 100 brands on Google+ in the last six months.
Yet despite Google claiming the network now has 170 million users, some studies have indicated that in many instances users' level of engagement with it is limited.

When questioned about the perceived lack of success of Google+ at his company's Big Tent event near London last week, Google chairman Eric Schmidt of course assertively defended the network.

He said comparisons with Facebook were unfair, given that Facebook has been around for 12 years now and promised that there was more to come from Google+.

Mr Schmidt remarked: "Google+ is doing better than I expected given the competitors in the market and the success of Facebook. "Do I think it's a success? Absolutely. Absolutely." 

Well, he’s not going to do a Gerald Ratner on us is he (for those of you who don’t know that infamous faux pas,  Bing him).

But I do agree. Facebook is for maintaining old relationships and Google+ is about making new connections. They are different species and comparisons shouldn’t be made.

I am not convinced how brilliant this is from a B2B marketing perspective though and did I mention I don’t like Google as I nervously look skyward for lightening?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is gaming just for B2C?

We've all heard of Angry Birds and how successful that's been on social media sites and mobiles but surely gaming is for B2C firms not B2B?

I love a game, me. Whether it’s the latest app game (totally obsessed with 100 Floors), Poker, Backgammon or a good ol' game of Triv I'm up for it. I have a very competitive nature which can be rather ugly and should be kept private to those who have to put up with me for marriage or birth certificate reasons.

As much as I enjoy them could I justify playing a game at the office? Could you? Probably depends on your role but as a marketer we’ve only just won the fight for the right to party partake in social media channels without co-workers raising eyebrows and Directors demanding measurement for such ‘time wasting’. I don’t think I would get away with Officeville just yet.

Losing employee time to ‘slightly’ more acceptable online pleasures doesn’t seem to be fazing anyone. But I suppose with most people using their mobile devices at every possible waking moment plus the blur between office and home life expanding fun can be had during the commute, toilet breaks and evening bath times.  That makes me feel better cos if I was the boss I wouldn’t want anyone having fun on my shift unless it was going to make money. Am I being a pooper?

Luckily I am not the boss so putting my marketing hat back on and removing my miserly ruler of the universe cape, I totally get why gamification companies are knocking on marketers over-excitable minds about the benefits of using such platforms.  

It’s an enlightening moment for B2B. We can be cool, clever, engaging AND sell office water coolers all at the same time. Games can be used to build awareness, generate leads, drive traffic in all directions, expand databases, gain customer insight, build communities, train or motivate staff, increase loyalty, educate prospects or simply encourage customer feedback.

Obviously you need to do your research when trying out a new channel especially if it’s untested in your industry. Make sure you stay true to your brand and have clear and concrete goals on what you want to achieve. Maximize your exposure by combining digital social media and email with postcard mail shots. It won’t work as a standalone medium but as complementary tactic to your marketing mix you could stand out over your competitors.

Blockdot, a renowned digital studio who builds games across Web, mobile and social platforms is already creating games for us B2B folk. They developed a game for a major pharmaceutical company marketing a six figure gene splicing machine to a very targeted group of bio-engineers and for a leading hotel chain to communicate new upgrades at the hotel’s properties to travel agents.

I’d love to hear if anyone is getting involved in this new B2B marketing craze.  What game would you create? Mine would definitely have to be a virtual board game and I’ve named it already, ‘Mardevopoly’. Done no research, got no goals but I’ve got a name and I never listen to my own advice. Hands up who wants to play!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do you use social media to improve your customer service?

Many brands haven't woken up the fact that social media sites are perfect for customer service.

A colleague of mine recently moved into new house and had problems getting her Internet connection up and running.  After a month of copious calls with India and other parts of the universe she had practically given up on her dreams of being a silver surfer.

Luckily for her she is a prolific Tweeter. After one fruitless conversation with Dave from Deli and at the end of her tether she ranted on Twitter about her disappointment with her provider.

To cut a short story shorter….it was fixed within 12 hours.

You would think that most companies are listening and monitoring their brand reputation within social networks but recent figures gathered by Econsultancy found that just 11 per cent of firms use social media sites as a way of offering customer service.

Whether responding to negative posts or thanking a happy customer for their comments

Spin that on its head and you'll find that 81 per cent of businesses with a Facebook page use it for marketing purposes.

However, you can't use social media sites to promote sales if your customer service is shoddy as visitors to your brand page could see negative comments that have not been dealt with - lowering your reputation.

Why isn't social media being used for customer service?

Luke Brynley-Jones, founder of Our Social Times, looked into this problem and detailed the results on the Econsultancy blog.

He found that the main obstacle in firms using social media sites as a platform for customer service is fear!

It seems the majority of you are afraid that by responding to negative comments you'll open a can of worms and a crisis will ensue.

However, this is generally not the case as potential and existing customers would prefer seeing how you respond to criticism and how you rectify the problem.

If you do this well, then your brand reputation will improve and your customers may start recommending you to other B2B buyers.

What's more, recent research from Ogilvy PR found that 60 per cent of B2B buyers are influenced by what their peers have to say about a brand on social media sites, reported the Financial Times.

So why not start responding to tweets that mention your firm on Twitter, whether it's good or bad, and to any comments posted on your Facebook page?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Make your video ads go viral to boost your lead generation

Brits react better to branded videos that have been recommended to them
In our Key Marketing Trends for you to employ in 2012 Part One blog, we looked at the emerging trend of video marketing as a way of boosting your lead generation. Let's take a closer look.

Video marketing
Video marketing budgets grew by double figures in 2011 and this sector looks set to grow even further this year, especially in terms of viral videos.

Making a video viral just means that it has been shared on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, while users of these sites have also recommended the content to their social media friends.

In this way, online videos can reach a wider audience than just those who visit your website or your YouTube channel.

Benefits of viral video
A new study by Unruly, released on February 7th, found that people react better to branded videos that have been recommended to them by their social media friends than those who have found the content through browsing.

It was found that brand recall and association was seven per cent higher among viewers who had been advised to watch the content in comparison to those who came across the content unintentionally.

A total of 73 per cent recalled the brand represented in the video if their social media friends pointed them to it, while 68 per cent of those who viewed a video after browsing remembered the company involved.

There was also a 14 per cent rise in the number of people who enjoyed the video if it had been recommended and if people enjoy [enjoyed] a video they are [were] 97 per cent more likely to purchase the product seen in the video.

Sarah Wood, chief operating officer of Unruly, commented: "If a brand creates great video content and makes it easy to share, it will see impressive results across the entire purchase funnel."

B2B videos
Online videos created by B2B marketing executives like you will vary from those created by B2C firms but this doesn't mean they should be dull.

After all, the more engaging and funny a video is the more likely it is to be shared on social media sites.

Try creating online videos that showcase how your product or service works in funny circumstances, add interactive elements such as alternative endings, and incorporate question and answer scenarios too.

Let us know if you have seen any interesting B2B videos or if you have created on yourself send it over and we will showcase it in our pipeline e-newsletter.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Key marketing trends for 2012 (part two)

Part two of our guide to key B2B marketing trends that will be seen this year.

Now is the time that B2B marketers like you will be considering if and how they want to change their advertising strategies in 2012 in order to win new business.

Some key marketing trends for 2012 have been discussed and now it is time for part two of our guide on what will be lucrative for B2B firms this year.

Integrating email marketing with social media
While many of you may feel that email marketing is a dying advertising medium due to the popularity of social media, it can still be lucrative for you in 2012.

According to Elisabeth Sosnow, who was writing for Business to Community, this is the year for B2B firms to run integrated marketing services that incorporate emails and social marketing campaigns.

She states that 47 per cent of companies intend to increase their investment in email marketing to drive growth in social media channels in 2012.

Beware though as you need to do more than just adding a social share button to your email marketing messages in order to do justice to both platforms.

Julia Peavy, director of Response Consulting at Return Path, suggested adding social media calls-to-action in email marketing messages.

She wrote on the firm's blog: "Test out different wording to encourage sharing or engagement with your social media site.

"While including simple 'follow us' and 'like us' text is better than no guidance, test the social media calls to action to see if this encourages more clicks."

You can also include the option to add comments to a social media page in your email marketing messages to help encourage engagement with your brand.

Content marketing
Producing high-quality content is a proven marketing tool for B2B marketers and the type of material required to win new business is set to develop even further in 2012.

White papers will always be a great way for you to reveal the latest developments in your industry to prove you're an expert in the field but B2B buyers will want to read more engaging content too this year.

This can include corporate blogs, written by your chairman or an industry expert, webinars that B2B buyers can watch online, and even e-books, as e-readers are gaining popularity across the globe.

Social media
Social media was a popular marketing method in 2011, with the launch of new social network Google+, and new advertising tools on both Facebook and Twitter.
These sites are sure to have more opportunities for you to build lead generation in the pipeline, such as Facebook which will be introducing private messages between brands and customers.

As a result, firms will be able to deal with customer service issues directly and in private, rather than on their Facebook page.

What methods will you be employing this year? Take our Poll opposite and find out what your peers think.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Key marketing trends for 2012 (part one)

As the New Year is here, you may be wondering what key marketing trends you should get involved in to boost lead generation in 2012.

That's because marketing is one of those sectors that is constantly evolving as new technologies develop and people find themselves engaging with digital data in innovative ways, such as through smartphones.

Let's take a look at some of the trends that are set to be important this year:

Branded Advertising
One big marketing trend for 2012 is set to be advertising that benefits those who see it rather than traditional advertising on mediums such as TV.

Such is the prediction of Chris Gorell Barnes, chief executive officer at Adjust Your Set, who was writing on the Econsultancy blog.

He explained that people, including B2B buyers, want advertising that contributes to their quality of life, meaning online marketing will be big news next year.

Instructional demos, product innovation and your Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, which means running a company so it doesn't have a negative impact on the environment, stakeholders and the public, should be a focus in 2012 in order to boost lead generation.

This also means there will be a greater focus on pictures and images over words, with Cisco predicting that online video will account for 90 per cent of all internet traffic within the next three years, leading us to the next trend.

Video Marketing
You can also employ non-traditional advertising in the form of online video marketing, as you can provide demonstrations of your products and how they would benefit a B2B buyer.

The amount of money spent on video advertising increased by double-figures this year, with a further rise in budgets expected in 2012, according to a study by Break Media.

It found that 68 per cent of marketers intend to boost their online video marketing budgets in 2012, suggesting brands are seeing this channel as beneficial in terms of sales and new clients.
Mr Gorell Barnes revealed that another key marketing trend for 2012 will be mobile.

He wrote: "Smartphones have revolutionised how we interact with content on-the-go and in 2012 the mobile device will continue to play a significant role."

Smartphones are gaining ground in the UK, US and even Japan where the majority of owners are male aged under 35, according to Comscore.

This is an ideal demographic for you as these people can be involved in the buying process at a B2B firm so mobile marketing is also a great channel for lead generation.

What marketing methods are you planning to employ in 2012?