Marketing Student Views

Perspectives by GMU Internet Marketing Students


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Building a Brand through Blogging

Blogger: William Ruckert

In the world today companies can spend up to billions of dollars on getting their company to achieve “franchise in the mind”. Paul Chaney used the term “franchise in the mind” in his blog “7 Ways to Build a Brand Using Blogs.” “Franchise in the mind” is when a customer automatically thinks of the company when thinking of a certain product or service. The problem is most companies do not have this kind of money to spend on marketing campaigns, so away to achieve this “franchise in the mind” is by creating a blog. There are a few major ways to build your brand through blogging.

When starting a blog the creator needs to start by creating a Online persona. The creator needs to tell the story of the product and company. It needs to let the consumers and potential consumers know what the company/product is about. The customer needs to be drawn in and believe the creation story of the company. The blogger can tell the story in the description of the blog. Also throughout the blogs the blogger can continually remind the readers of what the company stands for.

When creating a blog, a community should also be created with the blog. The community can be created on other forms of Social Media and directly on the blog webpage. The creator can use tools message boards, customer ratings, and profiles for their users on the blog page directly. If Social Media is being used also, it must be continually updated just like the blog itself. These communities will help create conversation and connection with the company and consumer.

A blog needs to promote conversations and connections by using the tools previously listed. The posts the blogger creates need to generate comments and questions from the readers. The blogger needs to answers these questions, through the varies forms of interaction. The blogger must also be able to eliminate any concerns that customers or potential customers might see, through the different forms of communication also. Concerns that customers might have are if the product or service is beneficial, cost efficient, or any other issue that the customer might see. Connections are also a major part of blogs. Connection is building a sense of belonging between the product, the consumer, and the blog. These connections will make the consumer needs to visit the blog and read what is going on with the product. This connection can be built by regularly updating the blog, posting relevant information for the customers, and offer incentives to reading the blog. Incentives could include coupons, giveaways, and others. Without this connection the readers can easily find a new blog to visit.

Having guest bloggers can greatly help out a blog. Guest bloggers can lead to more followers to your blog that trust what the guest has to say. These guest bloggers are the authority on the product they talk about to their followers. These guest bloggers can be popular people on websites like Youtube. They can compare different products and services that that they are known for using. By allowing this authority to talk about your product can lead to the followers trusting your product and using it.

To have a successful branding by using a blog, the blogger will need all these aspects together. They also must use all of these parts correctly. The blog creator needs to keep up with changes in social media, regularly answer the questions consumers have, and address the concerns they also have. So the blogger must use all these different tools continuously to be affective at branding their blog.

First Article: http://www.careerealism.com/build-brand-blogging/

Second Article: http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/business_advice.php?AID=11794&Title=Boost+Your+Brand+Through+Guest+Blogging#.UnvKz5RASH2


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Email Marketing to Drive New Customers

Blogger: Jordan Buranskas

My exploration of email marketing to drive new customers yielded contradictive results.  Some studies that emerged assert that email marketing is a dying art unlikely to yield profit, while others advocate in favor of email marketing, suggesting that is a practical investment that shouldn’t be ignored. Although the search was complicated by the need to filter legitimate sources from statements made through advertising efforts by email marketing service providers.

The most prominent result came from the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly report, which proclaims that “the decreasing influence email marketing has on ecommerce, how tablets are overtaking smart phones in online retail, and social media’s impact on ecommerce.” According to the report, referral traffic to ecommerce sites and conversion rates from email have decreased since last year. Referral traffic has plummeted 37%, while the conversion rate has dropped another 6%. On the other hand, average order value is up almost ten dollars ($89.43-$99.93) in the fiscal period between the second quarter of 2012, to the second quarter of 2013. This presents an opportunity for brands to exploit direct email transactions if they are able to create more engaging email experiences. This study is conducted by analyzing a random sample of over 600 million online shopping experiences.

An opposing argument on this top came from the “Icontact” blog written by John Hayes who has an extensive library of blogs related to the field of email marketing and social media marketing news. Hayes asserts that email marketing “provides one of the most cost-effective marketing solutions available to today’s marketers”. Unlike many of the costly alternatives to direct cyber traffic toward a given company’s website (such as paid advertisement), email marketing is a retention marketing tool; it is cheaper to hold onto old customers than acquire new ones. Hayes argues for the importance of bringing in new blood, and thus the effectiveness of PPC at accomplishing that, but having to pay every time you attract a visitor can create a fine margin between cost and profit. The addition of email marketing to your alternative marketing strategies (SEO, social media, PPC) will improve your ability to generate substantial return on your marketing budget (Hayes.)

His article segments the process into four steps. The first is to develop a strategy that involves using email marketing to retain and drive repeat business at minimum cost. This is followed by adjusting the website to capture user info; facilitating the process of clients joining your e-mailing list. Encouraging a correlation between the social media and email platforms. And finally testing the methodology by temporarily suspending the alternative forums of online marketing to ensure the email marketing pursuit is time and cost effective.

Clearly the topic of email marketing is highly controversial. With so many competitive digital platforms to reach consumers, research and theory offer different interpretations of this segment of online marketing.

New Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Finds Diminishing Returns from Email Marketing in Driving Ecommerce; Tablets Outpacing Smartphones in Device Share. “Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Report.” September 12, 2013. http://monetate.com/news/eq22013/

Email Marketing – The Profitable Component of Everything Else You Do Online to Promote Your Business. John Hayes.  “Icontact”, The Official Blog.  September 18, 2013. http://www.icontact.com/blog/email-marketing-the-profitable-component-of-everything-else-you-do-online-to-promote-your-business/


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“Did that really just happen?” Social Media Crisis Management

Blogger: Diane Wells

We have all seen that one post, picture, tweet, etc. that has made us ask, jaws dropped, “did that really just happen?”  Social media problems arise every day in today’s society.  A company has the option to fix it or fall deeper into the hole of crisis.  According to Ozgur Alaz, author of Ozurg Alaz: 7 Steps For Social Media Crisis Management, there are 7 steps for social media crisis management.  These steps include:

  • Preparation
  • Knowing relationships
  • Knowing stakeholders
  • Choice of strategy
  • Micro management/ Know your tools
  • Abundant records
  • Social media statement

Preparation 

Alaz stresses the importance of preparation when it comes to social media crisis management.  There are three components of preparation; eliminating risks, competent in social media, and tools to manage crisis.  According to Alaz, eliminating risks increases your brand value.  Eliminating risks also relates to the competence of social media in your company.  All employees need to be knowledgeable of social media; eliminating the threat of those who are not by providing informational advice, will greatly benefit a company by taking away the threat of employee mistakes.  The last preparation must is the need for crisis management tools.  An example Alaz uses is the use of a crisis meeting room.  Preparing for a crisis is a must do in terms of management.

Knowing Relationships

Building relationships is another key component of social media crisis management.  Alaz states that social media can get to a lonely state because there are millions of users to interact with and few companies to befriend.  He believes the company needs to create relationships and retain people who will defend the company.  He calls these people/companies “brand friends”, he also states, “Brand friends know you, trust you and defend you when it’s necessary.”  This will in turn lead to loyalty and trust in your company, as well as a “friend” to help back you up during crisis.

Knowing Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who are invested in your company.  Alaz stresses that a company must get to know its stakeholders in order to come up with a strategy.  He also states that stakeholders are not just customers; they are employees, suppliers, government, journalists, and investors.  According to Alaz, “it’s important to create a stakeholders map and think about their motivations and communication channels that lead to them.”  This is vital to the creation of the company’s strategy.

Choice of Strategy

Alaz writes that it is important to know that a company’s strategy will change frequently based on different situations.  This being said, a company relies on scenario analysis and keeping their employees updated.  He explains that there are some strategic decisions to be made, which include; “What’s your message?”, “What’s your attitude?”, “How will you create plausibility?”, “Will there be any official statements made? How frequent will they be?”.  These all are great questions to ask in order to be fully prepared for any issues that arise.

Micro Management / Know Your Tools

It is important to be able to micro manage questions/comments that arise.  Alaz suggests each member of the crisis team answer questions via their personal twitter accounts; allowing more questions to be answered.  He states, “The reason I recommend to use employees’ accounts is that by doing this you’ll start a dialogue instead of just “answering” and it’ll feel more convincing and genuine”.  It’s all about creating the relationship and providing useful information to your audience.  Another necessity of crisis management consists of knowing your tools.  Knowing your resources and communication channels will help when applying the strategy.

Abundant Records

When a crisis occurs it is imperative to have abundant records in order to defend your company.  Alaz explains that records can range from camera recordings to positive comments on your social media site.  All of these records will help you have an advantage over the crisis situation.

Social Media Statements

Alaz points out three things that need to be treated with care.  These include timing, simplifying the message, and actively using your advertising channels.

Final Thoughts:

Now that we have gone through Ozgur Alaz’s 7 steps for social media crisis management, I leave you to be the judge of these two social media crises listed below.

AppleBee’s:

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A waitress posted this picture and was later fired for violating one of AppleBee’s rules.  AppleBee’s was ridiculed for firing this waitress; they defended their decision to the end, which did not help them at all.

KitchenAid:

Image

An employee accidentally posted this on the company’s twitter account; the head of KitchenAid brand sincerely apologized and explained what happened.  This honesty was a plus for the brand.

For more examples visit:

http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/

Articles referenced:

http://www.psfk.com/2013/08/social-media-crisis-management.html

http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/


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Integrated Marketing

Blogger: Tevah El Emmet

Integrated marketing is extremely important in today’s society. In the past everything was broken into silos and was separate. Each division looked out for its’ own and did not all work together for the good of the company. Marketing was separate from PR, sales, and direct mail. In contemporary times many companies continue to use the same tactics even with all the research that says an integrated marketing approach works best. This is because many are stuck in only traditional forms of media or in new forms of media and haven’t grasped the ability to effectively use both. This is why integrated marketing is such a huge buzz word and goal for many organizations today because they know that each form of marketing has strengths and weaknesses and when you can put them all together your campaign will be that much stronger.

As we continue to move into a more technology based world many companies are moving to a digital platform. Some are ahead of the times and make sure to use the latest and best in technology and social media and mobile and others are way behind the times. Many however focus their efforts solely on one type of marketing or communication. This is especially true when they are communicating with the millennials. In the articles I read it I learned about how important it is to continue traditional marketing efforts as well as make sure that you are keeping up with current trends.

One article that I read spoke about how 51% of millenials still get there coupons from newspapers. The next highest percent is 50% and is from online sources. Therefore if you do not have both you are really doing a disservice to your company. Others are of course in store options as well. I also learned that even though millennials are the most technologically savvy group most of their shopping still occurs in stores.

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They do however do a lot of online comparison. This means that if you are only doing online promotion for millennials than you are still missing a great share.

The second article I read about spoke about talked about the magazine All You. At first it was just a print magazine. And that is where the money from advertising came. Once the number of sales began to decline a little they added a website and social media aspect. The online component was not the full magazine but of really good content that the users wanted from the magazine. That way they would continue to go to the print magazine and also look at any ads that were on the online media.

Overall it is really important to tie all of your media outlets together. Do not ignore one kind of media because you never know who uses it and how successful it will be when combined with your other forms of media. Lastly and almost most importantly make sure the content that you distribute is of high quality and watch your audience wants that way it turns away from you trying to send them a message but more to them coming to you to find a message.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2013/09/16/why-integrated-marketing-communications-is-more-important-than-ever/

http://www.strategicdriven.com/marketing-insights-blog/traditional-marketing-approach-2013/


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Micro video and embedded video email trends in marketing

Blogger: Katja Swann

Videos are the best way to grab consumers’ attention; micro videos are even better for consumers with short attention spans.  In this blog post I will summarize why micro videos have become the new trend for businesses to promote their products.  I will also bring up another emerging trend in video marketing; the ability to embed video in emails.  These two trends, while as of now are not wildly used by companies, will possibly become the norm in 2014.

By now everyone has heard of Instagram and Vine’s quick video features.  Consumers often use these micro video capabilities to make funny six second or fifteen second videos to share with their friends.  Recently businesses have joined the micro video trend.  Businesses use these micro videos either to promote a product or inspire viewers.  Nonprofit businesses have especially taken to the use of micro videos to spread information.  Beth’s Blog provides seven examples of nonprofits that have used Instagram and Vine to show their cause.  Of the seven, two examples stood out.  These examples were Charity Water’s Instagram Video and Diabetes UK’s Vine video (Kanter, Beth).

Charity Water installed water taps in the homes of the villagers in Engereda.  Previously, women had to walk four hours to a stream just to retrieve water.  Charity Water provides an Instagram video that shows one of the women smiling as she carries her water from one building to her home.  While the video is short and simple it also helps to inspire the viewer.  Viewers are able actually see a few minutes into her life as her previously four hour walk for water suddenly becomes only ten steps.

The other video by Diabetes UK used colorful fridge magnets.  The vine video, though short, is extremely informative for parents who may not realize their children have diabetes.  Titled “#the4Ts” the six second video lists out “toilet, thirsty, tired, thinner” as symptoms noticed in diabetic children.  These videos provide viewers with an emotional link that static photographs and plain text could not convey in the same way.

Future consumers can expect to see more micro videos as we start to move into 2014.  Typically the way consumers notice these videos meant they were either subscribed to the businesses social networks, have a website they visit mention these videos, or a friend provide the link to the video.  This problem will be lessened in the future as a new trend of embedded video email emerges.

Businesses send several emails to consumers with pictures and text of their products, yet video has not been used as extensively.  Currently, very few marketers use video at all in their email promotions.  According to information from Email Monks, videos embedded in email will become the new trend.  MarketingProf recently posted the infographic from Email Monks further explaining how the new trend can benefit future marketers. 

As of now only a quarter of marketers use embedded email.  After surveying marketers who do not use video in their email it was found that 25% were “very likely” and 55% were “somewhat likely” to join the video email trend.  Only 20% were unlikely to join the new trend (Nanji, Ayaz). The types of content in these videos that have been most effective when used were found to be training courses and product demos. Training courses, I assume, are videos that explain how to use a product while product demos are self explanatory.

The article and infographics do not specify what type of videos would be used.  I would expect that these videos would either be linked from the products official YouTube channel for longer videos and Vine or Instgram for shorter videos.  Email Monks provide great infographics as to why marketers should use video marketing (Video Email Arsenal).

While embedded videos in email can be seen as annoying by consumer, video also provide self serving information and radical transparency.  For example, Product demos show the consumer how to use the product.  This gives the consumer content they need to answer the question “how does this work” (self serving information).  The product demo video would also show the consumer an easy way to understand the products function (radical transparency).  This trend will more than likely be more noticeable in 2014 as more companies join the embedded video trend.

I believe that micro videos and the video email trend will be very useful for consumers and marketers alike.  Nonprofit businesses have already shown how successful the trend is; now name brand companies should follow their lead.  There is no reason I can think of as to why businesses should not use video to provide product information.  After what I have learned about video email I would be surprised if name brand companies did not follow suit. Most consumers shop with their smartphones in hand with access to their email.  What better reason do companies need then this to join the video email trend?  I am excited to see which company will embrace this trend first and find out how successful video emails will be in the future.

Articles cited:

Kanter, Beth. “7 Fabulous Nonprofit Videos on Vine and Instagram.” Beth’s Blog. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013.       Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.bethkanter.org/7-np-videos-vine-insta/&gt;.

Nanji, Ayaz. “Video in Marketing Emails: Trends and Benchmarks [infographic].”MarketingProfs. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2013/11989/video-in-marketing-emails-trends-and-benchmarks-infographic&gt;.

“Video Email Arsenal.” Video Email Marketing Infographic and Sample Video Email. N.p., n.d.      Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.emailmonks.com/videoemail/video-email.html&gt;.


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Tips to make your video worth watching

Blogger: Chris Saunders

Video marketing has never been easier to do. With the recent emergence and boom of easy to use platforms like YouTube, video marketing can be both a successful and profitable tactic for any business. Getting the video out to the public is simple, but getting the right video out still has its difficulties. Getting the right message and properly voicing it to your audience can be quite a tough task. Every business is different, and each business can benefit from following these few simple tips, which will ultimately improve the success of your business’ video marketing.

Tip 1 – Your targeting audience will respond much better to a video with more personality. Now by personality, I mean a video that is both captivating visually and audibly, and still informative enough to get the point across. A bland video with words on a white background or a salesperson reading to you is less likely to have a positive effect on you than a casual, more intriguing video taking place in a real-life environment. Compare these two videos and see the difference for yourself.

  • Example 1 (Bad) – Not only is the ad fairly boring to watch and monotone, it could also be considered quite offensive. Additionally, you don’t find out what brand the ad is for until the last five seconds.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmYeFLLHmS0
  • Example 2 (Good) – The ad is mildly humorous, keeps your attention, and puts a strong, positive focus on the brand throughout the entire ad.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeDOcYOurUs

Tip 2 – Another important piece of advice is to maintain consistency. Be consistent in displaying and releasing new ads. Don’t release new ads too often, but don’t make them too sparse. A weekly or monthly set schedule can significantly improve your targeted audience’s response. Also, be consistent in releasing ads based around the same subject. A good example would be Geico, the car insurance company; they always feature the gecko and a similar type of scenario which consumers can recognize and build a minor, but important, relationship with.

Tip 3 – Following the same advice from the last tip, a relevant video is a good video. Keep your video short, concise, and focused on your brand, while still retaining audience attention and being informing and entertaining. Now this is easier said than done, but also hard to mess up at the same time. Say what you need to say about your brand, and nothing more. Provide enough information to entice consumers, and allow them to further research your product or service, which if they are interested they will surely do.

Tip 4 – Last but not least, testimonials can go a long way. Providing truthful and convincing testimonials can further instill consumer’s trust in your brand and give them the push they need to look into/purchase your product or service. The one caveat to this tip, is that if done wrong, it can do exactly the opposite of what you want which is push consumers farther away and lose their trust. For instance, have you ever seen those hair growth or weight loss commercials? If so, then you most likely always question whether the person in the before picture is the same person in the after picture. Situations like this can substantially damage your brand’s image, so keep your testimonials short, simple, and most of all truthful and believable.

Video marketing is readily accessible for the smallest to the biggest companies and can provide a large boost in not only your brand’s image but also to the amount of potential consumers you reach. Follow these tips and your video ads will have a much higher rate of success, and possibly make you more money too!


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Content marketing strategy & implementation

Blogger: Lea Rossetti

Today, content marketing strategy has become a major challenge for marketers to develop their brand and create brand awareness. But what is content marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”

Content marketing has to be explained, developed and then applied. The firms first have to give a clear statement of what they want to do and how they will put it in action as an internal marketing process.

A solid strategy is needed to create a relevant content strategy. It has to earn the faith of the consumers to be used and applied. The strategy can be defined thanks to clear goals to reach. Here is a Content strategy cycle (Kathy Hanbury – 5 things you need to know about content strategy):

5-Things-You-Need-to-Know-about-Content-Strategy-Chart

On a deeper aspect, content marketing strategy is just a part of an overall marketing strategy. It can’t work by itself, but it is really effective, as it adjusts to the budget you can afford, and what you want to invest in terms of time. The Content Marketing Strategy has to adapt to the image of the firm to the customers, and to the marketing tactics of the whole company.

Concerning the implementation of the content strategy, it’s a complex process. Many tools can be used including social media, and blog posts.

According to an article in Heinz Marketing website, there are five stages to successful content strategy implementation. First, the statement of clear objectives. The content will adapt depending of the objectives. It is so important to know them well to apply the best strategy. The second stage is the asset architecture. This is about asking yourself the good structural questions to create a coherent strategy to fit your goals. Those questions will give the structure you want to have to create the overall Content strategy. The third step is the execution. During this stage, you need to set a clear schedule, and to really consider the potential customers review, to make changes if necessary. As the small sample of potential customers will tell you what they like or don’t like about the strategy, you can modify it to suits better and to please them. During the execution, you also need to be really careful about not getting outside of the content, meaning that you need to be coherent in your actions. The fourth stage is measurement. This step is one of the most important as it will help the firm to see if the content strategy works; if the result matches expectations and objectives. It also helps to move to the last stage – continuous improvement. As you will measure the benefits from the content strategy, you need to find a way to get even better in order to be even more efficient. It also helps to keep track of the strategy, for future needs. You might as well think of another solution or improvement at the end that might be conducted at the same moment and so be complementary of the strategy.

In summary, content marketing strategy is really important to any firm in order to achieve any clear marketing objectives (ex: what do you want to do to attract new consumers? How can you drive awareness to you firm? How do you want your brand to be perceived by consumers?). To do so, many tools can be use, and some simple steps need to be followed in order to be strongly efficient and to achieve goals, with continuing improving.

Article 1: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/04/5-things-about-content-strategy/

Article 2: http://www.heinzmarketing.com/2012/06/five-stages-of-effective-content-strategy-implementation/