The magic is in the media mix

The other day I got a direct mail solicitation from Google.  Yes, that Google.

It was a good reminder me (and now to you too) that none of us can afford to get lazy when it comes to media mix.

If the King of Online recognizes the power of a printed piece, then we should probably pay attention too.

We know that people need to hear our message on average 8-13 times before they even notice we’re talking to them. But, in this age of being fascinated with all things digital — we need to remember to keep focused on creating a media mix — and that means adding some offline efforts into your overall marketing plan.

In fact, some are arguing that the hottest “new media” in terms of performance is direct mail.  We’ve all rushed away from printing anything.  Which means the mailbox is a lot less cluttered than an email inbox these days.

Best of all, by mixing your media, you can use one to point to the other.  Your direct mail can drive traffic to your website.  Your blog or FB page can encourage people to request a product sheet or attend a meet up at a trade show.  (Oh…you’d forgotten that face to face is a media too, didn’t you?)

As you plan your next campaign, consider these “old school” off line tactics and see how you can blend them into your media mix — and connect them to your shiny new digital efforts.

  • PR placed article in a trade pub — driving online trials
  • Face to face meetings that result from an email invite
  • Direct mail, driving them to an online video
  • Voicemail message, inviting them to a webinar
  • Radio spots inviting listeners to download a podcast
  • Hard copy white paper/article which introduces them to your online library of content

I’m not suggesting that you always need to cross promote between on and offline.  I just wanted to show you what’s possible.  And how going old school with your media mix should be part of your plan.  I don’t care how hip and cool what you sell may be.

 

 

 

 

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Email open and click rates – are they rising?

(download full-sized infographic made by B2BMarketing.net)

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  And no.  According to a recent study done by Experian Cheetahmail (download the white paper) shows that open rates are up but click rates are down a little bit in the 2nd quarter of 2012. (As you can see by the infographic above, different studies reveal slightly different numbers but the interesting and important thing to notice is that they’re pretty darned close.)

According to the study, the total open rate for Q2 2012 was 21.9%, an improvement from the previous year, which was at 21.6%. Similarly, Q2 2012’s unique open rate of 15.2% was up from a year earlier (14.8%), but down from the previous quarter’s 15.5%.

A June report from Epsilon found the benchmark email open rate for Q1 to be 26.2%, up on quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year bases.

Most of the other metrics tracked by Experian Marketing Services saw year-over-year declines in Q2, yet many saw less pronounced decreases when measured on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

For example, Q2 2012’s click-to-open rate of 15.4% was a significant drop from 18.2% a year earlier, but represented a smaller decline when compared to Q1’s 16.3% rate. Q2’s unique click rate of 2.5% was down from 2.7% in Q1 and 2.8% in Q2 2011.

Other Interesting Findings:

  • The overall transaction rate dropped slightly from the previous quarter and previous year.
  • The average revenue per email in Q2 was $0.12.
  • Average order declined to $156.37 from $159.93 in Q1 and $160.27 in Q2 2011.
  • The bounce rate dropped to 2.6%.
  • The unsubscribe rate also fell, to 0.15% in Q2. The Q1 rate was 0.16%, while the Q2 2011 rate was 0.2%.
  • 55% of brands had statistically significant year-over-year increases in open rates.

Going back to the infographic — look at how the research tells us we can improve our own open and click thru rates:

  • A better subject line will increase opens by 40%
  • Personalizing the email will increase opens by 32%
  • If the subject matter is on target, you can increase opens by a whopping 55%
  • Sending your email from 10 am – 1 pm in the middle of the week (Tuesday is the #1 day) also will increase your odds of having that email opened

If you want to learn even more about smart email marketing, check out the brand new book by Jason Falls and DJ Waldow called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing*

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*Affiliate link

Funny doesn’t sell well

Apparently, other people were pondering the same question I was last week when I asserted that advertising can’t just be funny.

Now — a recent study is showing that funny doesn’t really sell well. One in five TV ads are funny, and Super Bowl ads are three times funnier than the rest.

But none of this makes much difference in selling stuff, according to new research by syndicated ad-testing firm Ace Metrix.

Funny ads do get more attention and are better liked. But Ace Metrix found funniness had little correlation with effectiveness in a scoring system that incorporates watchability, likability and persuasion among other factors.

In fact, funny ads were slightly less likely to increase desire or purchase intent than unfunny ones. Those same commercials were less likely to increase desire or intent to purchase than commercials that played it straight. In other words, funny ads are useful for entertaining viewers, but are not the most effective way for advertisers to convince those viewers to buy the product.

This study takes the first-ever large-scale, scientific look at the role of humor in video advertising. According to the study, entitled ‘Is Funny Enough?’, consumers found 20 percent of more than 6,500 TV ads that aired between January 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, to be funny.

Consumers found ads from Doritos to be funnier than any other brand (6.4 times funnier than average), and Target to have more consistently funny ads than any other brand, with 85 ads above the Funny Index average.

So before you go for funny, ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. If it’s sales — perhaps you should consider a different avenue.

 

Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto

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Advertising can’t just be funny

Don’t get me wrong.  I like funny.  Most of my favorite movies are funny.  The TV shows I watch — usually funny.  And I appreciate a funny ad.

But…it still has to sell something.  That’s the ad’s reason for existence.  No company runs a TV commercial just to entertain the viewers.

So when I see TV spots like this one for the California Milk Producers.  But for the life of me, I can’t understand why they thought it would inspire anyone to drink more milk — let alone California milk. (email subscribers, click here to view)

Am I missing something?  Did watching this spot make you run to the fridge and pour a cold glass of ice cold milk?

My big issue with this series of TV spots is that it doesn’t even try to sell us on the benefits of the product, make the brand of the product cool or…even show the product.

Contrast that with the TV spots for Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  They’re funny but they’re also talking about the product. (email subscribers, click here to view)

AdAge and their partner Bluefin Labs have been studying how we react to TV spots in terms of social mentions.  Their findings — we TV viewers are beginning to view commercials as movie shorts and it’s pretty clear that TV viewers are increasingly willing to talk about ads in the same way that they talk about shows: as bits of entertainment.

All the more reason to make sure your TV spot (or any advertising for that matter) keeps its eye on the prize — selling your product or service.  If the viewing population is more likely than ever to talk about you, I’m thinking you want to give them something besides the funny parts to talk about.

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QR Codes – your destination should not be a dead end

According to the most recent statistics, 3 bazillion QR codes are scanned every minute. (Okay, maybe I’m off by a half bazillion but you get the idea) And truth be told… most of the destinations suck.

Come on ad agencies, big brands and web gurus — stop creating QR code campaigns that drive the user into a dead end.

What do I mean by a dead end?  A destination where I get stuck.  I watch your video, look at your desktop site (come on people!) or view your print ad (seriously?) but have no where to go from there.

How do you avoid creating a dead end? Remember that marketing is a series of “next steps” so give me one to take.  Try one of these on for size:

  • Invite me to sign up for your e-newsletter
  • Give me a chance to win something worthwhile
  • Ask my opinion (let me vote, rate or comment)
  • Give me the chance to share your destination with my social networks
  • Let me request a sample
  • Offer me a coupon to download or email to myself
  • Make it possible for me to call your store/office
  • Let me do some product research
  • Entice me to buy something

If you can get me to actually scan your QR code, I must have some interest in what you have to say.  Don’t create a stunted, one-way conversation.  Give me a chance to continue the dialogue.

If we don’t start getting a whole lot smarter about the QR code campaigns we create — we’re going to train people that scanning one leads to a frustrating, unsatisfying experience.  Which means that pretty soon, they’re just going to be more noise.

Stop creating dead ends.  Instead, create a real conversation.

 

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Find newsletter content in a flash

Drew’s note:  Here’s a guest post by Patrick Carver on a relevant topic — how do you create and sustain the creation of an enewsletter.

Don’t you just hate writing newsletters?  We all know the feeling. It’s Saturday afternoon and you realize the company newsletter is due to go out on Monday.  You can feel the blood start to boil when you remember how long it ACTUALLY takes to write all that content.  Don’t you just wish your newsletter would just write itself?

A great option is creating a ‘hybrid’ newsletter using a mix of original and curated content. Curation is a fancy name for finding relevant content (articles, videos, white papers, etc.), qualifying it, and then sharing it with your audience.

Using curated material is a great way to complement your own message and save a lot of time ‘thinking of what to say’.  You can use the outside content as a jumping-off point and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche at the same time.

The first place to look for free content is through one of the these tools.  Google Reader let’s you add your favorite websites to a list and then view all their most recent posts in one place. A great way to monitor your sites without having to bounce around.  Google Alerts is another free tool that lets you add specific keywords to a list and then will email once a day with relevant links and stories.

There are a handful of social bookmarking sites out there like DeliciousReddit, and Digg  that will help you find material but these aren’t always terribly useful.  Without a human curation element, there is way too much automated/aggregated content on there to really find what you’re looking for.

One of the best options for finding free content is using a ‘personal newspaper’ service.  The gist is that you add some topics that you’re interested in and then the software produces a personalized digest of the ‘best’ stories on that subject for you.  Some of the more popular products are paper.liscoop.it , and Flipboard  but there are lots of these sites out there.  AllTop  is a great resource that will list all of the relevant blogs on a topic and display their latest 5 posts.

Now you just have to incorporate all that great content with your newsletter template. People often use an email marketing tool like Constant Contact, MailChimp or InfusionSoft for this. But, if you don’t like messing around with templates, you might consider trying FlashIssue  (it’s Free).

Newsletters can be a lot of work but it’s definitely worth the effort.  Don’t get deterred if your first try doesn’t come out amazing and go viral.  Stick with a core theme but experiment as much possible with different story-lines until you find something that really sticks.  If you can figure out how to speak to your customers in a way that makes them want to listen, you’re on to something big.

Patrick Carver is the Director of Marketing for FlashIssue, the newsletter solution.  You can follow him @FlashIssue or read more of his stuff on the FlashIssue Blog.

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