Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Effective Social Media Advertising

Social media is perhaps the most vibrant facet of online advertising and promotion.  To professional marketers it is an opportunity to move messages and influence targeted market segments with extreme efficiency.  Here’s a few guidelines that seem to work for our clients at “R.”

Socialmedia

Hawaiian Accessories is a retailer of authentic Island gifts and jewelry.  They have a fledgling online operation that was doing alright, but nowhere near its potential.  We suggested that we build them an online community based on popular social media like Facebook.  Our strategy was two-fold: first, to build up our followers through page “likes,” allowing us to grow a fan base that we could communicate with regularly. Almost how you would use a proprietary email list.  The second was to push specific advertising messages onto our followers timelines (Facebook home pages) that then produced click-throughs to our transactional site.

We looked at Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, but focused our efforts on Facebook for two reasons.  The Hawaiian Accessories product line appealed to an older demographic that had not yet bolted to Instagram, and continues to grow on Facebook.  Secondly, we were in a hurry to establish as large a base as possible by the retail Christmas season, and the advertising options with Facebook allowed us to get those results more rapidly.

Building an online community

Hawaiian Accessories was easy to get people to notice because their products are so visual, and don’t require much of an explanation.  We were able to attract a very high rate of “likes” by simply making an ad “button” featuring one of their signature items, a koa fishhook necklace.  This single item told people a lot about the nature of the entire line and they were either interested or they were not…right away.  Perfect bait for a spontaneous “like.” Our Facebook page had enough content to fill out the picture once they landed on it, and their strong retention rate seemed to indicate the more Hawaiian Accessories they saw the more they liked.  We also got considerable interaction with comments and questions flying around and robust viral sharing of our posts. Another aspect of Internet advertising is that your potential customer can be anywhere in the world.  Realistically, people knowledgable about Hawaiian culture were our best prospects, and there are also now large Polynesian enclaves in Las Vegas, San Diego and West Coast, not just Hawaii.  Facebook allows very precise targeting over all geographic and demographic profiles, so we could be very effective when testing new markets. With steady, albeit humble, monthly advertising budget we grew the base to over 3,000 in time for our Holiday blitz.

Subtle advertising strategies

Specific product advertising and promotions were part of our effort from the beginning, and became progressively more effective as our fan base grew. We ran some Mother’s Day specials and did promotions for other traditional retail gift-giving periods.  The ads were designed to be simple and bold (Facebook only allows 20% of the image on advertised posts to contain copy), and we usually featured only one product.  The image was linked directly to the transactional page on our e-commerce site, so that our customer was always one click away from our shopping cart while they were on Facebook.

Facebook2ecom

All online activities, including social media, are designed to move the customer ever closer to the transaction.

Talk about stimulating impulse buying.  This worked pretty well, and was easily tracked in terms of click-throughs and actual transactions.  The new Facebook ad option called “boosting” also proved effective.  The Facebook administrator is presented with a pull down menu directly on the post, that allows “boosting,” which is a mini ad buy were a set budget and targeting are selected right from within the pull-down menu.  Now it is Facebook that is shopping the impulse buy, but it works fine.  The performance of the ad is easily tracked and the decision to “boost again” after your initial budget has run out is usually pretty easy to make.

FacebookPostAd

One key to success with social media advertising is balance.  You don’t want to be overbearing or intrusive to the point that people consider you an unwelcome spammer.  They like your merchandise, but don’t want to be beat over the head everyday.  The pacing that seems to work was one post every other day, with an emphasis on a low-key editorial approach to the layout as opposed to a “hair-on-fire” screamer. You want to be welcome in their online social world, not an annoying distraction.

Like all social media the expense of the paid advertising component is minimal compared to the time expended by the social media administrator.  The effectiveness of these campaigns can be very impressive, if the social media manager is building the right visuals and messages and maintaining the “human” component within their cyber community.  By that I mean employing the basics of interaction so that the fans are responded to, their compliments acknowledged, their questions answered and their experience as personalized as possible. If you think in terms of rewarding them for being there…they will generally stay and be receptive.

Building successful relationship with your online customers can be very similar to bricks and mortar customer experience when it’s done right.  Social media can be one of the integral communication tools, and one of the most cost efficient,  in the customer acquisition and customer relationship phase of marketing.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Internet Marketing

Kenner marketing utilizes social media and cloud solutions

Mass emails announce new website and social media "stickiness."

R Strategic created a new corporate site with mobile apps and a targeted email campaign.

Kenner recently re-launched its venerable www.kenner-cable.com website as a new, blog-oriented corporate site. The new strategy calls for offsetting conventional advertising and marketing costs with contemporary social media activities and SEO strategies.  More professionals spend time online and interact with networks like linkedin and groupsite for project collaboration.  Even popular online networks like Facebook and Twitter have found a place to move real-time technology news and product information.

“By the time a printed trade publication touches on a new project or product, it’s already old news.” says Larry Kenner, CEO of Kenner Wire & Cable, Inc.  “We are dealing with a whole new generation of engineers who grew up on the Internet, and get all their news and information online.”

“We like to use cloud-based software solutions that are market-sector killers.” says Kenner marketing consultant, Keith Rollman, of R Strategic. “Companies like Constant Contact, Groupsite, WordPress, Shopify, Google and Facebook own their categories; and they aren’t going anywhere.”

By building social media marketing programs, e-commerce functionality and SEO strategies based on dominant operations, you can count on longevity in addition to innovative features, 100% up time, security, and most importantly, low introductory costs.  The capabilities that are being given away as lost-leaders, used to cost tens of thousands or more only a few years ago.

1 Comment

Filed under Internet Marketing

How to get found on search engines

A good place to start with when evaluating search engine marketing (Yes, it’s SEM) is Google. Why? Because it owns 65% of the Internet audience, and 85% of all Internet users search the web before they buy something.

Sitting at the SEO pole position and nicely placed in PPC, Hilton is getting millions of dollars in business from the Google search engine.

Google offers two basic ways to get your site noticed: organic search results and paid listings. For example when you search Google for “waikiki hotels” you get a listing of sites that Google’s secret algorythm has deemed the most relevant suggestions. You also get, on the right column of the search engine results page (SERP), and also at the top and bottom,  a list of paid advertisers in the order of their willingness to bid highest for your click. The organic process can be influenced by a host of website tweaks collectively called search engine optimization (SEO); while bidding your way up the paid listing side is called pay-per-click (PPC).

The relative values of the organic lising vs the paid listing are pretty much established as about 5 to 1. In other words the ideal spot to find yourself is the number one listing on the organic search. Over 75% of people conducting a search will click on the number one organic listing. Most people trust the Google search process’s validity, and consequently discount the paid listings accordingly. That doesn’t make PPC a bad investment, but it certainly puts an emphasis on working your way up the natural listing. Being number one is ideal, being in the top five (top-of-the-fold) excellent, first page very good, and so it goes.

How the search engine pie was carved up in 2010

Getting a top organic listing requires substantial commitment and professional techniques and won’t happen overnight. Experts like ThinkBigSites.com in New York are worth the money, if you want big league results. Paid listings, while less efficient in terms of cost per click, can happen fast. You spend the money and you get immediate traffic. A combination of the two works well together especially at the beginning of a concerted SEM effort, where the paid listing can work while the SEO effort builds. Both are ongoing commitments that must be maintained, evaluated and adjusted over time…they’re not one-time efforts.

It goes without saying that building web traffic is only worth paying for if your site produces convertions, leads or sales that translate to new business. If your site is broken, or business operations faulty, adding more visitors will simply make the problem worse, waste your money and even damage your brand. R Strategic can help you evaluate your overall Internet marketing program and help identify weak links.

There is no question, however, that getting your site found can make the difference between a successful online business strategy or banishment to Internet limbo.

6 Comments

Filed under Internet Marketing

What’s a QR code?

QR codes are optical reader codes, like an improved bar code.

QR codes were started in Japan, by a subsidiary of Toyota to track auto parts. Simply put, they are an improved version of optical reader bar codes, hence the Quick Response or QR designation.

No longer limited to the more prosaic business of inventory control QR codes are becoming a fad among digital communicators.

They are now commonly used for conveying vCard, or electronic business card, information.  In Japan and South Korea they are used extensively for mobile taging; which allows smart phones to suck up your vital information and send it to your contact files after scanning it with it’s built-in camera.

QR codes are found on the back of business cards, in ads and on posters…pretty much anywhere a potential contact would be tempted to “swipe it” with their phone.

QR’s come in a variety of densities of design that carry progressively more information.  For instance a version 1 QR code can convey about 10 to 25 characters, but can be scanned from a speeding car.  Version 40 can hold over 4,000 characters, but requires a more precise hand off, and possibly a dedicated QR scanner.

The creative applications for this optical to digital technology are boundless. They have already been used by artists to implant coded messages in everything from tile mosaics to waffles.  Micro versions convey manufacuring information more efficiently than mere serial numbers (this is important when your product is the size of a grain of rice.)

You can join the fun with a free QR code generator and download a reader for you phone here: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

You can bet that I’ll have my QR code t-shirt ready for the next trade show.

2 Comments

Filed under Internet Marketing

Good Design Is Timeless


A good example of an investment in design excellence that has paid off over the years is the iconic logo for Kapalua, the resort on Maui. It represented the metamorphosis of Maui Land and Pineapple Company’s agricultural enterprise into a new resort development venture. The most amazing thing about it is that it looks like it was designed yesterday.  But, it is over 30 years old.

This a very good example of how design fundamentals, exacting process, client rapport and intrinsic talent can create something special, and by all accounts…timeless.

Looking at this bug (literally) brings back a lot of personal memories for me.  I was on the design team at Bruce Hopper Design back in the early 70’s when this was originally conceived. I remember the impassioned arguments over letter spacing, wing shapes and color options. Try matching a specific vintage of Cabernet to a PMS color spec…it’s not easy.  Mostly I remember the professionalism of that shop and its creative driver, Bruce Hopper.  I consider that time in my life to be my apprenticeship and where I formed by core values on design that I have applied to every project since then.

When Web graphics first started they were the realm of code writers and developers; and had a very pedestrian look.  Graphics were along for the ride and corny animated giff’s were the pinnacle of “wow” factor.  Now, design is a driving force and the Website can be a truly visual and auditory experience.  The basic skills of well-trained professional designers, who were always in the visual communication business, are once again a critical component for connecting with your market on the Internet.  Here’s some of what a graphic design foundation brings to Web development:

Credibility

Most site visitors can decide within a few seconds if your company is professional, knowledgeable and competent by how it looks.  This has been the selling point of corporate identity for a hundred years and it applies to the Internet just as in any other visual presentation.

Colors Set the Mood

Designers know how colors and more precisely color-combinations affect the subconscious.  In Hawaii, they also know how color choices affect your target market and cultural demographics. Let the professionals pick your theme.

It’s Called a GRAPHIC User Interface for a Reason

Getting people to understand how to interact with a computer screen is a science.  But, it is an old science that graphic designers have been wrestling with for years.  The visual and non-verbal cues that tell people what they should do, and how they should navigate are not new to Internet development, but simply a modern application of international symbols, sign systems and non-verbal instructions that graphics professionals have been solving for years.

Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words

And, although your Web crawler and search engines like words, people like images.  A beautiful photograph or a compelling infographic can hold the attention of the human brain faster and longer that all but the most profound words.

Make sure your Web designer has a thorough background in graphic design theory and target marketing, or he may have no idea what he is trying to accomplish for you.


45 Comments

Filed under Brand Management, Internet Marketing

Viral Article Produces More Than 1000 Web Visits

Sticky article lands on major site for 24 hours

Yesterday, we discussed ways to build traffic to your Web site and one of the strategies mentioned was to write and post informative short articles.  These blog entries can work their way around the net and, if people find them interesting, stick around for a while and generate some bounce-back traffic and new viewers to your site.  If you get lucky, one of the large sites will pick it up and give you a free ride.

That’s what happened to us yesterday, when our review of Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, got featured on WordPress’s splash page.  To make a long story short, WordPress is the mothership for 395,767 avid bloggers, and that kind of exposure produces a lot of traffic.  We got pounded by 1,345 visitors in 24 hours, and that’s quite a bit for a simple little blog in day 5 of its existence.

While it is flattering (and lucky) to be featured from among the 377,255 blog entries posted yesterday, and to have a whole lot of traffic sent your way, the overall impact to my business will be negligible.  Why? I’m not a mass-merchandising proposition; I need to reach senior marketing people and business owners, mostly in Honolulu, who can make decisions about their own marketing strategies. My main strategy will be along the lines of a targeted direct marketing approach…so, if you start getting emails from R Strategic, you’ll know that we think you’re our kind of business professional.

But, it’s hard to resist using this example of one of our Web traffic building ideas working so dramatically, especially on a day we featured an article entitled, “I Built It And They Didn’t Come.”

26 Comments

Filed under Internet Marketing

I Built It And They Didn’t Come

Many fledgling Web authors are discouraged when they discover that few people are visiting their new site. But, the reality of the Internet, with its millions upon millions of Websites, is how can anybody find you even if they wanted to. Building an audience for your Web product is a complex marketing and communications task…the good news is that you aren’t the first to try to solve it.

Over the short life of the Internet many ways to generate visitor traffic have been tried. Some succeed, some have gone by the wayside, but there is currently a large arsenal of markeing options to choose from. Here’s just few that we use regularly:

Social Media

This is a hot subject now because it is so pervasive. Everyone knows about established channels like Twitter and Facebook and most regular Internet users maintain their own accounts in both. To reach this large portion of the market you have to get involved and open accounts and pages for your business ventures. There are many ways to build a following and lure people to your site, but the best is simply to put out interesting and useable information on a regular basis.

Tchotchkes (CHACH-keys)

One of the original marketing concepts and still one of the best is to simply imprint your URL on novel little dohickies and give them away to people you think would make a reasonably good prostpect. Every trade show is infested with these little items, and since all you are attempting to do is reinforce your brand and get them to visit your site, your logo and URL is all you need to print on your little “bribe.” There are new items created daily, but some of the old tried-and-true tchotchkes, like pens, sticky pads and keychains, still get snapped up. My current favorite is minature solar-powered LED flashlight key chain. And, after your expensive magazine ad is dead and buried my keychains will still be out there creating an impression.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The big search engines like Yahoo and Google let your buy key words. You literally bid your way up when it comes to “sponsored” results. When the Internet searcher types in “real estate in (your city)” wouldn’t it be nice (if you’re a realtor) to be on the first page? This isn’t cheap, but built in analytical tracking software let’s you figure out if it’s paying off, and it can be very precisely targeted for select demographics and geographical areas.

Social medias like Facebook also sell little targed ads that pull people to your pages. When you have your social media humming along why not invite the rest of the world?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is the “organic’ way to slug your way up the search engine results and requires a more sophisticated knowledge about how these systems work. The short take is that certain modifications to your code and content make it more likely that search engine “agents,” the spiders and crawlers that sniff around on all Internet content, will like what they see. This goes beyond simple meta tags and other obvious strategies.

For instance, content volume for images is far smaller than that of regular HTML pages, so search engines can “find” and list images faster and rate them higher than regular Web content. So, if you name your images properly and embed the right tags and links you can get noticed quick.

Banners

One of the “grand daddies” of online advertising, banners have gone through many pricing and popularity ups and downs. The trick here is to do something that really triggers the “interactive” instinct. Rember, if they don’t click it you don’t get a hit. Remember the old Flash putting game banner…or the ubiquitous  “hit the monkey?”  Who could resist those little gems.

The other part of buying banners intelligently is to pay for “click throughs” not impressions, and placing them in a quality environment where you will get a reasonable match to your targeted customer profile.

Viral Articles

You are currently reading a viral article.

By writing original, informative content for your blogs and social media you are creating “sticky” value. People like good information and will pass it along, stick in directories and tweet it to their friends. This is the “viral” part…you want the Internet to do the work and should design your content to be virus friendly.

CMS (content management systems) like WordPress have a lot of built in pass-around value, but you can go futher and subscribe to syndication networks and hypercharge your distribution. Articles with the proper tagging embed in the search engines and continue to pop up in related word searches and kick back to your parent Web site.”

8 Comments

Filed under Internet Marketing