Monday, January 31, 2011

Lessons learned from spam emails: Writing concisely and clearly

I received a spam email at my school account the other day. You know, one of those emails asking you to help relocate money from some foreign bank account to various charity organizations. Needless to say, I didn't bother replying. But these emails do make me laugh. They're so terribly written, you'd have to be an airhead not to recognize them as spam.

Their mistakes are mistakes marketers, or any writer, should be careful to avoid. While the poor grammar and sentence structure may be obvious in a spam message, the mistakes in your own writing are much more difficult to notice.

Good writing is concise and clear. It does not contain random changes in case or structure, and it does not contain excessive wording. While your writing will probably never be bad enough to give a reader a headache the way a spam message does, it can still lose a reader's attention.
  • Stay active ("She sells sea shells by the sea shore" is much better than "The sea shells were sold by her at the sea shore.")
  • Cut excess words.
  • Make sure your writing is clear of any jargon.
  • Make sure you keep indicators like "that" or "then" when you're writing to a broad audience.
  • Stick to basic punctuation, but realize it may change for different countries.
For more specifics on writing concisely, I recommend reading The Yahoo Style Guide, which you can purchase on Amazon or read on Yahoo's website.

What are some tips you have for making your writing effective?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The importance of mobile marketing

If you ever doubt the effectiveness of reaching your customers by mobile phone methods, check out Facebook's success. Facebook is very good at following trends to make itself grow. One of those trends it has recently expanded upon is the use of mobile apps. According to blogger Liz Gannes:

Facebook says it has more than 200 million active mobile users, who are twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile users.

Click on over to Liz Gannes' blog to read more about Facebook's most recent mobile methods.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Live streaming of concert with Matthew Morrison of Glee

Talk about a great way to get viewers to like your Facebook page. Oscar Mayer is hosting a live Matthew Morrison concert in less than 30 minutes. The event has its own tab on Oscar Mayer's Facebook page, and if you're at the page, you might as well "like" the Facebook page. I mean, who doesn't enjoy breaking outinto song: "Oh I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener!"

I don't think Morrison (Will Schuester onGlee)will be singing that song in his concert, but it's still a clever concept. The tab even includes a live chat below the video streamer for viewers to discuss the concert. As of now, there are 340 viewers and counting.

This is great publicity for three businesses:

  1. The Grove - a shopping center in LA where the concert is located. From what I've read, the center has had some financial troubles and hasn't thrived as much as it could. Concerts like this help keep it alive and well.
  2. Oscar Mayer - the concert stream brings traffic to Oscar Mayer's Facebook page and gets its admin guest appearances.
  3. Matthew Morrison - free publicity for his upcoming album - positive public relations based on charity donation mentioned at the concert.

Live streaming is growing in popularity. YouTube has the concept down with its live concerts (YouTube Live).

Where else have you seen live streaming? How can you use it for your benefit?

*Update (12:40 p.m.): The channel has gone offline. Looks like it was caused by technical difficulties (which also caused it to start 10 minutes into the concert). Fans are not pleased, as evidenced by their comments. Not good public relations for Oscar Mayer.

*Update (12:20 p.m.): 20 minutes in there are over 1,600 viewers at the free concert happening at The Grove in Los Angeles.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Newspapers are not dying: Washington Post finds new way to gain revenue

The Washington Post has opened its own Facebook marketing management service called SocialCode. The service offers to manage fan pages, Facebook ads, and more.

A few things to think about:
  • Newspapers are not dying. News is changing mediums, but there will always be a need for reliable information, and papers like the Post are finding new ways to make money. So, while you may not want to focus all your efforts on pitching press releases to newspapers, don't write them off entirely. You can pitch to a particular writer, just like you would pitch to a specific blogger.
  • There are more and more of these companies showing up. If you don't have the resources to manage your own Facebook strategies, perhaps you should consider using one.
  • If enough businesses are offering these management services, there's obviously something worth using on Facebook. Why don't you give it a try?
Do you use Facebook to market your business or product? How do you take advantage of management services or of Facebook in general?

Read more about the new service on Inside Facebook.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why Facebook's growth models the need for interactive marketing

Considering recent statistics that show Facebook continues to grow, I have to wonder, "Why? How do they do it? And how can I apply Facebook's success to my own marketing and public relations strategies?"

After all, no one ever says "MySpace me." MySpace has gained popularity with bands and other groups, but the major social network remains Facebook. Perhaps this is because Facebook never stays the same. While many have complained about the many changes in layout, the new layouts give users something new to get excited about. I only recently saw the movie The Social Network. In the movie, Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) mentions that his site will always be changing.

Change. The world is constantly changing, and we need to change with it, especially in our marketing and public relations strategies. But one more important lesson for marketers comes out of Facebook: the importance of interaction.

In the movie, The Social Network, Zuckerberg also says Facebook provides people with the opportunity to connect online, to learn about each other through status and relationship updates.

Such interaction has its downsides. An old professor of mine recently stopped using Facebook because he believed it negatively affected relationships by keeping people from interacting in person. His choice should come as a warning to marketers. Without genuine interaction, Facebook negatively impacts some of its users. It's up to you, as the representative of your company, to show that your company does genuinely care. The accusation that Facebook facilities fake relationships and keeps people away from real, personal relationships should make us work even harder to prevent that very thing from happening.

How do you increase interactions with customers and keep those interactions genuine?

Monday, January 24, 2011

2010 Facebook statistics: Facebook is growing... still

According to, Facebook is still growing.

A few highlights of the below graphic:
  • 1 of 13 people on the earth make up the 500,000,000 uses of Facebook
  • About 28 percent of those people check their Facebook on mobile devices before they get out of bed (that should tell you something about the growing popularity of mobile devices and our need as marketers to take advantage of those devices)
  • Liking "drugs" is up 1131.9 percent this year
  • 57 percent of people talk to people more online than they do in real life (more than enough reason for a marketer to interact with customers both in person and online)
  • 48 percent of young Americans say they find out about news through Facebook (in other words, make your company news and post that news on Facebook)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Perks and their attraction

Last month, my mom decided she wanted me to "refer" her to Wells Fargo just so she could open an account and get a free stuffed animal - a Wells Fargo Express Pony, to be more specific. Supposedly, these things are collectors items, especially since you can only open so many accounts.

Anyway, my mom made me wait for an hour while she opened a new account. At the end of the hour she found out there were no ponies available, and the Wells Fargo representative gave her an "I owe you." We went back later for the pony, but it still felt like a lot of work for nothing.

It does go to show, however: customers like perks and will jump at any opportunity to receive free stuff.

What deals have you offered to get customers interested?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Make decisions easy for customers

In my last two posts I talked about using newsletters to make it easy for customers to find and buy your products. It's important to note that in a society where the economy is bad and people are looking for deals, customers will be comparing products, and it's up to you to make the final decision, hopefully one in your favor, easy for the customer.

Amazon has a simple way of doing this. To keep the customer on their own site, Amazon compares products for customers. More specifically, it compares reviews of products. The customer does not have to go searching through the many reviews on a product. Rather, he can view the best and the worst review at the same time.

How do you make the final decision easier for your customers?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Newsletters Part 4: Making your blog or newsletter successful

Making your company's blog or newsletter effective drives traffic to your website and gains the confidence of your customers. Drew Zagorski has some great advice on making your newsletter successful. On his "Left Brain Right Brain" blog, he writes newsletters should:
  • Position you as a thought leader
  • Remain in front of your audience
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Enhance your relevance in search engines
  • Increase your presence in the social network space
  • Promote not only your business but the business of the people who you do business with
  • Present sales offers to drive sales
Zagorski goes into more detail on his blog.

In your mind, what makes a successful newsletter? How do you drive traffic to your site?

Read Newsletters Part 1: Know the audience you're writing to

Read Newsletters Part 2: Use simplicity to sell your product

Read Newsletters Part 3: Amazon's product suggestions

Friday, January 14, 2011

Newsletters Part 3: Amazon's product suggestions

While Amazon's regular emails with product suggestions do not fully qualify as newsletters, they give us yet another example of a simple way to remind customers of your product.

Amazon sends out regular emails to me, featuring products I might be interested in based on my previous purchases. The emails start with a summary of products and their photos and then gives more product details. They get me interested in a product before they give me the details. The summary also serves as a useful way of telling me what I'm in for. All newsletters should make their point clear from the very first sentence to the subject headline.

A quick word of caution based on Amazon's emails, however. While the emails are sometimes helpful, they come far too often and are often repetitious, which easily gets on my nerves. Always be careful to avoid annoying your customers with too many emails. It's usually more useful to pick a regular date on which to send your newsletter and at a rate that will not annoy customers.

What do you add to your newsletters to remind customer’s of your products?

Read Newsletters Part 1

Read Newsletters Part 2

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Newsletters Part 2: Use simplicity to sell your product

Women of Faith knows how to produce a good e-newsletter. Not only do they provide regular devotionals and other encouraging articles from well-known writers and speakers, but they also make it easy to shop for their products. Several of the emails they send out every year focus on products alone, while other content-driven newsletters include links to the Women of Faith online store.

More often than not, newsletters focus on the public relations goals of improving the customer's perception of the company and improving customer knowledge of and interaction with the company, but newsletters can still market or sell the company, as well. The more the customer likes the company, the more likely the customer is to buy the company's product. And newsletters serve as a facilitator that allows you to make it simple and easy for customers to find and buy your products.

For example, a recent Women of Faith newsletter included the following graphic:

What do you add to your newsletters to remind customer's of your products?

Read Newsletters Part 1

Monday, January 10, 2011

Newsletters Part 1: Know the audience you're writing to

Newsletters can be a useful method for keeping your customers interested in what  you have to offer. They give customers a gentle nudge and a friendly reminder of your existence.

Whether you use a physical newsletter or an e-newsletter depends on your audience. An older audience might prefer a physical paper, while a younger, tech-savvy audience may prefer an e-newsletter delivered straight to their email.

Last summer, I worked for a theatre company (Sierra Repertory Theatre) that used both methods. They created a physical paper a few times a year that they sent to season subscribers and put on display for audience members to read while they waited for shows to start. SRT also sends out an e-newsletter through PatronMail twice a month. The newsletter provides a quick introductory news blurb written as a personal note from the marketing director. It then goes on to provide articles about people involved in current productions. Theatre goers like to learn about what goes on behind the scenes, and the local audience that SRT serves is an old-fashioned one that prefers reading about people over reading about news. SRT's newsletter caters to its audience. It also provides sidebars that remind readers of current production dates and of needs for volunteer ushers.

What do you do to make your newsletter successful?