Archive for the ‘Internet marketing’ Category

Is Your Business Ready for Emotion Reognition Software?

May 9, 2011

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group, LLC

Every business owner is looking for the next marketing technology breakthrough that will bring more sales and cash flow into their business.

At one time that breakthrough was the advent of television.  Running spots on the evening news or prime time meant increased sales and more cash coming in to invest in new business ventures.

Then along came the computer with the opportunity to communicate the brand through optimized websites, email marketing, and social media.  The benefit of the internet has been the ability to track results and more effectively target the marketing message to a segmented audience.

Now, technology may be ready to go to the next step.

For years, companies like Sony and Google, universities like MIT, and even law enforcement groups like Homeland Security and Interpol have been experimenting with facial recognition software.

Different areas of the face can be monitored for a change in emotions from happiness to sadness to fear to many more feelings of the moment.  Based upon these behavioral responses marketing experts can do a better job of getting feedback from focus groups and individual customer interviews.

This technology may not be ready to use for the average business just yet.

But imagine the possibility of the future……….

A consumer’s web camera on their laptop is monitoring their current emotions as they search a topic on Google.  Based upon their emotion and historical response, ads could be populated in the sponsored ads section or in the display ad of a website.

I am sure the consumer advocates concerned with privacy will have something to say about this approach.

But the thought of increasing business cash flow from a more productive use of marketing is an intriguing thought to consider.

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10 Good Reasons to Use Email Marketing

May 7, 2011

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group, LLC

As a CEO, I wish that 30 years ago I had this extremely productive tool to communicate with my customers and prospects.

If your business is not using email marketing, then you need to make it a part of your marketing mix going forward.  What benefit will your company get from email marketing?  Here are 10 good reasons:

  1. It will increase your business cash flow:  Email marketing costs less than direct mail, television, radio and other forms of purchased media.  This means more cash for your company to use in other areas of the business.  Executed properly, over both the short-term and long-term email marketing will have your highest return on investment of any marketing channel in your business.
  2. Can segment your customer base:  Instead of a general message to a mass audience you can tailor your message to a segment of your customer base that has shown a desire for information on a specific topic, product or service that you offer. Relevant targeted content is at the heart of effective email marketing.
  3. Can build a 1 on 1 relationship:  This is not possible with television or radio.  Each email can be personalized with the recipient’s name, they can reply to what you have sent and you can directly respond to their comments or questions.  
  4. Can review response history of the individual:  Did they open the email?  Did they click-through to a link? Did they buy? Compare this to newspaper or television where you have no idea  whether your customer even knew the ad or 60 second spot even existed.
  5. Allows you to use triggered emails:  Based upon response history, you can automatically target future emails to their area of interest.  For example, if you are an attorney and your prospect clicked on an estate planning article, you can follow-up with an email on trusts.  Triggered emails can be set up by date such as birthdays, anniversaries of a successful completion of a job, for  holiday messages and many other ways.
  6. It lets your customer be in control:  Marketing has changed. The consumer now controls the relationship.  With email marketing the consumer can choose what part of the email to read, when to read it, if they want to respond to an offer and even opt out of receiving future emails if they conclude that your information is not relevant to them.  This is a good thing. The best performing company will win. Make sure its your company. 
  7. Email marketing can be synchronized with other marketing channels:  Email marketing does not have to  stand alone. You can use other channels like social media or direct mail to sign up prospects to receive emails about your company. By identifying a specific area of interest, a key person can respond with a personalized letter or phone call and not waste your prospect’s time.
  8. Can utilize education-based marketing:  Email marketing is not a sound bite or tweet.  It allows you to dig deep into a topic and educate your consumer.  Better yet, your company can send a series of emails weekly on a topic of interest.
  9. Builds brand:  A consistent ongoing message can build trust and credibility in your company. When the time finally comes to make a buying decision you will have built a reservoir of goodwill that will give you a chance to close the sale. 
  10. Can link to your website:  Your website should be treated as if it was another location of your company that is used to strengthen the relationship with a prospect or customer.  Linking to different parts of your website from an email can educate, sell, and communicate what makes your business unique.

There are some who say that email marketing is on the decline and is being replace by social media.

I disagree.

Email marketing continues to be at the core of an integrated marketing strategy that can build sales and profitability increase the cash flow of your business over the long-term.

I would be interested to know what your  experience has been with email marketing.

Yes, Twitter Can Drive Sales For Your Company

July 30, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

Many if not most business owners I speak with do not see any value in using social media to help drive sales and cash flow.  The typical response I receive is that such sites as Facebook and Twitter are for teenagers to know what their friends are doing.

Well, tracking the activities of friends can be a reason to use social media.  However, there is a business use also and many companies are tapping into the potential that social media offers.

If you are still reluctant to use social media, then I would suggest testing with twitter.  It can be extremely low cost and it can be an opportunity to communicate time sensitive promotions that are  just for a few hours today or to link back to your business’s main site or blog.  Best of all, twitter is a tool to keep building a strong relationship with your customer by providing timely, relevant information for their use.  Here is a recent post by Jay Baer about Twitter where he touches on some pluses and minuses.  It is very good reading. Go to it right here.

Still not convinced it is for your company?

Here are some national and local companies using twitter to drive sales.  Do your own research and see if any of the tactics these businesses are using could be applicable to your company:

  • Home Depot:  read about how the customer care team accomodates customers here. 
  • Cafe Patachou:  read how this very successful local restaurent in Indianapolis receives feedback, gives out announcements of todays menu and links to local media. See it here.
  • OfficeMax:  this national chain of office supply stores does a good job promoting back to school as well as in store coupons. Read about it here. 
  • Kroger:  this grocery powerhouse uses twitter to pass on digital coupons. Best part is Kroger targets it to the local zip code. See the coupons here.   The Kroger twitter site is actually called Kroger Deals. No confusion about what is going on with this message.
  • Williams Sonoma:  this upscale kitchen store uses twitter to mention “tasting events” taking place and that there are only “2 hours left for free shipping.”  Good example of  using twitter for a time sensitive promotion.  Find it here.
  • Costco:  this big box retailer taps into twitter to let their customers in on current coupons to be used. They also ask straight up what their customers would like to see Costco doing more or less of. See it here. Great example of relationship building that is unique to twitter.
  • Birds Barbershop:  is twitter only for the big businesses? This Austin, Texas barbershop uses twitter to stay in touch with their clientele. Read about Birds if you are going to be in Austin and need a haircut.  Its right here
  • City Barbeque:  If I was hungry in Ohio, this restaurent would be hard to turn down after viewing this twitter site  where they advise that today is a good day to eat barbeque. You can get your barbeque fix right here.
  • Portland Oregon Farmers Market: probably one of the best farmers markets in the country uses twitter to promote their multiple locations. See more about them here.
  • Dairy Queen:  so you think your business is too small to use twitter. How about this Dairy Queen in Burton Michigan. If they can sell ice cream cones using twitter you can market your product. Read what they have to say here.   Hurry!  Only today you can get $1 off a waffle bowl if you call it “twitter bowl” instead. 
  • Dry Cleaners:  Dry Clean City in Charlotte, North Carolina where they ask on Twitter if your favorite dry cleaner is closer to your home or work. They also feature their $1.99 dry cleaning special.  See all about it here.
  • Penwell Insurance:  this little local insurance agency in Cicero, Indiana probably does the most effective job of using twitter as anyone. I am sure their Google ranking is soaring with all the links back to their web page. See more here.
  • Franchisees:  twitter can work for individual franchisees such as this one in Saratoga Springs New York of  Wild Birds Unlimited. The warmth of the owners comes across on the site. Learn more about them here.  If you go to the site don’t forget to list your top 10 favorite birds.

Social media and especially twitter needs to be a part of an intergrated internet marketing strategy for your company. A real strength of twitter is in realtionship building and the abilitiy to tie back to other channels of your marketing. How about tweeting to view our TV spot on the evening news tonight or stopping by our booth at the local Home Show? 

Sales, cash flow and the future of your business depends upon your ability to stay abreast of new marketing techniques as they come along.

Don’t get left behind.

14 Reasons A Company Should Use Internet Marketing To Increase Sales And Business Cash Flow

June 22, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

I envy the manager of today that is  just graduating from business school.  They have a tool available to them that I wished that I had for most of my 30 years as a CEO.  That tool is the Internet.  I can only imagine how this productive tool for generating sales will evolve over time.

It is an exciting time to be the Director of Marketing of any organization.  If your mission is to build brand, generate leads, expand a relationship with your customer, or simply surpass a sales plan, then the Internet must be part of an integrated marketing communications strategy.

For you business owners still not sure whether the Internet is worth spending your company’s marketing dollars this way, then here are a few thoughts of mine on why the Internet needs to be a part of your future:

  1. Pay for Performance:  As a CEO nothing gets better than this.  Using pay-per-click advertising that is  correctly executed allows your company to only pay if a prospect clicks on your ad.  Compare that to a TV spot on the evening news.  You pay for that spot whether your prospect is watching or not.  It’s the same with the newspaper.  Regardless of the location of the ad, you will be writing a check to the newspaper gods even if your prospect is on vacation and did not read the paper that day.  By the way, I predict that all digital newspaper sites will eventually go to pay for performance advertising.
  2. 24 Hour Marketing:  With a website, blog or video on YouTube the Internet offers an around the clock opportunity to deliver your message.  The prospect can log on when they want and you know your message will be delivered.  Compare this to event marketing or a showroom with limited hours, or a radio spot that is only for 60 seconds.  You get more bang for your buck.
  3. Results Can Be Measured:  How many readers really saw the newspaper ad?  How many listeners really heard your radio spot?  How many visitors to a trade show really walked down the aisle of your exhibit?  With Google analytics (read more here about Google)  your company can track how many visitors came to your website, how  many seconds or minutes they stayed, what percent were repeat visitors and on and on.  With analytics for the Internet you will know what pages were read and what pages were not visited at all.  You can even determine what part of the page was viewed.  With good timely accurate information, the Marketing Manager can then make the Internet investment more productive than what is happening with your non-Internet marketing today.
  4. Used To Build Database:  By using such tools as white papers and giveaways, your company can build a database of interested prospects from your website  to then establish a relationship with over time.  This beats buying a list tied to some demographic sampling that maybe could care less who your company is.
  5. Email Marketing:  This is possibly the highest return on investment outside of word of mouth.  For pennies a business can send enewsletters to a pre-qualified database that you generated.  The enewsletters can be segmented based upon the information the prospect wanted so only relevant content needs to be delivered.  The Marketing Manager can judge the performance of this tool by measuring how many readers opened the email and read it.  Email analytics can also tell what day of the week and what hour of the day is best to send the enewsletter.  Probably the most important aspect of email marketing is allowing the company to build a relationship with the prospect or existing customer.  An effective email marketing campaign provides information and a solution to problems of the reader.  It is not just used to deliver a call to action for a promotion.  For more information on effective email marketing go to the website of Exacttarget right here.
  6. Can Reach a Younger Customer:  Instead of hoping a younger demographic comes to your website, you can go where they are.  This can be done by advertising on sites most frequently visited by a young prospect group.  For instance, your company might advertise to young males on the ESPN site or to young female entrepreneurs on a women’s business blog.
  7. You Can Target Market to Almost Anyone:  By utilizing keywords in your organic or pay-per-click marketing strategy your company can send your message to a specific segment of customers in almost any defined geographic market for a predetermined price.
  8. Education Based Marketing:  The consumer is getting smarter and now controls the buy-sell relationship.  Before engaging the seller, the consumer will first take time to educate themselves thoroughly about the product or service they are seeking.  This will be done primarily over the Internet.  Those companies that will take the time to help the consumer by answering their questions and providing good information will gain credibility in the  mind of the buyer.  When she finally decides to purchase, the company that took the time to provide the knowledge she desired will be first on her list to be shopped.  The buying funnel or buying decision cycle has been extended by the consumer spending more time gathering information prior to the buying step.  Make sure your company is the one educating her.
  9. Mobile Marketing:  I predict this will be the most dominant marketing channel in the future.  Consumers are already accessing coupons at the checkout counter on their smartphones.  Will you be ready?
  10. Speed of Message:  In the past if sales were horrible and I wanted to execute a quick promotion it necessitated producing and sending a direct mail piece or producing a TV or radio spot.  If we moved fast enough it might happen in 7-10 days.  Now, if the marketing team this morning wanted to communicate a promotion, it can be delivered via email to the customer database before the sun goes down.  Maybe they would follow-up with another promotion in a couple of days.  Not only is it much faster than before but it is also far less expensive.
  11. Use of Video:  If you want to personalize the message there is no better way than the owner of the business looking into the camera and speaking one on one to the prospect or customer.  Some consumers do not want to read copy.  The video can be used to create traffic to your website, educate the consumer, or be part of a strong call to action.  Video on the Internet tends to be very short in duration and much less expensive than producing a TV spot.  Therefore, video marketing needs to become a strategy in itself.
  12. Build Brand thru Social Media:  All forms of social media such as Twitter or Facebook can be used to build a dialogue with prospects and customers.  This can be the first step in building a relationship that will turn into a sale.  Forums and consumer sites on the Internet can work to the benefit of a business or against it.  Social media is the new word of mouth marketing.  Make sure your company knows how to use it to its best advantage.
  13. Test Headlines and Copy:  By combining analytics with pay-per-click, a company can test various headlines, copy and promotions prior to running a newspaper ad or producing a direct mail piece.  For a nominal investment you will know ahead of time which headlines and promotions the consumer will best respond to.
  14. It’s the Future:  Internet marketing is less than 20 years old.  Yet the estimated dollars to be spent annually in online marketing is expected to surpass $30 billion in the next few years.  At the same time advertising on radio, TV and newspaper is struggling to show any increase.  The message is clear.  Online marketing will continue to outpace other methods of advertising.  A major reason is simply the ability to better measure results from the dollars invested through the Internet.

Will the Internet be a part of your company’s future?

It had better be because it definitely will be a part of your customer’s future.