Building an Effective Website

Here are simple steps to take to build an effective website.


Want Social to Boost Sales? Be Prepared to Spend the Necessary Time

Source: May 22, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff


The top benefits of social media marketing are increased exposure (89%) and increased traffic (75%), finds Social Media Examiner in its annual “Social Media Marketing Industry Report” [download page], which surveyed more than 3,000 marketers on their social media activities. A majority also report benefits such as developing loyal fans (65%), lead generation (61%), and improved search rankings (58%), but only 43% say their efforts have boosted sales. Nevertheless, study results indicate that for those willing to take the time, sales will follow.

That is, while only a minority report sales improvement on account of social media marketing, that turns to a majority among those who have been using social media for at least 3 years (47% of the survey sample) as well as among those who spend 11 or more hours a week on social media marketing (representing 36% of the sample). Among those few spending 40 or more hours a week on social, 62% say they’ve earned new business. The researchers foundsimilar results last year, although more respondents are seeing each benefit this year.

Of course, the results need to be treated with a little caution, because many marketers still feel unable to measure the ROI of their social media activities. In fact, only 26% of respondents agreed (23%) or strongly agreed (3%) that they are able to measure the return of their social media marketing efforts. That’s a surprisingly low figure, particularly if 43% feel they can confidently attribute improved sales to social.

Another interesting result pertains to the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. The survey finds that 86% of marketers overall find social media to be important to their businesses. Meanwhile, Facebook is the most popular platform, used by 92% of respondents, with 49% rating it their most important social platform. Given Facebook’s almost ubiquitous use, and favorable attitudes towards social media as a whole, one would expect that marketers are positive about Facebook’s effectiveness. But, just 37% either agreed (32%) or strongly agreed (5%) with the statement: “My Facebook marketing is effective.”

That suggests that while respondents feel that social media is an important part of their marketing mix, Facebook marketing may be seen more as a necessary component of their social activities rather than the most effective component.

Other Findings:

  • B2C marketers were 52% more likely than B2B marketers to agree that their Facebook marketing is effective (44% vs. 29%). Large companies (with 1,000 or more employees) were similarly more likely than self-employed respondents to find their efforts rewarding (46% vs. 29%).
  • While 54% of respondents overall said social helps them build new partnerships, that figure rose to more than 60% among those with 3 years or more of experience.
  • At least 60% of marketers spending 6 hour or more a week on social media said they saw improvements in their search engine rankings.

About the Data: The data is based on responses from 3,025 participants. 56% primarily target consumers and 44% businesses. 72% of respondents are aged 30-59, and females represented 62% of the survey sample. 57% are based in the US, with the UK (9%) the next-most heavily represented country.

The Brand Guide to Fixing Social Mishaps

Source: DigiDay, , 05.21.2013
When Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal came to light, he did all the wrong things. He waited to respond, he denied and denied it and then finally fessed up. Weiner’s image was forever damaged. In the age of social media, brands can stand to learn a thing or two from Weinergate and how not to handle a crisis.

When it comes to being innovative as a brand these days, it’s all about real-time responsiveness. But sometimes taking chances with real time means making mistakes. What’s important for brands is to understand how to quickly put out these fires. Digiday spoke to several brand execs to get their views on how to handle social media mistakes and also looked at well-publicized brand social media mistakes to get a better understanding of some best practices and what not to do. One thing became very clear: Planning, paying attention, acting quickly and being honest are all key steps in handling social media mishaps gracefully.

Here are a few tips for how brands should best handle these sticky social media situations.

Listen to your community. Brands need to have a firm understanding of what kind of tone and content their audiences like. This will help brands avoid off-color remarks in the first place. If a brand does say something that upsets its audience, then responding in a manner that fits the severity of the situation is also important.

“There is definitely a personality to the community…certain issues come to the floor over and over again,” said Jonas Paretzkin, director of PR & social media at ConAgra Foods at the Digiday Brand Summit. “If you can have a response to those [issues], that’s a good start.”

Have the right team. Social media is the voice of a brand. That’s a big responsibility. Brands need to make sure they have the right team of people in place who are equipped the right technology to monitor. There have been plenty of stories about brands having to fire social media managers for acting irresponsibly. Most recently Reuters’ social media manager turned out to be behind some verysketchy activity, and we all remember the guy at Chrysler who tweeted about people’s driving skills in Detroit. Brands need to know whose hands they are leaving their image in.

Plan, plan and plan. Brands need to plan ahead for disasters.  While being real-time seems like it happens quickly in the moment, things like the famed Oreo blackout tweet are a result of lots of planning and social media monitoring. The same goes for dealing with social media mistakes. Not only should brands plan ahead for mistakes so that they don’t happen, but they need to have a plan in place for when something does go wrong.

“You have to live by the mantra that failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Christian Borges, svp of marketing at MRY.

Act quickly. This is the age of real-time marketing. It’s all about responding and reacting to events as quickly as possible. The same goes for reacting to mistakes. Silence and lag time are the worst ways for a brand to deal with a social media mistake.

When Burger King’s Twitter account was hijacked, it took the brand a full hour to suspend the account and deal with the aftermath. Within the hour, the hackers did a lot of damage, tweeting truly inappropriate things, like pictures of someone shooting up and tons of profanity.

Be transparent.  “Own it and respond to it as soon as possible,” said Victor Reiss, director of digital and social channels at FedEx, during a panel at the Digiday Brand Summit. Both Reiss and Paretzkin stressed the importance of transparency in handling mistakes. Brands need to be clear with their audience about what happend and why something is being deleted so that they feel informed and that the brand is being honest.

Turn a bad thing into a positive. Bad things happen to good brands. No matter how prepared or fast a brand is, sometimes mistakes happen that are beyond its control. The best way to resolve those situations is making the mishap into a positive, either with humor or working out a new solution.

When a Red Cross employee accidentally tweeted from the company account rather than her personal account about drinking Dogfish Head beer and getting drunk, she did the right thing and immediately tweeted to clear up the situation: “Rogue tweet frm @RedCross due to my inability to use hootsuite… I wasn’t actually #gettingslizzard but just excited! #howembarassing.” Red Cross similarly acted in good taste and with a touch of humor by tweeting, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” Red Cross already did a good job of handling the situation, but they got some help from Dogfish Head. The beer brand and its fans turned the #gettingslizzard into a fundraising campaign for Red Cross.

Turn off auto-tweets during national crisis. You don’t want to be that brand that sends out a tweet about an awesome sale when the whole country is mourning a tragedy or keeping their eyes and ears open for important news. There are unfortunately many examples of brands that have done this, like the Mutual of Omaha tweet about life insurance right after the Sandy Hook shootings. Even worse than not turning off auto-tweets during sensitive times is when brands intentionally tweet out sales or product announcements during national disasters, like Urban Outfitters tweeting about free shipping during Sandy and American Apparel tweeting about a Sandy sale. Don’t be that guy.

Don’t do canned responses. People want to see the human voice behind a brand and are more likely to forgive a human than a robot with a cookie-cutter response. Epicurious sent out some insensitive recipe tweets right after the Boston Marathon bombings. Rather than respond in a thoughtful, personal manner, Epicurious sent a bunch of copy and paste apology tweets to people and didn’t release a more thoughtful apology statement. Bad move.

In the age of real-time content marketing, it’s all about being prepared and being quick to respond to all situations, good or bad. People want to feel like brands aren’t just faceless corporations that are shoving advertising down their throats. Social media gives brands a chance to show their senses of humor and their personalities. But social media left unattended or poorly planned can show brands in an unflattering light.

5 Ways to Build Your B2B Brand Online

For many b2b marketers, the Internet remains primarily a direct response or interactive marketing medium. But the Web is also a powerful branding medium. Digital marketing can deliver brand lift via online display advertising and in a variety of other ways as well. Here are five simple ways you can build your b2b brand online:

Use Web analytics to decipher your website audiences

Web analytics can help you determine who is visiting your website and ultimately what sort of visitor is converting into a customer. Identifying the audience segments that convert at the highest rates, can help you determine where to target your messages.

Use display advertising to boost all marketing channels

Studies show that online display advertising boosts results from search marketing, email marketing and social media. Display builds your brand awareness, so that it also provides a lift in branded searches. Display campaigns also help companies boost email subscriptions and can lead to more sharing of your content on social networks.

Use blogging to create an identify as a thought leader

Branding is about credibility. A blog can be used to support branding building by presenting your company as a thought leader and as a company interested in helping its customers with information that can help them do their jobs better.

Measure the value of your marketing efforts beyond clicks

Most Internet users don’t click, and studies show that those users who do click are often not the audience the marketer is looking for. There are better ways to measure the effectiveness of display advertising than clicks. The best b2b marketers use brand metrics, action metrics and overall lift to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Use social marketing to build brand awareness

Linking to your blog posts, white papers and other content via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is a no-brainer. What are you waiting for?

61% of Marketers Moving Online Dollars From Direct Response to Brand Advertising

Source: April 22, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff

Vizu-Online-Advertising-Outlook-Apr2013Marketers plan to split their online advertising between direct response and brand advertising initiatives, with 18% of marketers focused on each, and the remaining 64% employing a mix, according to [download page] results from the “2013 Online Advertising Performance Outlook,” a survey fielded by the CMO Council, with findings developed by Vizu. But those advertising dollars look like they’re shifting from direct response to branding initiatives: 61% said they are re-allocating budgets away from direct response to brand advertising initiatives.

Indeed, the proportion of marketers looking to up their digital brand advertising spend outweighs the proportion planning to increase their direct response spending (61% vs. 53%).

Media sellers take a similar outlook: 89% expect sales growth in brand ad sales, versus 80% who believe they’ll see growth in direct response ad sales. Overall, 60% of media sellers believe that most of their online ad dollars will be generated by brand advertising over the coming year.

Driving this growth in brand advertising is increasing consumer consumption of digital media, with the researchers suggesting that “brand marketers (and their advertising dollars) will follow them” to those channels, whether they be online, tablet, mobile, or connected TV.

Looking at where spending increases are most commonly projected, the survey reveals that 70% of brand marketers expect to up their spending on social media advertising, while similar proportions will increase mobile (69%) and video (64%) ad spend. Around half will keep their investments in rich media and standard display flat. Those patterns tally in some regards with recent findings from the IAB and PricwaterhouseCoopers, which showed mobile (+111%) and video (+28) ad revenues growing quickly last year, while display growth was right around average at 13%, and rich media revenues were down about 25%.

Digital branding dollars won’t all come at the expense of direct response, though. 48% of marketers said they will be shifting some budget from TV to online video this year, with 18% reporting their shift to be a “material amount.” That also aligns with recent research from Ooyala, which found that 72% of online video buyers increased their budgets for the medium over the last year, with 39% drawing those budgets from TV, with the amount of TV spending cannibalized averaging out at 100%.

About the Data: The Vizu data is based on findings from the 287 senior brand leaders, 176 agency executives, and 152 publishing representatives that took part in an online survey fielded during January and February 2013.

1 in 2 Americans Still Overwhelmed by – and Skeptical of – Environmental Messages

Source: April 5, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff


About 7 in 10 Americans at least sometimes consider the environmental impacts of the products they purchase when shopping, per the latest “Green Gap Trend Tracker” [download page] from Cone Communications. But, they might companies to tone it down just a bit when it comes to their “green” messaging: 48% say they are overwhelmed by the amount of environmental messages they hear and see. That percentage hasn’t dropped much from 2008, either, when it stood at 52%.

Something else holding steady over the years: consumer skepticism regarding environmental messaging by companies. Only 46% trust companies to tell them the truth, up slightly from 44% last year, and roughly on par with 2008 (47%). And they remain just as likely to punish companies for misleading claims: 78% would stop buying the product, relatively unchanged from 77% last year.

Consumers are holding companies to higher standards this year, though. 69% said it is okay if a company is not environmentally perfect, as long as it is honest about its environmental efforts. That represents an 8% drop from last year, when three-quarters of respondents were that forgiving.

Other Findings:

  • 63% of respondents understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, but 71% wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use to talk about their products and services. Both are unchanged from last year.
  • 45% actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.
  • When they see a product advertised as “green” or “environmentally friendly,” about 1 in 10 Americans don’t believe it means anything. Most commonly, though, they believe it means it has a positive (beneficial) impact on the environment (40%). Only about one-quarter correctly believe it means that a product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%), or less impact than it used to (2%).

About the Data: The 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conducted March 7-10, 2013 by ORC International among a demographically representative sample of 1,068 adults, comprising 552 men and 516 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence.