In marketing, we are constantly in pursuit of what makes a message or an idea “stick” in the marketplace. What is it that causes a consumer to not only look, but to be entrenched in the message of an advertisement plastered on a billboard, in a shopping mall, on your computer screen or in your morning read of the New York Times?
Let’s face it – we are all distracted in this action-packed, media dominated, technology-driven world we live in today. So how can we redirect the attention from the hustle and bustle of everyday life back on the featured content of our new promotion?
In an effort to discern what makes an advertisement “extraordinary,” let’s feast our eyes on Nikon’s new advertisement of its S60 camera that has the capability to detect up to 12 different faces in a scene.
What do you see? (You can click to enlarge the image.)
At first, you may be taken aback by what may seem like a provocative, even erotic scene of two young girls in nothing more than skimpy undergarments. Now, if you can ignore the obvious and take a closer look, do you see the individual faces in the windows of the apartment complex across the street? Beyond this, what about the young man behind the curtain? He’s not so easy to spot upon a fleeting glance, but realization of his existence in the ad truly conveys the product messaging in little to no words at all.
So why exactly has this ad gone viral and contributed to a steady sales stream?
It’s no surprise that humans are visual creatures. Creating a visually-stimulating advertisement is perhaps the central theme in any marketing strategy. We see this with the rise of social media websites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram that rely on photo-sharing capabilities to appeal to a mass target audience. Advertisements that incorporate visual and interactive components often add life to the body copy, and the visual element is what often drives the user to read the copy in the first place.
With the Nikon advertisement, we are a witness to a marriage of visual stimulation and relevant product messaging. In marketing, you are selling way more than the product itself. Rather, you are selling a feeling and an emotional response driven by the purchase of the product. More exciting and arousing than a high-end digital camera is the “packaging” and strategic advertising that surround a well-made Nikon product. This product packaging is something that draws you in and makes you think a little bit. It tells a story without revealing the ending. It makes you cast your eyes on the advertisement time and time again, and leaves you wanting more so that you are never full or satiated.
The fact that a camera can detect up to 12 faces sounds pretty cool, but it’s not enough to communicate this product feature using boring copy. When Nikon advertises the camera’s functionality in an attention-grabbing and creative manner, suddenly the audience is listening. When this advertisement goes viral and is shared by like-minded individuals, Nikon will reap the benefits of free advertising, and the product will end up selling itself. It’s worth the initial investment in creativity in the ad when you consider how it can shape brand perception and generate engagement and memorability of your product offering for months or even years down the road. If you want to read more about the power of viral marketing, read “How to Get More Exposure Than a New Kim Kardashian Sex Tape.”
Let’s shift gears and discuss how this topic applies to one of the highest revenue-generating digital platforms available – email marketing. One of the most common mistakes that occur with any email marketing campaign is the lack of effort and investment into the creative process. Many clients will slap together a few images and a few copy points into what they attempt to call an email advertisement. When they achieve lackluster results at best, they blame the failure of their campaign on the email marking platform used for sending or the list that it was sent to. Rather, if proper attention and strategic thinking were involved in designing an effective email creative, the results would speak for themselves. An aesthetically pleasing, emotionally-gripping advertisement with an effective layout and deliberate call to action is the cornerstone of success in any email marketing campaign.
Go against the grain of traditional, “rational” advertising and aim to create something that strikes an emotional chord with the viewer. Whether your ad is humorous, scandalous, dramatic, or all of the above, it needs to generate a strong emotional response. Why? When it comes to decision-making, feelings and emotions overpower cognitive thinking. You don’t need to be a big company to make a strong, lasting impression.
Email Marketing ROI
Despite Facebook’s fans and Twitter’s tweeters, email marketing remains one of the most reliable tools a business owner can wield to drive revenue. For example, results from a recent MarketingSherpa survey revealed that email marketing produces a return on investment for 60 percent of respondents. And according to the Direct Marketing Association, 54 percent of organizations generate 20 percent or more of their revenue through email marketing.
However, while it’s not exactly rocket science—unless you happen to be in the business of selling rockets to scientists—email marketing is more complex than many business owners realize. Consider these common errors that often kill email campaigns.
Lack of Targeting
Bob really loves duck and will go miles out of his way to visit restaurants selling duck confit, duck a l’orange, and crispy duck breast salad. One day he decides to cut out the middleman. So he buys a shotgun, builds a blind, and spends a Saturday morning waiting for the birds to fly over his hideaway. When they do, he pops out, points his gun vaguely in the direction of the airborne fowl, closes his eyes, pulls the trigger and hopes for the best. Needless to say, there’s no duck on Bob’s plate that night.
Too many business owners send marketing emails the way Bob hunts ducks. According to Experian, 80 percent of them were still emailing the same content to everyone in 2012—regardless of age, interests, or other useful demographics. This kills their campaigns because targeting the right customers (with segmented or targeted email lists appropriate to the product or service) is essential. The same survey determined that doing so increases open rates by 40 percent.
Technological (and Other) Flaws
If your number one email marketing goal is to wind up in the virtual trash bin, then go ahead and send your emails with images that won’t load, broken links, typographical errors and misused words. On the other hand, if your goal is to attract the attention of prospects or engage your current clients, don’t.
Take care with your design and your email becomes more deliverable, readable, and likely to achieve the desired result. This means sizing images properly for easy loading, checking and double-checking links, proofreading, soliciting feedback from others, and testing every email before broadcasting.
Broadcasting from Your Desktop Client
One of the benefits of email marketing is the relatively low cost of reaching a large audience. You kill this benefit (way more effectively than Bob kills ducks) when you send the email from your own desktop email client. Not only does this limit the number of recipients (most providers have a maximum), or necessitate multiple sends, but you’ll also have no way to track the results.
Details like open and click-through rates are essential to fine-tuning your campaign. Information on undelivered emails lets you know if it’s time to scrub and validate your email list. Track this data and you can gauge overall effectiveness. Given the ease and affordability of today’s web-based email marketing software, there’s really no excuse to broadcast any other way.
Sending Too Few (or Too Many) Emails
Building a relationship takes time. According to ancient direct mail marketing wisdom (like, before the advent of the Internet), a prospect needs to see your message seven times before he or she will take action. If you wait months between emails, you slow down this process. On the other hand, if you send emails too frequently, your prospects are more likely to report them as SPAM.
Effective email marketing requires walking that fine line between too much and too little, and it differs for each target audience. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 14 percent of organizations send no more than one email a month. Thirty-three percent send as many as six emails. It may take a little experimentation to determine the frequency that works best for your business.
Hunting Prospects Alone
One of the greatest myths of email marketing (though maybe not duck hunting) is that you can easily do it alone. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Donny had Marie. Snooki had JWoww. And successful businesses—regardless of size—should have a managed email marketing service to help them make the most of this valuable revenue-building tool.
Whether you’re inexperienced or short staffed, your results will improve with planning and development, execution and deployment, and tracking and analysis managed by a team of professionals who love email marketing more than Bob loves a tasty dinner with duck on the menu.
Put an end to the senseless slaughter of email campaigns. Target your broadcast, use email-marketing software, walk that fine line, and enlist the help of professionals. Bigger revenues and a larger return on investment will be your reward.
How to Become a Content Marketing Powerhouse
Have you ever turned on online ad blockers while you were reading an interesting article online? When you purchased your DVR last year, was it for the sole purpose of skipping through commercials? Do you remember a time that you ripped out a magazine advertisement in frustration, just so that you could feast your eyes on actual content?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above questions, welcome to the club. The last thing I want when I am entrenched in prime time television is to be interrupted by a commercial for Beggin’ Strips when I don’t even own anything furry. Plus, when the volume on television seems to blare so much louder during commercial breaks than it does during the scheduled programming, I’m more inclined to turn the T.V. off in disgust rather than continue watching my daily shows.
What does this mean for marketers? Is Marketing Dead As We Know It?
It doesn’t mean we must slash our marketing budgets and fire our marketing team. However, it does mean we must change our communication strategy from a “buy this now” approach to a “let me educate you on topics that you find relevant to your current lifestyle” message. This shift represents an opportunity to stop advertising and start listening. If you scale back your sales pitch just a tad, you just might hear that voice on the other side in desperate need of a solution to their problem and simple reassurance that your company is equipped to fulfill that need.
Smart marketers will take action through content marketing – the act of communicating and engaging with your target audience without selling. If done correctly, you can improve your organic search engine rankings and drive profitable traffic to your website.
The idea behind content marketing is simple: You are building your trust and credibility as a business rather than going for the hard sell. If you come across as someone solely interested in your commission rather than providing your prospective consumer a value-added opportunity, you will be left trying to salvage what’s left (if anything) of your alleged “reputable” character. Reading How to Avoid the Hard Sell will give you a more in-depth and better understanding.
We, as experienced marketers, are aware that sales are rarely made upon first contact with a customer. When words are coming out from a seller’s mouth at a one-time meeting, event, or phone conversation, how is anyone to know whether it’s pure bullshit or whether the seller is actually concerned about the well-being of the prospect? More often than not, someone interested in a particular product or service will be inclined to conduct further research to justify their spend. Whether it be through product reviews, blogs, press releases, case studies, or client testimonials, the content that’s there must be worth making a remark about. Crafting your content so that it reads like an editorial column will give users the impression that it’s not your typical intrusive advertisement, but rather a dissemination of free, valuable content that serves as an ongoing stream of advice.
Content marketing isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve been producing great content for hundreds of years. However, with the expansion of the Internet and knowledge of its magnified reach, it’s more crucial than ever to employ this approach through all marketing channels available and within your means.
It’s a way to create a fan base without the dreaded cold calls. The more people that follow your blog, the more it will be recognized and indexed in all major search engines. If your content is closely related to what you sell, it will attract and convert leads into customers, customers into repeat buyers, and repeat buyers into referrers of your product or service. Once you’ve generated a substantial number of newsletter sign-ups of those who have put their trust in you and are interested in hearing more of what you have to offer, you have the ability to continue the conversation with effective email marketing. With this highly personalized media platform, you can intermix your quality content with sound promotional messaging. Investing in the design of an eye-catching email creative that is customized to your business, your active subscribers will be up-to-date with your latest and greatest offers and incentives.
Great content is the best-kept secret of marketing today. It’s about time you join the bandwagon and get noticed.