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iMedia Connection: Latest Features

iMedia Connection


5 lessons marketers can learn from millennial women

Thu, 12 Jun 2014

Tech-native, entitled, collaborative, distracted, and loyal are just some of the words that come to mind when describing Millennials -- arguably the most studied generation to date. Usually defined as people born between 1980 and 1998, more than 79 million Millennials are estimated to live in the U.S. today. And no surprise, about half are women.
It's already well-established that women make up about 85 percent of household purchase decisions. Time Magazine recently reported that women make up about 58 percent of all online retail purchases, 80 percent of health care decisions, and are taking over male-dominated categories like consumer electronics and automotive. It's even spreading over to sports -- a whopping 45 percent of all NFL fans today are female.

But what really differentiates Millennial women from their generational counterparts?

Stereotypes run the gamut, but here are a few truths you can rely upon when trying to understand this generation:

  • They are digital natives and don't consider new technology something to adopt. It just is.
  • They are ethnically and religiously diverse -- more so than any generation to come before them.
  • They believe in transparency and candor.

Here are five lessons marketers can learn from today's young women.

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Google's most useful tools for marketers

Tue, 18 Feb 2014

iMedia's Best Content of 2014. You're seeing this article on our homepage again because it's part of iMedia's year-end best content roundup. We will return to our regular publishing schedule of original content on Jan. 5.

It's nearly impossible to overstate Google's place in our industry. The company touches just about every aspect of marketing. Name the channel, and Google is there. But while Google gets a lot of attention for the big things -- search, YouTube, etc. -- it flies somewhat under the radar when it comes to providing tools for marketers.

"It's almost like you have to know a guy to know [some of these tools] exist," says Joe Germscheid, director of consumer engagement at Carmichael Lynch. "They don't get talked about often, but they're good resources."

Fair enough.


Some of the tools on this list may be entirely new to you. Others you've probably heard of, although you may not have used them in the way described. But as with anything Google, it's almost impossible to be totally comprehensive. There are just too many products. So if we've missed a Google tool you find essential, share it in the comments.

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5 rules for playing nice in the agency sandbox

Wed, 03 Aug 2011

There was a time when large general advertising agencies were the keepers of the agency kingdom. They conquered everything in their path and took everything that wasn't nailed down.

For better or for worse, those days are over. Any one agency that presumes to have all the answers to all the questions across all media is simply full of -- well, let's just say those days are over.

The media landscape is way too complicated today, and the need for specialists has become essential to a brand's success. Today, brands need a roster of agencies across various disciplines at their marketing table.

The big problem? Those agencies often don't play well together in the sandbox.

I run a pure-play social media agency called Big Fuel. We work with large brands, and our focus is entirely on social media. When we get hired, we are typically the new kid on the agency roster -- and usually as the new kid, it's hard to make friends. All the other folks are sizing you up, and some are upset that they didn't get your scope of work. Needless to say, a welcome mat is nowhere to be found.

A big part of our success over the last few years has been our ability to turn that situation around. We've been successful because we understand the sandbox. Perhaps it's because I've personally never worked at an agency other than the one I founded. My entire professional career has been in the entertainment industry. Television production, where I spent most of my career, is inherently collaborative. Don't get me wrong; Hollywood is not without egos. (Far from it.) But everyone knows what role they play in the ecosystem.

Truth be told, we don't have a choice. Social media touches everything: CRM, PR, crisis management, digital and online advertising, retail, customer service, etc. That means we need to be collaborative in order to do our jobs. Half of what we do every day is support and amplify existing programs and initiatives. We work with almost every department internally and every agency externally. We have to be comfortable in the sandbox to succeed.

So, here are just a few things to think about when navigating the sandbox.

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SEM best practices for international branding

Tue, 02 Aug 2011

Social media has had a profound impact on the way marketers view global campaigns. Companies that have successfully closed the void between domestic customers through Twitter and Facebook may be tempted to implement an international outreach campaign using these same platforms. However, despite its accessibility and glamour, social media alone can't carry an international marketing plan. Instead, businesses should view social media as one part of an integrated approach created with sound international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategies at its core. ISEM starts with research into regionally relevant keywords. This activity should be spearheaded by translation and localization experts who understand the nuances of regional dialects and colloquial speech, as well as the parameters of preferred search engines. In most of the world, the latter means Google. However, in China, for example, prospective customers are more likely to use a local search engine like Baidu, which uses a vastly different algorithm than Google. Thus, keyword development for China, or your prospective global venture, should reflect this fact. Once the most effective keywords have been selected, businesses can begin building multi-pronged efforts in those new markets. This might include targeted pay-per-click ads, multilingual rich media, adapted banner ads, out-of-home advertising, philanthropic community involvement, as well as social media outreach, if appropriate. For those companies that decide that social media should be one of the elements in branching out internationally, there are a couple of things to consider. First, social media requires human management. Complete reliance on machine translation is rarely a good idea, and it can be even more disastrous in social media, which requires ongoing, authentic engagement. If social media must be part of the marketing mix, so should a local translation expert. This hire should of course be knowledgeable of the company's international messaging, but more importantly, they need to be aware of the cultural norms, local news, and search engine algorithms. Hiring a local professional is also essential since social media is not a one-time activity. Direct connections between brands and prospects work best when they are tended to over time rather than forced through quick-hit broadcasts. Blogs, for example, need fresh, relevant content several times per week. Twitter streams must be updated multiple times per day, customer tweets should be responded to immediately, and Facebook walls need to be monitored and updated. This is easier said then done, but when done correctly, social media can deliver significant returns on investment for businesses expanding internationally. However, not all industries reap these rewards. It pays to analyze the behavior of domestic customers and weigh that into the decision regarding international social media investments. No matter what type of marketing approach an enterprise may take regarding international social media, search engine marketing matters the most in terms of return on investment. Yes, businesses big and small are getting closer to their customers through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and other social media vehicles, but international success in those arenas is complex. When multiple languages and disparate regional norms are part of the mix, businesses must follow best practices in ISEM first. When they do so, they are far more likely to succeed in their efforts to engage prospects, promote deals, encourage brand loyalty, supply traffic to their international websites, and increase profits. Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO, TransPerfect. On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.view full article | Add a comment[...]

5 brands that post terrible Facebook updates

Mon, 01 Aug 2011

In February, I wrote about "7 brands that post awesome Facebook updates." Now, let's come at it from the other perspective. Content is still king when building a brand presence on social media. And as Facebook implements more ways for users to control exactly what content they want to read in their news feeds, brands need to be especially creative to make the cut. Community management is the art and science of engaging these communities, and the best way to see what's working and what isn't is to engage, moderate, and analyze all interactions. There are some brands that get it. And there are some brands that don't.

Consider these Facebook update don'ts:

  • Don't spam your audience. Posting updates back to back, multiple times per day, is the best way to get hidden in the news feed.
  • Don't neglect issues or problems on your page. Social media is a two-way conversation you can have with your customers. When you ignore concerns or questions, it appears as if you don't care.
  • Don't use formulaic responses. In the same vein as ignoring comments, it's just as bad to post a canned response to all issues or concerns.
  • Don't automate your updates. Users notice when they see the same exact content posted on all your networks or marketing channels. This includes linking your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Don't turn off the wall. While neglecting issues or problems is a bad practice, turning off the wall completely sends the message that you just want to broadcast, not engage.

With Facebook implementing new features every day, it's becoming increasingly easy for users to hide status updates from appearing in their news feed. While this might be a plus in the personal sphere, it's a little scary for brands that also appear in the same news feed. In fact, it's now possible to "unlike" a brand page directly in the news feed without needing to visit the page at all. By adhering to the following best practices (as evidenced by brands that did the exact opposite), your brand's chance of getting hidden or "unliked" is reduced significantly.

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Top tools for measuring social media

Thu, 28 Jul 2011

If you are having trouble using our video player, try watching on YouTube.

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3 easy steps to mobile marketing success

Tue, 26 Jul 2011

With any luck -- or foresight -- you've already got big plans for how to integrate mobile into your next big marketing campaign. But have you stopped to think about your approach, your methods, and your overall scope? As digital marketers, we tend to get caught up in our own expertise, our own perceptions of what mobile can do for us. Forget what you know about online marketing and recognize mobile is a whole new world of possibilities. Lose the landing pageYou're about to run a multi-channel campaign, and every traditional online marketing bone in your body is screaming, "Landing page!" After all, isn't that the best way to nab your customers -- creating a destination site with useful information and calls-to-action? Answer: Not at all. With mobile, there is absolutely no reason to send anyone anywhere. In fact, doing so can be detrimental to your campaign -- in the two second delay it takes to load a landing page on a mobile device you've already lost your user. The old rules just don't apply to mobile because it is a brand new mass medium. Drop the whole concept of a landing page. Instead, place the engagement opportunity right in the expanded panel that comes out of an ad. Yes, that's right, I just said the word "engagement." Now, are you interested? A full-page panel can immediately offer users a rich number of options: "Watch video," "Share on Facebook," "Map me to the nearest retail location," or my favorite, "Text me a coupon code." Don't send people away; drive them toward your call-to-action directly from the ad unit. Demand transparency -- you deserve itWith all of the mobile ad networks running "blind" campaigns and promising one percent CTRs with their black-box technology, it's easy to forget that you have the right to know where your ads are running. The mobile web industry has grown enough that we can move beyond the tactic of simply "getting to scale" and start to focus more on brand-quality properties matching audiences. Insist your ad network give you full transparency with an ability to physically view the sites and app lists your campaign appears on. This way you can weed out any properties you deem inappropriate. Also, you should take advantage of visibility into device-use to narrow your campaign's ideal demographics. Interested in reaching teens? They're big iPod Touch users, so put higher delivery quantities for this device. Want business people? Target one flight of your campaign to BlackBerry devices; for early adopters, target iPad2 devices. Device-targeting is a great proxy for audience segmentation, and one that is often overlooked by marketers. Track and tweak Not sure about the best way to track your mobile campaign? Turn to some experts and I don't mean the usual suspects because Atlas and DoubleClick are way behind the curve when it comes to tracking analytics in mobile. So, turn to your partners to see which reporting systems they prefer. One great "best practice" that you can employ is the use of several different independently trackable calls-to-action in an expanded ad panel. For example, an ad for Applebee's might include a button for each of the following: Map to the nearest Applebee's Email me a coupon for 10 percent off Add Friday happy hour to my calendar Track each call-to-action independently and also try rearranging the button order to see which ones result in consistent engagement and which ones lead to actual dining. Use the data. Don't be afraid to change things up to see what sticks. Running a mobile campaign doesn't have to be a shot in the dark. The industry has matured enough to show proven best practices and roads to success paved by early marketers. Remember, lose the landing page; demand to know where the campaign runs; get analytics to track results; and to make informed adjustments. Before you know it, you'll forget mobile was ever the nex[...]

New opportunities for improving search engine rankings

Thu, 21 Jul 2011

An SEO's job is to make sure that a site is accessible to search engine crawlers, optimize priority pages for targeted keywords, and think up clever ways to increase the number of inbound links to the site. But as search engines become more sophisticated, so does the SEO's job description. Successful SEOs will need to start paying attention to user experience and user behavior as these factors become more important in the eyes of search engines. User data and rankingsMost SEOs don't put much thought toward improving usability or user engagement metrics. Factors like the amount of time someone spends on a page and number of pages a user sees per visit are traditionally the concerns of data analysis and usability experts. But recent algorithm changes and expert opinions have convinced the industry that this kind of user data has an effect on rankings. Here are three reasons why you should consider looking at user data in your SEO strategy: 1. Google's search team has made it clear that it's now focusing more on site quality with the recent Panda update. The factors that make a site "quality" are difficult to define, but user experience almost certainly plays a large part. 2. User data is available to the search engines and it's not hard to see how that data could be used to provide better search results. Data regarding click-through rates (CTRs) is already available to SEOs in the Google Webmaster Central account, which suggests that Google is taking it into consideration. 3. The smart guys are doing it. A recent survey shows that a majority of industry experts believe user data is becoming increasingly important. Metrics to pay attention toThere's a lot of noise around this topic, which makes it difficult to keep up. As a starting point, take note of the following metrics: CTR: measured as total clicks divided by total impressions Bounce rate from search results page: the percentage of users that immediately returns to the search results page after clicking through to your site Time spent away from the search results page: the amount of time the user was on your site before returning to the results page Turning data into actionKnowing the above information alone won't help your rankings. The research should provide insight into how you can improve the metrics. Here are a few ways to make the data actionable: 1. Identify keyword opportunities by looking at terms that have positive usage metrics but aren't ranking well in the search results. Optimize page titles, header tags, and copy for the relevant keywords. 2. Look for pages that are ranking well for important keywords, but have a low CTR. Rewrite meta descriptions to include a strong call-to-action along with the targeted keywords and revise page titles as necessary. 3. Consider redesigning pages where there is a significant amount of traffic that tends to spend a short amount of time on the page before returning to the search results. This behavior is indicative of poor user experience. For now, it's unclear how much search engines are relying on user data, but keep in mind that the goal of a search engine is to provide the most useful pages for a given search query. If user data can provide information about a page's relevance for a query, it's almost certain that it will be part of the equation for determining rankings. Trung Ngo is an SEO specialist at Red Door Interactive. On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.  view full article | Add a comment[...]

5 steps to success with daily deals

Wed, 27 Jul 2011

There is no doubt that deal commerce (also known as group buying, daily deals, social commerce, and flash commerce) has transformed the advertising and marketing industry -- particularly the way small and medium-sized businesses market their products and services. If you are a business owner, you've likely considered running an online deal due to consumer interest and the convenient pay per customer structure. But, what does it take to make a deal work, and how do you make sure it's a good marketing investment? Stay informed. For more insights into the latest brand marketing strategies, attend the iMedia Brand Summit, Sept. 11-14. Request your invitation today. We've heard the horror stories: A restaurant runs a deal and is swamped by a crowd of customers, translating into a poor experience for all involved (most notably, the restaurant who ran the deal). This is one example that highlights the importance of being prepared prior to running a deal, as well as structuring a good deal for your business. In fact, it is very possible to make a daily deal a success, by following a few simple guidelines. Select an appropriate deal Creating a compelling deal for customers is the first step to success. Try to make your offer unique and something that can't be offered by competitors. Also, especially make sure a similar deal cannot be found on your website or Facebook page. Provide something above and beyond your standard service, so customers find the deal appealing -- but don't offer a discount that is going to break the bank. And, if you are worried about risk, cap your maximum number of deals to be sold on an annual basis. Many deal commerce companies don't want you to do this -- but the reality is, it's your business, you're providing the discount, and you're the one left honoring each of the certificates post-sale. Encourage a long-term connection with customersMaking a sale is important, but it is more crucial to turn deal-using customers into repeat buyers. Treat customers redeeming deals the same way you would treat a regular customer. It might be their first experience, and, yes, while they have paid a discount to visit your establishment, the opportunity is that they will a) spend additional money while there, b) come back as a repeat customer, and c) share this positively with others -- online and offline. Also, offer a call-to-action to improve the chances of repeat business. For instance, provide customers a loyalty card, ask them to sign up for your e-newsletter, or request that they "like" your Facebook page or rate your business online. Prepare your staffEnsure that all employees are aware of your deal and its requirements or restrictions. (Note: Try to limit restrictions whenever possible.) Your deal should be straightforward so it is enticing to the consumer. Also, a simplified deal structure makes it easier for employees to interpret the offer. Next, be ready to handle a larger amount of customers than usual. This is important from a service and inventory standpoint. If you are a service-based business, you might need extra staff on hand to answer phone calls. Better yet, consider running a deal with a provider that phases in customers over time. This will make the influx easier for you to handle, rather than having to deal with an overnight onslaught that frustrates you, your staff, and your customers. Track vouchers to determine ROIDon't forget to set up a process for voucher redemption and make sure your staff is aware of it, so you can easily calculate your deal's success. Redeeming vouchers should be a smooth process for the sake of your customers and efficiency of your business. Try to keep track of how many people come into your establishment, how much they spend, and track follow-up visits and purchases.  Even simple data[...]

4 deliberately controversial ad campaigns

Tue, 26 Jul 2011

Many brands these days are using cutting-edge marketing tactics to engage viewers and create intense reactions. Sometimes, these tactics are offensive and incendiary, creating a large divide between customer and brand. Other times, the publicity garnered by such controversial ads serves as a major boost for brand sales (presumably driving deeper belief in the old adage, "there's no such thing as bad publicity"). In this article, industry experts weigh in on online marketing campaigns that relied on controversy or offensive strategies to drive their marketing message. They also comment on how effective the tactic seemed to be and whether it paid off in the long run for the company. Read on to find out which brands were effective in stirring the pot. FCUKBy Denise E. Zimmerman, NetPlus What's in a name? With a brand such as French Connection (FCUK), you expect a certain level of in-your-face, bold, irreverent, and even offensive missives. So it's no surprise that FCUK is on the front lines in terms of risk-taking and stirring up a bit of controversy in its messaging and marketing. It is also then no surprise that French Connection lined up as one of the first brands to test out the marketing prowess of Chatroulette -- the highly controversial chat platform -- with a promotion back in March 2010. The promotion featured a shopping spree worth $375 to the winner who "hooked up" using Chatroulette to set up a date. For those of you who might not be familiar with Chatroulette, it is a webcam social network, widely known for its pornographic content where random strangers "meet" each other. It is a risky and uncontrollable environment. The tease posted on the brand's website for the promotion reads, "Can you prove yourself by venturing into the most terrifying terrain on the internet to seduce a woman?" Now that's bold -- and controversial. But FCUK embraces this line of marketing with full disclosure and awareness -- the risk to the brand is minimal given its brand and message platform. Was it successful? To a brand like FCUK, the controversy and media exposure are benefits. There aren't many brands that could or would say the same. It is probably fair to say that the campaign did not have a measurable impact on the brand's level of engagement, conversions, or sales -- based on what has been reported and is publicly available. But at the time, it was reported that French Connection had "thousands" of entries, and the contest attracted international media attention with articles in Ad Age and posts from bloggers such as Perez Hilton. It was also reported that the FCUK blog's traffic increased by 300 percent. But even now if you look at the archives, there are only a few comments here and there about the contest. So, that 300 percent traffic increase came from where and went to where? Regardless, it is all relative considering the media exposure benefit to the brand's persona. And the level of investment was most likely minimal to start. The bottom line? If controversy isn't part of your brand platform and your customers are not going to respond positively or embrace it, then why the FCUK would you do it? French Connection Manifesto blog Denise E. Zimmerman is president and CSO of NetPlus.view full article | Add a comment[...]

3 brands that lost -- and won back -- Latinos

Tue, 19 Jul 2011

So what's all this hype about Latinos being the second-largest demographic in population and online consumption patterns in the U.S.? Does it make marketers salivate to plot online marketing campaigns for Latinos? And if so, why have efforts been so dismal? Assumption: Marketers think Latinos will make a purchase no matter who is selling the product; after all, they have to buy -- stop right there. Bad assumption.

The 2011 IAB report "U.S. Latino Online: A Driving Force" found that more than half of U.S. Latinos prefer marketers to make a strong connection with their culture by relaying the message in this order of languages: Spanish, Spanglish, and then English.

The IAB also found that U.S. Latinos spend more time online than non-Hispanic whites, and that 61 percent of Hispanics made online purchases and spent an average of $746, which isn't far behind the total internet population at 72 percent, spending an average of $851.


With that said, it's surprising that marketers aren't more interested in targeting ads to the U.S. Latino demographic. In most cases, ads are targeted instead to the non-Hispanic white population before any other group.

"Behavioral targeting is an under-addressed area with Latinos," Andy Hasselwander, VP products and research for Latinum Network, said. "This area is lagging behind [the]general market by at least a couple years, and it's another big opportunity for marketers moving forward."

But to the credit of three legacy brands, some noticeable efforts to connect with U.S. Latinos have finally been achieved, although not without their fair share of PR fiascos, lack of engagement, low sales, and boycotts before finding redemption.

Here's how they did it:

Ford got its "Fiesta" back
Blunder: Forgetting -- and even worse, not knowing -- who its customer base was cost Ford (America's pioneer and once go-to automaker) a sales plunge of 30 percent, not to mention losing customers to competing foreign carmakers such as Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.

It was this sales slump that forced Ford into a marketing restructure -- most importantly, it had to get to know its true consumer, the largest purchaser of small cars: 18-24 year-old Latinos and African-Americans.

Making things right: Ford took a look at its car line and revived the Fiesta model (which hadn't been seen on the streets for 32 years) and developed a multicultural ad campaign: "Ready Pa' Tu Mundo" -- this time using social media, viral video, mobile advertising, and a banging website to connect with its young bilingual Latino audience. Even more specifically, Ford created a campaign that embodied true urban flair, tech-savvy, and bilingualism.

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