Why your Twitter Username is a Valuable Asset

Many brands nowadays are turning to Twitter to create awareness, engagement and interest around their offering. However, when setting up a Twitter presence, the username you choose is of such great importance. I personally feel that your Twitter username is just as an important asset as your employees or your products or your office, as your Twitter handle is one of the gateways to your online presence.

This makes getting first to your username crucial, as whenever someone mentions you in a Tweet or wants to find you on Twitter, having the correct and relevant username is essential. This is a kind of survival of the fittest in Twitter username terms, as if someone grabs your Twitter handle before you, it’s a social media disaster!

The best example of this has to be one of  the UK’s leading retailers John Lewis, and the problem they’ve had with their Twitter username. John Lewis’ Twitter handle is @JohnLewisRetail, meaning they don’t have the username @JohnLewis. This is held by a man from America…called, ironically John Lewis. His Twitter is @JohnLewis. It was reported back in November that he gets Tweets daily from John Lewis customers praising him or asking him questions about their products, services and stores. However, rather than ignoring them or getting annoyed, he replies to all of them individually pointing them in the direction of @JohnlewisRetail, the account they intended to Tweet to. What a great guy!!!

But this illustrates that John Lewis, the retailer, may have missed a trick and potentially they don’t get as much engagement as they could as many mistake @JohnLewis for them. Whereas, if they have John Lewis, the person’s Twitter username surely it’s easier for people to find and or Tweet them?!

So this I think supports the point that having an appropriate Twitter username is so important and should be seen as a valuable asset for brands.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news and articles please follow this blog and my Twitter @DigitalStuart

We’re Live Now! Is Live Social Streaming the Future

It has been quite a few weeks in the world of social media. First we had the announcement of a new live streaming app called Meerkat and then not too long after that Twitter released its own version, Periscope. So what does live streaming involve. Well you sign in via your Twitter account and then essentially record something live! It’s that simple. When you share the stream it’s posted on your timeline alerting your followers you’re streaming something live and they can choose come and view what’s going on. This gives you a live audience of viewers like you’d have for a TV show.

The competition between Meerkat and Periscope has intensified a lot over the last few weeks as more and more brands and celebrities start to use it. However, when Meerkat launched it was groundbreaking, but annoyingly for them Twitter released their version Periscope just a few days later. So Meerkat’s dominance in the market was there for just a few glittering seconds it seemed. But due to them offering similar features gaining users as quickly as possible is becoming even more so important for them.

So how will social live streaming change the social media landscape. It’s such a novel and unique aspect that’s started to become even more prominent in social media. Gone are the days now where you take a photo or video of an event and then edit it and play or post it a few hours or days afterwards. Now you can bring the audience even closer to what you’re offering. The idea of live streaming is nothing new. TV has been doing it for years and years, and YouTube has streamed live many times. But it’s never been at the average users disposal to do it where they become the broadcaster.

Of course with this live streaming comes copyright and ownership issues. If you’re streaming a concert, or sporting game or an event, you’d need to be careful. But maybe recording something live is still the same as doing it then uploading it after it has happened.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rivalry between the two platforms, Meerkat and Periscope, increases over the coming months and whether one steals a march in the market possibly with new features, offerings or campaigns.

Please let me know your views on live streaming by commenting below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more social media and digital marketing news!

WhatsApp Facebook? Buy the Competition or Diversify

So this week saw the quite surprising news that Facebook is set to acquire messaging service WhatsApp for a reported $19 billion, not much then! But for me it does pose the question in the social media and mobile landscape of whether Facebook’s major acquisitions are simply a ploy to buy the competition, or diversify into other areas and markets.

Taking that first theory, Facebook has a reputation of trying to buy out mobile platforms, most notably their successful acquisition of Instagram and again a few months ago with their failed bid for Snapchat. So you could argue that Facebook sees WhatsApp as a threat to their Facebook chat service, or any potential mobile platform that they might be developing in the future. Therefore, instead of sitting idle and watching WhatsApp rake in the money and become a competitor, they simply buy them! I mean it’s clever of Facebook to do this, as they clearly know what the market is doing and what’s (App) popular with consumers, and growing. But is this strategy a good one? I do feel Facebook is trying to become too embellished and wanting to become too much, and have their finger in all these pies. This could come to their detriment if they take their eye off their main channel, and basically the one thing they’re known for. So I suppose the saying would be. ‘If you can’t beat them, buy them’!

However, another school of thought is that it’s quite ingenuous of Facebook to buy out these companies, as they don’t have the skill, nor the user base to compete or create something such as a messaging app, or a photo sharing app in the case of Instagram. Facebook has tried and failed to diversify its platform into photo sharing and messaging, so the next best thing is to buy an established player. Acquiring WhatsApp is a smart move as here you have a very popular service that’s used by millions and growing everyday. Facebook doesn’t have to invest in R&D, product development or marketing, as the value of the WhatsApp branding  will do that automatically for them. Thus, these diversification strategies increase Facebooks market presence and tap into knowledge and well-established brands to take them to the next level.

But what of the future of WhatsApp. Facebook say that nothing will change, and it will remain as it is. Well, it’s maybe only a matter of time before advertising comes into the picture! I do actually believe Facebook a bit when they say they’ll keep everything the same, as they’ve not radically changed Instagram, as so many thought they would.

To finish, here’s one final thought. Apparently looking back on the founder of WhatsApp’s tweets, Brain Acton was turned down by Twitter and Facebook for a job in 2009. Oh the irony.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. In the meantime please follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart 

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Promotion

Well grab the tissues, as it’s the final instalment of why the marketing mix applies to the digital world, and today we’re looking at ‘Promotion’!.

So what does ‘Promotion’ mean when we think of it in digital terms? Well it’s how you can use digital channels to inform, create awareness and persuade an audience to buy your products or services.

Out of all the ‘Ps’, Promotion is by far the broadest and most diverse, as when you think about it, the whole digital marketing landscape is based on promotional elements, whether that’s Search, Social Media or Banner ads. Here’s an overview of all those channels.

Websites

  • Found on the internet, a website contains webpages on information on what a brand sells or offers . To explain this a website has certain design elements and includes text, images and or videos to portray this. Website analytics can be used to monitor activity on it

Search Marketing

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The natural search results in a search engine. The results will appear in a set ranking depending on keywords
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): The paid listings that normally appear directly under the search bar, or to the right of the screen. The ranking of these is based on how much you pay for keywords

Advertising 

  • Banner Ads: Adverts containing rich media, either an image or video, that appear on a webpage. These ads might be interactive or a still image. Clicking on them will take the user to another website related to that ad or to a call to action
  • Affiliate Marketing: A customer sees an advert for an Apple iPad (Merchant) on The Guardian’s website (Publisher) – If the customer clicks on the ad and goes onto to purchase the iPad, the publisher receives a commission on that sale

Public Relations

  • Public Relations: Managing a brands awareness, understanding and reputation through influencing how they are exposed in the media
  • Online PR: Trying to maximise favourable mentions or opinions of your company, brand, products or website on a third-party website

Viral Marketing

  • Online word of mouth (WOM) usually in the form of a video, image, website or link that is fun, creative or entertaining and is sent amongst people

Email Marketing

  • A form of direct marketing where an email is sent to a recipients inbox. The email might be received either as a promotional tool or after signing up to a newsletter

Three types of emails

  • Outbound Email Marketing: Email campaigns are sent out by companies to customers or prospects as direct marketing to encourage purchase or to build an engaging relationship
  • Permission based Email/Opt In: Customers or prospects have given permission to receive email marketing messages, so it’s not seen as cold emails or SPAM
  • Inbound Email Marketing: Where a company manages the emails that customers send to them enquiring about products or services –e.g. customer service, care, support or help

Social Media

  • A network or community where users interact with one another by creating, sharing and exchanging ideas and content
  • Blog: An online diary created by an individual to communicate with an audience their views or opinions…like this one!

Mobile

  • Mobile Ads: Banner adverts that include images or videos that appear on a mobile screen

For a greater in-depth discussion on Mobile, please read The Mobile Marketing Mix (nice cross-blog promotion there!)

Wow, that’s a lot of digital promotional tools! But each one of these techniques has opened up many channels and avenues that brands can use to promote their offering. They all have the ability to generate traffic to the website, relevant calls to action and most importantly, a purchase!

So, alas, that’s it. We’ve delved into the traditional marketing mix, and seen how it has definitely got a place in this dynamic digital world. It’ll be interesting to see how digital adapts and develops over the next few years and how the marketing mix is further expanded.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news please follow my blog or my Twitter account @DigitalStuart.

Here’s a full list of all four ‘Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World’ blogs for your enjoyment.

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Product

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Price

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Place

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Promotion

How to Create Effective Emails

I once heard in a lecture that the best time to send an email was 11am on a Wednesday. The reason for this is that apparently it takes a few days to respond and get your head around the plethora of emails and SPAM you get over the weekend…and Friday afternoon when you don’t really respond to emails 😉 But if your emails aren’t good, then no one will read them, and ultimately it’ll be seen as SPAM (and not the food kind).

So here’s a nice acronym to keep those emails great. Make sure they are C.R.I.T.I.C.A.L.

Creative: It must have appealing colouring, images, graphics with a visually pleasing layout to attract people to respond to it and make it unique.

Relevant: Is there any point in sending an email that’s not relevant to the person you’re sending it to? Nope, there’s not. I personally wouldn’t want an email about some casino offer, pension plan or news from boating weekly. So if it’s irrelevant to the user, they are pretty much likely to consider it as SPAM. Thus it should be tailored to the recipients needs to ensure they perform the crucial calls to action.

Incentive: You need to consider what’s in it for the recipient if they click the link. Maybe they get a discount, are entered into a prize draw, get free subscription or being notified of a website, brand or offer. So giving the person a reason to interact with the email is key to them opening and engaging with it.

Targeted & Timely: Double ‘T’ here! The email must be personalised if someone is going to take it seriously. Starting an email with ‘Dear Reference Number 28474’ isn’t very personal really. Try to use first name terms and if possible use the persons or company’s name somewhere in the text. This might not seem a lot, but it makes it so much more targeted to the individual.

As stated before 11am on a Wednesday is a great time to send an email…but the message must be sent at the right time if the notable calls to action are going to be performed. Sending an email to launch a new campaign at 2.30am on a Friday night might not be the best idea! Usually the morning is best, but depending on what the message is, this could vary. But the most important thing is if it’s received at a convenient time, you’ll be more likely to respond to it.

Integrated: A good way to get maximum success from an email is if it’s coordinated with other communications to provide a cohesive message. Therefore, messages, designs, layouts, images etc. should all be consistent on the email, website, social media, advertising and more. This can reinforce the message and create a better awareness. Something as simple as putting the website URL or social media links on the email can create this integration and have such a big impact.

Copy: The text that’s used must be clear and concise with a good structure, style and explanation to ensure the offer appeals to the recipient and entices them to undertake the necessary calls to action. It might sound obvious, but the message must effectively inform, persuade and create awareness if it’s going to be successful.

Attributes: Many of the emails features must be assessed before launching the campaign. These include a compelling and bold subject line, checking that all the addresses’ are correct (and thus don’t bounce) and the date & time you send the message are relevant. If these simple things are effectively done, it goes a long way.

Landing Page: This is the page the recipient will go to once they’ve clicked the messages link, so it must be relevant, well designed, with good usability and appearance. If you want the recipient to purchase, then the link should go to the final stage of the purchase. If you want them to sign up, the landing page should be the sign up form. If the page isn’t related this won’t entice them to perform the calls to action. You can’t afford to ask your customer to click through many pages to the desired action, as you only have a limited time to attract them.

So there’s a few tips for a successful email campaign, and hopefully they’ll make your emails brilliant!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment 🙂 For more digital marketing news please follow me on Twitter @DigitalStuart

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Place

It’s that time once again to explore how the 4P’s can apply to the modern digital world and having already covered Product and Price, today we’re going to look at Place!

E-Commerce

The ‘Place’  element of the marketing mix is simple, where can I buy that product or service. And the biggest development of digital on ‘Place’ is the creation of e-commerce. This enables customers to purchase products or services online via a website, or an app if it’s M-Commerce.  

The internet’s emergence has seen customers benefit from not having to visit a store to make their purchase, instead do it wherever they are. The advantages of this are that it’s much easier, more convenient, quicker and can be cheaper. But also the problem of opening and closing times in stores is no longer an issue and you can shop till you drop 24/7 365 days a year. Also the selection of products and services on offer are much higher with greater choice.

However, with the rise of purchasing online comes the increased competitiveness on the internet with many brands purely online and not having a store. So with many brands competing online businesses have to invest more money and time in their websites. Therefore, they must ensure the design, appearance, usability and navigation of it are highly effective if they’re to compete.

But some businesses are using their online store to complement their bricks and mortar stores to create a bricks and clicks experience. Here you can buy something and then collect it in-store, a click-and-collect strategy. For instance, purchasing a new TV online and then collecting it in-store.

New Channel Structures

The rise of websites and e-commerce has seen new channel structures occurring, namely Disintermediation and Reintermediation.

Disintermediation

This is the process of cutting out intermediaries in the supply chain. For instance, cutting out retail stores and purchasing straight from a website. An example of this is purchasing your PC directly from Dell instead of going to a PC World retail outlet.

Reintermediation

This is the opposite, as here intermediaries are added into the supply chain. For instance, price comparison sites allow you to purchase the product or service via them on behalf of the retailer, and in exchange the site gets a commission on the sale. Thus it’s an affiliate marketing intermediary.

Virtual Organisations

I touched on this earlier, but the rise of e-commerce websites has seen pureplay retailer’s increase too. So as mentioned these providers only sell online and not in stores therefore they have lower overheads. Also the distribution to deliver their products is outsourced to an external provider.

The main costs incurred for a pureplay retailer are the websites design and technical aspects, staff to maintain it, and distribution and warehouse costs. But the great thing for pureplay retailers is they aren’t restricted by geography or time and can supply a greater choice of products both tangible and digital.

So there we have it. The marketing mixes traditional element of ‘Place’ has definitely got a part to play in the digital world as a result of the rise of e-commerce and websites.

Next time it’s the final part of this series of blogs, as we delve into Promotion!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. In the meantime please follow this blog and my Twitter account @DigitalStuart for more digital marketing news. 

The Marketing Mix Applied to the Digital World – Price

Having explored the ‘Product’ part of the marketing mix, this blog is going to explain how ‘Price’ can be applied to the digital era.

Price Transparency

One of the main benefits of the digital world is that customers can now use websites to compare prices on products and services before purchasing them. Therefore, customers can make much more informed decisions on their purchase in order to get the best deal or lowest price. Previously if you wanted to purchase a TV you might have to walk into three or four shops to compare prices. However, now just a quick search on a number of websites or in the search engine can find the customer the best deal.

Also price transparency has been helped with the rise of comparison websites that do all price comparing for you. Something such as MoneySupermarket.com can compare anything from car insurance to energy providers potentially saving customers a lot of money. 

In addition, customers can now research prices before purchasing in store. For instance, you might research all the different phone providers before purchasing a new iPhone, then go to the brands actual store that has the best offer to buy it.

Auctions and Bidding

The internet has also seen the development from the traditional B2B and B2C network, with customers to customer selling and buying, or C2C. This has risen through the introduction of auction and bidding websites such as eBay.  Here the highest bidder essentially ‘wins’ the product and as a result purchases it. So the traditional marketing element of pricing has been changed to an online auction through the digital aspect of websites.

Other Pricing Elements

Websites have also added many other pricing structures and policies for bands when selling products or services online. Purchasing online now has the added cost of paying for postage and packaging, and if you want your product to arrive quickly, this can add quite a significant cost to the final price!

Also some products might have dynamic pricing on them which change in response to demand, with an increase when the product is in limited stock. In a traditional retail store this wouldn’t be possible, but now with websites, retailers can alter their prices instantly.  Finally, customers have the chance to gain more discounts or add-ons when combining a variety of products. For instance, purchasing a marketing book online from Amazon could enable you to get 10% off on another related book to that.

So there we have it, the digital world has definitely had an impact on the pricing part of the marketing mix from price transparency to auctions, and once again illustrates how a traditional element can be enhanced through digital.

Next time we’ll delve into how ‘Place’ has changed in response to the wonders of the digital world!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment.  For more digital news please follow my blog or my Twitter account, @DigitalStuart.