Article in The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience
You’ve heard of that poser who manages to get all the girls by lying, cheating, and hitting on everything with a skirt. You may even laugh at his antics, when you see them portrayed by the character named Barnie on “How I Met Your Mother.” Other times he makes you cringe at his calculating and impersonal techniques to improve his conquest numbers. Whether you love him or hate him, he has some valuable lessons to offer online marketers. Today’s social marketing world depends on authenticity and personal branding, but it also can make use of some techniques that players have used for centuries to reel in the goods.
It’s all about the Numbers
Players, like Barnie, know that rejection is inevitable in dating as well as in business. You may have to struggle a while to get your first “yes.” But, you definitely increase your chances if you market as many people as possible while trying to make each contact as personal as possible. It’s considered uncouth to solicit every woman in a bar to see who will bite, but the same approach in business is exactly what you need to get results. Persistence in your online marketing venture is bound to reap success even if it can get monotonous or repetitive. The wider you cast your net, the more likely you’ll bring in a big haul.
Create an Attractive Hook
Some days Barnie is a pilot and other days he is a doctor. He has no qualms about making up a story to gain the confidence or sympathy of his intended target. This type of antic can be successful in dating and in business, with the exception that creating enticing stories better be based on some modicum of truth in business or you could end up sued. The technique is still valid, however, in that you want to find the hook that appeals to your target audience and then use that to get them to connect with you on a personal level. This can encompass something as simple as indicating that you love pets and donate money to shelters from every purchase made or that your business was founded to solve some personal problem in your life. The key is to have a story that you can go to when someone wants to know who you are and why they should buy from you.
Get Contact Information
Internet marketers spend a lot of time creating social profiles, tweeting, posting images, and writing blog articles. All of that is great for exposure, but if you don’t focus on the final goal like Barnie, you’ll just end up with a lot of goodnight kisses and little else to show for it. Like Barnie, you got to start with the phone number – in this case, the email address. Email marketing is the first step to close the deal and without it, you’re wasting your time. If you don’t have an email program set up to market all your contacts and you aren’t automating it to be able to service multiple clients at a time, you’re only sabotaging yourself.
Close the Deal
Decide how many contacts it takes to close the deal. A real player might hang around for three dates and if nothing happens, moves on. Likewise, if you’re not getting responses from your email list after a set number of contacts, you need to review your entire game plan. You should be reaping results. You want to build an audience, but the audience needs to be a paying audience otherwise your business will inevitably fold.
If you’re not getting people to buy your services then you need to look at where there might be a mismatch in who you’ve targeted and what you are selling. You might find you need to create a couple of different deals – one for low-income people and another for more high-end customers. It could be that no one is interested in your product or service and it needs to be tweaked. Maybe you are not asking for the sale outright and that is also a factor. If you have a full-blown email responder system in place, you can view which emails get the most attention and click-through rates and that can help you customize your message so that people buy more often. In the end, you will find that you can maintain your authenticity and sell a good product even as you use some of the techniques that have made players like Barnie successful with less noble intentions.
The “hashtag” is a powerful tool that originated on Twitter and has since spread to other social media sites. At its most basic, the hashtag is a word or group of words that follows the pound sign and is used to assign messages to a particular topic. Casual users utilize hashtags to organize their messages and make them searchable under a given search term. Internet marketers can use them to solidify their online presence and increase brand awareness, although many marketers remain ignorant of the power of this tool.
The surface-level benefits of hashtags are many and immediate. Most importantly, placing a hashtag within a tweet makes it visible to anyone searching for that hashtag. Furthermore, when other users click on the hashtag, they are taken to a list of all other tweets that contain it. This makes it easy for users to organize their tweets under a single banner, making their message more memorable to other Twitter members. Twitter users can place a hashtag anywhere within a tweet.
Internet marketers are well advised to embrace hashtag technology. Awareness of the hashtag and the power that it represents is increasing. During the 2013 Super Bowl, for instance, 38% of advertisements contained hashtags. If a marketer is not using hashtags, the chances are good that their competitors are. Additionally, other social networks including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr have adopted it. Functionality of the tool remains largely the same across platforms.
Hashtag usage still occurs most often on Twitter, and full-scale adoption on social network Facebook has been slow. However, many Internet marketers anticipate Facebook adoption to increase rapidly as casual users learn of the benefits of the tool. Twitter marketers can search for a hashtag to use on hashtag.org. Anyone can use a hashtag, and there is no need to register one before use. Consequently, marketers are encouraged to create a hashtag that is both relevant to their brand and not in use. Facebook users can look for any hashtag using the site’s search functionality found at the top of almost every page.
Marketers wishing to take advantage of this powerful tool should ensure that they are using the same hashtag on Twitter and other social media platforms. Using multiple hashtags confuses fans and reduces brand recognition. A single hashtag also allows marketers to gain a clear bird’s-eye view of all the discussion concerning their brand.
To begin working toward hashtag cohesion, marketers are advised to use the same hashtag on their tweets or posts for several weeks. During this time, it is likely that fans will pick up on this gentle prompting and follow suit. To further raise awareness of their brand, marketers can use their new hashtag in a promotional campaign. Promotions, whether on Twitter, Facebook or any other channel create heightened awareness of the pertinent brand for their duration. Facebook has dropped their requirement that contests be run through dedicated apps, making it easier than ever to run promotions.
To take advantage of trending topics or fads—and the traffic they generate—marketers can simply identify the hashtag associated with the event and use it in a tweet, along with their own hashtag. This tactic results in their hashtag showing up in the more popular hashtag’s tweet thread. It is important, however, that users integrate the trending hashtag into their tweets in a natural way.
Once users gain basic proficiency with hashtags, they should branch out into wider tags. This tactic may be especially effective on Facebook or anywhere else where many people are posting to a general yet popular hashtag, such as “#summer,” “#baseball,” or “#fastfood.” Users can simply integrate the wider hashtag naturally into a tweet or post that contains their own hashtag. This is an excellent way to reach new fans and customers. All Internet marketers are encouraged to take full use of hashtags. They provide an efficient manner to reach new leads and keep customers engaged.
As of 2012, more American adults use a Smartphone than a basic mobile phone.
That wasn’t the case a year ago. In May 2011, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported the results from a survey, where 35 percent of adults said they owned a Smartphone. By February 2012, that number jumped to 46 percent.
The number of adults who don’t own a phone dropped, too. In 2011 during the same survey, 17 percent of adults reported that they didn’t own a mobile. Only 12 percent said the same in 2012.
Online shopping activity in 2012 reflects this trend. In late November, after the rush of Black Friday sales, PayPal released that phone-based shopping numbers were way up – global mobile payments went up 193 percent on Black Friday from 2011 to 2012.
Which cities saw the most mobile purchasing behavior? According to PayPal, Houston ranked first, with Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York trailing closely behind.
EBay, which owns PayPal, saw a similar overall jump in mobile-based purchases. It released that they saw the total mobile volume of transactions increase 153 percent this shopping season.
Even if potential shoppers don’t make a mobile-based purchase, they may browse your store through a mobile device. IBM reported that, while 13 percent of shoppers performed a transaction through their Smartphone or tablet, 18 percent visited the retail store on their mobile device.
So, how can retailers capitalize on this trend?
First, make your official website mobile-friendly. When you visit your site online, do you have to zoom in and out to navigate, dragging the screen in various directions to get to the information you need? If so, you have a fixed site that is great for traditional computers, but less accommodating to mobile visitors.
Plenty of web developers are skilled at adapting fixed sites into responsive designs that automatically change to suit the user’s viewing experience. It would be a good investment to hire a developer to make those changes on your website.
Releasing a mobile app can help expedite the shopping process, but only if it is a smooth, frustration-free experience. Resist the urge to further modify your app in the weeks before an anticipated rush of activity. New features aren’t worth it if, in the end, they still have some bugs that disrupt the customer’s checkout.
Also, don’t forget to perform testing. Set clear benchmarks so you can observe positive trends and not-so-positive kinks that you need to work out. Hone in the mobile operating systems and devices that many of your customers use. Make sure your website and app works seamlessly with those technologies, since they’ll be your primary money makers.
Black Friday 2012 has shown is that mobile shopping is on the rise and it’s here to stay. Retailers who want to stay in the game would benefit from responding to the trend sooner rather than later, so they can benefit from the uptick in online, on-the-go, mobile shopping activity.