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According to the Mobile Marketing Association mobile marketing is described as: “A set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”

When a company uses a mobile marketing strategy, they are able to send product or promotional information to the consumer via text messaging, email or even instant messages.  I experience firsthand the use of mobile marketing techniques by numerous companies, many times a day.  With my BlackBerry I am able to do nearly anything on the go.  I can instant message, text message, email, browse the web, find directions, and know my location using a GPS system (just to name a few).

There are many benefits for the company and the consumer in using mobile marketing.  As a consumer I can receive special offerings from my phone, and I am not dependant on my laptop to redeem the offer.  My phone is always on, and there are never any connection problems.  I always receive special emails and offerings from my favourite companies, and these offerings are highly personalized.  I am able to view my messages privately as well.

For the company that is sending these notifications, they are keeping me in the loop, building a relationship with me and essentially, retaining me as a customer.  This link provides a list of benefits the text messaging channel offers.  Benefits include reach, immediacy, and affordability.  Mobile marketing is cost effective and gets results.  The blog entitled The Five Pillars of Cost Effective Mobile Marketing discusses how to keep a mobile marketing campaign cost effective with tactics that include keeping it simple, planning, and targeting your message instead of blanketing the market.

I decided to research some companies that use mobile marketing effectively. Toysrus.com is offering free shipping deals and e-gift cards. Consumers can also sign up to receive instant email alerts on coupons and unadvertised sales right to their phones. BMW in Germany implemented a mobile marketing campaign with new customers before the start of winter weather.  Their recent customers received a personalized message with a winter tire recommendation that was specific to their vehicle.  BMW reports a 30% conversion rate for the campaign. Procter & Gamble’s Charmin brand has a campaign where they sponsor a website and iPhone application that helps consumers find the cleanest public restrooms worldwide.  Another visual example of this in action is seen in this video with Ford’s Flex Mobile Marketing Campaign.

 

 

There are many more examples out there, because almost every company has some sort of mobile marketing campaign under way.  The mobile marketing movement is huge, and will only continue to develop with more and more advanced campaign elements.

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Moving from a traditional bricks and mortar store to a web presence is one of the most important things to consider and implement in this day and age.  Everything is becoming more technologically oriented.  If you don’t have interactive advertising for your brand or company, let alone a web presence, you will quickly become extinct.

Traditional advertising is becoming a thing of the past. Interactive web advertising can be specifically marketed towards your online, receptive target market.  Online marketing is interactive and can lead to online shopping. Behavioural targeting is also one of the many benefits offered with interactive advertising.  A brand can track and monitor their audience and therefore customize an online experience for each consumer.

After learning about interactive advertising I decided to classify a few websites I usually visit as to which type of advertising purpose they complete effectively.  The first purpose is to advertise the brand, aiming to build awareness of a product by putting the brand name and product benefits in front of the user.  A blog entitled Integrated Marketing Strategies – Building and Maintaining Brand Awareness and Identity written by Shannon Evans highlights many key ideas to build brand awareness.

I feel the Apple iPhone’s website is fulfilling this purpose very effectively.  When viewing the homepage for the iPhone there are so many links and articles to click on to educate me; however, I feel it is not overwhelming.  The newest 3G iPhone has so many capabilities, and each one is highlighted on this website.  I especially like the Apps page where it gives a complete explanation of all the kinds of applications for your iPhone and most of them are interactive so you can try them out and see how cool they are.  There are so many options for your iPhone that you leave the webpage feeling informed and excited to customize your iPhone experience.

The next two purposes of interactive advertising are: to motivate an action by direct response advertising such as a click direct to purchase.  This purpose also delivers more information about a product in order to solicit a response.  The last purpose is to retain customers.  In order to do this, there will be constant reminders of the brand in the form of promotions and prize draws.  Eileen Shulock, Managing Editor of Web Digest For Marketers, wrote a blog entitled 12 Internet Customer Retention Tactics. Some tactics include offering customized content, offer personalized picks, and asking for opinions.

I have always been a fan of Benefit Cosmetics. I think this website is implementing direct response advertising, and customer retention.  Previously I would buy a few items from Benefit, but now I buy all of my cosmetics from this brand.  They send me customized e-mails, constantly reminding me of this brand.  Benefit always has promotions and prizes.  The company always offers free products or goodies with a certain value purchase, and they always send free samples with their orders which usually ends up with me buying the new product.  When I go to their site, they remember me and are always offering products that they have noticed I would enjoy. They have an “easy reorder” button, and they always remember what I like, so it is drawing me to give a response and I usually do.  The Benefit Cosmetics also builds brand awareness.  Each product has a detailed description as well as a mini-lesson on how to use the product.  This website is very effective in implementing the three purposes of interactive advertising.

Geo-targeting is a crucial method to implement when using search engine marketing.  According to Gregory Go and his Online Business Blog, Geo-targeting means “having the ability to target a marketing or advertising campaign at a limited set of visitors based on their physical location and  language. Advertising programs that support geo-targeting allow you to control where your ads are displayed based on parameters like country, state, city, or even within X miles of a postal address.”

This concept seems quite interesting to me, because if a company has a web presence, why wouldn’t they want to have boundary-less communication with all web users? It seems like even if the company has limited locations, they should want increased awareness of their product or service regardless of location.  However, after further researching this topic, it makes sense as to why it is implemented.

There are numerous reasons to apply a Geo-targeting strategy to a company’s search engine marketing efforts.  Geo-targeting is useful for small businesses that are only able to serve a certain geographical area, or for bricks and mortar stores who have a new web presence and can only deliver their product or service through the physical location. In simplified terms Geo-targeting is useful when your online presence is used to promote an offline business.

Geo-targeting is an important thing to consider.  As highlighted in this Geo-targeting Tutorial, online advertising reaches everyone in the world that can access a website. So if your website wants to run an advertising campaign targeted to one region only, you will need geo-targeting.  For example a certain advertisement will be shown only to people from certain countries, or different ad campaigns could be shown to visitors from different countries. This way, the advertisements are highly targeted to a geographic location. Another use of Geo-targeting is localization. Suppose your website is written in two languages, say English and German. By default, the English version is served. However, if a visitor comes from Germany (or any other German-speaking country), your website could send the German copy by default.

A blog entitled Using Geo-Targeting to Boost Your PPC Result by Melissa Mackey explains many uses to help companies increase profitability. The entry explains how to use geo-targeting to target key feeder markets. For example, a national campaign is costly; however, running the campaign in three surrounding areas of the main location is profitable.  Another example is  Mackay states “As you can imagine, bidding on “free coupons” and “sweepstakes” nationally costs a fortune. However, bidding on these terms in a single designated marketing area is surprisingly affordable. Better still, geo-targeting provides a great source of leads for the client from individuals looking for freebies who probably weren’t initially seeking out the advertiser’s product or service. If you’re looking to build an e-mail database of prospects in an inexpensive way, running a geo-targeted online contest that requires an e-mail address to enter can be a very effective way to add to your e-mail database. Geo-targeted ads also tend to get good quality scores, resulting in lower click costs than can be had on national campaigns. Lower CPCs translates to lower cost per conversion and higher ROI.”

In the following video, Google’s Matt Cutts talks about how Google deals with Geo-targeting.

 

How many times have you looked online at something before you buy it? I don’t know about you, but I am constantly seeking for information online about the products I am going to buy, and usually I purchase them online too!  Not only am I searching for consumer product information, there are so many times where I am unsure about something… so what do I do? I boot up my laptop or grab my phone and “Google” it.  You will never know how many times a disagreement has been settled by “googling” something on my BlackBerry.

Google seems to be my answer for many things in life.  When I search something online, I look at the first five listings and almost always choose the top one.  I’ve always wondered how the first listed web page gets to top, and sometimes how more relevant websites are the third or fourth listing, when they should be the first.  For instance, I was trying to find a cosmetic company the other day, so I searched the brand name.  I could not find the website, until I typed in the keyword “cosmetics”. I thought this was strange because this brand is fairly well known.  Well the answer to all my questions rests in the term “Search Engine Optimization”.  SEO is a way to organize a web page and imbed specific techniques in order for the page to register within the top search engine results.  Search Engine Optimization is critical, because if you don’t put effort into this aspect of website creation, your web presence will go virtually unnoticed!

So how do you get your page in a favourable position on the results page? There are many things to do which include using keywords, title tags, and even paying people to ensure you rank high; however, the most interesting to me is something called Google PageRank.  Google described PageRank as follows: “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”. Interestingly enough, not only are there many factors that affect PageRank, but there are actual mathematic equations involved, here is Wikipedia’s very extensive page of information about Google PageRank.

This website provides a good visual of Google’s top five ranking factors, the top five negative factors, and the top five most contentious factors weighed in order to get great search engine results.

As previously mentioned there are people whose job it is to be an “optimizer” such as the company Prime Visibility. They are referred to as “Google Boys”.  Watch the following video showcasing the company Prime Visibility and Search Engine Optimization.

The following video features Matt Cutts appearing on a USA Today Talking Tech video, he is a Google engineer and discusses a few things that are important to consider to get your page viewed.

 

There are many types of social media out there that can assist a company in promoting their products.  For instance a company could implement blogs, microblogs, podcasts, webcasts and RSS feeds to reach their target markets.  Perhaps the most common and effective type of social media is blogging.  According to Blogger.com, a blog is “is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.” Viewers of the blog can then react to the information by adding comments which offers the potential for further interaction between the blogger and the reader.

Blogging can be used by anyone, for a number of reasons.  For example, I am using this personal blog on WordPress.com in order to enhance my research capabilities and understanding of various Online Marketing topics.  Blogging can be effective for larger companies as well.  By creating a blog that uses a personal, authentic voice – the blog can enhance credibility in the eyes of the consumer.  Also it could be the first form of communication to break the latest news and issues surrounding a company.  Perhaps the largest benefit to a company is the fact that it is easy to use and no special skills are required.  According to Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book “Internal blogs can form a powerful component of corporate communications strategy. Chief executives talk directly with employees, disseminate strategy and ask for feedback at grassroots level. Blogging dialogues are faster and cheaper than focus groups or discussion forums. Sun Microsystems’ CEO is so convinced of their importance that he’s predicting they will be mandatory for executives within 10 years”.  Blogging is a fast, effective, popular way to reach the target market. Perhaps the most ironic part of finding the effectiveness of blogging is the fact that I have referred to many other professional blogs in order to support my own blog post!

Before a company can reap the benefits of publishing a blog they must learn how to create a blog properly.  There are many things to incorporate into a blog and many things could go wrong.  For instance Problogger.net has (ironically) an entire blog with links to provide essential tips for the beginner blogger.  For instance there are many helpful links pertaining to the content written, content length, title’s, tags and links, as well as blog design and establishing a niche.  A similar site is produced by Matt Huggins.  He writes a professional blog, and has a specific blog post entitled “55 Essential Articles Every Serious Blogger Should Read”.   These articles are more professional and there are many links to help a new blogger build meaningful content, among other things.

If the entire blogging phenomenon is still confusing, here is a video called “Blogs in Plain English”. This video explains what a blog is in simple terms.



There is also a video by Scott Rosenberg, a journalist, blogger and co-founder of Salon.com an independent online magazine, featuring lively original reporting and commentary on news, politics, culture, and life.  In the video Rosenberg discusses the “10 Myths About Blogs”.

Social networking is an essential part of brand and customer engagement.  The social networking world is always growing and there are always new ways of social networking.  It seems like sites such as Twitter, and Facebook are emerging every day.  While researching brand engagement and social networking I came across the Kodak website. I was absolutely amazed by the various techniques the brand uses in order to engage customers.

Kodak has three professional blogs.  A Thousand Words is a blog written by the people of Kodak who love what they do and want to share their stories about how they use imaging.  Grow Your Biz is a blog where Kodak shares insights about products, and technologies for the graphics communications industry.  Plugged In is where consumers go for information regarding Kodak products and services and can read the latest news, tips and reviews.

Kodak also implements Twitter – currently operating ten accounts.  Two Twitter accounts are at the corporate level one being the “Chief Blogger” Jennifer Cisney, she is the social media manager of Kodak and the other is Jeffery Hayzlett who is the Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak.  Kodak also has four international Twitter platforms, three consumer level accounts and one dedicated to showcase current trends in graphic communication.

Kodak also uses YouTube and has its own channel appropriately named the Kodak Channel. They also have a Flickr photostream which showcases tons of photos from Kodak contests and events, if you join the group you can “tell your story”.  They also “tag” relevant material in their very own delicious account.

Kodak has a podcast entitled Kodak Close Up which brings together photographers, scientists, executives, and others for conversations about company news, groundbreaking innovation, and more. What I found extremely interesting is the fact that they have webcasts online that include  a recorded version of the “Kodak company earnings conference call”,  and “Annual Meetings, and Investors Meetings”.

Kodak also has Applications on iTunes for the iPhone &iTouch which includes the Kodak SmileMaker Application which tries to make every picture a happy one by having the option to add smiles to the people in the picture.

Kodak supports the deepening and strengthening of relationships and that is why they are involved in such social networks as Facebook.  You can become a fan, or add an application.They have the Konga Line which is an application that allows you and friends to post pictures into the same gallery, a Smile Meter which spreads the love of smiling.  There are also international Kodak Facebook accounts, as well as numerous contests consumers can enter.

As learned in my Marketing 430 lecture: marketers should go where the people are, not expect the people to come to them.  According to Catherine Seda social networking is “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other.  Just over 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have public blogs. Kodak implements a wide range of tactics including blogs and I believe Kodak has a cutting edge advantage to social media compared to other companies.

The existence of a well designed web page is beyond crucial when it comes to offering your products and services online.  Once your company has a web presence, many opportunities could present themselves; however, creating an efficient, thoughtful web page is not an easy task.  There are many things to think about like: the products you will offer, visual design (ie. colors, mood, tones, style), ease of use, content relevance, security or trust issues if online purchasing is an option, and support for the web user.

When creating an effective web page it is important to understand your customers.  The web page must speak to them and keep them interested as well as provide everything they are looking for.  A web page must also convey your company’s theme and vision to the consumer.  If you have a traditional brick and mortar presence – a website is just an additional means of communication.  Other times a web page is the only conveyance of communication available.  Regardless of the situation – a well designed web page is a must.  To understand and read more about the importance of a website read an article by Sharon Lepcha entitled Importance of Website Design and Development.

There are many strategies to use once deciding to build a web presence.  You could research online and find some interesting resources telling you everything from how to create your own web page to what types of font and color to use.  Sites like Make A Website and Webs.com can walk you through making a simple web page by yourself.  Sites like JustCreativeDesign.com are also helpful – they released a four part series showcasing things like the top seven fonts used by professionals in web design and the top seven overused techniques and elements used in web design.   Making a web page by yourself could be useful if you don’t have the resources to hire someone or maybe if you aren’t big enough to add a web campaign into the marketing budget.

The other option is hiring a professional web design company to create a spectacular site for you.  This takes the stress off you and allows a professional to create the page and incorporate all the elements of a successful page.  West Coast Web is an example of such a company and they do amazing work.

When creating a webpage there are numerous things to consider and it is important that you take your time because creating a successful web presence is not a simple task.  Once the webpage is operational it is important to update regularly and measure the effectiveness so you can see how a website influences your company’s success.



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