Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What makes an effective Facebook advertisement?

Have you ever been engaged - and then visited Facebook? After changing my FB status last year to engaged, the advertising I was served was ALL related to weddings. Or losing weight. Or wedding dresses. Or wedding accessories. Had I been seriously in need of suppliers, it would have been pretty helpful actually...which I did notice when wearing my "marketing" hat.

(That said, I really enjoyed being able to change the status to married as I looked at a lot of those ads way too many times. Hint: don't run the same ad for months at a time!).

I've yet to have the occasion to run a Facebook advertising campaign for a client, but I'm watching and waiting for the right chance. Why? They currently seem to be an inexpensive - and less cluttered - way to conduct CPC (cost per click) advertising than Google IF you have a product or service that matches the environment.

Why do I make this distinction?

People are searching on Google for information. A huge variety of information. That's not the case with Facebook. People are on Facebook to catch up with friends and family (or at least find our what they're doing without even having to speak to them!).

So the Facebook audience are less likely to look at advertising and less likely to respond to certain types of advertising. Yet there's also less ads on facebook that you'd expect to find. Even if you voluntarily click on "see all" next to "sponsored", there were only about 20 ads where I "fit" the profile set up by advertisers. These are things like age, gender, education level and where you live.

So if it's a less cluttered space, and if you have something that you feel will appeal, it's a cheap marketing test. So if you do have the right product or service, the next thing to consider is what makes an effective Facebook advert. (For the sake of this article, effective just means what I think works, as I'm not privvy to the success of these ads).

These three adverts I've grabbed at random because I think two work well, one is uninspired, but there's something to learn from all of them.

Advert 1 - The "hook" in this advert is the competition side of it. LOTS of people like to win tickets, so it's a great way to get traffic. The cute little image stands out too. What is less apparent is what's being advertised - North Coast Holiday Parks. I'm assuming this is a flash way of saying "caravan parks". When you click on this, you go to their page. The lost opportunity with this great little advert is that you can "enter" without "liking" the page. The opportunity to win should have been traded for a like. And they should have brought you to a special landing page in Facebook, rather than the generic wall. This isn't as exxy as you might imagine - you can build one for free at places like Lujure. Why do you want a Like? Then you're actually likely to be able to market - and potentially SELL - in the future.

Advert 2 - The issue with this advert - there's NO real hook. It's just shouting at me about vague deals. This could have been great for a "sponsored stories" type of advertisement (in Facebook you can run "facebook ads" or "sponsored stories"). You could run a POLL on your page as a "post" and have this show as the advertisement. The poll could be something like "What place would you most like to travel to.." as the website that's being advertised seems to be a generic online travel site, not one about Malaysia specifically. So much more can be done with a fun product like travel to sell...

Advert 3 - This ad has such great copy because it draws you in, telling you a story. LOVE that about it. It's going to hit a pretty small market though - those considering University and possibly already pondering studying to be a pharmacist. As such, I'd question the marketer's decision to include someone like me in the demographic - that is, almost 40 and already having a University degree. So big ticks for the copy, less so for the targeting, as it means you may be paying more in the CPC auction that necessary (as the wider the market, potentially the greater the CPC bidding competition).

In summary - Facebook advertising can be a pretty good zero budget small business marketing tool, but just because it's "cheap", doesn't mean you shouldn't think carefully about how to use it. By that, I'm talking ROI (return on investment) - and how to ultimately get a LIKE ... and then a SALE!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why a little gift is a smart low budget business marketing tactic

We all love a surprise gift - no matter who it's from.

And just because you're a business person, or a business customer, doesn't mean you've suddenly become a robot. PEOPLE make purchasing decisions, even in B2B.

I wanted to share this fantastic initiative by MailChimp, who I've just signed up to use for a client because of their snazzy RSS-to-Email service (more about that in another post...I think it's going to be GOLD for those who never seem to find time to send newsletters).

My first campaign was just automatically broadcast and this little email arrived in my inbox. Not only did it say my campaign had been sent - but there's mention of a gift.

So, not one to look any gift horse in the mouth, I clicked on "Gimme My Gift".

Turns out I got to pick my size of a Mail Chimp T-Shirt, and there's one coming over the pond to me! Yes, a free t-shirt. In the mail. Something physical and tangible from this most intangible of services.

I doubt my reaction of delighted surprise is unique. Yes, I know it's just a promo t-shirt, that I will maybe only wear to bed. But that's not the point.

Not only have I had a great business experience - the email went where it was supposed to, etc - but my purchasing decision has been re-enforced again. Instead of my next interaction being a bill, it's a gift. GREAT experience.

And whilst this is hardly zero budget - the tshirt and postage may run $10-$15 - as my MONTHLY spend with them will be at least $50, this is a tiny cost. A $15 gift for $600 of business annually. That's only 2.5% of my annual spend. Starting to see the marketing magic?

This program is automated, but feels personal. It's re-inforcing the brand. It's making me feel smart for buying. And it's remembering that KEEPING customers is as important - if not more important - than acquiring them.

What can your small business marketing program take from this? What little surprise can you give to a customer to improve their day - and help solidify your business relationship?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why you want to spend time on SEO - search engine optimisation

Been wondering whether it's worth spending more time on SEO? [ SEO is Search Engine Optimisation, which could otherwise be known as "the important (and zero budget marketing) way of making sure you're ranking where you should be in Google"?]

According to a new 2011 Australia Institute survey, 46% of respondents said the order in which search results appear "always" or "sometimes" influences their purchasing decisions, and only 15% said they look past the first page of results.

The survey questioned 1,084 people in July 2011. It also found:
- 37% did not know search engines displayed paid advertising,
- 34% did not know search rankings would change based on what engine they use and
42% believed that relevance was more important than paid advertising.

So, that should really answer your question. It's still very important - perhaps more than ever - to be on the first page of Google. You need to consider SEO.

Before you panic, you can probably make this happen (if you're not in the world's most competitive space) by doing just a few things consistently:

- Write useful and meaningful web copy, which is great for your audience but great for Google too. Make sure you includes the key words and phrases you think (or know -if you're tracking it) people will use to find you. So if you're a Melbourne graphic designer, make sure you use this phrase all over your website - and not just in copy, but in links, headlines, page titles, et. Google rewards relevance.

- Get other sites to link to you and link to other sites. The first is more important.

- Keep updating content on your site over time - don't set and forget. Google likes freshness.

This is enough to get you started. There are people out there that know a lot - and share a lot - of information about SEO. So once you've got your head around the basics, go out and educate yourself. This is a zero budget marketing tool you can't afford not to be using.

Report Source: "How Market Concentration Threatens Internet Diversity", Australia Institute, 2011

This blog is written by Kimberly Palmer, Brazen Productions

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't waste an opportunity - Why to always have a call to action?

One of best ways to ensure you're wringing every cent (or minute) out of your hard won marketing efforts is to always make sure there's a call to action.

Not just in an advertisement - on every page of copy of your website, on every email or letter you send, on anything you produce that aims to communicate something about your business. A marketing call to action doesn't need to be a call to BUY - but it should lead your prospect/customer somewhere next. If it doesn't, you're essentially abandoning them - and missing a big opportunity for action.

This email I've just received from The Point in Albert Park is a glaring example of a missed opportunity and a missing call to action.

They've got something exciting to tell me - the fact they've again won the best steakhouse. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing the reason they're telling me this is that they'd like me to think "wow, I should book dinner there". (Which I did immediately consider doing, as my husband is a steak lover).

But there's nothing in this email to encourage me to do this. Not a single line of copy. Nor are any of those awards images linked to a special landing page with more information on this story. (In fact, they're linked to the home page of the website that ALSO doesn't have a prominent phone number or call to action to book dinner or an event. For a bar or a restaurant, you must have that phone number on every page of your site - don't make people have to hunt for it.)

They've spent the time (and dollars) to make a pretty nice looking email, with a great news message. It would have cost NOTHING extra to add this sentence, in prominent type:

"Kimberly, if you love your steak, we'd recommend you book for dinner now as we expect we'll be jammed for weeks. Call us on XXXXXXXXX to make your reservation."

It's also the sort of news people would probably share with a friend or family member who's really into their steak. So another sentence with a "send this steak news to a friend" would also be smart. And free. (Your email marketing provider will have this as a built in feature.)

Zero Budget Marketing - for small business marketing or large business marketing - is making sure every opportunity is maximised and paying attention to the little details.

TO DO NOW: Go check your communications and make sure everything has a call to action.

Here's mine:
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Why you should learn something new today

We know the Internet is a massive pool of information - but it's also a giant educational tool. You do need to sift through the massive amount of (crap, rubbish, sale pitches) "information" but you can find some absolute gems. The business and marketing world are constantly changing and it's up to you to keep pace, particularly if you want to bring some zero budget marketing gold to your venture.

So what can you learn today?

One skill I recently invested some time learning about was video production. Why? The web allows us to communicate with much more than words and static images - so I wanted to know more about how to make videos. Did I have to use an expensive production company every time? What was really involved? Or could I make short little videos for myself (or even my clients) to feature on their websites, or on facebook or youtube?

I got fantastic info and took some great little courses at New York Video School online. I actually liked their content so much I even ended up paying to subscribe after the free trial ended, because they go beyond the technical aspects and cover areas like storytelling. I bought myself a Kodak Zi8 camera for about $100 online, (although I now have an iphone that will take pretty reasonable video too). I trekked around to find an external microphone for the camera for about $50 (and found that almost no-one in Melbourne sells these btw, ended up at trusty Michaels, where I probably should have started). And I took the tutorials that came with iMovie on my Mac. So having spent all of $250, I had the tools, and some great pointers, to start making video.

As with most skills, a little bit of knowledge makes you realise how much more you have to learn. (And that if you try to film yourself without make up it isn't pretty!) BUT I did start to make a few basic videos in interview format for some client sites - and with continued practice, I'll keep improving.

It also means next time there IS the budget to hire a production company, I'll be starting the process as a much more educated client, able to give a more comprehensive brief, with the outcome a better result for all.

So....what can YOU learn today?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cause related marketing done the low budget way

I wanted to share the cause related campaign the Grill'd burger chain are running...spotted when out to enjoy a Zen Hen Chicken Burger!

It shows that even a small investment can have a big impact - and demonstrates some very likeable thinking, which I suspect will completely resonate with customers (and their staff).

Basically, each "local" chain picks three local causes to support in a month. When you buy a burger, you're given a bottle cap to put in YOUR favourite cause container. The cause with the most bottle caps gets $300, and the other two get $100 donated.

So it's not a lot of dollars at all for the individual restaurant, but it's making them LOOK like they care a lot. It gives the cause some $$ but also some important exposure. And it's totally transparent for the customer. And having working for several charities, every little bit really does count!

Plus, the execution and management looks quite simple. So it's a case of each small business marketing themselves using cause related marketing - and doing some good at the same time. The bonus is that the causes themselves may also encourage people to visit - I know of one case where a friend's great cause JustBU was supported by the Malvern chain and she did email a bunch of people and say - if you want a burger, got to grill'd and pick her cause.

Ticks for this zero budget marketing campaign - creative and trying to make a difference without needing an investment of thousands and thousands of dollars.

PS. I really agonised over where to put my cap at the QV store - I went with the Queen Vic Women's centre!