Singing out loud: how to find your voice in the digital marketplace

Truly great brands don’t hide their personality behind layers of artificial messaging and boisterous advertising. They use a compelling voice to really connect to their most passionate customers through truly authentic digital marketing.
How do I get noticed online?
Put some time and energy into building a strong brand and network. Most companies start a blog or join a social network like Facebook and LinkedIn. Others create online conversations like podcasts or blog interviews. Start creating lots of high quality, tasty fodder for the Google machine — the more ways there are for your customers to find you, the better.
What social media tools should I use?
It depends on your audience, but make sure you’re playing in the big pools, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Once you’ve got your groove, try dipping your toe into places like Yelp and Open Forum. In the end, it’s not really about search engine optimization but about being active in a community of users. Find out where others in your industry or region are hanging out, then make a deliberate, consistent effort to be there too.
Is too much email overloading our customers?
That depends. If you’ve established a great personality, your company is no longer a faceless email to be immediately deleted. Unfortunately, so many organizations use it as a low-cost method to blast out marketing to a mass audience. That just hurts you. But a unique, timely, intimate email from a real person could create a very personal connection that might even connect to other people since it’s so easy to forward an email on. Decide to re-examine how you use email, because it has a lot of hidden potential, when used in the right way.
How do I stand out from the crowd?
Remember, it’s not about whether your personality is big and loud, but whether people have access to the heart of your company. Be true to the thing that you offer or sell. Your customers should have a personal connection with your company and know exactly what it is you stand for. The best part about that is your brand can then never get stale or old.
Want to learn more? Contact us, we’re happy to help give voice lessons.

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Search Engine Optimization: Branching Out

Much of search engine optimization (SEO) is a bit too focused on online marketing.  Optimizing title tags and focusing in on keywords is great – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but it is enhanced when the focus is still on the content.

Even when the content is focused on the reader, you’re still obtaining search marketing-related benefits.  In other words, you might not even mention your business at all in your blog post, but it could still hold real SEO value.  Plus, you’re not giving the reader yet another marketing pitch.

It could be something topical that would generate plenty of interest.  For instance, a shoe company might look at the inspirational story of sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who was a prominent figure in the 2012 Olympics.  At the end of the piece, that same business could use SEO-related terms to describe how it caters to sprinters and those with handicaps.

It doesn’t always have to go in the title.  Your business name could be a small footnote to a great story that your readers and customers crave.  Yet, there is still SEO value.  You could still target certain keyword strings – even if they’re not in the title or the first paragraph, even.

Other benefits are involved as well.  Stories that aren’t as business-focused can be a great way to bring in new readers, as interesting content will surely draw them in.  It can also generate comments and shares by the wide-ranging appeal of an engaging story.

Marketing-focused SEO can be great, but it’s built on the back of engaging content.  Contact us for more information about getting the most out of your online strategy.

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Search Engine Marketing Finds Success on Pinterest Social Network

Business’ next competitive edge will hit the virtual world sooner than imagined.  If your business isn’t riding the crest of the wave, you are likely to be buried beneath it.  Ingenuitive search engine marketing is the most essential tool your business has to catch your customer’s eyes.  One of today’s best online means is Pinterest–an image sharing, social platform.

Pinterest is a great forum to drive your targeted traffic. In fact, if used creatively, the site won’t just drive traffic, but drive up conversion rates.  Both eCommerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores are benefitting from the traffic generated by the online pinboard.

While the notion of marketing via this avenue is relatively new, there are many creative ideas you can use to get your company’s pins noticed.  You could create a “Pin it to Win It” contest, test new products, feature some of your more loyal customers, ask teammates to jointly create a storyboard or have a client serve as a guest pinner, feature intriguing images that support your subject, and link your images to your site.

These novel strategies are sure to get your business hopping, especially if you mind these helpful hints that seasoned Pinterest marketers have uncovered.

Previous businesses have found that branding images is not successful, nor is using a price tag banner.  Pinterest users probably prefer a more genuine experience–one that is more about the social aspect than about advertising.

The ability to cull analytics is not 100% user friendly yet, but you can manually extract that data by examining the pins and repins.  Also, don’t pay too much attention to bounce rates as conversions do not always happen in the same day.  There is a much more organic flow to this process as there is with any social site.  After all, social sites are all about building relationships with your customers and that takes time.

With just a bit of forethought on your part, it is very easy to harness the power of the next social media trend.  We would love to be your Direct Partners in helping such an endeavor to be successful.  Please contact us today.

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Beware Of These Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Killers

The SEO Killers will mean one thing to your small business, missed opportunities for revenue.  It’s just that simple.  Today your business can benefit greatly when it’s easily found by a search engine like Google or Yahoo.  We know that certain things will bring your site to the top of the search engine page but, what about things that could result in your website showing up on page 3?  Does anyone ever get as far as page 3?

Some important things to think about…

  • Backlinks – solicit your friends and colleagues, with trustworthy sites, to link to your page.  Link to trustworthy sites from your page.  Use your keywords in the descriptions of your links to other sites.
  • Avoid Downtime – research your service provider to ensure uptime is reliable.  Consider changing providers if not.
  • Duplicate Content – a guaranteed SEO killer.  Make sure each of your pages is unique.
  • Title Tags – these should be utilized, either with the name of the business or creative use of your keywords.
  • Keywords – used correctly, they will be a huge part of how search engines and customers find you.
  • Images and Flash – use sparingly because they can’t be “seen” by a search engine.

You have worked hard to make your site user-friendly and intuitive for your visitors, don’t forget to make a plan to bring them to your door. By following a few simple rules you can increase traffic to your site, often resulting in new sales.  Keep it fresh and new, with clear and concise content that does not stagnate on your page.  A blog is an excellent way to keep new content coming in to your site.

Search Engine Optimization is accomplished by the best use of keywords.  By using these words correctly and placing them strategically on your page, it will mean that the search engines will include your site when those words are entered.  Patience is important because this is a ongoing process but, once you have achieved top ranking you can put those SEO killers away for life.

If we can help you with your search engine rankings or answer any questions, please contact us.

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Consumer Experience Management

As marketers, we can get overly focused on the latest tactics & consumer trends, and occasionally pause to reflect on how things have changed in our industry.  But when we look around, it’s important to note how these changes are perceived on the consumer end of the spectrum.  We see Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc as developing channels, much as we moved to eCRM, SEM & digitial media previously.  But to our audience, the distinction around where they’re being messaged is less opaque.  A brand message is a brand message, even when it comes in a direct channel, or a social channel, etc.  Increasingly, in fact, the message may be embedded in the use of the product.

For example, content providers such as Netflix, iTunes, Hulu+, etc are “marketing” to you when they provide guides to relevant content, but they’re also delivering a key element of their service.  How much less valuable would Amazon be if it didn’t know me & provide useful suggestions?

This merger of marketing & brand experience has a distinct effect, from a consumer point of view. It sets an expectation of a relationship, driven by data – specifically, the preference, usage history & promotional response history of each individual consumer.  My relationship with my banking institution is different than yours, and the offers & messaging they put in front of me colors my opinion of what kind of business they are.  A brand message that doesn’t recognize that relationship in this day & age has a much harder time building the brand.

At Direct Partners, we refer to this merger as Customer Experience Management.  The ability to fuse marketing communications with brand experience, whether that means marketing on the device itself, carrying a single message across multiple touchpoints, or just ensuring that all contacts are powered by rich data systems that maximize points of relevant data to the consumer whenever possible.

If you’d like to hear more about our approach to Customer Experience Management, please contact us.

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Direct Partners Cited by Forrester Research in Recent Report

It’s nice to see our people’s hard work and dedication recognized by a prestigious organization like Forrester Research (FORR:NASDAQ).

Written by key Customer Intelligence Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo, the report is entitled “US Database Marketing Service Providers: Alternatives To Consider” and focuses on several emerging players including Direct Partners. It’s an extension of the “Forrester Wave” series and designed to help decision makers find the right service provider.

“Welcome to the Age of the Customer.”

Josh Bernoff, Forrester SVP of Idea Development and author of “Groundswell” and “Empowered” has declared the Information Age over and the “Age of the Customer” upon us. In his seminal piece “Competitive Strategy in The Age of The Customer” he uses the Five Forces cited by Michael Porter and concludes, “Examining these forces reveals that an obsession with customer knowledge and relationships is the only source of sustainable competitive advantage.”

In this environment, finding the right Customer Database and CRM provider is becoming increasingly important not just for the traditional users of our discipline but increasingly to mainstream marketers. Forrester describes our offerings:

Direct Partners (a wholly owned subsidiary of Omnicom Group) was founded in 1994 and is one of a handful of agencies that has inextricably linked its creative, database, and analytics offerings, with its largest clients leveraging all three services. It takes a holistic, channel-agnostic approach to marketing services, employing real-time integration to both inbound and outbound systems, supporting communication across all of its clients’ channels, and evangelizing its “CRM everywhere” message.

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Direct Marketing and Branding

Direct communication can be effective brand communication. In today’s environment where enlightened brand managers seek integration across all consumer touch points, the role of direct as a tool to build brand equity is accepted, albeit at times condescendingly, by even the most dyed-in-the-wool general advertising professionals. But try this one: For many brands, direct communication can be the most effective brand communication…

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Mobile Mania

Right now, it’s all about going mobile. Whether you’re optimizing your website for mobile viewing, creating an app, engaging in SMS/text messaging, or launching a mobile commerce site, mobile marketing is a must-do for most client strategies. We’ve developed a visual overview of the current landscape so you can easily see pros, cons, even Fortune 500 company strategies, along with basic differences in the mobile experience with smartphone leaders. And yes, you can view it on your phone!

Download Mobile Mania PDF here.


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5 Social Media Top Dogs: The 5 Essential Qualities of Successful Social Media

One of the coolest things about working at DP is not only that we can bring our dogs to work, but that most of us actually DO bring our dogs to work. When I agreed to contribute to our company blog I decided it’d make the most sense if my first post discussed my area of expertise as it relates to one of my favorite things about DP culture – DOGS! Thus, a list was born. Here are 5 Social Media Top Dogs: The 5 Essential Qualities of Successful Social Media as demonstrated by some of the cutest canines on the interwebz.

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Super Bowl Infographic: The Social Bowl

Not only do we love data, but we are also quite seasoned anthropologists who keep a very close eye on what’s happening in Social Media. A few of us are also pretty crazy about the Super Bowl and thought it would be fun to smash all three of these passions together like a safety throttling a wide receiver who’s coming across the middle for an outstretched ball…

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