Tags: online marketing

Online Marketing Tips: How Global Consumers Shop Online

Beyond • November 8, 2011

Consumers are increasingly shopping online, and if you buy into statistics, the number who do so will continue to rise over the next couple of years. A report published earlier this year by Goldman Sachs predicted that the global e-commerce market will surpass $1 trillion by the year 2013, which would mark a 19.4% annual growth rate by the end of the projected year. Consumers are spending more than ever, but for brands, the key to tapping into the shopping frenzy is all in understanding how they shop and knowing how to play the engagement game. Patterns and Trends in Shopping Nielsen’s 2011 Global Online Survey uncovered a few patterns and trends in the shopping tendencies of the worldwide population. The study, which consisted of responses from over 25,000 people across 51 countries, provided some very interesting insight into how consumers around the world purchase the items they need and how location plays into their purchasing decisions.According to the report, ordering items online that can actually be delivered instead of picked up is a big thing in Asia Pacific. The findings show that 77% of respondents in the region are likely to take this option when making purchases. This trend is much less of a phenomenon in North America and Europe where it was embraced by just 20% and 35% of respondents respectively. In this particular case, analysts have concluded that the huge gap has to do with the fact that consumers in Asia Pacific have access to fewer stores and are thus more dependent on internet shopping destinations. Intriguing patterns were also spotted in the area of grocery shopping. In Africa and the Middle East, 48% of respondents reported to shopping online for groceries so they can have those items delivered. Again, this is due to having a fewer number of physical stores. Consumers in North America reported the need to stock up on essential items as the main reason to travel to a grocery store, but the reasoning was quite varied among consumers across the globe. The research shows that size of household, gas prices and access to refrigeration are some of the factors that weigh into the grocery shopping patterns of global consumers. Savings Rock! Consumers have always jumped at the opportunity to save money, but you can say savings are even sexier now that the coupon craze of daily deal sites have gone mainstream. The Global Online Survey conducted by Nielsen reiterated just how important coupons and bargains in general are to shoppers throughout the world.According to Nielsen’s findings, coupons are used by more consumers in North America than people in any other continent, with the United States having the most usage. The research shows that roughly 80% of households in the U.S. use manufacturer-issued coupons at all the retail stores they shop at. Coupons are also big in Asia Pacific, where they were used by 55% of respondents. The report revealed that coupons are strongest in China and Hong Kong, where usage was at 67% and 65% respectfully. In what may be surprising news to some, Nielsen’s research exposed the fact that the coupon trend has not necessarily taken off all over the world, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East/Africa region. Just 25% of respondents in Latin America reported to using coupons, while the percentage for consumers in the Middle East and Africa was even lower at 18% combined. A rep from Nielsen said that consumers in these areas prefer to reap their savings through sales and promotions, as opposed to coupons. Nielsen’s study on global shopping provided an in-depth view of how consumers the world over prefer to spend (and save ) money both on and offline. Above all, it is another research effort that underlines the importance of knowing what your target audience wants, and tailoring your strategy to create an experience that accommodates their preferences.


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Creative Tech-Savvy Platforms to Revitalize Company Presentations

Beyond • November 7, 2011

Last week I talked about a beginner’s guide to switching up presentations from drab PowerPoint to something a little more dynamic. This week, we’ll cover what real tech-savvy business owners can use to launch stellar presentations that get talked about. Remember that you can still use any of these tips if you’re not tech-savvy. You can always hire someone to run the presentation for you, teach you how to do it yourself or be there as an on site support should you decide to brave this digital frontier. Prezi – Any presentation is about telling a story, and Prezi lets you master just that. Called the “Zooming Presentation Editor,” Prezi offers six easy steps to get your presentation going… Use the full canvas: Prezi lets you manipulate the workspace canvas as you like. Zoom in: Once you’ve developed your presentation framework, you can zoom in to fill out the individual areas. Create structure: After you have your ideas down, you can create structure, hierarchies, scale and add images. What’s great about it: Prezi offers tons of online support, how to guides and manuals to help you understand how it works and how you can get started. Their own presentation is flawless and very easy to use. I can see just about anyone that knows how to navigate a computer and social media learning how to navigate Prezi. Presentation Design Tennis – The best of the best when it comes to collaborative development, SlideShare’s “Presentation Tennis” lets various participants work together to come up with one presentation. What’s great about it: Its collaborative factor. Use this pre-meeting or during a conference to offer an end-product that showcases what the audience thinks/feels. It’s a great way to start or finish any meeting. SlideRocket – This platform goes beyond just incorporating Google and PowerPoint presentations…it lets you upload them and invite others to join in so anyone anywhere can use them. SlideRocket is ideal for presentations that need to be accessed remotely. You can create your presentations online and turn your presentations into a collaborative effort. You can also plug your presentations online for greater visibility and reach. They can be turned into a URL to share, embedded on your site or blog and sent as an invite. The service is free for “casual users,” who receive the benefit of tools, online/mobile access, as well as access to a basic library. Other user tiers include “pro” at $24/month, which adds professional tools, versioning, offline access and analytics; you can try out the free 14 day trial before signing up. Larger organizations can get in on “enterprise,” which encompasses additional features that include total access and security. What’s great about it: Super fun and easy to use. Detailed analytics support lets you gauge success by tracking how many people have viewed your presentation. This medium should be considered by business owners that need to conduct online meetings, such as through GoToMeeting.


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New Congressional Anti-Piracy Laws on the Way…

Beyond • November 3, 2011

In the beginning, the internet sprung fully formed from the head of Tim Berners-Lee… or at least that’s the urban myth. The reality is quite a bit different than the cyber-mythology, as the roots of today’s net harken back to the creation of ARPANET back in the late Sixties. It was not exactly a mature technology back then, as the first word to be transmitted was to be “login,” but the entire network crashed after “lo.” As the abilities of system engineers evolved, by the late Seventies there was a bona fide global connection, albeit not exactly the web as we know it today. It did take another decade for Berners-Lee to marry hypertext with TCP and domain names to create the actual world wide web, which its creator expected to be a way for educational, government and military institutions to exchange information. It can be confidently stated that The Tim did not foresee the gaming, porn, media and merchandising that has become the core of the internet in the 21st century. Legislators Trying to Rein in Pandora’s Box It can also be confidently stated that the web opened Pandora’s box and let all the evils loose on the world that legislators are now trying to rein back in. So far the web has thumbed its collective nose at any and all attempts to regulate it. When you have billions of people sharing copyrighted content of one form or another it’s a bit difficult to jail them all. That reality is not stopping both the US House and Senate from crafting their own bills that aim to choke off the websites that are providing the infringing media, such as music, books, movies and television programs. Which Side of Niagara Falls Are You On? Under the various proposed legislation, the Justice Department could seek court orders forcing ISPs in the country to stop rendering DNS for violating websites. That would mean that if you were in Niagara Falls, Ontario you could reach the particular website as usual, but if you were in Niagara Falls, New York, you’d get nothing. The NetCoalition, which includes Google and Yahoo, has called the legislation a “morass of legal and regulatory uncertainty which will compromise this vital sector of economic growth.” The Great Firewall of the USA If the Great Firewall of China is regularly circumvented via inventive proxyisms, these new laws will do little to stop a dedicated, technically savvy user from reaching any website they want to see, no matter how restricted. One of the easiest ways is not to type in the domain name but the actual IP address of a site, but the legislation seems to indicate that anyone who posts information on how to do that could face action by the Attorney General. In which case there is little choice but to inform the reader to kindly disregard the previous sentence! Leper’s Blacklist of Websites There are also provisions in the bills to cut off the financial lifeblood of the offending websites by prohibiting credit card companies, payment processors, online ad services and other income channelers from providing services to them. These acts would in essence create a leper’s blacklist of websites that no legitimate business in the United States could interact with, under severe penalty of law. The USA is not the world, however, and many of the infringing websites today already operate well offshore of American soil, mostly in jurisdictions where they are nearly impossible for US law to reach. Surprisingly, many of these sites are not located in the lawless, anarchic countries like Somalia but in developed countries with state of the art infrastructures whose enforcement efforts are non-existent. Eztv.it is a primary source of pirated American television programming, and although it’s in the European Union, which has the severest copyright regulations on Earth, it’s also in Italy, where enforcement is shrugged off by a government in perpetual crisis. Should these bills pass into law, American web users could find an internet very different from today’s. However, the jury is out on whether it would be an overall positive or a negative change.


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Download Today! Online Marketing Manual for the Holidays

Beyond • November 1, 2011

We are international. (Benchmark, that is, being an encompassing brand carried from our headquarters here in Southern California to Germany, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Latin America, Taiwan, India, Italy and Japan.) And, if you\'re a Benchmark customer, chances are you\'re international, too, or at least have a few clients who are. And there are a lot of holidays to account for. Here in the U.S. the biggest holiday is typically Christmas, but there are many religious (and even secular) celebrations that come near the end of the year: Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Hanukkah and, in some years, Eid ul-Adha among them. But no matter where you hail from or what you believe, the internet is spectacularly egalitarian. So whether you plan on email marketing or pulling out all the stops and engaging your customers with cross-promotional PPC, social and ad campaigns, Benchmark Email has a manual for you. Benchmark\'s Holiday Online Marketing Guide: 2011 Edition covers every aspect of this season\'s marketing opportunities: creating dynamic email newsletters, scheduling around Cyber Monday and Black Friday, shipping payment options, promoting with social media, creating PPC campaigns and the pros and cons of daily deals. So download the free PDF today or read it directly from our site. And from our international community to yours, we wish you Happy Holidays!


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DNC’s Online Marketing Utilizes YouTube, Hulu, Pandora et al

Beyond • October 25, 2011

Politicians are increasingly using the internet to digitize their campaign efforts. The use of online video was critical in the historic Presidential election of 2008, and once again the President’s team is using it to influence the public. In an effort to promote Obama’s new American Jobs Act, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) launched what turned out be a viral marketing campaign on Monday September 12. The governing group of the U.S. Democratic party, the DNC, leveraged the combination of online video and advertisements to get the attention of their ideal supporters in hopes of winning them over enough to get their votes on the American Jobs Act, the President’s new plan for creating jobs throughout the nation. The ultimate goal was directing consumers to a website where they could learn more about the plan. The DNC used a three-part video series to drive its advertising initiatives, which were kicked off with “14 Months,” a TV ad that featured President Obama speaking on the proposed jobs act while reminding us that the next election is a mere 14 months away. Up next was the online ads, starting with “Tomorrow,” a 30-second spot promoting the act through testimonials of consumers speaking on the need for creating jobs. This was followed by “Relief,” the 15-second spot that may have made the biggest impact online. Another video ad designed to highlight the importance of Obama’s plan, Relief ran on multiple sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, the Huffington Post and several other news outlets. Recapturing the Magic Harnessing the power of video and the internet in general is nothing new for the DNC. Having used it successfully in the past, the committee is certainly no stranger to online marketing. It tapped into the resources of the digital channel to score its biggest victory ever and help wrap up the election in 2008. And while the DNC’s success can be attributed to a variety of factors, YouTube in particular was hugely instrumental in the outcome. You may recall that there was a point in the grueling 2008 election when Obama’s chances of winning were slim. Videos of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s controversial sermons were circulating through YouTube, and public perception of the presidential hopeful was starting to wane. In a strategic move, Obama’s team fought back by promoting a lengthy speech he delivered focusing on race relations to a Philadelphia crowd. Not only did the clip of that speech calm the concerns of voters, it also tallied up well over five million views on YouTube, more than any other video of its kind. By the time election day rolled around, 28% of voters admitted to watching Obama’s videos online. While true intentions are always questionable when political gain is on the line, even members of the Republican party have come out to speak on the brilliance of the DNC’s latest advertising program. All signs are pointing to the digital channel playing an even bigger role in the upcoming Presidential election than it did in the monumental election of 2008.


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Building Your Website with Marketing-Friendly Graphic Design

Beyond • October 25, 2011

Last week I talked about DIY website design. While it’s a great option for budget-strapped folks, the rule of thumb is to leave the business of site design to the professionals. The problem is that it is treated like a business rather than a creative process. There is a lot of terminology and confusing price points that really turn creating or updating a website into a tangled relationship between the client and the designers. The Right Price and the Right Designer The first thing you need to really watch out for are the price points. A “designer” who offers to do a site for a ridiculous sum like $500 is going to end up costing you a lot more down the road. You will not have functionality, aesthetics or even SEO. It’s really important to get a designer that can offer what you need to boost your marketing efforts, rather than just settling on a designer because they can deliver a quickly (and probably crudely) constructed site for a price you’re comfortable with. On the other hand, some of the top-rated designers with heavy-hitting client lists have been known to offer template sites for custom site prices. This means that you get a cookie-cutter website with some superficial template changes for the price of a custom coded site. It\'s an unscrupulous business practice and it’s done by far too many; it also deals a heavy blow to any real marketing efforts you want your site capable of down the road since there just won’t be any adaptability. If you don’t have the money for a great site but need something to get going, try making a deal with a designer. Break up your project into smaller stages that start from scratch. Stage 1 should include a site that gets you up and running, and future stages can add additional functionality that helps your site grow with your business – and lets you invest down the road when you have funds to play with. As your business grows, your site will grow and you’ll need your web guy or gal. It’s best to get someone that can anticipate needs and grow with you; but to get that person you can’t insult them with a rock bottom budget or wanting everything for nothing. 7 Points to Consider Step one is figuring out a realistic budget. Step two is getting a designer that can work with you for your budget and get you what you need (and not just want you think you want). Step three is designing your site. This is where having sourced the right designer will do wonders for you. They’ll have worked with tons of other clients, and ideally those in your industry – so they’ll know exactly what to look out for. This is where designers become more than just designers, they become guides. No matter how creative your design team is, you will have to consider what goes into your ideal online destination. You have to have vision and practicality. Here are seven points to consider to ensure you site design has marketing prowess. Purpose - 
Consider your business objective and have your website emphasize this theme. Ask yourself these questions: Why do you have a website? How are you going to measure your success? Design -
Think color palettes, alignments, visuals and key text. Does your site merge design with functionality? Does it appeal to your target audience? Message - 
Every page in your website needs a goal and a meaningful call to action whether it’s a newsletter signup, donation button, conference signup, social media buttons, e-paper, etc. Architecture - 
Yes, even a web site has to have a smart design – in other words, a well thought out, easy-to-navigate site map. Ask yourself how your pages are organized and remember that what works for one company will not work for another.  Understand your customers and you’ll understand your business. Usability & Accessibility - 
Some people have slow internet connections, some can’t install a Flash plug-in. For others, the alignment may be off or they may not be able to view the images. Not keeping these factors in mind means that you’re likely to lose customers/readers that don’t have the patience for a mismanaged page. Online Marketing - 
Because your website URL doesn’t appear out of thin air to new clients, appealing to the search engines is key. An experienced web designer can optimize your site so that search engine robots can sniff out your content, and a smart social media and link building campaign can reinforce the investment you’ve made in your site. Technical Tid Bits - 
Is your host reliable and is your domain easy to remember? Make sure the foundation of your web page is solid for future development.


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Image Marketing: How the Right Images Get You Noticed in Searches

Beyond • October 24, 2011

Businesses easily pay thousands each month to marketers and copywriters to make sure they pop up on the first page, so it can be pretty difficult to compete with larger companies for top search engine rankings. Even targeting your niche by focusing on counties and cities can still be challenging. So what can you do if you’re a small dog still trying to get your foot in the door? You can understand how your consumer thinks. We’re a visual society. Images and videos are where it’s at. Consumers also don’t like plowing through search engine results; they don’t like being data analyzers. Google understood this and acted accordingly under their image directory. They started including one row of image results in their web results page and often include a vertical column of other image results (usually e-commerce related) on the right hand side of the webpage. By understanding how consumers search for products based on images, it’s clear image searching can be almost equally as powerful as how high up you pop up in the search result page. Making Image Searches Work Alternate Text – Consumers don’t just rely on first page images under web results. A lot of us go straight to the image results flowing with hundreds of pictures that cater to our visual palette. Often, it’s much simpler to find directly what we need off of an image rather than clicking through sites and their subpages to find what we need.Though Google allows you to submit your site URLs, unfortunately you can’t do the same for images. This is where you take can take advantage of the “alternate text” your uploading server allows you to include for every picture. Google crawls through your website and analyzes the image “alt tag” and the name of the image to include in their image database. Your alternate text should always include keywords that will attract Google crawlers and make your image more relevant. Inspiration Boards – Used primarily by creative types, inspiration boards are popping up in just about every web-based business. Think of a collage and you’ve got a good idea of what an inspiration board is; it can be a collection of photos exclusively or photos paired with text to convey a theme or idea. Inspiration blogs are a great blogging asset that lets you blog with rich visuals that appeal to the eye. People like seeing options clustered together in one board or larger image – allowing them access to more info and content with less work on their part. These entries translate brilliantly across social media sites like Facebook, where links with great visuals will always get clicked on with higher rates than those without image appeal. You can use inspiration boards for photographs, e-commerce items, swatches, etc. You can showcase new items, any collaboration you have had with others, highlight customers wearing your products, or brainstorm ideas. The possibilities are endless. In addition to plugging inspiration boards on your website/blog and using the keyword-rich alternate (alt) text to boost visibility, you should also be plugging these on social media and in email newsletters. Editorial Photos – When using images, make sure you’re using high pixel, saturated, stunning photos that scream editorial and not dated. They should also be relevant to your content. The better the image quality, the higher the visual appeal, the better the chances your image will get clicked on in a search – even if it isn’t exactly what someone was looking for. If you can’t use your own photos, make sure you give proper credit to the source/photographer. You can also use copyright-free photo libraries and Flickr Creative Commons. If you use stock photography, make sure the photos don’t come across as clinical, which is usually the case if it includes people/models. Rule of thumb: it’s always best to create your own photos.


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Free Email Marketing Manual for Environmental Services

Beyond • October 24, 2011

Sure, the Green Revolution has been going on for decades, but that\'s because there\'s something new to learn about maintaining our environment every day. Between healthier eating, cleaner energy, more efficient cars and better preservation techniques, people are hungry for information about how they can keep their carbon footprint baby bootie sized. At Benchmark Email, we know how to access a new range of prospects while keeping your old ones happy, and we\'ll share how in the form of a marketing manual specifically tailored to the environmental services industry. Our dedication to email service provision, online marketing, branding and social integration serves to educate our users, providing them with the most up to date and valuable information, and to ultimately explore marketing best practices in a detailed yet comprehensible way - all with an attractive price tag. Environmental Services: Growing Green Business through Email Marketing is a free, fully researched PDF on email best practices for the Environmental industry. We hope you will take the time to download this guide or read it directly from our website. Benchmark Email is proud to offer you the best marketing resources the industry has to offer and we can\'t wait to welcome you to the team. For more guides and manuals, check out our email marketing manual page.


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