Archive for the 'online marketing' Category

Businesses and Nonprofits Map Their Social Media Marketing Strategy

By: Erica Scaife

Dana VanDen Heuvel, founder of MarketingSavant and a nationally recognized digital marketing expert, guided attendees through the process of mapping out their social media marketing strategy on October 20, 2009, at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, PA.  

One of the most beneficial aspects of these workshops, entitled Mapping Out Your Social Media Marketing Strategy, is that they were divided into two half-day sessions – a morning session for business marketers and an afternoon session for nonprofit marketers.  Numerous workshop attendees expressed their appreciation that the eMarketing Learning Center and the Nonprofit Partnership worked together to bring VanDen Heuvel in for two industry-specific sessions.  This was important because businesses and nonprofits have substantially different marketing goals and face unique marketing challenges.  For instance, while businesses and nonprofits may have a common goal of building interest and awareness, businesses may focus more on generating leads and driving sales, whereas nonprofits may focus more on recruiting and mobilizing volunteers, promoting advocacy and building donor relationships.  Since the workshops were divided, attendees were able to focus on the needs of their industry and learn from the challenges and successes their peers have faced throughout their social media marketing efforts. 

Social media is an emerging channel that is still surrounded by some mystery, leaving many marketers hesitant to jump into the social media landscape.  However, with a combined 150 attendees at either the business or nonprofit session, it is apparent that marketers are realizing the bottom line about social media – your customers and constituents are there, whether you are or not, and they’re talking about you!  Don’t you want to join the conversation?

But first things first.  As the presenter, Dana VanDen Heuvel, has put it, “What the ‘tweet’ is social media?”

What the ‘tweet’ is social media?

Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio (  Or as VanDen Heuvel more simply explains, “Social media is people having conversations online.” 

Early on in the workshop, Dana reminded the attendees that social media isn’t just about the tools and technologies you use; it’s really about a change in people’s expectations.  The traditional purchase funnel focuses on the marketer-generated stages of consumer and constituent awareness, consideration and purchase.  In today’s socially savvy world, however, that purchase funnel has evolved into a feedback cycle.  While this feedback cycle still begins with the marketer-generated stages above, it also recognizes consumer-generated stages – use, form opinion and talk.  Social media has transformed this process, and therefore, the way in which businesses and organizations market themselves.

A survey of frequent online social network users revealed that 30% trust the opinions of their peers when making a major purchase decision, while only 10% trust advertising (eMarketer).  These people are finding their peers opinions online, which means you should be hanging out in the same places as your customers and constituents, a point stressed by VanDen Heuvel.  And social media marketing is producing results in companies that are engaged.  According to a study by Altimiter ENGAGEMENTdb, socially engaged companies are, in fact, more financially successful.  You should realize, however, that these companies do not merely have a presence on social media, they are deeply engaged. 

Social Thinking

Throughout the workshop, VanDen Heuvel encouraged attendees to re-think their marketing strategy from a social media standpoint with a number of exercises and activities.  First, what are your company’s or organization’s touchpoints?  Touchpoints, as Dana explained, can be viewed in several ways:

1)      Functional – What does your company or organization do that is going to generate positive conversation?

2)      Customer – What is of value to your customer?

3)      Channel – How can you replicate your constituent’s good experience over multiple social media channels?

Next, how can you tell if your social media marketing is producing results?

In his presentation, Dana referenced a quote from Lord Leverhuime, founder of Unilever:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted.  The problem is I do not know which half.”

This is not the case in social media, according to VanDen Heuvel.  In social media everything can be tracked; it may take some work, but it can be done.  He went on to explain that there are three measurement points in social media:

 1) Social media listening – tracking and monitoring your customers’ and constituent’s online conversations

2) Web analytics – help you determine the relevance of your social media content

3) Pipeline metrics – help you determine the impact of your social media efforts

VanDen Heuvel warns, however, that not all metrics are meaningful; some are meaningless UNTIL you do something with them.  For example, having 300 Facebook fans is a meaningless metric unless those fans are contributing something to your social media efforts, like posting content or starting conversations.  “Social media,” VanDen Heuvel states, “is not just about bringing in people as fans.  It’s also about building deep connections and relationships with those people.” 

Finally, Dana concluded the first part of his presentation with a breakdown of social media channels.  Social media is broken down into three main channels:

1)      Social content – includes blogs, microblogs, photos, audio and videos

2)      Social platforms – include white-label social networks, wikis and branded social networks

3)      Social interactions – include event calendars, email, status updates, SMS and text messages

Without getting into specific tools, these are the channels by which you actively listen to your customers and constituents.  What does it mean to actively listen?  In the words of Rohit Bhargava, author of Personality Not Included, “[Active listening is] more than just listening or monitoring, it’s actually engaging in a dialogue with your customers.”

Through this process of re-thinking their marketing strategy from a social media standpoint, attendees had the opportunity to share their social media experiences with the rest of the group.  For example, in the business session, Triple Nickel, a local manufacturer, shared that they are known for their fast response times and easy exchanges.  They frequently receive emails about this touchpoint, but they have not yet been able to bring it into the social media landscape.  Deborah Vanhanian, the owner of Glass Growers Gallery, a local art gallery, prides herself that knowledge of art is one of their strongest touchpoints.  This however, is not translating well in person and she is hoping to further her position as an expert through social media.  In the nonprofit session, the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation discussed how they are already leveraging social media and how they could use social media to better and more effectively pass along their message that “cancer touches everyone.” 

This process and the interactive format of these sessions was very helpful in facilitating participants ability to learn from the successes, struggles, ideas and thoughts of their peers regarding social media marketing. 

Mapping Out Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

In the second half of the workshop, Dana took attendees through the process of building their social media marketing plan.  When mapping out your plan, VanDen Heuvel identified eight elements that you need to address:

1)      Objectives

2)      Target audience

3)      Integration

4)      Culture change

5)      Capacity

6)      Tools and tactics

7)      Measurement

8)      Experiment

Start by focusing on just two or three objectives for your social media marketing efforts.  Try to make these objectives “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) and ask yourself how they can be supported through social media.

A few things to consider when analyzing your target audience include:  What do they know about you?  What do you want them to know about you?  Where are they – what social media tools and channels are they already using?

When considering how to integrate your social media efforts with your overall marketing strategy, think about all the online and offline channels and components you can integrate into your overall marketing strategy.  For instance, the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, mentioned above, was recently featured on 60 Minutes.  They used their Facebook page as one venue to spread the word and generate buzz about their nationally broadcast story.

The last several considerations are important, but not quite as critical as the first three points, said VanDen Heuvel.  Take some time to think about the capacity of your organization and who is going to implement the organization’s social media strategy.  This becomes especially important in small-medium sized organizations where time, resources and personnel may be scarce. 

When deciding on which social media tools and tactics will best reach your target audience and help you accomplish your objectives, VanDen Heuvel stressed that success lies in starting with ONE tool.  Companies that try to start by using a number of social media tools at once are the companies and organizations that often fail in their social media endeavors.    

Finally, experiment with social media!  As mentioned, it is still a new field.  “There are no ‘experts’ in this space,” VanDen Heuvel concluded, “we’re ALL still learning right now.”

The Takeaways

As an attendee at both the business and nonprofit sessions, it was interesting to see the differences in reactions between the two groups.  Overall, both business marketers and nonprofit marketers are eager to learn about this emerging field.  They’re seeing social media constantly and are being told it’s the way to go for marketing their business in today’s socially savvy world.  In addition to their obvious interest in social media marketing, both groups expressed concerns about the topic as well.  In the business session, a new tool, Google Sidewiki, was brought up by an attendee.  This tool, once downloaded, allows you to view comments about any Web site on the actual Web site itself, not some distant page.  This raised a great deal of concern among the attendees in this session because of the lack of control you have over the comments posted using this tool.


Dana VanDen Heuvel shares his thoughts on Google Sidewiki and the social media marketing workshops

The concerns in the nonprofit session focused more on how to effectively utilize social media marketing when working with little time and few resources and personnel.  It can be done, however, and it’s important that it be done – especially for nonprofits because of their specific marketing challenges and needs.  Social media marketing offers a cost-effective strategy which can return substantial results.

Robert Wooler, director of the Nonprofit Partnership, discusses why social media marketing is important to nonprofits

Overall, it was an enlightening and interesting day.  Everyone at the workshops walked away with something of value – whether it was new knowledge, ideas or tools for social media, an inspiring story about one of their peers using social media or a plan for implementing social media in their business or organization.  Remember, social media is new and it’s changing every day.  So explore new ways to use it in your business or organization, experiment with different social media tools and technologies and engage in social media yourself.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts on the workshop or on social media in general by leaving us a comment.

Research makes compelling argument for the importance of educating small business owners about the online channel

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence

Research from Research Brief column on MediaPost

According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend
less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

My comment: This is not a sustainable business model in today’s digital economy.

The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.
The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:• 82% use search engines

57% use Yellow Pages directories.
53% use local newspapers
49% use Internet Yellow Pages
49% use TV
38% use direct mail
32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less.

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing.  Among those small businesses that have a website:
• 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or
• 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close
• 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
• Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to
their website
• 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
• 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
• 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
• Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
• 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those,
30% do no Internet advertising

My Comment: eBizITPA Education and the eMarketing Learning Center are performing research to learn more about small businesses knowledge and interest in eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing  strategies Training.  Click to learn more about survey results.  Click to download a copy of the eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing eBook

Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:
• 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
• 42% say they use the local newspaper less

For the purpose of this survey, the term “local business” refers to any retail business in a respondent’s local area, including restaurants, entertainment venues, places of recreation, etc. and services such as plumbers or accountants. The term “Internet Yellow Pages” refers to online Yellow Pages websites such as,,, etc.

Center for Media Research, February 13, 2009
MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

I Got Personal with PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Attendees got personal with PURL at the Manufacturers Association on February 19th when Joe Mehl of Dispatch and George Sackandy of Intelmarx spoke about the benefits of combining PURL with traditional direct mail marketing. But let’s not jump into the benefits until we uncover what PURL is and how it even works. 


What is PURL?

PURL, also known as a Personal URL, is a Web page address that has been personalized to a specific recipient using their name.  The idea being that a person is more likely to visit a Web page that is personalized with their name in the URL out of curiosity of what information is there. Once they go to that web address, the information is tailored specifically to them based on data the organization already has on file. For example, women may see more humanistic language and images verses a man who would see more competitive/methodical content.


How does it work?

According to Joe Mehl from the seminar, these are the steps taken in the PURL process:


  1. Contact receives a direct mail or e-mail message describing an offer enticing them to visit their PURL (ex.
  2. The welcome screen on the web page is directed to the recipient using their name
    An example of what a Login Page would look like

    An example of a Welcome Screen

  3. A contact information page is pre-populated with any data that may already exist and is relevant to the offer
  4. The prospect is asked to complete a short survey probing them for more information
    An example of a survey page

    An example of a survey page

  5. A marketing message or offer is given
  6. A thank you page appears providing other links and downloads to the viewer
  7. Follow up happens immediately whether it is an e-mail or a phone call
  8. Now the sales process on this individual can begin


Okay, now that we have figured out what PURL is and how it works, it is time to look at how PURLs can be beneficial.


Why use a PURL?

According to George Sackandy, CEO and Founder of Intelmarx, the direct mail industry has a response rate of only 2 percent. This means that the non-response rate is 98 percent! We receive thousands of marketing messages each day and only respond to few and far between. So, how do marketers grab the attention of their prospects? They use PURL in combination with mailing pieces to attract customers!


One case study conducted at Albertson College proved that by incorporating PURLs and variable data printing in their recruiting materials, the school could increase their response rate by 18.7 percent. The school was originally sending large packets of information about every program to all prospective students. This was a lot of information to juggle through and not personal in any way to the person opening it. Prospective students were not responding because the packet looked just like all of the others they had received from other colleges. Albertson decided to get personal. They used information that had already existed about prospects in order to send them a direct mail piece including a PURL. When students went to their PURL, the page was catered to the individual based on their interests, activities, and future major of choice. Albertson took a few extra steps to change their recruiting using PURLs and what a difference it made. Now this gives plenty of reason to use PURLs in any marketing campaign! By using PURL you can increase response rates, leads, and overall profit. Why not give it a try for your business?


For more information on Intelmarx click here

For more information on Dispatch click here 



How the web is driving the new rules of marketing and PR

Did You Know…

92% of people use the Web to evaluate purchase options, yet less than 30% of businesses allocate dollars for online marketing.


Over 30 % of online visitors go to social media sites.


Gen Y (aged 18 to 28) is the most Internet-savvy group, spending more time online than they do watching television, with 42 percent watching online video at least once per month.


The older Generation X (aged 29 to 42) also use technology extensively for more task driven needs, especially when they intersect with business and family.


*This research is part of Forrester’s 2008 North America Technographics Benchmark survey which gathered data from around 61,000 consumers in the US and Canada.



“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” – How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly

For decades, marketers have relied on buying expensive advertising and begging for media coverage. We interrupted “prospects” with our egotistical “messages” in the hopes of generating interest from buyers (who usually ignored us anyway), but the Internet is a marketing channel that is dramatically changing how we perform. As marketers, we must shift our thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy where we target specific audiences and niches we want to reach.

Writing news releases is no longer just for when we have big news.  Now we write news releases that highlight our ideas and stories and we distribute them online so that our buyers and constituents can get them on the news search engines and vertical content sites.  As Meerman points out, the “Internet has made public relations public again after years of almost exclusive focus on media.”

The online marketing channel requires more than a big idea with great creative and a one-way message. Smart marketers now communicate with buyers through content rich Web sites, blogs, YouTube videos, e-books, and other online media that buyers actually want to consume. To succeed in marketing online, we need to adapt to using these very direct and interactive social media strategies. These mediums help us communicate and engage customers in places where we have no physical presence but where the customer can find out about what we offer and how we can meet their needs. The products and services offered by tuned-in companies resonate with people who willingly buy without being coerced. 

 If you would like to learn some of the new criteria for marketing & PR and how to succeed in a digital world, then come listen and ask questions of David Meerman Scott, a nationally renowned speaker and best-selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

 Scott will be the keynote speaker at the Advertising Federation of Northwest Pennsylvania’s Erie Ad Day on Thursday, September 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, 55 West Bay Drive, in downtown Erie. The full-day professional development event will focus on the theory, tactics and technologies driving the advertising and marketing communications industry.

Learn how to leverage the potential that Web-based communication offers. A step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the new rules of marketing and PR will be provided, showing how to identify audiences, create compelling messages, get those messages to the most consumers possible, and lead those consumers directly into the buying process. Told with many case studies and real-world examples, this a practical discussion about the new reality of PR and marketing.

 Register online at:

Or register by phone at (814) 451-8677.

Listen to Podcast

Get the lowdown on the New Rules of Marketing and PR in a podcast interview with David right here:


eMarketing Special Interest Group

December 2020

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