Monthly Archives: April 2012

Marketing on Facebook – An Introduction

If you use Facebook you will have noticed the winds of change blowing through the site over the past few months particularly new ‘timeline’ page layout. You now have the full width image across the top, a smaller profile shot to the bottom left of that and room for some top line information about yourself.  The timeline itself runs in reverse chronological order down the page.

If you are a business owner and want to create a page for your business, it works in the same way – in fact the layout is perhaps better suited to a business. The main headline shot is perfect for a relevant brand related image, the profile shot is for a company logo, the ‘about’ section allows for a short introduction to your business (see below for a little known grocer’s page).  The timeline allows you to make posts and interact with your audience.

Facebook gives businesses three ways to market themselves.  They can 1) create a page, 2) create an ad or sponsored story and if they are feeling adventurous they can 3) create a platform which transforms their website into a Facebook friendly social experience.  Most people are familiar with creating a page so I will focus number 2 for this introduction.

Say you own a small chain of upmarket wine stores in the Birmingham area called Theodore Wines (posh enough?) and want to use Facebook to promote your business.  What might your Facebook Marketing Plan look like?

Set objectives

These need to be clearly defined.  You might use Facebook to build brand awareness (e.g. by encouraging people to ‘like’ your page) or you might want to grow sales.  Theodore Wines decide on the following:

1)     Increase footfall in their stores by 10% over the next 3 months

2)     Quantify the source of the extra footfall (i.e. the Facebook campaign).

They already have a Facebook page with 650 ‘likes’ but need to extend awareness beyond their existing ‘fans’ to achieve their objectives.  They will drive prospects to a landing page on their website to drive the next action.


This is critical, especially considering the nature of the product and the campaign objectives.  The sensible approach would be to build a profile of existing in-store customers and work from there.  Facebook allows targeting of ads by location, education and work information, age, gender, age, gender, likes and interests and so on.  Theodore Wines will target Facebook users with the following profile:

  • Aged 40 – 60
  • Live in Birmingham, UK
  • List any of the following as interests – ‘Wine, cookery, fine dining, entertaining’.
  • University educated
  • Married

Once they have entered that information, Facebook would provide an estimated ‘reach’ which is an estimate of how many people would see the advert.  They may then change the targeting criteria to increase or decrease the potential size of the audience.  They may need to broaden these criteria to increase their reach.

Design an engaging advert

Accurate targeting is important but the campaign will not achieve its objectives without an engaging advert.  They decide the following:

Title – ‘Love wine? Discover Birmingham’s finest purveyors’

Body copy – ‘Visit one of Theodore Wine’s 6 Birmingham stores to enjoy a free wine tasting event.’

Image – a shot of a couple within the target age range enjoying a glass of wine

Remember, the objective is in-store footfall and Theodore Wine’s is a premium brand.  Rather than simply offering discounts they decide to encourage people to attend an in-store event to sample their wines.  Prospects clicking through will go to a specific campaign landing page and enter their name and email address.  Theodore Wines will then email them back with details of their nearest tasting event and customers will print the email or quote a unique code to gain entry to the event.

Managing the advertising budget

Theodore Wines have a budget of £3000 for the campaign.  Facebook provide two ways of paying for the campaign – CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per impression).  They decide on the former and set a daily maximum budget of £300.  They then need to select a bid-price for their click thoughs.  This is not an exact science because bid amounts will fluctuate depending on how many other businesses are targeting the same demographic.  Facebook suggests a bid amount of £1.20 per click but as the campaign progresses Theodore Wines discover that an average bid amount of £1.05 allows them to achieve the desired number of click throughs.

Theodore Wines soon learn that they need to monitor their click through volumes and bid amounts on a daily basis to ensure that their ad is being served and that they are generating a sufficient number of click throughs.  They soon realise that this requires a little more work than a traditional off the page advert but there is also more in-depth information on the performance of the campaign.

Learn and improve

Facebook provides some very useful information about the performance of the campaign.  Everyday a member of staff is responsible for reviewing the following:

  • Volume of impressions – the number of times the ad has been ‘served’ on a Facebook page.
  • Volume of click throughs – the number of prospects who have clicked through to the campaign landing page.
  • Prospect demographics – the number of click throughs against the various targeting criteria selected.

When prospects have clicked through they will then monitor:

  • Number of visits to the landing page
  • Number of prospects entering name and email address
  • Number of prospects visiting each of the wine tasting events.
  • Amount spent on wine at each event.
  • Overall increase in in-store footfall over 3 months.

As the campaign progresses they will use their learning to improve the targeting of the campaign as well as testing different versions of the advert.  They soon learn that continually using campaign performance information to improve the campaign is the key to success.


Ultimately, the final ROI will define whether the campaign was a success but without a clear marketing plan the campaign would be unlikely to achieve its objectives.  How many companies clearly plan their Facebook campaigns?  On the right is a list of the ads that were served on my page this morning.  Of the four you can see I would only consider clicking on the bottom one because it is targeted at me based on a specified interest.  Perhaps the Right Guard could have been targeted more effectively.  There must be hundreds of thousands of Stone Roses fans on Facebook but I have not listed them as a band I like.  I use deodorant but who doesn’t?  Take a look at the ads served on your page.  How many are obviously targeted at you?

Clearly, Facebook offers some exciting marketing possibilities but companies looking to use these need to remember the marketing truth that badly targeted adverts don’t work.  Some companies are running very successful Facebook campaigns so maybe internet advertising can work after all.  If it’s planned properly that is…


Is customer loyalty possible online?

The emergence of digital marketing and its impacts on customer loyalty have been massive and far reaching.  Customers will display loyalty for many reasons and the core reasons are the same now as they were in the pre-digital era.  It’s still about indentifying your target market, providing products they truly want or need, making them easily available and then building a relationship with customers.  So why has digital thrown the cat amongst the pigeons?

Go back a few decades and loyalty was often based around face to face human relationships.  To use retail as an example, think of the romantic image of a lady visiting her local grocery store in the fifties. People got to know the people working in their local businesses.  Even if they didn’t there were other reasons for loyalty, not least accessibility.  If there was only one grocery store within 5 miles of home the chances are you would use it.

As we all got richer and the economy developed we started to get far more choice about what we buy and who we buy it from.  Supermarkets, rather than just relying on attracting customers who lived nearest to their store realised that in a more competitive world they had to do more to attract and KEEP customers, hence the rise and success of the various loyalty card schemes.  Then the internet came along, bringing unprecedented changes such as:

  • Increased competition – The products and services you offer to customers can be compared not only on price but one a mind-boggling array of different characteristics.  Look at PC specs for example.
  • Increased choice – There is next to nothing you can’t buy online so products and services have to fight harder than ever to get noticed.
  • Ease of accessibility – you can buy a car off ebay, from your phone, while taking your dog for a walk.

These are just 3 of the reasons it has been said that the concept of online loyalty is a myth.  Consumers are savvy in the digital age and will seek out what is best for them.  So what can we marketers do about it?  In order to survive and thrive companies need an online value proposition (OVP), a rarely used term coined by Chaffey et al.

Suppose you build a new website selling music CD’s and downloads.  There are thousands of other companies doing the same thing.  You might work very hard on SEO to get high up the search rankings.  Say you managed to get it into the top three on organic search results on google (quite a challenge!).  Would that guarantee success?  You would probably acquire some new customers but would you keep them as you frantically tried to maintain you position on google?  Not without an OVP.

I tend to buy lots of music online so I started thinking about why I use the sites I do and discovered the following:

Site Main OVP Secondary OVPs Weakness Price Choice, personalised   recommendations Faceless corporate – no brand  engagement Music reviews Listen to audio clips, high brand engagement Cost, limited choice Listen to any track before buying Choice, fast despatch Badly packaged products. Niche selection Personalised service Lack of choice, overseas   location.

It was only when I sat down to look at the reasons I use these sites that I realised that they all have characteristics that differentiate them from their competitors.  My perception of each site’s OVP may be different from what each of them intended but all provide a strong reason for me to return.  Think about the sites you use and ask why you use them.

So why don’t I just use one site?  Is this true loyalty?  True loyalty can only be defined by buying 100% of a product from the same company.  That is certainly far more difficult in the digital world but perhaps rather than defining success by ‘loyalty’ online companies should just focus on developing something, fresh, engaging and if possible unique that keeps enough customers coming back.  They should embrace the opportunities that digital channels offer rather than being frightened of new challenges.  It’s never been tougher to succeed but companies need to keep two words in mind if they are going to keep customers – ‘add value’.

Internet advertising doesn’t work!

What?  Of course it works.  In fact online advertising spend increased from $26bn in 2010 to $31.7bn in 2011 (source IAB). That’s a 21.9% increase in one year.  Companies would not waste that kind of money if it wasn’t working right?  The dictionary definition of advertising is ‘the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements’. Companies still pay to do that online just as they do in offline media.

The first ever online banner ad

In the pre-internet days that definition would have worked pretty well.  Advertising was all about ‘pushing’ or announcing your message to your market and there were some pretty big media channels with a massive reach that enabled companies to do that with great success. So what’s changed?  It seems to me there are three main differences between online and offline advertising.  With online ads:

1)     You as a consumer find an advert rather than it finding you (about half of total online ad spend is on search marketing).

2)     There is greater potential for interaction between organisations and consumers and between consumers themselves.

3)     The organisation has much less control over the way it is perceived.

Point 1 needs a post of its own so I will focus on points 2 and 3 here. If you are old enough, you will remember how pre-internet advertising worked.  Brands were king.  Hugely successful TV ads for PG Tips (monkeys), Shake n Vac (crazy woman with vacuum), Milk Tray (‘the man’) created powerful brand images and shifted product by the bucket load.  But you still have those today I hear you say.  What about Compare the market (meerkat) and Go Compare (insane levitating opera singer)?

So on the surface advertising and brand building is still taking place in much the same way but looking deeper you find there has been a seismic shift.  Firstly, organisations used to talk AT customers.  They created a brand position and message and announced it to the world.  There was a monologue.  What we have now is a dialogue and much of that is not between the organisation and their customers but between consumers themselves.  Online forums, blogs, fan pages…people are talking about products in an open, honest and human way, whether organisations like it or not.

Who are you going to trust?  A multi-national corporation and their brand team or impartial peers and consumers who have already tried the product out and are telling everyone about it on the internet?  It is only in the past couple of years that many organisations seem to have realised that the way their brand is perceived in no longer in their hands.  That is why they are falling over themselves to get on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and more recently looking into people’s interests on Pininterest.  Their intention is to know what consumers are saying about them and to be able to influence that.  The first intention is honourable, the second requires a wholesale shift in the way organisations communicate with their customers.

On Facebook yesterday I noticed a link to the Stella Artois UK fan page.  I have not listed ‘beer’ as an interest on Facebook but I’m sure the marketers at Stella Artois know I fit a certain profile that makes me likely to enjoy an occasional pint of Stella, which I do.  Their page seems to be a good example of how to hit consumers with the brand and then build engagement, feedback and dialogue, even if that does consist of people asking for free beer.  Hey this is a beer fanpage.

The headline branding of the Stella Artois UK Facebook fan page

The internet has democratised advertising.  This is no doubt terrifying to many organisations, particularly those with claims to great customer service, amazing product reliability etc.  Now those claims have to be TRUE because if they aren’t your customers are going to tell everyone about it online.  This is great news.  For the first time customers can get real insights into products and services before they buy them and organisations have the opportunity to build an army of advocates who basically advertise their products for free.

In the coming years many organisations will live or die depending on how they adapt.  ‘Advertising’ online doesn’t work.  Focussing time and money on communicating, facilitating, listening and joining in with customers is the way forward in this brave new world.

Channel hopping: Direct Mail vs Email

Mick was the managing director of a successful company selling plumbing products, more than 10,000 different products lines – something he was very proud of.  He had recently added two new salespeople to his ranks, Derrick and Eric.  Both came with very good recommendations but looking through their sales figures for the first 3 months, Mike was worried.  Both were well below their targets and needed to show improvement if he was to keep them on.

Derrick - communicating a pitch

Mick decided to meet with them separately to get their feedback and thought that asking a few of their customers about them would help too.  He met with Derrick, an imposing character and a salesman with decades of experience, ‘an old hand you can trust’ said his previous employer.   Mmm, on his salary he should be thought Mick.  ‘So Derrick, how have you found your first 3 months with the business?’.  ‘A mixed bag’ said Derrick, ‘I have some accounts that I have really enjoyed working on and don’t forget that I have bought in 5 new accounts in my time here’, Derrick pointed out.It was true that Derrick had bought in some new accounts, some of which could be big.  Mick decided to give some of them a call.  ‘Derrick is a man with presence’ said one.  ‘He knows how to tell a story’ said another, ‘He made me feel emotional about plumbing products!’.  Mick was impressed.  He often felt emotional about plumbing products but rarely met anyone else who shared his enthusiasm.

‘I haven’t enjoyed working with existing accounts so much’ said Derrick.  ‘Some have complained that I don’t understand their account like my predecessor.  Some have said that they don’t hear from me often enough and I’m not giving them the same kind of offers they are used to.  There is only so much time in the day though Mick’.

Mick called a few of his existing customers. ‘He turned up in the middle of the day when a phone call would have done’ explained one.  ‘He’s a bit slow with the offers and can be a bit in your face’ said another.  Mick was concerned and needed to think.  Existing accounts were the company’s bread and butter.

Next he met with Eric.  Eric was a younger, less experienced, salesman on a lower salary but ‘thinks on his feet’ said his previous employer.  ‘Tell me about your first 3 months’ said Mick.  ‘I have enjoyed most of it, especially getting to grips with your database.  You have so much information on customers buying behaviour.  Millions of rows!  I have been able to carry out some analysis and I’m working on a model to predict buyer behaviour and anticipate the kind of offers that they should be interested in.  You need to use that information to tailor communications and make offers at the right time.’

Eric produced a report, which has been updated just before the meeting.  It showed how he had increased customer value on some existing accounts and on specific product lines.  He planned to put a low cost programme in place to make timely and relevant offers to customers based on their past buying behaviour and to find ways to generate customer feedback.

Mick was slightly taken aback.  ‘OK but I employed you to get new business not just to develop existing accounts’ Mick pointed out.  ‘To be honest Mick, new business is not my forte.  I don’t much enjoy cold calling or turning up to meet people who might not even be interested in our products’ Eric replied.  ‘Targeting’ said Mick. ‘Get yourself in front of the right people’.  ‘But I haven’t been given any good leads and those I have spoken to didn’t even remember my first phone call.  There are plenty of other sales people calling them every day.’

Eric - hard at work on his databases

Mick could see Eric’s point.  Eric was of slight build, not naturally charismatic and not the kind of person you would notice in a crowd.  The world had millions of Erics but maybe this one was a bit different.  He seemed to be a good listener.  He certainly had an eye for detail and was an adaptable, quick witted type.  Mick had a plan – teamwork.  Derrick would be responsible for new business.  Getting quality leads, making appointments and signing up new accounts.  He would also help to get the first order by conducting follow-up meetings and would carry out courtesy visits to high value customers to keep them happy.  Eric would be office based.  He would be responsible for account development.  Finding cost effective ways to cross-sell and up-sell as well as analysing sales trends by individual account as well as at sector level.

Three months later Mick reviewed the sales figures.  Derrick had bought in 8 new accounts and some were starting to generate a large spend.  He also had a good book of prospective customers and had high quality, engaging sales literature to give to prospects.  Eric meanwhile had put a contact strategy in place, based on his knowledge of the company database, that was not only increasing the average frequency and value of spend but seemed to be improving customer retention.  He was conducting regular customer surveys and using information from social networking sites, used by customers, to tailor his communications to them.

Mick felt happy and relieved – to think he had been considering letting these guys go.  He could now clearly see how they each had a role to play.  ‘Deploy your salespeople where their strengths lie’ he thought.   Obvious when you think about it.

From traditional to digital marketing. Revolution or evolution?

How many times have you read blogs, websites or books and come across the term ‘traditional marketing’?  To a casual observer it might appear that marketing has undergone a revolution where methods of the past have become museum pieces, to be replaced by the bright, shiny and new world of digital.

If you have been looking for a job in the past few years you will know how terms like Direct Marketing, while once ubiquitous, have now been replaced by Digital Marketing.  The Institute of Direct Marketing even had to rename themselves by shoehorning the word Digital into their name.  So is this a case of revolution or evolution?

“My name is Lee and I am a traditional marketer” I would murmur to a group of fellow suffers at my local Traditional Marketers Anonymous (TMA) group.  “I have spent the past 15 years sending millions of pieces of direct mail and religiously adhering to the AIDA formula for writing DM copy.  I’m a traditional marketer and I need help”.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.  Comparing terms like traditional marketing and digital marketing completely misses the point.  The danger is that we try to create a new paradigm without basing it on the truths that underpin successful marketing.  The world of digital gives us the opportunity to realise the true potential of direct marketing but it’s also full of pitfalls, often expensive ones, that many organisations have already fallen into.  Technology should never come first.  Customers come first right?  Not always in practice that’s for sure.

I have two reasons for starting this blog.  Firstly, as a marketer who has come from a non-digital background I am working hard to make the transition into a role which includes digital channels – I’d like to share my experience with others in a similar situation and to hear about your experiences.  Secondly, I know that rather than starting from scratch, I can take the truths that underpin successful marketing and exlore how they can be used to underpin digital marketing campaigns that really work.

Exciting times lie ahead, may the evolution continue.