Does your marketing team face these challenges?

There is a great chart from eMarketer today that caught my attention.

It details the results of a survey that asked marketers what types of challenges they face when it comes to the data that they are collecting.

eMarketer: Survey Challenges Marketers Face When it comes to Big Data

In today’s multi-channel world, most companies are finding and storing more data than ever before about their prospects and customers.

But if they are not properly using that data, or if that data is making it harder for them to achieve key business objectives, then that is a big problem.

Why Companies Are Struggling With Data

One reason that many companies are running into those top 3 challenges — having trouble measuring ROI and sharing data across and organization, not using it to effectively personalize communications, and not being able to link data to individual customers — is because their marketing efforts are not integrated. They may be using separate point solutions for each of their marketing channels…. one soution to send emails, one to create personalized URLs, one to manage collateral and digital assets, one to collect leads from the website, one to collect survey responses, etc.

With that type of approach, marketers are stuck with multiple databases that may not talk to another , which prevents them from having a holistic view of their customers and prospects.

In today’s world, that circumstance can doom many marketers. If the effectiveness of their marketing efforts decreases, or if they can’t prove what’s working, then their job tenure may be cut shorter than ever before.

The Solution to Handling Big Data Problems

However, that does not have to be the case.

Marketers can adjust their strategies to take an integrated approach.

Our CEO John Foley, Jr. wrote this White Paper to help companies find the best ways to do that.

Also, they can also make changes in the technology that they use. They can break down their silo-ed approach, and start using solutions that ensure their activities and results are running through a central database.

When those things happen, then the available data can truly be put to use. And both marketers and consumers will benefit greatly!

Would you like to start walking down that path? If so, I’d love for you to take a moment to register for a demo of interlinkONE’s marketing solutions

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Google and Personalized Search Results

Google+ Logo

Over the past couple of years, Google has made changes to its search engine to personalize the results that it presents. For instance, Google rolled out changes in 2009 to start integrating a user’s social media data on the Results page.

Today, they have announced that they are making more changes to integrate search and social.

What Do The Changes Entail

A huge part of today’s announcement (which Google is labeling “Search, plus Your World”) involves utilizing capabilities of Google+. A person’s search results may now be affected by the Google+ data that they are connected with. This could include:

  • People: Users may now see people that they may want to follow based on what they are searching for
  • Pages: Search results may now display pages (or profiles) that are related to a specific topic or area of interest that someone may have searched on
  • Photos and Posts:  Google may now display photos and information from Google+ posts that you have access to within search results

How Can You Prepare for these Changes?

Google has announced that they will start rolling out these changes in the next few days.

Thus, there are things that you can do now to take advantage of them. Here are a few:

  • If you don’t already have one, create a Google Profile.
  • Once you have a profile, make sure that you log-in to Google before you run your next Search.
  • Get on Google+!
  • Google+ allows you to have a personal profile, of course. But you can also create Pages for your Business, Products & Services, Events, and more.
  • Start creating and publishing content on your Google+ profiles and pages
  • Build your Google+ community: Take the time to add people and Pages to your Circles and invite others to do the same for your accounts.

It certainly will be interesting to see how users adapt and benefit from these changes. If you have a free moment, check out the video that Google has released regarding the “Search, plus Your World” functionality:

A Holiday Card Worth Imitating

Alright, before get too far in this post, I must say this: I received a lot of Holiday cards this year. And I loved them all!

But I just want to take a moment to highlight one that stood out to me.

The Holiday eCard from Fabcom

FabCom is an interactive marketing agency. I love their company and their staff for many reasons. They are energetic, creative, and extremely hard-working. And, they use  interlinkONE's multi-channel marketing software to help them build, manage, execute, and measure marketing campaigns for their clients, which also gives them extra points in my book.

They sent an eCard to a number of employees here that combined a number of things that I like: personalization, humanizing a brand, and gift-giving.

Here is a screenshot of the email that they sent:

Screenshot of Fabcom's Holiday Card: The Email

Within the email, they did a great job of including a human touch. As an agency, their people are among their most important assets. Thus, by exposing employees faces, they are helping to “open” themselves up to customers, prospects, and vendors. And of course, they did a great job of incorporating a humorous and seasonal touch.

The Landing Page

After clicking the link within the email, people were directed to a landing page. It incorporated video, personalized text, and information about the donation that they were making on the behalf of the individual the email was sent to.

Here is a screenshot of the landing page:

Fabcom: Holiday Card: Landing Page link via email

The Inspiration

When it comes to sending holiday cards, companies often have multiple goals. For one, they want to say Thank You to customers, prospects, vendors, industry leaders, friends, and others. But also, they want to do something that will help make an impression about their company on someone's mind.

I think that Fabcom did a great job of this. They utilized multiple channels and medias to make the recipients feel special in a number of ways.

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3 Tips for Succeeding with Direct Mail

Mailbox

One of my favorite people in the print industry, Margie Dana, wrote a fantastic piece this week that was titled “How Direct Mail Packs a Punch in 7 Ways“.

If you are looking for ways to improve your marketing efforts, her article is a must-read. It provides inspiration and incentive for companies to use direct mail to reach their prospects and customers.

If Margie’s post does inspire you, I’d like to share a few tips with you as well. Here they are!

3 Tips for Succeeding with Direct Mail

For companies that run direct mail campaigns, the ability to effectively measure the highs and lows of those campaigns is vital to the success of their advertising as a whole. The following tips will have you well on your way toward making the most out of your company’s direct mail marketing:

  1. Utilize a tracking software system that will measure the statistics of your campaign easily and efficiently:  Yes, there is no denying that it may cost less money to send emails than it does to send direct mail. However, if the act of sending direct mail to your audience could bring you better results, wouldn’t you want to do that? Of course! However, we must put forth the effort to prove that is true.This may primarily mean that we set up our campaigns and landing pages in a way so that direct mail responses are measured differently than responses to your emails, social media posts, or activities on another channel.Response mechanisms such as QR Codes and personalized URLs can help us measure direct mail effectiveness as well!
  2. Select a focused audience versus conducting a blind mailing effort, thus increasing the potential for successful contacts: The days of spray-and-pray must be a thing of the past. This is certainly true from a budgetary perspective. But it also should be true from the fact that technology makes it easier than ever to create targeted, personalized materials and by doing so, we can increase our response rates.By segmenting our audiences, we can deliver direct mail pieces that may have text, images, and offers that are relevant to each individual.
  3. Ensure that your direct mail pieces are both informative and aesthetically pleasing: We must never forget marketing fundamentals. Sure, it can be fun to get excited about new marketing channels (i.e. I’m so excited that I can add a PURL to my mailers!) However, we must not neglect putting forth an effort to ensure our direct mail pieces look good and tell a compelling story.

These are just a few of the ways that companies can successfully incorporate direct mail into their marketing mix. If you’d like to learn more or perhaps see how interlinkONE’s software can help you in that regard, click here.

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Data-Driven Marketing: 3 Ways to Make it Succeed

Database, where data-driven marketing starts!

Many companies will acknowledge that it’s easier than ever to build up a customer or prospect database. We have the ability to run personalized campaigns that make it possible for people to append information to their records, often in exchange for something of value (i.e. “provide your email address and we’ll give you this white paper”).

We can research our contacts through social networks and start to understand their passions, interests, likes and dislikes across professional and personal lines.

However, even with all that data, many marketers are still creating and distributing materials that are not really targeted to the individual they are sending them to.  One reason for this may be that it takes more time to analyze data, plan what you could personalize, and then execute than it does to send out the same message to everyone. (I will completely admit that I’ve fallen into that line of reasoning more than I’d like to admit!)

But at the same time, we know that we could experience greater results if we produced data-driven marketing efforts.

Here are three steps on how we can start pushing away the excuses and start executing data-driven marketing efforts:

Have the Right Mind-Set and Commit to It

Most of us would probably admit to feeling pressure to “do more with less”. Because of that, we may feel that developing and executing a data-driven marketing effort might be more than we can handle. However, if we recognize the potential benefits of doing so, then we should develop the mind-set to push other things aside to get it done.

If we increase the priority level on things such as analyzing data, brainstorming, and executing, we will be on the right path to creating highly personalized materials.

Consult with your Customer Service and Sales Teams

While a lot of the data we collect may be from external sources, we should take time to talk to our customer service and sales folks to see what data elements they think are truly important. They may also be aware of current trends or issues that could trigger a response from our customers and prospects.

Armed with that information, we may be able to then better look at the data that we do have and identify the best way that we can appeal to those people.

Be Ready to Test and Measure

Will data-driven marketing efforts really improve your response rates? There’s only one way to find out — you must be willing to test and measure them!

Fortunately, many marketing software applications make this easier than ever to do.

We just need to be willing to put in the time to set our campaigns up properly ahead of time, monitor their results, and then adjust accordingly.

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