How to effectively capture your audience
Politics and business may make strange bedfellows, but they do share a lot in common when it comes to marketing — particularly email marketing and growing a large base of support. In today’s evolving high tech world, email marketing has to evolve too. So whether you are running a Fortune 500 company, small mom-and-pop shop or the next presidential campaign, you have to be savvy, modern and content-rich.
In other words, give you constituents or your customers what they want—in relevant, current and understandable language and techniques.
Obama did it best in his last presentational campaign, where he engaged an enormous amount of people and built a huge base of support from one of the savviest and conversational email marketing campaigns ever used by a political campaign. (We will touch on Obama’s winning approaches throughout, but first lets start with a few of the basics of a successful email marketing strategy for both politics and business.) These include:
- Testing intriguing subject lines
- Knowing your audience and how to speak to them
- Optimizing your content (because it’s easy)
- Supplementing your email marketing campaign with additional digital strategies, and more
Let’s look at these email marketing tips a little bit deeper:
It all starts with the subject line
Just like the teaser message on the outer envelope is critical to getting a letter read in direct mail, the subject line is vital to getting an email opened and read. After all, the subject line (along with the “From” line) is the first thing a recipient sees–so make it as engaging as possible. If you are running a political campaign, for example, then it is smart to incorporate the latest political topics or any subject matter that your constituents are interested in. Democrats might build support around voter rights, while Republicans use Obamacare to rally their constituents, etc. Use what works.
Another approach, which the Obama email marketing team used to great success, is to keep the subject line intriguing and conversational. In fact, one of the most successful of all approaches was to have the “From” line be from Barak and the subject line saying simply “Hey”. According to Toby Fallsgraff, the Obama campaign’s email marketing director, the team tested many subject lines and the casual conversational tone always pulled stronger. Fallsgraff oversaw 20 copywriters, who all adapted this conversational and personal tone to both the subject lines and email copy.
Fallgraff also said that one of the most effective subject lines they used (raising over 2.6 million dollars) was the simple subject line “I will be outspent.” This raised fear in Obama’s constituents and drove more action than the other subject lines they were testing at the time. Urgency works, too.
Get inside the head of your audience—and speak directly to their needs
Making your email marketing conversational is mandatory in today’s fast paced world. Recipients need something to connect to, so be sure the content is relevant to the needs of your target market. If you are selling cars, then talk the latest trends and amenities your brand offers. If you are selling Republicanism, then talk the latest policy touch points or political hot issues.
Keep the content crisp and the words to a minimum. Less is more (unless you are writing a blog, which we will discuss in a bit.) It’s a visual world these days and patience is at a minimum.
Some additional tips for writing influential email copy:
- Use repetition. If something is proven to drive response, then use it in several ways. Rhetoric works when it’s used correctly. Use it in your emails, on your landing page, in your direct mail letters and anywhere you can drive response.
- Be consistent in messaging. Be trustworthy and consistent in your tone and messaging. Constituents and customers relate to brand for a reason, so never betray the brand. That means don’t bait and switch.
- Social proof works. People want to belong, so let people know they are not alone in their personal views. Make people believe they are part of something bigger.
- Address your target market’s objections. Remove doubt and you make the path to purchase (or voting) as easy as possible.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
Test your email tone and subject lines and then optimize your email campaign to go forward using the winning approach. It’s much easier and affordable to test in email than in any other type of marketing, so be sure to use it to your benefit.
Consider inbound marketing strategies, too
Inbound marketing is another great tool for building loyalty. With inbound marketing, content is key. That means providing relevant, useful content that will keep customers coming to you. It’s a great way to supplement your outbound email marketing campaign so that you are attracting people in multiple ways. The use of blogs is great, with inbound links that drive people to your website. For blogs, be relevant and crisp, but brevity of copy isn’t as important as it is with email writing.
In short, make email marketing relevant and engaging.
These are just a few tips to improve you email marketing strategies. Email is not going away, even with the progression of social. In fact, Facebook uses email more than any other communication stream. So be sure you are being as effective and relevant with your email marketing as you possibly can be. It’s the most affordable, easy to optimize marketing tool in your arsenal.
Facebook Announces Hashtags
A recent Facebook press release announced it has enabled “public conversations,” aka #hashtags, available starting June 12th. With this update, Facebook is joining other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr, using hashtags as a way to organize conversation and link topics from one user to the next. Hashtags used through these other social media platforms and shared through Facebook allow engagement with current followers and may reach new potential customers who are not already connected. It will also connect you to the greater conversation on the desired topic.
(For an introduction to hashtags, you may be interested in: What the #### is a Hashtag? – An introduction to the proper use of hashtags for small businesses)
In the press release introducing the new hashtag feature, Facebook explained that users are utilizing the new platform to talk about what’s going on around them. Whether it be a tropical storm, who might take the Stanley Cup, an episode of Game of Thrones, or a TED Talks symposium, events like these are getting millions of mentions.
By making these hashtags clickable and interactive, Facebook allows users a richer experience and engagement into a topic or conversation. Facebook also clarified, on ABC News, that hashtagged posts will still respect the regular privacy settings.
What is a #Hashtag?
A hashtags is a term or idea preceded by the pound symbol ‘#’. The term embeds the category, so that a user can click on it to connect with other posts or images on or about that topic. This is a major step for Facebook toward their goal of becoming more of a search friendly platform, in addition to its social networking base.
You can consider social networking sites as a huge filing cabinet. It is filled with thoughts, statements, questions, and comments about different topics. Hashtags are like the tabs of the folders categorizing these different topics.
So, instead of fumbling through the file cabinet aimlessly, simply search a hashtag (which is searching a specific topic) or click on an existing hashtag to automatically be directed to the search page. By doing this, you will be shown all posts using that same tag, listed in chronological order.
So What Will This Mean for Your Business or Brand?
Facebook’s use of hashtags will not cause an abrupt change to your online marketing campaign strategy only enhance it. Here are some helpful best practices when hashtagging:
- Incorporate hashtags into your posts, but do not only post a hashtag or overuse them. The tag should add to your message but not be the only element of that message.
- Create a hashtag specific to your company that goes with your message and encourage followers and current customers to use it and create conversations around that hashtag.
- Incorporate topic-specific terms that reach a targeted audience which has interests related to your product or services, such as #business or #NewYork.
- Be sure not to over-tag. Limit your hashtags to 1 – 3 per post and be mindful of terms that others are already using and searching organically. This will help to reach a new audience that was not previously connected with or aware of your brand.
- When tagging terms that require multiple words, they must be written without a space between, as one word. To help readers discern each word and understand what is being written, be sure to capitalize each new word, for example #SocialMedia or #PoliticalCommunications.
Hashtags allow for more brand interaction and a greater conversation because they link all similar tags in one easily searchable location.
Helping local retailers and service providers to get found
Among the many trends effecting social marketing is SoLoMo (pronounced So-Low-Moe) which is short for Social-Local-Mobile. Retailers and service providers are utilizing this strategy to attract new customers and stay connected with current ones. Today’s patrons want to feel special and to have a more personalized shopping experience. With the popularity of smart phones and tablets, Geo-Location Technology has taken the lead with apps like Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare and even Facebook. More and more, search engines have given increased weight to geo-location and review based mediums.
To break down ”SoLoMo”: Social refers to connectivity and interaction with customers. This also refers to user reviews and ratings. Local is the understanding and data collection of a business’ clientele and location. Mobile refers to portability and the overwhelming use of smartphones and other portable devices to make decisions on the go. Search engines are giving more weight to location based data such as check-ins and customer reviews. Search Engine Optimization, properly utilizing these technologies is vital to SEO.
When searches are made from a computer, the search engine bases the location on the IP Address. However, this does not provide the hyper-local information necessary for most small businesses and mom & pop stores to compete with national chains. According to a recent survey by Pew, around 42% of Americans with cell phones have a smart phone, this translates to approximately 98 million people. A recent survey also found that over 70 million of the smartphone owners use apps on a daily basis. According to CNN TECH, the bulk of the growth has been with the college educated population under 65 years of age. Mashable reports, “… adoption rates are still stronger among certain demographics. College graduates, 18-35 year olds and those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more are 60% more likely to have a smartphone than other groups.” With these numbers, the marketing potential cannot be ignored.
Many of the apps that allow Check-Ins offer the ability for businesses to market promotions and to even act as a customer loyalty reward system. Once a user checks-in using the GPS in the phone, they can receive discounts or receive incentives for repeat patronage. Users can write reviews from their seats, upload photos and brag about where they are at the time. The more activity a location has, the better the search engine optimization (SEO), increasing the likelihood that your business will get found over your local competition.
It is ill-advised not to stay engaged with customers through the various social media accounts. This is much like having a phone number and answering machine but never checking the voice mail or returning calls. Customers like to feel that their opinion matters and offers the business the ability to see their prospective of what your business’ strengths and potential weaknesses that can be changed. Even with negative feedback a business has the opportunity to invite the guest or customer back to hopefully have a more enjoyable experience. Often customers will amend their public negativity to reflect their improved opinion.
Data gathering is another essential that mobility and other social mediums offer. Most programs have breakdowns of users’ gender, age and activity to see what is working/or not to help focus efforts to achieve maximum results. Analytical programs will also show which sites are generating traffic to your website. This also shows who your customer base is to allow your business to cater to the current base or alter efforts to attract a different demographic.
Like it or not, companies that understand and utilize SoLoMo will be at the forefront of marketing. Push marketing tactics are becoming a thing of the past as pull marketing is increasingly appealing to consumers. Stay connected, understand your customer base and improve patronage and sales through Social Local Mobile strategies.