I recently received an email blast advertising a shoe sale on a well-known shoe website. I didn’t think I needed new shoes (WHAT?!) and deleted the email. A few days later I found out about a business trip and decided I wanted to find a red pair of shoes.
I didn’t have the email handy, but visited the site thinking I would easily find the deal from their homepage or "specials" section.
I think spent 20 minutes ranting to my daughter about how if they're going to do it, do it, and make sure it's noticeable, and easy to find even if you don’t have the details handy.
Now – if this had been an email-subscriber-only offer, I could have understood the reasoning behind not displaying the special prominently on the site, but after ranting and digging through my deleted emails I found the email, wondering if it was exclusive to subscribers. Nope, nothing in the verbiage indicated exclusivity, nor did it say that was the only way to find out about the sale.
The problem is, if every platform you have isn’t integrated and doesn’t work together on the promotion, you're missing out.
Here's the deal, if you're going to do it, do it well, do it right, and make it dead-simple to find, shop, and buy based on your special.
I have a running list of the platforms and ad creative needed to run a successful campaign across multiple platforms. This list is pretty comprehensive. If you're not active in an area and aren’t interested, don’t feel obligated.
When running a campaign, try to think about all the areas where you want to promote your campaign and then what you need in each spot to enhance the promotion; it's more than just words.
What follows is a handy checklist as we start ramping up for shopping season and the holidays.
- Ensure your landing page has easy to understand "how to buy" and "what's in it for me" messaging accessible from homepage creative or the sale page.
- Press releases are tricky, because you want to announce your deal, but make it sound like news versus sales-speak. The reach you can get with a press release makes it a viable option, but you might have to work with PRWeb or Vocus a bit to get the content fine-tuned to be information instead of being packed full of the hard sell. Remember, press releases are news.
- Text ads to test, pointing at your landing page. Have a plan for different calls to action to test and try.
- Image ads reflecting the creative you've designed for the campaign. You need these for Display advertising, and at the very least, remarketing. You can use Google's Display Ad Builder or you can have your designer create them for you. If you have creatives already done, having your designer create them is best. The sizes you need and the rules about what ads can and cannot contain are outlined here.
- Text ads are best on adCenter. As with Google, make sure you have a plan for the ad copy and calls to action.
- You can do some content advertising with Bing, but it's text only. They have display advertising as an option, but don’t offer much detail without submitting a form. I suspect this is because it's priced for large accounts. It's worth a try if you have the budget, small advertisers might want to just stick with text ads.
You want to be careful to pick platforms where they are participating, strong and have an audience. Social media is one of those areas.
If you don’t like Facebook or currently have an active page, then creating a page for a one-off promotion is probably not your best plan. The same goes with Twitter, Pinterest or other social media/networking sites. You don’t need to do all of these, but you need to do it right if you're active in any of these areas.
- If your page has 500 likes or more, you can do a sponsored story within Facebook. This is a great way to get your message in front of friends of people who "like" your page.
- Facebook recommends using horizontal images in your Facebook Ads – photos say more than words to most users – a 100x72 image is perfect – or an image that you can resize to 100x72 and still be clear.
- Does the type of promotion you're running offer new targeting options? Think about those as you go through the process of setting up your campaign.
- Promoted Tweets are opportunities for you to have your tweet show at the top of a relevant search on Twitter.
- A promoted trend shows in the list of Trending Topics on your website.
- Running a promotion on LinkedIn can have good results for business-to-business (B2B) entities. Their advertising platform works much like a hybrid of Google and Facebook's platforms – you can create text ads or image ads and have them show based on your targeting that can be anywhere from industry and geography to group membership and job title. There are a lot of targeting options within LinkedIn.
- No advertising platform exists within Pinterest – but you should still promote your products here with seed pins and an engaging profile if the site's demographic is a good fit.
- Submitting your promotion-specific creative and landing pages to StumbleUpon can bring big rewards. There are several articles around about getting the most out of a StumbleUpon campaign. I think this one by BlueGlass is the best.
Niche-Related Social Media Sites
- These are the places where you and your competitors share ideas and insights. It might be a forum or a community, but it's a place where you can get your promotion right in front of a sure-to-be-shopping-for-your-product demographic.
- These can get pricey, so be sure you know all the rules upon how to advertise.
- BradsDeals: I really like this coupon site, and they source deals from all over the Internet. If you're running a great deal, it might be worth it to reach out to them. They are currently developing a way for companies to reach out to them, but for right now it's mostly just things they find. My recommendation for right now is to Tweet or Facebook deals to them if you think they're worthy.
- Groupon: They take a big cut, so be sure your discount can handle this.
- Woot: If your product/sale is a big discount, Woot's "Deals" section may feature it. You'll need creative and text to support your creative.
Honestly, this is where I see the biggest "fails" of all in marketing outreach. I think many people do email marketing because they feel they have to – but they don’t do it well. This really is sad. Email marketing is by far the highest converting form of online marketing – if – your email list is 100 percent opt in.
Here are five top tips for getting the most out of your email marketing blast in conjunction with an Internet-wide promotion.
- Test your subject lines. Take the list you're sending to, split it in half, and test two different subject lines if you don’t know which one will work better.
- Send a follow-up blast within 4-6 days to anyone who didn’t open the first blast. Depending upon the platform this can be tricky – but it can be done with some Excel magic.
- Best times to send deals are Sunday mornings or Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You might not know what time zone your subscribers are in, you can find out if you collect their city/state when they sign up – then export to Excel and sort – you can probably see what time zone is in the majority
- Depending upon what you're selling – location may affect how someone buys. For example, if you sell shoes – you might want to send warm-climate states sandal-type specials, where you might want to send the frozen north an email about boots and slippers. Pay attention to location and demographics. Good email marketing can help you do this.
- Never – ever – send a blast from your own email account as a cc or bcc – this could go a long way toward having your email account blacklisted and every email you send thereafter could show up as spam to those that received it. Bad, bad idea. My favorite platforms are Constant Contact, iContact, and MailChimp.
There are a ton of opportunities and variables for you to consider when repurposing one piece of ad creative, or even one promotion idea. Keep track of what you need so you have everything prepared ahead of time and ready to go.
If you have more ideas on any of these techniques or platforms, please feel free to share them in the comments – I'm always looking for more ideas to add to my list, and I hope you are, too!
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