Traditional and digital marketing thrive in tandem

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Drayer: We very much have a heritage as a cataloger. The multichannel component came later. Print is still a viable channel for us. We're using the catalog, we're using print as an acquisition tool to bring in new customers. That's been very effective.

With e-commerce, there are a couple of the things that we're thinking about right now. Among our current initiatives is optimizing our e-commerce site from a personalization or behavioral targeting standpoint.

As a multichannel retailer, the heart of our business is our customer database. We want to make sure that we're making the right decisions on attribution and monitoring behaviors that are important so that we can run CRM and figure out "is it better for me to send this person a catalog next or an e-mail next?"

Trainor: We've been testing content. LED is a new and up-and-coming technology, so in the last few months we've been testing content around LED [in our e-mail]. We've seen triple response rates any time we include content regarding LED.

Musante: Content is huge for us. The most scarce thing in this fragmented media world is the consumer's attention. In order for a marketer to get a consumer's attention, they have to offer value. 

Brian Bolton (Bridgeline Digital): We work with a lot of customers that are grappling with content management. They say, "My content's not on my website anymore. My content's on Facebook. My content's on Twitter. My content's in an e-mail campaign that's all over the place." We've actually revamped our products to give marketers more ability to manage that concept of content. That applies not only to what you're doing on your website and how that content is performing there, but hooks into what you're doing anywhere your content can be found. 

Direct Marketing News: How is social media playing a role in your marketing strategy?

Braun: We've done a lot of work over the last six to nine months on social media and trying to understand buying habits of consumers around financial products. We're selling the relationship that you have with your adviser. Those individuals are our brand ambassadors. We just launched a pilot a week ago with 50 of our AXA advisers. [We're] training them on how to use social media and providing preapproved content that we developed. 

Kimmel: Many companies are still figuring it out. I think the biggest question now is who owns social media? What is it, and what is the best way for marketers to use it? A lot of companies are deciding it's not an e-commerce play.

Direct Marketing News: Ginny, is it about customer service or e-commerce for Microsoft?

Musante: No, it is about engagement. For example, on Halloween, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups did a campaign with Xbox where they invited you to enter your avatar in a Halloween costume. A total of 1.6 million people dressed up and entered the contest, and something like 125,000 people clicked on and played the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup TV ad. People talked about it on Facebook and Twitter. The challenge becomes how to track that.

Kimmel: Social media is forcing marketers to be marketers. Marketing for the last 30 years has been about advertising communication. It hasn't been about product. It really hasn't been about price and it hasn't been about place. But suddenly, with consumer empowerment, consumers are deciding what they want and what to recommend to others. Social media is forcing marketers to think about holistic marketing. I think it's very exciting if you're a marketer, because most marketers today don't have influence on the totality of marketing.

Direct Marketing News: Is it a marketing function or a PR function or both?

Bolton: It can be both. We're executing a nine-city seminar tour around content marketing. We made a conscious decision to do a lot with Twitter around this event. We've been promoting the hashtag. Every confirmation e-mail, it's in there with links to automatically post on Twitter. The amount of traffic that we're starting to generate around our hashtag on Twitter has generated registrations from people that we're not even marketing to. A lot of the other stuff that everyone talks about is hard to measure. 

Direct Marketing News: Is anyone else able to measure social media yet?

Westerman: We look at social media really as an evangelism function. We did a lot of work with Microsoft about 15 years ago when the developer relations group still existed. It reminds me a lot of the activities that they used to do, where you have evangelists who work for your company who then empower third parties to talk on your behalf. 

Bolton: The speaker on our content marketing tour tells a story in her presentation about taking a trip to Armenia and looking for a camera. She throws a question out on Twitter asking for a recommendation for a camera. Then, the VP of marketing from Kodak responded to her directly and made a suggestion. Now she's telling everybody.

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