Leveraging social media, online coupon strategies and more

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How can social media can boost a traditional direct marketing program?

Kelly Cutler, CEO of strategic interactive advisory firm Marcel Media, names increased online buzz, increased likeability and fresh content as market­ing plusses of social media. “Creating a buzz attracts people,” she notes. “Name recognition is a very powerful tool, even on the Internet, and it indirectly adds credibility to smaller companies.”

She adds, “Although direct marketing advocates look for quantity of impressions, being linkable also helps increase Google PageRank. Social networking provides a foundation to link Web sites from relevant content, thus increasing linkability.”

Social networking is an ongoing activity that depends on fresh, user-generated content. Cutler says it “helps Web sites get higher ranks based on the update frequency of the content. Fresh content is a significant way to attract and retain new visitors to your site.”

WORD-OF-MOUTH

How can I get the most value from issuing online coupons?

“Recognize that coupons are viral marketing, whether you like it or not,” Jonathan Lieberman, founder and CEO of DealLocker.com, responds. “You work hard to create a compelling offer and, when you are successful, people will share it with their friends. You can even submit them directly to coupon aggrega­tion sites to get the ball rolling.”

He urges marketers to remember that the coupon, including the tracking code is marketing. “Pick a code that makes the user feel smart or special. Our internal research shows significantly improved conversions for codes that compliment the user like SMARTMOM, or those that foster the sense of discovery like SECRETSALE.” Lieberman adds unpronounceable codes and those that mix letters and numbers likely make it more difficult for consumers to remember and to share coupons, which can hurt conversions.

SEARCH

What's the difference between sponsored links and search engine marketing?

David Reeve, marketing manager of WebVisible, offers an example: “Open a Web browser and go to a search engine — Google or Yahoo will do. In the search window, enter the term ‘plumber' and the name of the city you live in. You're likely to see many ads for plumbers that serve your city. Each plumber listed on this page is using some method of ‘search engine marketing' to get your attention.”

One such method, Reeve explains, is sponsored links, which fall under the broad subject of search engine marketing. “Sponsored links are business ads that appear in the top and right-side columns of the search results page. The plumber paid money to have his ad placed there, hence the term ‘sponsored'.” He adds, “Business marketers prefer sponsored links because there is no wasted inventory. Advertisers pay only when an interested consumer clicks on the ad.”

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