Tips for industry experts

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SOCIAL MEDIA

How can I create e-mail messages that are easily shared in social media?

Do you want your e-mails and newsletters to be shared in social media, but don't know how to encourage your readers to do so? It is not as tricky as you might think, says Phil Fernandez, CEO of Marketo, a business-to-business marketing automation firm. An easy way to make your e-mail campaigns social-media friendly is to use a plug-in like ShareThis or AddThis. These sites add a small bar to a blog post or Web page that allows content to be distributed to hundreds of sites, he says. "The trouble with these tools is that you may want to customize the message that is going to be shared," says Fernandez. "This means sharing more than a URL by adding the content title or promotion into the message as well." Fortunately, custom links that share content in social media are easy, too. This can be done in e-mails or landing pages for lots of sites including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. Simply replace the custom link with the actual URL and the new title with the actual title for these popular sites including Facebook and LinkedIn, notes Fernandez.

INTERNET MARKETING

How should companies improve their websites?

Most business-to-business websites have two problems: increasing volumes of content and serving the same content and experience to all visitors, says Greg Ott, CMO of Demandbase, a marketing software provider. He adds that companies should distinguish their messaging depending on who their potential customers are, and use tools that enable businesses to tailor the Web experience to each visitor and dramatically increase engagement and conversion rates. "Just like your targeted collateral and advertising, you know that messages most relevant to a visitor from Behemoth Software Industries are different than messages relevant to a visitor from Small Co. Inc.," he says. "This really poses the question — what would you do differently if you knew who was about to visit your site?" Unique to the b-to-b marketing space, this personalization requires identifying the visitor's company, industry and other key information in real time; in other words, an account-based view of your traffic. "Smart marketers, listen up — your customers are ready to engage with you on your site," says Ott. "Are you giving them the best experience possible?"

INTEGRATED MARKETING

How do companies blend traditional and digital marketing?

Consumers are increasingly engaging with digital media to seek savings, and traditional media is often what drives it, says Suzie Brown, CMO of Valassis Communications. This blended approach enhances a promotion's reach and impact by incorporating digital and print in a single program. For example, while looking through their coupon booklet or insert, consumers often respond to an ad asking them to text for a free offer or coupon, she says. Clients have found these campaigns to be successful in engaging consumers, activating response, building brand awareness, driving store traffic and influencing purchase behavior, notes Brown. While online coupons have historically represented a small percentage of coupons in the marketplace, they continue to grow. "From an advertising perspective, the Internet has continued to grow throughout the recession aided by the shift of budgets from traditional media," she says. "Digital media is forecast to continue that growth, which means advertisers will need to reach their consumers in both traditional and digital media to be successful."

INTERACTIVE BARCODES

How can companies effectively incorporate barcodes?

As the buzz surrounding QR codes (smart barcodes or interactive barcodes) continues to grow among marketers across a variety of industries, it is important to consider just how to effectively incorporate them into your materials. Anyone with a smart phone can scan and read them, and anyone with access to a computer can generate them. However, for these codes to offer value, a strategy for using them is important. "Make the content interesting and appealing to the consumer," says John Larkin, president and CEO of Centiv. "One of the advantages QR codes offer is the ability to encourage consumers to connect with your brand in a nonintrusive manner. Easing consumers into the technology by keeping content neutral and informative, not promotional, can help ensure they offer enough value to encourage engagement."

For example, a wine manufacturer may include a smart barcode on its newest marketing materials so that when the customer scans the code with his phone, he is taken to a website containing various pairing options for that particular wine," says Larkin. "Having a strategy behind the use of QR codes will reap better results."

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