Your Marketing and Design Reading for The Weekend

After a great trip last week to Manila to meet with the Affinity Express team at our production facility, I am happy to be back at my desk (but oy, the jet lag!). There was a stack of publications and a full in-box waiting for me, so I found quite a few articles I think you will find interesting for your weekend reading.

The results are in: Pitney Bowes Small Business Marketing SurveyWeekly Marketing Reading

Pitney Bowes surveyed 750 small businesses to determine how they use marketing channels and to identify areas for improvement. They also provided tips and suggestions for each channel.

The survey turned up some interesting statistics

  • 46% of respondents use email as their primary channel for business communication.
  • 73% of respondent do not measure their email marketing metrics.
  • 80% do not measure their direct mail or transaction mail metrics

The reason email is so prevalent is ease of use and cost-effectiveness. Although small businesses employ other channels, the bulk of their communications is in traditional channels like email, phone, direct mail and others.

When considering the size and length of time in business of the companies, none of the larger companies use social media as their primary business channel, nor do any of the businesses 11 to 15 years old. The ones that do use social media primarily tend to have ten or fewer employees and are less than ten years old. In contrast, larger companies use transaction mail as the main communication channel more than their smaller counterparts.

A few more points jumped out at me:

  • The fact that many businesses are still not using social media provides an opportunity for small businesses to reach audiences that their competitors aren’t.
  • Many businesses are concentrated on just a few channels, meaning they fail to take advantage of the power of integrated marketing campaigns (e.g., using social media to support email increases open rates).
  • Only 40% of the small businesses are using email for business development/marketing versus correspondence related to ongoing business.
  • Most businesses have one hundred or fewer subscribers in their email lists.

It seems like there is a great opportunity to provide solutions to these small companies to help them better promote their businesses and communicate with prospects, as they are clearly struggling to market and measure their efforts.

US Digital Ad Spending to Top $37 Billion in 2012 as Market Consolidates

I know my small budget doesn’t move the needle but still believe it is important to follow the spending trends in marketing to confirm we are knowledgeable and making smart choices for our businesses (regardless of size). According to eMarketer, digital ad spending will rise 16.6% this year and there will be double-digit growth through 2014. Interestingly enough, eMarketer lowered the projected rate of increase from 17.7% previously because the digital ad spending market is approaching maturity faster than expected.

Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL will take in $23.9 billion in ad revenues, which is almost two-thirds of digital ad spending in 2012. Google alone will have 41.3% of total digital ad revenues. Search is the leading category for spending but its share will begin to drop this year as rich media, sponsorship and video categories increase. Digital video will have the highest growth rate at 46.5%.

Those of us at Affinity Express are pretty happy that video, rich media and banner ads are all growing at a healthy pace. We added digital ads as a product several years ago but video is one of our newer services and we’ve definitely seen the adoption rate climb among our clients.

CMO survey finds optimism about economy on the wane

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association surveyed 531 senior marketers at B2B and B2C companies in the U.S. this summer. When asked how optimistic they are about the overall U.S. economy on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being most optimistic, the average response was 58.4, down from 63.4 in February. The apparent reason is that people expected that once the economy started to improve, there would be a consistent rate of recovery but things have slowed down a bit.

  • CMOs reported that marketing spending growth has slowed, with average budgets projected to increase 6.4% over the next 12 months, down from 8.1% average growth. B2B marketing budget growth will lag behind B2C.
  • The most significant growth will come from B2C product companies (8.6% increase)
  • The next highest growth will come from B2C service companies (6.8%) (yeah!)
  • B2B service companies will increase their marketing budgets an average 6.2% (no change from February).
  • B2B product companies will increase marketing budgets 5.7%
  • B2B service companies will also increase their budgets for developing new products and services at a higher rate than the other groups and the average will be a 4.2% increase. They will also increase their budgets at a higher rate for diversification strategy than other groups (2.2%).

All groups will decrease their spending on market penetration strategy. As Christine Moorman, senior professor of business administration at Fuqua School of Business, commented, “You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing. You have to try new things.”

Nailing the Landing: Four Steps for Optimizing Landing Pages and Forms to Improve Conversions

In this white paper, Demandbase and MarketingProfs liken the traditional exchange of business cards in person long ago to visiting web pages and clicking “submit” today. But prospects are becoming increasingly reluctant to share their personal information because they are saturated with such requests, they can get a lot of information without going through this process and they may not find the conversion offer a comparable tradeoff for the details requested. Plus, since individuals know a lot more about whatever they are looking for today, a B2B may only get one shot at a good first impression. Here is the advice provided:

1. Sharpen the hook. The web form is the hook on a landing page and it delivers the prospect into the B2B database, but typically very little investment is made in designing strong landing pages and contact forms. Shorten the form, identify the optimal fields your sales team needs to act and use the right labels for fields to increase the accuracy of information submitted.

2. Prepare the lure. Dedicated landing pages are common but not as much with B2B companies because they are not looking for high-volume, low-cost transactions. Rather, B2Bs need to bait (landing page) a hook (action form) for a select breed of customer.

A) Landing Page Content

  • Focus on one message
  • Test different types of content to determine the best response for the target.
  • Use strong headlines.
  • Deliver on the offer (e.g., a white paper, trend report, etc.).
  • Ensure your privacy policy if visible and accessible to allay any concerns.
  • Organize content to facilitate conversion.
  • Validate with client quotes, association memberships, client logos and other proof sources.

B) Landing Page Design

  • Build trust by aligning the landing page to the corporate brand.
  • Make the visual flow logical versus forcing visitors to jump around the page.
  • Eliminate visual distractions.
  • Reinforce the conversion offer and its value.
  • Limit navigation to what is needed to convert the visitor (the cattle chute metaphor is used).
  • Use color sparingly to draw attention to a few critical parts of the page.
  • Place key items above the fold so they are immediately visible.
  • Simplify the page.

3. Check your line. Test forms, test designs and test content. Pretty straightforward!

4. Use a fish finder. This section is about using tools such as Demandbase for landing page and form optimization, so I’ll leave it to you to go to their site to read more.

Ultimately, the white paper makes the point that landing page optimization increases conversions and creating shorter forms is the most important change you can make.

Four Crazy Easy Ways to Get More from Your Email Marketing

60 Second Marketer offers quick, easily-digestible advice. When it comes to email, they suggest:

  1. Use Opt-In Subscriber Lists Only
  2. Write Action-Oriented Subject Lines
  3. Focus on a Narrow Market
  4. Make It Easy to Place an Order

I think all of the tips are pretty self-explanatory but narrowing your focus is one that can be quite difficult. It’s worth taking the time to segment your lists so you can better tailor the copy, offer and timing of your emails.

We’re going through a project right now to segment our clients so we can develop communications by vertical (e.g., multimedia publishers, retailers, etc.) and by function (e.g., decision-makers, salespeople, technical users, etc.). It is not easy work but we all agree that the rewards are worth it. For example, if we want to send news about our workflow system, we’re going to have different messaging for the head of advertising and the IT director. If you target different industries or have multiple contacts at each client that influence decisions, you should do the same.

7 Reasons Agile Marketers Are Better at Their Jobs Than You

How many times this week, while you were sitting in a meeting, did you wish you were back at your desk actually getting something done? Then you probably want to be (or maybe are already) an agile marketer. It’s a mindset about responding more quickly rather than having a meeting to prepare for another meeting about a presentation to get permission to do something. Yes, for many of us, jumping through hoops is required in certain situations. But you can still act at your discretion in some cases and should seize every opportunity. Why?

  • Agile marketers publish more content.
  • Agile marketers can newsjack.
  • Agile marketers can jump in on social media conversations.
  • Agile marketers use analytics to make quick, actionable decisions.
  • Agile marketers can create new web pages quickly.
  • Agile markets use A/B testing to incrementally improve . . . every day!
  • Agile marketers are used to learning new things, and failing fast.

I think most marketers crave the ability to act. The challenge is convincing CEOs, CFOs and other business leaders to both fund and support our efforts. Try sharing this post with them!

Hope you had a great week and enjoy a couple of days of downtime. Where I live, the weather is turning cooler. Soon we’ll be able to catch up on all the marketing reading over a cup of hot cocoa–something to look forward to! Thanks for filling in for me last week, Kriti!

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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