Welcome Frost & Sullivan eBulletin Readers

A few weeks ago I got a Facebook message from Caryn Brown from Frost & Sullivan, saying that she wanted to feature my blog as a “Recommended Read” in the eBulletin, a quarterly electronic publication for past participants in Sales and Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. (I guess they ordinarily feature a book in this section.) I asked Caryn to let me know when the eBulletin would be distributed, so I could welcome you properly and share links to some of the posts I’ve done about Frost & Sullivan events. She kindly obliged, so here’s a quick intro to Social Media University, Global — or SMUG.

SMUG is the University of Phoenix without the football stadium…or the tuition…or the accreditation. It’s a place for lifelong learners to get hands-on experience with social media tools, which are changing the way people communicate.

With well over 100 million blogs and upwards of 68 million active users of Facebook, I’ve said previously that for PR professionals, unfamiliarity with these tools borders on malpractice. The same is true for those involved in sales and marketing.

Especially when you can learn about them for free!

Continue reading “Welcome Frost & Sullivan eBulletin Readers”

Social Media University, Global

In December, I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop at the Association Forum of Chicagoland, as part of that organization’s Knowledge Lab. I called the course Facebook 101. There were lots of great questions and comments, far beyond what we could get to in that brief session. For several of the questions, I joked that they would be covered in the Facebook 201 course.

I’ve also found that some of my most popular posts have been those that offer practical advice on how to get started in social media. My 12-Step Program for PR Pros has even been edited and repackaged for Association Executives and veterinarians. I reflected on this as I traveled to Phoenix for the Frost & Sullivan conference, after having said I was planning a series of how-to, step-by-step posts about using Facebook for qualitative research, I changed my mind. It seemed it was time to develop a more structured approach to these tutorials. If a 12-step introduction to the social media field has been helpful to many, perhaps a thorough, detailed exploration of particular subjects would be even better.

So to have a little fun with this I’ve decided — in keeping with my family’s homeschooling experience and the disruptive nature of Facebook, blogs and social media —  to establish a new online institution of higher education. I’m calling it:

Social Media University, Global

(or SMUG, for short.)

In some future posts we’ll cover:

  • Why SMUG? How is it different?
  • Administration
  • Applying for Admission
  • Advanced Placement
  • Accreditation
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Tuition and Financial Aid
  • Attendance Policies
  • Auditing Classes
  • Majors and Minors
  • Graduation

I’ll be mixing those posts about SMUG’s structure with some actual coursework. And the very next post will be Facebook 101: Introduction to Facebook.

Frost & Sullivan SEO Vital Viewpoints

Panelists for this session were:

It’s important to buy PPC to supplement your natural search. If you have a natural ranking, advertise there too. People are more likely to click the natural result, and you can double your natural clicks just by being there in the paid rankings, too.

H-P suggests writing for the web first instead of adapting print materials.

Val says you need to integrate end-to-end, and make sure your landing page matches the keyword you are buying in PPC. This is a science with a little bit of art. Testing is critical. Creative, keywords and landing page all need to relate.

Protect your real estate. Buy competitor names and buy your own name too. Put defensive money into the game.

Val’s don’ts:

  • Don’t think about search as a standalone strategy. It’s part of your mix. Have a single design team with cohesive campaigns.
  • Remember that there are other search engines besides Google and Yahoo. Some search engines are targeted to particular subject areas. Buy keywords in French in the Canadian market.
  • Test, test, test. Don’t set it and forget it. You need to check on this every day.

Yahoo Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools were recommended.

The Frost & Sullivan Blogging Panel

Through a room mix-up (my fault) I was about 10 minutes late to this session, so I’m jumping in without a lot of set-up. I’ll plan to put it in context later.

Chris Heuer – The blog is the platform to create media. All companies are media companies. In developing the editorial calendar, look at the SEO plan and the keywords you want to own, and cover content. Understand the power of access; you have the ability to provide the “official” voice.

Bill from Intel – says a really big company can perhaps wait and monitor blogs instead of diving in, but for a second-tier competitor it’s a huge opportunity to have a voice much bigger than they would “deserve” from their relative place in the market.

Q: What are the top three reasons to blog? What are company objectives?

A: Cost of not doing it, and not having a voice in the conversation. Efficiency of marketing communications. Brand value. Connecting with people who care. The brand with the best storytellers wins. It’s also great for SEO. The market intelligence you get is the most raw, unfiltered information about yourself and your competitors.

Blogs provide brand advocates a way to speak out about how they feel about the product, not what the company is telling them to say. We’re not “using” customers, we’re empowering them. Not “leveraging.” The language is important because it can reveal a mindset that is antithetical to the social media world.

Companies don’t have to be in a glamorous line of business to benefit from social media. Fiskars scissors has “Fiskateers” for its word-of-mouth program. Intel has identified 50-100 bloggers who are most passionate about its products. BlendTec has the Will it Blend series. If those can become interesting, any product can…with some creativity.

Cara from H-P suggested linking to blogs that talk about your subject of interest.  The more you help bloggers’ voice to be heard, the more likely they are to write favorably about you.

You don’t necessarily need to have a blog to engage in the blogosphere. Commenting as an employee (always being transparent about your identity) in posts that are about your company.

Companies could consider having a directory of employee blogs that is linked to from the company blog. H-P has online, self-paced mandatory training for its corporate bloggers. Refresher on standards of business conduct. H-P is seeing more of its leaders set the example by starting their own blogs and encouraging other employees to do likewise.

Intel has bought video cameras for all of its PR offices, telling people to take the cameras to press conferences and events. Intel created a contest on who could get the most views on their videos. One employee got 85,000 views for his video and won bragging rights over a colleague who got only 500.

It’s important to look at social media tools for what they can do, and how you can adapt to your business goals. For instance, Dell uses Twitter for its Dell Outlet to sell refurbished units. They immediately sell out. Twitter’s 140-character limit also can be used to help focus your message. It’s a good way to impose discipline.

We closed by asking participants to list their favorite blogs. Here they are:

In honor of the presidential primary season, here are some political blogs (two from each side):

I know I missed a lot, so will appreciate any additional comments people may have. What points did you think were most important?

Advanced Email Strategies to Boost Response Rates

John Harrison from Yesmail led this discussion. Among the measures the experienced email marketers in this group look at are Open rate, click-through, opt-in rates, channels they came through, time spent of site, net gain or loss of subscribers, what do the campaigns do to opt-out rate of a contact stream.

Conversion metrics typically used include new registrations, downloading a PDF, or whatever the objective of the campaign was. It all depends on the goal. Another organization has used inferred means, such as purchases over time. People who have more interaction with their email have been shown to have higher value.

Some have used email to test messaging for direct mail marketing. Intuit, for example, matches customer registrations (about 70 percent of purchasers register) against their email and direct mail history, to see whether people have gone online to purchase or purchased in a store.

Generic rental lists of email addresses typically have bad response rates. If companies have advertised with a magazine, however, renting that subscription list may be better. It’s important to scrub against your house list to be sure you’re not spamming. The key is to create a value proposition that causes them to register to become part of your house list. If it costs $200 per customer to acquire a customer through other marketing channels (e.g. TV or direct mail), a list rental may be cost-effective. It will never match the performance of your house list.

Email Strategies – John listed several subject areas to consider. We didn’t get to all of them, but if people have ideas to add in the comments, I know others would be glad to hear them.

Contact/Frequency — Ranges may be 3-5 times per month at max. Companies centralize management of the list to prevent various marketing groups from contacting the same people. For people who have requested a specific category of updates, they can get more than the basic rule would allow. Others are once per 30 days unless they have opted in.



Subject Lines — From address and Subject Line are overlooked elements, and should be user-friendly and tied to your brand. Purpose of the From address is brand and recognition. If you do that right you can have more flexibility with the subject line. The only purpose of the subject line is to get someone to open the message.

Creative — Gerber, for instance, does a series of Baby Center emails based on pregnancy phase, sending emails during each week letting expectant moms know what to expect. Petsmart created a Pet-of-the-Month contest to integrate into its email messages.



Emerging Media — Widgets branded for Desktop, RSS, SMS, Mobile delivery, social networks. Adoption of RSS is slow, limited mainly to geeks. Email is a glue that holds other channels together. It’s one thing that everyone “gets.” Even the social network sites have email notification options. That’s one reason they work well, because those who aren’t constantly living in Facebook get alerts through email or by text message.

Time to market/getting an email out the door — Political campaigns are great at timeliness, whereas some businesses can take weeks to take advantage of a timely opportunity.