29 August – Email is still the best way to communicate to your partners

 

A bold headline, right? Well this was born from a meeting I attended recently with a large channel-centric organisation. I was explaining exactly what we do, and the concepts behind our socialondemand® solution (which enables our customers to communicate THROUGH their intermediaries, i.e. their channel partners and employees, TO their end-users / consumers). This led a senior member of their team to ask me, “But can we also use social to communicate TO our partners?”

 

It’s a good question

 

Yes you can, but it’s really not the best way to do it. Apart from the rather obvious difficulties like restricted character count, there are numerous other problems. For example who are you sending your message to? Do they all have a social media account? Do they want to receive business messages through their personal accounts? Do they always check their accounts? Are you sending the right message to the right person? How do you track open rates? Click-thru rates?

 

There is already a better way and it’s been around for 20 years

 

Email is still undoubtedly the best way of communicating with your partners. I’m sure your Head of Marketing has been looking at his/her partner email results for the past few years and seen them steadily decline, and assumed that the type of communication (email) was to blame. I suppose this same person looked at other types of communication like social media as a way to ‘stop the rot’ and move that partner engagement dial up, instead of down.

 

The unfortunate truth is that this Head of Marketing wasn’t asking the most important question first, “Are we just really bad at communicating with our partners?”

 

Email still works, but doing what you’ve always done won’t get you better results

 

As a channel marketer, I know that companies often find a successful groove, a routine if you will, and that’s where they stay. Often five years down the road they’re still doing the same emails every week, with the same message, sent in the same way, to the same people. It won’t surprise you that after a while your results are going to plateau at best, or more likely decline as time goes on.

 

Add to this that typically organisations don’t really know who their partners are and what they are interested in.

 

Finally, everybody sends too many emails. Full stop!

 

In my meeting, I explained all of this, to which the Head of Marketing asked, “You’re saying we need a new creative?”…No, absolutely not! Marketing starts with data, and as such your starting point should always be to ask “Am I communicating with the right people?” The next step is to see if you are communicating with the right people, at the right time, with the right message. This isn’t an alien concept to marketers, it’s called segmentation.

 

Segmentation and personalisation will get you results, but they are also hugely time consuming and it is unrealistic to believe you will get to the “nirvana” of all marketers – personalisation down to the single customer level – or is it?

 

For example, if you are a channel marketer looking to send a newsletter to a global partner audience in 3 different partner segments, in 9 languages, you are going to need to produce 27 different versions of the same newsletter. That’s a lot of work… and money!

 

Here’s the simple solution

 

Let your partners (or customers) decide exactly what they want to be informed about and exactly how often they would like to receive your news. Don’t try to guess this for them. Let them decide.

 

Our e-communications platform – newsondemand – allows marketers to personalise content right down to the single customer level, without having to produce more than one version of their content.

 

Too good to be true? Not this time. Here’s how it works;

 

  1. Your customers/ partners choose the content they are interested in hearing from you, what language they want it in, and the frequency they want to hear it.
  2. You create small articles, or long articles, and tag this content (by country, language, product interest, partner types/ tiers, etc., the list is endless).
  3. newsondemand will then take this tagged content, and from the filters your customers or partners have chosen, will build specific HTML email newsletters for them based on their preferences (it’s all automated, so you won’t need additional HTML developers to do the work).
  4. The newsletters are personalised to the single customer level, and are uniquely timely and relevant. Your recipients are involved in your marketing process, and are more engaged as a result.
  5. Your newsletters are opened by up to 50% of your database, and have up to a 20% click-thru rate (these are results Adobe achieved with newsondemand).

 

It’s that simple.

 

Keep social as a THRU communication/ amplification/ syndication method

 

This in turn frees up your social media channel to be used for what it really should be used for; generating leads and sales. This doesn’t mean filling up your social media networks with bland sales and marketing messages, there’s a lot more to social selling and brand awareness than that, but it does mean that you are not wasting opportunities in the biggest shop window on Earth, and using precious marketing resources on interacting with your partners on social media.

 

No of course I am not saying you should avoid all interactions with your partners on social media, far from it, but it should be seen as an addition to your social media efforts, and not an integral part of it.

 

We still have email, it still works, but you need to use it in the right way.

22 August – “Crisis management on social media”, the five words marketing directors lose sleep over.

 

I talk a lot about the positives on social media. There are many; the connectedness, the networking, and sales and marketing opportunities, the fun. But what about the negatives? What happens when someone says something bad about us? What happens when something that is out of our control happens, which affects our brand?

 

Ignore the bad, analyse and copy the best

 

There are plenty of examples of when things have gone wrong for some very prominent brands. My advice here is to ignore the examples where crisis management has been mishandled (making things worse), and to concentrate on the brands which have come out of a crisis expertly. Make no mistake though, crisis management isn’t luck, and I’ll take you through an example now.

 

Greggs and the Google logo

 

Very recently someone created an “alternative” logo for Greggs using the original Greggs’ logo as well as a choice company slogan with some pretty colourful and condescending language. They uploaded the logo onto the internet, where by some quirk of fate (and a heavy dose of Google algorithms), it was served up onto the world’s largest search engines whenever anybody searched for Greggs. This was quickly noticed, and shared widely across all social media platforms.

 

What a disaster, right? Not only was it incredibly public, it was no doubt going to be incredibly offensive to Greggs customers. How could Greggs possibly get out of this mess? Well, let’s look at what they did next:

 

  1. Greggs responded, not only with appreciation of what had happened but with a note to explain the situation (come on, who honestly thought they had really done this?)
  2. Greggs kept in touch with and responded to as much of the trolling activity as they could  with exactly the right tone an event like this required (in my opinion).
  3. Greggs engaged one of the biggest search engines in the world, publicly, and they both publicised the interaction and the progress, again captured in the most appropriate tone (IMO).
  4. Disaster avoided.

 

In essence, Greggs strategy was simply; awareness, proactivity, swiftness, communicating in an engaging and transparent way, dealing with everything with a sense of humour and candour, which made light of what was potentially a fairly big problem. By adopting these behaviours, and tactics, Greggs averted disaster and turned a negative into a viral success.

 

The point of being able to deal with a crisis

 

The point of all this is that social media activity needs to be managed. If you are in the public eye…well, you are in the public eye. People will always say good and bad things about you and your company/brand; whether it’s on Google, Twitter, in the back of a taxi or at a family BBQ.

 

Being able to deal with the bad, as well as the good of social media, is now a key part of a functioning business-big or small. Businesses rely on their brand, their reputation for revenue, so when a crisis threatens, you need to deal with it, be a part of it. Before it happens though, take a look at some examples of crisis “winners” like Greggs were yesterday, and see what you can learn, so that when it happens to you (and it will), you can turn a potential disaster into a victory.

18 August – Content maybe king, but content distribution is definitely queen

 

We’ve all heard it many times – blah blah… content is king.   This is undeniably a valid fact. Your marketing teams have to create masses of good content, and do so often, to feed your social media activities. Without this regular (and valuable) content, social media simply cannot survive.   But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Is content production really the only issue you have?  

 

Who follows you, and how far does your content reach?  

 

We’ve all worked hard to grow our follower base. You can grow a massive follower base by promoting content, and engaging in follower tricks like following-back and follow-Fridays, but this doesn’t really attract quality followers. Most of us realise that building a follower base with good numbers and good quality takes a lot of social media hustling, but that’s another story.

 

So you’ve grown a good follower base in the thousands, perhaps, if you’re lucky, in the tens of thousands. That’s great, but realistically, your content is not going to be seen by most of your followers, and probably quite a bit less (they maybe infrequent users of social media platforms, or your content might be hidden somewhere obscure in their newsfeed). Whilst you might get a handful of favourites, likes, retweets and shares, your total impressions are unlikely to exceed that of your total followers. More importantly, your content is only likely to be seen by your followers, people who know you, and nobody else.

 

My point is that it’s no good having killer content if you have no plan other than to distribute it on your own social media networks, to your own followers. You are probably just preaching to the converted!   Clearly, you need to be thinking about distribution before you create content.

 

Adopt the right technology and distribute your content to the correct buying audiences.

 

There are fantastic technologies that exist today that reduce this pain point in social media content distribution, and in some cases, remove it completely.  I may be biased, but I know from personal experience that there are solutions out there (like our very own socialondemand®) that allow vendors and brands to distribute their killer content much, much further, through their partners, retailers, employees and other brand advocates on social media.

 

By providing your content to your partners, retailers, employees and brand advocates regularly, and letting them post this as their own content on their social networks, you will then be able to maximise your investments in content. You will open exciting previously unreachable new avenues for readership and enable your partners, retailers, employees and brand advocates to generate more interest around your brands and products.

 

In other words, distributing your social media content efficiently maximises your opportunities for this content. You’ve done the hard work; creating rich and engaging content. Distributing and syndicating it via your interested brand advocates, will deliver the results.   So for me, content is king, but distribution is the queen, and she still definitely rules the roost.

 

If you are not convinced, please visit our site and read some of our case studies about our customers like Microsoft, Adobe and Mountain Hardwear, or feel free to drop me a line.