Friday, March 13, 2009

Patrick Giammarco, owner of PWG Marketing has put together a team of marketing and PR professionals to organize and plan Social Media Breakfast events in Toledo. “I came across Social Media Breakfast just before the holidays and made it a 2009 goal to start the event in the Glass City,” says Patrick Giammarco.

The Social Media Breakfast was founded by Bryan Person in August 2007 as an event where social media experts and newbies alike come together to eat, meet, share, and learn. “Things have progressed rather quickly. I started a discussion thread on the Ad Club of Toledo LinkedIn group and, within a couple of hours, had three people express interest in helping to plan SMB events in northwest Ohio. Today, the planning committee consists of nine other people,” says Patrick Giammarco. “We’ve been meeting for about a month and are pleased to announce the inaugural Social Media Breakfast Toledo will be held April 3, 2009.”

Social Media Breakfast Toledo planning committee:

  • Julie Cantu
  • Kevin Cesarz
  • Janeile Cudjoe
  • Mike Driehorst
  • Patrick Giammarco
  • Victoria Kamm
  • Tim Langhorst
  • Allen Mireles
  • Steve Robison
  • Michael Temple

About Social Media Breakfast Toledo Social Media Breakfast Toledo is a place where people of all levels of social media knowledge can come together to meet, share & learn how to utilize social media to connect & profit. Marketers, PR pros, entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, new-media fanatics, and online social networkers are all welcome to attend.

Only 200 seats available! Register now for the Social Media Breakfast Toledo premier event April 3, 2009.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Web Analytics vs. Business Know How

I read a recent article published by a company from Australia. You can read the article here. The author raises the issue that digital marketing campaigns are becoming more useful through tracking because of the improved analytics programs that are now available.

For example, in the article he gives a case of a person that goes to a web site via a pay to click ad, but doesn't buy. He later returns via a direct mail campaign and finally submits a form showing interest. His argument is that the person was not really a lead until he submitted the form, but most analytics programs would have targeted him from pay to click ad. What part of the campaign was responsible for making him a customer?

First, in advertising it often times takes multiple touches before someone will buy. Therefore, simply saying that the last item is what turned them into a customer is really incorrect. It might and most likely was a combination of multiple advertising messages. Unfortunately determining that is a business decision, not an analytics decision.

The point is that in any direct marketing analytics is very important, but how you interpret those analytics is what gives you real decision making information. Not everyone will use the same criteria to interpret something.

The author also seems to suggest that there is technology that is available to track a person from beginning to end. How exactly would someone do that if you are doing both offline and online marketing? The methods for tracking a unique person on a web site are flawed at best. I know hard core analytics gurus will argue with me on this point, but it is true. There is no definitive way to determine that a specific person with identifiable concrete information about their identity visited your web site through a certain channel and then later returned through another channel that isn't even online, unless they fill out some type of form or request some type of report or something, but that isn't analytics telling you that. CRM systems can get close on some of this if you have the rigtht business systems in place, but again the interpretation of analytics is an excercise in business decision making.

I agree with the author to a point that their are technologies available that will help track a prospect from beginning to end, but how you interpret data, what specific technologies you use, and whole host of other variables will determine the true effectiveness. Thankfully I believe we are still a very long way from replacing all people with analytics programs and computerized decision making software. For now anyway analytics is a tool and should be used, but don't put too much stock in it. It is simply one more piece to a very technical puzzle of direct marketing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is Direct Mail Dead?

I saw a recent report in Ad Week that was discussing the decline and eventual death of direct mail. You can read the story here. I found the arguments that the writer made accurate, but it made me wonder if there is still a role for direct mail in our digital world.

The article says that the economic circumstances are certainly adding to the issues and that direct mail may bounce back somewhat after the economy improves. It said most marketing managers were focused on digital channels to get their message out because it was lower cost.

A few questions...
  1. Is it really a lower cost?
  2. Is it as effective?
  3. Is there a role for direct mail in this digital world?
Let's start with the first question, is it really lower cost. From the perspective of having to print and pay for postage, yes it is certainly cheaper. However, in direct mail you used to always be able to purchase lists and hence always had someone you could mail to. With email marketing you must develop a list. I know there are services out there that allow you to use their lists, but this has a ton of disadvantages which I will discuss in a future post. Therefore, when you factor in the cost of developing a list, paying for copywriting, and set up, as well as distribution it is far from "free" or even cost effective. Is is cheaper than direct mail, yes, probably, but I wouldn't call it low cost. Now since we know you have actual hard costs and those aren't probably as low as we believe they should be we come to the next question.

Is it effective? Because everyone today wants to get into the digital marketing game everyone has some type of newsletter or promotional email mailing. Many of us subscribe to those. Add this email on top of the tons of messages you normally get everyday and if you are like most people you have waaaay more email than you can reasonably keep up with. Now keep in mind this is the email you said you actually wanted. What about the email that comes that you don't care about? The point is that we all get so much email and our attention is focused in so many directions that I am not sure email marketing is always super effective, at least most email the way it is currently executed.

Before someone writes to me and says "hey, you are an email marketing guy" don't misunderstand me. I believe email marketing can be very effective, but it must be done very well, be branded, have superb copy, and be very well executed with a great list. We are simply too short on time to react to email that isn't well put together. Therefore, to summarize you need the following...

Now the last question, is there a role for direct mail? As people move to digital from direct mail there will be more opportunity to have your mail you do send stand out more. Because people will be getting less mail the mail that does come will probably get more attention, seems logical, right? Well, I would use direct mail to drive people to my web site where I would then use excellent copywriting to get them to take action. I will argue that my direct mail coming in a less crowded space and being augmented by my online marketing efforts will actually outperform a pure digital marketing campaign. Someday I will find someone to pick up this challenge and we can see who is right. In the meantime this is a strategy I am not ready to toss to the curb just yet and my clients will still be getting the benefit of it.