Nine in 10 (91%) US email users have subscribed to a company’s email and later decided they don’t want to receive it, according to [pdf] a new report from Exact Target and CoTweet. Data from “The Social Break-up” also indicates 18% of email users say they never open email from companies, and 77% of all US online consumers say they have become more cautious in the past year about giving their email addresses to companies.
Email Still Popular
Despite the above statistics, email use in general remains extremely popular with US online consumers. A full 95% use email, and 93% subscribe to at least one permission-based email per day. Forty-two percent of those subscribers say they are more likely to buy a company’s products once they have signed up for its permission-based email.
Unsubscribe Most Common Negative Email Reaction
Study data indicates that when online consumers are no longer interested in a company’s permission-based emails, they get right to the point. Two-thirds (67%) simply unsubscribe. Another 17% delete the emails when they arrive, and 8% click a spam or junk button.
More passively, 6% simply do nothing. Two percent take the action of setting up a filter.
Frequency Biggest Email Turnoff
The most common complaint given by consumers as a reason they unsubscribe from a company’s permission-based emails is that they come too frequently (54%). Another 49% (more than one answer permitted to this question) cite the content becoming boring or repetitive over time. Receiving too many emails closely follows, being cited by 47% of respondents.
After these three reasons, the percentages drop significantly. Twenty-five percent of respondents say they unsubscribe because the content wasn’t relevant from the start, and 24% prefer to seek out information rather than have it pushed by companies. Another 22% only signed up for a one-time offer, with smaller percentages citing changing circumstances, switching to another company, and finding another way of getting the information.
Email Segmentation, Blasts Most Common
Four in 10 global marketers (43%) use email segmentation to personalize messages by audience, according to a recent survey from Alterian. Another 44% are still employing email blasts of some kind, although 26% use basic personalization and 18% blast out on a mass basis.
Privacy challenges by public interest groups and the FTC are threatening to dismantle or seriously curtail the behavioral targeting model of interactive advertising as it stands today. Fearful of damaging relationships with their readers, many publishers are removing third-party widgets and other technologies when those technologies are found to capture and sell user data without the user’s express permission.
Even Facebook itself has cracked down on unauthorized data scraping. Recent “Do Not Track” efforts are trying to move choices about data sharing from publishers to the people via browser technology. But these are merely symptoms of a larger problem with interactive advertising: a lack of transparency. It’s a problem that new social tools will play a significant role in addressing.
Rather than an endgame where consumers completely block any sort of data sharing, I see a future where marketers take the high road and both sides benefit from better quality data, advertising and content.
The concept of “Permission Marketing” isn’t new; in fact, Seth Godin’s 1999 book about “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers” seems remarkably prescient in today’s age of “Friending,” “Liking,” and “Following.” Godin told the (then e-mail-dominated) interactive industry, “By talking only to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message. It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange.”
Today, technologies like Facebook Connect and OAuth are helping to redefine the concept of permission marketing. Using these technologies, brands, retailers, publishers and other sites are able to actively establish a permission-based relationship with their users and customers on their own websites. Now websites have the opportunity to embrace transparency, to be upfront with people during the registration process about how their data will be used, as well as how it will benefit both parties.
We have a new generation comfortable using Facebook and other mobile apps and who, according to recent survey data, are quite willing to share personal information with companies and brands in exchange for value provided. They are also relatively unconcerned about the security of data they share on social networks. The bottom line is that this type of authorization-based relationship between brand and user is likely to become the norm.
This Year’s Model
So what exactly is the data and advertising opportunity for sites? The Huffington Post is the poster child for this new social data-based permission marketing approach. Readers register on the site using their existing Facebook, Twitter or other social identity, thereby giving HuffPo access to data with which the site can personalize the user experience.
For readers, this means they can see what their friends are reading and sharing on their site, giving them a powerful social filter for relevant content. It also means The Huffington Post can sell advertising on their own site based on everything they know about the user from a social perspective.
I had a chance to meet Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau at last year’s IAB leadership summit, where publishers get together to talk about the future of interactive advertising, and he shared with me that their integration and application of Facebook Connect and similar technologies to create a social news experience has been the key driver of their phenomenal traffic growth over the past year plus. Social advertising is also a key source of their revenue growth. HuffPo considers their site to be in the category of social media, and structures their ad sales team to serve that unique buyer. For publishers and advertisers, this approach has the power of Facebook ads, yet is superior because it combines the best of both worlds –- deep context plus social data.
While Social registration, also known as Social Sign-On, is the foundation for this new relationship-based model, the layers on top of that foundation are the most promising for the future of advertising. In addition to basic demographic targeting, sites could offer advertising based on interest data, targeting movie fans or iPod fans for example. Sites could also sell against social influence and activity — factors such as the number of friends, propensity to share and history of driving referral traffic, or even the number of items “Liked” as an indicator of engagement. Reward programs driven by game mechanics are a key part of the nurturing process in this new model, where a loyal, engaged and most importantly non-anonymous audience is the new currency of advertising.
Sites and brands need to ask themselves: What am I offering people that they will truly value in exchange for permission to talk to them as a friend and not an anonymous user? Badges may not be right for every site experience, but successful apps and other web experiences like those on The Huffington Post prove that it is not an unattainable goal.
As with all new models, there are challenges to address. Sites need a critical mass of users to grant them these permissions in order to sell advertising effectively. Privacy concerns with social network data will evolve over time and regulatory pressure will certainly cause the interactive industry some headaches as we move to a new equilibrium. But it is inevitable that a permission-based model will prevail, and those that are able to rapidly embrace this model and experiment with its possibilities will win higher CPMs, new ways to differentiate against the competition, and a more loyal audience.
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Mastering branding online takes a lot more than a cool logo and catchy slogan. Experts play by a fresh new set of rules.It's no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. In order to bring you up to speed, Inc.com has compiled nine of the most innovative and ingenious tips from articles, guides, and interviews in Inc. and Inc.com over the past year. These are the new rules of branding online.1. Don’t just start the conversation.
Be an integral and evolving part of it. "Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another," says Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in West Leamington, Ontario, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson, a free e-book available at www.thebrandingexperts.ca. The rules for brand messaging through new media versus traditional channels haven't changed, but "the game sure got better and more interesting," says Roach. It's not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers. Ron Smith, president and founder of S&A's Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, agrees, adding that you'll want to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. "Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days," says Smith. Read more. 2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
So you have 10,000 Twitter followers. Does it matter to your customers? Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur behind the sports nutritional supplements company BrainQUICKEN and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, told Inc.com contributor John Warrillow: "Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air. Steve Jobs has a personal brand, but it is Apple’s product design that makes it such a valuable company. He isn't jumping on Foursquare to develop his 'personal brand.'" Read more. 3. …or dive in and make all the headlines you can.
Appearing in the media as a source of expertise can go a long way toward building your brand, Inc.'s April Joyner reports. To gain press, identify media outlets that are most applicable to your particular areas of expertise and send them targeted pitches. If you want to be a talking head on radio or television, it also helps to give producers a preview of your personality by referring them to video clips on your site. As with print, the Web has also democratized the world of radio. Through venues such as BlogTalkRadio, anyone can host her or his own broadcasts—or find a show on which to appear. After you have honed an area of expertise, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to take your message on the road. Becoming active in professional organizations and attending conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as a vendor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits. Read more.4. Don't favor edge over consistency.
Chris Russo had a healthy business. The only thing holding it back, he thought, was its name. Three years after its launch in 2006, Fantasy Sports Ventures's revenue was increasing 40 percent to 50 percent a year, a pace that surprised even Russo. But by the fall of 2009, he was uneasy. Despite the heady growth, Russo felt the company's brand positioning was pigeonholing the business and would soon limit further expansion. "Fantasy Sports Ventures was not a long-term, sustainable, public-facing brand," Ed O'Hara, of the branding firm SME, says. "It felt more like a holding company and was too heavily weighted on the fantasy side." O'Hara and Russo tossed around lots of edgy names, like Fanarchy, Fantology, and Gutcheck, but weren’t sure. Rebranding was on the table, but the company didn’t want to alienate its huge readership and large fan base. The solution? When the company acquired another brand, The Big Lead, and was integrating it into the existing portfolio of sites, Russo realized he struck gold. The name was consistent with the sites’ goals, as well as its existing image. Read more. 5. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
Even if you're entering a flooded marketplace—and online is certainly a very crowded forum—you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. "Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon," says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. "They think that this can't be differentiated, it can't be unique." Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. The toothpaste market is one that professionals cite as a constantly changing product selection that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers. Additives like baking soda, breath freshener, or whitening strips are now taken for granted. Read more. 6. Excel at telling your customers "About Us."
You may not be paying much attention to your About Us page, but visitors to your site are, writes Chana Garcia. And considering that your About Us page is where the world first clicks to learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Sure, you need to include all the basics. But a few simple tactics can make your About Us page a more exciting read and your company come across as more accessible, says Lorrie Thomas, aka The Marketing Therapist, a marketing strategist, educator, writer, web marketing expert and speaker. Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors. Thomas asked her employees to write their own bios for her company's About Us page. Her only mandate was that in addition to providing a snapshot of their professional history, they include personal information, such as hobbies or their favorite activities. Some even set up links to their blogs and personal websites. This might also be a good place to include e-mail addresses for your staff. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide. Read more.7. Fully integrate social media into your site.
You'll not only look savvy, but increase your connectivity, and gain traffic to you site from elsewhere. You don’t necessarily need to put out the next viral marketing video or hire an expensive marketing agency (although both would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a bit of elbow grease, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your site a quality destination for visitors. Add Facebook Like buttons, have a dynamic blog section, utilize SEO, and build your site heavy with links, for starters. More tips can be found in our guide to "How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website." Read more. 8. Monitor your brand's reputation, and be ready to respond.
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have become essential components of many companies' online marketing strategies, but there are countless other sites on which customers rant and rave about their experiences. A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company's brand and scare away prospective customers. That's why companies like Beachbody are using new tools to monitor what's been said about them online. The most basic services, like Google Alerts, allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. Others, like Social Mention and HootSuite, specifically scour profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for relevant comments. Nate Bagley, a social media expert at Mindshare Technologies, a Salt Lake City company that makes software that helps companies keep track of customer feedback, uses Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep track of references to his company, as well as news on its clients, competitors, and the industry at large. "It's a good way to gather business intelligence," he says. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily determine which mentions require the most attention. Those features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands. Read more. 9. Showcase your best work.
In this new environment, a sturdy brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there's no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you've partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility. You might consider incorporating your clients' logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognitions your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing. Read more.
The future of advertising may be unclear, but these 10 campaigns have definitely helped shape it. Here's a breakdown of the decade's top digital promotions--we're looking at you, Subservient Chicken--as selected by industry leaders at the One Club, which recognizes excellence in advertising.More Slideshows
Borrell Associates is forecasting a moderate increase in overall ad spending for 2011, but continued strong growth for online advertising, including mobile. Overall, advertisers will increase their spending next year by less than 5% above this year's projected level, bringing U.S. ad spending totals to $238.6 billion.
We're expecting total online ad spending to grow almost 14%, from $45.6 billion, in 2010, to $51.9 billion, in 2011. The fastest-growing segments of online advertising are the local sector, anything targeted, and everything involving social media.
By next year, local online advertising should grow by almost 18%, from $13.7 billion, in 2010, to $16.1 billion, in 2011.The big driver will be targeted display (such as banner ads) advertising, which we expect to grow almost 60% in 2011, reaching $10.9 billion for national and local combined. While national advertisers will increase their use of targeted display by nearly 50%, local advertisers will outperform even that. Use of targeted display by advertisers local to the markets where their ads run will more than double, reaching more than $2.3 billion next year.
However, the Web's initial darling –run-of-site display– continues to lose luster. Sales of run-of-site display ads will continue to decrease, dropping nearly 14% from this year's level – from $9.5 billion to $8.2 billion for both local and national. This early online format has simply been overshadowed by newer, more productive ad formats, and competition has pushed display unit prices down. Most of the spending decease will come from national advertisers. Local run-of-site ads are forecast to decrease less than 3% next year.
The national paid search ad format will experience a double-digit spending decline next year, moving down 11.3%. This drop will be caused by lower pricing and churn, but will be mitigated by a local advertiser increase of more than 10%. (In general, local online advertiser trends tend to lag those of the larger national advertisers by about two years, and that is certainly the case for paid search.) Local spending decreases in paid search are sure to follow, perhaps as soon as 2012.
Email advertising will see moderately strong growth in 2011, up 9% to $16.0 billion for national and local. Growth in this format is almost all from national advertisers; only 3% is local. White paper marketing is a major contributor to its popularity – especially among B2B advertisers.
The streaming video format is expected to continue its dramatic growth, increasing more than 60% to $5.6 billion next year. More DIY and less expensive tools put this ad format within the budgets of even small advertisers. Because of this, two out of every five streaming video ad dollars will come from local advertisers next year. Streaming audio, on the other hand, looks to remain a footnote. Though it too will enjoy double-digit ad spending increases in 2011, streaming audio has yet to pass the $1 billion ad spending level.
Unlike legacy marketing, where promotions overshadows advertising, online advertising has historically gotten far more attention from marketers than online promotions. But changes are coming. Online promotions will top $24 billion next year, up 10% from this year's totals. Much of this increase will be due to the rising use of online couponing, forecast to grow almost 14%, to $9.1 billion, in 2011. Proximity advertising is also on the rise, up 11% next year. Mobile devices that can tell users when a particular merchant is in their immediate vicinity continue to sell briskly, and advertisers are expressing interest in this form of advertising.
Mobile marketing continues to grow, fueled by ubiquitous apps, user-friendly browsers and 3G/4G speeds. As smartphone ownership now comprises 25% of all cellphone ownership, mobile ad sales will enjoy growth of more than 20 cents of every online ad dollar spent next year.