What do all Direct Consumer advertisers have in common?

Visibility! If you are spending ad dollars to promote a brand, the goal is to earn valuable impressions that will convert to sales. Unfortunately, this also makes these brands targets for negative press, the online war with the competition or someone looking to ride the coat tails of their ad dollars to the bank. How can a product marketer make sure their ad dollars are yielding high returns from start to finish? A positive reputation, brand loyalty and management of the brand messages to own the category market share all aid in optimizing advertising campaigns.

What’s the deal with Facebook and Twitter?

By taking an active role in social media communities Direct Response advertisers can increase awareness of their brands. Having a Direct to Consumer product name to be synonymous with value, practicality and innovation is key to seeing an increase in orders. The use of social media is fairly new in marketing, but it is rapidly increasing. Although 88 percent of marketers surveyed use social media to market their business, 72 percent have only started doing so within the past few months, according to the April 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, sponsored by the Social Media Examiner.

Since social media is so new, companies are working to understand how to best utilize it to generate sales. Effective social media use translates to keeping social media platforms interactive, and making sure “fans” and followers stay involved and engaged. These sites should be used as a form of networking and forming relationships and connections, as well as a way to keep people interested. To execute this, social media sites should be updated at least several times a week. However, it is also important to remember quality over quantity (of Facebook posts, Tweets, etc.), because flooding followers with pointless updates will only make them tune out.

Updates should not be purely promotional but should share newsworthy information or involve followers in some other way. This encourages people to share Facebook statuses with other friends and “retweet” Twitter posts that they find interesting. Polls and giveaways are other ways to increase activity and participation on social networking sites. Generating interest will promote viral buzz about the product or service, subsequently increasing traffic to the site and boosting sales.

How are Blogs relevant to Direct Response Marketing?

Blogs and forums allow you to share valuable information while building a network and relationship with your target demographics. According to an August 2010 report from eMarketer, more companies are using blogs as marketing tools. They estimate that this year, one in three companies will use public-facing blog for marketing purposes, and that by 2012 this percentage will increase to 43 percent. Although the use of social networks and Twitter is often more prominent than blogging, eMarketer senior analyst Paula Verna believes that “blogs fill a specific niche that other forms of social media do not.”

Companies can create their own blogs to promote their product or service in through editorial content. By mixing news items, advice, polls, and other interesting material with indirect promotion of the brand, the message comes across as less pushy and more informative. Forums allow consumers to interact both with the company and with each other in a community. These blogs can have links to directly purchase the products, allowing people to go straight from the blog to purchasing the product online. This can decrease the CPM because it is increasing the orders at no cost to the company.

Organic SEO as a Reputation Management Tool

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is directly related to your site’s rank among Google’s search results. SEO for your company’s site involves making sure that your website fits as many of the top search criteria as possible.

Companies can increase organic SEO by gaining editorial placement in various media outlets. This increased media placement of credible sources will bump the product up in online searches, and having a Public Relations firm to manage online reputation ensures the message that the company wants associated with their product or service will appear before other false leads on pages.

The more relevant content appearing when the popular product or service is searched, the better, as consumers will be persuaded by credible online sources. Another good way to gain valuable search rankings is by using “social search optimization”, a term coined by Chris Lake of Ecoconsultancy. This focuses on being influential on social media sites including Wikipedia and YouTube, because these are often top results in searches.

Visibility vs. Credibility

Business owners have become more concerned with being visible rather than credible in their industry. If a business can create both visibility and credibility, it will eventually lead to profitability—three key factors in good social media use. Marketing alone does not increase credibility, but good online reputation management can give companies that extra edge in their Direct Response campaigns to truly capitalize on the advertising dollars that are being spent to generate the highest return on their investment.

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