Category Archives: Marketing

Groupon’s Great Super Bowl Gaffe

One of the things I preach about the web usability is that you should never have to train someone to
use your website. But this simple rule of thumb can cross over into most things. Chefs shouldn’t
have to explain to you how to eat the food they create. No one has to tell you how to sit in a chair
(unless you’re a toddler, but that’s a different story). You also shouldn’t create an ad that you
have to explain for people to get it.

If only Groupon on it. Not only did they bite it on Super Bowl Sunday, but days later, despite
criticism, they are still re-airing the same mess of crap that they took such criticism for days
earlier without any edits. So they asked for it: yet another blog post about how much their ads
suck. Continue reading

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6 Ways to Get Customers Talking

There are times when guesswork is good, I suppose. As a general rule, I tend to favor the facts. I like data. Hunger for it. I like to observe shoppers in a store and see how they interact with the product. I like to listen in as people respond to a brand online. It’s normally much more insightful than my imagination. There are things that we think we know that are pretty spot on, but you’d be surprised what you can learn if you open up the lines of communications to your customers and potential customers.

To get started, here are some ideas about how to get more customer feedback. In exchange, you’ll gain more insights, get more ideas, and help your business (or your client’s business) thrive.

Comment cards. This may seem old school, but people do fill these out. If you have a physical location, you can set these out where someone can find them easily. Make them easy to fill out and easy to drop off.
Enhance comment cards with QR codes. If someone can scan your QR code, fill out the information from a smart phone and have a fun interaction while helping you out, all the better. This format isn’t great for lengthy responses, so let them check boxes and offer up some short comment if they choose. Continue reading

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The Future of Social Media Strategy

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of the social media strategist – especially on social media, on Mashable (The Future of the Social Media Strategist), and others. Well, I can’t exactly be quiet about this as it is something that impacts what I do for a living. I am not a social media strategist, though the core of that job is something that I do. I am a digital marketer. I take the goals of the company, break it down to strategies, and then tactics, and engage in those marketing tactics to get the results defined in the earlier steps. Marketing is about creating results by communicating. It’s content, whether words, pictures, video or something else. Social media is often a big part of it, and I’m glad because it’s work I enjoy.

Social media is fun for me because it’s so ubiquitous, instantaneous, and personal. It’s a 1-to-1 relationship with the world. It’s full of surprises, and it’s full potential is far from being realized. Evolving, exciting, engaging. Some pretty great E words. Continue reading

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Clean Up Your Email Templates

Chris Brogan suggested in an article on Open Forum that among the improvements you can make in your email marketing this year, you can move that silly link that’s always at the top to view the email in a browser to the bottom of your email and spare that space from doing your email housekeeping. Instead, you can use that to communicate something of actual value to your recipient. I like this idea, but recently, I noticed another reason to like it: my gmail email list.

Gmail gives me the sender, the subject line, and then the first few words of the email in the email list view. When you see what the first few words are when you put “Click here to view in your browser” at the top, you really begin to understand how much this sucks. And some intros are worse than others. Continue reading

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Not Just Social Media – Great Social Media

There’s no doubt that social media is changing online marketing, and small businesses, once reluctant, are warming up to how it can help them to grow and thrive in this recovering economy. They are also coming to understand that social media marketing is not as easy as just setting up an account and watching the customers stream in. While it’s great to have a goal and a strategy in mind before getting down to tactics as my friends at Media Two have written eloquently about, if you decide that entering the social media space is right for you, what do you do next?

What you do next is back off from describing what you want. Leading up to this point, it has been all about you, but when talking about social media, that ceases to be true. Now, it becomes about your audience. And before you can get there, you need to describe that person (you heard me correctly: person, not people) in great detail and know what that person wants from you. And what that person doesn’t.

In most marketing and analysis circles, this is called building personas. But that’s just a term. Don’t get hung up on it. It just means you need to figure out some things about the customer you are talking with online. (Also not a typo: with, not to.)

To get your brain kickstarted on this, I’ll give you a few questions you might ask about your customer that can help you figure out how you’re going to engage that person. Continue reading

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Email Marketing’s Naughty or Nice Vol. 3

In this final installment, I have to slap the hand of a brand I adore. It hurts. I must do it anyway. I deliberately chose to select from emails received on Monday, December 20th. It’s that last big push for holiday shopping when there is still that sprinkle of hope that it might arrive on time. It’s a great chance to reach out to procrastinating shoppers like myself.


This time, it goes to Stila Cosmetics. I love their products. I was all Stila-faced on my wedding day. They have a lot going for them, but email marketing isn’t one of them. Described as a “prestige brand,” the email I found in my inbox had no upper crust feel to it at all. It was… wait for it… text only. Cosmetics are about color and experience, and their holiday email left me wanting for either (and both). Continue reading

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Email Marketing’s Naughty or Nice Vol.2

It’s getting down to the wire for holiday shopping. I’ve been keeping a look out for emails that are done well to help identify online retailers who are doing a great job and those who haven’t. In Vol.1, I gave a lump of coal to an online retailer who made terrible mistakes and then made them again in the next email they sent out again. I guess that proves my point about them not listening.

At any rate, installment 2 brings us a new Naughty and new Nice because I don’t need to rehash what went wrong there in this post. Continue reading

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Email Marketing’s Naughty or Nice Vol.1

In honor of the holiday and all its marketing, I wanted to offer a little tutorial. This is in the form of 1 email gone bad and one that’s oh so good. I think it offers some good lessons and useful comparisons. I trust you’ll agree.


I will offer full disclosure and say that I have previously been affiliated with this company. Because I am no longer affiliated with them, some may assume that my critique is out of some personal malice. This is not so. My criticism is based on the fact that I’ve instructed them in the subject of email marketing and they’ve ignored me. So, I need to give them a slap on the hand (lest someone think I didn’t know any better). Continue reading

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