Ten tactics to increase the number of ad impressions delivered for little or no additional cost.
Not long ago, I had a client say something really interesting. He said, "We need to make sure everything we can in our campaign to turn every one impression we buy into 10 actually being delivered -- that is my challenge to you." Of course, we're always doing that anyway. Added-value no cost or super low cost impressions generally improve the metrics of what we actually optimize against -- things like cost per action (define), cost per sale, etc.
So, I decided to list some tactics we employ to beef up the impressions we were able to generate without having to actually buy them (or at least list them as having a cost, i.e., value-added placements.) Some are easy, some are hard, and some may require an awful lot of client side buy-in, implementation, or participation. But these days, clients are much more open to difficult ideas and logistics if they have a chance to improve the success of a campaign.
Value-added placements: First and foremost, when doing a buy, ask for value-added placements. (I know this is obvious, but I still see plans from clients' past agencies that don't list any.) Go beyond just getting more run-of-site (ROS) banners. There are high-volume placements like text links, text-based e-mail newsletter ads, buttons, and advertorials that complement premium placements very nicely. They not only add impression volume, but boost click volume and the top-line performance of a property, often saving it from cancellation.
Offline to online value-added placements: This is another often overlooked nugget. Make a list of the offline deals being cut in print, broadcast, and radio. Nine times out of 10, those buys come with a ton of online value-added placements that you would have never really considered paying for in your online plan. Many organizations offer bundled deals, but for the most part, there's a lot of online juice to be had here for zero cost -- and zero cost impressions and resulting clicks and actions help the top line metrics of any report quite nicely.
Tweet this: Put a call to action based on a chiclet (define) in your banner that gets people to tweet the deal you're promoting. If even a tiny fraction of the people who see it, tweet it, that could equate into thousands or even millions of added impressions and clicks. You can track the tweets by monitoring Twitter search, and track clicks and actions from this by using a bit.ly tracking URL in your tweet that jumps through your ad server tracking URL. If you have Radian6, or write a quick little script, you can also add up the additional impressions/tweets you got by totaling the followers of the people who tweeted your message.
Post to Facebook: Like the above tip, a post-to-Facebook chiclet can do amazing things, even if only a few do it. What you're asking people to post must be something people would want to share. It needs to be cool, funny, entertaining, educational, or valuable. Something like, "Check it out, I'm getting my free Starbuck's coffee on New Year's Day. Now get yours."
E-mail this: The send-to-a-friend feature is very powerful. Anything you can do to get people to e-mail your information to people they know creates super high value promotions of your product. But the same principle as above applies. Provide people with something that makes them look smart or enables them to give something valuable away.
Thank you page engagement: OK, so you got the click and even the conversion. Now what? Get the user to forward your message and continue the engagement. For example, let's look at a coupon or white paper download. Most of the time, people do what we want and then the site says, "Thank you, here is your coupon." and the path and experience kind of ends. Well, make that the beginning of another engagement path. How about, "Here is your coupon. Now share your good fortune with people you know and get another coupon!". Provide calls to action on the thank you page, such as tweet this, post this to Facebook, or e-mail this.
Auto reply: Send out auto-replies rich in sharing, and engagement calls to action. Don't just say, here's your password, white paper, or coupon. All of the above-mentioned items apply. Consider this approach when sending out transaction receipts, password requests, and more. This includes any outbound e-mail form your site uses to fulfill a transaction, but can also be tapped to offer a new offer, deal, or engagement path.
Chiclets: Of course, you should put chiclets all over your site. Then you should use the same technology you employ to track your banners, to track clicks and actions from all the tweets and posts you get. This can be called your "chiclet campaign."
House ads: Create some versions of your banner to complement your campaign and run them anywhere you can on your site. This helps to reinforce the brand message you're pushing in the public, into a realm near and dear to your employees and customers. They are a very important base that needs to be on board with what you are doing in the world outside their immediate scope of view.
Employee signatures: OK, this is a bit controversial, but especially in B2B (define), I believe that most companies with thousands of employees are really only one or two degrees of separation away from your entire target audience. So the footer of your e-mails is a perfect place for a banner with a great offer, white paper, or at least a quick text promo and link. Consider this: let's say your company has 2,000 employees who are heavy e-mail users and send out at least 50 e-mails a day. In three months, that's over 650,000 e-mails, including thousands shared with people outside the company. This represents the most underutilized value-added placement in the world. And you can track it!
As usual, please let me know if I left anything out.
Harry is off today. This column previously published Oct. 27, 2009.
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