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Cookies, Fans, Opt-Ins, and Followers in Brand Embrace

  |  June 21, 2011   |  Comments

Eight connection opportunities that can be layered into a brand embrace campaign. Part two in a two-part series.

As discussed in a previous column, the brand embrace is when online marketers utilize their digital marketing efforts to connect with their target audience in a lasting way, utilizing multiple points of contact. These connections can be passive, such as setting cookies for retargeting and marketing automation, or active, like opting in to email lists or becoming a Facebook fan. At its core, the brand embrace is literally about bringing your target audience and customers into your lasting marketing embrace. In doing this, they build their own direct channels to consumers and in many cases bypass media gatekeepers and their fees.

At one time, companies had two options to make a direct consumer connection - get their phone number and mailing address. Very expensive communication options and only one could be done with any regularity (basically, direct mail). So as are result, companies were completely reliant on expensive postage and media gatekeepers (publishers and broadcasters) to reach their target audiences. Then along came opt-in email and poof - companies could at least build up their email lists and independently efficiently communicate with their customers and target audiences.

Today, marketers have more options than ever to make direct connections with consumers, and they can grow these connections and size of their brand embrace in the process. So here is a breakdown of some connection opportunities that can be layered into a brand embrace campaign. I'm not including lead capture because that is painfully obvious.

  • Retargeting cookies: This is a passive form of connection and one I describe in my previous column on the brand embrace. Setting retargeting cookies from search and utilizing retargeting (or remarketing) via a network is a great way to increase your branding frequency in a targeted way and stay with prospects during their purchase consideration phase. If you're worried about the "controversy" over retargeting, use a transparent network so you can select sites to target with your ads. That way, you don't have your ads selling financial products on an edgy college humor site.
  • Marketing automation cookies: This is another form of passive connection. If you're using Unica, Aprimo, Eloqua, or any other marketing automation system, you can generate trigger calls to action based on user behavior and historical behavior.
  • Opt-in email: Email may not be as sexy as it once was, but guess what - it still works like nothing else. Even with spam filters and declining open rates, I still maintain that one of the most valuable assets any business can have is a well-managed house email list. So remember, don't ignore the business of driving opt-in email subscribers and keeping your list fresh. I would take an opt-in email subscriber over a Facebook fan or Twitter follower any day!
  • Facebook fans: Yes, we see companies doing this all the time. You can use banners, calls to action in your email and landing pages, and ads in Facebook specifically designed to build your fan base. But do these companies realize they are creating a brand embrace?
  • Twitter followers: Yes, we see companies doing this all the time too. You can use banners, calls to action in your email and landing pages, and ads in Twitter (Promoted Accounts) specifically designed to build your follow base on a cast-per-follower basis.
  • Blog RSS feed subscribers: Now you're not going to get big numbers on this one, but these feeds can often connect to influential bloggers.
  • YouTube and SlideShare followers: People can follow your channels and get alerts when you post something new. Again, don't expect big numbers here, but expect to connect with people who care about knowing what you post.
  • LinkedIn followers: So LinkedIn has been slow on the uptake here, but you can set up a company profile and people can follow the profile and be alerted to certain postings such as product and job postings. However, it is in no way as robust as Facebook status updates and newsfeeds.

As always, I'm sure I'm not listing everything here. Please do list any more you can think of in the comments.

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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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