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

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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