When a Dallas-based advertising agency, VLG, needed to engage prospects, it opted to show off its interactive technology through a sitelet or mini-site. The sitelet used a mock company called Crescent Bluffs to demonstrate the amount of time VLG could engage the prospect in the demo.
I was engaged for 1 minute 41 seconds. I took VLG’s bait of virtually opening a hotel door to a room with a virtual key on the screen. I was then asked to meet them in the lobby and then in the restaurant to have a virtual lunch; and at the end of the lunch a virtual note appeared on the screen announcing how long our business courtship lasted. VLG then asked me on the screen if I would be interested in learning how to conduct my own sitelet campaign to create new business for my company.
VLG’s campaign, Accept the Invitation, began by mailing a hotel napkin and faux hotel key with a note that read, “Let’s Meet.” The note sent prospects to a mini or microsite for a faux hotel named Crescent Bluffs. You can walk through the prospect experience here.
Because of sitelet successes such as VLG’s, other agencies and companies are using sitelets to launch a product, provide support functions and for targeted advertising campaigns. By using a separate domain name, you can choose a unique descriptive URL that pertains specifically to the campaign.
Flash, online databases and advanced programming can be combined to create powerful customer support tools. It is possible to preload your existing offline data or structure an entirely new database.
Another key benefit of using a targeted sitelet approach is that you do not have to significantly modify your existing company website for a specific campaign. You will want to integrate links and content for maximum exposure, but this is significantly easier than modifying website navigation and page structure.
How can you use mini-sites to bring in business?
In How to Produce a Successful White Paper (Part I) you learned about the three types of white papers, how to launch a white paper like a new product launch and how the tone should be educational so as to position your company as a thought leader. In this follow-up blog, you’ll learn the pros and cons of gating your white papers behind a registration form rather than open access, your syndication options and if an ebook is the new white paper.
Pros and Cons of Gating Your Content
According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rule of Marketing & PR, there are two marketing camps on the subject of requiring prospects to register before downloading a white paper. The first camp believes a registration form is necessary because it allows your company to capture an email address and convert that person into a sales lead. The downside is your registration/download numbers often suffer because people don’t like to give away their emails, get spammed or lose their autonomy.
The second camp believes it is best to make content such as white papers totally free because it increases the spread of the information and therefore the interest level in their product or service.
Now let’s look at some very interesting math that Scott used when he was arguing his preference for non-gated content with a HubSpot in-bound marketer, who is in the first camp.
|Gated Content with Landing Page||Totally Free Content (no form to fill out)
|10,000 people saw white paper offer (form)||10,000 people saw white paper (no form)|
|x 5% register and download content||X 50% downloads|
|+ Zero social shares||+ 10% shares and 5,000 more downloads|
|500 email leads captured, 0 shares, 0 links||10,000 downloads, 500 shares, 25 links|
As you can see above, the gated content only got downloaded 500 times, whereas the non-gated content received 10,000 downloads, 500 social media shares, and generated 25 backlinks to the company’s site or landing page. Of course you have to factor in that the free downloads may be less valuable than those willing to give their email address, but does the sheer volume and viral effect make up for this difference in your multi-channel marketing?
Perhaps you should test both in your next campaign and determine this for yourself. It’s worth a look because Scott says opening the gates to your content can increase download volume 16x what you were getting when it was gated.
Are You Syndicating Your White Papers?
Okay, so you’ve invested in a research firm, copywriter or journalist to write your library of white papers, which are posted on your site. Now what? According to Ryan Malone, founder of Smart Bug Media, you need to syndicate that white paper. Syndication generates additional leads and you can use both free and pay sites to maximize reach and interest in your product or service.
White paper syndication services exist in just about every niche, including banking, technology, business, and IT. Here is a brief list of syndicators to consider:
http://www.idgconnect.com (IT and tech)
http://www.knowledgestorm.com (business and IT)
White Papers vs. eBooks
No surprise that Scott thinks eBooks will eventually replace white papers. He feels this way because too many companies are churning out poorly written, researched and packaged white papers. He says too many white papers are more like warmed up sales sheets. Readers are becoming fed up with the bait and switch, giving companies their confidence and emails, only to be hammered by a hard sell or flamboyant hyperbole such as flexible, scalable, cutting-edge, mission-critical, world-class, etc.
Scott goes on to say that white papers still have a purpose, but because they can’t go viral because people won’t share them, they weaken your marketing efforts.
Ebooks, on the other hand, appear to be the more vogue and hip medium of business communications. Check out the top 10 ebook downloads on Ebook3000 and answer when the last time one of your white papers got download 22,548, 16, 639, or 13,821 times.
Principles of Corporate Finance (22548)
Guide to Financial Management (11006)
Principles of Macroeconomics (10941)
The One Minute Manager (10507)
Your homework is to go through your existing white papers and tweak headlines, copy, graphs, cover pages and then submit and redistribute them as a press release to a syndication site or directly to a media outlet to ask for an interview slot on an appropriate business channel or radio talk show. Tell us about your repurposed success in the comments below.
White papers originated from governments in the roaring 20s as a way to share government policy preference prior to the introduction of legislation. Fast-forward to the ‘90s and marketers began using white papers as a way to communicate research findings about their products, services or technologies.
Used as marketing tools, these papers allow companies to help their customers solve problems. The big distinguisher and reason they are so popular is that the information is presented with an educational rather than sales twist. Facts opposed to propaganda. White papers work because buyers want to make up their own minds, do appropriate research and not be sold.
The proper definition of a white paper is an educational document that is approximately five pages long and written in a straight-forward manner with factual, well-sourced copy and graphs that establishes the company or person as an expert or thought leader. There are three types of white papers
- The Backgrounder. Describes the technical or business benefits of working with a vendor.
- Numbered List. Presents a number of points, questions or tips about a business issue.
- Problem/Solution. The classic case study format is used to walk a prospect through a solution to their nagging business problem.
Written correctly, white papers remain the most relied on content tool used by B2B marketers today. A good paper is laser-focused, clear, understandable and sanitized of any propaganda or sales speak.
“White papers remain the most effective piece of marketing collateral, with 86% of respondents finding them moderately to highly influential in the purchasing decision,” according to a Eccolo Media study reviewed inB2B Magazine.
Headlines and Wording for White Papers
The headline is imperative in your cross-channel marketing. Make it easy to scan and understand. Save your cleverness for your advertising pieces because a play-on-words doesn’t go over well in white papers, according to Marketing Sherpa. Five pivotal pieces of advice Marketing Sherpa offers are:
1. Use clear, but non-salesy wording
2. Shorter is better
3. If you must use a long headline, break it into a headline and sub-headline
4. Add “ing” to your titles. Prospects want to achieve something such as eliminating, preventing, defending, implementing, ect.
5. Run some marketing searches and statistics before naming your white paper
Think Like a Product Launch with your White Paper
Here is Malone’s 7-step launch process that he says will make your white paper a smashing success:
1.Create a strong landing page
2.Share your white paper in press release format on the wire
3.Distribute pitch letters to reporters
4.Get it placed in a publication as a bylined article
5.Pitch speaking opportunities
6.Syndicate your white paper (covered in Part II of this blog here)
7.Leverage social media
Make sure to read our Part II of this blog coming later this week, which goes into the pros and cons of giving your white papers away vs. gating them behind a form and what experts say about the effectiveness of a white paper compared to a blog.
Nine times out of ten, a donor receives a letter that starts with, “Thank you for your generous donation.” Because giving is an emotional response, it deserves an emotional thank you with more pep and personality than a typical, status quo thank you. Read Shannon Doolittle’s 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You.
Here’s a sample of humorous ways Shannon suggests saying thank you so you can delight, not bore your donors.
- You = awesome. Me = grateful.
- Move over Gates and Buffett, there’s a new philanthropist in town.
- Our clients have started an unofficial fan club. You should start practicing your autograph.
And according to an article in Forbes, Don’t Thank Your Donor with a Gift, a great thank you is far superior to giving donors gifts, which can be counterproductive.
Foreshadow Good Things to Come Thanks to Their Donation
Beyond saying a great thank you, help connect the dots for your donors by telling them what’s happening. Something like, “Your donation pushes us to 90% of goal. Soon we can give all local children the nutrition they need on a daily basis”
A nonprofit named Charity:Water did an excellent follow-up video of a 9-year old girl’s donation of $240 that spurred $1.2 million more in donations following her tragic death in a car collision. Watch Charity:Water’s video about the little girl who could, Rachel Beckwith.
People who give to Donors Choose are greeted with an evolving thank-you screen on the home page where kids thank them for each specific gift – be it a computer or projector. They even mail hand written letters from the kids that benefited from the donation to the giver in order to say thank you in a very personal way.
Good cause marketing is all about great ongoing storytelling packed with emotional triumphs and challenges everyone can share in.
Timing, Format, and Other Loose Ends of Donor Thank Yous
When money comes in, a thank you letter or email needs to go out within 48 hours – the industry standard for courtesy, appreciation, and the chance to encourage more giving in the future from this donor.
The alleged bible for writing donor letters is Donor Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burk. In it, you’ll find many samples and formats to try and tweak within your organization.
Finally consider picking up the phone and calling to say thank you. Penelope Burk says her research shows that 90% of donors never receive a phone call from their favorite charities unless they’re asking for money. What an opportunity to turn that around to building a stronger relationship.
Are you inspired to polish your fundraising now?
Other than identifying a known brand name and automatically knowing the size of the company, have you ever thumbed through a publication or web portal, become impressed by a company’s logo or tagline, only to learn that this company wasn’t nearly as large as you thought? It happens to me all the time.
I see polished ads or brands in business publications or at blogger sites. I then check out their web traffic at Compete, or look up their staff page on their website to see how large they are. I then acknowledge that they’re pulling off such a fabulous branding being the small fish in a big pond.
Moresource Plays Full Out with Ad Campaign
There is something very classy, catchy and memorable about an ad series done well. Moresource, a Columbia, Mo. based human resource company, gets my kudos for executing a successful ad series in the Kansas City Chamber business magazine, KC Business.
I liked that the owner of this three-person firm, Kat Cunningham featured herself with a client in each ad, used a QR Code®, included both a mention of Facebook and Twitter on her ad. She also stepped up by running a full-page ad, and obviously paid for a professionally designed ad and logo.
How Your Small Business Can Look Bigger than You Are
While it’s not always easy to win customers from larger competitors, technology has leveled the playing field and made it possible.
#1 Re-target your online ads vs. overspending for paid search.
Re-targeting lets you focus your ads exclusively on people who have already engaged with you online. You can re-target ads to people who have opened an email, searched for keywords or been on your site and left without buying anything. Site re-targeting is effective because these people are already interested in your products or services.
#2 Don’t cut corners on image or execution.
The quickest way to look small and amateurish is to put something into the marketplace that is poorly designed, poorly worded or filled with grammatical errors. If you’re going to send a postcard, make it the best designed card, on the best paper with the best call to action imaginable. If you’re going to run an ad campaign, make sure you develop the best creative, best frequency needed for results, and test all the back-end components such as the landing page URL, QR Code (that it scans and bridges your prospect to a site that further engages them), and best greeting upon their action. Does someone answer the phone before the third ring? Who is in the loop of the campaign and can answer questions intelligently? Does the eReport download without glitches once the prospect hands over the required lead info?
#3 Don’t build it, buy it.
You can launch a professional looking website quickly and without the absorbent costs of hiring programmers. Services such as Weebly or Yola have helped many businesses launch for a few dollars a month. Their drag, drop, type and upload technology further levels the playing field for all businesses and budgets.
Need an e-commerce store? Use Shopify.com or SquareSpace. Need to accept payments? Paypal is the answer. Want to provide live customer service online? Consider BoldChat. Chances are what you need already exists and can be accessed through open source, monthly lease, or shared software.
SOURCE:“Look Like a Big Company Without Spending Big Money,” by Scott Gerber, Nov. 30, 2011, Small Business Advocate.
#4 Don’t cut corners on your print collateral.
Find a graphic designer and print partner who produced the image materials of companies you admire and work with them to build your brand. Even in a digital world, you still need business cards, letterhead, pocket folders and mailing labels. Don’t short-change your business by trying to penny pinch you’re way through your collateral. If you and your three biggest competitors had materials sitting on the table in front of the customer of your dreams, who would they pick and why based on image alone?
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Mail is still first class in the eyes of 73% of consumers in America who still prefer to receive direct mail for brand communications. So despite all the press and pixels that social and email marketing get, direct mail is still tops in the eyes of consumers.
Despite the exposure of digital channels, direct mail is expected to grow 1.4% annually for the next five years to $13.8 billion.
Personalization Makes Direct Mail Even Hotter
Companies that gather data on customers who segment the information into relevant marketing communications delivered via variable data printing win big with double-digit responses.
If you are a marketing leader who invests in direct mail as a channel, do you consistently ensure what you send out is variably printed and designed? Consumers expect communications to be relevant across all channels, including direct mail.
Discover credit card company targets its list based on different customer attributes and then tags each piece with a personalized invitation number. “Direct mail is a great way for us to target consumers,” says Laks Vasudevan, Discover director of acquisition. “It’s our most targeted platform.”
Pull the Trigger
DSW sends personalized birthday postcards with offers to its 20 million plus rewards members. Who wouldn’t want $10 off a new pair of shoes as a gift to self?
And there’s something special about getting a real card with physical value versus a mass email with fashion tips, according to Kelly Cook, DSW’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.
When the company tested sending birthday coupons via email, it didn’t perform nearly as well as direct mail.
Give Your Customer What They Want When They Want It
Long gone are the days of sending one universal offer to everybody. For instance, I recently received a special offer for a college loan for my children from my bank. Yet, I don’t have children. I know the marketing team at my bank and I know they have access to some very sophisticated database tools to monitor my account activity and have done a lot of data mining, they failed to connect with me as a valued customer.
Give your customers the perks they want when they want and don’t delay. With today’s 24/7 marketing automation systems, there’s no excuse.
SOURCE:Direct Mail Advertising in the U.S., October 2012, research report by IBISWorld.
SOURCE:“Direct Mail, Evolved,” by Dianna Dilworth of Direct Marketing News, March 01, 2013.
If you or your company loves Saturday postal delivery, rest easy. Saturday deliveries will continue based on a decision made April 9 by the Board of Governors of the United Postal Service.
By using restrictive language in its resolution, the Board of Governors in essence have prohibited a new national delivery schedule that would have ceased Saturday mail deliveries (excluding packages) starting August 5, 2013 (even though 75% of the American public was for the change).
A Temporary Vs. Permanent Reprieve
While this decision temporarily puts the brakes on postal delivery changes, reducing delivery days is still part of the larger five-year business plan to restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability. The Board still supports the shift to a new, reduced postal delivery schedule to save approximately $2 billion in annual cost.
Delaying changes to the current Postal Service business model only increases the potential that the Postal Service could become a taxpayer burden in the future. (Currently, the Government only subsidizes discounts given to non-profits, mailing privileges for Congress, and other revenue foregone.) Therefore, the Board has directed management to reopen negotiations with postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs.
In addition, the Board urges Congress to quickly pass a comprehensive postal legislation allowing the Postal Service to establish an appropriate, financially sustainable national delivery schedule.
The next meeting for the Postal Board of Governors is set for May 10. What’s your prediction to how this might play out? Will it affect your direct mail efforts?