Thursday, April 29, 2010

Email Design (Someone not so famous)

Fact – The right Email Design is crucial to the success of your campaign.

Some questions on email design to consider :

  • Is your email design representative of your core business design value and guidelines?
  • Has content and imagery been positioned within the email to ensure you get the best results? Has it been designed to maximize key real estate within the email campaign?
  • What is key real estate?
  • Is it designed so that it’s easy to work through and click in and out of?
  • Has it been designed to convey a message if the recipient has their images switched off?
  • Has it been created in an html format that has been tested and you know will render in the recipients inbox?

If you’re a business to business marketer going out to a supplier database to talk about your products or services, you can almost certainly get away with a pre-templated solution that may only require a design refresh every 3 to 6 months by a graphic designer BUT if you’re a business to consumer marketer, more often than not, you’ll need to design each campaign according to the campaign brief.

The design strategy necessary for your emails will depend largely on the type of communication you are going out with, for example, if you’re emailing a Monthly Book Club, it would be wise to make each email look similar to enable the person anticipating it’s arrival to quickly identify the piece. However, if you are a fashion retailer with seasonal changes to your ranges, it would be more appropriate to design to the season, the clothing, any themes around the range, integrated campaigns etc.

It never ceases to amaze us when we meet email marketers that have been using the channel for the past 5 years and are calling us now to enquire about pricing to refresh their email template. The odd thing is that these companies often have a beautifully designed website, meaning every time a link is connected back to that website there is awful display of brand disconnect and inconsistency.

As you can see by the opening questions, designing for email is niche, to get the best delivery, rendering and best response, our advice is engage a specialist in the field, after all….

Someone famous (maybe Winston Churchill) once stated….”if you’re website and email communications are crap, the perception is often that your business is the very same thing”!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fly Buys and email design

Recent Microsite projects

Latest email design for

What we've been doing with Les Mills

Social Media - What every business wants

Every business wants to be in Social Media, but not many know why, or how they can successfully take the plunge. Many businesses try, and good on them, but it is a sad thing to see a Facebook page with a thousand fans and nothing being said by the company who started it. Such a waste. Sigh.

But what is Social Media?

Social media has turned the internet into the worlds largest water cooler. It is a meeting place, a virtual mall, a barbecue, where people hang out and talk. It is a complaints forum. It is a commerce commission run and moderated by the public.

Social Media (a term I am still not happy with, but which I like much more than “Web 2.0”) is used to describe all of the new ways in which the internet is used to engage with people. Think of the traditional web site as an online brochure. “Read what we want you to read. Now give us a call, or go away. Thanks for coming.”

Social Media encourages people to post their own comments, or other content such as videos and photos. It is two-way communication through channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, and Flikr.

At its best, it is a self-segmenting collection of your target market. It is word of mouth advertising, which can instantly be picked up and spread around the world.

At its worst, it is a vessel for frustrated and angry customers to vent and spread their negative feelings about your brand.

Both of these aspects should be important to your business. At the very least you should be listening to the conversations taking place, but how much better would it be to direct the conversation, and use it for your own ends?

While the nature of Social Media means that may not always be possible, Skinny Marketing can empower you to be able to take advantage of any opportunities and limit any threats.

Social Media should be a cheap way for you to communicate with your customers, and it will give you much more engagement than traditional above the line methods. However it is important that the strategies behind any forays are sound. This is where Skinny Media specializes.

We will find your target market for you and help develop a launch strategy and a content plan. We can train your staff in the management and moderation of your channels, and then we will back off and leave you to it. We will happily offer advice and support as required, but we have no interest in billing you 4 hours a day to manage ongoing Social Media campaigns. We will show you how to do it yourself, without using too much of your own resourcing.

It is your voice which should be joining the water cooler talk, it should be your staff hanging out at the barbecue with your customers. We will just introduce you to the other people there, and show you the kinds of things they like.

So give us a call (09) 488 7485 or an email today. Let’s have a chat about what you are doing, and what you could be doing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How much is a fan worth?

Mashable recently published an article highlighting some research done by a social media management firm called Virtue which looked at the value of a Facebook fan. According to their research, a fan was worth US$3.60 per year. This was based the following formula:

wall posts x impressions x $5 CPM.

And plugging in the average numbers from the 45 million fans they manage for their clients gave the following figure:

1 million impressions x 2 wall posts x 30 days = 60 million impressions a month
60 million impressions / 1000 x $5 CPM = $300,000 per month
$300,000 p/m x 12 = US$3.6 million per year per million fans.

Great! How tidy. And how easy that has made it to now explain the value of your Facebook fan page to the CEO. “We have 1500 fans, which is worth US$5400 in advertising per year. Not bad huh boss.”

Unfortunately, I don’t know if it is that simple. Surely some fans are worth more than others? For example, I would rather have Bill Murray as a fan of my Facebook page than Pauline Hanson. And even the kids at South Park know that a “chick friend is worth almost 3 times as much as a dude friend.”

There has been debate in New Zealand lately about whether or not PR should still be measured with Advertising Equivalent Value (AVE), a measurement tool that has been heavily criticized overseas. The measurement of social media and its value as an advertising channel is something that also needs debate.

Is CPM relevant when you are talking about word of mouth endorsement from peers? And how do things change if celebrities get involved, or even just the cool kid?

Perhaps an AVE kind of measurement involving a multiplier is required. It is opinion based advertising after all, closer to an editorial than it is to anything else. Seeing that one of my Facebook friends likes a certain page/band/company is worth much more to me than seeing an ad on

Maybe Facebook itself will provide the answer as they improve on their insights page. Maybe they will end up dictating to us how much our fans are worth. Nothing would surprise me from the people who control the worlds 3rd largest population these days.

Oh, and when you have 20 spare minutes, watch this fantastic South Park episode. The guys have once again hit the nail on the head with their summation of Facebook.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A pocket knife can do lots, but not everything

I was doing some blah blah blah about social media to a class the other day, and was posed with a tricky situation.

One of the people in the class had seen, via a mutual friend on Facebook, someone talking smack about their company on their personal status update. She asked me what the company should do in that situation.

The company has no official Facebook presence (yet…), but even if they did, this person would not have been a fan or friend, so there was no way the company could officially reply on the disgruntled customer’s personal page.

So what to do?

Having mulled it over while drinking beers & watching David Attenborough (my muse) I decided that this is not a problem that can be solved by social media.

My opinion is that the best course of action would be make a phone call to the customer & try to resolve the issue that way.

Having righted the situation via a traditional channel, the hope is that the opinion of the customer would be changed sufficient that they would then tell their friends and family at a later date – maybe via social media, but maybe not.

Had this been on Twitter, a much more public forum, it would have been ok for the company to get in touch directly through the same channel. But as Facebook requires expressed permission before you can eavesdrop, and as the company did not have that permission, even acknowledging that they had heard the complaint through that channel could be construed as an invasion of privacy.

It got me thinking about one of the myths of social media. It can’t do everything.

There is a bit of talk about being wary of the social media douchebag. I think one of the signs you are dealing with a douche is that they discount any other means of dealing with issues. They think social media can do anything and everything.

In this example the problem was created by social media giving the customer a public outlet for their frustrations, however I do not think social media could have resolved it.

Going back to my favourite analogy of social media being like a barbecue, this was the equivalent of the company finding out that someone at a different barbecue had been complaining to the other gusts. But the company itself was not present and was not invited.

To crash the party purely for the purpose of changing what the complainer was saying, even if the company had come in with frankincense & myrrh to give to everyone, would only have seemed big brother-ish and defensive.

Social media can do a lot of things, like make you aware of perceptions, however it can’t do everything. It should always be thought of purely as another tool at your disposal, and you should not forget about the rest of the shed.

It was an interesting situation though. What would you have done?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The worst Facebook page in NZ?

Is this the worst New Zealand corporate Facebook page?

It is a pretty big call, but it is the worst I have come across.

Where is the conversation? Where is the personality? Where is the content?

Why would I look at this page?

What is the plan behind this? What are they hoping to achieve?

Who are they talking to, prospects or existing customers?

It looks like they intend it for existing customers, as it is mostly full of information promoting programs and competitions. If this is the case, it must be intended to add value. But how much extra value is it giving? All this information is available through other mediums in a much more unobtrusive way.

They do not seem to be provoking discussion at all. There is even evidence of comments being deleted, horror of horrors!!

Sky TV must have a huge customer base, yet 272 fans on their page does not represent much of a following. 272 fans would be enough though, if they were engaged in conversation.

Maybe they are trying to talk to new customers through this channel. The videos they have chosen to display are all their TVC’s. Is that the game plan?

I really can’t tell what the strategy is behind this page. But whatever it is, it does not look like it is achieving anything. It hurts my eyes almost as much as this does.

It is republishing content designed for other mediums in a channel that is capable of so much more.

When you put a brochure in front of people, even if it is wrapped in a Facebook logo, they will treat it like any other brochure. They have a look, then throw it in the recycling bin.

Is there a worse Facebook page in New Zealand?