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Marketing Technology Landscape January 21, 2014

Posted by StrategicGrowth in local marketing strategies, location-based technology, marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Virtual Technology.
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Today's Marketing Technology Landscape

Today’s Marketing Technology Landscape

What is your New Year’s resolution for your business in 2011? December 29, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, location-based technology, marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Virtual Technology.
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I had someone ask me today about their business, “If I could do one thing better, what would it be?”.  As a business consultant, I am frequently asked some version of this question, but today it got me thinking that the start of a new year is probably a great time to pass along one of the answers to that question that I give to everyone who asks it of me.  Are you ready?  Here it comes!

Resolve for 2011 to fully embrace technology and to completely integrate it thoughout every aspect of your business; from your marketing, to how you work with and interact with clients and staff, to how you manage your administrative tasks and actually operate your business, etc.

What I mean by this is:  integrate and take advantage of all the benefits that today’s technologies have to offer, including:  webinars and other types of virtual events (including virtual environment events), social media, mobile technology (and I don’t just mean mobile marketing), cloud computing software options, video, email and any other type of technology that will help you increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 

Those that don’t choose to embrace technology will be left behind very quickly because 2011, I believe, will be a ‘game-changing’ year for how business is being conducted.  If you continue to do business as you always have, you will very quickly become irrelevant.

Think about your business in a new way, for example:

  • could mobile technology enable your customers to order and pay for your products or services via their cell phone?
  • can you use social media to interact with your customers and potential customers on a more in-depth level so you can be certain you’re providing the products and services they need?
  • will location-based technologies enable you to more effectively target potential customers?
  • do you have an email marketing program to keep clients, vendors and staff aware of what’s going on in your business?  If not, why not?
  • can you make your field staff more productive by dispatching them with tools provided by GPS mobile technology?
  • can you get more immediate response to special offers by sending them directly to your existing customers via their cell phones?
  • can cloud-computing technology allow you to access information from wherever you are as long as you have some sort of mobile computing device or a computer available?
  • can you be more available to your staff for those decisions only you can make if you’ve embraced the use of a SmartPhone or tablet device?
  • can you cut down on travel costs, and yet increase the number of people that you can effectively interact with to present your products or services by engaging in virtual sales and training programs?
  • can bluetooth or QR code mobile technologies help your firm in the manufacturing or supply chain processes?
  • can mobile marketing technologies make your marketing more effective?
  • would video technology help you more effectively communicate the benefits of your product or service?
  • can mobile technology help you increase the viability of the leads you receive at the next trade show you participate in?
  • can participating in virtual trade shows help you decrease travel costs for your staff, and the ‘down time’ that results from that travel, while increasing the number of viable leads you receive?
  • could social media, mobile and virtual technology increase your ability to recruit new employees with higher rates of effectiveness?

So far, I’ve not found one business that I’ve spoken with or worked with that would not be positively impacted by increased integration of technology in their business.  Given that, I now challenge you to consider how technology can help to improve your business – and as a result, your life.  If you would like some assistance in evaluating your business and the options available to you, please contact us, Strategic Growth Concepts is here to help!

Here’s to increased efficiency, productivity and profitability in 2011!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Very interesting article on a related topic on TechCrunch; click here to read, ‘Seven Technologies That Will Rock 2011’

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant for Strategic Growth Concepts, a marketing / management consulting firm focused on start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Areas of specialization include:  mobile technology optimization and marketing for increased productivity and profitability, social media marketing, and virtual events production.  Linda is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years of experience in a wide variety of industries.  She is also the Founder of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, a mobile industry trade association, and the Co-founder of Mobile Monday Michigan, a mobile industry networking and education organization.

Linda is available for consultation, and can be contacted at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.  The company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com

Email Marketing @ Mail Chimp Goes Forever Free September 27, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, Web 2.0.
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Those looking for cost-effective ways to market your business can now take advantage of one of the leading email marketing service providers thanks to the following recent announcement.  Now small business has no excuse for a lack of marketing to their customers.

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MailChimpEmail marketing service provider MailChimp made its service pretty much irresistible as the company announced the introduction of its “Forever Free pricing plan”.

The new service level allows subscribers to send up to 500 emails per campaign and 3,000 emails per month at no cost. That’s not a misprint folks – that’s a fact.

“We’ve always seen email first as a publishing tool and second as a marketing tool,” said Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder of MailChimp. “We’re aiming to empower smaller groups like artists, musicians, nonprofits, small businesses and hand-crafters to communicate effectively at no cost. That’s why we’re calling this Power to the People. We want to give everyone all the tools they need to send professional, permission-based email campaigns.”

The power of email marketing is well documented. If you’re not currently leveraging email as a marketing channel, this should act as good incentive to give it a try.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Small Business July 16, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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Some content in this posting is from an article by Mya Frazier for Bankrate.com

A few years ago, using the Internet to market a small business simply meant to create a presence online with a simple, informational Web site.  Then came the demands of search engine optimization to ensure Google and Yahoo searches yielded top-ranked results for your company. Was your business’s Web site chock full of the key search terms that would bring it to the attention of customers?

Social Media graphicToday, social media is transforming the small-business marketing landscape. Social media are Web- or mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. It’s not just for seeing who your high school sweetheart married. Businesses can tap into powerful networking sites and other social media to drive customers to their shops or companies.

If done right, small-business owners might even be able to slash their traditional marketing spending to zero. Writing blogs (short for “Web logs”) or on-going online commentary using social-networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, can provide inexpensive but powerful online marketing.

Because it’s free, people think it’s easy to create a social media presence. But this attitude can lead to missteps. So before you dive headlong into social media, take some time to observe the customs and social norms of these new forms of communications, says David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, a San Francisco-based firm that helps companies tell their story through social media.  “Also think about your strategy for effectively utilizing social media before you jump in,” says Linda Daichendt, CEO/Managing Consultant of Strategic Growth Concepts. “It’s easier to avoid costly mistakes before you begin than to correct them after they’ve done damage to your company’s reputation.”

“Think of social media as a cocktail party,” says, David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online. “You don’t go into the cocktail party and go into the middle room and scream at the top of your lungs and say, ‘Buy my products.’ … What works is you have some meaningful conversation first. And that’s just how social media works.”

If you decide to take the social-networking plunge, here are five ways to harness social media to help your business.

1. Use free sites. Use free online services, such as the mobile short-message site Twitter, and popular networking sites Facebook and MySpace, to post significant news, specials or events. For example, you run a small Italian restaurant with a loyal following. You could create a Twitter account and upload the lunch or dinner specials via “tweets,” or short messages of up to 140 characters, daily to customers’ smart phones or to other Web sites.

“All you have to do is give a (Twitter) handle and start a conversation. You could put the Twitter handle on the menu or in the restaurant,” says Chris Abraham, Abraham Harrison LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based digital public relations agency. Granted, social networking sites are still for early adopters.  “You aren’t going to get Aunt Matilda to tweet about the experience she had at dinner,” Abraham says.

Abraham considers Twitter one of the easiest ways for a newbie to social media to get started.  “It’s more challenging to do Facebook,” Abraham says. “You have to create a personal profile, create a page and so on. With Twitter, if you’re Joe Smith with Motorcycle Emporium, you don’t have to create a page. And you can create Twitter updates via a phone or mobile device easily.”

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “There are lots of people sold on really expensive solutions, but two of the best investments for reaching out to people and engaging with them are free on Twitter and Facebook.”

2. Shift marketing costs to social media. After learning how social networking operates, use social media to free up traditional marketing dollars for your small business by putting it online. You can quickly learn which of your Facebook or MySpace “friends” or online “group” members received and responded to your message.

Stanya Doty has cut her print marketing budget to zero. As owner of Simple Indulgences, a wine and high-end gift shop in Delaware, Ohio, she began using Facebook in December 2008 to communicate with her brother but quickly realized the online marketing possibilities.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there are so many people here,’ ” she says. Indeed, Facebook boasts 200 million users worldwide.  In April 2009, she began promoting monthly wine tastings via a Facebook page for the shop that quickly attracted 100 members. Combined with an e-newsletter created using the do-it-yourself, e-mail marketing Web site Constant Contact, she keeps enough buzz going about her shop that her advertising budget for local print ads no longer seemed necessary. She usually sends out about 700 e-mails, with the response rate sometimes reaching nearly 50 percent. It sure beats a postal mailing.  “If I sent out a postcard with postage and paid for all that, I’d still have no idea who read it and who threw it away,” she says.

Indeed, unlike a print ad, Doty gets instant, measurable results. “On Facebook, you can see who has responded to invites,” she says. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and I’m actually appealing to people that at first know me from the store and then hopefully … pass the word along throughout their networks.”

3. Do your own social-media optimization project. Learn about the competition in your industry and geographic region that are tapping social networking. Spark recommends starting by researching the competition in the major search engines — Google and Yahoo.

“Type in keywords and phrases that people would use to find you, like ‘plumber’ and ‘San Francisco.’ If you don’t appear in the top percentage of pages, take a look at the Website of those plumbers that do show up,” says Spark. “Look at their pages, and usually they will have a lot of content on their sites.”

To increase a business’s presence on the Internet, Spark advocates companies create blogs, newsletters and other articles on their sites to bolster the number of keywords — terms that search engines recognize — to boost their ranking in all-important Web searches.

“That’s the way people discover you,” he says. “Take that plumber in San Francisco. The right search terms might just be ‘clogged toilet and San Francisco.'”  “That tells me I should write … in my blog about how to fix a clogged toilet and mention that I am a plumber in San Francisco,” he says.

4. Take social-network marketing to the next level. Create and post richer content about what your customers would expect from someone in your business. Don’t view social media sites as a place to simply hype your wares. It’s a place for conversation.

“Social media is about earning attention,” says David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online.  “What’s most important is to forget about what your company does. Instead, think about the people who are buying your products. Simply hyping products and services online and in social media sites completely backfires. People are not looking for products but for something fun. They are looking to make connections,” Scott says.

So it’s all about having something interesting to say or show. It could be a blog, or a video on the video-sharing Website YouTube.

For example, if you’re a caterer, instead of talking about your service, create engaging culinary content. Imagine positioning yourself as a gourmet magazine on the Web, complete with links to a video you uploaded to YouTube.

“A caterer could create a blog with information about how to create a fantastic party, and each blog post or YouTube video could be another installment,” Scott says. “On the Web, you are what you publish and being on the Web is about publishing information.”

So back to that plumber faced with the prospect of dropping an expensive Yellow Pages listing but worried about customers not finding him if they have a burst pipe or a misfiring shower head. Scott recommends the plumber post a list of “the 100 home fixes for common plumbing problems.”

“All of a sudden you are going to get indexed very highly in the search engines, and people are going to share that content with their friends,” he says. “When someone puts an update on Facebook asking if anyone knows a good plumber in Boston, a friend might point to your content.”

5. Use blogging to drive search results and help new customers find you. Lately, blogging has gained greater attention, with the advent of “micro-blogging” on Twitter. But consider the time commitment and strategy before launching an account.

Even with the spread of micro-blogging, Abraham remains a big fan of traditional blogs, which are lengthier and show up on Web sites. In general, no matter what form the blog takes, it should be consistent over time.

“If you can’t keep up one (blog) post a day or 12 tweets a day, do one tweet every Thursday. Consistency in blogging or tweeting will create a relationship of trust with your followers or readers. Do it once a week, but for the next two years,” Abraham says.

And don’t spend extra money on blogging software, technical help, or a ghost writer for your blog.  To get started, sign up with WordPress.com or Blogger – both are free blogging platforms which are easy to use for beginners.

Additional opportunities within the social media environment include:  online radio shows on platforms such as BlogTalkRadio, social networking sites such as LinkedIN, Plaxo, and FriendFeed, and a wide variety of additional tools as well depending on your type of business.

Following these social media basics for small business will get your company started on the right road to gaining new customers and increased revenue via social media.

If after completing this article you’re still not certain what your company’s social media strategy should be, we would be happy to aid you in it’s development – and implementation if you would like.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Mobile Marketing Drives Customer Loyalty; and Now is Working in the Shopping Mall Industry June 18, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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As someone who spent many years in shopping mall management and marketing, I still have a keen awareness of strategies which drive consumer traffic and behavior in the shopping center environment.  As with retail in general, the name of the game is consumer loyalty, and malls have been utilizing email and membership card-based loyalty programs for years.  But now, mobile technology has provided a new spin on the shopping mall loyalty program and General Growth is the first national shopping center development/management firm to debut this cutting edge technology on a national basis.

The article below details the the new General Growth program and the strategy behind it.  For small businesses reading this article, these same strategies could be employed on a smaller scale to develop your own customer loyalty program to increase sales.  Further, this type of program can be enhanced by the integration of supplemental Social Media strategies to encourage interactivity between the members of the loyalty program and the organization.  The more “connected” the members of the group are with each other and with ‘the brand”, the more likely they are to be loyal customers and frequent users of “the brand”.

I encourage you to read the article and consider ways in which these ideas might be applied to your business.  Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and/or social media and how these tools can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, mobile marketing and social media articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

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Nation’s No. 2 mall owner turns to SMS for retail traffic

By Mickey Alam Khan, Mobile Marketer Daily, June 18, 2009

General Growth PropertiesMobile finds place to blossom in Oakbrook mall outside Chicago

General Growth Properties, the nation’s No. 2 mall owner, has introduced what it claims is the nation’s first national mall-based mobile advertising network.

Working with mobile marketing firm Mobisix, the troubled mall giant has extended its email-based The Club program to include The Club Mobile, an alerts service that relies on SMS. General Growth’s marquee properties include Water Tower Place in Chicago, Fashion Show at Tyson’s Galleria outside Washington and South Street Seaport in New York.

“This program is also unique in that it is driven by consumer-controlled preferences and data and analytics decisions to ensure consumers receive only the most relevant offers, and according to their opt-in rules they establish,” said Michael Foschetti, managing director of Mobisix, Charlotte, NC.

Consumers who sign up online with mobile number and other preference data at http://www.theclubmobile.com will receive discounts and offers via regularly scheduled text messages. Those who sign up stand a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree.

The goal of this loyalty program is to incentivize registered consumers and drive foot traffic to the more than 200 regional shopping malls with 24,000-plus retail stores that Chicago-based General Growth owns or manages in 44 states nationwide.

General Growth PropertiesDon’t discount mobile

Mobisix’s messaging platform powers The Club Mobile, delivering targeted, personal offers based on consumer-controlled preferences, data and analytics.

Here is what Mr. Foschetti had to say about The Club Mobile and mobile’s growing potential in driving retail traffic during these tough economic times:  

What’s the thinking behind The Club Mobile?
The Club mobile is an innovative new-media platform for retail brands to target specific audiences with highly relevant messages and drive store traffic. 

General Growth PropertiesWill mobile book returns for General Growth’s Jordan Creek mall in Des Moines, IA?

In these economic times, the more innovative ways we can use technology to inform the consumer of events and sales while utilizing the club the better.

The Club is a strategic extension of General Growth’s email marketing platform, The Club, and offers the similar value to on-the-go consumers and consumers that prefer to receive opt-in messages to their mobile phones versus email.

Who is the target?
Early adopters of The Club Mobile cross all demographic groups and comprise age groups 13-65.

Both male and female audiences have expressed significant interest and are representative of our subscriber base. Retail brands across categories will express an interest in learning more about the database.

Can we be sure it’s the nation’s first mall-based mobile ad network?
There are several SMS services out there within the retail space, but none to our knowledge that were launched on a nationwide basis among so many malls all at once.

This program is also unique in that it is driven by consumer-controlled preferences and data and analytics decisions to ensure consumers receive only the most relevant offers, and according to their opt-in rules they establish.

This program is larger than just one brand. It is a media network that many brands can choose to participate in based upon their unique marketing needs from national to local.

Why text messages to mall-goers? Any research backing receptivity to such messages?
Retail has always strived to find channels to get one-on-one with customers.

It’s also an industry that stands to really benefit from strategic applications, and on a larger, more macro scale, of mobile marketing.

Getting an offer in the consumer’s hands in that last mile to the sale and getting them in-store is happening today across the mobile and retail spectrum, and in highly successful ways.

Many brands are seeing success with mobile, but in some cases just cannot grow their lists large enough to really move the needle.

The Club Mobile, for retail brands, will really complement the brands’ existing mobile marketing programs and add another layer of micro-targeted activity to the mix.

Significant research was tapped to gauge consumer receptivity to mobile marketing messages within retail, and as long as consumers are in control – how often they get messages, what types of messages they receive and easy opt-out process – very positive feedback was found.

The Mobile Marketing Association’s research indicates approximately one in 10 U.S. consumers are highly interested in mobile marketing, and that is underscored among youth audiences and related to offers and coupons. Both play strongly to General Growth’s program.

When will those who register to The Club Mobile get the text offers?
The maximum number of offers that a consumer will receive is eight per month, or two times per week.

Can mobile help mall retailers? What can mobile offer that other channels don’t?
Yes, we believe it can enhance retailers’ existing mobile marketing efforts and more.

Mobile provides a powerful and efficient one-on-one communication channel for retailers to reach a specified customer base.

Mobile experiences incredibly high open and read rates that result in significant response rates. It also enables retail brands to continue to adapt for efficient and green marketing practices – accountable to ROI and the environment.

Let Your Voice Be Heard by Your Customers May 28, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, FaceBook, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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Technology keeps evolving and providing small businesses with additional ways to communicate with our target audiences.  Now there is an Application that will allow you to record a voice message and have it distributed directly to your connections via Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace, as well as email and telephone.  It’s less complicated than developing a podcast or a video, and yet highly effective at communicating a message – even while on the move – and it provides distribution options including direct-to-telephone which cannot be achieved thru other methods.

This type of application has many potential uses for small business, including:

  • send an email invitation to a seminar with an actual voice invitation from your company’s CEO
  • it lets a public relations manager in the midst of handling a company crisis convey a message to all necessary staff at the corporate office at one time and they can listen to it at their convenience
  • your CEO can dictate a new corporate policy for immediate implementation and distribute it via email (or telephone)
  • you can describe a new product or service to all your Twitter, Facebook and/or MySpace contacts
  • many, many additional uses that can benefit your company.

Read the article below from Mashable for a complete description of the application and how it works.

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by Ben Parr, Mashable

 Phonevite LogoWhen you need to send a voice note or a dictation to multiple contacts, Phonevite has always been a strong option. However, while it does have an iGoogle Gadget, Phonevite has mostly been limited to voice-to-phone sharing.

That was until today, when Phonevite opened the social media floodgates of its voice services. Starting today, you can not only send voice messages to your friends via phone, but you can also share recordings via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, email or just embed the audio directly to your website.

Once you have made a voice recording (either via a recording browser app or via phone), the recording will appear in your recording inbox. Now, however, you’ll see five small icons at the bottom for each of the key social services and embeds which you can use to distribute your content easily.

Facebook will post to your wall while Twitter will create the ready-to-share tweet. This makes it simple to send audio to all of your friends instantaneously. And of course, you can still send it to their phone if you need to send it directly.

Social media is an effective mass-communication tool, and Phonevite has tapped into its raw power to dramatically increase the potential of its products. Phonevite is no longer just for voice notes, but for rapidly distributing podcasts, interviews, and calls. It’s up to users and Phonevite, though, to tap into the potential possibilities.

 

Email Newsletter Programs are Strong Marketing Performers March 23, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing.
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Small business owners are always in search of cost-effective, time-efficient ways to keep in touch with existing clients/customers, and the internet provides us with a variety of ways in which to achieve that. One method of maintaining regular customer contact is the use of an Email Newsletter program. Using such a program enables your clients to maintain an on-going awareness of your firm, so they remember your firm when they finally have a need for a service such as yours instead of seeking out another firm because they forgot about you.

The use of an Email Newsletter program provides a variety of benefits to your firm, including:

  • A regularly scheduled communication program to remind your clients/customers that you are available to service them
  • A method of communicating new services/products, new staff members with areas of expertise which might be of interest to clients/customers, recent awards or recognition received by your firm, education/information about the latest industry developments
  • A communication that is professional in appearance and helps to reinforce your firm’s branding message
  • A communication that can link clients/customers back to your website or blog in areas that will be of particular interest to them.

Elements of an effective email newsletter include:

  • short, easy-to-read articles
  • photographs
  • interesting, attention-grabbing headlines
  • special limited-time offers for newsletter-readers only
  • information relevant to your industry (statistics and graphs are always interesting)
  • communication regarding new products or services being offered by your firm
  • company information of interest such as new staff, awards, new offices, community participation programs, etc.
  • links to your website or blog that provide greater detail on articles discussed in the newsletter.

Obviously, the use of a professional-appearing Email Newsletter presents some challenges for business owners who do not have HTML programming skills. Luckily Web 2.0 technology has provided us with a variety of resources that enable a small business to send a professional-appearing newsletter with only the most basic of computer skills. Services such as Aweber, Constant Contact and Ennect provide user-friendly, web-based email tools that enable any business owner to develop a professional email program extremely cost-effectively. Added benefits of using such a service are that they insure that you maintain compliance with the anti-spam laws, and they increase the potential that your newsletter will reach the customer’s inbox and actually be read.

Try an Email Newsletter program for 6 months as a test; track who it was sent to, who reads it and which articles they read (the software programs will provide reports), and who you receive additional business from. Compare your cost per person of implementing the program with the revenue you receive as a result of implementing the program to determine your ROI (return-on-investment). Then compare your Email Newsletter ROI with the ROI for other marketing programs you are implementing to determine its cost-effectiveness for your firm. I’m betting it will be one of your top-performing programs!

What Social Media Marketers Can Learn from Email Marketing and In-person Marketing February 28, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Web 2.0.
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Are you still trying to figure out the “do’s” and “don’ts” of social media marketing? Be assured, you’re not alone. As the social networking community continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, marketers and small business owners are challenged with learning how to apply standard marketing principles to this new medium.

One of the challenges of social media is that it doesn’t respond well to “advertising”. Social media marketing needs to be more subtle. It’s about networking to build a reputation as an expert, and then having your expertise sought out. To give you a relevant example, many of you attend networking meetings for your Chamber of Commerce or various trade associations. When you attend those functions do you walk in wearing a sign that says “buy from me”? Or, do you take a more subtle approach by trying to meet new people, learn about what they do, offer a free bit of advice here and there, and build relationships that down the road will result in new business? If you’re like most people, you follow the second option and with that being the case, why would you not apply that same strategy to social networking? You would – and you should!

Additionally, since email marketers have already traversed a path similar to that now being explored by social media marketers, there are a great many lessons that can be learned by reviewing email marketing strategies and the results which were achieved. A recent article by Stephanie Miller, published in MediaPost online publications, explores the email media / social media comparison and provides some interesting lessons to help you improve the results from your social media marketing strategies. This article can be found on our website.