How to use Pinterest and Twitter for a competitive advantage

Using Pinterest and Twitter in online marketing

If you’re not using your social media (for example Pinterest and Twitter) to further your business objectives then you’re missing out on a massive opportunity for free research and a free sales funnel.

On our searches we found a great tip on using Twitter for competitive advantage and secondly why Pinterest is an excellent tool for e-commerce.

  • Work out who you’re competing with

This is an obvious starting point and something that should have been done when you first came up with your business plan.

However it might still be possible to identify a few smaller competitors by performing a basic Twitter search. Start with the most obvious competitors then look at who is following them to see if there are any small businesses that are also trying to make a name for themselves in your niche.

  • Search for keywords and hashtags

Searching for keywords and hashtags on Twitter will help to identify people that are the most vocal within your marketplace, which may help to flag up some potential competitors but also gives an idea of the sort of people you need to be engaging in conversation.

Similarly, searching for your competitors’ brand names will help to tune into what people are saying about them, which will give useful insight into customer sentiment and how competitors are performing on social.

Twitter’s advanced search tool is extremely useful for this as it allows users to be very precise with their search terms and also save them for future reference.

  • Use Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a free tool that allows users to monitor search terms in real time, allowing you to stay on top of the conversations that are going on around your industry and competitor brands. In truth it’s actually more useful for monitoring your own brand mentions, but could also be handy if you’ve set time aside to monitor the conversations going on around competitors.

If you’re bold enough you might also consider jumping in and starting conversations with users who mention the competition, though tread carefully as it’s easy to come across as a spammer.

  • Analyse their followers and who they’re following

Once you’ve identified the competition you can use one of the free tools available online to find out more about who follows them. Tools such as Followerwonk work great for this sort of research.

This information allows you to work out which users are potentially the most influential in your niche and who you should be trying to engage with.

Read the rest on Econsultancy.

Twitter is great for research but Pinterest is great for sales:

Pinterest has rolled out three new features over the last few months to help businesses use Pinterest effectively and drive sales.

  • Rich Pins

Pinterest are improving pins by automatically including updated details. For instance, reviews of films, ingredients for recipes and, more importantly for ecommerce, price and availability of products.

Getting started is a fairly easy process of preparing your own website with meta tags, testing out your rich pins and applying to upload them on Pinterest. This is well worth doing as pins with prices attract 36% more likes than those without.

  • Pinterest price alerts

Pinterest debuted price alerts in August. If the user has an unpurchased product pinned to their board and it becomes cheaper, Pinterest automatically sends an email informing them.

The user doesn’t have to do anything, and notifications will be grouped together in as few emails as possible to avoid clutter.

This is a simple, and effortless way to drive sales to your store. Email open rates are four times higher for triggered emails rather than newsletters. You just need to do lots of competitor analysis to take advantage of it.

  • Promoting pins

As of this month, Pinterest is trialling promoted pins. Working much like regular pins, these will have a special promoted label. Pinterest has promised to keep these tasteful and transparent with clear ‘promoted’ labelling, and relevant to the user.

There you have it, quick and free ways to excel online!

Do marketers really understand digital marketing?

Digital Marketing: do you understand it?

It’s a scary thought: marketing has moved on so substantially from the old days of print and radio however have marketers kept up with this move? We assume they have but recent studies of relatively advanced markets such as the U.S. and the U.K.

Marketers appear to be unable to catch up with the pace of technological change within digital marketing practices. Similar apprehensiveness has been noted in the U.S., where a mere 9% of marketers confirmed their confidence in the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns, and 61% referred to recent digital marketing approaches by most companies as in a cycle of learning by doing or trial and error.

A similar sentiment is felt in the UK, where over 50% of marketers are basing their digital campaigns on intuition as opposed to rigorous testing of campaigns and content which is the norm with more traditional forms of marketing, such as employing a focus group to obtain feedback on a new television spot. A part of this problem can be attributed to a lack of data analysis and insight strategies by marketing departments, resulting in a lack of relevant information to inspire confidence in the direction of digital campaigns.

There are multiple issues here including a lack of training and the massively fast moving pace of the industry.

Other issues encountered by the marketing sphere due to this lack of assurance include the downplaying of the significance and value of emerging channels. Especially mobile marketing channels are not being utilised in an effective manner to reach consumers. In fact, almost half of marketers have not employed a formal mobile marketing strategy for their respective companies. These statistics are surprising considering the personal, portable and ‘always-on’ nature of mobile devices makes them highly conducive as a channel for reaching consumers.

At OfferForge we’re here to help you decipher your online marketing needs without the fluff. We’re here to genuinely help and inform and no question is ridiculous. Give us a shout here and we’ll get your online marketing up and running.

CPM is still the most common metric for ad measurement

CPM as metric for ad measurement

While it’s not necessarily the best measurement for online advertising CPM is still, for many, the simplest way of testing the success of a campaign.

Multiple factors, including the convergence of digital as both a content and a commerce medium, as well as the rise of multi-channel marketing campaigns, are leading marketers to benchmark their digital ad campaigns against both performance- and branding-based objectives—regardless of format.

The problem comes in when comparing the CPM of a banner ad to that of a rich media advert or a native advertising. However, it’s what advertisers want. According to a study by Nielsen advertisers want simplicity:

common used metrics for ad measurement


Many would prefer to move towards an engagement metric or a “Cost Per Engagement”. For many, CPE might be a preferred performance metric, it is unlikely to become a ubiquitous pricing model. In addition, how do you even measure engagement?

measurements that actually matter the most

Give OfferForge a call and we’ll discuss how to structure your campaigns for maximum effectiveness in order to reach your business goals.

Why content marketing is becoming a business essential

No one can ignore the importance of content marketing

Content Marketing is a buzzword on almost every major business’s lips currently. It’s a great way to soft sell and more and more brands are seeing themselves as publishers.

A quick definition: Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

The trick though with content marketing is to avoid spamming your readers with information about your product. You’re there to inform them rather than overwhelm them. As such, here are five reasons to use content marketing.

Brand Awareness: This is one of the most common goals of a content marketing strategy. In fact, MarketingProfs and Junta42 found that brand awareness was the No. 1 goal for B2B marketers in North America. That’s because high-quality, purposeful content can showcase your company’s expertise, leaving readers asking, “Who wrote this?”

Brand Loyalty: When readers find themselves consistently reading a brand’s content, they start to see that brand in a new light, not only in terms of credibility but also likability.

The social media tool Buffer is a great example of this. A few years ago, Buffer invested in an industry blog that featured clever posts like “The History of To-Do Lists” and “Common Mistakes Our Brain Makes and How to Fix Them.” With entertaining, informative content that actually provides value outside of its product offering, Buffer has developed a huge following in addition to a loyal customer base. This says a lot when everyone — and their grandmas — is busy developing “groundbreaking” social media tools.

Customer Education: An educated client makes a happy client (and keeps your customer service team from running to the bar after work). Lucky for you, educating potential customers is one of the most efficient ways to put content marketing to work.

Start off by writing down the questions your sales team hears from clients. I guarantee those questions will spur ideas for articles that would be valuable to your audience. They may even convince a few hesitant customers.

Customer Engagement: Publishing an article and then responding to comments or questions with current or potential customers is an opportunity to connect. This type of engagement humanizes your company logo — giving it an opinion, expertise, and (most importantly) a personality. Customers want to buy from people, not a brand.

Talent Recruitment: Use content to showcase your company vision and culture via meaningful, no-B.S. content. Do you really want people who love a good fluff piece working for you? You want employees who appreciate thoughtful, honest content. We wrote about our team members contributing to a douchebag jar when they said crappy things to each other. Great talent saw this article and identified themselves as the right fit for our team.

Content marketing isn’t just something you have to consider, it’s something you should already be doing.

Are publishers moving beyond the paywall concept?

Publishers are evolving… or are they?

It’s 2009, Rupert Murdoch is bleating on about how Google are a bunch of thieves for stealing his content and publishers are starting to think about paywalls as an option for protecting their content.

Fast forward to 2013 and for many, the great paywall experiment has been relatively successful. The paywall is growing up because it has no choice. Publishing is a hustle these days, and those willing to try and fail will end up ahead. When the Times rolled out its “leaky paywall” in 2011 — the Times prefers to talk of meters rather than paywalls — many critics lambasted the approach. But now, the in-between approach of the Times has been adopted far and wide, from venerable outlets like the Times and People magazine to local papers like the Dallas Morning News, as publishers are moving beyond the extremists on both sides of the paywall debate. The choice, it turns out, is not free vs. paid. It is figuring out how to generate the dual revenue stream that news organizations have always relied on and remain flexible in achieving that goal.

The Times has established itself as a leader in the in-between camp of the paywall debate. While publications like The Wall Street Journal are hardliners — it puts nearly all its content behind a paywall with the hefty cost of $260 per year – others are showing more flexibility — and complementing access to content with modern versions of the Sport Illustrated football phone. Time Inc.’s People, for instance, started a new subscription model in September called People VIP. For $200 a year, People VIP subscribers get full access to the magazine online as well as editorially selected gift boxes that will be mailed out three times a year. This month, for example, People VIPs got a scarf inspired by a garment that Rihanna wore, a trendy bracelet, and a note from the editors why each product was selected. People VIPs are also entered to win passes to movie premiers and even a chance to go to the Oscars as a guest of the magazine.

For readers who don’t need all the extra bells and whistles, there’s still the standard $100 yearly magazine or digital subscription. For $130, readers get both the magazine and a full online subscription. The most economical People subscription is $10 a year to access limited People coverage on its app.

As mentioned, there have been some hit harder by the paywall concept: The Dallas Morning News, which made news recently for tearing down its old paywall, is also betting that added perks around a loyalty program will prove profitable.

Locally we’ve only seen Business Day go behind a paywall and there’s currently no context to whether it has been successful or not.

The trick for publishers when it comes to paywalls: there’s no need to be extreme, rather allow occasional readers their content and the die-hard fans will pay to enjoy your content.

How to tell if your Native ads are successful

It is important to know that your native ads are successful

If you’ve been to a site such as Buzzfeed or Quartz recently you know all about Native Advertising. We’ve spoken about the topic a few times before but in a nutshell Native Ads is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. One form of native advertising, publisher-produced brand content, is similar in concept to a traditional advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article.

We’re big fans of the concept but recently questions have arisen about the effectiveness of Native Ads and whether there’s a decent return for advertisers beyond just the “cool factor”. There’s one major problem: if Native Advertising is the newest method of online advertising, what is the newest method of measurement?

Forbes, for example, is starting to give advertisers in its Brand Voice platform two new dashboards to provide better metrics. One will provide statistics for brand content, like top posts, pageviews, total visitors, repeat visitors. Basically, publisher metrics. The other is a social dashboard, providing data about how well content does on social networks from social actions to social referrals.

Other publishers running similar types of sponsored content are reporting to brands similar metrics, which are more akin to publishing measures than the typical brand measures like clicks, impressions, and lifts in consideration and purchase intent. Your average marketing manager is not used to gauging success in pageviews and shares.

BuzzFeed, perhaps the poster-child for the native ad movement, has been offering brands and agency publishing metrics for a while as a way to educate and soothe nerves. It gives them pageviews, top referrers, top search terms and viral views from its dashboard.

So far, so similar.

The American Online Publishers Association have done some interesting research on the matter with the following useful takeouts:

Measurement Metrics
Measurement Metrics
Marketing Goals
Marketing Goals

The future is bright for Native Advertising; we’re still waiting for a brave brand to do something in South Africa!

The growth of social TV viewing

Last week we spoke about how Twitter was filing for an IPO and the resultant innovation that is coming out of this is fascinating.

In essence the idea of TV as the “first screen” and other devices as the “second” or “third” screens is dead. Today, the first screen is whichever one a consumer is looking at. Twitter has turned out to be a digital water cooler with thousands of people around the country simultaneously engaging in real-time conversations on Twitter about favorite television shows or sporting events as they unfold.

In the US cable giant Comcast, parent of programming giant NBCUniversal, has struck a deal with Twitter that will make it easy for users of the social network platform to access TV shows directly from the site. The new feature, called “see it,” will allow Comcast subscribers to get to NBCUniversal content via Twitter. Comcast also said it would work with other distribution companies interested in using the service.

The company has developed a new feature, which it calls “See It,” that is designed to funnel its Comcast customers who use Twitter to the show with a click of a button.

The chart below shows that a majority of social media users, tablet owners and smartphone users have used social networks while watching television.majority of social media users

A significant portion of these users were specifically using social media to talk about the content they were viewing on television. Research of other surveys conducted in 2013 indicated that 15% to 17% of TV viewers engaged in real-time socializing about the television shows they were watching.

Facebook is further behind, but the company is expanding the use of hashtags and other features to show users how much real-time conversation is taking place on the service. It is also rolling out two APIs that will allow media outlets and ad technology companies to analyze and report on real-time activity. Facebook believes it can offer TV advertisers a one-two punch of enormous reach and deep targeting.

Whether Facebook or Twitter win the battle is debatable but what we can say that second screen is the way of the future and it’s time for marketers to start capitalising on this.

Unsurprisingly social media spending increases

Certain things in life are fairly inevitable: death, taxes and that advertisers are spending more money on social media adverts. It’s simple, users are using social networks and it’s an easy way to get your product in their face. So inevitably social media spending on ads are rising.

A recent STRATA research report shows that most advertisers are using Facebook to connect with their customers and potential customers. YouTube and Twitter came in next, at 55% and 53%, respectively. An additional 35% 0f respondents said they were likely to use LinkedIn for social campaigns, and 25% each cited Google+ and Pinterest.

While brands have a choice between using free social products and paid placements on the networks, more than twice as many respondents (25%) saw paid social media as offering greater return on investment (ROI) than free social media (11%). Still, it’s important to bear in mind, 19% said they saw no ROI from social media.

Does more social media spending mean more opportunities for affiliates?

Brand promotions led as the most common type of ad placed on Facebook, used by 62% of respondents, twenty percentage points ahead of company announcements, which came in second. Just over one-third of respondents said they used social ads announcing services, and nearly as many said they ran social ads on products.

In total, paid ads still aren’t overtaking ad budgets, but they are beginning to make a dent in the total. While 58% said social media accounted for 5% or less or clients’ ad budgets, another 42% spent between 6% and 25% of ad budgets on social. No respondents spent more than one-quarter of ad budgets on paid social posts.

The critical issue to consider here isn’t that social media budgets are expanding, this is fairly obvious. What we need to consider is that marketers shouldn’t use social media in isolation. There are many businesses trying their hand at social media marketing and it is increasing every day. This covers lead generation efforts to subscriptions and everything in between. As social media spending is still a growing industry there are still loads of opportunities for the savvy internet marketer.

The trick is to split your budgets along multiple mediums such as the OfferForge ad network as well as CPC, CPM and CPA style campaigns. You’ll easily get the hang of which medium works best for you.

Contact us today to get the best advice on how to segment and budget your digital marketing campaigns.