Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Four Ways Oprah Uses Email September 21, 2011

Oprah uses email marketing to engage with her fans even now that she’s not on TV.

 

What other media mogul do you know that gave out their personal email address on national TV? She gave it out during the very last show. The one where it was just her on stage for an hour saying goodbye after 25 years. Go ask your girlfriends, I bet they heard it, to.  I emailed her, that put me on her email list. Since then I’ve gotten a few emails from her. They read like Oprah talking, not like Oprah advertising.

 

O uses my email address judiciously. I have the sense she feels privileged to have it. She’s careful not to abuse the relationship.

There are 4 things Oprah does with email.

  1. Takes interest in my world – she asks how things are going.
  2. Updates on her – She tells me what she’s been up to
  3. Asks about 1 thing – She’ll ask my opinion on 1 topic
  4. No sell – She’s never asked me for money.

 

And BTW – she never uses a belittling Subject Line. There’s no “10 things you don’t know about X.” Her typical Subject line is “Happy 4th of July,” or “The next right decision.”  It’s respectful.

 

The opposite is true of another self-made millionaire who has an entrepreneur’s conference coming up in Dallas. I’m registered to go, but honestly I tuned out her emails 6 months ago. So much so, I can’t even tell you who the keynote speaker. Every email she sends is her trying to reach into my pocketbook to pad her own.  “Upgrade your registration for exclusive access” or “advertise my stuff to your friends.” It got old after email #2. She’s clearly only interested in how much money she can get out of me and my network.

 

Oprah has a lot to sell. Can you imagine trying to start a network? That’s a B-I-G job. In her email in August she said flat out it’s 10x harder than she thought it would be. And yet she’s never begged me to watch or asked me to buy an ad. She’s asked me what I think of a show. I mean, I know she’d like me to watch, sure. But she’s using my email the same way a girlfriend would – by asking my opinion and telling me a bit about her life.

 

I don’t have any friends who ask for money every time we talk.

 

Who else do you know who uses email really well?

 

 

Oprah knows Engagement September 18, 2011

 

No one knows their audience like Oprah does. Nobody

They were a late start on social platforms and some people have picked on them for that. But, when you already recognize your audience members faces, why dive into “social” just because it’s new.

It struck me while watching O’s interview with MC Hammer, that until then she really wasn’t “getting” how to use social media. There was a moment in the interview when Hammer says to her (talking about Twitter) “If I were you, I’d just tweet “Watch this show, it’s on OWN right now.“”

Oprah put her hand on his arm, looked deep in his eyes and said, “We are going to talk more after the show.”

MC Hammer has his own social media company helping other companies do social well. She must have listened well.

The first weekend in April the Oprah Winfrey team started doing live tweets during “Behind the Scenes” episodes (#OprahLiveTweet). The first tweet I saw from her that day was something like “Ok, #OprahLiveTweet starts in 10 minutes. If nobody shows up by 9:15, I’m going home.”

The live tweets were a hit! And it’s been growing ever since. Twitter wasn’t new to Oprah. She’s been on Twitter for more than 2  years, but she didn’t really use Twitter. She was just there – with millions of followers.

But nobody is as good at relationships as Oprah. She and her team totally get it. My God, what other brand do you know that sent their 300 biggest fans on a trip to the other side of the world with a friend. Seriously. They get engagement, in spades. Actually, what other brand could TELL you who their 300 biggest fans are and why?

OK, back to their tweeting. Now her team is tweeting up a storm. And while some of it promotes specific shows and OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network), they get that they have to earn the right to promote to people. Their tweets are natural, conversational and show genuine interest in learning from who ever engages with them.

To write this post I needed help remembering when the live tweets started. I tweeted @SheriSalata, executive producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show to ask. She sent me a note back mentioning one of the other staffers @mayawatson, to help her come up with the date. Simple.

 

Back to the tweets. Here’s six Live Tweet habits Oprah does well:

  1. Keep it casual
  2. Learn from who else is tweeting
  3. Be helpful
  4. Recognize people
  5. Don’t go it alone
  6. Have a goal – a classic Oprah thing “have an intention.” It works.

I’d love to know if O hired MC Hammer to help her team. @SheriSalata, if you read this, drop me a tweet and let me know 🙂

 

BTW-you should see how they are using email marketing. Killer good. But that’s another post. See you!

 

3 Things Distinctive Gardens Learned from Big Break Metrics August 10, 2011

 

Publicity does not equal immediate gratification.

 

There’s no doubt AmEx Open’s Facebook Big Break for Small Business gave finalist (and winner 🙂 Distinctive Gardens gobs of publicity. And it was a ball (and a ton of work.) The nuts & bolts and bean-counter question is —  did it grow the business. Let’s take a look.

 

Lisa’s main goal was to use Big Break to drive brand awareness and measure results with some key metrics (read more about that here.)

 

More of the nitty-gritty is below, but first the big picture observations.

 

3 things the metrics taught us:

  1. Watch for changes in untargeted categories
  2. Metrics don’t measure psychological highs
  3. Small business is a marathon

 

OK, numbers chicks

Here are the results. She compared year-to-date numbers during the pre-Big Break period to the 2 weeks of Big Break voting (July 5-19, 2011) in these categories:

  • Foot traffic  – up 4.2%, and 20 people specifically mentioned Facebook
  • Retail Sales (all numbers are year-to-date)
    • Nursery +3%
    • Annuals +.4%
    • Perennials +2.5%
  • Facebook Fan count – + 2027
  • Website traffic – hits were way up
  • Design Inquiry count – 3
  • Newsletter email count – not much change, only a couple new names

 

A couple notes:

  • Foot traffic up 4% doesn’t sound like much. Until you mash-up foot traffic with weather. Dixon was in the midst of that brutal heat wave that crushed most of the country. In fact, July was the 6th warmest month on record for Illinois. Not many people wanted to be outside, let alone plant anything.
  • Overall for 2011, Distinctive Gardens has had a challenging year. On average they’ve been down double digits year-to-date. So the upticks while small, were welcome.
  • Website traffic was not just up, it went global. Typically their site gets hits from IL and the 4 surrounding states. With Big Break hits came from everywhere, including New Zealand. The map up top tells the tale (it’s from July 10.)

The Surprise

In crunching the numbers Lisa found another interesting up-tick — pavilion rentals.  At the beginning of July their pavilion rentals had equaled all bookings for 2010. In the hot, hot month of July they have never booked a pavilion rental.

 

That changed this year. During Big Break they booked 6 pavilion dates. (Revenue gets hit w/ deposit money) So not only are they ahead of last year, they’ve already knocked last year out of the park. It’s not their core business, but it’s a solid revenue stream that’s growing.

 

What’s all this mean long-term? No one knows. But common sense tells me this – when guests come to an event at Distinctive Gardens pavilion, it’s like advertising for the rest of the business.  It’s more eyeballs exposed to what they love – artful plantings.

 

What, dear reader, do you take away from these numbers?

 

 

 

Mobile Use Trends in Pictures June 26, 2011

Filed under: Learnings — Carla Bobka @ 11:53 am
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Pictures can really make stats more digestible. This infographic nails down major trends in mobile phone use and shopping. In keeping with the mobile series we are doing on our Friday newsletters, this fits in nicely.

 

Smartphones and Shoppers

What do you think? Are you seeing evidence of these trends with your business or your customers?

 

Thanks to GettinGeeky and econsultancy.com for pointing out this infographic.

 

AARP to fuel Facebook Growth June 22, 2011

Filed under: Ideas — Carla Bobka @ 4:47 pm
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My Mom ❤

 

AllFacebook is predicting the +50 crowd will fuel Facebook’s US growth through 2013.

 

I’m not so sure. I am sure the +50 set will experiment with Facebook. But I’m not convinced they will become regular users who stick with the platform. Here’s why.

 

My Mom was on Facebook for a bit.  Now she’s fed up, so she’s never logging in again. She saw too much unattractive stuff about people she was connected with (people she loves.)

 

Mom is 68, and pretty computer savvy. What she isn’t, is socially liberal. She believes if you don’t have something nice to say you keep your mouth shut. She believes you keep your private stuff (and parts) to yourself. Dirty laundry is for family, not Facebook. In short, she believes in discretion.

 

When it comes to Facebook, she’s seen too much, and she doesn’t want to see anymore. It’s not that my Mom is naive, it’s that she doesn’t want to know.

 

On the upside, she did enjoy catching up with friends who live far away and those she hasn’t talked to in years. Like the bridesmaids in her wedding 50 years ago. And exchanging pics of the quilts she makes with her other quilting buddies. That was wonderful. And they still do that, but not on Facebook. Now the do it via email, the way they have for years. There’s less pollution that way. There’s no worries that my 23 year-old cousin’s boobs will show up in her email like they did on Facebook. Or that she’ll find out about just how much her grandkids are drinking in high school. Or that they lied to their parents or played hooky from work.

 

If Facebook really wants to keep U.S. growth fueled, here are 5 recommendations for them to consider:

  1. Explanation – Better “Intro” for particular age demographics. Explain not just how to connect to anybody, but how to consider who you really want updates from.
  2. Over communicate – Explain the “Block” feature better and more often.
  3. One size does not fit all – Auto-adjust the “Moderation” and “Profanity” filters based on year of birth of the user.
  4. Get image savvy – Upgrade blocklist filtering capabilities to include image filtering, not just words used in text based posts.
  5. Build a bridge – Partner with organizations like AARP to better talk with the +50 crowd.

Any other ideas you can think of?

 

Two Billion is an Intimate Affair April 29, 2011

The Service

 

Today the world attended a wedding. All of us together. It was magical.

And there were plenty of obstacles. Security was the tightest in history. The church smaller than it need be. The crowd as big as you can imagine. And the engagement was a mere 5 months. Oh, and the budget, it was small. OK, small-ish. William and Catherine had requested a restrained affair, even requesting charitable contributions in lieu of gifts. Many of the guests arrived at the Palace in mini-buses. That’s budget constraint. (for royalty.)

And yet the 2 billion guest who didn’t get invitations had their most intimate access ever.  We could watch on close to 100 TV channels, or on live streaming video over the Internet. We listened on satellite radio while we drove to work. Read it in the newspaper on our iPad while we were on the treadmill. We could hear the hymns before the ceremony by downloading the music. And there were at least three official websites.
Yes, I watched. I watched the whole thing. I had it on two TVs and on Twitter. My girlfriend was in London Thursday at 5:00 pm for a meeting. She bought gifts for the kids at The Queen’s Shop in Buckingham Palace 16 hours before the ceremony. And got us flags from the stand at Westminster Abbey.  I talked about it with my friends on Facebook. I downloaded the Official Wedding Program. And the kid at our evening viewing party recorded a video for the bride and groom. It was a spectacular day. We did everything but buy plane tickets and new outfits.
None of this was possible 4 years ago. The royal team did an amazing job using the media available to give us access to so much. They deserve one heck of an after party. And then there was the social part. That was extraordinary.

Here are 6 ways social platforms were used in completely new ways:

  1. The Royal Channel on YouTube did more than featured background videos and highlights of the ceremony. The team did something to really leverage YouTube’s social element. They let us upload our well-wishes to the bride and groom. It was a guest book with videos instead of signatures. No need to be present to leave your stamp. Tell me that won’t become a HUGE wedding trend.
  2. Flicker The Monarchy has a Flicker photo stream.
  3. Twitter – Multiple tweet streams were produced by the monarchy. @ClarenceHouse @BritishMonarchy were tweeting up a storm. Not to mention all the news channels and anchors tweeting and the fashion police and all of us watching.
  4. Apps iPhone apps, iPad apps both for history, pictures, relationships of the family members. And design your own dress apps. And games. Yes, even games like this one where the bride is racing to the church on time dodging horses and by-standers. There are so many I can’t even begin to link to them all.
  5. Facebook has a  Page, The Wedding Book, for the couple created by fans. The Page has 151,670 fans of it’s own. That’s in additon to the wedding’s official page, The British Monarchy.
  6. Music – Want the Royal Album, download it from iTunes.

I hope the social media team takes a vacation and then comes to a conference to speak. I’d love to hear how they pulled it all together, how big the staff was and what they’d do differently if they could.

 

I know there are sites I missed. What did you find?

 

Favs this Week – April 18 thru 22 2011 April 24, 2011

Filed under: Ideas,Life in General,Resources — Carla Bobka @ 6:37 pm
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People ask me how I keep up on changes happening on social platforms. It is hard for sure. There’s no way to read everything, there’s just too much information.

Below are things I’ve read over the prior week that have struck me as important or influenced my thinking. You’ll see the link and 1 sentence about what struck me in the post. Take a closer look if something sounds interesting.

Thanks to Duct Tape Marketing for the idea.

This week:

The Cummins Blog – my sister writes this blog to capture the craziness and funny moments of her brood of kids. She has 6. Five are adopted. Four were foster – adoptions. Two are African American. One is a dwarf. Two are girls. Four are boys. One is getting married in June. One is 6.

I just finished reading “Graceful” by Seth Godin. Recommended reading, for sure. One line that really got me was about anxiety: “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.” Wow. I’m not anxiety prone, but I certainly have moments of it. Not any more, I’m going to only face failure when it actually shows up.

 

This year I’m trying to get my head around SEO. Not to do it professionally, but to do it better for the benefit of SocialPie. This post from ReadWriteWeb helps.  How to Optimize Your FAcebook Page for Search Engines.

 

Here’s another from ReadWriteWeb on mass customization. They claim it’s for real this time. I’m skeptical. I’ve had a pair of “custom” jeans on order since Jan 10. We are on the 3rd fitting and they still aren’t anywhere near being comfortable. And it’s taken 4 months. If that’s the future, it’s not for me. Do you think it is for you (as business person and as consumer)? Let me know your thoughts on this one.

 

Have a great weekend. I’ll be outside watching for spring to arrive.