Here’s this week’s round-up of news stories marketers shouldn’t miss because they offer key information or lessons that multi-channel distributed marketing organizations should take to heart.
- World News Affects Consumer Behavior Quickly: Two stories from the world of insurance point up how rapidly things can change for marketers. One story looks at changes in the way Americans buy life insurance – and the other points out that the looming default on the U.S. debt has customers of financial planners concerned about the default’s impact on their own investments. The lesson for marketers: Keeping a close eye on your own industry is important – but being too narrowly focused can hurt. In the case of these two stories, a trade association survey showed a dramatic change in buyer behavior – but didn’t link it to recent worries about the country’s economic health. Are the two related? Who knows? But financial uncertainty has historically led people into safer, more secure investments like whole live insurance and annuities – especially when the uncertainty is sudden – and the inability of Washington politicos to reach a deal on the debt ceiling caught many Americans by surprise.
- Twitter Gives Promoted Tweets More Visibility: Yesterday, Twitter began testing a new advertising vehicle that gives sponsored Tweets more visibility – but only if the user has already been following a particular company or charity. It’s Twitter’s attempt to create something similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, to allow brands more interaction with followers. In our own survey of marketers, 31% of survey respondents said they planned to spend more on paid social media next year. The lesson for marketers: If paid social media is already in your budget, keep a close eye on the Twitter experiment – and if it isn’t, consider at least a pilot program for paid social because the Twitter announcement is just the latest in a spate of similar announcements, and more are likely on the way as social media platforms look for ways to increase revenue.
- Abuse of Photoshop Gets Ads Banned: PC World reported this week on two actions by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA pulled L’Oreal ads featuring 43-year-old Academy Award winner Julia Roberts and 42-year-old model Christy Turlington after Member of Parliament Jo Swinson took to Twitter to complain about the unrealistic images. The extreme alteration in the photographs resulted in ads that were misleading, the ASA ruled. The lesson for marketers: Women reject unrealistic standards of perfection – both Roberts and Turlington are beautiful women who wouldn’t require air brushing in any situation except the quest for unobtainable perfection. And the watchdogs in social media and elsewhere are increasingly calling brands out for altered images.
- Social Media Won’t Save a Struggling Business: Fast Company this week gave some comfort to executives who still aren’t convinced that social media is a legitimate marketing tool with a look at the cold hard truth: good companies with clear messages and solid planning thrive in social media. Those without, focused on short-term survival or results, don’t. The lesson for marketers: Social media is part of a good marketing plan – but it isn’t the Holy Grail, and it can’t stand alone, without a more complete approach to finding, reaching, engaging, and providing value to customers and prospects.
- B2B Marketing Automation Vendors Will Earn $325 million in 2011 – A new study from industry analysts Raab Associates Inc. projects sales of marketing automation solutions at $325 million this year – 50% more than 2010, which doubled revenue from 2009. The figures are in Raab Associates’ B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Toolkit (VEST), released on Wednesday. Today at the PIMA Mid-Year Conference, leading financial services and insurance multi-channel distributed marketing automation vendor Distribion debuted a new series of pro forma models that allow companies to build a rock-solid business case for the value of marketing automation. Distribion, which grew by nearly 25% in the first half of the year, has used the experiences of more than 125 customers with 150,000 local users to identify four areas where technology can cut costs, streamline processes to get messages to prospects faster, and increase marketing effectiveness to produce more leads, conversions, and revenue. The Raab Associates report is available for sale, while Distribion’s tools are in limited release to selected qualifying companies. The lesson for marketers: If you’re still trying to manage complex multi-channel marketing operations without a comprehensive automation solution, you’re going to face more difficult challenges ahead as your competitors adopt technology that allows them to be more nimble, responsive, and effective. With 2012 budget deadlines looming, perhaps it’s time to take a look at how technology could affect your marketing organization.