Marketing data & best practices

Boingnet User Experience Upgrade – New Release

Major Release Live Today 9/16/14 – A Boingnet User Experience Upgrade

We’ve just pushed up a major release of Boingnet that is all about upgrading the Boingnet User Experience. We’ve been working hard on some cool new tools that you can check out below for some time. This upgrade will help you work faster, better and more productively. Here’s the quick list of what’s inside:

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  • A new drag and drop capability within the template editor for moving around responsive blocks of content
  • Responsive Template Blocks can now be inserted from within the editor
  • Added template block management for resizing, setting background color and deleting blocks
  • A new Button Builder for easily creating great looking buttons for templates
  • Improved search and sort capabilities on all listings – templates, microsites & campaigns
  • Improved navigation
  • Improved usability of reports, campaign creation, microsite management and template menus.
  • Assorted minor bug fixes

Check out the Boingnet User Experience Upgrade –  Register for a 60 Day Free Trial!


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Amazing New Responsive Page & Email Template Editor!

We’ve developed some spectacular new tools in the Editor that will help you build better responsive page & email templates more quickly, modify templates with changes and let you design with more creativity and freedom than ever. Since debuting our Responsive Template Blocks approach to building mobile friendly page & email templates a few months ago, we’ve seen an explosion of use of our editor to build mobile ready campaigns. We’ve accumulated ideas from our users, the Boingnet Labs and industry experts on how to make these Responsive Template Blocks even better, and we’re proud to have built out many of these ideas in this release:

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How many times have you started a Boingnet template using our point & click template editor, picked a structure or format for your page or email, and then wanted to insert a new  block into the template when you are partially done building? We now make it a snap with our Template Blocks feature in the left hand menu of the Template Editor.





move respsonsive template blocks 585 Boingnet User Experience Upgrade   New Release Move Responsive Template Blocks

After you start your edit – you often think of a new way to structure the content and you’d like to quickly make a change to see how it looks. Now, all you need to do to Move a Responsive Template Block is click on the block, grab the “Move” icon and drag the block to a different part of the template!




Resize respsonsive template blocks1 Boingnet User Experience Upgrade   New ReleaseResize Responsive Template Blocks

Resizing a block is a snap. Just click on the block, click on the “Resize” icon and grab the lower right corner red button and drag the size of the block to whatever size your heart desires!



The New Color Picker – On Blocks & Call To Action Buttonscolor picker on responsive template blocks1 Boingnet User Experience Upgrade   New Release

We’ve built you a fabulous Color Picker that you can tap into throughout the template editor. Whether you want to change the color of a template block that you are working on or modifying the color of a Call to Action Button – just click on the color picker to scroll through all the colors of the rainbow, or just type/paste in the color number that you’re looking for. You’ll see it appear before your eyes! Speaking of Call to Action Buttons…..


Insert Call To Action Buttons 300x230 Boingnet User Experience Upgrade   New ReleaseBuild and Insert Call to Action Buttons in your Templates with our New Button Builder!

We’ve made the creation of powerful Call To Action buttons a snap with our new Call To Action Button Builder. Choose your text, size it, style it, choose gradient colors and embed a URL or pURL and you’re off to the races! Getting the right Call to Action Button is so important in determining the success of your landing page. Now you have a great tool to build custom looking buttons without having to jump into the HTML editor.



New Ways to Sort, Search & Find your Templates, Microsites & CampaignsNew Listing Format 600 227 Boingnet User Experience Upgrade   New Release

As you build out more content in your Boingnet account, you need better tools to find exactly what you need to view, edit or delete quickly. Our new Listing Format that debuted a few months ago in Lists has now been moved to all Boingnet Listings. We’ve added a sortable column called “Last Update Date” and made it the default listing order, so what you worked on last is at the top of every list. You can now sort on column headings and search for every template, microsite and campaign that exists in your Boingnet account.

We’re working hard to help YOU build better campaigns!

As you can see, this release is jammed with tons of great new features that will make you a more productive, faster and better builder of Boingnet campaigns. We’ve been working on hard this new list of features that we know you’ll love. If you ever have any ideas you’d like to share, just email us at to share your thoughts. See these for yourself – Register for a 60 Day Free Trial!

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Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agencies

Automotive Marketing is Quickly Transforming

Automotive marketing is rapidly transforming – as consumers spend more and more time in the digital world, dealerships must embrace modern marketing techniques or be left behind.  They have no choice: automotive marketing 300x199 Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agenciesevery dealership exists only by convincing individuals in a mass audience that its cars and prices are superior to those of the next dealership, and with the rapid growth of technology, there are more ways than ever of engaging potential consumers and then drawing them into the showroom.  Whether the dealership itself handles its own marketing or trusts it to the expertise and manpower of an automotive marketing agency, the goals are still the same: bring in sales and build revenue, whether through new car sales, used car sales, or automotive services.  But the means of attracting these sales are undergoing a major shift.   Dealers must integrate yesterday’s most effective and measurable techniques with the more advanced digital strategies of today.

Keep Customers from Getting Lost in Search Engine Results

In the age of the Internet, very few customers will even consider buying a car without first doing their own research. Most often, this research takes the form of a Google search, which brings the consumer a bombardment of competitive ads alongside millions of results among which he or she has no guidance. For automotive dealerships, the consumer distractions caused by search engine marketing can be very costly. Often a dealership will spend money on a direct mail or email campaign that convinces consumers to search for new cars, only to result in a consumer’s Google search that is almost definitely not optimized for the dealership. Thus, with every search result clicked, it becomes less and less likely that the dealership will be the one eventually closing the sale. But this scenario begs a question: is it possible to control a customer’s search experience? And if it is possible, what is the most effective automotive marketing method for doing so? The answer, in short, is to keep the consumer from ever leaving the safety of a dealership’s website. It may seem daunting, but with the proper marketing techniques, this automotive dealership marketing dream can become a reality.Screen Shot 2014 08 20 at 10.00.38 AM 300x114 Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agencies

Automotive Content Marketing – Do the Research for Consumers

The logical first step in protecting consumers from search engine distractions is content marketing – doing the research for the consumers. Automotive content marketing is a dealership’s distribution of informative and helpful material that a given automotive consumer will find interesting. Instead of a dealership sending potential customers off to search the web and hoping that they land on the dealership’s web page, content marketing allows a dealer to effectively do the research for the consumers and then present it in an attractive and engaging way. The use of content marketing as a means of customer search control is even more effective with the addition of personalization. For example, a personalized content marketing campaign could be the distribution of fuel economy statistics to consumers who have already purchased a car from the dealership. Based on the car that the customer purchased, he or she will receive a direct mail piece listing the newest model of his or her car as compared to competing cars from other brands. By personalizing a consumer’s content by his car model, a pickup truck owner will not see a content piece comparing luxury sedan fuel efficiencies; instead he will see a chart suggesting that the newest model of his truck is more fuel-efficient than its competitors. However, a merely useful and informative direct mail piece does not guarantee that the consumer will stay away from Google. Further direction is needed, as the dealership must operate under the assumption that consumers are not satisfied without further research. The inclusion of a personalized URL (pURL) link along with the promise of more information online grants consumers a sense of control over their own research, while at the same time holds them within the boundaries of the dealership’s controlled information zone. With this personalized network of information, the dealership has provided consumers with the information they would have otherwise searched for on Google, thus protecting their dealership loyalty and vastly increasing the likelihood that their next purchase will come from the dealership that distributed the useful information.

Multichannel Automotive Marketing and Message Match

Yet before even considering Google, a dealership needs to reach a broad audience in the most effective way possible. Many already use a multichannel approach, marketing through a combination of social media, email marketing, web advertisements, and direct mail pieces. Multichannel or cross-channel marketing is a proven strategy: 73% of Screen Shot 2014 08 20 at 10.03.44 AM 300x191 Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agenciescompanies using multichannel campaigns have seen increased customer engagement, according to eMarketer. Yet many of these campaigns are not consistent across media, often with different offers appearing on different channels at the same time. This confusion drastically decreases a given campaign’s effectiveness in engaging the consumer, as he or she is not given enough direction to choose one deal over another. Instead, the campaign should carry a single message across all channels, for example promoting a brand’s fuel efficiency or showcasing a particular vehicle’s family friendliness. This concept, known as message match, allows a dealer to touch consumers on all channels with a consistent message while driving them all to the same place for the same reason – usually a landing page or microsite offering more details about the information that originally caught the consumer’s eye. While this approach gives consumers more direction, it also channels them directly to a dealership’s website, seamlessly circumventing the Google searches that can prove to be so dangerous to business.

Personalized Multi-channel Automotive Marketing

The next step to improve a multi-channel campaign is to personalize it. Personalization is the best and most cost effective way for a dealership to make its own marketing campaigns stand out from those of its competitors. Using list data captured from CRM systems, list building campaigns, and purchased consumer data, car marketers are able to tailor messages and offers to multiple list segments. Because of the way the car business has evolved, it is very important to market the right car to the right demographic. Steve Sturm, the category development officer for the automotive industry at AOL, stated, “Many vehicles these days are aimed at a fairly small segment of the population, which digital marketing tactics can easily locate and target. There aren’t many vehicles left that are so mainstream that you could efficiently market to them with massive national campaigns.” Automotive marketers use new, intuitive personalization techniques to display specialized offers to consumers based on age, income, current car model, etc. to ensure that the offer received is relevant (see an automotive case study with personalized landing pages here). These offers direct consumers to personalized landing pages or microsites providing more information about the offer, the vehicle, or the dealership in general. Under this strategy, customers don’t need search engines, and dealerships keep them within their “safe spaces” throughout the length of the sales process. Thus, landing pages and microsites are the ultimate solution to protecting campaigns from Google. For more information, click here to view a free webinar on how to protect campaigns from Google.

List Segmentation and Drip Campaigns

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Personalized multi channel campaigns are great for automotive marketing, but what if a dealership wants to follow up with only one segment of the initial campaign blast? That’s where drip marketing comes in. Drip marketing allows a marketer to send out secondary rounds of campaigns to specific segments of the targeted audience via email, direct mail, or SMS/text message. For example, an auto marketer, after sending out a direct advertisement with a pURL to a broad list of prospective consumers, may choose to continue the conversation with only those consumers who opened their pURLs. The marketer will then use a marketing automation system to send out a “drip” email to the addresses of all the designated consumers. Using this technique, a dealership is able to quickly identify and nurture the best leads from its campaign and thus more efficiently convert those leads into sales.

Service Department Marketing

While many dealerships focus marketing efforts on customer acquisition, more and more are beginning to look towards the service department as a major opportunity to expand customer relationships. Gaining new customers is often a very costly and time intensive process, and as profit margins on new car sales grow slimmer andScreen Shot 2014 08 20 at 10.02.26 AM 300x179 Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agencies slimmer, dealerships are turning to their service departments to generate more revenue. That is good news for marketers, as service department marketing usually requires far less time and money. This is because a dealership already has all the data it needs as well as a proven relationship with the customers it is trying to reengage. Using information from its database, a dealership may create personalized campaigns and drips specific to a past customer’s model, last service date, number of miles driven, or more. By reminding the customer of the dealership’s services section, highlighting excellent staff, value, or convenience with testimonials of others with the same car, all in a format personalized to the individual’s automotive needs, the dealer drastically improves the department’s exposure and revenue. Service department marketing is and will continue to be a rapidly growing sector of automotive marketing, and it represents an exceptional opportunity to boost the entire dealership’s revenue.

Automotive Marketing Agencies

Agencies have the expertise, manpower, and experience to handle all manner of campaigns for the dealer. In any automotive campaign, an agency can accomplish all of the behind-the-scenes distribution work and at the same time provide professional creative content. Automotive marketing agencies have the experience to put campaigns like this into practice quickly and affordably, provided they have proper marketing automation software.

How Boingnet Can Help

And that’s where Boingnet can help. Our platform is perfectly suited to personalized cross channel automotive marketing and content marketing distribution and automation. We can coordinate dealership marketing campaigns aScreen Shot 2014 08 20 at 9.53.23 AM 300x227 Digital Automotive Marketing for Dealerships and Agenciescross landing pages, direct mail, email, social media, and mobile, and then give them an extra personal touch with pURLs, personalized landing pages and microsites, and easy-to-use variable logic. With the data we collect from responses, opens, click-throughs, and landing page forms, we lay the foundations of drip campaigns to continue the conversation with the desired segments of the initial campaign. We also carry a white label version of the product that is optimized for automotive agencies. This product allows agencies to handle all of the behind-the-scenes campaign work and then present it with detailed analytics to clients through a specialized client portal. Whether the dealership is reaching out to past customers to encourage them to try the automotive services department or searching for new customers to buy vehicles, Boingnet’s software has it covered with our easy to use, straightforward user interface and surprisingly low prices. We are here to help set a dealership apart from its competitors with our lightweight marketing automation platform, and we are confident that we provide the ultimate tool for both personalized multichannel and content marketing success.

Restaurant Content Marketing Automation in a Multichannel World

Restaurant Content Marketing Automation – Its Unique

Restaurant content marketing, much like the restaurant industry as a whole, is a highly specialized discipline. The services, products and experiences that restaurants create are completely unlike those of any other segment of the broader retail market. Thus, the marketing automation needed to sell these products and services must be more specialized to the needs and concerns of their clients. The opportunity to apply content marketing principles to restaurant marketing are immense – we are increasingly interested in how our food is prepared, where it comes from, the personalities and stories behind our food. Restaurant content marketing is now a fast growing segment of the broader marketing automation world.Screen Shot 2014 08 14 at 9.45.16 AM 300x151 Restaurant Content Marketing Automation in a Multichannel World

Restaurants still rely heavily on word of mouth as a means of marketing and proliferation (92% of consumers say that they are likely to consider a friend or family member’s recommendation when choosing a restaurant), but as user-generated review sites such as Yelp take word of mouth digital, restaurants have followed suit. According to the National Restaurant Agency’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, about two-thirds of tableservice operators plan to increase spending in text message and email marketing in 2014. But within this highly specialized industry, what constitutes an effective marketing campaign? To better illustrate what restaurant marketing entails, let’s imagine a prospective restaurant goer’s methodology in choosing where to eat.


A Customer’s Experience with Restaurant Marketing

When a restaurant goer is deciding at which restaurant he will dine tonight, a number of thoughts pass through his head. First, he will consider recommendations from friends and family, as these are his most trusted sources of information. After that, he may consider a restaurant review that he read in the newspaper, consult a user-generated review site, or search for coupons. He will recall social media posts from his favorite restaurants reminding him of their weekly specials. Or he may remember the content marketing email from that restaurant he’s always wanted to try telling him about the organic farms from which they buy their produce. Yet the exact path that his decision making takes does not particularly matter: the important idea is that he is consulting multiple channels of media, and therefore is exposing himself to several different, and often disjointed, restaurant marketing campaigns. And ultimately, the restaurant that has the most effective and cohesive multichannel marketing campaign – a campaign that has touched the consumer using different means but with consistent messaging – will win his presence at its tables.


Multi Channel Restaurant Marketing

Our friend the restaurant goer does not have the time to put together a list of potential restaurants and weigh their merits one Screen Shot 2014 08 14 at 10.22.35 AM 300x183 Restaurant Content Marketing Automation in a Multichannel Worldby one. He is in a hurry, so the restaurant that delivers to him the same relevant information across the channels he views will be his choice. To put it simply, a restaurant that can maintain a consistent and attractive brand image across the media spectrum (which is often easier said than done when it comes to user generated reviews) will attract more customers. To prove it, according to eMarketer, 73% of SMBs using multi channel marketing saw a marked increase in customer engagement. This increased engagement directly feeds revenue growth, and a Forrester report showed that 40% of SMBs using multichannel marketing saw revenue increases of 15% or more as a direct result of their new marketing tactics.


Elements of a Multichannel Restaurant Campaign:

Multichannel campaigns, no matter how complicated or how many channels they include, must carry a consistent message across all channels. This concept, known as “Message Match”, is very simple, yet it is far from universally applied. Consistent marketing themes across all points of contact with the consumer mean that the prospective restaurant goer is constantly reminded of a single concept or image of the restaurant, rather than a disparate and unrelated mix of specials, deals, reviews, and restaurant content marketing.


Web Landing Pages:

Landing pages, microsites, and multi-page campaign sites are the primary vehicles for restaurants to directly interact with consumers.  In their most basic form, they are a quickly and easily developed, single purpose web pages designed to give customers a place to go online to respond to an offer or express their interest in a restaurant, often in exchange for some interesting content. From the restaurant marketer’s perspective, their most important role is as a controlled environment for restaurant content marketing to take place (watch a webinar video on how to protect your brand from Google here).  Prospective customers will search online for more information about a given product whether or not they are directed to a landing page.  By providing a landing page, a restaurant can steer restaurant goers away from the unpredictable and uncontrollable jungle of search engine results and product review sites like Yelp, instead focusing them on the message, offer, or restaurant content marketing strategy that the restaurant is focused on.  Landing pages may also be personalized when accessed through an email or pURL to offer tailored deals and specials to previously identified consumer segments.  By using landing pages or microsites as the “hubs” of restaurant marketing campaigns, marketers are able to control, personalize, and manage the right content experiences for any email, mobile, social, direct mail, multichannel, or restaurant content marketing campaign.


Email is the most versatile of the marketing channels. It can be used to notify customers of specials, send out coupons, distribute restaurant content marketing campaigns, and more. Email marketing is also a good way to temper the sometimes-volatile world of user-generated reviews. A restaurant may distribute only the reviews that portray it positively, satisfying consumers and effectively steering them away from the unpredictable world of Yelp or less-than-glowing reviews. In fact, 44% of American adults say that an advertisement or promotion received by email is likely to influence their decision when choosing a restaurant. 44% is an especially impressive number when noted that just 33% of adults would be likely to factor in a consumer-driven review site when choosing a restaurant. Thus, email may act as a trump to areas beyond a restaurant’s control.

Direct Mail:

Direct mail, like email is also highly versatile. It can carry out nearly all of the functions of email, only at a higher price. However, that price carries with it a great benefit over email: higher readership. As email inboxes become more and more crowded with spam and advertisements, it is increasingly difficult to make an email campaign stand out. Just the opposite trend has been occurring in mailboxes across the country – emptier mailboxes mean that every piece of mail carries more weight to a given consumer. In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, 52.5% of restaurant marketing mail pieces were read immediately, and 25.5% of them elicited responses. In comparison, the click through rate of restaurant marketing emails was only 0.6%. Thus, although the cost of direct mail campaigns can be an obstacle, their markedly better engagement rate makes them a great option for initiating a campaign to be followed by email drips after.


Mobile marketing has enormous potential in the restaurant marketing world, and it is still in Screen Shot 2014 08 14 at 10.03.23 AM 300x193 Restaurant Content Marketing Automation in a Multichannel Worldthe process of being explored. Usually used to reach smaller, more dedicated audiences, text/SMS campaigns are a great way for restaurants to give their most dedicated customers instant alerts to chef’s specials, deals, or special events. Also, printed QR codes on menus and other printed pieces throughout the restaurant are a great way to drive restaurant goers to mobile-optimized landing pages with offers of coupons and specials in exchange for signing up for email or text campaigns.

Social Media:

Maintaining a social media presence is a must for any restaurant. Posts should match the theme of email, mobile, or direct mail campaigns to fully engage the customer in all channels. Social is particularly important for brand strengthening because it is a very simple and inexpensive way to share content with an already engaged audience. Using social media to drive consumers back to restaurant controlled landing pages (and away from the ads & potential distractions of social media pages) can make a huge difference in list building, event sign up, online reservations, and more.


Personalizing a Multichannel Restaurant Campaign:

The final step to creating a truly successful restaurant marketing campaign is personalization. Personalization is the best and most cost effective way for a restaurant to make its own marketing campaigns stand out from those of its competitors. Using list data captured from point of sale systems, list building campaigns, and purchased consumer data, restaurants are able to tailor messages and offers to multiple list segments. Personalized campaigns exist in many forms: their most basic form is the personalized header on an email, landing page, text message, or direct mail piece designed to grab the reader’s attention. More advanced is the use of variable logic to tailor content based on a potential customer’s information. For example, if the customer filled out a form and indicated that her favorite food is steak, the restaurant could send her an email addressing her directly and alerting her to the filet mignon special this week. What’s more, it is abundantly clear that personalization works. According to eMarketer, among businesses using personalized campaigns, 70% reported increased response rates and 67% reported increased sales. However, the restaurant industry has yet to take full advantage of personalization. According to the DMA, 83.3% of direct mail distributed by restaurants was not addressed to a specific individual, leaving the door wide open for new campaigns to reap the benefits of personalization.


Restaurant Content Marketing in a Multichannel Campaign

An often-overlooked piece of restaurant marketing is the use of content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing? It has become a marketing buzzword, but its exact definition can be hard to pin down. In short, content marketing is a restaurant’s distribution of informative and helpful material that a given consumer will find interesting. There is no sales pitch in a restaurant marketing campaign; rather, it is designed to inform the consumer about a topic related to a restaurant in a friendly and helpful way. A restaurant may choose to distribute anything ranging from an article by the bartender discussing the season’s hottest drinks, to a video of its chef lighting the cognac of his Crepe Suzette, to an infographic displaying all of the ways the restaurant is doing its part to promote sustainability.   Each of these restaurant marketing campaigns may be personalized and mailed or emailed to list segments already identified as most receptive to the various pieces.

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Restaurant content marketing may also take the form of review distribution. By informing consumers of what others think of the dining experience, a restaurant can engage a large population without coming off as aggressively sales-oriented. This form of restaurant content marketing also allows a restaurant to steer consumers away from the reviews and articles that they may not want a consumer to read. Here is an example of how a restaurant might structure a personalized multichannel marketing campaign with the use of engaging content:


A Sample Personalized Restaurant Content Marketing Multichannel Campaign:

Old Toby’s Smokehouse is looking for more customers. They buy a list of names, addresses, and emails for people of a certain income bracket in their geographic region. They create an attractive, personalized direct mail piece with pictures of their Screen Shot 2014 08 14 at 9.29.52 AM 300x241 Restaurant Content Marketing Automation in a Multichannel Worldbarbecue dishes, information about the organic farms from which they buy their meat, and then offer a free entrée to customers willing to fill out a form online. Below the offer is a personalized URL (pURL), which includes the name of each individual the mail piece is being sent to, as well as a QR code to drive mobile-centric customers directly to their page. By entering the pURL in their browser, the potential client will be brought to a personalized landing page with a prefilled form. The only box empty will be “Favorite Entrée”, and upon completion of the form, the customer will receive a thank you email containing the coupon for their free entrée. All customers that visit their pURL will be put in a new segment of the list and designated as top leads. Shortly thereafter, they will receive email drips from Old Toby’s Smokehouse, personalized with offers and specials based on their favorite food. The customers, eager to use their free coupons, will have a meal at Old Toby’s, where they will have the option of scanning a QR Code to respond online or filling out a paper form asking for their phone number. Those who offer their numbers will be further segmented into a top customer list, and after following a double opt-in process will receive periodic text updates about specials, events, and deals. After the conclusion of the marketing campaign, Old Toby’s Smokehouse will be very satisfied. They will have increased their total number of diners, increased the size and detail of their list, and then segmented it into sub-groups that can be engaged together or separately in the future.


How Boingnet Can Help

And that’s where Boingnet can help. Our platform is perfectly suited to personalized multichannel marketing. We can coordinate restaurant content marketing campaigns across landing pages, direct mail, email, social media, and mobile, and then give them an extra personal touch with pURLs, personalized landing pages and microsites, and easy to use variable logic. With the data we collect from responses, opens, click-throughs, and landing page forms, we lay the foundations of drip campaigns to continue the conversation with the desired segments of the initial campaign. Whether the restaurant is reaching out to its most dedicated diners or working to attract new crowds, Boingnet’s software has it covered with our easy to use, straightforward user interface and surprisingly low prices. We are here to help set a restaurant apart from its competitors with our personalized, lightweight marketing automation platform, and we are confident that we provide the ultimate tool for both multichannel and restaurant content marketing success.


Content Marketing in Higher Education

Higher Education Marketing Trends

Collegescap and diploma 300x196 Content Marketing in Higher Education and universities are constantly preparing or launching their next cycle of marketing campaigns aimed at both prospective applicants and donors. Each school will go about its campaigns in slightly different ways, as each hopes to highlight some standout or differentiating facet of its programs. And of course, as in any industry, colleges and universities span a vast spectrum of size, budget, and technological capabilities. The colleges and universities with the largest endowments have the ability to spend the most on marketing, and use complicated and expensive products overflowing with channels and analytical features. On the other end, the marketing departments of the small to mid-sized institutions do not have the same human and financial resources at their disposal, often limiting their efforts to just one or two channels.

Yet across all sizes of colleges and universities, there is one theme that unites all campaigns: branding. Branding is central to nearly every enrollment and fundraising effort. Schools want their names to be immediately associated with concepts that will drive both enrollment and donations from their target demographics. High academic standards, sports success, outstanding programs, and proof that degrees from their universities lead to brighter futures are popular selling points, but each institution will tailor its message slightly differently in order to better appeal to its chosen demographic segment. This form of marketing requires no distinct sales pitch; it’s all about building the institution’s brand visibility and credibility. Therefore, higher education brand building is best supported by content marketing. Content marketing allows an institution to spread relevant information about itself without actually forcing a sales pitch on a prospective applicant or donor. The prospective applicant or donor will internalize the information and thus allow it to alter his or her perception of the brand, which quickly and inexpensively accomplishes the institution’s short-term branding and marketing goals.

Content Marketing Defined

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But what exactly is content marketing? It has become a marketing buzzword, but its exact definition can be hard to pin down. In short, content marketing is a company’s distribution of informative and helpful material that a given consumer will find interesting. There is no sales pitch in a content marketing campaign; rather, it is designed to inform the consumer about a topic related to the company’s product in a friendly and helpful way. It is intended to build a sense of trust and amicability between consumer and supplier outside of the realm of sales.

It is also clear that content marketing works. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing. First pioneered by the B2B market, it has now rapidly made its way to the B2C side, where it is still spreading as different industries find new uses for it. Consumers have been very receptive to it, with 70% of consumers claiming to feel closer to a company after viewing content, according to a DemandMetric survey. In fact, the same survey reported that 86% of B2C marketers are using some form of content marketing, and that number is growing.

Content Marketing in Higher Education
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Across the range of B2C vertical markets there is no industry for which content is more important than content marketing in higher education. It is an incredibly competitive market for attracting targeted students and donors, a carefully tailored brand name goes a long way. Every institution is trying to appeal to slightly different segments of both donors and students, so subtleties in branding offer a great way for institutions to distinguish themselves from their peers.

When Advertising Age asked why branding is so important for a university, Northwestern University’s CMO Mary Baglivo replied, “Because the competition for the best and brightest students, faculty for transformational research and donor dollars is more competitive than ever . . . All of a sudden you have a much larger world to communicate to and [it’s necessary] to make your brand clear in a much broader universe.” Whatever the institution’s goal, whether it be attracting chemistry geniuses or funding a new football stadium, content marketing is just the tool to accomplish it. Just like Northwestern, every school has a target segment of donors and applicants, and proper branding helps to ensure the institution’s marketing success. A good content-based campaign will both reinforce the brand’s desired image and increase its broader visibility.

But creating an effective content marketing in higher education campaign is easier said than done. When segmenting prospective applicants and donors, universities have to deal with huge amounts of data ranging from SAT scores to donor histories. Higher education institutions must organize this data and then use it to effectively reach out to a vast and largely uninformed population: they can’t just send everyone a hand written invitation to apply or donate. First they must inform the consumer in a way that captures his or her attention. Sending overly sales-based, explicitly enrollment-oriented, or purely funds-oriented campaigns portrays a university as lifeless numbers-focused business, not the brand that they have worked hard to cultivate. Content regarding the institution’s programs, campus news, or school statistics is the answer, but how can a university convince an uninformed prospect to open and read through content?

Personalized Content Marketing in Higher Education

The solution is a personalized content marketing campaign. By addressing each potential donor or applicant individually without pressing a sales pitch on him or her, a university establishes a relationship of trust and friendliness in, ostensibly, the interest of the potential customer’s education. In fact, a report by DemandMetric showed that 82% of customers feel more positively about a company after receiving content customized to them. It also proves itself valuable for expanding a university’s brand visibility, as 70% of consumers prefer to learn about a company through personalized content rather than a generic advertisement, according to the Custom Content Council. Thus, adding the personal component vastly increases readership of content and proves to be the most effective and inexpensive means of brand management and dissemination.

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Yet, again there is a problem. What exactly does personalization entail? The extent of personalization all depends on the strengths of the lists an institution is using. The more columns of data per name, the more personalized the content can be. Here is an example personalized content campaign:

A Sample Personalized Content Campaign

A college mails an informational brochure to a segment of prospective students based on a specific range of SAT scores. On the cover, each student’s name is printed as part of a friendly greeting, followed by some tagline specific to her home state or region. Inside the brochure (which she decides to open after seeing her name and home state on the cover) is informative and interesting information about the school.Screen Shot 2014 07 30 at 1.48.40 PM 300x246 Content Marketing in Higher Education
As she reads, she finds a personalized URL (pURL) containing her name and promising her more custom content if she visits the page. Upon visiting the page, the student finds a prefilled form for her, asking for one more piece of information (for example intended area of study) before she can access the next round of custom content.If she does fill out the form, an automatic thank you email will be sent to her, further building the personal and friendly atmosphere within which she is viewing content. And whether or not she fills out the form, her visit to the page will be recorded, giving the college’s marketing team a lead for follow-up drip campaigns. These subsequent campaigns may be as specific as the marketer would like, potentially working off of the new information that the student filled out on her pURL. In this way, the college is able to share and develop its chosen branding strategy in a friendly, informational way. And, of course, this entire personalized content campaign scenario is highly adaptable. It could easily be replicated with different content if, for example, the college wanted to target prospective donors rather than prospective applicants.

Boingnet’s Role

And that’s where Boingnet can help. Our platform is perfectly suited to content marketing distribution and personalization. We can coordinate content marketing campaigns across direct mail, email, social media, and mobile, and then give it an extra personal touch with pURLs, custom landing pages and microsites, and easy to use variable logic. With the data we collect from content opens, click-throughs, and landing page forms, we lay the foundations of drip campaigns to continue the conversation with the desired segments of the initial campaign. Whether the university is reaching out to alumni networks or working to attract applicants, Boingnet’s software has it covered with our easy to use, straightforward user interface and surprisingly low prices. We want to help spread and develop a university’s brand to increase enrollment and donations, while at the same time solidifying that chosen brand’s position within the minds of its targeted students and donors.

Landing Pages: The Key To Direct Mail Success Webinar

How Are Landing Pages The Key To Direct Mail Success?

Tuesday afternoon, all of us at Boingnet had a great time hosting a webinar on a topic we’re particularly passionate about— Landing Pages! After a long few days preparing and organizing content, we arrived at a finished webinar titled “Landing Pages: The Key To Direct Mail Success”, and we’re quite proud of the result. Boingnet CEO, Dennis Kelly discussed the threat Google can present for companies using direct mail campaigns, and how landing pages can help eliminate this danger.

Direct Mail Drives Online Behavior

Consumers who receive a direct mail promotion have a natural inclination to go online to Google and begin doing research— why not? it’s fast, easy, and free. However, the offer  the direct mail piece prompted the customer to look for may be lost in the mix of the Quality Score, AdWords, and the myriad of other factors Google considers in it’s result page.

What’s The Best Strategy To Maximize Direct Mail Conversion?

It’s been established that consumers are using Google to do research and make decisions, before responding to any campaign. However, Google AdWords acts as a “Siphon” on customer attention to ads placed by competitors, causing direct mailers to lose business. The best way to address this is by explicitly directing consumers to a “safe spot”, away from Google and competitor ads. This can be done with creative in your direct mail piece, as well as within Google AdWords themselves.

Landing Pages & Microsites: Point Them In The Right Direction

Landing Pages and Microsites are the “safe spaces” where marketers control the content, the message, and the options for the consumers.  The best option is to set up really good landing pages and embed them into your direct mail campaigns. This shows consumers exactly where to go online and learn more; direct them to your landing page opposed to the wild west of Google.

Set Up AdWords For Your Campaigns

A secondary strategy is to set up your own AdWords campaign that corresponds with your direct mail campaign. Google AdWords is how the internet behemoth makes most of it’s money. AdWords lets businesses and organizations bid on “keywords” that are associated with searches and place ads that are designed to get consumers to click on them when they express interest in a topic via those keywords. One can bid on keyword that are related to your offer, then link those keywords to landing pages that use the keyword in the URL, the title, and the copy.

What Makes A Good Landing Page

A good landing page is most accurately defined as a web page designed specifically for conversion. It should be simple enough to limit distractions, but enticing enough to inspire conversion on the page’s single call to action. Good landing pages are opportunities for marketers to give consumers a place to go online where they can learn more, compare & contrast, without being distracted by competitors. They should also feature a clear and concise headline and sub-headline that all relate to the initial message, which is a concept known as “message match.”

Want To See The Slides? Check Them Out With Sildeshare!