Monday, May 3, 2010

Internet Marketing Workshop 2.0

Since one of the speakers from the March workshop was stuck on the Newfoundland ferry, the team returned for a short session to complete their workshop goals.  Here are my notes from the follow-up session.

Internet Marketing Workshop 2.0
Super 8 Hotel, Windsor
April 8, 2010

Direct Email for Small and Medium Businesses
Direct email is a low cost, measurable way to build and maintain customer relationships in a highly targeted and branded way.  Studies have shown that an expense of $1.00 gives the business a $48.00 return of investment, making this a very cost effective way of conducting business communications.  In 2008 it was also reported that 89% of subscribers read these direct email messages, which means that your efforts will be focused on those that are keenly interested in the museum.

Using an email service provide easily allows you to manage your e-newsletters and communications.  One such program is MailChimp, which provides its service free so long as your email subscriber group is less than 500 people, and you send less than 3000 emails per month.  It provides tools to create, manage, and measure the effectiveness of your newsletter campaigns and contact lists.  As an established company, MailChimp also ensures that your emails are not seen as spam by internet service providers.  When mass emails are sent from one address there is the danger that they will be viewed as spam.  Determining factors include contact list maintenance, email design and message content. 

For email design and content, you shouldn’t try to sell anything in the subject line – this should be personalized.  You need to allow for organic list growth by providing your subscribers with something of value, so when new people sign up, they will automatically be sent a small “gift” for their patronage.  You can advertise the URL and put in a subscription call on rack cards, social media sites and signs at the museum.  The strongest call to action should be on your website, in a prominent area to allow visitors to instantly sign up for the newsletter.

Measuring the success of your email campaigns can also be done through an email service provider.  Reports will tell you who opened or didn’t open the email, who clicked on links, how often they re-opened the email, and who tweeted the email (mentioned it on Twitter).

Harnessing Social Media
Social media is simply a platform for self-publishing and communication.  It allows you to demonstrate your brand effectively by listening to the resulting conversation.  Social media can allow for rapid growth in your audience, is flexible and targeted, and provides you with a good reach into markets that may otherwise be difficult to break into.  Kijiji is one such platform.  While it is mostly used for trading and selling, the community section allows users to post events.  This is another way for museums to advertise for free.

Smart Websites & Tools
Content management systems (CMS) allow you to create, manage, and update your website on your own.  Common systems are Drupal, Joomla, TypePad and WordPress.  Joomla provides a standard website, while WordPress is better as a blog.  Any of these will work for your website though, so if you are hiring someone to build your site for you, find out what they are comfortable working with and ask for samples of their previous work.  Features of CMS include photo galleries, blogs, forums, eCommerce and directories. 

In terms of design, you can either choose a customized website or use pre-built templates.  Custom jobs will obviously be more expensive, but will allow for better branding and functionality.  Pre-built templates are cost effective and in many cases have useful tools built in so that functionality usually works, but this isn’t guaranteed.  So do your homework beforehand to determine what will meet your needs.  

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