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Special Reports

Tips, Tricks & Best Practices for Digital Marketing

April 2, 2012

No longer a novelty, digital media marketing is a key tool for building your business: Twitter and Facebook, email newsletters and sales alerts, ticket sales through your website, perhaps a smartphone app. You don't need to be told that social media is important or that gathering and sending out email alerts will result in increased audiences.

However, digital media is constantly changing and going in directions impossible to predict. Resources are limited, no matter the size of your operation, so where do you put your organization's valuable time and energy? Here are key actions from the trenches of digital media marketing that lead to truly successful digital media marketing efforts. Some are profoundly obvious and some are found only in the arsenals of experienced digital marketers:

Track Your Social Influencers
It's the 80/20 rule: 80% of social media posts are created by 20% of the participants. While it's great to have large numbers of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, a small percentage of them wield true influence, meaning, others read and respond to them, link to their posts, and redistribute their content. This small number of people comprise the social "influencers" of your brand and you need to know who they are and how to directly engage them. The first step is to identify them using tools such as Twitalyzer, Vocus, and Radian6. Once you know who they are, don't try to overtly influence the influencers; make sure they get previews of news and content before everyone else and make them feel special. That's why they're doing it, after all.

Track Yourself
Among the metrics tracked by services such as Twitalyzer are the statistics associated with your social media standing. These services will take measure of the various components leading to a successful social media presence and long-term audience engagement, such as the percentage of your Twitter postings that get linked to, how often you reference other postings, how often you are retweeted, and the upward or downward trend of each percentage.

Understand What Leads to Conversions

In digital marketing parlance, "conversions" are what happens when you accomplish your goal with a prospect's ticket sale, a downloaded track, a t-shirt purchase, even a Twitter retweet. Analyze your clickstream—the route prospects take to get to the goal, whether it's clicking through email, a Facebook link, or your Home page. Understand where they drop out of the process and what is working. Too many people abandoning your Home page? Consider a more prominent Buy button. Not enough people clicking through your email marketing pieces? Try a different day and time to send your email.

Analyze Your Metrics
Speaking of conversions, the only way to understand what people are (and aren't) doing is to track their actions. The Google Analytics tool has become widespread for the intelligence it uncovers about your digital audience, in addition to its price (free). Apply it to your site, your email, everywhere you can and spend the time to learn how to use it. Then use the information to fine-tune your marketing efforts, gauge the impact on the metrics, fine-tune again, rinse, and repeat.

Keep an Eye on Your Reputation
Reputation is critical in any business and no less so in the performing arts markets. There are many monitoring services offering to let you know what is being written (and, soon, said about you), but they can be expensive. A great start is (surprise!) Google Alerts, a free service scouring the web and delivering stories matching keywords you set up. Services for hire, such as Reputation Boost deserve a look.

Optimize Your Site for Mobile Use
You've had the experience of pulling up a site on your smartphone, only to find it terribly difficult to use. Your audience is having the same experience with your website if you haven't optimized your site for mobile viewing. Using a snippet of code called a "sniffer," you can automatically detect whether someone is using a mobile device and serve them the appropriate experience. (Your metrics provider—like Google Analytics—uses a sniffer to give you statistics on mobile use of your site.) Contact your programmer or web developer.

Create a Social Media "Voice"
Casual or corporate? First person? Conversational or purely promotional? People look for clues in your postings and form a picture of your organization, which has a real impact on the actions they take with you. Decide the tone—the image—you want to portray to your social media audience and make sure it's kept consistent by the people handling your social media efforts. (By the way, casual and conversational—with promotion kept to moderate amounts—usually works best.)

Don't Reinvent the Wheel, Just Recycle It
Take digital photos and record performances to excerpt for marketing use. Post portions on your site and on social media pages. For instance, The Berlin Philharmonic records rehearsals and makes the video available free on YouTube. As you view the video, a link invites you to "view the full-length version in 3D." Once there, you are invited to sign up for the orchestra's Digital Concert Hall—for a fee. It costs nothing to recycle what you already have in house: program notes for past or future performances, press releases, clippings, photos, videos—put them all out there.

Give Something Away
Members of the group Bang on a Can offered a free download of their new CD, Beautiful, Dark and Scary in January, in exchange for "a memory, a thought, a story" about the group, as well as an email address. It was a concrete exchange that expanded their promotional list. The Berlin Philharmonic YouTube video is another instance of getting something for nothing. Ticket and other product giveaways, contests, etc.—promoted through digital media of course—are also a way to capture contact information.

Share the Effort
Using digital and social media requires time and effort: websites must be maintained and updated routinely, social media and other dissemination platforms also require upload, maintenance, and participation in the conversations. At Carnegie Hall, a committee of individuals from different departments meets regularly to ascertain what messages are being distributed on what platforms to whom. Don't try to do it all yourself; if you are your own organization, don't try and use every tool. Limit yourself to one or two and use them consistently.

Use Graphics, Pictures, and Videos on Facebook
Facebook's own reports show that posts containing graphics, pictures, and videos are far more likely to be Liked and referenced than posts with only text. This is the performing arts, after all, so be sure to include something visual as often as possible.

Experiment, Fail, Succeed
Not everything will work every time. The only way to know is to experiment and try new (and possibly crazy) things. It's digital media, which means you can track its impact instantly and change it quickly. Just be sure to establish how you will judge success and failure—so many pageviews, sales, email opens and click-throughs, Likes, retweets, video views, app downloads, etc.—and track it through your metrics tool.


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