Commentary

Targeting And Engaging Consumers Online Is Easy -- Just Ask

We've all done it, whether driving to an important business meeting, a trade show or a tourist attraction with restless kids in the car: gotten lost and refused to pull over and ask for directions, or at least waited far too long to do so, wasting time and causing ourselves and our fellow passengers a lot of unnecessary aggravation. Online mapping tools and GPS technology have alleviated some of these problems, but there are still times when technology won't cut it and we need to just ask another human being.

The same can be said for online marketing, especially during slow economic periods when engaging consumers rather than the hard sell becomes more important than ever so that you can stay top of mind with your customers and be in a strong position for the turnaround. Marketing automation technologies like behavioral and contextual targeting can help, but they still have limitations when it comes to one-to-one targeting, and now is not the time to guess what engages the consumers you want to reach. Online polls can be a great way to not only engage consumers online, but also remove the guesswork and learn directly from consumers about their interests and preferences.

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Why online polls?

Polls are interactive, fun and engaging, especially online where consumers can quickly and easily respond and see the results immediately, such as percentages and bar graphs that illustrate how their responses stack up against others. Once you've captivated a consumer's interest with a fun, entertaining or lively poll, you've opened the door to offer a relevant promotion, discount, or free sample - or to ask additional questions to learn more about a specific individual's interests and preferences. Marketers can then use the more detailed profile information to create highly targeted segmented lists for follow-up campaigns. Up-to-date consumer profile information is always vital for consumer brand marketers, especially during a recession when marketing performance is under intense scrutiny. You want to optimize the performance of your programs at all levels, and online polls can be one of the most insightful marketing tools for boosting results.

"Just ask" is my simple and direct advice for consumer brand marketers seeking to improve consumer engagement and the overall performance of their marketing programs. Nonetheless, online polling itself is a blend of art and science that can pose a daunting challenge for busy marketing professionals. Additional challenges include identifying the right consumers to poll as well as how and where to find them online. Market research firms can help, but in many cases the campaign execution will still be left up to you and your marketing department.

Online lead generation providers can provide you with instant access to millions of opt-in consumers who have already raised their hands and asked to be marketed to. Your lead generation partner should also have database, segmentation technologies, and a polling/survey platform to ensure that your online polls reach the consumers most likely to take an interest in your poll topic and the accompanying promotion or offer. A lead generation partner can also guide you through all of the steps, from defining campaign strategy and objectives through question creation, creative design, poll execution and data analysis.

In conclusion, the articles on marketing strategies and tactics in a down economy keep on coming -- and with good reason. A gloomy economic outlook prevails and it's important to remember that the most successful companies look at such periods as an opportunity for getting closer to their customers, engaging them more effectively, and building stronger consumer relationships now and for the future recovery. Online polls are a great way for consumer brand marketers to achieve these goals.

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