Nielsen: People Trust Online Ads!

The idea of “trusted media outlet” has significantly changed over time. Whereas this phrase used to imply television and print media, today’s “trusted media outlet” increasingly means online ads.

This is the news from Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, which interviewed 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America.

Here are some of the survey stats we find most interesting:

  • 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • The trust in paid ads in traditional media outlets has declined by more than 20% since 2009.
  • 33% of respondents say that they believe the messages they see in online banner ads, up from 26% from 2007.
  • 40% of online consumers say they trust search ads.
  • 36% trust the ads they see on social networking sites.
  • 33% of respondents trust mobile banner ads.
  • 29% trust mobile phone text ads.
  • When it comes to relevant ads: search ads get the highest relevance rating (42%).

We want to know:  What kinds of ads give you the best results?

Case Work and Social Media: They Go Together

It used to be that when your constituents had something to say, they picked up the phone or wrote a letter. However, things have changed in today’s fast-moving world of tweets and posts.

Social networking means you can interact with your constituents like never before. Instead of taking a phone call, you can now take a look at tweets, posts, and blog comments and use this information to personalize your communications and let your constituents know they are heard. When your constituents know that you are there to answer questions and listen to their concerns, you will become known as a trusted and reliable source of help and information.

Here’s a few ways you can make this happen:

Dedicate Resources.
To closely monitor your Social Media and respond quickly, you need dedicated staff whose job is to focus solely on Social Media.  In most offices this is the communications arm.  Find someone that gets it, works hard and knows how to respond when something comes towards you.

Get Personal.
With all of the Social Media options available, now you can get personal when people ask for help over social media. You can see who wrote the request, and respond in the most personal way you can. Just because you aren’t writing a formal letter, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the same approach. Be quick, polite, and inquisitive.

Go Offline.
If Social Media channels just aren’t working or your constituent seems unsatisfied, go offline.

Celebrate Success.
Regularly review your Social Media-based case work progress and make the necessary adjustments. Once a month, send out a survey to get feedback from constituents on how you are doing.

We want to know: Do you have staff dedicated to Social Media?

The Wisdom of Metrics

How do you measure your Facebook success? AllFacebook offers up the most important Social Media metrics, given below. Track them consistently over time, compare them, and gather invaluable information about what works and what doesn’t.

Of course, it’s great to know how many likes and posts you have. But drilling down, it’s even more important to measure the number of messages and the number of people talking about your office.

Action step: Facebook insights’ metric, “people talking about this” measures how many unique people have posted something to their walls, commented on or interacted with your brand page.

Your reach  —how far does content go and how big your audience is —is crucial. What is your potential audience size? A big audience isn’t everything, but knowing your reach does help with other Social Media Metrics.

Action step: We at iConstituent recommend picking important action or engagement numbers like clicks, shares, and comments, and dividing them by reach to calculate an engagement percentage.


Know who is participating, how they engaging, and how your content spreading? Look at your shares, posts, comments, likes, and replies to see who is engaging with your content. Think about what’s more important to your overall strategy: spreading a message through retweets and posts, or starting a conversation with replies and comments.

Action step: Start paying attention to what messages generate the most comments and shares.

Know who is talking about you and what kind of impact they have. According to AllFacebook: “. . . Audience size does not necessarily relate to influence. Just because someone has a lot of friends or followers, that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything. Based on past actions, we can make assumptions about how influential someone might be in the future. This type of potential influence is useful to decide who to reach out to when you’re preparing for a campaign.”

Action step: Figure out who is actually influencing others, and target content directly to them.

Share Of Voice.
Figure out how the conversation about your office compares to other offices. This gives you valuable insight into the playing field.

Action step: Figure out the percentage of conversation about your office compared with other offices.  And when you come across successful campaigns, measure their impact and learn what they are doing that works.

Optimize Your Website Now!

Your website is your most important asset – it's your name and face on the world wide web. We always say, you wouldn't have a broken lamp in your office, so why would you allow a broken link on your website? Here are a few reminders about how to boost your website views and increase your audience:

Use your analytics.
We spend a lot of time on the technology behind your website. Our goal is for you to use it! Our tracking, integrated with your site, allows you to see detailed information on your visitors’ interests. If you don’t use it, what’s the point?

Clarify your call to action.  
As your content  changes, so should your “call to action.” This is a clear action that you want the visitor to take. Is that an email signup? Each page can have a different one, whether it’s contributing to a campaign or sharing an article on Facebook. Whatever you choose, make it easy for the visitor with clear language and visuals, so they don’t have to think much about what they need to do.

Build landing pages.
Landing page are pages people reach after clicking on a link in a search engine or email. They are starting points for the visitor, with only one or two calls to action. When you have a landing page, your visitor has an easy door in. Make sure you make your visitors feel welcome!

Testing is best.
Testing is key to see what works and what doesn’t. Tools like Google Website Optimizer let you test different elements on your web page to see whether or not they have an effect — positive or negative — on your conversion rate. Confused about what to test? Here are a few options: homepage images, heading text, length of text, colors, and placement of forms and buttons.

We want to know:What steps do you take to optimize your website?

Six Ways to Broaden Your Reach Today!

A key to any communications strategy is reaching as wide an audience as possible. We’re certain by now that you are stocking your communications with relevant information, useful tips, and timely news. But we believe that you can never have enough reminders about the importance of your e-mails and e-newsletters. We recommend that you sit down every few months and evaluate how your communications are doing. Why not start today? Here are a few ways to broaden your reach.

  1. Avoid Becoming Spam. Studies show that 20% of emails end up in spam. To avoid this sad fate, let your audience control email frequency. Give them the choice: do they want a daily reminder? A weekly digest? Individual emails? If they have the choice, they are more likely to tune in. And if they don’t feel inundated, they will be less likely to mark your email as spam. We can help: iConstituent email allows you to accurately track your delivery and return email rates, so you know that your email was not blocked by spam filters.
  2. Stay Clean.The Constituent Gateway eNewsletter system cleans your list every time you send a mailing, keeping your contact lists clean and precise.
  3. Test, test, and test. Not sure if you get more opens with HTML or plain text? Test them to find out. And once you do, test again a few months later.
  4.  Build your list.  Sounds like a tall order. But building your list requires creativity and flexibility: There are lots of ways to build your list. If you feel overwhelmed, start visually: Try moving the position or color of your e-mail sign up box.
  5. Be in the Know.  Let your potential subscribers feel like they’ll be “in the know” if they sign up. Make them feel like they don’t want to miss this opportunity, perhaps by stating the kinds of information they’ll receive, or how many subscribers you already have.
  6. Find a Promise.  What will your subscribers get when they sign up? A tip sheet, an article, a cool illustration. Whatever it is, give them an incentive.

Weather Report: Cloudy Skies

There’s a lot of talk about the “cloud,” lately, that vast open area where your data increasingly lives. While being used in virtually all sectors, cloud computing can be particularly beneficial for government, reducing inefficiencies, increasing transparency, and saving money. With an eye on cloud computing as the wave of the future, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know: 

What It Is
Cloud computing hosts data in third-party data centers over the Internet.

Who Uses It
A national survey conducted for Microsoft found that while 75 percent of Americans don’t know what cloud computing is, 90 percent use it. In fact, you might be one of those people: Did you know that the iConstituent Gateway eNewsletter is on the cloud?

The Benefits
Cloud computing has the potential to increase access to data, reduce inefficiencies, allow for automatic scaling and management, and give government greater transparency. By reducing the need for on-premise computer servers, organizations can save big money. In fact, Vivek Kundra, the Obama administration’s previouschief information officer, has estimated that the cost savings could be as great as 1/10.

The Future
The cloud isn’t going away. Recently, Microsoft proposed the Cloud Computing Advancement Act, a law for protecting consumers and businesses as cloud computing becomes a more popular. This law will surely keep the cloud computing conversation going.

 We want to know: Do you see clouds in your future?

Your Facebook Ad: Knowledge is Power

It’s not all guesswork when it comes to your Facebook ad. Knowledge is power! Here are a few ways to optimize your ads with iConstituent:

Know Your Ad. Common wisdom says that most ads have a life span of less than two weeks. Sure, it’s easy to generalize about how long to run your ad. But the truth is there is no magic number. Some are high performers for three days, others for three months. It depends on the size of the ad, the audience, and the traffic. Let common sense prevail: when your ad’s performance declines, refresh it.

Split-test. When you work with us, we ensure you don’t get lazy when it comes to split-testing your ad copy.  It's common practice in all of our campaigns we run.  According to a recent survey on Facebook advertising, Social Fresh revealed that only one third of advertisers split test. If you test at least one alternative, you’ll be at an advantage. 

Know where you stand. How is your ad doing? It helps to have something to compare it to. Here are some stats from all of our campaigns: The overall average Cost Per Click (CPC) is 1.30 cents. According to Social Fresh, eighty three percent of advertisers use CPC bidding.  Also, we learned that sending Facebook ad traffic off Facebook means, on average, a 50 percent higher cost per click ($0.70 CPC on Facebook, $1.08 off Facebook).

Find Your Purpose.  Ask yourself why you are running your ad. The most common goal in Social Fresh’s study is awareness. This is followed by audience growth, conversion, and engagement. If you know your goal for your ad, you’ll gain clarity on important details like what to include or when to run it.

Your Email Newsletter: Make it Shine

It’s that time again — time to write your next email newsletter. Sometimes the ideas just flow. Other times, you feel uninspired and unsure of what to write. You aren’t alone. We’re here to tell you that e-newsletters are a great opportunity — one that many people miss by sending out generic information, confuse the reader with all-over-the-place visuals, and overwhelm them with content. Don’t let this be your fate. Here’s a primer to spark some ideas about how to make your email newsletter shine:

Avoid Information Overload. When it comes to your e-newsletter, think quality over quantity. Don’t give too much information about a topic, or try to cover too many topics at once. Remember, this format requires organization and brevity. You don’t need to write a treatise. A few sentences are fine. If you have more to say, include a teaser and a link to your website with a longer article.

Create Value. Email newsletters aren’t all about self-promotion. Try to include content that helps them out, offers valuable information, and somehow improves their lives. This is the best marketing money can buy.

It’s Smart to Segment. Not everyone is interested in the same thing. That’s why it’s smart to let recipients opt in to newsletters about a subject matter that’s important to them. This helps you avoid the trap of becoming too generic, or turning people off who aren’t interested in what you are saying. If this seems like an added step or too much work, it’s worth it. According to HubSpot: “When properly segmented, email newsletters have one of the highest click-through rates (CTRs) of all email types — far exceeding promotional or transactional messages.”

Create a Compelling Call to Action: Figure out exactly what you want people to do after they read your newsletter. Take a survey? Sign a petition? Write a letter? Make your call to action clear and make sure you don’t have too many competing calls, which can cause reader confusion.

Stay Visually Consistent. Make sure your e-newsletter follows roughly the same visual formula each time. This creates brand recognition and loyalty. And of course, visuals should be consistent with all of your other platforms.

We want to know: What are your favorite e-newsletter tips and tricks? What newsletters get the highest click-thru rates, and why?