Broadcast Marketing Feed

2010 Marketing Budgets - Challenge & Opportunity

From our friends at Exact Target, a survey was conducted that asked how marketers intend to spend their 2010 budgets.  The shift away from traditional media continues.  A summary of the result of the study appears below.

The Opportunity
As marketers continue to shift their budgets to digital media channels, who will be there to provide the expertise in execution?  Additionally, how will they manage to avoid adding a myriad of platforms and data silos to coordinate these additional channels?  As manpower assets continue to dwindle at most firms, outsourcing is the only choice for many.  This opens a huge window of opportunity for agencies and commercial printers regardless of the media mix.

QR Codes: Part II Designing for Mobile

So now that you have decided to put a QR Code on your marketing, how do you generate them and what kind of landing page do you create?  The most useful way to implement a QRC campaign is to use the same type of dedicated landing page to act as a collection mechanism in the same way this blog has developed them for PURLs, email, direct mail and other channels.

Creating QRCs
There is absolutely no need to pay for a standalone service to create and host QR Codes.  A few new subscription services are out there which provide code creation and tracking, but using one of these is a terrible idea!  The goal of employing a cross media channel is to collect user information while at the same time avoiding data silos.  Adding another system to track them is nonsense.  The goal of any cross media marketing effort  is to consolidate data and collection in one location, not add to clutter by throwing on a “me to” product.  The key to success with this technology is to integrate it as another tool to complement existing efforts, not start a new one.

For Static Applications
Use a free code generator such as to generate your image.  This image can then be incorporated into the design of your advertisement.  It can appear almost anywhere.  The QR Code can drive respondents to content specific landing pages that include an opt-in form.

For Variable Applications
For variable marketing applications such as email or variable data print such as VDP Mail®, individual codes can be generated for each recipient.  This code can contain a Personalized URL (PURL) or other specific content, such as a prize or discount code.
Landing Page Design
Since the QR Code is most likely to be accessed by mobile device, the content needs to take this into account.   Some mobile browsers are able to expand and pan, but many cannot.  A few specific suggestions include:

  • Keep the design simple and bold for easy viewing and navigation
  • Avoid using large images and adding content to the page which makes requires a lot of bandwidth
  • Use basic elements like <div> tags and unordered lists ( <ul> tags ) with minimal styling to create menus and buttons instead of images.  By simply adding a background color, a border and making internal <a> tags display as block elements your navigation will appear as buttons and stretch nicely across any size mobile screen.
  • Remember that different mobile browsers or QR Code readers will override some site code (such as scaling), so use minimal styling
  • Some QR Code readers, such as Mobile Tag, add a query string onto the URL which can cause issues with some sites

Here is a good sample from our friends at JohnsByrne Digital in Chicago.


QR Codes are an easy way to direct mobile device users to specific content without requiring them to type in an address and have a few good applications in mobile and event marketing.  They are like every other tool in the cross media suite that can add one more collection mechanism to start a two way conversation.

The Recent Marketing Buzz on QR Codes

There has been a lot of buzz at conferences and in blogs and websites lately about QR Codes.  The primary usage for marketers has been to link url's in various forms of advertising.  For reading the barcode, most users must install specific software on the mobile device to be used in order to read the image.  There are numerous devices available in the market with scanning capability, usually using the built in Qrcodecamera.  Various software providers have applications that can be loaded onto phones that do not come with the functionality pre-installed, such as the iPhone.

Mobile tagging is the process of providing data on mobile devices, commonly through the use of a web address that has been encoded in a two-dimensional barcode that can be read and accessed using a camera phone and the devices web browser. The reason for the success of mobile tagging is the quick, precise and customer-driven access to specific content.  There is no license required to use QR Codes.

QR Codes that contain a web address to a content specific landing page may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards, or just about any printed material. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. Users can also generate and print their own QR Code for others to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR Code generating sites.

The small picture generated can contain a vast amount of data.  QR Codes can display 7,089 numeric characters and 4,296 alphanumeric characters.  There are approximately a dozen types of codes and various readers available. 

Is this just another gimmick for marketers to capture attention like drawing a name in the clouds or on the beach?  Probably, but it may have good applications.  Next, look for design tips on mobile applications when using QR codes.

11 Best Practices for Landing Page Design Part II

This is part two of two of the best tips for landing page design for use in integrated cross media marketing campaigns.

7. Employ a proper link strategy
In the first Unless the landing page is intended as an online resource for articles and white papers, large amounts of links only succeed in directing visitors away from the submit button. Keep navigation minimal or remove it altogether. If you build a micro-site, try and have a small contact form on every page to make it easy for the prospect to submit.

8. Consider your recipients screen size
With screen sizes getting bigger all the time, the standard maximum size has been 800px. If your design is 600px,likely your fonts are tiny and it will appear dated as well as hard to read. Likewise, if your site maxes out past 1000px, individuals with lower screen resolutions may have to scroll horizontally to get all the information. While it is accepted that designers can safely go up to 1000px for most verticals, we recommend staying between 850-950px for now. Make sure to keep the font sizes big enough for all readers to see with ease. Remember, web safe fonts only!

9. To Flair or not to Flair
Everyone knows from the movie Office Space about the 13 pieces of flair. Using gadgets for the gadgets’ sake may detract from your content. If using video, sound, or a cartoon spokesperson helps engage the client to your message, fine. More than likely, a poorly planned piece of flair will be a distraction. Once you go down that road, it might be good to split test and see for yourself if the media affects conversion, so you can judge if you are really getting ROI. If you use video or other rich media, make sure it is well made and there aren’t more than 2 items on the landing page, otherwise your site can sound like the sales floor at Best Buy.

10. “I have Dreamweaver, so the code must be right….right?”
Hand Coding vs Generated Code: There are two common practices used when making web pages that often cause more trouble than save time. Many print designers will import their design from Illustrator or Photoshop into Dreamweaver (or other similar programs),which generates the code automatically. Another practice is to open Dreamweaver and draw out the site out in design view, which also produces generated HTML and CSS.

Though Dreamweaver is a very powerful, high cost program, it is similar to owning a Porsche - ownership does not mean you can immediately drive on the race track without crashing. Generated code, whether coming from programs such as Illustrator or drawn out in Design View in Dreamweaver is the “good enough” option; it kind of works, pretty much, part of the time. However, this practice makes it easy to develop bad habits such as nested tables, inline styling, div swamps, and a host of problems that can be very diffi cult to debug if your site develops a problem – not to mention that these programs can output some funky code unless you have a ninja hand.

While the appeal of generated code is that you don’t have to take the time to learn how to code HTML and CSS yourself, this is a short sighted view, as the time savings are on the back end when inevitably one of the web sites fall apart and countless hours are then required to fix a pile of unfamiliar spaghetti code. It is worth educating oneself or one’s employee’s if you plan to make web design a part of your business model. Otherwise, plan on some late nights. Knowing standards based XHTML and CSS will save time, money, and keep yourself on the same page as other industry professionals. For more information, try or

11. Keep Dynamic Content in Mind
Design for the web has a completely different set of rules than for print. Make sure the design will stretch with content that changes in height or width when the user interacts with it. One of the most common design mistakes is to draw a fi xed height box in Photoshop or Illustrator, and expect the web content to fit inside this box – we often see this done with surveys which contain dynamic content. If you are designing and want a box element around the survey, make sure the background surrounding the box is a uniform color and not a photo image or complex pattern, as the box may have to be coded to expand and contract in height due to dynamic content which can break your background image. If you are coding, use elastic!

11 Best Practices for Landing Page Design

Landing pages are a powerful tool that can be used to serve specific and relevant content to visitors gathered from a variety of marketing channels.  They are especially powerful for individuals who need to make adjustments to the web but may not access to the corporate web site.  Although often associated with paid search or PURLs, landing pages (or generic URLs – GURLs) can be used with newspaper or magazine ads, radio and television spots, print collaterals, or carrier pigeons.

To get the most out of your landing page campaigns, try these tips.

1. Different medium, different rules

One of the most important items to consider when designing any web page is that the web has an entirely different set of rules than print. Make sure you have a designer who is very familiar with the differences between designing for the web and print. This includes keeping page load times in mind when adding graphics, to the problems around fixed heights, web safe fonts, screen resolutions, and the eccentricities of browsers. Even if your print designer won’t be coding the page, they must have an understanding of the opportunities and limitations within this complicated medium in order to deliver a professional, up to date design that will work cross browser and will not cause additional hours of work for the web designer.

2. Use a strong call to action

Web pages often enthusiastically over-inform the prospect about every last detail up front, forgetting that the main purpose of the page is to get the prospect to opt-in for a contact or more information.

• Does your offer stand out, or is it drowning in a sea of copy? List the relevant information and save the details for the follow up.

• Is your offer both appealing and relevant to the vertical and demographic? It takes quite a bit of trust for someone to submit their personal information, even when pre-populated.

• Is your offer interesting and relevant to the needs and interests of your prospect? You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so make it count.

3. Critical information “above the fold”

The main purpose of most PURL marketing campaigns to get the PURL respondent to opt in to your survey, register for an event, or ask for a sales rep to contact them for more information. The survey should be short and easily finished in a few moments. The survey should be above the page break and immediately visible; the prospect should not have to scroll “below the fold”.

4. Maintain good organization and visual appeal

Current design standards employ a clean modern layout with large fonts, easy to read navigation menus, plenty of white space around elements, and a small number of high quality graphics. Remove the clutter and your message will stand out.

5. Maximize Variable Content

If your list has information such as gender, age, occupation, industry, or other demographic/vertical specific information, why not use it to personalize the landing page with artwork and copy that is specific to their needs and interests? VDP Web allows for 6 custom fi elds that act as “tags” which can serve variable images, text, and flash. As long as it is in the database, it will serve up a page that is personally tailored to each prospect. We do have a “default” setup possible in case a person does not type in their PURL, so no opportunity is ever lost.

6. Maintain consistent brand identity

You can be creative, but make sure to maintain the fi t and feel of your corporate brand across print, web site, and landing page. While there defi nitely needs to be some obvious links to the mail piece that the client received, it is best practice to incorporate the fi t and feel of your existing corporate web site as closely possible. Web visitors will often leave the landing page and visit your home site in order to fi nd out more about your company. Uniformity of fi t and feel is the cornerstone of all corporate branding. If you currently have a web site that you like, try and keep as much of the shell as possible – strip down the navigation and side links so there aren’t too many options to leave the landing page – and then incorporate the graphics and information from the direct mail piece into the body of the design. With a bit of planning it is easy to keep to the corporate fit and feel while still relating to the mail piece.

Look for part two coming shortly...

MBUSA does it again...

Once again, Mercedes Benz has astounded me with the poor quality of their direct marketing.  I Just received the following email:

MBUSA_email copy

First, the time to prepare for Winter in Indiana is in November, not in March.  Second, the nice photo of the minivan towing a speedboat through the green, rolling hills does not reinforce my need to winterize the brakes on my car.  Third the offer doesn’t appear anywhere above the break.

The lesson is plain.  Do not let your direct marketing efforts, regardless of the internal support challenges you may face, such as access to relevant & appropriate stock art, time delays (summer, winter, whatever…), and other issues to cloud your customer experience.  They won’t forgive you.

Purls Made Easy - Great Idea

Our friends at Purls Made Easy ( have developed a great program for developing and deploying PURL campaigns. 

They also have a great program for marketing landing pages and succinct graphic that really lays out the process of using static URLs as a data collection method.


The obvious conclusion is to use a data collection point as the centerpiece for all marketing channels.

2010 Cross Media Marketing Webinar Series - PURLs, Email & More

From JFM Concepts & VDP Web
Let’s Talk– Sales Strategy & Functionality Webinars

We want you to sell campaigns just as much as you do! Spend an hour or two going through the system with John Fager, our CTO, and meet with James Michelson to review proven sales strategies that help close deals.

Sign up at:

"Advanced Cross Media Features"

We have launched many new features, and the best way to know the system is to use it! Register for an advanced VDP Web walkthrough on either of these dates:

Tuesday, February 16th at 1:00pm EST

Thursday, February 25th at 1:00pm EST

"How can I sell cross-media to my customers?"

Easy! Let us show you how. James Michelson, an industry recognized leader in Cross Media, will be giving webinars to discuss strategy and sales on these dates:

Thursday, February 18th at 1:00pm EST

Tuesday, February 23rd at 1:00pm EST

Podi AppForum 2010 & JFM

I am looking forward to this year's AppForumn in Las Vegas.  We get a lot out of these events and the opportunity they provide to meet with old and new friends.

For our press release on our session, see  If you will be at Podi, we'd be glad to meet.

Growth or Death for Cross Media Firms?

The end of 2009 and start of 2010 has seen a burst of mergers and acquisitions across the marketing and technology space.  Firms and their intellectual property are being consolidated at a rapid pace. The DMA reported today about several deals.  These include acquisitions by Covario, Barkley, and Experian.  Others of interest are the purchase or investment in such firms as Aggregate Knowledge, Balihoo, and Harland Clarke Holding’s investments in Protocol Integrated Marketing Services and SubscribeMail. 

The obvious conclusion is that firms that have emerged from the recent downturn in a strong financial position are seeking to leap frog their competitors by adding technology to their portfolio.  The consolidation of the market can be expected to continue over the next several years.  The risk of development are obvious; management distraction, time to market, and hard costs are all very real issues.  It is well documented that the vast majority of IT initiatives either fail completely or come in late and over budget.

The acquisition strategy makes sense.  The core technology that many firms have developed have been littered with “me too” add on features, such as PURLs and Email that lack the functionality and ease of use of the core product.  As customers seek the so called “Holy Grail” of the one source technology provider, the firm with the not only the most features, but the most useable set of features, will have a real competitive advantage in the cross media marketing space.  The challenges of integrating a proven technology are not trivial, but they are surely less than development in house.