Andre Liu and his partners at MimoMonitors brought an online PR expert on board before they built their website. Online press releases and the reviews by bloggers and columnists that they generate are very important to them. In fact, they are virtually the only form of marketing the company does, other than appearances at a few trade shows.
As the recent survey, Ditch Digital Dabbling: How Small Businesses + Nonprofits Can Master Online Marketing revealed, most small businesses don’t understand how to get a big bang for their buck out of online press releases. And they don’t know how to measure the bang they do get.
But MimoMonitors gets it.
MimoMonitors sells touch-screen monitors that attach to your computer with a USB connection. The monitors are used both for play and for work, such as signature capture. Although the company is only three years old, Google has one of its monitors in every one of its conference rooms around the world.
So how do you get from no website to international sales? You find a PR firm that has connections in your market. In this case, someone with connections to technology media. That turned out to be Kevin McLaughlin, principal of Resound Marketing. Full disclosure: Resound is also the PR agency for Ditch Digital Dabbling.
“It made sense to use Kevin,” Liu, chief operating officer of MimoMonitors, said, “because this is a gadgety thing and we need to reach techies through the internet because that is where they spend their time.”
Liu and his partners understood the basic rule of all marketing, whether online or off: Match your medium with your market. Using the right online marketing platform or tactic, can make the difference between thriving and just surviving. For MimoMonitors, Facebook and Twitter didn’t do the job. But online press releases really drive their sales.
For anything tech or consumer-electronics related, online PR and the reviews they generate work because that is where customers prefer to spend their time. “Whether I buy from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer, I will research online first,” Liu said.
How its done
Whenever MimoMonitors launches a new product, has a special event, a sale or a peak buying season, a press release goes out across the wire while also being sent directly to top-tier media, such as Gizmodo, CNET, and Wired with a personalized pitch. For new products, review models are made available to the bloggers. Those reviews all contain links back to the MimoMonitors website. People may click and buy right away.
There’s a long tail to these reviews. “Over the years, the internet is seeded with archives of articles about us,” Liu said. “Even when nothing is going on, our daily website traffic grows.” Now, even on a no-news day, those old articles bring in 1,000 or 2,000 visitors and a percentage of them buy.
The second wave is the lesser known reviewers, a few smaller mentions, and then some postings on YouTube … all with links back to the website.
Articles get reposted in chat rooms, picked up by bloggers, and with URL link to MimoMonitors embedded, become part of the information moving here and there in cyberspace.
All the articles and press releases increase the company’s online visibility so corporate prospects hear about MimoMonitors. During the holiday season, when consumer buying is high, press releases target consumers. When the holiday season fades, the focus of the releases shifts to corporate prospects.
The second ingredient
Online press releases useless without serious attention to metrics. Any marketing tactic loses value if you don’t measure it. Liu tracks all activity: What site drove traffic? What was the country of origin? Which pages did people click through? How many units were bought?
If one site’s review brings 50,000 visits, with a 2 or 3 percent conversion rate, and another site brings in one tenth of that, MimoMonitors will focus on the first site.
“If you don’t have this information, you don’t have any idea who is buttering your bread, who is driving traffic, and who is driving the appropriate traffic,” Liu said.
Metrics can surprise you. For Liu, an upsurge in visits from a website he never heard of led him to a group of hobbyists who automate systems in their homes and cars. They share techniques, including how they use MimoMonitors. Metrics also showed him that the monitors were being used by another special niche: flight simulator hobbyists who offload flight controls to the monitors.
Who knew? Well, Liu knows now because he monitors his metrics. “If you don’t capture information properly, you will not have the market research you need to make decisions.”
The online marketing survey, gathered extensive data and benchmarks about how small businesses and nonprofits use online marketing and whether they are seeing results. For highlights, visit Ditch Digital Dabbling: How Small Businesses + Nonprofits Can Master Online Marketing.
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