What if I told you there was a magical wonderland where mobile commerce is expected to grow by 35% through 2015? A phantasmagorical place that boasts the largest and fastest-growing Internet economy in the world. Where the number of Facebook users surpasses the U.S. by 13% and where, by 2016, one out of every two mobile handsets sold there will be a smartphone.
Well, that place is Latin America, and with the FIFA World Cup draw scheduled for December 6 in Brazil, there's a prime chance for savvy global marketers to make their mark. The World Cup won't actually take place until June/July 2014, but between now and then are many months of first-class marketing opportunities—and if you're interested, it's time to get your gluteos in gear, so to speak.
For the uninitiated, as I recently was, the World Cup draw on Friday is about determining which teams will face off during the actual Cup, according to a series of somewhat complicated rules I wasn't totally able to decipher from the related Wikipedia page.
Facts: Brazil is serving as the host country this year, and it's already pumped more than $70 million into World Cup-related tourism and publicity. Seven million visitors are expected to descend on Brazil for the games. To put that into perspective, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa drew about 3.5 million visitors. Live TV and streaming viewing is projected to be off the charts. Seven of the 32 participating teams are from Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay—some of the largest consumer markets in the region all primed, pumped, and ready to engage. Sixty-four games total will be played over the course of 32 days. The World Cup and futból in general are the most popular topics on social media, bar none.
Soccer is popular almost everywhere in the world—and almost nowhere is it more popular than in Latin America.
“We're expecting record mobile engagement during the World Cup in 2014 and a big rise in real-time marketing from brands, as well as a huge spike in second-screen engagement and record-breaking streaming numbers across the globe,” says Maren Lau, partner/SVP of IMS (Internet Media Services). “That means the opportunity for brands to be present on the second screen is bigger than it's ever been before.”
Digital will play a particularly prominent role in the World Cup not only because of the tenor of the audience, but also because of the lack of traditional marketing opportunities. Futból is played in two 45-minute halves with a commercial break at halftime only, so unlike the Super Bowl, the TV land grab isn't all that juicy. Brands can also sponsor players or teams and get their logos on jerseys—but the real meat will be online where the fans will head to share their passion and air their ire.
“Marketers need to realize that they're going to see lots of online conversations take place on global platforms—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, even YouTube,” Lau says. “Limited commercial availability on television means marketers should be turning to these digital engagement opportunities.”
One big thing marketers should keep in mind before launching any World Cup-related marketing is that Latin America is not one place with one identity. It's a collection of 20 multilingual countries, each with its own history, cultural nuances, and preexisting sporting rivalries—the latter of which is taken particularly seriously.
“Fans need to be spoken to differently in different markets,” Lau says. “You need to keep aware of language nuances but you also need to keep each country's history in mind when developing advertising—there certainly is not a one-size-fits-all solution for Latin America.”
For example, take Brazil and Uruguay. The national teams of those two countries have a longstanding rivalry that goes all the way back to the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 1950 when Uruguay beat Brazil on its home turf in the final match. With its Ghost of 1950 campaign, PUMA, the official sponsor of the Uruguayan team, pokes fun at Brazil's storied 1950 loss (see the video above in which a ghost in a big blue sheet—the color of Uruguay—terrorizes locals on the beach and on the streets). The reaction's been mixed: Uruguay obviously loves the ad; Brazil significantly less so. But the point is it shows a nuanced understanding of the lay of the land on the part of PUMA.
According to Lau, there are quite a few large brands out there that do a good job at adapting their global messaging to local regions, among them Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Sony (all World Cup partners), and McDonald's (a World Cup sponsor).
“Every innovative brand that understands global marketing will also be tailoring their messages to local audiences,” Lau says. “To be successful with World Cup marketing you need to be able to anticipate the global passion, but on another level also capture the local spirit and flavor.” Because the world will be watching.
Imagine the Super Bowl happening every day for 32 days. Now imagine more than 700 million people are watching. That's going to generate a lot of engagement.
“During the 2010 World Cup there were people from 172 countries tweeting in 27 different languages, and the moment of the final goal, people from 81 countries tweeted in 23 different languages,” Lau says. “The World Cup isn't just about the two countries playing each other in a match; marketers need to remember that there is always a global audience.”
Good or bad, retailers and shoppers' impatience for Black Friday has pushed a growing number of brick-and-mortar businesses to open for all or part of Thanksgiving. Some retailers and other companies are taking a more digital approach. They're sending emails on Thanksgiving Day offering one-day-only deals. No need to hit the stores, shoppers; just click through and buy, buy, buy.
In fact, I received emails from numerous retailers with Thanksgiving Day offers, including Desigual (30% off), White House | Black Market (subject line personalized with my first name in all caps, plus a 25% offer), and Williams-Sonoma (20% off one item plus free shipping). But they weren't the only businesses getting in the holiday game. I also received emails from MLB team the New York Mets (subject line: “Just for You, 25% off sitewide”; um, I doubt that it was just for me) and home security company Vivint (limited-time referral offer), among others.
In discussing this shift with Senior Editor Al Urbanksi this morning, he quipped that because Thanksgiving is growing in popularity as a shopping day, it, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, needs its own shopping nickname. I dubbed it Thanksgetting.
Not surprisingly, overall online sales increased by 20% on Thanksgiving Day and purchases made via mobile devices accounted for 26% of those online purchases, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. I mean, hey, why schlep to the store when you can stuff your belly with Thanksgiving dishes, then move to the couch and stuff your digital shopping carts with holiday delights.
On November 26, comments demanding the rejection of the U.S. Postal Service's request for a 4.3% exigent rate increase were filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission by 13 mail industry stakeholders, among them the Direct Marketing Association and the American Catalog Mailers Association. Their argument centers on countering USPS's contention that lingering effects of the Great Recession demand the rate hike. Here are key excerpts from the filing.
“[USPS economic analyst] Thress's analysis purportedly shows that essentially the entire net decline in percent—between Fiscal Years 2007 and 2012 was caused by the 2007-2009 recession. These claims are implausible on their face. First, the percentage decline in mail volume that Mr. Thress attributes to the recession is several times deeper than the percentage decline in the overall economy during the recession. Second, the overall recession bottomed out in 2009, and the economy has been recovering since then.”
Christian T. Lundblad, Professor of Finance, University of North Carolina.
“To date, consumer spending and business investment since the end of the recession have not provided the growth stimulus necessary to boost mail volumes. Due to the long-term impact of technological change, discussed above, we do not anticipate volume ever returning to the levels which we experienced in the mid-2000s. In fact, we anticipate that mail volume will, for the most part, continue to decrease for the foreseeable future.”
USPS Form 10-K for FY 2012
”The Postal Service's financial dependence on First-Class Mail has been precarious for the last 16 years, as the expanded use of the Internet has made First-Class Mail less relevant to mailers.” --Lundblad
“Thress's attempt to blame the decline in advertising mail volume on a recession-related decline in overall advertising spending, rather than electronic diversion, is also largely incorrect. The Postal Service contends that the decline in advertising mail volume between FY 2007 and FY 2012 was due in large part to a cumulative decline of approximately 15 percent in total spending on advertising, a decline that the Postal Service attributes to the recession. In fact, total spending on advertising other than direct mail declined by no more than 5 percent. --Lundblad
“It is hardly news that Americans—businesses and consumers alike—are growing increasingly comfortable with living and transacting business electronically, and that this growing comfort has resulted in substantial shifts from paper to electronic communication. It is also hardly news that the pace of these changes has increased over the past few years.” --Lundblad
“Based upon an economically sound interpretation of the Postal Service's econometric models, I estimate that the impact of the recession on USPS finances peaked in FY 2009, at a cost to the Postal Service of about $900 million in lost contribution in that year. The loss in contribution caused by the recession has moderated since then, to approximately $500 million in FY 2012. The same analysis indicates that the 2007-2009 recession caused the Postal Service to suffer a volume loss that peaked at 5.9% in FY 2009, and has moderated since then. These estimates, unlike those offered by the Postal Service in this case, are consistent with the effect that the recession has had on the economy as a whole.” --Lundblad
“Electronic diversion is the primary driver of First Class Mail volume decline . . .The economy is NOT the main cause of diversion.”
USPS Plan to Profitability: 5 Year Business Plan
“The Postal Service, forced by the CPI cap to economize, downsized and cut costs. Congress provided relief by allowing the Postal Service to forego or defer several years of annual contributions to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund. The Postal Service continued to operate, meet payroll, and provide mail service. For these reasons, the Commission should require that any exigent rate increase approved in this case be rescinded on January 26, 2016, or 24 months after it takes effect.”
One of my favorite things about fall is the array of flavors associated with the season: pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, butternut squash—the delectable list goes on. It's like brands want people to put on a little extra blubber to stay warm for the winter. But after I consume my fourth pumpkin muffin and drink my eighth pumpkin spice latte, I become stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey and get a little pumpkined out. So it's up to brands like fast casual restaurant chain Cosi to keep me coming back for seconds—or tenths—until it moves on to the next limited time menu.
Marc Lapides, director of marketing for Cosi, admits that this is no easy feat.
“We notice that the limited time offers take off like crazy in the beginning,” he says. “But then as people eat it every day for three weeks, it starts to tail off a little bit.”
To drive new customers in-store, and ultimately maintain sales of its seasonal items, Cosi partnered with ePrize for the “Fall into Cosi” digital sweepstakes, which ran from October 4 to October 31. Cosi hired street teams to hand out 125,000 game pieces featuring scrambled codes during key breakfast and lunch hours (from about 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The restaurant chain also sent email notifications including game pieces to the quarter of a million people in its database. Participants could then print out the game pieces or bring them on their mobile devices to Cosi locations and use a decoder to unscramble the code and see if they won a prize. The grand prize was a trip to Paris in honor of the original Cosi. The brand also gave away 1,000 $5 Cosi gift cards. Cosi promoted the sweepstakes via its Facebook and Twitter channels, which have more than 33,400 and 3,300 followers respectively.
“What we work with our clients on is motivating a specific behavior from a consumer,” says Sara Kowal, VP of innovation for ePrize. “In this case, the specific behavior was to drive somebody into a Cosi store by adding that 'chance to win' element that is the extra motivation, the extra incentive for them to register for the program, head into a store, and have an engagement with Cosi."
Kowal says enabling customers to access the game piece on-the-go played a critical role in the campaign. In fact, she says that 20% of sweepstake registrants came from mobile devices and 30% of participants opted in for ongoing email communications with the brand.
But according to Lapides, providing multiple customer touchpoints is just part of being where customers are at all times.
“The reason that TV was so popular between the ‘70s and early 2000s is because that's where people were,” Lapides adds. “Today, [consumers are] on mobile phones, on their laptops, and looking at email. That's where they are now.”
While getting all of the tools to work together proved to be a bit of a challenge, Lapides says marketers can see big benefits from campaigns when they have a strong underlying strategy behind them.
“If they're intelligently planned, promotions can move your business,” he says. “They're not just for fun, [and] they're not just for making people happy.”
Mobile is especially crucial, Kowal says. Not taking mobile into account when planning a campaign is one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make.
“It's not [just] understanding how consumers are using their devices and figuring out how to fit into that channel very organically with consumers,” she says. “You need to be cognizant of the designs and the experience and, moving forward, assume that a big portion of your audience is going to see your content on mobile.”
So long, silos; hello digital omnichannel.
That, in essence, is the idea behind the recent strategic partnership announced last week between digital creative shop Nomadic and shopper marketing agency MARS: the former knows digital, the latter knows retail—the match is made.
Although the two agencies had been working together previously on projects here and there for the past several years (see above for an adorable Pop Secret case study the two collaborated on back in 2010), now it's official. Says MARS Chief Operating Officer Rob Rivenburgh (left in the photo below): “The evolution of the marketplace, whether we're talking about the combination of technologies or their rapid growth and expansion, is forcing consumer and shopper behavior to change profoundly.”
And to pivot to meet that change head-on, some agencies are looking to their counterparts in other areas to fill gaps and share capabilities for maximum effectiveness.
While it's true that the big guys are also joining forces—the coming together of colossal holding companies like continents creakily shifting their positions—Tim Washburn, EVP and creative director at Nomadic, says he sees this kind of collaboration as a growing trend at the boutique independent agency level.
It's a notion most of the agency world still needs to get hip to. In other words: Form strategic partnerships that focus on the retail landscape. After all, the point is to sell stuff, right?
“From our perspective, agencies are living in silos because they're built around marketing organizations and disciplines, and they've been in those silos for so long because they had specific formulas for how to market things—but those formulas are eroding,” Washburn says. “Selling products and marketing have become more complex, and every agency should be investigating their options.”
Part of the beauty of the MARS/Nomadic partnership is how the respective expertise of one fits so snugly with the offerings of the other. MARS will provide the customer insights and do the planning, and Nomadic will take care of the technological side and the digital execution.
By focusing on shopper needs, rather than obsessing about marketing budgets and wearing channel blinders, agencies could be more successful, Washburn says.
“The truth us, the MARS planning department doesn't separate traditional from digital; they don't think like that,” Washburn says. “What they think about is changing customer behavior; what they think about is how people shop.”
And how people shop is fluid. It's mobile, it's in-store, it's online, it's everywhere. “You have to understand how multiple channels are all tied together now,” Washburn says. “It's the way of the future, but really, it's the way of the present and everyone in this space needs to realize that.”
Nail down customer behavior and you're golden. What, specifically, will go through a customer's head before she decides on this product or that product on the shelf? Get in the customer's shoes, or behind the customer's eyes, or in the customer's head—or whatever reference works for you—just get there.
Not like it's easy or anything. It takes constant awareness, vigilance, iteration, and optimization.
“As much as I'd love to eat lots of donuts at the Kraft service table and make TV spots all the time, there's more to it,” Washburn says. “We all need to get closer to the point-of-sale.”
Marketers love their data. It allows them to target customers most likely to buy. It helps predict which customers will buy what next. It adds context to build relevancy in customer interactions. But, according to Niraj Dawar, author of Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy From Products to Customers, one-to-one marketing will eventually lead to no more than a short-term tactical advantage, instead of a sustainable long-term competitive advantage.
“When every competitor becomes equally good at predicting each customer's next purchase, all of the companies will spend effort and money to capture that purchase,” Dawar writes in Tilt. “In fact, they'll spend so much effort and money that they'll wipe out their profits from the marginal transaction.”
Dawar isn't suggesting that marketers stop trying to predict customers' next and future purchases. Instead, he recommends that marketers also use the vast sources of data available to them to create a unique, big-picture view of their customers—and use that distinctive perspective to inform marketing strategy and determine the ideal customer interactions.
Because no two companies have the same sets of data, each company that takes this approach is guaranteed to have a customer view unlike any of its competitors, Dawar points out. “The big picture that any company develops, the insights that come from it, and the value it can deliver for your customers will always be unique. None of your competitors have the same combination of customers or customer interactions that you have; nor do they see the industry from the same perspective that you do…,” he writes. “The pieces of the puzzle that you assemble will be impossible for competitors to replicate.”
Dawar compares this shift in perspective to photography: Instead of creating portraits of customers, marketers should be creating a view that's more like aerial photography. The benefits brands will gain by building this one-of-a-kind customer view, he notes, include pricing flexibility, increased customer engagement and loyalty, and a long-term competitive advantage.
Dawar recommends that marketers ask themselves the following before taking a big-picture approach:
In a hotel meeting room in Manhattan, Kiril Tsemekhman stood before a projected display of the screen of an active PC in Brooklyn. Kiril and coworkers at Integral Ad Science had purposely infected this machine with a virus that would attract the botnets, the mafia families of computer fraud, as he characterized them. The same Brooklyn PC screen was displayed, blank, on a nearby laptop. But the screen forming Tsemekhman's backdrop, specially coded through Wireshark , was firing page after page of URLs—retail sites, sports sites, cooking sites in a steady stream, creating a false profile of a non-existent person who would be served “relevant” ads via automated ad buying programs.
The guy from Brooklyn who owns the computer will never see the ads served to any of his alter-PC-egos, but the marketers whose ads got served will still pay for them. Fifteen minutes after the Brooklyn PC had engaged a browser, an ad blocker showed that 974 ads had been served on it. “At any given time, the average botnet has access to about a hundred thousand PCs, and we've just seen they can serve each one 4,000 ads an hour,” said Tsemekhman, Integral's chief data officer. “And the ads are invisible.”
Integral had called a summit to share what it's learned about online fraud over years of selling ad viewability and safety services to the marketing industry. It had long approached the problem from a stealth positioning, noted Integral CEO Scott Knoll, but the time had come to go public with the severity of the problem. Here are some statistics the company compiled from its extensive client dealings:
Some networks have created blacklists of botnets hoping to reactively deny supply to the bad guys, but they just reappear with new sites and new names. And anyway the lists aren't frequently updated.
What to do? Now, the Integral folks don't invite members of the press to fancy breakfasts in hip hotels just because they like our company. They sell tracking services, and their take is that only detecting and preventing of ads serving at the impression level can put the bots out of business.
“The imminent risks are great,” Hahn said. “Programmatic buying is here to stay.”
Marketing, at its best, doesn't feel like marketing. It feels like value. It's when brands create experiences that educate, engage, and entertain consumers in the channels that they want to interact in. Gaming has become a popular way for marketers to generate these experiences. Family restaurant chain Denny's created its own tasty gaming experience by launching a digital challenge to drive guest traffic and sales.
This past July Denny's reintroduced its Build Your Own Pancakes menu. However, the menu was only going to be available for one month. So, Denny's needed to notify customers of this limited time menu—and fast. To drive brand awareness and traffic—and ultimately sales—Denny's partnered with Dailybreak Media and launched the Build Your Own Pancakes Challenge. After logging into Dailybreak's platform via Facebook or email, diners could participate in a seven-step challenge—such as by watching videos, answering pancake trivia, and designing their own digital pancakes. Once consumers added their favorite toppings and named their pancakes, they could share their cooking creations with their social networks. They could also locate the nearest Denny's on a digital map in case they wanted to sample their maple-syrup masterpieces. Consumers would win Dailybreak digital coins for completing the challenges, which they could then cash in for rewards, such as discounts or gift cards.
Erik Jensen, director of advertising and merchandising for Denny's, says the company targeted young families and launched the campaign to align with the back-to-school season. Along with driving in-store traffic through the challenge, Denny's drove traffic through its mobile store locator. The mobile store locator used geo-fencing to find the closest Denny's restaurant. Jensen says Denny's also promoted the campaign via TV, radio, print, banner ads, paid social, and search. In addition to working with Dailybreak, Denny's worked with media agency Optimedia and advertising agency Erwin Penland.
Jensen says targeting young millennial families requires Denny's to be where the customers are at all times. “Our guest was constantly moving, and we had to move with them,” Jensen says.
Within just four weeks Denny' experienced more than 30,000 engagements, more than 25,000 pancake design submissions, and more than 26,000 store locator searches. Jensen also says that the average pancake participant spent three minutes engaging in the challenge, and 84% of users completed all seven steps. Furthermore, Denny's achieved a 572% return on ad spend, Jensen says.
He adds that Denny's uses consumer feedback resources, such as qualitative studies and brand trackers, to determine where diners want to engage. However, he says that marketers also have to stay on top of budding trends, like social gaming, by simply staying alert.
“You have to be in the space, [and] you have to be present,” he says. “You have to keep your eyes and ears open for emerging trends.”
Before I get started, I should probably define my terms.
Trend: The changes or developments that over time come together to shape human culture, for example, the growth of social networks and an increasing gravitation toward meaningful communities.
Fad: The Harlem Shake.
There's been a blurring of the lines between the definition of “trend” and “fad” over the years, but the difference is substantial. If fads are the reflections that momentarily glint off the side of a trend, trends are the building blocks that comprise an entire culture.
“A trend is much less about the color orange versus the color green in a fashion collection and much more about how, inherently, society is changing,” says Domenico Vitale, founder and chief idea architect at creative shop People Ideas & Culture. “And trends don't happen overnight.”
Vitale launched the agency, which currently boasts high-profile clients like the Waldorf Astoria and match.com, back in in 2009 as a way to blend strategy and creative insights. All the ideas are developed in house, but the agency depends on partners to bring its ideas to life. It just makes sense: Find the top makers out there—whether they be into sdigital or print, TV or mobile—and tap their expertise to develop best of breed creative.
One major trend that's been on PI&C's radar for a while now is the attitudinal shift toward a more sustainable way of living and of regaining the attention to craftsmanship, detail, and authenticity lost in the face of industry and profit, says Vitale.
“There's an awareness that industrial products have led us to a really bad place and that over-consumption and disposable culture can't go on forever,” he says. “It's not about the environment only; it's about how we live, how we work, and what products we choose to consume.”
Putting its money where its mouth is, PI&C is in the midst of launching several businesses out of its new Copenhagen office. The first, a fashion line called Social Aesthetics set to launch in the spring of 2014, will design, create, and sell clothing made from unused vintage textiles from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s salvaged from warehouses in France and Italy. The second, a food and wine e-commerce business called Passione Italiana, is scheduled to go live at some point this month.
It's a unique model, to be sure, but why shouldn't agencies also create products?
“It's up to agencies to recognize our own potential and I think we cut ourselves short when we only do stuff for others to make money,” Vitale says. “I love meeting clients and I have a lot of respect for that side of the business, but this is an opportunity for us to own some of what we do—we have a lot of smart, creative people around here, so why not come up with stuff for ourselves and become our own clients?”
According to Vitale, the agency world is plagued by an inability to get really multichannel. In a weird way, agencies are sometimes stymied by their own expertise.
“If you go to a digital agency and you have a hundred people coding all day, that agency is going to try and sell you something digital; if you go to a traditional agency where they have lots of people making print ads and doing outdoor, then they try to sell you that,” Vitale says.
But it's hard to deliver multichannel with silos and time-starved creatives running all over the place. PI&C employs production partners to bring its creative, digital, and traditional initiatives to life. If you need an app to make a client happy, go to the best mobile producers out there; if you need an amazing TV spot, find the best director. That, Vitale says, gives his people time to focus on client needs.
“And that's where we can get to the real solutions that are not only multichannel, but are channel-neutral,” Vitale says. “In other words, the right solution for whatever the problem is."
What does it mean to be courageous in marketing today? According to Peter Horst, SVP of brand marketing and CMO of Capital One—it takes being unique and true to your brand. Certainly Capital One's ongoing “What's in your wallet?” series of campaigns exemplifies this.
Horst, Caples 2013 Honorary Judges Chair, shared his 5 keys to disruptive marketing during Caples Reveal 2013.
1. Be strategically brave. Make an “all-in commitment” to building your brand. Spend in the right channels for your brand; mix in high-impact, low-cost channels; and use analytics to track it all and make informed decisions.
2. Stand for something. Take a position on issues relevant to your business that are important to your customer and stick by it. Carry that messaging through in your marketing and content so customers understand your shared values.
3. Know thyself. Create and communicate a concise definition of who you are as a brand; what's your brand personality and brand voice. Capital One's brand personality is “authentic, credible, and trustworthy,” Horst said. That means being a customer advocate and an innovative leader that drives change for the industry. Its voice is about being engaging by clear, conversational, compelling, and “Capital One clever.” Once you define your personality voice, you need to “bring it to life everywhere,” he said.
4. Earn share of heart. Mind share and wallet share are important, but once you have the former, earning share of heart will help increase the latter. What will customers love about your brand? Use it to make an emotional connection with your customers.
5. Go where the puck is going. Borrowing from hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Horst advised attendees to understand marketing and consumer trends and take action early. For example, brands should engage customers in social on topics that matter to them. “Customers don't want to tell stories about their savings accounts,” Horst said, “but they love to tell stories about travel.” So Capital One talks to customers about the destinations on their bucket list (and helps some customer get there, he said).
Revenue hunting is genetic. Not everybody has the need to bag big game by day's end. All successful salespeople have it. Not all marketers have it--but the ones who do may well be joining the vanguard of revenue marketers who are transforming the customer acquisition process at B2B companies. One of the prophets of the growing movement is Debbie Qaqish, who bought an automation program from Eloqua in 2005 and wound up joining with the company's former support chief Jeff Pedowitz to spread the gospel through The Pedowitz Group. We asked Qaqish, whose new book, Rise of the Revenue Marketer, was released last month to indoctrinate us.
The revenue marketing movement has taken wing in only the past five years. But sales and marketing organizations have been butting heads for decades. Can so much change so fast?
It's not going to change that fast. What's changing fast is corporate readiness for revenue marketing in organizations where there is a climate for recognizing revenue generation. Very often, that's a company where there's been a major disruption in the business—a loss of key people or key accounts. I spoke about revenue marketing at one company where sales was meeting and exceeding its number and the VP of sales was not going to go for it. He was making his numbers. Then I sat down with him and learned that half of his reps weren't hitting their numbers and they had high turnover. He could really have benefited from a shorter sales cycle and a higher average deal, which is what revenue marketing could do for him.
How do you know when you're a revenue marketer?
It's funny you ask that question, because I'm distant relation to Jeff Foxworthy and I do a little routine called, “You know you're a revenue marketer when…”
Give us a sample.
You know you're a revenue marketer when you walk into a meeting and not only share revenue booked in the last quarter but give a forecast for the next quarter. You know you're a revenue marketer when you walk into a bar and ask the girl at the end for an opportunity for advanced communications.
How many B2B marketers are ready to become revenue producers? What's the biggest change to their mind-sets they need to make?
I did a lot of reflecting on this in the interviews with marketers I did for the book. One of the most consistent things I heard from them was that it's not about buying a piece of technology, it's about having to be a leader of change. I presented to a big retailer once and the boss told me afterward that I spent too much time talking about change management. A year later, after she was a year into the process, I met with her and she said, “You know, you guys should have spent more time talking about change management.”
Is the group of potential change agents a small one?
If we're talking about the CMO level, yes. They're digging in for dear life and trying to hold onto the world they know until it's time to retire. It's the VPs below them driving the change. The VP marketing level is where it's happening. You've got to be a certain age and a certain background. It requires new skills, with a big focus on technology.
So while revenue marketing's about more than buying a piece of technology, it's also about buying a piece of technology.
You can't do it without [technology]. You have to have marketing automation integrated with CRM, integrated with the Web. If you don't, it's going to be like running through peanut butter.
Three words: Repeatable, predictable, scalable.
It's the definition of revenue marketing. You know what your results were last quarter and you can forecast what you're going to do next quarter. You can't do that unless you are processing what's going through the funnel. Then you have a marketing machine. When you have it humming and know about how much sales is going to convert, then you're running a funnel the way sales runs a funnel. If you talk to a revenue marketer, you think you're talking to a VP of sales.
It pushes marketers off the ivory tower?
There's a woman I write about in the book. She walks into a job interview and says, “I'd like to own some revenue, please.” I know two people who got their jobs this way.
Which marketers should be scared about this development and which should be happy?
With some marketers, financial responsibility is not in their nature. Then there are those who always intuitively felt that marketing should be playing a role in revenue. But there are still many, many marketers who don't get it. I walked into two companies last year where the VPs of marketing had stars in their eyes, but they were not remotely ready, not remotely interested in doing what had to be done. This is still the early days of revenue marketing.
When sales and marketing finally become happy partners, won't there be something left for them to find intolerable about each other?
Oh, baby, there will always be something! They'll always find something!
Mobile has received a lot of attention this past year. But marketers still tend to refer to mobile as a separate channel, rather than an integral part of their overall mix. And today's consumers don't want to be viewed in silos. They demand that businesses recognize who they are and what they want across all channels and devices. Michael Becker, marketing development and strategic advisor for independent global marketing agency Somo in North America, says mobile plays a vital role in engaging consumers across the entire customer journey. Here are his five ways marketers can make mobile a critical part of the multichannel experience.
Marketers like to toss around the term omnichannel, but not all marketers define omnichannel the same way. Becker says marketers need to think of omnichannel as being responsive to consumers and their needs in any medium, as well as being able to do so at any stage of the customer journey.
“Omnichannel means that you have to be ready to engage and communicate with the consumer at any point in time in a relevant way through any medium,” he says.
Understand consumers' multiple personas
Part of being omnichannel is understanding consumers' multiple personas, Becker says. For example, a consumer may have multiple phone numbers or email addresses, but that doesn't mean that they want brands to contact them via all of these points of contact. Hence, marketers need to rely on data to paint a “complete [and] addressable picture of an individual.”
“[Omnichannel] means to be ready and relevant with the consumer regardless of how they approach you—whether it's from email, from text message, from a website, [or] from an application,” Becker says. “You need to make sure that you're telling an appropriate story in a consistent way and that you're not over-communicating with them in that situation.”
Optimize Email and Websites for mobile
Having mobile-optimized sites and emails is equivalent to “just breathing today,” Becker says. Not doing so, he says, can result in a missed opportunity for engagement.
“Right now 48% of consumers open their emails via a mobile device. Ninety percent of the time the consumer only opens that email on one screen,” Becker says. “If your email is too difficult to read or not optimized and they've opened it on their mobile device, they're going to delete that email, move on, and you've lost an opportunity for engagement.”
Provide more value than promotional messaging
While Becker says a discount is a value, he says it's not the “primary value.” Value, he says, may take on different meanings for different consumers, such as content, educational material, or incentives. Hence, understanding consumers and their needs is vital to identifying what they value most.
“You need to consider the utility and the value the consumer's looking for a long the way,” he says.
Don't distress over downloads
App downloads is a metric many mobile marketers tend to home in on. However, Becker says this may not be the best tactic.
“What a lot of marketers don't take into consideration is that the average app is used less than five times over 90 days,” Becker says. “After that 90 days, it's not used anymore.”
Instead of focusing on downloads, marketers need to home in on how the app fits into the brand's broader story and what kind of value and utility the app is providing consumers. Hence, marketers need to view app as a way to establish and retain customers, not just as an initial and individual program.
Imagine you're in the market for a vacuum cleaner. You're idly watching TV and you see an ad for the new Dyson DC-Pivot Ball Action Whatever Thing. The product appeals to you, but you change the channel because you need to get back to the ancient rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you're watching for some reason even though it's 3 a.m. and you have work in the morning…anyway.
There's nothing wrong with a late night DRTV spot—but how much more engaging would the whole experience be if you also received an augmented reality-enhanced direct mail piece delivered to your doorstep smack-dab in the middle of your consideration period?
“You could hear directly from Mr. Dyson with his nice British accent explaining all the features and providing more information right there,” says Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald, cofounder and U.S. general manager of Layar, an AR and interactive print app founded in the Netherlands in 2009, with offices in Amsterdam, New York, and Toronto. “One little postcard-sized insert can be made so much richer without having to do any more printing, in essence opening up a whole new channel.”
With the mobile market literally exploding—Gartner predicts smartphone and tablet sales to top two billion by 2015—more and more printed matter is starting to include an AR element. Juniper Research says the revenue generated by mobile AR apps is set to grow from what it is now at about $300 million to a Home Alone cheek-slapping $5.2 billion by 2017. And according to digital agency Hidden Creative, consumers are 135% more likely to buy after viewing an AR-enhanced version of a product. Layar itself has 35 million users globally and more than nine million users in the U.S. alone, and boasts a client list of big-time publishers, including Meredith, Hearst, and Condé Nast.
Clearly, there's mad money to be made—but Lens-Fitzgerald warns against AR for AR's sake. The point, as always, is to be relevant. Just because AR's cool, doesn't mean every coupon in the world should be jumping off the page into your face.
“Compare it to a website—if you make a site about stuff no one cares about, no one will come; it's the exact opposite of the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come,'” Lens-Fitzgerald says. “With augmented reality, because there's a wow factor, people will probably come initially, so marketers sometimes forget they need to provide something of value. Yes, 3D animation is cool, but it's not going to keep working every time.”
The law of diminishing returns applies. It's a phenomenon Lens-Fitzgerald calls “clown suit marketing.”
“The first time you see me in a clown suit, you'll notice,” he says. “But by the second time, you're probably not going to like it anymore, and by the third time you'll start wondering what else I have to bring to the table.”
AR, like any marketing tool, should create value, which means step one has to be about the ‘why.' Why are you adding augmented reality to a printed piece? If the reason is more about your image—making your logo dance or something—and less about adding value for the consumer—providing a link straight to Amazon from a catalog or allowing readers to scan a code to provide their feedback on an opinion piece in a magazine—then AR might not be the way to go.
That said, augmented reality can be a great way to collect consumer data. Want to know how many people were activated by your print ad? Well, just go and check how many people used their phone or tablet to scan the code you included.
“It's a way to do something more with a print insert,” Lens-Fitzgerald says. “It's a way to prove how valid print still is as a channel.”
Thinking about getting into the augmented reality game? Consider these tips from Lens-Fitzgerald:
Do provide something of tangible value. “Video is always good, but will people want to watch and share what you're providing? The video you use shouldn't just reiterate exactly what you wrote about.”
Don't think small. “I see a lot of marketers say, ‘I should try this,' and then just do one button or link to a website that's not even mobile-optimized or offer a video no one is going to share.”
Do think mobile. “Make sure you're mobile-friendly and make sure you do more than just slap a link on there and forget about it.”
Don't be afraid—or rash. “Publishers and marketers need to have the balls and the belief to make AR work. Understand what it is and make it work for your client, but also make sure it's what your client actually needs.”
Do be clever, but also clearly explain the rules. “Not everyone will automatically know how it works and what they need to do. Always include well-placed instructions with specific calls-to-action.”
The future of online is offline, says Lens-Fitzgerald.
“More than 90% of retail still happens in the real world,” he says. “With all the talk of Amazon, some people seem to forget how important the real world is—and the same goes for print.”
One would think entertainment companies have it easy. We're all familiar with the Hollywood superhero blockbuster with a built-in fanboy audiences that “sells itself,” or uber-popular musicians with tens of millions of Twitter lackies. One need only look at the top five accounts with the most followers: four of them—Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift—are singers (the one anomaly is President Barack Obama).
This popularity should be a marketer's dream come true, yet the reality is that without the right infrastructure and governing policies, it's a nightmare managing all of the customer data coming in. Consider Universal Music Group (UMG), the largest American music corporation which has 13 record labels just in the U.S. And each label contracts with hundreds of super-popular artists including Katy Perry (Capitol Records), Justin Bieber (Island Def Jam), and Lady Gaga (Interscope UMG).
The problem is that these artists—and the corporate labels that support and sell their records—are active in numerous channels, through which fans expect different types of interactions. “Twitter is personal publishing for each artist,” says Lee Hammond, VP of digital at Interscope UMG. “And the dot-coms [i.e. official artist websites] are largely brands. There's an element of the artist publishing directly there, but they're largely brand experiences. And Facebook is sort of in the middle.”
Unfortunately, the data in each channel is heavily siloed—a tremendous issue that Interscope, with its disparate content management systems, had to overcome. But social media is a channel that's difficult to reign in. “When [music labels] noticed their artists engaging on social networks, it was almost a problem for them because they'd lost control of the consumer relationship,” says Kristin Hersant, VP of marketing at Livefyre, a vendor whose technology Interscope uses to manage its social media campaigns.
Still, social media and music go together beautifully and the effect social has had on the music industry is deeper than other verticals. Celebrity activity on Twitter, for instance, popularized the now-ubiquitous site. And social media like MySpace and YouTube were the launching vessels for previously unknown talents like Justin Bieber and Adele.
When Robin Thicke's latest album Blurred Lines debuted last March, Interscope built a campaign using Livefyre tool Storify, through which the label collected social media and online messages from fans and critics anticipating the album and built a marketing narrative around it.
The fervor around social media was once so heated in the music industry, Hammond recalls, that there was a mass exodus away from traditional websites in favor of social media. “I've seen the pendulum go back and forth, as far back as MySpace,” he says. “We don't need a website. Then we do need a website.”
But websites are important as are other “traditional” channels like email. For all its benefits, social media has severe limitations when it comes to doing one-to-one engagement. Communicating through social media confines businesses to each network's unique and often-shifting terms of service.
“Your posts don't make it out to everyone,” Hammond says. “You're throttled by Facebook rules saying this user won't see your post. It's very clear that Facebook and Twitter are ad platforms. They'd rather us buy our way to reach that fan.”
Email, he adds, is a better sales channel—Interscope has seen people on its email lists purchase in higher percentage rates than social media fans. But email also has limitations, Hammond points out. “If you're on a mailing list for a given artist, that's a moment frozen in time,” he says. Meaning that someone on a Lady Gaga mailing list might also be on a mailing list for Robin Thicke—another Universal Music Group artist—and the email system won't realize it.
And this is why Hammond and his team have worked to combine all data from all channels—bringing the wide reach of social media (through which fans often follow numerous artists) combined with the one-on-one capabilities of more intimate channels like email. Part of this effort involves using tools from Janrain to create a common registration system, which enables social log-ins. If a fan interacts with numerous UMG artists, that information gets pumped to Interscope's ExactTarget email system, such that even if a fan signs up for only one artist's email list, UMG knows the other musical properties that fan enjoys.
Interscope applied this omni-channel experience to the social campaign around Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines release. Social media users interacting with various Robin Thicke-related assets might get more personalized email messages about the album, rather than basic batch-and-blast spam.
“What [Hammond] is doing now, other's will do a year from now,” says Livefyre's Hersant. “The results are just amazing—60-80% open rates on B2C email. He's the only one who ties [social media] to the direct marketing funnel.”
Going forward, Lee envisions more implementations of technologies that will bolster customer acquisition and activation channels, acquiring more fans and leveraging the data in automation to speak intelligently to them. There are still hurdles, however.
“Internally, we're still dealing with a lot of channel conflict, which is true of every industry,” he says. “Someone in the social media channel thinks the solution is in social media. Someone who runs the iTunes account thinks the solution is in iTunes. The cultural shift is in understanding the value of our technological stack, in conjunction with the deployment of that stack, and finding the right mix.”
Call me crazy, but if you woo me as a customer with your distinctive merchandise, then the next thing you do is offer a discount, you've turned me off. Sure, many customers are strictly deal hunters and if price is your competitive differentiator, then so be it. But if your business is all about cool products or unique customer experiences, then starting off with a discount undermines the rest of your marketing efforts.
Consider my recent experience with The Grommet, a retail site that offers an assortment of curious but useful products. I visited the site, joined its email list, and dropped an item in my cart. It was a gift, so I wanted to double check that it would be a hit (versus a “What were you thinking?”) so I closed out of the site and went on with my day.
Fast forward a few days and the Grommet emails me with $5 off to purchase the item in my cart (and whatever else might strike my fancy). What I learned from that email: Anytime I want to buy something from the Grommet and don't want to pay full price I can just drop it in my cart, close out of the site, and wait for an offer.
But, wait, there's more. I didn't bite at the $5. I was still torn about the item; price wasn't the issue. So a few days later I get another email from the Grommet offering $10 off a purchase. I have to admit that it was tempting. And a way of showing how much the retailer wants my business. However, let's put that aside for a moment and focus on what The Grommet taught me with that email: If I'm really patient, the offer will double.
Certainly, the Grommet isn't the only retailer guilty of these tactics. But it's not what I expected from a company with a tagline of “Buy Differently.”
Contrast this with clothing retailer Anthropology, whose emails I also get. Last winter I clicked through to a sweater that had my name all over it. I dropped it in my cart, and then started to have second thoughts. It was pricey and I was concerned about fit. So I decided to check it out in store. Anthropology sent an optimally spaced series of reminder emails. Not one of them included an offer. Instead, the messaging was around this special item I shouldn't miss out on.
The final reminder email was months later, so I decided to click through it since I hadn't bought the sweater. Surprise! The sweater was actually on sale, which wasn't noted in the email. But Anthropology isn't about price. Sure, like most every retailer, it puts items on sale at the end of the season, and will send a separate email about that. But unlike far too many retailers, the bulk of its emails are about what makes it unique, what makes customers want to shop there in particular: its merchandise. And over months of emailing me about that one sweater, it stuck to that messaging. You have to admire that. I certainly do.
Again, many customers are bargain hunters, and if that's who you want as your customer, make every email about what's on sale. But if you want customers who will stick around despite price, who will pay more for your cool stuff or unique experiences, then lay off the constant deals. All you're doing is training customers to never pay full price and creating price-based promiscuity, instead of long-term customer loyalty.
Note to all B2B marketers who think interaction is what prospects do on your website: You've got another thing coming. In fact, Gavin Finn predicts that, when it comes to moving leads through the pipeline, websites may soon become as quaint as 10-pound Yellow Pages. PDFs? Pretty Darn Funny. PowerPoints? Invest in a power suit instead.
Finn, whose Kaon Interactive creates virtual product presentations incorporating 3D and augmented reality for marketers and sales teams of high-consideration products, claims that in the next few years B2B companies will learn what true interaction is. Nurturing leads based on their website behavior is all well and good, but Finn maintains it is hardly the B2B equivalent of customer engagement.
“People don't remember much of what they read or what they heard in a presentation, maybe about 20 to 25 percent,” Finn says. “If they're involved in the process, though, they remember 75% or more.”
The concept is hardly new. In fact, according to Finn, a Ph.D. from MIT, it goes at least as far back as the mid-20th century when a professor named Edgar Dale created the “Cone of Learning,” stating that people remember 20% of what they hear, 70% of what they say, and 90% of what they say and do.
What B2B salespeople and marketers didn't have 70 years ago, however, were mobile phones and tablets that can turn sales calls into interactive demo sessions. The irony is that these technological advances may serve to separate them from their computer monitors and send them packing on more old-fashioned sales calls. Marketers can afford bigger travel budgets on the savings they'll realize from not having to ship vans full of equipment to trade shows. At shows and in client offices they'll use 3D screens and iPads to let prospects flip over, turn, pull apart, and even measure their complex, high-priced merchandise.
One Kaon client, Michael Rapp, senior manager of marketing operations for Fujitsu's network communications business, says he was able to increase sales while saving more than $100,000 on not shipping “big silver boxes” to trade shows. “We now call those the ‘Rolling Iron Days,'” Rapp says.
There are three keys to creating true interaction in presentations, Finn says:
Sensory engagement. Get prospects to use their senses of sight, hearing, and touch in a presentation. Employing all three is crucial for attaining high retention rates.
Intellectual engagement. Get people actively probing the product and questioning it during the presentation. “Just think about all the trade show booths you've been in with funny themes and kitschy games,” Finn says. “After 20 minutes, you don't remember what they were selling.”
Emotional engagement. Surprisingly, Finn says this is the most important of the three. The more you can create an emotional response, he claims, the higher the retention rate goes. And he's not talking just about delight; he's talking about disappointment, concern, and anger. “If people recognize a great cost opportunity,” he says. “They will exhibit a sense of urgency and frustration about why they're not doing things that way.”
Ah, remember the late 90s? A time of great promise, like a verdant digital spring bursting with vivid, varied color and light-headed anticipation.
“I like to refer to it as the time of the great happiness, when all boats were rising,” said Rick Chavez, chief solution officer at Microsoft Marketing Solutions, with a jokey wistfulness, speaking at ad:tech 2013 in New York City.
The marketing world was abuzz with talk about digital as a transformative force. The feeling was: CHANGE IS AROUND THE CORNER. IT'S HAPPENING. IT'S HAPPENING... Well, we overestimated how soon it would all go down, but not how impactful digital would become. It'd be impossible to do that.
“Consumers at work, at home, and on-the-go at their jobs, at night, on their mobile devices—their facility with technology is outstripping our ability to fulfill their needs,” Chavez says. “It's a strange, interesting, and challenging thing.”
That's why Microsoft recently conducted a study with Future Laboratory and IPG Mediabrands into global digital trends for 2014. I mean, it's good to know what you're dealing with. Microsoft posed a series of probing questions to 45 top digerati around the world (in USA, Sweden, Brazil, Russia, UK, Germany, Czech Republic) and talked to 8,000 online consumers to discern preferences, needs, and behaviors—basically, to figure out where the puck will be and where the puck is right now, “not in our own prognostications, but in their minds and their views,” Chavez said.
Microsoft and its partners identified eight major trends, most of which reflect what's happening already, right now. In 2014, and beyond, we'll just see more and more of it. But before delving into the trends, an important point from Chavez: We don't just have half a brain."
“We're all clearly whole brain people—we have a left brain and a right brain,” Chavez said. “In the research it seems like some of the patterns and trends are about data initially, or just the experience or the emotive side, but there's starting to be a combination of these things, which feeds into the challenge we face as marketers.”
As Chavez pointed out: We're not “digital people,” we're just people who use digital, which means putting the consumer at the epicenter.
Okay, let's do this thing:
Digital trend #1: Value Me
Basically, if consumers are giving you access to their data, you'd better give them a valuable experience in return. Consumers want their data cultivated to meet their needs, not to help you sell your product—brands that can provide the former and still do the latter are the smart ones.
Digital trend #2: Enhancing the Real
This one's about combining the digital and the physical worlds. “Give me the blended, intimate experience I expect because I'm a human being,” Chavez said. “I live in 3D, not in a bit stream.”
Digital trend #3: Intelligently On
Consumers are super-connected—everything from their phone to their fridge—which means they're probably getting about 27 zillion marketing communications and push notifications and who knows what all almost 24 hours a day. Devices should make a consumer's life more convenient, not more annoying.
Digital trend #4: Age of Serendipity
Technology that's functioning how it should be will help consumers discover things about themselves they didn't even know—new hobbies, music tastes, interesting content. Just look at the capabilities of a learning technology like Pandora.
Digital trend #5: Right to Anonymity
“This speaks to my desire as a human being to be able to control my data and my digital footprint,” Chavez said. “There might be some interesting photos of me in college I'm fine with when I'm 20, but I might not want job recruiters to see them when I'm 25.”
Digital trend #6: Niche Networks
Massive social networks are fine, but the next big thing is about connecting with smaller groups of like-minded individuals.
Digital trend #7: My Analytics
There's a mountain of personal data out there; data on our sleep habits, our fitness, our favorite movies. What we'll see more of is the creation of dashboards that combine all this data, thereby “allowing those moments to be moments of marketing possibility for brands to reach me with offers that matter to me,” Chavez said.
Digital trend #8: Creator Culture
Once the analytics are in place, that'll lead to consumers co-creating experiences with brands, rather than consuming experiences the brands create.
“To win in this new highly digitized world that's both right and left brained, both analytic and emotive, takes a village; it takes multiple disciplines to pull this off,” Chavez said. “The takeaway for you as marketers is this: Left brain, it's time to meet your right brain.”
Twitter will join the rest of the bulls and the bears this Thursday when it begins trading its 70 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The social network and microblogging service set the entire social sphere aflutter this week when it announced a last-minute raise to its initial public offering price from $17 to $20 per share to $23 to $25 in a United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Twitter is expected to raise the price again to $25 to $28 per share. But is Twitter (TWTR) worth the extra pocket change? Here are ten Twitter statistics to help you determine Twitter's monetary value in 140 characters or less.
When you see a niche in the marketplace you fill it. That's part of the driving force behind Net Texts, a company that works with schools to replace textbooks with multimedia courses served up on smart devices.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the number of U.S. teens with smartphones went up 14% between 2011 and 2012, bringing saturation in that age group to about 37%. Add to that the fact that one in four teens (23%) owns a tablet—a percentage almost equivalent to the general adult population—and the trend is clear: Textbooks are not long for this world.
It's easy to get sentimental about the death of textbooks and lump that nostalgia in with some kind of rant about how soon students won't know how to do anything if it doesn't involve a touch screen—but there's a difference between playing Candy Crush on your tablet and doing your homework on it.
What's really interesting, though, is the technology behind the Net Texts offering—a proprietary content management system developed by software development company Icreon Tech akin to the kind you'd see at any big marketing organization. Teachers can tailor their course offerings by using one of a variety of Net Texts apps to upload their existing courses and/or mix what they have with content from an archive of open source educational material. The content is then delivered directly to a student's mobile device, be it Chromebook, iPad, Android, or Nexus.
If marketing is getting more engaging, why shouldn't school—and if a student is more likely to learn about the Gettysburg address if they can pop in their ear buds and listen to it instantly, why not? I love books (I love them), but thinking back to some of the moth-eaten dog-eared hand-me-down textbooks I used back in the day, I can't say they were all that enthralling.
The Net Texts platform is strictly for the classroom, but the concept behind it could be applicable to brand marketing.
“At the core of it is the content creator, a platform that can be used to distribute Web content to, say, different clients and their devices,” says Devanshi Garg, Icreon Tech's chief operating officer. “Imagine L'Oreal, for example, wants to distribute content from its latest project and have it update in real time—you can send that information out to people on the ground who are speaking directly the with the consumer or to salespeople who need access to information locally.”
More than 50 schools already use the platform, including several in districts throughout Massachusetts and Texas—but sometimes the adoption process can be a little rocky. Some teachers aren't ready to give up the course notes they've been using for years, and Net Texts has a bit of convincing to do. The company spends a lot of time targeting teachers who already have a fair share of digital content in their curriculums to help pump up saturation levels.
“With our marketing, we've focused on the problem of textbook cost and relevancy,” says Nick Wheatley, technology manager at Net Texts. “The books aren't updated as quickly as multimedia Web content, which is inherently more current, relevant, and engaging.”
And engagement's been good. According to independent research firm Metis Associates, more than half of teachers surveyed said their students showed an improvement in classroom attention levels and collaboration with Net Texts, and more than a third of parents surveyed said their child was more excited about school since the Net Texts system was brought in.
In a way, it's like educational content marketing; engaging lessons to reach your target market—students. It'll also make backpacks a lot lighter.
Direct mail and cereal? It's not always the most appetizing combination since the cost of sending out a coupon to entice a $3 or $4 cereal purchase doesn't always make sense. Yet consumer engagement company Linkwell Health has worked with the Kellogg Company on three major direct mail campaigns.
Linkwell is a little different than most direct mail companies because it partners closely with 14 health plans comprising 90 million members. “We provide, for our CPG partners like Kellogg's, a targeted and unique distribution network,” says Gregg Michaelson, Linkwell's CEO.
Specifically, Linkwell creates mail content that's health- and wellness-related, combines it with coupons (for certain Kellogg's cereal, in this most recent example), and markets it out through multiple media, of which direct mail is a major component.
Michaelson says this collaboration, which involves not only Kellogg's but a trusted insurance provider, generates higher redemption rates than most coupon campaigns, as well as long-term purchasing behavior. Distributing coupons to health plan members under the health plan's insignia, Michaelson says, is “a very nice thing, as opposed to newspapers or direct mail you might get at home through an un-targeted source.”
Moreover, Linkwell also targets by condition—such as diabetes or cardiovascular issues—and adds supplemental and relevant content. “By combining content with coupons, we see an engaged consumer,” Michaelson says. “By the time [the consumer] gets to a supermarket, they know what they want and why they want it because we've explained it to them.”
The Kellogg's campaign naturally focused on health brands, including Fiber Plus, All-Bran, Special K, Mueslix, and Smart Start.
“We look at more than just coupons redeemed and so does Kellogg's,” Michaelson says. “In addition to looking at redemption rates, we partner with a loyalty research company to conduct a study that analyzes shopper loyalty card data from a leading U.S. retailer.”
The partnership with the loyalty card provider with widespread influence is key: In doing so, Linkwell can cross-reference how its coupons did versus a control group to determine the success of a coupon campaign.
In this way Linkwell can understand redemption rate as well as household penetration—for instance how many purchase occasions each household had during the campaign's duration (for Kellogg's, this was 13 weeks), and how many units sold for a specific product in a specific category.
What's the one thing loyalty marketers want most? OK, sure, repeat purchases. But what drives those repeat purchases? Passion.
You may get repeat purchases from behaviorally loyal customers, but they'll switch at any better opportunity. It's the truly passionate customers who stick around despite price differential, level of convenience, etc. It's the person who drives a mile out of her way and past Dunkin' Donuts to go to Starbucks every morning.
I was reminded of the power and value of these customers yesterday as DMN Senior Editor Al Urbanski talked about “his” team—MLB's Boston Red Sox—winning the World Series. He talked about the plays “they” made. He wasn't alone; reading friends' comments on Facebook about the game revealed the same sentiment.
No, this is nothing new. But it amazes me every time I hear sports fans talk about their favorite team as if they're actually on the team, too. That's passion. That's the loyalty that keeps raving fans coming to games or buying team gear even when their team is in the basement.
That, my friends, is the passion that all loyalty marketers crave for their brands.
You may think that only sports teams, entertainers, and maybe cars and motorcycles, can achieve that deep level of passion and commitment. I'll have to disagree. You don't need to tattoo a logo on your arm (like Harley-Davidson fans do) to be passionate about a brand. Consider: There are customer who are enthusiasts of just about product type you can image. Tropicana orange juice has more than a million Facebook likes; Tide, more than 3 million.
I'm a crazy passionate fan of Shout laundry spray and Dawn dishwashing liquid. So much so that when I moved to London for a year I brought enough of each to last the whole time, in case it wasn't sold there. Actually, I brought so much that I had enough to bring back with me and last about three months. You may think I'm odd (you wouldn't be alone), but the marketers of those brands think I'm golden.
The other day I heard someone say that, in the case of retail, instead of trying to get an impassioned Coca-Cola drinker to switch to Pepsi (uh, not gonna happen), it's better to try to get them to buy more Coke, or other Coke products. CVS and Target could give me 70% off coupons for competitors of Shout and Dawn and I'd just toss them in the trash. Truly. However, if they gave me no coupon, just information about a new type of Dawn, say a different fragrance or strength, I'm likely to try it and purchase it there instead of at my local grocery store.
Building passion among customers starts with amazing products and compelling stories, delivering on the brand promise and creating what Seth Godin refers to as a tribe. That's the home run. Tapping into customers' passion is where marketers can step up to the plate and hit a grand slam.
“Don't do this to me.”
No, don't do this to us, Kathy. We want our Obamacare, and you won't give it to us! The above verbal aside from Kathleen Sibelius was caught by an open mike yesterday while the Health & Human Services Secretary was being grilled by members of congress about why she didn't sign up for an Obamacare plan. Her answer was that it would be illegal (wrong!), but the real answer is that she couldn't, just like millions of potential policy buyers couldn't when they visited Healtcare.gov or called its customer service numbers. The website proved unable to deal with the onslaught of health plan shoppers or even answer their simple questions without requiring them to fill out detailed personal histories. Most deferred and instead called toll-free numbers that put them on hold and played them a recording suggesting they visit the website.
For this digital marketing debacle, Sibelius invested $118 million. Members of Congress wanted to know why. A good question, considering she could have gotten better results for a much smaller investment with an existing e-commerce provider or even a cloud-based SMB service that provides a combined website, SEO, email, and customer engagement system for the remainder of the 21st Century on her budget.
Well, Kathy, being patriots, we're here to help you free of charge. We contacted several digital marketing experts and asked them what would be the first thing they'd do if they were tasked with fixing the marketing of Obamacare. Their prescriptions for the cure:
Marcus Fischer, president and chief strategy officer, Carmichael Lynch: If I were in charge of marketing Obamacare, the first thing I'd do would be to make live human beings available by phone or chat during the sign-up process. Sometimes new technology adoption requires a human touch. People need a life-line, especially for things they don't understand. Healthcare is one of the scariest topics there is. Add to that all the confidential personal information you're giving up, and it is intimidating. If people have a bad, scary, frustrating, or unsatisfactory experience, they may never come back. I would also market the experience of signing up. Prepare for the haters. No government process is a pleasant one. Who likes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles? Managing expectations is a huge part of successful marketing. So much attention has been placed on the end benefit of Obamacare, but very little was placed on marketing the experience of the sign up.
Bill Fleig, GM and VP of client services, JUXT: Digital marketers and online product providers learned a long time ago that requiring sign-up to browse products is an immediate turn-off to consumers. It's not rocket science. If I had to walk into a store and provide my personal information to the person at the counter before I could check out their wares I'd be out the door in a heartbeat.
Jason Marks, executive creative director, Partners + Napier New York: I would change my perspective on the registration process. You should not think like a government agency, but like a digital marketplace. You want to build the Amazon of health insurance, the eBay. You want the site to work like Uber or Seamless. What you don't want to build is the world's largest health insurance site.
Dave Martin, SVP media, Ignited: What they should be doing is optimizing the conversion path based on where consumers are dropping out. They should have had this flexibility built into the system before launch. It's almost as if they didn't do any user testing before they flooded the page with millions of consumers. They also probably should have moved the “learn more” section above the fold. The media is effectively split on the benefits of The Affordable Care Act and it would have made sense to give the consumers a quick overview, maybe in video form, before asking them to enroll. Ideally they're running retargeted ads to consumers who didn't convert on the site. Those ads could be more educational in nature, ideally bringing consumers with higher intent back to the site. Another element clearly missing from the website is social integration. They should have made it easier for consumers to share content and also to get answers to questions they might have during the process.
Shane Diver, executive creative director, JUXT: Obama wrote the book on using social for a political campaigning. Use lessons learned from that experience in marketing other aspects of the administration's policies, specifically Obamacare.
Feel better now, Kathy, with people hurling constructive criticism at you instead of knives? I'm sure our digital doctors would be happy to give you phone consultations. You could find their numbers on the Internet… On second thought, you'd better have an aide do it.
How often do you think about your underwear? If you're anything like me, it's not very often. But marketers may want to give their skivvies a little more thought because the undergarment industry is a blooming business. In fact the lingerie retail market, which includes bras, briefs, daywear, and shapewear, was estimated to be worth about $29.23 billion in 2012, according to just-style, a research house focusing on the apparel and textile industries.
Because Jockey competes against undergarment manufacturing behemoths like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, it has to do whatever it can to stand out. Traditionally, I've thought of Jockey as a brand that my father and brother would buy from. But the manufacturer is changing its brand perception and targeting a younger, more feminine demographic. In its new “Redefining Comfort” campaign, Jockey shows 25-to-40-year-old women that they don't have to sacrifice fashion for a comfy pair of panties.
After analyzing a slew of consumer insight—including CRM data, quantitative and qualitative research, and social data—Jockey heard consumers' cry for a granny panty upgrade. In mid-October Jockey activated an integrated marketing campaign—which will run through Spring 2014—designed to drive awareness around Jockey's “sexy and pretty products." The underwear giant hopes to attract younger, more fashion-conscious consumers and drive sales of its new feminine undergarments.
“As we look at the consumer data, it's very clear that consumers love Jockey for the fit, for the coverage, and the fabrics that we use,” says Dustin Cohn, CMO of Jockey. “But it didn't give us enough credit for having a taste level that incorporates great colors, prints, and details. We do have that product.”
Jockey aimed to reach female fashionistas in the channels in which they already seek style advice. These include print ads in Glamour, In Style, Elle, and Cosmopolitan, and digital ad buys on various Conde Nast properties. The brand also launched a mobile-optimized campaign microsite and a Pinterest campaign in which women pin images of fall outfits they could wear with Jockey's new Skimmies—a hybrid between a slip, shapewear, and shorts.
Jockey is also leveraging the power of brand influencers and partnering with fashion stylist Rachel Zoe. In addition to tapping into Zoe's social media following (she has more than 700,000 Facebook likes and nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers) the brand has also been featured in Zoe's daily newsletter “The Zoe Report” and on her Bravo TV series The Rachel Zoe Project. But Zoe isn't the brand's only influencer. Jockey has also partnered with Julia Engel, founder of fashion blog GalMeetsGlam.com. Engel brings the more “everyday” woman perspective while Zoe brings the celebrity influence, Cohn says.
To see if these efforts are paying off, Jockey will track how women's perceptions of the brand change over time. The brand uses a third-party screener who hosts an online survey and recruits women who have seen Jockey's advertisements or purchased a product. Those willing to participate in the quantitative study are given a list of brand descriptions—such as “Is the brand sexy?” or “Is the brand on trend?”—and then asked to rate Jockey on how well they fit these descriptions.
Cohn says it's too early in the campaign to reveal any solid results; however, he believes the brand is beginning to change perceptions already.
“By every measure that we track, the research suggests that this really will communicate to new consumers that Jockey has the perfect combination of comfort and fashion," he says.
The history of man started with cave drawings, strolled through some metal-centric ages—Bronze, Iron, et al.—and then made its way into the Industrial Age about 250 years ago. The personal computer hit in the late 70s, the Information Age revved up, we all got desktops and laptops and phones and tablets and mini tablets, and here we find ourselves today. Something like that, anyway.
According to IBM, we create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, which sounds like the made up number of dollars an evil villain asks for in a Saturday morning cartoon.
“As a consumer of data, I'm experiencing a bit of Big Data overload,” said Alton Adams, national lead of the customer strategy and growth group at KPMG, speaking at the Media Technology Summit last week in New York City.
For the typical consumer, the amount of content out there can feel a little overwhelming. All you hear marketers and agencies say, over and over again, is how the digital landscape has transformed them into publishers. There's the conception that all people want is content, content, and more content and it's up to the content producers to be in a continual state of red alert to fill the gaping maws of consumers with the content they crave.
There's no doubt consumers want content, but it's not just any content they're looking for. Consumers want relevant content, because otherwise there just isn't enough time in the day. And that makes the marketer's job a little tricky, because soon it's not just going to be about content; it's going to be about personalized content.
The word of the day is convergence, said Lisa Caputo, CMO at insurance company Travelers. The lines between paid, owned, and earned are blurring together like the semi-concentric circles in a tie-dyed t-shirt. But Caputo sees the new media landscape as an opportunity for smart marketers willing to take the plunge.
“What's pivotal for us and for any brand is to think of ourselves as storytellers, and we're finding creative ways to tell stories around our content through an omnichannel approach,” Caputo said. “In a world that's converging, it's important to put content out there in the right way and at a time when customers and prospective clients actually want it.”
For example, Travelers, in partnership with The Weather Company, uses Facebook's Open Graph to help insurance agents track people who might be in a storm's path, and to share tips with those affected by bad or dangerous weather.
In a sense, publishers, née marketers, need to create the content—but they also need to manage its flow.
As Sean Coar, group VP of strategy at Time Warner Cable, put it: “We can't forget that content needs to be curated.”
In other words, it's a matter of quantity and quality rather than quantity of quantity.
The summit's de facto MC Shelly Palmer, host of DigitalLiving, summed it up thusly: “Today we're heterogeneous in the most serious way.”
When Facebook went public last year analysts wondered if ads on the social network giant would actually generate revenue substantial enough for the company to stay in the black. Indeed, Facebook's potency as an advertising and marketing platform—in providing return on paid and owned media—is experiencing hockey stick growth, according to Adobe's first-ever 2013 Social Intelligence Report, released today. Facebook isn't the sole beneficiary of this trend either, says Joe Martin, analyst for Adobe Digital Index, as marketers on Twitter and Pinterest also are seeing substantial growth in key advertising metrics.
These predictions are supported by data from 130-plus billion Facebook ad impressions, one billion-plus Facebook posts, 2.3 billion-plus Facebook engagements (which includes comments, shares, and likes), and 400 million-plus unique visitors to social sites.
For Facebook, the social network seems to be vindicated in an area that had many analysts skeptical: its ads. (Of course, all questions will be answered on October 30, when Facebook releases its Q3 report.) Adobe's report notes that click-through rates (CTRs) have exploded by 275% year over year (YoY), whereas cost-per-clicks (CPCs) are down 40%—which Adobe claims makes this an optimal time to purchase Facebook ads.
Martin suggests that the CPC decrease is due to more brands buying on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis for Facebook advertising, which has a YoY increase of 120%.
“Marketers are better optimizing for social,” Martin says as the reason for the increase in CPM and the decrease in CPC. “If you're really good at [CPM], you can pay less than what you bid on.”
Facebook, of course, isn't just about paid ads—it also serves as a medium that refers potential customers to online retail outlets. Currently, 67% of all social media referrals come from Facebook—though it's notable that this is a decrease of 20% from this time last year as Pinterest (an increase of 84% YoY), YouTube (increase of 130% YoY), and especially Twitter (increase of 258% YoY) become increasingly influential as referrers.
And those referrals are significant because they tie directly into increasing revenue growth for all social media sites. For instance, retail revenue per visitor (RPV) from Facebook is now worth $.93, up 39% YoY. Pinterest RPV is $.55, up 150% YoY, and Twitter RPV is $.44, up 300% YoY.
But despite Twitter's significant growth in referrals and referral revenue, Martin is especially bullish about Pinterest's prospects. “Pinterest is referring more traffic to retail sites than Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter combined,” he says. “By next holiday season I think Pinterest could be equal to or even higher than Facebook in terms of [overall] referring revenue.”
The reason for Martin's enthusiasm over PInterest: images. According to Adobe's research, images produce the highest engagement (defined as a comment, like, or share) rates at 4.3%, compared to text links, which have a .7% engagement rate. That's a 600% difference.
Consumers today often only pay attention to the loudest and most visible campaigns, says LeAnna Carey, chief digital and healthcare officer at Innovation Excellence and a speaker at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Leadership Conference. This makes it essential for marketers to innovate, she notes.
Carey points out that the challenges marketers may face in terms of being innovative aren't due to a lack of ideas, but instead are often caused by an inability to put those ideas into action. She discusses what marketers can do to overcome obstacles and innovate their way to standing out from the competition.
What's a challenge marketers are facing, and what's something that can be done to overcome that challenge?
I think the biggest challenge is that we have an attention-deficit society. There's a lot of noise out there and there's a lot of broadcasting noise, so [your company needs] to have that strong, unique singularity. The second part of that is the engagement factor. It's about how you build a tribe, or a community. Normally, you'd look at metrics, but traditional marketing is different. People actually come to the website because they want to engage with you. The public is a participator in brand sustainability these days, and the engagement factor is the reason why.
What does it take for marketers to be innovative and different?
I'm a non-traditional type of thinker. And being in innovation you have to be able to really think. The first question you have to be able to answer is: What is the change that you can bring to the table? Not “I've done this or I've done that,” but rather, what you envision. What I'd want to hear is how you are going to drive change.
What's an example of a recent campaign that was innovative and successful as a result?
I think a good example is Apple. It just hired a woman that turned around Burberry, and I think that is a huge risk in one sense, because she comes from a whole different field—retail—than technology. But research would say that hiring a woman on a board is revenue producing. I applaud the move; I think its capstone to the idea of cross-pollenation.
What's the biggest possible setback to marketers right now who aim to be innovative?
There's so much emphasis on ideas and more ideas right now. When you're in marketing, you're responsible for ideas, but I think what happens is that you can get lost in ideas. It should really be about managing ideas and managing growth and opportunity—[and about] finding a platform that can bring [those ideas] along.
So, what's something that marketers can do that is actually different?
Social business is absolutely critical. I think the other thing is [recognizing that] all innovation does not have to be disruptive. For example, in bigger companies you cannot be disruptive. Incremental innovation is OK, and can work. The thing is, is that if you're not innovating in certain parts of your business model, you will fail in today's world.
You've heard it before: Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. This is the message Scott Stratten aims to deliver to marketers in QR Codes Kill Kittens. Stratten, who also authored UnMarketing, points out that marketing leaders and other senior executives need to be more customer centric, treat employees better, and think before acting—whether that action is something as small as using a QR code or as big as introducing a new corporate policy.
Part of the problem, Stratten suggests, is that executives are too easily distracted by shiny objects. “We ignore the things we should be doing in our business to create and place [QR codes instead],” he writes. “We ignore fixing problems. We put aside improving our products, listening to our customers, and cleaning up the tools we are already using…. We yell, ‘Squirrel!' and run after them.”
Here, a few tips from QR Codes Kill Kittens on putting the horse back in front of the cart:
Consider functionality: If customers take action on your promotion, they should be able to successfully complete it. For example, does your QR code take customers to a mobile-optimized website? Is it placed somewhere that people can actually scan it?
I often come across QR codes on ads in subway cars. I guess people could scan the code and go to the link when they're back above ground, but I'm not sure that's an ideal user experience. Depends on how compelled people are to complete the action.
Pursue the right customers: As much as we all love promotions and contests, all too often running them attracts people who want discounts or prizes and don't really care much about engaging with or purchasing from the brands offering them in the future. Is your Facebook contest, for instance, getting your page likes from people who will never return or view your posts or who will unlike you as soon as the contest ends?
Devise your strategy first: Rushing in to keep up with or stay ahead of competitors has its merits—if thought through enough. Sure, it's fine to experiment, fail fast, learn, and improve. But does that test make sense in the first place? Consider the mobile app that has no unique functionality and is basically a fancy link to a brand's website. But, hey, at least you have an app… Sure, but customers may only open it once.
Be social: OK, we all know the whole point of building customer relationship is to sell more stuff. Most customers want to be wooed first, and feel that you're as interested in their needs and preferences as you are their wallet. So it's important to be social on social networks and to create a connection before pitching. Offer advice and content, for instance. Like dating, building relationships over time will help marketers gather more data and make more sales. Unless you're drunk in Vegas, rarely do marriage proposals fly on the first date.
Think before you post: Whether it's a video or photo, a tweet or pin, a blog or comment, or some other form of online interaction, think twice before you post it. Does it reflect well on you personally and professionally? Does it represent your brand? Putting “my comments are my own” doesn't really fly. And automating responses is rarely a good idea.
Have the courage to say good-bye: Not all customer relationships are good ones, and not all customers are right for a business. Embrace opt-outs.
The government had barely reopened its doors last week before an FTC commissioner returned to the issue of privacy. This time it was Maureen Ohlhausen addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about privacy and the “Internet of Things.” She mentioned a case the FTC prosecuted against a social networking company called Path that collected information from consumers' mobile device address books without consent.
“This has obvious implications for other Internet-connected devices that collect personal information about users, and prudence suggests that such technologies should include some way to notify users and obtain their permission,” Ohlhausen noted.
Web-linked sensors are being applied to everything from refrigerators to cars to medical devices to security cameras. Internet connection will be ubiquitous, and so will intensified concerns about privacy.
This week Gartner analyst Carsten Casper released a report on “Privacy by Design.” It's a concept that has had more relevance among IT executives and security professionals to date, but it's one that marketers ought to get familiar with. With privacy regulation a moving target, and donning different camouflage in different parts of the world, the only way to deal with the issue logically is to design products, services, and processes to anticipate it. Soon it may legally be the only way to deal with it. Casper notes that it is an emerging principle behind privacy legislation in many countries.
“Put privacy in from the very beginning. Companies bring products or services to market and then address privacy when they must. An outrage occurs and then they start tweaking. But it's cheaper to build it in from the beginning,” Casper says. “They've used this process in security for many years, but I haven't seen it yet in consumer privacy.”
The first thing companies unfamiliar with the concept should do, according to Casper, is designate a champion. Some companies have chief privacy officers, but all that's needed at the outset, he says, is someone with a strong privacy interest and knowledge base—preferably in legal issues—who's willing to work with disparate functions to weave privacy into a company's fabric. Aside from business units, departments that must be involved include HR, procurement, legal, and IT.
Casper counsels marketers to pay special attention to one of Privacy by Design's best practices: Sensitive data is never held in a cache. “First and foremost, step away from collecting everything and turn to a more purpose-driven collection of personal data,” he says. “Don't collect data and say, ‘We'll figure out what we'll do with it later.'"
Casper warns global marketers that there is more interest in this topic abroad, especially in Europe. On the home front, marketers have some time to take stock before imbuing their cultures with privacy.
“The success of the Internet has in large part been driven by the freedom to experiment with different business models, the best of which have survived and thrived, even in the face of initial unfamiliarity and unease about the impact on consumers,” Ohlhausen told the Chamber of Commerce. “It is thus vital that government officials, like myself, approach new technologies with a dose of regulatory humility and… if harms do arise, consider whether existing laws and regulations are sufficient to address them, before assuming that new rules are required.”
As cofounder and chief technology officer of mobile development agency VOKAL Interactive, Brandon Passley constantly struggled with one key issue: Finding knowledgeable app developers. He would talk with recent computer science graduates who expressed interest in the mobile industry; however, many lacked the skills needed to actually build an app. To solve this dilemma, he launched an apprenticeship program in which he would hire “wannabe developers,” train them for six months, and then bring them on. Similarly, Don Bora, cofounder of Eight Bit Studios, was also running his own digital and mobile agency and doing a lot of community outreach and mobile mentoring. The two decided to join forces and launch Mobile Makers Academy—an eight week full-time program that trains people with little to no development knowledge on how to create iPhone and iPad apps.
When the two cofounders launched Mobile Makers Academy last October, their classes consisted of five people. Now, Mobile Makers Academy hosts 20-person classes four times a year. And the curriculum is vigorous--with a $7,000 price tag, it better be. Students build more than 30 iOS apps by the end of the program and also gain experience in working on a mobile developer team.
“They know 95% of what they're going to need to know to develop apps that come across them from a team perspective and from a content perspective,” Bora says. “That means that they've been exposed to almost every layer of iOS development and many layers of [a] computer science curriculum and background, [such as] algorithm work, infrastructure, methodology, [and] team work.”
And because the mobile landscape is a constantly evolving, there's always room for a little extra schooling. Here are three lessons from Mobile Makers Academy's top profs.
What is the biggest misconception marketers have about mobile today?
Passley: When mobile first came out, a lot of the people directing it were from the marketing side: CMOs or the marketing side of the company. A lot of times people wanted to check it off the box of ‘yes, we have a mobile app.' [It was the idea that] not only was it easy but it was something that you could put on a shelf and leave there because it's in the app store. Now [we're] helping businesses understand that it's just like any other software. It's a living breathing organism that they have to continually change and continually work on, especially in the mobile field where there's a new device or a new operating system pretty much every year.
What are three things every marketer should keep in mind when including mobile in their overall mix?
Passley: Because it's always in [users'] pockets, definitely understanding the context over content. What is the user is doing at that time? Is the user in line at a Starbucks, or in a cab? It's lean forward and lean back. Is the user needing to make quick decisions, or sitting on the couch with his iPad? It all goes back to context versus content.
Bora: When you're making applications for these devices, as they get more powerful and more capable, what you really want to do is make sure that you're coming up with a product that takes advantage of the capabilities of that device. In some instances, a marketing push might be missing the mark on that [device's] capability. If you just come up with something that shows a picture and animates it around, that may get the goal of eyeballs on a page from a marketing perspective; but from a strategy perspective, there might be more opportunities. Focus on the capabilities of the devices...so that you take your marketing experience, which is a usually a tactical viewpoint, and turn it into something more strategic by leveraging more of the device.
Passley: It's how to build a team, as well as understanding who a good partner is. Good developers are essential.
Where do you see mobile going over the next year?
Bora: I think the mid-range devices are going to take off. For better or for worse, the gamification of experiences—so taking a natural experience and turning it into something that's fun and engaging or interesting and engaging, but not necessarily gaming—I see that taking off. As we look at things between tablet size and phone size that's where I think we're getting a magic mixture of hardware meets processing meets enough screen size for content.
Passley: You look at what Google's doing with Google Now. It's starting to understand where you are at that moment. [If I'm] in the city, it may know that I'm leaving, that I always leave at 6 p.m., [and that] I always take the same the bus. So, it actually pops up while I'm walking out. I can set my reminders to know when I get home—not just at a specific time but a specific location.... Where is the person, at what time, and what do they need?
Bora: There is a big surge in Big Data, home automation, and healthcare, and the nexus of those three is going to be a huge industry.
Let's say you're a marketer on a Lost-inspired desert island (minus the polar bears). Which marketing tool would you wish you'd brought with you? Assuming there's Internet...and electricity...and The Swiss Family Robinson happens to be there with credit cards…
I posed that question to Michael Litt, CEO and cofounder of video marketing company Vidyard, and asked him to make the case for video to be that tool.
“Well, you could probably create some really awesome content about what life was like on that island,” Litt jokes. “But seriously, tweets, written content, and photos can only go so far; video is the most engaging medium on the Web—it's the next best thing to being there in person.”
Consumers clearly agree, as is evidenced by their actions. According to Cisco, by 2017 online video will be responsible for nearly 70% of all consumer Internet traffic. Within three years, nearly one million minutes of video content will cross content delivery networks every second. By then Cisco estimates it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video content generated each month. To put that into perspective, the genus of great ape from which modern humans derive still hadn't evolved five million years ago.
Video is a handy marketing tool at any stage of the funnel, Litt says. A brief consumer-facing introductory video on your homepage to entice a visitor at the beginning of the process; a testimonial from a satisfied customer after some initial interest has been shown; and perhaps a training video towards the end of the process when your prospect has already bought your product or signed up for your service.
In a weird way (bear with me) video is a bit like a gun...or at least the use of video, or any marketing tool really, is a bit like that old, dog-eared expression: Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Well, videos don't convert prospects; marketers with a smart video strategy convert prospects.
For example, take that consumer-facing introductory video for your homepage. You may have a great product to sell with 74 amazing features, but no one at the top of the funnel is going to watch an in-depth documentary about them.
“Some brands make the assumption that people have massive attention spans for content and they'll make a 15-minute video for their homepage and then not even track who's watching it,” Litt says. “A video like that should be one minute or a minute and a half at the most and brands should be tracking everything their audience is doing.”
Another misconception about video content: That one big budget video will change your world and go so viral the CDC will have to get involved. Litt warns against unrealistic expectations. Effective video is part of an overarching strategy rather than a magical lightning strike.
“You don't just create one tweet or one blog and walk away, and the same is true for video,” he says. “You have to consistently improve and reiterate your message in different ways.”
In the same vein, there's little point in looking at the number of views as any real indication of a video's overall success. Know who you are. It makes sense for Nike or Dove to get millions of hits on their videos, but there's no need to be Nike or Dove to have a business impact.
“Marketers often expect thousands of views on YouTube,” Litt says. “But if a brand gets 100 views and they're all targeted at the right viewers through Google search—then that's actually a huge win.”
Product sampling: Everyone loves it (Hey, free swag)—but it's grossly inefficient.
“It's the most effective means of promoting a consumer product [in the CPG space],” says Jeremy Reid, founder and executive chairman of PINCHme, an Australian Web service, set to launch in the United States November 12, that allows its users to select and sample products for free.
Research supports Reid's claim—the trade organization Promotional Products Association International has stated that American consumers tend to better remember advertisers, messaging, and products after sampling.
Of course, that was in 2009. Since then, digital channels have proliferated and CPGs, Reid says, are behind the curve. Essentially, they're blind to what happens after consumers sample a product. Did they like it? Did they become a loyal customer? Brands can, of course, extrapolate that a sales boost following a product sampling campaign is correlative. But in today's era of consumer-centric marketing, that all seems a bit imprecise.
It's a pain point that drove Reid to launch the PINCHme service last February, working with 50 major CPG brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and Johnson & Johnson. Consumers that sign up are incented to fill out a more in-depth profile through which brands can target segments (health products for workout warriors, for instance), and consumers can select two from a list of available products to sample for free (capping the number of samples keeps consumers interested and engaged, Reid says).
The theory behind PINCHme is that its platform provides a more efficient way for brands to sample and gain consumer insight around that sampling.
“Right now every major CPG company is focused on targeting the right consumers, ensuring they have the right engagement, and digital,” Reid says, pointing out that PINCHme touches all three of those areas.
PINCHme requires returning customers to fill out a six-question mini-survey about the product they sampled previously, then drives those insights back to the brand. Additionally, the service provides a gateway for users to purchase the product they sample—which shows whether sampling led to revenue on the PINCHme platform. In the U.S., Reid has struck up partnerships with retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens. (Currently the platform doesn't have a price comparison feature, but Reid has been considering it).
Brands in Australia have used the platform for product launches—PINCHme helped launch a new candy product for Kraft—as well as to expand the reach of established household products. In Australia, PINCHme has done well—Reid says 2% of the Australian population were on PINCHme within four to five weeks of its launch. To date it has around a half million Australian users.
But the bigger fish—and the bigger test—is in the U.S., where PINCHme currently has 100,000 sign-ups—with the goal of reaching one million by the year's end. Australia has a population of 25 million, compared to the U.S.'s 314 million. And more potential users means a greater need to scale and to ensure PINCHme and its brand partners retain the sample inventory to reliably meet consumer demand.
Innovation can be a marketer's most strategic asset, says Shideh Sedgh Bina, founding partner of Insigniam, and a speaker at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Leadership Conference. Here, Bina shares her insight on how marketers can overcome obstacles and improve results through innovation.
What are some challenges marketers are facing these days, and can they be resolved through innovation?
“Everyone's trying to come to terms with the digital channel. It's not so much about innovation. It's about dealing with the innovation that the digital space has provided. The digital space is innovation in and of itself, and it's about creating value in that space.”
“[At Insigniam,] we define innovation as anything that creates more value. You want to constantly be creating more value as your customers need it. Internal innovation is also about adding value. And I don't think innovation has to be housed in marketing functions; I think that innovation is a key enabler of marketing functions.”
What are some specific ways that marketers can innovate and create value?
“For Insigniam, at least, it's about creating platforms that are interesting and conversations that are worth engaging in. I see CMOs dealing with that a lot. How to add value to the conversations they are having in their various channels.”
What's an example of something Insigniam has done or is doing to support innovation?
One of the things we've done is Insigniam Quarterly. This is a print magazine that allows executives to share their story. It's also digital. Our biggest challenge right now is to create something that's compelling, and this helps.
How do you envision the next era of marketing, in terms of where we are now with mobile marketing? How might the landscape change over the next few years?
“I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg about moving into a more mobile [marketing] environment. I think that what we are doing in the mobile marketing environment is going to be obsolete in the next 10 years. At the beginning…the app was like a portal to a [company's] website. But I think it's going to expand; we're going to get more sophisticated mobile apps.
October 18, 2013, 10:16 a.m.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “join the conversation” in the context of social media and marketing? It's a cliché by this point, but it's also the expected thing. Social is meant to be social.
Imagine this scenario. You've just broken up with your significant other and you're a mess. You've gone to your best friend for moral support. But the “conversation” goes something like this:
@brokenheart: “I'll love him forever. My soul is leaking through a hole in my <3. I need 1M @Kleenex to mop up my river of tears. #misery”
@robotfriend: @Kleenex is the #1 provider of facial tissue and hand towels. Got a leak? Call a plumber, @brokenheart! :)”
@brokenheart: “Are you even listening to a word I'm saying? I'm in #pain.”
@robotfriend: “Sure! But you don't have to worry about back pain anymore. #Aleve is here for you.”
Would you stay friends with this person?
Normally, I'm not the kind of person that takes pictures of silly things and tweets them with derisive captions—I might tell my friends about it later and that would be that—but I just got my first smartphone a few weeks ago and I've been having fun with it. So, when I recently flew from Chicago to New York on American Airlines and was served a cup of coffee in a Styrofoam cup illogically stamped with the Rainforest Alliance logo, I couldn't resist snapping a shot and getting a little snarky:
@oschiffey Enjoy your coffee and your flight, Allison!— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 18, 2013
@AmericanAir Kind of feels like an automated Twitter tool sent that response.— Allison Schiff (@OSchiffey) October 18, 2013
And here's where it gets kind of interesting. Because, before sending the tweet from @OSchiffey, my personal Twitter handle, as I meant to do, I first sent it from @dmnews, the official Direct Marketing News handle by mistake. I have both accounts saved in the Hootsuite app on my phone. And here are the two responses that immediately came in from @AmericanAir:
@oschiffey We assure there are no automated Tweets here, Allison. We love what we do here via Social Media.— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 18, 2013
@dmnews There are no automated responses here, Allison. We love what we do here via Twitter!— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 18, 2013
Perhaps I'm wrong, but this seems like fairly good evidence that all three response tweets from @AmericanAir were automated. And I'm not the only one to have experienced something similar. The airline got a minor bit of flak back in February for auto-tweeting sunny responses in answer to ornery complaints.
Either these tweets were automated or the voice behind @AmericanAir has been lobotomized. I know American Airlines has more than 645,000 followers, so responding to everyone personally isn't an option. But sometimes I think it's better to stay mum rather than robotically tweeting a response to anyone who mentions your brand.
Because automated tweeting in the age of conversation isn't really going to fly.
UPDATED October 18, 2013, 3:18 p.m.
It lives! A two-tiered response tweet from @AmericanAir. In all seriousness, I do appreciate the human response.
@OSchiffey Hi Allison, we read your blog & wanted to say hi. We're here 24/7, read every tweet & respond personally. We're not (1/2)— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 18, 2013
@OSchiffey perfect & simply missed the mark when you tweeted us. We're very sorry & thank you for giving us the chance to explain. (2/2)— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 18, 2013
When asked what's the biggest change in Facebook advertising from when he first started to today at DMA 2013, Brian Boland, Facebook's VP of product marketing for ads, doesn't hesitate. “Everything,” he said.
Boland has been the guiding light behind Facebook advertising for the past four years. During this time, he has seen the social network's population explode from 230 million to more than 1.15 billion. And while this number of social inhabitants may make Facebook seem like the land of opportunity for advertisers, it also challenges Facebook to balance the user experience with the business experience.
Highs and lows
Having the press doubt Facebook's advertising effectiveness around the time the company was heading into its IPO, Boland said, was a low point for the social network.
If anything, Facebook might be vindicated by a study released today from performance marketing firm Nanigans, which shows click-through rates of Facebook ads increasing 375% from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013. In addition, Boland said Facebook's partnership with Datalogix, a data brokerage that tracked how Facebook ads helped drive in-store sales, helped overcome any skepticism.
The media also had the perception, according to Boland, that “we were idiots on mobile [and that] we had no mobile strategy.”
“We did,” Boland said, “We just couldn't talk about it.”
Still, mobile users continue to roll in. In a recent IDC study sponsored by Facebook, 70% of respondents—18 to 44 year old smartphone owners—use Facebook on their phone, and 61% use Facebook's mobile interface every day.
And certainly Facebook has been investing in mobile: earlier this year, it announced its mobile interface Home.
Even beyond mobile, Facebook continues to extend its capabilities for marketers. 2013 has so far been a particularly active year, from streamlining ad units, hiring its first CMO, rolling out Graph Search, expanding targeting tools like Custom Audiences, and partnering with data companies like Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai.
The social network has also been on an acquisition spree, with the purchase of Microsoft's campaign management and measurement tool Atlas Advertiser Suite. Boldan said Facebook continues to build out its own measurement capabilities to create a fairer attribution model that adds up all of the touchpoints a customer had that lead to a sale.
Looking towards the future
Facebook is working on even more tool designed to assist marketing—including a simplification of the ad set-up process.
And like Twitter, Facebook is experimenting with ways to help advertisers extend their television campaigns onto its social network. Mobile, Boland said, could be the key to extending that experience.
“We know that people check their mobile phones 100 times a day. That's a lot of opportunities to get in front of people,” Boland said. “If people are spending 30 minutes per [day] on Facebook on mobile, that's like a full TV show's length of content on Facebook. There are great opportunities for markers to be there and engage with them.”
Boland also envisioned a tool that incorporates product recommendations.
“I would love this holiday season to see a bunch of products that I'd probably want to buy,” he said.
Does innovation come at a price?
One year later Facebook's proposed updates to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities teed off six consumer privacy groups, which sent a letter to the FTC stating that these changes violated the social network's settlement.
Facebook's recent announcement that teens can opt to have their posts be viewed publicly and in people's News Feeds, instead of just by their friends, has also caused a bit of a privacy stir. However, according to Facebook, anytime a teen opts to make a post public, Facebook will send the teen two reminders stating that these posts can bee seen by anyone.
Boland insisted privacy is a top priority for Facebook. He said the social network focuses on three key principals when building its ad products: transparency, accountability, and control. Facebook delivers on these principals, he said, by allowing users to view their activity log, a summary of all of the information they've shared on Facebook, and remove activities or tailor them. In addition, he said users can click on a drop-down tab next to a brand's ad to hide it, say they don't want to see it anymore, or visit a link that will help explain that advertiser's privacy policies and opt out methods.
Yvette Lui, director of global data and audience partnerships, also explained to Direct Marketing News what exactly Facebook collects.
“When you sign up, you share information about yourself. When you're using Facebook, we learn a lot [about] what you express, what you post, do, [and] what you like, comment, and share all the way to the pages that you like [and] that's a sense of your interests,” Lui said. “It's all you inputting and sharing this information. All of that goes into our targeting systems to help marketers be able to deliver more relevant and useful marketing to people who are interacting with our site every day.”
Contrary to some consumers' line of thought, Facebook does not sell user data.
“We hold it with the utmost privacy, confidentiality, and trust,” Lui said. “People, to us, are the core of our business. That's what drives all of our product decisions. If anything might jeopardize the user experience, it never passes the test.”
In the nineties, when my kids were young, I moved the family to an old farm town in New Jersey called Hopewell. It was safe, the schools were great, and housing was fairly cheap. It was perfect, except for one thing: The high school had no football team--hadn't had one, for mysterious reasons, for some 60 years. A lot of my fellow immigrants to Hopewell had the same aching sense of loss when, as the fall foliage overtook this bucolic setting, the sound emanating from athletic fields was that of soccer balls being booted, not pads and helmets crashing. A group of parents, led by a neighbor of mine, a Newark police detective named Mark Clemens, formed a gridiron organization and vowed to build a program. Did they ever. They established a Pop Warner program as a feeder organization, hired a stud coach, and started a summer football camp for kids. Twelve years later the Hopewell Valley Bulldogs are 4-0, ranked 8th in the state, and have bested their opponents by a combined score of 139-20.
I had long since moved back to New York when I learned of this astounding result last week. It reminded me of something an agency head told me recently while interviewing him for a story on segmention: Start-ups can have an advantage over large entrenched brands because the latter have a hard time letting go of legacy customer profiles and old methods used to reach them.
Such a company is Abe's Market, which got rolling in 2009 when natural product entrepreneur Richard Demb and brand marketer Jon Polin decided to get into the online grocery business. That's not an idea with a lot of upside for even seasoned supermarket veterans, but Richard and John had an edge: They didn't know any better.
“It was a new concept, the marketplace concept,” says former Gap CMO Kimberly Grayson, who joined Abe's last January as chief revenue officer. “It's not just an aggregation of products, it's a melding of the voices of the supplier companies and the customers. We see ourselves as a deeper connection into the natural living space.”
In brief, Abe's didn't have to find ways to metamorphose its marketing into content that would nurture its specialized customer base. Demb and Polin's original business plan was to use content to draw in customers.
Log on to the Abe's Market site and it's clear that commerce is its primary driver. But the company bolsters its menu with quality content. Abe's hired Ari Bendersky, a veteran food and lifestyle writer for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Eater as its site's editor-in-chief. On a editorially driven lead page called “Scoop,” Bendersky writes articles and shares recipes, but so do knowledgeable suppliers and customers. Alongside a story about autumn cocktails written by Bendersky is an article titled “8 Great Free or Cheap Ways to Stay Fit This Fall” by “Abe's Enthusiast” Erica Agran.
On the commerce side, visitors will find a mix of short-term promotions and longer-term incentives to remain an Abe's customer. This week visitors are met by a pop-up that says “Save 15% Right Now. Come see what some people call ‘God's Gift to Nature.'” Clicking on it leads them to a landing page to deposit their personal data and join the Abe's Rewards program. But a look at the club's “Earn Points” program reveals an agenda different from some other grocery loyalty program. The first line says “Make a purchase” and informs members they'll receive one point for every dollar spent. Then comes “Review a product” (10 points), “Refer friends to purchase” (200), and “When friends visit from tweet” (5).
In this melding of commerce and content, Abe's may have stumbled upon a format that may be more customizable, and therefore more satisfying, to its customers than even magazines like Food & Wine. “When you come to Abe's, there's always something new to find and ways to filter and find your own path,” Grayson says. “If you lead a certain dietary lifestyle or if you have allergy needs, you can create custom content from our drop-downs. As customers get deeper into it, they go deeper into the stories behind the sellers.”
A private company, Abe's does not share sales figures. Grayson reports, however, that the company's Net Promoter Score is currently 78%, which puts it within Amazon range. She also says that revenues are rising fast and that the company expects the velocity to continue since only 35% of the business is coming from repeat customers.
The company works off a Magento e-commerce platform and uses Bronto to manage its email program, but Grayson insists the business gets its juice from an employee base that is committed to the natural lifestyle and a supplier base that is equally devoted.
“Being a trusted source of information permeates Abe's through and through,” Grayson says. “Customers visit with greater frequency when there's more to engage with than just product.”
It's the portmanteau to end all portmanteaus: SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) now has a “Co” tacked onto the end. But it's that little “Co” that gives the “So,” the “Lo,” and the “Mo” their reason to be.
What's interesting is that while everyone agrees on what SoLoMo stands for, the “Co” is up for interpretation.
“Co” doesn't necessarily mean “commerce,” DigitasLBi SVP/Brand Strategy Lead Brooke Skinner told Direct Marketing News in advance of her presentation on SoLoMo at the 2013 Direct Marketing Association show in Chicago.
“The natural tendency for marketers is to go straight to the stuff that proves sales: Show me the one-to-one relationship,” Skinner says. “But what's really interesting to me is how SoLoMo acts as a runway towards commerce rather than a direct one-to-one interaction where I drop you an email and you redeem a coupon.”
“Co” can also mean “community” or “communication.” In essence, one could argue that “SoLoMo” + “Co” + “Co” = “Co.” (High school algebra flashback; shudder.) Social engagement mixed with local activation and a dash of mobile, community, and conversation equals sales.
“SoLoMo gives us the ability to have a deeper relationship and a dialogue with consumers, a constant feedback,” Skinner says.
Assuming the consumer wants that. Because when I think of engaging in some kind of continual ever-ongoing conversation with a brand...well, I'm just not into that. I'm exhausted at the thought. I don't even want to see my friends that often.
But the watchword, as always, is value.
“No, I don't care if, say, Pepsi wants to talk to me about buying Pepsi, but I do want to know about people who like the same music I do who might be going to an event Pepsi's sponsoring,” Skinner says. “A lot of SoLoMo is about identifying the conversations that matter to the people you're trying to reach.”
Skinner says the “burden of proof is on us as marketers to know our people.” In other words, the days of strictly transactional marketing are over. Many consumers are looking for a two-way conversation with a brand they like, but the interaction has to be meaningful and personally relevant to make its mark. SoLoMo helps foster that connection; and once the connection is fostered, the next likely step in dollar signs.
Easier said than done, of course. Not sure how to approach an ongoing two-way conversation with your customers? Skinner likens it to hitting on someone in a bar.
“You wouldn't go straight up to someone and say, ‘My name's Brooke, I'm this old, I make this much money—want to get married?' But you would go up to someone and say, ‘How are you? Let's get to know each other,” Skinner says.
Today, the road to commerce is paved with SoLoMo-powered conversations.
“The way we engage with consumers today is more intimate than it was in the past and the way you reach out to people does matter,” she says. “That's why we have to approach consumers openly and in a way that doesn't just feel like a simple transaction.”
There's no denying that today's marketers are obsessed with data. But can too much of a good thing be detrimental? Some marketers fear that intensified data usage will cause creativity to suffer. Direct Marketing News Senior Digital Strategist Allison Schiff asked a panel of creative experts whether and under what circumstances data helps or hinders creativity at today's DMA 2013 Town Square session in Chicago.
What is creativity?
But before addressing whether data helps or hurts creativity, the panel established what exactly creativity means. And just as how there's more than one way to be creative, marketers seem to have more than one definition of creativity means. Alfonso Marian, chief creative officer for OgilvyOne, defined creativity as “what really changes behavior in people” and Jeff Allen, Adobe's director of product marketing for Digital Analytics, added that creativity means taking an unexpected approach to telling or addressing a story. But Zain Raj, CEO of Epsilon Agency Services, said creativity is more than that.
“Creativity is something that surprises, something that delights, something that inspires, and something that's a little off so that you spend a little bit more time on it,” he said.
How data helps creativity
When it comes to injecting data into the creative process, Nancy Harhut, CCO of Wilde Agency, argued that data improves relevancy and response by sending the right creative message at the right time to the right audience. But having unclean or inaccessible data can completely dash these opportunities and leave marketers feeling doubtful of their ability to personalize messaging, she said.
In addition to having clean data, Marian said it's important for companies to hire people who know how to listen to and understand the collected insight.
“Data for the sake of data doesn't help creativity,” he said. “If you don't know how to read it, it will not help you.”
How data hinders creativity
But sometimes data can complicate the creative process rather than complement it. Today's digital environment demands immediate, measurable results, Allen argued. However, not all creatives know how to measure the performance of their work aside from whether a company likes it.
“It's saying your work isn't good if it's not working,” Allen said.
Raj also argued that businesses will sometimes view a transaction as the only metric of success. And while a customer might not buy a product immediately after seeing a piece of creative, that creative could resonate with a customers' attitudes or beliefs and lead to a purchase later down the line. Hence, it's also important to measure success in terms of building brand value, he said.
But instead of analyzing the data at the end of the creative process, marketers should analyze the data at the beginning, Marian said. Hence, data should help guide the creative process, not just be a reaction to the final product.
Whether marketers view the fusion of data and creativity as a help or a hindrance, challenges are going to arise. For example, Allen argued that in most organizations data is not well democratized or accessible to everyone who needs it, including creatives. In addition, Raj said that data can often live in silos, which makes it difficult for brands to fully understand the customer they're trying to win over.
“At the end of the day, we're dealing with people, [and] what we have to do as marketers is understand those people, empathize with them, and then find a way to make them believe what we believe is true,” he said. “Data gets a bad name because we don't know how to put all of this data together that [form] the understanding of the person we're trying to influence.”
Integrated online marketing firm The Search Agency announced the winners of its 2013 Stars of Search award at the DMA2013 conference in Chicago. The Stars of Search award recognizes search marketing professionals who push the boundaries of paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, mobile marketing, comparison shopping, and search retargeting.
The Search Agency selected David Pedersen, PPC analyst for WhitePages, Elaine Lawson, VP of U.S. digital marketing for MasterCard, and Jeb Griffin, director of product strategy and development for RE/MAX the winners of the awards. Here's a bit more about the winners.
David Pedersen, PPC analyst, WhitePages
Star qualities: Pedersen has worked at WhitePages for more than four years and has helped the company cut its search-marketing spend by 30%. He also designed an animated mobile ad for WhitePages' Caller ID application, which led to a 47% increase in click-through rates and a 10% increase in conversion rate.
Winning words of wisdom: “Learn to do more things yourself—[by] becoming more skilled and wearing many hats. Had I not had previous experience doing animated graphics, I don't know if I could have translated this into what ultimately worked…. As time goes on, it just seems like you need more skills to be the best marketer you can be.”
Elaine Lawson, VP of U.S. digital marketing, MasterCard
Star qualities: After MasterCard changed its domain name from “.com” to “.us” in 2011, the brand completely dropped off the first page of natural search results for specific branded and non-branded keywords. Lawson sought to restore MasterCard's first-page search engine rankings. She teamed up with digital marketing agency iCrossing and the brand's technology division, MasterCard Technology, to optimize the new site by adding content to consumer-facing web pages and by adding meta data—a tedious six-month endeavor. By the first half of 2013 MasterCard had increased overall traffic to MasterCard.us by 112%.
Winning words of wisdom: “You need to keep your finger on the pulse of search. As digital marketers, there are certain things that you have in your tool kit—search should be one of them.... Social is important, but it's the shiny object right now.”
Jeb Griffin, director of product strategy and development, RE/MAX
Star qualities: When RE/MAX decided to redesign its site, it adopted a new approach: focus on SEO first and design second. To establish a larger SEO footprint and drive organic traffic, RE/MAX generated more content. The brand built pages for specific properties, both for-sale and not-for-sale, and provided detailed information about each property, including its worth, selling price, and time of sale. Not only did this content make the site more visible from an SEO perspective, but it also provided consumers with a new research tool. In addition, RE/MAX created crawl paths based on user intent and past data to better understand how consumers navigate the site. The paths started with broad search results and narrowed down to specific ZIP Codes, cities, and addresses. RE/MAX only saw a slight decline in organic traffic, and its traffic had increased by the start of the peak real estate season.
Winning words of wisdom: “We learned from our mistakes in the past where design and architecture of the site came first and SEO came second. You're often putting a Band-Aid on your SEO component, and you're not doing it correctly.”
All candidates were judged on the following criteria: proof of leading a strong campaign, tangible results of successes through work, unique approaches to the search marketing industry, strong traits in overall digital marketing, examples of pushing beyond industry standards.
Relevancy is the Holy Grail of marketing. But delivering relevant experiences in an omnichannel world is no easy feat. Representatives from Macy's, Twitter, and U.S. Bank revealed how they provide relevant experiences for their multichannel customers today at the DMA2013 Strategic Summit in Chicago. Here are four of their tips.
Social media: New platforms don't mean new objectives
Social media has completely shaken up the marketing landscape. It has changed the way marketers measure engagement, conduct conversations, and drive brand awareness. However, it didn't change marketers' overall objectives, Brian Hagen, sales manager for Twitter, argued.
“The advent of Twitter has not changed the objectives of marketers,” he said. “Marketing is still all about the message—getting the right message to the right user at the right moment.”
Hagen encouraged attendees to think of Twitter as a bridge that connects real-time moments between different channels. For example, 95% of online public conversations about TV happen on Twitter, Hagen said. So, marketers can extend the life of a 30-second TV message by putting that message in front of Twitter users who have already been exposed to it. This not only creates a richer viewer experience for the consumers, Hagen said, but it also allows advertisers to get their message in front of the right people at the right time.
And while Darren Stoll, group VP of interactive marketing and analytics for Macy's.com, agreed that social signals help determine what customers are thinking and where they are in the buying cycle, he noted that this data has a short lifespan.
“Having the approach to respond to that signal in a short time period is critical,” he said.
Content: The key to resonating with customers
Using social signals to put the right message in front of the right customer at the right time is one thing; but if marketers fail to do so, their targeting efforts will be lost.
“They don't put enough thought into, 'What am I going to say to these people?'” Hagen said.
The message: Marketers need to deliver valuable content with a consistent voice if they hope to resonate with consumers.
Brand magic: Make it tangible
Many consumers have heard of “The Magic of Macy's,” and iconic moments like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Miracle on 34th Street make this magic seem real, Stoll said. But today's consumers don't want to just believe in the magic, they want to experience it. To make that brand magic feel tangible, Macy's relies on three key elements:
Utility: Ensuring that customers can accomplish what they set out to do
Value: Providing quality products and promotions
Emotion: Being a source of inspiration for customers (such as for home décor)
“I think that where the magic comes in is when you can seamlessly blend the three,” Stoll said.
Experimentation: A marketing necessity
Marketers tend to get attached to traditional practices. And those unwilling to change will see competitors pass them by. Jill Enabnit, VP of analytics and performance solutions for U.S. Bank, said that relying on old practices in a new omnichannel environment won't yield the same results marketers saw years ago.
“It is test and learn, and it's necessary to be able to say you're going to go out and try new things. Being willing to try new things is accelerating,” she said. “Be willing to try new things and be willing to fail sometimes.”
For one, did you know that the most avid users of social networking are in Latin America? Ninety-four percent of Latin Americans regularly use some form of social. That's higher than in the U.S., where only (only?) 88% of people are active on social networking sites. And Facebook makes up the lion's share, despite some opinions to the contrary about its potentially waning popularity.
Facebook is the most used social networking site in the world; 80% of the total share of minutes spent social networking happens on Facebook. In Latin America it's the number one social destination of choice; 99% of social activity in Latin America goes down via Facebook. Roughly 94% of the Middle East and Africa are on Facebook. Only 69% of Asia-Pac uses Facebook—the lowest percentage of Facebook users worldwide—but that's still not a number to sniff at.
In fact, Facebook has established an even more dominant position for itself than Google's been able to accomplish with search.
Now guess how many people view video on a monthly basis globally? The answer: 1.3 billion and growing, both in terms of viewers and the amount of content being viewed.
Speaking of the Internet-using world population, there's about one and a half TRILLION (I feel justified in capping that) digital interactions every month—which, as you can imagine, generates a staggering amount of data.
The growth of Internet usage itself is fairly staggering in its scope. In 1996 the U.S. was basically the center of the digital universe; 66% of all Internet users resided there. By 2012 that number had dropped to 13%. Today Asia-Pac's out front, with China in lead. There are 351 million monthly Internet accesses in China; in the U.S. that number's at 196 million. Despite that, North America still has the heaviest usage, with 36 hours spent online per person per month.
Presumably the majority of that time is spent watching cat videos.And that's the digital world in focus.
Meet Diego. He's a hardworking cat...when he's not napping.
One thing you should know about Diego—he loves data-driven marketing. Which is why he's here in Chicago for the 2013 Direct Marketing Association conference, where it's all about the data.
Diego joined the Direct Marketing News team a little more than a year ago as a kitten reporter, and since that time he's become a driving force in the direction of our editorial coverage.
Diego's so excited to be at DMA 2013 that he's decided to keep a diary of his daily activities. If you see him around the show, feel free to say hi—although don't be surprised if he starts playing with your badge lanyard. He's easily distracted.
Updated Monday, October 14, 2013
Teradata Applications CMO and all around good sport Lisa Arthur stopped by the DMN booth for a brief video interview with Diego. He was really excited to learn about the intricacies of what Lisa refers to as the "data hairball." Lisa's new book Big Data Marketing is already one of Diego's faves.
Who you are offline is who you are online when it comes to social interactions. Ralf VonSosen, head of marketing and sales solutions at LinkedIn, made that assertion when we spoke at CRMevolution. In other words, he said, if you're a good conversationalist, someone who asks questions and listens and is genuinely interested in others, that behavior will translate to your online social interactions. But if you're “that person”—the one who hogs the conversation, talks without listening or asking questions, or needs to be “on stage”—that's who you are online, as well.
This applies to individuals, as well as to the brands they often represent.
VonSosen said he based his opinion primarily on some users' LinkedIn behaviors—mostly the behaviors of salespeople and marketers. And mostly on their bad behaviors. LinkedIn is meant to be about staying connected, about warm introductions, and about using its marketing tools and groups to make relevant connections. I'm not saying this to be an ad for the brand; it's part of the point VonSosen was making. Some people, he implied, are just there to promote their ware and blasts their messages despite most users' expected and preferred interaction types in that community.
Think about the LinkedIn groups you belong to. How many discussions are actually that, and how many are promotions for other members' white paper or webcast. There's a promotions tab for that.
It's incumbent upon marketers (and salespeople) representing a brand to represent it—and themselves—well. To be more social and less promotional. To listen and respond, instead of just talk, talk, talk. (Full disclosure: With the exception of conference coverage, many of my own social posts are links to our content; but I'm taking my own advice and doing more to be interactive.)
So, what's your brand's social persona? How about your own? If they're not who you really want them to be, now's the time “rebrand.”
Today Pinterest introduces promotional pins that look like regular pins, except they're sponsored posts (and labeled as such). Ben Silberman, Pinterest's CEO and cofounder, first announced that Pinterest would start experimenting with sponsored posts in a September 19 blog post.
And Pinterest isn't the only visual social platform plunging into the monetizing pool. Just days before its third birthday, Facebook-owned photo sharing app Instagram officially announced that it would introduce ads to its feed. This announcement came about a month after Emily White, Instagram's director of business operations, told The Wall Street Journal that Instagram would start selling ads within the next year.
Apu Gupta, CEO and cofounder of Pinterest and Instagram marketing and analytics suite Curalate, says the timing of these two announcements is just coincidental. However, he says the two networks could learn a thing or two from Tumblr's introduction to sponsored posts, which the blogging platform announced in April 2012.
“It took a while for Tumblr to figure out [how to use it],” Gupta says. “Pinterest has the benefit of recruiting people who have done this already. They brought in a lot of really smart folks from Facebook.”
Pinterest and Instagram: The next shiny objects
Marketers are constantly chasing after the next shiny social channel. According to Semiocast, a social media data intelligence and research company, Pinterest has more than 70 million registered users, 20 million of which pinned, re-pinned, or liked a pin this past June. And Instagram claims more than 16 billion photos have been shared since its October 6, 2010 debut. This mass migration towards visual platforms, Gupta argues, forces Pinterest and Instagram to strike a balance between responding to brands' needs and staying true to their own identities.
“You're trying to balance the ethos of a platform with the demands of a brand,” he says. “That's a challenge because most brands—for better or worse—want to buy reach and buy ads. Frankly, a lot of brands' ads are interruption-driven. They stand out. That can really be jarring in the native experience.”
But is all this social hype really necessary? Gupta thinks so. He argues that social has evolved from a novelty to a necessity. And because brands need to invest in social, marketers are looking for new ways to make social accountable and generate ROI. Gupta says imaged-based platforms, particularly Pinterest, bring a level of specificity that's unmatched by other networks like Facebook. For example, instead of seeing that a consumer likes GAP, marketers can see exactly which GAP sweater a consumer pinned, he explains.
“If I'm the GAP, I can leverage that to get in front of the right people, instead of assuming that my buyer is an 18-to-35-year-old woman,” Gupta says. “That level of specificity means that I can target the right people in a really relevant way.”
What they'll need to succeed
Relevancy and specificity are exactly what Pinterest will need to deploy promoting pins successfully, Gupta says. Combining Pinterest's user data with collaborative filtering techniques—or recommendation algorithms—should help the brand incorporate ads on its network without disrupting the consumer's experience, he says.
But Gupta says Pinterest's monetization efforts don't have to end on the network. Theoretically, Pinterest could monetize an ad network and serve targeted ads to online consumers by featuring products consumers have indicated they like, such as by pinning them, or by featuring similar products, he says. He also notes that this form of advertising could be less disruptive than Pinterest's promoted pins on-network.
“It's not that people dislike advertising,” he says. “People dislike irrelevant ads.”
However, if Pinterest chooses to ignore its relevant data, its advertising attempt could fail.
“If you just try to pursue the dollar quickly—‘I'll just sell to the highest bidder'—those ads aren't going to be relevant to anybody,” Gupta says. “It's certainly going to buy reach, but that's going to be a terrible experience for everybody. That will be short-term gain...but it will be very detrimental long-term.”
Irrelevant ads could also interrupt the user experience on Instagram, Gupta says, particularly because Instagram images occupy the majority of a user's mobile screen. According to Instagram's official announcement, users may start to see photos and videos from brands they don't follow. However, the brand promises to “start slow” and focus on making any ad “feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands.”
But Gupta isn't so sure.
“If you, potentially, have a whole screen takeover from some brand that you don't have a personal relationship with, I would find that to be a little bit concerning,” he says. “To me, that feels like, ‘let me monetize my platform because I can,' but not necessarily because this is in the best interest of the user experience.”
Instead of showing users ads from brands they don't follow, Gupta says Instagram should target consumers based on collaborative filterings, hashtags, and followings, And because Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in April 2012, Gupta theorizes that Instagram should be able to access some of the social network's demographic data as long as its able to connect an Instagram account to a Facebook account.
As for the next imaged-based network to hop on the monetization bandwagon, Gupta puts his money on photo messaging app Snapchat. Brands like Taco Bell have already started using Snapchat, and with 20.8% of U.S. iPhone owners using Snapchat as of August 2013, according to mobile marketing intelligence service Onavo Insights, Gupta predicts that more brands will follow. In addition, he expects Tumblr to broaden its ad products and offer a more integrated, visual ad unit.
Depending on how you look at it—and how emotionally attached you are to listening to AM/FM radio in your car with the window rolled down—mobile is the savior of radio. It's also arguably one of the causes of its slow demise.
I probably shouldn't admit this, since my job is related to digital strategy, but I just got my first smartphone last week. (An iPhone 4S, if anyone's curious, because that model is literally being given away for free now that the 5s are out. I waltzed right into the Apple Store in the Meatpacking district and was, upon request, immediately handed a free 4S, with my choice of white or black. As I was being helped, I noticed a long line of grumpy, avaricious looking people snaking along the far wall. I commented to the manager helping me that they looked like patients waiting to see a doctor. He replied, ‘Oh, those guys are waiting to pick up their iPhone 5.')
I enjoy radio. I grew up on radio, especially the old stuff which I listened to with my dad (Broadway Is My Beat, Jean Shepherd reruns, Joe Frank on WNYC). But in all honestly, I haven't listened to radio consistently in years other than an hour here or an hour there, and often just one time a week.
But now that I have my newfangled smartphone, I've gone a little out of my mind downloading podcasts. And there's some really great stuff out there; some truly excellent examples of evocative storytelling. Love + Radio's a new favorite.
I think I'm like a lot of people in their 20s and 30s—we don't own radios but we like the idea of radio. And that's where mobile comes in.
Mass media radio broadcaster Clear Channel, for one, is embracing the mobile revolution, rather than looking at it as a potential threat.
“The concern in our industry is people shifting from one screen to the next,” said Owen Grover, SVP of content partnerships at Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises, speaking at a breakfast event hosted by Zoove in New York last week. “But to us, it's essentially about making sure our product is convenient to our listeners.”
Clear Channel has a wide array of mobile offerings and apps, not the least of which is iHeartRadio, a free music service that provides access to about 1,500 live radio stations across the U.S. According to Clear Channel, the app reached roughly 20 million registered users in a little over a year, surpassing the growth rate of other well-known music app biggies like Pandora and Spotify.
“Part of our strategy is not just digital or mobile per se; we have brand strategy,” said Grover, who notes Clear Channel's enhanced focus on the mobile environment this year versus last.
“This year it's been about us being on as many screens as possible,” he said. “The learning for us is to make sure our product is in as many places as we can be, and to take advantage of the feature sets of each particular platform.”
On Saturday the New York Times ran a front-page story about the way in which advertisers can access the “secrets” of mobile users. The headline: Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers.
You see where this is going.
The irony is that advertisers and marketers—whose jobs revolve around selling an image—have serious image problems. (The other irony is that the Times is a likely beneficiary of these practices, but let's assume there's a healthy divide between marketing and editorial interests). I interview a lot of people who have an inordinate amount of insight into the ecosystem around digital tracking and I always request their take on how consumers and lawmakers perceive their business. The response is usually one of indignation; that if only consumers and lawmakers fully understood that targeted advertising funds the entire expletive Internet they'd be cool with it.
But I've noticed a certain consistency to these responses, and the more I think about them, the more problems I have with them. In short, I think there's a tendency for marketers to ignore the forest for the trees.
It's everyone's responsibility: brands, consumers, and vendors/service providers/trade organizations
Problem: If it's everyone's responsibility, then it's nobody's responsibility. Let's acknowledge right now that in general, consumers aren't going to educate themselves. Call me a cynic, but the more complex something is, the less likely anyone is going to care. So that leaves brands and vendors.
And brands really aren't interested in educating customers about tracking. They may have an obligatory ToS agreement that nobody except a cluster of lawyers might read, but beyond that, their resources will be devoted to maximizing their core business, not in educating consumers about the online advertising economy. Especially since it's in their best interests to avoid tossing around hot potato topics.
So that leaves vendors, service providers, and trade organizations, all of who put out a pretty consistent message:
Online tracking pays for the Internet
Problem: This is so true, but it's not as resonant as the counter-message consumers get, which is: “You are always being watched.” Fairly or unfairly, this is what digital marketers are up against, and a message that plays on paranoia will have a greater impact than one that caters to logic (Here's another bit of irony: Sensationalist headlines drive views, which drive clicks, which drives the very advertising revenue that could be undermined by consumer weariness around targeting).
Certainly trade organizations like the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) have been vocal about supporting the business need to access and analyze consumer data. The DMA has also created workshops dedicated to ensuring the responsible use of that information.
But for consumers, a dichotomy is emerging: People versus brands, the tracked versus the watchers. And when marketers with an interest in leveraging consumer data appear in news stories—the type of stories that are widely read and shared and Facebooked by consumers—they often find themselves in the role of the boogeyman. It's the ACLU versus the DMA! Consumer Watchdog versus Big Business!
The problem marketers face is that this overly-simplistic narrative (i.e., mysterious organizations know everything about you) is black-and-white, but we exist in a media world that tends to ignore shades of gray. And of course, the trickle of revelations coming out around the NSA certainly doesn't help.
The NSA hysteria has nothing to do with marketing
Problem: Except it does. The U.S. government might not have the resources to itself build a nationwide listening and data analysis apparatus, but that's exactly why it wants to tap into the technologies owned or used by marketers. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have already been linked to NSA interests. Recently, email provider Lavabit, which shuttered rather than cave to NSA pressure, revealed the extent to which the NSA wanted its users' data.
For marketers, the problem is that consumers aren't going to differentiate between businesses that enact responsible data policies in order to better service their customers and the NSA—especially with some of the more alarming phrases like “violation of privacy” and “massive data breach” flying around.
A notification comes over the wire. Big press conference out of Detroit today. So I tune into Livestream to get the scoop: Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois is taking the podium with great fanfare to announce the spokesman for the new Dodge Durango. Oh, the anticipation. Chrysler promises its news will be “kind of a big deal.”
“He's coming to your straight from the Seventies…someone who knows how to stay classy,” Francois teased. “In the unlikely possibility I've not killed the final element of surprise—we needed the one and only Ron Burgundy.”
Except that anyone watching TV this weekend would already know who the spokesman is: Will Ferrell as the sleazy, yet strangely charming, news anchor Ron Burgundy. Chrysler started airing the commercials—four of which were posted to YouTube—several days ago. The campaign with Chrysler is part of a partnership between the brand and Paramount Pictures' Anchorman sequel, scheduled to hit theaters in mid-December.
Which makes one wonder why the brand pretended the announcement was some kind of big surprise today. But no matter. Despite the silliness of the conference's timing, the new Ron Burgundy commercials are fairly funny and Anchorman fans should be pleased. Ferrell filmed about 70 variations of different spots for the new Durango campaign, so there's lots to watch.
In one ad, Burgundy demonstrates the wonders of touch screen navigation—which totally blows his mind.
“There's a woman stuck in there!” cries Burgundy from behind the wheel. “Don't worry, I'll free you!”
The robotic female voice of the navigation system calmly replies, “I did not understand your command.”
The tone of the commercials is perfectly in line with Ron's personality. If Chrysler didn't hit it out of the park, the fans would know, Francois noted.
“How do you mark the return of legendary news anchor Ron Burgundy?” Francois said. “He has a cult following, so we have to be 100% true to his character.”
The commercials available thus far on YouTube generated nearly half a million hits over the weekend.
I created a Facebook profile when I was 16. It was 2009, when Myspace was still a thing, microblogs barely were, and Pinterest and Instagram weren't even a thought.
These were the days when sending a message to a friend and seeing the little red "1" pop up in the message box when that person replied was fascinating. Before Farmville. Before Candy Crush.
Today Facebook seems like a slacker when it comes to keeping the average user—and its original Millennial flock—hooked. Ian Lurie, founder and CEO of Internet marketing company Portent, predicts the social media giant is roughly two years away from obsolescence. Though Facebook is the second most popular website in the world right now according to Web-tracking service Alexa, Lurie says Facebook will have to make a giant step with its content offerings in order to maintain its relevance. “Other services that Facebook doesn't offer, like music and movies—people leave Facebook to see those," notes Lurie, pointing to digital entertainment hotspots like Spotify and Netflix, and smartphone apps like Pinger.
Lurie mentioned that his own kids rarely use Facebook anymore.
Personally, I'm with Lurie's kids on this. Facebook has run out of bait, at least for my fishing line. Although I almost never log out and I'll admit to checking my notifications daily, I rarely use the site for simple tasks beyond uploading photos, posting an occasional status, or messaging a friend about a homework assignment.
Facebook's strength comes from its massive user base. That's what gives Facebook's services, like its ad exchange, their allure to marketers.
“We're advising all our clients to use Facebook Exchange,” Lurie says. “All [Facebook] has to do is evolve in that direction.” The problem with Facebook Exchange is that while it's an area of growth for the company, it's not something that will lure its core contingent—millennial users—back to the site. Nor is it exactly a draw for current users.
One way to do this would be to improve its mobile experience. Facebook's own data shows growth in mobile users, but Lurie says this doesn't mean that the mobile experience is good—simply that more users are logging in via handhelds or tablets. As it stands, Lurie isn't the biggest fan of the Facebook mobile interface, noting that the navigation experience on mobile is different than on a desktop. “[Facebook should] have [its] primary navigation at the bottom, like every other [app] … don't force people to learn new things,” he says.“There's too much clicking. [Facebook] needs to flatten things out a bit,” he said.
If the minimal time I spend on Facebook is any indication of the network's future, then its prospects aren't good. And if users vacate, so will the ad dollars that make up the bulk of its revenue.
I'm all for targeting and personalization—of course. I live and breathe direct marketing. And if you've read my blogs, you'll know that I'm delighted when brands use information they have about me to make our interactions more relevant.
Not surprisingly, this is especially true around my birthday. I love to see what brands will send me—not so much for the offers themselves (I never use them all, though, admittedly, I'd love to), but for the marketing strategy behind them. Will it be just a greeting via email with no offer (Virgin America sends a fun video, for example), will it be multichannel (White House | Black Market and Victoria's Secret send direct mail followed up by email), or if it's solely direct mail will it be elaborate or a simple postcard?
Most of the birthday hoopla is at the beginning of September because most of the offers expire at the end of the month. Oddly, though, last week I received an unexpected birthday greeting—and a first. It was from my congressman (Joe Crowley). On the one hand, I thought: “Cool.” Talk about standing out. When has a politician ever sent a birthday greeting? Most politicians only ever send mail at election time; although I do get print newsletters from a few local politicos on what they've done for the community the prior month or quarter.
On the other hand, I thought, “Hmmmm, this is a bit creepy.” Now considering how much I appreciate personalization and targeting, you might wonder why. I certainly did. As I pondered I realized it was because the source of information wasn't immediately clear. Brands I buy from know my birthday because I've told them. They know my preferences because they have my purchase and behavioral data. But how did Joe Crowley's marketing team get my birthday?
Of course, I quickly realized that there are obvious sources for that information. But it was my initial reaction that stood out to me. It reminded how tenuous the cool-creepy line can be. It not only varies by customer (some people will always think personalization beyond “Hello Name” is creepy), but it also varies by each customer's brand preferences. The more you like a brand, the more engaged you are, the more likely you are to be happily targeted by that brand using all the data they have about you at their disposal. Not such a big fan of a brand? You may consider the same targeting or personalization to be creepy.
As for the birthday wishes from my congressman? It's actually kinda cool. So, thanks CongressmanCrowley.
My favorite fast food sandwich is the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. But when it comes to fast food burgers, the Double Whopper is my choice. (You can tell I'm on a diet, right?) Problem is, I have practically nowhere to go to satisfy my flame-broiled desires in Manhattan. Here in the so-called center of the universe, the King has been deposed by Ronald McDonald. Google “McDonald's NYC” and the red dots on the map spread like measles from the Battery to the Bronx. Google Burger King and you get a couple of pimples. Cronut shops outnumber BKs three to one in New York.
McDonald's is one of those few pioneers that created a global industry and stuck around to dominate it for decades. Burger King's 7,200 U.S. locations are half that of McDonald's and, in my fair hometown, the Burger Kingdom is barely a duchy. Mickey D's enjoys hamburger hegemony. Bill DeBlasio, who holds a 50-point lead in the New York City mayoral race, had better keep an eye out for Mayor McCheese, is all I can say.
But will McDominance forever reign? I vote no following last week's announcement by the chain that it would no longer offer soft drinks with its Happy Meals. In a data-fueled marketing environment that forces companies to expand the choices they offer consumers using readily available knowledge of their individual preferences, McDonald's has decided to remove choice. Where other companies practice retargeting, McDonald's practices detargeting. It doesn't learn what its customers want and direct personalized offers to drive them to its stores to get it. It decides what's best for the customer and tells her take it or leave it.
McDonald's action last week flew in the face of its own storied history. It thrived on a culture of grassroots testing that constantly tried new things, but that didn't roll national with them until customers gave approval. The Big Mac, the McRib, and so many other new products were invented by franchisees, who were allowed to depart from the standard menu to suit local tastes. If they hit a certain sales number, the test was expanded and the item could be elevated to a place on the big menu. For decades, the Happy Meal consisted of a burger (or McNuggets), fries, a toy, and a soft drink in a box—a tried and true formula for the weaning of future customers. As health concerns grew, McDonald's would add fruit and substitute a water or a juice for the Coke. But it still offered the soda. It presented choice. Now it removes choice.
McDonald's may have confused health concerns with healthy business practices. The Happy Meal move was made in partnership with the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. One of the burger chain's stated goals is to reduce the beverage calories consumed by children. Again, the company's data analysis appears off kilter.
A little calculator math done on the McDonald's nutritional chart quickly reveals the error. The milk and the Minute Maid orange juice the company offers up as soft drink alternatives each pack 12.5 calories per ounce. The pilloried Coke Classic contains only 8.75 calories per ounce, almost a third less. Let's hope drinking all that milk and juice doesn't do to the math skills of American children what it did to those of the nutritionists at McDonald's.
Here in McDonaldsland on the Hudson, kids will have to learn to like their Happy Meals with milk. But if I'm a Burger King franchisee in Omaha or some other Free Burger Zone, I think I'm going to take advantage of some of that newfangled geo-conquesting technology and offer up some choice. “Hey kids,” I'll text, “Come on over to BK. We got sodas here!”
Closing time is a thing of the past. Today's consumers want to access brands anytime, anywhere.
“People expect businesses to always be on,” Lisa Pearson, CMO of social technology provider Bazaarvoice, said yesterday at the vendor's Cocktails and Conversation event in Manhattan, New York.
Brands rely heavily on social to provide this 24/7 access consumers crave, particularly reviews. Companies can't answer every inquiry in a timely matter, but reviews allow consumers to get answers quickly from their social communities.
“Retailers get a digital sales rep in every single aisle, creating a digital shopping experience,” Pearson said.
And reviews do more than just influence consumers' purchasing decisions. Having brands respond to consumer reviews can also drive brand loyalty and correct misconceptions. In fact, shoppers who saw a brand respond to a review in which the product owner misused or misunderstood a product were 186% more likely to purchase than those who didn't' see the response, according to the Bazaarvoice's latest "Conversation Index" survey, released today.
In addition, consumers who saw a brand respond to a negative review by offering a product refund, upgrade, or exchange were 92% more likely to purchase and had an 88% increase in product sentiment than consumers who didn't see the response. And consumers are more likely to forgive a brand that tries to right a wrong. Seventy-one percent of consumers who saw a brand respond to a review changed their perception of that brand, cites the study.
So what does a brand's response to a negative online review mean to its customers? According to the research study, 41% of consumers say it makes the brand seem like it really cares about its customers and 35% says it makes the brand seem like it has great customer service.
However, Jeremiah Owyang, analyst and partner of research and advisory company Altimeter Group, said there's a downside to being constantly on via social. He said many brands are training consumers to think that all they have to do is yell at the brand via social media to get the company's attention. Hence, it's important for brands to set expectations for what they will and will not do via social media, he said.
“Call centers are still around despite social media,” Owyang pointed out.
This constant communication between brands and consumers helps companies think about their products from the user perspective. For example, Julie Tisera, manager of social media outreach for GE Appliances, says that when a consumer wants to know the dimensions of an oven to see if a certain pot will fit inside, GE Appliances will have a product engineer run out to the floor, measure the specs, and then relay the answer to back. However, Tisera said GE Appliances is still dealing with the challenge of making this kind of data readily available.
“It's not just about sharing things, but sharing ideas,” Tisera, said. “If we can get other people to insights to what [the engineers] are doing, that only makes our products bigger and better.”
This sharing of ideas and services is also causing a disruption in business through what's known as collaborative consumption or, as Owyang termed it, The Collaborative Economy. This is embodied in the peer-to-peer lending economy in which consumers connect via social, mobile, and online to share their possessions, such as a car or an apartment. Companies like Zipcar and Airbnb thrive off of this sharing economy, and other companies are starting to follow their lead. For example, Owyang said BMW and Toyota are renting out cars from their lots to compete with Zipcar. In addition, Lyndon Mueller, VP of ecommerce for Home Depot, said the company now allows consumers to rent trucks to bring home their purchases as well as rent tools for projects.
“It's not every day that you find that you customer is now your competitor,” Owyang said. “That's unnerving.”
Walt Disney once said, “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
Disney's wise words encapsulate the power and value of customer experience (CX). When brands deliver on their promises, meet (or exceed) customer expectations, are at the top of their game at every customer touchpoint, customers are delighted, they're more likely to come back, buy more, and recommend those brands to others. The more aspects of the customer experience an organization gets right, the more likely customers are to do these things.
The opposite it also true.
Marketing's impact on customer experience, and ultimately, revenue, is greater than many marketers realize. Consider: According to research from Temkin Group, promoters are 5.2 times more likely to purchase more from a company than neutral or detractor customers, and customers are 9.9% more likely to purchase from a CX leader than from other companies in the same industry.
Let's look at a few examples of where marketing can positively or negatively affect the customer experience.
The brand promise: Marketers craft and communicate the brand promise. This promise sets customer expectations in such areas as product quality, brand image, and customer service. If an organization doesn't deliver on that promise or live up to those expectations, customers will be disappointed and less likely to purchase from that company. Conversely, if a brand's delivery exceeds its promises, customer engagement increases. Zappos is a well-known example of this. It promises standard delivery in four to five days; customers often receive their purchases within two or three days. The result: customer delight. (And the outcome of customer delight: in many cases, repurchase and recommendations.)
Email: Marketers are continually challenged to find the right email frequency, messaging, and audience. This is made more difficult by myriad customer preferences. According to Epsilon, 58% of consumers polled say that receiving emails customized to their interests is “somewhat or very important,” and only 44% say that they receive just the right amount of email. Mailing too frequently or too infrequently or with messaging the recipient thinks is irrelevant translates to a poor customer experience—and potential deletions and opt-outs by customers who may have increased in value had the messaging or timing been on target.
Mobile: Along with avoiding the customer experience perils of sending email not optimized for mobile, marketers have to deliver value via mobile on par with how personal the experience is to the mobile consumer. Consumers who invite marketers into their palms and pockets expect a highly relevant customer experience. Marketers need to, for instance, provide apps that are useful and unique. SMS communications—whether coupons, contents, or promotions—need to be on target.
Direct mail: Marketers who do direct mail well deliver an engaging customer experience not only when the mail arrives, but also over the long term. Consider how many recipients of comprehensive or slickly design catalogs (think: IKEA) leave those tomes on their coffee tables to page through again and again. Conversely, direct mail that looks like “junk mail” is often treated as such—even by otherwise engaged customers. I'm referring to relevance, not design here. Mailing an offer for a product a customer already has, for example, is a poor customer experience.
Those are but a few examples. Marketing also influences the customer experience in such channels as social (the right content or promotion or interaction type through the appropriate channel); the contact center (the right offer to the right customer at the right time); and even sales (collateral that relevant, timely, and on target).
Think about your own role in marketing. What do you do that affects the customer experience? What is the state of that experience, and can you improve it? How will doing so profitably impact revenue?
This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association's Blog Carnival "Celebrating Customer Experience." It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here.
Personally, I delete about 95% of the marketing emails I get. After a day or two of neglecting my inbox, it looks like an episode of A&E's Hoarders. I'm on so many email lists—everything from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (for some reason) to Crate and Barrel—it's virtually impossible to keep on top of it all.
Chris Rimlinger, SVP of Money Mailer, has a similar relationship with her inbox.
“Sometimes I clear out my email like it's a chore,” she says. “I don't even open a third of them—it's just click, click, click, delete, delete, delete.”
Email fatigue, and digital fatigue in general, is part of what's causing some millennials to gravitate towards more traditional forms of media. Digital natives taking a trip on the DM train to Engagement Land.
In fact, among the millennial audience, more than 50% get print deals from newspapers, while 33% look to DM pieces for information on offers.
I can vouch for this phenomenon. (What? Hey, some commentators say the millennial generation includes people born in the early 1980s. Shut up.)
But the trend is more pronounced among members of Gen Y. They basically had Wi-Fi in the womb, their smartphones are indispensable to them—and they like getting things delivered to them in a physical mailbox.
According to a new study from Research Now, teens and twentysomethings are twice as likely to say they were introduced by an offline ad to a product they later bought. Research conducted by Money Mailer found something similar: 90% of 25- to 34-year-olds say they think direct mail is reliable, while 87% say they like getting information and offers from retailers in the mail.
There's also a certain nostalgia aspect to the whole thing...even though some of the people harboring these nostalgic feelings weren't born during the eras they're emulating. (Ahem, the 1980s.)
“This is the first generation to grow up with everything electronic and we're seeing a trend of them being attracted to making things with their hands, to arts and crafts, to records and retro type hobbies,” says Rimlinger, who jokes she actually remembers getting an LP of Duran Duran's Rio when it was new for her fourteenth birthday.
There's a lot of digital clutter out there, and savvy marketers shouldn't discount the power of a clutter-cutting DM piece—so long as it's relevant to the audience and integrated with digital channels. Yes, millennials like mail, but nothing will turn them off quicker than the inability to get more information online.
Direct mail used in conjunction with other relevant channels—email, display, social—is a potent ingredient in any marketing mix. There's a sense of delight you get when opening an envelope or a package that's hard to create via email.
“But you also need to keep in mind that these folks still have their phones,” says Rimlinger. “They're dressed in 80s gear but they're never without their iPhone.”
GAP, for example, does a nice job of integrating print and online channels. The brand regularly sends handsome DM pieces to a customer's home with deals and offers, followed by relevant and complementary email reminders. A one-two punch, if you will.
“This age group actually really trusts what they receive in the mail because they like something tangible and something tailored to them,” says Rimlinger. “It's great news for us—and direct marketers that don't send targeted direct mail messages are definitely missing out.”
Marc Ostrofsky, the author of the book, Get Rich ClicK, has done well in the website business. He sold the domain name Business.com for $7.5 million. He runs a string of successful sites like CuffLinks.com, eTickets.com, and Blinds.com, and has another dozen in development. But the website game, he laments, isn't what it used to be. “The ISPs have so much power now. They're not sending your emails and they're not telling you about it,” he says. “We went from a 16% open rate to 1% in one business.”
In his new book, Word of Mouse, Ostrofsky explains that, before marketers can personalize communications to customers, they need to learn the native tongue of the virtual worlds they inhabit. We recently spoke with him, in English, to learn more.
Do so many people spending so much time on so many devices make it easier or harder for marketers to reach them?
Without a doubt, there's a shift of power. The more knowledgeable the consumer gets, the more understanding the marketer has to have. People get bombarded with messages. There are so many different mediums to reach them, and you have to learn the language of each one. Look at social media. If you don't speak Pinterest, you're not going to reach the Pinterest audience.
So how do marketers become fluent?
You have to realize what you don't know and find someone that knows the thing you don't. One of my companies, Blinds.com, does $110 million in window blinds. We own no product. The products are drop-shipped. We get all our customers through pay per click. We've become expert at it. We spend $15,000 a day with Google on PPC and we know that 2.5% of people who come to our site will buy. But we figure that will change and we're looking for new ways to find customers. The same thing happens in larger enterprises. To branch out you've got to find the people in your organization who say, “I love this, I know about this.” If you have someone at your company who's really into Tumblr, go to them and see if they can help you figure out how your large or small company can play in that space.
And the message?
What it all boils down to is that all the people on your list are interested in one thing: “What's in it for me?” That's all they care about. If you don't hit them with the right size, the right color, the right product, they think you don't care about them.
In your new book you point out that people learn to search for the data they need rather than learn the information itself. Does that translate to marketers, as well?
I was meeting friends for dinner here [in Aspen] yesterday and I parked my car. I had to go and find the meter down the street, get the piece of paper, and go back to my car and stick it in the windshield. At dinner, my friends say to me, “You're such a guru? You're such a schmuck. Why don't you get the app?” So they tell me about this app that debits the parking fee of your card and you walk away. You can pay for four hours of parking and, if you only use two, you can deduct the difference. In the business sector there's a new app called Sign Now. If you get a contract to sign, you can open it in the app, sign it with your fingernail, and send it. In the world of direct marketing, you have to keep getting smarter and more efficient about new technologies, because your competitors are.
But the life spans of apps are short. Something like 90% of them are only opened once and then discarded.
True. There are millions of apps not being used. But it gets back to the language thing. Apps are a great way to get closer relationships with customers who like apps. Some people speak apps, some speak Facebook, some speak Twitter.
So you're saying that direct marketers need to be multinational, but that the nations are channels and networks?
That is the essence of my book. The direct marketing world is made up of new languages. Some people find they fit well with some and not with others. Kids may understand them differently from adults. Until marketers get that, it's the blind leading the blind.
Success means different things to different people. While marketers may define campaign success via click-through rates, Facebook likes, and sales revenue, there's no standard metric for measuring career success. Just like in marketing, a winning career requires testing—taking risks, making mistakes, learning your strengths, and striving to do more.
Four of the Direct Marketing News 40 Under 40 winners, two from 2012 and two two-time honorees, took the stage at the inaugural 40 Under 40 luncheon in Manhattan, New York to summarize what marketers need to succeed in the field in just a few words.
Integrate quickly and innovate on the fly
Sumant Yerramilly, cofounder of Coffee Match, learned this lesson firsthand when he launched a company that developed credit card payment machines for taxis in Boston at the ripe age of 18. While Yerramilly didn't have the funds to grow the business, he did have the innovation. He knew that taxi drivers would not be pleased with the idea of having to implement these machines in their cabs. As a result, Yerramilly and his cofounder would visit the taxi stands at the airport to establish relationships with drivers and get them to sign a contract agreeing to include the machines in their vehicles.
Although Yerramilly's company was built on technology, he always kept human interaction at the center of his business.
“When you know how to code or you know technology, it's really easy to sit in a room and not talk to anybody,” he said. “Always go out and talk to the customers first before you build anything.”
The rapid change the marketing landscape has seen over the past 10 years led Ashley Johnston, SVP of global marketing at Experian Marketing Services, to choose “adaptability” as her key word to summarize successful marketing.
“The one constant in life is change, but it's often the thing that we're most surprised by,” she told the audience.
Adapting to change isn't always easy. Johnston discussed how Experian made several acquisitions over the past few years, including SaaS customer acquisition solutions provider Decisioning Solutions and consumer data and analytics business Pacific Micromarketing in 2013. And while Johnston says the acquired organizations had a lot of passion, she said getting the companies to become part of the “mother ship” was a challenge.
“Often time we were dealing with emotions rather than logic.”
Another major change marketers are dealing with today is the new reality of the hyper-connected consumer, Johnston said. Hence, she said companies must structure their businesses to meet consumers' cross-channel needs, rather than operate in silos.
“Consumers don't see in channels, neither should brands,” she said. “If I buy online, I want the opportunity to return in store, [and] I don't like when there price discrepancies.”
After consulting a few online thesauruses, Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, settled on audacity. He said the evolving world of marketing has caused marketers to throw out their old playbooks and rewrite new ones by being bold and taking risks. And sometimes taking risks requires marketers to do things that “piss people off,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Volpe discussed a time HubSpot made a major blunder—an act the company put in its Marketing Hall of Shame—and learned from its mistakes. In June 2010, HubSpot launched an Alternate Reality Game for B2B marketers. The game created a pretend crisis in which HubSpot's inbound marketing training and certification program Inbound Marketing University received a cease and desist letter from an outbound marketing company and was shutdown. HubSpot asked its communities to rally together and save Inbound Marketing University by solving puzzles and hunting for online clues. Only they didn't. Volpe said a lot of the HubSpot community didn't understand that the scenario was a game and demanded the site back. HubSpot apologized to the community in a blog post and put the site back up.
“The great thing about transparency is that [customers] often forgive you much faster,” Volpe said.
Although Volpe categorized the game as “one of the biggest mistakes we've made,” he also said it was a huge learning experience.
“You need to fail sometimes,” Volpe said. “If you're only doing the things that have been proven to work, it means you're not trying hard enough and you're copying everyone.”
Today's marketers cannot be comfortable, said Avi Savar, chief creative officer at Big Fuel. He explained that being comfortable often leads to being complacent and prevents marketers from pushing the boundaries.
“Be bold, be audacious, and don't be afraid. What's the big deal?” Savar said. “We're at a point in our careers where if you fail a few times, you're going to bounce back and, chances are, you'll learn a thing or two.”
Marketers are often afraid to taken chances because they're afraid they'll get fired or not get a coveted promotion, Savar said. However, he said this isn't the way marketers should live their lives.
“Change within an organization doesn't happen if people don't take bold initiatives and bold moves.
Twitter finally let the tweet out of the bag a few weeks ago when it acknowledged its confidential upcoming IPO, and ever since, the old Twittersphere has been chirping with opinions. There was talk of the IPO coming in the new year, but now it seems like Twitter, which is looking to raise about $1 billion, could go public as soon as Thanksgiving time.
While there's been some debate as to what the IPO means for investors—the hype machine's in super overdrive—Ben Fu, a partner at Next World Capital in San Francisco, says the Twitter IPO is a great opportunity for marketers. Twitter's recent acquisition of mobile ad exchange MoPub in particular is clear evidence that Twitter's looking to provide advertisers with better access and targeting capabilities against a user base of about 200 million people, says Fu.
And if Twitter's IPO is a success, it'll have hefty amounts of cash to throw at future adtech acquisitions.
“If I were a marketer, I would expect to see exciting things come out of Twitter as it blazes the trail in mobile marketing,” says Fu, who notes that the key to Twitter's growth once it goes public will be a continued investment in its ad platform. You've got to keep those investors happy.
Twitter's clearly courting advertisers—but it's a two-way street. Marketers also have to embrace the shift from traditional media to online and mobile.
“Marketers will need to think how best to adjust their ad content and marketing goals for shorter videos as well as accommodate for mobile screens and interactivity,” says Fu. “From the mobile perspective, we are in the early chapters of Facebook and Twitter dominating the mobile-first world that's just ahead of us.”
And now, what would a blog post about the Twitter IPO be without a collection of random embedded tweets collected from around the Web? See below.
The frequency of promoted tweets has started to increase to the point of annoyance. Anything to do with #TwitterIPO?— Arvind Narayanaswamy (@arvindnswamy) September 22, 2013
As soon as Twitter IPO we have seen the peak in the social media stocks. Time is ticking to sell. Anyone remember 99? Can u say bubble. POP— Brandon Romanek (@brandonromanek) September 23, 2013
Twitter's IPO playbook can be summed up in five words - Do the opposite of Facebook: http://t.co/MH9QVn2ScG— Social Media Insider (@SocialMedia411) September 17, 2013
[Joke related to the Twitter IPO that's not as funny or original as you think it is.]— Jim Maiella (@jimmaiella) September 12, 2013
Adobe's Director of Product Marketing Advertising Solutions Timothy Waddell gives his overview of the advertising space at Advertising Week 2013 in New York.
What's the role of analytics in advertising?
The foundation is the analytics data. Marketers' first party data is the gold source. It's the place where you want to start first. Are [visitors to a site] a loyal customer and whatnot? Retargeting is where a lot of companies do quite well. It's something that I personally think should always be on.
Give me an example of this in action.
If a visitor to your site bought an item, then great. But what's the next step? Maybe after buying a TV they need a Blu-ray DVD player. If they go to Google and type in “Blu-ray”, I should be able to offer something. Or I should be able to reach them through a social ad or a display ad as well.
Is there an application for analytics that's often overlooked?
In search, we're pulling in really granular data, like pages or products viewed. In many cases, the tail term, which doesn't get as much traffic, is ignored. Like “GAP” gets a lot of traffic on its own, “khakis” gets a lot of traffic, but “green cashmere sweater” might not.
Why is that important?
Those tail terms can generate 10 to 20% lift. Brands might have been pulling in those tail terms [when they were bidding], but they wouldn't have the information to make smart bids.
So it's like they don't know the value of those less-popular terms.
Here's my budget and goal: How do I bid across this group of keywords?
Why is attribution modeling important?
If I have a mix, search might show the best results because that's where someone clicked last. But were there two or three ads before that or a social program that got the person to do the search? You need to find the right attribution across channels, to understand the set of customer touchpoints [that led to a conversion or action].
How do you determine the value of all these different touchpoints?
There's traditional last-click attribution, which is outdated. Then you can have first-click, which is where you care only about the first impression. More effective is using a linear model where you put the same weight across each touchpoint, but as you do more analysis you might realize, that actually, the first two impressions drive more conversions. There is no cookie cutter version. You have to build out that attribution model over time.
What if the customer is hopping from device to device—say viewing a search ad on mobile, hopping to a social campaign at work, and then doing a search on a personal tablet?
If you don't have the same user ID across that journey, it's a challenge. Under that three-channel scenario we'd have our tracking and tagging in place in ads across all three channels so we understand where that user might have gone. We then align those cookies. Then we can retarget with display ads.
If you saw the display ad on a publisher's site, saw the social ad on Facebook, saw another social ad on Google, then came in through a keyword search, we can align those with tracking codes on the ad.
Each banner should have a unit tracking code applied to it, and as you push that out, we apply that unique tracking code and can follow it.
Is a tracking code a cookie?
It's a cookie.
Speaking of cookies, how do you feel about the rumors that Google might replace third-party cookies with its own technology?
Let's just say the industry has to do a better job making sure they're not abusing cooking tracking, which they aren't doing by any means. We need to make sure customers are comfortable with it though. Anonymous information is key to having a better experience. If I go to a site, I'd rather it know who I am so I can have content that matches my interests. There have been many parties working with the IAB around the ad tracking mechanism.
Won't lack of standards be a problem if everyone's developing their own ad tracking mechanisms?
The point is dead on. Google's a great partner of ours on the search side and on the display side. But they're a publisher, they make all their money on publishing, and their interest is in selling Google inventory. I want to buy the best media sources no matter where they're from. AOL is doing a lot, Yahoo is doing a lot. I want to buy any inventory source that gets the best results. I don't want to be tied down. But Adobe isn't in the media business. We're developing technology that helps our clients do this.
If Google goes through with its attempt to replace cookies, do you think it will work?
Microsoft a long time ago created Passport, which was so far ahead of its time it was unbelievable, but it was basically trying to have one ID, one Passport that knows who you are wherever you go. I'd be interested to see where Google's will go. But if I'm an ad inventory company, I don't want to just use a Google ID.
Whose job is it to educate consumers?
As far as education goes, I'm not sure whose responsibility that is. Every publisher has a privacy statement but nobody reads them. The consumer isn't interested in reading it. You see the Wall Street Journal bringing a lot of attention to cookie-based tracking, and then the Government gets involved and starts blowing things out of proportion about privacy, but most of us in the industry are good at not using PII.
When I was in college, I was in a sorority. I loved the philanthropic, scholarly, and of course social opportunities being in a sorority presented. It made attending a large university feel smaller and created a sense of unity among the entire Greek system.
But every year, this Greek-wide unity was put to the test with spring recruitment. For those of you who have never gone through sorority recruitment, it's one big sales pitch. It's a week where young women decorate their sorority houses, wear matching outfits, and pitch why their organization is the best on campus to convince other women to join. It's like Survivor. But instead of outwit, outplay, outlast, it's out-decorate, out-cheer, and out-wear.
However, our head of recruitment reminded us all why girls go through this in the first place. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. “People join people, not organizations,” she would say. Hence, potential new members cared more about the connections they formed with a sorority's members and less about their matching t-shirts. They wanted to know how our organization could improve her college experience.
Prospective employees work the same way. People join people. They want to become part of a team that's driven to produce quality work and allows them to grow. This is particularly true for marketers and creatives today.
“The best companies not only have better talent, but they're better at unlocking it,” Charles Day, founder of business consultancy The Lookinglass, said at Advertising Week's “Winning the Talent War” session in New York, New York.
However, getting talented people to join an organization is only half the battle. Getting the superstars to stay is an entirely different fight. Anne Bologna, VP of brand strategy for TripAdvisor, said attracting and retaining talent requires four main criteria: have a clear company vision, investing in leadership, having a good product, and creating an environment that stretches yet empowers people.
Here are five tips from today's leading agencies and brands on how to attract and retain talent.
“I'm a huge believer in taking risks,” says Calvin Klein's Chief Creative Officer Melisa Goldie.
Goldie says that it's important to give everyone on a team the opportunity to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. For often the biggest risks can have the greatest payoffs.
Produce great work
If companies want to attract marketing and creative stars, they need to produce star-quality work.
“Mediocre work attracts mediocre accounts,” Andre Coste, CFO of strategic and creative marketing agency MDC Partners, said.
Coste encouraged the audience to create an environment that inspires people to do their best work. In addition, he said that it's important for companies to understand why an employee wanted to join the organization. Is it exposure to well-known clients? Is it the company's global footprint? Coste says pinning this information down help companies identify their employees' motivations.
When a prospective employee lands a job interview, recruiters often try to show the company in the best light possible. However, they sometimes fail to mention some of the less than glamorous components of a position.
“It's like dating,” joked Leo Burnett's Chief Creative Officer Susan Credle.
Credle argued that it's better for recruiters to be honest about what a company expects from a new employee to make sure that employees don't feel like they've been taken for a ride.
Understand the Company Culture
Sometimes what a company says it's going to do and what a company actually does are two different things, Bologna pointed out. Hence she advises those looking to join a brand or agency to look deep into the company culture.
“Culture trumps strategy,” she said.
Be a role model
Not only do people join people, but people learn from people—not their organizations.
“It takes people to have an idea,” Bologna said.
Bologna encouraged the audience to identify their “genius” and think of ways they can apply their personal genius to the rest of the organization.
The two main tenets of content marketing: Talk about things people care about and don't just talk about yourself.
If the kind of content a brand produces is all “me, me, me”—think of that guy at the party with dip on his face who won't stop talking about his recent life-changing trip to Fiji)—there will come a point when consumers will politely, or not so politely, excuse themselves to powder their noses, and never come back.
One brand that's got a pretty good handle on using mobile and social technology to engage consumers with neat content is General Electric. Just take a look at what it with the 6-Second Science Fair on Vine (see video above). GE launched the #6SecondScience effort looking for user-generated Vines demonstrating how cool science can be.
Fans sent in more than 600 videos, and GE's compilation video was viewed more than 730,000 times on YouTube.
“It's about creating a value exchange,” said GE's director of global digital marketing Paul Marcum at the Mobile Media Summit in NYC. “The 6-second project videos got people participating, and even if it's just for six seconds, that's fine with us.”
Science is at the heart of what the company does—GE makes everything from light bulbs to jet engines—which is why initiatives like #6secondscience just work.
“Sometimes I hear people say they think it's surprising for GE to be doing things like this, but we were founded by Thomas Edison,” Marcum said. “And if we're not innovating in our marketing, we'd be the only ones in the company who weren't.”
Marcum calls what GE does “indigenous social marketing”—rather than native advertising, a term that doesn't do much for him. The burning question is how and where to draw the line between editorial content and advertising content.
The answer is relatively simple: Content that makes sense in context. For example, take the Brilliant Machines campaign, which aims to demonstrate how GE uses data to power technology using real-world examples. As part of the initiative, GE partnered with Uber over one weekend so people could order up DeLoreans on the streets of San Francisco.
“What's more indigenous to Uber than allowing you to order up a car?” Marcum asked. “I recognize there are challenges in terms of setting the line, but I think they can be navigated by smart publishers ready to embrace the opportunity.”
So, I'm strolling down the aisle in Bloomingdale's when a woman's enchanting smile caught my eye. She said, “Welcome to Dior.” A few hundred unexpected dollars later, I was a new, and loyal, Dior customer.
The thing is, I wasn't even headed to Dior. My birthday was looming, so I intended to splurge on something decadent for myself that (wasn't chocolate and) I had never purchased before: Chanel lipstick.
But the sales manager at Dior changed everything. Her beguiling approach captivated me. Her enthusiastic introduction to beauty advisor Kristene convinced me that she was the right salesperson for me. And she is. Kristene is knowledgeable, upbeat, and charming. In fact, I like her so much that since that fateful day I will only buy from her. If she's busy when I arrive at the Dior counter I go browse elsewhere until she's free.
I buy all my other makeup and skincare products from Clinique, and as pleasant and knowledgeable as its salespeople are, they're no Kristene.
The whole thing got me thinking about the relationships between marketing, sales, and customer experience. As a beauty advisor, Kristene's role is salesperson. She never pushes products, but I often purchase more than I intended when I visit. I try new items or new colors. I go for a lipstick and leave with three other items, too.
The point is that her sales style is fun and engaging. It's a great customer experience. But it's also excellent marketing. Kristene's approach builds customer loyalty; it encourages word of mouth and repeat purchases. She has the “customer data” she needs to upsell and cross-sell in real time. She engages in “direct marketing” when she mails or phones me with invitations to special events that she knows will interest me, or simply calls to check on how I like a new product I've tried. (As for "personalization," she remembers my name even if I haven't been there in a couple of months.)
A great salesperson is a key touchpoint in a multichannel marketing strategy. Consider: I saw an ad for a new Dior product last week. Then I received an email with a link to learn more about it online. I clicked and now I may try it, so I'm headed to Bloomingdale's this afternoon for Kristene's opinion.
Think about your own experiences with salespeople—B2B and B2C alike. You probably all know a Kristene. At least I hope you do. Engaged and engaging employees are as potent a marketing tool as the most avid customer. They're an integral element of the customer experience that links marketing and sales. And, a potent one at that.
We've all heard that email is dead. But David Daniels, CEO and co-founder of marketing education and advisory service provider The Relevancy Group, says email is here to stay. I sat down with Daniels at ExactTarget's Connections '13 conference, and discussed which email marketing metrics and trends are here for good.
How would you describe the year of 2013 to 2014?
I would describe it as the renaissance for email. People finally understand that it's not going away. It's here to stay. At The Relevancy Group, we like to think about it like our digital fingerprint because we need an email address to pretty much do anything or everything. Are people interacting with email less? No. On the desktop computer maybe. All the things in mobile have really fueled [the renaissance].
Are there any common email practices today that really make you cringe?
There are a number of people that [don't] actually use the data that's available to them and actually test. There's so much opportunity out there. In our market research, we do surveys every month. And still, the number of people that use click behaviors as a segmentation attribute—have you clicked, haven't you clicked—it's still only about a quarter of marketers who actually use that data…Those are things that make me cringe: Why aren't more people doing that? The other thing is testing. We still only see about one-third of marketers—and that number is pretty consistent year to year—do even basic A/B testing. I think part of the reason for that is it's a time and material issue. There's just not enough hours in the day.
When marketers buy technology, it's usually best-of-breed. What are the advantages and challenges?
The integration of that data or the time it takes to get that data [is a challenge]. Some of our large retail clients have to go and fill out a statement sheet even before the data gets pulled to say “this is my ROI statement of why I want to see that data out of that repository…” You have to go through all these layers and hoops. That's about a week before you actually get the data that you think you want. Then when you get it, you might think this isn't actually the data that I was looking for.
What's one channel that email complements particularly well today?
It's certainly social in both directions: Being able to use social as a platform to acquire new email registrants but to also use email as a push channel to say ‘you just bought this, can you go do a product review on our website?'…Consumers again feel like they have a voice and they're part of that process.
What's one metric that you think marketers overhype?
Open rates would probably be one of those metrics because it's flawed. It's been flawed since email started…Why the open rate doesn't really matter is because all of the images have to render. Most things are off by default. We know that about 40% of consumers turn images on. Now with the way that people are triaging their email on the mobile devices, that plays into it. It's a rendering issue. It's a good indicator if you see your opens drop off. That's probably an indicator that there's a deliverability issue. It's good from that perspective as an alert. As far as a constant measure to look at or to benchmark people on across the industry, it's a horrible metric…I would focus more on the behavioral things like clicks and click-to-open rates.
For a while, the DRTV guys had it made. In their heyday, they were among the most successful at tying spend to the response rates for, say, a new stack of Rubbermaid containers. Compared to today, it was a pretty straightforward process. Step one: Log phone calls with 800 numbering. Step two: Make any necessary adjustments. Step three: Profit.
“The direct response industry has been years and years ahead of the traditional market space,” says Ron Pruett, CEO of As Seen On TV, Inc. (ASTV).
But the consumer shift to a more multichannel way of browsing and buying has made things difficult. Besides the common issues around tracking customers as they hop from channel to channel, leaving few breadcrumbs behind, some tactics that worked on television don't work as well online. Certain television celebrities, Pruett points out, are superb on television, generating tremendous results—but those celebrities tank when hawking the same wares on online video.
Television's role as a key pusher of product has waned in recent years. Whereas in the old days spots could be product-centric, today's consumers are wary of having merchandise shoved down their throats. “Today we're in the entertainment-commerce business,” Pruett says. He's referring to reality TV tie-ins and using social media to engage audiences that ordinarily would have been fixated on their TV sets.
It's a connection that Pruett and his colleague Kevin Harrington—ASTV's chairman and a former shark on the ABC reality TV show Shark Tank—seek to capitalize on. The two are spearheading an effort to rebrand ASTV in this vein, a large part of which involves the introduction of a crowdfunding platform, expected to launch by the end of this month.
Though ASTV is a well-known brand name—the red stickers that tout As Seen On TV are an established icon of American pop culture—it's actually a confederation. Different companies can use the logo on their products provided they satisfy certain criteria. For example, that the labeled products were actually on TV. The e-commerce site, AsSeenOnTV.com, is the online storefront where many of these products can be directly purchased online.
The crowdfunding platform is expected to be like a Kickstarter for inventors. While this is exactly what Kickstarter itself was supposed to be, inventors with popular products—and lots of donations—often had production difficulties (the Pebble smartwatch saga is one of the more high-profile examples of plucky young inventors overreaching and, consequently, angering their customer base).
“The problem with crowdfunding is that people come in and don't know how to do manufacturing,” Harrington says. “But we assist them in these processes. We know just about every player in the ecosystem here and abroad. We know how to get headphones made.”
ASTV specifically looks for mass-market products that aren't too niche, that solve problems, and that are unique enough to have little competition. Think Snuggies and Pajama Jeans.
If you want to find the golden egg of direct response, look for goods that additionally promise a “magical transformation” (such as in one's body) or that have documented proof, such as Proactiv ointments.
It remains to be seen whether or not online crowdfunding will successfully add a new dimension to the marketing and selling of DRTV products. It's a way of potentially grabbing a larger slice of the online pie, though some DRTV marketers are skeptical about social media.
But as DRTV sales from 800 numbers decrease, Web channels, according to Pruett, now account for 20 to 30% of sales. In-store sales are also a growing source of revenue. “For every dollar made through television, five are made in-store," says Pruett. "Television is now a place where you promote the product, or it becomes a loss leader.”
According to a 2012 Time survey, 84% of people claim they wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they had to go a single day without their phones. I'd wager that number's probably gone up in the past year. I mean, 40% of people admit to checking their phones while they're on the can.
“I'm one of those people who would almost rather lose their wallet than their cell phone,” said Darren Klein, director of strategic accounts at Shazam, speaking at a recent BBDO/Proximity Worldwide Digital Lab session in NYC. “Your phone is never more than three feet away from you—it's on your nightstand the moment you wake up and you put it back there the moment before you fall asleep.”
That's the mobile reality, and it's also had a palpable impact on how most of us watch TV these days. Nearly 90% of mobile multi-taskers say they also use one or more one or more devices while sitting in front of the set.
Since consumers almost always have at least one eyeball glued to a second screen, it's no surprise that brands want to capitalize on the co-viewing phenomenon—and Shazam is looking to position itself as the conduit for content.
Shazam started life as a music identification app to save you from the agony of not being quite able to place the name of a tune, but in recent years it's been moving into television in a serious way. Now you can Shazam any TV show or national TV ad in the U.S. and the app will recognize it—which on the surface may just seem like a “nice to have,” but it's a function that's been parlayed into some interesting activations.
In the last several years, Shazam has done about 300 television campaigns. Take Jaguar, for example. The brand added a Shazam icon to the bottom of a recent TV spot for its new F-type in Australia with a call-to-action asking viewers to “Shazam to get inside the F-type.” When users Shazamed the spot, the app whisked them to additional content: a user-controlled “gyroscope panorama” that allowed them to get a 360-degree augmented reality view of the inside of the car, plus access to a mobile-optimized site. Users could even rev a virtual engine within the app experience. A second CTA (Shazam A/B tested two) asked viewers to “Shazam for a test drive.”
Music award shows and sporting events are particular sweet spots for Shazam, which has done work for the MTV Video Music Awards and Billboard. Shazam also powered more than one-third of the ads shown at last year's Super Bowl. And during the 2012 Olympics, P&G Shazam-enabled a 30-second ad to drive people to a specially designed mobile hub where they could delve deeper into athletes' stories.
“It essentially turned 30 seconds into an average of eight minutes of engagement,” said Klein. “There are just some stories you can't tell in 30 seconds.”
According to Klein, Shazam can increase a brand's campaign engagement by roughly 68%, a number that'll probably go up when the company launches its first round of native advertising placements this week.
Though Shazam doesn't have much in the way of demographic information about its users—people need to react quickly to Shazam something, which means most aren't logged in when they use the app—Shazam can target users with precision once they've made the first move and actually Shazamed something.
“Anything in the Shazam experience can be measured, as in anything the consumer does,” said Rich Riley, Shazam's newly minted CEO, who came on board in July. “The follow-on ad can be segmented because we know what was Shazamed and where they were, and we have their device ID, so we can send them messages after they've Shazamed—though we don't have their age or income, etcetera.”
But Shazam is taking pains to make sure its metrics are up to snuff. For example, by combining its data with Nielsen data, Shazam can track how responsive consumers are to TV ads. Said Klein: “Nielsen can tell you how many people viewed something; Shazam can tell you how many people cared.”
And speaking of numbers, here are a few more: Shazam has 350 million users worldwide—100 million in the U.S. alone—who use the app more than 15 million times a day. And recently Shazam celebrated a kind of milestone: The number of Shazam tags hit 10 billion, which is three billion more than there are people in the world. I think we can all agree that's a heck of a lot of Shazams.
While analyzing record second quarter earnings for Salesforce.com a few weeks ago, CEO Marc Benioff gave partial credit for a 30% revenue bump to the company's addition of ExactTarget—and specifically its Pardot marketing automation arm—to its Marketing Cloud. Salesforce had just acquired the company in June. Could it really have made a difference that quickly? Or was Benioff justifying the whopping $2.5 billion price tag to shareholders? It nagged at me to get on the phone with people who know better (than me, that is) to answer the overwhelming question: What's the magic behind marketing automation and why are companies like Salesforce and Oracle shelling out a billion bucks and more to add it to their arsenals?
I recently hosted a webcast featuring a company called Demandbase. Its approach is to use data to help B2B players sell the most stuff to the most appropriate prospects while breezing by the tire-kickers. That sounded a lot like the promise of marketing automation to me, so I asked Demandbase CMO Greg Ott if marketing automation was living up to its notices.
“Companies are spending a lot of money on marketing, and marketers are spending a lot on technology, but what kind of technology you buy depends on your type of business,” he said. “The fact is that most marketing automation is used by B2B companies in concert with their email marketing programs. ExactTarget was first and foremost an email marketing company when it bought Pardot, and that turned out to be one of ExactTarget's most astute business moves. They paid about a hundred million for it and it accounted for about a billion dollars worth of the Salesforce deal.”
Ott's ultimate point is that marketing automation is but one layer in the marketing tech stack. He ticks off several significant new methods being used by marketers that are untouched by marketing automation: content marketing, customer engagement enhancement, and testing and optimization.
“It's kind of the girl with the curl right now,” Ott said. “Everybody figures, ‘I've got to have this thing.' “But the 80-20 rule is in play with marketing automation. Eighty percent of the people who have it use only 20% of its capability.”
And an even smaller percentage actually have it. “Only four to six percent of companies are using marketing automation, and a big chunk are tech companies,” says VP and GM of Pardot Adam Blitzer. “They're the quickest to embrace change, but we're starting to cross that chasm now. Some really good-size businesses outside of tech are coming on board.”
So while one might wonder why Salesforce would spend $2.5 billion for what appears to be a niche business used by only 5% of industrial enterprises, Blitzer's retort is that Salesforce got into the game for the promise of the other 95%. Blitzer, a personable and plain-spoken tech exec, was able to make a simple case for the importance of marketing automation that I, summoning up my six years of experience in sales, was able to appreciate. It goes something like this:
Marketers are increasingly being looked upon by senior management at B2B companies as revenue-generators. Because sales cycles tend to be long in those companies and are closed by sales reps who take most of the credit (and all of the commission), the only way B2B marketers can earn their bonuses is by producing and tracking solid leads that convert.
Salespeople tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit—big legacy clients. Marketers' opportunities, then, reside higher up the tree (and the sales funnel) where a feature of marketing automation called lead nurturing comes into play. While sales shuns these prospects, marketing uses automation and data analysis to examine their buying process and conversion potential. Once categorized, the system automatically communicates with the prospects in a manner and frequency that could bring them back into the discussion. If they take certain actions laid out by a company in its marketing automation platform, they are promoted as warm leads and sent back to sales. Sales now has a qualified lead and potential new account that it spent no time nurturing. That makes both sales and marketing happy, and the B2B world is a better place.
An automation program can also keep a seller's name in front of lost accounts. “We all lose deals,” says Blitzer, “But if you're good enough to have been a finalist and you know who you lost to and the duration of the contract signed, you can position yourself for the next deal.” A common approach is to keep light contact with lost accounts with content-driven emails providing thought leadership and information on trend-setting products. “Your automation system will increase contact as the contract expiration approaches. If you win back only 5% of these accounts, it moves the needle on your business,” says Blitzer, who notes that the process is something few salespeople have the time or inclination to do.
The final raison d'etre for marketing automation stems from analytics – an area most CRM systems are isolated from. Marketing automation will engage in social listening and website monitoring of top-of-the-funnel prospects being ignored by salespeople, who will be tipped off, for instance, that Mr. X was on the company site checking out Product Z and maybe could use a call or an email. Once again, it's potential found money for sales and a trackable lead for marketing.
Marketing automation may not be setting the world on fire yet, but it is a catalyst for B2B marketers to take themselves to a place senior management is insisting they inhabit. It's a scary place called The Land of Measurable ROI, and you have to journey over the stormy Sea of Sales to get there.
“Marketing automation is not just a matter of changing tools and systems,” Blitzer says, “It's also a matter of changing your process if you want it to be as successful as it can be. The more agile companies are the ones more likely to adopt it. ”
Manliness typically isn't a campaign metric marketers measure. But Heineken beer brand Tecate and Hispanic digital media company Terra asked consumers “Are You Hombre (Man) Enough?” in a multichannel challenge to drive brand engagement and awareness.
“Are You Hombre Enough?”—produced by Tecate's media agency MediaVest 42 Degrees—fuses digital, social, and offline interactions to create “real life” and “virtual life,” life experiences for the target consumer—bicultural millennials who are 21 or older—says Tecate's Brand Director Gustavo Guerra. To reach consumers offline, DEPORTadas, two “sassy” bilingual female sports journalists, are traveling to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas (all areas with high concentrations of the target demographic) to interview men on their level of manliness.
Tecate also drives consumers to the online realm by featuring photos and videos of the DEPORTadas interviews on the campaign's website. People are then asked to vote for which participant is the most “hombre” by ranking the gentleman on a one to five beer can scale—with one beer can being “you're no hombre” and five beer cans being “bold hombre.” The manliest man of them all, as well as one random voter, will be eligible for the chance to win tickets to a sporting event. The campaign site also features information on the DEPORTadas, a map featuring where they're traveling to next, as well as a portal that allows fans to register for the chance to win a trip to the U.S. Soccer Finals. To register, participants must enter their name, birthdate, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and email address.
However, Tecate makes it difficult for fans to participate. Before entering the website, consumers must verify that they're 21 or older by signing in with their Facebook accounts. This verification process gives Terra access to consumers' public profile, friend list, email address, birthday, current city, personal description, and likes. The consumer is then greeted personally and asked to like Tecate's Facebook page before they can access any of the content. This multi-step process seems to be affecting Tecate's results. According to the brand's YouTube channel, the video featuring the DEPORTadas in Chicago only has 23 views and the clip of them in Los Angeles only has 25.
Fans can also engage with the brand via Tecate's Facebook page, which currently has more than 314,750 likes. Fans can determine their “Tecate Hombre Score” by taking a timed manliness quiz via the brand's Facebook app. Participants can then share their score with others and have the chance to win up to $3,000 in cash or gift certificates. However, this engagement portal also comes with a data price. In order to participate, fans must again log in via Facebook or provide their email address. Again, Tecate asks for consumers' age to screen for minors.
While I appreciate Tecate's effort to only cater to those of a legal drinking age, I'm disappointed with how much data the brand collects. If the whole point of the campaign is to engage consumers, why would you block them from engaging with your content? The brand wants consumers to watch and vote on their videos—they can't do that if they can't access the videos. And if their consumers are anything like me, and granted I don't fit their target demographic, they'll get frustrated with all the steps they have to take and just abandon the campaign all together. To me, it says the brand values their consumers' data more than the consumers themselves. It feels like a one-sided relationship, where I'm forced to give or I won't receive anything in return.
I understand brands want to learn more about their customers, but if they want them to be customers for life, they have to give them some value. The campaign is scheduled to run until the end of October, but I think Tecate should make a few changes before then. For instance, I would advise Tecate to let fans access some content without having to log in. This allows people who are new to Tecate to explore the brand and rewards old customers for coming back. Plus it allows people to share the content, which drives engagement. Tecate could then invite fans to take a deeper dive into the brand by providing some content that requires fans to fork over their data. However, this gives consumers a choice of how deeply they want to engage with the brand instead of giving them an all-or-nothing ultimatum.
Plus, I feel like the brand pigeon-holes what manliness looks like. I know a lot of men like beer, sports, and women, but it would have been refreshing for the brand to show a wider range of men in their campaign, such as students, family men, or even young entrepreneurs.
I guess I'm just not hombre enough for Tecate, which is probably a good thing.
You slave away developing content to market your brand or drive sales only to find by the end of the week that the only individuals who consumed it are your mom and your dog, who devoured the printouts you left on the floor.
Skip Besthoff, CEO of InboundWriter, an application that optimizes content marketing, says that 20% of content typically drives 80% of traffic. He points out an example from a client he's working with: “For this really large site with 85,767 pieces of content, .5% drives 34% of traffic,” he says. “The top 1% of content drives 43% of organic traffic.
To put it in the parlance of a losing football team: When it comes to content, marketers leave a lot on the field.
Another example: A writer “with a decent Klout score” wrote something that spiked, then immediately flatlined.
“We view this as a problem,” Besthoff says. “If you're a publisher and you put a lot of effort into content and you drive 6,000 visits, that's worth around $30. So most people are losing money.”
Marketers may be pressured by their penny-pinching higher-ups to measure the results of a piece of content—tracking it over the numerous channels on which it's published and republished. But how do they know, before they invest time and energy into the creative process, whether that content will be successful in the first place?
Besthoff says it's a matter of knowing what else is out there, how your content stacks up from an SEO perspective and in terms of the competition (not coincidentally, InboundWriter is releasing a solution today that does precisely that). In other words, it's about finding the term that's most popular and positioning the piece advantageously against competitors.
Consider an article about, say, student loan relief. I watch as Besthoff plugs the term into his solution, which uses natural language processing to scan the Web and pull about 500 pieces of content—as well as the writers or businesses that authored the content. Other, seemingly synonymous terms like “student debt relief,” Besthoff finds, are by comparison less heavily searched for. In other words, there's a reason “student loan relief” is such a competitive term from an SEO standpoint.
There are other factors, Besthoff says, that affect the tendency for content to surface. Being associated with a heavily trafficked site (like Citibank, to pick a hypothetical) will naturally increase the chances of content to be found, even if it's reliant on highly competitive search terms.
For marketers who aren't associated with the top sites in their respective industry, finding the right search term—and consequently the right topic—is a matter of drilling into a level of specificity. Take “back-country skiing,” another term Besthoff sampled and found both highly popular and, consequently, competitive.
Better terms? According to InboundWriter's solution, something that zeroed in on a specific back-country destinations like Whiteface Mountain or Lake Placid. Ultimately, it's a matter of finding the right topics before investing the time and energy into developing content around it.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. It's a life philosophy applicable to everything from fashion to oral hygiene—and it's also true for game mechanics in the marketing world, says game expert Jim Wexler, president and founder of gamification strategy company Experiences Unlimited.
“These days, a lot of people think anything can be gamified—like gamification is a magic wand you can wave at something and make it suddenly appealing,” says Wexler, who's also chair of the 2013 Enterprise Game Forum, taking place in NYC on September 24 and 25. “What we're talking about starts with the strategy, because to me gamification is an activation exercise.”
At its best gamification delivers users with a relevant, contextual experience centered on meaningful learning that mirrors the way people engage in real life. At its worst—or shall we say at its least effective—it's an ultimately pointless distraction.
It's like the difference between a cat food brand making you play a long, drawn-out bizarre catch-the-red-dot iPad game to win a $1 coupon for salmon kibble (annoying/I just made that up) and an insurance brand like AXA Equitable. AXA's “Pass it on” app deftly demonstrates the unpredictability of life and the importance of buying life insurance by creating an emotional connection with users. No easy feat, considering that life insurance products are difficult to understand, often boring (despite being important), and scary because they put mortality on the mind.
But AXA was able to take something complex and make it connective. Players move through the levels of “Pass it on” looking for pots of gold and a protective shield to safeguard them from danger. Fairly typical game play. But before starting out, a player also creates digital avatars for his or her family members who can take over if the original player loses—but only if the shield has been acquired. As the game progresses, the message is elegantly put across: The game of life is fun. It's also unpredictable. But by protecting yourself with the shield of life insurance the game doesn't have to be over for the others if the main player doesn't move on to the next level.
“Companies need to ask themselves what they care about,” says Wexler. “If your brand isn't about anything and you can't decide what your key driver is, then what are you even trying to gamify?”
The idea of mastery, of learning, is essential to successful gamification and appeals to something deep and primal within us all.
“Since the earliest dawn of mankind, when people would learn something or master a challenge, the reward would be dopamine flowing into their brain,” he says. “Those same exact mechanics are not only present in gamers—they're why games have become an art form and the most popular medium in the twenty-first century.”
A tick in the “pro” column for marketers on the gamification fence. “The good news is that the effectiveness of gamification has been proven over the millennia,” says Wexler.
The caveat? Make sure to have a game plan in place first. Pointless marketing shell games aren't going to fly with consumers.
“You can articulate the essence of a brand through the lens of gamification,” says Wexler. “But it's only going to work if there's a meaningful challenge and a strong message at the core.”
It's hard not to take marketing seriously—especially if you're a brand with a reputation to uphold. As a consequence, some brands choose to play it safe, often using more traditional approaches to their communications, even within digital channels. Others, like South Park Studios, allow their brand personalities to shine through in the most unexpected ways, creating memorable experiences, and adding depth to the brand.
Here are seven often-overlooked places that brands can take add character into their marketing:
Unsubscribe pages. Most unsubscribe pages simply inform the customers that they no longer belong to a particular mailing list. Not so with HubSpot. “Unsubscribes typically mirror a breakup: they are highly unlovable, often awkward, and can be really frustrating for all parties involved,” says HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe. “We decided to double down on the breakup concept and leverage Dan Sally, a HubSpot employee who happens to moonlight as a stand-up comedian, to work on camera trying to make sense of the 'breakup.' The result is a short, funny video that aims to leave the prospect or customer with a positive, lovable impression of HubSpot even if they no longer want to receive our emails."
Holding pages. “Every interaction with your customer should be treated as an opportunity to engage, says Jen Tucker, strategy director at Deepend. “Never let a customer see you not at your best.” Take for example, a holding page for Artbank.
Print ads. TV network “TLC brings TV right to your nose in an innovative and [somewhat] disturbing way,” says Sarah Pritts, public relations and social media strategist at LEAP. “The advertising industry has responded to mass commoditization by turning up the volume [and] the sheer noise in the marketplace is starting to produce negative returns for brands. So, when TLC proposed a scratch-and-sniff mailer, distributed through People and US Weekly, that allowed viewers to smell the appropriate scent when prompted during the season premier of Honey Boo Boo, it was exactly the type of disruption the brand needed. Albeit…pretty gross.”
404 error page. “It's true, even web programmers are human,” Tran quips. “And thus, with humanity comes the occasional error in the form of a broken or dead web link. If that happens on your watch, go ahead and laugh at your mistake and deliver a memorable 404 page. Even an error page is a touchpoint for your brand to express its personality. Ensure a fun connection like South Park Studios, which rotates a variety of hilarity on its broken web page alert. Hit refresh repeatedly.” Here are some more examples from Uniqlo, Rareview, and Huwshimi.
Language options. “Be whimsical, use every opportunity to do small things across your digital platforms to show your customers your personality,” Tucker says. One example is Innocent Drinks: Clicking on the Australian flag in the language options at the bottom of the page flips the website upside down. It's “a really cute hidden play on the land down under,” she says.
How-to tutorials. Lowe's provides users with helpful tips on managing their DIY projects on its website, but instead of using verbose step-by-step guides, the brand introduced six-second videos on Vine. “By giving tips on everything from wrapping a rubber band around pliers if you need an extra hand to hold the pliers in place; to using a rubber band to get a stripped screw out of a wall, they are giving their audience what they want in a new and innovative way,” Pritts says. Thinking of finally hanging those pictures on the wall? There's an awesome hack involving a Post-It among the 33 videos under #lowesfixinsix.
Fundraising. To retain its impartiality and independence, Wikipedia turns down funding from governments or corporations and is funded entirely by user donations. “While most organizations will opt to [launch]...creative advertising campaigns, smartphone apps, and the like to generate donations, Wikipedia chooses to put a small heartfelt letter to their readers at the top of their website once a year,” Tucker says, adding that to thank users for their generosity, Wikipedia sends them “an emotional and inspiring letter...from the Executive Director, [which] makes the entire process from start to finish seamless and positive.”
Soaking in a hot tub, head crowned with a shower cap, drummer Mick Shrimpton is asked by mockumentarian Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) about his philosophy of life in the film This is Spinal Tap.
“Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” replies Shrimpton.
“What if there's no more rock and roll?” asks DiBergi.
“Well,” drawls Shrimpton, “As long as there's sex and drugs, I can do without rock and roll.”
And as long as there's a cheap, safe way to get from D.C. to Boston, thrifty travelers can do without a great customer experience. A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer last month chronicled the increasing popularity of bus travel linking Philly with other major destinations in the Northeast Corridor. Following a three-decade decline in bus travel, the city saw trips grow 7.5% between 2011 and 2012, and the paper noted that discount bus trips grew more than 30% nationwide during that time.
Carriers such as Greyhound's Bolt Bus and Coach USA's MegaBus have resurrected bus travel by wooing young professionals and college students with clean bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and low fares. Weekday trips from Philadelphia to New York can cost $10 and fares from New York to Boston on a Saturday rarely top $25. Add to that a noted dearth of ex-cons and screaming kids onboard, and today's bus experience is pleasantly bearable. As 20-year-old Brian Raczynski told the Inquirer: “Price is all. I'm not picky.”
I am a fairly frequent user of the new-age buses, though I don't fit the profile of the average customer. I am hardly young, but thoroughly cheap. (It now occurs to me that I may be one of the few riders suspected of recent residence in a correctional facility.) Like the average patron, I expect and accept shoddy treatment for my meager fare. Following a recent excursion to Providence with MegaBus, however, I was consternated by the carrier's superfluous dalliance with customer experience. What's the point?
It started weeks before the departure date. After purchasing my ticket online, I was presented with a reservation number and told to keep it in case I lost the ticket that would be emailed to me. I never got an email. I called customer service, was pleasantly surprised to be connected immediately to a polite agent, who emailed me a new ticket.
On the day of the trip—my annual pilgrimage to the Newport Jazz Festival outside Providence—I arrived early at MegaBus's outdoor embarkation point across the street from the Javits Center. It's a horrible ordeal, lined up against a chain link fence with no defined lines for any of eight buses. It can be hot or stormy, and you are advised to have a switchblade to ward off line-cutters. But I know the deal and I'm OK with it. It comes with my $40 round-trip ticket. On this day, lines come and go and ours doesn't move. The bus is running 40 minutes late, we're told. An hour elapses, a MegaBus employee says our bus is in Manhattan, but they've lost track of it somewhere around 57th Street. The hardy MegaBus travelers are mildly annoyed, but docile. Two hours after the scheduled departure time, we begin to board.
I hand the attendant my ticket and he hands it back. “This ticket's no good,” he says. “It's for Saturday. Today's Friday.” I check the ticket. It says Friday, Aug. 3, on it. Except that this is Friday, Aug. 2. The customer service agent emailed me my ticket from last year. I give the attendant my reservation number, but he says that's no good. I have to buy a new ticket for $35 to get on the bus, which I do. (Later, in Providence, I phone MegaBus and a new agent figures out the problem. I misspelled my email address when I purchased the ticket. She corrects it and emails me a new return ticket.)
MegaBus has a strict no-refund policy, but I think I have a case here, since the first agent didn't check the date of the ticket before sending it to me. I email customer service and ask them if they could waive the no-refund policy in this case, because the first agent couldn't figure out what the second agent quickly did. I received a reply stating “Thank you for your recent e-mail to megabus.com. We read all e-mails, however the current response time is approximately 5 days.”
Day 5 comes and no response. On Day 6, however, I get an email from MegaBus President and COO Dale Moser telling me I am an important member of the MegaBus family and that they want to get to know me better and how was my recent trip? Crappy, I indicate throughout the survey, giving them steady ones on their 1-5 scoring scale and writing in a comment box that it's Bolt bus for me from now on and that I would only refer them on pain of death. I figure that might raise a flag in their Voice of Customer platform that will cause them to engage me.
On Day 7, I get a response to my original email from a lady named Tiffany telling me to take a hike. I write back saying I just sunk their Net Promoter Score a couple of points on my survey and that a company so eager to include me in their family might find it cheaper and better for business to just shoot me a $25 voucher toward a future trip. Instead I get a response from “Natal” essentially telling me to make sure I enter my email right next time and to bugger off for now.
The thing is, they know I'll be back no matter what. Even with the extra $35 I had to dish out, my round-trip fare was less than half what I'd have paid on Amtrak. What I want to know, MegaBus, is why waste money playing at customer experience with staffs and surveys? Fire half the customer service staff, dump the VoC provider, and use the savings to give us even cheaper fares. As the young, but wise, Mr. Raczynski stated, “Price is all.”
When I first read that Pillsbury Toaster Strudel was introducing a new brand ambassador, Hans Strudel, my heart skipped a beat. Is this the death of the Pillsbury Doughboy? I wondered. I had grown up with Doughboy (a.k.a Poppin' Fresh) and had developed a fondness for his pokable belly and distinct “hoo-hoo!” giggle. My aunt and uncle even had matching Doughboy and Doughgirl salt and pepper shakers.
Thankfully, John Williams III, marketing manager for Toaster Strudel, settled my nerves. He notified me that while Hans would be the new face of Toaster Strudel, Doughboy would remain the mascot for the overall Pillsbury portfolio. Phew! Crisis adverted.
So who is this Hans guy, anyway? Apparently, Hans is a young, blonde lad who dresses in blue lederhosen and originates from Breakfürg. As his name and apparel suggest, Hans was born out of inspiration from Toaster Strudel's “Germanesque” brand heritage. He was adopted into the Toaster Strudel family as part of a new multichannel campaign.
“The brand has focused on traditional advertising for the last 20 years,” Williams says. “But new insights regarding moms [or] parents seeking help getting their families moving in the morning inspired our new campaign development.”
Toaster Strudel introduced Hans through a series of three television commercials that kicked off August 5. In one of the spots, a mother struggles with getting her kids out the door for school. Hans knocks down the front door and presents the family with Toaster Strudel to help “get zem going.”
But because millennials are Toaster Strudel's core consumer, the brand decided to leverage more digital and social channels to engage with this target audience more directly.
For example, on August 27 and 28, Toaster Strudel hosted the Breakfürg Strudel Workshop in New York. In addition to entertaining attendees with live polka music, Toaster Strudel introduced the Strudel Düdeler. Sounds impressive, ya?
The Strudel Düdeler is a strudel decorating machine powered by tweets. Fans could tweet a message describing how they get moving in the morning along with the hashtag #StrudelArt. The Strudel Düdeler then converted a few select tweets into Strudel Art —or icing designs on top of an actual Toaster Strudel. Toaster Strudel then tweeted participants pictures of their Strudel Art and gave the decorated Toaster Strudel to people in New York to enjoy. More than 3,000 people attended the events.
In addition, Williams says Toaster Strudel launched its first Facebook and Twitter platforms. The Toaster Strudel Facebook page has accumulated approximately 66,700 Facebook likes and has more than 1,900 Twitter followers since launching the platforms on August 2.
If you're reading this blog post you're reading it on a screen. If you're planning on looking at any news today, that's likely to happen on a screen, too. At some point this afternoon you'll take a break from work, drink a tepid coffee, and use your phone to check out this video of a cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba. And tonight you'll probably watch a bit of TV with a tablet in your lap.
It's a multiscreen world.
In fact, 71% of Americans consume media on at least two devices a day, according to research by multiscreen ad company Collective. The bulk of ad spend is still rooted in television, but a number like 71% makes you stop and think.
“That really raises the stakes for marketers to reach consumers on other screens,” says Collective CMO Ed Dandridge. “Now more than ever marketers, in order to drive ROI, need to have a precise understanding of the space and be data-driven.”
It's the foundational tenet underpinning “Life is but a screen,” Collective's recently launched integrated self-promotion campaign targeted at C-suite marketers, CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs—basically the decision-makers and shakers who hold the marketing purse strings.
The campaign touts “Wherevertising,” Collective's proprietary tool which aims to help users deliver coordinated media buys. In short, the marketing Holy Grail of right message, right place, right time, right format, right audience.
Buying time for a Super Bowl commercial is awesome—millions of people will see your zany beer ad—but included in that massive audience will invariably also be millions of people who won't care. It can't be helped.
“Most of television, almost all, is about buying content as a proxy,” says Dandridge. “By default, you're buying a demographic which might not be relevant to you, and it's as precise as you can get—but with digital, you can get great precision of audience.”
There's no question digital targeting should be in every marketing mix—or at least on the mind of every marketer—but the last thing Collective wanted was for its campaign messaging to come off as intimidating.
“Every day these people see articles telling them if they're not investing in mobile they're quantum leaps behind everyone else,” says Griffin Stenger, partner at The Concept Farm. Stenger's agency pitched in on a facet of the “Screen” campaign focusing on C-suite execs, in particular large advertising verticals with massive budgets like pharma, entertainment, retail, auto, and insurance. “The last thing these people need is disruption; they already feel disrupted.”
Cobblers know shoes (though their children probably don't have any), and marketers know marketing, which is why “Life is but a screen” had to be spot on. Collective used a multichannel combination of online ads, mobile, geo-targeted OOH, video, and TV spots—one of which is running in the elevators of buildings where top Manhattan ad agencies have their offices—to demonstrate the benefits of Wherevertising to its target market of savvy marketers who need to embrace the new multiscreen reality while keeping an eye on the bottom line. The cornerstone of the campaign is an updated version of 1950s doo-wop classic “Life is but a dream” developed and sung by Collective Creative Director Britta Hoskins. (“Life is but a screen to keep you entertained and up-to-speed on news; to let you share your wish for those designer shoes, life is but a screen, sweetheart...”)
Yet another phase of Collective's initiative specifically targets political campaign managers and media strategists in super-competitive Washington D.C. with a series of ads that weave smartphones into iconic pieces of art and place mobile devices into the hands of historic personages—the “early adopters of their time,” as Dandridge puts it. In one ad, for example, Machiavelli grasps an iPhone and iPad beside the tagline, “The end justifies the screens.”
Says H. Robert Greenbaum of Gale Martin Advertising, who collaborated on the copy: “Hey, the ads say, if we changed history back in the day, we can do it again for you and your candidates.”
Whether we're talking CMOs or politicos, Dandridge says data's the way to go.
“What's been happening in the marketplace—just look at Omnicom and Publicis—is driven by the recognition that the real opportunity for marketers lies in a more strategic, integrated, programmatic approach,” says Dandridge. “It's not just about buying thematic content like sports to reach men or reality shows to reach women—it's about reaching an audience in a more precise way.”
A report released by Experian this spring states that an average U.S. desktop user spends 16 minutes of every hour on social media sites (that's 27% for non-Math majors). On mobile, users spend as much as 15% of their time on social networks. Brands need to be where their customers are, so it's not surprising that according to a study by HubSpot, over one fifth of marketers say that social media has moved into a more prominent position in their company's priorities in the past six months.
Social is where it's at; but too often marketers overlook the “social” aspect of the medium. Social media is an opportunity for brands to connect with their audiences, encourage their input, engage in conversation, and nurture creativity. Unlike most other channels, it's reciprocal: Audiences talk back and brands should embrace that. Brands that do can bask in social love.
Here are nine tips on social media strategy from industry experts:
Dare to be different. “If you don't have something relevant or entertaining to say, you're going to be a flatlining-snoozefest whether you're a big or small brand,” says Ly Tran, director of digital strategy at Proof Advertising. Consider Cargill's Schweigert Meats brand, which launched its first ever Facebook page this May. Instead of creating another Facebook foodie page littered with food porn photography and repurposed recipes, Proof Advertising created custom content, memorable memes, and videos living up to the brand's no-nonsense tagline, "Overly Uncomplicated.”
Unleash your brand personality. “Consumers want brands to have personality, charm, and consistency,” says Bill Sussman, president and CEO of Collective Bias. “Without genuineness, you won't be able to build the kind of relationships you want with your customers. Be straight with them and incorporate them in your inner circle. The result will be advocacy and loyalty, something all brand managers want from their customers.”
Be crafty. “Taking one platform's communication message, repurposing and leveraging it on another platform…shows the customer that the brand is listening and gaining inspiration from their loyal audience,” says Sarah Pritts, public relations and social media strategist at LEAP. Consider “Wendy's, [who] launched its newest sandwich, the pretzel bun and bacon-cheeseburger, by taking tweets and creating love songs/videos on YouTube. Consumers want to be a part of the brand…and Wendy's has done its followers—and itself) a huge favor by taking the customers' words verbatim, and promoting both their product and social channels.”
Hear out your audience. “Your customers' voices and opinions are now perhaps even more important than your company's own, so do whatever it takes to ensure they're on your side,” says Michelle Lauer, account coordinator at Lucid Agency, who recommends taking full advantage of the potentially interactive nature of tools like QR codes and interaction channels like social networks. “Be responsive to any and all feedback and establish a dialogue with users. One-way marketing is boring and old-fashioned. Monologues are dull; conversations are not. Engagement is the name of the game.”
Reward creativity. “Social media users love getting creative,” says Mairead Ridge, marketing manager at Offerpop. “Seek user-generated content, like photos, videos, and artwork. Reward them for their submissions by featuring them on Facebook, or offering great prizes. You'll see engagement skyrocket.”
Try social video. “HEY! Did I get your attention? That's the first goal of marketing: to break through the clutter and get the viewer's attention,” says Devra Prywes, VP of marketing and insight at Unruly Media. The second goal is to convert. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase if a product has been recommended by somebody in their social circles, so Prywes advises brands go beyond static reviews and try “social video: user initiated branded content from advertisers that is highly shared…and generate an army of sharing consumers advocating for your product and brand.”
Connect emotionally. Too often, brands are preoccupied with the functional utility of their products at the expense of becoming detached from their audiences. “Great content opens up an emotional connection people have with the products they use,” Sussman says. “It helps [customers] understand not only how to use [the products], but what problem they solve, personally. Taking that approach spawns pictures, recipes, ideas—[in short,] great content.” Ridge agrees: “Connect with your community's passions first, and sell your products second.”
Ask for it. “If you want more engagement with your social posts, ask for it,” Ridge advises. “Seek your fans' opinions on relevant news articles, run social quizzes around hot trends and topics. Prove that you want to hear from them, and then make sure to respond to their comments.”
Live in the moment. “Oreo's tweet when the lights went out during the 2013 SuperBowl set a new precedent for “timely” posts,” Pritts says. “Allow the brand to exist in the moment. Instead of [solely] developing huge campaigns that take months of planning and execution, also develop smaller, timely campaigns that help the brand maintain its voice, but are tied to current events. You never know what opportunity may present itself if you give it a chance.”
Am I the only one sick of hearing about Big Data? I don't mean the actual oceans of new data being churned by ever-more capable technology for the benefit of humanity and marketers' conversion rates. I mean the two words that are automatically stamped on any new intersection of “unstructured” data and cloud computing. Be honest. If someone asked you to define Big Data in a sentence or two, could you do it? I couldn't. Luckily, my job affords me the opportunity to pick up the phone and crib wisdom from big-time industry brains without forking over a five-figure retainer.
Todd Cullen would certainly blanch at being called a big brain. He's a mild-mannered, unassuming Midwesterner who loves baseball and plays the electric bass. He also spent most of the past decade--the formative years of Big Data--at Acxiom, one of the world's primary collectors and disseminators of consumer data. He culminated his career there as VP of Global Data Products. This week, Cullen became the first Chief Data Officer at Ogilvy & Mather, and one of the first with that title in the agency business. He will assume responsibilities for expanding the global data and analytics practice, which was established by Dimitri Maex, promoted to managing director of OgilvyOne New York last year.
If anyone can explain Big Data, Cullen can. So I called him. He could. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
Where does all the confusion over Big Data come from?
People confuse data with technology. There are a lot of tech companies pitching new tools and platforms and marketers get intimidated. They need to do something about it, but they're intimidated because it's tech. Data's been around forever. It's just that there's a lot more of it, and there is technology available now to deal with it.
So how can marketers get their heads around it?
By thinking of Big Data as all the actual data, but now tech-enabled. Because of all the personal communications devices out there—mobile phones, Nike Fuel Bands--new data is being created every day that has never existed before. Marketers have been using data for years, buying lists, for instance. Now there are different types of data, unstructured data.
And new machinery to manipulate it. Together, they form “Big Data?”
So when we're talking data behind Big Data, are we talking about the so-called unstructured data, like social media reviews, that don't fit on a spreadsheet?
No, all types of data. It's fairly simple. Marketers should start by just accepting the fact that increased data and technology are givens. They are going to have to deal with it no matter what. It's more about getting access to the right data. There's no way any single marketer, or even any large data provider like Acxiom or Experian, can ever use all the data out there, right? So if a marketer accepts that as true, then the issue must really be about finding the needles in the haystacks. The haystacks are Big Data, the needles are the right data.
Just so we're clear, those haystacks are comprised of …
Your own first-party data plus intent-based, in-market data outside your purview, such as customers interacting and talking about your brand on third-party sites. Securing access to the right data means finding what's valuable in your own data set as well as what's outside your enterprise, and a lot of it is coming in a form that doesn't look anything like a list.
Are the haystacks just going to keep getting bigger?
Yes, with something called personal data. It's data that's collected about me indirectly, like my geographic location collected by cell towers. That data is sitting somewhere. It's a new frontier that hasn't really been explored yet that's about to blow up in six months or so when Google and Apple come out with smartwatches.
The hallways beneath the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY—host site of the annual US Open tournament—have all the harmony of rush hour in Manhattan. United States Tennis Association (USTA) staff bull their way through the passages and the ball boys in their Polo Ralph Lauren blues—I swear they've got that horse logo on some sort of growth hormone—march single file toward center court. Stop moving, get pancaked from behind.
But as much as the US Open runs on human sweat and activity, it also relies heavily on the movement of extensive and granular data sets—from athlete and match information pumped to media and broadcast partners to fan engagement stats that let US Open staff know how exactly to allocate their digital resources.
The room where much of this takes place is quieter by comparison to the rest of the US Open premises—a modest cinder block cell with monitor banks and stats from last year's matches painted on the wall: "Of the 127 matches played in the men's singles championship, nearly 20% went to a decisive 5th set." Or: "Serena Williams lost serves just 6 times in the 7 matches en route to the women's singles championship."
It's this obsessive granularity and attention to detail that by necessity characterizes the USTA's digital strategy. The organization, which extended by four years its 23-year partnership with IBM, operates like a small business throughout much of the year. But when the US Open hits at summer's end, the chatter, online-content searchers, ticket buyers, and schedule seekers spike—meaning, the entire USTA is suddenly buffeted by a lot of information in a short amount of time.
Its data variety and volume is fired with the blistering velocity of a tennis serve. In other words, it's the three V's that most analysts use to characterize Big Data. Add a populace that demands real-time mobile content—the flashpoint occurred, according to USTA Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships Nicole Jeter West, just last year—and the US Open suddenly finds itself a digital event as much as it is a live one.
Building a data stadium
The infrastructure that the USTA and IBM use to support the US Open has been steadily evolving since 1990. From a website to a basic mobile app, the current technology now supports platforms on mobile handsets, tablets, and of course the branded website. From an architectural standpoint, the USTA's digital presence migrated last year to a private cloud, spread across three virtualized service delivery locations (other tenants on the cloud include the three other major tennis events that constitute the Grand Slam tournaments, the Tony Awards, and IBM itself).
The move to a private cloud was big for Jeter West because USTA needed scalability and flexibility—especially since the organization posts up-to-the-moment analysis and content using technology from IBM's Smarter Commerce stack. For instance, the SlamTracker provides real-time statistical analysis on player performance; it also uses predictive analytics to examine eight years of Grand Slam Tennis data to find patterns around players, and applies this information against each player's opponents to determine the keys to a victory.
The problem is that is a lot of content needs to be delivered with near immediacy. (Note: Fans actually at the Billie Jean King Center will find that Time Warner's “high-speed internet” transfers information with the speed of a dead carrier pigeon). Most institutions can get by with a better-late-than-never approach. But at the US Open, there are no do-overs for whiffing.
“For us, there is no recovery time,” Jeter West says. “We have to have it all now or else it's missed.”
The move to the private cloud, and tying it into social and mobile analytics, allows the USTA to better allocate resources to accomplish this. For instance, if an upcoming match features a much-hyped player, the USTA will note an increase in social chatter, determine the player's popularity, and predict the upcoming schedule. Through this, the USTA can begin planning exactly what it will need in order to serve the right content, information, and analytics to customers.
Eyes on the ball
Planning for each US Open begins at the end of the previous year's tournament, when Jeter West's team and IBM look at the data and analytics to determine growth points and areas that can be improved. Last year was, as everybody knows, the Year of Mobile.
And this changed significantly the way people consume US Open information. Traditionally, the high points had come midday on weekdays, likely during those workplace-related procrastination binges that include Facebook, Reddit, and gossip blogs. But mobile has stimulated significant growth in weekend viewership when consumers glance down from the church pews to check out the latest updates.
Tracking this shift led to monetization opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise existed. Last year Jeter West noted there had been significant lift in the US Open's branded tablet and mobile handset apps. Moreover, she was able to see exactly where on those apps audiences were spending time—typically around scores and schedules.
There were proof points that the USTA could take to sponsors: We know where the eyeballs are. And this presented monetization opportunities that hadn't previously existed. For instance, USTA developed TrendCast for American Express, a sponsored addition to the US Open app that incorporated trending topics and original radio programming.
Game. Set. Match.
The US Open will continue until September 9. And there will likely be upsets, like the stunner that Haitian-America Victoria Duval leveled against 2011 US Open champ Samantha Stosur. But if Jeter West has her way, those unexpected surprises will be relegated to the courts.
“The cloud, for me, is why I get to sleep at night,” she says. “To know the amount of redundancy that takes place in the cloud…allows us to focus on the details: deliver the content every day knowing that the infrastructure is supported. That is really what allows us to scale and reach the amount of fans that we have.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm obsessed with crappy reality TV, particularly the ABC goldmines The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I try to rationalize my love for the show, but I've come to the conclusion that it's just a sick addiction.
Needless to say, when I looked at the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Conference agenda and saw a session titled “Inbound Marketing Lessons from The Bachelorette,” I knew I had to go. However, I was so set on going that I failed to read the session's description and notice that Brooks Forester, one of the top three finalists from the most recent Bachelorette season, was hosting the session. You can imagine my inner freak-out when I saw the contestant grace the stage.
For those of you who are not part of Bachelor Nation, let me give you a little background on Brooks. Brooks, a sales representative for Salt Lake City-based inbound marketing company Fit Marketing, was a frontrunner from the very beginning. Gossip sites like Reality Steve declared him the winner before the show even started, and Bachelorette Desiree revealed that Brooks was “the one” early on in the show. But after making it to the final three, Brooks shocked America by leaving the show and engaging in what he describes as “the longest breakup in television history.”
Rather than shy away from Brook's journey to find love, Fit Marketing embraced it. The marketing company uploaded a YouTube video portraying how Fit Marketing copywriter Nathaniel Freeman “coped” with Brooks' absence the day after the show premiered. That one video transformed into an entire series highlighting different employees' coping mechanisms. Fit Marketing posted these videos every Tuesday—the day after The Bachelorette aired.
Gossip blogs like Reality Steve and Wetpaint picked up the videos and embedded them on their sites. Dave Bascom, owner and CEO of Fit Marketing, reported that the video series generated approximately 52,900 views (more than 96,600 minutes watched) from May 31 to August 18. Not only did these videos generate views, but people were so amused by them that they generated business, as well notes Bascom.
As Brooks' fame and video views grew, Fit Marketing noticed that its website traffic and referral traffic were escalating. But it wasn't its target audience who was visiting the site; instead, Fit Marketing was drawing “women who watch The Bachelorette and men who say they don't watch The Bachelorette but do” who were on the hunt for Brooks. Bascom adds that Reality Steve, Wetpaint, and Facebook became Fit Marketing's top referral sites.
Understanding that not everyone was visiting Fit Marketing's site to check out its SEO practices or brand identity services, the company created a landing page that welcomed people to the site and asked them what their intentions were: a marriage proposal, help with your marketing, media requests, or other. Fit Marketing also posted Bachelorette-themed marketing content, including tips from Brooks, on its blog and Facebook page and hosted Twitter polls. Owner and President Owen Fuller even became president of the Brooks Forester fan club—a Facebook page dedicated to the contestant featuring videos and pictures from The Bachelorette, blog posts, and personal pictures and tidbits about Brooks. The fan club currently has more than 1,400 likes. In addition, Brooks' personal Twitter followers jumped from 2,000 at the end of May to more than 38.4 thousand today.
“They really engaged, and that's the whole point,” Brooks said to the Inbound audience. “This is typical in the sense that there are ways to get exposure and you never know when those opportunities are going to come....As you're producing your content, realize that it could go somewhere.”
Although Fit Marketing is pleased with its results, Bascom acknowledges that the company probably could have seen more success had it started reaching out to Bachelorette fans sooner.
Now that the show is over, Brooks is embarking on his own rebranding effort. To prove that he's more than just the guy who left the show, Brooks uses his social networks to show him doing non-Bachelorette related activities, such as hiking or interacting with coworkers.
And while not all marketing organizations have the luxury of leveraging a reality TV star, Fit Marketing owner Fuller encourages marketers to be ready for unforeseen opportunities.
“Be ready, for me, means be sure that everything you put out to the public is something you can be proud of,” he said. “Be bold. Be radical.”
There's no denying the impact Big Data is having on the marketing world—there are nearly 2.5 billion Internet users in the world. But as more companies work to manage and analyze that data, there needs to be a standard by which that data is handled and transferred.
E-commerce companies especially are immersed in transactional, customer, and product data—yet they're also faced with a glut of point solutions from vendors, each with different modes of data transference and management. Just like the Internet needed a common language (HTML), so too does the data industry. At least, that's the argument from IBM—which recently revealed that it had been working since September 2012 to push forth a new digital standard for consumer data collection.
IBM's initiative, launched through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international body that develops open standards, seeks to address the “growing complexity of managing how data about web behavior is acquired, shared, and managed,” says Jay Henderson, global strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce. Tentatively, it's called the Customer Experience Digital Data Standard.
The data that will fall under the “Customer Experience Digital Data Standard” focuses on “typical visitor/user's experience on a digital property (website, mobile, kiosks), including e-commerce transactions, and support and self-service activities,” says Viswanath Srikanth, IBM's master inventor. Currently, it doesn't include social activity.
IBM recruited competing vendors, as well as customers, to form a Community Group within the W3C. The group, which includes Adobe, Google, Accenture, the Digital Analytics Association (DAA), Best Buy, and several others, seeks to incorporate feedback from the entities that would be affected by the proposed standard.
In short, IBM is hoping to introduce a standardized way to collect consumer data across multiple technological platforms. As of now, no competing standards exist, but Henderson believes that “we'll see a widespread adoption of the standard” in the coming year.
Realistically, IBM and its colleagues are still in the beginning stages of the process—the Community Group is essentially an open forum where developers and experts can work through the kinks of a prospective solution. Consequently, a W3C spokesperson was reluctant to speculate on whether IBM's timeline is realistic.
The next phase would be for the proposed standard to move to what's called the Standards Track, where it can be further evaluated and, hopefully, become the industry standard that IBM wants. IBM is bullish and expects the standard to be formalized this year.
The upshot: A common data-collecting language will make it easier for e-commerce vendors to deploy digital marketing tools and technology.
The shiny objects, er, trends, that many marketers are obsessed with today are Big Data, cloud technologies, and social, Trillium Software SVP of Marketing Len DuBois pointed out during a recent conversation. And all for good reason. But sometimes big trends can overshadow more low-profile but equally important ones. Data quality, for example.
“One of the biggest, but often underplayed, trends is the shift in responsibility for data quality,” DuBois said. In most organizations IT often has oversight for data quality, as well as the tools to maintain it. Increasingly, however, data oversight is moving to the business side, which is often responsible for taking action on that data and is closer to what should be improved and how. And with today's technologies it's easier than ever for business users and analysts to do “self-service” data quality, he said.
Additionally, DuBois said, IT often takes more time to respond to requests than what marketers want or expect because they need to move at an ever-faster pace. The enormous downsizing of many IT organizations has impacted this shift, as well.
When it comes to social data, the focus is on sentiment, not cleansing. “Creating a unified view, though, is growing in popularity,” he said. DuBois cited as an example a financial services company that used Facebook and its own online community to track customer sentiment on customer satisfaction and product acceptance. Instead of trying to change customers' opinions, the bank improved its products based on customers input. It also connects social data to CRM data where possible to create a more complete view of customers' and what they've said about the brand.
Access to unified, quality data like that of the bank, DuBois said, can open opportunities as big as the data itself.
Some years ago Eric Holtzclaw was a programmer who watched a focus group of PC users intuitively reject all the user-friendly features he and his fellow team members spent a year perfecting. It changed his life.
Entranced by the notion that maybe you should ask people what they want before you give it to them, he converted to marketing. Now the CEO of marketing strategy firm Laddering Works, Holtzclaw thinks Big Data is as good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. The secrets buried in binary code may tell you the what, he says, but they can never tell you the why. On the occasion of the publication of his book, Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior, we asked for a data-driven diagnosis from marketing's Dr. Why.
The introduction to your book says it calls upon recent learnings you've stockpiled to help you focus on what's really important. So, what's really important?
Understanding who the customer is as an individual. That's a scary thing to a marketer. I've interviewed between six and seven thousand people over the last several years, and they think they're different than the profiles marketers create. It's not whether they're male or female, or affluent or not, it's about other things they're trying to confirm. Marketers need to look at why people do what they're doing, but they only look at the what. For example, Chipotle came out today and said it's going to move away from its ban on beef from animals treated with antibiotics. But it's a mistake, because their ban is the reason why a lot of people go there and they have to stand by that. [Editors Note: Following a crush of negative reaction to the declaration, Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold later said that he misspoke in giving the story to Bloomberg News and that the company would maintain its ban.]
Give us an example of how the “why” can contradict the “what.”
People are either spenders or savers. It doesn't matter how much money they have. Some people need to buy and others like to save their money and watch it pile up. So marketers look at extreme couponing and see that as saving, but it's really organized hoarding. These people just go out and purchase. It doesn't matter what the economic conditions are, it doesn't matter how much money they have. I've been in people's houses and things were falling apart, they were nearly bankrupt, but they'd show you something they'd just purchased. They'd sell stuff so they could make a purchase.
What is laddering and how can understanding it help marketers sell more stuff?
Selling more stuff is what it's all about. Laddering is a concept introduced by Thomas Reynolds in the Eighties. It involves talking to people in person and understanding what drives them as customers. You spend time with them in their homes and observe them. You ask them “Why?” five different ways. One of the early laddering projects tried to learn why people bought a certain CD player. A lot of them said that it was because of the convenience of being able to load a number of CDs, but the real reason was that they wanted to spend more time interacting with their guests.
Companies come to me and say, “This product is not selling as is. We get too many support calls. Here it is and this is why it's broken and we want to build a new version.” Really, they all say that. They all come to us with assumptions. Then we go out and ask users and find out the [marketers'] assumptions are 98% wrong.
Sounds like laddering is more about product development than marketing.
Our company started out doing product usability testing. We started talking to customers and discovered that building a product and then figuring out how to market it is backwards. You have to know how you'll message a product to consumers before you start to build it.
You put a lot of stock into what you call “consumer DNA,” which you have defined by a set of markers. Please explain.
We've identified 12 consumer DNA markers. These are the new male or female. You're one or the other. Within certain contexts, you need only ask consumers two or three questions to see what cluster they fit into. If I really like to project aspects of my life, for instance, I'm very different from someone who doesn't like to project. Marketers talk a lot about social media, but not everybody is on social media. If I project and I require affirmation, I need that brand to speak back to me and to share things. If I'm independent and not so worried about opinions, if I don't want to be friends with my brand, social media messaging diminishes it in my eyes. We worked with one company where all we had to do was ask customers one question about parenting style. From that that one response we determined if they were A or B and we knew how to market to them.
But doesn't it require exhaustive rounds of one-on-one interviews with consumers to draw such a distinction?
Actually, you start to see the pattern after 18 to 27 consumer interactions. Marketers try to tell me you can't do that. But if you have good conversations with those people, they are going to reveal themselves. I think quant is a great way of confirming what you're doing. The mistake marketers make is using quant as a substitute for quality.
Can your methods help detect which customers can become brand advocates and which will never be?
Marketers have a problem here. They are so numbers focused. I'll say to them, “Here's the group you have to go after,” and their first question is “How big is it?” I'll say, “Eight percent of your market.” Their reaction is, “What? Never.” We don't do anything with any group unless it's 20%” Then I'll say, “But these are your customers. If you service them, they will spread your message.” I fight this battle all the time.
Leave us with a real-world example of successful laddering.
We had a bank client that wanted us to help them with a campaign to get new accounts. Now, people change banks only every 17 years, on average, so this bank wanted us to segment people who had gotten new jobs, gotten married, or had just retired. They wanted to target people in transition and they wanted us to focus on convenience. We found it meant one of three things. One was the number of ATMs and branch locations a bank has. These people wanted to be recognized by face at their bank, but not necessarily by name. To the second group, convenience meant online tools. They were willing to use a bank that had little or no brick-and-mortar presence. To the third group, convenience meant having a personal banker. It might be a business owner, it might be someone who'd won the lottery, but they wanted a banker who recognized them by voice and was knowledgeable about their complex financial issues. The bank had learned in time that convenience was about one of these three things, not about marriage or a new job.
Tom Monaghan held a slew of jobs before accepting his position as HubSpot's email product manager. He was a bike mechanic, an Autism researcher, and a startup founder. While working at his startup, Monaghan managed the email marketing and, initially, saw tremendous growth. He was able to organically grow his company's list from one person—“My mom”—to more than 77,000 people who were not his mom.
However, Monaghan's startup story has an unhappy ending: Closure.
“One of the reason we failed was because I failed at email marketing,” he admitted to the crowd at HubSpot's 2013 Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. “We're here to create email marketing that people love, and that's hard….I forgot it with most of the emails that we sent to people.”
But, like all great marketers, Monaghan learned from his mistakes and was able to concentrate his lessons into four commandments.
Thou shalt remember the third grade
No, not the boys-have-cooties and everyone wears braces parts of third grade. Third grade, Monaghan stated, is a time when students learn how to write a basic letter, consisting of a salutation, a body, and a closing. However, he argued that many marketers have forgotten this standard format.
In addition, Monaghan discussed how “psyched” kids used to get when they received a handwritten letter from a family member or pen pal. Just knowing that someone cared enough to mail a note made the whole experience special.
“I want you to think about old school mail when your write your marketing emails,” he said.
Thou shalt respect one's recipients
Everyone wants to live at the top of their customer's inbox, but it's important for marketers to understand that they're not their customer's number one priority. Customers' inboxes are constantly flooded with personal and work emails; hence, marketers must respect the notion that their subscribers have other things going on in their lives besides being part of an email campaign. So marketers should only contact their customers when they have something relevant to say. That's part of respecting the permission a customer gives a marketer to contact them.
“There's a contract between you and every single person you're sending an email to,” Monaghan said. “It's really, really [easy] to abuse that.
Thou shalt care about engagement – a lot
It's easy for marketers to get bogged down with open and click through rates, but what marketers should really care about is replies, Monaghan said.
“Replies crush opens. Replies crush clicks,” he said. “Replies tell email systems, tell spam systems, tells everybody that this person has a relationship.”
Thou shalt send less email
“More is not better when it comes to email,” Monaghan told the audience.
And while he urged marketers to send fewer emails overall, he also encouraged marketers to send more specific emails—emails that contain specific content for a specific person, to fill a specific need.
“Make sure that every single email is awesome.”
There's an old phrase that says money can't buy you happiness. But Elizabeth Dunn, coauthor of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, disagrees.
“If you think money can't buy happiness, you might not be spending it right,” Dunn said to the audience at HubSpot's 2013 Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston.
Dunn argued that people can turn money into happiness by adhering to three core principles: buy experiences, make a purchase a treat, and invest in others. Marketers can apply the same statutes to their own agendas to give their customers a better overall experience and, most important, make their customers happy.
Dunn dove right into her three principles by asking the audience a hypothetical question: If the attendees won the lottery, would they rather spend the money on a house in the suburbs or on a ticket to space? While the house on the tree-lined street may seem like the more reasonable purchase, Dunn said the ticket to space may be the smarter buy when investing in long-term happiness.
“Study after study shows that people get more happiness and more lasting happiness from experiences,” she said.
In fact, people who don't make an experiential purchase, like a dream vacation, tend to regret their decision more than those who do, Dunn said. Contrastingly, people who buy a material object tend to regret their purchase decision more than those who don't buy. Dunn partially attributed this phenomenon to the notion that people compare products, such as whether the product worked or whether it's the latest and greatest, which can lead to dissatisfaction.
“Experiences seem unique and they're difficult to compare,” she said.
In addition to being unique, experiences often make compelling stories that people like to share with others. Dunn exemplified this idea by telling the audience that her Hawaiian vacation was the worst trip she's ever taken because she was attacked by a shark.
“At least it was unique and it does make a good story,” she joked.
Virgin Galactic, the first commercial spaceline, is taking experience buying to new heights by getting future space travelers together at parties and launch events so they can share their experiences with each other, Dunn said.
“Experiences tend to connect us with other people while material things are often enjoyed alone,” she said.
Instead of focusing on a product's material components, marketers should home in on how it will be an experiential investment for their customers. Hence, marketers have to convey how a product or service will be memorable, unique, and social. She added that framing a purchase as an experiential buy rather than a product purchase can help people feel more satisfied about their transaction.
Make it a treat
Today's customers constantly want more, but giving in to their demands isn't always the best option.
“Abundance is the enemy of appreciation,” Dunn said.
When brands constantly give, customers can lose sight of their products' values. For example, Dunn cited a study where BMW drivers and Ford Escort drivers were asked to report their level of happiness when driving their cars to work. Although the BMW was the superior vehicle, both car owners reported the same level of happiness when driving to work. The drive had become so routine that the BMW drivers would forget about the car's specialized features. However, the BMW drivers did report higher levels of happiness when they took their cars out for a leisurely drive because the drive became a an escape from the everyday.
Dunn also encouraged marketers to exercise scarcity marketing and only feature products for a limited time to motivate consumers to take action. For example, while many Groupon customers would prefer to have more time to use a deal, Dunn said that customers are actually more likely to use the deal if the it has a shorter expiration date.
In addition, Dunn said taking breaks from everyday enjoyments can revitalize consumers' threshold for pleasure. In fact—and TV marketers are going to love this—she said that television commercials do just that. By breaking up the constant flow of content, commercials actually allow consumers to enjoy their programs more, Dunn said.
However, creating new and exciting experiences is also vital to revitalizing unhappy customers. For example, Dunn cited how Charmin was able to “turn waste management back into a treat” in 2008 by transforming a porta potty at a local fair into an upscale bathroom complete with hardwood floors and a television.
Hence, if marketers want to give their customers a real treat they have to offer novel, disrupting experiences that will only be around for a limited time.
“Boredom can be a surprisingly toxic force,” Dunn pointed out.
Invest in others
“If you think money can't buy happiness, try giving some of it away,” Dunn told the audience.
Granted, telling people who make a living measuring ROI to give their money away wasn't the most common recommendation heard at the conference; however, Dunn said it can have big payoffs.
Dunn cited Coca-Cola's Happiness Dispenser as a prime example of a brand that used the joy of giving as a way to engage with its customers. As part of the brand's “Open Happiness” campaign, Coca-Cola built an ATM that dispensed 100€ to anyone who agreed to use the money to make others happy. The campaign took place in Spain during a time when the country was in the middle of a recession. Although not everyone followed the rules, a few consumers stayed true to their word and helped their community. The ATM drew media attention from around the world.Hence, it doesn't take a lot to make your customers happy. But putting in the effort to create unique, memorable experiences are sure to produce results the kind of results that are something to smile about.
It's pretty easy to get sucked into a departmental silo in the C-suite. Things get busy, everyone's working on their own thing. There aren't enough hours in the day (etcetera, yadda, and so forth).
But executives who fail to communicate with each other and neglect to encourage inter-departmental conversations are just asking for trouble, especially CMOs.
“In some respects, every aspect of business is marketing,” says David Pennino, CEO of LogicSource. “Whether it's with shareholders, customers, suppliers, or partners, ultimately marketing determines the overall success of a firm.”
Perception is nine-tenths of the draw. A bad experience, even with a third-party seller, could mean a marketing headache—and most consumers are not shy about broadcasting their complaints (which is why CMOs and other C-suite notables probably need to buy stock in aspirin and Alka-Seltzer).
“Think about how fast information travels with social media; the slightest misstep in a company—or a huge misstep—can seriously affect marketing, and the CMO bears the brunt of that,” says Pennino. “Let's say a rogue store manager takes it upon himself to do something silly, for example—that's still going to impact the CMO and that company's marketing.”
Say a company's CFO is involved in a scandal or a brand's CEO says something offensive (oh, hi there Mark Jeffries)—that's not the CMO's fault, but he or she is no doubt going to feel the unpleasant aftershocks. Try to capitalize on a tragedy and consumers will be on you faster than a jackrabbit in heat. For example, several brands that sent out ill-timed and unfortunately phrased promotions related to Hurricane Sandy quickly felt the wrath of the Twittersphere (cough, American Apparel, cough).
“In some cases the innocent CMO is probably sitting incorporate headquarters with no idea,” says Pennino. “And then when the idea ultimately backfires, it looks like the brand was trying to make a profit off a tragedy.”
When you look at it from a certain angle, everything is marketing—even the supply chain. “The most effective CMOs think about their role not just from the concept angle, but all the way through to the customer and the store,” says Pennino. “I don't care if you're a CMO, a CFO, or a CPO, if you're just thinking about your own function, you're doing yourself a disservice.”
Easier said than done, but communication will pay dividends.
“When you think about some of the most successful companies out there, their brand extends beyond their products or their look and feel,” says Pennino. “It's how they run their business.”
When it comes to marketing, no brand likes to come in last place. And it's listening to customer feedback that separates the winners from the losers. Auto racing sports authority NASCAR has had an ongoing voice-of-the-customer (VoC) strategy since it teamed with community insight technologies provider Vision Critical in 2008 to launch the Official Fan Council. Since then, its mature VoC program has been blasting along. Here's how it works: Vision Critical provides a platform through which NASCAR gets instant access to its diehard fans and allows the company to gather the voices of its best customers for market research.
Brian Moyer, director of market and media research for NASCAR, says the captured feedback has allowed NASCAR to cut back on its field research time and quantify and address needs for various NASCAR business units and individual stakeholders. In addition, the Fan Council gives racing fans the opportunity to play an active role in the sport and in the brand.
Moyer spoke to Direct Marketing News about how NASCAR uses its Fan Council to stay on the customer insights fast track.
What did NASCAR learn about its customers that it hadn't known before?
The Official NASCAR Fan Council provides NASCAR the opportunity to gain valuable insights in a timely manner (i.e. hours or days vs. weeks or months). Additionally, NASCAR has enabled our most avid fans to have a voice, and more important, be heard. The Official NASCAR Fan Council has become a badge of honor, with many members feeling a sense of ownership that they're part of a special community helping to make the sport of NASCAR the best it can be. The best wins are when NASCAR is able to take immediate action with insights from the Official NASCAR Fan Council and make the appropriate enhancements; many fans accurately interpret this as “NASCAR is listening.”
Which channels--for example, Web surveys, email, social media comments--provide the most interesting customer insights?
Most communications are via a fun and engaging Web survey, optimized for the device they're [using] through Vision Critical's technology. While quantifying the results is important to the decision making process, the rich feedback in the form of open-ended comments from the members is valuable in gaining an even greater understanding of our fan base. NASCAR analyzes thousands of responses each week, primarily related to a question on each and every survey, “Is there anything on your mind about NASCAR that you want to share with us?” Members are eager to provide feedback and even seek out opportunities to share their thoughts beyond the standard surveys.What is NASCAR's strategy for holistically analyzing and taking action from all of its different customer interaction channels?
The success of the Official NASCAR Fan Council is an outstanding achievement for NASCAR when it comes to listening to fans. The next step is the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center, located in Charlotte, which is a real-time listening tool. The NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center is a revolutionary resource that enables NASCAR to analyze what's discussed and written about the sport in social, traditional, and broadcast media. The facility is part “broadcast control room,” part “NASA Command Center,” powered by a sophisticated media monitoring and measurement system custom built by HP. NASCAR uses it to monitor real-time conversation and media coverage around the sport and provide measurement to the industry – both inside NASCAR and externally to teams, tracks, and corporate partners. The Official NASCAR Fan Council works closely with the Fan and Media Engagement Center to provide a “big picture” understanding of fans' perceptions of the sport.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the demise of the live event have been greatly exaggerated. There are more conferences than ever, and for good reason: All that meaty content—from speakers and attendees alike—gets you thinking; it inspires you to test something new or rethink your current approaches.
Over the past few months I've attended our own Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit, the MeritDirect 2013 CO-OP, eTail, Responsys Interact, Integrated Marketing Week, and more. I've shared insights from them all, but not all the juicy bits had fit in. Here, thoughts from across those conferences to ponder, inspire you, and make you think twice about whether there's something new you should be trying.
The most important thing about email marketing is customers' email addresses, which is PII data—it links to customers' names, addresses, etc., and is also a bridge to customers' online data. So email will not go away; it will grow in importance. Businesses need to get customers' email addresses to bring together that online and offline data, and as a result, get the customer conversations going. It's the bridge to omnichannel marketing success.
–Bruce Biegel, senior managing director, Winterberry Group
If you can't retain customers, you're deadline the water. You need to make it easy for customers to shop with you in any channel they prefer. One way to do so: Use analytics to predict the next logical purchase and then make that recommendation; it's a way to surprise and delight customers. Inbound is there to expedite orders and make it effortless for the customers so they can get on with their day.
–Tom Slavin, director of data integrity, print marketing, customer insight, Staples
We realize the value of data and digital body language, but yet don't have the infrastructure to harness it all. But we do use data to analyze the “next logical product” and then the sales team uses it for sales calls. We're going to test this approach with direct mail and email, as well. In terms of testing, we're using fax for first time since 2003 and it's like having a license to print money.
–Robert Cameron, director of corporate marketing, New Pig
Mobile is the catalyst that will bring digital and tradition marketing together through messaging, browsing, downloading, and calling. According to Deloitte, mobile influence will reach 17% to 21% of all commerce over the next four years. Currently, 38% of customers read email first on a smartphone—and will delete a message within 30 seconds if they can't read it there. Oh, and Google will hammer you in SEO if your site isn't optimized for mobile.
–Michael Becker, marketing development & strategic advisor for North America, Somo
Digital disruption is better, stronger, and faster than ever: Innovation can happen in moments or days instead of months or years. You have to keep in mind when innovating in your business. Consider: Retailers such as Nordstrom, Walmart, and Target now have innovation labs. Marketing innovation, however, is getting harder and can be complex due to digital disruption, being always connected, the evolving customer lifecycle (the purchase funnel has been blown up), the need to get actionable data from the glut of Big Data, customer experience (what should it look like), and ever-changing customer behavior accelerated by mobile technology. The path to success in this environment is through cultural change in your organization. Do you have the right talent for innovation? You need to hire digital practitioners who are great communicators. And then set an audacious goal for your organization. And remember: Innovation can come from anywhere in your organization, and often swells from the ground up.
–Bert DuMars, VP and principal analyst, Forrester Research
There's analytics chaos right now. Most analyses are incomplete. Marketers usually analyze activity and results by channel, but customers are multichannel, so analysis should be, as well. Often analysis is focused on tactical and operation insights versus having strategic value. They're also often dominated by behavioral data, so they're not predictive enough. The best approach is behavioral data plus attitudinal analytics like customer feedback plus voice-of-the-customer measures.
–Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media, and entertainment, Foresee
My approach is about to ask a question. You have those who are going to actively seek out your brand to solve their problem. They'll tell you about themselves to help solve their problems, you need to listen and learn. We record that and then get permission and engagement. I call it breadcrumbs. Learn more about the customer, like why they want to learn a language: travel, work, history with that culture, moving there. And once we ask why, we can focus the messaging there.
–T.J. Hunter, senior database marketing manager, Rosetta Stone
Today, instead of marketing to similarities, we can market to differences. But most marketers still cling to blast campaigns. Smart marketers focus on digital and addressable; they personalize for each consumer each time. This is the relationship era; the personalized experiences of the past at mass scale. Customers expect both personalization and choice/value. Why? It's here. Consider Amazon. It offers scale, choice, value, and deep relationships. It's good for the customer and good for Amazon. Companies like Amazon now are delivering on personalized promises made 10 years ago.
–Scott Olrich, president, marketing and platform, Responsys
“No matter how assiduous you marketing you don't get to dictate your image, customers do that for you.”
–Bob Garfield, author, Can't Buy Me Like
Our customer is bombarded with information; not just by brands, but by channels: ads, PR, events, brochures, etc. So you can't treat social as a silo. At American Airlines, social is connected to 29 business units behind the scenes so we can get feedback to the point of delivery, whether food and beverage, reservations, etc. Also, you need to realize that social is personal. A brand has to share content that will connect with customers to stand out. You need to tell a deeper, more authentic story to do so. Give the in-depth character behind the brand. The role of social in the enterprise may include customer service, reputation management, HR, branding, marketing and PR, even SEO. But customers see one brand. Your social presence is your brand character.
–Jonathan Pierce, director, social media communications, American Airlines
“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.”
That was the opening line of a letter posted on August 12 by Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, a secure email service with some 350,000 subscribers that used a patented encryption program to shield private communications. One of those subscribers was Edward Snowden, the CIA computer analyst who leaked top-secret documents. About a month prior to Levison's abrupt shutdown, Snowden, exiled in Russia, sent invitations to members of the media to attend a press conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he promised to detail an “unlawful campaign” being waged against him by the United States government. The email came from email@example.com. A month later, Lavabit was out of business. What happened?
“The first Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this,” Levison wrote. “Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise.”
Media pundits surmise that Levison was served with a warrant that included a gag order. The week before Lavabit's demise, another encrypted communications company, Silent Circle, shut down, also suggesting government intervention as the reason.
What's this got to do with you? It's more about what it's got to do with your proprietary customer data. Rumor has it that several foreign governments, one of them Canada's, are taking themselves off U.S.-based public clouds, not trusting U.S. spies to keep their hands off their data. Will marketers at public companies be next? Levison thinks they should be.
“Without Congressional action or a strong judicial precedent,” Lavabit's ex-chief concluded his letter, “I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.” Just for the record, Lavabit was based in Texas.
Apparently it's already happening. “What is undeniable, according to reporting from the Financial Times, is that the cloud computing market in the U.S. is looking at losing $35 billion in revenue,” says Charles Weaver, CEO of the International Association of Cloud & Managed Service Providers (MSP Alliance). The group's 20,000 members are providers of cloud or managed services.
The losses, he notes, are mostly U.S. losses. “If you look at EU countries, the public cloud is fine,” Weaver says. “Anything from our country, however, may not be. You need to go to court and get a subpoena to seize a server, but this is, ‘I'm not going to tell you. I'm just going to scoop up your data.'”
Weaver predicts a retrenchment on the part of companies that use the public cloud as a panacea for IT management. Companies cannot expect public clouds to give iron-clad guarantees that their proprietary data won't be broached. The public clouds use shared infrastructure and shared storage.
“I can go to Amazon and sign up for EC2, and I can pick a hemisphere, but it's not like I can do an audit,” says Weaver. “I can't go to Amazon and say, ‘Show me were my data is.'”
Weaver says that small companies can economically gain access to private clouds, as long as they are discerning about what needs to be kept private. Storing images in a private cloud, for instance, could be cost-prohibitive for marketers on a budget. “Scoop your data into two buckets,” he advises. “For less precious data, maybe third-party data, stay with the public cloud. For more crucial data, think private cloud,” he says.
“I hate to say it,” Weaver relents, “but the conclusion I draw is that things are looking up for IBM, Cisco, and the other companies that offer private cloud solutions.”
A new customer is to a marketer what a new Barbie was to me at age five: Shiny, new, and a must-have. I would spend hours doting over my new Barbie while my old dolls—toys I once loved and cherished—collected dust in my play bin. Marketers treat their customers the same way. They give new customers tons of time, attention, and resources while their old, loyal customers are tossed aside. In fact, 63% of marketers deem new customer acquisition as the most important advertising goal, according to KISSmetrics via an infographic by FiveStars.
But my parents wanted me to appreciate the Barbies I already had. So, they reserved new Barbies for special occasions, such as a birthday, Christmas, or the occasional straight-A report card. Their parenting forced me to pay attention to the Barbies I already had instead of focusing on the next big doll in the bright pink box. This made me appreciate my toys more. I engaged with my Barbies, and I developed storylines for each of their pretend lives. And because I grew to appreciate my Barbies, I would ask for things to make their pretend lives better, such as a pink Porsche or a new outfit.
Marketers should treat their customers the same way. Instead of focusing on the customers they don't have, marketers should focus on the loyal customers they already do have and how they can reward them.
“Every marketer or business owner needs to manage marketing for maximum impact given constrained time, budget, and resources,” says Chris Luo, VP of marketing for the customer loyalty network FiveStars. “Oftentimes, especially if someone has a reasonably-sized existing customer base, the highest return for limited time and budget is to focus on retention and upsell. Your existing customer base will have the highest response rates to your marketing and, especially if you can set up ongoing campaigns like loyalty programs, it can be marketing that runs on its own and pays continual dividends over time.”
And while attending to loyal customers may seem like a small gesture, it can have a big impact on companies' bottom lines. According to FiveStars, people who have visited at least 10 times make up 20% of a company's customer base, and that 20% accounts for 80% of a company's total revenue and 72% of total business visits. In addition, loyal customers spend ten times more than new customers over the course of their lifetime.
On the flip side, new customers may not be as enamored with a company as the company is with them. New customers like to receive something, like a promotion or an offer, before committing to a brand. But that's not always in the company's best interest. According to Inmar and reported via FiveStars, the average conversion rate from promotions sent to new customers totals less than 1%. In addition, only a little over a third of daily deal customers (36%) will spend more than the price of the discounted offer and less than a fifth of daily deal customers will return and pay full price, cites Rice University Professor of Management Utpal Dholakia in a study reported via FiveStars.
To ensure that companies maintain their loyal customers, Luo advises implementing a loyalty program that includes incentives. He says these programs drive loyalty and return visits.
“We've seen that across various verticals that these incentives can drive on average 12-44% increase in customer visit frequency,” he says. “The second thing I would recommend is recognizing your VIPs. These are the 20 percent of customers who drive 80 percent of your revenue. They should be recognized for their loyalty at the point-of-sale and get the best service and best promotional offers, since they drive the biggest leverage for your business.”
And although I grew to appreciate my Barbies, that's not to say I never asked for a new one. However, knowing which dolls were my favorite (I was obsessed with the Disney Princess collection) helped me identify which toys I wanted more of in the future.
Luo acknowledges that customer acquisition is still an important part of a company's growth. However, he says these programs often require experimentation to see which customers are best for business.
“Acquisition programs are often necessary to drive order of magnitude changes in growth,” he says. “While less efficient than retention programs, they are often necessary to change growth trajectories, but to optimize them, they will require much more experimentation and trial and error.”
So stop being a customer collector and show your loyal customers some love. And while a Malibu Dream House or a princess gown might be a bit too much, rewarding your loyal customers is critical to ensuring that they don't feel toyed around.
How well do you know your customers? Freshpair, an online retailer of underwear, lingerie, and other unmentionables, can answer that question in a single word: “Intimately.”
It's that intimate knowledge of its customer base that allows the 14-year-old company to provide a consistent shopping experience tailored to each individual's needs. From the first email outreach to the ultimate conversion, Freshpair's goal is the same: CX that “cuts out the VPL, the visible panty line,” jokes Jason Scoggins, the brand's director of customer experience.
For Freshpair, “customer-centricity” and “data-driven marketing” are basically synonyms. Today you've got to have both, or you'll end up with the marketing strategy version of a wedgie. (Forgive me; the underwear references are too tempting to resist.)
“Yes, you've absolutely got to have data, but you also need to overlay that by paying attention to how customers are reacting,” says Scoggins. “Everything we do I pass through the data filter first—we're always analyzing—but once we've done that we still have to process that data through the customer viewpoint.”
Scoggins, who will be keynoting Direct Marketing News's upcoming Retail Marketing Strategies Virtual Event on Sept. 19, took a few moments to chat about the meaning of customer experience, the art—and science—of segmentation, and his favorite undie brands.
DMN: What does the Freshpair brand stand for?
Scoggins: We're all about confidence. We feel that everything starts with our underwear. It's the first thing you put on, you wear it all day, and it's the closest thing to you. What people wear underneath their clothes can empower them. It sounds crazy maybe, but that's what we hear from our customers. We even started a blog called The Confidence Project where we feature customer stories about how your choice of lingerie or underwear can help you get to the next phase of your life. People have whole drawers full of underwear, but they always wear the pairs that make them feel the best. Underwear drawers are split—the underwear you like to wear in the front and the laundry day pairs shoved in the back.
DMN: Customer experience—what does that term mean to you?
Scoggins: Customer experience is anything and everything that gives us an opportunity to interact with the customer. We make sure our customers have a consistent experience with us—what they get in an email is consistent with that they see on the website, and that follows all the way through to conversion. The experience should be unique to the customer, but also consistent from beginning to end.
DMN: Is segmentation an art or a science?
Scoggins: It's absolutely a combination of the two. You can run the numbers, you can decide what buckets to put people into, you can pull traditional Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value (RFM) scores—all that's great. It's a fantastic place to start. But you can have all the data in the world, and it doesn't necessarily tell you what motivates the customer.
We've come up with a set of segments that look at customers in terms of how they feel about themselves and not necessarily what demographic they fall into—because we've done that before and it bit us in the rear. We once sent an email where we listed bras by age group, and let me tell you—the emails we got back from women, wow. They said, ‘Just because I'm a certain age, doesn't mean I'll wear a bra like that. How dare you assume that?!' We learned our lesson real quick.
Particularly on the women's side it's about how she feels. It doesn't matter if she's 21 or 71; if she feels like wearing a lace demi-cup, then all the more power to her. That's where you get into the art of it by paying attention to what their browsing looks like, what they're clicking on, and what they're actually purchasing—and not just relying on traditional segmentation tools.
DMN: Are you a boxer or briefs guy and what is your favorite Freshpair product?
Scoggins: Well, I'm more of a briefs kind of guy to be quite honest. But my favorite underwear changes every single day. I don't have many laundry day pairs of underwear in my drawer. Currently my favorites rotate between Calvin Klein, 2xist, and C-in2. But answering this question is kind of hard for me—it's like being asked to pick my favorite kid!
Want more underwear? We've got you (un)covered. Check out the slideshow above for snaps from Freshpair's most recent National Underwear Day event.
In December 2008 Cox Enterprises brought together its newspaper, television, and radio subsidiaries under a single banner: Cox Media Group (CMG). The combined holdings include 24 daily and non-daily newspapers, 19 television stations, and presence in 20 radio markets.
That's a lot of customer data.
The problem is that “instead of having a 360-degree view, I have 36 ten-degree views of the customer,” says Alan Segal, CMG's senior director of digital insights.
It's a problem familiar to many companies that have multiple insights into their customers—just nothing holistic. CMG's views were multiple. It had registration data from Janrain, the vendor that provided its online registration system. It had Web analytics data—not all of which was complete. Separately, it also had video viewership data, readership data, and audio streaming information—all from different companies.
A couple of weeks ago, CMG kicked off a project with marketing analytics firm iJento to aggregate and draw conclusions from these disparate sources. If anything, this is a sign of the times: Marketers know they need to start leveraging their data assets, even if they're still learning how.
But the situation is improving: three or four years ago, Segal reflects, a multichannel data analytics deployment the likes of which CMG is currently executing with iJento would have been difficult to justify. Now, he says, “you really can't read any marketing or publishing industry analysis without data being a topic that comes up.”
It's a sentiment that iJento CMO Paige O'Neill echoes: “We're in the middle of this massive Big Data wave,” she says. “There's a notion that's growing that companies that can't leverage that data will be at a competitive disadvantage.”
That companies can mine data effectively is a dawning realization for most marketers, O'Neill says. “Many feel it'll be harder than it is,” she adds. “It's not easy today, but it's easier than it used to be.” To that end, the amount of time and resources that go into a data project varies considerably—depending on whether a company is combining one or two data sources versus seven of eight. On average, it can take three to—on the high end—six months to get up and running, and the cost can vary between the low hundreds of thousands to a cool million.
There was no epiphany within the CMG walls—it was something the company had always felt needed to get done and only recently was it able to line up the resources to do so. Over the last couple of years, it's been freeing up the underlying data so iJento could have a crack at it.
O'Neill says that iJento works with clients to pull the various data assets from various sources (digital channels, advertising sites, DoubleClick, CRM, and marketing automation to name a few).
It's all so CMG can better understand its audience. For instance, the media group has both paid subscriptions and premium members that log in and view content—but CMG has no idea what content those people view before actually logging in. “I don't know what they're looking at on the free side,” Segal explains. “We should do more work with that so we can provide a larger view of what an online experience looks like for our best customers.” And in understanding its audience better, CMG also provides a better value proposition for its advertisers by enabling them to serve up ads in a contextually relevant space.
The roadmap, as Segal describes it, is tentative. As the data analytics solution rolls out, he expects to fill in some of the gaps of his customer knowledge. This includes whether there are holes in CMG's data that prevent that seamless multichannel view, how it can clean up the data assets it has, and whether it's overlooked any data it needs to collect.
Then it's a matter of knowing how to attach the disparate data pieces—essentially putting together a giant jigsaw of CMG's customer base. “By the end of the year,” Segal says, “we want to get the environment lined up.” By 2014, CMG wants to go into deeper data discovery and, beyond that, roll the agenda into product development informed by a feedback loop of building products, measuring customer reaction, and refining.
A recent Teradata survey on the state of data-driven marketing has shown that even though marketers are cognizant of the importance of a data strategy, they're not always deploying one. This is largely because they don't understand the process by which to do so, and because the marketing department isn't always aligned with IT.
While CMG has a centralized digital group that services the different units within the brand, iJento's O'Neill knows conflict often arises when marketing goes one way and IT, well, isn't even aware that a project has begun.
“The points of conflict are that marketing wants to get moving as quickly as possible,” she explains. “They're looking for a solution in the marketplace, so they move down a path, but the IT team isn't in the loop, and they come in during the middle of the project because, for good reason, they're expected to bless technology initiatives.”
Without alignment, O'Neill has seen projects stutter—which is why, at the beginning of the sales cycle, it's important to make sure that all the relevant stakeholders are a part of the conversation.
Marketers looking for brand association and advocacy have good reason to use online video. What other medium creates a situation that, when expertly done, induces consumers to choose to spend three minutes with your brand and then share it with friends? But marketers had better have a really good reason to attempt humor in their spots. More to the point, they'd better make sure their stuff is doubling-over, tears-streaming funny. That's the advice of the people behind the Viral Video Chart, a real-time tracker of the most viewed and shared videos in the land.
“Marketers think humor creates a favorable association with their products, but few succeed in it,” says Devra Prywes, VP of marketing and insight at Unruly, which has monitored more than 300 billion video streams since launching the Viral Video Chart in 2006. “The problem with being funny is that most of those who try it hover around amusement instead of hilarity.”
Unruly recently released a study of Super Bowl ads, looking to uncover the qualities behind the spots that got the most views and shares online. The two most successful efforts looked to elicit tears, not laughter.
In Budweiser's dialog-free “Brotherhood” video, a rancher raises a Clydesdale foal to become a member of the beer brand's famed team of carriage horses. Some time later, he attends a parade to see the proud, adult workhorse stride by. The horse gives him a sideways glance. As the rancher begins to pull away in his pickup, the Clydesdale comes galloping down the empty parade route to say hello. (Crying yet?) A tag at the end asking people to tweet a name suggestion for the horse amps up the brand connection. The video received 15 million views and 2.7 million shares.
Ram Truck's “Farmer” spot attracted 19 million online views and 1.8 million shares by resurrecting Middle America's favorite radio host, the late Paul Harvey, to deliver his essay “God Made a Farmer,” illustrated by still photos of farmers at labor.
“For the Super Bowl, there was not a joke in sight. All the advertisers used other methods to get shares,” Prywes says.
One of them, Godaddy.com, tried shock factor, but that didn't work out so well. “There was a very sloppy kiss in the spot. People had a strong reaction, but it made for a low share rate,” Prywes says. “If I send a video to you, I want to know it's something you're going to appreciate and maybe share with someone else.”
Other video tips for marketers from Unruly's customer insights chief:
Use emotional impact to target. “Once you've made the audience feel passionately about something, you can guide them to complete an action. See what viewers do after a spot. Follow that trail,” Prywes says.
Launch your campaigns on Wednesdays. Nearly half of weekly video shares occur between Wednesday and Friday, according to Unruly's study, with the peak of shares occurring on Friday and the low-point hitting on the weekend. One quarter of a video shares take place in the first three days of launch.
The share's the thing. “We actually have marketers come to us and say they are not interested in shares, but even McKinsey research says that a positive referral from a trusted source is the most powerful form of advocacy,” Prywes says. “Shares are our currency.”
What would you do if you were stranded on a deserted island with only your smartphone? Samsung Electronics Co. is asking fans that exact question by launching its own interactive live-stream survival competition: “SOS Island: Survival of the Smartest.”
“Imagine if you were stranded with a phone, what would you do?” asks Tom Bannister, CEO of the campaign's production company SXM Entertainment. “Would you just call for help? Would you send out a few texts that help is on the way? Would you make a Vine and put it out on your Twitter account?”
The branded entertainment campaign promotes Samsung's GALAXY S4 zoom smartphone and the GALAXY NX camera and gives Samsung's already robust social followers (Samsung Mobile has more than 23 million likes on Facebook) the opportunity to take part in the social media reality series. Samsung will broadcast SOS Island on the brand's YouTube and Facebook channels from September 30 to the end of November. During that time, fans will watch TV personality and survivor expert Les Stroud spend five episodes training 16 contestants on a Caribbean island. The eight who have what it takes to survive, will move onto SOS Island and compete in challenges highlighting the phone and camera's photographic capabilities. Samsung will broadcast these episodes live every other day. Viewers will also have the opportunity to interact with the castaways via social media and vote to keep their favorite contestants in the game. Bannister notes that contestants will be interacting with viewers via the social channels they already have, so they'll already have a built-in fan base. The last contestant standing will win $100,000 towards their very own private island.
“We believe that a big part of this game play will be how good those contestants are at activating social media,” Bannister says. “How good they are at presenting themselves through their Twitter accounts, through their Instagram accounts, through posting content, and getting viewers involved is going to be a big part about getting votes.”
To get viewers involved right from the get-go, Samsung will be seeding out content from the early casting stages, which kicked off August 5, through to the final winner announcement on December 9. For example, Samsung posted a video encouraging viewers to apply to the show on its Samsung Camera YouTube page and the campaign's microsite on August 4. The video has already generated more than 142,000 views on the brand's YouTube channel.
“Our challenge is to show cohesive characters for people to follow and also create cohesive storylines,” Bannister says. “By the time people get to the actual episodes, we're hoping that people have really gotten into this show.”
Given the social nature of the show, Bannister says, the reality series is casting people who are social media savvy. However, like any reality TV show, Bannister says SOS Island is also looking for castaways who come from all over the world, all walks of life, and have distinct personalities.
But featuring cohesive characters and storylines isn't the brand's only challenge. Bannister says that making sure the all the content is organized intuitively—“so I don't need to spend an hour on the phone with each of our viewers"--has also posed a challenge.
In addition to partnering with SXM Entertainment, Samsung is also working with director and visionary producer Craig Borders, who has worked on other reality TV shows, including The Mole, Laguna Beach, and Ink Master. But compared to TV, online entertainment allows for much more fan interaction and drives immediate feedback, notes SXM Entertainment's Bannister.
“When you're making programming for online, it's very evident very quickly if people like the show or not,” he notes, “and also what they like and what they don't like about it.”
But to be fair, SOS Island isn't really a deserted island; Bannister confirms that there will be charging stations.
When Infomart was founded back in far-off 1980s, Big Data wasn't a thing. Now, it's kind of the thing.
As a media consultancy, it was historically Infomart's job to help its brand clients, which include among them government entities, corporations, and agencies across Canada, gather media mentions in print resources and some broadcast media. That's all there really was to collect. But then the Internet happened. Social media happened.
In addition to empowering customers to share cat photos, the social Web empowers customers to share information about brands. If a brand wants to stay relevant, it has to know what its customers are saying about it. And these days, customers won't shut up. They've got multiple screens—one of which happens to live in their pocket—and continual access to information and social channels through which they can immediately share opinions. What a fan—or foe—might be saying about your brand on Twitter could be just as, if not in some cases more, important than what a journalist is saying about you in Newsweek.
“Infomart started way before social was even on the radar,” says Mitchell Praw, the company's general manager of marketing and professional services. “But our clients now are not just demanding the content itself, they're also looking for the perspective surrounding that content and for specific insights that can be extracted through analysis of the content's distribution and impact.”
The problem facing Infomart was twofold. First, it needed to do something to capture media mentions on social channels—media mentions that were coming thick, fast, and unstructured. Then it needed a way to present that information to its brand clients in a way that was accessible and didn't make them want to scream for a life vest.
Infomart started using a cloud solution from Big Data service provider Infochimps to help its brand client start tracking social chatter and trends—because there's no point in collecting data if you aren't learning anything from it.
The Infochimps (no relation to the “mart”) platform-as-a-service uses a three-prong approach to handle data: it looks at the social data being generated around a campaign in real time; it lets users query the data with specific questions; and it analyzes historical data in Hadoop. Infomart integrated the platform into its own existing back end and wound up with a single digital solution, rather than a variety of different tools tacked together like Frankenstein's monster—and just as ornery.
Jim Kaskade, CEO of Infochimps, notes that this can be a common problem for companies that are still determining how to manage Big Data without having to hire a full-time data scientist or patching together an analytics infrastructure they'd have to support internally. “It's a pretty typical trend,” says the self-described data geek. “Companies have a volume of Big Data, some with structure and a lot with no structure at all, with many different sources and types.”
Now that Infomart can derive real-time social insights for its brand clients, Praw is a happy man.
“All of a sudden, we're in a place where we can talk about what's happening in the entire universe of how people see a brand and how they're talking about brands across all platforms,” says Praw. “It's all about deeper analysis.”
Things that are obvious: One day you will die. You will have to pay taxes. Data will improve your marketing and your bottom-line results.
The problem, according to Teradata's hot-off-the-presses 2013 Data-Driven Marketing Survey, which surveyed 2,200 marketers around the globe, isn't that companies aren't collecting data. It's that they're ignoring it.
This is insane. Can you imagine Captain Jean-Luc Picard ignoring the counsel of Data on the USS Enterprise?
But this happens rather frequently back on earth. And according to Wes Moore, director of digital marketing solutions at Teradata, this is largely about how a business's marketing and technology departments are set up. Because while we've all heard the happy prediction from Gartner about CIOs and CMOs working increasingly in tandem, it's abundantly clear, according to Teradata, that access to data is still difficult for marketers—and this creates a disconnect between data that is collected and data that is applied.
Moore points out that often, data is collected in ways that marketers can't easily leverage it—by vendors storing information in cloud technology, or by an agency. Marketers might have access to it, but only after jumping through a few flaming hoops.
“The value it provides is certainly limited,” Moore says. “You get reports and guidance, but not details.”
There are certain data assets that are commonly collected and accessed: demographic data, customer service information, customer satisfaction scores, and hard metrics related to search, display ad click-throughs, email metrics, and web browsing patterns.
But where marketers are often blind is in behavioral data—the nature of the interactions that happen on digital channels. “They can see the data in a silo,” Moore says, “but they don't see how it all relates or how those [different customer] journeys are brought together. You get the trailer but not the full movie.”
Part of this might be the way marketing and IT purchase technology. Alex Yoder, CEO of digital marketing analytics provider Webtrends, pointed out over tea that marketers tend to buy best-of-breed solutions, individual tools that help them satisfy certain business necessities (Moore adds that this buying philosophy also leads to a siloed view of data).
IT guys, on the other hand, buy whole suites for convenience.
So it's ultimately not too much of a shock when Teradata's report finds that 74% of marketers really don't view marketing and IT as strategic partners. Only 56% of those surveyed “routinely” work with other departments and disciplines within the business, and 33% of those surveyed do so on an ad-hoc basis.
It really boils down to a failure to communicate. “They speak different languages and they need to learn to speak each other's language,” Moore says. “And that's the core driver.” Traditionally, marketers are a creative class, and data scientists are, well, data-driven—though Moore identifies a new school of marketers emerging who are beginning to embrace the quantitative elements of their disciplines.
Of course, the important thing to remember is that ideally IT and marketing should be collaborating. Marketers might want to control the data, but should they? The reason IT typically watches over it, Moore points out, is because of security and privacy considerations. “That in and of itself is important in the organization,” he says. “The last thing you need is PII data floating around on the Internet.” As a whole, business departments—not just marketers—can be a bit tunnel-visioned. IT services the entire business, not just marketing.
So what's needed, more than anything, is a reconciliation such that IT can build a data infrastructure that provides marketers with what they want in the most useful format.
Indeed, lack of process, according to 42% of Teradata's survey participants, is the top obstacle to creating this type of harmony. To this end, Moore emphasizes that marketers must first understand what their vision is. What do they actually need?
Then build projects that help them achieve this vision. Some goals, say a 360-degree view of the customer, might simply be aspirational from a resource standpoint. But if a company can break that down into bite-size steps, it can better evaluate resources and data assets to determine precisely what the company can and cannot do.
“Pick something that allows you to be very successful today,” Moore says. Small victories also drive internal advocates.
At a recent roadshow put on by a provider of customer experience management solutions, one of the vendor's customers—a VP of customer and business intelligence from a large American telco—said that mistakes are inevitable: “You will not nail this out of the gate, because it's so complex.”
But if you hit those small victories—building and accomplishing projects that make lives easier internally—the water cooler gossip inevitably brings more people on board. “Deliver that success and use it as a reminder and to help you,” Moore says. “This is what you've done and this is the journey. And continue to remind yourself, so as you go down that data strategy, you can leverage those successes along the way.”
It's time to rethink digital marketing, not as an expense, but as opportunity to boost the bottom line. This was the advice Loni Stark began our conversation with when we spoke this morning about digital marketing trends. Stark, director, product and industry marketing, at Adobe Systems, added that marketers need to start by asking themselves how they can use digital marketing to be effective against competitors over the long term.
What's a marketing fad versus trend? How many social sites should we participate in? How many mobile formats do we need to use? These are questions marketers are asking. The most important consideration, according to Stark: What do customers want?
Stark cited three trends marketers should act on to deliver what customers want, where and when they want it—and gain a sustainable competitive advantage as a result.
Trend 1: As content and gadgets explode, customer attention becomes scarcer
It's clear to marketers that there's a content and gadget explosion, and along with it a growing scarcity of customer attention. Marketers also know that they have to have content out there on different devices. Mobile is only the tip of iceberg when looking at the device explosion and resulting fragmentation.
Addressing this requires a content-first, not devise-first approach. Digital marketers need to determine their core content and brand message and then distribute it across channels as appropriate. “Don't start with a channel-first view,” Stark warns. “Don't build just an iPhone app. It's not sustainable to create something for just one channel. Customers are using multiple devices.”
In other words, optimize your digital marketing and content strategy to caption customers' attention across channels and devices.
Trend2: Deeper customer engagement leads to organic growth
According to Stark, the average online ad spend per user is increasing, which makes sense considering the continual growth in the number of Internet user. But what does that shift in spending mean? In some cases the growth comes from brands moving their offline budgets to online ad spend. Adobe, for example, spends about 70% of its marketing budget on digital. But if companies are spending more online per user, then they have to earn more per user, too.
This means that marketers need to be smarter about where they're advertising. Marketers need to optimize their ad spend because, as Stark pointed out, “paid acquisition of all customers is not sustainable.” Consider online ads in places that not only get prospects' attention, but also help foster a deeper level of customer engagement and loyalty with the goal of building organic growth through such areas as repurchase and referrals.
Trend 3: Customer context, not “location, location, location”
Marketers need to understand that location is not everything. Even for businesses where physical location can deliver a significant competitive advantage, digital integration has become an imperative. Stark cited Starbucks as an example, for its innovations around digital payments and digital experiences like Wi-Fi and charging stations.
“A business's location will matter less; customers' location will matter more,” Stark said. Digital devices and apps will prompt customers to visit a specific retail location. Krispy Kreme's Hot Light app is an example of this. It alerts customers when fresh donuts are available at a nearby location.
Location is about context, as well. So don't send a mobile ad to a customer for a weekend sale a retail store in New York when all their online behavioral cues show that they're sport fishing in the Florida Keys.
“People use technology to eliminate barriers and limitations,” Stark said. “The digital age has give this to customers. ‘Location is where I am, now. Not where the company is.'”
Stark added that by eliminating location as a barrier to doing business, companies can focus on customers' time, which is still scarce. Assets like online or mobile banking, for example, are ways brands can capture customers' attention by giving them time back in their day or shortening the time needed to make a purchase or complete some other type of transaction.
So how do you get there?
Stark cited three ways:
Be useful: Be a “content magnet” by using content to solve customer problems and educate customers every day. It needs to be a habit.
Be different. Reinforce and extend the brand beyond the physical product. A brand image needs to be as strong online as offline. “You can't talk digital without talking about Nike,” Stark noted.
Be convenient. Design for your laziest customers, and then all of your customers will find it easy to do business with you.
The marketing world shook this week when Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group announced the proposed formation of a mega-agency. Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy said that he and Omnicom CEO John Wren “conceived this merger to benefit our clients by bringing together the most comprehensive offering of analog and digital services.” The pair may be more forward-thinking than most pundits have given them credit for, because—at least far as video advertising spots are concerned—analog still rules the day.
At the Cross-Media Video Summit convened by Nielsen in New York this week, George Hammer, VP and group director of media for Publicis' integrated marketing agency Digitas, was put on the spot. Moderator and Digitas alumnus Ashley Swartz, now CEO of a video consulting company called Furious Minds, asked what Hammer's media split for a big new video marketing campaign would be. He hemmed and hawed. Swartz badgered. Finally, he caved under protest: 80% for TV, 20% for everything else.
The bottom line is that, though online video has been proved to be more transactional than broadcast, it is also amorphous. While all things digital are said to be more measurable, it's not necessarily the case with online video. Precisely because the ability to measure is greater, the number of things that can be measured is greater, and standards are difficult to pin down. And then there's human behavior (and by humans, we mean marketers here): People are more comfortable with what they're more comfortable with.
“The question is how does legacy business on TV make the shift and measure and monetize it? That's not settled, so [marketers] stick with what they understand and are familiar with, and who they trust,” said Peter Naylor, EVP of digital sales at NBC Universal. “In digital, we concentrate on moving advertisers into long form. Long form is like TV on the Web. They see that and say, ‘Oh, I get it.'”
Because online video can be presented in so many forms in so many ways—via websites, networks, aggregators—viable measurement standards could be years off. Todd Gordon, EVP of Magna Global at Interpublic Group, says the media unit has set a three-year target to reach a level of 50% automated buying. Standing in Magna's way, however, is a clear evaluation strategy.
“Does an ad on a show or a site with heavy Twitter buzz work harder? We're not deep enough into it to draw a real connection,” Gordon admits. “We're looking at ways of how programmatic buying beats traditional, but we have to be able to measure incremental reach. That's what drives audience share.”
Panelist Barbara Singer, VP of advertiser insights and strategy at ESPN, said that she heard nary a mention of programmatic buying at a recent social and digital conference run by the Association of National Advertisers. She thinks digital measurement is at a Goldilocks impasse.
“We need to know how many [videos]? How often? How long? It's tough,” she remarked. “We have Big Data, but do we know who [viewers] are? We have single-source research, but that's not the answer either. We need something else between the two, but what?”
The good news for online video is that its future does not appear to be tied to the fate of broadcast. “People who use digital use more media in general. They don't cut TV,” Singer said. “Media mix is dependent upon the brand and the KPI.”
Despite his stated 80-20 ratio for TV and “other,” Hammer is bullish on online video. “People are signing up for this. There are more and more ways to optimize it,” he said. “Publicis research shows that when you give consumers a chance to choose, online video performs the best. But budgets are tight. There are not a lot of dollars for digital. You have to use what you have to create moments that people want to take part in.”
Asked whether NBC tosses digital placements in as sweeteners for big broadcast deals, Naylor responded emphatically in the negative. “We're very cautious about giving away digital,” he said. “Everything we do sets a precedent for the future, and we're pretty sure that, one day, the world is going to be served through an IP address.”
For Staples Canada, when the school bell rings, the cash register sings! The office product supplier launched its “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” integrated marketing campaign to ensure that the retailer was top of mind for parents and kids tackling back-to-school shopping.
To fully embody the "holiday cheer" that back-to-school shopping brings, Staples built its campaign around the popular Christmas hit and decked the campaign with traditional and digital channels. Sandy Salmon, director of advertising, says Staples ran it's first “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” TV spot in 1994 and is now on its fifth rendition (created by its current agency of record MacLaren).
In terms of old school channels, Staples is featuring in-store signage, radio ads, movie preview spots, and TV commercials. But not all of these established channels are time-honored traditions. For example, this year marks the first time the brand has included cinema spots in its campaign. Salmon notes that the movie previews, which are playing on more than 1,500 screens across Canada, were included to attract mothers taking children between seven to 17 years old to the movies during the summertime. She adds that the radio ads, which start in early August, are also being played on stations that attract moms.
As for digital channels, Staples is teaming up with digital media company Crucial Interactive to arange digital media buys on websites including, blogher.com and espn.com. Staples, which is also Canada's largest Internet retailer, included this initiative to expand its reach and to target those shopping for back-to-school supplies online, says Valerie Outmezguine, PR specialist for Staples Canada. Outmezguine says Staples will also be launching its Back-to-School Center—a landing page that contains weekly deals, videos, sources for teachers, and shopping lists sorted by brand, grade, or product category.
“More and more people are shopping online and we think that it's a good way to connect with them for back to school,” Outmezguine says.
The campaign launched July 29 and runs until just before the first bell on September 7.
Sausage. It's delicious in a sandwich, but it's not really the word you'd want to use to describe the creative work coming out of an agency.
Everyone's talking about what impact the $35.1 Omnicom/Publicis merger will have on digital platforms, data, programmatic ad buys, analytics—that whole shebang. But what about the work? Creativity needs room to breathe, and the massiveness of what I think of as OmniPubliComcis will surely stifle, at least in part, the impulse to be courageously creative out of fear—the fear of losing your job, of taking a risk, of going with your gut.
“Creatives will start to play it safe, and there will be less that's innovative, or breakthrough, or fun, because they're afraid of the worst,” says Flora Caputo, VP and executive creative director at Jacobs Agency in Chicago, telling it like it is. “Of all the creativity killers out there, and there are a lot of them, fear is the biggest one—fear will squash good ideas before they even get developed.”
Arguably, the net result of a situation like that is the ultimate “blandification” of all work until courageousness in marketing is just something crazy people do if they want to get canned.
“I know they're probably doing this whole merger for monetary reasons, but it's going to add so much more bureaucracy and, actually, I think it's really sad,” says Caputo. “There will be layers and layers that creatives will have to go through now to get good ideas approved—or even just to get their ideas in front of clients.”
When we're talking about a world in which Coke and Pepsi could share the same ad agency, something is certainly awry. Caputo put it more succinctly: “It's laughable.”
Things could also get a bit wonky on the client side. For example, Caputo recently had lunch with a friend who lost his job at an activation agency because of a redundancy that came about after a merger. While he was still there, the agency won business from a client that had fired its previous agency. Post-merger, the client ended up back where it started, working with the original agency it had fired.
Sean Boyle, formerly head of global strategy at Publicis Dallas, put it rather well in a recent interview—and this was more than two months before the Omnicom/Publicis announcement: “Advertising has become a big business with five or six holding companies globally that are basically money-making operations focused exclusively on the bottom line, which is expected. That means the sausage factory is producing slightly less consequential content because corners are being cut.”
Whether Omnicom and Publicis mean to or not, their sheer combined ginormity can't help but dampen the independent creative spirit, just a smidge. And the creative spirit is exactly what Caputo likes about her small agency, where, she says, “we're not beholden to anyone except the client, and that's a good thing.”
What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word “logo”? Probably it's something visual; at base, the design or symbol a company uses to distinguish itself from others on letterhead, business cards, websites, landing pages, T-shirts, bumper stickers, ads, the faces of foolish people, and the multifarious other places you can stick a logo.
But branding isn't just for your eyeballs. Ears can also get in on the action. Computer chip manufacturer Intel is a perfect example. There are few people in the modern world that would hear this sound and not immediately recognize it as Intel's audio brand.
There's a big difference, though, between an audio brand and a jingle, both in concept and purpose.
“Audio branding is not just about sound and music, it's about influences,” says Michaël Boumendil, president of music design and branding agency Sixieme Son, which is responsible for the music used in Renault's successful Captur app. “Audio branding is another dimension of the brand that truly embodies it—the same difference between just using images and having a logo and a true visual identity in place.”
Meaning, Alka-Seltzer's vintage ditty “Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” = jingle; while Sixieme Son's sound design for Cartier = audio brand. Jingles work on knowledge—audio brands word on emotion, Boumendil says. An audio brand may be distinct, but the point isn't necessarily to be recognized, rather to express something deep and core about the brand's identity.
As far as the five senses go, sight and sound are two of the biggies, often experienced in tandem. In fact, a recent Oxford University study found that hearing a related sound can speed up the visual search for an object, says Colleen Fahey, U.S. managing director at Sixieme Son. And that's handy from the perspective of a brand looking for help combating the declining attention span of the average consumer, she says.
Experienced together, audio and video can, as Fahey puts it, “underscore the attributes conveyed by the visual brand” or complement them by subtly adding further meaning.
“For example, today we're working with a brand whose logo conveys leadership, authority, and dynamism,” says Fahey. “We're using the audio to add warmth, optimism, and diversity.”
The idea is to be cohesive—an audio brand should have some logical connection to the visual one—but to also remain fluid. “Being coherent doesn't mean being static,” Boumendil says. “But being dynamic also doesn't mean being confusing.”
There's something to be said, as well, for the visceral nature of sound. Music is a language that everyone can appreciate, and one that doesn't contain the same potential pitfalls inherent in a turn of phrase. As Boumendil points out (unfortunately for Nike), the brand's name is actually a slang curse word in French, a really naughty four-letter one at that. The same holds true for colors. For instance, while brides wear white in the West, in Japan, white is the color of mourning—but wedding music is cheerful the world over.
“What kind of vocabulary is really universal? Music—because we're all human beings,” he says. “Every language is a system to say something, to broadcast a message—but with music all people will understand it the same way.”
Want to get started with your own audio branding system? Click through for the top sonic branding do's and don'ts from Colleen Fahey.
An audio branding primer with Colleen Fahey, U.S. managing director at Sixieme Son:
Audio branding don'ts
1. Don't leave audio strategy until the last minute. Plan your music and sound at the outset.
2. Don't confuse audio branding with entertainment. It has a job to do, and that job is brand enhancement.
3. Don't forget that impact without meaning can be distracting and counterproductive.
4. Don't choose a piece of music because you like it. Ask instead, “What does it say about me?”
5. Don't repeat the same music mindlessly—adapt it to the context.
6. Don't neglect a measurement mechanism. Is the brand conveying its specific values better than before? "Our clients have seen rises in 'distinctive, soothing, pleasant' as well as 'innovative, mobile, and modern.' They've measured drops in perception of call waiting time. They've seen brand recognition by over 80% of population in just two notes."
Audio branding do's
1. Articulate what your brand stands for before addressing what the music must do. Audio branding should create a core “audio DNA” that remains consistent, while allowing flexibility for adaptations to multiple touchpoints over many years.
2. Think of your audio brand as a system of distinctive sounds and music, not as a jingle.
3. Investigate what audio approaches your competitors are using so you can stand out.
4. Enumerate your key audio touchpoints, including your on-hold music, trade show booth, app-opening sounds, and events. Make every customer touchpoint a relationship builder.
5. Decide if you need the audio branding to underscore or to add to the message conveyed by the visual brand.
6. Require an audio style guide as part of your brand guidelines.And there you have it. Go give your clients an earful.
In a few short months, it will be time to pack those lunchboxes and banish the children back to the classrooms where they'll eventually learn to be functioning adults.
But before Mom and Dad can uncork that giant bottle of fermented grape juice, they'll need to prepare their children for the academic deathmatch. The conquest for a higher, extremely expensive education can only be attained through careful preparation. And what do children need to be successful? Swag. Material goods. High-end electronics. Can Junior be a National Merit Scholar without a new iPad? He cannot. Teenagers everywhere agree. And don't forget new clothes: Look good, feel good, test good as the saying goes (Not really).
We all know that the credit cards come out well before the school year starts—a consumer survey from marketing firm SG360 and Leo J. Shaprio & Associates found that 86% of households with kids aged 5-13 are going to start buying pretty early. Much of the planning-and-purchasing frenzy happens in late July and early August, according to the study. And back-to-school shopping is big business: the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2013 survey expects total back-to-school spending to reach $26.7 billion.
But economic hardship means that 80.5% of back-to-school shoppers will change the way they spend; 36.6% of respondents said they'll price-compare online and 18.5% will do more online shopping.
Here's the problem: The big box retailers and online giants like Amazon dump so many resources to claim their share of the multibillion dollar pie, how can a smaller company compete?
Forget price; try bundling items
Face it: beating Amazon on price is pretty much impossible. “There are all sorts of pricing algorithms the retailers run every day,” says Billy Nava, VP of retail solutions at multicultural marketing firm TransPerfect. “They'll go to the manufacturer, or lower their price and squeeze their margin.” For retailers without Amazonian resources, this sucks because, according to the SG360 survey, sales and offers are the top purchase influencers for back-to-school buying.
Nava suggests coming up with offers that present other value-propositions, like bundled services. This can include a free item or a free subscription to a service. “If you bought a coffee item or a juicer, you'll get a coupon that goes to Whole Foods,” Nava suggests.
That the big box guys are everywhere dilutes their local presence. This is something smaller retailers can use to their advantage. David Perez, CMO and cofounder of Convertro, a provider of cross-channel marketing optimization solutions, says one of the simplest things to do is target email addresses and phone numbers through Facebook. “That's a tool small retailers can go out and leverage,” he says, adding that that sort of targeting can be done within an hour. “And if they put forth an offer based on previous purchases, they can get those customers to come back and make another purchase,” Perez says. Nava points out that some retailers give discounts at the Wi-Fi level—meaning that if customers are online within a store's network, that store can push out offers. “The objective,” Nava says, “is to keep them in the store longer.”
Your relationship is an asset
Yes, the big box retailers have the resources to invest in complicated CRM constructs but that doesn't mean smaller retailers should just give up. Not every CRM solution needs to be a premium one with all the bells and whistles and some data is definitely better than none. “You already have a database of users that are buying and that data can be leveraged, providing different offers based on the likelihood of those users to convert,” Perez says. “The biggest mistake retailers make is not leveraging the relationship they have with buyers.”
Email marketing is complicated. Selecting the right message, subject line, imagery, audience, cadence. Maintaining and building lists. Measuring outcomes. It's exhausting just thinking about everything that needs to come together for a marketing email to arrive at all, get opened, and ultimately, prompt a specific customer action.
Alchemy Worx CEO Dela Quist is one email marketing insider who obsesses over these issues. In fact, Quist has spent about 20,000 hours so far in his career thinking about nothing but email, he said during his keynote at the MeritDirect CO-OP 2013.
“People forget why email is so important,” Quist said, noting that there are 4 billion email addresses globally. “We're sending nearly 200 billion emails per day, not counting spam.” In comparison, according to Quist, there are only 3 billion searches a day—and email drives more searches than any other channel.
“Not having an email address is the digital equivalent of being homeless,” he said.
Quist also noted that email is as important as ever in our increasing social world. First, in most cases users need an email address to join a social network. And second, social networks are among the biggest users of email—as a way to maintain customer engagement. “At 2 billion emails a day Facebook is largest email sender in the world,” Quist pointed out.
And as much as consumers may like or follow brands in social channels, when asked, “How do you want to be communicated with by brands” in terms of promotional communications, the overwhelming response is email, Quist said.
That said, customers aren't sitting around breathless with anticipation waiting for your email to arrive. “The key to understanding email is to understand the nature of engagement,” Quist said. “People have lives. Understand that and get over it. They're not your friends, they're your prospects.”
Which brings us to measuring success in email marketing. According to Quist, marketers need to rethink email success measure like open rates. “The problem with open rates is they're a campaign measure, not a customer measure,” he said. “If you want a 100 percent open rate, sent one email to your mother.”
The irony of open rates, he said, is that “the harder you try to optimize open rates, the fewer customers you'll drive to your site. Don't optimize for high open rates, optimize for sales. Optimize for total opens.”
Marketers need to rethink their measure in terms of timing, as well. According to Quist, although most opens are in first 24 hours, the majority of early opens aren't purchasers. Nearly 40% of sales come in one day from the last click, and about 25% happens a month after you send an email.
What's more, in some cases email drives sales in other channels without click-throughs, Quist said. “You don't have to open an email to drive you to a purchase,” he said.
Quist's advice to marketers: “See the light,” he said. “Email works. Use it to drive sales across channels. Send more of it. Email isn't about frequency, it's about value. Send customers [content and offers they] value and they won't complain about how much email you send.”
We all have our brand affinities. If you know me at all from my blog posts, you'll know that Godiva and Mustang are two of mine. Coach is another. I'm on its email list. I get mailings—email and print—for previews and exclusive sales. Alas, as much as I'd like a closet full of Coach bags and accessories, I have a mortgage and a teenager.
But that doesn't mean Coach will stop trying to entice me. I'm fine with that. I mean, hey, I did sign up for its email list. And, with Coach now using my behavioral data, it may gain more of my wallet share after all—pun intended.
Coach recently sent an email with a preview of its new Madison collection. Of course, I click through to the website and browsed around. That's when it all started. I fell for the Madison Kimberly. I clicked around but kept coming back to ogle it. I left empty handed.
Fast forward to the next day. In my inbox is an email from Coach with a photo of the Madison Kimberly and a few other items I viewed. Oh, yes, Coach had data and was using it. I couldn't resist. I click through again and gazed longingly at the bag. I lingered. But again I left without purchasing.
A day later, as I browsed online to plan an upcoming trip, Coach was there with me. It served up a banner with the Madison Kimberly. It was wearing me down; tempting me with the coveted tote. You know what happened next, don't you? I clicked.
No, I didn't purchase then either, but the story isn't over. I may eventually buy the Madison Kimberly, but it will be in store. I need to touch it, inspect it, and test it on my shoulder—an investment that big isn't made lightly.
In the meantime, Coach likely will continue its subtle, and not so subtle, appeals. And that's OK with me.
For many families, summer is a season reserved for sticky, popsicle-stained fingers, days lounging by the local pool, and family vacations—which means big business for hotel chains. David Greenberg, director of advertising and creative services for Best Western International, says June to August is the prime time to target families and leisure travelers. Hence, the global hotel chain partnered with cable network Disney Channel to launch an augmented reality app designed to appeal to families and drive brand engagement.
Hotel guests who download the Best Western ALIVE! app, powered by augmented reality platform provider Aurasma, can pose next to a “standee” (a self-standing display promoting a movie) featuring stars from Disney Channel's new musical movie Teen Beach Movie, and then use the app to choose which character they'd like to take a picture with, wait for the character to “come to life” and strike his or her own pose, snap the photo, and share the photo on their social networks. Greenberg says Best Western has partnered with Disney Channel before, such as by promoting its TV program Shake it Up last year, and says that the app and social shares rejuvenate the 67-year-old hotel brand.
“It's always good anytime you have folks taking these pictures [and] putting them on social media. It continues to put our name out,” he says. “Best Western is an amazing brand, and it's been around for quite a long time. At the same time, we want to do everything we can to make sure that the brand is contemporary, vital, and youthful. And anything where we're having folks share and talk about things on social media and things that are high tech and cutting edge is a great way to do that for Best Western.”
And because Disney Channel's programming primarily targets kids between the ages of six and 14 years old, Best Western included an age gate that prevents kids under the age of 13 from sharing photos via the app to abide by COPPA regulations.
Greenberg also notes that the app is an experience for families already staying at a Best Western hotel rather than a promotion to lure families into staying at their hotels. Hence, Best Western is only promoting the app via its email marketing and website instead of its mass media channels. Greenberg adds that the app aligns with Best Western's “Stay with People who Care” advertising.
Although Greenberg declined to reveal how many downloads the app has generated, it has earned a 2.7 out of five star rating, according to Google Play.
No matter how beautiful, colorful, thick, glossy, or lovely a print catalog can be, the process of flipping through it is mostly, at core, a passive experience. Not so with the 2014 IKEA catalog, slated to mail to consumers in August.
For the past two years IKEA has been on a mission to take its catalog—which is celebrating its 63rd anniversary in print this year, I might add—from the coffee table to the tablet with an interactive app that combines augmented reality, video galleries, and extra product information to create what CMO Leontyne Green Sykes calls, “an experience that's consistent with how consumers are consuming media today.”
“Of course we like having that physical piece of collateral we can go through and tear out pages to create collages of the things we like,” says Green Sykes. “But it's even more exciting when you can really interact with a catalog and it becomes a mobile piece with a digital component—and who doesn't love augmented reality?”
The app really is rather neat. It's not available for download until July 25, but I got to mess around with it in advance at the catalog launch press event in NYC last week. The 2014 catalog app lets you unlock extra content, including 3D product models, image galleries, and videos, which is par for the course. But the best bit is the AR, which allows users to literally dive in and explore full 360-degree views of different pages in the catalog. Users can also virtually place pieces of furniture from the catalog into their own homes by scanning the catalog page. By manipulating your phone or tablet, be it iOS or Android, you can maneuver the virtual product around a room and really answer that burning question: Will this end table look good next to my sofa? You can also snap photos and take screen grabs to share with your personal design consultants (a.k.a. your friends).
Right now the AR option is only available for about 90 of the products in the catalog (there's a little orange “additional content” symbol on the pages you're able to scan), but IKEA says it's planning to roll out more functionality in later iterations. For those without smartphones (mea culpa), the extra video content and image galleries are also available on the IKEA website.
As the boxer briefs of the catalog experience—a mixture of the pure analog pleasure of flipping through a catalog mixed with a frisson of digital je ne sais quoi—IKEA's offering truly is a titan of catalog-dom.
"Whenever a consumer looks though it, they feel like they're going to find something in there that's just for them,” says Green Sykes. “It's a very inclusive piece of collateral, which is very much like our store.”
Green Sykes, who currently has her eye on the new Stockholm high-back chair, jokes that every time a new product comes out she's tempted to bring it home—but her husband's a bit more practical when it comes to the ratio of “space in house” to “IKEA products desired.” She's not worried, though.
“It's big, but I might be able to smuggle it in,” she says with a laugh. “And I think once Wayne sits in it, he'll love it.”
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