Direct mailers' primary interest in the U.S. Postal Service is rates. They like them low. They don't like exigent or emergency or any other kinds of rate increases outside of the price caps set down by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, and they're not so crazy about them. They feel they and their huge Standard Mail volumes are floating this particular government boat while the Internet sucks away First Class Mail like a Dyson DC65 Animal and “underwater products” are allowed to stay buoyant due to their largesse.
Though First Class volume continues to decline at a steady pace, big mailers still need to cheer it on, because it's more profitable on a per-piece basis than Standard and helps keep to them from paying even more. In the six months ended March 31, First Class contributed $5.5 billion (the amount of the annual retiree health benefits bill the Postal Service can't pay) more in revenue than Standard Mail did—and did it with 8 billion fewer pieces. But that can't last for long. First Class is in a free fall. What big mailers need to root for most as a rate hedge in the future is USPS's shipping and package business. Not only does it own the highest growth rate of all the Post Office's lines of service at 8% to 11%, but its upside is enormous.
According to a new study from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service, “Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow!”, the Postal Service accounts for almost two fifths of the total volume of the shipping business, but less than one fifth of the revenues. USPS's focus on lightweight packages returns it a revenue-per-piece of $3.37 as compared to $9.70 for FedEx and $9.39—for whom postal carriers provide last-mile delivery of light packages.
What the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) prescribes is a customer-driven package delivery strategy focused on capturing a larger share of the online retail business. OIG suggests that the Postal Service's personal relationships with customers along that “last mile” give it a competitive advantage, but that, to take advantage, it needs to match value-added services offered by rivals and introduce innovations. Suggestions include back-end fulfillment on printing and payment, scheduled pick-ups, real-time tracking, time-definite service, and mobile apps.
OIG cites an Accenture study suggesting that the Postal Service's shipping business may be giving away too much to its hundreds of millions of customers. It found that consumers would be willing to pay extra for special services such as accelerated delivery, delivery scheduling, and secure delivery and retrieval. What consumers dislike most about all shipping companies, the study found, were packages that were delivered at a bad time, left unattended, or lost or damaged.
Undoubtedly, the Postal Service should be able to find ways to close that $6 dollar gap in revenue-per-package, but you could add the potential solutions to a wish list to be sealed and opened after postal reform is enacted. A delivery company that can't afford to replace 20-year-old trucks has a hard time positioning itself as an innovator.
In the meantime, direct mailers, you send out a few million packages now and again, don't you? Do the patriotic and rate-rationalizing thing and choose USPS for your package delivery needs. I hear they'll be a good buy once UPS and FedEx move to dimensional pricing in 2015.
The question isn't whether you need marketing automation; it's when. The answer: It depends. According to Sirius Decisions, the overall penetration of B2B marketing automation is about 16%, but it varies by industry. In IT there's 65% adoption, but there's only 8% adoption in manufacturing and 4% in financial services. The growth rate of marketing automation adoption is about 22% per year. At that rate, if you're not in the race you might wind up watching competitors pass you from the sidelines in the not too distant future.
On the plus side, according to Sirius Decisions' Jay Famico, practice director, and Jen Horton, research director, marketers have more choice than ever before. The marketing-tech stack is growing as big vendors gobble up small ones, they said during a presentation at the Sirius Decisions 2014 Summit. Additionally, the market continues to expand, and some new vendors are extending marketing automation further into the customer life cycle.
Even with this growth, all is not rosy. One third of B2B organizations feel they're not getting value from marketing automation, Famico and Horton said. Perhaps that's in part because more than 40% of marketing automation users have less than two years of experience in marketing, thus less of an understanding of both the industry and the technology. Consider: 32% of those with more than six years of experience in marketing have SVP and CXO titles, and 57% of those with more than four year of experience are directors and above.
Another issue with marketing automation: Only 68% of B2B marketers surveyed score leads. Worse, only 40% of salespeople agree or strongly agree that lead scoring is effective.
Famico and Horton shared a few recommendations for improving the marketing automation experience:
“Marketing automation is good when processes are good,” Famico said. “Automating poor processes will make you sink.”
At 10:30 p.m. this past Saturday about 1,500 women and a handful of men decked out in the most elaborate brassieres you can imagine gathered at the starting line of the second annual Moonwalk New York City. I was one of them.
What on earth were we doing? We were participating in a power walking race hosted by Walk the Walk, a charitable organization that funds breast cancer causes like research and support for women battling breast cancer. Some of us were going to be walking a full marathon (26.2 miles); others were going to power through a half. All of us were brimming with enthusiasm and had made concerted efforts to raise money and awareness for Walk the Walk.
There are many races and other activities that support breast cancer research and related initiatives. So, why the Moonwalk? It's the unique connection participants have with the event. We want to support this specific and important cause, and we want to have fun doing it. Big fun that makes a statement and gets noticed. More, we want to make a difference for others while challenging ourselves. We're a unique “customer segment” that identifies with Walk the Walk's mission and wants to be part of the action.
What's all this got to do with marketing? Everything about the organization's Moonwalk (and Sunwalk in other cities) is an experience that has marketing build into it. Consider this: 1,500 participants wearing festively adorned bras powering walking their way through the streets of Manhattan on a Saturday night, passing by revelers enjoying a beautiful evening at sidewalk cafes and bars or making their way to a show or party or late night dinner—many of whom stopped their conversation midstream to observe and discuss the uniquely dressed racers, and in somes cases to cheer us on. Yeah, that's marketing in action.
For participants the experience is immersive: You train, fundraise, decorate your bra, power walk for hours, cheer, celebrate, tell everyone you know. For onlookers and friends and family—many of whom are prospective participants—the experience is participatory by extension; it may be as simple as spreading the word by discussing the event or as involved as helping the walkers to train or adorn their bras. There are also the many volunteers whose participation, support, and enthusiasm were invaluable to running the event most of all, but from a marketing perspective were integral to the Moonwalk's outstanding customer experience, as well as the word of mouth through their evangelism.
Assuredly, next time Walk the Walk hosts a Moonwalk in New York it will be much larger than 1,500 participants.
So, what can direct marketers learn from all this? No surprise here: Learn about what motivates your customers and use that insight to connect with them and inspire them to act: to engage, share, purchase, come back for more. Understand your customers' needs and aspirations and then communicate with them in context and with relevance.
There may be many other terrific races and events that support breast cancer causes, but there's only one Walk the Walk, with a mission and approach uniquely aligned with a specific segment of customers. The marketing is built into the “product”; that is, the connection Walk the Walk has to its participants' motivations is the foundation of its marketing. It inspires participants to donate and fundraise, decorate and discuss, and then power walk a marathon or half, most recently starting at 10:30 p.m. through the streets of New York City.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Conlon neglected to include one detail about the Moonwalk: She won it, tying for first place with a time of 5:55.
Trendwatching is one of those activities that seems both fun and overwhelming. There are so many shiny objects, the challenge is to determine what's real and what's fluff. Anita Gandhi and John Fetto are pros at trendwatching and were tasked to bring their most recent findings to the stage at the Experian Marketing Services' 2014 Client Summit in Las Vegas. Gandhi, VP, strategic insights, consumer services, and Fetto, senior analyst, research and marketing, for Experian Marketing Services, assert that the five trends marketer need to watch now, and over the long term, are:
Internet of Things
Fetto pointed out that mobile is “a transformation experience more than a trend.” He added that although a few marketers are making headway with mobile, many are still struggling with it and others are on the sidelines waiting to see what leaders do—an unwise approach, he said.
Within mobile, there are a few areas to consider. According to Fetto, we're entering the age of the phablet, and end of the laptop. Laptop shipments are down and phablets sales are up. By 2017 there will be more phablets than computers. Additionally, 91% of smartphone owners are mobile shoppers, and most millennials connect to the Net via their smartphone, versus other devices.
Also, “snackable content is up,” Fetto said, because so many people are reading on mobile in transit. As a result, there's an increase in visual social media like Instagram and Pinterest.
Fetto recommended three solutions trend for mobile:
Capture data – Companies need to collect and verify accurate mobile contact information during an interaction, and then maintain its accuracy.
Link – Know your customers and their preferences in terms of communication channels.
Profile – Determine what content will most engage customers, as well as via what mobile interaction point (app versus mobile website).
The amount of customers posting reviews is astonishing, Gandhi said. In fact, 82% of consumers post reviews and 81% read them, she said, adding that the reasons they do so include the love of community and addicition to a favorite brand.
What else is behind the trend? Customers enjoy answering the cry for help by providing information about products and services to other customers, Gandhi said, citing Yelp as an example. Also spurring it is the democratization of innovation through crowdsourcing. According to Gartner, by 2017 more than half of consumer goods manufacturers will receive 75% of their consumer innovation and R&D capabilities from crowdsource solutions, Gandhi pointed out. Additionally, companies are leveraging “customer creatives,” customers who love shooting picture and videos, by using that creative for ads—or having customers actually create ads.
Gandhi recommended two solution trends for crowsourcing:
Profile – Learn what will movtivate and engage your customers. “You have to understand what motivates them to do your work,” she said, adding that marketers should use data to create a rich picture of their customrers.
Plan – Use the information you have about you customers to determine how to harness the power of the crowd.
Media fragmenation has forever altered the media buying landscape, making it nearly impossible to create an optimal media plan. The average person watches nine networks a week, Gandhi added; plus, there are millions of websites, along with all the other digital and traditional channels.
The result is that programmatic is no longer just for remnants; it's also for upfronts and other premium positions, she said. “In the age of addressability, you're not buying publications; you're buying a specific audience,” Gandhi said, citing as an example consumers who are coming off-lease with the cars in the next six months.
Target – Identify the right audience for specific initiatives or campaigns, whether that segment is off the shelf or pulled from an existing customer list. And then, when you use programmatic, make sure that you're getting the audience you paid to target, not just anyone.
Engage – Once you've selected that audience, buy it across all media to deliver consistent messaging.
Internet of Things
The millions of connected devices—such as cars and home automation—are beginning to
modifying search, and will continue to do so as more devises come online, Fetto said. This creates an in-depth profile of what we're doing throughout the day, he added. This potential for unique insight is resulting in acquisitions and a race for control; for example, Google buying Nest and Apple's upcoming launching of HomeKit. “Home automation is the leading edge of the sword,” he said.
Fetto's suggested solutions:
Link – Identify an individual customer or household's connected devices to get a holistic view of the data available; but do so while mainting customers' privacy.
Enrich – Add layers of insight in such areas as consumer attitudes and brand preferences to any existing one-dimensional data you may have.
More than 60% of consumers use four or more platforms per day and 85% of U.S adults are now digital, Fetto said. “Consumers are blind to channels,” he said, except if brands get in the way by providing disconnected experiences. Consider as an example, Startbucks' omnichannel loyalty program, which allows customers to easily purchase via loyal card or mobile, as well as refill their card via mobile, POS, or Web.
Fette's recommended solutions for marketers:
Capture – Ensure that your customer data is correct and current; validate it at the point of purchase.
Link – Syncronize any customer identifiers across channels to create a holistic view.
Engage – Deliver consistent targeted content, messages, offers to customers across channels to create relevant, meaningful interactions.
Analyze – Track and measure customer responses and behaviors and then used that information to create a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement.
It's all about the customer, more than ever before, Gandhi said: “It's the data about your customer that will drive your ability to capitalize on these trends.”
We all know that customer expectations continue to rise and competition is tougher than ever; the question is how brands can stay relevant to their customers in that environment, Matt Seeley said during the opening keynote at Storytellers, Experian Marketing Services' 2014 Client Summit. Seeley, group president, North America, for Experian Marketing Services, recommends that marketers get back to basics to keep moving forward. He advised attendees to focus on four areas:
Courage: It takes courage to change. Real change starts with company leaders. They need to get out and interact with customers and get a firsthand view of the customer experience.
Whether you're a lead the marketing team or are part of it, you need to be the person who's part of that change, who's willing to collaborate and do what's right for the business and the customer, not just your own silo.
Simplicity: You need to simplify. It's harder than ever to differentiate your brand; one way to do so is to simplify your message. Another way is to simplify the structure of the marketing team. A third is to adopt agile marketing—it's an effective way to evolve quickly, but do so always thinking about the customer. Finally, focus on what matters most. Begin with what you're not going to do so you can prioritize what you should and will do.
Authenticity: Start with what's authentic about your brand. People know when you're disingenuous. Be real.
Customer: Everything should start with the customer at the center, from overall marketing structure to individual campaigns. Also, use data. It tells a story about your customers. It will guide you to the right decisions.
Why rethink your approach to marketing? “I guarantee there's someone in a garage right now trying to take away your customers,” Seeley said.
You can attach your business to the marketing clouds of Salesforce, Oracle, or Adobe, but sometimes a connection to clouds controlled by a higher power is the one that delivers you to the promised land of Exceeded Goals. That's where Paul Walsh comes in.
Remember the polar vortex that buried the East in snow and sent the GDP reeling last winter? Well, Walsh says it's back. But this time, instead of multi-car pileups and missed school days, it's gracing the Dog Days with dry air and 70-degree temperatures. And it's bringing marketers an opportunity to make back all the money its icy-mannered cousin stole from them in Q1.
“When the polar vortex hits in winter, it brings the weather that can kill you. Think Donner Party,” says Walsh, who served as chief of weather operations for the 101st Airborne during Desert Storm and now forecasts how weather affects business for The Weather Channel. “But it's just the opposite when it comes in summer. You're going to see tons of people outside spending money traveling, shopping, and just feeling good and loving life.”
I know this is short notice, but Walsh's message for the loyal readers of this blog is, if you have travel plans for the next few weeks, cancel them. Now through the first week of August, when the vortex displays its kinder, gentler side, is the time for marketers to make back all the sales they lost in January, February, and March.
“When it's really hot, people do cocoon. It's happening right now on the West Coast, where it's much hotter than it should be this time of year,” Walsh says. “When the weather's dry and fabulous, as it's been nearly every weekend in the East, people get active and will spend, both offline and online.”
Marketers don't align their plans with the weather nearly enough, Walsh says. Weather forecasting is more an exact science than behavioral analyses predicting who's going to open what emails. “Weather is really, really predictable. Forecasts are correct 95% of the time, and people plan their lives around what those forecasts are going to be,” he says. “What I advise my customers is to support a strategy that gets out in front of that phenomenon. Align your marketing with what the weather will tell you your customers might be needing at a given time.”
With that idea in mind, Walsh has a long-term advisement for those still intent on sitting out this summer vortex opportunity in a beach chair: Don't build your winter marketing and inventory plans on what you did last year. He's confident that this winter will be wetter and milder. Plan on selling more toys and electronics at Christmas, he says, than down jackets and mukluks.
Ah, the chicken nugget. Although it's a simple breaded snack, its dinosaur or cartoon-shaped presentation leaves the impression that it's a food reserved for those stuck at the kiddie table. But for consumers who can't let the bite-sized bird go, there's Tyson Food's Home-style Chicken Fries.
Chicken Fries are a more mature version of the chicken nugget for teens and preteens who are too cool for the child-like cuisine. So when Tyson introduced the “any'tizer” to big box retailer Sam's Club, it needed to show busy CEO moms that its Chicken Fries were a quick and convenient snack for this growing segment. As a result, Tyson launched a multichannel campaign in April 2013, in which it relied on cross-channel storytelling to drive awareness around the product's debut.
“Our past marketing strategy was always about get[ting] as many customers as you can....Now it's very much changed,” says Karen Doan, Tyson's group marketing manager for alternative channels and customer marketing. “It's about retention and loyalty; and storytelling [does] that.”
Hatching stories through social
Knowing that consumers turn to social networks for recommendations from family and friends, Tyson launched a slew of social initiatives to get customers talking about the product and engaging with the brand.
For starters, the brand engaged shopper social media company Collective Bias to leverage its blogger community to generate content, such as recipes. Bill Sussman, president and CEO of Collective Bias, says that the social media company drove traffic to these bloggers' sites via its proprietary syndication platform and through paid media. And because each blogger within Collective Bias' community has at least 50,000 followers, according to Sussman, the company also generated traffic organically. Furthermore, Tyson shared the content via its social channels, such as its Pinterest page.
Given that different platforms appeal to different audiences, Tyson varied its content depending on the social network. For instance, Tyson turned to Facebook to learn more about its customers' eating habits, by including a time of consumption survey on its Club Tyson page. Customers who answered the survey were entered into a chance to win tickets to a Six Flags theme park. The brand also hosted “Twitter parties” to drive engagement.
Doan says leveraging social media helped Tyson shift its engagement mind-set from a “what's-in-it-for-us-marketers?” mentality to a “what's-in-it-for-our-consumer?” viewpoint.
“If we're driving shares, then that would drive the content,” she says, “not the other way around.”
Linking online and off
In addition to reaching moms through social, Tyson relied on a mix of digital and in-store touchpoints, such as banner ads on Samsclub.com, as well as point-of-sale dipping sauce and dinner recipes. But if the poultry seller really wanted to reach moms at every touchpoint, it would have to spread its wings and connect the on- and offline experiences.
One way Tyson bridged the digital and in-store experiences was through mobile. The brand relied on geofencing and geo-targeting to reach moms who were within a five mile radius of a store. In addition, Tyson hosted in-store demos where shoppers could sample the Chicken Fries. As for shoppers who couldn't make the demo or had never shopped at Sam's Club, Tyson had its bloggers take pictures of their Sam's Club shopping trips and upload them to Google+.
Roasting the competition
The campaign generated some cluckin'-good results, including a 100% increase in share of voice, more than 4,800 pieces of content created, 32.7 million impressions, and triple-digit growth in sales.
Tyson has introduced new social channels, such as Instagram. In addition, Doan says that the brand has increased its focus on reengaging consumers, including following up with customers who retweet one of the brand's posts.
“It's great that everybody is all excited and [that] you're getting a lot of tweets," she says, "but did we listen and did we take action from that listening?”
A few bad eggs
Still, a few challenges remain. For instance, although Tyson has a dashboard, Doan says keeping track of all of the brand's incoming data remains an issue. She also says connecting the data from customers' on- and offline experiences is an area in which Tyson needs to improve.
However, if Tyson continues to focus on the customer, odds are its competitions' goose--or chicken, rather--will be cooked.
“Make sure that you're thinking of what the customer wants and everything will come from there,” Doan says. “When you think about customers and what they want, then you're authentic, you'll have loyalty, and you'll have retention.”
If you ask any marketer to list the one essential thing they need to do their job, the majority will undoubtedly say “data.” Data makes the marketing world go ‘round. Want to deploy a targeted email campaign? You need email addresses. Want to customize your preference center? Go get yourself some customer data. Looking to target, customize, optimize, and personalize? Data, data, data.
One might wonder, then, why Lawrence Gould and Tom Donnelly, founders of 99cimages—a new stock site that sells 99-cent single-use licenses for high-resolution images—decided that their business model wouldn't include any data collection. And the answer is simple: “When you go into a store every day and buy your newspaper or milk, they don't ask you for your name or address—they just take your money,” Gould says. “They're local, they're well-priced, and that's why you go there. You don't need to give them your details.”
Visitors to the 99cimages site can browse images and add them to their cart, doing what one would normally do on a stock image site. The difference comes when it's time to pay. At that point users aren't asked to log in; they're taken to a PayPal page to complete the transaction. Unique users are tracked through their buying session to give them a seamless browse-to-purchase experience—but that's where the tracking ends.
This approach means that 99cimages never has to worry about data breaches; it also poses a few marketing challenges. What about lead generation, promotional emails, data gathering for targeted messaging? As Donnelly somewhat cheekily noted in the press release announcing the 99cimages site launch: “Having a username and password makes it so much easier to track users through the system. You can also fire a ton of spam junk-mail at them to send them important marketing messages that you know they will need at some point.” Touché.
Gould and Donnelly came up with the idea for 99cimages while the world was first being rocked by revelations of the Heartbleed bug. The thinking went: Why put yourself and your customers at risk for what's essentially a minor purchase? Why create an e-commerce experience that requires registration, a login, and a complex password, and collect credit card information, only to put out the welcome mat out for would-be hackers?
“We haven't even started to scratch the surface of the consequences of Heartbleed and how many people lost money as a result of failings in the system and the massive fraud that may have been perpetrated,” Gould says. “It's our feeling that there's going to be a sort of backlash and people are will interact with fewer and fewer trusted parties, and with companies like us that specifically don't collect data.”
But it's not like Gould is against data collection. He acknowledges that it does make sense in many cases—just not all cases. For example, at some point down the line, as 99cimages expands and offers more high-value products, asking users to authenticate themselves by creating logins and profiles will become necessary. But the 99-cent PayPal image option will always remain.
In other words, when it comes to data collection, resist the temptation to hoard. Just collect what you need—and what you actually intend to use.
While it doesn't have customer data to rely on, 99cimages does, of course, engage in marketing, including Twitter and Facebook outreach, banner ads, and viral tactics.
As for the data-driven marketing industry, Gould in no way begrudges marketers their data collection ways—but he would give them these words of caution: “Marketeers have to collect data; it's valuable stuff and they've got to send their emails out,” Gould says. “But my feeling is that the pendulum is going to swing and that there will be a backlash when people really realize how much of their information is known by brands.”
What isn't considered marketing these days? Customer service, branding, analytics, tech, even procurements; if something impacts the customer experience, the responsibility—and the repercussions—often fall directly into marketing's already overfilled court.
According to recent research from AtTask, 60% of marketers are either utterly overwhelmed by or just barely meeting their deadlines. That's partially because members of the marketing department, like the members of most other departments, are dealing with mountains of email while repeatedly being pulled into unfocused meetings where buzzwords are buzzed, but nothing gets accomplished.
But the biggest issue marketing has to deal with is the rapidly changing tech landscape, says AtTask CEO Eric Morgan.
“The marketing team has similar problems to those felt by other groups, yes, but there's also a uniqueness to the problems experienced by marketing—we can't forget that the demands on marketing are increasing every day,” Morgan says. “Multichannel digital marketing demands are completely different from what was being demanded of marketing even five years ago, and it's creating a situation of accelerating pain points for marketing folks.”
Everyone and their mother's been banging on about the need for marketing and IT to collaborate—and for good reason. According to research conducted by Gartner, 67% of marketing departments set the marketing-tech strategy, compared to just 13% of IT departments. ROI depends on a good, silo-free relationship. But, as Uncle Ben so famously said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And if I can add to that statement: With great responsibility often comes more work—if not for the department head, then for the worker bees.
“With the advent of the cloud, the demands on IT are lessening in some respects because so much can now be done without the headaches associated with the traditional IT environment,” Morgan says. “The pain is migrating from one department to another, and we need to acknowledge this and deal with it.”
And with 53% of CMOs saying that digital marketing growth has made them more accountable for raising revenue, as per a study by Deloitte and Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, the pressure's on.
So, what can marketers do to up the productivity and decrease the pressure? Mostly, it's just about being realistic.
Take your head out of your silo. Unless you're a farmer, nothing good ever comes out of a silo—ever. “Silos are often about departments drawing proprietary lines around information and communication—the things they should be sharing,” Morgan says. “But if an organization is open, the fewer silos they're naturally going to have, and the more productive they're naturally going to be.”
Don't just shuffle the deck. Every department can absorb a certain amount of extra work or new necessary tasks—but there is a limit. I'm not all that math savvy, but this equation makes sense to me: More work (plus) fewer people to do it = burnout. There's more than ever to do, but you can't just move tasks around the table or reassign them from one person to another and think that's going to solve the core problem.
“If you're asking people to do more work, you need more resources than your current resources to be productive,” he says. “Or, if there really are no more resources, you at least have to help prioritize the work around real, rational business conversations.”
Take stock of what's really going on. Without internal transparency, managers can't fully assess where the productivity issues are—and if there's not a true understanding of current and potential commitments, that's a formula for ineffective workflow.
“Embrace the notion that you need to track and understand all the work and resources you have across your team,” Morgan says. “Even small requests can add up and they need to be managed.”
Don't be a knee-jerk. Know what you're signing up for before you commit your—or your employees'—precious time.
“I often call marketing the ‘Yes. Wait—what's the question?' department because they're often paranoid that if they don't say yes to everything, then it's going to get outsourced,” he says. “Compare that to the IT department, which I like to call the ‘No, that's not in the budget' department.'”
It's not a quick fix, but companies with a culture of transparency and willingness to change are at a clear advantage to the silo-mongers. And it's not going to get any easier, so you might as well start now.
“No matter who you are or what you do, whether it's marketing or anything, when you feel enough pain, that's when you realize it's time for a solution,” says Morgan, who notes that there's no better time than the present. “The problems that are presenting themselves today go above and beyond the things that have historically kept marketers up at night—and it's time for marketing teams to embrace a new way of running their departments.”
The vast and immediate information resources of the Web--and its numerous and ever-evolving delivery devices--have placed ultimate power in commercial proceedings in the hands of buyers. Not just consumers hardwired to Yelp and Amazon, but B2B buyers, as well.
A study released this week by Harvard Business Review Analytics says that business purchasers, on average, have completed 57% of their due diligence before they engage a sales rep. And educated buyers are needy buyers. HBR's analysis quotes a recent survey of salespeople in which two thirds said their customers' expectations had increased either noticeably or significantly.
Suddenly customer relationship management is morphing into--years-old but rarely used--customer-managed relationships, and sales professionals are scurrying to adjust. “It really hasn't been an overnight kind of thing, but to some degree sales organizations in the B2B space didn't appreciate that it was happening,” says Johann Wrede, global senior director of solution marketing at SAP, which sponsored the HBR study. “CRM was the old paradigm. It was a dictated process. Here's the funnel, take a sale from stage A to stage B in 15 days. But the reality now is that the customer is in charge and the buying process is no longer linear.”
To get in the game, says HBR, sales organizations and their marketing colleagues have to turn the tables and collect and analyze online behavioral data from customers. Along the way, salespeople have to cast off some longstanding habits, such as discussing only positives, steering accounts to certain products, and making believe the competition doesn't exist. “To meet rising expectations,” reads the HBR report, sales reps need to “act as trusted counselors…who can offer decision makers advice on solving problems and preparing for trends—counsel that often extends beyond the products or services they're selling.”
While quota-driven salespeople may find it difficult to adopt such radical behavior on a full-time basis, the challenge presented to their employers is even greater. “Sales is locked into what systems have been provided to them,” Wrede says. “There's been a lag in identifying this trend among companies. Their systems are designed for the funnel approach as opposed to informing salespeople in the Big Data approach.”
Wrede says the technological tools are available to power the transition. In The Mobile Mind Shift, coauthor and Forrester SVP of Idea Development Josh Bernoff says that some of the most successful business apps are ones that put selling information into the hands of B2B salespeople when they're in front of clients. SAP provides free mobile apps to customers and also uses predictive analytics to help them increase their success rates. But the human element must be attached to the tech piece to make it work for the sales rep, and the lone wolf deal closer may become an endangered species, as a result.
“No one salesperson or program can know everything the customer is going to need to know,” Wrede says. “There has to be collaboration across the enterprise. There has to be a virtual deal room with people across the business helping salespeople win accounts.”
The World Cup is a time for soccer to steal the spotlight on the global sports stage. And while many have been caught up in the football frenzy, Leonard Armato has been focusing on an entirely different sport: volleyball. As the founder and CEO of Management Plus Enterprises, one of the creators of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball along with NBC Sports and the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, he's relying on marketing to bump the sport to the forefront.
The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball is a week-long beach festival and volleyball tournament that takes place in Long Beach, CA from July 22 to 27. Top athletes from across the globe, including three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, compete for a $1 million purse. Fans can also play against each other for cash prizes, and enjoy performances by musical acts.
The event was born out of the success beach volleyball experienced at the 2012 London Olympic games, as well as the popularity and high gross value of music festivals like Coachella and group competitions like Tough Mudder, Armato says. Consider: Tough Mudder has accumulated more than 1.3 million participants to date, according to its website, and garners from $2 million to $10 million increases in local economic activity per event.
“My theory is go big or go home,” says Armato, who is also the former CMO of shoe company Skechers and president of Skechers Fitness Group. “To cut through the clutter...[and] create something that's interesting and has mass appeal, you need to draw from what's trending in pop culture.”
Nearly three million watched the televised event in the United States alone in its inaugural year, and an additional 11 million tuned in outside of the U.S. With the event entering its second year, Armato plans to step up the tournament's positioning. For instance, he's aiming to grow the event's TV viewership to more than 15 million, as well as increase the tournament's attendance by 20% and fan participation by 50%.
To achieve these goals, the tournament is targeting a range of prospects, including volleyball fans, general sports enthusiasts, people who enjoy social competitions, and music lovers.
“What we're trying to do now is really tap into the grass roots who like volleyball as a whole and make sure that we can reach as big of an audience as we can,” he says. “Our goal and objective is to appeal to a mass audience—not just a niche audience.”
The event is also relying on different channels to appeal to different audiences. For instance, the brand is leaning heavily on social—including Facebook buys, blogs, and influencers with prominent followings—to target various volleyball communities. However, the tournament is turning to radio to reach prospects within certain demographics, such as millennials. The competition is using NBC TV spots and PR to appeal to broader audiences.
“We try to fish where the fish are in that respect,” Armato says.
Furthermore, sponsors are promoting the event in their respective channels. For example, title sponsor and athletic footwear company ASICS produced a series of workout videos for volleyball players starring Walsh Jennings and ASICS trainer Michelle Lovitt. In addition, the company has a designated landing page where people can sign up for a sweepstakes, shop ASICS beach volleyball bikinis, and watch other videos about the tournament.
Armato expects the event to be “in the neighborhood” of one billion impressions by the time it kicks off.
But with the event less than a week away, one has to wonder: Have these efforts been enough to stand out amid the World Cup clutter? Although the World Cup is over, Armato is aiming to leverage the “fever” that people have for international competition: “Hopefully, we can transfer the excitement and interest of the people who have been watching the World Cup to the World Series, which is the same kind of thing. “
Travelocity recently noticed, and quite alarmingly, that it was losing customers right at the point-of-sale on its car rental page. And it just kept happening. A visitor would select options from the various dropdowns—pick-up airport or city, pick-up day, drop-off day, car type, etc.—and seem just on the verge of making a booking, only to abandon at the moment of truth.
It certainly was puzzling. Travelocity's Web team tried to re-create the problem, but to no avail. Every time they tried to make a booking it worked seamlessly. They were at a loss and they were losing money. Travelocity then turned to IBM's Tealeaf to diagnose the problem. As part of its offering, Tealeaf lets users replay real-life Web and mobile sessions in full-fidelity to help brands identify particular struggles and patterns of behavior with the aim of improving the customer experience.
And this is what Tealeaf discovered: People really were trying to book, but the time of day dropdown menu was defaulting to midnight—a time when most of the car rental places were closed. Visitors who mistakenly left “time of day” blank were, by default, told that there were no cars available when indeed there were…just not at midnight. Travelocity's internal people didn't realize the issue, even when they were troubleshooting, because they always entered a time into the dropdown that fell within business hours, and when you did that, the system functioned just fine.
“As people move more and more into these multichannel, omnichannel worlds and become more digitally focused, there's an increasing demand for better insight on the customer and the ability to provide in-context understanding across the customer journey and across touchpoints,” says Ken Bisconti, Tealeaf business leader at IBM. “This is about getting a holistic understanding of customer lifetime experience.”
In other words, it's a multichannel world, so—logically—we need multichannel analytics or customer experience is at stake. If you want to actually “get” your customers and give them more of what delights them, you need the kind of customer information that doesn't come in a silo. “Companies have an ocean of data on their customers, but they're still struggling to gain insights and actionable data,” Bisconti says. “And that's going to have a potentially significant impact on revenue, loyalty, satisfaction, and operational costs.
Remember Captain Planet's catchphrase, “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!”? Analytics should be a bit like that: a combination of digital analytics (quantitative Web and mobile traffic, conversion metrics, etc.); behavioral analytics (understanding the customer journey); social analytics (sentiment, share of voice, etc.); and predictive (using to optimize real-time automation)—all brought together in the service of actionable marketing.
“There's an unwritten rule between the customer and a brand in today's world that if a company has information about the consumer and it's not putting it into action, then the customer either stops giving information to that company or starts doing business with someone else,” Bisconti says. “So let me ask you, why is every interaction with a brand not a marketing opportunity?”
Every aspect of marketing needs to be rethought. That's the strong—perhaps jarring—sentiment from James Gross, cofounder of marketing technology company Percolate. Gross says marketers are in a time of major transition; and to rise to and then exceed customer expectations and company demands, modern marketers must innovate, reshape, and transform their approach to strategies and execution.
I recently chatted with Gross about how marketers can not only survive, but thrive in a neo-age of ubiquitous technology, ongoing interaction, and deep personalization. Gross challenges marketers to embrace an industry-wide evolution—from the content that marketers create and the audiences they target to the various channels they use and methods they deploy. In this candid interview, Gross explains how an epoch of impactful campaigns is emerging right before our eyes.
Q: Why do you consider 2014 a year of transition for marketers?
James Gross: Well, at some point in 2014 we're actually going to [reach] more than 3 billion Internet users [or roughly 40% of the world's population]. That's an amazing feat. There's no other technology or service that enables [that many users] other than the Internet. And what's interesting is that the network only gets stronger with the more people that [use] it.
Why is this so important for marketers? Well, [analysts] predict that from 2014 to 2019 Internet users will reach about 6 billion people—basically the amount of people will double over the next five years. So that [growth] will enable and allow marketers to do things that they've never thought of before with vast sharing and culling of stories, info, and content.
Q: So, how should marketers rethink channels?
Gross: Well, channels are a really interesting concept. We're moving [away] from a world of what used to be very finite channels—you know: network television, radio, billboards. The channel model is moving from what was a limited amount of channels to a world of infinite channels. So, essentially, strategy has to change from only reaching mass audiences at very specific times to reaching anyone in the world at anytime. [Marketers'] channel strategy needs to be totally be rethought [to reflect the change] in this new world.
Q: What about changes in content?
Gross: Marketers are going to have to move from just thinking about stock content. And what I mean by that is content that's built to have a very long shelf life; [for example], a commercial is meant to be in market for about nine months. They're going to have to move from that content to what we call flow content. These are quick hits of content—smaller, bite-size pieces of content that are often relevant in the moment but not relevant outside of the moment. So, the brand has to [make a] move to create more of this flow content in order to be relevant all the time. Of course it's not just about flow content. [Brand marketers] need move from just stock to [a combination of] stock and flow content.
Q: And what new approach should marketers take when defining their target audiences?
Gross: I think the thing marketers need to remember is that audience [size] is just getting bigger. I mentioned the number of Internet users reaching 6 billion. The other thing [to think about] is there's a growing world middle class; it's a sort of metric built out by the World Bank. It includes anyone who makes between $10 and $100 a day. It's a different middle class than what you would think about in the United States, but it's the global middle class.
What's amazing about that stat is that the World Bank predicts that the number of people in the middle class will swell to 5 billion; so, we're going from the current 1.8 billion to 5 billion. For most [brand marketers] who sell most of their products or services [to the middle class] this means your [potential] audience size is nearly tripling in the amount of people you could possibly reach. And, again, with a vehicle like the Internet [that allows marketers to] reach [potential customers] your audience is just going to grow.
Your ability to ascertain—and win that market share over—basically comes down your ability to now reach these new audiences and communicate why they might want to buy your products and services. It's exciting. It means marketing as a discipline is growing. Marketers need to think bigger about their reach.
Q: How should a modern marketer reconsider processes—or the way they're getting to an end result?
Gross: It just goes back to this idea of how marketers traditionally worked. Marketers made their buying decisions months in advance, then built campaigns around those [times and channels].
We're moving from that model—which still works—to a much bigger opportunity. The process of marketing—sort of, what's been a small, internal marketing team, and possibly an agency of record—needs to be rethought. Those changes stem from the natural [evolution] that technology has brought. Modern marketers and the marketing department have to expand their impact through systems technology.
Where were viewability standards when my father would hightail it to the bathroom during a break in McHale's Navy and miss the commercial for the '65 Oldsmobile Cutlass? Let's face it, advertising has always been a dicey game, metrics-wise. You try to tailor your creative to your target audience, pay big money to plop your spot in the middle of your demo's favorite show, and then hope for the best. In the pre-digital days, you depended on Nielsen families to make entries in diaries to determine the TV ratings of a nation. Were we even sure all Nielsen families were literate? A crapshoot at best.
Now that actual opens and views of ads can be digitally recorded and compiled, you'd think there'd be no more griping about the accuracy of metrics. Think again. Last week the Media Ratings Council (MRC) pronounced a final benediction over its Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines. A display ad is considered viewed if at least 50% of the pixels are viewable for one second. Same for videos, except that two seconds of a video has to play for it to be kosher.
“This is just more of the same. It's still very complicated to create a standard that suits everyone,” says WebSpectator CEO Andre Parreira. “At the end of the day, no one wants to buy a premium video slot for two seconds. They don't want their video viewed, they want it seen.”
WebSpectator promises its advertiser clients at least 20 seconds of exposure for their videos by targeting their ads to users whose behavior the company tracks. “We create impressions. Our system knows that when we make an RTB request, that user is likely to spend 20 seconds with that video,” claims Parreira. His point is that his definition of a viewable ad hardly squares with the MRC's definition, and so no advance has been made.
The MRC, which was charged with crafting a definition acceptable to both advertisers and publishers, disagrees. “We did a lot of research and found a balance point. At the two-second mark, we think the publisher has provided the opportunity for the ad to be seen,” says MRC SVP David Gunzerath. “If the buyers and the sellers of advertising want to consider something beyond that and negotiate it, that's all well and good. But for a baseline metric, we think two seconds is appropriate.”
The negotiating is likely to be hot and heavy, as the viewability standard inevitably deflates the premium video inventory. “We all understand the value of a viewable standard, but viewable impressions are not all seen, and once the supply goes down, publishers are going to have to make up for the loss in revenue with premium pricing,” says Craig Simmons, manager of product strategy and operations at Exponential.
Simmons is of the opinion that the MRC definitions give advertisers a starting point from which to create their own definitions of viewability with publishers. He says that ComScore and Double Verify are just as capable of measuring videos as viewable at three or five seconds as at two. But, as has always been and likely always will be the case with advertising, measurement must be merged with gut feelings and common sense.
“As an advertiser, you have to set expectations accordingly. I can't stress that enough,” Simmons advises. “A lot of marketers say that what they want is 100% viewability, but that's not realistic. That's not how our industry works.” Fifty percent is more like it, he says.
There's no sugar coating it: E-commerce sales are booming. Forrester Research expects online retail sales to reach $414 billion by 2018 and to account for 11% of total U.S. retail sales, according to its “US Ecommerce Forecast: 2013 to 2018” report.
But this isn't exactly sweet news to candy manufacturer Spangler Candy Company. Less than 5% of the Dum Dum and Saf-T-Pops maker's customers purchase its products online via SpanglerCandy.com. Jim Knight, VP of ecommerce and IT for Spangler Candy, says that the company's products are often considered “giveaway” treats for banks and barber shops and that most companies, as well as consumers, buy the sweets at major retailers, such as Walmart or CVS. While consumers tend to only purchase a few pieces of candy at a time in-store, business customers purchase candy in bulk. Hence, the purchase cycle is much slower for B2B customers, and it can take them longer to refill their orders. So, Spangler Candy needed to find new ways to gently prod them to do so.
As a result Spangler Candy worked with retention automation provider Windsor Circle and digital marketing software provider ExactTarget to send out automated emails that remind previous purchasers to order their sweets.
“They say that your best customer is your current customer,” Knight says, “and it takes a lot less money to have that customer order again than to generate a new customer. We're trying to find ways to use our current customer base to prompt them to reorder and generate sales from that as opposed to spending money trying to convert new customers.”
Finding customers' “sweet spot” through data
Spangler Candy analyzes its sales data to find out where its customers are in their purchase journey, and then sends targeted emails based on that information. Spangler Candy sends its B2B and B2C customers one of three types of automated emails: win-back campaigns, thank-you emails, and new customer emails. Although the brand started sending the win-back and thank-you emails in September 2013, since July 2010 it had been sending welcome emails to customers who signed up for its newsletters to confirm their subscription.
The initial win-back emails were sent to customers who hadn't purchased Spangler Candy's products for more than six months, according to Windsor Circle. These emails contained a “We've missed you” message along with a discount code. As for the thank-you emails, Spangler Candy sent these messages of appreciation to customers who had made only a single purchase since February. These emails thanked customers for their business, offered promotional codes, and encouraged customers to sign up for the company's newsletters.
Because it was working with two different flavors of customers—B2B and B2C—Spangler Candy had to adjust its marketing accordingly. For instance, B2C consumers were encouraged to sign up for the company's “Candy Connection” newsletter, while B2B customers were urged to sign up for the "Candy2Business" newsletter. The consumer-facing newsletter contains such content as flavor updates, calls-to-action to its social channels, and notifications about its app, Knight says; the business-centric newsletter includes promotional codes for bulk purchases and information on why it's important to thank and reward your customers—such as with candy.
“We try to give appropriate content,” Knight says.
Each of the initial automated emails delivered scrumptious results. The win-back email generated a 30.1% open rate and a 9.1% click-through rate—both roughly two times higher than the 2013 averages. In addition, the win-back email generated a 2.38-time lift in Spangler Candy's average weekday sales numbers, and the day it was sent out was the highest revenue day the company's had since 1998.
In fact, the campaign was so successful that Spangler Candy built another win-back series targeting customers who made their last purchases four months, eight months, or 12 months ago, according to Windsor Circle. The four-month emails generated a 24.4% open rate and a 6.3% click-through rate, the eight-month emails generated a 24.5% open rate and a 6.2% click-through rate, and the 12-month emails generated a 28.4% open rate and a 9.9% click-through rate.
Furthermore, the September thank-you email generated a 45.4% open rate and a 7.9% click-through rate.
Spangler Candy decided to send out a series of three thank-you emails after seeing the success from its first campaign, according to Windsor Circle. These emails were sent within a certain number of predefined days since a customer's first purchase. Customers were then removed from this list once they made a second purchase. This campaign also generated tasty figures, including a 23.8% open rate and a 4.2% click-through rate.
Finally, over the course of July 2010 to September 2013, the welcome campaign for "Candy Connection" subscribers generated an average open rate of 42.9% open rate and an average click-through rate of 14.2%; the "Candy2Business" welcome campaign generated a 50% open rate and a 19.3% click-through rate.
Knight says that Spangler Candy decided to communicate with customers via email as opposed to another channel because customers had opted in to receive the communication. “They signed up for a newsletter about our product, so they're probably a loyal consumer or a loyal business,” he says. “They have an invested interest.... Pay-per-click works very well, too, but it's going out to anyone.”
A sticky situation
Despite Spangler Candy's finger-licking figures, a few challenges remain. For instance, Knight says that the brand is unable to connect customers' in-store purchases to online sales.
“Right now, our fulfillment center operates as a solely separate business,” he says. “We don't have any way to share any data with our sales department that's selling to retail versus our ecommerce customer. We can have people buying from both, one or the other, or switching back and forth, we don't really have a means to track that.”
Fortunately, Knight now has a consultant to help him mine Spangler Candy's data. Learning how to transform data into insight has been one of the biggest leanings from this experience, he says. “The main thing is taking data and turning it into information, rather than just data,” Knight says. “Information that you can make decisions [from].”
The number of smartphones users will total roughly 1.75 billion globally in 2014, according to estimates by eMarketer. By 2017 that number's likely to reach more than five billion.
Social engagement dominated the World Cup this year, partly because everyone lives with their phones in their back pockets. As the games--and cultural phenomena around the games--unfolded, fans shared the various moments on their smartphones in unprecedented fashion. The Super Bowl ain't got nothing on the World Cup.
But not all smartphone usage is social. In fact, only about 30% of people said they planned to use their mobile devices during the World Cup for social-related activity. According to The Wall Street Journal and Statista, 58% said they'll be using their phones to check information like scores and news; 46% said they'd be engaging with content, like watching live-stream games; and 37% said they'd be using their phones for transactional activities like phone-based ticketing, gambling, and downloading paid apps.
But no matter how you slice it, one thing is clear: Fans love their phones. The World Cup may be almost over, but these experts all agree: The second screen wins every time—but you need a strategy to match.
“The World Cup is a cluttered arena for advertisers, from major sponsors down to the little guy, everyone wants in on the action, so whatever you do, start with strategy,” says Howard Hunt, executive director of client service at MXM Mobile. “Identify what content you're going to share with the world and then use savvy mobile activation to enable your story.”
Scoring with contextual messages
The World Cup is an event that “transcends sports,” says Jeremy Sigel, client director of mobile at digital agency Essence. For that reason, brands should consider what fans are doing at all times—for example, watching television at odd hours, visiting bars during certain key games, etc.—and make the most of those opportunities with contextual messages that enhance the user experience.
“Utilize dayparting [delivering marketing messages during precise time slots] and capitalize on second-screen use,” Sigel says. “Know the World Cup schedule by time zone. With nearly half of all Americans using mobile devices while watching television, align creative messaging on both social and paid media channels with the current match to make your brand relevant and additive to the consumer.”
No need to reinvent the wheel
Coke is an exemplar of this. The brand currently is using the QuizUp to serve World Cup trivia to the app's more than 20 million registered users. And at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Coke called on agency MXM to create a global Web experience that invited millions of fans to share and vote on mobile videos of their most ecstatic goal celebration moments throughout the games. The winner snagged a ticked to the final match.
Although Coke certainly has the cash to create its own app, it tapped into QuizUp and YouTube—places where fans were already engaging—rather than creating something totally new.
“For any major event, there will already be some really useful apps, so unless you have the budget to create something truly unique—don't waste your time,” Hunt says. “Plan for your search, social, and standard mobile activation channels to drive traffic consistently, and if you already have a robust mobile applications, then simply integrate your Web experience there and activate through push notifications.”
Tech is cool, but don't forget about the user
Brands certainly should take advantage of mobile technology, but also should “focus on your customers first,” says
James Smith, VP of North American marketing at Sitecore. “Work with your developers and content teams to find out what existing content can be made more valuable to users. Even if you don't have time to build a mobile site, you can still produce content that will perform well on mobile, like optimized videos that tend to drive engagement better than written content or images.
Another reason to consider the customers experience: For many people around the world, soccer is like a religion, and brands need to be deferential when it comes to promotion. Think about the emotional state of your potential customers as they nail-bitingly watch the games. In this regard, Dr. P.K. Kannan, professor of marketing science at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, calls mobile a “double-edged sword.”
Let's say a fan is served an ad while checking on the scores. It might seem innocuous at most times, but—depending on the tone and content of the messaging—the ad could certainly feel like salt in the wound if that fan's team is on the rocks or has just been eliminated.
“Such intrusions can be bad and the negativity of the situation might rub off on the marketer tying to pitch their offering,” Kannan says. “Have built-in rules that say things like, ‘Run this mobile ad if the U.S. is ahead or winning, [but] don't run it when they have lost a game.' Sensitive marketing is key in such situations.”
In 2014 digital is at the heart of everything for brand marketers and their campaigns—from email and social to webcasts and mobile. This digital marketing age, no doubt, underscores the importance of omnichannel messaging in a time when consumers expect marketers to be always on. Of course, marketers can meet and then exceed those expectations with the right digital know-how. Here are a 15 trends, tips, and stats that every modern marketer should know to create seamless, successful marketing campaigns in the digital age.
1. Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines. (Optimind Technology)
2. Emails with no subject line were opened 8% more than those with a subject line. The reason: An email without a subject line shows more email preview text. (Signals)
3. Forty-seven percent of Americans say Facebook is the number one influencer of their purchases. (Social Media Today)
4. Seventy percent of marketers used Facebook to gain new customers. (HubSpot)
5. Seventy-seven percent of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing) Here's a great example of engagement by General Electric CMO Beth Comstock:
6. Yet, 36% of executives say their CEO either “does not care,” or “cares little” about the company's reputation on social media. (Polaris B)
7. The average buyer consults 11 consumer reviews on their path to purchase. (Optimind)
8. Seventy-eight percent of CMOs think that custom content is the future of marketing. (WebDAM)
9. Forty-two percent of U.S. consumers site familiarity with the sender's name as the main influence on deciding whether to open a promotional email on their mobile device. (MarketingProfs)
10. Seventy percent of brands now have a presence on Google+, up from just 4% in the last quarter of 2012. (Social Media Today)
11. Seventy-one percent of marketers say they plan to have Big Data solutions in place in the next two years. (ZDNet)
12. Eighty-six percent of companies are comfortable marketing with social tools, but only 41% use social tools for communicating with customers. (Forbes/Aberdeen Group)
13. Americans spend 4X more time on mobile devices compared to newspapers and magazines. (Percolate)
14. The leading platforms for U.S. smartphone use are Android (53%) and iPhone (40%). Blackberry now accounts for just 3% of the market. (Heidi Cohen)
15. Using videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 86%. (Optimind Technology)
People's lives have become so dominated by their mobile devices that they not only find themselves constantly able to do new things with their magic machines, but they also expect new things from them. Which means they expect new things from marketers and their mobile apps--and not just new things, but the right things. That's one of the themes put forth in The Mobile Mind Shift, a new book from Forrester analysts Ted Schadler, Josh Bernoff, and Julie Ask. We asked Bernoff, the research company's SVP of idea development, for some marketing intelligence on providing memorable mobile moments.
Has mobile thrown a monkey wrench into the best-laid plans of marketers and enterprises?
Yes, while they weren't looking, the main locus in which people interact shifted. It's no longer Web, it's mobile, and mobile requires a completely different way of thinking about how to interact with consumers. You have to connect them to services as quickly as possible and give them the information they're looking for. Marketers concentrate on telling you what you should hear right now, but people connecting with mobile devices are interested in solving their current problems.
Marketers have christened each of the past three years the “Year of Mobile.” Why is this the year that was?
I think this is the year because of what I see in the marketplace. There are two completely opposite trends happening at the same time. There is a high degree of need, and at the same time a low degree of capability. A lot of companies are saying mobile is taking place, but the number of companies that have it under control is very small. There are a lot of them coming to us saying, “We need your help.” About 80% of the effort involved in mobile engagement is in reengineering back-end systems to connect with mobile. We project that companies will spend $189 billion in 2017 to redo their systems.
We worked with a healthcare company that had an excellent app, but had poor customer ratings on it. People said that when they tried to execute the features, they didn't function properly. The reason is that reworking the back end in healthcare companies is very hard.
So rewiring companies' back-end systems is the business to be in. Who's poised to clean up?
KPMG's Cynergy unit, Mobiquity, Sapient Nitro--these are some of the companies that have proven themselves adept at delivering successful mobile applications.
What kinds of tricks do IT systems need to be able to do to synch with mobile?
They need to be effective at connecting with mobile devices. They require a new kind of platform. You have to have as much [of your mobile capabilities] in the cloud as you can to deliver at the speed you need. You need to line up with third parties like Google Maps, for instance, on capabilities you can't build yourself. You need to be able to deal with enormous surges in traffic. Think about an airline operation. A passenger is at the airport and opens his airline app to find his gate. You have to respond quickly to deliver that. These apps have to be developed rapidly and they need to iterate rapidly. It typically requires an agile development team that can deliver results in a matter of weeks and then review and improve on them in a matter of weeks. Big companies have mobile steering committees to determine how to allocate resources.
Marketing apps are notorious flops. Name three things they must have to succeed.
The first thing companies have to do is to understand the difference between apps and sites. They need to invest in a site that's ready for mobile. Many people will find you through search first, so that site has to be designed to take as much traffic as possible. Adaptive design is not sufficient; you need to design for reach. Also, for an app to be workable, it has to actually be useful. That's where most marketing apps fall down. Columbia Sportswear has an app called "What Knot to Do in the Greater Outdoors." Some hiker is out on a mountain and needs to tie a certain knot, and this app tells him how. It's utility marketing, the next step beyond content marketing.
What about B2B enterprises? Have they been as affected by the shift as B2C companies have?
I get that question all the time and, yes, of course, there are several ways mobile has changed B2B. B2B customers are human, and like everybody else they're using mobile all the time. There are far fewer effective B2B apps, however. One place where apps can be very effective are in selling situations. To explain something complicated in a sales call, a visual like a table or chart can make a salesperson much more effective. Trane, the air conditioning company, increased its close rate from 35% to 65% with an app for field reps. They used to crawl around somebody's house, then go out to truck and write a quote on a business card. Now they can enter the information into the app, show it to the customer, and say, “Here's why you need a higher-end system.”
In your book you write that “mobile is not a channel.” Please elaborate.
We learned, in some sense, the wrong lesson from online. Remember when e-commerce was new? People in retail thought they had figured it out. Online is like a channel, a separate store. But mobile is not a very good selling channel. It's more of an informational channel. You're not going to buy a lawnmower on a mobile phone, but when you're in the store it can help you choose what lawnmower to buy.
Now that the Year of Mobile has arrived, do marketers who are behind still have time to catch up?
You really can't wait at this point. More and more companies we talk to tell us that more than half of the traffic on their websites is coming from mobile. This is a complete shift in the way people interact. So unless you are prepared for it now, you are going to be way behind. You can't declare this the Year of Mobile and then miss it.
Argentina, Brazil, and the Netherlands may all be positioned to take the World Cup, but Nike, Coca-Cola, and Emirates are the current champs in terms of social mentions. Social monitoring company Engagor analyzed World Cup sponsors' social campaigns between June 12 and June 24 and discovered that, although not an official sponsor, Nike scored 357,000 related brand mentions while Coca-Cola and Emirates trailed with 297,000 and 169,000, respectively.
“Social media is allowing brands to engage with the three billion-plus football fans worldwide,” says Folke Lemaitre, founder and CEO of Engagor. “It has given teams the ability to grow their fan bases immensely...and has provided fans with the ability to connect with each other about the game on an even larger scale.”
A winning roster
Although Nike is not an official World Cup sponsor, the sportswear company is backing 10 teams—including Brazil, France, and the United States—to compete with opponent and FIFA partner Adidas. In addition, Nike featured several popular athletes—both in avatar and human form—in its “Risk Everything” and “The Last Game” films.
The company also has a “Risk Everything” landing page where fans can shop the official Nike World Cup jerseys and create customized avatar action shots to share with their social circles. To keep the momentum going, Nike is launching the Nike Soccer App on July 10, which will allow users to chat with fellow football fans, shop gear, learn about the athletes, and receive alerts for Nike Academy—the brand's pro-level training program.
As for official FIFA partner Coca-Cola, the beverage company has been pouring its marketing dollars into several World Cup initiatives, including its Happiness Flag, television and digital films, and a music anthem. Similar to Nike, Coca-Cola has also created its own soccer program called Copa Coca-Cola Camp.
Finally, official FIFA partner Emirates showed its football fervor both on and off the ground. For instance, the airline displayed the 2014 FIFA World Cup Winners Trophy in the Dubai Airport and hero images from its #AllTimeGreats commercial—featuring soccer legends Pelé and Cristiano Ronaldo—at airport checkin desks.
Passengers flying one of Emirates' 16 new Boeing 777 aircrafts can watch matches live. Emirates even had Pelé autograph it first Boeing 777 plane—or “Pelé-ane.” Travelers flying via another aircraft can also opt to receive goal-by-goal text updates via the plane's digital screens.
Engagor's Lemaitre says that Nike, Coca-Cola, and Emirates' active fan engagement is what's driving the brands to victory.
“These brands are continuously engaging with followers about the World Cup,” he says. “Each has built a strong social media campaign around the event, showing that they're not resting on their brand name alone.”
However, where there are winners, there also must be losers. Pepsi, Visa, and Continental have the fewest social mentions with 32,000, 13,000, and 6,000 respectively.
“The brands at the bottom have made very little push to engage with the World Cup social audience,” Lemaitre says. “Most of their social engagement around the tournament has been reactive and each seems to be primarily focused on other initiatives.”
Pepsi, although not an official sponsor, created a “Now Is What You Make It” TV commercial featuring music artist Janelle Monáe and top soccer players. The spot also has an interactive digital version that allows fans to click on it to unlock hidden features.
Other notable World Cup initiatives from Pepsi include a vending machine that requires people to mimic the pros moves to earn a soda and “Pepsi Beats of the Beautiful Game”—a series of visual soundtracks that pairs short films with anthem songs to illustrate the spirit of the games.
In regards to FIFA partner VISA, the financial services company is promoting its “Everywhere You Want to Be” tagline in full force through social. For instance, the organization asked 32 filmmakers—one for each of the qualifying countries in the World Cup—to create a 90-second video showing what the World Cup means to their country. All of the videos featured the same soundtrack to create the “Samba of the World” microsite. VISA also launched a World Cup-themed video game to teach people about personal finance, appointed a group of “fanbassadors” who capture and curate fans' experiences through video and photo content, and created a “teletransporter” that allows fans to upload an image of themselves in different World Cup scenarios—such as on the field or in a dinner setting with footballer Fabio Cannavaro.
Official sponsor and German automotive manufacturer Continental has also created an entire site dedicated to World Cup coverage.
The championship continues
But as the World Cup shows, rankings are not always clear cut. For instance, although Coca-Cola has more social mentions than rival Pepsi, Pepsi's mentions have more positive sentiment. According to Engagor, 58% of the sentiment around Pepsi was positive compared to just 14% for Coca-Cola—82% of Coke's sentiment was neutral and 3% was negative.
“This is likely because [Pepsi's marketers] aren't attempting to make a social splash around World Cup or taking advantage of the buzz,” Lemaitre says. “By staying out of the conversation, they are limiting the risk of negative sentiment.”
Likewise, although Nike had nearly four times as many social mentions as Adidas, only 16% of them were positive compared to 23% for Adidas.
If marketers want to have a game-winning social strategy, Lemaitre says that they need to be nimble by engaging with fans consistently and adjusting their campaigns on the fly.
"By actively engaging with fans on an individual basis, brands are able to capture the attention of more followers and create more buzz around their message," he says. "Brands that adjust their strategy in real-time, keep a close eye on the trending topics during the World Cup, and create dedicated campaigns [through hashtags, competitions, etc.] are able to stand out in the crowd."
Looks like the games are not over yet. See the complete social roster below:
Number of Mentions
Sochi who? Less than halfway through the games, the number of World Cup-related social interactions already trumped that of the Academy Awards, Olympics, and Super Bowl combined. So sayeth the Facebook, amen.
It's not surprising, considering the international nature of the World Cup and the sky-high Facebook usage rate in Latin America. According to Brazil-based media and marketing company IMS, more than 97% of Latin America residents (those with an Internet connection) use social media, and the continent overall has 13% more Facebook users at 179 million than the U.S.'s 158 million. Not to mention the mobile adoption rate in LatAm, which eMarketer estimates saw a 45%+ increase in 2013.
Social media is a notorious leveler of the playing field (soccer reference!). A small brand can have as big a share-of-voice as, say Coca-Cola, if it knows how to use social right. So the question in my mind is why brands even both sponsoring big events like the World Cup. Seems it would be easier, and significantly cheaper, to hijack the opportunity on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever the audience happens to be.
According to research from GlobalWebIndex, 38% of consumers have no idea that non-sponsor brands like Nike, Pepsi, and others, who've been running full-on World Cup campaigns, aren't, in fact, official sponsors. If a brand's on social media, it can align itself with the World Cup as easily—and as vocally—as any other brand that's shelled out millions on an official sponsorship.
Volkswagen's a good example. Without spending a penny on sponsorship, VW and its agency Deutsch LA created 288 mini videos, each featuring a computer-generated VW Golf spinning around a soccer pitch while the animated crowd screams “GOOOOOOLF!” The videos were deployed one by one right beside ESPN.com's live-streaming of the matches each time a team scored. The videos were even color-coded to match team colors. It's designed to generate buzz, and that it's doing.
The social engagement potential at the World Cup truly is staggering. Social intelligence company NetBase created live dashboards (here's one) to show all the social media activity swirling around the World Cup in real time, including mentions, impressions, emerging topics, sentiment, and a map detailing geographical hot spots. When I happened to check last week, the dashboard showed that there'd been roughly 11,700 tweets in a single hour, generating about 11 million impressions. In just one hour. #WorldCup2014 has been trending on Twitter basically since mid-June. It's a social bonanza out there, and brands, sponsors or not, should be capitalizing on it.
I caught up with Craig Elimeliah, SVP and director of creative technology at RAPP, to talk social strategy and what brands can do to tap into the raw social power of events like the World Cup. Here are his top tips:
Hash it up. Hashtags, the really relevant ones, don't just capture moments—they aggregate those moments and allow brands to organically (one would hope) piggyback on culturally relevant conversations as they're happening.
“Brands are becoming more comfortable jumping on non-branded hashtags,” Elimeliah says. “As culture bubbles certain hashtags up into the mainstream, brands should take advantage of those moments and adopt those hashtags.”
A little context never killed anyone. The World Cup is a big social opportunity for brands—but only if they develop messaging that jibes with the zeitgeist.
“Brands should look to create reasons for people to share and provide rich context with a focus on what's happening around the world and how people are talking about it,” he says. “It's a chance to dial up the emotions and map them back to the brand pillar so that the brand can try and own certain moments—which in a way is ‘real-time marketing,' but I'd rather call it ‘right-time marketing,' because it's about activating the right message at the right time based on what's happening contextually.”
Look beyond the games themselves. The matches are a big deal, of course, but what's happening off the field is just as important, at least culturally.
“Look at the periphery of what's going on around the games and what you can do within the white space between games,” Elimeliah says. “Really track what's going on so you can have the right people putting out the right communications at the right time to activate the right responses.”
But try not to be annoying. Realize that sometimes, fans just want to focus on the football. “Advertisers have to be wary about disruption and putting out too much,” he says. “Timing is important, so brands need to think about when and how it's appropriate to reach out to audiences.”
And now I leave you with Elimeliah's favorite piece of World Cup advertising, the Beats/Apple/Nike collaboration for “The Game Before the Game.” It's got it all: emotion, good storytelling, context, a non-branded hashtag (#gamebeforethegame)—and none of the brands involved are official World Cup sponsors. Of course, athletes have since been banned from wearing their Beats by Dre headphones on the pitch because of FIFA's official partnership with Sony; but that doesn't stop the players from sporting their Beats at every other opportunity.
Viral content has the reputation for being a spontaneous, unplanned form of content marketing that gains its own momentum. But as CEO of Virool.com Alexander Debelov explains in this lucid Q&A, behind most viral brand content there are detailed, marketing plans.
Why should viral content be a goal for marketers and their campaigns?
Viral content should definitely be integral to marketing campaigns. But I think there's a misconception [about viral content]. First is when we think of something as viral, a lot of people tend to think of this element of surprise or something unexpected. Or we think viral content is something that simply took off [or gained momentum] on its own. Things do go viral, sometimes, on their own. But generally, [viral content] stems from a very defined process with steps in order to become popular on the web.
The challenge for marketers today is to get people [in their target audience] to share brand-related content with their friends. Basically [marketers] enable consumers to become brand advocates for them. Traditional messages—TV or radio—don't do this. Viral content does.
So, can you define viral for us, and explain the varying degrees of viral content?
The way that I look at viral content is any content that gets the consumer to engage and then share—particularly on social media. It also means some level of high engagement, either in great numbers or resonance among a specific audience.
As for varying degrees, there really are a number of levels in which content can go viral. Articles, videos, and other content can go viral without mass numbers but reach a goal of a particular sect of people in a particular region. And on top of that people share that content. You don't need millions of people sharing it—just the people in your target demographic. You have to understand that markets are limited. You can create content with mass appeal, but there's equally effective content that is more niche. It's that niche content which can appeal to a particular community. And it's those people in that community who become brand advocates.
How important is a viral video in an omnichannel campaign that has several moving parts?
That depends on the marketer and what the goals of the campaign are. The role of a viral content plan depends on the campaign that the marketer is planning to run. If you have a successful piece of content and have several channels available in an omnichannel campaign, use that content's success to your advantage. Look at [the channels] where the most engagement takes place and strategically position the content that you would like to go viral into those channels. This is great strategy to get the word out. People will begin to recognize and relate to that content right away.
After poring through untold, mind-numbingly dull and repetitive legal documents relating to postal issues as a regular part of my job, it's refreshing to see that white-glove Washington lawyers can throw down as well as Beyoncé and Solange—or even Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings! Both the U.S. Postal Service and the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers have appealed various aspects of the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) exigent rate decision, and last week both parties filed briefs on the matter with the D.C. Court of Appeals. In both cases, the white gloves were off.
The glaring bone of contention: USPS feels it's entitled to its exigent increase in perpetuity; mailers feel that the Postal Service should have no increase at all.
Mailers are of the opinion that the Post Office should have taken into account the Internet's drain on its revenues and adjusted to it years ago through downsizing. The Postal Service holds that the Great Recession—the exigent circumstance that delivered it the 4.3% rate increase—forced cash-strapped citizens away from the mails and onto the Web.
The USPS brief calls the mailers' exigency argument “absurd,” and charges that they are “flatly wrong to suggest that the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession.” The mailers retort that the Postal Service's “permanent loss” hypothesis suffers from a “gaping absence of proof” and that the PRC was forced to put a two-year/$3.2 billion (whichever-comes-first) limit on exigency “by the USPS's failure to propose any other alternative recovery period (short of forever).”
Mailers say that Postal Service executives gambled on an all-or-nothing litigation strategy in their original exigent petition to the PRC and lost. They argue that, minus a defined timeframe for recovery, postal regulators could have sent them home with no increase at all. Buck it up and take what you've been given, is the mailers' attitude.
The Postal Service brief claims, however, that PRC made it clear in an earlier order that USPS would not be required to quantify the recession's impact with absolute precision, but with credible proof. So the Postal Service employed the volume forecasting methodology it uses for its business forecasts and concluded that it lost 189.7 billion pieces of mail and $25.7 in revenue between 2008 and 2012. It meekly asserts that all it was asking for was a $1.78 billion per year payback—a little over $7 billion. Instead, it got stuck with what it obviously considers chump change.
“The Postal Service's models showed that it had lost $7.7 billion of contribution due to the recession in 2012 alone,” reads the USPS brief, “but the Commission allowed it to recoup just $2.8 billion for the entire recession.” The italics belong to the Postal Service lawyers. They are not amused.
The Postal Service says it was looking for recompense for 2008-2012 (the recession officially ended in 2009), but then ascribes blame to the downturn for causing “pronounced shifts” in consumer behavior and asserts that it continues to have “ongoing negative impacts on mail volume.” (Again, italics are theirs.)
Mailers point out that USPS saved $14 billion in annual expenses from 2008 to 2012 through work hour reductions alone, and suggest that postal executives continue down that road instead of morphing into exigency highwaymen. “The necessary premise of the USPS's perpetual loss hypothesis is that the USPS can never shed costs enough to offset volume losses. This is nonsensical,” sniff the mailers.
Which case makes the most sense will be determined by the D.C. Court of Appeals at summer's end. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on September 9.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you read the words “suck, squeeze, bang, and blow”? The physics of a jet engine, of course. Innovation and technology behemouth GE launched its new YouTube series GE Masterclass on June 16 to explain the mechanics of how its "brilliant machines" work at a comprehensible—and somewhat comical—level.
The roughly two-minute videos feature Baratunde Thurston, CEO of comedy and digital agency Cultivated Wit, who interviews GE employees and breaks down the complexities behind the company's jet planes, locomotives, and turbines. Viewers can even tune into GE Masterclass's Extra Credit segments to dive deeper into the workings of the machines. The series is part of the company's overall strategy to generate more awareness around what GE does and the role the company's technology plays in people's lives.
“Most people know us for the things in their home—[such as] for appliances and light bulbs—and don't necessarily know that we make jet engines, locomotives, turbines, and so much more,” says Katrina Craigwell, head of global digital programming at GE. “Our goal is just kind of open our doors and let people in.”
The videos primarily target science and technology enthusiasts, such as students. And while this audience might not be in the market for a new jet engine, Craigwell says that it's important to attract this segment to draw future career and shareholder interest.
GE has turned to YouTube to show off its “beautiful machine eye candy,” as Craigwell calls it, and illustrate different scientific principles for the past few years. The reliance on the platform, Craigwell notes, stems from GE's use of visual storytelling to grasp people's attention, ignite their imaginations, and convey concepts succinctly.
“Whether it's photography, video, or GIFs, the more that we can show rather than just tell, the more we're able to connect with our audience and start to spark that imagination and that curiosity about what we're doing, but also about the future of technology,” she says.
Although Craigwell insists that “suck, squeeze, bang, blow” is “serious science” and actual terminology used by engineers, she says that the lightheartedness of the videos makes the topics and the content more approachable for viewers.
GE Masterclass host Thurston says that, depending on the product, humor can be an effective way to humanize businesses and the people involved in the company. However, he says that it's important for brands to identify the following to avoid coming off gimmicky: What the company stands for, what kind of story the company is trying to tell, who it's trying to reach, and why? Still, he admits that comedy isn't for everyone and that, ultimately, it depends on the brand's voice and identity, especially when it comes to bordering between funny and offensive.
"If your business was a person, would this person say this out loud?" he asks. "Or, would this person be ashamed that their mother heard them say it? Or would this person get hoisted up on someone's shoulders and be like, ‘Yeah, you did it. I respect you so much for telling it like it is.'"
GE has been promoting the Masterclass series via its social channels, including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Twitter. Thurston has also promoted the video on his social channels and plans on blogging about the experience. According to Craigwell, GE will be tracking conversations, engagement, and overall reach surrounding the videos.
GE hasn't “quizzed” its audience on whether the content is helping them understand the technology, but according to Craigwell, viewers' feedback has been positive so far. In fact, she says that she would like to expand the program across the globe and feature other forms of technology. “People are saying that they're interested in the materials or videos, and that they're happy to see this out there,” she says.
As for getting those enthusiasts to share the content, Thurston points out that there's no secret formula. But he points out that there are a few crucial elements for ensuring that a brand's content is seen and shared: Make it good, make it look good, and have a smart release and distribution plan for putting the content in front of an audiences that are "predestined" to be interested.
Direct Marketing News writes about marketing (well, duh). More specifically, in addition to industry news, we share advice, tips, strategies, and analysis on how to engage your customers and keep them smiling in a world of ever-increasing digital noise.
But we're also a brand ourselves, with many of the same challenges and needs as any other brand out there. We have to engage our audience and keep them loyally visiting dmnews.com for the content we produce every day.
That's one reason we launched Marketing Mavens, our circus-themed online social rewards system, on dmnews.com just about a year ago. All registrants on the site were automatically enrolled, and players earned points and badges for engaging in a variety of activities—everything from reading a blog post to sharing an article—as they moved through a series of predetermined levels. Every time players earned points, little notifications would appear on the right-hand side of their screen. Activity was tracked on a public leader board, although users could opt-out of being visible on the board.
But starting tomorrow, we'll be removing Marketing Mavens from dmnews.com after research showed that it was, well, less than compelling. We're always trying to find new ways to appeal to our audience—but if what we're doing doesn't appeal, we take it as an object lesson learned and move on.
We polled readers of dmnews.com to see how users were enjoying the experience. There were a few fans, but most of our audience, it seems, just wasn't feeling it. Others had strong words for us:
“Is it really necessary to ‘incent' adult professionals to read a publication that is well-edited and consistently delivers useful information and ideas? Or should they (as I do) already appreciate the value of the content you produce? The bottom line: ‘Engaging' customers is good…unless such engagement engenders negative attitudes about the product.”
“I do not associate game-style awards and achievements with a professional source of business news. I'm a gamer; I play video games. I have since I was young. I'm also a professional. I play to relax and de-stress from work. I don't play at work; I take it seriously and work at work. So mixing the two is a really strange juxtaposition that simply doesn't work for me.”
Some will aver that gamification can work for anyone, regardless of their business—it's just has to be done correctly. Last month I chatted with Aaron Price, cofounder and CEO of livecube, a company that uses interactive game mechanics to motivate social sharing and engagement, mostly at events.
When I asked him if any brand or company could gamify their experience, he basically said, "Yes," noting that, “It's about coming up with the right game mechanics for your particular needs, whether you're a publication, a Fortune 500 company, or a brand sponsoring an event, so that you're driving the desired behaviors.”
So, perhaps we just didn't come up with the right game mechanics—we're more than willing to admit that and we're still glad we tried something new. This is a case study in learning from your experiences.
We want to make dmnews.com as useful—and enjoyable—to our audience as possible, and we're open to suggestions. Please feel free to leave us a comment below.
To all of our active Mavens users who might be sad to see it go, thanks for playing!
Mobile marketing is changing—fast. For most consumers, mobile's on-the-go use has rapidly evolved into an everyday, at-home necessity. And marketers need to not only recognize this change, but also figure out how this evolution affects their mobile messages, and of course, their relationships with customers, who often multitask on multiple screens.
This changing landscape has even the savviest marketers revamping their mobile strategies. And a piercing discussion reflected this movement at Neo@Ogilvy's annual mobile event, Mobile…WTF?—an acronym for what the facts. In an effort to advance the conversation beyond sheer size of mobile and into how marketers can leverage it, panelists, ranging from chief mobile strategists at Facebook to progressive app developers at Bottle Rocket, weighed in on a range of topics. Here are some of the highlights from this year's event in New York.
Building a strategy
“Don't just design a blanket campaign; figure out what makes sense for mobile.”— Dan Silver, director of marketing, xAd, @DanjSilver
“Step back and look at your audience's persona. Then use mobile to enable that campaign.”— Drew Breunig, VP of strategy, PlaceIQ, @DBreunig
“Remember, mobile is not just another channel or touchpoint. It plays a role in the transformation of how to do business.”—Julie Ask, VP and principal analyst, Forrester, @JulieAsk
“It's not about the taps or clicks that you get [on a mobile ad]. It's about the relevant, insightful clicks that you get. [Marketers] want engagement from people who truly want receive their messages.”—Karin Wurm, mobile engagement manager, Bottle Rocket, @KarinWurm
"Marketers should know that mobile moments are everywhere. They encourage impulse buying, guided sales, and product use."—Julie Ask
"At the end the day, [brands] are not trying to sell clicks. They're trying to sell outcomes. Remember that." Dan Chapsky, ads data scientist & researcher, Facebook
Executing a mobile plan
"Forget screen size. Think more about the effectiveness of campaigns to provide customer value."—Nick Jordan, SVP of product & strategy, Tapad, @Nick_Jordan
“Extend mobile throughout your customer journey. Choose the right mobile moments for that journey. And always, always keep innovating along the way.”—Julie Ask
"Mobile messaging is all about the right message, with the right context at the right time."—Paul Gelb, head of marketplace development, Twitter, @PaulGelb
"Mobile has changed the expectations of customers. Be immediate, simple, and contextual." —Julie Ask
The privacy-sensitive had a real scare before the 2012 Olympics when a digital startup located recycling bins on London streets that accepted a bloke's drained Newcastle Ale cans and then, if he had his phone on, followed his trail to the local pub and thence to the neighboring police constabulary. This was accomplished by tracking the media access control (MAC), which is transmitted willy-nilly by devices seeking Wi-Fi connections, tracking a person's movements and locations even if no connection is ever consummated. At least two companies—Euclid and Nomi—bake their bread offering such services to clients. No personally identifiable information gets transferred, just the singular MAC identifier, but that's enough for retailers to track customer movements and infer certain things about the owner of the address, such as shopping habits and product preferences
It's also enough to really tee off the average mobile phone user who may be OK with receiving location-based offers from a store whose app he downloaded, but is skeeved about being digitally followed by no one in particular. Apps you can dump in the digital dust bin. Brand relationships you can opt out of. But you can't opt out of a MAC address. It's inextricably linked to the device's hardware ID. “If you're data is hacked through the MAC address, the only thing you can do is throw your phone away,” says Drew Breunig , VP of strategy and mobile marketing services provider PlaceIQ.
But the worries of the privacy paranoid will be assuaged this fall, when Apple introduces iOS8. The new operating system will randomize the MAC code each time it connects with Wi-Fi, making it impossible to track iPhone or iPad users over time. (MAC addresses on other operating systems will still be able to be followed.) This is also good news for marketers, since it begins the removal of one of consumers' biggest fears about data collection.
“MAC addresses are a world of hurt for marketers,” Breunig says. “If Apple hadn't come in and changed this, it would have run afoul of legislation sooner or later. Anytime someone goes public about using this stuff, like with the trash cans in London, it almost always ends up rolling it back.” Following consumer backlash, London courts issued a cease and desist order to Renew London, placers of the offending trashcans.
Apple got burned by users before over MAC addresses, when it stored unencrypted data about Wi-Fi addresses. It learned, and made the subsequent correction in iOS 8. Euclid, Nomi, and other companies like them will also have to shift gears, especially if Android operating systems follow suit. But, for marketers en masse, it's one less obstacle blocking their way to one-to-one connections with customers.
“This may cause short-term pain for some people, but in the long term I think it's good for everyone else,” Breunig says. “This delays regulation for years.”
Likes and retweets may be pretty to look at, but they don't drive revenue. Marketers are on the hunt for more ways to make social meaningful--and they're willing to dedicate the dollars to do so. In fact, when it came to their 2014 budgets, 61% of marketers planned on increasing their investments in social for customer acquisition, according to the "Marketing Budgets 2014 Report" by Econsultancy and Responsys, and 60% intended to increase their social spending for customer engagement and retention.
However, if marketers really want social to impact their bottom line, they'll have to call on their colleagues, including analysts. Direct Marketing News sat down with Jordan Enright-Schulz, product marketing manager for Adobe Social, at Adobe's Digital Marketing Symposium in New York last week and discussed how marketers can enhance these relationships and what's going to disrupt the social sphere next.
What role does social play in today's marketing world?
What we've seen over the last few years is that social touches pretty much every stage in the customer journey.... Adobe thinks of it similarly to mobile as sort of a layer. We used to talk about it as a channel. First, we had an evolution: There was listening—that's what people did on social. Then there was publishing to social networks, which we all called "social marketing" (published posts on Facebook or retweets). Now, it's like social is a layer that sits across everything, which I think is part of the challenge of social. Measuring how well you're doing there and what you should be doing is ubiquitous.
How can marketers make sure that social is an accountable layer and that it actually impacts their bottom line?
First of all, there's no easy answer to that. There's no one-size-fits-all approach. Our goal, when talking to customers about that, is to open their eyes to different ways you can think about it…. Basics: Measure everything you put out there. You have to be tracking. So many of our customers still aren't. [If you're] publishing links, you have to be tracking. Adobe Social automates processes like that, like appending campaign codes, but stuff like "like" buttons on your site [and] social log-ins—all of that stuff should be tracked.
The most basic [thing] you could [do is] direct attribution. At least then you're starting to get a sense of that Facebook post drove real KPIs, whether it's revenue, site visits, or time spent on site. That's at [one] end. A lot of our customers do that and that's' great. It's the first time they've been able to tie social to real KPIs. But then they also say, "Social doesn't look very good when I'm looking at it against email or against paid search." When you're moving along in maturity, you want to be thinking about multichannel attribution. You can do all of that with a Web analytics tool, as long as you're tracking everything you do. Then you can look at maybe these people didn't click off social and buy, but they came back later and they bought.
You previously mentioned that collaboration between social marketers and data analysts remains a challenge. Do they tend to butt heads?
No. It's more traditional silos.... Often, analysts in companies feel a little bit like data janitors. People are always bugging them [and saying] "Give me this report, right now." They might be so drowning in those one-off requests that they don't feel like they ever have the chance to provide real insight.... With most of our customers, that's always how it's been. The social people are over here and the analysts are over here. [The analysts] are crunching numbers, but the social people may not be tagging their content, so that's not going into the Web analytics tool. It's just historical silos.
Is there anything that marketers can do to better foster their relationships with data analysts?
Having an integrated technology stack is huge. Adobe Social is very deeply integrated into Adobe Analytics, and they're all part of this one marketing cloud.... It's not the only thing by any means. But if you're over here using 18 different social, publishing, moderation tools that are not at all tied to [the same analytics tool], it's an extra challenge. It makes these analysts much more like janitors.... So technology is key, but so are executive buy-ins. You have to have that coming from the top. You have to have dedicated social analysts. It's this idea that you have either social marketers who do everything or you have analysts who are responsible for all digital marketing. Social data alone—there's so much there. You want a dedicated role for that.
Do you think that this partnership between data analysts and marketers will spawn any new roles?
We do think of social analysts as a relatively new role.... In general, this role of social marketers is changing a little…. Now, we're seeing people with social expertise across the organization. It's no longer necessarily just the social marketing team. You've got social people in HR and social people in support. I think that's a trend that we'll definitely see. Then the social analyst becomes even more necessary as part of a hub or a nexus among those people. I think that's the trend. I was reading something recently that said the number of jobs with ‘social marketer' job postings was decreasing a ton. That's not to say that social isn't a valued skill. It's just getting much more specialized—like you're going to be a social support specialist. You have cross over. You understand how people engage on social, but you also know how to do support.
What's the biggest mistake you see marketers make when it comes to social?
The biggest mistake is if you don't have governance of your handles and somebody tweets out something that's hideously offensive.…That's the worst. Get your governance and your security in order. This isn't life or death, but I think not tying what you're doing in social to metrics that the business cares about is a big mistake. You're never going to get the budgets, the resources, and everything that you need. And people like those vanity things. Even your C-suite is going to be like, “We got 300 comments on that?"
Do you think that we'll see a new social channel break out on the scene within the next five years?
I don't know. There are so many. To me now, the chatting [and] the SMS-based apps are huge. Waiting to see what pans out there for marketer is super interesting.... There's a little bit of this backlash to sharing with everyone to really this one-to-one thing. I don't know if you saw [that] Salesforce just announced this integration with [mobile messaging app] Line…. They're like. "We're going to bring one-to-one marketing to mobile messaging" and all of this stuff. I don't know if we know what that means yet. I certainly don't know if consumers are interested in that on those platforms. I'm interested to see what changes there.
These days, saying that tag management is just about managing tags is a bit like saying social media is just about managing a Facebook page—there's way more to it than that.
But first, a few definitions are in order. What, without fanfare, is a tag, and why should marketers care?
“As an industry, we do tend to overcomplicate the matter, but we can say it in English,” jokes Darr Gerscovich, CMO of enterprise tag management solution provider Ensighten.
Tags are simply little snippets of code that influence how a website or webpage performs when a visitor visits it. Invisible to the user, tags can be used for a variety of marketing's most favorite things: third-party tracking, data collection, remarketing, conversion tracking, website personalization, attribution, and segmentation.
Back in the days of what Gerscovich refers to as “tag management 1.0”—around 2007 when tags first hit the scene—it was mostly about updating tags and keeping them in working order. But in the current era of tag management 2.0, tag solutions are available for any device, be it laptop, tablet, or smartphone to give marketers visibility across the breadth of digital touchpoints in real time.
“What we're really talking about when we talk about tag management is data,” Gerscovich says.
For example, let's say you're booking a trip. You buy your ticket online, you check in using a kiosk at the airport, you finally get on board and start fiddling around with the digital display on the seatback in front of you. Generally, each of those steps and the others in between are disconnected from each other—but there's no reason they have to be.
“Imagine a brand knew in real time what consumers were purchasing based on CRM data in addition to offline activities to give them a totally personalized experience, from the moment they buy their ticket to the moment they get on the plane,” Gerscovich says. “Done right, the consumer doesn't even realize it's happening—they just see what's relevant to them, without being aware that something else, also relevant, is being served up to someone else.”
Gerscovich sat down with Direct Marketing News to imagine the world of our not-too-distant future—“I actually know people with touchscreen fridges,” he says, with a laugh—in which experiences are always integrated and personalization is par for the course.
One-to-one marketing: Are we finally there?
The industry has done itself a disservice by overpromising one-to-one for so long that now—when we're truly able to deliver it with new technology and solutions—there's a lot of mistrust. We'll soon move away from calling it one-to-one and instead talk about personalization and delivering a unified customer experience.
What's the right amount of personalization?
My background is in online advertising for LinkedIn and Yahoo. When I first started doing behavioral targeting, there was the sense that an ad based on your behavior could get a little creepy. But today we're not talking about out-of-context or retargeted ads, and leading brands aren't thinking about personalizing for personalization's sake; they're doing it to create a better customer experience. Done wrong, consumers aren't ready for it—but done right, the consumer will always welcome a better experience. And to do that, you need to know what's happening all over, not just on laptops or just on mobile.
How would you define real time?
When we say “real time,” we mean leveraging data the moment something happens. Here's an example: Let's say you're a preferred customer of a particular services company. You visit the company's website, but you can't find what you're looking for so you click the “Let's chat” button. But what if, in real time, instead of going to the bottom of the queue and waiting for the next available representative, the company knew right away that you're a highly valued customer? They'd immediately see your history and where you've been on the site. In a case like that, not only can the company give you the best representative and move you to the top of the queue—they can try and upsell you based on their CRM data.
At the end of the day, if you're not acting on your data, then you're not getting its true value. The closer you can get to acting in the moment—that's where you can increase your ROI tremendously.
What will happen to brands that don't keep up?
All leading brands are using personalization today. Those that aren't personalizing their content will have lower overall ROI, and lower ROI means they'll have less money to spend. If they have less money to spend, that could lead to decreased market share and revenue. Throw whatever buzzwords you need in there to scare people—but personalization is effective, and not to do it will hurt the longevity of your business.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is officially underway, and that means potentially big business for brands aligned with the event. Although officially there are only six FIFA Partners, eight FIFA World Cup sponsors, and eight national sponsors, the unofficial World Cup campaigns are certainly riding the wave of the worldwide soccer craze. Fans expect their favorite brands—whether official sponsors or not—to connect with them digitally about the tournament and the events surrounding the action. Marketers can meet those expectations by listening to and even creating dialogue among World Cup fans.
Here are just a few well-crafted, unofficial campaigns that brilliantly promote products, tap into the soccer craze, or simply kick off a conversation.
Beats by Dre
Maker of some of today's most popular consumer headphones, earphones, and speakers, Beats by Dre is executing a formidable digital campaign: The Game Before the Game. And it's taking Twitter and YouTube by storm. The campaign promotes the electronics company's new Solo2 and Beats Studio headphones, and marketers for the brand hope to reignite the desire for Beats products that has arguably waned in recent months. The social campaign provides fans an intimate look at some of the game's star players in their pregame rituals—wearing, of course, Beats headphones. Tapping into the social culture of the brand's younger audience, Beats' hashtag, #GameBeforeTheGame, and its poignant video have already gone viral.
— Beats By Dre (@beatsbydre) June 5, 2014
The chain of general stores gamified its social campaign with its Going for the Goal virtual game. Dollar General is leveraging World Cup fever by encouraging wishful customers who couldn't travel to Brazil to play a fun online soccer game. Hoping the game would be an addictive fan favorite, Dollar General encouraged customers to share it with friends, effectively bringing attention to the brand.
Not surprisingly, Twitter is aiming to transform the World Cup craze into a marketing and growth opportunity. Marketers for the social networking platform are trying to make Twitter the first choice for World Cup social interaction and has put in motion a number moving parts in its soccer campaign. The World Cup of Tweets focuses on the voluminous amount of World Cup mentions sure to come over the next few weeks. This widget calculates who would win the tournament if the champions were named by the most Twitter mentions.
And an instant hit during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Twitter announced on Tuesday the return of national hashflags—simply, hashtags with a three-letter symbol for a specific competing World Cup team. Twitter hopes to ride the national pride as fans around the globe wave their hashflags.
Twitter is also promoting this minute-long video spot that revs up fans and reminds viewers to connect with friends—along with their favorite players and teams—on Twitter.
I spend a great deal of time at conferences, attending briefings, and nosing into conversations about industry trends. There are always juicy bits to share from sessions and discussions. Here are a collection of thoughts, advice, and insights from my latest jaunts.
“There's a transformation going on in retail and I think we're all feeling it. And it's pretty exciting.” For American Eagle Outfitters, that transformation includes eliminating gaps in the omnichannel customer experience, resolving attribution, increasing and sustaining mobile app views and downloads through mobile reviews and other enhancements, and expanding globally.
–David McBride, senior director, omnichannel analytics, American Eagle Outfitters
“We don't believe in digital marketing. We believe in building brands in a digital world.”
–Mayur Gupta, global head, marketing technology, at Kimberly-Clark
“When you look back over the past 20 years it will look very small as compared to what's possible [over the next 20]. Most [online ad] campaigns are still done manually.... ‘Mechanization' [in terms of fully automating online advertising] will be the best of human creativity with the best of machine scale.”
–Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO, AOL
“Companies need to think about how they use their data to transform themselves into a service for their customers to help them at any point along the buyer's journey. Most companies offer a ‘catalog' experience online. When you use analytics to see patterns of behavior and predict future behaviors, you can change the experience based on deep personalization. The Internet of services, that's where we're heading.”
–Martin Rugfelt, CMO, Expertmaker
“Omnichannel marketing is about understanding behavior and context, as well as implicit and explicit customer information, and then using it across channels omni-directionally. Personalization is the glue for the omnichannel experience. The more we know the better, richer, and more accurate picture we can paint about a consumer. The nuance is that you may use five channels, but you may not use them all equally. Consumers always have a preferred channel. If you deliver a more individualize experience to the customer, everything else will come [in terms of sales and revenue].”
–Meyar Sheik, CEO and cofounder, Certona
“Marketing needs to align its change initiatives to the buyer journey and its outcomes. And marketers need be proficient in and leverage analytics to drive investment decisions and measure results.”
–John Neeson, managing director and cofounder, Sirius Decisions
“You have to make digital and software central to your business. Bring business and IT together to improve your competitive position.”
–Alan Trefler, founder and CEO, PegaSystems
“One of the responsibilities that come with marketing enablement is providing the same level of information across channels. You can't have misaligned messaging across channels. That's no easy task. But customers have no patience for poor experiences. Retailers set the bar; we have to adhere to it.”
–Robert Schwartz, VP, global marketing platforms, IBM
“We have a proliferation of channels, power shifting into the hands of consumers, and a transformation based on customers' research prior to purchase. The real thing that's changing, though, is customer cadence. Consumers expect immediacy, but business process cadence is out of synch with consumer action. To be fast you need to be agile, not depend on technology projects that [take a year to implement or update].... The cadence issue is also due to latency that's due to fragmentation. Most companies have multiple databases of customer information that are records for a specific purpose—CRM data versus email or call center data. The only way to stay agile is to create one record by bringing together all the data as a record of engagement. It's all about the data.”
–Dale Renner, founder and CEO, RedPoint Global
“The convergence of marketing and technology is upon us. [But,] no platform will ever substitute for human instinct; instead technology should enhance it.”
–Bob Lord, global CEO of AOL platforms, AOL
“The alignment between sales and marketing teams will determine whether marketing automation will succeed or fail. Key marketing people need to attend sales meetings and key sales leaders need to align with marketing. If those two groups act independently, there's no room for success.”
–Lawrence DiCapua, director, Global Marketing Center of Excellence, GE
“Our focus was on simplification: We looked at most the critical customer journeys, took difficulties out of the processes, and reduced costs as a result. Now it's about digitalization.”
–Bruce Mitchell, CTO, Lloyds Banking Group
“How do you move from data to analysis, from analysis to insight, and from insight to action? How to you find the moments that matter to customers and then act on that to drive value for customers? Turning data into insight and then into action is marketers' biggest challenge.”
–Kyle Keogh, industry director, telecom, Google
In reviewing the findings of this year's Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, the company's VP of Industry Relations Loren McDonald couldn't believe one number staring him in the face. He was sure his analytics people had messed up and he had them run the data a second time, but the same number came up: The median hard bounce rate had declined 95% between 2012 to 2013, from 0.8% to 0.04%.
“We seem to have crossed this chasm in the last 18 to 24 months where marketers have finally gotten the message. Whether it's the ISPs or the blocked sites, if you don't clean up your data, you're not going to get through,” McDonald says. “Not getting emails into people's inboxes for three or four days means millions in lost revenues. When we go to see clients, CMOs and GMs will walk into the room and say, ‘You are going to help us not get blocked, right?' And we say, ‘No, it's up to your guy sitting here at this table to clean your data.'”
Silverpop's results—which breaks out performance quartiles for all emails sent by 3,000 brands in 40 countries—truly indicate a clear divide between best and worst in email marketing. Emailers operating in the top quartile worldwide all have bounce rates of 0.00. It was lesser performers getting with the program who moved the ball last year. The median bounce rate in the U.S., for instance, was 0.037—more than 100% under the mid-range from last year's study.
Ever since email established itself as the primary direct marketing vehicle for everyone from big-box retailers to neighborhood dentists to global financial institutions, the targeting formula has been simple: You don't need one. Just batch and blast to every name you can get hold of, then blast again, and repeat. Let email's 40-to-one ROI ratio do the rest. So what if half your list hasn't bought anything from you in two years? So what if they've moved to Argentina, or they're deceased? Buying software and hiring data analysts to clean lists and customize messages in such a way as to increase things like repeat business and brand advocacy is nice, but it's expensive. Why bother if the cash continues to flow and the bottom keeps getting blacker?
Last year, however, that attitude apparently began to lose esteem. Companies began to realize that stricter attention to customer lifecycles, Web behavior, and preferences could build a stronger brand and send ROI even higher. “These are the kinds of conversations we're having with our retail clients these days,” McDonald says. “They're seeing so many people on their databases not buying and going inactive. If 25% of your database hasn't opened an email in 18 months, why would you continue to keep sending to them?”
U.S. companies in the top quartile for unique opens in the U.S. in Silverpop's study put up a rate of 38.5, more than double the 16.8% median number. Top performers' click-to-open rates—which gauge clicks as a percentage of emails actually opened, an indicator of relevance—came in at 30.8%, more than three times higher than the median. You can drive a USPS trailer truck through the gap between the good and bad players in email market, but McDonald is of the opinion that more and more are striving to be good.
“The people getting A's in email are moving to marketing to people more on a one-to-one basis,” he says. “Instead of basing everything on a calendar and sending everybody the same message at a given time, the top quartile is saying, ‘Lets create 10, 30, 40 messages and tie them to cart abandonment, post-purchase, and browse abandonment.”
Batch and blast may not be dead, and it most likely will always be with us. Among serious direct marketers, however, it is now officially disgraced.
Producing content that consumers want to engage with is challenging in any universe. But for NASA 360—a TV and online broadcast program developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and strategic partner the National Institute of Aerospace —engagement is essential to NASA's survival.
NASA 360 primarily targets young adults, 18 to 34 years old. While this demographic is one of the most plentiful—the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were about 73.7 million U.S. citizens in this age bracket (24% of the country's population) in July 2012—it also knows the least about NASA, said Becky Jaramillo, senior educator for the National Institute of Aerospace, speaking at the Vocus Demand Success 2014 conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Educating this audience is vital in order to spur funding for NASA and interest in science-related careers, Jaramillo said.
To reach this target, NASA 360 launched a 30-minute broadcast on public access channels and university stations. However, the program never aired at the same time in the same location and it didn't resonate with young audiences. As a result, NASA 360 uploaded the program to NASA's website. Yet the site proved to be a “black hole” of information, as Jaramillo put it, and made it difficult for people to find the content. So, NASA 360 explored a new frontier and created short YouTube webisodes that would hold its audience's attention and answer specific questions. Even that wasn't enough.
“It still didn't take us to that targeted audience that we wanted—that broad audience,” Jaramillo said.
But not even gravity could bring NASA 360 down. Having orbited around several other channels, NASA 360 turned to social, although it knew right from the start that it would have to do more than just post content if it wanted to attract young audiences. NASA needed to engage and converse with its target.
“Social media is just a tool,” Jaramillo said. “You have to know what to do with it.”
Here's a countdown of NASA 360's top 10 content marketing and social tips that can help marketers reach for the stars.
10) Ask open ended questions
Instead of asking consumers 'yes' or 'no' questions, NASA 360's team recommends posing questions that solicit more engaging responses. “What are the societal impacts research and development have on science and technology?” and “How does it shape our future?” are some of the questions NASA 360 asks on its Facebook page. The post featuring these questions received 96 comments, 924 shares, and close to 6,700 likes.
“Don't just talk at your audience,” said Scott Bednar, NASA 360's media manager. “Whenever possible, talk with them.”
9) Show don't tell
Although NASA 360 could write an entire tome describing the Small Magellanic Cloud, the program instead relies on NASA's stellar imagery to elicit emotional responses and catch people's attention when they're scrolling through feeds.
For those who want to learn more about “one of the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbors,” NASA 360 also includes a brief description and link to an article in the post.
“A picture is going to stop you, and there's a better chance a follower will check you out,” Bednar said.
8) Acknowledge what's going on in the world
During the government shutdown, NASA 360 went silent for 17 days.
Once the shutdown ended, the program published the following Facebook post to reengage its audience and prove that it was going to pick up right where it left off.
Similarly, NASA posted tongue-in-cheek photos on Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, and even National Pancake Day.
7) Thank your fans
It's important for marketers to celebrate their milestones and to thank their fans for being a part of their success, Jaramillo said. So, when NASA 360 reached one million Facebook fans, it showed its appreciation by telling its fans that “we're just over the moon for you.”
“If it wasn't for them, you wouldn't have those numbers,” Bednar said.
6) Be humorous
Humor is one way NASA 360 brings its complex subjects down to more comprehendible altitudes. For instance, the brand will post “Global selfies” or images of craters that resemble Cookie Monster on its social channels.
“Most of our public doesn't care about the intense scientific content,” Jaramillo said. “We have to find a way to make it human for them.”
But moon-walking the line between funny and offensive can be tricky. This past February NASA 360 posted a meme of NASA's rover Curiosity shooting a laser beam at a cat with the words “Curiosity killed the cat.” Although the post had close to 16,000 likes and more than 4,900 shares, NASA 360 also received some unfavorable comments, including these gems: “When did killing cats become funny?” “Not funny, cruelty” and “What's a cat doing on Mars? (I think Mars).”
But a few negative comments didn't disrupt NASA 360 from continuing on with its social mission.
“Failure is not an option at NASA,” Jaramillo said. “It's a requirement.”
5) Show consistency
When Bednar and Jaramillo both came down with a case of bronchitis, NASA 360 didn't post anything on Facebook for two days. Once they returned, it took them two weeks to get their follower count back up to the standard daily number.
“Fans are fickle,” Jaramillo said. “If you don't give them all of the love and attention [that] they want they're going to go find it elsewhere.”
4) Don't annoy your followers
While it's OK for marketers to post content multiple times a day, it's important for companies to ensure that they don't become associated with spam, the duo noted.
3) Don't assume
Facebook changes its algorithms frequently, Bednar said, so it's important for marketers to do their research and discuss how changes will affect a company's messaging and audience.2) Change the voice for your audience
This past April NASA announced the winners of its Exploration Design Challenge: a year-long competition that challenged students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), asking them to address the risks of radiation exposure during human space travel. The winning group of high-school students snagged the opportunity to have their experimental design built into the Orion spacecraft's crew module and launched into space in December.
Knowing that its audience would be more interested in space exploration than the design challenge, NASA 360 posted a picture of Orion and a description of its exploration with a brief sentence about the design challenge and a link to an article about the winners underneath.
“More people opened that post from NASA 360 than from any other source,” Jaramillo said.
1) Have fun
“That's really the most important,” Bednar said.
Science doesn't always have to be serious. To show off its playful side, NASA 360 posted a video featuring a Ke$ha impersonator singing about astrobiology to the tune of “We R Who We R”.
“Because Ke$ha and NASA go together,” he added.
It's a cliché by now to talk about “shiny objects.” The rate of technological change and tech adoption is exhilarating—but it can also be bewildering. It seems like there's a new tool on the scene nearly every day, and there's no shame in admitting to feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.
The problem comes when marketers get so hypnotized by the tech that they don't put the consumer first.
“We live in a creative, innovative time, but sometimes we get so focused on the technology that we forget we're supposed to be marketing to people—not these devices,” says Natasha Hritzuk, global senior insights director at Microsoft Advertising. “And some marketers seem to have lost their way, not sure of how to effectively market in this technology-rich and complex world.”
But part of the point is that it's not so complex. Smart marketing strategy is the same as it's always been—solid content, intelligent placement, engagement—it's just taking a new form.
Hritzuk advises doing it old school before jumping into a multi-screen campaign. First, think about what you're trying to accomplish from a brand perspective and then consider how that will dovetail with consumer need. You don't have to be everywhere to make an impact.
“A mobile campaign doesn't mean you need something on every device; multi-screen means being on the right screen, not every screen,” she says. “Pick the devices that help you deploy your brand strategy, and create genuinely immersive content for them.”
By concentrating on consumer behavior and understanding how consumers act differently on different devices, brands will be able to deliver content based on audience insights to address their needs in a way that aligns with the brand's objectives. “The multi-screen stuff will flow naturally out of that.”
In other words, don't sweat it. Look at the ‘why' (as in why people do what they do) and you'll know the ‘what' (as in what the heck you should do about it).
“People are using these devices—and switch between them—for specific reasons,” Hritzuk says. “They want to get something done or investigate something or learn something. When you focus more on that, patterns of simplicity start to emerge.”
In Hritzuk's recently published book Multi-Screen Marketing, she and coauthor Kelly Jones, head of thought leadership at Microsoft Advertising, delve into what they refer to as the “multi-screen pathways,” meaning the various paths to engagement.
Getting a handle on why consumers do what they do and where they do it is the first step in building a data-driven cross-screen brand strategy:
1) Content grazing — I can relate to this one. Basically, this is what happens when you have a few minutes during a commercial break to do a little research on your phone or tablet. You might be doing it to be efficient, but more likely you're just watching a cat video or checking your email or Facebook while you're waiting for your show to come back on.
2) Investigative spider-webbing — (This is not, by the way, a synonym for Peter Parker's day job, which is the first thing that occurred to me, I must admit.) A bit more serious than your grazers, consumers engaged in investigative spider-webbing are usually doing research after being triggered by a specific piece of content. It's about finding deeper information to complement your primary screen experience; for example, when you're watching a movie and something on screen makes you whip out your phone to corroborate a detail and suddenly you're sucked into an IMDB wormhole.
3) Social spider-webbing — The social spider-webber is like an extroverted version of our investigative spider-webber above. Social spiders feel compelled to share something they've just seen through their social channels. In fact, according to research from Microsoft Advertising, one in five consumers will engage in this particular pathway while watching live events on TV. The upcoming World Cup is sure to be a prime example.
4) Quantum journey — This one's the big one. Consumers on a quantum journey mean business. They have a goal in mind—say, booking a restaurant or researching a vacation—and they're taking action using multiple devices. The hope is for their experience to be seamless, although we all know it's usually pretty disjointed. Consumers will use whatever screen is easiest to accomplish each task; for example, a laptop to explore flights, a tablet to look at hotels, and then, maybe, a smartphone to check out an app with sightseeing tips. It's one journey, but the consumer is using various screens to get to their end point.
Once brands know why people do what they do, they can start to consider how that behavior fits into the mobile experience. Get that cart after the horse and you'll be fine, Hritzuk says.
“Stop worrying about the actual screens,” she says. “If you don't focus on the screen first, you'll probably have the best multi-screen strategy you've ever had.”
Digital is no bolt on. More and more, it's core to how customer-centric business operates. “You have to become digital by design,” Pegasystems Founder and CEO Alan Trefler said during the opening keynote of Pegaworld 2014.
Doing so takes three superpowers, he said: the powers to engage, to simplify, and to change. Trefler said companies need to be able to react quickly to customers, interact with them on their terms, and be proactive. They also need to simplify their operations by creating end-to-end processes that bust silos and enable the organization to create a consistent customer experience across channels. And, they need to be able to quickly adapt to change; to use agility as a competitive advantage and differentiator.
“The majority of our clients believe they're on a transformational journey,” Trefler said during a press and analyst meeting. His advice is to take that journey in steps, not in great leaps. “Develop a rhythm of change,” instead of a big bang.
Making that transformation requires understanding customers and where they are in their lifecycle, as well as interacting with them where and when they prefer and expect it. In other words, being omnichannel and using analytics to dynamically calculate potential outcomes and present customers with the next best action. “Responsive channel engagement,” Trefler said, is how marketers can interact seamlessly with customers across channels and in context.
Companies need a unified architecture that is direct, situational, and powerful to support this, he said. It should enable business leaders to directly set and capture objectives, model best customers and outcomes, and provide a common visual language. It needs to be situational, i.e. layered, by qualities like geography or customer segment. And it needs to be powerful enough to enable a company to deliver the next big thing.
Business process management, Trefler said, is a critical technology for the digital age because it enables companies to operate with the agility they need to stay ahead of the competition today. It's not about the processes themselves, he said; it's about thinking of them in the context of outcomes. “What do you want to accomplish?” he asked. Start with the end in mind and think in stages of the customer lifecycle; some processes will be within a stage and some will go across stages. That way, the steps don't need to be so rigid. They can be guided by an organizing principle that enables the speed of change that today's digital environment requires.
“You have to make digital and software central to your business,” Trelfer said, adding that business leaders need to bring business and IT staffs together “to improve your competitive position.”
CMOs and CIOs need to lead that transformation together by collaborating and learning more about how each other think. Trelfer pointed out that many executives in a CIO role today have a business background and see themselves as businesspeople as much as technologists; and more and more CMOs have a tech background, especially in digital technologies. Teams that will build the next generation of systems to support customer-centric, digital-oriented business need to blend business and technology, he said. It's the same with the CIO-CMO relationship. They need to collaborate and understand both marketing and technology or they'll get killed by competitors that do, Trefler said. “Those with passion for both will be the winners.”
Except while on the job, I rarely use email to communicate. If I want to share fun pictures or a compelling news story, it's Facebook or Instagram. If I'm looking to fire off a random thought, you guessed it: Twitter. And if I want a response in five minutes, or less, it's the speedy text message. For the past few years I've prided myself on evolving past email and morphing into a social maven.
Turns out I was wrong.
Earlier this week I had an epiphany: I carry on conversations through email all the time—with marketers. Email marketers are always grabbing my attention with some of the most enticing, compelling, and informative email messaging. And I respond by either buying a brand's products and services or extending the conversation to others or with the brands on social media. (Most certainly, social can be an extension of your email campaigns.)
Truthfully, email messages remain a strong channel for brands and their messages. In fact, a 2013 study from predictive analytics firm Custora shows that customer acquisition through email had more than quadrupled in just four years and accounted for nearly 7% of customer acquisitions.
These figures seem to match my experiences. So, I've plucked a few of the best email marketing messages from my inbox, and thought I'd show you some of the campaigns that were most effective in terms of prompting me to take some action. I find my most valuable email messages usually fall into one of four categories: the abandoned cart email, the apologetic note, the thank-you message, and the reward email. Of course keep in mind others can be just as effective, such as loyalty programs or geo-targeted emails.
But these are just some of my fave examples that got me to purchase from or praise the brand.
Shop, shop on: The abandoned cart email
I had already bought a much-deserved handbag from Kate Spade, and considering I'm over budget this month, I decided to abandon a few of the items in my virtual shopping cart from the brand's new, less expensive extension, Kate Spade Saturday. However, Saturday reminded me just how much I need these items, by sending me an abandoned cart email. I think I'll be rummaging through my cart again.
Oops, my bad: The apologetic email
Tell me, who doesn't respect someone who can admit she's wrong? That respect extends to brands, as well. An email can be a great way for marketers to acknowledge, apologize, and then take action. I have much respect for ProFlowers.com for offering this major discount after broken links made ordering my Mother's Day flowers difficult.
And kudos to Optimum cable for apologizing for its disrupted cable service during my highly anticipated, couch-potato weekend.
Dude, you rock: The reward email
Loved this one from Amazon. For the umpteenth time, I rented The Devil Wears Prada on my Kindle, despite my family's protests to give up the movie. But Amazon showed its appreciation with this nice reward for my purchase: a promotional credit to my account.
¡Gracias!: The thank-you email
Who doesn't want to feel appreciated? I received this little note of appreciation after attending a fun night out hosted by Live in the Grey, a social movement to mesh your career with your passion.
Last week the Poneomon Institute, a noted Internet privacy research firm, released a study reporting that half of adult Americans—some 110 million people—were victims of computer hackers in the past year. Getting less attention on the Internet is a another, perhaps less controllable, brand of bad behavior. A survey of more than 1,000 Americans released today says that nearly half of those under the age of 35 have been bullied, harassed, or threatened online. Six out of 10 of those polled said the nasty business took place on Facebook; Twitter came in second at 24%.
One of the first determining factors for a marketer in selecting media is environment. Is the content/look/ tone/ambiance of this TV show/magazine/website consistent with my brand's image and message? If you're Clairol, you can feel fairly safe about an ad on The Bachelorette or a video clinic on Glamor.com, but how can you avoid damning your brand forever with sponsored posts on the Facebook pages of teenaged girls alongside posts taunting them about their looks? You'd run the risk of having an impressionable young lady construe your well-meaning message as just another taunt that she's not pretty enough.
Women report being digitally harassed more often than men, according to results of the poll, conducted by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Strategies, and Craigconnects. More than half of the women responding (57%) said they had been slurred online, versus 43% of men. Sexual harassment leads the trash-talking parade at 44% of all incidences, followed by attacks on a person's professional ability (28%), race (23%), religion (18%), and politics (16%).
It's one thing for marketers to expect that some of their display ads or videos might end up on bogus bot pages or websites not named on their media plans; it's part of the Wild West, programmatic-buying world of digital marketing. But it's a different kettle of fish when you're trying to cuddle up with prospective brand fans in their social mingle, only to find that you've plopped yourself in the middle of a vitriol-spitting, hair-pulling, text-and-image melee.
As environment goes, social media is the Love Canal. Nearly 30% of those survey said they feared for their lives after being harassed and 20% were afraid to leave their houses. Very few--just 25%--reported the harassment, though the ones who did received positive action from social networks. In 61% of cases reported, according to the poll, the network shut down the offender's account.
A lack of metrics and intelligence in social media makes the problem tougher to handle for direct marketers. And a lack of attention to the problem promises to keep social media marketing a blind, three-legged sack race for the foreseeable future.
"We are surprised that there has been so little public research on this topic given the role of social media in most of our lives," says Stefan Hankin, president of Lincoln Park Strategies. "With the high levels of harassment reported by those under 35, this problem will likely continue to grow if not addressed. We hope this poll will provide the needed data to take action."
Facebook likes small and medium-size businesses (SMBs)—and it turns out that SMBs want to befriend Facebook, too.
More than 30 million SMBs have an active business page on Facebook, over 19 million manage their pages via mobile, and in excess of one million spend money on ads, noted Dan Levy, director of small business for the social network, speaking at Facebook Fit New York—a boot camp that teaches SMB owners how to grow their business through Facebook.
Of course, no one understands how Facebook can impact businesses better than SMBs themselves. Four individuals shared their success stories and advice during Facebook Fit's Small Business Panel. Here are their 11 tips for how SMB owners can leverage Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild to drive engagement and customers.
1) Know your audience and how to reach them: When Tavy and Assaf Ronen purchased The Yarn Company on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 2011, the two co-owners decided to relaunch the shop, originally established back in 1979, and give it a modern flare.
“We wanted to create a place that was all about aesthetics, fashion, and textile all at the same time,” Tavy Ronen said.
However, the siblings knew that their “more traditional” and “old-fashioned” customers might not appreciate their new vision, Tavy said. So the Ronen duo set out to build a new customer base by reaching out to international prospects rather than neighborhood locals.
To spread word of their relaunch far and wide, the Ronens relied on Facebook and other digital marketing methods. For instance, the co-owners created a gallery of their textiles in-store and then posted images from the gallery on Facebook. This allowed remote prospects who weren't physically come to the store to experience the colors and beauty of the textiles. The company also sends an email newsletter containing new products and trends to about 9,000 people.
2) Invite customers to engage with you: If SMB owners want customers to engage with them, they shouldn't be afraid to ask them to do so, said Emanuel Peña, owner of Harlem-based Astor Row Café. For example, instead of creating a website for his restaurant, Peña directs consumers to the café's Facebook page where they can view images of the food and beverages, as well as like and share comments. He said that he also asks customers to like Astor Row Café's Facebook page or to check in. In fact, customers must check in to receive the café's Wi-Fi password.
“Being able to track down this data—it's essential,” Peña said.
3) Get more customers with existing customers: Grocery chain Fairway Market might not seem like an SMB—especially considering that the brand's advertising and display costs were approximated at $9.5 million for the end of the 2013 fiscal year and that its marketing costs were estimated at another $1.2 million, according to its annual report. However, Fairway's VP of Marketing Jacqueline Donovan said that the company shares many of the same challenges, including awareness.
Fairway has 15 locations across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; however, many associate the brand as solely a Manhattan chain. So when Fairway opened a new location, it asked its Facebook fans why they love Fairway for a commercial.
“There is nothing more powerful than the fans that you already have,” Donovan said.
4) Let customers do the marketing: Instead of constantly posting his own pictures of dishes, Peña encourages customers to share their own images and other forms of user-generated content. Hey, what's better than free publicity?
5) Enable bragging: Of course, if SMBs want customers to brag about them, they have to give them the means to do it. When Donovan started working at Fairway five years ago, she discovered that the brand had an avid fan base—but nowhere to profess their love for the company. So Donovan helped Fairway launch its own Facebook page to give its customers a platform for engagement. Today, Fairway has more than 89,000 likes.
She also helped Fairway broaden its customer advocacy efforts. In the past, Fairway prohibited customers from taking pictures in its stores. But after receiving a complaint from an Australian shopper who wanted to take a picture of the store to send to his friends back home, Fairway had a change of heart, Donovan said.
“It's not the competition trying to find out what we're doing,” she said. “It's our customers trying to brag.”
6) Be current: It's important for SMBs to be current and know what's going on in the world, said Alexandra Barber, digital marketing associate for Roundabout Theatre Company. This can help companies appear relevant in their campaigns. For instance, Roundabout Theatre Company produced a show in which the audience voted on the ending during an election season.
7) Think multichannel: When Tavy Ronen sends out her email newsletter to the 9,000 people on her list, she also promotes her Facebook page. Likewise, she said that she promotes the email newsletter on Facebook. And the fusion doesn't end there. Ronen said that she recently started importing her email list into Facebook's Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to reach more people and increase The Yarn Company's number of likes.
8) Learn from others: SMBs shouldn't turn the other cheek when it comes to competitors' marketing. To get ideas for how she could make grocery shopping seem “sexy,” Donovan started browsing the Web.
“It's not plagiarism,” she said, “that's called search and reapply.”
9) Engage in a dialogue: SMBs like when customers engage with their brand, but customers like a little feedback, too, Donovan said. Hence, she encourages SMBs to take the time to like and respond to consumers' comments.
“Those super fans are the ones that are going to really drive your business,” she said.
10) Don't always focus on the sale: “Even though we're a retail store, our retail-geared posts are less than 20% of our [overall] posts,” said Tavy Ronen of The Yarn Company.
Instead of constantly trying to pitch customers, Ronen encourages SMB owners to be conversational. For instance, she said that she posts on Facebook about three to five times a day and that only one of her posts is retail-focused. The other posts, she said, might be responses to a customer or a simple “good night” message.
11) Just try: While SMBs may worry that no one will care about their posts, they'll never know until they try, Donovan said. Plus, she said, Facebook's measurement capabilities will inform SMB owners which posts and ads perform well.
“The worst thing that could happen is [that] you take down the post,” Donovan said. “The world is not going to end.”
The Internet is suffused with cats. Cat memes, cat videos, cat GIFs, cat celebrities—and lots of brands are taking advantage of the hype. Tomorrow is National Hug Your Cat Day, so marketers, you can thank them then.
There's just something about a cat photo that's deeply shareable. Not to get too simplistic, but I think this is a pretty fair assessment of the current landscape:
Cats are hot, so to speak, especially on social channels.
Yes, one could argue that part of the reason so many people liked this post (46,000+!) is because it's purely about the sharing. George Takei isn't trying to sell you anything; he's just being George Takei. But there's definitely a case to be made for at least attempting to get a taste of the reflected kitty glory.
I don't mean that brands should hop on any bandwagon that happens to be going by or that brands should shoehorn something into their marketing that doesn't fit in with their ethos. But all brands should be paying attention to what their customers are interested in, and if their customers are interested in cats, then so be it.
It's about organically tapping into the zeitgeist of the day—but without being lame. But brands also need to realize that they can't always keep up with the speed of the Internet, and that's OK. You don't have to create a Harlem Shake video with cats doing Gangnam Style if your customers just aren't feeling it.
But some brands instinctively have their proverbial finger on the pulse. Buzzfeed knows what I'm talking about. You can't swing a cat on buzzfeed.com without…hitting a cat on buzzfeed.com. The Buzzfeed cat listicles are legion. (“The 100 Most Important Cat Pictures Of All Time,” “21 Cats Who Just Want To Travel With You,” “19 Cats Who Have Absolutely Had It,” and “27 Cats Who Are Masters Of Making Biscuits,” just to name a few.)
Buzzfeed even recently announced its intention to go seriously native and launch a branded video branch. In addition to big success with GE and Clean & Clear, Buzzfeed partnered with Purina for a video that isn't quite an ad but isn't quite not an ad. What's for sure, though, is that it has nearly five million views. See for yourself:
Other brands have also successfully capitalized on the crazy cat lad y inside us all. Take U.K. milk brand Cravendale and its #CatsWithThumbs campaign from a couple of years back, which asked the unlikely question: What if cats had thumbs? Terrifying world that would be. (Polydactyl cats are cats born with six toes, which makes it look like they have thumbs. Fun cat fact: Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats. If you visit his house in Key West, now a museum, more than 50 polydactyl cats are free to roam about the grounds, just like they did back in Ernest's day.)
Cravendale even created a series of videos in which its polydactyl spokes-cat Bertrum answered incisive fan questions, such as: “Can a thumb cat drive a car?” “Can a thumb cat make mankind tremble at the awesomeness of thumbs?” “Can a thumb cat catch a fish using a rod?” (You can get the whole playlist here.)
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Even Direct Marketing News is on the cat-wagon. We've got a Pinterest board dedicated Cat-vertising and a mascot named Diego the Cat. He's our senior nap strategist. When he's not snoozing, he's hard at work. We brought him along to the Direct Marketing Association conference in Chicago last year to do a little reporting, and he attended our Marketing Hall of Femme awards back in March.
But we're not doing it as part of our marketing strategy. We're just doing it because it's fun.
Other brands have also successfully capitalized on the crazy cat lady inside us all. Take UK milk brand Cravendale and its #CatsWithThumbs campaign from a couple of years back, which asked the unlikely question: What if cats had opposable thumbs? Terrifying world that would be. (Polydactyl cats are cats born with six toes, which makes it look like they have thumbs. Fun cat fact: Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats. If you visit his house in Key West, now a museum, more than 50 polydactyl cats are free to roam about the grounds, just like they did back in Ernest's day.)
Cravendale even created a series of videos in which its polydactyl spokes-cat Bertrum answered incisive fan questions, such as: “Can a thumb cat drive a car?” “Can a thumb cat make mankind tremble at the awesomeness of thumbs?” “Can a thumb cat catch a fish using a rod?” (You can get the whole playlist here.)
Even Direct Marketing News is on the cat-wagon. We've got a Pinterest board dedicated Cat-vertising and a mascot named Diego the Cat. He's our senior nap strategist. When he's not snoozing, he's hard at work. We brought him along to the Direct Marketing Association conference in Chicago last year to do a little reporting, and he attended our Marketing Hall of Femme awards back in March.
But we're not doing it as part of our marketing strategy. We're just doing it because it's fun.
Even Direct Marketing News is on the cat-wagon. We've got a Pinterest board dedicated to Cat-vertising and a mascot named Diego the Cat. He's our senior nap strategist.
When he's not snoozing, he's hard at work. We brought him along to the DMA2013 conference in Chicago last year to do a little reporting, and he attended our Marketing Hall of Femme awards back in March.
But we're not doing it as part of our marketing strategy. We're just doing it because it's fun.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will kick off June 12 in Brazil with 32 teams competing for the championship title, a predicted one billion viewers of the finals, and an estimated 1.73 billion social network users around the globe. Those numbers add up to big opportunity for marketers looking to ride the social media wave of the tournament.
“The World Cup gets a lot of people out of their day-to-day activities; it gives them something to be excited about and to band together around,” says Cole Sletten, senior art director at digital marketing firm Ready Set Rocket. “Social media does the same thing, so it's a perfect combination for marketers.”
Naturally, when consumers take an interest in major events there's bound to be social media buzz and opportunity for marketers to create relevant campaigns and connect with fans. “The drive to celebrate will make people want to share more than normal,” Sletten says. “The World Cup promotes sharing behavior that you don't see all the time, and that's golden [for marketers].”
The self-proclaimed soccer fan says marketers don't need to wait until kickoff to leverage the World Cup social media buzz. Sletten shares four ways marketing strategists can get in on the social action.
1. Expect the unexpected
With every major event, Sletten says, there are unexpected breakout moments and trends. Marketers should be aware and prepared to identify those spontaneous elements and then use them in their campaigns. “There's always one unexpected thing that becomes the thing everybody talks about, and it's not always about the sport.” Sletten says marketers should monitor the event closely and jump on trending topics that mesh with the brand, and then draw a link for consumers. “There are a lot of topics, such as fashion trends, that happen outside of the game that are very much a part of the World Cup party that would be good to leverage for your brand.”
2. Understand the game
With knowledge comes power—and in this case Sletten says a deep understanding of the World Cup will enable marketers to identify the most opportune time for a social campaign. He notes that some of the best times may not be during the soccer matches. “It's really important to understand the tournament calendar.”
Sletten explains that the tournament is divided in two parts. The first half consists of tournaments every day where each team plays at least three times, hence the huge global audience and feeling of celebration. “All the teams are represented, so that's when brands need to establish themselves on social media simply because that's when all of the fans are involved.” Sletten warns that the second half of the tournament is not as continuous and may be harder to plan campaigns for without consistent attention. He says that, in addition, marketers should monitor attention spikes around game time, particularly in the hour leading up to the game. “Consider the hour before the game that magic hour; fans are waiting and killing time.” He says that downtime can prove favorable for marketers and their messages.
3. Acknowledge the hot-button issues
Despite the World Cup's celebratory nature, major events often spark controversy. Marketers should monitor hot-button issues that may stem from the event and address the concerns of their audience in numerous channels, including social. “Leading up to the World Cup, we've already seen protests and some discomfort about [the amount] of money being spent around this tournament while there's [high] poverty [in Brazil],” Sletten explains. “Listen to your fan base, and see if these issues are important to them. Then, be bold enough to talk about it [on social media].” He says that staying in the middle might upset customers and harm a brand, rather than help.
4. Understand U.S. soccer culture
Soccer fans in the United States have a unique culture that differs from that of World Cup fans around the globe. “It's important for brands to know that U.S. soccer culture is unique from the rest of the world,” Sletten points out. He says game watchers in the U.S. are Web-driven, second screeners and knowing that will help marketers craft social campaigns. “An American soccer fan is going to be very social. They'll get a bulk of their soccer news [and updates] from the Internet and Twitter, not traditional media. So anything that brands can share that can be passed along is incredibly valuable.”
I have a plan to establish campaign finance reform for Congressional Elections once and for all. Our mistake has been attempting to control how much money candidates can collect, but what if we approached it from another direction? What if we enacted a law requiring candidates for statewide office to spend their campaign dollars evenly across all 50 states? Then perhaps a three-term senator with a boatload of corporate donations would actually have to knock on doors and participate in town hall debates to get reelected. To install this new system as chairman of the Federal Election Commission, I nominate Julie Brill. She is, after all, the inspiration for this plan.
Current Federal Trade Commissioner Brill, it appears, finds digital targeting of consumers inappropriate and urges marketers to become more democratic with their appeals. With the issuance of the FTC's data broker report this week, Brill took the somewhat unusual step of issuing her own six-page statement interpreting the meaning of the report and its implications for legislation regulating so-called brokers, which the Commission interprets as list brokers as well as companies such as Acxiom and Experian. In so doing, she makes the assertion that marketers that employ the services of data brokers engage in discriminatory practices.
“Perhaps we are described as ‘Financially Challenged' or instead as ‘Bible Lifestyle.' Perhaps we are also placed in a category of ‘Diabetes Interest' or ‘Smoker in Household,'” Brill writes. “Data brokers' clients use these profiles to send us advertisements we might be interested in, an activity that can benefit both the advertiser and the consumer. But these profiles can also be used to determine whether and on what terms companies should do business with us as individual consumers, and could result in our being treated differently based on characteristics such as our race, income, or sexual orientation.”
In essence, Brill calls into question, if not the legality, the morality of the very practice of marketing. Marketing, to be sure, is discrimination, though not of a racial or ageist or sexual variety. It is segmentational discrimination that identifies and targets potential customers to make the most of limited marketing dollars, and to best satisfy consumer needs. But Brill seems to suggest that marketers should cast a wider, if less effective, net, even if it winds up offending or wasting the time of said consumers. If you are a member of the Financially Challenged with a decrepit old Kia in the driveway, does it do your heart good to receive emails from BMW? And what might result if Bible groups were blanketed with display ads for swingers clubs?
Brill rings an alarm that “Data brokers examine each piece of information they hold about us--where we live, where we work, and how much we earn, our race, our daily activities (both offline and online), our interests, our health conditions, and our overall financial status--to create a narrative about our past, present ,and even our future lives.” But marketers are salespeople, not scriptwriters. They are businesspeople, not defamers. Most reputable enterprises that gather digital data never capture an individual's name unless offered. Nor do they hold on to customer information for long. For one thing, data brokers often stipulate length of time or purpose that clients can use purchased data. For another, holding too much Big Data is a drain on financial and people resources.
Brill is justified in claiming that old information or sketchily drawn inferences about people could harm their financial standings and cause them not to receive preferred offers from financial institutions. But marketers are not loan officers. Marketers are there to round up the usual suspects who might benefit their companies' bottom lines. No one is stopping any mortgage-seeker from getting on the Internet, or visiting a bank branch, or picking up a phone to apply for a loan using accurate records.
Still, Brill seems to be of the opinion that marketers should spread their offers equally across all consumer segments. “Nothing in the Commission's report suggests that data brokers or their clients are running afoul of anti-discrimination laws,” she writes, adding, “It is foreseeable, however, that data that closely follow categories that are not permissible grounds for treating consumers differently in a broad array of commercial transactions.”
Is the good commissioner suggesting that marketers return to a bygone age of mass marketing? Should they abandon the Huffington Post for the Saturday Evening Post? YouTube for The Ed Sullivan Show? Is she blaming the Internet for being the Internet? Furnishing consumers with knowledge, access, and power while at the same time providing marketers with demonic segmentation tools?
Brill used a quote from Othello as a lead-in to her statement, but something tells me all this data broker business is Much Ado About Nothing. Forget our intractable Congress. The powers that be at corporations like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, Facebook, and Salesforce—which depend on the free exchange of digital data to make sizable deposits into the national GDP—might have more to say on the matter.
Seventy million—that's the number of customers fast-food chain McDonald's serves across its more than 35,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries every single day. But this “Happy Place's” financial results aren't exactly making shareholders smile. According to McDonald's Q1 2014 results, the restaurant chain experienced a consolidated revenue increase of 1% and a net income decrease of 5% compared to the previous year.
"In the near term we are prioritizing our efforts around those elements of the restaurant experience that are most impactful—offering the best food and beverage options and delivering outstanding service,” Don Thompson, president and CEO of McDonald's, stated in a press release. “For the long term we are focused on more effectively leveraging consumer insights to guide our global growth priorities of optimizing our menu, modernizing the customer experience, and broadening accessibility to brand McDonald's. We are intent on pursuing initiatives that will strengthen our relationship with our customers to reignite our business momentum."
The company has to maintain a balancing act. One one hand, it has to deliver the traditional and affordable favorites its customers expect. On the other hand, it has to “modernize” the enjoyable customer experience and make McDonald's accessible to consumers across all touchpoints. So what's McDonald's secret sauce for staying true to its roots while still being considered an innovative player? In short, “creative bravery.”
“We embrace and encourage creative bravery,” says Matt Biespiel, senior director of global brand strategy for McDonald's. “Creative that's disruptive makes a positive and long-lasting impression. It surprises, excites, and informs our customers and has the ability to differentiate the brand and our menu.”
Because I'm Happy...
Introducing new characters—and breathing life into old ones—is one way McDonald's exercises creative bravery. Last week McDonald's introduced its Happy Meal brand ambassador “Happy” to the United States. According to the company's official press release, Happy encourages children to eat more “wholesome” foods, such as the apple slices and soon-to-be-available Go-GURT Low-Fat Strawberry Yogurt that McDonald's offers in its Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals. However, this recent video by Grub Street suggests that the only thing that the red Happy Meal box with big eyes and giant teeth stirs in children is fear and confusion.
Although Happy is new to Americans, the animated character isn't a stranger to other parts of the world, Biespiel says. Happy originally debuted in France in 2009, he notes, and has been scaling across European and Latin American markets, as well as parts of Asia, the Pacific, and Middle East.
However, Happy's journey to America doesn't signal an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new mascot shift for McDonald's. In fact, legendary brand figure Ronald McDonald received an image revamp—complete with shiny new red and yellow threads—about a month before Happy's arrival. The world renowned clown will actively engage consumers across McDonald's social media channels while Happy will promote McDonald's healthy meal options. To further advocate a healthy lifestyle, the golden arches company also pledges to solely promote milk, juice, or water with its Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals on menu boards and on in-restaurant and external advertisements later this year.
“Kids love Happy and the Happy Meal,” Biespiel says. “Happy and Ronald McDonald give the brand an unbeatable combination of fun for the entire family.”
Chasing after a new GOL!
But the brand's redesigns don't end with the mascots. For the first time in company history McDonald's is revamping its iconic red fry box—for its 2014 FIFA World Cup GOL! campaign. The company hired 12 artists from around the world to feature street art on McDonald's medium and large fry boxes that reflects their passion for soccer, Biespiel explains. The newly designed boxes hit a majority of McDonald's restaurants this past Monday and will be available throughout the World Cup tournament.
To extend the new fry box experience, McDonald's launched an augmented reality app called “McDonald's GOL!” with Qualcomm Connected Experiences Inc. and Trigger. After consumers download the app they can hold their iOS or Android device screen up to the box. The app will then recognize the design and turn the fry box into an AR soccer goal. Substituting their fingers for legs, consumers will then “kick” a soccer ball past obstacles and try to score a goal.
“We're always exploring new ways to engage with and add value for our customers,” Biespiel says. “Our solution is a campaign that taps customers in-store and digitally with a fun, engaging experience.”
Innovative advertising? McDonald's is “Lovin' it”
Improving engagement with customers every time they interact with the brand is always a campaign objective for McDonald's, Biespiel notes. And innovative advertising, he says, helps the brand resonate with consumers and make McDonald's a company that they can proudly associate with. “Our goal is for [a] genuine connection,” he says.
So whether the brand is introducing freaky red boxes with eyes or asking consumers, “Did somebody say McDonald's?” creative bravery and delivering fun and enjoyment across channels remains at the core of McDonald's brand strategy.
“While the words have shifted slightly over the years, the spirit remains the same,” Biespiel says. “McDonald's is a happy place—a hap, hap, happy place.”
There's a constant push for marketers to provide customers with even more personalized, relevant, valuable experiences with brands. Of course, it's customer info—those personal details—that make that happen. In fact, there seems to be this insatiable demand for customer data. But as marketers try to craft the ultimate multichannel experience for consumers, there remains an underlying question: When have marketers crossed over from being personal to just plain creepy and intrusive? Weighing in on the topics of trust, Big Data, and security in this lucid Q&A are Andrew Delamarter, director of search and inbound marketing at Huge, and Jon Gibs, VP of analytics for the digital marketing agency.
Q: There's this ongoing discussion about “The Creep Line”—the benchmark where brand marketers have gone too far with customer data. Can you define that line?
Jon Gibs: I don't think we can. I think that's one of the reasons we're doing this work [on a current research project at Huge], and it's one of the reasons we're holding this panel, tonight. It may be cliché to say this, but you know [the creep line] when you see it. But one of the things that [researchers for Huge] are finding is how different segments [of people] interpret the lines for different brands. Some people have a lower threshold than others, and that impacts how they interact with brands. Of course, different types of brands are given different leniency. We're still trying to determine what creates the sensitivity, but we've discovered [in our research at Huge] it's not demographics—namely race, age, or geography. It's more how people think or tick.
Q: So is there ever a point where brand marketers are collecting too much data?
Gibs: In my mind it's not the collection of data that's an issue. It's the use of that data, the security around that data, and of course the value exchange with the user. And when I say ‘value exchange,' I mean the user has to get some value out of giving up their data. In other words, I'm getting something back for giving you my data. If that value exchange doesn't exist, then that's when things become much more problematic. That's when it can move into a place where consumers are being taken advantage of.
Andrew Delamarter: Yeah, it's more what [marketers] do with that data that may turn people off. One of the things that's pushing this [topic] to the forefront is the strategies of remarketing and behavioral targeting—even display ads [that are] online. The ROI on these are actually very positive for marketers; marketers are tempted by the ROI. But at a certain point you don't want to begin to stalk customers if that display ad is chasing them around the Web and on different devices. Marketers can creep out even those who are aware of these strategies. It'll be interesting [during the next few years] to see if marketers restrain themselves or if they go overboard and deal with a backlash.
Q: Obviously, there's been a lot of talk in the media about data breaches in recent months. And whether that security breach happened at your company or another, marketers are affected across several industries. So how can marketers gain trust back once the trust is broken?
Gibs: You know one of the initial findings we've had in our [ongoing research project on data privacy at Huge] is that even though people say privacy is the most important thing that a digital brand can provide them, they'll report high amounts of satisfaction and trust with brands that have relatively low [data] privacy ratings.
Delamarter: Yeah, I'm not sure [customers] blame the brands. They realize these systems [have some vulnerabilities]. Let me tell you. My credit card [with a particular bank] has been stolen nine times. It's ridiculous. But I still do business them. There's this spreading awareness [among customers] that maybe it's not the brand's fault and [an understanding] that even the best systems can be broken into.
Q: Who's more concerned about data privacy: marketers or consumers?
Gibs: I would actually say there's a third group—the media. It's very newsworthy when you hear about a big company taken down by some anonymous hackers. Gets a lot of attention. But in truth, [data breaches] often make more of an impact on storytelling than true impact on an individual or specific brand. However, the media is creating an awareness [among customers], which isn't a bad thing.
Delamarter: Yeah, I agree. Obviously, I'm personally concerned about [data security]. I don't see a lot of impact on business from [these breaches], and I don't see a lot of concern [from customers] about them either. But that doesn't mean people won't begin to think about this in the future, and [breaches] do pose a risk. Smart brands and marketers need to be thinking about this or it will get worse, especially as we move into an era with the Internet of Things. Big Data is only going to get bigger.
Five thousand members of your target audience are standing in a room just waiting around. Every person there is packing some kind of mobile device and they know how to use it. In other words, these people are ready to rock—but there's not much more for them to do other than mill about, glance at the stage, glance at the time on their phone, buy a beer, and probably take an ill-advised selfie while they watch the roadies do their thing.
Live events—concerts especially, but this applies to trade shows, conventions, and online events, too—are the ideal place to take a humdrum sponsorship opportunity and turn it up to 11, Spinal Tap-style.
Most forms of entertainment in which an audience gapes up at a stage while performers perform are passive; essentially “one-way experiences,” says Aaron Price, cofounder and CEO of livecube, which uses interactive game-based mechanics to motivate social sharing and engagement at events. But it certainly doesn't have to be that way, especially in the age of the always-connected consumer.
“When you have people's attention in one location over a specified period of time, you also have the opportunity to communicate with them and prompt them to engage with you in some way,” says Price. “It's a way to drive meaningful conversations and even networking opportunities.”
But before you go off and start gamifying everything that moves in the name of enhanced engagement, Price advises asking yourself (and honestly answering) a simple question: What are you trying to achieve? Because if your gamification strategy doesn't align with your business goals and you're not providing the proper rewards and incentives, not only won't your audience care, but you'll be wasting your time and resources.
“It's about coming up with the right game mechanics for your particular needs, whether you're a publication, a Fortune 500 company, or a brand sponsoring an event, so that you're driving the desired behaviors,” Price says. “You can't just gamify something and think it's going to be automatically awesome.”
A shift in mind-set might help. Instead of sponsoring an event, brands should think of it as sponsoring an experience, like what Heineken did as the official malt beverage sponsor of the Coachella music and arts festival in California. The beer brand partnered with SnapChat to tease users with ephemeral, tightly cropped photo clues about special, unannounced acts throughout the festival.
Sponsors often have access to cool rewards that fans really want—and we're not talking about $100 gift cards.
“Sometimes the best rewards are things like status or access to power rather than just stuff,” Price says. “Money or an object is far less motivating than the chance to get up on stage or to meet your favorite artist.”
Take Inc. magazine, for example, which used livecube to up participation levels at its GrowCo conference, an educational event aimed at budding entrepreneurs and business leaders. Inc., which knew from having collected feedback that people were interested in more and higher-quality networking experiences, took action on that insight. After engaging in a series of tasks designed to encourage networking among conference attendees, players could win the chance to watch mega-businessman Mark Cuban's keynote address at a special VIP table with Inc. columnist and senior contributing editor Norm Brodsky.
The reward was perfect in this case because a) it was something GrowCo attendees really wanted to win, and b) it didn't cost Inc. a penny.
“You don't have to run a million-dollar challenge or do a big, huge expensive thing,” Price says. “When brands reward people for what they actually want to do anyway, then game mechanics can massively accelerate and amplify an experience—and it's a lot more engaging and fun than static, one-way marketing.”
I made a wish, I said it out loud
Out loud in a crowd
'Twas the talk of the town
—Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders
I've had this feeling for some time now about the absolute worst side-effect of the digital revolution. Not the humiliation of Internet dating. Not the deification of the Kardashians (though that's high on the list). Not even the horrific fact that every idiotic bleat floated into cyberspace by simple-minded sociopaths or attention-starved semi-literates will exist in perpetuity as the defining document of the human experiment. No, the worst development for the future of society springing from our techno-centric lives is that people don't speak to each other anymore.
It's easier to get a phone audience with Pope Francis than with either of my sons, who are, yes, busy with their careers, but now essentially exist as text-Tamagotchis in my life. Traversing the sidewalks and subways of New York is a silent occupation these days. Recently, my bulky frame was blocking a passageway in Penn Station when I felt some eyes on me. A young lady trying to pass was standing there waiting for me to move instead of simply saying, “Excuse me.” Staffers on this publication speak to each other at the weekly editorial meeting, but communicate via email from mere feet away the rest of the week. I'm inundated with press releases from PR folk desperate to get their clients mentioned in website news alerts and, being on deadline, I'll often pick up the phone to call them for details. Yet a growing number of them do not include their phone numbers on their emails! (Marketers, if you employ any of these hacks, fire them immediately.)
Digital communication, I have long suspected, has freed people from the necessity of looking fellow human beings in the eye and conversing with them, a messy and possibly hazardous business that has been obsoleted by email and SMS text. While history has proved that my suppositions are rarely correct, a survey from IntelliResponse has provided proof that I may be on to something here. It's also something that marketers who have to deal with the even messier business of making customers happy should pay attention to.
IntelliResponse, whose Virtual Agent systems protect consumers from actually having to talk to human customer service agents, surveyed 1,000 consumers recently and found that only 6% of them think of picking up a phone to call the company if they need information on a product or service or have a problem with the company. Two-thirds of them believe all the answers can be found on a corporate website, and 10% prefer to ferret out a solution on social media in between pinning pictures of their gourmet slider dinner from the night before.
Now, brace yourselves, all you brands that seek to create a persona and engage with your customer base in an unending relationship of mutual appreciation and caring. Your customers don't love you or your brand. They're users, only in the relationship for what they can get out of it in the easiest and cheapest way possible. They don't want to cuddle and chat after they're done. When asked by IntelliResponse what type of relationship they want from the companies they buy from, 58% were all business, saying that being serviced efficiently was their sole aim. Brands on the personalization bandwagon can take heart in the knowledge that 24% of customers said they wanted a “friendship” in which they received personalized service. A mere 3% said they desired “romance,” and that they looked forward to interacting with brands.
Be warned that that lonely 3% includes those such as me, old warhorses of the conversation game who actually find it easier to ask someone how to navigate the remote control for my HD cable instead of searching for the solution on a website. The type who likes to ask customer service reps where they are, and how's the weather there in Texarkana?
I can, with great certainty, tell you this, my digital marketing friends. The customer service agents you employ are some of the most wondrous people extant in our increasingly impersonal world. Their uncanny ability to stay calm and polite throughout my assertive and often insulting questions and accusations—and the countless others like me and worse—is a model for the species. They should be off making big money directing group therapy sessions instead of working for you. They certainly are a better investment in your brand than your standoffish PR people.
The Hispanic population is growing rapidly within the United States. Research firm Nielsen expects the overall population to increase 42% over the course of 2010 to 2050, and predicts that the Hispanic segment will surge 167% during this same time frame.
When it comes to marketing to this community, Procter & Gamble (P&G) primarily targets bicultural consumers. This segment tends to consist of first-generation or U.S.-born citizens who are bilingual and reside in urban areas, notes Jill Bos, senior scientist for P&G. They're also deeply rooted in their culture, she says, and often act as they would if they were still living in their region of origin.
But the unfavorable stereotypes Hispanics sometimes associate with Americans fuel a sense of distrust, Bos says, and make it difficult—and expensive—to solicit data and feedback.
“When you recruit them as a stranger, there's a lot of mistrust and you don't get a very good response,” Bos says. “So without establishing relationships with potential candidates, it's very hard to get consumers to respond to your attempt to reach.”
Based on its census data, P&G discovered that Latinas—the female portion of the Hispanic market—tend to have a strong interest in hair care. The population takes pride in putting time and effort into its appearance, Bos says, and is more likely to experiment, use heat tools and coloring treatments, and perceive hair as damaged compared to non-Hispanic consumers. This segment is also likely to infuse natural ingredients and remedies into beauty routines. To resonate with Latinas and show how its products could address their hairy issues, P&G examined the population's hair care desires and shopping habits through qualitative research during the summer of 2012.
Instead of reaching out to the few Latinas it had in its database as a stranger, P&G partnered with Latin American recruiting agency SusOpiniones to find Latinas who were between the ages of 25 to 55, use shampoos and hair treatments regularly, and perceive their hair as damaged. To overcome what Bos refers to as “the barrier of the unknown,” the recruiting agency also encouraged participants to invite a friend to join the study. Not only did this help build up the company's database, but it also created a sense of trust between the brand and the consumer, she says.
After recruiting 18 women, P&G asked the participants to download an app from mobile and Web-based qualitative research technology provider Revelation Global. Then, the women were asked to visit Revelation Global's site and fill out a profile to familiarize themselves with the other panelists.
“They actually got to know each other virtually,” Bos says. “This was my first time doing Internet research, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to create a corporate environment as I would if I had six to 12 women living together for weeks. One of the things that surprised and delighted me was how quickly these women formed a bond.”
Once the women filled out their profiles, they were asked to complete three exercises over the course of three days. Some of the assignments asked women to describe their hair care experiences. For instance, P&G asked the participants questions that were similar to the following: What does a good hair day look like? What are some of your biggest hair frustrations? And what would your ideal hair care product be like? Participants could write out their responses in English or Spanish. Other exercises asked women to go shopping and take pictures of products of interest or those that have ended up in what Bos refers to as their “graveyards”: products that they've tried but ended up disliking.
Taking pictures allowed P&G to capture consumers' mentalities at the shelf and enabled shoppers to convey their hair care regimen in a single snap, Bos notes. She also says conducting a qualitative study gave the company more details regarding how consumers felt about the hair care category than a quantitative study ever could.
“A quantitative study can't get down to the emotional impact that these women are experiencing when they have a bad hair day, have to put their hair up in a ponytail, and just give up for the day,” Bos says. “You just can't get that richness from a quantitative study. Depending on the exercises that you do, qualitative [data] can really bring that to life and paint a picture.”
The insights from the study confirmed that Latina consumers highly valued the inclusion of natural ingredients in their products and on the product's packaging. As a result, P&G changed the label of Pantene's Nature Fusion hair collection by featuring avocado oil and melon extract—some of the collection's natural ingredients—front and center. The brand relaunched the collection in the U.S. in January 2014. And while Bos admits that she hasn't had access to the sales data yet, she says that the “word on the street” is that the redesign is effective. She adds that P&G has also taken the insights from its qualitative study and is currently applying them to its hair coloring products.
The qualitative data gleaned from the study has impacted P&G outside of the hair care category, as well. For instance, Bos says that the laundry detergent Gain has a strong Hispanic following because its scent brings back memories of the population's heritage and culture. Hence, the company is looking to take the insights from its study and apply it to Gain's campaigns to create a more sensual experience.
“There's a lot that we're doing and cross-fertilizing with our brands,” Bos says.
But perhaps one of the greatest wins for P&G is overcoming the population's sense of distrust of the unknown. According to Bos, 100% of the participants said that they would do a similar study in the future.
Although it was Bos's first attempt at online research, it seems that it won't be her last. Not only does Bos find online research to be just as rich as in-person research, but she also finds it to be quicker and cheaper. And with mobile becoming more prevalent, Bos says P&G will have to stay nimble to continue to be where its customers are at all times.
“We're going to have to continue to be agile in capturing these consumers,” she says.
Fact: Millions of Americans are tweeting daily about what they've watched on television, often using slang, made-up words, regrettable spelling, and dubious grammar. Also fact: Attempting to manually score all those tweets every day is a case study in how to drive a network analyst slowly, or not so slowly, insane.
But beyond the logistics of processing the sheer volume of tweets, the real challenge is doing it in a way that produces some kind of actionable info. Knowing how many people are tweeting about your brand or program is nearly irrelevant without knowing the context—but so is using a simplistic, opaque scoring system.
“Historically, the focus in the space has been on sentiment—designating tweets as ‘positive,' ‘negative,' or ‘neutral,'—but what does that really mean?” notes Jared Feldman, cofounder and CEO of Mashwork, parent company of a newly released natural language social TV insights tool called Canvs. [Fun fact: Feldman developed Canvs with his former NYU professor Sam Hui, who now serves as Mashwork's chief scientific officer. Now that's education in action.]
Let's say a viewer of BET's The Game (a super-popular program that follows the lives, trials, and tribulations of professional football players and their significant others) tweets something along the lines of: “I CAN'T STAND Jason Pitts in The Game. That guy just annoys me!!!!!!!!”
The tone of that tweet is clear. Cut and dried, right? But multiple things are actually happening there. Yes, the tweet is seemingly negative in sentiment—this person doesn't like a particular character on the show—but he or she is still actively engaging with the program. If a viewer loves to hate a show, that's not negative sentiment—that's ratings and social gold.
The opposite is also true—and also potentially quite unfortunate from a marketing perspective when automation gets involved.
“Let's say you mention Coca-Cola and Pretty Little Liars in the same tweet. Traditionally, that would be interpreted as, ‘This person has an affinity for Coca-Cola and for Pretty Little Liars—but that's not necessarily valid,” Feldman says. “Because what if this was the tweet: ‘I can't stand Coke and Pretty Little Liars in the worst effing show on TV.'”
Feldman aims to reframe the conversation by bringing emotion to the table. The goal with Canvs—a play on the concept of canvassing an audience—is to act like a real-time opinion poll that outlines for network execs exactly what the most engaging or important moments are in a particular show. The tool only looks at emotional tweets, rather than tweets or retweets in which people are just sharing links. Reflexive shares aren't emotional and muddy the insight waters. Canvs then analyzes the natural language used in the reaction tweets to paint a convincing picture of how people truly feel about the content they've just consumed combined with other relevant data like demographics, average income, interests, and brand preferences.
In essence, an impossible, and yet possible, real-time focus group of the masses.
“Imagine you've got 23,000 people, or whatever, in a room and you ask them what they think of a particular episode,” Feldman says. “This is how they'd respond.”
It's where the social TV insights space is moving. Just like any marketer out there, networks are looking for actionable data and the ability to create meaningful segments from the social mayhem.
Recent research from Adobe found that while the vast majority of marketers are using social media, a mere 12% said that they're confident in their ability to actually measure their efforts—so there's definitely room in the industry for more effective and nuanced analysis tools.
“It's an unbelievable stat; there's this enormous thing that's infiltrated how everyone thinks about media now—and most marketers don't think they're doing it right...though it's easy to understand why when they're just looking at buzz-numbers,” Feldman says. “The question every network always asks about their show is, ‘How did I do last night?'—but it's impossible to answer that without really understanding your audience's true emotional reactions.”
The fireside chat with Mike Lazerow, CMO of Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, at Internet Week was billed as a discussion about the “current state of advertising and marketing technology” and the startup space. It meandered greatly into a kind of general talk about company culture and the importance of philanthropy.
Apparently Salesforce is an awesome place to work—basically all the execs from companies acquired by Salesforce, including Lazerow's baby Buddy Media, are still deeply involved, which is pretty rare—and CEO Marc Benioff is huge on philanthropy. Salesforce was built on the philanthropic precept that, as Lazerow put it, “we can do good as we do well.”
Even before Salesforce was Salesforce and making utter bank, Benioff insisted on donating 1% of all profit, and a good chunk of stock and employee time, to nonprofits. To this day Salesforce employees get six paid days off to do whatever they want to give back to the community, whether that's helping build a house or lending a hand at their kids' school. Apparently the company has donated something like 50 million hours of community service since its founding which is, admittedly, whoa.
“If you're just a company that's profit-driven, the customer is not going to be connected to you in a fundamental or meaningful way, and neither are employees,” Lazerow said.
Other than that, this is what I learned:
1) Lazerow went to journo school at Northwestern back in the day, followed by a stint after graduation as a writer for The Delaware State News covering the poultry industry. In that role he became well acquainted with then (DE-D) Senator Joe Biden.
2) Lazerow loves apps because they're the “purest way” to use your phone. “Great apps transform your life,” he said. “We live with these phones and every company needs to be in their customer's pocket, whether that happens through credit cards, their mobile phone, or through social.”
And Salesforce, of course, practices what it preaches with Salesforce1, which is like the marketing cloud to end all marketing clouds. “Anyone who wants to talk about my business, see me afterwards,” Lazerow quipped. “It's in my pocket.”
3) Lazerow is such an avid angel investor that he's happily sunk money into more than 40 ventures and counting. His friends jokingly refer to him as a “drunk baby.”
“I've never met an idea I don't like,” he said.
4) Lazerow has cool glasses.
5) Lazerow predicts that Buzzfeed will at some point in the near-ish future become the largest media company on the planet.
6) If Lazerow had his druthers there would be a better infrastructure in place to encourage and train programmers.
“I'd like to see a culture of creators in New York that's not just creating content and media, which we have a lot of already [note from the writer of this article: mea culpa], but a culture of creating code,” he said.
7) When Lazerow first moved to New York in 2006, right before he founded Buddy Media with his wife Kass, the world was a different place. YouTube didn't exist, Facebook was only two years old, and if you wanted to be involved in tech then San Fran was really the only place to go.
“Now it's like Internet Week is every week,” Lazerow said. “It's all we do.”
“The number of opportunities to engage customers has rapidly expanded and exploded,” Gartner Research VP Kimberly Collins said at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit—and far more so than marketing budgets have. What's more, few marketers ever “throw things out”; they just add to their ever-expanding marketing mix, Collins said. But many of these channels are and remain siloed. As a result, customers are often left “confused and unhappy with inconsistent and contradictory messages and treatment across channels,” she said.
So how can marketers create a more holistic, consistent customer experience? Collins recommended adding a new set of four P's to the marketing roster: align people, automate processes, measure and optimize performance, and make marketing a profit center. Marketing may never have a P&L, she said, but there needs to be insight into how marketing impacts revenue. (And yes, the old four Ps of marketing—product, price, promotion, and placement— still apply, she said.)
This means departmental and channel-based silos within marketing need to be aligned and integrated to create collaborative marketing; in other words, integrated marketing management, Collins said. There are three process areas within this that marketers need to focus on, she pointed out. The first is executional processes, or campaign management processes such as in- and outbound marketing, segmentation, and lead management and nurturing. “It's about driving that top line,” she said. The second is operations processes, or marketing resource management (MRM) processes including planning and financial management and marketing fulfillment. “Saving money here allows marketers to do more of the sexy, innovative things that can differentiate a brand,” Collins said. The third set of processes is analytic processes such as marketing mix optimization, marketing ROI analysis, and marketing performance management. Collins noted that there are areas of overlap among the three, like voice of the customer and content marketing.
But where should marketers focus first or emphasize more? Just about every area is hot in marketing today, Collins said, so it can be difficult to prioritize. It comes down to what type of customer engagement strategy an organization wants, she said. For example, active, or real-time, marketing focuses more on event-triggered marketing, personalization, and contextual marketing. There's also emotional, or customer experience and loyalty marketing, where the goal is to strength the customer relationship. Another area is rational, or social marketing, which includes crowdsourcing and online communities. A fourth are is ethical, or moral, marketing such as affinity marketing.
Integrated marketing management drives closed-loop customer engagement that supports and helps to blend those areas, she said.
Collins recommended several steps that marketers can take to help make integrated marketing management a reality. The initial steps are to start the dialog between marketing and IT, and to assemble a team with participants across the marketing ecosystem and IT to audit marketing processes and technologies and identify opportunities. Once those are in place, appoint a marketing operations director, determine the organization's customer engagement strategy, and then set supporting objectives and KPIs. Additionally, determine which marketing strategies and processes require automation and set a timeline to implement the needed tools. Finally, develop a flexible integrated marketing management roadmap and a marketing optimization management strategy.
“Marketing is [arguably] the most complex department within an organization today,” Collins said. CMOs are dealing with a complicated ecosystem and face a nexus of disruptive forces, including pervasive access via mobile and circles of influence via social. Integrated marketing management is what marketing leaders need today to help conquer that complexity and deliver on customers' expectations for a consistent and relevant experience.
There's a huge culture chasm between customer and businesses today, Leigh McMullen and Gene Alvarez asserted in the opening keynote of the Gartner Customer 360 Summit 2014.
According to the two Gartner managing VPs, transparency has exposed companies' faults even as customer expectations continue to increase. Organizations will have to stay nimble and transform to meet those continually changing expectations. “Customer-centric organizations will always win,” McMullen said, adding that enterprises will have to transform to be customer centric if they're not.
But how can companies transform and transition to cross that culture chasm?
One challenge, McMullen and Alvarez said is that there are multiple sub-cultures with their own objectives within each organization, so it's challenging to get everyone aligned around the customer.
But “culture [change] is a not wicked problem,” McMullen said. “It's deceptively easy.” It starts with strong, authentic leadership.
The way forward, Alvarez added, is to build an organization powered by purpose. Purpose helps to build organizational collaboration, and helps employees understand the corporate mission and how their role aligns with it. This starts with creating and communicating the enterprise mission, is followed by strategy that aligns with and supports that mission, then drives each manager's personal goals, which then drives each of their team's personal goals. It's an idea Gartner calls “a leader of one” and provides more clarity of purpose. “Leadership sets the tempo and metrics set direction,” McMullen said.
Alvarez cited Gartner's 12 ways to create a customer-driven culture, show here in a photo by attendee Antonio Wanderley:
McMullen and Alvarez stressed that to change an organization's culture its leadership needs to change the personal brand of each employee. “An organization's brand is basically the aggregate of everyone's personal brand within it,” McMullen said, adding that the personal brand is the most effective lever for real change—and will enable a customer-centric culture to become self-sustaining. Employees want to learn and grow, he said. So use the tools you have to drive change and then turn the process over to the employees who should own them.
Governance is how you wire all this together, McMullen and Alvarez said.
What you measure impacts culture. Consider service availability versus service recoverability, McMullen said. How does measuring one versus the other impact your culture? Service availability is about managing risk; it's where failure is not an option. Recoverability is about problem solving and being agile. Neither is “right.” You have to find what works to drive the culture that you want, he said, adding that given no other direction, metrics will guide people's behaviors. “This is where you prove your values; to put your measurements where your mouth is.”
McMullen cited Dan Pink in saying that what's really motivates people is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Companies need to have incredibly clear mission boundaries. For example, push decision rights down to the employees who need to make decisions in real time; make leadership roles dynamic, so the person who's the “leader” at a given moment is the person who should or needs to be in charge based on circumstances; have the team own process improvement; and provide values-oriented incentives and values-centric measurements. Financial incentives won't work with someone who's driven by innovation, for example; what motivates that person is having the time to be innovative.
Companies that are committed to customer centricity have leadership that communicates and lives the organization's values, Alvarez said. They also have a clear vision and strategy, metrics that align with customer-centric objectives, employee rewards that are tied to customer values, and activity seek and listen to customer input, among other approaches.
Transforming to a customer-centric culture is hard, but it's not complex, McMullen added. “It's like walking out of the desert: Put one foot in front of the other.”
Companies that will succeed long term in today's customer-focus market will build an agile culture that is powered by purpose and personal brand, thus self-reinforcing and self-sustaining. The organization's culture then becomes an engine of continuous improvement, Alvarez said, that's able to keep pace with changing customer needs and expectations.
Nowadays, evolution is the name of the marketing game. But marketers don't need to look back 50, 20, or even five years to see the exponential change in the industry over time. In just the past few years marketers have been inundated with new technologies, innovative strategies, and pressing customer expectations.
“The number of channels that [marketers] have now has just exploded,“ says Deborah Fain, an adjunct professor teaching integrated marketing at New York University and customer relationship management at Pace University. “ Twenty years ago [marketers] were doing a huge volume of direct mail, telemarketing, and the Web was fledging. Also, we hadn't figured out how great of a tool email can be—and of course, we had no social channels whatsoever.” Fain says modern marketers, however, have an unprecedented number of tools that provide access to customer feedback, give them an ability to respond instantly to customers, and present a holistic view of the consumer. “We've evolved to looking at the customer as opposed to looking at the product,” Fain says.
There's no doubt that in today's marketing landscape, it's survival of the fittest. Alex Lirtsman, cofounder and digital strategist at Ready Set Rocket and Emily Wengert, VP of user experience for Huge, insist that if modern marketers want effective campaigns in this competitive climate, their plans must be digital, mobile, social, personal, and always on.
Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history; as these 86 million young adults come of age, they'll eventually hold the majority of buying power. It's a fact that marketers should not—and cannot—ignore. Millennials, along with progressive Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, are more apt to be innovators and early adopters of all things digital. “It's fascinating how millennials do more and more shopping online and less and less shopping in stores,” Huge's Emily Wengert says. “And it's amazing that the storefront of a lot of businesses used to be a physical, brick-and-mortar thing. Now more and more often, the actual storefront—even the initial touchpoint—is digital.” She says the role of a physical store has evolved into an opportunity to provide an experience, rather than serve as a utility. The conversation, research, and consumption of content—that's increasingly digital. “Digital is really at the heart of everything,” Wengert says.
According to eMarketer, more than 5 billion people across the globe will be mobile phone users by 2017. Compare that to an estimated 4.3 billion users today. Mobile continues to evolve—growing past its on-the-go reputation, instead becoming an everyday, at-home necessity. “Mobile is so big,” says Ready Set Rocket's Alex Lirtsman. “The modern marketer needs to understand that people are using multiple devices to complete a transaction. And they really need to understand cross-device attribution starting on mobile, but still ending on a desktop.” He says that as marketers continue to track customer behaviors on mobile, they'll be able to attribute specific purchases to mobile campaigns. “The reality is customers discover on mobile, then purchase on desktop.”
Social media gives modern marketers the ability to encourage advocates, keep loyalists, prompt engagement, and create content—all strategies that can lead to a lift in sales. Wengert says social also gives brand marketers platforms with large audiences: “With social there's now volume. [Marketers] can get so many people on their platform; it isn't an option to not be on [social media].” She says modern marketers are learning that social media isn't just another broadcast tool, but rather is an instrument to befriend customers, share content, and provide fun experiences. “Marketers have learned more and more to integrate [their plans with] what people want to do on social media: share thoughts and content with friends, rather than talk to brands,” Wengert says.
Personal customer data fuels the creation of relevant, relatable, and valuable messages. Most certainly, it allows marketers to talk directly to individuals, rather than an entire audience. “It's really all about relevance,” Lirtsman says. “A brand that has a personal relationship with me is relevant to me. Communication needs to be timely [and] relevant to the stage of my journey with that brand.” Lirtsman adds that with personal customer data, marketers can understand consumer needs, and then simply meet them. “[Marketing messages] need to leverage any information that a brand has on the customer.”
Modern marketers are always on—ready to engage and eager to have ongoing communication with customers. What's more, marketers today are increasingly able to provide consumers with a continuous, uninterrupted customer experience. “There's no question that we're all on many devices throughout the day,” Wengert says. “From your personal items to the screen in the back of a taxi cab, the volume of those marketing messages has increased. In order to be heard above that fray, [marketers] need to give the sense that their brands are everywhere—always available.” That doesn't mean marketers need to be on every channel, she notes. “You just need to create a really smart, cross-channel campaign.”
Ah, personalized email. Even basic personalization like using a customer's name in the greeting can help maintain engagement. Woe to the marketer who gets it wrong.
Unfortunately, however, mistakes do happen. Whether it's human error or a technical glitch, it behooves marketers to act, and fast, to resolve the error. And when your business is marketing or customer experience, there's even more pressure to save face.
Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) did just that, excellently, and with humor. Following on the heels of its 2014 Insight Exchange, the association sent an email requesting feedback on the event from attendees (as it would, of course). However, instead of the emails being addressed to the individuals who attended, everyone received an email addressed to “Shannon.”
Within just a few hours, CXPA sent a clever follow up with the subject line, “You're Not Shannon...” and a witty apology that included the actual recipient's name, and a call to action that involved Shannon. Plus, the association got the real Shannon to take a photo with a note about the conference to include in the message.
Now that's what I call a full and speedy recovery.
Before (subject line, "We Want Your Feedback | CXPA's 2014 Insight Exchange"):
After (subject line, "You're Not Shannon..."):
It must be so easy to be a marketer. Why? Because while 70% of people say that overconsumption is putting the planet at risk, and half of them admit they'd be happy without most of the stuff they own, they keep consuming new stuff and tossing old stuff at an alarming rate. But here's the most delicious part of a global survey of more than 10,000 people released by Havas Worldlwide: Though the vast majority of consumers are convinced that current economic models aren't working, they're equally convinced that high levels of consumption are critical to economic growth. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady used to say, “How convenient!”
P.T. Barnum continues to be right, though perhaps his famous quote could be updated to, “There's a self-righteous yet self-entitled sucker born every minute.” The Earth Day merchandisers have this game down pat. Every year they come out with a new logo for the event, and municipalities and universities also do their own designs, forcing the millions of environmentally concerned Earth Day celebrators to buy new T-shirts that they wear once and then toss. Brilliant!
This is reverse-permission marketing. Consumers, by virtue of their appellation, want to consume. They're guilty about it, but they're more than eager to do it as long as they get permission. And that's where marketers come in. They already want to buy your product, but just imagine how much more they'd buy if you focused your content marketing on endowing them with some form of green certification with purchase?
In that spirit, we consulted the Clean Air Council for intelligence upon which to base some surefire green issue-based content marketing ideas. The italicized facts all come from the “Waste and Recycling Facts” page on cleanair.org.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association estimated that 275 million tires were in stockpiles. I and my cubicle mate Ava are members of a tiny minority. We are among the 0.8% of New York City workers who commute to the office on bikes. That's a huge marketplace opening for a bike manufacturer willing to work on commuters' environmental guilt and narcissistic self-images. A bike brand could circulate infographics illustrating what a quarter billion auto tires look like next to a similar number of bicycle tires. (Everest vs. Hamburger Hill) How about bus shelter ads with a fit lady biking past a mountain of old tires with the headline, “Bike to work for your body…and for everybody!”
The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year. This is a slam dunk in the office wastebasket. An entire branding campaign can be built on this one. Starbucks, or Tassimo, or Folgers, fields a social media-imbued, multichannel campaign to get individual offices (floors, departments) to use their own mugs, sign no-paper-cup pledges, and report on their progress. Offices that stay engaged for a month and report a 50% decline in paper cups get free (brand-marked, of course) mugs from the marketer.
Only 10 percent of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in 2007 were recycled; 40 million computers became obsolete that year, about twice as many as in 1998. 304 million electronics were disposed of from US households in 2005. Two thirds of them still worked. Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 American homes in a year. What's more important to Havas's green-leaning consumer, do you think: recycling mountains of old feature phones or getting a new iPhone model every 18 months? Judging from the fact that thousands of them line up for two days in front of Apple Stores for the latter, the answer appears evident. Why doesn't a Dell or a Blackberry look to gain some traction in the market by creating indestructible, reuseable laptop and cell phone “shells,” something simple and elegant, personalized and permanent, that could be updated with new guts as technology progresses? The brands could start with a design contest via website and social media and sell these “new consumers” on the idea by having them originate it.
This last idea plays right into an interesting finding in the Havas report. More than half of consumers surveyed said that, in the future, they expected to belong to a number of sharing services that would save them money and keep functional products in service instead of in landfills. Three quarters of these people said they expected brands to act as guarantors of the used products that individuals sell online.
As customers, we all know the certainty of this: Customer experience is personal.
“Your customers have different needs and you have to do what you can to meet them,” said Bob Johnson, president of Sprint Retail and chief service and information technology officer for Sprint, during his keynote at the 2014 CXPA Insight Exchange. It's not easy, but it's worth the effort, he said, noting that Sprint has cut about $7 billion in costs over the past few years in part by improving the customer experience in ways that led to reductions in churn, increases in self-service, and fewer calls to its customer service and care teams.
In fact, the American Customer Satisfaction Index cites Sprint as the most-improved company in customer experience across 47 industries during the past five years.
These improvements to Sprint's customer experience also reflect its brand image. As the telecom's customer satisfaction bottom-two box scores decrease, so does churn. And as the top-two box scores increase, Johnson pointed out, so do marketing efficiencies, word of mouth, and retention. “It's like free money,” he said.
But delivering a top-notch customer experience that aligns with corporate goals is no easy feat. Johnson said it requires three things: top-down support, perseverance, and a link to revenue. “It's very hard. There's no magic bullet,” he said. “You have to stick with it and stay passionate about it. And if you improve the customer experience, you have to show the impact to the bottom line.”
Fortunately, customer experience excellence is among Sprint CEO Dan Hesse's top-three priorities. According to Johnson, they are: improve the customer experience (which means extending customer satisfaction leadership); strengthen the brand (thus drive profitable growth); and generate cash (which includes reducing costs). These priorities unify the company around shared goals and have been critical to the company' success, Johnson said. This approach helps to communicate internally how employees impact the bottom line; in part, through showing that as customer satisfaction goes up, churn goes down.
A focus on customer experience pervades the organization, especially in sales, customer service and care, and IT. “There's a great synergy between these groups,” Johnson told me when we spoke prior to his keynote. “The retail, service, and care customer experiences are all enabled by IT.” In fact, everything from the point-of-sales systems at retail, billing tools, and the systems that the service and care teams use are all run by IT. “We want to make sure that when customers sign up it's a great experience, when customers call the care team we want that to be a great experience, and even when they review their bill it's a great experience—and IT support all that,” he said during his keynote.
But the customer experience isn't just about when customers come to Sprint; it's also about outreach. “You have to go where your customers are,” Johnson said. So Sprint created an online community to provide a place where customers can help each other, and it launched a team of “social ninjas” to help respond to customers in social channels. Currently, there are 3,300 employees who volunteer as social ninjas. Additionally, employees volunteer to send handwritten thank-you notes to customers; last year they sent 900,000 in total.
“It's everyone's responsibility in the company to help customers,” Johnson said. But it's not forced. Management communicates the benefits so employees will want to take part. Clearly, it works.
But Sprint executives don't just cross their fingers and hope for customer-centric outcomes. There are customer and operational metrics that support customer centricity; for example, post-interaction churn rates, first-call resolution, and Net Promoter Score. Additionally, care agents are compensated to own and resolve issues instead of transferring calls—and call transfers have dropped 50% since Sprint began focusing on it. The mantra is “service, solve, and satisfy.”
“The front line is the brand,” Johnson says. “Sometimes it's the only personal interaction customers have with the company, and it leaves a lasting impression.”
Along with inside-out customer experience initiatives, Sprint responds to customer input by making changes to, say, pricing or devices; for example, launching its unlimited data plan in 2011.
“We focus on customers' moments of truth,” Johnson said, citing purchasing, receiving a first bill, and calling to resolve technical issues as examples. “We're taking all customer touchpoints, mapping them to our functional peers, and saying, ‘Here's how you affect the customer experience, and here's where you need improve' or ‘Thanks, keep up the good work.'” Part of this is showing the financial impact that those areas have in terms of customer experience. “I make sure my teams understand their role in customer experience,” he said.
Ultimately, customer experience for Sprint is about churn reduction, service and IT excellence, and contribution to EBITA, Johnson said. “The single biggest financial metric in telecom is churn,” he said. “If you can positively impact the customer experience, you can reduce churn, thus increase revenue.”
You're about to take a flight. Let's say you're about to take a flight to the 2014 IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Tampa (because that's where I am right now).
You check in on your phone or maybe you interact with a kiosk upon arrival at the airport. Then you're marketed at to join the airline's loyalty club or to upgrade your seat. You grab a stool at the airport bar and use the airline's app to make sure your flight's on time. Your flight is blessedly not delayed by weather, so you board a plane and sit down. There's a touchscreen on the seat in front of you. You receive an immediate alert if your bag goes missing and a second alert when your bag is, hopefully, found. You arrive at your destination and you get a follow-up email asking for feedback on your experience.
Every one of those touchpoints is an opportunity to interact, and if the experience is integrated, so much the (much, much) better. It might sound like a tautology, but it's not: Everything is marketing and marketing is everything.
“I like the idea of a post-marketing world, because what I care about as a customer or as a business buyer is whether the engagement I have with a company delivers value to me,” says Kevin Bishop, VP of IBM ExperienceOne Solutions. “And when it comes to an integrated experience, more and more of the interface is happening through mobile devices, and we're seeing less of a difference between marketing, sales, and service.”
In other words, an omnichannel customer journey that includes everything from social media and customer service to multi-screen mobile engagement is the #1 ticket.
Or, as social media/content strategist Jay Baer put it: “Big Data isn't the goal. The goal is big understanding. And big understanding is all about innovation.”
And how do you get to big understanding? Oh, easy...or not so easy: All you need to do is understand the customer in context. One-to-one is great—and increasingly possible—but smart segments and patterns of behavior still guide the course for customer interaction. And it's not as complicated as it sounds if you focus on simplicity and fulfilling actual, or anticipated, customer need.
But to do that, you don't necessarily have to slap someone's name on your message. That's not personalization, or not always. Relevancy is personalization. If you're walking past a sandwich shop at lunchtime and your phone buzzes with an offer for a free coffee and half off your next panini (you've opted in for mobile push), the message you see doesn't have to say à la Hal 9000: “Hello Allison. Here, is your sandwich offer, Allison. We hope you like it, Allison.” It more than suffices to say, “Hey! Hungry? Why not grab a coffee and a sandwich?”
But sometimes it makes sense to use a customer's name. Bishop is a frequent flyer. When he gets on an airplane, it might be nice if the flight attendant said, “Good morning, Mr. Bishop. It's lovely to have you with us again.”
In essence: context. Ask for the data you need and use that data where it makes sense.
“You can build profiles that are about what customers do and why they do it by assembling data in pieces over time in a gentle way,” Bishop says. “I don't care if something has my name on it—I care whether it reflects what I need when I want it in a way that makes sense.”
Because good selling doesn't feel like selling.Says Bishop: “Thoughtful cross-sell and upsell isn't perceived as selling, it's perceived as useful—but that's because it actually is useful.”
Last week, I wrote a blog about my mom's journey to launching her own small business. She's experienced a lot of highs since opening her boutique two months ago, including making her first $600 sale this past weekend. But she's also faced a lot of challenges—mainly, delving into online marketing and just figuring out where to start.
It turns out that my mom isn't the only one frazzled by the array of marketing options. A new survey by online marketing company Constant Contact shows that 35% of small businesses don't know how to measure success across channels and 32% say getting everything done across platforms is too time consuming. Furthermore, 48% of small businesses find learning how to use different interfaces to be a hassle and 46% struggle with maintaining a consistent look and feel across channels, according to the data.
So in honor of Small Business Week, I interviewed Drew Tonsmeire, area director for Kennesaw State University's Small Business Development Center, on where new small businesses owners should begin when it comes to marketing. Here are 10 of his starter points:
1) Find out who your customers are: Before small business owners can market to potential customers, they have to know who they are. Owners must pinpoint if their customers are local, regional, or strictly online, Tonsmeire says, and then market to them through corresponding channels.
After identifying where customers reside, Tonsmeire advises small businesses to break down their target audience, such as by age, gender, and whether they have children. Talking to stock suppliers and other small business owners can be an effective way to obtain this information, he adds. Of course, asking actual customers about their preferences, such as whether they're more sensitive to price or brand name, is another valuable source.
“The goal is not to market to everybody,” Tonsmeire says. “The goal is to market to 20% of the segment where 80% of your customers can be found.”
2) Make a budget for money and time: While it's important to keep track of dollars and cents, monitoring how much time small businesses spend on marketing is also crucial, Tonsmeire says. Creating a marketing budget can be an effective way to do both. He suggests starting with a calendar and creating one column for the amount of money small businesses expect to spend and one column for how much time they expect to devote to marketing.
“It's a direct relationship to effort,” Tonsmeire says. “That effort is a function of time and money.”
3) Identify how you want your customers to engage: Many small businesses have websites; however, it's what businesses want customers to do with their online information that's truly important, Tonsmeire says. For instance, if the goal of the website is to drive customers into a business's shop, the owner should include its address on a prominent page or on every page, he notes. Similarly, if an owner wants customers to place orders by phone, he or she should feature the store's phone number in a place where they don't have to search for it, he says. Google Analytics can be a solid tool for identifying who is visiting a business's site, what pages are customers engaging with, and for how long, Tonsmeire notes.
4) Remember, old-fashioned marketing works best: With so many online avenues, it can be easy for small business owners to lose sight of time-honored marketing practices. And there's no better form of marketing, Tonsmeire says, than the classic referral.
“Word of mouth is still most important,” he says. “It's just that, nowadays, word of mouth can go from traditional—people talking to each other—to now sharing online.”
5) Ensure that your business card makes a statement: Business cards are one of the most common and most widely distributed forms of marketing, Tonsmeire says. Like a website, a business card should tell customers what they should do next. Again, if a business owner is trying to drive traffic into his store, he should include the store's address—or even a map—on the card, Tonsmeire says. Turning business cards into formal invitations or coupons are also effective ways to induce people into trying products or stores, he adds.
6) Don't forget the local paper: “The smaller the community, the more important the local media is,” Tonsmeire says. So he suggests that small businesses reach out to local newspapers and magazines for editorial or advertising opportunities. But if owners go the advertising route, they must make their ads creative and run them in a series to stand out from the crowd and stick in customers' minds.
“It's not an event,” Tonsmeire says. “It's a process.”
7) Get to know your community: Sponsorships can be an excellent way to become affiliated with local organizations, Tonsmeire says. So whether it's sponsoring the church bulletin or the little league team, small business owners can find numerous ways to impact their community, as well as their bottom line.
8) Visit a trade show: Trade shows can be an effective way for regional businesses to find people within their target market. Tonsmeire advises small business owners to attend a trade show before exhibiting to determine whether it would be worth their time and money.
9) Use social as an avenue for conversation: Social media allows small business owners to engage in dialogues with its customers, such as by having customers post pictures of them using a business's product. However, if businesses can't devote time to holding conversations with its customers through social, then the channel might not be worth their time, Tonsmeire says.
“What you want to try to do is get more people talking with [you rather] than just listening to you. That's what a website is for,” Tonsmeire says. “A website is a one-way communication that says, ‘We're going to tell you about us.' Social media is about, ‘We're going to exchange ideas.'”
10) Keep your four Ps in mind: Crossing your T's and dotting your I's is always important. However, marketers need to look over their four P's—product, place, price, and promotion—as well.
Product: When promoting a product, small businesses should focus less on what the product is and more on why it's applicable to customers, Tonsmeire says.
“People do not buy the features of a product,” he notes. “They buy the benefits of a product.... It's the why that people want, not the what.”
Place: Small businesses need to know the market their businesses are in—local, regional, or online—and where their customers can be found, Tonsmeire says.
Price: Pricing strategies tell customers a lot about a business, Tonsmeire says. While providing the lowest price may seem like the best way to get customers in the door, it doesn't always radiate a sense of high quality.
“If I were a plastic surgeon, I probably don't want to be known as a plastic surgeon,” he notes.
Instead, Tonsmeire advises small businesses to stick to whole pricing if they're a quality producer and odd-end pricing if they're more of a discount store.
Promotion: There are a number of ways to promote a business, including time-of-sale displays, media, and direct marketing. Tonsmeire encourages small businesses to engage in one-to-one marketing as much as possible.
“One-on-one contact gives you a better opportunity to connect to your customers,” he says. “Marketing is a whole lot more than just an ad. It's thinking through the process.”
Those who get the lion's share of their information online may question the relevancy of the public library. Not so at Ohio's Columbus Metropolitan Library, where there are 17 million visitors a year and a commitment to growth and expansion, says Alison Circle, the library's chief experience officer.
Circle, a marketing veteran who's experience includes nearly a decade at agency Jack Morton Worldwide, is using her marketing prowess to guide that transformation—and to ensure that Columbus Metropolitan Library continues to be relevant for the foreseeable future. During her keynote at the 2014 CXPA Insight Exchange, Circle shared the five steps that underlie her approach to creating and maintaining a customer-centric culture.
1. Change the conversation
There are few organizations more transactional than the library, Circle pointed out. “You check [books] out and check [them] in,” she said. “That's no longer enough in this age of information.” So she's been leading the charge to “reimagine the customer experience” and evolve and change Columbus Metropolitan Library to meet the needs of its community and customers.
“People remember the highs and lows of their relationship with a brand, and their last interaction with it,” she said, adding that for too many library customers that last interaction was paying a fine for an overdue book. “That's not a good experience, so we're eliminating fines by 2015.”
That's $800,000 in fines annually that will come to an end. “Our board of trustees said, ‘Why do we have fines?'” Circle said. Often, the cost of a book being even a day or two late means that some of the library's customers—often at-risk children—wouldn't have access to necessary resources. “We're blocking our most vulnerable customers from our services,” she added. “We had to get beyond that and do something bold. We needed to find an incentive for people to be responsible and return books, not punish them for being late.”
The library, Circle noted, should be about access, not penalty. Now, a book auto-renews up to 10 times if no one else has requested it; and if someone does, the library will reach out to ask for a return. “This eliminates the shame and embarrassment of a book being late and turns around the experience for our customers,” she said.
2. Remove barriers
“We need to provide access to what our customers need when they need it,” Circle said, adding that the library is “in an ambition and aggressive rebuilding program” that includes major renovations, as well as adding several new libraries over the next few years.
One new building opening in July will be spacious and open with lots of light and windows, instead of the often dark, brick libraries of the past. “Libraries were built as warehouse for books, to house collections,” Circle said. “We're building them to be about connections.”
But the changes go beyond the buildings. The library has a “library on wheels” truck that brings books to the community, as well as a team that goes to the homes of at-risk families, such as teen moms and their children, and brings them books that will help them in school and life. “One of the greatest predictors of success in kindergarten is books in the home,” Circle said, noting that unfortunately, most teen parents won't go to the library. “We can ignore it or we can do something about it, so we go to them.”
One growing area of outreach is homework assistance. Ohio has what it calls the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Third graders need to pass a reading test to progress to fourth grade. Sixty percent of kids in Columbus recently failed the test. So the library is stepping up its efforts to help. “How is library still relevant?” Circle asked. “By helping kids pass third grade.”
3. Redefine the experience
Library renovations and rebuilds are a significant area of renewal in terms of its customer experience. One 6,000-square-foot building is expanding to 20,000 square feet with a performance space in the center of one room. Additional building renovations include a Kindergarten Readiness Zone with interactive whiteboards and other items common in today's classrooms.
The library isn't about books, it's about learning, Circle said. So the customer experience at Columbus Metropolitan Library is all about how it can help its customers do just that.
4. Hire differently
“We have to change who we hire,” to fit within the library's increasingly customer-centric culture, Circle said. But she's “in a pickle” because as part of the local government the library has restrictions on changing the status of current staff; yet, some employees are retiring within five years and are resistant to change or don't care.
Another challenge is that the library's own culture is that reference librarians, who work near the library entrance, typically don't talk to children. But somebody needs to be there to greet children so they feel welcome. As a result, Circle hired a group of people this past March to work three hours after school each day to be greeters and learn kids' names. “They're on fire and loving it. We have people who have so much passion for what they do,” Circle says, citing the homework help staff as another example. “And they can impact the community in a positive way.”
Of the many customer-centric employees in the library's employ, several are award-winning within the Columbus Metropolitan Library system and in the industry—and Circle makes sure to call out their accomplishments. For example, she's created a Wall of Fame to showcase their successes. “We have a culture of appreciation, and that builds trust,” she says, especially when encouraging employees to embrace shared values.
5. Managing change
Another way Circle is building shared values is through a common language for change initiatives. She and her staff all read the book Managing Transitions and now have a shared language, and consistent four-step process methodology that illustrates the why and how of each initiative.
Circle explained that the library is shifting to focus on outcomes instead of output. “How do we take our data and tell a different story?” she asked. “We need to dig into that.” For example, how many kids who came to the library passed their third grade reading test because they came to the library? That's difficult and potential costly to figure out, but it's where the library is headed.
“We're trying to dream big,” Circle said. “If we're not envisioning greatness we're doing a disservice to our tax payers.”
What do you think of when you hear the words “marketing mix?” Email, social media, content, data—any number of tactical channels that combine to create a marketing strategy?
While that's one right answer—it's not what got the 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees into the chief marketer seats at their respective companies. Of course, they're expert marketers who know what it takes to develop marketing strategies that yield measurable results. But they also understand that a true marketing mix isn't complete without a little inspiration, personal dynamism, open-mindedness, and a lot of passion.
“Being an agile learner is especially important for marketing people right now,” says Kathy Button Bell, VP and CMO at Emerson Electric and 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honoree. “We have an inherent ability to do that because we're always communicating—communication is what we do.”
One might be forgiven in thinking that retaining a top seat in the C-suite is about control—but it's actually about having the strength and self-confidence to relinquish control. 2014 honoree and Denny's EVP and Chief Brand Officer Frances Allen knows that firsthand. By trusting her social media agency, Allen and her team hit content marketing pay dirt with a clever tweet after Auburn lost the College Bowl. The tweet, which lamented the loss with a cheeky plug for comfort food, was posted late in the evening by someone at the agency—and if Denny's had more traditional, stringent rules of approval in place, the brand would have missed its chance to be highly relevant in the moment.
“Given the speed at which everything is changing, you've got to move fast yourself,” Allen says. “If you try to control the conversation and follow the classic approval guidelines we grew up with in the marketing world, it's just not going to work anymore.”
Trust is also a vital ingredient internally.
“You've also got to hire great people and empower them to work their magic,” Allen says. “I have the most amazing team and they're the ones who make this all happen.”
If you're going to effect change, you've got to keep your ears and your eyes open, says 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honoree Susan Cohig, SVP of integrated marketing at the National Hockey League. The voices of colleagues, business partners, and employees are just as important as the voice of the customer.
“To be successful in whatever you do, you need to learn all about it; it doesn't matter what it is,” Cohig says. “If you're working on hockey as I am, then you need to know how a team runs and you need to know how the business of sports and entertainment works. You also need know what's happening from an operating perspective—from the perspective of a salesperson working on a sponsorship deal all the way to the perspective of an usher taking the tickets.”
That's when you'll see the kind of real results that come from dedication. Because the title is nice—but the title is not everything.
“People can be very focused on just getting to the next job and the next, but they don't have a set of true accomplishments they've achieved along their path,” says Leilani M. Brown, CMO of Starr Companies and 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honoree. “Take the job where you can own something end-to-end and say, ‘Yes, this is what I did and here is the proof.'”
Learn more about our honorees by downloading our free eBook, “18 Leaders Who Put the Femme in Phenomenal.”
I always enjoy experiencing real-life examples of how clever marketers can influence everyday purchasing decisions. Recently, my family's indecision about lunch on a warm, sunny Saturday in Atlanta proved to be a great lesson in targeted email marketing.
Anyone who's familiar with Atlanta knows about the city's swanky, eclectic Buckhead neighborhood. High-priced homes, high-end fashion, and highly flavorful food are all staples there, making cheap, tasty eats a bit of a harder find. Recently, my mother decided to visit my twin sister in Atlanta, and the two of them eventually sauntered over to Buckhead during lunchtime. Famished and jetlagged after a long flight from Houston, my mother prodded my sister to find them a modestly-priced lunch—a tall feat since the two of them were smack-dab in the middle of this pricey, uptown district.
Leave it to the crafty marketers of Barberitos to solve my family's dilemma. My family eventually made their way to the Peach Shopping Center, off of Peachtree Road (virtually every street and shopping center in Atlanta has the word peach in the name), where there are a few reasonably priced options, including Barberitos, a Southwestern grill and cantina chain that serves up Mission-style burritos.
My sister and mother were walking along the sidewalks at the shopping center looking at the menus posted outside each restaurant, including this small southwestern-style eatery.
Enter the wily marketers at Barberitos.
A well-timed offer pinged on my sister's phone: Pay It Forward today at BARBERITOS. Save your receipt from today and take the same amount off when you come back next Saturday 04/26.
Timely. Relevant. Enticing. Valuable.
Barberitos used beacons to identify potential customers (my sister and mom) who were in the area (Hotlanta) looking for a cheap lunch (ostensibly a Barberitos burrito). Increasingly, marketers are leveraging Bluetooth-powered beacons, devices that communicate with a shopper's smartphone in the hopes of improving the shopping experience and prompting an in-store purchase. During a previous visit, my sister and I had volunteered our email information, but neither of us had received an offer from Barberiots until she was actually in the area to make a purchase.
So, Barberitos managed to do two things: First, collect information on customers who were previously at the point of sale with the goal of providing a relevant offer at a later time. Second, capitalize on the moment to send appropriate ads, coupons, or supplementary product information.
A recent customer loyalty survey from ClickFox shows that 64% of those surveyed prefer to be contacted via email or text, compared to direct mail (15%) and website promotions (8%). As Barberitos strategy shows, sending the right offer, at the right place, and the right time can prove to be profitable. It certainly was on that sunny Saturday in Atlanta. My mom and sis decided to take Barberitos up on its offer and have lunch.
Marketers often ponder what success requires in today's data and technology-driven environment. Top marketers are agile, they listen, and they've put the customer at the fore. But how?
Industry advice often points toward conceptual tools for success. In no way is this negative; conceptual nuance can make or break a CMO's career, but it takes time to get enough experience to understand those nuances.
However, aspiring marketers have an immediate need to cultivate specific attributes and skills. Fortunately, newly minted marketers have a wealth of educational opportunity. For instance, with the lines between functional departments blurring, marketers can tap into the expertise of sales and tech teams to build their skills. Students are even better poised to cultivate unconventional marketing knowledge through their access to various courses.
Whether student or new grad, today's aspiring marketer has an unprecedented level of access to resources that can help nurture the suite of attributes companies pay top dollar for. Here, this year's winners of the MarketingEDGE Rising Star Award highlight some of these specific skills, what value they have in today's market, and how to learn them.
Successful professionals in any creative field must maintain a strong sense of curiosity. This is especially true in marketing, where math, writing, and visual art must meld seamlessly in unique ways—emphasis on unique. The ever-curious marketer can stay ahead of the industry trends, and perhaps even start them. “You have to be really curious about all the different ways you can connect your customer and what delights them,” says Yvette Lui, director of global data and audience partnerships, Facebook. “Not only that, but you need to have a voracious appetite for all the new forms of marketing and communication.”
Test, and test again
“Many years ago I heard the term ABT, always be testing. You must be comfortable with this,” explains Guillermo Novillo, head of global acquisition marketing, Microsoft. “You always need to be testing and trying new things because there's always room for improvement.”
Indeed, all of that curiosity means little if the theories it births aren't tested. Marketing has always heavily emphasized the importance of gain insight from data, and one way to do so is through testing. Marketers must develop and maintain a habit for testing as early as possible.
Understand finance and accounting
Whether or not the Great Recession is truly over, many companies have yet to loosen marketing budgets. Marketers who have difficulty executing campaigns or implementing strategies that align with their organization's financial goals are doomed to fail. Aspiring marketers should be as familiar as possible with financing and accounting. “If you're in college I highly recommend taking a financing or accounting course so you can learn to manage a marketing budget,” says Emily Riley, chief operating officer, Ghostery.
Generally speaking, the more varied and… general a marketer's interests are the more agile and successful that marketer will be. However, mastery can go a long way in the budding stages of a marketer's career. “Don't try to be a generalist too early,” OgilvyOne New York's president Dimitri Maex advises. “The first couple of years you need to specialize. Be patient in the beginning and focus on building a strong set of tools early on.”
Marketing requires guts. Not necessarily because the work is arduous, but because failure happens often. Marketers must maintain a thick skin and be ready for criticism; be it of the constructive variant from colleagues or the more hostile kinds often found on the Web. “You have to be willing to fail fast and recover,” says Chris Paradysz, co-CEO of Paradysz. “In a world of indecision, what often happens is no choice is made. As opposed to making decisions that feel all-or-nothing (and they rarely are) learn how to fail. Otherwise, you never stretch.”
Think like your customer
“You have to think like [the] target. You have to put yourself in their shoes. You have to understand what problems your customer is trying to solve. It's really like a muscle you just have to use over time,” explains Carrie Parker, director, American Express OPEN Forum.
Like physical muscles, the earlier marketing conditioning starts and the more consistently it's used, the stronger the muscle becomes. Amid all of the data, analysis, creative, and the other elements of the craft, marketers must work diligently at keeping the focus on the customer. In today's omnichannel world, this is paramount.
Marketers with even a basic understanding of design concepts, elements, and technology have a leg up in today's increasingly visual world. Savvy marketers are familiar with the capabilities and potential of creative software such as Photoshop. With creative continuing to factor so heavily in marketing, marketers who ignore these tools risk their careers. “The younger generation needs design skills. They need to know how to work in Photoshop and they must understand design principles,” says Alex Wasserman, co-founder and CEO, TapFwd. “Bridging the gap between user interface and user experience design in marketing is crucial from a product perspective.”
Ah, you just can't keep a good totalitarian state down. Vladimir Putin's mad grab for the Ukraine and his undisguised lust for Azerbaijan, the Baltic States, and Kazakhstan suggests that Stalin's, not Gorbachev's, portrait hangs in his drawing room. He may not bring back the Hammer and Sickle (though the new flag does look too much like France's), but it's clear he wants to reinstate some of the cultural nuances, as well as the geography, of the Soviet era. And let's face it, how can that be accomplished without some good old-fashioned Bolshevik censorship?
The Russian parliament recently passed a bill that would require digital communications networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google's Gmail, and Microsoft's Skype to locate servers within Russia to service their Russian traffic. An amendment to the nation's anti-terrorism laws, the “Information, Information Technologies, and Protection of Information” law (too much information?) would give Russian security and intelligence operations complete access to the networks' Russian data. Putin's old KGB pals will know exactly whom the Ukraine girls will be knocking out and what the Moscow girls will sing and shout. They'll also know what capitalistic entreaties the imperialist American industrial complex is emailing to its citizens.
At press time, the legislation was still awaiting Putin's signature, but word is that it could go into effect by the end of this year. Google, Microsoft, and others are likely to acquiesce to the Russian Bear's demands rather than surrender access to largest country in the world, which is also a digital gateway to China.
As for emailers with global business profiles, the new order in Russia might mean nothing more than another exercise in deliverability. “Their emails will be subject to Russia's scrutiny and their filtering,” says Bob Sybydlo, Yesmail's director of market intelligence and deliverability. “We'll do the usual deliverability reporting. We'll probably start seeing patterns in rejections and identify buzzwords that trigger them.”
Our suggestions for a few subject lines to avoid: “Putin Models Our Fall Dress Line;” “FREE in UKRAINE;” and “We're Having a Pussy Riot!” Ultimately, it will be interesting to see if Facebook or Google or Microsoft avoid complying with the new law. Google, after all, shut down its search engine in China because of that country's censorship of results. LinkedIn, on the other hand, recently announced it would enter the Middle Kingdom after recruiting Google China veteran Derek Shen to lead its effort there.
As for me, someone who pines for the simple times of the 1970s, when good was good and the Soviet Union was evil, I appreciate Russia's return as the bad guy of international affairs. Its filling of that role provides the counterpoint that reminds us how good we have things back in the U.S A. They're back. We don't know how lucky we are.
Case studies are my favorite type of story to write for Direct Marketing News. I enjoy hearing how renowned brands overcome trials and tribulations to reach their objectives and obtain ROI gold. However, these companies are often big-name brands with big-name budgets. When it comes to writing small business stories, it's hard to ignore the challenges owners face in terms of being strapped for resources and not having vendors meet their needs. You don't hear too many small business hero stories.
So when my 55-year-old mother, Geri Dupre, informed me that she wanted to open her own business in Pewaukee, WI, I wasn't the most supportive. I mean, this was the woman who still refers to Siri as “Series” and calls one of the most popular social networks “The Facebook.” How was she ever going to master email marketing, social media, and online analytics, if I still had to give her instructions on how to copy and paste?
In a weird way, my mom's announcement sparked a reversal of roles. I obsessed over my mom's well-being the same way she distressed over teaching me how to drive or sending me off to college: Is she ready for this? Does she have everything she needs? Is there anything I can do to prevent her from getting hurt?
Of course, I should have known that my mom would take the same can-do attitude she had bestowed upon me. So despite my pleas for her to put her dream on hold and research what exactly running a small business entails, my mom signed a lease in late December and set out to open her store—Books and Looks LLC—two months later in March.
“When you have the opportunity to fulfill a dream that you have, you should go after it no matter what age you are,” she says.
My mom describes Books and Looks—an accessories, books, and fashion boutique—as a “combobulation” of past experiences. Geri graduated from Mount Mary University with a degree in fashion merchandising. She went on to work as an assistant buyer in women's fashions in the late 1980s and worked at a jewelry store part-time while my brother and I attended grade school. After eventually taking a stab at being a flight attendant, my mom decided to explore the beauty sphere and received her aesthetician license from the Aveda Institute of Beauty and Wellness. She then took a few years off from working and finally (or what I thought was finally) decided to work as a bank teller at a credit union.
“For every job opportunity that I've had in my career, they've all been beneficial to me,” Geri says. “I may not have felt that the job was important at the time I was doing it. [But] now owning your business, you realize how important everything in your life that you did to get to this point has been.... I am so thankful that the jobs that I had dealt with the customer or were customer service related [because] that's what I'm doing now.”
But throughout her many career changes, Geri's most important role was always being a mom. And it was her desire to provide a greater life for her son that inspired her to make her dream of opening a store a reality. My brother Forrest, 27, was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Other Specified) on the Autism spectrum at the age of four. Although he's intelligent and high functioning, businesses never gave him a chance. Watching him apply for job after job only to be rejected was disheartening. And while a few companies agreed to give him two- or three-month gigs, they never turned into full-time employment as we had hoped. So my mom opened Books and Looks and brought Forrest on as an intern to give him experience working among the very thing he loves the most: books.
Having two of my family members live out their dreams made my fear of them failing that much greater. I shared many of the emotions my mom felt when I first moved into my dorm: I felt compelled to do everything for her. I thought working for Direct Marketing News required me to write her whole marketing strategy and take charge of promoting her business. After setting up her work email and instructing her on the importance of Facebook pages, I realized something I assume every parent learns at some point: I had to let her grow up and do it on her own.
Looking back, I really should have had more faith in my mom. After all, this was a woman who sculpted a cake to look like Mount Rushmore for my brother's history project. And I have to say, she's turned into quite the marketing maven. Since launching her business Geri has run print ads in local magazines that are sent to homes within a certain income bracket and has conducted interviews with local news outlets. She also still maintains her Facebook page—even if it only has 38 likes at the moment—and even launched her own email newsletter. Although she's only sent out two newsletters so far, they've had open rates of 31% and 28.9%, respectively.
Working in Wisconsin requires Geri to deal with the state's seasonality, including its frigid winters. Given that Geri's business is located on a beachfront off of Pewaukee Lake (yes, we have beaches in Wisconsin), she's challenged with driving traffic to her store year-round. To keep people coming in, Geri turns to event marketing. From makeup demonstrations to scarf tying demos, Geri does whatever it takes to get people through her door. And to further advocate Autism awareness, Geri hosts fundraisers for local organizations for adults with disabilities. For instance, she hosted a book signing event this past April in which she raised $210 for the Adaptive Community Approach Program—a social service that my brother attends twice a week. Hosting her own social events for adults with disabilities is another one of Geri's main business objectives.
Most important, Geri relies on her community connections. For example, she has promoted her social gatherings via the Autistic Society of Southeastern Wisconsin's website. She also set up a table at her local bank to promote her store and is even providing discounts in the gift bags for her alma mater's upcoming fashion show.
As much as I love to brag about my mom, I have to admit that her marketing isn't flawless. She needs to learn that her target audience can't just be “anyone with money” or simply based on her community instincts. Her email list also needs some serious cleaning. Plus, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't worry about her going overbudget on her merchandise purchases (except, when she's throwing in an extra dress for me--then it's fine). However, I still have to give her kudos for putting the customer at the center of her business.
“I not only want to sell them the product, but I get to know them as best as possible,” Geri says. “My store is not just about selling things. There's a whole story behind it with my son, and I think people like stories and they like to hear about why you're in business.”
In terms of offering advice to new small business owners, Geri recommends creating a budget and having a clear business objective in mind. Yet, when it comes to providing marketing suggestions, she says that it's really up to the individual.
“It's kind of like you're shooting dice,” she says. “You hope that what you went with or where you put your dollars for advertising is going to be beneficial.... I think if [people] knew all of the answers to advertising and what's the most successful, we wouldn't have all of these different outlets to choose from.”
Silos are the ultimate time suck—because by the time you've optimized one corner of the customer experience, your consumer's already moved somewhere else…and then back again.
That's the cross-screen reality. People are switching devices faster than you can say, “A consumer named Jack Robinson used his phone to look up a price, his tablet to learn more about a product, and his laptop to ultimately make a purchase.”
Direct Marketing News caught up with Tapad CEO Are Traasdhal last week at the company's first annual Unify Tech conference to talk about why the marketers who embrace a holistic view of the customer will thrive—and why those who don't probably won't survive.
“When consumers visit a brand or publisher from five different devices, they look like five different people,” Traasdhal says. “This creates a problem for data, for optimization of content, for attribution—basically, it creates a problem for everybody in the $300 billion marketing ecosystem.”
The research Tapad just released with Forrester found that 66% of consumers discover products or services through digital rather than offline. Are you surprised by that number?
I was actually surprised when I heard that—sometimes tech entrepreneurs can live in a bit of tech bubble—but I find it encouraging to see that consumers are using multiple devices to make purchase decisions and that it's become firmly incorporated into consumer behavior. Phone speed, screen size, and the browsing experience are all improving, and brand sites are becoming increasingly mobile-optimized. In the past 12 months we've seen enormous investment from brands to make the consumer research experience better both on smartphones and on tablets.
Is there still a place for traditional media?
There is, one hundred percent. I'm a big believer in getting a unified view of the customer across all touchpoints and screens, both digital and analog. The digital side is important, but direct mail is a $25 billion industry for a reason. It's all about figuring out how digital and physical channels interact with each other and then starting to tie all that data back into a single view so you can really understand your customers.
Should retailers fear showrooming—or is showrooming actually a retailer's secret best friend?
Research has shown that there is a 60% discrepancy between what consumers say they think they're going to buy before entering a store and what they actually buy when they're there—so clearly consumers are being influenced by a lot of what they experience in the store. But it's also the hardest place for marketers to get access to consumers. Consumers aren't carrying around a computer or a newspaper with them—they're carrying around their phone, and brands can use the phone to influence consumers when they're close to the cash register. People's phones are important to them and always close by.
You recently made the observation that ‘in three years, there won't be any mobile companies, any computer companies, or any tablet companies—just companies that truly embrace cross-channel devices.' What do you mean by that?
There's often a reaction of fear when people have to change—but we need to accept that consumers are switching between screens 27 times an hour, and just optimizing for one siloed part of the experience makes very little sense. That only creates more fragmentation. It's hard for CMOs today because to deliver a banner on a mobile phone they have to work with one company, and if they want to serve video they have to work with someone else—and then a third company to do other things. All of these companies need to get together around a single organizing principle: the consumer. The companies that insist on being good in one silo are going to miss out on 40 or 50% of what's going on in other channels—but the trend-makers are moving towards a more unified approach.
What's a good example of this in action?
Let's say your mobile company is specifically focused on location. Yes, you can send a message to a consumer when they're close to a store using geofencing—but a lot of information about the consumer is missing. Maybe three days earlier the consumer clicked on but didn't buy something online, say a blue blazer—wouldn't it be better to show that person a coupon for a blue blazer rather than just a general coupon for the store? If you tie all the data together you can create a better experience for everyone.
I think most marketers can agree that the industry is part creative, part technical, and certainly part mathematical with the constant tracking of metrics, KPIs, sales, and other numerics. But I don't know if most marketers think of themselves as scientists. I'd like to challenge that line of thinking and consider the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of an exact science: science, such as physics, chemistry, or astronomy, whose laws are capable of accurate quantitative expression. Although some of marketing is instinctive, the field is—at least in my opinion—evolving more into an exact science every day with quantitative expressions that can be measured for accuracy in seemingly every marketing channel—social, email, mobile, display ads, and of course, direct mail.
One of the most scientific—and calculated— forms of marketing is content marketing. Curating and crafting valuable content can be executed and measured in a myriad of ways—from the creation of blogs and webcasts to case studies and polls. Marketers must first determine the strategy, format, and platform then quantify the success of their campaigns through metrics and goals. Sound likes science to me. One chief content marketer, Chris Lake of Econsultancy, drives home the idea of marketing as a science with his Periodic Table of Content Marketing. Lake is inspired by Russian chemist and inventor Dmitri Mendeleev—who created his own version of the periodic table of elements (which I'm sure most of us remember from our high school chemistry classes). In this colorful chart, Lake gives us a playful, yet acutely reflective depiction of content marketing in 2014.
Without question, content marketing can bolster brand awareness, advocacy, and of course sales. The Periodic Table of Content Marketing is a great way for marketers to embrace their craft as an exact science—and have a little fun too.
The occupancy rate for Chicago hotels reached 75.28% in 2013, according to the city's official marketing organization Choose Chicago. So when The Godfrey Hotel Chicago entered the scene on February 1, Adam Schomaker, director of sales and marketing for The Godfrey, knew that he had to find an innovative way to distinguish the hotel from its competitors.
In alignment with the hotel's “discover your element” theme—a play on the periodic table—Schomaker wanted to centralize all of the elements that make up a guest's experience, such as dining, shopping, and upcoming attractions. But because travelers are often on-the-go, Schomaker needed to be able to deliver this information through mobile.
To that end, The Godfrey partnered with interactive interface and software platform provider Nervana Group to create a digital reader board that would reside within the hotel's lobby and on its fourth floor. The 55-inch tablet-like interface acts as a “digital concierge” and provides information about attractions and services in the hotel and around the city, explains Rhon Daguro, CEO of Nervana. Shopping, dining, and event information are all featured on 20 to 30 portrait-style digital cards that slowly flow from the left-side of the screen to the right-side in what Daguro refers to as the “lazy river.” Guests can also filter the board to only view cards of certain categories, for example just restaurants or retail locations. Once guests spot a card of interest they can stop the digital river's flow with the tap of a finger and enter in their email address to send the card's content directly to their mobile device.
“When people travel now, their concierge is their phone,” Schomaker says. “Everybody has Siri, everybody has Yelp, [and] everybody can use Google Now. Why not just add to that and make it a little more convenient for those in the market if they're already going to be using their phone for travel?”
From a marketing perspective, the technology enables The Godfrey to control what content appears on the board, Schomaker explains, including hotel events, flyers, and nearby attractions. And while The Godfrey discussed enabling guests to send content via text, the hotel stuck with email due to budgetary concerns and because it's how the hotel most frequently communicates with its guests, he says.
However, this decision seems to play in the hotel's favor. The board also enables The Godfrey to capture email addresses entered into the board. Schomaker says that if he were to use the acquired addresses, he would send the users a message asking them if they want to opt in or opt out of the brand's email marketing program first.
“When they enter [in] that information, they're looking to just get the information that's on the board,” he says. “They're not saying ‘I want future promotions' or anything like that. They're not opting into that.”
Since opening the hotel earlier this year, The Godfrey has experienced about 848 board interactions—including taps and swipes—per day. Now that the hotel has been open for a few months, Schomaker says he can start deeply analyzing these interactions, such as what guests tap on and which visitors—for example, local Chicagoans versus business travelers—use the service the most. The board also enables the hotel to remarket to users, such as by sending a restaurant coupon to guests who scroll through dining options, although The Godfrey isn't currently leveraging this capability.
“The board is absolutely being used,” Daguro says. “[But] we need to see how much of those interactions are meaningful—meaning what exactly are they touching?”
The Godfrey has already made a few changes to enhance its digital and mobile experience. For instance, the company has integrated a QR code into the board that guests can scan to download UrbanBuddy—a mobile app that allows people to ask local experts for recommendations. Social additions, like ratings and reviews, have also been discussed but not yet implemented. Furthermore, Schomaker says sensitivities around providing information in a public space may limit certain consumer interactions.
But if one thing is for sure, it's this: Mobile and digital will be extending their stay at The Godfrey.
Emails without intel don't do much good for marketers who want to craft relevant campaigns. About 40% of marketers say sending compelling content is the most effective email strategy. Another 11% cite segmentation, and an additional 10% point to personalization, according to Ascend2. But to apply any of these strategies, marketers need to know the person behind an email address. And for many marketers, that task can prove to be challenging.
“[For] a complete picture of a subscriber, marketers have to look at a digital mosaic, comprised of all [customer] interactions—both with your brand and others,” says Tom Sather, senior director of email research at Return Path. “We're in the age of data. So use that data to help paint a full picture of your customer.” He says, ultimately, this holistic view will help marketers craft targeted, more effective campaigns. Sather, and Silverpop product strategist, Dave Walters, share four ways marketers can get a 360-view of their email subscribers.
Use competitive intelligence
Sather suggests that marketers look outside of their own data—and focus on that of their competitors. He says marketers should track their email subscribers' purchases of similar brands and products. Then create campaigns around those interests. “This data can help paint that full picture,” Sather says. “[Marketers] can look at this competitive intelligence and note what else [customers] are purchasing from competitors; [they can] see what other email lists customers subscribe to. That gives a good idea of what's resonating.”
Track customer behaviors
Silverpop's Walters says that what customers say—compared to what they do—can vary immensely when deciding to buy. “When [marketers] ask people what customers want and then compare that to what they do it can be radically different,” he says. “Marketers are left confused.” He encourages marketers to look at behaviors and market towards those actions. “For example, if a woman is buying clothes for her husband, she's purchasing men's clothes,” he continues. “In this case we would want to market towards the behavior [of buying men's clothing] versus stated preferences about women's clothing or demographics, such as gender.”
Monitor subscriber engagement
Sather says engagement—whether positive or negative—can revel what's important to customers. He adds that opens, purchases, complaints, opt-outs—even an opt-out of competitor emails—show marketers what's working and what's not. “It's a warning flag when subscribers interact more with another brand,” Sather says. “Conversely, if you share the same subscribers, and another brand is doing poorly, you'll know what not to do.”
Set goals at the start
One of the best ways to get to know your email subscriber is to identify what you'd like to know, Walters says. “Marketers often struggle in the first ask for information,” he explains. “Many times they ask for too much or too little.” He says by setting goals, marketers can encourage subscribers to volunteer more revealing information. “We [as marketers] don't have an inalienable right to know everything about everyone,” Walters says. “But creating great content or building a community can help marketers meet goals and encourage people to volunteer the right information."
Marketing in 2014 is almost an entirely different business than it was just five years ago, let alone 10 or 20 years ago. The Internet has all but completely disrupted conventional marketing practices, as more and more marketers shift their budgets in favor of strategies more conducive to the digital channels consumers use day-to-day.
“Those big, splashy ad campaigns are now one part of a portfolio that must include blogging and social media content,” says Emily Riley, chief operating officer, Ghostery, and a winner of Marketing EDGE's Rising Star award.
Then, of course, there's the massive influx of customer data—something marketers have dreamed of for decades. Between Big Data, and the many privacy issues that come with it, what should be a boon often manifests as a significant challenge to marketers. All of this without even mentioning the ever-increasing array of marketing technology.
Despite the challenges that come with these advancements, marketers that understand the true nature of the business have much to gain in today's data- and tech-driven environment. Here, Ghostery's Riley and the other winners of Marketing EDGE's 2014 Rising Star award offer advice to novice and veteran marketers alike on how to succeed in 2014 and beyond.
For many marketers, staying ahead of the consumer is paramount. But attempting to do so can seem like sheer folly. Consumers are simply too fast, too agile for some marketers to keep up with. Fear not; as we slip further into the age of listening to customers, marketers who do, in fact, listen to them will see their business soar. “We are listeners now,” says Chris Paradysz, co-CEO at Paradysz. “There's no way to keep up with consumers. They can travel up and down channels so fast. We need to make sure we're a part of the conversations they're having.”
Invest in storytelling
If the content marketing craze tells us anything, it's that customers consume content on their terms. This content must deliver value to said consumers, lest marketers risk losing their attention. Compelling stories have proven essential in today's marketing world. Savvy marketers must assume that storytelling and delivering valuable content will remain one of the best investments marketing budgets can buy. “In the 1980s there was a concept of adver-tainment. This is becoming relevant again,” says Guillermo Novillo, head of global acquisition marketing for Microsoft. “People like and understand stories. You can say you have the best product, but if you say so through a story, it'll stick.”
Focus on the customer
Data and technology are awesome marketing tools. However, when internal meetings center solely on data and technology something gets lost: the customer. “We have all of these different features and channels. Part of what gets lost in all that technology is the basic focusing of marketing messaging to the right customer. You have to focus on the customer,” says Yvette Lui, director of global data and audience partnerships at Facebook.
Embrace the science behind marketing
“Marketers have to be experts on a variety of topics these days. Math is a bigger part [of marketing] now,” Ghostery's Riley says. “It's important to embrace the science behind what we do. The creative is important, but it must be supported by rigorous stats.” Indeed, marketing has evolved to the point that science and data are as essential as creative. Marketers today must have a firm understanding of the role data plays in their business, or risk their creative efforts on an audience that's potentially uninterested in their brand.
Even with the ease of access to data, it's simply impossible to know everything about the many intricacies of marketing. So marketers should strive to always be learning. “Always assume you only know 70% of what you're supposed to know,” Paradysz says. “You cannot possibly know everything. You're should be in this constant state of learning. It forces you to be open to thinking and ideas from everywhere.”
Be mindful of overextension
Marketers often attempt to chase their customers across channels—especially new ones that manage to capture people's wandering attention. “New mediums come up all the time. Each year there's a new flavor of the month. Understanding which ones are relevant is tough and the learning curve is steep for some mediums. A lot of math is pointing to a decline in Facebook advertising for instance. You have to be careful,” says Alex Wasserman, co-founder and CEO, TapFwd.
Cultivate writing skills
There's no denying the ubiquity of the Internet and, though visuals certainly have their place, the written word still holds the lion's share of digital content. “Marketers need the ability to craft great stories. Story telling is so important today,” says Carrie Parker, director, American Express OPEN Forum. “Successful marketers need great writing skills.” Marketers who struggle in written communication will also struggle with narrative. After all, it's hard to write a great story with bad writing.
Have keen business sense
“Accountability got a big push during the recession. Being able to prove what the business contribution is is very important now,” says Dimitri Maex, president, OgilvyOne New York. “Marketing is being scrutinized more and more and has had to grow up from a business perspective.” Marketers must be sure their efforts translate to more and better business for their companies. Given the expansive nature of contemporary multichannel campaigns, and the pressure to show a return on marketing investment, wasting money is not an option.
The pressure on legitimate apps to blow out their user bases has spawned a form of quasi-hacking that has become accepted as a bona fide growth strategy. “Growth hacking” is a practice employed by popular networking, gaming, and directions apps such as Glide, Meow, Skout, and Tango, whose terms include permission to send SMS texts to the downloader's entire contact list. And it's a growth strategy that's growing at an alarming rate. A study conducted by security firm AdaptiveMobile discovered mobile players sending 8.5 more invitations per app in the past six months.
“We did the study because we started coming across a lot more complaints from people receiving texts asking them to join an app,” says Cathal McDaid, head of data intelligence and analytics at AdaptiveMobile. “App companies approach it in different ways, but it can be very difficult for installers to avoid texting all of their contacts. And because so many mobile numbers are recycled, people are receiving texts from other people they don't know.”
Glide, a video texting app, and Tango, which allows video calling, are the chief offenders. AdaptiveMobile's investigation uncovered that Glide was responsible for 57% of the SMS invites texted by app companies during February and March. Tango sent 20%. By contrast, WhatsApp, the company acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in February, sent one tenth as many invitations as did Glide. Though Tango allows users to easily opt out of inviting contacts when installing, the app has an “Invite on Activity” feature that leads to invitations being sent when, for instance, a user takes a photo using Tango.
AdaptiveMobile identified 15 apps as being responsible for the majority of the 5 million to 6 million “app-spam” texts sent each day. The explosion of text invitations led Google to update Google Play terms with a condition that apps in the store must not be involved in “unsolicited promotion via SMS” services. More such restrictions are sure to follow.
“The messaging wars are only getting started, and this practice will continue because it's so effective when the text comes from the phone of a friend,” McDaid says. “The thing is, this is an artificial form of growth. To truly grow, apps have to look at giving users value rather than using them as conduits for expansion.”
Bigger isn't always better, especially when marketers are trying to craft succinct Twitter bios that connect with potential customers. The 140-character limit can prove to be daunting for marketers who don't always know which information will lead to follows, engagement, and eventually purchases. There's one thing, however, marketers should know: Twitter bios are a golden opportunity to make direct connections with customers.
“Essentially, if you want to be able to communicate with people, you need to first get them to follow you,” says Jennifer Spivak, managing director of digital marketing firm Social Fulcrum. “The bio is the window into that. That's the sound bite opportunity that you have…to get people to follow you.” She says more engaged followers can equal greater opportunity to market to people interested in your brand. Spivak, along with Likeable Media cofounder and CEO Carrie Kerpen, explain how to market a brand successfully in 140 characters or less.
Include a call-to-action
Twitter bios, Spivak says, should ask customers to take action. Remember, the bio will likely be the first message users see when reading your Twitter page or after getting an email prompted by your follow, should you do so. “Call-to-actions can be [executed] in a variety of ways,” Spivak explains. “Use shortened links at the end of your Twitter bio that have some sort of call-to-action. ‘Visit here,' ‘Sign up here,' ‘Get more updates here,'—whatever you would like the customer to do.” Spivak warns that the call-to-action should be different than the company URL. “You want to get people to accomplish a specific objective, such as sign up for an e-newsletter.” Other call-to-actions can include requests for questions, comments, or ideas coupled with hashtags and your brand's Twitter handle.
Create a brand persona
Likeable Media's Kerpen reminds marketers that Twitter is—at its core—a one-to-one medium; people are looking to have personal conversations. Kerpen says creating a persona in your bio and then weaving it into your feed can create personal connections. “Remember, it's one person engaging with another person via 140 characters,” Kerpen says. “Typically when you're talking to people, you wouldn't want to have a conversation with a logo.” She cites Twitter accounts, such as DKNY, that use personal avatars representing the brand, rather than company logos. “It's a much more human touch.”
Speak the Twitter language
Each social media platform has its own culture and nuances—and Twitter is no different. One of the most effective marketing strategies, Spivak says, is to use specific Twitter language in your bios. “Don't use your standard [company] tagline or bio. Be native to the platform.” She encourages marketers to use the short, perhaps funny, even snarky language often used on Twitter—if it suits the brand. Include searchable hashtags, at symbols, and trends. “That small change [in your Twitter bio] can communicate to people, ‘We understand Twitter, and we're speaking the language.' Find ways to make your bio Twitter-specific.”
Get specific about your products and interests
Ultimately, Twitter bios are designed to get to the point. “The best Twitter bios are the ones that succinctly say who you are, what you do, and what you tweet about,” Kerpen says. She explains that if someone's going to follow or engage with your brand, they care much more about what types of things you tweet about, not company missions. Essentially, Kerpens says, marketers should bullet point the things their brand chats about on Twitter, and eventually the like-minded will follow. “Spelling out exactly what you tweet about will be more much effective [in gaining followers and boosting engagement.]”
There's almost nothing a consumer is better at than sniffing out brand hypocrisy like old garbage in a landfill and then complaining about it on Twitter. Consumers can tell if you're green-washing, and you don't want to be at the receiving end of an #earthdayfail.
But there's an easy solution and it goes something like this: Be authentic and engage in true corporate social responsibility that makes sense for your company, and consumers are likely to respond positively.
In other words, brands need to focus on “‘being green' rather than ‘talking green,'” says Denise Delahorne, SVP and group strategy director at DDB U.S., which released its annual “Life Style Study” today, delving into behavioral and attitudinal predictors of “green living.”
“There's nothing worse than espousing ‘green' in messaging and then having the public find out that a company is doing something environmentally irresponsible, like contaminating resources with production byproducts or waste,” Delahorne says.
Dawn dish soap, for example, was one brand that suffered some backlash after its self-appointment as savior of adorable tiny crude-covered animals following the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast in 2010.
It's crucial for brands to keep their behavior in line with their messaging—something Italian automaker Fiat really gets, and the welcome kit it created for its new zero emissions electric 500e proves it. The kits, developed with help from Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, are recyclable, of course—but that's not the really cool part. The stock is actually made from sustainable seed-infused paper.
Fiat owners, who were encouraged to download the Fiat 500e Owner App or download a digital version of the kit, could actually take their brochures once they were finished with them and plant the paper for a crop of orange poppies—which represented both the primary paint color of the car and the state flower of California—the only state where the 500e is currently available. Thirty-six percent of owners who received the seed mailer accessed the digital welcome kit.
“Fiat 500e owners expect Fiat to be as environmentally conscious as possible while still imparting the details needed to have an optimal owner experience,” says Casey Hurbis, head of communications at Fiat North America. “We knew we needed to find a clever and memorable way to deliver key messages while staying true to our customers' expectations.”
But the poppy mailer isn't just a one-off thing for fuel-efficient Fiat; the brand tries to embrace a green ethos in everything it does, from the “Into the Green” charity auction it hosted in conjunction with the Motion Pictures Television Find last October, to environmentallysexy.com, a matchmaking site of sorts that helps California consumers find the best Fiat to meet their needs.
Green thinking is also a year-round thing for LA-based creative agency David&Goliath, which launched an initiative last fall to get its employees to stop using paper coffee cups (apparently four discarded paper cups produce one pound of C02 emissions!!) by offering a more environmentally friendly option—Defiance Club mugs. (David&Goliath, if you're reading this, please send me one. I think my 2-cups a day bodega coffee habit is killing the environment.) To support its effort, D&G created and hung posters made entirely from used paper that was lying around the office.
Another brand that gets it is garbage bag manufacturer Glad, which commissioned the eye-opening “Waste in Focus” photo series from award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D'Aluisio, who went into the homes of eight diverse families across the U.S. to examine what trash they were recycling, what they were composting, and what was getting sent off to the landfill. (Check out the slideshow up top for some examples from the series.)
For David&Goliath, Fiat, and Glad, green makes sense because they did it right. For others, well…
Going green can be rewarding—but it's a path littered with potential pitfalls. If you're considering adding a little green to your strategy this Earth Day or next, bear in mind these tips before you get started:
Do be authentic. “In this day and age, it's virtually impossible for a brand or agency to do anything that reeks of BS without being called out for doing so,” says David Angelo, founder and chief creative officer of David&Goliath. “Thanks to the infinite power of social media, a consumer's megaphone is now sometimes more powerful than that of a brand.”
Don't be gimmicky. “It isn't as much about capitalizing on official days as it is about understand your customer's personality and the type of content that's most relevant to them,” says Andrea Marcaccio, group account director at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. “The most successful content marketers are those who first develop content that's true to the brand and is guided by consumer insights—and then find contextually relevant milestones to tie that content to.”
Do know what you're getting yourself into. “If a company want to message around being green,” says DDB's Delahorne, “they'd better be in it with their boots on and prepared for the scrutiny it invites.”
Today's marketers often struggle to keep pace with their multichannel consumers. The intense pressure to be where the consumer is at all times can lure marketers into batch-and-blast approaches. But when marketers don't provide customers with relevance—by delivering the right message, to the right consumer, in the right place, at the right time—they can become out-of-step with the customer journey and miss an opportunity to drive potential buyers further through the purchase funnel.
Athletic footwear retailer Finish Line partnered with marketing automation platform provider Smarter Remarketer to drive relevancy across channels through its remarketing efforts.
Finish Line started using Smarter Remarketer three years ago for its automated email remarketing programs, such as for abandoned carts. After growing its audience size and driving more personalization, Finish Line expanded its relationship with the marketing automation provider to more closely monitor customer behavior across channels; for example, through browse-and-abandon campaigns, says Aaron Buchanan, Finish Line's digital personalization manager.
In one case Finish Line conducted a back-to-school campaign in which the brand tagged its website to monitor how consumers engaged with landing pages designed for specific segments. Angel Morales, founder and chief innovation officer of Smarter Remarketer, describes the landing pages served as digital “lookbooks” containing outfits with various athletic shoe and apparel combinations. Determining which looks and products consumers showed an interest in allowed Finish Line to remarket to them by featuring those same looks in its emails. Buchanan says that this form of remarketing drove a “considerable” lift in conversion for the brand.
Based on Finish Line's previous success with email remarketing, Buchanan wanted to see if the same tactics could be applied to Facebook advertising. Although Buchanan says that Finish Line's Facebook display ads had performed “fairly well” in the past, he wanted to see if he could make the ads more relevant to consumers.
So, about nine months ago Buchanan decided to run a test. He looked at specific site behaviors—such as consumers interacting with the women's running shoes and apparel—and extracted a list from Smarter Remarketer that specifically identified consumers engaged in that category. Then, Buchanan sent that list to Facebook. The social network fed the list into its Lookalike Audience and, based on modeling, extended Finish Line's ad reach to consumers who looked similar, shared similar interests, or liked similar brands. For instance, to promote Adidas's launch of the Springblade running shoe, Finish Line set its Facebook ads to display only to running fans, rather than basketball fans, Buchanan explains.
“A lot of retailers run ads on Facebook and they're not really targeted,” he says. “Our intention was [to] be as relevant and as engaging as possible and [to] honor the experience that customers are already having on our site by continuing it on Facebook so that we have a much more relevant, engaging, and ultimately, more profitable relationship with our Facebook fan.”
Finish Line has seen a “considerable” lift in conversion since it started using Smarter Remarketer to retarget via Facebook, Buchanan says, and the brand is seeing about a nine-time return on ad spend, compared to a previous four- to six-time return. In addition, Smarter Remarketer was so impressed with Finish Line's use of Facebook that the company decided to build a full Facebook integration suite.
Smarter Remarketer's Morales attributes Finish Line's success to its understanding of “who” and “what.” Because the retailer was able to identify who was looking at its products (e.g., highly engaged running fans), as well as what their actions were (e.g., checking out a new shoe collection online) the brand was able to clearly define its targets and engage in a conversation with them, Morales explains. Having a specific definition also enabled Finish Line to extend its customer base by finding consumers who resembled the specific segments, he says.
“It's the age-old saying, relevance drives revenue,” Morales says, “and it's true no matter where we are.”
Buchanan encourages marketers not to simply use Facebook as a “megaphone” for their brands. Similarly, Morales says that if a brand isn't gleaning success from Facebook, it's not because the social network doesn't work—it's because the marketer isn't putting in enough work for Facebook.
“Facebook isn't about having a conversation about your business,” Morales says. “Facebook is about facilitating a conversation people want to have.”
Marketers today enjoy an unprecedented technological advantage in delivering the right messages to the right people. At the same time, the world is enjoying a period of unbidden technological innovation, constantly disrupting whatever edge marketers gain in their constant pursuit of the consumer. Conference panel discussions and board meetings are filled with novel ideas on ways to address the issue, but perhaps novelty is the wrong approach entirely. Rather than continually conjure “wow- esque” ideas, marketers should focus instead on executing ideas, argues author and marketing consultant Kevin Kelly (see below).
In his recently released book DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, Kelly explores the stories surrounding marketers and businessmen who found success despite challenges such as lack of funding or industry knowledge. Here, Kelly explains just what exceptional execution is and how marketers can work toward achieving it in their business.
What exactly is an “exceptionally executed” idea?
Most people think they have to wait for an apple to fall from a tree or levitate like a yogi to come up with a “wow” idea. The reality is it's not about having a “wow” idea; it's about exceptional execution of any idea. I talked to the CEOs of start-ups like Outfit 7 and Globent and found that most of these people didn't have a new idea or a compelling business plan, didn't have money, and didn't have insider knowledge. What they had was exceptional execution. For example, Ben Milne, the CEO of Dwolla, started in the financial industry with zero background. He actually owned a company that sold audio speakers and at the end of each year he saw $55,000 in credit card fees. He was wondering how he could mitigate it. He found his answer by starting Dwolla and the rest is history. There's billions of dollars going through his system already.
If not unique ideas, what does it take to be an exceptional marketer?
There are two elements to exceptional execution and it doesn't matter what the discipline is. The first is self-awareness and the second is attention. Understanding yourself, your fears, understanding what failure really is. All the exceptionalists I speak with [such as Milne] had a strategy around the fear of failure. Fear of failure is the number one thing worldwide that prevents people from setting up a business. We all have fears. I don't buy the theory that you can just smash these fears or move them to the side. You need to psychologically understand the sources of your fears and move with them. You also need to understand gut and intuition.
What about attention?
Attention is at the forefront of an exceptional execution strategy. Recognize [that] even satisfied customers will leave. As a marketer you need to pay attention to the business and understand that the concept of a customer is dead. Your focus should be on building friendships, not customer relationships. I don't mean social media friendships. I mean quality, authentic relationships. As marketers we're always looking for the next big thing; the next edge. Well, listening could be the next frontier, as it were. Clearly, we're having problems with this. As people who want to develop their business, marketers have to be aware that attention is an absolute. It's a very rare commodity at the moment. If you can build a strategy around delivering quality, authentic attention and listening that, on its own, could be your exceptional execution edge.
Sounds like it'd be tough to get an entire company on board with this. How should marketers go about convincing colleagues of the importance of this?
You can't change anyone but yourself. You can, however, take the trip toward exceptional awareness yourself. Forget about everybody else for a second because you need to focus on self-awareness. It is, after all, self-awareness. It's not just about the one person making this move, clearly. But, again, it has to be the one person. It's all about the culture in which you work. If the leaders are on board with these key messages [they] can create a culture around it. If the top is disconnected from the middle and the bottom then there's a problem. The middle and bottom can be as excited about this as they like, but at the end of the day they're going to hit the ceiling.
Not every marketer likes the taste of change. But relying on time-honored tactics can sometimes make marketing strategies seem a bit moldy. Président Cheese relied on television advertising for about 35 years. However, the specialty cheese brand realized that—unlike a vintage cheddar—not all marketing channels get better with age.
“Our biggest frustration was that you only talk about one product for 15 or 30 seconds,” says Karine Blake, marketing director for parent company Lactalis American Group. “But here in specialty cheeses, there's so much education to be done [and] so [many] stories and romance to be told.”
So, the brand abandoned television advertising in 2011. Seeking a riper, more interactive channel, Président began dabbling in digital. The cheese connoisseur launched its latest interactive initiative, The Art of Cheese, at the beginning of April and broadened its digital palate into social. This new digital-social flavor combination enables the brand to help educate consumers about the specialty cheese category and drive engagement.
Getting a Gouda-mount of data
Transitioning from traditional to digital media wasn't the only challenge Président faced in recent years. After conducting a series of focus groups and shopper observation studies, the cheese brand discovered that many consumers felt overwhelmed by the specialty cheese category.
“Not only are they intimidated by the product itself—because the tastes are very foreign and they're not familiar with them—but they're also intimated by the shelf,” Blake says. “When they get to the store and they look in the specialty cheese section, it's usually cluttered [and] disorganized. Many products from many different origins and categories are mixed together, and it's hard to distinguish what you really need and what you're really going to like.”
Offering a wide selection
Keeping this information in mind, Président created the Art of Cheese campaign to guide consumers through the specialty cheese experience. The hub of the campaign is the Art of Cheese website, which includes a selection of contests, coupons, and mouth-watering images and product information. The site also features recipes and entertaining ideas from popular bloggers. Not only do bloggers extend the reach of Président's content, but they also provide a sense of authenticity and consumer trust.
“People can relate more because the stories are real and they can go make those dishes and recipes at home,” says Laure Habbouse, senior marketing manager for Lactalis American Group.
In addition to the site, Président is promoting the Art of Cheese campaign through search and paid media, including featuring banner ads on its retailers' site, as well as lifestyle and food websites.
Wheeling into social
Président added other new flavors to its marketing mix by partnering with HUGE and launching Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts. Although this is the first time Président has leveraged Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, the brand has dabbled with Facebook in the past, Blake says. It's past Facebook foray included launching the Skinny Cheese Facebook page—a source for fat-free cheese recipes and education—in 2011. Now, the brand promotes the entire specialty cheese category across its website and social channels and engages more with consumers, Blake says. In fact, it's this interactivity that inspired Président to dive deeper into the social realm.
“We don't think consumers want to hear from the brand,” Blake says. “They actually want to own the brand, own the products, and make it their own.”
Président's Web and social content enables the brand to convey the versatility and visual appeal of its products. However, Blake says that the brand has to strike a balance between portraying delicious recipe images and coming off as intimidating.
“We didn't want [the pictures] to look like paintings in a museum. We wanted them to be real,” Blake says. “[We] don't want it to look so beautiful that the consumers didn't want to touch it...We want people to think it's actually easy, versatile, approachable, but so beautiful that you want to eat it.”
Although Blake declined to share the initial results of the campaign, she says that the brand has been “overwhelmed” in terms of consumer response. According to the brand's social pages, Président has accumulated 137 Facebook followers, 132 Pinterest followers, 81 Instagram followers, and 51 Twitter followers so far. And while the brand's results are somewhat pungent at the moment, Blake says the brand will track a range of metrics—including sales, awareness, and impressions—as the campaign runs throughout Président's peak seasons of Easter, summer, and the winter holidays.
“It's not tracking for the sake of making sure that everything is going easily,” Blake says. “It's making sure that we're having the right attitude about morphing and moving.”
But perhaps the lessons Président has tasted so far are more savory than the initial results. For example, learning to relinquish control in the digital world is one lesson that has left a permanent aftertaste. “TV is very directive [and] it's very one-way: This is our message, this is how we're going to say it, take it or leave it,” Blake says. “Once you decide to go digital and to work with different partners...you have to be comfortable with who you are, know exactly who you are, and just let go.”
YouTube is like a teeming, swarming Petri dish of potential viral gold—the question is: How can brands tap into it?
Gone are the days (if they ever existed) of pure experimentation. “Let's just post this video and see what happens?
It's not that earned media is dead—it's just been replaced, in most cases, by science.
“How often does a viral video result in the audience you want to reach actually seeing it?” says Mike Henry, CEO of Outrigger Media, a company that works to connect brands with relevant, meaningful video content. “I have nothing against brands producing cool video content that creates water cooler chatter in the moment—but should that even be the goal for brands in terms of their creation or sponsorship of content?”
Of course, there are those amazing breakout hits that take the Internet by storm, but re-creating ‘What Does the Fox Say' for your cereal brand is fairly pointless. Not only is that kind of momentum hard to get—it probably won't move the needle for your brand, anyway. Rather than focusing on going viral, brands should focus on being relevant. It's the difference between five million random people watching your video but not buying anything—and targeting fewer people with the highest likelihood to be truly interested and take action.
One way to do this is to unearth—and then partner with and capitalize on—up-and-coming talent on YouTube, whether that means co-creation of content or strategic pre-roll. Outrigger's OpenSlate platform, for example, analyzes the nature and quality of more than 150,000 YouTube channels and roughly 70 million videos with the aim of “demystifying YouTube for brand advertisers.” Outrigger partnered with DigitasLBi last year to use OpenSlate data for the agency's “Emerging Talent Tracker,” a tool that looks to identify the next big YouTube stars with the highest potential for growth, reach, momentum, and influence.
It's science over magic, Henry says.
“If you want to sell sneakers, find the next up-and-coming basketball channel on YouTube and get together with their program in a legitimate, organic way,” Henry says. “That way, you get to be a part of their growth over time, not virally, but consistently.”
YouTube “weblebrities“ (if you will) can be a good investment. They're more affordable than big name celebrities, they have extremely loyal audiences, and they have truly authentic voices. “There's a way to break down predicting virality into a science,” says Michael Fasciano, associate director of the Social.Content division at DigitasLBi. “But good video is also about connecting with consumers in an emotional manner.”
Speaking of which, here are some examples of YouTube stars on the rise:
Just like with any relationship, the bond between a client and its agency takes work. It doesn't matter if love brought them together at the beginning, someone's going to leave the toilet seat up one too many times and the animosity will slowly build (if not dealt with) to the point of no return.
‘Why can't we all just get along?' isn't a rhetorical question, and the answer mostly has to do with communication—or, to be more precise, the lack thereof. Without total transparency and clear lines of communication, clients don't know what to expect and agencies fall back on what Richard Whitehead, AtTask's senior GTM director for marketing solutions, refers to as “the illusion of productivity.”
If clients don't establish the right expectations on project updates from the get-go and don't demand standardization in how their agency's creative team manages and tracks work, visibility breaks down and clients start hearing certain unproductive phrases that act as roadblocks standing squarely in the way of fluid, transparent dialogue between marketers and their creative teams.
Whitehead puts it more succinctly: “Give me accuracy, don't give me fallacy.”
Creatives, perhaps because they're really busy or don't want to admit they don't know the answer to something, will often utter meaningless buzzwords that drive their brand clients up a wall. But more important, these clichés mask a deeper, systemic problem—a reticence to tell the truth out of fear of losing business. And that just leads to ‘meh' work.
But, as it turns out, ‘Do I look fat in this?' is not a trick question. Clients want to be told the truth; to engage in a frank discussion that moves the work forward in a truly productive way. Mitel CMO Martyn Etherington has experienced the opposite firsthand, and he doesn't mince words about how it makes him feel.
“Instead of saying, ‘I don't know,' they'll go on and on with platitudes—but I'd rather be told that my ideas suck, I'd rather have someone with a point-of-view than be told what they think I want to hear,” Etherington says. “Many agencies today are unwilling to potentially upset, unnerve, or challenge the customer or the client, so they end up giving you something way more vanilla that what you need or are looking for.”
Another thing that gets Etherington's goat is when agencies insist on “the big reveal.” If there's one thing marketers don't like, it's surprises at zero hour. “Make me a part of the process and bring us along for the ride,” Etherington says. “That gives me the chance to evaluate what you're doing with our number one constituent: the customer.”
Situations like that are one reason why some brands are moving away from AORs and retainers and moving towards internal creative teams, where information sharing is baked right into the collaborative process.
“We're bringing more and more of the creative work in-house,” Etherington says. “Or we tend to work with boutique agencies that go deep with wide knowledge in a few areas, because we don't have that in-house yet or what we do have is embryonic in terms of technology right now.”
Agencies should be aware that marketers are looking for a holistic approach that includes testing, metrics, and decisions based on meaningful data—not creativity for creativity's sake.
“They would get more of my business if they'd tell me and my team that we're wrong based on facts and data,” Etherington says. “Many creatives seems to forget that they're actually supposed to be selling something and that they're in the business of creating and keeping customers.”
In other words, good marketing should be creative—but it also needs to be data-driven.
“You'll often hear all about ROI at the opening pitch,” Etherington says. “But in answer to our next question—'Can you demonstrate how you achieved ROI for your client and what's the anticipated ROI for this project?'—all you get is talk.”
That's just a taste. Tune in on April 30 to watch the free webcast “5 Unproductive Phrases Creatives Say and How to Avoid Them, Part 2: 'It's 80% Done.'” Richard Whitehead and Martyn Etherington will be on hand to answer all your questions. Click here to register.
Sponsored by AtTask in conjunction with its webcast.
To succeed in today's competitive marketing landscape, brands must be customer obsessed. No longer can they simply choose a message and then blast a campaign. Rather customers are choosing, and sharing, their own messages and content, and, essentially, are helping to craft campaigns—with everything from tweets to blogs to videos. “We are in the age of the customer,” said David Cooperstein , VP, research director, for Forrester Research, at the company's Forum for Marketing Leaders in San Francisco. “And how well you serve them will determine your success.” He said it's simple: Brands that focus solely on company goals, not customers, will be left behind.
At the event, Cooperstein shared how marketers can move beyond traditional messages to customer-centric campaigns.
Create content, not advertising.
Less than 25% of customers trust offline ads, Cooperstein explained to an audience of more than 900 attendees. And less than 20% of consumers say they trust digital ads. The chief researcher said these numbers show that marketers must go beyond broadcasting a campaign and interact with customers. “Instead provide an incentive to engage,” Cooperstein said. He cited examples such as foodie and beauty apps that reveal users' favorite flavors or colors as they submit more information about themselves. These type of campaigns, he said, drive engagement and educate marketers about their audiences.
Understand that customers call the shots.
It's the customer who chooses how to receive a message—not marketers, Cooperstein says. “Customers choose their routes to you,” he explained. “Serve the customer in the way they want to connect to you.” He said that media has changed from traditional broadcasting—including TV spots and radio ads—and has evolved into shared images, check-ins, and texts. Branding should change as media and technology change if marketers want to produce the most relevant campaigns. “Know how [customers] consume content'” Cooperstein said.
Give customers an experience, not a campaign.
Marketing is not about a brand's message, but rather interactions, engagement, customer moments, and value, Cooperstein added. He said all of these elements will give customers context about the relevancy of a product or service in their lives. “Context must be embedded in all customer experiences,” he explained, adding that context isn't provided through simply populating a name field or other simple personalization methods. He recommended that marketers focus on the buyer's journey and said the purpose of a campaign should be to spark interaction through the entire customer lifecycle. “Brands and experience are inseparable,” Cooperstein said.
With all of this interaction, comes consumer insights. Cooperstein noted that marketers can use new understanding to craft campaigns that serve, win, and retain customers. “With insights, you can look at your business through your customers' context.” He adds that context will ultimately bridge the gap between marketing and customer experience. “Marketers can't build their campaigns in a vacuum,” he says. “Customer data—and, most of all, insights—should fuel the engine.”
Marketing is a fast and fluid field, one that's especially susceptible to the transient nature of digital technology. Young, aspiring marketers looking to transition from the classroom to the office were raised in the midst of this technological renaissance, giving them an almost inherit level of digital savvy and comfort. This tech savvy will become more essential. However, college teaches only so much about business strategy and but an inkling of the role data plays in contemporary marketing.
Marketers need mentors—especially marketers just beginning their careers. Indeed, mentors are helpful in any business, but seasoned mentors can help new marketers realize the stability among the flux. “Marketing is a fast moving industry that often reinvents itself,” says Dimitri Maex, president, OgilvyOne New York.
Maex, along with five other top marketers, was recently announced as a recipient Marketing EDGE's Rising Star Award. The award annually acknowledges leaders in marketing education. “For young employees to have someone experienced to talk to, someone who can help them see which changes are truly substantial and impactful, it's important.” Maex says.
Of course, the benefits of marketing mentorships extend both ways. As mentees gain context and learn the tricks of the trade, mentors keep abreast of the changes in their world through the eyes of new marketers.
Here, Maex and several other Marketing EDGE Rising Stars explain ways mentoring can have positive effect outside of what may seem obvious, while touching on ways both mentors and mentees can work to keep the relationship equal parts healthy and beneficial.
As we head into what is sure to be a contentious midterm election season, with Republicans staging an aggressive assault on the Senate and Democrats facing an uphill battle to win back the House, we're happy to report some bipartisan activism on behalf of the marketing teams of this November's candidates. Targeted Victory and Well & Lighthouse—digital strategists for Republicans and Democrats, respectively—teamed up recently to poll likely voters and found that 29% hadn't watched television in the previous week. Yet TV is where the lion's share of candidate's media budgets go. Targeted Victory estimates that 80% of the budgets of the senatorial and gubernatorial candidates it represents is spent on earned media, and 75% of that is committed to TV.
“You can't go into election day with one out of three voters not having seen your message and think you've done your job,” says Targeted Victory cofounder Zac Moffatt, who was digital director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and whose agency is currently working the campaigns of Congressman Paul Ryan in Wisconsin and the gubernatorial runs of Greg Abbott in Texas and Susana Martinez in New Mexico.
Less than half of the 800 voters polled said live TV was their primary medium for watching video content. In total, voters reported spending only 10.2 hours a week watching TV. They spent 12.1 hours viewing content on alternative channels such as desktops, mobile devices, and DVR.
Still, most media directors for candidates for statewide office are focused on obtaining a minimum number of Gross Ratings Points via TV buys, Moffatt says. “In the special elections in Florida last year you saw candidates buying the entire DMAs to essentially reach 10% of likely voters,” he says. “And because 50% of Florida voters cast their votes before election day, only 5% of voters were reached by their final TV push.”
But many campaigns are forward-thinking, and looking for high-end data analytics to divine where their media funds will do the best job for them. “Everybody's talking about data analytics; that's why we have 85 people at Targeted Victory and are growing,” Moffatt says. “Our director of data science is from Marriott, our data warehousing director is from Millennial Media.”
Personalization and segmentation are the by-words for electoral marketers entering this year's midterm battles, and Moffatt is leaning more toward email than social channels to get it done. “Email is the most powerful fundraising tool. It's 50 to 55 percent of our online activity. We have a 20-person email team,” he says. “The challenge with content marketing is that it's hard to put together a big enough team to do it well. Direct mail works well as a fundraising mechanism, but you can't scale it beyond a certain point in time.”
Scale is also a challenge for candidates' social media campaigns. “There are limited resources. How do you activate people and how do you respond to them?” Moffatt says.
One old political factor remains a constant in statewide elections, Moffatt says, and that is that the incumbent holds a big advantage going in. However, the 2013 midterm elections could see some sitting senators and governors having their traditional campaigns upended by digitally attuned upstarts. “Challengers can do much bigger things if they can try more alternative methods,” Moffatt says.
I was raised Catholic. So when I came across this ad by online investment platform Kapitall, I couldn't help but feel a little offended.
The video is one of five ads Kapitall launched last week featuring “revolutionary” spokespeople. Other historical endorsers of the “next generation” investing tool include Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Che Guevara, and Leonardo Da Vinci.
I checked the date of the campaign's press release and saw that it was issued on April 1. “OK,” I thought. “It's a gag ad.” But an official tweet and confirmation from the brand's PR team assured me that the crucifixion puns were real.
I wondered if other consumers took offense the way I did or if I was just being oversensitive (this is the girl who cried during Air Bud, after all). After checking the brand's Facebook page, I found consumer sentiment to be rather polarized. While some consumers threatened to close their Kapitall accounts, others “liked” the ad and found those insulted to be “a bit sensitive.”
So what exactly was Kapitall going for? From the brand's perspective, Pascal Ehrsam, CMO of Kapitall, says that the financial services company wanted to create a campaign that solidified the brand's platform, drove awareness, and highlighted its value proposition of providing investment resources for all. But when the brand's creative agency SWELL suggested using Jesus as the first Kapitallist, Ehrsam—who identifies as Christian—says that he was “a little taken aback.”
“I'm religious and the idea of using someone that has so much meaning made me uncomfortable,” he says. “But the agency did a great job convincing me and the team that they would do things in a respectable way and that the goal was really to say that Jesus was one of the first revolutionaries and he's endorsing the campaign or the platform.”
However, William Miesmer, senior account and brand strategy manager for SWELL, says that the creative agency presented the concept to several Kapitall and SWELL employees before pursuing the idea. When compiling the campaign's “motley crew,” Miesmer—who's not “extremely religious”—says that the companies wanted to respect the revolutionaries without making them seem “too sober.”
“We really wanted to treat it more as addressing Jesus' status as a revolutionary icon than as a religious figure,” he notes. “That may be, to an extent, wishful thinking....We knew that we were stepping into slightly dicey territory. But at the same time, we felt that we could handle it lightly and that's what we strove to do. I feel like we achieved it.”
Despite the mixed feelings, Kapitall went on to launch its omnichannel initiative at the beginning of April. The campaign, which will run throughout the summer and have a second phase in the fall, will run on Facebook, Gawker Network, Google+, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube. The brand will also leverage programmatic buying to better reach its millennial target, Ehrsam says. And by the end of the first phase, Kapitall hopes to reach 50 million unique impressions.
II) A great debate
With the campaign now underway, one question remains: Was Kapitall's Jesus spot controversial or was it just entertaining? The answer seems to be neither.
In terms of controversy, Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, says that the “sacrilegious” ad may offend some people of faith. However, he says that this segment isn't likely to raise any hell, so to speak. “They might remark that it's really inappropriate or something like that,” says Perner, who's agnostic.
On the other hand, some consumers enjoy the ad for the same reason others were offended by it, he says. The ad makes light of a caricature of Jesus, rather than the religious figure, notes Dan Gould—a cultural strategist for trend-tracking agency sparks & honey. “It's not directly saying that anything is wrong with him,” says Gould, who isn't religious.
But just because a consumer likes an ad, that doesn't mean he's a brand loyalist.
“These consumers will hold nothing against your brand later on,” Perner says, “but I don't see them as being people who would shift in business just because you ran a funny ad at one point.”
Whether consumers found the spot funny or foul, the initial results suggest that the spot isn't controversial--mainly because no one seems to be talking about the ad. There are less than 10 comments on the brand's Facebook page, and the video has garnered slightly more than 2,200 views—not exactly hot-button figures.
As for being entertaining, there's no denying that Kapitall was trying to draw eyeballs with its Jesus endorsement. However, Perner describes the spot as “underwhelming” and Gould says Kapitall's attempt to leverage the “shock” factor actually cheapened its product.
“The product is supposed to be fun, [and] it's a different kind of note than being shocking, offensive, or weird,” he says. “It seems out of synch with the DNA of the company.”
III) The aftermath
So how did Kapitall react to consumers' responses—or lack thereof? Since launching the campaign, Kapitall has apologized to offended consumers, as well as removed the “revolutionary” campaign material from its homepage; although the spots still reside on YouTube. Kapitall's Ehrsam partially attributes this decision to testing results and partially to campaign response.
“We felt that there was no need to create more anxiety or discomfort,” he says.
IV) Lessons learned
Looking back over the course of the campaign's development there are a few things Kapitall could have done better. For starters, the brand could have more extensively researched how the campaign would resonate with its millennial audience. Ehrsam says that Kapitall conducted “informal” campaign testing—meaning that it looked at how its mostly millennial marketing team reacted. But according to sparks & honey's Gould, brands need to be more thorough. Specifically, he advises companies to practice social and cultural listening, as well as understand their target's demographic and cultural makeup.
Taking further control of the campaign's messaging and creative also would have been beneficial. Although including Jesus may have been the agency's idea, according to Ehrsam, it's the brand's name and reputation that's on the line. Hence, it's important for brands to be clear in what their objectives are and assert themselves when agencies aren't headed in the right direction.
“In any client-agency relationship, there's a little bit of a pull and push,” Ehrsam says. “We went through a couple of layers and we negotiated through it. As the client, we want to be comfortable with not pushing it too far. And as the agency, they always pushed it a little further. I think that it was a healthy exercise that we went through.”
Finally, Kapitall needed to evaluate if running a potentially controversial spot would be the most effective way to reach its goals. Teetering between funny and offensive is a major gamble—one in which the losses far outweigh the gains, USC's Perner notes. On the one hand, sparking controversy can generate a good deal of secondary media and social coverage, which is particularly beneficial for brands with limited budgets, he says. And in the current fast-moving environment, it's easy for the brands of today to quickly become yesterday's news. In some cases, however, a brand that successfully embraced a hot-button topic may not know how to trump itself and run something with as much luster in the future, he points out.
On the other hand, sparking controversy with marketing also can cause brands to lose customers or end up with less valuable ones. “It's a really risky approach,” Perner notes.
All in all, Kapitall's campaign seems like a bit of flop. Was the spot offensive? It depends on who you ask. But was it controversial? Not really. Entertaining? Maybe to some, but not based on the figures. It looks like the only thing that can save Kapitall's campaign now is a true miracle.
What did you think of Kapitall's campaign? Did you ever run a controversial campaign? Tell us below.
How patient are you? Let's toss a few scenarios out there:
1. You have to stand around for 20 minutes waiting for the subway
2. You have to wait 15 minutes for service at a restaurant
3. You have to stand in line for 5 minutes at the drug store
4. You have to wait for 1 minute for the traffic light to turn green
5. You want to buy a pair of shoes online and the mobile website you're trying to look at takes more than one second to load
No matter how patient you are—you may even be the Buddha reincarnate—if the site you're trying to check out on your phone doesn't load in the time it would take you to take one deep breath, you've probably already bounced.
“If it takes more than half a second for your website to load, you lose half of your visitors,” says Kirby Wadsworth, CMO of Limelight Networks and coauthor of Recommend This Book: Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share. “And if it goes up to a whole second? You're going to see a 20% drop off in sales and traffic over time.”
Consumers don't take well to being rebuffed by buffering. They get irritated quickly and head off to check out the competition. It's not totally their fault, though—they've been trained in their petulance. Wadsworth calls it a case of “reverse Pavlov's dog” syndrome. Dogs were trained to recognize that a ringing bell meant food; consumers are trained to expect that a website isn't going to load at all if it doesn't load immediately.
“That reaction is a cultural learned norm and part of it has to do with a lack of definitive feedback,” he says. “We've all been burned by bad experiences when we've waited and a site never loaded; so, now our patience level has become miniscule.”
Consider the fact that Amazon has said that for every 100 millisecond increase in load time, it experiences a 1% sales decrease. That's one-tenth of a second.
“We're getting worse and worse,” Wadsworth says. “It used to be visitors would wait a few seconds before getting frustrated and now we're down to one-tenth of a single second—in as long as it takes you to blink your eyes, people are starting to tap their phones in utter frustration.”
While it may be somewhat irrational to expect your smartphone, as amazing as it is, to be as fast and work as powerfully as a desktop—that's what people demand. And as consumers increasingly use their smartphones as their primary vehicle for interacting with the Web, marketers are just going to have to scramble to deliver.
But herein lies the rub: Mobile sites are so packed with rich multimedia, video, and personalized content—the content consumers expect—that they're slower than a less personalized, less dynamic site would be. In an effort to attract consumers, marketers are pushing those self-same consumers onto the competition. Joseph Heller would like that one.
“Unrealistic expectations have increased the density of the content brands are trying to put out there; images have been replaced by much richer content that sucks up more bandwidth and requires more infrastructure,” Wadsworth says. “Of course, nobody buys anything without checking the Internet first, so brands do need to have all these elements if they want to be effective in business.”
What it comes down to is investment: If you want to provide consumers with a snappy mobile experience, consider putting a little money into a content delivery network—because this isn't just a B2C issue. These days, difference between B2C and B2B buying behavior is practically nil.
“A business buyer is a consumer,” Wadsworth says. “And no one is going to put up with a slow commercial website.”
There's a major demographic shift happening in the United States—one that marketers can't afford to ignore: The millennial generation is an estimated 86 million strong in the U.S., and these 18- to 33-year-olds are already making an impact on the social, political, and financial scenes. Accounting for nearly $1.3 trillion dollars annually in consumer spending, according to the Boston Consulting Group, millennials are demanding the attention of marketers across multiple industries.
Norty Cohen, founder and CEO of digital ad firm Moosylvania, says the challenge for marketers is to bust past the myths about millennials and make true—potentially lucrative—connections. “Every part of a brand's personality needs to come across as being genuine, real, and connected to the same things that millennials are interested in,” Cohen explains. He urges marketers not to make assumptions and to stay away from traditional messaging—which he describes as campaigns that only disseminate messages and don't tap into the zeitgeist of young consumers. “This is a generation that grew up digitally savvy with a constant slew of messages thrown at them. So there's no singular message that's going to connect with them as they multitask on multiple screens.”
Cohen says although there's no cookie-cutter method for marketing to millennials, dispelling some common myths will produce campaigns that resonate with this generation. Here, the digital strategist dispels four millennial marketing myths.
Myth: Millennials purchase on a whim.
The facts: There's no doubt this generation of young adults is dealing with some hard financial realities. Millennials are more burdened by financial hardships than the two previous generations—with higher levels of student loan debt, perpetually inflated unemployment rates, and lower levels of personal wealth. With so much financial pressure, millennials tend to research before they purchase. “Marketers can tap into this group with the ability to give them simple pleasures that don't cost much,” Cohen says. “Look at brands like Starbucks, Gap, Walmart, and even Kroger—all named top brands by this generation. Marketers at those retailers are finding ways to connect and tap into what money millennials do have.”
Myth: Millennials are easy to win over.
The facts: A recent study on millennials by the Pew Research Center reports this generation is less trusting than older Americans—with just 19% saying that most people can be trusted, compared to 31% of Gen Xers and 40% of Baby Boomers. That more cautious attitude can also extend to brands. Cohen says marketers can break down the barriers through real connections. “They know when they're being marketed to and when they're being friended,” Cohen says. “Millennials will often stay loyal to brands that aren't necessarily the most famous but brands that connect to them. If you're able to cross the friendship line, the brand affinity is tremendous.”
Myth: Millennials are independent buyers.
The facts: Cohen says 85% of millennials in a Moosylvania nationwide survey of 1,000 people reported that they live with someone else—including parents, roommates, and partners. “There's always a social community around them, and there's always a digital community around them. So as they follow brands and choose to purchase, the thing for marketers to understand is that millennials are constantly seeking reassurance.” He says that with 57% reporting that they tell friends about their purchases, and 44% admitting they like to show off what they've bought, marketers should know that millennials remain digitally connected for support as they shop. “[This gives marketers] some overriding connectivity opportunities,” Cohen says. “Connect with millennials across multiple touch points. Friend them.” He says marketers can build relationships through social media, blogs, how-to guides, and provide fun insights into a brand.
Myth: All millennials are counterculture, irreverent hipsters.
The facts: In Moosylvania's nationwide survey in January, millennials were asked to cite their top three favorite brands—without being given any choices. The group mentioned 620 brands, with Nike, Sony, Apple, and Samsung surfacing as the top four. Cohen says 620 brand mentions from 1,000 participants shows just how diversified this generations is. “Millennials really don't have any one label,” Cohen explains. He says that marketers need to stay authentic, research the competition, spread content on multiple channels, and invest in content-driven advertising. “They're incredibly renaissance people who like a lot of different things.”
Traditional metrics are single channel only; but the reality is that customers are multichannel and multi-device. Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media, and entertainment at Foresee, reminded attendees of this tenuous situation at eTail West.
“Customers walk in the door with expectations; sometimes you can control that, sometimes you can't,” he said. “They have an experience. Will they be satisfied and then exhibit the behaviors you want?” Will customers, Feinberg posited, purchase (and in which channel), recommendation, and refer? He also pointed out that customer satisfaction with those experiences will impact not only current, but also future behaviors.
Feinberg went on to explain that many elements of the customer experience are knowable across touchpoints; for example, site navigation and access to and depth of product information. So along with tracking customers' behaviors to infer the pros and cons of the customer experience, marketers should ask for customer feedback directly. Collect in-channel insight and measures. Ask customers where they came from and where they went next. Doing so creates visibility into the cross-channel experience. Feinberg recommended that marketers do all this to uncover the gaps between the experience that customers expect and what a company is delivering, and then marketers can use that information to determine how they can they close that gap.
To accomplish this, marketers should ask themselves: How are we doing, what should we do to improve the customer experience and why, how do we prioritize? The answers should be informed by that customer insight. “Customer experience priorities are best viewed through the lens of the customer,” Feinberg said, adding that marketers should measure the customer experience to see where to focus. But, ultimately, the answer to “Why should we do it?” is revenue.
According to Feinberg, 57% of customers surveyed by Foresee are multichannel and tend to be more satisfied and valuable than single-channel customers. For this reason, he emphasized the importance of delivering a consistently top-notch experience across channels. “Every channel has to be excellent or every channel fails,” Feinberg said. “If a customer has a poor experience with a company in one channel, it's unlikely he'll visit another of that company's channels.”
Under our very eyes, in a mere matter of weeks, a new marketing medium has been born. Its arrival was presaged in an apparently spontaneous moment when Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres handed her big white Samsung Android to Bradley Cooper and got him to take a selfie of a group of pals whose combined net worth tops that of the gross domestic product of Djibouti. Of course, little is spontaneous in the age of ubiquitous marketing. Samsung was a sponsor of the Oscar broadcast and had product placement in its contract.
And little was spontaneous at the White House this Tuesday when the World Champion Boston Red Sox paid a visit and slugger David Ortiz produced his Samsung to snap a shot of himself and President Obama. In the background, one of his teammates sing-songed, “Cha-ching!” Ortiz, a paid Samsung endorser, had done Ellen one better by capturing himself with the Ruler of the Free World.
The era of the selfie-razzi has arrived, and it is not likely to go away any time soon. The Oscar selfie was tweeted over 30 million times. The selfie Ortiz took with Obama was tweeted out within moments of its capture by Samsung. As I write this, no doubt there are an army of agents at MCA on the phone negotiating selfie rights for their clients.
Their clients, it appears, are only too happy to serve as their own paparazzi. Heck, the punked prez himself unofficially endorsed the practice after his own selfie with comely Danish P.M. Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. Celebs may gripe about paparazzi, but many cannot live without them. Some, like Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn, even lump up the occasional photog to win the front page of the Enquirer or the New York Post. Now, A-listers can snap away at their private lives with their soigné buddies and get paid for their troubles. Samsung has given them a way to cut paparazzi out of the picture.
Clearly, then, this is a medium with nothing but upside. It's easy, it's effective, and it's lucrative—the celebrity triple play. But there's a problem. Unless the celeb taking the shot is doing so on a live TV program or in front of the White House or such, he or she needs a “second shooter” to photograph him or her taking the selfie, so as to get the Samsung logo on his or her phone in the frame. That's the money shot.
Therefore, I envision a selfie-razzi subclass forming among long-faded B-players. We'll see tweets of Brad hoisting his Samsung over himself and Angelina in the hot tub, captured by Erik Estrada; Jay-Z and Beyonce in their private helicopter shot by Vanilla Ice; Harry Reid and Marco Rubio at the rifle range snapped by Jimmy Carter.
The problem with this new marketing medium is that it's limited to a few manufacturers of cell phones. But, if it takes off like I think it will, it's only a matter of time before we'll see phones shaped like Ford Fusions, Snickers bars, and Obamacare policies.
Gmail celebrated its 10th birthday yesterday. And while it's great to reminisce about the past, it's important to learn from history and apply those learning to the present. Our Gmail gurus summed up years of email marketing knowledge and came up with eight ways marketers can better target Gmail users today.
Know how many Gmail users are in your database
Gmail has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. According to the “Q4 2013 Email Marketing Compass” report by email marketing software and service provider Yesmail, Gmail users accounted for 43% of all new Q4 2013 subscribers, compared to AOL (7%), Hotmail (18%), and Yahoo! (32%) subscribers. These subscribers appear to be more active, as well. Nineteen percent of Gmail users had been active with marketing emails within a year versus AOL (10%), Hotmail (12%), and Yahoo (14%) users, according to the same report.
Keeping this in mind, Brad van de Woerd, director of deliverability and market intelligence for Yesmail, advises marketers to know exactly how many Gmail users are in their databases. Besides knowing which ISP addresses tend to be more active, identifying which consumers have Gmail addresses can help marketers ensure that their messages display and render properly, he says. It can also help marketers improve their ability to measure which Gmail tab their messages landed in.
“If you're sending email to Gmail and AOL, Gmail is going to cache your image where AOL isn't,” van de Woerd says. “If you have any sort of dynamic images or content within your message, that image caching is going to prevent it from working in the way that you intended to when you sent it to Gmail versus another ISP.”
Segment by interest, not by ISP
While van de Woerd urges marketers to know how many Gmail users reside within their databases, Matthew Grove, deliverability engineer for email marketing solutions provider MailChimp, recommends segmenting by interest instead of by ISP.
“Rather than defining your list as a series of ISPs, you'll get better results by figuring out what your subscribers are interested in,” Grove says. “Segmenting your list by interest group can be hugely powerful.”
Have consistent sender addresses
Marketers want to establish relationships with their customers. However, it can be difficult for customers to get to know a brand if its constantly changing its sender address or sending messages from various From addresses. Think about it, would you remember a friend's name if they introduced themselves with a new name every time you met them? It would also be kind of creepy.
Hence, Grove suggests using consistent From addresses to avoid coming off as spammy.
“You build a personal reputation on that address, but it's also true that spammers like to send the same content from a lot of different addresses,” he says. “Using a consistent From address helps to identify you as a marketer and not a spammer.”
Track inbox placement rates
Marketers should be measuring inbox placements rates for every message they deploy, says van der Woerd. For instance, a marketer may hit the inbox Monday through Wednesday but end up in the spam folder on Thursday, he explains.
“The most important thing in that situation is that the marketer is taking a look that that's happening,” van der Woerd says. “You can't do that unless you're properly measuring your inbox placement rates.”
Inbox placement rates can also serve as a “warning sign” for marketers, van der Woerd adds, and indicate that they need to improve the relevancy of their messages.
Be wary of shorteners
Marketers often have a lot to say in a little bit of space—that's where link shorteners can come in handy. However, spammers leverage shorteners, as well, Grove notes, and frequently disguise their links with shorteners.
“Gmail's anti-spam automation latches on to bad domains very quickly, and they end up blocking some of the most popular shorteners,” he says. “If you have to use a shortener, go with something custom.”
Success isn't achieved by sitting on the sidelines, and it often isn't obtained the first time around. Grove encourages marketers to get involved, actively test, and generate their own data.
“The companies [that] I see with the best engagement and the best deliverability don't sit back and send the same email over and over,” Grove says. “They test subject lines with A/B splits, and they're looking for new ways to segment their list. They want to target just the right group for each piece of content, and they're willing to remove addresses that aren't engaging if it improves their reputation.”
Rethink email marketing
Not every subscriber is a potential customer; however, van der Woerd says that many marketers struggle to shake this mentality.
“[It's] moving away from the thought process that ‘everyone in my database is a potential buyer'...to ‘not everyone is this database is worth sending to,'” he says. “I need to know my audience, what kind of messages they're interested in, what kind of messages they're actually acting on and purchasing from, and focus more on the relevancy of an email marketing program overall.”
Don't fear the inevitable
If there's one thing marketers know for sure, it's that change is inevitable. Rather than crying wolf and saying that “email is dead” (again), marketers should embrace change and face it head on.
“I've learned to not be afraid of change,” says Chad White, lead research analyst for digital marketing software provider ExactTarget. “Social was supposed to destroy email, but it has only made it more powerful. Mobile has made email more powerful, as well. And all the changes that Gmail and other ISPs have put in place to give their users more control, to make their time in the inbox more efficient, ultimately, are good for email as both a communication and marketing channel.”
Rev up your truth machines, it's April Fool's Day—a time when marketers roll up their sleeves and try to get in on some of that sweet, sweet social media action.
But it's not always easy for a brand to pull off humor. As Devra Preywes, VP of marketing and insight at Unruly Media, told Direct Marketing News: “Marketers think humor creates a favorable association with their products, but few succeed in it. The problem with being funny is that most of those who try it hover around amusement instead of hilarity.”
But some marketers do know how to bring the funny:
The World's First Underwear Iron
Nobody wants wrinkled underpants. That's just gauche. Thanks, Fruit of the Loom and Crispin Porter + Bogusky:
| Disclaimer: Please do not iron underwear while on your body.
Rain—it's a gift from nature. But what if companies could add their brand's scent to the very droplets that fall from the sky for a truly multisensory brand experience? That's “Brand Drops,” the result of a fictitious and unique partnership between Publicis Seattle (hey, they get a lot of rain), and the scientific community, to make It possible for brands to distill scents like “French fry,” “new car smell,” or “fresh cut grass” and seed them right into the clouds above. #BrandDrops is the next big thing in biotechnical marketing, don't you know.
Publicis Seattle went all out for this one. There's an info-packed microsite, a LinkedIn profile for the Brand Drops CEO, and an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) where you can ostensibly write to learn more about how to line up your next aromatic rain campaign.
But it's not always easy to tell the fakes from the genuine article. In a world where Facebook just paid $2 billion to acquire virtual reality technology Oculus Rift, Google's 2013 April Fool's joke “Google Nose” (a beta feature that claimed to allow users to be able to search the Internet by smell) isn't that totally insane. Who really knows what's real and what's for giggles?
Guys!!! You can smell things through Google now. Wth?! https://t.co/YXaNJW7loi— Jessy (@jessydust) April 1, 2013
And some things that do sound like April Fool's jokes—I'm very happy to report—are actually real, like Catstarter, Meow Mix's Kickstarter for cats, where cat-lovers can crowdfund cat-centric projects like the “Twister Dish,” a dish that funnels food from the edges of the bowl to the center, and “Meal Machine,” which allows you to feed your cat through Twitter.
We weren't sure ourselves, but Meow Mix put us at our ease:
Sometimes a piece of video content takes on a life of its own—a kind of magic. Some say it's impossible to truly predict. Others claim it's all about the numbers. Mostly, it depends on your definition of what virality means.
For Cat Jones, director of product innovations at Unruly Media, virality equals pure science, and that's that. Direct Marketing News chatted with Jones about the nature of and psychology behind what makes a viral video.
Is there a secret to “viral-ness?”
There are two main factors that contribute to viral content that resonates. One is the quality of the content and the second is the distribution. You can have the best content in the world, but just uploading it to a YouTube channel with no subscribers isn't going to work. You might have some really sharable stuff on your hands, but you need to understand what kind of impact your distribution plans will have on that.
Is it possible to predict when something will go viral organically?
If you do have strong content, it takes smart investment decisions to make it into a hit—because you might have strong content, but people have to see it to share it. The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘What do I need to do to increase the proportion of people who will share my content?' And there is a science to this, because if you can understand why your audience wants to share your content, you can get under their skin and use that to plan your distribution. If you know what kind of reaction you can expect, you can know if you'll have a viral hit from the word ‘go.' People do have control if they have the power of insight.
What makes someone want to share something?
The two most important factors that go into sharing are psychological response and social motivation. There are three main buckets for psychological response: emotional response, cognitive response, and primal response. Any of those at a high intensity will drive sharing.
What's the difference between those three types of responses?
Primal response refers to how we're wired to react to certain stimuli. Cognitive has to do with knowledge, which is related to surprise or confusion, will drive sharing at high intensities—‘Oh my god, this is incredible; you have to see this' rather than ‘Oh yeah, that's pretty interesting.' Emotional response relates to things like happiness, exhilaration, hilarity. It's worth highlighting, though, that negative emotions like contempt and disgust will also drive sharing. That's not always what brands want, but it does work really well in some cases, usually for things like causes and animal charities that play on anger to try and rile people up.
Where does social motivation come into the equation?
Social motivation is vital—that's about giving people a reason to share. You can make someone feel something strongly, but unless they have a reason to pass it on, they're not going to share it. Whereas psychology is related to feeling and that tends to be similar for a large number of people—people will laugh at funny things or cry at sad things—social motivation tends to be highly personal. For one person snowboarding might be their passion—for someone else, snowboarding might not move the needle at all.
Read The (Art and) Science of Viral Video in our April 2014 issue for more about what you can do to increase the Gangnam factor of your video content.
Big Data. It's a driving force that continues to shape marketing campaigns and business models in virtually every industry. On a more individual level, Big Data sometimes even influences the decisions of most everyone else—from shoppers like me, who make purchases based on targeted email messages, to the most accomplished leaders of our day.
Last week I attended the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference in Washington D.C., where General Colin Powell shared his vivid experiences and lessons from his tenure as a four-star general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor, and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command. More specifically, the decorated leader recounted his life as the nation's 65th Secretary of State and his dealings with Big Data. At the forum, Powell described to a captivated audience how Big Data played a role in his career—even before the term was coined. And he revealed how Big Data affected his daily decisions as the head diplomat at the U.S. State Department. Powell says, however, that his journey with information and data started long before time at the State Department.
“Many years ago the Army saw fit to move me into the world of computers and information,” Powell said after describing himself as a “kid from the South Bronx” who got through school with a C average, and ended up attending City College of New York. Powell said that after six months in college he found his calling and was drawn to the ROTC. He said his introduction to Big Data in the military was only a matter of time. “Actually,” Powell said, “the military always has been in the forefront of analytics technology and data information."
The retired general explained that it was members of the military who encouraged him to get his MBA at Georgetown University with an emphasis on data processing. And that education—coupled with his military experiences—gave him the foundation for a life and career influenced by Big Data. It's that understanding of information that made him acutely aware of the changes that needed to be made in major government entities, such as State Department. “As the Secretary of State, I realized we had some challenges with our info system,” Powell said. “So I bought 44,000 computers to put in offices, embassies, and organizations around the world. Without the modern flow of information, we in the State Department couldn't do our jobs. We learned to make sense of all this data.”
Powell explained that the agency's aging technology wasn't the only problem. “As Secretary, I had to change the hardware, software, and eventually the brainware.” The retired general said that he worked with his staff to think differently not just about how to use Big Data, but also how to collect and process it. “That's what leadership is all about—using the right tools so you can gather all of the data, and make sense of it.”
The retired general said his tenure at the State Department taught him several other poignant lessons to always implement and share. “One of the most important things you can do is to create trust in an organization. Trust is a sort of glue that holds an organization together. It's the lubricant that keeps an organization going.”
On his final note, he pointed to one specific lesson about data analytics that continues to hold true: “I want everyone to remember, the most powerful business analytics tool is the human brain.”
Big Data is changing the world in ways that are both interesting and terrifying. As marketers accumulate more data, they shoulder more responsibility and should consider the ethical ramifications of taking action on that data. But one question remains for marketers: what's considered ethical use of customer data?
Christopher Surdak, author of Data Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave Is Driving New Business Opportunities, defines those ethical lines for marketers today.
Surdak, who is also an information management consultant, talks data growth, the internet of things, and explains where the boundaries exist in contemporary direct marketing.
How fast are companies collecting data these days?
A lot of the numbers we're seeing thrown around suggest company customer data will double every 18 months or so. However, according to a lot of the businesses that I talk to, it's not every 18 months. It's more like every 12 months, maybe even every nine months, and it's accelerating. It wouldn't surprise me at all if we saw data growth doubling every six months within the next couple of years, as more and more people and devices get connected to the Internet. It's not the fact that it's doubling so quickly. It's that the rate of growth is accelerating that I think is intimidating.
Where do you see things going, as we move closer to harvesting the “internet of things?”
By 2020 there'll be about one device sending data to the Net for every square meter of surface area on the earth. That's something like five or six trillion devices. The amount of devices out there watching us will increase dramatically over the next five or six years. We're going to take that as normal. People are going to think it's normal for their toothbrush to measure how long they are brushing their teeth. It will send that data over the Net. That will be normal.
Is that what you mean by “socialfication” in your book?
Socialfication is this idea of clicking “Like” or friending someone. I make the jump in the book that in literally two or three years, when you buy a new refrigerator, it will first ask for access to your home Wi-Fi. Then it'll ask to be your friend on Facebook. You will be friends with your fridge. You will be friends with your microwave, and they'll start communicating with you. This idea of liking things—of connectedness—will be pervasive throughout our lives.
What about the ethics involved in something like that?
The ethical and legal issues behind this are tremendous. The thing that scares me is that at no one's reining in Google, or Apple, or HP. I think the NSA will be reined in at some point because so many people are talking about it. No one is reining in these companies that are commercially collecting, using, and analyzing this data. They use it however, and whenever, they want to, and we cannot opt out. I find that tremendously intimidating. Knowing what I know about how we can manipulate people's thoughts— combined with all of this— is scary. Technology has no morals. Technology just is. How we apply the technology is the real question that we need to be asking.
Is it unethical to commercialize data?
It's a tough question. These companies aren't doing anything illegal because there are no regulations against it. Ethical versus legal is out the window simply because no one has regulated this [collection and use of data]. If you're walking down a New York street, and you pass a Starbucks and end up buying a drink—even though you weren't thirsty—was Starbucks' marketing unethical? That's what we're doing, making you buy stuff when you didn't want to buy it, or you didn't need it. Is that ethical? I struggle with the morality here. We're getting better and better at psychological profiling of customers to make them believe they wanted something that they really didn't.
Consumers volunteer a lot of data, but can't they just ignore marketing or opt out if they start to feel uncomfortable?We're so good at modeling and understanding behavior. What's happening now is that we're starting to model the absence of behavior, which is even creepier. The customers may be creeped out, so they stop behaving in certain ways. But that's what we're looking for. Now I can look at why you stopped a behavior and can understand you more deeply. The more you try to get out of this rat race of constant analyzing the more interesting you become.
*Update 3/28/14: The article incorrectly credited Mr. Surdak as the CEO of AIIM. John Mancini is the CEO of AIIM and wrote the forward to Data Crush.
Ah, remember the mad Mad days when marketing was, at least partially, about looking good with a brandy snifter in one hand and a storyboard in the other?
Today, it's 100% about 360-degree insight—marketers need a comprehensive customer view to provide the kind of top-line, seamless, consistent, cross-channel customer experience (CX) that consumers not only expect, but demand.
“When I started out in marketing, it used to be really, really simple,” says Darrel Kammeyer, executive director of marketing solutions at Teradata. “Campaigns were usually directed at large groups of people; we didn't really use segments or personalization, and broadcast was the primary vehicle.”
But consider this: Pre-omnichannel, roughly 80% of consumers made their purchase decisions in-store. Now, about 80% of shoppers know what's on their shopping list before they even enter a store. The dilemma is how to make it onto that list.
And that's why marketers need to optimize their CX programs—and embrace the dramatic changes in customer behavior—by strategically collecting customer data and combining it into an overall view of the customer. “This stuff isn't brain surgery anymore; you can get real time data delivered to your iPhone or iPad or anywhere and act on it,” Kammeyer says. “But gluing those data points together and getting it all to your executives and your frontline staff—that's the challenge.”
And it certainly is a challenge. Just take a look at this (Kammeyer says his customers jokingly refer to it as his “wheel of terror”): “It's supposed to look complicated because it is,” Kammeyer says. “There are so many fractured touchpoints—the question becomes, how do you get out there with a strategy to implement an effective customer experience?”
Considering the complexity involved, it's no wonder that about 55% of companies have hardly started executing their strategic omnichannel programs. In a straw poll conducted as part of a recent Teradata-sponsored webcast, it was revealed that 25% of respondents don't have any omnichannel strategy in place. Just 1% of the listeners surveyed currently have a fully functional omnichannel program.
These findings correspond to data from Teradata's 2013 Data-Driven Marketing Survey, which found that nearly half of marketers feel that data is the most underutilized asset within their respective organizations. Eighteen percent of marketers said they feel pressure to become more data-driven.
Well, there's no better time that the present, Kammeyer says.
“The biggest challenge is that a lot of companies are still so overwhelmed that they don't know where to begin, so they don't do anything—but not doing anything is the worst mistake you can make,” he says. “If you try things and execute them to the best of your ability, then at least you're putting your toe in the water.”
Omnichannel is here to stay. Here are some actionable tips from Kammeyer to help you get started:
“We've crossed over from the world of what I would call campaign management to a world of customer interaction management,” Kammeyer says. “If you're not democratizing your data and [bringing it] together, you're missing a very important opportunity to connect with your customers.”
There's a lot more to learn on the topic. Click here to view Teradata's “Delivering a Best-in-Class Customer Experience” webcast on demand.
Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, is man who knows his data.
Rainie participated in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit yesterday afternoon in which, as the name of the session denotes, anyone could ask him anything. And they did:
Tablets are quickly becoming ubiquitous in American households. What do you anticipate being the next technology to significantly revolutionize personal computing?
Rainie: Everybody is talking “wearables” now—especially for health and fitness contexts. We haven't asked a question about that in our surveys because the hardware is so new and so few people have any kind of wearable. I bet by the end of this year or early next year we'll try to get our first survey reading on that.
How can the US/world implement an "Internet of Things" and still maintain some level of personal privacy/security?
Rainie: We will be issuing a new report in mid-May about this very issue and how hundreds of experts who responded to our online query on this issue are very anxious about privacy in an era where data capture and data exhaust make data a "third skin" for people. These experts are not confident in the trends they see. You can get a flavor of that in the material we just released on predictions about the Internet in the year 2025.
I was curious on the backgrounds of the researchers that work at Pew (including yourself). How did they become research technology trends and what experiences best prepared them for the work they're doing at Pew? What are typical skills found in the skill sets of the researchers?
Rainie: There is an interesting mix of skills here. Some folks—like me—have a background in journalism—with a bit of a wonky tilt. Others are PhD pollsters, statisticians, demographers, economists, and we're just begun to get data scientists. In the next year or so we are going to figure out how to incorporate people with computer science, computational social science, other analytics backgrounds.
I even popped a question of my own:
Should people have any expectation of privacy on the Internet and on social media or is it more like this: If you take advantage of these tools, that's your business, but data is data and if it's out there someone is going to use it.
Rainie: We are in the midst of a sustained look at the present and future of privacy. People are becoming more nervous about their privacy, less confident they can control it, more anxious that current laws are not good enough. (See: Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online).
In social media, the nuances we see are fascinating, especially when it comes to teens: Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.
Please believe our data that, contrary to the belief of many, teens care about their privacy and are pretty active reputation managers.
We probably have lots more lawmaking, lots more legal strife, and lots more adjustment of norms as people try work through the tradeoffs you cite in your question. The story isn't over yet, but we'll probably come out in a different place on privacy in the next decade from where we are now.
Of course, Reddit users also posted the truly hard-hitting questions:
Would you rather fight a horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?
Rainie: I learned in my take-the-kids-and-stale-bread-to-the-duck-farm days that I'm not even a match for 100 duck-sized ducks. One giant duck or 100 micro-horses would inflict the same damage. I'd rather be ignored by my cat.
Next week in Washington an eclectic and expert collection of postal stakeholders will meet to discuss a topic that is near and dear to direct mailers—the future of the U.S. Postal Service and the art of global delivery.
The founder of the conference, now in its fourth year, is confessed postal junkie John Callan. After merging his Calico Air Courier with DHL Express, Callan spent the next few decades deliberating better delivery with DHL and Purolator before becoming a consultant for USPS. His annual Postal Vision 2020 confab plays on the cutting edge of the postal game, this year tapping the insights of insiders such as PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway and Postal Inspector General David Williams, outsiders like Poste Italiene business development chief Ulisse Del Gallo and leader of Deutsche Post's E-Post venture Peer Bentzen, to forward thinkers such as MIT information economics professor Marshall Van Alstyne and Brian Bieron, executive director of eBay's Commerce Policy Lab.
We recently spent some time with Callan to get his singular insights into one of our favorite topics: The future of the U.S. Postal Service.
Is the mail in danger?
That's the existential question, isn't it? There will always be a consumer demand for it. And if we can afford to continue to provide mail as we know it, it will play a critical role in a multimedia mix which becomes more and more important in the e-com world. But there's a huge challenge here. We can't continue to provide it within the current cost structure.
I worked for Polaroid for a number of years. The culture was chemistry and manufacturing based, and the company could not adapt to a new marketplace. The Postal Service can and is adapting, but it's going to mean right-sizing, investing in technology, and delivering on the theme of “Stronger Together” coming out of the National Postal Forum. If the Postal Service works with mailers, shippers, and consumers, then we can all work together as an ecosystem to keep mail relevant.What will be the biggest challenges in the next few years?
In the coming year, to change the attitude in the Post Office, to think positive. They've been so beaten down in recent years. There's been a lot of discouragement and they've lost a lot of good folks and institutional knowledge. So, the first thing they need to do is is get over the hump, to say ‘We're not in that bad a shape.' Put their minds right. They can and will succeed by adapting to the new paradigm—that it's not going to be a volume-driven business in the future, it's going to be a value-driven business. [USPS CIO] Jim Cochrane, for instance, is can-do guy and has his finger on the pulse of all this. They need to think of themselves as more of an information business than a transportation and delivery biz.
As a result, they do have to embrace their partners—the mailers, third party service providers, and ultimately the consumer. Because of the current business mode, where the mailer is the payer, I think the Postal Service doesn't know what consumers really want.
A recent financial report on the Postal Service from the Postal Regulatory Commission noted that real estate is its biggest asset. Can it not be argued that its most valuable asset is its exclusive access to every door in the nation?
Kent Smith, a former market researcher at the Postal Service who works with us, likes to say that the pointed end of the spear is the carrier. The only USPS employee who got a standing ovation at the Postmaster General's keynote address at Postal Forum was the letter carrier. Every delivery and every transaction—that's the greatest asset. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not so sure that moving to cluster boxes is a great idea. I know the Postal Service is adopting this as a cost cutter, but to me it's a retrenching of this enormous strength they have. That's proving itself out with Parcel Select, which is USPS's fastest growing business.
Speaking of Pat Donohoe's keynote, it sure was a paean to marketing-driven mail, wasn't it?
I was astounded by the opening presentation on the power of direct mail. I think they hit on the right theme. By using technology, IMb, and information tracking, there is a great opportunity for direct mail as part of the total marketing mix. Direct mailers have to think more about their role in that mix of catalogs and mobile phones and websites in driving a transaction. It's a virtuous cycle in that each channel plays a key role. The reason that direct mail became so popular in the first place is that it was measurable. It's a power point in the multichannel transaction.
What are your thoughts about the elasticity or inelasticity of postal rates and the effect the exigent increase will have on volumes?
If the mailers that play into the whole marketing mix adapt, they will prove that there is some inelasticity there. But they've got to adapt to these new technologies and get more value out of what they do. With this new information, they can get a lot more targeted with personalized mailings, so maybe they can get higher response with smaller mailings. But volume for the Postal Service is a long-term problem. It's not going to grow.
Will technology integration be a big theme at Postal Vision?
We will have good representation from the digital community. [Former Wired editor] Chris Anderson will be interviewing [What Would Google Do? author] Jeff Jarvis about new digital factors in postal. We'll have a global view from posts that privatized many years ago and invested in technology and have succeeded, like Deutsche Post and Poste Italiane. We'll have Matt Sweeney, an Australian who started a company that's using drones to deliver textbooks to college students, and Andreas Raptopoulos from a company called Matternet whose vision is to create an Internet for atoms and matter.
I love the “Stronger Together” theme, and I think we're going to identify key areas where we can all work together and build some excitement for a Postal Service for the future.
Marketing is in a constant state of evolution. While it's easy to focus on the technological and behavioral changes occurring in the industry, it's also important for marketers to recognize how their own roles are altering. According to the Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves study by Adobe Systems, 64% of marketers believe that their roles will change within the next year.
For the most part, marketers are open to switching up their roles. In fact, 40% of marketers say they want to reinvent themselves, according to the study. Yet, just 14% know how to do so. Reinventing marketing's organizational roles has to come from the organizational itself, as well as from the individual marketers. Adobe SVP and CMO Ann Lewnes hosted a panel at the Adobe Summit and discussed how today's marketing organization is changing. Here are a few organizational and individual changes marketers can make to not only strengthen their corporate brands, but also their personal brands.
Promote cross pollination
Knowledge is power. And the more knowledge that organizations spread across their departments, the more powerful they become. For instance, Pete Stein, CEO of digital agency Razorfish, said that when clients bring together different divisions to solve one common problem and achieve one common KPI, they often glean success. Not only does this tactic increase cross-divisional education, but it also breaks down silos.
However, industry lingo can make it easy for marketers and IT heads to get lost in translation. So it's important for organizations to look for employees that can speak a common language.
“We look for marketers who understand how to communicate with technologists where they can concisely state their business objectives or business challenges,” said Jeff Titus, GM of digital technology and solutions for Audi of America.
Don't rely on organizational changes to fix everything
When problems arise, fingers often point to management. But a lack of data quantification may be more to blame than a particular position. For instance, marketers struggling to strengthen customer relationships may need to more clearly define customer experience metrics, Titus said. “[Data quantification] is where we're finding the most pertinent information,” he said. “You can't just go solve a problem with an organizational change.”
Outline your team before going to an agency
Partnering with an agency can help lighten marketers' workloads and expand their creative horizons. But when it comes to choosing an agency, it's important to look before you leap. Marketers should define who they need on their team to accomplish their goals before selecting a partner, Titus advised. Pinpointing business objectives before reaching out to an agency will help a brand identify whether they need a large full-service agency, or a small specialized company, he said.
Specialize in something
Today's marketers are forced to wear many hats. And while possessing a wide range of skills is critical, owning a niche talent is what separates leading marketers from their peers, said Jana Rich, managing director of executive search firm Russell Reynolds associates. “We need to know what is the thing that people are uniquely great at,” she said.
Hire to complement your skills
No matter how versatile a marketer may be, no person can do it all. When expanding a team, marketing heads should look for individuals whose skill sets complement their skill sets. This gives both parties the opportunity to shine and learn from the other, Rich says.
No one wants to fail. However, Rich said that employers prefer to hire marketers who have made a blunder or two because it shows that they embrace a test-and-learn culture. But if marketers are going to fail, it's important for them to fail fast and identify what went wrong early on, Titus said. Short-cycle investments can be an effective way for marketers to test and discuss what works and what doesn't within an organization, he said.
“Divorce yourself from any stance that you're always right,” Titus said. “Fail fast. We want answers immediately.”
I have some very important news to share with you: Today is International Waffle Day. Seriously.
In and of themselves waffles are delicious; no argument there. But what makes waffles, and the day that honors them around the world, even tastier, is their potential as inspiration for relevant and, more important, fun content marketing initiatives.
There's an international or national day to commemorate pretty much anything you can think of—tomorrow, for example, is National Nougat Day (yep); Wednesday is National Spanish Paella Day (really)—and each one is a golden opportunity.
One agency that does a particularly good job is Austin-based Proof Advertising, whose clients include Cargill (parent company of hot dog brand Schweigert Meats and turkey sister brands Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White).
“Our social team is tasked with being aware of and on the lookout for holidays of obscure relevance, but it's not always about being surprising—sometimes you do need to embrace the day because it just makes sense,” says Craig Mikes, creative director at Proof. “You also need to know what's going on culturally and be ready to jump on it—for example, by poking a little fun at Joey Chestnut after the hot dog eating competition or by commenting on it if the president says his favorite food is broccoli.”
In other words, sometimes it's about being straightforward…
…and sometimes it's about lateral thinking:
But in essence, it's always about knowing your brand and understanding how it fits in with established “days of” as well as what's happening in the world at large. Denny's did a nice job of that after Auburn lost the College Bowl this year. (According to Denny's CMO Frances Allen, the tweet below, which was posted by the brand's social agency, has garnered more than five million impressions.)
Speaking of knowing your brand, Ly Tran, director of digital strategy and architecture at Proof, knows turkey. While she was on the phone with me, Tran was able to come up with a great Cargill/Waffle Day tie-in idea that would fit right into “Turkify,” Proof's ongoing campaign for Cargill. (Fun fact: Tran's birthday is May 15, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. My birthday is July 3, National Eat Beans Day. We can't all be so lucky.)
“The idea behind Turkify is that you can make any food tastier, healthier, or easier for yourself or your family by using turkey,” Tran says. “So if we were going to leverage Waffle Day, we'd probably think about the connection between waffles and chicken and then extend that to turkey—‘If you like waffles and chicken, why not try waffles and turkey?'”
If a brand is willing to have a little fun, the possibilities are endless. There's no reason, for example, for Shady Brook or Honeysuckle White not to jump on the ice cream bandwagon on Ice Cream Day (it's the third Sunday in July, if you're curious) with a little turkey bacon ice cream suggestion for its customers.
“There are lots creative, surprising ways for turkey to enter the conversation,” Tran says.
But turkey aside, here are some universal tips to keep in mind if you want take advantage of National Whatever Makes Sense For Your Brand Day as part of your content marketing strategy:
1. Know what's what: Proof uses an app from food.com that lets you easily look up food holidays for any day of the year. “Then we create a content calendar tied to the different holidays,” Tran says. “The app helps us make connections between the days and our brands.”
2. Sometimes it's just too much. “But try not to over-abuse the food holidays,” Tran notes. “Every single day is a food holiday.”
4. Make sense: “Try and find something that's at least in some way relevant to your brand,” Mikes says. “For Waffle Day, we don't have an Aunt Jemima in our back pocket, so we'd have to play off what we do have, to do something that complements our brands—but then also be ready to zag if we need to.”
3. Don't shill: “These aren't ads,” Tran says. “Create fun quirky stories with memes, videos, or images—but don't make them look or feel like ads.”
4. Be engaging: “Incorporate some kind of multimedia with whatever you do in digital and social; video is especially good,” Tran advises. “Everyone thinks they have to produce something slick, but with smartphones anything is possible.”
5. Tell people: “Acknowledge what you've done,” Mikes says. “Tell your fan base so they can be aware and share it with their social networks.”
[And lastly, a quick footnote of sorts: Just to be clear—March 25 is International Waffle Day, a holiday celebrated primarily in Sweden. August 24 is National Waffle Day in the U.S., commemorating the invention of the waffle iron in Troy, New York. You now have two days on which you are officially sanctioned to stuff your face with waffle-y goodness. You're welcome.]
Webinars and social media each remain effective marketing tools that drive engagement and generate leads. Combining the two, however, continues to be a golden strategy for marketers looking to promote, educate, and interact with audiences before, during and after each digital presentation. “Infusing social into webinars is a great way to draw an audience, get the message out, and most important, keep the conversations going,” says Mairead Ridge, senior manager of marketing at Offerpop. Ridge says that if done right, social media will strengthen the performance of webinars in a marketing campaign. They key is to know what steps to take, and when, for maximum results. She offers a few simple, but valuable tips on how social can be helpful at each stage of a webinar campaign.
Building the hype
A social media strategy must be in place long before the actual event, Ridge warns. Marketers should leverage the power of social media to build interest and excitement. “Social is getting the word out. Influencers, social ads, discussions with LinkedIn groups are all great ways to promote participation.” Marketers can do that by soliciting influencers to tweet, post, and chat about the event, which Ridge says creates buzz and encourages the target audience to pre-participate. She adds that great promotion, in effect, means more registrants, and potentially, more leads.
Without a doubt, the production behind a social campaign is imperative during the webinar. Live tweeting and hashtags in tandem with the event are a must, but marketers should do more. “Use a so-called fangate—where viewers are required to like your brand if they want receive content,” Ridge says. She encourages marketers to simply ask viewers to share and post by using a call-to-action. In addition, offering extra incentives, such as coupons and gift certificates—perhaps in the form of promo codes given during the webinar—can be a great motivator that will get an audience to watch, participate, and share.
Reaping the benefits
Although important, webinars do more than generate leads, Ridge explains. Webinars keep the conversation going—particularly on social media. “When the webinar is over, that doesn't mean the campaign is over.” Evergreen content can have a second, third, or even an infinite amount of lives, she explains. Marketers can continue to educate their audiences by sharing factoids, blogging about the event, and promoting interaction through discussions on platforms such as LinkedIn.
One more thing
Remember to involve your brand advocates, Ridge says. Brand advocates are not only familiar with your products and services, but also are engaged, loyal, and valuable customers. They expand the reach of a marketing campaign, especially through social media. In fact, 18% of brand advocates have between 300 to 600 people in their online networks, according to digital marketing firm Ciceron. “Make a connection with your brand's advocates. You might even use them as speakers on the webinar,” Ridge suggests. She says that the more you identify with brand advocates—and include them as part of your marketing plan—the more they'll become involved.
Marketing and technology will only become more intertwined as we move further into the 21st century, and with this “new age” comes new rule, trends, and ultimately a new culture. In his book A New Brand of Marketing: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline, author and blogger Scott Brinker delves into some of the major shocks to the marketing status quo inherit in the industry's technological shift.
Here, Brinker, who also serves as cofounder and CTO of Ion Interactive, discusses the relationship between digital and traditional marketing, the future of media silos, and the necessity of agile marketing models.
What do you mean when you talk about going from traditional to digital?
It's not that the latter is wholesale replacing the former. It's more of an augmentation. The fact is, almost our entire marketing infrastructure is driven by software. Even in direct mail. Sure, the actual piece that's being delivered is tangible, but you're most certainly using sophisticated software for determining who you're sending it to, scheduling, managing return, and conversion rates. You see this everywhere. Everything that's happening these days, whether it is in a physical channel or a digital channel, is being correlated or coordinated by digital technology. Marketing is a digital world at this point, regardless of the channels you use to execute.
Why are silos such a detriment in today's marketing ecosystem?
Look at how the customer is interacting with us. Silos are an internal construct. The reason we've organized this way is that we need some way to break up an organization into manageable chunks. A lot of these channels are specialized. Customers don't see these silos. They're jumping across four, five, or even six silos within a company; but as far as they're concerned they're interacting with the same company.
We need to rethink how we're managing marketing because these silos do not operate independent of each other. We have to be coordinated enough so that customers jumping through these silos at least get a coherent presentation. If you're a marketer of any real scale then of course you're going to need some specialization in the organization. We need to think more about how we're going to leverage technology and put in place certain management processes so that even if we have specialization within a department, we're still coordinated when it comes to effecting customer experience.
Technology is a fluid, iterative industry. Marketing is much slower in general. How can marketers keep up?
It's imperative that we, as marketers, understand that the environment we're operating in is changing more quickly. The cost is just growing much faster than it used to be. Marketing has a rich legacy of being driven by long-term planners. The problem is that sort of planning is at odds with the ability to adapt and be more flexible to changes in the market. I'm not suggesting you go out with no plan whatsoever and wing it from week to week. Rather, we want to see something that's a little more of a hybrid. You still want an overarching plan or vision. What you're trying to do, the audience you're targeting, how you want to reach them—high-level strategy. When it comes to executing, you want to leave more white space for priorities to change, for tactics to change, etc. There's a lot of precedent for this in software development projects. It's a solution and can make you more effective at being adaptive, but it's also a culturally, managerially different way of handling marketing.
It's hard to change minds. What needs to happen before companies can shift to a more agile marketing model?It really helps to have the CMO say, “Hey, we're going to change the way we do marketing.” The other way of doing it is instead of converting the entire marketing team to an agile structure, take a group of people really struggling with the idea. Let them pilot this and you have a lower-risk process and a way for the organization to see what this agile structure is like. As that group becomes successful you now have an example you can point to and you can start to add new groups, spreading it from there.
During the Postmaster General's keynote presentation at the National Postal Forum, Postal Service CIO Jim Cochrane made a point that cannot be asserted too often in marketing circles. “Direct mailers,” he said, “were the first movers in data analytics.”
I am ever amused by practitioners of “new” digital marketing methods who, through complicated machinations of SaaS software programs and unholy alliances with megalithic ISPs, “invent” behavioral targeting methods that direct mailers have been using since Sears invented catalogs. List brokers are the original data brokers.
Digital's seizure of the marketing mind-set has, in effect, coated the Post Office and the direct mail houses with a patina of past glory. Cochrane's mission is to break out his own mainframe feather duster and put a new luster on direct mail. “Our primary goal is to generate revenue, not a goal we share with the Department of Defense or any other government agency,” Cochrane says, “But a new goal that we're really getting focused on is customer experience. We think direct mail fits well with digitization, and so we're collecting data and trying to marry it with our customers in an omnichannel approach. Our strategy is to improve intelligence in the mailstream.”
For marketers to take full advantage of what the new, data-driven Postal Service has to offer, they'll have to adopt Full Service Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) systems. But a significant number of mailers large and small are reticent to enlist in the cause. Keeping abreast of often confusing USPS tracking reports and complying with the reporting needed to obtain IMb discounts requires mastery of new software systems, the hiring of a dedicated IMb operatives, or both.
Last December the Postal Regulatory Commission denied a Postal Service request to expand Full Service IMb requirements, ruling that such a move would constitute a de facto price increase for Standard Mail customers. The Postal Service subsequently appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, where a decision is still pending.
“We do believe we'll be supported in the courts,” Cochrane says. “We've gotten to the point where the credibility of the data has become so important.”
Cochrane said Full Service IMb will provide three big advantages to mailers:
“Establishing an intelligent mailstream is critical as the rest of the marketplace moves to a digital solution,” Cochrane maintains. “The investments are significant, but it's one of those things we can't afford not to do.”
Cochrane makes a valid point, to be sure. The question is whether mailers can afford the added investment to take part in Full Service IMb while they're still attempting to swallow a 6% rate increase.
The makeup of today's family is changing and brands need to decide whether they're going to change along with it. For instance, there are nearly 20 million single parent households, according to the “America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2012” report issued by the United States Census Bureau this past August. In addition, about 8% of all U.S. married adults have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, according to Pew Research's 2010 to 2012 Current Population Surveys.
One brand embracing these changes is Graham cracker brand Honey Maid, as evidenced by its “This is Wholesome” integrated marketing campaign, which features vignettes of actual families.
“We feel it's critical to share stories and advertising that reflect our consumers, and we're committed to demonstrating what the American family looks like today,” says Gary Osifchin, senior marketing director of biscuits at parent company Mondelez International. “We're celebrating the diversity of families. And while we could never be fully inclusive of all families, the campaign is a representative cross-section of some of the diversity we see in American society today.”
The campaign, which launched March 10 and will run into the “foreseeable future,” includes four television spots, media partnerships, PR, and digital and social media programs. For instance, Honey Maid fans can share pictures of their families via Twitter and Instagram along with the hashtag #thisiswholesome. In addition, consumers can visit the brand's Facebook and YouTube channels to learn more about Honey Maid's products. Osifchin also notes that the TV ads will be running on multicultural channels that cater to today's American family. And because the brand found it challenging to whittle down the family footage into a 30-second TV spot, Honey Maid produced longer films highlighting the families.
“The campaign is focused on sharing the stories of some real-life, diverse American families [and] illustrating that while families may look different...than they did in the past, the family connections they have, like our Honey Maid products, remain wholesome at the core,” Osifchin says.
Honey Maid isn't the only brand to focus on diversity. Coca-Cola is another. Its Super Bowl commercial featured a rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung in several different languages to highlight the various cultures that comprise the United States—a spot that earned more than 11 million YouTube views. Similarly, Banana Republic pays homage to “true relationships, true style, and true emotions” in its “True Outfitters” campaign by featuring different couples and families, including interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, as well as European models Sara Blomqvist and Jeremy Young.
However, not all consumers support these brands' marketing efforts. Although Osifchin says that the overall reaction to Honey Maid's spots has been “positive,” the campaign has received some unfavorable comments, as well—including consumers posting on YouTube that they will no longer purchase Honey Maid products.
In the article “Modern Family: A Reality for Today's Marketers,” Terry Young, CEO of culture-tracking agency sparks & honey, told Direct Marketing News that consumers tend to be more open to brands featuring certain family dynamics over others. He said that this is particularly true when it comes to addressing sexual orientation.
“I think there are certain configurations that have been around long enough that it's not controversial at all,” Young said. “When you bring sexuality into it, it becomes controversial because it gets tied back to religion. This is going to have to be something that every company decides for themselves.”
Honey Maid has responded to consumers' comments both in aggregate and individually on social, including posting the following message on its YouTube channel:
“Today we celebrate all families. From working moms to two moms; stay at home dads to single dads; adopted kids to surrogate kids. Honey Maid recognizes that the reality of family has changed, but the wholesome connections that all families share will endure. #thisiswholesome.”
Granted, not every brand may choose to respond to its consumers' comments. In the same article, Young told Direct Marketing News that the choice to respond really depends on the brand's overall philosophy.
“We're celebrating wholesome families of all types in this campaign, and our fans recognize that,” Osifchin says. “Just like our products, Honey Maid believes that no matter how things change, what makes us wholesome endures.”
Think about the last video you watched all the way through until the end on YouTube, Vimeo, or wherever. As viewers and consumers of media (and there's a lot of media out there to consume), we're not likely to sit through stuff we're not interested in. Personally, I can't click the “You can skip to video in 5…4…3” prompt fast enough when an ad plays before something I actually want to see on YouTube.
That's why content, especially video content, has to be engaging or it won't get shared—let alone viewed in the first place. The best, and ultimately most viral, video marketing examples of recent memory—Dove's “Real Beauty Sketches”, Blendtec's “Will it Blend?” come to mind—are authentic, funny, entertaining, on-brand, and not overly self-promotional.
“If a brand story is going to reach people and be successful you need a human component for them to relate to,” says Alyssa Igawa, marketing director at Speedo. “Unless you're going beyond just trying to sell a product, people are going to dismiss the content.”
Case in point: Speedo's recent “Art of the Cap” campaign, which tapped into the personal experiences of five Olympic gold medal-winning swimmers who collaborated with artists to design limited edition swim caps sold exclusively on speedoUSA.com, the proceeds of which went to support charities close to each Olympian's heart.
Speedo also released a series of beautifully shot, earnest videos in which each swimmer explains his or her personal connection to the chosen charity. Eleven-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, whose cap raised money for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, lost a close relative to Duchenne. Olympian Dana Vollmer, who raised money for Simon's Fund, a charity dedicated to providing heart screenings and educating parents and coaches about sudden cardiac arrest, underwent cardiac surgery herself when she was 16 after being diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia. Vollmer's mother had to keep a poolside defibrillator handy in case of a sudden potentially fatal spike in her daughter's heart rate.
“As we sat down with each one of these Olympians, we realized how sincere their connection is to these causes,” says David Lai, CEO and creative director at Speedo's digital AOR Hello Design, the agency responsible for “Art of the Cap.” “We knew early on that being able to tell these stories through video would be a core component of the campaign because it was a great way to bring these stories to life—people naturally want to engage with a good story.”
Other than the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube), Speedo and Hello Design didn't put much of a media push behind the content; they seeded the videos organically, asked the Olympians to share them with their own networks, and sat back to see how people would react. “We didn't overthink it or ask ourselves what it would mean for ROI,” Igawa says. “We just wanted to tell a really nice story, so we created the content and the rest happened by itself.”
All of the caps sold out in less than a week and Speedo's social fan base increased by double its average growth rate during the campaign sales period. Total impressions for the campaign capped out at 18.2 million. But the most noteworthy stat is one related to engagement: the audience retention rate for the Art of the Cap videos was 86% better than the average YouTube video of similar length (about two and a half minutes).
“You can never really predict viral-ness, but for us that was never the goal,” Lai says. “We were looking to create quality over quantity; to make sure we were connecting with the right audience—people who love swimming and the water—which was more important to us than just saying we got tons and tons of views.”
Video views aside, you know you've got a hit on your hand when people actually use your branded hashtag voluntarily. Spontaneous UGC means you've done your content right:
Marketing today is not for the faint of heart. And complacency is completely out of the question. Today marketing requires thinking differently—and thinking big. A drove of esteemed marketing and business leaders shared their thoughts on thinking big in marketing at The Economist's Big Rethink. Here, a roundup of 15 of those marketing chiefs' advice, insight, and opinions on how they approach and achieve success in marketing today.
“As marketers we're seduced by technology, but we need to think about customers first.” –Laura Henderson, director, U.S. media and communications, Modelez International
“In this time of technology stripping out humanity, how do you bring back the humanity?” –Ester Lee, SVP, brand marketing, advertising, and sponsorship, AT&T
“We were the original social network, so how do we take new technology and apply it to the tentacles we already have? Our spend is going more toward digital because we're trying to find a way to get our message directly to consumers…. We're very engaged in social; you want to make sure that you're part of the conversation.” –Candace Matthews, CMO, Amway
“How do vanity measures translate to conversion? You can't look at one without the other. And, you have to look at the quality of conversion, not just [the number of] conversions. Are you creating engagement? ‘Have you gotten me to want to think about your product?'” –Anindita Mukherjee, SVP and CMO, Frito-Lay North America
“If it's core to the business, we collect as much data as customers will accept. We use the ‘sunshine test': If customers find out we're collecting a type of data about them, will they be OK with it?” –Tariq Shaukat, EVP and CMO, Caesars Entertainment
“Our line for collecting data is: Is it in service to the consumer? ‘If I give you my data, will you help me solve a problem or improve my experience?'” –Deanie Elsner, CMO, Kraft Food Group
“[Marketing] is different now because we have access to so much data. It's a data-first world that we're living in. Real-time marketing has changed the face of marketing. But you need to have a defensible budget to do real time [consistently]; you can do it one-off.” –Amit Shah, VP online, mobile, and social, 1-800-flowers.com
“Real time is a fundamental element of our marketing strategy because it has business impact. [We] think of real time as an always-on approach. Real time is a natural way to engage with consumers because that's how they're engaging with media.” –Laura Henderson, director, U.S. media and communications, Modelez International
“You need to start with the seed of what's incredibly true to your brand, and then carry that forward into mobile video and social media. You can bring the brand to life…. We're in a duopolistic competitive environment, so we're trying to create an emotive response, which is more in the spirit of how we go to market.” –Tom Lamb, CMO, Lowe's
“Mobile video has to be relevant to your brand and to the experience customers are having. I worry all the time: ‘Will this be great content and can I tie it back to my brand?' Don't just run an extension of your national campaign; you may miss an opportunity to engage your customers…. Instead of ‘Will this go viral?', think, ‘Will consumers watch it again?' –Scot Safon, EVP and CMO, The Weather Company
“Today, the brand is a joint-custody situation between a company and its customers. I enjoy [that]…. Our best content comes from the testimonials and experiences real women have with our products. The principles [of content] haven't changed, just how you serve it has.” –Sheryl Adkins-Green, CMO, Mary Kaye
“The days of being able to stand up and just talk about yourself are long gone. You need to tell a great story in the manner of the channel in which it's consumed.” –Neil Bedwell, global group director, digital strategy and content, The Coca-Cola Company
“Interactive fans are more important than avid fans.” –Simon Wardle, chief strategy offer, Octagon
“We view ourselves as more of a technology company… that connects buyers and sellers. We want to facilitate your journey so you can enjoy your passion seamlessly and effortlessly.” –Michael Robichaud, SVP, global sponsorships, MasterCard
“Total Rewards…is really a data collection platform. If we don't use that data [to be relevant to Total Rewards members], customers complain.” –Tariq Shaukat, EVP and CMO, Caesars Entertainment
“The Holy Grail [in marketing] is real-time decisioning…. With real time I can see what's working and what's not and make changes on the fly. It will be a profound change to the marketing industry.” –Deanie Elsner, CMO, Kraft Food Group
“The body language of a brand has to be in synch with what it's saying.” –David Droga, founder and creative chairman, Droga5
“In the world of marketing, now more than ever consumers are empowered and jaded and have seen it all, so we have to create [things that are fresh and different.]” –Anindita Mukherjee, SVP and CMO, Frito-Lay North America
“Marketers have a marketing problem…marketing has to feel like it's not marketing.” –Neil Bedwell, global group director, digital strategy and content, The Coca-Cola Company
The launch of innovative technology continues this week at SXSW in Austin. This ongoing explosion of new tech creations is one that marketers should examine—not just for inspiration—but for applicable lessons to create more modern, effective campaigns. In particular, which trends marketers should consider when designing an app or social campaigns for their brands. DMN recently featured one of these innovative apps from Texas daily newspaper, Austin American-Statesman.
Recently back from SXSW, CEO and founder of Obviously Social, Mae Karwowski, weighed in on the topic. “Apps are a great way to relate to customers,” Karwowski says. “But the majority of brands aren't doing it right. Apps should add value to the customer experience.” The social marketer gives us five top trends marketers should consider when designing apps and social media campaigns.
1. Provide instant gratification. News stories, friend updates, recent likes—all provide instant satisfaction, Karwowski says. And that immediate fulfillment can be a powerful tool for marketers. “It's psychological,” she explains. “For marketers who can provide an app that taps into the mental aspect, that's huge.” Karwowski adds that instant gratification in a marketing campaign keeps customers close and connected.
2. Give the customer an identity. Customers are often looking to brands to help shape their identities and marketers should be there to do just that. A growing number of consumers embrace brands as part of their personalities. Karwowski says features like quizzes can provide insight for a customer and make a connection to the brand. For example, which type of flower or drink represents you best? Then connect the results to your product or service. “This is key for marketers,” she says. “Customers feel you've given them insight into themselves.”
3. Embrace anonymity. This may sound counterintuitive, but Karwowski says one major trend among app and social media users is the idea of remaining anonymous to brands. So how can marketers ride the wave of such a discrete trend? Karwowski says that allowing the user to participate while remaining anonymous can still leave customers engaging with your message and help make a memorable impact. “It's tricky. The app needs to add entertainment, give info, or provide interaction with others using the app.” She cites the popular application Whisper and social news site Reddit as examples. Both, Karwowski explains, allow customers to shift from public facing to anonymity. She says these types of apps solve the customers' concern of being overexposed.
4. Share content in a way that's new and fun. Don't simply include an app in your campaign and neglect to make updates, Karwowski warns. “The last thing you want is for your customers to stop using your app because they feel it's getting old and boring.” Marketers, she says, should be constantly updating and reinventing an app or social campaign. Take inventory of what's working and what's not.
5. Talk to a few people at a time. For traditional marketers, mass audiences are king. But Karwowski suggests a more intimate approach in reaching out to customers. “Marketers need to learn to become [app] users themselves and not simply disseminate a message. But instead, reach the user who is committed to the brand.” She says that may mean chats that are one-on-one, one-to-two, perhaps one-to-a-few, versus traditional mass communication. “Marketers should realize it may not be the fastest, but it can be more impactful.”
Whether you run a dentist's office or a Fortune 500 company, data needs to be a part of the conversation. Such was the sentiment expressed at the Direct Marketing Club luncheon on March 13, where execs from Citibank, Hearst Magazines, and Forrester gathered to answer this question: “The New Analytics: Sense or Nonsense?”
The answer is, of course, a resounding “SENSE,”—if you have any desire to relate to your customers in a relevant way and make money, that is.
According to Forrester, companies that include data as part of their overall marketing strategy are able to implement their plans three times as fast and up to twice as profitably. Not bad.
Data drives modern marketing; no one disagrees with that. The question is less, “Should I use data?” and more, “What data should I pay attention to and how should I use it?”
Most marketers are still in what Citibank chief analytics and database marketing officer for consumer and small decision management Tony Branda, refers to as “research and development mode,” meaning they're still trying to figure out how to operationalize Big Data, especially unstructured data, to attract and deepen relationships.
“In this world of digital footprints and customer-engaged, customer-driven multichannel marketing, there's no social data infrastructure yet,” Branda said. “We're still trying to integrate our infrastructure with all of the unstructured data coming out of Big Data.”
Step one is asking yourself what you want to get out of your data, noted Sheryl Pattek, Forrester VP and principal analyst serving CMOs.
“Data has been so over-spoken about in the industry as a whole, but many of our clients are not quite sure what to do with it [because] they see it as this huge, overwhelming mass of stuff,” Pattek said. “But there's possibility in being pragmatic; focus on what specific questions you want answered and what data is going to help you answer those questions.”
Data is less overwhelming when you view it through the window of practical strategy. If you think of data as a way to help you increase customer acquisition by 10% or bump up cross-sell by 3% rather than as a general panacea (or implacable monster), you'll see results.
It also doesn't hurt to listen. Dell, for example, uses its social media command center as a listening device to keep tabs on what its customers are saying about the brand in the social space. At one point, after a recent launch, Dell noticed that people were complaining about the high price of its new product. Dell was able to bring that feedback to the product management department and take an action that not only mitigated the trash talk, but also boosted sales.
The more channel-agnostic consumers become, the more integrated marketers need to be. If someone hears about a product on social, researches it on their phone, then visits the company website, opts in to email, finally buys the product on a desktop, and then goes back to social to tweet about their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the whole process—why does their final key stroke (or tap) matter? It's time to toss last click attribution out the window.
“We need to move away from channel attribution because the channel basically doesn't matter anymore,” Pattek said. “If you optimize a single channel, you might be missing an important part of the buying journey.”
Because it's a whole new world out there—one in which a single tweet is all it takes to make a magazine fly off the shelves, as was the case with Miley Cyrus and the March 2013 issue of Cosmo:
Lets play a game! All my fans go and put my @Cosmopolitan in front of all the magazines at the store!!!!!! Send me pics haha!— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) February 1, 2013
“Everyone did it and sales went through the roof,” said Charles Swift, VP of strategy and marketing operations at Hearst Magazines. “Now the challenge for us is, ‘How do we make that happen again?'”
It's a good question, considering Miley tweeted that on her own, not as the result of a directive from Hearst.
“We spend a lot of time testing social media, but it's new for us,” Swift said. “Now that we've seen some evidence of success, it's hard to say what we have to do to repeat it.”
Company of the week
Data Services, Inc. meets the needs of today's data-driven marketer by providing front-end database management and data analytics platforms alongside our expertise in global contact data quality, database building and ongoing maintenance that comes with our 45+ years in business.
Spectrum Spatial attempts to make the world a small marketplace for B2B and B2C companies alike.
Intent, which tells you who, how, and when to target, is a common thread on the customer journey.
It's been a bad year for TV service providers.