Wednesday, 27 December 2006

The Beauty of Getting It Wrong

I guarantee that online (and search) marketing conversion rates would be higher than the paltry 4% if only we would adopt a more exploratory or experimental approach. We needn’t and indeed shouldn’t deal in certainty in the online world, doubt is our friend. As long as we listen, learn and adapt our messages to the explicit and implicit feedback we receive, we will be exponentially more successful. The web provides a global, real-time and real life laboratory – only the foolhardy wouldn’t treat it as such and reap the benefits…. As Voltaire said - doubt is unpleasant, but certainty is ridiculous. Tailor the offer, the call to action, the headline, the copy and whatever else in response to what your customers say (on blogs, product ratings etc) and do (on site behaviour, purchases, abandonment etc). Use whatever mechanisms and data you can lay your hands on to constantly monitor your consumers attitudes and behaviours and the act on it.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Taguchi Testing A Far Cry From A/B

A/B testing is a staple of the direct marketing industry. Two versions of a direct mail piece are mailed to representative groups of the audience to see which version generates the most responses. The most successful is then mailed to the full mailing list. The assumption being that either version A or B is the best possible answer - it rarely is.
Genichi Taguchi developed a process to test several variables at the same time by carefully selecting different combinations so that the total test reveals which version of each variable is best. This approach is called multivariate testing. For example, if you want to test five versions of the offer and five versions of the copy on your mailing piece, you can use different combinations of each so that you can test all 25 combinations at the same time, getting your answers for both variables at once.
Multivariate testing software can select which version of each variable should be tested on each page and can boil down those billions of possibilities to a few dozen. After testing those few dozen, you can run a second multivariate test with a dozen versions, then get it down to three or four for the last wave before you decide the right variants for every variable.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Relationship Marketing on the Mobile Phone

Mobile CRM in the shape of sales force automation has been around for a while. Is 2007 the year when real and relevant consumer-centric programs come to the mobile platform? The tools to allow consumers and brands to interact in a meaningful way (i.e. beyond the SMS) are starting to show up. The recent announcement of the deal between Cingular and MySpace to offer enhanced functionality to all Cingular customers via their mobile phones is a good example of the type of platform that relationship marketers will be able to deploy to offer meaningful interactions to consumers. Cingular customers will, in effect, be able to edit MySpace profiles, view and add friends, post photos and blogs, send and receive MySpace messages etc... all from their mobile phone.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Who's searching for what and where?

As marketers use source (search engine used) as an element of segmentation, I wonder what to make of these top search terms used for 2006 on the 3 leading engines.

Google:
1. Bebo
2. Myspace
3. World Cup
4. Metacafe
5. Radioblog
6. Wikipedia
7. Video
8. Rebelde
9. Mininova
10. Wiki

Yahoo:
1. Britney Spears
2. WWE
3. Shakira
4. Jessica Simpson
5. Paris Hilton
6. American Idol
7. Beyonce Knowles
8. Chris Brown
9. Pamela Anderson
10. Lindsay Lohan

AOL:
1. Weather
2. Dictionary
3. Dogs
4. American Idol
5. Maps
6. Cars
7. Games
8. Tattoo
9. Horoscopes
10. Lyrics

Monday, 18 December 2006

Search Marketing & How to Waste Money Doing It.

1. Don’t get to know your visitor….

Use the data you already have and any other nuggets you can glean
Offers should be refined for specific customer segments, such as gender, referral source, keyword, new or return visitor, and any others that we can mine. Create personas to use as a guide. From the anonymous browser, to the identified customer, Artificial Intelligence modules can now detect the most promising prospects from their browsing behavior.

2. Don’t make a direct connection between search terms used and the very first page you show to the visitor…

Create relevant landing pages
For example, if a customer searches for a high yield savings account and click on a link, that link must take you to a page which specifically deals with that subject—not to a generic home page where the customer must find the product herself. With so many choices, customers most often will just move on. The market reality is that there is simply not enough affordable traffic to sustain business growth unless the marketer optimizes the landing page as well as the search terms.

Offers must be relevant based on insights and different scenario testing. Content must be relevant and meaningful. And, design must reflect the needs and expectations of the target audience. We are trying to establish a profitable relationship here and relevance is the father of engagement.

3. Don’t pay attention to the copy of your ad…

Be specific in your copy
Yahoo gives you 190 characters (including spaces) in your text ad. MSN adCenter gives you 140, while Google allows just 70. No pictures, no colors, no company logo... nothing, just a few words. It’s a small canvas, your words are fundamental, be very careful not to waste them on generalities. Studies have shown extraordinary variations in the effectiveness of different copy (see point 5).

4. Don’t measure what matters…

Decide on a short list of key success metrics and measure, measure
The web has a great strength in the availability of performance data – the amount of data available is also a weakness. Some of the leading web metrics packages offer more that 5,000 reports out of the box – you probably need 5. Watching how customers behave on your website, and using the information to drive structural, offer placement or editorial improvements, is integral to increasing conversion.

5. Don’t use what you learn to drive improvement (continuously)…

Test, optimize and test again
Test as many combinations of content variations as you can or want to and track any sequence of conversion behavior. Use A/B split or multivariate test campaigns to meet your conversion goals. According to a Stanford University study the following are the conversion components that should be tested and optimized (there are more): Headline, Offer, Lead, Benefits, Images, Look & Feel.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

BlueCasting for Flies

Bluetooth is defined by Wikipedia as is an industrial specification for wireless personal area networks (PANs). Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones, laptops, PCs, printers, digital cameras and video game consoles via a secure, globally unlicensed short-range radio frequency.

BlueCasting, as this application is called, opens the door for a wide array of outdoor, point-of-purchase, and mobile marketing opportunities. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has launched a trial of its BlueCasting system at Amsterdam Airport. Travelers who are within range of the Bluetooth transmitter automatically receive messages from KLM, but only if they have activated the Bluetooth function on their electronic devices. Bluecasting software detects the users handset, and delivers the appropriate content to that person directly. Most Bluecasting stations have a range of about 100 meters. Individuals passing by are alerted with a message and are asked if they would like to accept the content onto their handsets. Land Rover recently conducted a Bluecasting campaign in Manhattan. The London underground system now features Bluecasting-enabled signage and BMW is using BlueCasting to deliver video clips showing off its Z4 Coupé. From Coldplay to Go-Tan (an Asian supermarket in Holland), advertisers are being drawn to a new way to talk to their consumers.
There are still many dissenting voices around the use of Bluetooth as a marketing vector. This could reopen the whole permission marketing debate again. But the channel, if used correctly (as responsible marketers will) offers many truly innovative ways of connecting advertisers with consumers.

Monday, 11 December 2006

The Increasing Reach and Influence of Blogs

The direct link between user-generated content and people’s intentions to purchase a product or service is again demonstated in a Hotwire / Ipsos MORI European study . The research shows that more than 25 million adults in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have changed their minds about a company or its products after reading comments or reviews on a blog. Furthermore third (34%) of Europeans say they have not purchased a product after reading comments on the internet from customers or other private individuals.

Other key findings from the research include:
  • Blogs are now a near second to newspapers as the most trusted information source: A quarter (24%) of Europeans consider blogs a trusted source of information, still behind newspaper articles (30%), but ahead of television advertising (17%) and email marketing (14%).
  • High spenders are most trusting of blogs: Of those who spend more than 145€ (£100) online every month, the proportion of people who trust blogs rises to 30%.
  • France leads European blogging; Britain lags: Across Europe, six out of ten (61%) internet users have heard of blogging, and one in six (17%), have read a blog. France is the most blog-savvy country in Europe, with 90% of respondents familiar with blogs. The British are the least blog-aware, with only 50% having heard the term. In Germany, 55% have heard of blogs, 58% in Italy and 51% in Spain.
  • Blogs are now driving purchase decisions: More than half (52%) of Europeans polled said that they were more likely to purchase a product if they had read positive comments from private individuals on the internet.
  • They also block purchases: Nearly 40 million Europeans have not bought something after reading comments posted online.

Results based on research conducted by Ipsos MORI in Europe. The research polled a representative sample of 2,214 adults aged 15+, in Great Britain (526), France (440), Germany (485), Italy (378) and Spain (385), who use the internet either at home, at work or elsewhere. Interviews were conducted face-to-face at their homes during September 2006, using the Ipsos Capibus services.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Landing page optimisation

appears to be the flavour of the month in many circles. And for good reason: If the banner, search or other online ad is your storefront then the landing page is the store – the product selection that you put before your potential client. First impressions are lasting impressions, that being said, the initial landing page is just the beginning of the on (and off) line customer journey. The subsequent pages which guide your visitor to the “success event” of your site – be that a purchase, a request for further information, registration etc are equally important. According to a Stanford University study the following are the key elements to optimize:

  1. Headline
  2. Offer
  3. Lead
  4. Benefits
  5. Images
  6. Look & Feel


Even minor improvements in these elements will positively influence conversions on your site. How will you know which ones? By testing of course! The direct marketers have long understood the need to test to eek out increases in responses to offers – the same skills need to be deployed online.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

CRM or CEM

Ah...the difference will be for a later post

A certain truth is that neither can succeed without the successful implementation and operation of various marketing technologies to handle the information and data required to have any kind of understanding of what the customers' experience really is. An equal and opposing truth is that technology is only a part of the answer. We have all heard about the multi-million dollar CRM projects which were really implementation rather than CRM failures (A Gartner study found that approximately 55 percent of all CRM projects failed to meet software customers' expectations).

Technologies enable business processes which in turn support strategies - not the other way around.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Blogvertising for Beginners

Another attempt to reach the golden 18 to 35 year old demographic.

According to a new report, “Blog, Podcast & RSS Advertising Outlook,” from PQ Media, combined blog, podcast and RSS ad spend by the end of 2005 totaled $20.4 million, a 198.4 percent increase over the 2004 levels for user-generated online media - and is projected to climb 144.9 percent in 2006, reaching $49.8 million. Total spending on user-generated online media is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 106.1 percent from 2005 to 2010, reaching $757.0 million in 2010. The blogvertising market is the largest of the three, at $16.6 million accounting for 81.4 percent of total advertising in 2005.
Technology, auto and media brands are the most active in user-generated media advertising, accounting for more than half of total advertising spending in 2005, the, with the food and beverage and apparel categories rounding out the top five.
The most common and simplest blogvertising method is to accept targeted banner advertising. However, some bloggers have been hesitant to use this because of negative reader response to the ads. A more discreet form of advertising is for bloggers to promote merchandise from other sites, receiving a commission when a customer buys the item after following a blog link. Click here to buy a great book on the subject….
Fairly new, and highly controversial, is the pay-per-blog model, in which the blogger writes a set number of words on a topic (usually a web page or product) provided by an advertiser. The post always includes at least one link to a web site relevant to the topic, as a way of creating "buzz" and helping the advertised page's rank in search engines. In return, the blogger receives a small amount of money, usually no more than 10 US dollars.
Blogging by numbers
147 Million Number of American adults who use the Internet
57 Million Number of American adults who read blogs
12 Million Number of American adults who keep a blog

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project Blogger Callback Survey, July 2005-February 2006. Margin of error is ±7%.