Thursday, 31 January 2008

Optimization is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Optimization is all about listening – and doing it successfully means that you are deriving meaningful insights from what your customers are telling you (explicitly or implicitly). Every time I talk about on-site optimization I find myself talking about the measurable outcomes – better conversion rates mostly. But it’s more than this – creating an excellent, relevant experience for visitors to your site will have longer lasting effects, Lester Wunderman the father of Direct Marketing called this “building brands while driving sales”. One of the smarter guys I know in the site-side optimization field, Jonathan Mendez sums it up well:
“The benefits can be profound when you deliver a higher degree of relevance to people based upon what you know. What you're doing is creating a better experience. This has all kinds of quantitative value in improving media performance, conversion rate improvements, page views, etc. It also has amazing qualitative benefits that result from the positive emotions created when someone is having a good experience with your brand and business. We're trying hard to quantify these brand metrics for our clients -- and though challenging, they're real and tremendously undervalued.”

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Email is More Effective than Search...

New York based Datran Media just published its outlook on email marketing for 2008. The report - The 2nd Annual Marketing & Media Survey 2008: Looking Forward - provides insight from over 2000 marketers on their views and palans to use email in this coming year.

Overall, 82 percent of those surveyed indicated that they plan to increase their use of email marketing strategies in 2008, and 55 percent of the respondents expect ROI from email to be higher than any other channel. This is in line with the Direct Marketing Association's recent report, which found the ROI from email is much higher than other channels. In fact, email ROI will hit $45.65 for every dollar spent in 2008, more than twice the ROI of other mediums including search and display.
Datran found that 67 percent of respondents beleived that email had helped boost sales through other channels. In these scenarios, email is leveraged as a tool for sales as well as a media channel.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Truth is More Important than the Facts

The marketing services industry has pretty much always used data to inform our communications. It occurs to me that although we are pretty smart at deriving meaning from the data we can (increasingly) collect from our target audiences it is vastly more difficult to understand the truths that these data contain. It is those truths that make communications powerful and meaningful - think about the campaign for real beauty for example - what does the data tell us about the target audience and what truths must we extract to get to that campaign idea? Take a look at this video - a great expression of marketing with facts...

The title of this post is a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Email - Use With Care, But Use

I have long been a proponent of email, specifically as an additive channel - we have seen pretty remarkable effects when email is smartly combined with other (off-line) channels. I have also long warned that the indiscriminate use of email because it's cheap - has dangers far beyond the fact that they are simply ignored. A recent post on Chris Baggott's Email Marketing Best Practices blog puts the case for marrying a little strategic thinking, some great creative and a dollop of data brilliantly...

I may be brand-loyal to Goodyear Tires, but their product isn’t the type for which I would subscribe to their RSS feed or visit their site very often. If they want my business they have to recognize who I am and the best time to send me any communications. To be successful they have to pay attention to me. Know how I buy. Know when winter comes where I live. Or how many miles I’m likely to drive so they can send me the right product reminders...the sort of thing that can be done brilliantly with the right combination of strategy, creativity, email & data.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Local Search

Local searches, for the most part, are conducted by consumers on the local or directory (yellow pages) sections of leading search sites. According to comScore, Google captures the largest share of local searches (30%), followed by Yahoo! (29%) and Microsoft (12%). In an related study, comScore said that most people doing local search (59%) are searching for recreational activities such as a restaurant or a cinema, theme park or other attraction. Another large segment (41%) seek information on local services, including car rentals, dry cleaners and lawyers. Searchers are looking for the basics: 52% said they searched specifically for a business phone number or address.

A report called "Why Search Matters to Local Business" from WebVisible demonstrates the growing significance of search engines in meeting consumer's need to find a local businesses. The survey of 2,000 Internet users conducted by WebVisible and Nielsen//NetRatings, revealed that search engines are used by 73% of consumers when seeking local products and services -- more than any other media type. By comparison, traditional advertising sources are becoming used less frequently. According to the report, usage is as follows:

  • Internet search engines 73%
  • Yellow pages telephone directories 65%
  • Internet yellow pages 50%
  • Local newspapers 44%
  • White pages telephone directories 33%
  • Television 29%
  • Direct mail 20%
  • Consumer review Web sites 18%
  • Radio 15%

Monday, 14 January 2008

Fishing Where The Fish Are

Conde Nast's teen site Flip has decided to turn down the focus on its standalone site and instead turn itself into a widget that can live in different ecosystems. Facebook will be the initial beneficiary of this strategy and ongoing development and marketing efforts will be focused on this approach.

Sarah Chubb, president of CondéNet said, “Flip’s demographic is perfectly aligned with FacebookWeve made 300,000 girls incredibly happy, but there’s millions of them on Facebook. And we know they’re interested the same kinds of tools that are available there. It would be a whole lot harder to build from 300,000 to the serious numbers like 1 or 2 million, which is the sweet spot for us. So this seemed like the best way to go.”

In my opinion the growth of Facebook and the other social networks will give rise to similar questions from many other providers of niche social nets...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Permission Is The Asset Of The Future

The title of this post comes from a Seth Godin article about the music industry. A very interesting article that you can read here.

He's right of course. As marketing continues to evolve and get smarter about being relevant and - who knows, even anticipated, so are the consumers. Consumers have already created the Channel of Me in which customisation and control is enabled by technology. In my mind, the ultimate expression of this evolution in the customer mindset will be the consumer as a personal data broker. As an individual, I will be able to allow certain parties to see certain parts of my "Private Key" profile. Permission will become easy to grant and to rescind based on my preferences at that given moment... For example, if I am in the market for a car, I will give Ford permission to talk to me, when I have made my choice - the marketing window is closed, if I want to stay up to date with travel offers, I will share a piece of my profile with Expedia etc.

The key here is control. Customers will control their own data in a way not dissimilar to the way they control their media consumption today. Permission will be a sliding scale with limitless potential for nuancing and endless possibilities for monetization...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Spotlight On Rich Media

According a Forrester Research report entitled "US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007 To 2012," Rich Media or Interactive ads are expected to grow to 42 percent of the overall US Online display market by 2012. As a result of this expected growth, the accurate measurement of rich media campaigns will become crucial.

DoubleClick recently launched Spotlight for Rich Media - the first DoubleClick report to correlate individual rich media metrics, such as interactions, expansions, multiple click-throughs and video plays directly to site conversions. Therefore enabling advertisers to measure and optimize to the actual dollar return of specific graphical and interactive elements within creative campaigns. The report allows marketers to:
  • Monitor conversion rates for multiple click-through links and update creatives to promote the link that’s driving the most value.
  • Estimate the real dollar return of different types of video.
  • Calculate the direct revenue effect of aggressive implementations like mouse-over-to-expand and auto-expand versus conservative approaches like click-to-expand.
  • Measure how individual features within a rich media ad correlate to conversions so you can promote more of what works.
More here...

Friday, 4 January 2008

Relevant Product Placement

Is this the height of low cost (and amusing) product benefit relevance? Well done Toronto Plastic Surgery...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Corporate Social Graph

My friend and learned author of Marketing in the In-Between: A Post-Modern Turn on Madison Avenue , Len Ellis recently pointed me to an interesting development from IBM Lotus. Called Atlas, this software will mine relationships within the business world to help answer questions such as who the experts are on a given topic, how they are connected to me, and who my contacts know that I don't.

Reach, the social dashboard element of Atlas, helps users navigate six degrees of separation that divide them from a colleague. The dashboard indicates the shortest path to reach an expert and ranks that expert based on the level of interaction across the network.

More here....

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The Art of Conversation

Joseph Jaffe's new book "Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue, and Partnership" continues a homage to Jim Stengel who has (along with his company - P&G) done more to push the concept of influence marketing than just about anyone else. Jaffe details the steps marketers must take to gain maximum advantage of participation in the conversations that are taking place.

I think that 2008 will see a shift from a passive observation of sentiment and buzz to a more active, open, honest and ultimately mutually useful facilitation and participation in the conversations themselves. Active listening....