Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Shared Positioning System (SPS)

Nope, this is not a new expression of the global positioning system (that I have now become totally reliant on) with an additional social layer. Rather it is a way of thinking about navigating the increasingly scattered content that once was enclaved on a single website, a way of thinking about the destination and the different (and increasing number of) ways of getting there.

Why positioning? From a consumer’s perspective, reminding me of why I am here, how I got here, got this far and what I need to do next is very helpful from a contextual point of view. Already proven to be useful on-site, this will become increasingly true as content that is currently found on those same sites is made available to the consumer, on demand, in different forms and via different channels. From a content owner’s point of view, a combination of both on and off-site web analytics tools can provide a good indication of the performance of your content both on-site and in the broader eco-system.

Why shared? Two reasons, one is that as consumers we inevitably fall into groups defined by demographics, psychographics or other behavioural identifiers and will tend to behave and track in certain particular patterns and as such follow a similar path (persona driven design and communication planning along with on and off-site behavioural targeting will allow you to map those macro journeys effectively). The other is simply another expression of the age old value exchange - As a site or content owner, I want you as a consumer to perform certain valuable actions, (sign up, opt in, buy, connect, friend, follow, link etc) and, since, you are here, one can imagine that these actions might be on your agenda too - assuming that the work I did to attract you here in the first place was correctly focused and that you are in the right place. As such, our Shared Positioning System (the navigation - from the initial interaction point to the conversion point) has one, and only one role - to enable both of us to get from point A to point B in the most effective way possible. All of the rest (page views, stickiness, etc...) is simply noise and must not detract us from the real focus of the journey; the destination.

All of this is contestable of course, but it is most beautifully testable and if you’re not testing it - why not?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Of Healthcare & Mobile Marketing

Below is the transcript of an interview I gave to MedAdNews Insider on the potential of mobile marketing to the healthcare industry.

Mark Taylor, a managing partner with the interactive agency Rosetta, recently shared a few of his thoughts on the subject with me.

Med Ad News: Why is the consumer relationship with mobile phones so well-suited for healthcare marketing?

Mark Taylor: The mobile has grown into something of a remote control for our lives. It’s an always on, multi-channel interactive communication device, which we increasingly use to entertain us, to see what our friends are up to, guide us, to alert or inform us. The truly personal nature of the cell phone brings with it the potential for a symbiotic relationship between utility and marketing. For example , there are many cases of simple text messages being used to alert populations at risk in developing countries of dangerous infectious diseases. Closer to home, hospitals are using text messaging to both disseminate information to patients and to create a support structure. We have a special relationship with our mobile devices, partly due to the fact that we take them everywhere we go, people develop far closer attachments to their devices than to their home PCs or laptops. Those same PCs are also much more likely to be shared than a mobile device and therefore less truly personal. It is this device intimacy that will provide healthcare companies with unrivalled possibilities to build and maintain one-to-one relationships with their customers and potential customers based on the age-old marketing principle of the value exchange (back to the symbiotic relationship between utility and marketing).

Med Ad News: How are companies marketing using apps on the iPhone? What are a few successful examples of healthcare marketing through iPhone apps?

Mark Taylor: Many companies are using the iPhone application platform to provide marketing opportunities. Kraft Foods are proving that if you can provide relevance and value, consumers are even willing to pay for your messaging. Kraft’s iFood Assistant is now #2 amongst paid apps in the Lifestyle category of IPhone applications. Nationwide Insurance married utility with messaging in its app which enables Nationwide customers to find local resources, document an accident, and submit claims information from the accident site. In terms of healthcare applications, there is a large selection of healthcare apps; most are for data tracking, storing medical information, or reference. The most popular are either for weight loss tracking or reference - WebMD has an excellent application, for example.

Med Ad News: Where does mobile marketing fit in for healthcare brand managers in a multi-channel approach?

Mark Taylor: The personal nature of the mobile device makes it excellent for communication on sensitive topics and we are sensitive about our health. So mobile is perfect for establishing one-to-one relationships with our most valuable customers. There are really five things to remember about using mobile as a channel:

1. Mobile is part of a multi-channel approach. Done correctly, the healthcare industry can lead with mobile marketing, it should not do only mobile marketing

2. Go beyond SMS, there are hundreds of healthcare and lifestyle applications available for the 30 million iPhone and iTouch users - many more will see the light of day as Blackberry, Google and others get into the applications field

3. More than ever, be relevant. The nature of the relationship between the consumer and the channel/device makes this more than ever essential

4. Aim for response, use the channel to start conversations not to blast messages

5. As with any other initiative, establish, clear measurable goals

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Bring On The Faster Horses

The evergreen quote from Henry Ford "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses" often comes to mind as more and more companies are getting serious about listening to consumers (their current customers and, crucially, those consumers who are not yet customers) using social media and web analytics. The quote has always been a little dangerous in that it can be used to imply that innovation is somehow disassociated with and distant from consumers. I believe the opposite is true, real and impactful innovation comes from an exceptionally deep understanding of your customers wants and desires. Listening is not enough of course, interpretation is everything. Interesting article in the NYT this weekend discusses the shift in focus from pure design decisions to customer informed choices based on web analytics. In the article, a former head of design for Google bemoans the fact that all design decisions had to be tested and proven in the real world, page changes would be tested and the winning formula - based on observed visitor behaviour - would be adopted. I have a hard time finding fault with that approach, after all, websites exist to help consumers achieve objectives (find other sites, buy products, sign up for loyalty programs, etc), sucessful designs do that more sucessfully and it's all emminently measurable and proveable....

The article is Data, Not Design Is King in the Age of Google and is here...

Friday, 1 May 2009

A World...

So what would our lives be like without advertising...