Archive for Internet Marketing

The Old Spice Videos & Rocket Ship Marketing

I dig the 100+ Old Spice Man videos made by marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy, targeted towards individual social media people. They fit pretty close to what I imagine that future of advertising online will be like – I wrote about it previously in my post Rocket Ship Marketing.

You can read that post for more detail on what Rocket Ship Marketing is. In this post I want to point out how what Wieden + Kennedy did fits in with the Rocket Ship idea.

1. They made over a hundred videos. Instead of one big Rocket Ship, or one big idea, they did hundreds of mini rockets. These are cheaper, fail faster and uncontrollable; therefore they were able to spread out and find their niches.

2. More videos makes for less risk. Some worked better than others but since none of them individually required a big investment it didn’t matter. All of these niches in the long tail together were enough to be equivalent to being a big budget hit but without the risk of just being one idea by itself.

3. The Old Spice ads are very personalized, made to individual people. Instead of making something that tries to target as many people as possible (one big Rocket Ship), which makes for bland and unremarkable ads, they were hyper-targeted and super relevant (many small Rocket Ships). When the intended recipients received these messages they let everyone know about it. That’s what relevant targeting does. It’s not perfect for everyone but for those who it is perfect for, it delights them and it spreads.

4. They gave up control. According to the article on Read Write Web, “Proctor & Gamble exhibited incredible bravery in allowing his team to write marketing content in real time, with little to no supervision.” Usually the brand wants to own the message and all appendages to it. But in the Old Spice case, they let go and allowed people to comment, re-send and participate with it. This can be scary (what if it backfires and gives the brand a black eye?) but at the same time its the only way to let multiple ideas go out, be discovered and send back what they find.

With cost of production going down thanks to improved technology and the increasing ability to target very specific audiences, I think this model makes a lot of sense: 1. Make a bunch of mini-rockets each with a specific message for a specific group. 2. Fire all the rockets at once. 3. A few rockets are bound to miss but don’t worry, you’ll quickly find out which ones suck and you’ll be happy you didn’t invest everything into that one idea 4. Measure the results and discover which good ideas are spreading. 5. Give more money to the good ones that work and less to the bad ones that don’t. 6. Repeat.

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Web Analytics Framework Example

Inspired by Avinash’s last post on ensuring a clear line of site with web metrics, I took a stab at creating a web analytics framework for a medium sized eCommerce site. This theoretical site is using the following marketing channels: paid search (brand and non-brand keywords), comparison shopping engines, affiliates, email, display advertising and social media (Facebook and Twitter).

I tried to figure out where each of those channels would fit into the what matters most diagram from Avinash’s post (I know I’m missing some so I left an empty space below each segment for additional ideas), and then those channel’s strategies, KPI’s and KPI Targets.

Click to Enlarge

I really enjoyed this exercise and get how effective this would be for any organization to get everyone on the same page. It gives the people at the top an accurate idea of what the site is really worth and it gives the analysts a direction to start doing segmented analysis to discover problems to fix what directly affect net income.

Download the Web Analytics Framework.

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Rocket Ship Marketing

Space ShuttleI think the correct way to do marketing, or the way the current landscape demands, can be explained using a metaphor having to do with comparing advertising to a rocket ship:

Whats Wrong With Big Rocket Ships (AKA Traditional Advertising):
1. Traditional rocket ships are big, complex and are explicitly designed to be controlled. These design requirements result in a huge increase in their cost and complexity, and decrease dramatically the probability of the success for the mission. Likewise, a traditional marketing plan is made to be as big and encompassing as possible. Since there is so much riding on it, the marketing must be controlled. With rocket ships and traditional marketing plans, it’s make it or break it.

2. A Rocket ship uses 80% of its fuel in lift off. Once it gets past the lift off stage its pretty much on its way. Likewise, it takes 80% of the marketing budget to launch a new campaign before it has a chance at catching on. What if the idea is a dud and you can’t tell until  after spending 80% of the budget?

3.With the rocket ship costing so much money and taking so much time, it needs to be successful. Traditionally we are continually looking for a “hit” in advertising, something that will spread and become part of pop culture. While trying to predict the likely success of a chosen brand message being a hit, inordinate amounts of money and energy are spent, often, all in vain. Who knows what will be a “hit”? Nobody.

The Solution To The Traditional Rocket Ship Is Replacing It With Hundreds Or More Mini-Rockets:
1. Mini-rockets are cheap to make and launch. And since you don’t have to rely on only one to succeed dramatically well, they don’t need to be built in with fail-proof security and reliability (the reason why traditional rockets cost so much and take so long to build.)

2. Continually measuring the mini-rockets as they go, you can build on the ones that are working and cut back on the ones that aren’t in real-time. Having a budget split up this way allows you to not waste more money than is needed before cutting back on ideas that aren’t working. By relinquishing control, the mini-rockets would be on their own, only bothering to send back whatever they discover.

3. No one knows what is going to be a hit. It’s also hard to tell which demographic will best respond to any particular media. But you stand a better chance at finding a hit with a hundred estimated guesses at a dozen different demographics than one big idea. Then, after launching the multiple mini rockets, you  can let the data tell you which one is the best and continue to fund that one.

This strategy requires the brand to forgo the single-minded brand proposition and embrace long tail thinking. Every brand has more than one potentially ideal consumer. But the big rocket ship’s only option is to target one demographic broadly to capture as many people in that demo as possible. This creates a bland campaign that doesn’t resonate perfectly with anyone since it’s trying to attract as many people as possible by being broad. Targeting the “edges” of the tail instead of the masses, or “head” of the tail, requires narrowing your list down to those most likely, most interested people and ignore everyone else.With mini-rockets you can target very specific demographics with a very specific message. Sure, the amount of people you are reaching is less but your chance for success is higher. This is also much cheaper. Target a dozen different demos and try sending a rocket to them all. These smaller niches, in aggregate, can be composed of as many people as the “head” of the tail and stand a better chance of accepting and spreading your brand.

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Improving Grocery Stores With Data

groceryThe app Shopsavvy for the Android and Redlaser for the iPhone are pretty sweet. With the iPhone 3GS you can use its video camera to capture a barcode, then the app shows you price comparisons for that product online as well as comparing the price to other stores near you.

This makes me think of all the cool things grocery stores could do if they harnessed the internet’s data collection and social networking abilities. A few ideas:

1. Grocery stores already keep track of purchases with their loyalty cards when you check out, why not share that information with the consumer? Give the customer a personal page on their website that shows their shopping habits and make recommendations like Amazon does – 90% of people who purchase Cool Ranch Doritos also buy Cherry Coke.

2. Being able to see everything that you have purchased and the quantity of what you have purchased would help you plan your shopping better. Like what Mint does for personal finance, you would know more accurately how often you need to buy milk. You could see pie charts that show you how much of your food purchases are made up of candy.

3. With more data, grocery stores could give highly relevant and targeted coupons designed individually for the consumer. With enough time the grocery store will know which kind of offers – buy one get one or % off – and on which products incentivize customers to buy. They could figure out that my cookie of choice is Oreos and any discount below 20% off won’t make me buy, but as soon as an offer comes for 30% off Oreos, I’m there. The store could effectively maximize every purchasers buying ability.

9. Brands could set up loyalty products for each of their items. Your 10th Kraft purchase gives you 10% off your next purchase of cheese.

7. Or how about instead of going through a checkout line you put your cart through a conveyor track, like an x-ray machine at the airport, that scans all your items immediately and gives you the price.  No more paying price checkers and no more lines.

8. Or, what if your fridge had bar scanners on the side of it so that it knew everything that you had in the fridge. It could tell how often you take things out so it would alert you if some food was about to expire soon. If you needed to go grocery shopping, just push a button on the fridge and have it print out everything you have run out of, or better yet, send it to your handset.

5. What if every time you put an item in your cart, a digital read-out of the total price of everything in your cart was displayed on the cart handle; take something out of the cart and the price goes down. This would be awesome for customers to be sure they weren’t spending too much while picking out the groceries. Of course, grocery stores probably like that we don’t know how much everything costs until we get to the check out line. But think off all the cool stuff you could do:

6. Supercook is an online tool asks what’s in your kitchen and then uses that information to provide dozens, if not hundreds, of unique dishes that you probably would never have thought of on your own. What if the grocery store kept track of what you put in your cart and gave you ideas of what dishes you could make while in the grocery store  – add Country Crock butter and Pace Picante Salsa, and you have all the ingredients you need to make zesty enchiladas.

4. Looking at the data you could tell in what order most purchases happen in. So they find out that statistically, after people buy meat, the next thing they buy is beer. Up-sell by placing selected items next to, or in-between the meat and the beer for that purchaser to see like barbecue sauces or beer coasters.

10. Let customers connect with other customers who buy similar things. Looks like you buy a lot of spices and ingredients, would you like to join a recipe community in your area? You BBQ a lot, compete in your local community cook-off.

Maybe some of this stuff seems a little too much big brother, but I would let companies know my purchasing habits in exchange for relevant coupons, food suggestions and insights to my food buying habits.

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The Former Audience Are Now Particiapants

Great talk at TED by Clay Shirky:

In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap – in a world where the former audience are increasingly full participants – in that world, media is less and less about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals, and is more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups.

What an exciting world we live in. The ability to create movements, be heard, and make things happen has never been easier. Now it’s about asking the question, what do you want to create?

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Business Websites Will Change

I think pre-internet, most people trusted big companies more than little ones because they were bigger. If you have never heard of a company then how can you trust it? Now that any company is findable online the tables have turned. Big companies that have static brochure websites, where they have their corporate jargon and stock photos on every page leads one to think, what are they hiding? Meanwhile little companies whose websites consist of blog posts and insights into who is behind the company and what they think leads one to believe, these people are just cool normal people who do what they do well. Cool.

I want By Data Be Driven to be my personal Internet marketing consulting brand but I choose to make my site a blog that shows who I really am. I think that goes father than a lot of pages about services offered and my unique strategies of how to “effectively market your brand online using integrated search marketing to help companies get noticed, retain customers and continue growing.” If you really want to know what I can do you’ll find out from someone else other than me, so why put up the front and just be as personal as I can?

I think before long, most sites will have a blog, feeds from their interaction with others and interactive widgets/applications on their home page instead of a stock photo of a happy customer, their tag line and links to about us, services and contact. Just wait.

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Super Crunchers

I finished reading the book Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. I thought it was good. I liked his explanation of randomized a/b or multi variant testing done online and off.

He explains that randomly dividing prospects into two groups and seeing which approach has the highest rate is one of the most powerful super crunching techniques ever devised.

When you rely on historical data, it is much harder to tease out causation. The sample size is key. If we get a large enough sample, we can be pretty sure that the group coming up heads will be statistically identical to the group coming up tails. If we then intervene to treat the heads differently, we can measure the pure effect of the intervention…after randomization makes the two groups identical on every other dimension, we can be confident that any change in the two groups outcome was caused by their different treatment.

Of course, randomization doesn’t mean that those who were treated differently are exactly the same as those who were not treated differently. If we looked at the heights of people in one group, we would see a bell curve of heights.  The point is that we would see the same bell curve of heights for those for those in the other group. Since the distribution of both groups becomes increasingly identical as the sample size increases, then we can attribute any differences in the average group response to the difference in treatment.

In lab experiments, researches create data by carefully controlling for everything to create matched pairs that are identical except for the thing being tested. Outside of the lab, it’s sometimes simply impossible to create pairs that are the same on all peripheral dimensions. Randomization is how businesses can create data without creating perfectly matched distributions.

The power behind randomized testing is undeniable. So should we just have computers make all our decisions for us? With that question in mind is were he goes throughout the majority of the book.

Randomized trials require firms to hypothesize in advance before the test starts. Historical data lets the researcher sit back and decide what to test after the fact. Randomizers need to take more initiative than people who run after the fact regressions.

The most important thing that is left to humans is to use our minds and our intuition to guess at what veriables should and should not be included in the statistical analyisis. The regressions can test whether there is a casual effect and estimate the size of the causal impact, but somebody (some body, some human) needs to specify the test itself.

So then the question becomes what do we test, and after we test the question becomes, what are the results telling us?

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Social Media Marketing comes down to 2 things

I finished reading the book World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott. I thought it was OK. I’ll explain the problem with these kinds of books at the end.

While I was reading it I came to the conclusion that success at social media marketing and having your business idea spread virally comes down to two main factors: creativity and understanding the tools that the internet provides. You may have a good understanding of how to use all the internet tools: blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Squidoo, ebooks, monitoring your brand using Tweet Scan, Google Alerts, Boardtracker, Social Mention, trying to build competitions, interactive tools, applications, widgets; but if you don’t have something creative that’s worth spreading it won’t spread. The creative content part is harder than the tools part.

One way to start getting creative is to put your message in terms of the need that your business solves. Scott says:

By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.

Once you’ve gotten down to the needs that your product fulfills, then you can start trying to come up with creative ideas around communicating your solution to that need. After that there is not much advice one can give on how to be creative. I guess you could try brainstorming ideas. Another good idea in the book is to try lots of things in hopes that at least one of them sticks.

Many attempts will be duds that won’t spark any interest; a few will generate some notice and basically pay back your investment of the time required to make them; and a handful will spread to thousands or even millions of people and make the entire program of 10 or 20 initiatives worthwhile.

Realistically I think you’re more likely to make a hit if you try 50 to 100 initiatives.

So there’s the problem with most of these internet marketing books; they can’t explain to you how to creatively use the tools that the internet provides to spread your message. They can only show you the successful ideas other people have had. That’s the hardest part and only you can figure it out.

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Publicness and Transparency

I read Jeff Jarvis’s article in Businessweek about openess and the internet.

Comcast has learned that there is a public discussion about its service happening independently and that is why it assigned staff to monitor and respond to Twitterers’ complaints. Every company alive is hiring search engine optimization experts to help them manage their public face for Google and its users. What more powerful business elixir is there today than Googlejuice?

And then I saw this post from techcrunch about a story of a 104 year old twitter user.

What none of those original stories told you, was that poor old Ivy had not joined Twitter just because it was suddenly the talk of the senior citizens home. No. She joined because home PC maintenance company Geek Squad signed her up, propped her up for a photo opportunity – even using her own account to Twitpic the event – and press-released the hell out of it. And the media fell for it.

The one thing worse than not being transparent is being caught not being transparent.

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Local Business SEO in Denver

With millions of blogs and websites, what can your business do to stand out? In my opinion the best strategy for local businesses in Denver to succeed in search engine rankings is to provide hyper local content.

First, some stats: According to SBI + M:

  • 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore networks).
  • 66% of Americans use online local search, like Google local search, to locate local businesses (TMP/comScore/SBI + M).
  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP/comScore).

Now can you see why local search is so important? Here are are few ideas of how to make you business stand out in Denver:

1. First take John Jantsch’s local content post to heart:

Make sure that you use the names of cities and suburbs on your pages, add your address to Google maps, talk about local and community events in your blog posts and titles. Link out to local sites using town and neighborhood names in the anchor text. As wells as using local words in you title tags of pages, anchor text for internal and external links, H1 tags, bold and italics tags, urls of page names, and alt and title description of images.

  • Use outside.in to comment and post about news in your area. They help you find places around you, get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about, and engage more with your neighbors.
  • Use getlisted.org to get started registering your business to local directories.

2. Get descriptive. For example, according to Google’s Keyword Tool, keywords “Denver Restaurants” get about 135,000 searches a month and “Thornton Restaurants” gets only 2,400. Sure, it would be nice to be ranked well for the 135 thousand searches for Denver restaurants, but also consider that there are 10,900,000 competing pages for those keywords. The chances of being ranked well for those words are slim. Meanwhile, Thornton restaurants has only 1,090,000 competing pages; that’s 9,810,000 less pages of competition.

And think of the mindset of someone searching for restaurants in Denver vs. restaurants in Thornton. The Thornton searcher is much more likely to be looking for a place to eat near them right now then someone broadly searching for restaurants in Denver where they may be doing research for later or any other host of things.

3. There is this idea of Needle in a Haystack Marketing where you can publish very specific ideas to the Internet and, thanks to the long tail and search engines, people looking for specific things can find what they are looking for thanks to you. Your message doesn’t reach everyone but that’s OK because the people you do reach are the ones looking for you. If you have a specific product or service unique to what you do in Denver, then use it in your content.

This should get you started. For more ideas see SEOBook’s web publishing strategies.

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