There is more to social media than trying to remind people that you exist. Instead of doing nothing but talk about yourself, find some content that aligns with your brand purpose and give people something they would want to share.
Now that everyone is a publisher of content via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest we all have mediums to express ourselves and our purposes, through the content we curate. Brands interested in having their followers re-share the content they post need to think in terms of whether or not re-sharing it will allow their followers to express their personal purpose.
I think most people are realizing that what they share says something about themselves that other people, mostly strangers, will use to judge them. Liking something on Facebook to get a coupon says something that that person might not want to be said about themselves. People curate content for their own personal brand just like big brands do and are just as concerned with being “off-brand”.
I think self expression through curation is one more important filter to consider in deciding what a brand should post.
In the face of Google’s infinite possibilities (and Google’s efforts to make results more bland), many of us are panicking and searching less, going shallower, relying on bestseller lists and simple recommendations. This is why personalization, curation and discovery is so important to ecommerce now. As we make a decision to search for or buy something online, we are trained to go to Google and search by keyword, and sort through results to eventually make a transaction. In order for that to work, we have to first know what we want. But how do we know what we want in the first place? While Google makes money at the bottom of this decision funnel, the top of the funnel is where discovery happens. Facebook facilitates serendipitous discovery through friends posting what interests them. Pinterest does this even more because it’s based around curating things including products to purchase.
What Pandora does with music and Netflix does with movies, ecommerce sites are doing with their products. They are taking their seemingly infinite options and whittling them down to a small selection, catered to an individual’s taste. There are different ways of doing this like using implicit data like Amazon does with their recommendations of similarly viewed or bought items based on your browsing history. Facebook Connect can pull your social graph into the site and show you what friends have purchased in the past. Or products can be curated through explicit data which is information you actively offer with questionnaires or quizzes.
Wantful will guide you through a questionnaire to help you pick a tailored gift for anyone on your list. Questions range from style to organization to the frequency at which you sign along to music.
Shoedazzle takes you through a questionnaire that allows you to define your interests based on the styles of shoes and brands that speak most to your sense of style.
Nextpedition builds a “traveler profile” that defines the kind of traveler you are to pick the best kind of vacation.
This process of personalizing the shopping process is a messy one still but it will continue to be a huge part of ecommerce going forward. The part that I think is really interesting is using your personal data as a form of currency. The site Personal.com is trying to enable individuals to own and sell their own data:
“In years to come, people will look back and wonder how companies ever thought they could control or own all of our personal data. The current system is ineffective: according to the Direct Marketing Association, over 97% of online advertising fails to reach the right person at the right time. Let’s change that by letting people take back control of their data and by giving companies a better way to connect with consumers.”
This is really cool, it’s my data why shouldn’t I be able to own it and do with it what I please? And if advertisers want to market to me they can pay me for the privilege and I’ll only see ads that are relevant.
What this strategy will also do is allow your broad match campaign to turn into your keyword discovery tool. Using search query reports in your broad match campaign you can discover new keywords to build adgroups around for your exact and phrase match campaigns to test. When budgets shrink, you can dial up the spend on driving sales through more relevant match types like exact and phrase, and dial down the spend on discovering new keywords for account expansion.
If you are working with a very large account that is constantly shifting budgets, launching products, and you have moving goal targets, triplicating campaigns for each match type can cause the size of your account to bulge but it’s the way to go.
The Search Funnels report in AdWords can show you how much you should worry about keywords that are assisting in sales but not converting. Export the Assisted Conversions report and then filter out all last click converting keywords so that you only see the keywords that have never had a conversion but have had an assist.
In this example there were 191 keywords with the last click conversion and 113 with assists but no conversions. 37% of the keywords might look bad from a last click conversion rate or CPA standpoint but were still vital to getting the sale. In this case any keyword that didn’t contribute a conversion or an assist should be bid down but all other keywords should be given their due credit and either bid up or kept around longer to see if they can drive even more.
1. Transparency of pricing which takes away any leverage the retailer had as a result of the customer not knowing there was a cheaper price down the street.
2. The efficiency online competitors gain by consolidating merchandise in a few locations, which saves operating costs and capital and real estate.
3. Consolidating data about merchandise, prices and service. This is the one that I think most stores at least equipped to compete with. Online you see your friend buy something new, you read customers reviews of it, watch a demo video on YouTube, Google it to find the best price, and the internet gets it to you. Store? Who cares what store it comes from, let alone what the salesperson at the store has to say? Most people walk into a store having already decided what they want thanks to research online. Retailers once were the middleman between the brand/manufacturers and the customer but with 84% of all purchases being researched online prior to purchase, who needs a middle man? Your friends can now be your curators and merchandisers. You need not care who fulfills the order.
Retailers are not going away anytime soon, many have huge reserves of trust with their customers, and shopping is still considered a fun activity (for some) but as we grow up online retailers are going to have to figure out how to add value to the path to purchase because right now I don’t see one.
It may take making more category pages than you planned so that you can have both generic category pages and brand category pages. Then once the target page has been identified you can use your keyword as consistently as possible on that page.
I think there are other divisions just as big as content vs. search that should be separated out in an AdWords strategy. First, the device that you are targeting will cause a big difference in the results of your campaign. The motives behind a person using a mobile phone is very different from a person using a desktop computer. Targeting tablets separately will also allow for better targeting and results.
On top of network and device there are the different search engines and different methods of advertising – brand keywords, non-brand keywords, product listing ads, display, retargeting etc. None of the data from any of these different methods should be lumped together in the same report either.
These differences are enough to cause very complicated reporting. Each Engine/Network/Device/Method requires its own analysis if you want to look at each segment in context and be able to make changes that positively affect one without damaging another. Below is a stab at visualising what this looks like when each engine/network/device/method is separated out with its own macro conversions, micro conversions and targets.
The cost of doing #1 is coming down thanks to inexpensive, professional level DSLR cameras and cheap editing software like Final Cut Pro. Sure, the real expense is hiring the talent to use these tools effectively, but as the tools become less scarce the ability to tell the difference between pro and amateur work is getting harder and harder. The cost of #2 is also coming down if you consider how inexpensive online advertising is. It will still cost a fortune to run a commercial on TV or run a full page ad in Opera Magazine, but those are no longer the only options (and arguably the worst ones). Free can get you pretty far online via YouTube and social media if you have something that is unique and worth sharing. If you want to pay for exposure you can also get pretty far on a limited budget.
So if #1 and #2 are cheaper than ever before is #3 getting cheaper too? It doesn’t look like it, but it should be.
I agree with Seth Godin that when execution gets cheaper, so should planning (and therefore the cost of working with an agency should drop), “The cost of building digital items is plummeting, but our habit is to plan anyway (because failure bothers us, and we focus on the feeling of failure, not the cost).”
If you’re building an online marketing campaign, spend less money on the meetings, sign-offs and planning and invest that money into learning and optimizing. Instead of paying to figure out which idea is best before picking the final winner, invest that money into running them all and optimizing the ones that work best. I think you should publish it all and then let the best filter to the top, more content is worth more than perfect content.
This mindset, carried over from buying print and TV, when buying media online is that the placement of the ad is very important because its “borrowing brand equity” from the placement. With limited information on who is looking at the ad, this is a good way to go – its seems obvious that you wouldn’t put a diaper ad in Sports Illustrated. Publishers make a fortune convincing advertisers that their online placements are worth more than others placements because of this “equity” that they also give the advertiser. I disagree. Placements don’t matter online. What matters is the user.
The internet provides data about the mindset and behavior of the user that is impossible to know with print and TV media buying. If you know that the user is male, has a household income above $100K, recently visited sites about shaving, and did a search on Google for razors, than who cares if your ad for razors is shown to the user on a site selling diapers? It might even be more impactful because the ad is very different than the content on the page.
Stop buying placements, start buying individuals. This is possible online with demand-side platforms that bid in real-time for placement across multiple ad exchanges. Along with algorithmic and dynamic bidding that goes beyond rules-based tools to leverage data in a way that’s unique and evolves with consumers, you can focus on who sees your ads rather than where your ads are seen.