Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category
I’ve never been a huge fan of email marketing and the fancy, HTML newsletters that are such a big part of it.
These are the emails you get that start off by saying “Having trouble viewing this email? View it on our website.”
How many other advertising (or communications) formats start off this way?
Somehow, I don’t think companies would be willing to invest in TV commercials if we said “This TV commercial is going to be great, but most people won’t be able to view it right away – they’ll have to push another button, or watch it on our website.”
Yet these fancy HTML emails persist. They persist at the expense of wasted hours from talented designers and coders whose time could probably be spent creating something way more beautiful and useful.
For a time, my hosting provider (DreamHost) used to send out plain-text emails. They were very simply formatted. They could be read easily and quickly digested. One of these was even sent from an Apple store on one of the demo versions of the first iPhone.
And yes, I’m sure I could set up my email so that that it always displays images and I always see how great these emails are. But I don’t. And I bet a lot of other people don’t either.
What do you think about fancy, well-designed HTML emails? Worth it or not? Do you read them? Does your email tool display the images for you, or block them?
When I first grasped the concept of what a “weblog” was back in 2005 and the types of amazing stories, opinions and information in these things, I loved BoingBoing. To me, it was everything a website should be.
Overtime, I’ve grown sick of it. At one point, I stopped even reading BoingBoing. Now I mostly just check in a few times a week, using it as a thermometer with which to take temperature of a particular inward-looking sector of the internet.
In between reposts from Reddit and a creepy obsession with girls and ukuleles, the BoingBoing crew likes to lift their noses up high and stick it to the man by hypocritically thumbing their noses at the advertising and PR industries.
I say hypocritically because I imagine that fairly large portion of revenue for the site comes from either the sidebar banner ads, in-stream advertising features or Watchismo sponsorship.
Referring to Chevy-sponsored OK Go! video as one that was “done in partnership with the maker of that particular” car just strikes me as childish.
Look, I’m sure Chevy and their agency are probably overjoyed that BoingBoing embedded it, even without naming the brand. But seriously, BoingBoing: Get off your high horse. Chevy created something you thought was cool. Deal with it.
A few weeks ago I was listening to a RadioLab podcast about Games. In this episode, hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abamrod spoke to Brian Christian, an author who recounted the story of the checkers craze of the 60s that culminated in the World Checkers Championship in 1963. Apparently. this championship was a series of 40 games between the world’s two top players.
All 40 games ended in a draw. 21 of those 40 games were the exact same.
“Checkers had gotten to the point where there was a perfect game of checkers,” Brian said as he discussed how the top players memorized previous games and knew the ideal countermove for the other player’s moves. “This was rock bottom for the checkers community.”
The name for this knowing of all the games, all the moves, is The Book.
Brian continues on the podcast to say that the same thing happens in chess, and that there is an equivalent book (actually a computer program called “Fritz” these ays) of every chess game played by grandmasters for the past few hundred years. Although there are way, way more variations, there are occasions where two grandmasters will play the exact same game that has been played years before. Nowadays, the first 20 moves or so in major chess games are totally by The Book: the two players playing moves that they’ve memorized, just like their checkers predecessors.
To chess enthusiasts, the most exciting part (and true brilliance) is when players go off The Book: that moment when they make a move that hasn’t been done before in the history of recorded chess.
When I first started my career 5 years ago, there were no best practices for social media. There were no case studies. Everything was new. Everything we did was off the book.
Now it seems that everyone is staying on the book. Facebook brand pages are almost cookie-cutter copies of each other. Pitch emails to bloggers feel about as personal and special as a Hallmark card.
I still think there is a ton of opportunity to go off the book. I just worry that we’re too concerned with playing that perfect game.
A few days ago Reddit wrote a blog post to celebrate the fact that in December 2011, they had over 2 billion monthly page views and over 34 million unique visitors on their site (and 10% of that is Canadian!).
The blog post also points out that in the past year, traffic to their site has doubled and users are spending an average of 16 minutes/visit on the site.
- We don’t get traffic through ads.
- We don’t participate in any traffic trading.
- We don’t email our users (unless they choose to enter an email and then forget their password).
- We don’t harass users to sign up.
- We don’t harass users to invite their friends.
- We don’t pester you to download our app.
- We don’t use slideshows and other pageview gimmicks.
- We don’t know anything about SEO.
- We don’t integrate with Facebook.
- We don’t even link to our Facebook or twitter accounts.
There’s a lot of buzz (no pun intended) about Google+. The entry of another major social network into the scene has caught a lot of people’s attention, and has forced many to ask, “Should I be on Google+ too?”.
I’d like to step out of the excitement and flurry that Google+ has caused for a minute to remind marketers that, as with all social networks, you need to ask yourself a few questions before jumping in head first:
1. Is your audience using Google+?
Before signing up for a brand page, conduct a little recon. Searching through pages, conversations and sparks will help you identify whether your brand or industry is being talked about on Google+, and whether you should be there too. Also look at the demographics of Google+, as of a few months ago comScore reported they skewed slightly younger and wealthier than Facebook users. While this will likely broaden as Google+ grows, it should indicate whether now is the right time for you to put resources behind it.
2. Do you have the resources to manage another online community?
We all know how much time and energy it can take to manage a community effectively. By now, many of us are probably managing at least two. Do you have the resources to throw another one into the mix? Since optimizing content and experiences for each channel and audience will drive the best results, simply re-posting content on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ won’t allow your distinct communities the chance to shine.
To this point, I have monitored a few brand pages on Google+, comparing them to those of Facebook. Many are indeed publishing the same content. This may be temporary while they experiment and develop a proper strategy for Google+ but they will need the time and resources to do so.
3. What role will Google+ play in helping your brand achieve its objectives?
Brands aren’t on social networks for kicks. They are there to achieve real business objectives. Before signing up and getting your hands dirty with a Google+ brand page, make sure you have outlined the role Google+ will play in driving towards these goals. Once you have nailed this down, you can begin to flesh out a proper strategy and measurement framework that will drive towards and demonstrate success.
There’s is no rush to do something unless you know you can do it right, and that it will help achieve your objectives. No one wants to be late to the party, but there’s something to be said about arriving with all your clothes on.
Image via trend-ie.blogspot.com
A month or so ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Most Expensive Wi-Fi Ever?” about the cost of internet services at a Toronto-area convention centre.
I submitted the post to StumbleUpon, BoingBoing, TechDirt and Reddit, as I thought all would be places where readers might be interested in this type of insane mark-up. After my colleague Ian pointed out that Seth Godin had linked to me, I dug into Google Analytics to see how much traffic that ended up driving to my post.
As a result, BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow blogged about it on September 22nd, resulting in 1,141 hits to my post.
Mike Masnick at TechDirt wrote about my post on October 25, but didn’t link directly to me (I don’t mind).
Seth Godin mentioned my post in a recent post he wrote, driving another 678 views.
Reddit drove a measly 61 views.
And Google Analytics reports that StumbleUpon drove 2,437 views of the webpage (even though StumbleUpon itself only reports driving 35 users to the page).
There were also an additional 2,762 views to the post that Google Analytics identified as coming from (direct). While I obviously can’t confirm where these are coming from, I have a feeling they’re probably spread out across the different sources (my other colleague Kevin Mchugh sent me this link that might help explain that (direct) traffic)
So what does all this mean?
By itself, not much. Views or hits aren’t everything these days. A kind word from an online influencer is probably worth a lot more than a link in the long run, thought it might be more difficult to measure.
There is also probably a lot of digging I can do into how long visitors from the different sources stuck around, and whether they checked out anything else on my site. Visitors from one source, though fewer, might end up being more ‘valuable’ (in this sense, sticking around as long-term readers).
What do you think about this data?
If you’ve seen the impressive stats in the StumbleUpon infographic that has been floating around recently, this DDB campaign to promote TELETOON Retro‘s line-up of Super-hero programming using StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery Service will be right up your alley.
The campaign uses Paid Stumbles to drive Cartoon, Comic Book, and Animation fans on StumbleUpon to a few pieces of content, including a promotional video that TELETOON created, and blog posts by various comic book bloggers who’ve written posts about their “Top 5 TELETOON Retro Villains.” While driving traffic to third-party sites may be a tough sell for some clients, TELETOON recognized that these sites could give their campaign greater credibility, and were willing to experiment.
With the appropriate campaign, StumbleUpon can be an amazing way to drive relevant, targeted viewers to content directly through a medium they’re already using.
The One Thing is a result of the daily 10am meeting held in DDB Canada’s Vancouver office, where our digital team meets to discuss new online trends, tools and technologies.
For an archive of the 10am links, visit our Delicious account at http://www.delicious.com/Radar10AM.
Radar on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RadarDDB
Attribution has been a steadily growing buzz word around online measurement. In simple terms, attribution involves recognizing the value that each interaction has in driving towards an end goal or conversion. For example, someone may first become aware and interact with your brand through Facebook, they may then read some of your brand’s blog posts before checking out your product pages on your website, which may lead them towards a purchase. All of these interactions (not just the final website click) played an important role in driving towards a purchase, and should be accounted for when looking at how programs, content and channels are performing online.
While there is no agreed upon method or tool to calculate attribution just yet, many frameworks and whitepapers have been published on the topic. It seems that Google may help us get that much closer (without having to perform quite so many manual calculations). A couple of weeks ago Google released a new product offering for multi-channel measurement to run alongside their widely adopted Google Analytics platform. The new offering now allows marketers to see which channels initiate, assist, and complete conversions. This way you can measure how all of your digital channels perform against your goals and see the full picture of your digital programs.
I’m not saying that this is the end all, be all, but it will definitely give marketers an easier way of understanding how their programs are performing, what is working well and what may need to be changed. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the coming months to delve further into the subject of attribution.
Are you using it yet? What do you think?
Are you using a 3rd party application to post content to Facebook? Last week, EdgeRank Checker released a report revealing 3rd party applications like Hootsuite or TweetDeck decreased Facebook engagement by a whopping 70%. The report announced that these applications damage your EdgeRank, the metric Facebook uses to establish post visibility in user feeds, and in doing so prevent posts from being displayed on news feeds. Gah!
Shortly after, Adage published an article by Michael Lazero, CEO of Buddy Media, clarifying some of the claims made by EdgeRank Checker’s report. While the article is somewhat biased towards Buddy Media’s 3rd party publishing tool, the data doesn’t lie. Below are some of the key take aways:
1. Some (mainly free) 3rd party applications will decrease the amount of engagement on your Facebook pages. Free applications like HootSuite and Tweetdeck often collapse Facebook posts, preventing many of them from being shown and therefore decreasing engagement – you can’t “like” what you can’t see! Single tenant branded applications also have the tendency to collapse posts. But all is not lost. According to Lazero, Multi-tenant enterprise products (like Buddy Media) do not collapse posts – and thus do not decrease engagement. Take Away: Check with your provider to make sure posts are not being collapsed.
2. Facebook does not appear to penalize posting via 3rd parties. While Facebook has not spoken on this directly, the data released by Buddy Media speaks for itself. When comparing engagement on posts via Facebook direct, free apps and Buddy Media, Buddy Media and Facebook direct posts scored similarly, while free apps scored approximately 50% lower. Take away: 3rd party posting isn’t the direct the cause of lower engagement, 3rd parties that collapse your posts are.
3. Content performs better when optimized for specific channels. This should be a no-brainer but a lot of brands set up automatic posting between channels like Facebook and Twitter and are surprised when engagement is low. If you aren’t engaged with your content, your audience probably won’t be either. Take Away: To optimize Facebook content, think about the length of the posts, questions vs. statements, timing, etc.
What has your experience been posting to Facebook via 3rd party applications?
Sticking with the theme of automotive brands and engagement, you’ve no doubt seen that Toyota’s 2008 guerrilla marketing campaign, promoting its 2009 Matrix, is once again making headlines, and it aint’ pretty.
As a refresher, in 2008, Amber Duick began receiving a series of emails from one by the name of ‘Sebastian Bowler’, a fictitious English soccer hooligan with a fondness for excessive drinking, destruction of private property and general rowdiness (because these are all traits that every English soccer fan exhibits, of course). The first email Duick received from Bowler was to let her know he was on his way to her apartment – even so much as citing her address – to crash for a while. Additional emails chronicled his trip to her abode, often mentioning his frequent run-ins with the local law enforcement, while another email, this time from a hotel manager, demanded Duick pay for damages associated with a television, supposedly broken by Bowler, accompanied by an authentic-looking e-bill. Not surprisingly, Duick was a tad upset, or in her own words ‘terrified.’
Only after receiving a final email containing a link to a video did Duick realize what was actually happening: she was the target of a virtual prank designed to raise awareness of the new 2009 Toyota Matrix. What a rugged English soccer fan with a penchant for inebriation has to do with the Matrix is beyond me, and quite obviously, beyond Duick as well – a woman who was chosen because she represented Toyota’s target market. The campaign certainly had a hint major dose of realism to it, something Alex Flint, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi – the L.A.-based agency responsible for the campaign – boasted about. Now, three years later, news broke that a California court has agreed that Duick can move forward with a $10 million lawsuit against both Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi. Ouch.
I don’t think anyone can argue that this was a poorly executed idea, one that clearly – at least to everyone outside of Saatchi & Saatchi – wasn’t given nearly enough thought. But as someone who works in the PR industry, this whole campaign fascinates me for a different reason, outside of its headline-grabbing concept.
Here Toyota was, in 2008, when Twitter only had 500,000 monthly visitors, when Facebook broke its first user milestone of catching up to MySpace, and when the concept of social media, and storytelling marketing was still in its infancy. Despite this, Toyota took a chance on a program, albeit one disconnected from its audience, and ran with a concept that was, to an extent, ahead of its time.
Today, one of the most difficult challenges PR, marketing and advertising professionals face isn’t always coming up with fresh ideas; it’s selling them to clients. Businesses have a comfort zone and it’s when they step out of it that great, award-winning campaigns are born. To that extent, I applaud Toyota, which for the record, is still with Saatchi, for at least trying something new and taking a head-first dive into the unknown.
As for Flint, he told marketing magazine OMMA (Online, Media, Marketing & Advertising) that the prank campaign should gain the appreciation from ‘even the most cynical, anti-advertising guy.’ Three years, a flurry of negative articles, public backlash, and possibly $10 million later, I wonder if he still feels the same way.
What are your thoughts on the matter?