Monday, November 29, 2010

Location-Based Marketing 1--Basics

It seems to me that location-based marketing happened during the summer while I was taking time off from blogging. That’s not quite true, but it suggests how fast this phenomenon has taken hold.

When I first heard about Foursquare (from my students of course!) my first reaction was, “Why do I want anyone to know where I am at a given moment??” My second was that I’m not a twenty- or thirty-something out on the town on Friday evening! I got that. It took me awhile to realize that this was potentially a better option than the mobile couponing campaigns I had been writing about (for example, Ford local campaign; mobile trends). Foursquare and the others provide platforms that provide functionality and reach users.

Foursquare and Gowalla are the two largest location platforms. At the risk of oversimplifying, Foursquare looks to be very attractive to retailers who want to run a specific promotion. Gowalla seems to be attracting venues that want something long-term as suggested by Disney’s recent deal with Gowalla. There are many other smaller and/or more specialized platforms. This short slideshow identifies them and does a good job of explaining their similarities and differences. This space got a big boost in August when Facebook introduced its Places application, making it easy for marketers to tap into the huge Facebook population.

The importance of location-based marketing is emphasized by Chief Marketer:

• 37% of customers who searched for a local business in ’09 ended up visiting the store in person (TMP & comScore, October 2009) • Local search currently represents half of all mobile search ad revenue (Kelsey Group, September 2009) • Younger generations embrace mobile in staggering numbers; 97 million 5-29 year-olds in the U.S., 281 million in India and 255 million in China currently have mobile accounts (The Mobile Youth Report, 2010)

They emphasize the ties between search and location-based marketing: “Search teams should be sure to capitalize on these online-to-offline strategies to capture local visibility and in-store traffic.”

Leading-edge marketers are already onboard. Sports Authority has conducted several promotions on Foursquare, including one on Black Friday, and says, "We like the ROI on the things we've been doing on Foursquare." CNN describes some of the other Black Friday action.

My favorite for sheer marketing creativity is KLM’s recent foray, which is “spreading happiness.” When a passenger checks in on Foursquare, the KLM marketing team uses other social networks to find out about the passenger’s “likes” and about her trip. They use that data to provide a surprise to the passenger and take a photo of the surprised traveler.

The KLM team has surprised travellers with champage, notebooks, a watch, and traditional Dutch foods. One passenger, Willem van Hommel, was going to miss one of his soccer team’s most important matches of the year due to his trip to New York. KLM surprised him with a Lonely Planet guide to New York with all the best soccer bars in the city marked out for him. Another traveller, Tobias Hootsen, was surprised with a package to remind him of home during his long stay abroad.

I checked out the KLM Facebook page. The wall page had the usual flight complaints with speedy responses from KLM. One “surprised” passenger wanted to get a copy of the picture taken in the airport. Actually, it’s right there. There’s a link to the photo album on the wall page and it’s what you get when you click through on “what happened” on the promo announcement. As you might guess, the promo is also big on the I Love KLM page with another link to the photo album. Good follow up and I suspect they are integrating it with other media like Twitter. The downside is suggested by an article that uses the word “spies” in the headline, which is actually quite favorable when you read it. I didn’t see any privacy complaints on the KLM site. Wonder if that’s partially due to the fact that KLM already had an app that allows passengers to make a luggage tag with their picture on it? In any event, it’s a cool app and taken together, it signifies a company that’s deeply involved in location-based marketing.

Mashable has a good post with 9 steps for the marketer who is new to location-based marketing. A lot of the steps are not new to regular readers of this blog. Setting clear marketing objectives and monitoring are critical, for example. One that is especially important is 4 Customize. Each of the platforms offers different opportunities to engage visitors like the badges that can be earned on Foursquare. The marketer must understand the options.

There are other examples and strategy approaches. I’ll write about those in a few days when Cyber Monday calms down and we see what’s happened during these hectic shopping days!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Source for SMM Best Practices

Recently a social media marketing colleague asked me for a good source for best practices information in this space. When you know that question is coming from a small business that probably cannot afford much subscription research, it’s hard to answer. It’s information that many businesses are willing and able to pay for, so it’s usually paid content.

I had already used and cited the usual suspects. Marketing Sherpa does good executive summaries of its benchmark reports, Forrester releases some information on its blog, and Altimeter is following an open research policy. I’m sure there are others, but for the type of information I’m looking for, those are my usual go-to sources.

Consequently, I was pleased the other day to get a notice—blogger outreach, I assume!—of a new venture that is going to operate in that space. It’s not social media per se as best I can tell. Gleanster says it “benchmarks best practices in technology-enabled business initiatives.” That would seem to include any aspect of Internet marketing and quite possibly some initiatives that play out in the physical world.

Their early publications suggest considerable focus on the social media space. For readers of this blog the summaries of their Social Media Monitoring and Online Customer Communities research are well worth downloading. The communities paper contains a case study of Best Buy that makes my point about their focus. I’ve written about Best Buy and its retail Twelp Force campaign which uses Twitter to provide customer support for their retail customers. More detailed paid reports are the basis for these summaries.

I’ve been tagging posts with “best practices” when it’s relevant, so I hope I’m making a contribution to this important discussion. Maybe a good resolution would be to make more best practices posts; it’s a topic of concern to all of us!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Targeting Your Facebook Ads

Far and away the most popular post on this blog in recent weeks has been one written back in February, “Do Facebook Ads Work?” The answer was a strong “yes,” and research since then, including interesting findings on ad formats by Nielsen, continue to confirm that. A recent article in Bloomberg Business Week recounts the interesting story of the Nike “Write the Future” ad that was huge during the World Cup and goes on to talk about the importance of Facebook friends and the “like” function to Facebook advertisers.

To demonstrate, I wrote a hypothetical ad on Facebook; that’s Step 1. Step 2 shows the main aspects of the targeting process. The advertiser can target by location (essential; no one needs to reach all 500 million Facebook fans!) and by demographics—age and gender only. So far, not different from traditional media advertising, and it works like Google AdWords as far as the setup is concerned.

Then comes the difference! On Facebook, the advertiser can target by “Likes & Interests.” This shows Facebook’s own description of a user profile. The implication seems to be that this is all data that the user has provided on the profile page. Not exactly. Every time the user “Likes” a friend’s post new data is created. What else? It’s not entirely clear exactly what/how other data provided by users like location data is collected and used. Prof. Eben Moglen of Columbia University Law
School says Facebook is “spying for free all the time.” You can read a summary of a recent speech in which he lays out the privacy concerns, but that still begs the question of exactly where the marketing data comes from.

The richness of the data is not in question, however. Nor is the usefulness of the Estimated Reach tool. Each time the potential advertiser adjusts any one of the targeting filters, the ER changes, so the exact effect of each descriptor is known. That data alone can tell you a lot about potential market size in a given region—no cost except expenditure of your time. Farther down on the targeting page, not captured in the graphic above, is the ability to target to your page (or groups) own members and, separately to their friends. Using the ER tool on your own page can give you fascinating insights into the composition of your fan base. Do you see a new market segment representing an opportunity you were not even aware of? Or do you see that you don’t have as many people from your target segment as you wish and need to run a campaign to get more friends.

All this creates a rich stew of research and advertising opportunities. You can access all this information from the Advertising text link at the bottom of your Facebook page, whether you are an individual user or have a business page.

The final piece of good news is that you don’t even have to buy an ad to experiment with the options. Why don’t you give it a spin???

Friday, November 12, 2010

Announcing Internet Marketing, 3rd Edition

I’ve always thought the subtitle of this text says it all, “Integrating Online and Offline Strategies.” That’s what our young marketers need to understand, not only the mechanics of Internet marketing but also developing campaigns and ensuring they are integrated into the overall marketing communications mix of the organization.

I’m more than pleased to announce that work has begun on the third edition of Internet Marketing. This edition has welcome enhancements. It will be published by Cengage Learning, which specializes in innovative learning solutions like e-books. We expect the 3rd edition to be available in both print and electronic formats.

I’m especially delighted to welcome a new co-author to this edition. Debra Zahay-Blatz is the Professor of Interactive Marketing at Northern Illinois University. She is a specialist in CRM and has taught many aspects of interactive marketing. Debra is a prime mover in the interactive marketing program at NIU and will bring both classroom and practitioner experience to the text.

We are also pleased to announce that we will be joined by Lauren Labrecque who will be helping with the all-important textbook supplements that are distributed to professors who adopt the text. You can see bios of both Debra and Lauren here.

The 3rd edition will incorporate major revisions that reflect the maturing of traditional digital marketing and the explosion of social media marketing initiatives. New chapters will focus on social media marketing and promotional and lead generation programs in B2B markets. Recent developments in Internet marketing will be reflected throughout the new edition.

College instructors who are current or potential adopters of the text should contact their campus sales representative or visit the listing on the Cengage site.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Social Media Marketers Prep for the Holiday Season

Have you already walked into a retail store and thought, “Christmas decorations and gifts already—and it’s not even Thanksgiving!!!” If you haven’t, my guess is that you haven’t been shopping for the last couple of weeks. It appears to me that as soon as Halloween decorations went out, Christmas merchandise came in. Whether you like that or not, it is time for retailers, large and small, to get serious about planning holiday promotions if they are not already in high gear. See a good article from Ad Age Digital (free registration required).

I recently ran into a good post on how to prepare your social media channels for the holiday season. Here are the recommendations:

1. Give your social media profiles a makeover. That includes making sure your profiles and maps are complete and correct on Google Places and Yahoo! Local Search.
2. Build your followers and connections. They are valuable themselves; they also offer connections to their networks.
3. Get more reviews. Product reviews are incredibly important, whether on your site or on third-part review sites. Encourage your followers to review your products or services and to share them.

4. Special offers for your followers. What can I say? The Target site already has offers up. Many of these are appropriate to both large and small retailers. It’s interesting that they seem to be focusing on Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday.
5. Engage in the conversation. Do you have a Facebook page? Are you responding to customers when they complain or ask for information? Take a look at some of the recent traffic on the Hanes Wall on Facebook. They answer information requests, apologize for things like out of stock items and thank people for compliments. All good!
6. Integrate social media with other marketing. That’s essential, whether it’s your website or broadcast or print advertising, or some combination. Integration is key to getting the message out and experiencing positive results.
7. Commit to creating some quality holiday content. I was in a local retail store over the weekend and heard a video featuring Ming Tsai, one of my gurus. I think he was promoting a line of cookware. The one-unit local retailer has a good website, but I didn’t see any evidence of product videos. My guess is that Ming would have been glad to have them link to or upload his promotional video. Make use of whatever good content is available and create your own when necessary. This store also has some acceptable local TV advertising; no ad videos seen on the site. Opportunities missed!

Also be sure to inventory your search marketing, whether optimized pages or PPC. According to a recent report:
• More than three-quarters of respondents search to learn more about a product or service after seeing an ad elsewhere. • Before moving on to a different information source, searchers will modify their search and try again (89%), try a different search engine (89%), and go through multiple search results pages if necessary (79%)

Is this all worth the effort? According to Ad Age:

Nearly 80% of consumers plan to do at least some of their shopping online this season, according to the National Retail Federation and BigResearch. One-sixth will do more than half of their holiday shopping online.

That’s a target audience worth cultivating!

Still looking for advice? Here’s a helpful report on holiday email marketing and two more good recent articles.
• Retail Email Holiday Guide
Holiday Hit List
Get Prepared for Q4 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nokia's Vision for Social Media Marketing

Nokia generally shows up on lists of the top global brands. This year it was 8th on Interbrand’s annual survey. The report describes today’s consumer as “skeptical, social and savvy” and has good content on branding in that environment. Nokia’s response on their Conversations blog is also worthy of note by social media marketers.
It’s Nokia’s vision for what’s really their integrated marketing communications strategy, not just their social media strategy, that I find compelling. Their emphasis on getting away from isolated campaigns (“big bangs”) in favor of continuous engagement in earned media represents clear understanding of communications in a global, connected world. Forrester defines “earned media” as customers becoming the channel as a result of a sustained and well executed social media strategy in paid and owned (branded) media.

But even if you are a big brand with a lot of resources things will sometimes go wrong as they recently did for Nokia. However, they managed to turn a distinct negative into something reasonably positive.

It’s a story of a sports blogger being approached by Nokia’s PR agency with incentives for participating in one of a set of sports events as part of an outdoor-themed campaign. There’s more to it and you should read it for yourself, but the bottom line is that the promises to the blogger were simply not kept. Is that more likely when the campaign was outsourced? You can decide that for yourself.

The story was published on the British Econsultancy blog on October 12. Nokia’s response wasn’t fast (see the October 20 comment), but when it came social media director Mark Squires took responsibility for the fiasco and made it clear that Nokia tried to make up for the failure. When you screw up, that’s about the best you can do.

The good news is that it seems to be a relatively rare screw-up by a company that generally does its social media marketing well. In fact, the early October interchange with Econsultancy appears to have resulted in a late October interview with Mark Squires that’s worth reading for insights into how Nokia’s strategy has evolved within the organization.

While researching this post, I came across an interesting conference presentation by Molly Schonthan who was then head of social media for Nokia in North America. The section on their complex and apparently effective program at SXSW2010 is especially interesting. If you don’t have time for the 30-minute video, page through her presentation for more interesting insight into a company that takes social media marketing seriously.