Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Address for DIY Marketing

With regret, the new content of DIY Marketing has moved to a new address--Social Media Marketing Strategy. After almost 2 years of laborious work on the new edition of Internet Marketing and its instructors manual with my wonderful new co-author Debra Zahay, I'm finally getting back to blogging. I've missed it and I've got a lot of social media to catch up on! So please join the new blog by following on email (top of blog page) or RSS feed (bottom of page). It's supposed to be a responsive template that is optimized for mobile--hope that works well! If you want textbook updates, please join us on the G+ page, the badge you see on the right bar.

The fun continues!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why and How Leaders Must Engage in Social Media

When I did a presentation on social media for C-level women executives last year I argued that leaders must engage with stakeholders in order to lead engaged organizations. I believed that then; I believe it now. People just can’t do “social media appreciation,” they have to participate at some level in order to understand how it really works. If they don’t understand how it really works, how can they assess how well their organization is doing?

In the interim, I’m happy to note that there has been research on the issue. The BRANDfog CEO survey published in the spring has gotten considerable attention. It quotes Aman Singh of CSRwire and as saying:

Transparency, vision and open communication are key to great leadership and corporate social responsibility strategy today. . .customers expect to hear from the executive leadership team on social media channels, as a direct way to connect and engage with the brands they love and the causes they support.

The data I find most compelling is that 82% of respondents are much more likely/more likely to trust a company whose executive team communicates openly. That is the gist of my argument.

When I sat down to write this post I looked for other recent studies. I was only mildly surprised to find that IBM’s Executive Exchange has a larger, personal interview survey fielded about the same time; IBM is good at social media, externally and especially internally. Again, one quote seemed to nail the situation: 

Though CEOs frequently mentioned dipping their toes into social media waters, few claim to be personally immersed. This arms-length involvement puts CEOs in a precarious position. They are making critical judgments about a disruptive technology without much firsthand knowledge. And they’re uncomfortably reliant on the counsel of less experienced Generation Y advisors. “For the first time in my career, I feel old. People in their 20s work and think about this social stuff in a different way,” a U.K. insurance industry CEO shared. “We’re using it as a way of connecting with friends and socializing; the kids coming up are using it as a way of life.

These CEOs see social media use increasing by over 250% during the next five years to become the second most important way of engaging with customers. They still see face-to-face as number one. Over the same time frame, they see the importance of traditional media decreasing by over 60%.

The IBM argument is that connectedness through social media is not just a customer issue. Open communications also build and strengthen ties with employees and partners. There is no implication that it is three separate streams of communication. At the CEO level it’s about vision and values with detail on activities mostly left to the functional specialists. There is no implied platform recommendation either. The advice is “Be where your customers expect you to be.” They emphasize the importance of mobile to expectations about timely information. However, in this context mobile is not a platform. It’s a way of delivering social networks to customers according to their expectations.

The picture is one of a media world in the process of revolutionary change and the IBM study making the clearest statement I’ve yet seen of CEOs knowing they need to be part of that change but not knowing exactly how.

So I go back to my original argument; leaders need some personal exposure. Writing in WSJ, Dr. Alexandra Samuel has interesting recommendations leaders and would-be leaders should read for themselves. She sees interesting time-saving value in effective use of Twitter and mentions pressure for CEO blogs. She also suggests having some fun (“Build a Golf Course”) while learning.

If social media is essential to corporate communications and if executives can engage in ways that use time effectively, what reason is left not to engage in a personal and meaningful fashion?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Structuring Your Digital Marketing Channels

Last week Marketing Sherpa, with sponsorship by Marketo, presented a webinar on inbound marketing architecture. I found it thoughtful and informative and I’d encourage you to download the presentation.

That said, the webinar dealt only with the three inbound channels. Blogs and social media seem unarguable in that list. Some, like HubSpot, call content marketing the third channel, while Marketing Sherpa’s research used organic search as the third channel. When you stop to think about it, content marketing requires optimization of both content and website for organic search, so it adds up to three channels, whichever descriptors you use.

They identify blogs and the website as conversion points. The actual conversion/sale will take place on the website, but blogs can be highly influential in the later stages of the customer purchase process. A recent study suggests this is especially true of women consumers. In this sense, both the website and the corporate blog are conversion points. For that matter, so are other influential (trusted) blogs.

As long as you limit yourself to inbound channels, the Marketing Sherpa architecture hits the nail squarely on the head. The trouble is, and in spite of the well documented continuing shift to inbound channels, there are other channels to be considered as marketers identify and integrate their communications mix.

I’ve crafted my own version, sticking with the hub and spoke structure, which I think is essential. For one thing, it answers a question I’m frequently asked, “Can I get along with just a Facebook page?” Absolutely not. It’s one of the spokes, not a hub.

My version includes email, although it doesn’t show up in any of these cost of lead charts. Email isn’t a good lead generator, but it does have influence in the latter stages of the purchase process. It is also reasonable to hypothesize that email and text messaging are going to be more important as mobile continues its growth. Likewise, even though many are more expensive and less effective than digital channels, real world channels still figure into the process.

All that  is a reminder of the complexity of the process. It’s a matrix, with one dimension being customer channel preferences and another being channel effectiveness, given the state in the purchase process.

So I herald the trend to inbound marketing, even as marketers:

1. Need to learn to use it well
2. Must remember that outbound and physical world channels still have a role.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Using the Marketing Funnel to Drive Marketing Action

The concept of inbound marketing has caught on, and one of today’s mantras is, “We’re going to do content marketing.” That sounds a lot easier than it is; there are a number of disciplines to be followed if content marketing is to be successful. But lately I’ve been struck by the extent to which marketers fail to use the marketing funnel as one of those disciplines.

We are all familiar with the concept of the funnel, both as a strategy concept and as a way to report metrics. SEOmoz has a good generic concept, one which parallels the consumer purchase process and is an excellent beginning. Awareness shows that funnels can become complex by setting a social marketing funnel on top of the classic marketing funnel.

The very idea of a funnel, of course, is that many prospects are acquired, some drop out along the way, a smaller number convert to actual customers and once they are customers, they need to be retained. The concept seems impeccable, but I see two big problems in the way it is being used.

1. The assumption that marketers want to get as many prospects as possible into the top of the funnel. Are they getting more than they can properly handle in qualification and conversion processes? This may be more a problem in B2B where qualification is labor intensive than in B2C, but unqualified prospects are a problem in any space. The more unqualified prospects there are the more filtering has to be done, whether they are businesses or consumers. More is not necessarily better—it is just more.

I remember a story told to me long ago by a direct marketing agency. They had a client who needed a really small number of qualified leads, say 10 per month, because that’s all their service operation could handle. The marketer’s point was that it was harder to get a finite number of well qualified leads than a lot of leads. Amen.    

2. Not using the funnel to reverse engineer the acquisitions plan. It seems obvious, but if you need a certain number of customers to meet sales goals, and you have a known conversion rate, that is a simple model of how many acquisitions you need.

That also makes the point that a funnel is not just a concept. It is a model that needs to be quantified for each business—probably for each product or at least product line. Given the data marketers have today, that really isn’t a tall order.

But it does require discipline to create the model and to use it to guide marketing activities—turning up the throttle when needed, turning it down as required.

That should lead to a steady flow of sales. From the marketer’s perspective it should provide a number of prospects that can be given appropriate attention in the conversion process. That’s a well ordered and productive funnel, not one that is prone to unmanageable torrents and dangerous shortfalls.

That’s a well ordered and productive funnel, not one that is prone to unmanageable torrents and dangerous shortfalls.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Internet Marketing--Third Edition!

Internet Marketing: Integrating Online and Offline Strategies, 3rd edition has been published by Cengage and is now available in multiple formats and channels.

Internet marketing textbookThe third edition of the text boasts an accomplished new co-author, Debra Zahay of Northern Illinois University. Debra is a skilled database marketer who also has special strengths in search marketing and website design. Her input to the third edition provided a welcome new perspective and I look forward to her increasing influence in future editions.

The text was completely rewritten in accordance with the ever-changing nature of the Internet. It has new and updated examples and case histories in all the chapters. The impact of social networks is made clear throughout as is the increasing importance of mobile marketing. In addition to a new chapter on social media marketing and a completely rewritten one on mobile marketing, there is a new chapter on lead generation and management in B2B markets. There is also a completely new section on video marketing.

The book is available in a number of different formats at Cengage Brain.  It is also available on Amazon  and on Barnes & Noble.

Adopters receive access to the instructor site which contains a complete set of Power Points, chapter by chapter teaching notes, and a test bank for each chapter.

Everyone--adopter or not, academic or not--is invited to join us on our Google+ site. We are focusing the posts there on material that specifically relates to material in the text and can be used to update classroom presentations. The G+ site is searchable, and a list of chapter hashtags (Google doc) is linked to the About page. We hope the ability to search for relevant updates is sufficient reason to have the G+ site, but we hope to try some other functions as we attempt to support adopters of the text. We'd welcome your suggestions as to what you need, what you would find useful.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Social Media Chronicles Engagement in Super Bowl 2012

How many people watched the Super Bowl with a smart device or a laptop handy? According to Nielsen over 111 million people, 53.3 million households, watched the game itself. NBC says that 2.1 million unique viewers watched it online, the most ever for an online sports event.

Even more than the number who streamed, two questions especially interest marketers:

1. How many people actually watched with a smart device handy?
2. Who were they, how often were they socializing, and what were they talking about?

There will probably be a number on actual two-screen watchers soon, but a pre-game survey gives an interesting preview. According to Velti, 60% of mobile users planned to use their mobile device during the game. Here’s how their plans broke down:
1. 13% intended to use their devices during game play; 26% were going to use them during commercial breaks
2. During the halftime show, twice as many men as women (26% to 13%) planned to use their mobile devices
3. 18 to 34 year olds had the highest anticipated usage; they expected to check their devices an average of 19 times during the game.
4. The mobile users are not loners; 97% will watch with someone else; they expect 47% of their co-watchers to also be checking their mobile devices.
This is confirmation of the multitasking study I wrote about a few months ago.

CNN has an interesting perspective on what they did. According to their data from Trendr there were over 17 million interactions during the game. The traffic data supports their pregame plans. CNN chose some of the best tweets on various topics. Some are great; check them out.

I thought the approach taken by CNBC was most interesting to social media aficionados. According to Collective Intellect their Ad Tracker went  beyond overall buzz and general sentiment scores to ranks each brand based on their percent share of several conversational indicators we call dimensions. They ranked the funniest ads and also the “best.” There’s a lot of similarity to the traditional best ad ranking of USA Today and a variety of content-oriented rankings from Ad Age. Facebook had an ad meter on the official SB site—another sign of the times!
View video here

What is the take-away from all these numbers? It seems inescapable: social media and smart devices—and social media on smart devices—has become a mainstay of the lives of many consumers, especially the Millennials and their younger siblings, the Net Generation. Older generations are heavy users also, but perhaps have not integrated social/mobile into the very fabric of their lives to the same extent. The message to marketers seems clear. This is the SoMo portion of SoLoMo: marketers who are not in this game are missing the trend. The scary thing is that this is probably not the last trend; marketers who ignore the message of integrating their communications can only fall further behind.
Rich Text Article first published as Social Media Chronicles Super Bowl XLVI Engagement on Technorati.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl 2012 is a Social Media Event

I’ve been writing about the role of social media in the Super Bowl for several years. It has included interesting tie-ins with advertising, mostly a lot of contests which have seemed to work for customer engagement even if they’ve produced some less-than-stellar ads (aren’t most of them anyway?).  (See 2011 pre, post, 2010 pre 1, pre 2, post) But this year is different.

Social media has become an integral part of the event. I’ve heard, for example, that players will be able to tweet from the sidelines. They can’t bring their mobiles, but there will be a computer for their use on the sideline. Hope they remember their passwords!

But there are some significant additions to the lineup that should work. The two things that seem most significant are:

• Live streaming of the event. Ad CPMs are high for this audience but a few major advertisers seem to be taking the plunge, although Chevrolet has let it be known that they are advertising on the stream and are working to integrate all their advertising through activities like this promoted Tweet. As many as 300 thousand viewers have watched streamed NFL games this season, so the size of the final audience will be interesting.

• The integrated use of social media by the host committee in Indianapolis. This is their “Get Connected” page. Take a look at the home page also. Its style is rather frenetic, but it makes the point they want the visitor to have an excellent game experience. According to Lisa Arthur writing in the Forbes blog the activities of the host committee include:
  o Integration of on- and off-line experiences. The home page offers event info. If you can’t be there, you might enjoy the live web cams.
  o A social media control center where they can listen to fan chatter and respond in real time. They say on the Twitter page that they are open from 9 a.m. to midnight. With almost 21 thousand Twitter followers and over 15 thousand Facebook likes as of Tuesday morning, they could be quite busy!
  o Collaborated with the NFL on a single mobile app for the event
  o Reached out to influential Indiana bloggers to promote the event activities (there’s plenty to do, and residents can enjoy it without shelling out for a game ticket) and build the social network in advance of game day.

Brad Carlson is vice president of marketing for the host committee. He says:

All of this has evolved into a robust ‘real-time’ network helping us react to trends in fan sentiment, and make adjustments to our plans on the fly. . .This will be the most connected Super Bowl in history. We’re breaking new ground, and laying the benchmarks for the future. . We want the fans to win.

All this reminded me that the London Olympics has already issued social media guidelines for participants. Some coverage describes it as restrictive. I’ve read it, and I’d say they are reminding about standard intellectual property issues and reminding the young participants to play nicely and respect the Olympic brand. Wonder if that' is the reasoning behind not allowing mobiles on the SB sidelines; reduce the likelihood of unfortunate ‘in the heat of the moment’ posts.

So, overall, I’d agree that SuperBowl XLVI is setting new precedent for social media integration into a live event that other events will learn from and emulate.

Article first published as Super Bowl XLVI is a Social Media Event on Technorati.

New on Wednesday - More on the Social Media Command Center

Friday, January 20, 2012

SoLoMo - Implications for Marketers

SoLoMo is a term that has gained great currency since John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers coined it a year or so ago. The importance of the phenomenon was confirmed during the holiday season of 2011 by soaring m-commerce sales. In the U.S. alone, sales from mobile devices were expected to be over $10 billion in 2011, and the U.S. has been a laggard in the space.

The most startling statistic of all, however, is the fact that sales of smartphones exceeded those of pcs for the first time in the 4th quarter of 2010. The prediction has been around for awhile, but now it has been matched by the reality, and marketers must adjust their strategies accordingly. Much has been written about mobile strategies, but I think a lot of it misses a key issue.

First, the players, all of whom are well known, even if some are mere corporate infants. This infographic from Social Commerce Today positions them in the space.

Here’s my take, with the often-overlooked issue and implications for marketers. Devices are the facilitators but search, especially local search, is the fundamental driver. Whether people are looking for a present for Mom, finding where their friends are or locating a place to have Indian for lunch search dominates, and a lot of it is local these days. The fact that search ties it all together is a strategic marketing issue of great importance.

The other key marketing issue is the emergence of small local retailers as equal participants. Looking at the infographic above you see that all the players offer affordable marketing opportunities to small local businesses. Some of them are designed to cater to that market. Small businesses have to learn to take advantage of the opportunities and large enterprises will increasingly find ways to incorporate them into brand strategies. In this space the “level playing field” of the Internet has finally arrived, and its importance cannot be overstated.

How are marketers dealing with the challenges? A survey by Silverpop suggests that many marketers have a long way to go before they successfully integrate communications channels, including email. For additional data about which channels marketers are using and how, download the study here.

Marketers have a lot to learn as they deal with these strategic issues. How do we do this without harassing customers each and every time they are close to one of our stores? How do we do it with a level of privacy that is known and acceptable to our customers? And what about “deal fatigue?” It comes back to the fundamental SMM question: How do we play nicely in the social space and still accomplish our brand goals?

All questions that need serious thought, but the outlines of the space in which we are playing are becoming clearer. It’s called SoLoMo!

Article first published as SoLoMo--Implications for Marketers on Technorati.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creating a Google+ Brand Page--Even if You Aren't a Brand

Google suggests that you can create a brand page for a product, brand or even a project. That’s true, but it’s not as easy as it sounds, and I wanted to share a few things I learned in the process of setting up a page for the new edition of our Internet marketing textbook.

Google has a blog post with a chirpy little video about how useful the brand pages are. It includes an early-stages list of brand pages, most of which are global brands in spite of the fact that the video is for a local bike marketer. Looking at some good pages is useful, but it’s definitely not all you need to know.

The good news is that the set-up is easy. If you look at the initial page, you see the business categories, which should fit any need. I selected product or brand, which seemed fine. However, at that point, I had already made a mistake.

I had been following the advice of early users so I carefully signed out of all my Google accounts and set up a new one. I simply couldn’t disassociate my name and post on the new page as administrator. I just kept being Mary Lou, not what I wanted. So I closed the new Google account and tried another tack.

I used the personal website I’ve had for quite some time, following Google’s instructions to verify that I owned it. That was easy. However, I had never set up email services on that site and I had to have an email address to set up the page. For two frustrating days I tried everything, following the hosting services instructions to set it up and Google’s to verify. Nothing worked. Then I called the hosting service and found that free email services were no longer available in spite of what my account management page said. When I purchased the service for one email box—voilá, it all worked fine!

That may be overstating it a bit. When you sign out of all Google accounts—as all the advice correctly recommends—and go to the Google + page for business, you find the first thing you have to do is to sign in with a valid Google account. You don’t want to sign in with a personal account; that associates your personal profile with the brand page and you don’t want that. I could sign in with my (verified) website address, but I still had to fill out a profile as a person, not as a business. Then I got the Create a Page icon on the right bar and could actually set up the brand page.

I created the page, wrote a profile that explained it was for people who’ve adopted our book for classroom teaching, and wrote a post. All was working fine, but at this point you’ve got various accounts and email addresses floating around, so be sure to bookmark the page so you can get to it easily. You’ll probably want to activate multiple accounts sign-in, which makes it convenient to switch from your personal account to your “business” account.

But you still need to be careful when you post. You have a personal profile/page that is linked (inextricably, I think) to your business profile/page. If you post when +your name is showing it goes onto your personal page. In order to get it on your business page (+your business account) you have to hit the blue Manage this page bar when you first enter the page. Then you’ll see +your business account in the upper left bar and you’re good to go.

Things you need to keep in mind:

1. This is probably easier if you have a Google Places local business account. Try working through that instead of the Product or Brand tab I used and see if it’s easier.
2. Even if you use a Google Places account sign in, it seems that G+ wants to associate all brand pages with a person, so you may still have the issues of multiple profiles.
3. Moving back and forth on a single page seems impossible. In other words, if I’d like to post part of the time as +your name and some of the time for really official stuff as +your business account, you just can’t do it. I had the same issue on a Facebook page for which I was an administrator, so this one is easy for me to believe.
4. And perhaps the most important of all: you can’t add people on a brand page; you have to invite them and only if they choose to add your brand page to their circle will you be able to see them.

You can see the current version of the book’s G+ page—and if you are an Internet marketing instructor, please add us to your circle!

Article first posted as Creating a Google+ Brand Page Even if You're Not a Brand on Technorati.