November 27th 2009

So this week we actually talked about two things affiliate marketing and the use of mobile devices in marketing. But the discussion n mobile devices delved into the realm or permission marketing. Permission marketing was a term coined by Seth Godin. Essentially what permission marketing entails is building a trusting relationship  that can get the customer to volunteer to get emails or special offers. Traditional marketing tactics where based upon the interruption model of marketing. An ad interrupts your page or a commercial interrupts what your watching on T.V. whereas permission marketing is based people volunteering to listen to your message. As Seth Godin puts it: when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Another way to look at it is like this: the average person is exposed to about 3000 marketing messages in a day. If you do the math thats like one marketing message every 28 seconds. But how many of those do we remember? Realistically, maybe one or two. But if a person opts in to receive your marketing materials then they are going to be a whole lot more willing to actually receive your message. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the message is anticipated by the receiver and second the receiver has opted into this agreement because they are interested in the material. Thereby making the receiver engaged in the product. By having a receiver that not only wants to get the message but also wants to be actively engaged makes permission marketing a very powerful tool when trying to distribute your marketing message. If engaged in permission marketing then congratulations are in order, for you have entered the realm of the next wave of marketing and you should be excited about the possibilities of the future.

November 20th 2009

Welcome back, one and all, to the follow-up post on advertising and virtual worlds post. Last time we looked mainly at advertising.  So in todays digital landscape there are essentially two kinds of business models when it comes to MMO’s. There is the flat monthly fee style games. Like World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, or Final Fantasy Online. Then their is also the micro transaction business model utilised by games like Asda Story, or Fiesta. Now the biggest reason for both of these business models is to cover development and deployment costs from the time of conception onwards. And the reason that I say “from the time of conception onwards” is because it also covers the cost of ongoing development. Now the marketing decisions that go into the decision between flat fee and micro transaction is huge. Is it worth it, is the game conductive to one model or another, or is the content so huge that there will be people playing this game for years to come. I can guarantee you that these kind of questions where asked by the marketers at Champions Online when they where developing their business model. They choose to expand the model a bit. First they charge a monthly fee to access their servers, but they also utilise micro transactions for the purchase of special items. Now we can’t forget that Champions online is unique in this way and they have used this to their advantage. One of the lead designers actually went around and did a plethora of interviews to help to alleviate perceived consumer risk, by explaining how the system is going to be working.If you think about that it’s brilliant. Why well not only do the recoup the initial startup costs from the monthly subscription fees but they also encourage people to take advantage of the items and perks that they can get through micro transactions. And heres the best part; some games utilise micro transactions but then they put time restrictions on the item. For instance Battlefield Hero’s is a free to play game, but if you want to have the best items in the game faster than working through everything and earning them then you are able to by ‘battlefield funds’ that can be spent on in-game items at the games store.  Now, advertising for these games, well for most games really, well digital games anyway, occurs online. With websites like IGN, Ten Ton Hammer, GameSpot, and countless others. Essentially with almost everyone being tuned in to the net by offering information to these kind of enthusiast websites, developers and marketers can take advantage of free publicity. Thats not to say that video game developers of online games don’t use conventional means. In fact, World of Warcraft had quite a successful marketing campaign where movie and television stars would talk about their game characters. And that is going to be my parting note this week, but I will leave you with these tidbits of advertising .

Advertising In The Digital Storm.

November, Friday 13th, 2009

Welcome back, once again, to the latest installment of my blog. I thank you again for tuning in. This week we covered more Search Engine Optimization. But I ran through that last blog post, and as we have already covered, we don’t have the attention span for that kind of thing any more. So we’re going to jump ahead to next week and talk a little about advertising and virtual environments. Sort of a two-parter if you will. This week we’re going to talk more about the advertising and then next week we are going to talk more about working within the virtual environments to generate profits.

Now when I prepare to write one of these things I usually stop by TED and check out whats new, good, or relevant. This time I happened to stumble across Rory Sutherland talking about perceived value that advertising contributes to products or services. And that got me thinking about what exactly does advertising get us as online marketers. To look at this a little further we also need to know what advertising is to a marketer as well.Traditional marketing methods would have us shouting to get the attention of the consumer with every advert that is seen on T.V. or in a magazine. And John Wanamakers famous saying about where his advertising dollars are going is actually closer to the truth than he knew. In fact, according to The Economist, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) puts the amount of money wasted on fruitless advertising at $220 billion world-wide and the total budget is $428 billion. So what does all this mean. it means that for advertising there is still a long way to come before we figure out what is truly effective in acquiring new customers, and swaying competitors customers away from our rivals.

So what does this mean for online marketing. Well let us see. First, it means there is a great chunk of the advertising resource distribution pie that is going to waste on traditional marketing methods. Secondly, these dollars can be directed towards online marketing efforts if we (the online marketers) can justify to management the cost-benefit ratio. Thirdly, the fact that we can use accurate historical server records to properly develop detailed reports on website traffic behaviours enables us to analyse a cost-benefit ratio.

But I still don’t think we’ve really narrowed down what advertising gets us. OH! I see, maybe its not what advertising gets us but maybe its what advertising gets the customer instead. According to The Value of Advertising website the consumer actually gets benefit from the advertising. The trick is making the customer understand the benefits of the advertising dollars. For instance right now MAC is promoting itself as the easier computer to use and with much better customer service to boot. And they are doing a really good job as well. This actually helps to allow Apple to sell their computers for 2-3 times what a PC would go for and people barley think twice about it. Regardless of the fact that apple computers are PC’s with a different operating systems.  So the customer receives the ‘benefit’ of knowing that MAC is a ‘better’ computer to use than a PC because customer service is reportedly better as well as usability. Knowledge, choice. This is what good advertising provides the customer. Now that we have this out of the way. Next week we will apply some of this to the varying virtual worlds that have sprung up as potential marketing well-springs over the last few years.

*Pause while laughing subsides*

Welcome back folks to another installment of my mentally stimulating conversation on marketing and the web.

*Pause while laughing subsides*

So this week in class we discussed some of the aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and some of the results of SEO. We always talk about goals, set them smart and you can’t go wrong. This has led me to wonder what are the goals of SEO, the ultimate goal is to get that top slot for Google’s search results. What is so important about getting your website to send out signal flares to Google’s search spiders? Well just that Google is the go to search engine for more than 60% of all internet users. WOW!! Marketers should almost be licking their chops now. With Google bringing together that many people into one place to search for information it is vitally important for organizations to survive in today’s fast paced digital world. By reaching the top you increase your visibility, and the more visible you are the more likely people are to choose your site. The average user only ever searches the first couple of results before clicking away from Google. And millions of people click away from Google, disappointed that they did not find what they where looking for everyday. So what does this show us, all the people clicking away that is? That many websites out there, while people want to see them, do not take advantage of SEO. This simple act of not choosing keywords and not developing a solid PageRank score will keep them in the lower echelons of the millions of pages offering the same thing as yours. Essentially non-visible websites are going to have no impact on the net or the consumer.

So what else does SEO get web savvy marketers, well frankly, it gets them their most favorite thing in the whole world-wide web. Measurable results. Results that can be quantified, qualified, examined, and dissected for the benefit of the marketer and the firm as well. This is what is really unique about SEO is the measurable results that allow marketers to examine how well they are doing. Without which we would still be stuck in the stone age of marketing. And no matter how much money you through at some problems, they may not disappear. Essentially, SEO gives the marketer the opportunity to learn from what they are doing and to change what they are doing as they do it. This is a unique function that arises and that can be the most beneficial to marketers I think. But the catch is we have to be smart enough to take advantage of it. And the problem with that is that a great deal of us are stuck in the ‘old school’ rather than the new age of Marketing 2.0. I will leave off with that thought, and catch you all again next week with more of my mentally stimulating marketing discussion.

 

Social Media,Marketing 2.0, and the Digital Native

Sorry to my readers, this posting comes a little later than most of them. Still within 7 days from my last Marketing 430 class though (that is for the Proffessors interest). So now that thats out of they way we can get on with the juicy stuff. This week in class we talked about social media (ie. Facebook, Twitter, etc). This has become a savvy marketers best friend. What!? You say. That can’t be. Well it can and is. How do marketers take advantage of social media? Well they turn to companies like Rapleaf, or Spokeo. So what do organizations dedicated to people search do? Well according to Spokeos splash page “uncover personal photos, videos, and secrets…Gauranteed” So how do these magnificently pervasive marketing tool dig up all that information on a person? Well Spokeo has developed their search algorithms to scour the deep wed for your info. According to the CEO of Spokeo “even though most people think the size of the Web is basically the Google crawl index, there’s actually a lot of information that Google doesn’t crawl,” says Harrison Tang, founder and CEO of Spokeo.

So what does this mean for the Digital Native? Well folks we gotta watch our butts. Every little bit of ourselves that we put out there is being analysed, studied, and interpreted in ways that help separate money from the wallet. So what are some of the implications of this kind of market research. Well the first thing that pops into my mind is the Market of One. Whats so special about that? Well if we look into the definition, level of customization and customer service at which a customer feels that he or she is an exclusive or preferred customer of the firm. Essentially no more geographical, social, or monetary segmentation. Now we segment by person. Imagine that, no more wasted marketing dollars. Why/ Because we know that little Sally Johnstone likes to only eat at Arby’s, hates the way her pants look, and can’t wait to hear the latest Pearl Jam album. Uh-oh, that’s a whole lot of information that a good marketer can use to their advantage. And the timing seems right too. This kind of people search has been around for long enough that it is starting to become a little more main stream. On the net, as we know, when something stops being new and shiney, and starts o be taken for granted is when something really starts to permeate society. With that in mind I will bid you ardu and urge you to check back next week as we continue our discussions into the roles of marketing online. Thanks.

What is This Brand Engagement Thing?!?!

October 14th 2009

Hello again my three viewers. Have you been sitting by your computer rabidly awaiting my next post? No of course you haven’t, why would you ? What exactly is here that is actually going to entertain you other than my 4-600 words a week.  There is no Brand Engagement. Other than that quaint little header that I use there is not a whole lot stimulating stuff going on.  However, if you jump over to Starbucks Facebook site by chance. You may find that there is not a lot of difference between our sites. With one glaring exception of course, as of today Starbucks has approximately 4.5 million friends. I have 3. The two people who have left comments on this blog, and the one that I know is reading, and not leaving comments. 🙂

What allows Starbucks to be the #1 ranked social media brand engaged site in the world? Brand Engagement. People want to be seen with Starbucks. They want other people to know that they like Starbucks. From a marketing standpoint: WOW! That’s some powerful stuff. But how did they get there. I mean, back in 2006 they (marketers in general) couldn’t even decide how to measure online brand engagement, or social media engagement. For the most part brand engagement was essentially throwing piles of money at an issue in the hopes that it ‘will make things better.’ So how did Starbucks get ranked #1? Well a combination of marketing through multiple channels so as to expose their values more so than any specific product and Starbucks spent bucket loads of money, at one time, to promote their ‘third place’ concept. Essentially, it’s not home, it’s not work but it is somewhere that you can come and just be comfortable and have a cup of coffee. Not only that but they have so many channels to choose from today, that they can  choose the best suited to them, and go from there.

For Starbucks a site like Facebook is gold. People show up and say small things like “I can’t wait to get a Caramel Macciatto” and then people can respond to that. All the Marketer has to do is set up the page by registering on Facebook, upload an image of the company logo and they can sit back and watch their user base grow. So what is their advantage to having something like this? Measurability! according to Avinash Kaushik “It would be criminal not to…” Social media spreads like a virus, it slowly creeps along and mutates with every generation. Look at the difference between MySpace and Facebook.  This gives the marketers at Starbucks a major advantage, because not only can the marketers from Starbucks then measure their failures and successes, through web analytics. But as the social media cloud spreads to encompass more users every day, so does the brand engagement that big organizations, like Starbucks, need to continue being profitable into the future.

A Brief History of the Universe…I Mean Web Analytics

October 6th, 2009

Welcome Back one and all to the fourth installment of my wonderful blog. This week we are going to talk a little more about web analytics.  But I want to switch it up a bit and look at how web analytics emerged and evolved into what we have today. More pointedly what Avinash Koushik calls Web Analytics 2.0. So where did we, as marketers, start with web analytics? Well any digital native worth their digital spurs can tell us that. The good old Hit Counter. Remember those things? They used to be able to tell us how many times we had checked our website to see if anyone had visited. Fantastic!! But what did they really tell us? Well from a marketing perspective not a whole lot, but what they did accomplish was to make marketers realize that there was information just waiting to be quantified, analyzed, and assimilated into fantastic marketing practises. This occurred roughly between the years of 1995-2000, at least according to Ballardvale Research.

Once marketers started to realise that there was all of this potentially powerful information for the taking, we started to see companies spring up that analyzed click stream traffic. One of the oldest, and innovative, firms in this field was and is WebTrends. Founded in 1993 they claim to be the developer of Web Analytics. Whether they are or not, I am sure is open to debate. For the sake of argument we will say that they are. WebTrends started with click stream traffic and has grown over the last 26 years to become one of the biggest web analytics corporations in the world. So what happened to web analytics between the years of 2000 to now, well essentially there where a few heady years where companies sprang up one day, and were gone the next. All trying to get a piece of the web analytics pie. But what this really did was to help standardize the industry into a semblance of what it is today. Company structure, practice, and standards started to coalesce into a solid foundation for the advent of web analytics 2.0. Now in todays market there is complete standardization between differing web analytic firms, each offering essentially the same service.

So in essence Web Analytics 1.0 was just the beta stage for marketers. The testing ground where all the bugs are worked out of the system and the best features kept and the vestigial offerings withered and died (or fell off). And web analytics 2.0 is where it really begins. Avinash desribes it as:

Web Analytics 2.0 is:

(1) the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your website and the competition,
(2) to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers, and potential customers have,
(3) which translates into your desired outcomes (online and offline).

This is where twenty-odd years of development have led marketers. To a point in time where we can make effective and timely use of the information that we can collect. Just imagine what we can do in another twenty years. In theory one could get real-time data and use that to develop real-time ad campaigns that would be broad cast right to the user within minutes, or better seconds, of their visit to a web site. For marketers this would allow instantaneous marketing. Which, if we read the last two blog posts I made about web analytics, and the digital native goes to show that this is where the future of marketing is going. Parallel ideas and random access thoughts which is going to next wave as the net generation comes into their own is going to require this kind of marketing just to get their attention. So until next week thanks for stopping by and remember, marketers are watching.

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