Apple’s marketing and branding of the iOS “culture of exclusivity” and superiority over other technology has built a rabidly loyal brand following. It’s an envious position that ensures a demand for their product regardless of the actual quality. While this is great for consumer marketing it biases marketing folks. We sometimes call marketing folks that deny data and rely on their own opinions as fact as being a “focus group of one.”
Recent reports now tell us that smartphone penetration has surpassed the 50% threshold of market share and the Android platform now claims 51% of that market share compared to 34% for iOS. I am often forced to remind marketers and our brands of this data as they tend to want to develop apps for iOS only or talk only to iOS users.
As an android user myself I may be a little defensive here and I fully admit that. I’ve been in meetings where I pull out my gorgeous Samsung Galaxy S2 and had people look up from their iPhones as if I’m a poor illiterate fool for not having an iPhone. I remind them that they are succumbing to the very advertising they are creating and ask them to strive to be as good as Apple.
While many companies still rely heavily on email marketing to reach out to customers, there’s no question that new communication channels (like social media and online display advertising) and consumer habits (anti-spam sentiment) have contributed to a decline in traditional email marketing. A recent comScore study found that “in November, 2010, the number of visitors to web-based email sites declined 6 percent compared to the previous year, while email engagement declined at an even greater rate.”
In the new digital market of mobile usage and smartphones, how can companies successfully use email as a marketing tool? Email is still the least expensive method of reaching and engaging with customers (and potential customers). But how do you ensure that you’re reaching (a) the right demographic and (b) users that are likely to convert to customers? In our campaigns, we have found that incentives are the key to consumer engagement. The best example is the product we launched earlier this year for our clients that allows them to build a contest campaign as a self-serve product. Our clients can easily build out a contest for their audience, populate the imagery in a customizable HTML form, use standard contest rules or customize their own rules in just a few easy steps. Our agency hosts the campaign, as well as prepares a custom display campaign to drive entries to the contest.
Marketers are increasingly using web-based sweepstakes and contests in their integrated marketing campaigns, bringing a classic direct marketing tactic to consumers via the Internet. Contests are great ways to build valuable email databases, which companies can market to over and over. Few things are as valuable as the “warm lead” of a contest entrant-and the ROI is high for any budget, from local businesses to national brands. Contests generate excitement and build interest about a product, event, grand opening, sale, or a brand.
Our clients can log in and see entrants and download email addresses or have Broad Street Interactive manage a reply email campaign with a special offer. Most importantly, this “client controlled” product allows companies running contests to view statistics, manage their own campaign, and own their content and leads from the entries. The result? Incentives for consumers-and new leads for our clients.
An article in AdAge this week about how AT&T plans to lift its image via social media “customer care” inspired us to share our own experiences with brands that use social media-as-customer-service (and do it right). As a business or brand venturing into social media, one of the most common mistakes one can make is set up the Twitter, Facebook, etc. accounts, post a few times, garner a few followers or fans, then maintain “radio silence.” The brands that we would qualify as “social media pros” use the medium not only for promotion and marketing, but also for customer service and brand loyalty.
One recent example: A friend spent a weekend at a Westin (Starwood) Hotel in Washington, DC, and returned from his trip with some unwanted “visitors” – dust mites that not only caused an awful rash that sent him to the doctor for treatment, but he also had to disinfect his clothing, bedding, luggage, and most of his home. When he called the hotel’s customer service department, they “opened a ticket” and finallyÂ responded to him (after several phone calls) that the room in which he stayed was indeed infested with dust mites. The offered compensation? Starwood Hotel points. When my friend hung up the phone, he Tweeted to his 1,000+ followers about his experience and his dissatisfaction with the resolution. In turn, several of his followers re-Tweeted his comment and shared it on Facebook. Within about 30 minutes, he was contacted by a staffer at Starwood responsible for customer care via its Twitter page (www.twitter.com/starwoodbuzz), an email exchange followed, and he was reimbursed for his entire stay as a result. He shared that information via his social media channels as well. Our grade? “C-” for initial phone customer service contact, but an “A” for follow-up effort via Twitter and Starwood’s customer care social media staff.
A few weeks ago after lunch, IÂ Tweeted that I was dismayed to discover Central Market didn’t carry Sparkling Lime IZZE (my favorite IZZE flavor). Literally, within about four minutes, www.twitter.com/izzetasteagents were following me on Twitter and two weeks later, my favorite supermarket/lunch haven now carries my favorite IZZE beverage. Grade? “A++” for immediacy, responsiveness, and brand loyalty incentive. Clearly, the “taste agents” are on top of their game and since one-third of Twitter users talk brands, companies have to know what’s being said about their brand (and respond!).
Other top contenders for social media customer care:
Wachovia – www.twitter.com/wachovia, ranks “A” for customer responsiveness on Twitter, but also uses the social media channel to disseminate customer information.
Zappos – www.twitter.com/zappos, online shoe retailer (admitting to a little bias with my own love of shoes), but more than 1 and a half million followers can’t be wrong, can they?
Sephora – www.twitter.com/sephora, ranks an “A” or higher for sheer consistency and number of Tweets, lack of re-Tweeting, and sharing links relevant to its customer base.
StarbucksÂ - www.twitter.com/starbucks, (I know, I know…we’re trying to “drink local” too). Interestingly, the coffee conglomerate has fewer followers on Twitter than Zappos and many other companies (less than 1Â million), but we give them a “B+” for customer engagement via contests and other “follower only” promotions.
Whole Foods – www.twitter.com/wholefoods, Tweeting from its global HQ right here in Austin, TX. More than 1.7 million followers reading Tweets about healthy eating and in-store promotions (how else would IÂ have heard organic cherries were on mega-sale last weekend?), but this primary account is used to respond to Twitter users, followers or not, Tweeting about their Whole Foods experience. “A++” for responsiveness (to both negative and positive comments)!
There are many that rank high on the social media customer care index – www.twitter.com/coach, www.twitter.com/harleydavidson, www.twitter.com/gap, www.twitter.com/burberry, www.twitter.com/jetblue, www.twitter.com/HRBlock, and www.twitter.com/RedCross, among others. The reason?
They know “the four Rs” of customer service via social media: reviewing, responding, recording, and redirecting.
They also understand customer engagement, the immediacy of the social media environment, and the power of social media networks. We’ll be keeping an eye on AT&T’s new customer care initiative (considering the sheer number of mentions they have on social networks – more than 10,000 – in a 24-hour period) just to see if and how high they’re going to set the bar for large companies and “social care teams.”
If your company or brand is ready to dip a toe in the waters of social media, we’re here to help with anything from consulting to managing social media campaigns, monitoring, tracking, and responding. Contact us with any questions!
We ask our clients all the time where they are spending their money. Here’s our most popular answers and we thought we’d ask the world the same question. We’ll share the results and talk about why each answer is valid depending on your product, service, message or marketing goals.
(We’re also testing out a new free blog poll service to see how it works.)
What do these two industries have in common? They ignored emerging technology, what consumers wanted from their product and how they use their products. Now both of these industries are struggling to remain relevant and are playing “catch up” to get in front of the consumer again.
Both of these industries are in the news with closings, lay-offs, bankruptcies and a painfull, slow march to the end of an era. We cannot wax nostalgic about “American-made cars” and “the feel of a newspaper in your hand” anymore. People have changed, the industry has changed and the technology has changed. Looking at business through a Vaseline coated lense will only make it more difficult to see the cliff you are about to walk right over.
While the current business models may be in peril, it is important to remember the people are still consuming news and information and people are still buying automobiles.
Since I’m not an auto-industry analyst, let’s focus on media. Those in media that ignored emerging technology completely missed out on the trends in how people were consuming media. We have moved from a “one-to-many” conversation to a “many-to-many” conversation.
We have to get in front of the consumer again and be responsive and deliver a product in the way they want to receive the product. This is a sea-change from the old business model. Marketers used to create products and tell the consumer how they should feel about them. With the emergence of new media, the customer is king.
We often tell our clients that online advertising is the most measurable media option in the media mix. While we all agree that we can measure online advertising six ways to Sunday, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by creating unrealistic expectations and commoditizing ad units in a way that do not lead to good strategic decisions.
The measurement of display must move beyond a CTR (Click-Thru Rate) only gauge of success. First, we can’t agree as an industry what is a good CTR. While some may hang on to a 0.3% CTR as industry standard, who’s to say a 0.01% is a success if it leads to more brand awareness? We have focused on the use of display as a strong call-to-action medium while ignoring the fact that display is a good branding medium. We can’t leave branding up to just broadcast. If publishers can boast a high average time-on-site metric consistently, an advertiser would be well served to get in front of that audience. Brands can see “lift” from exposure with these users.
AdvertisingAge recently published a review of the click as the wrong measurement. In the article they lead with the premise that, “…many advertisers in the past gave most of the credit for a sale or conversion — which in the web world could include anything from visiting a website to printing an online coupon — to the last ad clicked on or seen by a consumer.” What focusing solely on the “click” does for marketers is shift the ROI discussion to visitors or actions performed. Instead of focusing on the click, shouldn’t we focus on the desired result?Â If my campaign is designed to increase brand awareness and penetrate a market simply reporting how many web site visitors a display ad provided is not proving my worth to my client. If I can review the media mix against increased sales or greater brand awareness then hasn’t my media mix done its job, regardless of the number of visitors we delivered to the client’s website?
In a post by Comscore’s Gian Fulgoni, the demise of the click is compared to other media measurements. “I think the issue is that a click no longer reflects the effectiveness of a display ad. Just as we wouldnâ€™t expect that print ads, TV ads and radio ads should generate immediate consumer response, why would we expect it to be so with online display ads?”
Comscore’s results show that brand life is not immediate using online advertising, but is measurable.
In our world of instant gratification continuing to focus on delivering a click is short-sighted and desperate. When we talk with clients the measurement we can provide is the sizzle, not the steak.
As the line between advertising agency, content publisher and advertiser continue to blur we are seeing more and more “strange bedfellows” in the marketplace. Content publishers are fighting to remain relevant and get advertiser dollars while competing against a widening array of publishers in the space. (It’s a tough pill to swallow for a media company when they have to admit a blogger is competing directly with them.)
In the same way, agencies are being forced to innovate and reach customers as the way in which people consume media evolves. For example, if Twitter is the “next big thing” an agency has to find unique ways to leverage the social microblogging tool for their client’s brand.
We are constantly reviewing our media mix for clients and always on the search for trends to stay out in front of the fast pace of new media. Of course, evaluating a trend includes evaluating the ROI of that trend. Believe me, that’s the hard part!One thing we are seeing more and more of in the market is the idea of creating “content” for a content publisher. For the first time we are working with content publishers to form a true partnership. Lexus and Time, Inc. are the latest to explore this new distribution method. The agency for Lexus’ new RX (Team One) came up with an idea to create a custom magazine experience, inspired by the custom experience of owning a Lexus RX. They then pitched the idea to Time, Inc. to create a customizable print or online magazine and “Mine” was born.
“Mine” is the first fully customizable print magazine and the sole advertiser and sponsor is Lexus RX. By pitching the idea and putting dollars behind the pitch, Lexus is now a “partner” in providing content with Time, Inc. This is what we mean when we tell our clients to consider putting skin in the game. Lexus is accepting some of the financial risk for the success of the venture, while Time is accepting the risk of creating a very cozy relationship with an advertiser. Traditionally a no-no in the editorial world.
Here’s a presentation I gave to a few of our clients in a 2009 Overview Session we hosted last week. I thought I’d share it with everyone. If you would like us to present to your group, contact us and we’ll be happy to provide your team with our trend analysis and review of your existing marketing plans for this tough year.
Facebook has sued Sanford “Spamford” Wallace for allegedly spamming members by flooding their Facebook walls with posts that appear to have come from their friends.
In a complaint filed last week in federal district court in the northern district of California, the social
networking site alleges that Wallace and two others ran a scheme that involved creating Facebook accounts, tricking members into providing their passwords, and then impersonating them to send messages to their friends. Wallace and the others allegedly began the enterprise last November. (source: mediapost)
The advances in spam have made it difficult for content publishers, marketers and every legitimate business to effectively use the web for marketing. Under the CAN-SPAM law, the feds are taking an agressive approach to the spammers. Unfortunately, it is difficult to trace them and even more difficult to get any damages from them.
We believe in email marketing when reaching out to those that have “opted in” to our messages. I personally receive some great online coupons and alerts via email that have become great marketing tools for call to action and direct response from me. So that these marketing tools maintain their efficacy, it is up to all of us to fight spam and other shady marketing efforts I’ve seen.
How spam is destroying Email as a communication tool
The start of February saw Internet spam levels rise to as high as 79.5 percent of all e-mail messages due to a spike in botnet activity and spammers leveraging the financial crisis and Valentine’s Day, according to MessageLabs.
My love/hate relationship with email boiled to the surface in this April 2008 post about the fact that email is no longer the best way to reach me or communicate with me. My email box receives an average of 46 emails every hour. If I stayed on top of incoming emails, it would be my only full time job! People I do business with know now that calling me or texting me is the best way to get a more prompt reply.
But, that’s another story altogether.
We opened the conference today with a quick overview of some of the themes so far. Two of them pique my interest the most, 1.) The need to keep advertising inventory at a premium and limit the “commoditization” of inventory, and 2.) Publishers must provide services to their advertising clients in addition to inventory. Such as, lead generation, event production or publication opportunities.
Today we start with Google speaking to us about their foray into display advertising and to rebut the charge that “display is dead.” Google is not doing anything to dispel the F.O.G. (Fear Of Google), but diving into display with the expansion of the current AdSense business model. Google’s advantage is its reach and long tail display.
Google’s Rosenblatt says the distinction between creativity and technology, between networks and media brands is “delusional.” Rosenblatt speaks to how Google Display will work and compares the methodology to airlines first class versus coach ticket fares. The flaw is that airlines also price seats by point of purchase, date and other methodologies that are somewhat convoluted and antiquated. We work directly with publishers on placing inventory that fits both our clients needs and meet the publishers requirements for filling empty inventory that also suits their brand.
Google Display claims they are friend to agencies, stating that they paid out $6 billion to agencies last year. That’s real money and a testament to Google’s ability to work with agencies, publishers and provide value on their existing products.
We have been hearing that mobile will be the “next big thing” for a while and predictions are high for revenue, but we are not seeing the actual revenue from a publisher perspective. AdMob reaches 6 million iPhone users and believes that providing a rich experience is paramount to the success of the mobile platform. Digital media needs to provide a meaningful audience for its advertisers, regardless of the platform. Mobile has more than 50 million mobile web users per month and is growing. AdMob claims their audience diverse, but 50% are in the 25-50 demographic. Mobile will target by age, gender and location…just as display online will do.
Admob proves that there can be a rich experience by demonstrating a 3-D effect on their Fast and Furious ad. I’m sold, but not quite sure of the efficacy of the ad experience on the mobile platform.
Moving Beyond The Click
Advertising Age posts today an article that’s been the topic of conversation here at the conference. Their article “Why the Click Is the Wrong Metric for Online Advertising” is the heart of what we are discussing as we evolve the sophistication of the online metrics.
They also discuss the reality of the recession, which should not come as any surprise to anyone with a pulse.
Agencies v. Publishers…
The great debate is similiar to our debate last yeart. Publishers are taking on more and more agency roles when it comes to interactive advertising and acting as consultants to their clients. The agencies and publishers consequently have conflict as they feel publishers “stealing” services from their clients.
As an agency, we believe we provide a depth of brand marketing expertise online that a publisher simply cannot provide. Sure, the publisher deals with clients lack of sophistication, but those agencies that are not providing adequate interactive support and mentoring to their clients are failing them and deserve, in my opinion, to lose their clients business.
Agencies should be seen as the experts in all media for their clients, when they let them down regarding interactive the publisher has had to step up and become the consultant. Brands do need agencies, but they need the right agency.