Measure Your Marketing with These Handy Metrics

Measuring your marketing expenditures and re-evaluating what you have accomplished can be rather daunting and rewarding at the same time. But the most crucial benefit is how your actions are to be affected based on your findings. It is not the news that measuring your actions is followed by better decisions, however it is so common that most of us (marketers) are mostly 99% focused on just launching our campaigns, accomplishing the laundry lists of the pre-planned roadmap and creating new one before we can catch a breath and take a minute to look back. Metrics can help us maximize our effectiveness and identify our strengths and weaknesses on both strategy and execution. And of course, there are no perfect models to assess our actions. However, when I was reviewing my recent readings on marketing metrics by Paul W. Farris et al, I chose the following top eighteen (because ten is not enough) to adopt into the arsenal.

From the category of shares (hearts, minds and markets)
Loyalty – measures future revenue streams. Usually, includes a combination of share of requirements (a.k.a share of wallet, a given brand’s share of purchases in its category), willingness to pay premium, willingness to search.
Top of Mind – I love this one = The 1st brand that comes into a customer’s mind when he or she is asked about a category. The percentage of the customers who the given brand came out on top can be measured.
Willingness to Search - implies the likelihood that customers will settle for a second-choice product if their first choice is not available. ( I know I do that for my dining experiences).
Willingness to Recommend – includes a percentage of customers surveyed, who indicated that they will recommend a brand to their friends.
Sole Usage Percentage – measures the proportion of a brand’s customers who use only the given brand’s products and do not buy from the competitors in relation to total brand customers.

From the category of margins and profits
Marketing Spending – includes total expenditure on marketing activities (advertising and non-price related promotions, can include sales spending). Very useful metric. It is advised to have 2 formulas for it: fixed and variable marketing spending. Fixed marketing spending includes sales force salaries and support, major advertising campaigns, marketing staff (our salaries!), sales promotion materials and cooperative advertising allowances. Variable marketing costs comprise of sales commissions, sales bonuses, bill -backs for local campaigns, rebates, early payment terms expenses. To calculate the latter, you should use your revenue number multiplied by the percentage of variable selling cost. Total marketing costs is a basic sum of both.

From the category of product and portfolio management
Brand Equity Metrics – helps to monitor health of the brand. This is the hardest metric and has a number of models, true moneymaker for the agencies and consultants. Interbrand and Young & Rubicam are the leaders in evaluating brand monetary values. The Y&R evaluates a given brand based on the perceived differentiation on the market, relevance to consumer lifestyles, the esteem the consumers hold due to the brand and the perceived knowledge about the brand those consumers possess. Strong brands show higher degrees across all four values. Growing brands illustrate high levels of differentiation and relevance. Declining brands show relatively higher degrees of esteem and knowledge. Personally, I like the Brand Equity Methodology (a.k.a Moran), that calculates brand equity based on the multiplication of effective market share, relative price and loyalty index. Loyalty index can be calculated by a percentage of brand customers that will repurchase the brand in the next year.

From the category of customer profitability
Customer Lifetime Value considers the present value of the future cash flows attributed to the customer relationship, allows to budget acquisition and retention initiatives. Very useful metric for contractual customer relationships, where you have a projected timeline, average usage/purchase number, price, retention and frequency values. If margins and retention rates are constant, you can calculate the CLV as follows: multiply margin into the retention rate divided by a difference of (1+ discount rate) and retention rate. Valuable metric to identify the limit on acquisition spending.
Acquisition vs. Retention Spending -the former represents the average cost to acquire a customer and is the total acquisition spending divided by the number of new customers. The latter illustrates the cost of retaining a customer (your retention spending and number of the “saved” customers).

From the category of sales force and channel management
Direct Product Profitability includes the adjusted gross margin of products, less direct product costs.

From the category of the pricing strategy
Price Premium implies the percentage by which the price of a brand exceeds a benchmark price.
Reservation Price means the maximum amount an individual is willing to pay for a product. It is a key metric to predict the demand for your product.

From the category of promotion
Average Deal Depth – comprises of sales via coupons divided by total sales. Quick and easy metric to see brand dependence on promotional efforts.

From the category of advertising media and web metrics
Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) Rates is our standard advertising basics- is calculated as cost of advertising divided by impressions generated. My only concern and eternal question – how much is the noise or extra in the total impressions number and how much is the actual working range?
Share of Voice quantifies the advertising presence of a brand, in relation to total advertising in a given market. Helps to evaluate the strength of the advertising program.
Visitors – implies the number of unique web site viewers in a given period. I still trust only this web metric, love it for its ability to measure the reach of the website, identify its loyal visitors and content effectiveness during the time you were testing your messaging.

From the category of marketing and finance
Return on Marketing Investment is different from the common return on investment due to the fact that we take a risk and expense our initiatives in the current period. The formula suggested: (incremental revenue attributed to marketing multiplied by contribution % minus marketing spending) divided by marketing spending. In other words, you have to attempt to identify the revenue piece you brought divided by total invested marketing resources.
Project Metrics: Payback, NPV, IRR are our favorites from the finance departments. I mostly prefer the payback and NPV as applicable models to justify your spending.

To sum it up, various measuring models might evolve over time: some will be rejected, some will be re-established, and some will be invented. However, the more you are aware of various metrics, the better you are in your decision-making process, the more accuracy and tangible benefit you will receive for your marketing programs. It is just a challenge at times not to forget to apply them. However, imagine the benefits of testing various metrics and seeing through practice what makes sense and what does not?

P.S. Forrester Research folks have recently posted a video on marketing metrics. There are more metrics discussed outside the above list, like customer advocacy related to customer-centric marketing. Check it out for your listening pleasure yourself!

Come to Portland to Attend InVerge 2007 – The 1st Interactive Convergence Conference

Inverge 2007? Portland, OR? Next week, Thursday and Friday of September 6-7, a new conference is launched by one of the internet industry evangelists – Steve Gehlen. Inspired by the ideas of Convergence Culture and Wikinomics, “Inverge”, “invergence” is a newly coined term that took its roots from the concept of convergence of digital marketing and human interaction. In other words, it represents “interactive convergence”, thus “invergence”.

Why attend InVerge 2007? Inverge 2007 is a multi-disciplinary interactive marketing conference, happening in the Pearl District of Portland, OR (which has the best restaurants in the city on every corner, charming with its urban style and bringing lively crowds of urban professionals to mingle). Join your fellow marketers and advertisers for a 2 day experience of sharing ideas and expertise. Check the list of the attendees and plan your networking opportunities. Review the event schedule and choose the topics you would like to brush up on. Browse through the speakers bios and see who you would like to connect to.

Myself, I think I would definitely check out the panel on a new Nike ZOOM footwear interactive television campaign featuring panelists from Nike, Wieden+Kennedy and Ensequence with Stephanie Otto moderating the session.

The main presenters featured:
– Joshua Green, Research Manager, Convergence Culture Consortium, MIT talking about Convergence Culture and New Media Logics
– Jeff Yapp, Executive Vice President, MTV Networks
– Chris Van Dyke, President & CEO, Nau (see recent Fast Company feature) highlighting his groundbreaking “webfront” concept that integrates the best of e-commerce with traditional bricks and mortar shopping and Nau’s digitally centric approach to storytelling and brand building.
– Slate Olson, Senior Brand Connections Manager, Nike
– Renny Gleeson, Global Director of Digital Strategies, Wieden+Kennedy
– Lori H. Schwartz, SVP & Director, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab, Interpublic Group
– Catherine Ogilvie, EVP & General Manager of the San Francisco Office, Edelman sharing her insights on brand development and who actually does contribute to its value
– Stephanie Otto, CEO / Principal, Brainstorm Communications, Inc. (interactive TV pioneer)
– Dalen Harrison, CEO, Ensequence (interactive TV platform) talking about interactive TV and its future
– Adam Richardson, Strategy Director, frog design sharing his insights on product management and its shaping into managing complex systems
– Ken Papagan, President & Chief Strategy Officer, Rentrak talking about the need for behavioral measurement of media consumption by platform
– Jason Stoddard (Managing Partner) and Ken Brady (VP, Asia), Centric, Agency of Change
– Marcelino Alvarez, Senior Interactive Producer, Wieden+Kennedy (panel)
– Bill Barnett, General Manager, Entertainment Media Works expressing his insights on how to squeeze your advertising budget
– Mark Deuze, Professor, Journalism and New Media, Leiden University (The Netherlands) sharing his thoughts on consumer generated media
– Aimee Viles, Director of Creative Services, Ensequence (panel)

The best part – the conference was timed to coincide with a number of cultural events happening in Portland during the same week to make it a fully enjoyable experience of professional networking and cultural exploration. A paid Full Conference Pass to Inverge 2007 provides you with a full access to MusicFestNW and vouchers to 3 Time-Based Art Festival events, while the First Thursday Gallery Walk is complimentary already!

To register, visit InVerge 2007 site. Have Fun! I know I will.

Top Ten Interactive Marketing Trends Observed Throughout 2007

I have been thinking about the top ten interactive marketing trends that I can name on the top of my head that are still pursued by the fellow marketers. I came up with a list of those that was not as surprising as I wanted it to be. At the same time, it reminded me how long marketing as a profession has been around. Reading and tracking various industry publications (Brandweek, AdAge and NYT) as well as googling the term “Interactive marketing trends 2007” for value-add opinions in the top marketing blogs, brought me to the following top ten list:

1. Advergaming
2. Online video
3. Consumer generated media
4. Social networking
5. Mobile social networking
6. Interactive TV
7. Relationship marketing
8. Evangelism marketing, or word-of-mouth marketing
9. Paid search marketing
10. Community-powered search

Regardless of the research executed on the topic, this list does represent somewhat subjective professional judgment. Simultaneously, the top ten list is not necessarily prioritized by significance of the item.

Advergaming has been on the market for two years and according to Zodiac Interactive’s EVP-Sales & Marketing Rick Howe noted, “Advergames are compelling, sponsored interactive content that enables leading brands to attract large, targeted audiences and effectively promote their brands across multiple platforms. Custom branded Advergames and contextual in-game advertising are considered to be one of the most effective and stickiest vehicles to engage consumers in deeply engaging online experiences. Similar to product placements or ad placements in movies, in-game advertising is subtly placed throughout the gaming experience in a form of banner ads or fictional placements to make a game more real. It is almost surreal to live without advertising! Internet games are filled with products like Cheetos, Mountain Dew and Laffy Taffy. Advertisers know that tomorrow’s consumers are today’s children and they utilize this knowledge in shaping brand loyalties like gardeners growing an orchard.

Online video is very popular these days thanks to its captivating effect as a medium and a number of easy-to-use online applications that fully support its production, sharing and editing. YouTube, Jib Jab and the rest became so common that everyone knows how to use those and does it on regular basis. Online accessibility provides for wide consumer coverage and the interactive video effect allows for better envisioning for potential customers how the product can be used and what the actual benefits are. One of the best examples would be the animation effect in email marketing that a chocolate provider used. According to Amy Johannes from Chief Marketer, the marketer was able to boost its sales by 49% by utilizing animated images in the promotional emails. They also ran a Valentine’s Day promo. “Clickthroughs on an animated e-mail were 203% higher than those showing just a static picture, the study found.” Consumers are used to rich media applications and they expect messages directed at them to be animated, interactive or some sort of participatory.
Finally, it is almost a fact that every strong marketing team is able to produce or to induce the production by customers of humorous online ads and distribute them virally through social media channels, where YouTube is one of the players. According to the eMarketer article on Online Video: Seeing the Whole Picture, “it projects that the number of online video viewers in the US alone will rise from 114 million in 2006 to 183 million in 2011. “
As B2B April article states the point of view of Matt Ross, president of McCann Worldgroup San Francisco,” Entertainment engages, and entertainment sells. People will grant you a tremendous amount of time if you make it rewarding and worthwhile.”

Consumer generated media, or in other terms user-generated content was a very loud marketing term in 2006. Everyone in the marketing community was thrilled at the opportunities and effects it provided. According to Jeffe Juice, one of the marketing bloggers, “Everyone from Doritos to Mentos, MasterCard to Panasonic, Chevy to Oreos, offered user generated content programmes. And not without good reason. Consumers really responded. The UGC programme that Renegade created for Panasonic was great for engaging the action sports community. Mentos’s effort to ride the wave of consumer interest in watching Coke bottle geysers has created a corresponding explosion in sales (up 17% over the previous year). Looking ahead, however, marketers will need to raise the stakes if they hope to get consumers involved in such campaigns. One way will be to offer cash (or other incentives), not just for the winners as Doritos is doing, but for all UGC that other consumers end up watching. This “pay for play” approach is certainly gaining traction with the emergence of Current TV (which is paying for ads) and Revver.com (which is paying for content). Creative consumers will undoubtedly follow the money.” These days every third American has a blog, or knows how to produce a video and get paid for it. A lot of small businesses and specialty agents started using YouTube channels and blogs for self-promotion and business development due to the interactive intimate touch this medium provides.

Social networking showed its popularity especially with the techies (early adopters) and the young teenage audience that grasps every new online tool at the speed of light. At present one can see the movement goes mobile, when social networking sites get support through mobile applications. “I do not use email any longer; just use Twitter that is incorporated on my Facebook page.” says Jeremiah Owyang, one of the online top web strategy bloggers. eMarketer digested the research on attention measure in social network sites done by Complete and suggested that “the top six social networks all saw increased attention, and the top 20 social networks received over 15% of all attention in June. MySpace consumes an outsized share of Internet user time overall.” There is a potential for marketers to engage the audience and utilize this attention on those sites.
The UK is similar enough in Web usage that it can serve as a directional guide to Internet behavior in the US. In the study, 68% of UK social networkers said they had visited another Web site after seeing something on a friend’s social network page. Just under half used a search engine to learn more and 35% had forwarded the space, ad or link to a friend. Behavior targeted advertising is believed to be a solution for richer engagement of this audience towards products and services that their friends are using or referring to.

Mobile social networking provides a great opportunity for location-based marketing. According to eMarketer and Juniper Research’s “Mobile User-Generated Content: Social Networking, Dating and Personal Content Delivery” report, “Mobile end-user generated revenues worldwide from social networking, dating and personal content delivery services will increase to more than $5.7 billion in 2012 from $572 million in 2007.” Mobile phones become the main means of online access and communication. There is a great potential for integration of location-based marketing and mobile social networking to make it for a rich customer experience. Imagine with what ease decisions could be made by consumers when they socialize and get instant notifications from the social networks sites and simultaneously they are presented with the service/product offerings that can continue the social experience. The best example would be someone who just arrived to a new city and gets a notification from a friend to meet in an hour for a dinner in a certain area. Simultaneously, a listing of context-driven places is displayed to allow the parties agree fast on where to meet. The whole interaction can take 5 minutes, which usually might have taken 20 provided that one of the parties was familiar with the location or was thinking about it in advance.

Interactive TV proves to be much more effective than ads, as the level of audience engagement brings significant results. The audience interacts with the content displayed and gets engaged into purchasing decision-making process. According to the May article in Television Week “DirecTV Hawkeyes Interactive Spots”, “viewers are responding to interactive ads about 11 percent of the time, exponentially higher than the response rate for Internet ads.”

Its effectiveness might be due to the multitasking behavior that expands in all levels of an average user. The most recent example is Nike’s interactive campaign, “Quick Is Deadly” for its Zoom training-shoe line. “It would include more than 20 minutes of interactive content accessible to Dish Network subscribers with DVRs.” This is about 30% of the network’s 13 million subscribers — will be able to click into 30- and 60-second TV spots starring San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson and other fleet-footed Nike athletes. Nike gives them the option to view interview footage of the football star discussing his exhaustive training regimen. The footage of Mr. Tomlinson’s signature spin move in different speeds. The Nike-branded game designed to test viewers’ remote-control reflexes and a three-dimensional demo of the Zoom shoe. Using ZIP-code information in each Dish unit, users will also be able to find stores carrying the shoe at the click of a button. The campaign does not give users the option of buying the shoe from their set, although the technology does enable that function.”

Relationship marketing has it origin from direct marketing and is evidenced to be relevant in the current environment where consumers became sophisticated enough to demand personalized service tailed to the individual needs. Customers today are demanding more in their expectations of how they are serviced and the levels of service they receive. More often than not, a level playing field between many businesses today means the only real differentiation and competitive advantage we can develop and sustain will be the relationships we forge with our customers. Obviously, the more personalized the catering, the more engagement marketers would receive from their customers. Amazon, as one of the leaders in the transparent customization process, illustrates the benefits that relationship marketing can bring in order to retain its existing customers and acquire the new ones. As an online retailer, its audience and markets is very broad and diverse. It is segmented by geo regions, however its demographics is not clearly defined due to the scope of retail industry. However, the total online shopping market comprises over 26 billion people. Clearly, Amazon utilizes behavioristic approach to segmentation, using database marketing. Its acquisition strategy starts with Level 1 (mass marketing), it is not discriminated but slightly targeted based on searching, browsing space and search words, which is an appropriate acquisition strategy for an online retailer. Amazon’s marketing programs follow the pattern of customer differentiation process matrix in its communications and benefits to the users. It comprises of 4 levels:

Level 1: Beginner (Free Super Saver)
Level 2: Purchase patterns captured (Buy 4, Get 1 Free)
Level 3: Heavy user, hooked (Amazon Prime)
Level 4: Heavy user is rewarded by savings (Amazon Visa Card)
Obviously, Amazon’s strategy is reflected through its marketing programs where it moves along the entire quadrant in the full new user transfer into customer circle, while utilizing its mass customization capability that is transparent to the end user. From the standpoint of current customers, most of its programs imply the development of 1:1 marketing, while upgrading services and offering for the loyal customers.

Evangelism marketing or word-of-mouth marketing keeps its relevance in the marketers’ tool kit. Word-of-mouth marketing often targets influencers — people who are passionate about a product category, and who are perceived as credible sources. The theory is that reaching more influencers increases the odds that they will spread the message. The interactivity piece comes into play in the ability of those individuals to build credibility and relationship easily due to expertise or their own investment into the service/product they promote. There is also some sort of role-modeling that those individuals exercise that allows for effective promotion. According to the Bridge Ratings/University of Massachusetts study published in August 2007, getting just about anybody else besides advertisers to convey the message would seem to be more effective. The study also revealed that 93% of respondents said they were moved to take some sort of action by WOM influence. eMarketer estimates that 20% of US adults will be WOM influencers in 2011, up from 17.5% in 2007. Web sites, blogs and other technology are making it easier to spread the word on a favorite topic.


Paid search marketing
is continuously growing according to David Wigder from the FutureLab, Marketing Strategy and Innovation Blog, as a core tool for online marketers. There are several reasons for search’s continued dominance as an interactive online activity. Search allows marketers to:

1) Engage consumers as they actively seek information in market, thus providing them with relevant content during the selection process of the buying behavior when they need it.

2) Connect consumers with relevant content based on self-identified interests.

3) Pay only when consumers click on a sponsored link, no waste in marketing expenditures.

4) Scale spend in the channel (to a point).

5) Enhance the productivity of other channels, while integrating other communication channels.

It is almost a fact of life that prospective buyers receive information from a variety of channels and do engage into online search before they purchase. Paid search provides for easy-access, relevant information based on the messages communicated through TV, radio, print and word of mouth.

Community-powered search finds its relevance in interactive marketing when “consumers are hungry for relevant content, but prefer to trust their peers, friends or expert community. More relevant consumer experience is of value that community-powered search engines provide. Customized search engines such as Eurekster Swicki, Rollyo and Yahoo Search Builder are likely to become more popular as search results are informed by the collective experience of the community.”

In retrospective, there has to be something else, something new in the marketing tool box that is not there yet publicly known. My gut feeling and overall assessment says that all the top ten “trendy” things already reached the masses or to be precise the mature crowd. The early adopters are up to something new and hopefully I am about to run into that in the near future.

What’s in the Name? Naming New Products and Re-branding

Coming up with a new product name, creating new packaging and staying loyal to the master brand could be quite a challenge, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. So, what helps us go through this creative process? What can we already apply for our benefit that was tested and lived through? – Provided that we look at every product launch as a truly unique experience (which it is), here are some nuggets from my research to share on the subject:

I. The branding signals beyond the name
II. The necessity to change names and logos when strategies change
III. The beauty of the unique names

Firstly, Allen Adamson in his book “BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed” points out the concept of bringing brand signals beyond the name. In other words, there should be some sort of a unique customer experience that reinforces your product name and transfers its meaning even further: instant perceptions of a product experience. This information can be of great value when you are to change the name of the service, product or even a corporate name. He calls these experiences – “power signals”. Examples of those signals could be:

1. People behind the brand – like FedEx employees delivering “reliability”. Before its expansion into the global markets, the brand had a name of “Federal Express”. It served well for a while till the company moved into a broader service scope both functionally and geographically. Federal Express became too limiting and not succinct in expressing the brand power and did not allow “capitalizing on what became a positive fact of life. “FedEx became a ubiquitous term everyone used for an overnight delivery. In 1996, FedEx was formally adopted as a brand name which followed the logo change as well. Moreover, FedEx is a fast, confident and super-efficient brand, so its employees! You have to deliver on the promise you have in your brand name –already!

2. Exclusive product placement –like Gatorade, can be another power signal. Its placement into the football game –“dunking of the winning coach” – almost became a very recognizable association. The trick though not just in the right placement at the right media and the right place – it truly evolves around the authenticity of the product benefit – it is created for the athletes and it does improve performance. So, it just makes sense to be endorsed in the football game placements.

3. The speed at which the brand is recognized – the power of the icon, can be very effective to communicate your meaning. KFC managed to get the attention of folks speeding at the interstate by using its recognizable icons. Originally, it used to be fully spelled out as Kentucky Fried Chicken with a pretty sizable image of Colonel Sanders. When the brand team had a re-design challenge, they first shortened the name to KFC AND increased the speed of service. Then, they reduced the size of the image to the postage stamp. What happened later is very interesting: customers perceived the change in the name (shortened version) as sensible, but interpreted the loss of sizable image as the indicator that the meal is no longer home-cooked quality. They wanted the image back. Colonel’s face was equal to Micky Mouse ears – highly recognizable.

4. The power of the first impression or a first mover – Genworth – (a spin off of the GE) – can be effective. The company utilized the parent cache of the GE brand and solved the challenge of getting to the market fast by differentiating itself through the parent company heritage (excellent management and credibility), leaving the GE in the name and by coming up with the “generation- worth-assets” meaning – Genworth.

5. Advertising – could rule? Couldn’t it? Yes, it could. The U.S. Department of Transportation had a success campaign “Friends Don’t Tell Friends Drive Drunk” utilizing the four fundamental principles of effective advertising: grab a viewer’s attention, communicate to the right audience, persuade and stimulate the action and be effective overtime to build the recognition. This was a vivid example of that.

6. WOM – Word of Mouth – was utilized by Blackberry to develop a community and a cult movement of Type A personalities: people who make things happen in the professional world. The functionality this communication tool provided directly appealed to the emotional need of those professionals to stay in touch –always! If your product integrates well into your customers’ lifestyle – you might use this power signal very effectively. Just launch a community campaign, make it interactive and integrative of the customer experience with the product.

7. PR – used by Dove – capitalizing on the simple benefit and an authentic statement (providing soap which consists of ¼ of a cleansing cream). Testimonials became the strongest part of the branding campaign: there was evidence to its claim to make women beautiful every day. However, the most effective research fact the company used is expanding the definition of beauty for its customers – that made more women feel beautiful! It showed variations of beauty in its ads further on, thus increasing the 2 % of confidence to potential 10%! Brilliant!

8. Experience, as was implied before in the previous items, can be quite differentiating: Ann Taylor maximized the retail space to provide a unique experience to the professional busy women: it always provided high quality, high coordination items – thus appealing to a broader demographic. It is like a friend who will always give you a sound advice on clothing! If you go there next time, pay attention to the fact how well the retail space is designed to make it a fast and efficient shopping experience when a busy woman can run there at lunch and have a perfect outfit in 15 mins due to its consistent layout.
Sephora did the same by redefining the experience of make up shopping by brining it to customers for play!

Secondly, Joan Schneider in her book “New Product Launch: 10 Proven Strategies” shares her extensive expertise and experience with the new product launch strategies. This is a great guide to the topic with solid cases. The ones, I particularly liked referred to Compaq and British Petroleum. The former used to be a 1000-dollar mini computer brand that expanded into other markets. It had a perfect name for its initial products, but failed to see the need for image change when it brought other products through acquisition. The old brand (name, logo, etc) did not coexist well with the new strategies, thus bringing confusion. Eventually, Compaq was bought by HP.

British Petroleum on the other hand, had a success story when the need for re-branding occurred. It already moved strategically into global markets and it did expand on the energy offerings beyond oil. Leveraging the brand cache of BP (initial letters) and integrating the “beyond petroleum” strategy, BP had an effective repositioning. Perhaps, it is a synergy between the senior management support and true marketers.

To the third point, Seth Godin proposes to use the strategy of making the names up as opposing to turn to the benefit-description techniques. He points out that the unique name not only moves you forward in the differentiation game, but also develop its secondary meaning in a short period of time –initially internally and later externally. “The entire point of “secondary meaning” is that the first meaning doesn’t matter at all (especially since you picked a name with no meaning to begin with). Over time, a surprisingly short time, your unique word, especially if it sounds right, will soon be the one and only word.”

And this is just a tiny glimpse into the magic of brand perceptions world! A combination of art, psychology and common business sense!

Summing it up:

1) It is imperative for you to understand that bold moves pay off if you set them right with solid strategic planning.

2) It is important to look at the entire initiative as a “gestalt” or a “whole” integrative movement (like in a chess game): where all your communication pieces are in play: logo, product name, brand cache, and power signals embedded in the product experience. This allows you to choose a wining strategy based on the wealth of available product launch and re-branding knowledge that is still highly focused on your unique brand case.

Three Useful Models for Web Copywriting

Three Useful Models for Web Copywriting

Writing a web copy? It has been a while since you did any highly visible writing? Or do you simply wish to refresh your copywriting skills and use those for quality check review of your contracted writers? Maria Veloso, a 27-year expert in copywriting and direct marketing, shares her experience in the book “Web Copy That Sells”- a highly recommended reference that is worth taking a place in your marketing library. Here are three useful models to shape up and sharpen the web writing skills:

I. Conceptual Web Copy Blueprint
II. Five Guidelines to Make Your Copy Sell
III. Priceless Techniques to Use While Constructing Web Copy

So, you have a vision for your site and you think that you have the content necessary to deploy for the copy. Well, the truth is that your content is not your web copy. All the information that you compiled while talking to various groups within your company is just information. You still have a job to translate it into a “sellable” web copy – a copy that delivers – empathizes with your customers, persuades them and generates sales. Thus, the initial step for you as a writer would be to step into the shoes of your audience and get their perspective on the user experience that they would have while visiting your site. What would they do and what path would you lead them to? The five key questions to answer while going through this exercise is:

1. What is the Problem?
(Diagnose the problem or pain point for your audience. Sometimes, they do not even know that they have a problem – educate them.)
2. Why Hasn’t the Problem Been Solved?
(Check the history of the solutions that failed or succeeded).
3. What is Possible?
(Use “possibility thinking” and paint a picture for your audience of what is possible for them to do and enjoy while the problem is solved (by your service/product.))
4. What is Different Now?
(Explain how your product can help them and what is different about it.)
5. What Should I Do Now?
(State clearly what you want your prospects to do.)

This is your conceptual blueprint!
What do you do to make your copy live and actionable? Sprinkle your blueprint with the basic design and psychology guidelines:

1. Inject Emotion
2. Add Bullet Points, Bonuses, Guarantee and Close
3. Add Credibility-Building Elements
4. Add Psychological Devices
5. Replace Rational Words with Emotional

This is your five guidelines to follow while writing the copy!

What are the priceless techniques to keep for reference in the process of writing the copy?

• Use AIDA Principle (Capture audience’s attention, get its interest, build desire and induce action).
• State The Unique Selling Proposition (competitive advantage of your product).
• Make the Impression in the First Paragraph
• Write the Offer You Cannot Refuse
• Use Testimonials: “It Can Happen to You”
• Use Your Headline to Sell
• Introduce the Price Through (Daily-Cost Technique and Minor-Purchase Technique)
• Keep On Selling: Craft The Order Form Thoroughly
• Infuse Your Copy with a Money-Back Guarantee: Make a Deal
• Plan the Close For Potential Sale
– Provide a Free Gift
– Use a Time Limit Offer Technique
– Use a Limited Supply Technique
• Spell Out Your Call To Action
• Use an Opt-In Mechanism
• Use Attention-Grabbing Words
• Avoid Jargon and Corporate Speak
• Use Multiple Pricing/Benefits Offers

This is a good checklist to have while crafting the copy.

Another good source of short articles on effective web copy is available at excess voice site.
The third source for web copy intelligence that I would recommend to subscribe to for weekly updates – is Brian Clark’ blog – Copyblogger.

What are your best sources, tips and examples of effective copywriting?

Expanding Marketing Tool Set With User Experience Design Model

Mingling with the UI (User Interface/User Experience) folks brought a number of eureka moments. I think User Experience Design should be more openly introduced to the marketing crowd as it helps to expand and reiterate powerful models that both professionals use – like storytelling.

Narratives are used by UI designers to generate and validate design ideas. Marketers use the power of a story to create a brand and help the audience visualize its character. Stories help us get connected with the products as if they were humans. Our social nature contributed to our overall evolution, so it is not as surprising that if we keep it in mind – we would design better products and we devise effective marketing campaigns.

Digging deeper, the personas seem to be another useful model that marketers can contribute to first and benefit from later. Personas are not market segments, but the former can be better constructed thanks to the latter. Marketing segments add demographic and relational framework to the persona development, filtering the research stage of the user design process. The difference between the two is that: marketing segments reveal demographics, sales and distribution processes, while design personas describe user behaviors, goals and motivations that represent a particular user group. At the same time, using the final personas developed in the process can be a great technique to develop effective promotional materials and sales training documentation. Imagine how useful it could be for the new product launch!

Marketers, mostly generalists, are fortunate to incorporate ideas and techniques while working with a number of other professionals, thus making it a constantly rewarding career.

P.S. To learn more about the User Experience Design, check out the site for Clear Sky Interactive that explains very well what the process entails.

Website ROI: Getting Key Performance Indicators Right

You got a project on a web site redesign and somewhere along all the project planning deliverables you reach the point when the key performance indicators (KPIs) are to be defined. Where do you start and what would you pick up on the way to the ultimate metrics portfolio?

The main question to ask is why you are doing that? What are the top 3-5 goals you want to achieve? What do you visualize your customers and other visitors do while engaging with your content? Provided that you have a pretty clear segmentation map and are in tune with your customers and industry, it would be quite a simple exercise to go through. Add from 3 to 7 discussions with the top stakeholders, be it a small company or a mega corporation, and you are good with the prep work to move to “the main dish”.

While perusing through your notes, Googling the terms and scanning the top 5 web strategy sites or blogs for that matter, you might get lucky to be enlightened by the following folks that made it all simple for us:

1) Avinash Kaushik at his blog and published work suggests to use an always referenced conversion rate but take careful look at what info it might provide. Even a slight move by a point in the conversion rate might translate into millions of profit for a business. At the same time, obsessing with this metric might become a short-term focused strategy that takes away from the quality of a user experience. Moreover, it also focuses only on small portion of the site visitors, that might not be even interested in all that content and interactivity. What about the rest…that stumble upon purposefully or not? You lose them. Thus, he advises to use an alternative metric: “task completion rate by primary purpose”. Thus, you start driving your efforts to develop a site that helps all potential users/visitors to accomplish their “missions” .

2) Jason Burby with ClickZ, identifies the KPIs as ” indicators that help organizations achieve organizational goals through the definition and measurement of progress”. He also suggests that the KPI include organizational goals to make them applicable to your business. They must help your business to reach success. They must be measurable over time and agreed upon the organization. The latter piece is so true, never try to skip that one!

3) Various experts, including Aurelie Pols state “unique visitors” to be the best web analytic metric as it allows to be more accurate in defining visitors’ behavior. You know they came once and viewed your content. “Cookies never lie”.

4) Cost per Customer/Lead Acquired helps you to test if your customers are worth the cost of their acquisition through this new/re-established channel- similar to the customer lifetime value. I think it is one of the best KPI’s so far and directly relates to the bottom line.

5) Cost per Order allows you to determine the cost-effectiveness of an ad that you placed outside to drive that visitor to your site. I like this metric as it helps to track and measure the return on the external placements in a more relevant way than clickhroughs and CPC.

Overall, I think it is useful to pick top 5 metrics that are most relevant and more accurate to your business activities and customer interactions and stick to them to gain consistent insights overtime. It goes without saying that they also should be interpreted into user experience/user behavior patterns and trends to make impact on your further marketing investments.

Want to Get Fresh Ideas and Mingle with Exciting Folks? Attend Internet Strategy Forum: Executive Summit Event 2007

End of June…Feels like everybody went on vacation…so steady…even my Blog Reader is not as full with marketing articles and posts! However, there is no excuse to get into the steady easy “summertime” coma! Get out and meet new people in the industry! Get excited with the new ideas: attend a conference!

Internet Strategy Forum, Portland Chapter, is hosting a conference that should shake things up at the minimum: I know I am looking forward to it!

The sessions showcase industry experts sharing their experience and knowledge on internet marketing:

- Cammie Dunaway, Chief Marketing Officer, Yahoo!, Inc. talking about “Building Brands in a Web 2.0 World”

- Tim Kopp, Chief Marketing Officer, WebTrends, covering the topic on how to “Turn Customer Insight into a Strategic Advantage”

- Mark Colombo, VP Electronic Channels and Strategic Marketing, FedEx, sharing how FedEx sees its online strategy as a logical extension of its corporate values, and how the company’s early adoption of social networking tools like RSS, internal blogs and wikis, gadgets and other tools is helping it connect employees and customers

- Robert Scoble, VP Media Development, PodTech.net, co-author of Naked Conversations, exclaiming that ” It’s a Google World (and Facebook too!)”

- Rey Ramsey, CEO, One Economy Corp., talking about “Digital Inclusion 2.0: New Dynamics, New Solutions” and how social media can include adoption by low-income people, as the opportunities to reach an often overlooked, underserved market.

- Erik Kokkonen, VP, Global Publishing Services, CNET, contemplating on the trends of web2.0 and its adoption

- Mike Moran, Distinguished Engineer, IBM, author of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., sharing on “How the Internet changed the old marketing rules”

- Bryan Rhoads, Sr. Internet Strategist, Social Media, Intel,
– Mark Erickson, Sr. Computer Scientist, Adobe
– Mary Alice Colvin, Senior Marketing Consultant, Allyis, all three sharing their web2.0 implementation insights

To learn more and register for the event, click here.

Finally, there is a Digital Reception Party on Day 1 (July 19, 2007) worth attending to get more social interaction and ideas’ sharing! I know I will attend it! :)

P.S. View the interview with the event chief – Steven Gehlen to get more sizzle on the upcoming experiences!

Added on July 1, 2007: More coverage on the event, see the article at Portland Business Journal

Relevancy Marketing, Takeaways from the Marketing Profs B2B MKTG Virtual Conference

It was quite a convenient experience to attend a virtual conference set up by Marketing Profs on B2B Marketing Wednesday this week. At the same time, the most valuable parts of the arrangement is the ability to download presentations right away and the ability to listen the recorded sessions afterwards! Great value! Saves time, provides flexibility and shares content freely at no charge. More about a similar positive “user experience”, check Jeremiah’s post.

The session on B2B Marketing by Google’s folks: Benjamin Chung and Mark Martel was of most interest. The term of Relevancy Marketing peaked my attention. The idea is simple of putting your ads and products in the right context -where your users are and where their behavior illustrated obvious interest in those products. Sometimes, Relevancy Marketing is called Contextual Marketing that has a power of effective influence over one billion people online today. Its key benefits are: being transparent and flexible for adjustments in real-time. Also, online sources of information become very influential today for B2B segments. Niche content grows significantly attracting the involved end-users. Hence, B2B advertisers move online as well. The top three tips to remember are:

1) To focus on the customer
2) To profit from fragmentation
3) To measure, learn and optimize.

(See the link below to access the details and narration for the session.)

According to eMarketers’ article on “The Behaviorally Targeted Ad Audience” :

In a May 2007 consumer study by JupiterResearch and AOL, revealed:

1. 74% of frequent ad viewers stated they would pay more attention to a contextual ad vs. 89% who would pay more attention to behavioral ads

2. 63% of online consumers say they pay more attention to ads that fit their specific interests vs. 49% who pay more attention to ads that are directly related to their current online activity; that data could be interpreted as more attention for contextual (specific interests) than behavioral (current online activity)

3. 67% of online shoppers — defined as those who research and/or purchase online — notice behaviorally targeted ads vs. 53% who notice contextual targeted ads

Personalize the content, do you “research” or use your research and I will spare a minute to pay attention. Relevancy marketing translates into more effective marketing communications and eventually a greater awareness about the product offerings by the target audience.

Other sessions at the virtual conference included:

- Keynote: B2B Marketers Need An Interactive Makeover by Laura Ramos
– Customer Reference Programs and the Social Media Revolution by Bill Lee and Jeremiah Owyang
– Email Marketer Seeks Customer for Long-Term Relationship by Brian Ellefritz and Scott Barnett
– Is Thing On? Social Media for B2B Marketers by Greg Verdino
– Using Sustainable Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Growing B2B Business by Greg Spangler

P.S. Here is the link to the recorded sessions – check them out – time well spent.

Interactivity and Engagement Grab Attention, Build Connection and Make Us Buy

People do not like to be sold, but we like to buy. Thus, it just makes sense that conventional commercials bombarding, be it a TV ad or a sales speech, does not work very well. Interactivity aspect became the key ingredient for making a connection to customers’ hearts and wallets. Touching customers at the moments of their experience while enjoying their passion, hobby or interest works wonders. It creates a connection that is weaved into already positive experience. That is why ad placements work best: be it traditional movies or games or mobile communications. According to the e-marketers recent article, “Advergames like the 3.2 million units sold at Burger King over the holidays have been a success, and in-game placements have music labels competing for exposure in the latest sports games. But it is online gaming that holds the best promise for targeting during specific time slots, as is possible through XBox Live and other game ad networks.”

Another way to look at it is through the lenses of experience design field, where cognitive psychology and consumer behavior are taken into the account. David Armano shares a very compact foil set, illustrating this concept on his blog. Experience design requires more “thinking” energy and planning though. With product placements, you are simply rewarded by doing your homework and using the info on where your customers “hang out, lounge and mingle”. With experience design applications, be it an event or a product, it has to do more with a new creation where prior knowledge is practiced. It could be more challenging and time-consuming as production and testing takes time. At the same time, what can be more rewarding than creating a new experience that your audience will definitely engage into and be able to enjoy the connections it builds with your product? The greatest part here is not about the product, but a user, consumer, as he/she is thought of, cared for and catered to!

What I Love About Marketing: My Definition of Marketing

One of my favorite questions to ask is “What is your passion?” The answer allows me to learn about a person so much more…It allows to learn about the object of passion (a professional occupation or interest), so much more. At the same time, I was numerously asked as well: Why Marketing? Why not Finance or something else? So, it would be only fair to share my own definition of it.

Marketing for me is not a matter of pure message crafting and information repackaging. It is not about creative eye-pleasing presentation…It is not about selling and convincing people into a purchasing decision. I say that without discounting the monetary value this function brings to the bottom line. There is no question that marketing initiatives have to be accountable and measurable, add value and contribute to ROI. But, the true motivation is not of dollar value.

Mainly, for me, marketing is connecting with people and understanding what makes their hearts and minds resonate. It has to do with the emotional aspect of social interaction that brings change or moves forward even the most logical planning and strategy. You need emotion to bring change to life. You need emotion to instigate progress.

As an occupation, marketing is:

- Flexible: it allows adjustments in the flow of events; it is applicable across industries, geographies and cultures! You practice and transfer it anywhere in the world! People will consume and trade as long as we exist!
– Dynamic: it is never boring! Constant change what can be better?!
– Broad: the scope of jobs to do, projects to accomplish and specialties to immerse into is as large as the ocean, enough for a life time!
– Deep: one can find 3-5 specialties and become very knowledgeable about them and still enjoy the challenge of change.

On the other hand, being a marketer allows playing so many roles! When I was little, I was dreaming to be an actress (so typical). Being a marketer provides so many opportunities to act and I love it every time I learn something new (play a new role)!

My favorites are:

- When I do market research, I become a detective, a CIA agent, “sometimes under cover”, trying to understand what makes those foreign species (new target market or user) tick…what makes them happy? What connects them? What drives them? What makes them laugh? What makes them “them”?

- When I do competitive assessment and strategy, I become a warrior, General with an army to lead and ability to predict the next steps of the contender.

- When I engage in writing and planning ads or event management, I become a producer, an entertainer and even a magician depending on the mystery level the audience craves for. Mystery does not necessarily exclude clarity and simplicity.

- When I engage in business development, I become a connector, a merchant that fuels the trade of information, opportunities and people.

- When I develop promotions, I exercise my creative mind and imagine myself being a painter that aims to draw a well-balanced masterpiece that brings harmony and evokes a following. Or, I could be an alchemist that works hard on the new recipe of the multiplying substance that has the ability to grow exponentially…

Thirdly, the challenge to curb this trade (marketing) and make it more intelligent, accountable and measurable provides lots of room for thought, experimentation and testing. Marketing can be and should be intelligent. Marketing should be supported not only by emotion, but logic (data, information).

Marketing is the driving force for change in consumer behavior. It is not a self-serving influence and persuasion; it is effective communication that drives our actions through emotion, connectedness or affiliation with the other humans and places our market choices based on common sense.

My Lifetime Value (LTV) as a Customer for Amazon


 

Last three weeks of the MBA…cannot wait till I am done and ready to pursue my next adventures! However, I promised to share my recent learning on calculation of lifetime value in the database marketing class. My individual project required the calculation of my LTV to a service I have an extended relationship with. Amazon was my choice.

Relationship and Frequency Data:
– Length of active relationship = 9 months
– Average purchase over 6 months is $ 36.57
– Average frequency: 1.5 per month
– Average order: 3 books
– 99% of orders are books

Assumptions:
– Acquisition costs = $ 25
– Variable costs = 18 %
– Retention rates: 95.9% for first 6 months, 97% for the next 6 months, 98% for the next 24

There are 4 levels of customer engagement:

Level 1: Beginner (Free Super Saver)
Level 2: Purchase Patterns Captured (Buy 4, Get 1 Free)
Level 3: Heavy User, Hooked (Amazon Prime)
Level 4: Heavy User is Rewarded by Savings (Amazon Visa Card)

Each level of marketing programs reinforces continuous purchasing behavior, increases frequency and average purchase value that are paramount for increasing overall LTV.

Presently, I am a consumer on Level 3, as Amazon Prime Buyer. With the assumption of 3 years as my projected life experience with Amazon, the LTV amounts to $634. My switching costs are quite significant at this point and comprise of $79 of annual fee, ease of use, loss of automated purchase process, brand equity, security and trust that the service of the competitor might or might not be delivered.

As far as the effectiveness of this program, it did increase my frequency by eliminating time and quantity restrictions. I purchase twice as much on demand, increasing my total spending by 50 %. Simultaneously, it ensures committed 11-12 orders per year based on the annual fee that is a pre-paid shipping expense, thus increasing overall probability of purchase.

Retrospectively, I made a smooth transition from the prior 2 levels:

- Level 1 (Free Super Savor) made me buy in triplets manner which drove consistent purchase order to be roughly $28. At this stage, my LTV amounted to $348 over 3 year period.
– Level 2 (Buy 3 Get 1 Free) made me buy more books, increasing the level of frequency and ensuring that average order always amounts to $ 49. At that stage, my LTV was $ 507.
– Level 3 (Amazon Prime) increased my LTV to $ 634.
– Level 4 implies getting Amazon credit card. This could be a significant step transferring a heavy user, like me into a lifelong customer, however, the one time savings of $30 and the hassle of having another credit card is not enticing enough.

 


The 4 level approach works well while acquiring new users and transferring them into heavy users and ultimately into loyal customers.

Frequency of purchase, volume and average purchase value play a major role while affecting LTV, thus the following initiatives are advisable to expand into:

- Cross-selling is optimal to generate higher frequencies of purchase. Bundle packaging and offerings could be considered as alternative offerings based on the search data.
– Branding initiatives could help to seed awareness and repeat the message that online you can find it at Amazon: all the goods, ranked, recommended, traded – already pursuing community engagement
– Utilizing referral campaigns to potentially eliminate acquisition costs and carry the branding message (though the latter are quite low)
– Developing an alternative to the level 4 program (Amazon credit card), perhaps just a points card for customers that are not responsive to getting another credit card. It can still provide the same data, but alleviate the commitment factor implied in the financial decision of signing up for a credit card.
– Not sure how I missed it, but Amazon does a good job utilizing social media and web widgets to generate more interaction and customer involvement. Brian Oberkirsh has a great post on it here. I wish the design and usability of Amazon could be better and user friendly..too busy and too much going on for me when I sign up.

P.S. Just ran into a good chart on Bnet brought by iProspect on the Purchasing Power of Web Sites. Clearly, Amazon tops the score. (Added on May 15, 2007)
Purchasing Power of Web Sites (IProspect)

Why We Marketers Should Adopt Another Segmentation Tool – Personas from User Experience Design

The best discovery from last week was stumbling upon Steve Mudler’s session at Webvisions on personas . It almost feels like the more I learn, the more is out there still awaiting for discovery. Two weeks ago, I was rambling on the database marketing and its behavioristic approach to segmenting. I was thrilled and motivated to learn as much as I can about it. Last week, my attention radar caught the concept from the user design (scenario design) field – creating “personas” to segment potential customers and be able to communicate better with them, while resonating with their specific challenges. “Personas”, as a market segmentation tool does bring: focus, empathy, consensus, better designs and communications.

If I narrow down to the two major benefits of this technique, I would mention its flexibility and applicability to real life situations we marketers face and its fundamental psychological truth about discrepancies of people’s words and actions.

The greatest part about creating “personas” is that it allows segmenting your market while you engage into the limited market research initiatives. Let’s face it – most of the time, we (marketers) have limited budget and resources (people and time) and there is so much that we could do but we cannot afford….How do you find out what your potential customers will want and to what they would respond to if you only have 4 weeks, 4 people and no budget? You can only interview a small number of people, you can do so much as opposing to engaging in the ideal long and steady market research process that we learnt from the books or that is feasible if a specialized agency does it for us for a good sum.

Well, we have “personas”! Steve Mudler actually shares his expertise on it in his book ” The User is Always Right”, As an example, creating personas becomes a good segmentation alternative in the real life situation where you are developing a channel for a newly developed product or a “newly-is-still-in-development- product-that-is-has-to-sell-in-6-months”. There are three primary approaches, based on the type of research, scope and analysis performed:

• Qualitative personas (based on interviews, as an example)
• Qualitative personas with quantitative validation (interviews and surveys)
• Quantitative personas (surveys, data from the CRM systems, etc.)

Thus, it allows you to apply this technique to any scope of research that you are doing. Flexibility makes it a good model.

Another useful disclaimer that all of us – marketers performing research should always keep in mind is that what people say is not what they necessarily do. What they say is important as it reflects their goals and attitudes as well as perceptions and aspirations of being seen in a certain light. What people do is just as important, since actual behavior can reveal more about people than what they say. Behavior reveals patterns around which you can design your product or communication strategy. Again, the perfect combination of promise and action, if those are consistent – you got your answer and you are on the right track, if those are conflicting, you have to test your hypothesis again or change it completely.

Why Some Loyalty Programs Work and Others Don’t?

Three week intensive course of CRM class uncovered the basics of customer loyalty aspect: loyal customers add more lifetime value (LTV) and we marketers should be focused on it and court them as they are less expensive (they are knowledgeable about your service and product and thus take less time and money to service, they might even educate your prospects and refer). Well, it all makes sense and this week we discovered the opposite! According to Werner Reinartz and V. Kumar article on “The Mismanagement of Customer Loyalty“, customer loyalty focus only can be a big mistake.

Studies show that loyal customers could be rather demanding and not willing to upgrade, buy more or pay a premium. How about the obvious resentment in some consumer industries that loyal customers experience when they are hogged or bombarded with upsell messages? I might buy the product more frequently, but why should I pay a premium or extra as I know exactly what the product value is. Why do I want to spend $70 a year just for 2 day free shipping if I can continue buying my books on Amazon in triplets to use a free shipping option of purchase order that exceeds $ 30? It works well, why change? Thus, loyal customers can be quite price-sensitive.

In business-to-business industries, loyal customers can be expensive to serve: as they buy in large volumes and dictate the terms. A closer look should be taken at the relationship between the loyalty and profitability. One of the solutions provided is time-driven activity-based costing. It allows to uncover the costs of business activities and all the time spent on them.

What about endorsement? Supposedly, loyal customers are your product evangelists. But, looking just at the purchase behavior is not enough. It is a combination of attitude and consumption that makes an average heavy user an endorser.

The bottom line is that the link between loyalty and lower costs = profitability is industry specific. Consistency in purchasing behavior and attitude/emotional connection to the product make the best referral agents from your customers. To choose an appropriate loyalty strategy, segment your customers by longevity and profitability.

Web 2.0 Expo, Day 2 and Day 3, Experience Takeaways

It took me 2 days to get into my normal routine after such a whirlpool of knowledge sharing and social networking using traditional and web technology methods. Instead, I am still catching up with all the people I met. However, I thought I would quickly put my notes in this post. So what happened within those 2 days and what and who inspired my curious mind?

I. Behavioral Targeting, a session led by Basem Nayfeh, explored the world of web analytics and database marketing that allows to target your customers based on their behavior. It is not a new technique, but I was happy to see how pronounced the topic becomes. The complexity and at the same time, the solutions it brings are worth exploring by every marketer in any given organization. It allows to make a pause and ask a question where consumer attention is and follow it. Paying attention to customer steps on your page or online allows to be an effective marketer. An interesting fact that 60 % of content is posted by someone “we know”, “you know”, exemplifies well that our social behavior does not change dramatically on the web. Behavioral segmenting is intelligent segmenting and qualifying people based on their actions: (searches made, product interests, articles they read, navigation, geography, keywords, workplace attributes). Behavior is captured and targeted message is delivered, new knowledge about your product is discovered, etc.

II. Web Analytics and Internet Marketing Solutions session by Akin Arikan touched upon similar topic. He also shared a free whitepaper that illustrates well the major points on how to optimize your online marketing campaigns. The Web Analytics Recipe Cards provides an overview on how to maximize the number of qualified leads captured online, maximize online and offline revenue and increase brand awareness. Another document that is worth reading, shared by Unica, summarizes how today’s marketers can anticipate, understand, help their companies profit from the web transformation.

III. Social media discussions were quite popular and interactive. I am “delegating” this topic to Jeremiah and Mario, as lots of coverage can be found at their prominent blogs: Marketing Nirvana and Web Strategist.

IV. The best part of the entire event for me was meeting a number of brilliant people. The social aspect of the conference attendance left the most satisfaction. People who make a difference in this industry being in either big or small companies is the biggest asset of web.2.0 revolution and evolution. I had a lot of fun meeting people at the expo, at the after event parties and during live upstreaming opportunity with Podtech. The combination of knowledge and social capital gained definitely exceeds the projected ROI. Web 2.0 expo 2007 is money and time well spend.

V. (Added on April 29, 2007)
And I also wanted to express my joy and thanks to Marcelo Paiva who volunteered to help me fix my style sheet issue when I discovered it at the event. I still cannot help but smile every time I see my new blog design! People would point me out that due to some coding my blog content would show up crookedly in Firefox. This was rather embarrassing since most of the web 2.0 crowd uses Firefox and while sharing and introducing myself I had to make a disclaimer. Not any more! Social media got another outcome of connecting people that might never be due to geographies and other restrictions. If it were not for Jeremiah’s live blogging and video casting at the event, I would never have a chance to get fast help and collaboration right away. Moreover, we used Skype to do virtual collaboration and remote desktop access tool VNC to fix the problem! This was a very empowering experience, collaboration on the user level where you get the same results as if you work in big corporations with virtual teams, but here you use basic web 2.0 tools that enable individuals!
Marcelo also created my new logo, which I find rather a perfect fit. Talking about branding on one’s feet and Skype!
Finally, we discovered similarities in professional interests (user design, marketing, CRM, segmentation) that allowed both of us developing another value-add professional connection, which we completed via registering it at LinkedIn. :)

Web 2.0 Expo Day 1, Knowledge Nuggets and More Inspiring People

Day 1 was so good: the energy of people I met and the knowledge I got kept me so invigorated and excited throughout 18 hours of stimulation.  Before the next wave of events hits my “ship”, I wanted to set in stone the nuggets for Day 1 at web 2.0 expo.

I. Web Technology

Google Analytics and all the magic you can do with this free tool was shared by Brett Crosby. Get your web metrics into the order, get your data and make your site more effective, analyze your marketing campaigns ROI.(Example: Paris Hilton Commercial, was produced normally in a ad agency, but distributed through the web (YouTube). The effect is beyond what a TV ad of the same caliber can do. Due to the viral effect, people actually went online themselves (control of content/infomation consumption) and watched it on average of 6 times. Where else do you get such coverage, reach and ROI? It was cheap to place on the web!) The package is free, delivers on the promise and can make a difference in your web communications. Spend a few minutes and learn more how you can optimize your web site. You do not need to be a statistician to get the maximum benefit. (I am going to deploy it for my blog and once I have enough experience I will share my recommendations).

  1. Google Analytics = track your traffic and ROI on marketing campaigns
  2. Google Webmaster Tools = know your audience and optimize your site
  3. Google News = free way to make images searchable
  4. Google Maps
  5. Google Earth
  6. Google Catalogs = upload your catalogs, get the content out, make it discoverable
  7. Google Website Optimizer = great tool to track PPC, does not hurt organic search (was considered during the development stage), you can even start your free multivariate testing to learn more what your audience is doing on your site and how to make them do what you want them to do!

II. More Web Analytics

Avinesh Kaushik shared his insights on how you can test the effectiveness of your site, optimize your conversion rate based on real feedback from your customers! I must confess, it was the best session so far, as much as, Avinash promised at the start. Using Multivariate Testing, marketers and web strategists can expose their customers to variations of web site design (multiple pages produced automatically by a tool) and get feedback (behavioral feedback!) on what works and what does not to arrive at the site that generates sales or delivers what you want your audience to do on this site. Most companies do not know why their customers come to the site. Avinesh’s golden rule is testing, testing, and more testing. One cannot get the same information on what works through the traditional focus groups, surveys and interviews of the customer base. “Customers yell out problems and do not provide solutions”. At the same time, our bosses think that they represent the customers and know how the site should look like to deliver the best and their decision influences the final product that might not be user-friendly at all. Even if it does, it could be not as optimal in delivering to the bottom line. Even the userbility testing is not as effective. “They way we do userbility is isolating a sample of people in a room, putting a bunch of devices on them and ask them to act normal. People do not act normal in such conditions and they would be extra cautious, biased or wierd.” You can get the basic ballpark, (maybe, maybe not) on your testing. With multivariate analysis you are measuring the entire consumer experience, even when they are shopping on your site in their pijamas. Little Ajax script is all you need to get your testing set up. It creates variations of your site for further testing. You can test all the ideas you have, not just 2-3.

Avinesh is planning to publish a book in the near future, called “Web Analytics, An Hour A Day” (which I will definetely read!). You can even pre-order it at Amazon.com. All the proceeds (100%) will go to local charities.

III. Great ideas from the Keynote

Keynote was very well put together and this video called Digital Ethnography by Michael Wesch launched the discussion. I could not help but share this video, it illustartes so well the evolution of the web and though, I am not a geek, it stimulates my mind and heart. 

There was lots of fun speeches at the keynote and Richard MacManus covers it well on his blog.

My favorites were 3 launch pad ideas:

Spock.com = allows you perform human search! You can now get the full scoop! (My KGB roots make me so excited about this one! :))

Npower.com = finally, a web 2.0 application for intraverts! and people who care a lot about personal growth, allows to measure your actions towards your goals, incorporates training and coaching knowledge with a web 2.0 capabilities of interactivity and user content generation. Unfortunately, I have no URL for it to share.

IV. Social Mingle Afterwards

It was a lot of fun to explore web 2.0 social mingle scene and parties afterwards. The best part is to meet the personalities and simply personable people to close the day. Special thanks to Jeremiah, other Podtech crew and Mario for being hospitable hosts! Anytime, you are in Portland, OR, please let me know and I will show the city at its best and I am very good at it!

Attending Workshops at Web 2.0 expo – Community Evangelism

I started my Sunday morning with a workshop at Web 2.0 expo on Community Evangelism with Deborah Schultz and Anil Dash. I thought I can get away without much effort of focus on a Sunday morning and I did not bring my laptop. Well, once you see Jeremiah Owyang running around with a camera video-streaming live the event and Mario Sudhar liveblogging, one cannot get away from the energy those folks generate.

What are the takeaways from this workshop? Why should we care about community evangelism? Here are the ideas that Deborah and Anil shared with us.
Community Evangelism is an ideal customer referral program made feasible to execute via various web technologies like blogs, forums, podcasts and other social sites. It allows companies reaching their customers and transform transactional customers into loyal ones through building the relationship, making an emotional, personal connection.

Persistence and awareness are the key to maintain relationships online. If you ventured a blog for your company, you engage into a social contract, a sort of committment to ongoing conversation with your customers. This implies a continuous sharing of value content. You expand your relationship with a customer into a more enriching experience.  Continuity of a two-way communication process provides for creating meaningful life moments that your customer records in his/her memory. A good example would be books, CDs, movies that we buy or get as gifts from other people and might never read, watch but keep being attached to them as they connect to someone we care about. Connectedness, continuity and non-disposability = all due to the value of a relationship that carries it through.

Awareness is not just about notification. Providing your customers with a control to chose how they get information about the product and services – this makes your communications effective. Why? Think about products people absolutely love: iPod, TiVo, Wii. They empower consumers to be in control when to consume content, service, product. So, do the same with your marketing communications to make them more effective – provide those in RSS, blogs or other format that your customer can choose to control both in the reception phase and content scope.

What’s Evangelist? He/she is a

  • customer advocate
  • educator
  • among the people interacting with the community where they live
  • human face of the company
  • cross-functional, not just a marketer
  • a foil for the company

Human skills needed to be successful as a community evangelist:

  • listener
  • connector
  • catalyst
  • critic
  • partial geek
  • detective
  • diplomat
  • juggler
  • driven by relationships
  • approachable
  • intuitive
  • inquisitive

Pursue evangelism with passion, be present where your customers are mentally and physically. Use what you got and have fun!

P.S. I just found out how messed up my blog looks like in Firefox! Tried to contact technical support and it is temporary closed! What do I do? I have to fix it, otherwise it is simply embarrassing.

The 24 Essential Techniques of Database Marketing

While, immersing myself into the knowledge of CRM and Database Marketing, I wanted to share a great checklist Arthur Hughes provides in his Strategic Database Marketing book.  This list will help visualize the breadth and scope of this approach. At the same time, it will allow you to serve as a great keyword framework while you are building your informational library about the subject.

  1. LTV (Customer Lifetime Value) = Net worth of your customers, almost like ABC marketing segmentation
  2. RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Analysis) = allows to predict the success of your promotional efforts
  3. Customer Communications = personalized customer communications based on the data, love this part!
  4. Appended Data = all the demographics, psyschographic data we get from “zip code profiles” providers
  5. Predictive Models = one can build based on item 4 and communications, helps to increase response rate and decrease attrition rate
  6. Relational Databases = form of the database that allows instant useful info to make marketing decisions, something you have to have set up right from the start!
  7. Caller ID = helps CRMs to do their magic = boding experience via instant info and response
  8. Web sites = helps your customers to experience your product/service, bond with it and provide their behavior pattern data for good purposes obviously, allows engage into conversations. Jeremiah has loads of nuggets in this area.
  9. Email = allows effective communication, leads to retention and increased sales. Allows to reach your customers, still does!
  10. Tests and Controls = use test groups to see the effectiveness of your customer loyalty programs
  11. Loyalty Programs = customers are delighted to participate in those! Airlines are a good example
  12. Business Intelligence Software = allows you to have “hands on” your marketing activities before, during and after, well – anytime
  13. Web Access = for your relational database for all functions within your company (management, CRS, sales, marketing, operations, etc.)
  14. Rented Lists = allows to get direct response (mail) data easily than you think
  15. Campaign Management Software = speeds up your execution phase from the planning to doing
  16. Address Correction Services = made modern database marketing possible
  17. Profitability Analysis = allows you to change your pricing and marketing strategies to increase your profits
  18. Customer Segmentation = allows to create useful segments based on demographics and behavior based on the actual data, helps to create targeting communications!
  19. Status Levels = allows to provide special services for special customers (Platinum, Gold, Silver)
  20. Multichannel Marketing = more sales wherever your customers show up
  21. Treating Customers Differently = profits come from retaining the Gold customers and encouraging others to move up the higher status levels
  22. NBP (Next Best Product) = powerful tool to determine why one group of your customers buys and the other does not. Sales people and CRM will appreciate the info
  23. Penetration Analysis = helps to direct sales force and make them more effective
  24. Cluster Coding = helps to identify who is buying and who is not, creative tool that allows to improve both marketing and sales!

Behavior-Based Segmentation and Customer Lifetime Value

Shopping lately at Amazon and getting into Database Marketing class, my last term, made me rethink the whole notion of segmentation analysis. For decades, and just personally for me, for the last 5 years, I categorized target markets/customers by psychographic and demographic data.  While, people watching and further character studying always amused me with identifying their behavior patterns and action tendencies. At the same time, it never occurred to me how the two can be well-connected in the behavior-based segmentation process.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management, Customer Equity Management) concept is not a novelty, but today I started getting excited about the idea and its application. For the last 6 months, I have been buying books on things of interest for myself at Amazon in a “triplets” manner to use free shipping service. Oddly enough (not so oddly), now I get promotional messages to buy 3 with 1 free = total 4. And guess what, I started looking for the next 4 that I want to read. It works on me and everybody else! It changes my behavior and increases my usage. “Books that might interest you” feature is not even mentioned as we all are so used to it! I wish all my online clothing shopping experience got me personalized style advice based on my purchasing behavior!

What I most looking forward to is to actually being able to calculate my lifetime value to Amazon as a customer by the end of this class…and to other services that I might reconsider! Stay tuned…

Why This BluFly Ad is Different from Others

Using sex appeal in ads always works and we all see it for various products. Clothes advertisers always have that reference. However, I think this ad captivates not only with a catchy episode, but a nice closure – copy ” a new way to change your clothes”. Every time when advertising can actually make a difference and change consumer behavior is when its persuasive power is exercised. The last sentence is strong enough in context and in the way it appeals to modern women. It works well and I would say, nurtures the self esteem of any woman. It makes us think…yes..why not use blufly.com? Why not get new clothes like that every day? It made me go and check the site and actually browse through some items. I wish they deliver clothes like pizza = fast, not within 1-2 business days but in a few hours. Hmmm, maybe in 2010…if so, imagine that you can have your favorite styles that always work and you order as you travel. But this is all dreams for now!

A Word on Trends in Brand Management

It is very exciting to see big brands engaging with the customers through social media to carry the brand message. South West Airlines had a recent contest on the best video ad for “Wanna get away” campaign, while Frito Lay gets free market testing/product testing info on a new chip flavor. Apple does not have to ask, its users engage themselves into creating ads and parodies for brand characters. I wish the same contest started for Geiko “Caveman” campaign (my favorite!).

Another cool application of interactive web or social media, whatever its best description, is when bloggers can test brand value on a high level like “If this product/company drops from the face of the Earth tomorrow, would we care?”.  Brand Autopsy blog recently posed that question for Wells Fargo in the “would you care series” and hopefully someone from Well Fargo managed to pick up the feedback. Even if they did, would they try to ignore it or deal with it?  Sears got the best remarks and one can see how much experience matters in brand perception.  You have pleasant experiences while consuming the product or being in the purchasing decision process, you flip those like a favorite photo album. You have a bad experience (customer service as in the Wells Fargo example), you care less and perhaps try avoid experiencing any transaction at this point with such a brand. Thus, emotion and ambiance are tied into the brand perception as well. The examples with South West Airlines and Frito Lay add a community aspect.

So what are the top 5-10 aspects/parameters of a solid brand? Any literature on brand management that is fresh and at the same time timeless?

Thought-Provoking Video That Is Worth Your Time Watching

While enjoying my Sunday morning, I stumbled upon this capivating video by Carl Fisch brought to my attention by Mike Arrington on CrunchNotes. Very dramatic production: the background music add the urgency sense to the content shared. I find it very exciting and inspiring! It alsmost wakes you up a bit and allowes your imagination get activated again. I want to see all the “predictions” happen. There were no images in the video presentation, but the idea was communicated so well as it induces emotion and action (conversations about it and sharing the actual content). Very powerful. Stepping back into today, including a video into a somewhat dry business presentation might create a great effect…

The Essense of Passion

Well…I have been asking number of people on “What makes you wake up in the middle of the night to think about what you do (for a living)?” Why you are doing it? Why this industry? and I must confess I get perplexed when I find no passion in the profession a person is engaged into. I think being passionate about the cause of your actions is so important. It is like having a quality experience. It is like being in a continous process of extending your imagenary limits….I can understand people have mortgages to pay and children to feed. But, why not find something you enjoy and be passionate about it and get the bills paid? I also observed that in some industries there is a bigger percentage of passionate people than in others. Why? In my opinion, there are variations of passion in the industries that have those: it could be a strong brand of the company that drives the culture and creates a cult (which is not a bad thing), or the venture is so exciting and going to change the way we do things. But, I will never understand doing things just because you have to…why not do the things you care about and can invest maximum energy?  I also found that being around passionate people creates an invisible aura of can do attitude which actually gets realized in real life. In reverse, lack of passion is so infectuous that it makes me want to run (cause I do not wish to catch it). Am I too idealistic in what I expect? Do not think so.

How To Communicate the Idea To Inspire Action and To Actually Have Things Done

Teamwork, group projects and things that need to be done moved me to revisit the basics of how to get some action out of group communication process. I found a very useful framework of natural planning techniques from David Allen’s book (Getting Things Done) that I would like to share. It is a 5 phase process:

1) Purpose – never hurts to ask the question “why we are doing it”, helps to focus, define sucess, align resources, motivate and expand options.

2) Principles – “a great way to think of principles is to complete the following sentence” – “I would give others totally free rein to do that as long as ….” , thus they provide guidelines on the packaging or points of reference.

3) Vision (Outcome)…how would success would look like, feel like, sound? I really liked the qoute ” You often need to make it up in your mind before you can make it happen in your life”, very powerful and I know I can do that!

4) Organizing – get all the ideas OUT OF YOUR HEAD – in front of your eyes – thus patterns and relationships emerge from the “invisible world”! Sort those out by components, sequences and priorities.

5) Action – Next Steps. Clarify what can be done today, who should be doing what, what you will be waiting for.

The idea is to walk your team through this process and the project should be implemented with ease or at least save time in the preparation stage. The trick is to walk yourself through the same process first, utilizing “the outside your head tracking system”. The work of the “communicator” is never done!

The Power Of The Story

I had a chance to listen to the speech of Scott McCain, the author of the book “What Your Customers Really Want”.  Very engaging speaker. He expressed a great point that I wanted to share. We all hear about the elevator speech and short story that we need to tell our customers (I even blogged on it here). However, we sometimes forget about the “High Concept” of the story structure. If we think of our business story as a movie we are going to shoot, it makes it easier to construct a powerful piece. Just 3 simple things can help us communicate better with our audience and thus be more successful in our demand generation efforts:

Act One: Introduce the characters and the conflict.
Act Two: Tell about the various ways those characters try to solve the above-mentioned conflict.
Act Three: Provide the heroic resolution.

The three basic steps that can help us create a compelling story are good to keep in mind. Just imagine, you are shooting a new blockbuster movie about your product/service/program. What would you do, how the plot will unwide?

The more I learn, the more simplified versions of the same concepts I value!

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