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November 9, 2014

Importance of Gatekeepers on an Indexed web

So. Now that you have the framework of “The Index“, we can now start moving move into how to apply this thinking when working with digital marketing and PR. Let’s say you want something to grow organically.

Well, if you are to be successful, then you have to have the ability to move between nodes/filter bubbles of The Index. But, you cannot move between nodes within The Index, but you need to move in and out of The Index to make this possible.

Or, in other words, your best Facebook strategy, might be running a blog outside The Index, bring people to your blog through advertising on Google, and then let the users share the content back to the Facebook platform.

Topical vs. personal influence

In order to fully grasp this you have to understand the underlying concept of topical vs. personal influence. Topical influence is what the algorithms decide topical visibility on. This means that if a person likes something, they are more likely to get to see more social objects on that topic.

Same goes for people. If a person is considered influential on another person, they exert a personal influence upon that person, and regardless of topic, that persons posts will be more likely to show up in the feed of people they influence.

Or in other words. If you want to market your brand of Cornflakes to someone who is really into another brand, you will have to reach them through a platform or place where their preference is not taken into account.

I mean, think about it. If Facebook or Google knows that you usually eat Kellogs, then why would they want to show you Quakers? You are less likely to interact with information coming from Quaker since you love Kellogs.

Thus, you have to put your Quaker information on such a thing as a blog, an Instagram account or on an editorial website such as a news website or your own website for that sake, which is not indexed or dependent upon preference.

Once you have understood this. That it is highly unlikely that you reach someone who doesn’t already like you on Facebook, when you, yourself, post on Facebook, it also becomes logical to ask someone else to do it for you. Someone who exerts a personal influence, rather than a topical influence over the person that you would like to reach.

For the sake of things. Let’s call those people or message bearers Gatekeepers. They are the ones who are able to carry your message from one filter bubble to the next.

Gate keepers of nodes

The above vendiagram was produced as a comment to my post about The Index by Anders Davén. I believe it pretty neatly describes what it is that you have to do in order to reach from one node/community/group into another. You have to identify what Anders and I came to define as the Gatekeepers.

The rest of this blog post will help you with understanding what you need to do in order to navigate both the algorithmic/topically driven as well as the personal/relationship driven influence you need to have in order to gain visibility in the digital space.

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Gatekeepers

There are two types of Gatekeepers of interest:
1. Broad interest – interest broad and active Gatekeepers.
2. Early mover – people who’s interest is defined as being interested in new things

1. Broad interest Gatekeepers

These guys are undefinable by the algorithms as they are connected to many different brands, people and things in the platform they are in. These guys are generalists and highly active. They like just about everything they see. They comment a lot, and have a lot of opinions.

In the 1-9-90 model, these guys are definitive 9’s for many different brands, products and people. In a sense, I am very much a mix between being a 1 in digital marketing, yet I am very much a 9 in all other areas of life.

As these guys are very difficult to define by the algorithm, and they are very active in many peoples digital life, they also become of interest as their visibility crosses many different filter bubbles. Or in other words, they have so many opinions that they are considered having no opinion at all.

This is where you step into action. You can arm these people with your opinion so that they become more interesting in their dialogue in the filter bubbles they are connected to. They become your Gatekeepers and the ones you have to look out to please.

But you cannot please them with whatever content in the world. If your content is going to make any sense being used as a way to make the Gatekeeper more interesting, then they have to be able to use it as a tool to communicate.

Have a look at my 5 C’s of Viral marketing in order to get tips and tricks on how to create such content that they will carry from one node/filter bubble, to another.

2. Early mover Gatekeepers

These guys work sort of similar as the first kind, however, the algorithm has defined them as people who like new and original things. One might suspect that The Index is able to detect them by them being the first ones to post material onto the platform.

In order to get these guys to work for you, you have to be innovative. For example, if you are launching a new product or service, then these are the kind of behaviours you should be looking for in order to get your initial reach.

A good tool to use in order to find them is Ripples on Google plus. You can see where a story started, and you will be surprised of how some people seem to be the origin of most things that eventually reach to you. Would love to be able to do the same visualisation of the social graph on Facebook as I would then be able to tell who I should get into my focus group, beta test group, or who I should limit my invite count to.

The early mover Gatekeepers rock, cause they will see the stuff you haven’t been able to build a network for yet, and thus, as long as you can identify them, you will also be able to use them to channel your ideas to the nodes/filterbubbles they are connected to, and influential in.

Common for all Gatekeepers – Learners

The common trait for all Gatekeepers is that they are all learners.

This means that they are subject to you, teaching them how to use your product. As long as you give them the time that enables them to become experts, they will then use their influence to convert other people they are connected too.

This makes perfect sense and is in line with much of the earlier theory about how to build a community through tribe leaders. However, the new perspective here is that we take the algorithms interpretation of these people into account. These people do not have to be tribal leaders, however, they are tribal connectors. They like to play football, AND Dulce Candy make up videos on YouTube. They like to do drugs, AND are for a sustainable society. etc.

And it is perhaps in this area that the perspective of The Index will be a valuable contribution as it takes our focus from trying hard to connect with tribal leaders, into connecting with tribal connectors, in order to ensure our message is shared between nodes/filter bubbles.

So, what should you do with this newly found information?

1. Well, you should start out creating content that is possible to use for starting conversations. Tailor all of your content so that you can put it into context with a “did you know that…” as put forward in the 5 C’s of viral marketing.

2. Secondly you need to do your social listening with the purpose of finding out who is a Gatekeeper. You need to start studying who, and now how many people click your ads and engage on your posts. You need to collect their user id’s, e-mails and other such assets which enables you to retarget them and test different content towards them.

3. You need to stop thinking of campaigning and start to think of growth. Campaigning is way too risky as you do not know if a Gatekeeper will pick it up and let you in. Rater build on what you have, take small steps and build infrastructure through relationships.

4. You need to have an opinion, and set forth a mission that others can buy into. This mission has to be coherent with the true value of what you are selling. A few “jobs to be done” workshops wouldn’t hurt when developing this content as it will put your focus in the right place.

October 23, 2014

The Index – The most important piece of content I have written, only a few people will ever read

This post is most likely the most important one I have written, next to “The web is a Liquid“, “The 5 Cs of Viral Marketing” and “Quantum SEO – A shift from Einstein Relativity“. The past two years have been highly disruptive for online marketing, with the introduction of preference, personalisation and sentiment into the algorithms that govern the online world. Here I choose to call the “it” controlling all of it, The Index. Yes. It is a bit foil hat flirting, however, this is the new framework I will be working with, in order to reach results that will make people look like children on christmas. Enjoy! It will probably take you 30 minutes to an hour to read.

Where the connections started in my head

This summer I was fortunate enough to work with a client who wanted their sponsorship of a live event, be shared in digital media to a greater extent than before. The ROI was essentially reach and brand association with the event.

Well enough.

For some time I had been developing this theory that the messaging apps and p2p sharing of stickers etc was a real threat to brands visibility. However, I saw opportunity in the growth of Whatsapp, LINE, WeChat and the other big players.

What if, we instead of focusing on digital stuff to get reach in a digital world, started to convert people to believers in the real world and simply used the digital space for amplification?

This question grew in me during spring 2014 and I decided to implement some of those ideas on this event. In other words. I decided to turn the world into a website.

Turning the world into a website

The idea builds on using the same kind of conversion ideas as you do on a website, but onto the real world. This means you have to understand your users motivation, give a valid value proposition and limit the offer with an incentive to do it now. It means you have to lower the perceived friction and most of all, you have to remove any anxiety that the user might have.

In plain context of an event, this means creating a spot in the ground, or hanging a frame on the wall, which gives people a perfect reason to take photographs there. You call it a selfie spot, and anyone who passes, will get a perfect excause to take a selfie.

Just as you would with a signup to a newsletter on a website. You simply apply the theory that there is traffic, and then use whatever you know about the visitor in order to make them convert.

And converting is not about the big things. Just as it is fewer people who buy the Porche, then there is people sharing photos with themselves next to a Porche. No. Conversion happens when you end up in line with the visitors user journey, and somehow use your knowledge of their existence, being and needs, to enhance that user journey.

In terms of a festival for youth. This meant giving them a non-embarrassing way to take photos of themselves, telling the world that they were there. YES, they would have done this otherwise as well, however, they wouldn’t have used our props, our branding and our messaging if we wouldn’t have insterted our small little things into their path, which enhanced it.

Thus. Turning the world into a website, is creating conversion points along the users journey from a to b, giving them a reason to convert into whatever you feel you want to convert them too.

In this video you can hear me elaborate on this theory.

What did I learn from my experiment

Well. I learnt that it worked. In total, over the few days we were there, there were just under 120 000 people visiting the festival. From these 120 000 people we got a digital reach of at least 1.5 million people with an interaction on the posts being shared of approximately 5%.

Put into context, this amounted to about 11% of ALL photos, blog posts and shares being posted onto public forums and social platforms etc. So I believe it was a great test which can be optimized for even greater spread.

However. The result was not my greatest learning. The greatest learning came from the fact that we reached 10x of the initial traffic. I started to think. What the heck. When did I last receive a 10x reach on an input in a digital context?

We could see from the trackers that my prophecy of the instant messaging, wasn’t really true yet. However, something else was there.

A few days ago, everything fell into place for me. I started drawing, and I realised that it is not so much that we turned the world into a website, which got us the results. The results came from us being able to break outside The Index.

What is The Index

Since 1998 I have been working in digital media in one way or another. First as a quite crappy developer, then as a manager, then as a “strategist” and finally ended up where I should have been from the beginning – in the realms of tactics. Meaning, trying to figure out how things really work, and then use that knowledge to my advantage when implementing whatever it is that I have as the assignment in front of me.

The idea of the index stems from the notion that there is just so much content out there, that we need a sorting mechanism to surface what is important to us.

Back in the days of non-digital, this sorting was done by an editor at a newspaper. Today, in the digital context, this is done by algorithms. Google killed Altavista when they invented the algorithm based on PageRank, Facebook killed their opposition when they invented the EdgeRank, YouTube killed their competition… well, by using some broken form of index that is yet to be fixed, but they are the place to be, cause no one does it better than them.

Thus, The Index is used to sort information to us, so that we can live on with our happy lives without having to dig into too much shit in order to find the gold. From our perspective.

The Index Evolution

At first. The Index operates freely. It has transparent rules and those who know how these rules are applied, can easily “hack” the index and make a fortune out of it.

This was the case with Googles PageRank, and the case with Facebooks EdgeRank, AND with YouTubes version of PageRank as well.

However, after a while, as the abuse of the index becomes a problem for delivery, or for the authority of the platform, the businesses governing The Index makes it less transparent, more complicated and a lot less easy to decipher from a traditional perspective. Its purpose moves from bringing all the right content in, into holding the wrong content out.

Thus, the evolution of The Index, works very much like a early stage organization, where everyone is welcome at first. As popularity grows, you start getting goofy people gaining traction within the organization, which threatens its existence. This leads to a period of exclusion, where the evolutionary organization survives at it bullies out the people who are not “representative” of the groups social rules.

In terms of Google, this meant that they started excluding content, they found were abusive to their system. Meaning, anyone who had turned on The Index, by trying to cheat it, in order to get their content out on top of it, started getting excluded.

The world of SEOs shrinked as the simple tactics to reach visibility dissipated and were replaced with more complex means of ranking in the search.

The Introduction of the Sentiment

If the story would have ended there, I wouldn’t have given this more thought. The Index would have simply been a question of content delivery to the world, giving Google, and its index a serious power-position in world affairs. From business to politics, to every day life and decisions.

However, the story doesn’t end here.

As Facebook entered the market and brought their Like button along. All major players in The Index started to play around with sentiment. This meant that The Index started learning what to deliver, not to the world, but to each and everyone of us – individually.

The Index and its algorithms were updated to meet the preference of the receiver, and not any anonymous target group.

Google already had the early child of this, with their link algorithm, however, most consumers don’t link, and so they had to find their own signals in order to deliver the most important and preferable content to each and every single user.

Thus sentiment made the internet, and The Index all about pleasing me. The more it managed to please me, the more I would use it, as friction and anxiety would be extremely low, considering I only received opinions, products, ideas and other types of content, which I agree with.

The Business model of The Index

This leads me to the next part of this, which is about sustainable business models in the world of The Index.

Early indexes are immature. Almost gullible like a child. They are easy to fool and to toy around with. They trust you, and as marketers, growth hackers, and tactics players, we abuse that trust in order to get our points across.

Thus, the business model of an early version of The Index, lies in the hands of those outside the controlling the index. In terms of Google, this meant the SEOs, and in terms of Facebook, this meant the “Social Media experts”.

As content aggregates and The Index does its best to keep the trickery out, the balance of power shifts, and the opportunity for quick wins dissipate from the hands of the hacker and ends up in the hands of The Index controller.

As their power grows, advertising costs on the platform increase as more and more brands, people and other types of players (mainly other algorithms), compete for visibility. As personal preference algorithms become more and more skilled at content delivery, the more brands have to pay, in order to keep up the pace with the stuff that people really care about.

I mean, why should I care about a new detergent, when my sister in law uses one that she recommended for this specific type of spot. Why should I buy that dress, when my favourite blogger wrote I should buy another.

Whether we receive the content, effecting our behaviour, through The Index operating on Google, or when it operates the Social graph on Facebook. The Index is now in control, and it is giving the user exactly what he or she wants.

Anyone who wants to enter this world, without agreeing with the user, will have to pay the price.

 

The backside of The Index

This doesn’t come without cost. The Index controller of an early stage index is generally a human being. However, as content grows, the power and the real controller of The Index becomes the algorithm.

In fact. Humans go from controlling an index, to being an obedient servant of The Index.

There is simply no chance in hell, that a human can be as fast as an algorithm in determining what content best suits a single person. Thus it is also the fact that whoever designs an algorithm that can solve the preference ideals of a user, the fastest, will be the winner in the end. And so, the algorithms, although designed by humans, become self beings with the control over what we see, learn and believe.

This might sound a bit like a foil hat reasoning. However, you simply need to look at the algorithms controlling the financial markets, to understand that this is exactly what happens as content grows, transactions between users grow, and development of ranking derivatives gets better.

Another issue with the sentiment based index, delivering high usability and that is built with “the end user in mind”, is that it is information bias. Thus, it confirms and reconfirms peoples opinions that they already have, rather than help us find greater understanding in other perspectives. In a sense, the only one knowing the full scale of things, is The Index itself, as we as humans, groups etc, only see, know and believe what is confirmed by the information we see.

This is a huge challenge for us right now, as the digital open social platforms become increasingly governed by algorithms based on sentiment.

For a person with good intentions, wanting to bring peace to the earth, this development will only reconfirm his or her position and commitment to do this. However, it might also remove a bit of his or her incentive to do something about these beliefs considering the person only gets to see information which is filtered by The Index.

And, contrary, when you have a major belief, such as “climate change”, the reasoning behind “The Index” explains why the Tea Party Movement can be so resilient in their belief that it is a fraud, considering the majority of the content they see, is tailored to meet their belief that it is.

Same goes for racism that is growing in Europe. Same goes for politicians disconnecting from their electorate, same goes for virtually anyone operating and getting a majority of their information from digital media types controlled by The Index.

They might not understand why society is moving in one direction, when they, themselves are only fed information which reconfirms their already conformed opinions. Thus their resentment towards democratic structures, powers and people with a different opinion grows.

This goes against the non-filtered, non-indexed philosophy of the Internet, which advocated that the access to information would bring us closer to eachother. However, as the information increased to such extent that we needed The Index to take over the control, and as sentiment based analysis brought us only the content that we like, the opposite actually becomes true.

And thus the major challenge of The Index and The Internet, is now that it has turned from being an open space to interact, into closed nodes of conformed opinions, moving further apart.

Which also explains the evolution of p2p messaging systems, that totally exclude others from joining in the discussion. Bringing their ideas to the table.

What the power of The Index means to a marketer

This also explains why digital marketing is becoming increasingly difficult as visibility scores decrease more and more. Although we engage the same amount of people, by getting them to like our posts, comment on our blogs, link to our transactional pages etc – we do not get the same reach, influence growth nor visibility.

As The Index starts disregarding your information, as it is not the most preferred by an end user, you will have to start paying up to reach the same people you previously reached for free.

The price increase as more content, links and people enter the platform you’re on, or the Internet as a whole.

So. What is our way through this as marketers?

Some are left outside The Index

There are still entities in the digital world which doesn’t operate within The Index. An example of such are all platforms that operate on timestamps rather than on popularity or sentiment. Examples of such platforms are personal blogs and forums where users see the latest post or thread on top. Yes, they also see where most discussion is taking place, but usually, the most promoted content is what has been published most recently.

Same goes for some of the worlds news websites. The ones who haven’t confirmed to BuzzFeed click baiting, retargeting and contextual ads philosophies yet.

These platforms are unfiltered by The Index and are as such, opportunities for other perspectives to reach people around the world.

Using The Index perspective For Marketing

Skills you need to market within The Index

Let’s get down to the tactics of these bigger dystopian thoughts. I will not even begin to elaborate on what we have to do as a society. But as marketers, we have to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Is the platform we are marketing on, a part of The Index, or is it still a gullible child?
  2. If mature, conformed to The Index, are there ways in which we can bypass it in order to leverage its algorithm?
  3. If too rigid and strong, are there ways in which we can run with it, give us what we want?

As we find the answer to these questions, we need to build tactics that suit them. And I will give a few examples below to show you how you apply the knowledge of the index to your marketing tactics.

Understanding Marketing through Nodes generated by the Index

But first we need to understand what the index does to us as groups online.

Essentially, as The Index blocks content that we may not like from our reach through various platforms. In plain text, as Facebook doesn’t show posts from Peter as you seem to hate Peters posts, and as Google doesn’t show you that 99.5% of all researchers finds support for Global warming, since you seem to be a member of the Tea Party movement.

This means that people with the same opinions and preferences end up with different sets of information, confirming their beliefs and opinions. Thus, content with one opinion or set of inputs will only reach the nodes which agrees with it.

Think of it as the web, at first being one big glass of water. If you poured syrup into that glass of water, then it turned into the colour of the syrup and might pick up its taste. The same was true for great ideas and great marketing online. As you put your idea into the web, it was shared between users, until all were contaminated or influenced by your perspective.

What the index has done, is to make the web, or turn that big glass of water, into several smaller shot glasses. If you pour syrup into one of them, the other ones won’t be affected with colour or taste. Same goes for an idea or marketing campaign. It will remain within one small community, and not reach other communities unless you use tactics to make it.

The segregated campaign structure

This also forces us to drop the integrated campaign structure and move towards the segregated campaign structure, where we let our marketing efforts take on different shapes and forms in different communities, nodes and in communication between people.

We need to have a 360 approach, without a 360 creative or messaging. We have to have a purpose to share an idea, offer or belief, but we also need to frame it – not in format – but in our complete messaging, if we want to reach through the nodes.

We also need to consider that there is no such thing as a strategy for Facebook or for Google, but there is a strategy for visibility that uses forums, facebook, google and a whiskey tasting session at a local bar in Paris.

Cause, if you understand how The Index operates, you also understand that turning the world into a website, might help you break through and enter nodes you otherwise would have been disregarded from.

Thus. Just two quick examples for now… just to set you off with some tactics.

1. Getting Facebook Likes – in the world of The Index

If your goal is getting Facebook Likes, then the best tactic might be to start a blog, embedding the posts from your Facebook page, posting the links from those blog posts into forums that are not filtered by The Index, entering the forum post links as you content for a Tweet, which discussion it then generates, is embedded to the blog post in order to create a second wave of promotion in the same cycle, all generating organic visibility for your content, between nodes, thus increasing your total visibility, reach and thus also ability to gain more likes on that post AND on your page.

You move inside The Index, then outside, then inside, then outside, then inside, then outside, poking new communities, preference bubbles and people along the way.

2. Getting reach on a Video – in the world of the Index

Let’s say I want my latest video, inserted into The Index through YouTube, to gain traction.

Once realising the power of The Index, it makes perfect sense that 80% of all views on viral videos are generated outside the platform. Knowing this, I must develop a tactic which breaks The Index and gets my content outside YouTube in order to make it visible.

Thus a mix of PR, spam (read purchases of advertising – non earned) and forum tactics are in place. Just posting a great creative and purchasing ads, will not make it viral.

  1. You need to employ viral tactics to the content in order to be shared with people within a specific node.
  2. AND use your knowledge of The Index in order to know where to turn to in order to reach to new nodes.

THIS is how you do tactics and marketing on the web of The Index, and I will try to build on this idea, just as I have built on the 5 Cs of Viral Marketing in order to give you a framework to work with when developing marketing tactics for yourself or for your clients.

Stay tuned as this perspective turns into tactics by registering for my newsletter which popup should be resting somewhere annoyingly overwhelming to the bottom right of this screen.

As I said. I believe this is the most important piece of content I have ever written. I am sure someone has written this before, however, this time it is me. I believe that there might be about four (4) of you out there who read this far in this post. So, for that I want to thank you for giving me your time, and make yourself noted in the comments so that I know who you are and can thank you individually!

 

August 24, 2014

It is time to apply web conversion tactics to the real world

This video was shot in collaboration with Hyper Island in Singapore – Read more about Social lab here

I have been fortunate enough to be able to work in the “real world” a bit these past few months. It has been fun, and it has truly engaged me in the quest of turning the world into a website.

Not in the sense that I want to change the way we interact with each other, find a marquee tag for street lights and make window items clickable. No. I want us as marketers to start considering the methods, tactics and user funnels we use in the “digital world”, as means to drive conversion in the “real world”.

My main point being – the two are merging, and although we do not see the full extension of possibilities with the Internet of things yet, we are on the verge of this kind of evolution. However, we are in the early days, and just as in the early days of the web, user behaviour is still very simplistic and next to analogue. Thus you will have to use the equivalent tactics of the “Space jam 2” era, in order to decrease the friction between the perceptually two different worlds.

Or in other words:

1. Most of the stuff being shared online, happens offline and thus brands should spend their time trying to simplify online activation from the offline world if their goal is to get attention

and 

2. We are in the early days of this, and so our solutions cannot be that fancy. Even though the technology is there, the user behaviour is not and thus we have to simplify shit in order to make it work, instead of making it fancy fancy and expensive.

and 

3. Triggers are more important than coolness. Meaning a dot in the ground saying “Selfie spot” will actually induce more shares to the web, than a colossal blinking pillar with 2000 sqm of LED.

In the somewhat laughable video above, I elaborate on these thoughts.

This video was shot in collaboration with Hyper Island in Singapore – Read more about Social lab here

March 5, 2013

Does your QR-Campaign endure the Toilet test?

A lot of people disregard QR-campaigns as yesterdays fad. The mockery of the little black dotted squares seems to be endless. I don’t blame them. Most people in advertising suck at digital marketing. Billions are spent every year and only a few good examples can be produced as “success cases”. Thus. I was not surprised when I managed to get excellent results using QR-codes for a client last year.

I am not saying that QR-codes work everywhere. I am just saying that they work if you use them correctly.

It was a long time since I published a tutorial blog post. So for that sake, I will explain how you can test your QR-campaign before you launch it, and almost guarantee that it works.

Each step in the test tutorial below should be passed with a YES answer in order for you to move onto the next step. If it fails somewhere along the line of steps, it will not be a successful QR-campaign.

The QR-Toilet test

Toilet test QR

STEP 1 – Put your QR code on a product. Is your code on a product YES/NO?

STEP 2 – Lift the product in one hand. Does it fit YES/NO?

STEP 3 – Take your mobile phone in your other hand. Can you hold your mobile in one hand and the product in the other YES/NO?

STEP 4 – Now go to the toilet. Can you open the door holding product and mobile without drawing too much attention to yourself YES/NO?

STEP 5 – Lift the lid to the toilet and sit down. Was the procedure easy YES/NO?

If you have reached this far in the QR-Toilet test it is highly likely that your QR-campaign will be successful.

Call to action on product

The call to action should not be direct. It should rather induce curiosity. The difference between a direct and a curiosity inducing call to action is quite simple to distinct. Users sitting on the bus, or on the toilet, or waiting in a shed whilst the rain blows by are in their research driven mindset. They are willing to explore. Using a call to action that is too direct/that explains what will happen on the landing page, might scare some people away.

Whilst “Compete and win” is a direct call to action. Something like “Open me” is a more curiosity inducing call to action. User thinks through their research driven mind – “what am I really getting here”… “what does open me really mean”… And as a result, they do not mind the friction of having to download a QR-scanner in order to scan the code. However, if they already know that it is a competition, the friction might be too extensive for them to go through with it.

QR-code scanning people do not do this to compete, but they might as well if this is what they end up with when having scanned a code.

Constructing the landing page

The prerequisites of your target page or content the viewer gets to when they scan the code are the following:

  1. Easy form sign up – max 3 forms of which one is the e-mail or telephone number
  2. Same Call to action on top of the landing page or content as you had on the product
  3. Simple design, NO flash or moving graphics, no instructional video or sound (might change when 4G becomes broadly adopted)

Guaranteed results from this

I can almost guarantee results from this. The last campaign I used this for got the QR codes as the third largest traffic generator, only surpassed by Google organic traffic and Facebook traffic. This was for a website with above 20.000 monthly unique users on a regular basis, so we are not talking about chicken wings.

Ok. To be fair. All paid traffic combined surpassed the QR-codes as well, but if you looked at each individual source, the QR- codes killed them all by a landslide.

What was even more astonishing was that we managed to get 23% of the QR-visitors to convert to the member goal we had setup for the campaign.

What conclusions can we draw from this post

If you put your QR-code on something which is too big to scan in the privacy of the toilet. You are destined to fail.

Use mystery as the call to action as the behavior of a QR-scanner-person is not purpose driven. It is research driven. They do not want to do what you want them to do, they just might as well to keep busy.

Make landing page simple and keep scent – the call to action, look and feel – of the scanned product.

Have fun and stop hating.

 

March 19, 2012

Data Driven Marketing in an Election and Business

Continuing on my trail to promote data as a means of marketing, I turn to the Obama campaign. I know you’ve heard a lot from the Obama campaign, but I guess not as much about the data behind winning the campaign. Yes, the knocking on doors had its effect on the outcome, but did you know that over $500 million of the campaign budget came from online donations. That’s more than twice as much (152 million dollars) as came from offline donations. The video in this blog post explains some of how data was used in order to create a winning team for the Obama campaign.

I will extract some of the more interesting remarks made by Dan Siroker below in this post, and highlight how this relates to your business.

1. Define success in terms of measurable metrics

First they break the ultimate goal – ie. elected dude – into stuff needed to be in place for that to happen. In terms of the US election, those sub goals were defined as:

  • Recruit volunteers
  • Register voters
  • Canvas door-to-door
  • Make phone calls
  • Raise money

All of which is needed if you are to win an election on US soil. In terms of business, the ultimate goal might be a profit increase or an end year sales goal. In order for that to occur you need to:

  • Recruit great staff
  • Get leads to sign up for your services
  • Get retailers onboard
  • Make phone calls
  • Sell products

I think you get where I am going with that one. In the video, Dan focuses on the last one and tries to make some sense out of how they used data in order to win an election.

He starts out by showing a “user funnel”. A user funnel is basically a behavior of your visitor to the website. This means, the way your user behaves, clicks, waits, returns to your website. Usually you put up a goal which you want him or her to complete before they leave. In the video the ultimate goal is for the visitor to donate money. But they realize that they might be better off getting people to sign up for the e-mail first and then get the donations secondly.

So the initial funnel is: Website visitor -> E-mail signup -> Raise money

What they realized early was that they had to come up with quantifiable success metrics that would then help them optimize the website for the purpose of getting as much money per visitor as possible. They used some key metrics including cost per click leading to the website and e-mail sign up rate that led to two final KPIs in order to measure the success:

$ per page view

The dollar per pageview was determined by looking at how much money a user was likely to donate given they had visited a specific page. Once they know this number, they are able to calculate how much they can spend in order to get a visitor to that specific page. This is much like you should be thinking of your different pages on your website. How much money does this page make me? Not – how much money does my website make me.

You should think in terms of basket value. If a visitor has visited a specific page and you can determine that every visitor who visits that page either buys more or less from you, you can also determine what you are willing to pay – with positive ROI – to get a user to visit that page. Simple enough. Right?

$ per e-mail

This was virtually the same thing. But I will go through this second step a bit in more detail as he sort of runs it through a bit too fast in the presentation.

  • The number of recipients per e-mail
  • The opening rate of the e-mail times the click through rate
  • The conversion rate, ie. the people who donated from that e-mail click
  • Multiply that all together times the money they donated

2. Create a function for analysis purposes

Which gives you a rough amount of dollars per recipient. So, what this really means is the following example. Let’s say you have a send list of 100 000 recipients of which 20% open the e-mail. Of those, 50% click the link and of those 5% donate a total of 100 000 USD, we get the following formula.

RX*O*C*T=N

X = Dollars per e-mail

R = number of recipients

O = Opening rate

C = Click through rate

T = Transactions or number of conversions to donators

N = Total profits

This example: 100 000x * .2 * .5 * .05 = 100 000 USD

x is in this case the dollars per e-mail.

The importance of stating it as a function is that you are able to see how changes in one effect the rest of them. Here, you should really use regression analysis which you can really skip learning and simply use one available tool out there such as SPSS.

2 a. Analyzing the effects of changes in subscribers

Cause, think of it. Let’s say you only look at the send list subscribers and the outcome in USD. Let’s say you increase the number of subscribers only to realize your total donations remain the same. This means the dollar per user has really decreased. What you have to ask yourself is not only if you have the right subscribers, but if you are feeding them with the right types of messages.

So, although your send list grew, your messages do not make the income grow. Unless you look at it through all the steps you will be unable to make changes along the way necessary to increase your end game profits. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on getting more people to sign up unless you are able to figure out how to make more of them convert.

2 b. The case of the opening rate

Continuing with the example. Let’s say your opening rate has drastically decreased. Let’s say it has halved. If that is the problem, then perhaps your increase in subscribers might have effected your white list or delivery rate, or perhaps there is something wrong with the subject? All of which you need to analyze if you realize that it is the opening rate that has gone down.

Or perhaps it is the click through rate that has gone up or down. Or perhaps it is the conversion rate into donators that has gone sour. Either way you will know if you split each step of the user funnel into parts rather than looking at the nominal before and after.

2 c. The case of the bad subscriber

One interesting scenario occurs when you have improved your opening rate and your CTR, but you realize the visitors still aren’t converting into donating or paying customers. Or perhaps your donations even decrease. In this case you have to look at where the subscribers came from, what KIND of call to action you are using etc.

It is just like sourcing for the wrong kind of traffic from the search engines. You can get all the traffic in the world, but just because you rank number one for Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, doesn’t mean they will buy more of your kitchen hardware. Same goes for your e-mail campaigns. If they signed up thinking they would get images of pink zeebras – something I would sign up for – they are not very likely to buy your kitchen supplies either. Same thing goes for the “free stuff” e-mail sign ups out there. Sign up and get free… whatever.

Although a lot more people might be inclined to sign up, they might be less valuable to you in the long run as they do not buy. So although your cost per conversion into subscriber has gone down, your net effect on profits has been severely hurt.

What I am really trying to say is that a lot of subscribers or traffic might not be what you want. You might actually want less subscribers, or traffic, that you pay considerably more for, because they make you more money. A lot of traffic or subscribers might actually cause you a negative ROI. I don’t know if I am making my point here, but I hope I am.

3. Focus on your weakest links

Once you have your analysis methodology setup Dan argues says you need to start focusing on your weakest links. When he started working with the Obama campaign, they had a very strong number of both visitors who donated as well as subscribers who donated. What they didn’t have was enough subscribers. Or moreover, the subscription rate was too low, meaning, out of every 100 visitors who came to the website, the conclusion was, more of them should sign up to the e-mail send list.

3 a. Don’t get fat, stay smart

In fat markets, usually in early stages, where competition is not fierce, vendors or retailers generally do not care about fixing the weakest links. They work with the stuff that makes them the most profits. Ie. the strongest end of the rope. They usually believe that it is where they are strong that they can make the most money. And perhaps they are right at the time being, but I have seen numerous occations where they end up crying in a corner as a result of it. Cause although the sweet taste of sugar might blind you from looking over your shoulder, you SHOULD know that were ever there are profits, competition will follow.

If you do not have your stuff in order, your weakest links will come to haunt you. (I really hope some of you readers out there know exactly what cases I am talking about… yepp… I hate to say “I told you so…”…) One thing with digital is that it is never to late to change. If your competitors managed to move passed you, there is still room for you to retake your position.

So. In the video, Dan takes you through a series of multivariable tests they did on the website. They optimized for an increased subscription rate going from an 8.26% subscription rate on a page looking like this:

They started out by optimizing the text on the button as well as changing the image around. They had some videos in the campaign that you really have to watch the video inserted above in order to have a look at again. However, if you forward to about 18 minutes into the video this example should be there.

3 b. What to take away from the tests they did

The button saying “Learn more” was victorious, for the media image, the family message did the best. One interesting thing is that every single video did worse than any of the images. Perhaps not a general conclusion to draw, but you should really think about where and when you insert your call to action in your video. Always think about the bottom third – the space where you can insert a banner with a call to action in any video… just like YouTube does forcefully with a pop-in, so can you in your actual video – and you need to remember to put a call to action there. Make it evident so that even the user who does not want to look to the end of the video, knows what to do next.

In the end, they increased their conversion rate by 40%. From 8.2% to 11.6%. Over time, think about what such improvements could do to your business.

3 c. Why epic content sometimes isn’t enough

So, as you can see from the example, the probably most compelling video gets NO traction what so ever with regards to conversion rate. You MUST realize that even the best of content put in the wrong context, makes absolutely no sense. When I discuss gut in one of my previous posts on data driven marketing I also discuss the fact that although your gut feels something you HAVE to be ready to capitulate to the mere facts of data.

Thus, you can make a really compelling video, but if it actually hurts your conversion rate as it pulls eyeballs from the goal you are trying to get your visitors to perform, then TAKE THAT SHIT DOWN, cause it is really shit if it doesn’t help you achieve your goals.

And YES that video might have been what made a person come to your website in the first place. But it might not be what makes your visitor convert. (Although you probably must work with maintaining scent so that they know that they’ve come to the right place.)

4. Never over-generalize

In the video, about 27 minutes in, there is a really great lesson to be learned which is Don’t over generalize. In modern digital marketing and analytics you can actually serve different content to different users depending upon their behavior. If you spend time doing this, which would cost you probably one tenth of your standard banner budget – which is completely useless if you don’t do any of this – you should be able to increase your profits significantly.

Here are some of the results from the video showing different users acting on different calls to action:

Thus, depending upon where and who you are as a visitor, you react differently to the messages being fed to you. Remember that this is a very simple example and that the sophistication in the way you decide to do it can be even greater. Let’s say you would run different calls to action on returning vs new visitors. What if you would do it for visitors who were returning and who had signed up for something previously. What if you could increase profits of a second purchased based on changed copy in a button fed to people making small initial purchases.

All of which is possible, but you have got to optimize for it.

5. Take advantage of circumstances

What he argues is simply that you should take advantage of all those small things that happen out there even though you haven’t planned for them. Moving away from big idea marketing you have to be able to make changes and move on circumstances that occur in your world. If an opportunity appears, just act upon it with a tactical movement.

Sometimes something that happens in your surroundings might effect you as well. If your competitor starts to run TV-ads, have a look and see if they bought the PPC matching the increased search volumes that come as a result. Perhaps they optimize their budgets for the day whilst their TV-spot run at night. You might be able to counter their offer with a really nice counter offer so that when someone search for the competitors product you put yours on top of the search engine with a cheaper price, a better delivery circumstance or simply… you’re there… whilst your competitor burnt all their money on creating the traffic and not taking care of it.

6. Question assumptions

Look at the example about 31:30 into the video above. This is basically asking you to think about your value proposition. One of the key drivers into making someone convert on your website is to offer them something that they want. I know this sounds extremely idiotic to say, but many of you still have trouble offering a customer anything at all, yet alone something they actually feel tempted to buy.

Change it around. Work towards an increased ROI rather than a number of sold items. Look at your costs and what brings you the best profits. Then question it all again and test it until you are blue and red from starting to doubt yourself to much.

Finally

I think this video is great! It is not good, but it is great. The only thing that concerns me is that there are a million people talking about the Obama campaign as something successful with regard to social media, but this video only has 7000 something views. That is shameful!! Now go ahead and share it as it should be seen.

 

March 13, 2012

Active and Passive KPIs in a Data driven marketing campaign

So, yes, you probably read my post on data driven marketing strategy. If not, I suggest you start there. However, if you already read it, just continue reading. This blog post is about KPIs. Most people know about setting goals, hardly anyone sets them correctly, but they know that there are such things called goals. Goals are evaluated at the end of a certain time frame. The metrics, that generally qualify whether or not you are on the right track, are in layman’s terms called KPIs. In this blog post I would like to split the concept of KPIs into two different usage classes. Passive and active KPIs.

1. Passive KPIs for Data driven marketing campaigns

A passive KPI is the classical indicator we use in order to say whether or not we are on the right track. It might be as simple as the nominal number of visitors to a website, into being quite complicated calculations of changes in frequency of those same visitors. Regardless of what they measure exactly, they are measured and compared with a set of goals you have defined at the beginning of the project.

I like to call these passive KPIs as they actually only tells you whether or not you should do something. You do not use them for anything else than evaluation of the value you have created. The KPIs in themselves do not create value. They simply measure, and help you change whatever you are doing accordingly.

An Example of conversion optimization
In a data driven campaign this might mean you publish one set of copy sentences to your landing page. Your metrics tell you that your conversion rate (which in this example is a KPI) is 2% whilst your goal was 3%. Your metrics also tell you that you have a normal bounce rate of approximately 50%. This indicates that people are not converting, however, they seem to be interested in looking around. Regardless, you are not obtaining your goal by hanging around and so you need to start working on improving.

You think for a while and come up with the hypothesis that the page titles are the problem and that they should be tested versus a set of other sentences. You think  again, take out your notepad – yes, you are analogue for a while – yes, cause you’re an anally nostalgic copywriter with narcissistic tendencies – yes, I am getting out of line – yes, I am not writing what I should be writing – now, stop it Jesper – well, ok  – and start writing the new sentences.

You come up with a set of changes and set up your A/B test with Google websiteoptimizer. You find after a while that your conversion rate is slowly getting better with the new copy, and so you decide to implement it. You then implement changes after changes after changes until you have killed the goals you and your bosses or clients have set up and you become the company hero.! YEY.

So, that’s an example of how to use passive KPIs and what they represent in a data driven marketing campaign.

Oh… sorry… what was that? Landing page optimization is not marketing? ….

please leave – click here to exit!

2. Active KPIs in a Data driven marketing campaign

Now, whilst passive KPIs are there to help you know if you are on the right track or not, active KPIs are there to give you additional value. Whilst passive KPIs are metrics for internal use, active KPIs are there for external use.

A perfect example of an active KPI is a user rating that generates a toplist. The toplist help your users in making a decision about the service they are to choose. Another example can be how many complaints a certain product has received or how many customers choose to buy that product in a choice of three specified ones.

These KPIs help your customers and if you select them properly and display in a logic way, they can make all the difference for you.

Take the example of this statement:

“People like our products.”

and

“1 million people like our products.”

The first one lacks the Key Performance Indicator that the second one have. In comparison, I would say that the second one enables me to say that YES, your product is popular, whilst the first one still makes me wonder.

The point I am making is that by using KPIs that are changing constantly, you can create a lot better copy and thus also stories for your users to consume, believe, share or buy into.

The point I am making is that by using KPIs that are changing constantly, you can create a lot better copy and thus also stories for your users to consume, believe, share or buy into.

The example of the toplist is even better. As the data changes, the purchases in your store will change as people tend to conform to what other people do. Some marketeers use this for “evil doing” as they amend the top lists manually (expert, panel or simply made up ratings) to meet their profit desires. However, if used properly this doesn’t have to be the case.

You can compare similar products and display the active KPI that users actually have generated that meets your purposes. If all else fails and you want to sell your most expensive product then use “check-out value” as the KPI you display in the toplist. “People who have made the greatest purchases bought:” What you compare in your toplist can be changed, but please do not change the correctness of your data. That will only jump up and bite you in the butt eventually.

There are other examples of active KPIs. Let’s say you are running a Facebook page, then use the number of Likes in the previous post in the next one: “…last post was liked by 15673 people, let’s see if we can beat that.” Perhaps pointless to the message you are trying to convey, however, not to the reach of your message.

Does it sound like I am rambling on about something that is self explanatory? YES!!! I am. But why is it that we still see campaigns, communication, landing pages, websites etc. etc. from companies that turn to the creative agency instead of their inbound marketing team when they fail with yet another marketing campaign? In your metrics, data center, CRM, e-mail database, on your servers. There are thousands shapes and forms of data.

What you decide to do with the data is then limited to your own creativity.

What you decide to do with the data is then limited to your own creativity.

I would like to meet a creative director who is as interested in data mining as they are in what the company is trying to communicate, their history and their product qualities. I would like to meet a copywriter who’s first question to the client is “So, what’s your data set like? Any cool KPIs I can use to spice up my punch line?”

Still a long way to go before we are there

But no. Most companies still don’t care and most schools still don’t educate people to think about something simple as this. Thus, we are stuck with BIG IDEA marketing that either fails more or fails less. We are stuck with CTRs below 0.3% on banners. We are stuck with conversion rates on landing pages of 3%. We are stuck with creative video formats that don’t lead to sharing between users. We’re stuck.

As usual I am not sure if I made any sense or not. But please start thinking in terms of active and passive KPIs and your data sets will become a lot more dynamic and usable when creating your communication concepts.

March 1, 2012

Creating your first Data Driven Marketing strategy?

Data driven marketing isn’t as difficult or boring as you might first think. It is virtually a way of viewing marketing where you admit that the “big idea” kind of marketing we have been used too, no longer is relevant. Cause it isn’t relevant anymore. Seriously. Oh yea, you might get lucky in a campaign or two, but if there is a method through which you can be successful all the time, then why not use that instead?

Agencies build their fame on creative campaigns. They might win awards, but they more regularly base their success on how they can win the wow’s. Not from the end consumer, but from the company buying as a result of the pitch. But in a few years the pitch will be dead. Not only because I hate the pitch, but because it is one of the most worthless buying procedures in the world. Nothing in a pitch makes sense.

First off, you have agencies that over promise as they do not know the full set of pre-existing conditions at the client. Secondly you get clients that over expect as they get impressed and forget that they are dealing with human beings, not miracle makers. The alternative, being recommended or winning a client slowly, bit by bit, is a lot better. Not only because you adapt to the client more smoothly, but because you take in as much as you deliver. Winning a client becomes a learning experience. Which is also the essence of data driven marketing. You learn, adapt and improve. No need for disappointments, just deliveries.

So, enough of the politics, how do you go about running a data driven marketing campaign?

#1. Let’s start with why data driven marketing is important

Well, let’s not start with the how just yet. Let’s begin with the why as it is important to know why you should do something so radical as to base your marketing and communication on facts rather than feelings.

a. Improving delivery

Many companies send e-mails to their customers. I would say 80-90% of you do this poorly. The vast majority of e-mails I receive every day have a spam level higher than 3. This doesn’t mean they are spam, but they have such content in them that they will be classed as such by A LOT (approximately 50%) of spam filters. If you use your data sets you would know this.

If you would work with data driven marketing you would change and adapt until you would end up at levels closer to 1 which would grant you access to almost everyone on your e-mail list. Ie. today your message doesn’t even reach your end users BY DEFAULT. They don’t have the opportunity to read your communication. This is WHY you need to work with data driven marketing.

First look at the data, what it tells you and then adapt accordingly.

b. Diversifying profitability

Many companies work in verticals where profits are decreasing. There are too many similar and comparable products. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is so much data about the users out there and so many tools that simplify communication on a 1-to-1 basis, that you no longer have no excuse. Cause although your product might be generic, the way you bundle it doesn’t have to be.

On Facebook for example, there are a 600 million people who have defined themselves through likes, shares and comments on their feeds. If you work with Data driven marketing you can UTILIZE this data in order to diversify your product offering. Eg. if you are offering to sell a mobile subscription you can choose to sell it with the cheapest prize or with the exclusive Flaming banana sword in WoW.

Data driven marketing gives you the opportunity to source for WoW players in your customer base and give them the relevant offer of the Flaming banana sword, making your product A LOT different than your competitors product. This is WHY you need to work with data driven marketing so that you can increase the relevance and thus value of your ever more generic products.

c. Creating a user journey, not a destination

In the space of social web, you need to understand that shopping is not a destination. It is an experience and a journey. The definition of a target group is no longer based on demographics but on behavior. In order to grow your business you need people with different characteristics to use your online spaces. You need the activists and ambassadors, you need the haters and you need the audience who watch and simply consume.

You need to understand who is who, as you should communicate differently to either one of them. You need to know and not guess. Looking at the data you will find patterns. Not demographical patterns, but behavioral patterns. You will be able to find your different user groups and utilize them the right way. The ambassadors can be utilized to launch new products or communicative messages. The haters can be used to create dynamic discussion and buzz as well as get important feedback on your products or communication. And the consumers, or the audience shall be entertained by either great products or messages that help them consume.

This information is all available if you look at your data sets. This is WHY data driven marketing is important to you. Your user should not be treated as any consumer. He or she shall be treated the way they want to and then be led on a journey, with you, to a better and brighter future.

Those are three important, but far from the only, reasons as to why you should adopt a data driven marketing strategy.

#2. So, how do you go about creating a data driven marketing strategy?

As with any strategy, you need to start somewhere. Usually you start with your why, then you have a look at what the rest of the industry is doing and then you make strategic decisions about what you should do, then you set some kind of goals. Then you create an organization that will carry your strategic decisions into practice, you set a budget and you start delivering tactical plans.

Creating a data driven strategy is not far from this only that you turn to the available data rather than your gut feeling. Important steps in creating a data driven marketing strategy is to create an organization and find resources that will

  1. Determine what data assets you have available (analytics, monitoring tools, application builds, CRMs, data bases etc.)
  2. Create goals depending upon what your data tells you (conversion rates, member counts, buyers, downloads etc. etc.)
  3. Create a hypothesis that you think might lead to achieving the goals (eg. by making the button red, we will increase conversion rate by 3%)
  4. Test your hypothesis (no one knows, just test)
  5. Adapt your tactics (change according to results rather than gut feeling or taste)

It is not the case that data driven marketing takes away the gut from the equation. The gut will always be there to create the hypothesis. Any first launch of a campaign is in fact a hypothesis. The problem with todays marketing is that people create ONE BIG IDEA that shall carry the whole campaign. If that idea doesn’t work, they do not construct their campaigns to adapt, and thus they fail.

Data driven marketing allows you to create a concept that is creatively challenging and great, if and only if, you are ready to change everything about it if the data tells you to. If you are not reaching the goals, then that is OK, if and only if you are willing to adapt your tactics, phrasing, main plot or what ever it is your campaign builds upon.

#3. How to set your goals for your data driven marketing strategy

Goals are goals. They are a guess work and will always be a guess work. We try to make goals into a science by giving them names such as KPIs (Key performance indicators) and assign values to them that are understandable such as “volumes” or “numbers”. I believe this is the wrong way of defining a KPI. A KPI for me should always be a RATE of change. Ie. the derivative of any function.

This sounds like math, and it is math. It is not what normal marketing people do, but it is what data driven marketeers do. We need to understand rates of change so that we can understand where our campaign or communications strategy is heading.

Think of it this way. If you set your KPI – remember Key Performance INDICATOR – to be a number such as 2 million views on YouTube. Then you launch a campaign. You start off with 250 000 views. All of a sudden you have 500 000 views. Three months later you have 510 000 views. Your campaign is seen as a failure and you have a difficult time explaining in terms of your KPIs what actually went wrong.

If you make this same goal a “rate of change” you will much better be able to analyze not only the result, but also the tactic of your campaign whilst it is active. Our video views grew organically by 1% per month before the campaign was launched. We launched the campaign and are currently experiencing a growth rate  of 5% every day. In order to reach our expected growth of 800% in a month we need to increase our “rate of change” to at least 35% on a daily basis. (all fictive and non-coherent numbers).

As you analyze your numbers you should look at how they are accelerating or decelerating. This is done by deriving the derivative and thus get the speed and direction of how the slope is turning. Ie. you get insights as to whether or not your campaign is building momentum or if it is gradually decreasing in momentum. Remember, you might still show positive results, but the results might be less and less positive every day. A number such as a view count in itself will never be able to answer those kinds of questions. However a rate of change will.

That is why it is important to define your KPIs such as rates of change.

Eg. We believe that our client report is the most important asset to our users. In 2012 we hence want to increase the download rate of the client report by 35% daily.

Booohooo… now you cry… this is boring, difficult and takes a lot of time from being creative. BUT, if you do your job, you will be able to do a lot more creative stuff in the coming steps and be more free to say whether or not your campaign was successful. Plus, don’t worry, there will be tools doing this shortly. Recommended changes as a result of previous performances. So you will only have to work towards those targets in the future and not set them yourself.

I know. It is hateful and it is a pain in the ass. But this guess work will be your best friend when it comes to extracting higher budgets for your clients as well. You just need to get them into the boat about this and argue that everything is possible if you are allowed to work towards the goals, run your first attempt as a hypothesis, then adapt your cam

#4. Don’t decide what to do, but what to do first

Use your gut to decide what first to say. Ie. from your benchmark studies, from the available data of user behavior that you have on your Facebook activity, your website, your Twitter and in your press room, use your gut to set out a Hypothesis on what to do next. Do NOT build a creative concept that will be the “end game of all games”, but decide on a creative concept that will take you one baby step further down the line.

a. Creativity and data

I think I have to discuss creativity in some more detail here in order to make sense. The current creative industry works with big ideas or solutions. In the case of data driven marketing strategies you have to think in terms of journeys or processes rather than campaigns. There is no such thing as a solution, or being done. There is simply a journey that will take you somewhere.

Your creativity should be focused on making the journey interesting. If you are not making it interesting enough you change. There is no room for pride or darlings in data driven marketing. You have to be willing to kill anything in your way to get the results you desire. You ALSO have to be able to take on old concepts and changes that didn’t previously work, if the data tells you that it is now time to use them again.

Data driven creativity is all about doing the small changes rather than finding the big ideas.

b. Communicating through data

One way of being “baby creative” is by thinking in terms of how to use changes in the data for communication purposes. Let’s use Loyalty as an example. If you get 10 000 members of a page, all users who were early in liking the page will feel rewarded if they know they were the first there. Being creative with this kind of data, your copy simply becomes “We want to celebrate the first 100 of our 10 000 members for believing us in the early days“.

This is a small thing, but a great example of how to use data creatively. Another example can be to reward every 5th customer with a certain behavior. “We reward every 5th customer with more than 100 USD in purchases this year“.

This is not creativity you might think? Well it is, only that it is creativity based on data. It is small, step by step approach, to communication. Yes there is a space for big campaigns still, just like a Sale in a store, but the day to day sales is more important in a store, just as the day to day communication is more important in the digital space.

c. Do anything your gut tells you

This is probably the most difficult thing to convey to a client. Well, except that there isn’t the need of a “big concept”. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start somewhere. What matters is the rate at which you move towards improving yourself. If you constantly improve yourself at a high rate, you will become more successful. You don’t need an ending, but you need a process. Do anything, change and implement. Change again and again. If you see improvement in the data, then adapt.

#5. Implement your Analytics

Now to some basics. Once you have set your goals, you have decided where to begin changing, then you should implement your analytics so that you can measure whether or not you are moving in the right direction. However, you should not only implement a metrics system. We as people are generally lazy and if you only implement analytics you will end up not checking in on them regularly enough. You should at least:

a. Set up your target pages metrics installation

This means on all pages. Your Facebook page as well as your landing page and start page of your website. You should have an end in mind, meaning that every page should have a desired goal attached to it. If that goal is a sales or if it is the click on a link or a desired time on the page, doesn’t matter. It should be implemented in the analytics tool and then continuously improved.

b. Set up reporting

You need to setup relevant reporting. This means that you should set up funnels from each traffic source. Yes, you can have bulk sinks that is called Other, but you must define your most important sources of traffic and then set up reporting thereafter. The dashboards shall NOT, I repeat, SHALL NOT, show you some fancy graphics with arrows if that is not EXACTLY what you need to do your job. Your reporting needs to be simple and give you answers if you are moving in a positive direction or not.

c. Set up notifications

You need notifications. If there is a drop or if there is some kind of unexpected, huge change, you need to be notified. This is for your comfort only, and most services offer this as a built in plugin. If you reach x or y rate of goals, then you will be notified.

d. Check up

Before you make a change, you need to have a procedure in place of how to check up on things and how to make changes so that you see if your changes made any improvement or not. Do not change before you know you can measure the rate of change.

Your strategy needs to deal with these issues just like they deal with an organization under normal circumstances.

#6. Optimize to meet your goals

Once you have your data sets in place you shall optimize along the way. Change copy, change images, change user interface, change your call to action, change your offer. Change, change, change, change until your poor head turns blue and your bank account green.

  • Changing your tactics – all the time
  • Changing your graphics – all the time
  • Changing your copy – all the time
  • Changing your product value proposition – all the time

So much for the change. You also need a space in your strategy to take care of such things as:

  • How to identify important users and what to do with them
  • How to diversify your product if the data gives you the opportunity to
  • Where you want to spend next christmas (yeah… you read this far you can take some nonsense)

But I will cover those subjects in other posts later on as they are all chapters in my coming book. I hope this post has inspired you in some way to have a look at data driven marketing. If not, then forget about it and look yourself in the mirror, cause that expensive creme you are using will be the last bucket you’ll afford. If you don’t start grasping this, you will get run over.

Cheers!

December 7, 2010

What is a Promoted Trend on Twitter?

Yes, I know my reaction is late, but what the heck does a “promoted trend” tell you about the trend? Seriously, the new Twitter interface is beautiful, however, their business peeps must be stuck in the banner ages of marketing. Twitter has all the potential of offering users to get a buck by sharing/distributing sponsored content at a CPC basis. This would be profitable for both influential tweeps as it would be an interesting business model for Twitter.

Rev.share is the way to go in social media as the users provide most of the valuable content out there. On Twitter this could be put on steroids by offering segmented “paid tweet” suggestions in the right hand side of your control. Ie. tweet this and get 0.1 dollar for each click it generates.

Instead, Twitter turns to this solution… which I really don’t understand. The promoted accounts are pretty straight forward. But what the heck does it mean if a trend is promoted? That it’s not really a trend, but someone is willing to pay for it to become a trend? Or, does it mean that this will never become a trend and so we have to pay for it to get any exposure at all. There must be so much to write about 4G that is compelling enough to attract some social and viral initiative. But no. Some marketing agency or department out there has spent time and money for this to happen.

I had to investigate further in order to find out how and for what reason Twitter thinks I should buy this wicked format from them.

Twitter writes on their page about promoted tweets:

Promoted Tweets from our advertising partners are called out at the top of some Twitter.com search results pages.

Promoted Tweets are clearly labeled as “Promoted” when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they exist initially as regular Tweets and are organically sent to the timelines of their followers. They also retain all the functionality of a regular Tweet including replying, Retweeting, and favoriting. Promoted Tweets are displayed in search in Twitter.com and some of our ecosystem partners, and in user timelines for some users in Hootsuite.com.

Fair enough. That text makes sense. Search results should probably generate a tweet on top of the search pile that is sponsored. They’ve got to earn a buck from something. So, I can accept the promoted account and the promoted search result. But I cannot for the world understand the placement amongst the trending hashtags.

I guess this is where my logic stops making sense out of stuff. Perhaps that’s why they are millionaires and I am a poor entrepreneur. It might work. I don’t know. I simply don’t understand the reasoning behind it.

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March 28, 2010

Carles Puyol is Who You should turn to for Advice on Social Media

There is something many people don’t assume about me. I am a hard core football (soccer/european football) fan. Perhaps not in the sense that I stay loyal to one team over a life time, but in the sense that I love the game. I watch as much football as my work schedule allows me to do. Even when I work I watch football on a second screen, or listen to it whilst I am writing. Right now I have football on when writing this.

The reason I love football is not so much about the sport itself, but it is because of the players. All those intriguing characters that assemble to form a team. The culture in the different teams is truly unique although the sport is all the same. Some teams got heart, some teams got skill, some teams got both and some teams just have fun. With all successful teams the one thing I’ve found is that they have endured their spirit or culture over time.

Take Barca as an example. They’ve had players like Stoitchkov, Cruyff, Eto & Laudrup who have all been true egos. The culture however has remained one that is quite sympathetic. Perhaps it is the symbiosis with the Katalan people that make up the complete club. Barca is owned by its fans. I am unsure, but the club has been incredibly successful. So has Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter, Ajax and many other clubs out there. What they all have in common is that they have stayed true to their idea of what football is over a long period of time.

My favorite player of all time is Carles Puyol. He is a defender, he is the guy that carries out those remarkable saves when the midfield and the forwards have not done their job properly up front. Carles looks like an 80’s rock star and he carries himself as though he was the reincarnation of Mussolini. To me, he is a hero, and if he would lead me into anything, I would probably follow.

In real life, I’ve found a couple of other people who think Carles Puyol is the best player in the world. Online I’ve found millions. And I guess somehow, this is what my post is all about. It is about my love to a game that helps me explain to myself why the clients I work for are doing the right thing when they are creating content that their fans appreciate.

In football teams they have understood this a long time ago. That’s why some teams sell even their best players as they know the spirit of the club is threatened by the mere existence of a star that walks a different path. Such was the sale of Eto from Barca to Inter. Companies that create splendid content for their website, but the content is not coherent to the business or the company core itself, well, that company do best in not publishing that content at all.

I think that we should look more at the loyalty of fooball fans when trying to assemble what we have to do in order to create loyalty for our own businesses. Every game is a game of football, yet, every game is unique. Every player has a set of skills, but they use it in a new way each game. Every game is played at a fixed time on a fixed day, yet weather conditions, audience and other exogenous factors vary every time.

The game of football has embraced this into the spirit of the game just as you should embrace the ever changing spirit of the online world into your business. You can play in a team with a fixed set of rules, but there will always be different situations where you have to adapt what you know into the given set and time in space. This is what companies have to learn when engaging in social media and this is what they must understand when building their businesses for the future.

I think a lot about my wasted years in school and how much I would have learned if I would have just been inspired to learn rather than taught what to think. I think my love for the game of football, and my infatuation with Carles Puyol is an expression of my admiration to those professionals who are able to meet every situation, regardless how new or how difficult, with a response, instantaneously. What if more businesses (cause yes, football is a business), could work the same way?

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February 1, 2010

Confessions from an Annoyed yet Modern SEO

Search Engine Optimization has been a part of the web since search became the most popular activity out there. Now people argue that SEO isn’t important anymore due to the emergence of the social web and the constant evolution of the web infrastructure and the possibilities that come with it. This is what I think.

You don’t need a Good SEO Anymore

But you need a great one. As some people have pointed out quite recently, the space for search engine manipulation is narrowing by the day. The cat is catching up to the mouse sort to say. Half ass bastards that sell you bad link packages will get busted. There will still be good link packages, but the “one thousand links in three months” will start to dwindle in worth. They might even hurt you even though they are domain links and not deep links with anchor texts.

Google is cracking down on shit right now and unaware SEO’s that keep to SEO strategies from 2004 will not be the one’s on top of the SERPs by the end of this year. The great SEO doing his or her job in 2010 needs to be able to optimize not only for Google, but for Twitter, for YouTube, for Picasa and flickr. The great SEO needs to be able to optimize for search in so many more places than previously required.

The days of the fast lane has passed. You can still cheat, but you actually need some skill to do it. You can’t just register 500 domains, hire 20 people from an underpaid country and then generate duplicates of Craigslist or Yahoo Directory. It only has limited results in comparison to other strategies, now it will work even less.

And even though you do not wish to cheat, the mere on page optimization is not enough. A 5 year old can optimize a website for the search engines these days. Out of the box solutions make most content optimized nowadays. You merely become one piece of content amongst many others. You actually have to understand your users, and appeal to them in order to make your on page optimization work.

This naturally brings me to the next topic of my blog post which is:

You don’t need Good Content Anymore

You need great content. And by great content I mean that you need rich content. With great content I mean content that a user can take a part, interpret and share. With great content I mean that if you have a product catalog you should not make into a product image a price and a product name. You need to describe why the parts of your content are the most relevant components to reflect on your product type out there.

With great content I also mean content that you can tell stories about today and tomorrow. Especially if you have seasoned products, reports or news that you want to rank. They need to have a story so that even basic stuff such that all the link love you earn from your season launch can be redirected to a landing page telling the story of the past to the future visitors. Or in technical terms, make a 301 for gods sake and make the new landing page relevant for the old campaign. Redirect with relevance!

With great content I most definitively mean that you need to focus on the user and not on your organization. Thus you need to, you HAVE to, invest in a good analytics tool. You need to understand how the user is using your website or online project and you need to be agile enough to adapt.

If you are running an informative website such as Wikipedia, then there is no better tool than Google Analytics. If you are running a sales driven website there is no better tool than Omniture Sitecatalyst and if you are running something inbetween then you have the option to choose. If you have a lot of money, then you have a lot more choices. If you have a little money, then you need to run Google Analytics regardless if they have the proper reporting or not.

You need to stop asking yourself why the users don’t do what you want them to, but ask yourself what you can do for the user to do what you agree upon. Then you absolutely NEED to keep your to your promise of that agreement.

Also, if you want people to link to you, then you also have to be available where people are when they are writing or when they are thinking to write something for the web. I would go so far to say that most of what is produced on the web is spontaneous as the social web grows. This means you have to be available closer to your customers every day life in order to be able to catch them in the fly sort to say.

You don’t need to build relationships anymore

You need to maintain important ones. And by maintaining I mean you have to build your web presence in a way that is consistent to your core customer groups. Mass SEO services bring you loads and loads of traffic. However, most of that traffic is highly irrelevant for your business purposes. You need to focus on bringing the relevant user to your website which requires that you spend more time on less content. Cause if you create great content that generate great links whilst listening to your users, then you should be pretty well off.

But as you know this will require new types of investments and costs on your behalf. Or really, all this requires is that you redistribute money from your outbound marketing budget to your inbound marketing budget. If you look in your data you know that out of 1o dollars you are spending 9 dollars on getting people to your website, whilst only spending 1 dollar on converting them when they get there. Redistribute budget – earn more!! (You might even do something about your 55% bounce rate whilst at it. “aaaawww…”)

This means that you in many cases will save money in some end. It is logical. If you give your customers what you’ve promised them and they want it again, there is no reason for them to go elsewhere right?

Well, it should be that way. Unfortunately it is not, because people are people, and they are irrational, non-trustworthy and adulterous bastards, really. Even though you do all you have promised them they still won’t come back if you don’t remind them that you kept your promise. Your competitor will be there to shove his/her offer into their ear and promise them wonderland on any opportunity you give them. Thus you need to keep your relationship with your customers fresh and vibrant.

The best way to do that is to keep track of them and keep contact with them – on a commercial level – through a standard CRM such as salesforce or Sugar CRM. This is not only the most cost reducing marketing activity out there, but it is also one of the best link building strategies ever.

What Authority do I have to say this?

I am not saying that marketing doesn’t work. I am a huge fan of TV, billboards, 100 by 11000 ft chocolate bars standing in a square or events that are truly remarkable. The problem I have with most current marketing strategies are that they disregard the power offline campaigns have on online search patterns and the advantages you can gain from search engine optimization.

If you don’t understand SEO, you don’t understand how to truly leverage the web. The web is about people, content and the links between them. You can apply many tactics and filters on top of these variables. You can have partial success in many different campaigns. In other words, you can be good. But until you understand the backbone of online sales and discovery you cannot become great.

All of the above are parts of great SEO practices. As long as we have above 2 billion plus searches conducted per day, those of you disregarding SEO are quite frankly quite dumb.