Thursday, September 29, 2011

63 Tweets for Marketing in the Fluid Fog

What do we do when everything is interactive and people are the media?

The view from a CMO's office must look quite hazy given the impact technology has had on the distribution and consumption of messages:  billboards now interact with cars as they drive past, we use a bar code reader to check reviews and prices while standing in front of a shelf, we seek out and trust the recommendations of people we don't know.   It seems that the traditional hope of a natural order to stimulus, consideration, purchase is actually quite messy. 

"Marketing in the Fluid Fog" is an attempt to understand the new reality and rethink basic marketing tenets.  Rather than create an essay on the topic I tried to identify a number of specific points that deserve discussion and consideration.  So, here are a series of statements - some broad, some specific -  each with a link to something I found interesting and on point – you'll find slideshares, research, blog posts, books, etc. 

Hope you enjoy the story....

1.    Consumers want to make the simple easy, not to make the complex possible.   TT
2.    The goals are simple; consumers ask for Convenience, Control & Connectivity. TT
3.    Everything is interactive; anything can activate a connection. TT
4.    While technology is reaching saturation, what we can do with it is still in its infancy. TT
5.    When the shifting sands of technology and consumer preferences collide any marketing plan is at risk. TT
6.    Media fragmentation accelerates the onset of planning paralysis; we stick with what we know. TT
7.    Content consumption habits are defined by device and place implying different intent. TT
8.    “Constant partial attention” requires us to be simultaneously consistent across channels. TT
9.    Channel implies boundaries yet digital content can morph and jump the banks. TT
10. Developing channel specific strategies raises the risk of failure; channels support a strategy. TT
11. Multi-channel vs. cross-channel misses the point – there will be no channels. TT
12. The smartphone accelerated the onset of channel blur; we need to think beyond integrated. TT
13. The location of the screen is becoming a good proxy for the location of the individual. TT
14. Publishing and facilitating a decision require different form factors and delivery strategies. TT
15. The funnel assumes logical progression thru a number of stages; reality isn’t linear at all. TT
16. The first step on the consumer journey can be from any message from any source. TT
17. Infinite paths to purchase exist with today's media and they are actually unknowable. TT
18. The time it takes for a person to decide is based on need state: latent, chronic or acute. TT
19. In the age of quantum marketing we think in terms of probability rather than cause and effect. TT
20. The closer to the decision point, more brands are in the consideration set – not less. TT
21. Too many product options freezes the brain; recommendations reduce the effects of hyper-choice. TT
22. The rank a brand has in a consumer’s mind predicts her share of wallet. TT
23. People make 3 brand decisions. Try, Repeat, and Make it a Habit.  Each deserves its own strategy. TT
24. There are no longer two moments of truth – shelf and experience - but any number of them. TT
25. People are the media so the message is theirs not ours. We are not sure what is said if anything. TT
26. CRM was right message, right person, right time. Social CRM is some message to someone at some time. TT
27. The next big thing will come from social technology not social media. That is constrained by revenue. TT
28. Content influences choice in different ways, but we’re not quite sure how nor are the academics. TT
29. Relevance is not relevant, interesting is, that is how the brain works. We share the unexpected. TT
30. We erected our own ozone layer or spam blocker to filter out unwanted messages. TT
31. To increase the odds of getting through we need to surround the consumer with interesting content. TT
32. People share content; just not on a brand site. Only 4% of social links are to corp sites. TT
33. Four types of content influence decisions: Emotional, Promotional, Informational and Communal TT
34. Emotional Content focuses on using the brand’s essence to satisfy needs or aspirations. TT
35. Promotional Content provides incentives, financial or other, to encourage action. TT
36. Informational Content lets us compare and contrast features to give a rational defense to a choice. TT
37. Communal Content helps deal with hyper-choice by relying on the opinions of others. TT
38. We need a framework that leverages content analytics to helps us plan better. TT
39. Content Marketing turns brands into publishers; a new and potentially dangerous role. TT
40.  And the content idea can go totally wrong - ask Ragu, Motin and Skittles.  TT
41. Media plans need to cover aircover to personal options, even if different agencies involved. TT
42. Radio was the first streaming content from the cloud – just needed to overcome technical issues. TT
43. Email is the new TV advert it takes tonnage to work and is easy to filter out. TT
44. TV is a large display device for new forms of interaction as well as defining a type of content. TT
45. Social commerce and social TV present new ways to think about the relationship with consumers. TT
46. We make 500 billion product impressions a year affecting a large portion of the economy. TT
47.  Recommendations from friends are like great advertising: Brutal Simple Truth TT
48. Social Internet minutes are way up; site minutes (and traffic) declining. TT
49. Liking a brand is not the same as having ‘Liked’ a brand. TT
50. There is no silver bullet for monetizing indirect, consumer-to-consumer activities. TT
51. If you insist on traffic then use a ‘share button’. Tweet if you have constant content FB if not. TT
52. The browser celebrated its 20th birthday this year; no wonder apps are the new kid on the block. TT
53. Mobile bar codes need standards and a use case better than coupons and serving up a site. TT
54. A customer sharing her email is a sign of connection and has financial impact. TT
55. Print outperforms email in terms of response rate and both are better still. TT
56. Without mass media viral would not be viral. TT
57. Word of mouth is mostly an urban myth – downline sharing is both rare and minimal. TT
58. Links shared on line have the half-life of a mayfly; they get half of their clicks in < 4 hours. TT
59. Just because you have data doesn’t mean you can measure.   TT
60. Digital measurement will look like media measurement – Gross Rating Points. TT
61. Goal of media research in 1948 was “who says what to whom in what channel with what effect”. TT
62.  Marketing and customer interaction mgt are not functional roles; they are business processes. TT
63. A new goal for marketing. Orchestrate content to help people choose. TT

I'm sure a number of points and good sources were missed - share them if you have one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Marketing's Two-headed Beast

What can we learn from Doctor Doolittle's trip to Africa?

After the good doctor  traveled to Africa to treat a monkey epidemic he was rewarded with a Pushmi-Pullyu - a two headed animal that tried to go in opposite directions whenever it tried to move.  (wiki)  

Uncoordinated activities sounds a bit like marketing sometimes - consumers headed in one direction and marketers in another, even though they are often trying to achieve the same objective of satisfying a need.  

Marketers have historically been accused of to much "push(to)me" and in response we shifted to preferring to "pull(from)you" and thus taking control.   Yet in marketing, as in the story, at different points in time one head wins out over the other.   Awareness and interest-rising marketing are definitely pushmi strategies, even if done by sharing and recommendations from others.   Similarly, search and informational retrieval are clear examples of pullyu strategies.  

Social technology sits somewhere in between.   As a media it can be used to effectively leverage human interaction to convey a message (push).   As a network it can be used to facilitate engagement (pull) by offering content and interaction not possible by other forms of communication. 

It seems that in this case two heads are better than one.

PS:  This thought came to me watching an AMA webinar on location-based marketing. 

Sharing of Interesting Stuff

What do people share?

AOL recently published a report entitled "Content is the Fuel of the Social Web" that provides some interesting figures on what is shared.   It should be no surprise that content is shared, but the one fact that did surprise me was that of the links shared in social posts only 4% were to a brand or corporate website.   Published and embedded content garner the vast majority of links.

So, what does this mean.  Some thoughts....
  1. Web sites are not destinations; they are hosting or jumping off platforms. 
  2. Corporate content, written by committee, probably isn't perceived as interesting or trustworthy.
  3. The purpose of advertising, particularly online, needs to be rethought.  
  4. Link strategy just got a whole lot more interesting, as did analysis.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Case for Direct Mail

Why would anyone still use direct mail when email is cheap and plentiful?

The following is an outgrowth of a Q&A session about our business where it was suggested by some that ‘we didn’t get it’ because we discussed direct mail.    

Our clients chose to use direct mail for one or more of the following reasons:
  1. Not everyone has or provided an email address – it is typical to see 30% or less  – meaning an email only strategy would leave millions of customers out of the loop.   For one CMO, this would exclude just under 50% of her “Best” customers.
  2. Some communications, like immunization reminders, are required to be sent to all customers.
  3. Print response rates are higher than email; and using both together is synergistic resulting in higher rates still.  This makes the absolute incremental financial return greater, even if ROI as a percentage is lower.
  4. Certain campaigns need the branding, imagery that only print (and TV) can deliver.   Announcing a new look that reflects a brand’s essence requires impact.  Even saying ‘thank you’ has more impact in a note than a text.
  5. Digital direct-to-consumer communication requires them to have taking the first step of opting in or activating the communication.   For acquisition programs better and less regulated prospecting lists are available for direct mail than email.
To be clear, I am not advocating that email has no value – it clearly does.  In fact, the mere presence of it on a customer record can be used as a financial measure of brand engagement.   An analysis of a direct mail only campaign broken out by those with vs. those without an email address showed that those who had provided one were more likely to respond as well as spend more.   So collect them, use them – but don't be lulled into a false sense of security because 'blasting is cheap' or it will end up like TV – easy to filter out. 

Technology continues to change the marketing landscape; simple ideas like QR codes have eroded the boundaries between direct mail and digital information.  Imagine being able to enable near field communications (NFC) in printed pieces. This would allow us to go from a fully tactile experience to purchase or information without ever involving 'the Internet.'   Been done with posters already; direct mail can't be far behind as technology costs fall. 

An implication of ZMOT is that we shouldn't be leading with channel specific thinking at all but rather a holistic or 'job to be done' approach.  Targeted contact, either direct mail or email from brand or retailer, remains a good method for getting a product into the consideration set in the first place.  Such 'stimuli’ (advertising, targeted communications) are used by consumers 76% of the time and ‘ZMOT’ activities (search, social, share) are used 84% of the time meaning that it isn’t an ‘either or’ scenario of direct communication vs. social interaction but one of simultaneously leveraging both forms.

All this leads us to a new generation of direct-to-consumer challenges:
  • How do we follow and facilitate the path to purchase after we communicate? 
  • How do we ensure consistency across all possible touch points when we use heavily personalized and customized messages?
  • Since content helps consumers choose, what is the financial impact of different types of content?
For example of something concrete we're wrestling with.   We know consumers search for information about new products, so how do we coordinate our search strategy with the timing of product announcements?   Why couldn't we add 'ad groups' to our campaign management system as a channel?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Custom vs. Personal Communication

Is there a difference between the two?

In several marketing disciplines we talk about personalization - email and direct mail uses it to demonstrate relevance in order to improve response rate.  In others we talk about customized experiences and paths to purchase, particularly to drive conversion in e-commerce. 

One distinction common in web design is that personalization is inferred, e.g. product recommendations, while customization is explicit, e.g. product configurations. 

But in database marketing it is clear that "Dear FirstName" is definitely meant to be personal and it is hopefully not inferred.   So, we're still left answering the original question or concluding it is simply semantics.  Here's my take on the difference between the two types of elements in a communication piece:
  • Personal:  those that a recipient will clearly relate to as individual to them.
  • Custom: those that the marketer deems appropriate for the recipient.  
Think: "That's me alright." vs. "I think you should get this."

Personal content is driven by what we know about a customer - usually sourced from transaction and contact history.  Custom content is driven by the application of business rules, budgets and priorities to segments of consumers thru a variety of marketing tools such as media, offers and messaging.  For example in a simple Thank You campaign, High Value customers might get one message in a letter while Strugglers another in an email; Loyal customers could get more stories while First Timers get offers for accessories. 

So, consider the construction and mapping of a communication to a pet owner who visits a clinic regularly.   We need the ability to allocate both types of elements to various sections of real estate on a variety of form factors - letter, email, postcard, Facebook page and landing page. 
  • Personal Elements: name, picture of pet's breed (if not the pet), usual clinic location and hours.
  • Custom Elements: treatment plans, partner offers, coupons
To achieve that type of coordination requires the ability to link templates and content across channels that leverage the same assets and business rules.  Hopefully, the result would be consistent communication regardless of how the consumer reads it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recent Retail Trends

What is happening in CMO's planning room?

In this post, the focus is on retail; some recent conclusions, trends and factoids.     Not only does the concept of channel continue to erode as companies focus on satisfying the consumer through out the entire process but the blending of budgets is likely to accelerate. 

  • Shopper Marketing – influence at the time of purchase – gaining exposure and budget, at the expense of paid media and other promotions.  Booz & Company  The point of purchase is a moving target. 
  • Online research increases satisfaction for kitchen appliances.    JD Power via MediaPost.  
  • "emotions account for more than half of the typical consumer experience" - in article on the demise of Customer Experience Management because mgt doesn't get it.   From Marketing Daily
  • "Off is the new On" -  "the online world is now completely accessible even when ‘offline’ (that is, away from any kind of online device that is too clunky to be used on the go). For consumers, this is a cause for celebration: because while they want (if not crave) to be online 24/7 (ONLINE OXYGEN), they still prefer to live in the world of warm bodies rather than cyberspace (please re-read MASS MINGLING)."   From TrendWatching.      Good stats in the September briefing. 
  • Retail trends in a long preso on slideshare from Noesis.  
  • In the not too early to be thinking category – mobile trends for 2011 holiday shopping.   Estimated that 44% of last minute searches will be on a mobile device.   From Online Image
  • Cross-functional, integrated and experience – the three trends in Q4 from serial CMO Lisa Arthur in Forbes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Email is the New TV, Only Slightly Different

How should we view email?

TV advertising is efficient because of its tremendous reach yielding a competitive CPM and it still captures a substantial portion of the overall advertising budget. What it lacks is a high degree of targeting and interaction and thus is accused of being one-way. It often takes tonnage to get thru our personal ozone layer which in turn is often interpreted as shouting.

As a channel, email is running into some of the same challenges. By the time you work through open rates and click thru figures there isn't much room for effectiveness left. Because the price of an 'eblast' (another term I despise) is seductively low it is tempting to mail everyone possible as often as possible. I now divert all newsletter, corporate, etc. email to a dedicated address that I don't have on my phone - can't be bothered. This spray and pray model sounds an awful like broadcasting - a term some EMS providers actually use - and at 247 billion emails a day it is a reality. 

Add to the mix that email is about as interactive as a cable TV network and you quickly move to the smartphone for something better. The limitations on rendering and content almost create an orphaned technology; maybe this is why the new generation doesn't use it much as those of us who were weaned on it. And the final straw is that to keep the cost down the level of personalization is almost at the level of the gratuitous.  So what if you know my name....

Email does have value that we can't figure out yet with TV. The mere presence of an email address on file for a customer is often an indicator of their value. For instance a recent analysis of a customer's direct mail program showed that customers with an email, even though not used at all in the selection or communication process, was worth $7.00 on the transaction. This figure was derived from the two key metrics - response rate and value per transaction - both of which were higher for those with an email than those without.  

So, all is not lost - but maybe we should be rethinking our use of email.  Maybe we need to think like media planers and report TRPs along with our flights of engagement.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cross-Channel and Multichannel: Are they different?

Should we publish or facilitate a path?

There seems to be a distinction between multichannel and cross-channel, at least in terms of vendor and industry analyst points of view.   There is the Magic Quadrant for CRM Multichannel Campaign Management from Gartner and the Trends in Cross-Channel Campaign Management from Forrester. They both talk about a common set of vendors. 

There is another possible distinction, that might be useful: publication versus path.
  • Multichannel can be thought of in publishing sense - the same, or coordinated, content is distributed simultaneously across appropriate outlets.
  • Cross-Channel can be thought of as the sequence of touch points as consumer traverses their path to purchase. 
Although I'm beginning to think that the concept of 'channel' itself is limiting.  In its place, the ideas of 'surround with interest' and 'facilitate choice' are emerging as the focus of planning exercises.  

Multichannel Breadcrumbs Tell Us How, but Not Why

Is attribution across touch points worth pursuing?

In several recent conversations the idea of understanding the impact of different channels on consumer behavior has risen to the surface but with no clear solution.   Obviously it is hard to do or it would have been done the week after the first multichannel campaign launched.   And the usual culprit is the lack of integration of data as noted in the Forrester thread on the topic earlier this year.   

But what if by some miracle we didn't have organizational and technical silos?  The question remains as to its utility of such integration and how it should be approached.  We should probably care more about why a customer made a particular decision than how they traversed the message landscape to get there.   While "gee, I read this on email, saw an advert, and played with a game before I browsed the shoe section and then bought a book" might be interesting from a delivery point of view it doesn't help us understand why our brand or solution satisfies their need.  If we don't understand what message resonated and why then we're left with a series of breadcrumbs.  

When we can solve the integration problem we will likely turn our attention to what content they consumed - was it emotional or promotional?   Was it informational or communal?  The how part will suddenly become less interesting than the what or why parts in a world where everything is interconnected, information changes as it flows and people are the media.  Because multichannel and cross channel are distribution, publication and media constructs they don't quite reflect the consumer's point of view - they are simply tools at our disposal to help people choose.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Turning Multichannel into a Destination Matrix

What do I have against 'multichannel' marketing?

Nothing really, other than the phrase reinforces old ways of thinking.
  1. Multichannel is a corporate term, not a consumer term. It grew out of the need to coordinate across existing organizational functions and/or technology stacks.
  2. By definition the term channel implies boundaries, containment; but given our objective of getting people to engage/transact the last thing we want to do is to constrain the flow of content.
  3. It is one-dimensional - email vs. social.   It fails to capture the new reality that consumption and intent is affected as much by device used as the channel.   
Earlier I had written about 'channel blur' which I described as the result of everything being interactive.  So, what do we replace 'multichannel' with? We probably can't just throw our hands up and say, well since we don't know let's just do it all (or nothing).

When planning campaigns we often think in terms of objectives - what do we want consumers to think or do?  And how can we make it easy for them to accomplish that?   In the world of direct-to-consumer I've begun to think in terms of a destination matrix - a grid of place and device.   Place consists of the types of, dare I say it, channels - social, email, web, while device covers mobile, tablet and computer in the digital realm.    This provides an overarching view of a campaign and allows us to ask the questions - is this the right form factor for this content? is it easy to move around the matrix? are we missing opportunities? 

Maybe I should think in terms of 'consumption' rather than 'destination' - that would be more consumer-like.

UPDATE: actually, both the destination and consumption models are needed.   The first defines what we as marketers intended the latter identifies what consumers actually did.  The difference would make for some interesting discussions. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Mayflies Live on the Internet

How long does a link last?

It turns out that new links published in social media have a similar life span to the Blue Wing Olive.  Links receive half the clicks they'll ever get within hours.

An adult mayfly lives for 30 minutes to a day depending on species; have non-working mouths and a digestive track filled with air.  They have one purpose..... but this is a marketing blog. 


NYT recently highlighted some research on the window of time during which clicks occur for a new link posted in various places.  Here's the chart....

For Twitter and Facebook half the clicks will happen in around 3 hours (left peaks) ; for YouTube it is 7 hours (middle bump).  

At a Social Commerce Exchange meeting yesterday @DrewConrad presented some figures of what he has found at Zagg.   The first five hour figures of their  12 Days of Christmas and iPad-a-Day promotions confirm this type of trend - 35-40% of the new fans came in the first week of the six weeks reported.  

So, what do I take the implications of this to is like fly fishing. 
  1. We need to be constantly coming up with ways to produce interest - meetings and approval should be kept to an absolute minimum.  If a fly isn't working, I change it - if a link doesn't produce in a day, put out a new one.    If does work, put it someplace else. 
  2. The attention span impacts the lifespan - YouTubers are likely more captivated by the surrounding content and not the flow itself.   I need to make more of an impact in fast moving water so will use an attractor - the streaming nature of Twitter and Facebook suggest the same need for stimulating, high impact links.   In calm water, where there is more dwell time I'll use a more natural fly - something similar might work in YouTube.
  3. Analysis time period of a link is daily; analysis of campaigns is longer, but done in the aggregate.  Looking at one link over a long period of time doesn't make sense.   Success at fishing is measured over the long term, not an individual cast.   
We've always known links work - we get the reports, but this suggests we have to think about constantly changing them up to create a continuous sense of interest.  This is very different than the traditional view of brand marketing which tries to get at the sustainable, long term essence.