The best marketing investment you’ll make all year

In conversation after conversation with marketing directors and CMOs I keep reaching the same conclusion: our efforts at skill building are woefully inadequate to keep up with the pace of customer change.

There are two factors at play here:

  1. Senior marketers remain risk averse so pursue conservative strategies
  2. Junior marketers willing to work with and adapt new approaches are hobbled by the strategic frameworks and their skills degrade.

Unfortunately for marketers, our customers are more agile than ever, readily adopting and consuming new models of engagement, interaction and purchase. Just think about retail disruption and the way new entrants like Zara have been able to swan into our landmark locations and capture new and existing markets while the dinosaurs of Australian retail cut costs, flounder online and bark about GST and an unfair playing field.

The same can be said of media. Platforms like Junkee and the Guardian have flown in the face of a struggling media sector, out performing traditional mastheads right at the time that it seemed that the Media market was imploding.

When you take your eye off the customer ball, you open the door of opportunity to those with a more nimble business model.

In many ways, customers are like water – they follow the path of least resistance, and the simple fact is, our outmoded channel, contact and conversion paths are resolutely locked in a bygone era circa 2005.

On the positive side, there’s never been a better time to invest in both marketing and marketing skills – for both are the engines of innovation and growth in a customer-centric world.

Let’s see what this might mean.

Marketing is digitally determined but strategy is still king
If budget (and privacy) was no option, we could conceivably track, measure and optimise every customer interaction. But would this quantifiable improve our marketing? Would it make our customers more likely to buy, buy more often, or recommend us?

One of my favourite sayings is “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. And this applies now more than ever. While digital has transformed the work, methods and metrics of marketers, choosing what to do and when should not always be ceded to algorithms. Strategy is a vital part of your brand and its experience and marketers should be make use of the digital domain to inform decisions, not make them.

Use social signals and analytics to inform strategy
While the term “big data” is often heralded as the answer to every marketer’s dream, it’s often surprising how well we can use “small data” to radically transform our customers experience. At various stages of the buying journey, our customers will often consciously or inadvertently reveal their intentions. They may tweet about an issue or interest in a new product. They may share interesting new offers that appear in their Facebook timeline. Or they may even photograph and geotag a product they see in a shop or online using Instagram.

Moreover, they may also tag – and by tag, I mean recommend, a product to a friend. This could be a simple tag where a friend is notified by name or ID. Or it could vine with a warm recommendation, like “you’ll love this, Gavin”.

These social signals may be too inconsequential to warrant direct engagement, but at scale, could denote the first stages of a trend or an opportunity to “go viral”. The only way to know this is happening is to incorporate social analytics into your marketing business process. In doing so, it will bring you one step closer to your customer.

Automating for frictionless brand experience
Social analytics also provide vital insight into your customers’ journey. With even a small amount of journey mapping and data analysis, you’ll soon learn of the various friction points across various touch points. And where those friction points exist, marketing automation can be used to overcome or avoid that friction.

It could be as simple as sending an in-app message, email or text message to pre-empt a problem or offer a workaround. It could be that an abandoned online shopping cart triggers a follow up from your call centre. There are many scenarios, but all should be designed to provide a value add to your customer.

The common thread linking your brand and your customer is bound up in experience. Our increasing use of technology takes us part of the way, but the foundation of strategy, creativity and tech know-how that must be in the DNA of the modern marketer is what allows it to flourish. And that means investing, nurturing and growing your team and their capabilities. In fact, skills may be the best marketing investment you’ll make all year.

Australian Marketers Rock Up to the Marketo Rockstar Tour

If marketing technology vendors had doubted Australian marketers’ hunger for innovation, then the recent turnout to the Marketo Rockstar Tour laid those doubts to rest.

Stretching out of the main bar at Sydney’s Establishment Hotel and down George Street, a queue of 300 or so patiently made their way to the upstairs ballroom to learn about Marketo’s software as a service based marketing automation platform. Punctuated with case studies, driving rock music, audience questions and a keynote from founder Phil Fernandez, it was a glitzy launch with plenty of substance. Follow along with the tweetstream below.


Listening, Watching, Analysing with Jugnoo

jugnoo-vibewire Danny Brown, VP of social CRM vendor, Jugnoo, writes one of the most useful social media focused blogs on the planet. He regularly takes on the hard topics and delves deep into the underlying behaviours to reveal the context in ways that we mere mortals can understand. So when he starts talking about visualising social media, my ears prick up.

Releasing their Tweet Visualyzer into free beta, it allows you to impose visual order on the chaos of Tweetstream. You can divide up your reporting across seven functions:

  • What – is everyone talking about
  • When – did they say it
  • Who – is involved and who started it all
  • Word – how did they say it
  • How – did they send their message (client, web, platform)
  • Group – are there self-forming conversations and who is in them
  • Tag cloud – what are the keywords around your topic or brand

I thought I’d take it for a quick spin – and run the #fastBREAK hashtag through. fastBREAK is the regular monthly innovators event run by Vibewire and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney – and we get quite a strong tweetstream running thanks to a connected and passionate audience. Last month’s topic was “lies” (read a review here) which clustered a lot of conversation according to the graph above.

Recommendation But my favourite view of the data comes with the Group tab. Here you get to see the people/accounts who are conversing on the same topic. It lets you see some of the social dimension of the conversation – to see what is common, what is retweeted and from this, what is resonating.

Of course, this is just a reporting tool – it lets you listen and watch. The analysis and thinking you will have to do yourself. But just wait until it’s integrated into Jugnoo’s social CRM platform. That’s when it could all get interesting.

What do you think? Something you’d use?

Inbound Marketing for CMOs

One of the benefits of the rise of digital marketing has been the abundance of analytics. No longer do we need to rely on what people “say” they are going to do or “would do” in a certain brand scenario. With the right tools in place we can actually observe their real time behaviour. We can see how customers arrive into our sales/business process, where they spend their time and where they reach a decision point – to convert or not.

We can even go further. With a mobile and/or social layer integrated into our digital business process, we can remove barriers, accelerate the movement from one part of the sales process to the next and close the loop on the customer feedback and advocacy. Perhaps most importantly, however, the real innovation is happening in the way that the marketing funnel has been inverted. These days, it’s not about creating awareness and outreach but about creating a centre of gravity that draws your customers to your business.

But many businesses fail to grasp the opportunity. Especially in retail.

This neat infographic from the Marketo folks provides a handy snapshot for marketers, explaining how traditional and “inbound” marketing differs. And once you see the opportunity, check out the Sticky 360 degree approach. It may just be the solution you need to your inbound marketing challenges.

The-CMO-Guide-to-Inbound-Mktg3

The Future of Markets

A couple of times each year, about 4000 marketers at Fortune 1000 and Forbes Top 200 companies are surveyed about the future. This is the sixth in the series from CMOsurvey.org.

What’s encouraging to see is improvements in key business areas, including:

  • Overall optimism about the economy (while focused on the US economy, there are obvious flow-on effects for Australia and the rest of the world)
  • Customer interactions, including higher purchase volumes and better customer retention, are expected to improve
  • Broad financial and marketing KPIs are on the rise – indicating business confidence doesn’t just sit with marketing and brand
  • Marketers themselves will be in-demand with CMOs expecting to grow their teams by up to 50%

The report is very broad – which is great – but it means you will need to spend some time reading through and applying the data to your business. Think through your own strategic planning for 2011. Where are the correlations? Where are the differences? Why do they occur? Check, for example, slide 14 which investigates the top three reasons for growth strategy and see how closely they correspond to your own. Is there something you are missing? Is there something you can add to the execution of your marketing program this year? Can social media amplify this?

Most importantly, think about how your markets – your customers, partners, suppliers and other stakeholders – are moving. What are their futures. Use this information to make sure that those futures all intersect!

Using Su.pr to Find the Best Time to Tweet

I can remember years ago, being obsessed with email marketing metrics. I loved experimenting with email blasts to see what would work – from subject lines and call to action messaging right through to the time of sending. And it was this last one – the time of sending that really made a difference. Sometimes the open rate would double within a 20 minute window (and the same with clickthroughs).

But what about tweeting? Is there an optimum time for sharing a message or a link?

A su.pr way of distributing and measuring your tweets

StumbleUpon is one of those social media platforms that have been constantly hovering in my consciousness for years, but it never really captured my imagination. Occasionally it would remind me of its presence with an avalanche of traffic hitting my blog after a well timed “stumble” from some generous soul, but it never made it into my arsenal of social media tools. Until now.

supr-clicks StumbleUpon is a social network that allows its members to rate and review websites. The underlying social network, recommendation engine and tags allow us to easily discover content that matches our own interests and tastes, and to share it with others who share similar interests. It uses the simple “thumbs up / thumbs down” mechanism and can bring your website to its knees if a well-connected SU member rates you well.

But like many people, I have been using Twitter for this sort of interaction and recommendation. Bit.ly – or sometimes Hootsuite – are my Twitter tools of choice to shorten long URLs and to provide metrics on clickthroughs. But what I really needed was a way to know WHEN to tweet. I didn’t just want analytics, I wanted insight. That’s where StumbleUpon’s su.pr comes in.

Su.pr combines the URL shortening and funky reporting of Bit.ly with the added depth of StumbleUpon. So now I can share a link with Twitter and ALSO share it with StumbleUpon. And in a relatively short period of time (even a few days), I have been able determine when the most effective tweeting times are.

supr-postingTimes

As you can see, the two most effective times appear to be just before 7am and just before 5pm. That means just before most people get to work and just as they are finishing up for the day (in Australia). The 7am tweets also correspond nicely with the afternoon on the west coast of the USA.

And I know this after using su.pr for just under a week. As more data is gathered, I am sure these suggested posting times will shift. But thus far I have been super impressed.

There is plenty more to learn about su.pr – and you can certainly dig down deeper into individual posts. But there’s also much you can do with StumbleUpon such as reviewing sites and building your connections.

But what are you waiting for? If you haven’t joined su.pr, do so. Install the bookmarklet to make link sharing easier, and connect up your Twitter account. Oh, and don’t forget to share this link and vote me up 😉

The State of the Internet in Australia – one size doesn’t fit all

It is rare to see Australia-specific internet usage statistics freely available, but ComScore have released a grab-bag of aggregated data that you can use to impress your boss, your client or your nerdy partner. Sure you have to register before you download, but it’s well worth it.

The data is for November or December 2010 and includes:

  • An in-depth analysis of the online audience in Australia and how we compare to other countries
  • Overview of key trends in use of social networks (we are loving photos and shifting away from instant messaging)
  • Retail has grown year-on-year and we DON’T always go to offshore sites for ecommerce
  • Travel planning continues to grow strongly – with the Qantas website leading the way
  • We may like to visit entertainment/video sites, but we consume less than our global counterparts. Expect this to change as the NBN amps up our download speeds

One aspect that surprised me, is that our consumption and usage of finance and business sites is growing and at 52.1% has higher reach than the worldwide average (which sits at 45.2%). It’s a wonder that we are NOT seeing more innovation on these corporate/finance sites given such usage.

comscoreOz2011There’s some great information for marketers in the report – so do download it.

The one thing that is clear is the correlation between heavy web users and what they do online. The top 20% of web users consume 61% of online page views and 61% of all time (minutes) spent online. This means that you need to DESIGN your digital strategy around these behaviours (and activities) in ways that activate and engage these audiences in quite different ways and in different places. It’s not a one-size-fits-all world anymore.

The Value of an Existing Customer

Now, I am feeling more than a little jaded about the rash of infographics that clog the social media airwaves these days. And it seems that I am not alone. But occasionally I find one that tickles my fancy.

This one by the Flowtown folks reminds us just how important our existing customers really are (and how much it costs to replace them).

So, here’s an interesting question for you – are you using social media to service your existing customers, or just to acquire more for your funnel? If you want an ROI for your social media efforts, then this infographic could well make or break your business case. Food for thought, huh?

The Value of an Existing Customer
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Top 50 of the Top 150 Social Media Marketing Blogs

I was off exploring regional NSW when then list was published, but if you are looking for a good, solid understanding of social media and digital marketing, then ecairn’s list of the Top 150 Social Media Marketing Blogs will keep you entertained for months! Any one of these blogs will provide you with a wealth of knowledge and practical advice.

I am a particular fan of the metrics that ecairn use to determine rankings (not least because I fare so well), but because my own interests are also served by those that are ranked well by their metrics. Be sure to check out the ecairn blog for the complete list of 150 blogs. The top 50 are below.

Rank

Name

Url

Trend

Move

1

Chris Brogan

http://www.chrisbrogan.com

UP

0

2

Jeremiah Owyang

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog

UP

0

3

Brian Solis

http://www.briansolis.com

UP

0

4

Social Media Explorer

http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com

UP

3

5

Seth’s Blog

http://sethgodin.typepad.com

UP

0

6

Conversation Agent

http://www.conversationagent.com

UP

0

7

Logic+Emotion

http://darmano.typepad.com

DOWN

-3

8

PR-Squared

http://www.pr-squared.com

UP

0

9

Online Marketing

http://www.toprankblog.com

UP

1

10

Jaffe Juice

http://www.jaffejuice.com

UP

9

11

Social Media Strategy

http://www.convinceandconvert.com

UP

25

12

Scobleizer

http://www.scobleizer.com

DOWN

-3

13

Shel Holtz

http://blog.holtz.com

UP

2

14

CopyBlogger

http://www.copyblogger.com

   

15

SocialMediaExaminer

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

UP

60

16

Social Media Today

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC

UP

4

17

Web Ink Now

http://www.webinknow.com

UP

0

18

MarketingProfs Daily Fix

http://www.mpdailyfix.com

DOWN

-4

19

Internet Marketing

http://blog.hubspot.com

UP

18

20

Search Engine Land

http://www.searchengineland.com

DOWN

-4

21

Ducttape Marketing

http://www.ducttapemarketing.com

UP

0

22

MarketingProfs

http://www.marketingprofs.com

DOWN

-11

23

Altitude Branding

http://www.altitudebranding.com

   

24

BuzzMachine

http://www.buzzmachine.com

DOWN

-11

25

Micro Persuasion

http://www.micropersuasion.com

DOWN

-13

26

SocialMediaMarketing

http://www.scottmonty.com

DOWN

-1

27

Steve Rubel Stream

http://www.steverubel.com

DOWN

-1

28

The Viral Garden

http://moblogsmoproblems.blogspot.com

DOWN

-10

29

Drew McLellan

http://drewsmarketingminute.com

UP

0

30

How to Change the World

http://blog.guykawasaki.com

DOWN

-7

31

Dave Fleet

http://www.davefleet.com

UP

8

32

ProBlogger

http://www.problogger.net

DOWN

-4

33

Personal Branding

http://personalbrandingblog.com

UP

34

34

The Buzz Bin

http://www.livingstonbuzz.com

DOWN

-4

35

Internet Marketing News

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com

UP

0

36

Harte of Marketing

http://theharteofmarketing.com

UP

6

37

B.L. Ochman

http://www.whatsnextblog.com

DOWN

-6

38

Peter Kim

http://www.beingpeterkim.com

DOWN

-14

39

Greg Verdino

http://gregverdino.typepad.com

DOWN

-6

40

Liz Strauss

http://www.successful-blog.com

   

41

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com

UP

9

42

Communication Overtones

http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com

DOWN

-8

43

SmartBlog

http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia

UP

40

44

Brand Builder

http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com

DOWN

-6

45

Servant of Chaos

http://www.servantofchaos.com

UP

13

46

SocialTimes.com

http://www.socialtimes.com

UP

315

47

Social Media Club

http://www.socialmediaclub.org

UP

1

48

Influential Marketing

http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com

DOWN

-1

49

Danny Brown

http://www.dannybrown.me

UP

54

50

Bad Pitch

http://badpitch.blogspot.com

DOWN

-5

How Big Brands Do Facebook Marketing

It is not uncommon for brand managers and marketing directors to think only of Facebook when discussing social media. Sure, Facebook continues to grow (and maintain) it’s dominance on the web, but there are a plethora of other useful sites and platforms that may be more useful for your brand.

But if you ARE one of those who are actively pursuing Facebook as part of your social engagement strategy, you will be interested in the following presentation. Created by the folks from Webtrends, it provides a quick overview of the aggregated statistics, but then moves into the differing approaches that you need to take for a socially-driven campaign. Rather than working with the standard marketing funnel, they suggest that you work with a campaign cycle. And while this applies to Facebook, the same framework can easily be applied to any campaign (yes even a traditional ATL campaign).

There is a section on how Webtrends can be used in conjunction with your Facebook apps and pages, some tips on getting started and some things that you should avoid.

My experience reinforces the findings. Facebook ads have been spectacularly useful and can be minutely targeted. It requires a little more strategic thinking, and creative effort, but can generate significant results. Combine that with some smart apps or page widgets and you’ll be amazed at what can be achieved. Oh, and one other point – give yourself enough time to allow the network to grow and generate results.

How the Big Brands do Facebook Marketing

View more presentations from Webtrends.