I talk a lot about the ROI of social and digital media. I can produce all sorts of amazing figures, graphs and examples of how we've measured online media and the results. Awesome. Good for the internets.
But a lot of times you can NOT measure the direct result of social media. I've talked about this before, but now I have the perfect example. Last weekend, my wife and I decided to have a little "staycation" in Dallas since we were visiting for a wedding shower.
I started to think where we could stay and I really wanted a great pool. I ended up booking a room at the Omni Hotel in Dallas. Being the over-analyzing, advertising nerd that I am, I decided to retrace my steps as to why I picked the Omni.
It all boiled down to this Instagram:
You may be asking yourself, "Chip, what are you smoking?! That's not even a picture of the Dallas pool!!!" Correctomundo. That's exactly the point. I saw this photo several days before we even decided to get a room. When we decided to stay at a hotel, the first place I thought of was the Omni in Dallas.
Had I seen a picture of their pool? No, but I remembered there was an Omni in Dallas and I knew they always had great pools. I decided to see what deal I could get and looked on TripAdvisor and OmniHotels.com. After looking a couple other hotels, I ultimately decided the Omni would be the perfect place.
Now, can Omni Hotels track the purchase of my room to the view of a photo on Instagram? No way, Jose. Can they track it because I clicked on a link from Instagram? Nope, you can't even have clickable links on Instagram (at the time of this writing). There is no way for Omni to track this. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
So was there value in their social media? You bet. Were they able to measure it? With the exception of this blog post, there would be no way to measure it.
Social media is becoming a bit more like TV, in many ways. When you go to the store, you don't know why you want Mio instead of liquid Kool-Aide, but you do. You forgot the ad you saw 26 times in the past three weeks. Obviously, us marketers track this whenever we can (for example, does a larger TV media buy result in more sales?), but we don't know if spending $1,000 in TV will result in $2,000 more sales.
Tracking and measurement is always improving. I wouldn't be surprised if, in three years, Omni is able to track the purchase as a "view-through" conversion (the technology exists, but it is not used by Instagram today).
The morale of the story? Just because you can track so many different metrics does not mean that you are really tracking everything.
Imagine being able to walk into a store and when you open the door, the exact item you were looking for is right in front of you. Wouldn't that be nice? No more hunting, searching, asking someone, trying to find the right size or just leaving in frustration when you can't find what you're looking for.
Online can be that easy. For example, when someone is looking for Widget X using Google, advertisers can send them to a landing page that talks just about Widget X. No need to tell people about all of the other unrelated widgets, just send them directly to the one they are looking for and tell them everything they need to know about Widget X.
However, many marketers are still sending ads to the homepage -- and people are bouncing (the online version of just leaving the store in frustration). Think of it this way: your homepage is the entrance to a store, while a landing page is a whole department around the one thing (product or service) that a visitor is looking for. Which would you choose? Done well, a landing page helps people find what want and helps you sell more.
Here are some tips to help you get it right:
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you are buying any sort of online ads, you have some context into what they are looking for. Think about what YOU would like to see.
Make sure your landing page is a logical extension of the ad/search result that's directing people there. Don't try to bait and switch people with a landing page that sells something other than what they're looking for.
Track, track, track. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on the landing page with goals set up.
Remember the "inverted pyramid" style of writing: put the most important facts at the top of the page and more details below. Make sure the visitor can get the basics at the beginning.
Make sure you have a strong, clear call to action: If you are selling a product, make sure the visitor can, at least, add the item to their cart. If you're generating leads, make the form easy to use.
Another note on forms: Make sure you ask for the bare minimum information you need to qualify them. People are wary of giving their information, and it's better to have too many unqualified leads than no leads at all (I'm looking at you, landing pages that ask for my social security number).
Incorporate security seals, third-party validation, testimonials and no-spam promises to ensure that the visitor can trust you.
Limit the navigation to other pages on the site. Don't trap the user, but if you are certain that you've selected the correct page for them to land on, don't allow them to get lost in the store.
The one exception to this rule is that if you can cross- or up-sell. For example, if someone is searching for a particular red dress, it's OK to show them more red dresses. You don't want the visitor to leave because of limited options. Bonus points if you can sell them a more expensive dress.
Track calls. There are some very complicated ways of accomplishing this that attribute a call to a specific keyword or website, but these are also very expensive. You could simply set up a new phone number (or, better yet, forward a Google Voice number) and count the number of calls. Make sure the only way you can see the number is through the landing page.
Give the visitors a way to ask questions. Don't assume they will buy now or give you all of their information, but provide a phone number (see above) or an easy way to ask questions (bonus points for live chat).
Test out different versions of the page. Try showing more information vs. less information. Try a red "buy now" button or blue "buy now" button. The possibilities are endless.
Landing pages are a great way to make it easier for visitors to do business with you. Next time you run ads, make sure to have an honest discussion about what landing page you will be sending visitors to. After all, you've paid for that visit -- make the most of it.
It all comes down to math. Dust off your calculators and
let's look at a pretend business that sells widget X.
Keyword: widget X Cost-per-click (CPC) for "widget X": $1
Average clicks per day: 10
Conversion rate (in this case, the number of people who come
to the site and purchase the product): 5%
Profit from each sale of widget X: $10
Let's do the math:
Cost: $10/day = $300/month = 300 clicks
Conversions/month (at 5%) = 15
Profit = $150
YIKES! We spent $300 to make $150! Not a great business
model (unless you're the government).
Here's the secret to Google Adwords: you have to make the
Have no fear – all is not lost for our fictional widget
maker. We can change any one of a number of variables to make it Google Adwords
a much more viable – even profitable – option for the company. Here are just a
One thing we didn't factor in is the average
lifetime value of a customer. Let's say the average customer buys one widget X
every month from us. So, our profit would jump to $1,800 from our original $300
Let's say we can do a better job with the
landing page, the page visitors are directed to when they click the ad. Optimizing
this page can make a huge difference. If we can increase that to a 10% conversion
rate = 30 widgets sold = $300. We'll break even. If we can even sell two
widgets a year to the customer, it's been worth it.
What if we could find a way to get a lower
cost-per-click? There are some creative ways to lower your CPC, including finding
undiscovered, undervalued keywords. For example, instead of bidding on the
"widget x" keyword, you find less competition on "best
widget." If that keyword costs $0.50, it would cost you $150 to make $150
with the same conversion rate.
You can quickly see how being able to improve any of these
variables can greatly make or break a campaign. It is, quite literally, the
difference between profitability and losing money.
I think most marketers today have a puppy problem. Everyone
loves a puppy – they're fun, cute and playful. Just look at the above picture of Asher (aka, the world’s cutest dog).
I had the opportunity to puppy-sit Asher, and he actually
taught me a lot about marketing. I would pull out a toy and he would get
super-excited. I could almost hear him say, "OMG!!!! That's my favorite
toy! I love it, I love it, I love it!" Different toy, same reaction:
"OMG!!!! That's my favorite toy! I love it, I love it, I love it!"
Too many marketers have this puppy problem. So often, we
miss the big basics because we’re chasing the next trend – Pinterest, Vine,
Reddit, etc. For CMOs, this can mean getting seriously off-task, wasting time
and, potentially, your company’s money. So what’s really important for CMOs
when it comes to technology?
1. Know your audience.
Women are more likely to use Pinterest. Instagram has a
younger audience. It's simple: different audiences use online tools differently.
Find out where your customers are and start there. Quantcast.com has a lot
of great tools that provide demographic information about visitors to specific
websites (the image below shows such data for Facebook users).
Or take a look at how visitors are getting to your website using Google
Analytics. If you're more likely to get a sale from Facebook than Twitter, it's
a no-brainer to spend more time with Facebook. But you should also do it the
old-fashioned way: talk to your customers. If you have a brick and mortar
store, ask people that come in. If you have an email list, send out a small
2. Test, measure and adjust.
This should seem obvious, but it's VERY often overlooked. I've
met with several clients who were enthusiastically trying out QR Codes, without
implementing any way to evaluate their effectiveness. You can track traffic from
QR codes (and Facebook ads, digital ads, etc.), using Google's URL builder.
In the trite but true category: Keep It Simple, Stupid! Just
because technology can be complicated, doesn't mean that it should be. Too
often, brands try and accomplish too many goals with one campaign or
initiative. Focus on one main goal, instead of having a convoluted campaign
that no one can follow.
4. Do something!
The most successful CMOs are the ones that can identify
long-term trends, such as social media and mobile, experiment personally (for
example, don't expect massive results from Pinterest if you don't have an
account set up for yourself) and test professionally.
When it comes to marketing technology, no one wants to be left behind, which makes it easy to be puppy-like -- and ultimately unproductive -- in how we approach the many tools out there. You can avoid chasing your tail by remembering the Big Basics:
This season’s flu is the worst it has been in decades. How do we know, without even calling the CDC or thousands of hospitals? Simple: Google.
Google tracks the number of people that go to Google.com and search for flu-related terms (“body aches,” “high fever,” “Tamiflu,” etc.) and aggregates the information. In theory, the more prevalent the flu is, the more people will be searching for it – just as more people search for coats in the winter. Of course, more people search for the word “flu” during flu season, but does it actually correlate with real-world occurrences of the flu? Google worked with the CDC to compare search volume of flu-related terms with the actual number of cases of the flu.
It turns out search volume in Google is highly correlated with
actual cases as reported by the CDC,
as the graph above demonstrates. However, search data is near real-time, where
reporting from hospitals across the world can take months to collect. The
ability to quickly identify outbreaks of the flu (which can be measured even at
a city level) can save lives.
The flu and politics are, obviously, important topics – ones in
which big data can be a big deal. But what about marketing and advertising? At
Balcom Agency, we use the same tools (Google Trends, among others) to discover
how and when customers are searching for our clients’ products and services.
Let’s say that we want to see if our TV ads are moving the
needle at all. We can look at overall search volume in comparison to our
television buy. If advertising works, it will generate more demand and more
people will search after they see the ad.
As you can see, the more people that saw the TV spots (impressions), the more interest (search volume) we generated. As a result, the client has decided to spend even more on television advertising and look closer at the analytics to discover new opportunities.
There’s no doubt that big data can help you optimize your marketing and boost ROI. But before you go big or go home, remember that correlation doesn’t always equal causation. Ask questions, get details and never forget how important the human element still is when it comes to marketing.
It's always good to know what you are signing up for, but you also have to realize that, unless you are paying for a service, the company will try (and be forced) to monetize it. Period. End of story. Facebook will monetize the content you post, so will Instagram, so will Twitter, so will Socioogle (wait for it, it will be huge).
Facebook's terms of service state that content can be used on the site per your privacy settings. For example, if you like Coke, Facebook can charge Coke to show your friends that you like Coke (and they should, too).
Instagram's new terms of service are a little more wide reaching. They state that you grant Instagram a perpetual and transferable license of all the public photos you upload to Instagram. In other words, you allow Instagram to sell your photos (if Instagram wants to), to advertising agencies like the Balcom Agency. This is the cause of many red flags from users.
Do I think that Instagram will do that? No. In fact, I believe that Instagram will revise their terms of service after this public outcry. If they do not revise their terms, I don't believe Instagram will turn into an iStockPhoto where the photographers don't get paid, as some have said. More realistically, I believe that companies (think resorts, restaurants, theme parks, etc.) will be able to pay to use Instagram photos on their website or Instagram profile.
Personally, I'm OK with that. If I take a photo at Disneyland, I think it's fine that they use it on their website or Instagram photo. Here's the biggest privacy concern many (and I) have: What about photos taken of kids or family at Disneyland on Instagram?
Lawyers frequently put out overly-broad language to cover themselves for all of the future possibilities, to see what they can get away with (I'm sure there is a more legalese way to say that). I really think the terms will be revised with more clear plans on how Instagram will use the photos.
If you're concerned about this in the meantime, here is a really easy fix: make your account private. The transferable license only applies to PUBLIC photos.
I think it's important for user's to know the terms of service of their service, but so many websites turn to fear mongering as a first reaction. Could Instagram use the photos in "evil" ways? Of course, but, Instagram needs users to love the service to use it. If they try and push the use of their photos too far, people will abandon the service.
It's time for this internet reminder: anything you post online could become public, even if it's "private." Be careful, friends.
I'll let you know the first sign someone is NOT creative. It's when they utter the phrase, "I'm just a creative person." That is the most tell-tale sign that someone is the farthest from being creative. That phrase is usually followed by some obscure vision that isn't rooted in any reasonable reality.
Here's why: creative people create.
Steve Jobs created the iPhone, iPad, iMac and much more. Richard Branson created the Virgin line of companies. Leo Burnett created great ads.
To be creative, you have to create. Period. End of story. You don't have to create art or words or music. You can create anything.
I look around the office and everyone is creative. Lynne has amazing ways to figure out the nuts and bolts of how to make our client's dreams come true. Mike finds ways to solve complex problems with programming. Alan finds unique ways to meet new clients. I could go on and on.
We can even take a look outside of the office:
Moms (and Dads) find new ways to organize the house so it is clean, but everything can be found.
Cops find ways to catch bad guys.
Doctors find new ways to treat diseases.
Notice something in common? They all have deliverables: a clean house, guys in jail and new treatments.
Guess how you can be more creative. Create something. It can be anything. It could be a love note to your significant other, a unique thank you note, an unexpected homemade gift, the painting you've always wanted to create or the poem you've always had in the back of your head.
You'll find that it opens up the brain to think in new and interesting ways. The creation process is what makes you creative.
Whenever I speak, I almost always get asked, "What's the next social network?" I have always said, and will continue to say: Facebook. It's not Pinterest, it's not Twitter and it's not Tumblr. Why? Because Facebook is totally ingrained into our lives.
But here's the biggest deal: Millions of users use Facebook by not going to Facebook.com. They login to their favorite site (ESPN.com, for example) or like a page or listen to a song on Spotify.
If you were to erase Facebook today, people would freak out - thousands of websites wouldn't work and the number one website destination in the world would be gone. What if you deleted Twitter? People would probably shrug their shoulders and turn back to Facebook.
If the Twitter immigrants didn't like the way Facebook showed their information, they could create an app that displays it the way they want. With the new Twitter rules, this is a big no-no.
Facebook wants to be the glue for the web, Twitter wants to be the book. You can't make a book without a whole lot of glue.
When that advertising network sees the cookie on your computer, it triggers an ad to appear on the page.
When you end up making the purchase, there is a piece of code that shows up on the website that deletes that cookie and makes sure the advertiser doesn’t advertise to you again.
The first thing that people think is, “Wow! That’s creepy!” But let me assure you, the advertiser has no idea who you are. The advertiser anonymously installs that cookie and never knows who they are advertising to.
This is a great way to reach your customers. Most people that visit a website don’t make a purchase on their first visit. Having a constant reminder follow the user around the web is a great way for customers to come back to your website — not to mention it is a much more targeted technique than blanketing the internet with your ads.
How can you reach all of these customers? Easy -- mobile advertising. Mobile advertising makes the most sense for companies that have specific locations, but it can also be valuable for overall branding.
Let's take the example of a store that sells shoes. There are a couple of ways that the store could choose to advertise:
Mobile Search Advertising
Most cell phone users use a search engine (like Google or Bing) to make purchasing decisions on the fly. Within Google AdWords, you can target mobile devices and geographic locations -- allowing you to hit your target at the time (and place) they are searching for a place to buy shoes.
Mobile Display Advertising
Just as there are both search and display advertising on the desktop -- there are also both on mobile. Most free games and apps are supported by display ads. Depending upon the advertising network, you can target based upon contextual information (for example, showing restaurants in an app like Yelp) and location. This will reach customers that aren't necessarily searching for your product or service -- but still be targeted.
Another possibility is to sponsor an application. That's exactly what The North Face has done with their Snow Report application. Obviously, the app is very connected to their brand -- but the key is that it provides something useful to their customers.
It's essential that the page that the ad leads to is mobile friendly. Some advertisers simply don't have the budget to create a mobile website -- but it's simple to create a one-page landing pages that will work on a mobile phone. This means that the site can not use flash and be formatted, so you don't have to zoom in on the site to read the content.
With mobile use growing at a very quick rate, maybe it's time you start advertising on mobile devices.