Category: Digital Marketing

Our Connected World & the Exponential Growth of Data

Today, American homes have more internet-connected devices than people. (NPD)

As the number of devices are expeditiously increasing, so too are the technological convergences they provide.  The tendency to use different technological systems (such as voice, data, and video) have become streamlined to interact with each other synergistically.  Through this technological advancement of connectivity, we have found that these global, industry agnostic solutions are altering the way our world works, lives, and operates.  The Financial Times states, “everything today is becoming more smart,” and righteously so.  Daniel Thomas, telecoms correspondent reports this for a FT video from the 2013 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. 

As our devices are becoming more seamless, so must our marketing strategies.  The way we measure, monitor, and determine the success or failure of our marketing efforts has become a more complicated task than ever before.  We are being bombarded with the words, “big data”.  It’s hugely active, relevant, and wide spread.  According to a study from IBM in 2011, today we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.  This is so much that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.  Think on what it must be today, in 2013?!

The difficulty we face is how do we analyze these massive quantities of data?  David Lewan VP of Sales Operations at ForeSee recently said, “you can’t monitor something you don’t measure,” – and he’s right.   We ask ourselves, how are we, Data Driven Marketers, going to break the topic of big data down to manageable, bite size pieces?  – Pieces that will point us in the direction to properly gain customer-centric insights that will improve our strategies and the way we do business to ultimately strengthen our businesses for our customers.

Some say that the smart integration of data, “requires a multi-pronged approach that aligns technology, company teams, and the various channels, then data to work toward common marketing goals,” (Media Postand perhaps they are right.  But either way, as we are advancing into the future and the data explosion continues to boom, we must become more prepared.

In a study conducted by IBM, when asked, “how prepared they were to manage the impact of the top 5 market factors that will have the most impact on your marketing organization over the next 3-5 years,” more than 1,700 chief marketing officers, spanning 19 industries and 64 countries 71% felt the most underprepared to handle the data explosion.  This was the highest concern of all predicted market changes surveyed.

IBM Institute for Business Value
IBM Institute for Business Value

 

Forbes among many other resources are reporting that programs such as SAS make data analytics more useful.  As it is, data analysts are needed and are in extremely high demand.  One can only predict what will continue to become become in higher demand as our technological capabilities continue to explode.

So, for those interactive marketers who have not jumped on board the big data bandwagon, I ask you – what are you waiting for?

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UMSL State of Digital Media Marketing Conference 2013

“Consumers are changing the way they communicate with and research brands. Brands are changing the way they promote and engage with consumers. We are embracing digital technologies to communicate in ways that were inconceivable just a few short years ago. We have shifted our attention from traditional media marketing to internet, wireless devices and other digital platforms…”

Today, April 2nd at 1-5PM (2PM EST) a live conference, “State of Digital Media Marketing” will be taking place.  Professionals from Google, Yahoo, IBM, Nielsen, Forsee, Nickelodeon, and many large agencies such as (Momentum, Twist, Fleishman-Hillard, + many others) will be speaking.

It is being held at UMSL, and was organized by a very knowledgeable and talented professor of mine Perry Drake.

The conference is currently sold out.  However, lucky for us, the conference will be streamed via the web live here.

“This half day conference will help you understand the latest digital trends that are shaping the future, how mobiles third screen is redefining the consumer experience, why search continues to play a large role in the marketing mix, how we are trying to understand and do better at measuring campaign attribution, ecommerce solutions being developed for a less “siloed” and more seamless customer experience across touch points, the changing role of the marketer in this new world of data, software and metrics, and last but certainly not least privacy issues and if we are succeeding at satisfying the FTC.”

Be sure to check it out today.  You can also join the conversation #umsldigital

Path Interactive’s Quick Guide to SEO

SEO Infographic

For those of you who are just getting familiar with SEO or just looking to re-fresh their skills – I thought this infographic might be of interest.  It was first given to me last year after taking a SEO information packed course at NYU.  Michael Coppola, the CEO of Path Interactive-NYC and an adjunct professor at NYU taught the course.  Path Interactive is a Digital Marketing Agency located in New York City.  They have done Search Engine Marketing and SEO for large companies such as Zagat, Adweek, Billboard, and one of my favorites, Birchbox.

A Video: TED Talks from Rohit Bhargava – Reinventing Marketing

Huge fan of this video. Rohit Bhargava is a marketing expert, professor (Global Marketing, Georgetown University, and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. Here he talks on Reinventing Marketing.  Like it, share it, re-tell it, market it.

PPC and the Negative Keyword

In the world of PPC (pay-per-click) negative keywords are often overlooked.  However today, being that everyone is buying-in to the market (with the exception of big brands such as amazon, who don’t need to rely PPC advertising) it can get pretty expensive.  The negative keywords you choose are just as important as the positive keywords you bid on.  In today’s world effective advertising is all about targeting the consumer.    But not just any consumer.  The right ones.  So, unless you work out a plan for managing negative keywords you could easily find yourself penniless when running PPC campaigns.

Negative Keyword Discovered

Negative keywords help advertisers (like you, or me, or anyone else who is using Google Adwords) filter out unwanted traffic.  So you might ask, isn’t traffic a good thing?  Well, yeah for the most part – it is.  But like anything in life – there are exceptions.  In Adwords, a negative keyword is marked with a minus sign at the start of the word.  For example, -blue -[blue], or -“blue” are all considered negative keywords.  Just like regular keywords, negative keywords can also use three match types.  For more on these, take a look here.

But for the purpose of keeping this post simple and to the point, let me digress – not all traffic is a good thing.  Especially, if you are having to pay for that traffic and likelihood of having a visitor bounce off of your site is at like 100%.  So, this is where negative keywords come in…

I’ll use a super simple example:

Say Sam has a flower shop.  It’s a small shop and he only carries a few flowers (say, roses and daisies).  Some flower shop, eh?  Well, Sam makes an Adwords campaign and uses the positive keyword flowers (broad match type).  Joe, a possible consumer opens Google and is looking for flowers for his girlfriend.  But Joe’s not looking for just any flowers. He’s looking specifically for international flowers.  (His lady likes them).  And so, one afternoon, Joe visits Google’s browser and types international flowers into the search query box.  At a drop of a hat, Sam’s ad pops up and Joe clicks on the ad.  Is it a win for Sam the flower shop man?

Well, unless Joe decided to settle and not buy the international flowers…

With just one quick glance at Sam’s website – he doesn’t find what he’s looking for.  Joe leaves Sam’s website and performs his search again.  This time Joe finds an ad that specifically says international flowers.  He clicks on the new ad, finds what he’s looking for, and his girlfriend is happy.

Sam on the other hand, is not.  He just had to pay a dollar for the broad match keyword flowers and has found he keeps getting clicks but no sales (conversions).  Had Sam known about the negative keyword option – he could have saved quite a bit of money.

So let me reiterate, if you’re paying for traffic – don’t only pay attention to positive keywords.  The earlier you start managing negative keywords, the better your ad campaign will perform.  The better your ad campaign performs, the more conversions you will get.  It’s a win win with a negative keyword.

Where is YOUR Google Analytics Tracking Code?

The Google Analytics Asynchronous Tracking Code, where should you put it on your site?  Well, for starters lets have a look by checking out Google’s official recommendation for web developers…

The Analytics snippet is a small piece of JavaScript code that you paste into your pages.  It activates Google Analytics tracking by inserting ga.js into the page.  To use this on your pages, copy the code snipped below, replacing UA-XXXXX-X with your web property ID.  Paste this snippet into your website template page so that it appears before the closing tag.

Google Analytics Tracking Code

Right… so regardless of what Google’s official recommendation is – huge websites for really large companies seem to still have  (inserting a tracking code at the bottom of a page was once Google’s recommendation a long time ago) their tracking code at the bottom of the page.

Take Allure as an example.  (Open up Google Browser, At the top of the page click on the tool icon, highlight tools, click on view source, and then ctrl +f and search for Google).  Their tracking code is at the bottom of the page!

You see it?  Ok, let’s hope you do.

Anyways, what I find pretty surprising is how a large, high powered company (and there are many) such as Allure wouldn’t currently be using Google’s best practices.  Especially, when proper placement tracking code would be in their best interest.

Let’s take or Allure again for example.  When you visit the site, one can see that Allure.com features advertisements.  Some of these are from  DoubleClick (a subsidiary of Google which develops and provides Internet ad serving agencies).

So here we go… I think I’m ready to explain this…

So, say Allure.com runs a banner ad at the very top of their website.  And say, Allure has content on their site below the banner ad (such as a rich media file) that takes a long time to load (say 10 seconds or so) and the visitor to the site gets impatient and exits the site.  At this point in time, it is possible that because the tracking code was placed at the BOTTOM of the page, the tracking code did not load and thus, it was not able to count the visit.  However, while Allure.com was not aware that there was even a visitor on the page – the ad from DoubleClick was still served and received an impression.  This information would be valuable to a publisher.  Especially when they are getting paid for these Ad’s to be displayed.  Right?  Profit is in the numbers and it doesn’t hurt to make them as accurate as possible.

So, that’s my point on why it’s important.  Here’s a bit of a brief history on the new vs old code:

Google once had a non-Asyhchronous (aka: traditional) tracking code (prior to the 1st of December 2009), which was to be placed at the bottom of the page.  (As I mentioned above, they’re now recommending users to put the code into the portion of the code (the top of the page).   The non-Asyhchronous code essentially operated as any basic JavaScript code (think line by line).  So, with this – if Google code was placed at the top of a page and Google took 8 seconds to send that tracking code out it would take your site already +8 seconds before the actual website content could load for the viewer.  However, with the new Asychronous tracking code it no longer has to complete line one before taking on line two.  With the Asychronous code, multiple lines can be read at the same time.  (Keeping in mind cases like the Allure/DoubleClick example can sometimes occur).  Another perk of the new code is that it is served from your Cache (so it’s downloaded only once from Google and saved on your computer) – this also helps the code load much faster.

So, even if you are not using Ad serving agencies; from an SEO perspective, with Google organic search now penalizing websites with a slower load time, it’s important to keep your site running up to speed (if you want to remain at the top of that SERP).  Additionally, for those of you using Adwords the new code is also said to lead to a 100% accuracy in tracking data.

So, for those using the traditional code, I suggest jumping on board with the new.  (Though funny enough, spy on my source code, and you’ll see I’m missing Google Analytics entirely) I probably need to get on that in 13′.

Tis’ the Season… to get Scroogled or Binged?!

Online shopping is becoming more prevalent than ever before.  According to Google, 80% of holiday shoppers will research online prior to making a purchase this season.  Research will begin with leading search engines and according to comScore’s November Explicit Core Search Report – approximately 69.4 percent of organic search results are from Google.  Coming in second, was Microsoft’s Bing with 25.4 percent of searches powered by Bing.  The rest of the search engines are rather insignificant.  So, while Google and Bing aren’t neck and neck, they seem to be the consumer’s search engines of choice and in turn will be most used to aid in holiday shopping.

Which brings me to Scroogled.  Yes, that’s right:

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A campaign recently launched by Bing to educate the average consumer about what Google has done with their shopping site.  To get a general idea – check out: T’was the story of Scroogled and Are you getting Scroogled?

Here Bing is essentially attacking Google over its shift to a pay-to-play shopping search model.  With a start of October 17th merchants had no other choice but to pay in order to “play” or appear in the search engine within the US (said to go international to select countries in February 2013).  Payment is decided upon the number of clicks and the amount the merchant is willing to pay for a click.  So, if a merchant is bidding a higher amount, the ad (yes ad) is more likely to appear first on the SERP (assuming that the keywords are relevant to the search query).  But what if the merchant is not bidding at all?

Which is exactly what Scroogled is all about and what the concerns were back in May 2012 when Google announced it’s paid inclusion shopping model.

Questions arose such as:  If all merchants weren’t bidding then weren’t shopping results going to be skewed?  Is there suddenly a bias to Google search engine results pages?  Would merchants have to increase the product price to make up for the new pay-to-play model?  And what about previous comments made by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page?

“In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want.”

“Furthermore, advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.”

Not to mention that later, many found that Google shopping did not increase the user experience as origionaly promised but seemed to become one giant mess.

So, essentially what I am getting at here – is it’s not really a big surprise that Bing decided to jump on this opportunity to knock Google.  The reality of Bing’s Scroogled campaign however, is that Bing isn’t in the right either.  The truth is, Bing hardly has the right to be lecturing Google about poor disclosure and it’s pay-to-play policy.  In fact, Bing gets it’s own shopping search products from shopping.com and in order to be listed on shopping.com the merchant must agree to pay.  So is Bing actually much better than Google?

You decide.  In the mean time, good luck with your holiday shopping.

404 Pages: Infinite Possibilities…Make a Difference

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Lately I’ve been coming across more and more 404 pages.  Either what I’m looking for just seems to be absent or websites are becoming messier.  Either way, as I continue to see more and more 404 pages – I’m starting to really see improvements.  Particularly with witty, creative content and design.

But how about this – How about a 404 page that actually can make difference?

And by difference, I mean, not a small smirk, laugh or a giggle – but make a huge, impactable difference in a child and families life.

Notfound.org is a company that has really done a great job in helping companies make a difference by making use of their 404 pages.  Not Found offers an easy opportunity to feature missing children on every ‘not found’ page of your website.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be great for a retail website, but it’s really great for say, a news site.  Think about it.  I say, really cool concept.  What about you?

Real Time Hangers: Lets Facebook Fans Influence In Store Buyers

(Source: C&A)

The international dutch chain of fashion retail, C&A has integrated Facebook’s real-time data and has brought it into the physical world.  Essentially, C&A’s stores in Brazil have been putting “real-time like” counters on its hangers.  The data is taken from C&A’s Facebook page where the company lists the clothing items for fans to interact with.  The idea is built on the concept that you no longer need a friend to shop with to ask them “if this is good”.  The problem with this though – in that an image online says nothing about the quality, the fit, or the fabric.  (Which is why we see companies like Saks trying to address that problem by creating “Fashion in Action: Video Catalogs”.)  So, if your in the retail store C&A, and spot an item that’s hanger has has only two likes from Facebook and but looks great in person- you’re bound to buy that item anyway.  In which case,  I guess you could use these real-time hangers to gauge your tastes: on how mainstream to how unique your fashion tastes are?

Anyways, I just thought this was pretty cool in taking real-time social media and bringing it to the next level.

How to Sell Soap: A Cute Video About Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is one of the most effective forms of advertising available.

Here’s a video I found to be pretty cute.  Ok, that’s all…