Archive for the ‘ecommerce’ Tag

A Tale of 2 Marketing Programs: Social Media Versus Search Engines

Social media is going to take budget dollars away from search engine marketing. Already is in many major brands. Simple economics are driving this transition.

If a major ecommerce player is spending 50% of their budget on search engine marketing, website optimization, and link optimization programs, but is losing the war to bloggers in organic search. Why would the ecommerce player continue to spend massive amounts of money on advertising when they can focus on blogger outreach (ethical, not paid) for far less money. Better yet, fix their customer experience and get customers to evangelize on their behalf.  this slide says it all….

Additionally, as we analyze the various social media monitoring and metrics tools, the challenge is pretty evident. Search engines work off of structured data. I can run an advanced search and build filters for my search results. The challenge with social search is that the taxonomy isn’t defined. How you talk about a problem can be completely different than I talk about it. Potential buyers may not even recognize that the problem they are discussing on social media is even in the market. How do you build an automated tracking of taxonomy around unstructured data?

Effective lead generation program within social marketing require human knowledge of your solutions and also the ability to follow discussion threads to identify contextual relavence. Over time, you should be able to fine tune the algorithms for your social monitoring programs to become 80% accurate, but the most successful programs are leveraging human knowledge to make social marketing engagement programs to become discoverable, impactful, and actionable.

Otherwise, you get the the large number of costly “unqualified” leads that flood into websites similar to the search engine marketing programs. These programs either make it up in volume or work the “long tail” of key words to reach better qualified buyers. Social marketing can get you to the “long tail” faster as most buyers start with questions in the long tail when they do not know what they are looking for and leverage the expertise of others to become more specific as they learn what they don’t know.

Using Baseball Fans to Explain Web 2.0

As a web evangelist, I cheer the widespread adoption of the latest web techniques and technologies. As a business person, I am a little confused by the widespread use of 2.0 label on everything; Sales 2.0, Recruiting 2.0, Pizza 2.0, Beer 2.0, etc. Everything seems to become 2.0.

As a product manager, I cringe when I see a 2.0 label slapped onto something that is vague and unclear. Even worse, many are now moving towards 3.0 to discuss semantic web. For many people, they are still getting their arms around the what web 2.0 is let alone things like mashups, mobile marketing, online communities, social networking, semantic web, etc. For those of you confused, here is my baseball fan analogy to help you understand…

First there was the baseball uniform, then numbers were added, then names. Eventually, the jerseys were mass produced which the fans could take home from the stadiums. This was the equivelent of HTML.

Then the fan favorite jerseys were then sold at local retailers. This was the equivelent of email marketing. This of course led to the development of fake jerseys sold everywhere. This was SPAM.

When a buddy organizes a trip to the park and buys a 10 pack of cheap outfield tickets for his friends to tag along and drink. This is a social network. As an aside, when he bought them online, this was ecommerce.

Now, Major League Baseball does not allow you to build and order your custom named jersey(imagine a couple with Chug-a-lug & Beer Goggles on the back), but if they did, the jersey would be XML and the experience would be Web 2.0.

Imagine if MLB would imbed RFID tags in the jersey tied to an acount that would allow you to just walk into the stadium without tickets. This is RFID. If you don’t know RFID, there is the technology they have been using to track packages, groceries, and warehouse pallets. If the ticket was on a phone that was bar coded, this is mobile commerce. (Yes, they are doing it now)

Take this further and imagine that MLB took your online account of when you came to the stadium and combined it with a weather chart to figure out if you were a true “fair-weather” fan. This is a mashup.

If MLB, then took this information and sent you a 50% off promotion on your phone inviting you to attend on the next rainy day, that is mobile marketing. 

If they took that information and the next time that you came to the game, they ejected you from line because the system automatically figured out that the team had lost the last 4 games that you came to the park, that is semantic web.

You could call all of the above Baseball 2.0…

In all seriousness though, web 2.0 and the like terminology is confusing for a lot of people. I know first hand how hard it is for people, who spend their every waking working minute immersed in developing a new technology/product and/or company, to remember that everyone else doesn’t have the vocabulary or the frame of reference to “get it”. For many in the technology business, it is hard to imagine that AOL still has 6 million dial-up customers. For those of us who run marketing & product management organizations, our jobs are first to build a fantastic customer experience and then make sure we make it easily understood. Of course, it should go without saying to get it widely adopted, but that is still more art than science.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 3 – Business Case

Continuation of Part 1 – Introduction & Part 2 – Theory

Unless your company does ecommnerce, Social Marketing generally does not have its own ROI. This has been a significant challenge for most companies thinking about how to leverage social media. How do you correlate social marketing activities with tangible business impact?

Most corporate social media participation has grown sporadically out of employee participation outside of their daily work life. Most of the participants in the social networks joined through invitation, but since there are not a structured way to use these networks, corporate planning has lagged on these networks. Many companies are now putting together structured social media plans as a part of their marketing efforts, but are finding a hard time building the social marketing business case.

The business case for social marketing really involves mapping your organization’s social activites back to your business objectives, strategies, and goals. Just because your team dabbles on Facebook, has linkedin profiles, and is playing on Twitter does not make a social marketing plan. The other side of the coin is that just because you can’t measure it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. The remainder of the post will outline a process for building a business case around social marketing:

  • Identify Key Market Influencers
  • Align Business & Social Marketing Strategy
  • Develop Social Marketing Roadmap
  • Build the Social Marketing Business Case

Identify Key Market Influencers –  starts with a reorientation of the traditional view of marketing’s role away from traditional marketing channels of communication. Instead, the model below is reoriented around the core of the customer experience:

Social Marketing Reorients Marketing Activities

Social Marketing Reorients Marketing Activities

  • Reorients traditional marketing towards the online network, relationship-oriented, and influencer-driven social interactions.
  • Leverages a multi-channel, multi-directional approach towards building relationships with a transition away from the structured marketing roles.
  • Focused around enabling the key interactions that support the awareness, influence, interest, buying, and referral processes.

Align Business and Social Marketing Strategy

First Step is to understand the market from the company’s perspective

  • Collect company’s Market Research – get everything you can get your hands on to get a baseline of the market
  • Understand Value Proposition, Competition, Positioning, Differentiation, Key Description Words
  • Company’s Goals, Objectives, & Strategies
  • Industry Trending
  • Website, SEO, & Social Media Presence Review – figure out your strengths and weaknesses
  • Team Social Media Perceptions & Capabilities – you will need buy in. Additionally, you may find evangelists in people you would have never thought.

Next step is to perform online market research to understand  the following:

  • Competitor Analysis – messaging, positioning, website, social presence
  • Industry – associations, sites, news, blogs, industry communities (public access only)
  • People – influencers, industry executives, analysts, press, buyers, consultants, bloggers, partnerships

Develop Social Marketing Roadmap based upon identified audiences, influencers, and existing relationships.

  • Map audiences and objectives with the desired interactions.
  • Prioritize the Social Marketing Roadmap (crawl, walk, run) based upon 3 mo, 6 mo, and 12 mo activities, budget, and resource requirements
  • Proposed Social Marketing Editorial Calendar to leverage existing content, corporate development, and user generated content. Think bite-sized chunks of reusable, repurposed content that can be leveraged across many mediums. Spread the workload across a broad spectrum of people. Look for activities where you can reuse the content; ie a webinar (answer the questions from the webinar in a blog post)

Building and Presenting the Business Case

  • Hard and Soft Cost Analysis – You need to have an understanding of the time, resources, and money
  • Strategy Review – Make sure that you have buy-in and participation
  • Budget Refinement -Understand the Resource Limitations; make sure you prioritize your activities based upon an expected return
  • Program Measurement – How will the organization measure and report?
  • Performance Metrics & Estimated Business Impact Executive & Team Presentations – Recruit Internal Evangelism

 Part 4 of the series will explore the possible elements of a Social Marketing execution plan.

Part 5 of the series will explore how to measure Social Marketing activities more in depth.