Archive for the ‘email marketing’ Tag

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.

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Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 2 – Theory

Continuation of Part 1 – Introduction

Continued at Part 3 – Business Case

The fundamentals of marketing are changing with the mass adoption of RSS. RSS allows the repackaging and redistribution of information into components which can be reused, reassembled, mashed-up, etc. RSS also allows each piece of content to have its own URL. As we transitioned from domains to pages to feeds to tweets, you are seeing increasing componentization of information. 

Social Marketing is a direct response to this changing landscape. Social Marketing is the transition away from pre-packaged messaging to evangelism (education before engagement) with focus on user interactions, relationships, influencers, & experiences. Social Marketing represents a continuation of the shift from broadcast messaging to interactive. There are some contributing factors underlying this shift:

  • Sheer Size of the Web –According to Nielsen Netview, 168,670,941 active domains
  • Volume of SPAM emails – My email example: 715 spam messages caught as of Monday, June 29, 2009 10:22 AM
  • Need for Social Search– Search engines are still in their infancy (Google: Results 110 of about 590,000,000 for marketing)
  • Rise of Social Networks – Nielsen puts the interactions on social media larger than web mail as of February
  • Amount of Blog Posts– According to Technorati, close to 1M a day that also get pumped into the search engines

Through the linking, repackaging, and sharing of content;  Social Media is playing a key role in bridging the information search challenge on the web. My blog is a perfect example of this. I started this blog as an vehicle to provide thought leadership and credentialling in finding a position as a marketing executive. About a month into building the blog, I realized that my traffic had transitioned from primarily being driven by the people that I know and met to inbound links from social media, other blogs, directories, social bookmark sites, etc. Because I am on a subdomain for wordpress, I don’t get the benefit of branding my own domain so search engines really don’t do anything for me. Even if I had my own domain, my posts on marketing show up in the middle of the 590 Million indexed pages on Marketing.

Without the the linking, repackaging, rating, and sharing of content that people do on sites like Twitter(tweets), Facebook(content and people recommendations), Delicious, Digg, News Aggregation sites, Industry hubs, etc, or the blog-rolls or even the large connectors on Linkedin with the LIONs (Open Networkers); how would anyone really find anything on the web.

Hence the challenge to marketing as the traditional ways that you reach potential buyers are being overwhelmed with the amount of messaging; telemarketing, email marketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. A large part of this is that the internet has enabled near-zero distribution costs for messaging, so it is almost as easy to send 10,000 as it is to send one. 

The people who repackage and redistribute content or build relationships hubs play an equally important role as the creators. If you have 50 creators of content on a subject, you need one person to assemble, rate, and aggregate this content into meaningful information. The content and relationship distributors really play the equivelant role of market makers for the stock market. Without a market maker, you couldn’t have exchanges. Without exchanges, you can’t get a place to conduct the scale of trades needed to keep a market fluid. This role is going to continue to drive the market for information; in return, drive the impact on marketing. The bigger the size of the information market, the more importance the role of market makers.

That is why social marketing is so critical to marketing at large and why social marketing is changing everything. Think of information as a product that needs distribution. If you now need to make sure you have the widest distribution of content, you need to build relationships with the distributors. The manufacturer with the biggest, strongest distribution network wins. Traditional broadcast models for marketing presupposes a direct relationship. Social marketing presupposes an indirect relationship. If history is an indicator, then the indirect channels have more scale.

If Content is King, What Does that Make My Writer’s Block?

I have been suffering from writer’s block for about a week on my blog. I even had an editorial calendar and the blog titles written. I got busy in meetings and I couldn’t concentrate on writing. Although, I actually have some really cool perspectives on social marketing and CRM that I have been developing, but nothing that was ready for prime time. It was interesting to watch my blog traffic to see how it would hold up without my daily posts.

As I only posted one time last week, my traffic dropped slightly, but actually held for most of the week and spiked on the day that I posted. Now, I was looking for how close the relationship between the activities that I do to promote my blog (and myself) are tied to my traffic. I am doing a guerrilla level marketing program leveraging my blog, my social networks, and a $50/mo email marketing program. Essentially, the tools available to every small business without a budget. I don’t expect to become the next Seth Godin, famous marketing blogger, but I do expect that I can build an audience with very little resources. My results tell me that I have gotten outside of my own direct marketing efforts and I am now getting residual traffic from my prior marketing activities.

In addition to assisting me in finding my next opportunity(s), I am using my blog to provide a tangible case study of what can be done on a very little budget as representation of what the strategy could accomplish with a much larger budget. I am also using the concept of the blog as a repesentation of a corporate website. In my new social marketing model, the website is becoming the focal point of all the marketing activities. Prospective customers do not really care where the interaction is, they just want to get the information they need where and when they want it. I call this post-digital because when everything is digital; then digital doesn’t matter.

To that end, you have heard the phrase “publish or perish?” That describes blogging. Also, is an apt expression for creating fresh, compelling content with strong emotional hooks into your website.

So, back to my writer’s block. If content is king, then there are a few lessons that can be applied for companies looking at building content to help drive interest in their company:

1. Editorial Calendar – You need one for your content. It saved me last week in that it still kept me on pace to do at least one post. It also will help a team of people on track.

2. Be Consistent – I was getting great traffic when I was writing every daily, sometimes twice daily; even to a simple wordpress blog.

3. Be Relevant – I write for my audience, which is my contacts, who are business executives. I try not to write for techo-wonks about the infinite depths of a technical topic. My audience is also whom I partner, work, and sell so I want to be as approachable; to appeal to the “decision maker.” I can get more technical about software and infrastucture when talking with a CTO or CIO, but I save that for particular face-to-face meetings. I find technical specs hard to swallow as “easy reading.”

4. Content by Committee – Realize that it is almost impossible to sustain a huge torrent of content by yourself; let alone make it relevant, compelling, and fresh. That is why communities are so appealing with different voices, perspectives, interaction, and ideas. It doesn’t hurt that it drives SEO through the roof, provides a larger pool of contributors, and allows for different audiences.

5. Get it Viral – Keep in mind that you already have a relationship with your network, but you need to reach a broader group of contacts that don’t know you to drive more business. Sherry Heyl, Atlanta-based social media goddess and friend, talks about building consumble bites of content that can be distributed easily. The key to success is to get your morsels of content, “sound bites”, into circulation and distributed beyond your first and second degree contacts to go viral.

To that end, I am working on creating a social marketing planning framework that I will share over the next few weeks. The social marketing plan will assist companies in building online relationships, leveraging integrated website communities, building compelling calls to action to generate website traffic,  managing effective customer experiences, and developing effective measurement systems for the above activities.

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