Marketing Is Evolving; Don’t Get Stuck

Fantastic post from SumAll today:

The Switch to Continuous Marketing – SumAll – Blog: “Social media platforms and analytics provide an immediate, continuous feedback loop that puts marketing into an entirely new cycle. It’s now possible to get a faster, deeper sense of your potential customer and to tailor marketing materials to a highly specific demographic.”

This is a concept that we embrace and focus heavily on at Harrelson Agency.

In the past, marketing campaigns were structured differently and might have done pretty well for the time. However, we’ve seen a gradual shift and trend towards online marketing in the past decade or so as the web has grown and social networks like Facebook and Twitter emerged. While paid search still dominates over social media traffic this year, that’s likely to change in 2014. Marketing via social media is bound to become the larger of the two traffic drivers and that’s due in large to the in-depth analytics and insights tools that services like Facebook and Twitter offer to advertisers. Old-school marketing (create, launch, sit back, evaluate) doesn’t work as well anymore because marketing on the web is a continuous process that requires lots of creative thinking, sweating the details, and monitoring (in real time, not when the campaign ends) exactly what works and what doesn’t. And if something doesn’t work, you can always change it and see where you went wrong.

Tools like SumAll and Chartbeat are fantastic for tracking how your campaigns are doing and what kind of traffic you’re getting, but even the out-of-the-box solutions that Facebook, Twitter, et al offer are pretty good.

The Self-Aware Burrito

Chipotle, a rapidly growing burritos and taco chain, is known for its tongue-in-cheek use of social media. However, their latest stunt has been seen as both a success and a stumble by marketers and social media consultants.

Last week, Chipotle sent out a string of random tweets on their company Twitter account that left many followers bewildered. Even on outlets such as the popular video show / podcast This Week in Google, there was discussion over whether the tweets were a mistake by a Chipotle social media admin just yesterday. While bone-headed, this is easy to do using dashboard suites such as Hootsuite as companies such as the American Red Cross have found out the hard way. Another possibility was that the account was “hacked,” which can happen with larger brands (such as Jeep and Burger King earlier this year) or personalities and normally results in press and voyeuristic following increases.

Instead, Chipotle now admits the tweets were a strategically thought-out part of their 20th anniversary campaign.

Chipotle Faked Its Twitter Hack | Mashable: “We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that,” Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative, told Mashable in an interview. “It was definitely thought out: We didn’t want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial.”

From a marketing perspective, this is a very tight wire to walk. People love puzzles figuring things out (let’s all remember Lost). However, we’ve seen evidence time and again that deceptive marketing (even tongue-in-cheek) can have the opposite of the desired effects.

Chipotle’s marketing rep confirms as much:

Regardless of the reception of the fake hack, Arnold says it’s unlikely Chipotle will pull a similar stunt anytime in the future.

“It’s certainly not a well you can go to often,” he says.

Chipotle needed attention and got that.

Should you think of doing similar campaigns with your business social media accounts to get an influx of new followers or attention?

If you’re a large company with a relatively well-known brand and established user base, it can be a tempting way to get easy publicity. If you’re a small company, absolutely don’t even think about such a tactic.

Marketing (especially on social media) is an investment of time and effort. Your time to come up with campaigns (be they months in advance or on the fly ideas such as Oreo’s outstanding Super Bowl Blackout campaign). There is also an investment from your followers and potential followers involved in social media marketing.

Whereas acquisition of followers or attention is important for large brands like Chipotle, acquisition is a more valuable metric for small businesses that are still growing. Such marketing tactics threaten your acquisition numbers if you’re still growing your brand.

Deconstructing Sharing

Insanely interesting and thorough user study from the fine folks at ShareThis:

Mobile vs Desktop: A Cross Device User Study « ShareThis Blog: “The data points above show that people engage with devices in patterns during the day, and that people engage with social channels on devices which better support their activities and content consumption.  For marketers, understanding the usage patterns and the connection between devices and social habits is an important part of managing the social communication between their brands and users.”

What’s perhaps most interesting is the stats about what devices account for more sharing (iPhone vs other platforms) and the breakdown of what type of content is shared the most on which device.

In simple terms: mobile matters a great deal in 2013 and that trend will only evolve to where mobile overtakes desktop traffic in the future.

Foursquare Rolls Out Ads for Businesses

Very exciting news from Foursquare today:

Expanding Foursquare Ads to more small businesses around the world | Foursquare Blog: “The idea behind these new ads is simple – connect people looking for somewhere to go with businesses that want to drive traffic to their stores. Foursquare is the best way for those businesses to reach nearby customers. In our ad pilots over the past year, we’ve been honing our targeting technology, using the same algorithm that powers our Explore recommendation engine.”

Foursquare rolled out post-check-in ads for brands last week, but this is good news for businesses since Foursquare is a unique but diverse community that’s ultimately very locally focused.

The reason these ads are so unique and will matter a great deal to local businesses in the coming year or so is that the return rate on them is fairly solid. 78% of people who search on their smartphone end up making some kind of purchase. Foursquare has long needed a solid business model that could drive revenue its way and the ad program is pretty much the icing on the cake.

On the business side of things, the ads are billed to businesses on a CPA (Cost Per Action) basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for the ad unless a check-in at your business originates from it:

Foursquare Ads — Foursquare for Business: “You won’t pay a cent for your ad to show up. You’ll only pay if people visit you.”

Pretty cool.

I love Foursquare and I’m happy to see them moving forward. Advertising on mobile, particularly geolocation-based, has long been an enigma to many companies and marketers alike and I think Foursquare is definitely on the list of companies to watch.

Another Reason I’m Not a Teacher Anymore

erm… no:

Why Great Teachers Are Fleeing the Profession – Speakeasy – WSJ: “Teaching is essentially a part time job. They ‘work’ an average of 6 months out of the year. That number is further reduced in the northern climes by snow days (about 10 a year) which are NEVER made up. They have long holiday breaks, generous sick and ‘personal’ time provisions and average-length work days. For this they take home $50,000-$100,000 + a year. They contribute almost nothing to their health insurance and pensions. THEY ACTUALLY HAVE PENSIONS! This puts their compensation on par with (or above) that of someone who graduates #1 in his class at harvard law with a job at a top law firm.”

If the community where I was teaching were openly receptive to helping me support my family as a single parent, I’d still be a teacher.

That’s not the case.

Riding the New Silk Road

Beautiful graphic diary via the NY Times…

Riding the New Silk Road – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com: “The network of routes known as the Silk Road connected Asia and Europe for centuries before fading in importance in the 1400s. Now, Hewlett-Packard has revived the route as a faster, overland alternative to shipping electronics from China to European markets by sea. A look at one section of the modern-day route, now more commonly traveled by train instead of by camel.”

Why Wasn’t I Consulted?

So very true and worth your time to read if you care ’bout marketing and/or culture (or Homer):

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium (Ftrain.com): “‘Why wasn’t I consulted,’ which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.”

More on Facebook’s Graph Search

Great read over on Wired about Facebook’s slightly creepy but insanely cool Graph Search…

How Facebook Builds a Digital Signature for You (And Your World) | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com: “Until around 2010, the information now mapped by the Entities Graph lived in your Facebook profiles, as plain text, and these strings of text weren’t linked to any additional information — information that would describe, say, what a school is or which of your friends may have gone there. But then Facebook rolled out object pages, the Like button, and check-ins, making it possible for people to interact and connect with things much the same way they did with people.”

Why Are Most Apps Free?

Interesting…

The History of App Pricing, And Why Most Apps Are Free: “Each time we download an app, we reveal a little bit about ourselves. A glance at the apps on your phone can indicate whether you are a fan of sports, gaming, or public radio, and whether you love to hike or cook or travel. But our choices of apps also reveal our individual tolerance for advertising, and how we feel about the trade-off between paying for content directly, or paying indirectly by (implicitly) agreeing to view ads.”

Blogging Isn’t Dead

I’d have to disagree with this…

Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere – exploreB2B: “While the thought process remains the same today (‘Here is what I think, read my blog’) – the effect is minimal, if anything at all. A viewer may read an article on your blog, maybe even find it interesting, but then never return. Memory of the author, ideas in the post (and certainly the URL), are long forgotten amongst the array of activity online.”

The main reason I would disagree with the sentiment that “blogging is dead” is because it isn’t. Sure, the concept, tools, and way we write our blogs today have changed since the inception of blogging back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but blogging is far from dead.

Even though people aren’t doing the type of hyper-personal blogging which they were doing back in the late 90s and early 2000s anymore, blogging as a medium is still very valid and a great way to carve out your own space on the web. Blogging is a key part of what we consider the open web since it uses “old-school” components like RSS and a blog isn’t a walled garden you have to log into. The type of trade-offs you have with walled gardens such as Facebook are nonexistent when you start your own site given that you run it on your own server, etc. It’s a geeky process and takes a little bit of heavy lifting here and there, but it’s worth it considering that you keep control over what you do.

I started my first blog (and I still write there) on a whim back in July 2011 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done on the web. The magnificent thing about writing your own site is that you can learn so much from others and yourself. You practice and become a better writer and as you devote a little more time to it here and there, you learn about a few other things too (like design, SEO, moving things around on a server, and what you should and shouldn’t put on a site). Looking back at some posts I wrote in 2011 and last year, I have to cringe and scratch my head a great deal, but that’s part of the learning process that comes with anything on the web.

I’ve learned a ton and continue to learn from writing my own site and writing here on MarketingTrends. I’ve blogged elsewhere in the past, but there’s something about writing your own blog that’s so satisfying and in a way, fulfilling to yourself as a writer and user of the internet. While folks who say that blogging is dead have a point because the way we view blogs and publishing in 2013 has changed and adapted a lot over the years, declaring blogging “dead” isn’t justified. Blogging, while old-school (also see email marketing and RSS, neither of which are “dead”), is still one of the best ways to build a solid reputation and name for yourself on the web.

I’d say the feeds that I’m subscribed to in my RSS reader of choice (currently ReadKit) are a solid 50/50 split between bigger sites and smaller blogs written by folks in the industry or just people whose stuff I enjoy reading.

One of the first things I tell anyone looking to go beyond the walled garden principle on the web is for them to go buy a domain name. It’s dead simple and pretty inexpensive. If they want to go beyond that, I’d tell them to go get their hands dirty with a hosted solution first (Tumblr is great for this and I also love Shareist) and eventually move their stuff over to a self-hosted WordPress site (or Movable Type if you’re into that). With all the things we have at hand in 2013 (Squarespace, WordPress, etc), there’s no excuse for why you shouldn’t have your own space on the web.

“And if your words are good, people will read them.”

Thanks for reading our blog.

Devin

Limits of Citizenship

This is a pivotal time for the understanding of citizenship in our country (based on wisdom and legalities at least):

Judge Challenges White House Claims on Authority in Drone Killings – NYTimes.com:‘Are you saying that a U.S. citizen targeted by the United States in a foreign country has no constitutional rights?’ she asked Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general. ‘How broadly are you asserting the right of the United States to target an American citizen? Where is the limit to this?’

Words

Why I’m blogging back here in this format and in this template. Words matter.

Words: “We’ve become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things.

But the most powerful tool on the web is still words.”

Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin

Worth your time to read Pres Obama’s remarks on not just the Trayvon Martin case but how he views the race situation in the US at the present. This reminds me a great deal of the type of candor we heard out of Obama in 2006-2007 that made him so likable by so many:

Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin | The White House: “But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”

Charge for Value Not Hours

Great post that basically lays out the Harrelson Agency philosophy:

How I Earned A Lot More on Projects by Changing My Pricing Strategy: “Most clients want to know what your prices are up front, and a lot of service providers feel obliged to give an answer.

But I found that starting the conversation with the price leads you down a bad road.

Why? It puts my needs ahead of the client’s. It emphasizes what I want out of the relationship, not what they want.”

Just as every client is different, every client relationship (and the investment involved) should be different. That means building trust and taking away the expectation that hiring a marketing agency is just one more business expense rather than a problem solving relationship.

Transmit

Really not sure what I would do without Transmit.

Well, of course I do. I’d use a less featured and elegant solution like Cyberduck or one of the many other FTP clients out there that work across platforms.

But when I’m on my Mac, Transmit is normally one of my top 3 used apps for sure.

Creepy GMail Ads In Your Inbox

Well, this is really creepy (but an easy fix):

New Gmail Inbox Features Ads That Look Like Emails, Above Promotional Email Subscriptions | MarketingLand: “If you’ve converted to the new Gmail inbox, you may have noticed in-line ads that resemble regular emails at the top of  your Promotions tab. These new native-style ads function as paid-for-placement email messages, and essentially circumvent standard email marketing practices. The ads do have a shaded background and ad symbol to differentiate them from the other promotional emails and newsletters users have to actually opt-in to (theoretically, at least).”

I hadn’t noticed these new ads since I don’t have the “new inbox” enabled, but it’s super creepy. GMail is just a business and I know they have to make money somehow, but there’s better ways to do it than placing CPC ads directly in your users’ inboxes. It’s basically spam.

Good for advertisers though… Wonder what kind of click-through rate they’re getting though (I presume a lot of people overlook the “Ad” sticker on them a few times)?

Strange days indeed.