Legal, Ethics and Privacy 1

Privacy is the No. 1 concern of Internet users.  And with all the heaps of data marketers can now collect on consumers online and in social media, those concerns are only going to increase.

To get a better understanding on what role consumer privacy concerns should play in brand marketing strategies, CMO.com did some research. We found that privacy isn’t something brands are willing to talk about, as both agency and brand execs we reached out to declined to comment. So we scoured the Web and found that companies need to be open and honest with consumers on how they’re using data to inform marketing and why targeted advertising is better than the “spray and pray” approach. Here’s what we dug up:

According to MIT Sloan Management Review:
Many large companies have privacy officers who set rules for managing data and audit compliance with those rules; however, hiring a privacy officer is usually seen by senior managers as a compliance cost. A company that respects the relationship with its customers, on the other hand, would think of the privacy officer as a strategic role and would establish a framework of consumer privacy controls as a key marketing and strategic variable.

There are three strategies that companies can follow to transform touch points around privacy into a positive customer experience:

  • Develop user-centric privacy controls to give customers control.
  • Avoid multiple intrusions.
  • Prevent human intrusion by using automation wherever possible.

According to Entrepreneur.com:
Think protecting customer privacy is only an issue for business giants like Facebook and Sony? Think again.

Many small companies have lost customer trust or even been sued over privacy mishaps in recent years. And they’re likely to face more problems as digital data files grow in size and importance to modern business.

You are legally, if not morally, obligated to treat your customers’ private personal data respectfully and fairly. But protecting customer privacy need not be a drain on your company. Done wisely, it can create customer goodwill and even lift sales, while reducing business and legal risks.

Such a strategy involves more than securing a network from hackers and posting a boilerplate privacy policy. Here are seven steps that can help you build a comprehensive and effective privacy plan

Michael Peterman, founder and CEO of VeraData, told DM News:
As a country, as a world, as legislators and consumers, how do we balance Big Data and consumer privacy? How do we protect individual privacy, while taking advantage of the economic benefits of micro-targeting? Considering the raging debates in Washington, it is prudent that we, as an industry, make clear to the world how and what data is being used by commercial entities. It is critical that we, as a society, understand how our information is being used so that we can make informed decisions, have intelligent debates, and ultimately vote in such a way that maintains and enhances our economic strength.

According to Business2Community.com:
As marketers we know that demographic information is beneficial to consumers because it helps to target our messaging and ultimately provide a better experience for consumers. In fact 90 percent of execssurveyed said they’re dependent on consumer data for their marketing efforts. Brands don’t want to waste consumers’ time by sending them irrelevant emails. For example, a single woman doesn’t want to receive emails about diaper sales on Amazon.com but a stay-at-home mother would be eager to receive those emails.

There is also an element of convenience to information storing. When a brand asks to store personal information online, like a credit card number, it’s easier for consumers who frequently shop on a site. Although there are many positives of collecting consumer information for targeted advertisements and email marketing, there are a few ways that brands can ensure that consumers’ personal information is safe. Here are a few tips for brands to consider with their privacy strategy:

  1. Let your consumers know you value their privacy and publicize what you are doing to keep their information secure. Prominently display BBB-certification and other security logos on your Web site and dedicate an entire page to your privacy policy. This will give your Web site additional credibility and build trust in your brand.
  2. Let consumers know when their information is being disclosed. If you plan to use their information for one reason or another, tell consumers at the time you’re asking for the information. For example, have a sign at the cash register, a note at the bottom of a receipt, or a pop-up window on your site before they check out. Also, offer the opportunity for consumers to decline to provide certain information or opt out of the database.
  3. Tell them why you’re asking for their information, and be honest. Many brands ask for consumer’s date of birth to send birthday coupons. Some brands need consumers’ zip code and license number for their return policy because they use return tracking services, like The Retail Equation (TRE) to fight crime. Best Buy, for example, includes their disclosure information and an explanation of how TRE works on their Web site.

I give it a 4/5.

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Analytics 8

Would you like to find out when your social media followers are most active?

Do you want to know which social network drives the most leads to your website?

There are many social media statistics you can track, but it’s important to track the data specific to your business’s use of social media.

Track the right metrics for your community and you’ll better understand how and when to share information, as well as what type of content drives the most traffic to your website.

In this article, you’ll learn how to track and measure four important social media metrics to help you improve your social media marketing.

#1: Determine the Best Times to Post Updates on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter

Because Twitter moves at such a rapid pace, tweets get buried quickly. Knowing when your followers are online plays a crucial part in your tweet’s visibility and success.

Luckily there are some great tools to analyze the activity of your followers.

Tweriod looks at the recent tweets of your followers and provides you with analytics and data that show when your followers are the most active.

Once you connect your Twitter account to Tweriod, it runs an analysis and summarizes the best hours of each day for you to reach your followers with your tweets. The report is delivered to you by email or a DM when the results are ready.

tweroid results

Tweriod results show the optimal times for you to tweet.

Besides recommending the best hours of each day to tweet, Tweriod also gives you an overall analysis you can review to get a sense of your community’s most active days.

tweriod analytics

Tweriod analytics show your followers’ daily activity.

Tweriod also gives you the ability to synchronize this data with your Buffer account to automatically update your auto-scheduling hours.

Tweriod is free for accounts with up to 1000 followers and offers a monthly subscription if you have more followers or are interested in premium features.

Use the data from Tweriod to adjust the days and times you post on Twitter.

Facebook

With Story BumpEdgeRank and the sheer volume of posts that roll through the general news feed, it’s getting difficult to make sure your fans see your page posts. To maximize the lifespan of your posts, you need to know when your fans are most likely to see them.

Facebook Insights offers a simple way to find out when your fans are most likely to be active on Facebook.

To find the best hours to share updates on your Facebook page, pull up the Insights dashboard, click on the Posts tab, and choose “When Your Fans Are Online.”

facebook fans onlineThe Posts tab in Insights shows when your fans are most often online.

Here, Facebook shows you easy-to-read graphs of your fans’ diversity, including the average number of fans who saw your post in any given hour.

insight graph

Insights has easily readable graphs.

That’s it. Now, you just have to post during your strong hours and highlight your most important posts during your peak exposure times.

#2: Find the Magic Number of Facebook Posts per Day

Many studies show the average brand should post about 1-2 times a day on Facebook. You need to know if that’s true for your page.

Find the magic number of posts to share on your page, and you’ll dramatically affect your engagement and community growth.

Facebook’s new Insights dashboard gives you information about your recent posts and the frequency of engagement. To view the information, click on “See All” from your page to reveal the Overview tab.

insights dashboardAccess your Insights dashboard.

Now, export the Overview data into a spreadsheet file directly from the dashboard by selecting “Data Type: Post-Level Data.”

facebook insights dashboardA view of the Facebook Insights dashboard Overview tab.

In the spreadsheet, group the posts by day and compare the average Lifetime Post Total Impressions and Lifetime Engaged Users columns.

For each day, look for the lower engagement numbers to discover which post count is decreasing the average metrics you measure.

That is your magic number of posts to share each day.

#3: Measure the Click-through Rate

If you’re active on social media, you’re likely to share a lot of content from your blog, website, YouTube channel or other media platforms.

When you share a link to your various platforms, your goal is to have people click on your link. The click-through rate (CTR) your links receive is most likely your primary metric for measuring success.

To measure your CTR, you need a URL shortener to track clicks.

Bitly is a free URL shortener with a set of tools to create shortened links, share your links and measure the CTR on your links.

You can shorten links from within the Bitly dashboard or use an extension for Firefox or Chrome to automatically shorten and share links straight from your browser.

After you’ve shortened a link with Bitly, click on it from the library at any time to get detailed information on its CTR, click sources, geographic distribution of clicks and more.

bitly dashboard

This Bitly dashboard shows a CTR of 44 and other data on platforms and demographics.

bitly link origination

This map shows where the clicks on a Bitly link originate.

On the Bitly stats dashboard, you get both aggregated and individual statistics about the links you share from Bitly. Aggregated stats show complete global activity on a link and individual stats show activity specific to your shares of the link.

There are other tools to measure your CTR, but Bitly’s analytics give you more detail than most, for free.

click through ratesBitly shows you click-through rates on every link you shorten.

Spend some time analyzing the data behind your Bitly links to find trends in CTRs and shares that will help you deliver content suited to the needs and interests of your community.

#4: Compare Lead Sources and Conversion Rates

Most brands’ social media strategies use more than one social media platform to drive traffic to their websites and generate new leads.

Although each platform has its place in your strategy, you won’t receive an equal ROIfrom each one. You’ll want to find out which platform generates the best ROI so you can put more effort into your marketing on that platform.

I give it a 4/5.

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Analytics 7

Analytics is changing the world of marketing. Instead of deploying new campaigns in rapid fire fashion, more businesses are taking the time to measure their impact and gain a deeper understanding of the results. 2014 will be another year that sees even more companies jumping on the analytics bandwagon. Whether you’re joining them for the first time or simply looking to garner better results than you did this year, these tips can help you optimize your marketing analytics strategy.

1. Get the Tools

More than likely, you’re trying to maximize your efforts by pushing your marketing message through as many channels as possible. Wherever your customers dwell, you’re right there trying to connect with them. When this is the case, you need a varied arsenal of tools to track your results across those diverse channels. Luckily, there are plenty of tools at your disposal. You can track your website activity with web analytics software, measure your video marketing results with YouTube Analytics, and keep up with your social media efforts by using resident tools like Facebook Insights.

2. Deploy the Right People

It’s been said that in order to manage a big data infrastructure, a company needs a so-called data scientist who is skilled in algorithms, statistical models, and other complex data management technologies. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that every business needs an IT specialist with this degree of knowledge, but doing analytics right does require someone who knows their way around sets of data. The ideal analyst will understand how to communicate data to team members and more importantly, how to put it into action.

3. Keep Mobile in the Mix

Now that smartphones and tablets have become as common as desktop and laptop computers, more businesses are adopting a mobile focus when it comes to their marketing strategies. If you have a mobile website or app for your business, then you should have the same focus. There are quite a few professional solutions you can invest in to track your mobile efforts, but if you foresee things initially being a little tight in 2014, don’t fret because there are a couple of tools that keep the budget in mind.

4. Identify Your Metrics

Most marketing analytics systems come with their own set of established metrics. You’ve got your opens and clicks in your email marketing program, unique visits in your web analytics software, views in your YouTube Analytics dashboard, and so forth. The built-in measurements are extremely useful, but it also helps to incorporate your own metrics. These custom metrics, known key performance indicators, can be tailored around your specific meeting your marketing objectives.

When it comes to setting up your KPIs, it pays to look at your needs through a broad scope. For example, instead of just focusing on sales and conversions, take a cross-departmental approach and look at things like reach, social media engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Combined with standard metrics, these indicators will help you get much closer to the true measure of your marketing impact.

5. Let Data Drive Decisions

The analytics trend is built around far more than crunching numbers. It’s true purpose is transforming raw data into powerful insights that can be used to make effective decisions. So use it. Are your email open rates considerably lower than industry averages? Tweak your subject lines to see if it helps your messages gain more attention in the inbox. Generating a large number of likes, comments, and shares on your Facebook photos? Sprinkle more images into your content mix to further boost engagement. Analytics is at its most effective when you act on what your data is telling you.

6. Integrate and Centralize

Businesses collect data from a variety of sources. Even small companies are generating results from email campaigns, driving engagement in social media, and drawing traffic to their website all on top of processing sales at checkout. This information gets tougher to manage the faster it comes in, and the more you have at your disposal. Data integration is the solution to this problem. Technology companies are steadily creating tools that enable enterprises to use APIs that connect the data from their email software, CRM program, and social media insights in one centrally managed package.

Businesses can no longer view analytics as some sort of optional trend they can do with or without. It’s a must-have concept with the power to take your marketing efforts from mediocre to marvelous. In 2014, let it be the guiding light that drives you to make your biggest impact yet!

I give it a 4/5.

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Analytics 6

Though 2014 has just started and most budgets have been allocated to individual acquisition channels, it is not too late to analyze how to best utilize those budgets over time. In order to do so, one should not confuse short-term goals with long-term goals, since the long-term ROAS will eventually tend to be greater than you are currently seeing.

Below are six items online marketers should factor in when defining their short-term goals based on predicted long-term returns… without the help of a crystal ball!

1. Measure The Average Time Lag From Impression To Conversion

This lag indicates how long you need to wait before being able to truly measure the returns of your current program. For example, there could be an average conversion delay of 8 days, meaning that roughly 50% of all sales occur between the day of click and day 8 — so you definitely want to further look into this and find out how much of an impact this post-click lag has on your daily numbers.

Revenue Delay Over Time

2. Move Away From Average Order Value (AOV), Use Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) Instead

You should ask yourself how many times unique users buy a product from your site and how much revenue it is likely to bring over time. More specifically, you want to move away from regular AOV calculation, which is essentially the average value of a transaction (where AOV=Revenue/Number of Sales) and consider the CLV (where CLV=Revenue over time/Count of unique users).

And you want to run this analysis for each individual channel and type of campaign, down to the most granular levels available such as the keyword level in paid search.

Once you have those AOV and CLV numbers put together, you can easily measure how much more revenue can be expected from a user after the first conversion. Let’s say the AOV is $80 and the CLV $110. That means that, on average, each transaction is worth $80 — but, users tend to return and are likely to buy an additional $30 of your products over time.

CLV

3. Factor In Those Proxy Conversions

Most conversions (such as sales) are preceded by micro-conversions such as users seeing a banner, visiting a product page, subscribing to a newsletter, watching a video about your product, adding an item to the shopping cart, downloading an app, etc.

Analyzing patterns from those proxy metrics to the end conversion is key to understanding how users behave in general. It’s important to determine how to best utilize those proxy metrics to gauge how likely users are to effectively convert in the end.

For instance, if you have noticed that 10% of those users subscribing to your newsletter will eventually buy something on your site in the next 12 months, then you can do the math and estimate how much revenue can be expected from today’s newsletter subscriptions.

Proxy Conversions

For more information about proxy metrics, check out: Using Proxy Metrics As KPIs? Learn The Myths & Limitations

4. Analyze Cross-Channel Revenue Transfers

Most sophisticated online tracking suites offer cross-channel attribution, or at least some basic insights, which has become crucial when optimizing your online marketing mix.

For instance, say paid search is bringing $1M of revenue a month and the numbers are showing that 15% of this revenue originated from a banner campaign. You should adjust both your paid search and banner ROAS goals in order to take into account those assisting impressions/clicks, and potentially decrease your short-term ROAS goal for your short-term banner campaign as you know it is indirectly helping your marketing mix.

Cross-Channel Transfers

5. Analyze The Relationship Between Ad Spend & Revenue For Each Channel

Whether you have a limited or unlimited budget, given a certain efficiency target, you should definitely analyze the relationship between ad spend and revenue for each individual acquisition channel. More specifically, one can use regression analysis in order to establish a correlation such as Revenue=f(Ad Spend) where “f” is a function that can be determined by analyzing historical data.

Similar analysis can be run across all channels, and one thing will always be constant: whatever the online marketing channel, the marginal cost of a conversion is greater than the average cost. What varies though, is the marginal and average cost for each channel, and you want to make sure you go after those cheap marginal conversions first.

For example, looking at the below table, you’d notice that even though your current ROAS in paid search (7.4) is greater than your emailing ROAS (6.6), the incremental ROAS is greater for the emailing campaign — so if you have more budget, you should use it for your emailing campaigns. Those diminishing returns are a reality and need to be taken into consideration, then compared between channels for a more efficient marketing mix.

Delta based of channel volume

6. Predict Seasonality

A fairly straight-forward way to go about predicting current performance is to leverage your own account history or, maybe even better, Google Trends. Based on recent performance and weekly search volume trends, you can easily translate the revenue you currently track into predicted revenue.

Google Trends

Conclusion

Based on the revenue currently being tracked, you should now be able to predict — or rather anticipate — how much additional revenue can be expected in the next couple of weeks or months. More variables could be taken into account, and this type of prediction model definitely needs to be first verified to make sure all variables that matter are part of the equation.

Once you’re confident with the model though, it is a very powerful approach to online marketing analytics and can really help make more informed decisions and spend your budget more efficiently over time for each individual channel.

I give it a 4.5/5.

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Analytics 5

Two things I love a lot:

1. Frameworks, because if I can teach someone a new mental model, a different way of thinking, they can be incredibly successful.

2. Visuals, because if I can paint a simple picture about something complex it means I understand it and in turn I can explain it to others.

This post is at the intersection of those two lovely things.

Each of the six visuals re-frames a unique facet of the digital opportunity/challenge, and shares how to optimally take advantage of the opportunity/challenge.

We’ll start with digital at the highest strategic level, which leads us into content marketing, from there it is a quick hop over to the challenge of metrics and silos, followed by a recommendation to optimize for the global maxima, and we end with the last two visuals that cover social investment and social content strategy.

A vast expanse of our current existence.

All of the visuals are in the form of a venn diagram, though, as you’ll see, I do take enormous liberties with the format. [As Orlando correctly points out in his comment, in taking liberties I’ve mostly created Euler diagrams. Venn diagrams are a subset of Euler diagrams, checkout the difference.]

Ready to learn, smile and cry (just a little)?

Let’s do this!

#1: How to Win, Really Win, at Digital: One-Time PLUS Many-Time Relationships.

The most intense amount of effort companies put into their site happens at site launch or the yearly new product launch. Everyone gets excited, agencies are hired, content is scraped from product box-shots, prettiness is sprinkled everywhere and much happiness, represented by a gigantic sigh of relief, occurs.

All of that is good.

The challenge is that this annual, or semi-annual, update of the content or the website design, is a terrible way to win at digital.

how to stink at digital

All the stuff you’ve launched is great for showcasing your company and its products. It delivers conversions when I visit your site once and buy something. But beyond that engagement, that one-time relationship if you will, there is no reason for me to ever come back. Because you don’t have anything updated on your website. If I remember everything you sell, I might come back the next time I need something from that everything. Or due to some incredible co-incidence if I bump into your brand when I’m thinking of buying something from your everything.

A secondary, under-appreciated, challenge is that search engines value freshness of content. Once you launch your site, it becomes stale in due course (from a organic search signal perspective). It impacts your organic rankings (even if there are tons and tons of factors that influence SEO results).

A final tertiary challenge is that in a world dominated by conversations and social, your static content rarely entices any new conversations. It is great that you’ve added a silly string of buttons to all your product pages, but there is hardly a reason for anyone to click on them. (Most of the time all they are is an ad for addthis or some other “free” provider of those buttons.)

If you want to truly rock digital, this is what your digital strategy should look like…

how to win at digital

So do your periodic product launches/site refreshes. But almost all your content energy should be poured into fueling the creation of dynamic content! You should have an incredibly amazing blog for your company (more on this below). You should have a robust strategy to earn compelling product reviews. You should have a well defined strategy to create videos and how-to content (constantly updated with solutions to new pain points of customers). You should talk about how innovation works in your company. Your employees should tell their stories. And so on and so forth.

This constantly updated content provides me more reasons to visit your website and stay in touch with your brand. It is also immensely beneficial for search engine optimization (great content, delivered fresh, every day!). Finally it generates a constant stream of social amplification and social conversations!

So do you have a static AND dynamic strategy for your digital existence?

Patagonia is amazing at this. They have a fantastic website where I can buy fantastic stuff that I fantastically love. In addition to that they have amazing content like what you’ll see at Patagonia Surfing, and they have a regularly updated awesome blog The Cleanest Line and so much more. As a result I have a one-time and a many-time relationship with the Patagonia brand.

Ditto for one of my favorite hotels in New York, The Standard. Great website for booking rooms and all that. But they also have a great blog/culture guide/all things cool and amazing sub-site called The Standard Culture. I have a time-to-time relationship with their brand (whenever I have to visit New York). I also have a many-time relationship with them because of all this amazing dynamic content – which ensures that I love the brand and that in turn always makes my hands type their url when I have to visit NYC! That is what you want.

I’ll be remiss if I did not provide you with two examples of what magnificent product reviews look like.

I love the ones on Williams Sonoma, they are detailed and include a title, a rating, specification on cooking ability and length of ownership sections are my fave and an overall recommendation. They also have, for each review, social amplification buttons! I also love the reviews on Rent The Runway. Can’t you just imagine how much value those 102 photos and huge number of reviews add? Not to mention how helpful they are to current or prospective customers!!

So what is your balance of static vs. dynamic? Is it as outsized as the second picture above? It should be.

It is the only way to win big.

#2: The Secret to Content Marketing Success.

Content marketing is all the rage these days. Everyone is contenting a lot of content about content marketing. There is even an institute about it.

On the surface it is hard to argue about the value of content. On paper, what could possibly go wrong with creating or curating content with an eye to driving sales or influencing current or future customers?

Nothing.

Except that most content deployed in the service of content marketing sucks. For two simple reasons: 1. It is actually really hard to create good content, you have to know a lot about the subject matter. 2. We simply can’t help pimping ourselves/our products/our services.

When our current/potential customers encounter the fluff pieces which are glorified vehicles for our not so subtle pimping, they quickly see through both things leading to sub-optimal results. And depending on when you want to open your eyes and see reality, you end up realizing content marketing does not work.

Let me share with you my simple rule for creating content that markets itself.

When people ask me how I decide what I write about on this blog, my answer is that prior to launching this blog I’d decided a simple rule for myself. Only post content that is 1. incredible 2. of value to the audienceand 3. sans pimping.

how to suceed at content marketing

I’ve worked very hard to follow this rule every single time I post something. The content here – and you are the ultimate judge of this – represents what I consider to be something incredible that you will find to be of value. I have a lot of other incredible things to write, but if I believe you won’t find them to be of value, it gets killed. (I wish you knew how many posts I’ve discarded because they did not meet that simple criteria!)

The rule impacts my work in other, big, ways. For example, if I did not have time to write something incredible of value, I’ve not written anything. The deadline comes and goes, if I have nothing, you get nothing. It is also the reason my posting schedule over the last five years has gone from twice a week to once a week to once every two weeks to once every three weeks. (Amazingly, the blog traffic has gone from 2k a month to 150k a month!)

Finally, I’ve never accepted ads on this blog. In the right nav you’ll see two discreet sections with my books and my start up Market Motive. That could possibly be considered advertising. There are three posts out of 283 about my book, and just five that mention Market Motive. Very little pimping, because I respect your capability to see what I’m selling and buy it if you feel it is a fit for you. (And you have!)

I’m not unique in following the above visual. There are many, many others. People and companies. Waaaaay more successful than I can ever dream of becoming. If content marketing is their strategy, the common thread is always the same. Something incredible, of value, with the barest minimum pimping.

It is the only way to win big.

#3: Data, Data Everywhere and Yet We are an Abject Failure.

I work with many medium to large companies around the world. Every single one has an impressive array of tools, many of them even have an equally impressive array of analysts.

Yet a heartbreakingly huge number of them stink at a company level. By that I mean they might have some pockets of excellence, but overall their site stinks, their customer experience (end-to-end) is awful, and their digital strategy is, on the greatest possible day when every single star is aligned perfectly, adding 1/10th the value it should.

Why?

It is the simple combination of how each division/group of people inside, and sometimes outside (agencies, et. al.), the company are organized and incentivized (as in what metrics determine their bonus).

acquisition behaviour outcome metrics

Acquisition is everything we do to attract traffic. Behavior covers everything that happens after the person lands on our mobile or desktop site. Outcomes are what happen just before the visitor leaves our site (money to us, satisfaction to them).

Companies have an Email team and an SEO team and a PPC team and a Social Media team and a Display team and…. many teams for acquisition. They are often measured on impressions (or worse, “connections”) and clicks. Then that is all they optimize for. They take zero responsibility for crappy landing pages, or even 404s on landing pages.

Then there is the “site team.” Euphemism for we will do anything to keep the site up but really all we do is launch pages that someone will ask us for and we really don’t know who is coming to the site or what is driving them there and we rarely speak to marketing or agency but the site is pretty cool, we think.

Finally, there is someone in IT responsible for running the cart and checkout process. It is unclear that what their bonus is based on, but it is rarely abandonment rates or task completion rates.

Depending on other variables, there might be someone who looks at conversion rates (usually sans a lot of other context).

Each might work on their own little circle, there is no incentive to look end-to-end, or even at the overlaps/hand-offs.

So fix that.

Make sure your executive dashboards obsess about acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics. Make sure that every single report you create has acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics (download this example:Page Efficiency Analysis Report).

Force each team to think end-to-end and you will incentivize the right behavior across your company.

It is the only way to win big.

[Bonus: Download nine additional custom reports, and a VP-level dashboard, I’ve created with ABO as a foundation, directly into your Google Analytics account: Occam’s Razor Awesomeness ]

#4: Optimize for your Global Maxima: Obsess About Macro AND Micro Outcomes!

The average conversion rate for a typical top ecommerce site is around 2%. And sadly, we are not at the top, so we tend to do worse.

When we obsess only about conversion rates on our website, the problem is that that is an obsession with just 2% of the site outcomes. We end up looking at the world through a straw, and the best we can do is a lot less than the best we can actually accomplish.

macro conversion local maxima

This is not to say that you should not worry about conversion. You should. But when your strategy looks like the one above, powered by looking through a straw, you’ll optimize for the local maxima.

That is not terrible. It is just not awesome. Your parents will always pat you on your head and say “Oh sweetie, you could have been something. Something so much more.”

And who wants that? You want to live up to your fullest potential!

That means you’ll have to care about your macro-outcome, the ecommerce conversion or your lead submitted conversion or donations made to your non-profit conversion. But you’ll also have to care about your micro-outcomes!

Some of these micro-outcomes will directly lead to your macro-outcome. For example, people signing up for your email marketing list will convert in the near future. Or people who create wish lists, sign up for product alerts, watch product videos today etc. They are all signaling intent to convert.

But other micro-outcomes might not be directly related to a near future macro-outcome. For example, people who subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed. Or people who follow you on social media or subscribe to your YouTube channel or sign-up to volunteer for your non-profit or download your utility marketing mobile app etc. All these outcomes bring people closer to your brand, an awesome outcome.

micro conversions global maxima

When you measure the success of your AdWords campaigns or your email blasts or your Facebook ads or any other acquisition initiative, make sure you report your macro-conversion rate. But don’t stop there. Make sure you report your micro-conversion rate as well. Teach your company to optimize their digital strategy for a portfolio of outcomes, macro plus micro. And if you compute economic value of digital – the value of macro plus micro outcomes – your career will be on the fastest possible track to fame and happiness!

Best of all, this will mean you are optimizing for the global maxima.

It is the only way to win big.

[Bonus: Learn more about macro and micro conversions as they apply to a B2B company, Texas Instruments, and a technical support site .]

#5: Rent or Own? The Optimal Social Media Investment Strategy.

This is a new trend amongst companies. Swept up in the fervor of Google+, Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms, they are massively shifting their resources (people, time, dineros) into their presence on these new platforms.

That in of itself is not a bad thing. Everyone knows there are a quadrillion people on Facebook. It is absolutely a valuable audience.

The bad thing is that all this seems to come at the cost of investing resources on efforts related to the company’s website. So many companies have irrelevant posts by expensive employees on Facebook all day long (more on this below), and don’t spent the little bit of money to create a mobile website. #arrrrrhhhhh

Remember, when you create a presence on Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo, Vkontakte, you are renting.

rent own terrible balance with social 3

You don’t own the domain, you don’t own the customer data, you don’t create/own the rules, you can’t influence changes, you don’t have a say in how many characters you can type or how long your video can be or how much creativity you can express. You play by their rules (after all you are just renting).

This does not make those platforms any less valuable. But it is astounding silly to have your rented presence come at the cost of a platform you own!

Build your own magnificent platform first. Where you create the rules, you control the evolution, you own the customer data, you have a direct relationship with your audience, you get to decide what happens next (or if ever!), and there are no limits to your experimentation with creativity!

rent own site social great balance

Once you nail your own existence, move on to nailing your rent existence.

And going forward, always forever remember the balance between own and rent. Outsized investment in ownand an appropriate, demonstrated by the best social media metrics, investment in rent.

It is the only way to win big.

#6: The World’s Greatest Social Media Strategy.

Why does L’Oreal Paris USA, a multi-billion dollar corporation with a marketing budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, have fewer followers than I do on Twitter?

Why is the talking about this brand metric for Avis rent-a-car less than half of what it is for my brand page (and I have 50,000 fewer Likes than they do!)? Remember, Avis is a corporation with thousands of employees in tons of countries.

Why does TravelZoo have 224k fewer Followers on Google+ than I do?

All these companies are big and magnificent, and I’m very small and inconsequential. So, why?

The answer is simple: this is their social media strategy…

embarassin social strategies

They wake up everyday and, on the world’s greatest channels for conversations, they shout at people. Every single post they write, every single tweet they send, is simply another variation of BUY IT NOW!

The challenge is, as the See Think Do framework emphasizes, a tiny, tiny, minority of the audience is there to buy anything. (If you need more proof, just see how poorly advertising performs on these platforms.)

Just because you are good at shouting on TV/Radio/Print/Display does not imply that that is what you do on social media. Even if you somehow manage to get a bunch of Likes/Followers/+1s, your conversation rate, amplification rate and applause rate will be pathetic.

So stop that.

These channels are awesome (also see visual #5 above). Here’s the strategy that works…

incredible social media strategy

Pimp your stuff sometimes – say twice a week. And if you can be clever about it, like getting your customers to pimp for you, even better.

Ninety-five percent of the time create conversations and try to add value to your customers/likers/+1ers.

Write about topics both of you are interested in. If you sell smoothies, talk about food, how to develop a great palette, travel, evolution, agriculture, the future of the planet… the topics are endless.

Provide utility. Share tips on how to make my life better. Share tips on a healthy lifestyles, exercise, wellness of children, latest relevant mobile apps…. the topics are endless.

Your customers have given you permission to interrupt their day. Don’t suck at it. Be respectful of their attention. Create a warm space in their heart for your brand. Contribute something incredible, of value.

That is the only way to win big.

That’s it. Six simple visualizations, and solutions, for complex marketing, analytics and life challenges.

As always, it is your turn now.

Is there a venn diagram that resonates more with you than others? Which one least reflects reality? What does your company’s digital balance between static and dynamic content look like? What percent of your social contributions is BUY IT NOW? Does your company execute for visual number one or two for outcomes? How incredible and of value is your content marketing content?

I give it a 4/5.

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Analytics 4

The most common mistakes digital practitioners and leaders make is to either do things in the wrong order, or to try and do too much at one time.

Progress in digital marketing and analytics in either scenario becomes painful (the organization / systems / thinking is simply not in the optimal position). People become frustrated (you hire smart people, they run off to build you the Taj Mahal, meanwhile you don’t have a functioning toilet). Business results suffer.

There is something in humans that makes us want to do the hard things, to shoot for the most complex right away, to want to be challenged to infinity. In many cases, it is a tendency we have to learn to restrain.

More often than not, magnificent success results from executing a business plan that is rooted in a strong understanding of the landscape of possibilities, and a deep self-awareness of business capabilities. These business plans will contain a structured approach, do this, then do this2, then make sure we are really good at this3, then this 4 and so on and so forth.

In other words: Evolution. It works.

Said another way, digital revolutions more often than not fail. One day your leadership realizes you stink at digital (all of it or just Facebook or search and display or mobile or whatever). They find the closest industry leader (L’Oreal, Booking, Zyrtec, Innocent Drinks, CSC Consulting). They say: “Do whatever we need to in order to get there in 90 days. Go!!”

If you hear that, run. Else you’ll be standing in a place where a flaming crater will appear in the near future.

I’ll be the first to admit that selling evolution is hard. Revolutions just sound so darn sexy! Still, reality is reality.

In this post I want to arm you with the evolution you should undertake in your companies when it comes to marketing and analytics. Additionally, I’ll make the hard tough difficult painful choices on your behalf and order things to deliver the highest possible impact, so you’ll know exactly what to do and what you will get from it all.

In other words: Two inspiring ladders of awesomeness for you! One for digital marketing and one for digital analytics.

Your ladder might look a little different, but I hope the process I follow will help you make the hard choices most relevant for your company and the evolutionary position it finds itself in.

Ready?

Digital Marketing: Ladder of Awesomeness/Sustainable Success.

My current title is Digital Marketing Evangelist so you can just imagine how absolutely excited I am about all the digital possibilities. Owning audiences, instead of just renting them. Earning time, instead of just buying it on TV. Creating persistent relationships, instead of just transient ones. Not letting budgets limit our creativity. And so much more. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I want to do everything right away. I want to go from single cell life to fully formed homo sepians in seven days.

I’ve also discovered that that is the easiest path to failure. : )

So, based on my spectacular successes and painful failures around the world, I’ve developed a ladder of sustainable success. Here is what it looks like:

digital marketing ladder of magnificient success 1

Let’s look at each step on the ladder in some detail.

The very first thing you want to do is create an acceptable website. One that reflects the customer expectations of 2013. A good example, for e-commerce and non-ecommerce sites, is http://www.csc.com/. Look at the colors. Look at the icons. Look at the way the text is laid out, how video is incorporated, the structure of the site and everything else. Your first job is to beat them at everything. During this stage you should also invest a lot in Search Engine Optimization. You will have great content, in a good experience, and focus on getting free traffic.

[To learn more about the Do in stage one please review my See-Think-Do-Coddle framework for content, marketing and measurement.]

Second, create the world’s greatest mobile experience. Yes. Don’t do paid search. Don’t run to buy display ads. Definitely do not start Tweeting or embarrassing your brand on Facebook (we’ll do that in a bit). Focus on the mobile experience. Because of this lovely graph from Business Insider and it’s representation platforms people use to visit top destinations….

business insider mobile visits behavior

Scary, right? Exciting, right? Focus on mobile like crazy, tablets in particular. Beat CSC’s experience. BeatMotrin. Beat Beneful. Don’t be like IBM’s tablet experience (old, substantially brand negative). Or Ford (it is amazing that in 2013, for such an expensive product, it looks so…. 2005).

Now that you have build a decent foundation and are getting a decent amount of free traffic you know what is working and what is not, you are ready to move to step three. Start investing in your email marketing strategy for extending relationships, and your paid search strategy for brand terms. Email allows you to start building a owned audience that you can (if you don’t stink) start relying on (rather than constantly having torent them from TV or Google). People typing a million variations phrases with your brand terms are looking for you, make sure you show up and capture the traffic you deserve.

Step four is focusing on expanding your reach to new relevant audiences. The cool part about display advertising is that we can build our brands cost effectively, introduce our products to a new audience, and create demand based on a number of intent signals (this last part is often missing from offline media). Based on what people read, what sites they’ve visited, their demographic and psychographic signals and so much more. Don’t go all crazy with display ads, just focus on your brand, products and services. Learn, get better, try some more.

The site is now working well across platforms, we are starting to get a lot of free and some paid traffic, we are optimizing for conversions and task completion rate, time to move to step five in the ladder and focus on creating micro-outcomes on our website. Here is what it looks like for the Venetian hotel and casino in Macao:

macro micro outcomes venetian macao

In orange is the macro-outcome (number of casino room reservations), in purple are the micro-outcomes. All clustered into See-Think-Do. Less than two percent of people on your website will complete the macro-outcome (conversion). Having a robust cluster of micro-outcomes allows you to deliver something of value to the other 98% and establish a relationship with them (and get some economic value in exchange!). The smartest companies in the world are very good at this, step five. It does require working with your CMO, VPs, Directors, IT, Offline Sales, UX, IT, and more people than you could ever imagine. It is worth it.

Time to start kicking things up a notch in step six. Start investing in creating the world’s most beautiful, functional, brand-enhancing, customer joy inducing website! You have content, you have traffic, you have micro-outcomes, you are making loads of money. Invest in the site experience now to differentiate yourself from the competition, and create irrational loyalty. Beat Bonobos (I. Love. Them!). Beat L’Oreal (except for their irritating 40 question survey in a single long window, they are nearly flawless). Beat Palms casino (try booking, try the menu, try anything, pretty awesome all around).

You are a big company and you can do two big things at one time. Now is also the right time to start investing in Facebook and YouTube. These two social platforms (eschew others at this point) allow you to learn how to earn attention in two different form factors. In both cases you’ll learn quickly that pimping is the best way to fail. Expressed by me on behalf of all humans on earth: The world’s greatest social media strategy: 1. Entertain Me 2. Inform Me. 3. Provide Utility. Nothing else works. Learn that in step six.

[Bonus: Facebook Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value ]

Now that your earned, owned and paid media strategies are in full swing, and you are the proud owner of the world’s greatest desktop and mobile website, let’s focus on enhancing your ability to get a massive audience.(Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod)

long tail orgasm1

Step seven is to to build out an incredible category/industry/ecosystem targeting Search and Display strategy. This will result in you getting magnificent at brand marketing, at the See and Think stages. The result will be an even larger owned audience, less getting into dog-eat-dog Do stage fights. You’ll have complete spectrum of coverage, being there from understanding customer intent at the earliest stages and converting that into demand for what you have to offer.

From step five on you were likely already delivering some multi-channel value for your company. Some of your micro-outcomes were likely already connected to your offline existence (maps, phone calls, offer redemptions, etc.). Now in step eight, we really kick things up multiple notches when it comes to creating a truly fantastic multi-channel (or the flavor of the month, omni-channel) execution engine.

multichannel marketing value analysis framework

The picture above is from my first book, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, from page 235. It is a part of multi-channel analytics chapter.

There is a lot of difficult work to be done (systems, processes, integrations, optimizations) in order to ensure that your digital existence is driving nonline value. Now is the time to undertake that work. Not in step three. Definitely not in step one. Now. Step eight (after you’ve gotten the first seven things done).

The last step before nirvana, step nine, is to focus on getting better at loyalty marketing. (Cartoon by Tom Fishburne)

brand loyalty

My definition of loyalty marketing, from the Coddle-stage, is to create unique content and to execute targeted marketing for those people/business entities, who have purchased from you two times or more. I have a higher standard for who our customer is. Not the person/business entity who’s purchased from us once (they might not have had a choice), but the entity that’s purchased from us twice at least (because the second time they made a choice to do business with us). Have a completely separate and focused set of people and work to deliver joy and delight to these entities. It is the only recipe for long term sustainable success.

Now you know the nine steps to nirvana. And you know exactly the order in which you should consider prioritizing your efforts. If you do step five before two, you can. But your success will be much more limited.

Understand the choices that resulted in what you are supposed to do in each step, then customize this, using the choices above, to create your own step ladder to deliver amazing digital marketing success to your company.

The cool thing about the web is that you don’t have to do all of the above based on faith, you have a BFF in data! Let’s go there.

Digital Analytics: Ladder of Awesomeness/Sustainable Success.

If you open your copy of Google/Adobe Analytics or CoreMetrics or Webtrekk you’ll notice that every single report has a gigantic number of metrics in it. And…. they have many reports!

So on day one, as soon as we get access to the digital analytics tool, we go all crazy. Not only do we puke out a lot of data to every breathing human up and down the chain of command, we treat every bit of data with equal importance. The first part is frustrating, the second part is deadly.

Regardless of if you are a B2B or B2C or A2Z company, regardless of if you are big or small, regardless of how great you think you are, I believe you can benefit from taking one step at a time when it comes to ensuring that data analysis drives business value. It might seem sacrilegious to suggest that you should worry about Visits first and not Profitability, but that is exactly what I’m going suggest because when we overshoot our capabilities, we fail to hit even our local maxima (forget about ever hitting the global maxima !).

My assumption is that everyone on this blog is smart enough to balance for focus and ensuring the company stays a viable entity as it climbs each step in the ladder of success. Hence none of you will mis-understand that recommending a focus on CPA in stage four means you run the company to the ground because you ignore business fundamentals!

[A tiny hidden agenda I have in this post is to share how to make hard choices. You can imagine how difficult it is to say focus on page depth, don’t focus on conversion rate, or don’t worry about any content metric, focus on clicks. It seems crazy. But a big part of being successful is being able to understand business reality and have the skill to make these hard choices. I hope you’ll pick up a couple of tips about making those choices.

I give it a 4/5.

 

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Analytics 3

Measuring marketing effectiveness has always been a challenge. According to Unica’s State of Marketing in 2011 report , 57% of marketers cited “measurement, analysis, and learning” as the biggest bottleneck they face within their organizations .

The trouble is, when most marketers hear the word ‘analytics,’ they tend to think of the metrics you’d typically associate with a web analytics tool like Google Analytics — traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, etc. While web analytics can provide you with a wealth of insight and data into the technical performance of your website, marketers really need much richer data to understand the performance of their marketing campaigns, something that web analytics alone can’t provide.

Enter marketing analytics.

The Difference Between Web Analytics and Marketing Analytics

So what exactly makes marketing analytics different than web analytics? HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe can clarify:

“Web analytics measure things a webmaster cares about, like page load times, page views per visit, and time on site. Marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like traffic, leads, and sales, and which events (both on and off your website) influence whether leads become customers. Marketing analytics includes data not only from your website, but also from other sources like email, social media, and even offline events. Marketing analytics are also usually people-centric, featuring the prospect, lead, or customer as the unit of focus, whereas web analytics usually regard the page view as the unit of focus in its reports.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, boss!

With marketing analytics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their marketing , not just the effectiveness of their website. Using marketing analytics allows marketers to identify how each of their marketing initiatives (e.g. social media vs. blogging vs. email marketing , etc.) stack up against one another, determine the true ROI of their activities, and understand how well they’re achieving their business goals. As a result of the information they can gather from their marketing analytics, marketers can also diagnose deficiencies in specific channels in their marketing mix, and make adjustments to strategies and tactics to improve their overall marketing program . Sounds pretty sweet, huh?

The Marketer’s Measurement Challenge

Yeah — pretty sweet. Yet, according to Ifbyphone’s 2011 State of Marketing Measurement report , even though 82% of marketers say their executive management expects every campaign to be measured, less than a third can effectively evaluate the ROI of each channel. Furthermore, web analytics serves as the top measurement tool for evaluating marketing campaign effectiveness. And even then, only 48% of marketers are using it!

marketing measurement2 resized 600

So why is marketing analytics so underutilized by many marketers? Probably because of a lack of cohesion. The fact of the matter is, most marketers need to have a number of different marketing analytics platforms in place in order to glean all the insights they need to understand their marketing performance and, thus, make sound decisions. They gather data about their email marketing through the analytics provided by their email service provider, information about their social media performance through their social media monitoring tool, blog analytics from their blogging platform, and the list goes on. Sounds like kind of a pain, huh? No wonder marketers mainly stick to web analytics tools like Google Analytics and have trouble measuring their marketing.

Why Marketing Analytics Matter

So why exactly do marketing analytics matter? Quite simply, because web analytics just isn’t enough. The data web analytics provides just don’t cut it for marketers. In fact, this past Monday, the Web Analytics Association officially announced its name change to the Digital Analytics Association and distributed a press release explaining why the association’s former name no longer made sense in a market where customer interactions have clearly overrun the boundaries of a website.

DAA

Let’s face it: today’s marketing goes well beyond the bounds of your website. It’s the intersection of what happens between your marketing channels and the outcome on the other side that provides the most marketing insight.

You can spend hours and hours slicing and dicing data in web analytics tools, comparing new vs. repeat visitors month over month over month, but when it comes down to it, you’ll never have a comprehensive understanding of how your marketing is doing. Here’s how marketing analytics makes up for that deficiency…

What Marketing Analytics Can Do For You

There are quite a few things that marketing analytics achieves where website analytics falls short. Let’s highlight three of the main differentiators:

1. Integration Across Different Marketing Channels

With marketing analytics, you have a good, solid look into the direct relationships between your marketing channels. It’s great to be able to see how each of your individual channels (e.g. social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, etc.) are performing, but the true power of analytics comes into play when you can easily tie the effect of multiple channels’ performances together .

For instance, let’s say you did an email send to a segment of your leads. Marketing analytics can not only tell you how many people clicked through from your email to your website, but also how many of those people actually converted into leads for your business when they got there. Furthermore, you can compare the impact of that individual email send with other marketing initiatives. Did that email generate more leads than the blog post you published yesterday? What about compared to your social presence?

sources prod page

2. People-Centric Data on the Customer Lifecycle

As you learned earlier, a key differentiator between web analytics and marketing analytics is that the latter uses the person — not the page view — as the focal point . This enables you to track how your individual prospects and leads are interacting with your various marketing initiatives and channels over time. How did an individual lead first come to find your website? In search? Via Facebook? From direct traffic? Is that lead an active part of your email subscriber base, often clicking and converting on marketing offers presented via email? Do they read your blog? Marketing analytics can tell you all of this and more, providing you with extremely valuable lead intelligence that can be applied to such marketing initiatives as lead nurturing .

In addition, taking a look at all of this information in aggregate can help you understand trends among your prospects and leads and which marketing activities are valuable at different stages in the sales cycle. Perhaps you find that many customers’ last point of conversion was on a certain marketing offer(s). Having this data makes it possible to implement an effective lead management process, enabling you to score and prioritize your leads and identify which activities contribute to a marketing qualified lead for your business.

reverse funnel 02 resized 600 3. Closed-Loop Data

Perhaps the sexiest function of marketing analytics is its ability to tie marketing activities to sales. Sure, your blog may be effective in generating leads, but are those leads actually turning into customers and making your business money? Closed-loop marketing analyticscan tell you. The only dependency here is that your marketing analytics system be hooked up with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform such as Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, etc.

Having this closed-loop data can help you determine whether your individual marketing initiatives are actually contributing to the bottom line. Through it, you can determine which channels are most critical for driving sales. Perhaps you find that your blog is your most effective channel for generating customers, or conversely, you find that social media is really only powerful as an engagement mechanism, not a source of sales.

sources chart

What You Can Do With Marketing Analytics

All of the insights, information, and data you can gather from a marketing analytics tool is really only useful if you do something with it. The true value of analytics isn’t just to prove to your boss that all the marketing activities you’re doing are worth the time and money; it’s also to help you improve and optimize your marketing performance — on both an individual channel-by-channel basis as well as an overall, cross-channel machine.

We’ve touched on some of the things you can do with your analytics above, but we’ve really only scraped the surface of how powerful analytics can be when put to good use. To be honest, it’s fodder for a completely separate blog post, and we cover a lot of it in our article about different ways to make your marketing analytics actionable .

The important thing to realize here is, if you’re relying solely on web analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of powerful data that can help inform your marketing strategy. When evaluating analytics tools for your business, whether you’re evaluating HubSpot’s marketing analytics tools (which can do all of the above in one integrated platform) or other platforms, be sure you’re looking for evidence of marketing analytics , not just website analytics. Here’s a great guide to follow so you can be sure you’re asking the right questions.

How are you faring in terms of marketing measurement? Are your analytics sophisticated enough to effectively measure your marketing performance? 

I give it a 5/5.

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