Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Follow up: Yes, search services need to advertise too…

Note: this post originally appeared on the SimKap Advisory Corp. blog on January 14, 2014

Follow up based
on a post from Medium
I recently wrote a post about Google's Search Ad in India. It spoke to capturing and effectively relaying an "experience" to the audience. On the surface, this is great. The content is great. I enjoyed the ad. I shared it. Three million others got in on the action. Success, right? Right. But then I came across an article on Medium that asked a pretty simple question: Why did Google make an ad for promoting “Search” in India where it has over 97% market share? 

Hm. Good point. Why market to an audience who have already bought in to your services/product/message? The Answer?

The answer lies in threats that Google sees in a future where a search query starting with a browser visit to www.google.com URL itself may be irrelevant in the fast emerging world of connected smart mobile devices. As is apparent from chart below, Mobile is already 62.5% of traffic in India compared to 37.5% for desktop — So, Google knows that more and more of its target users are on mobile and not on desktops. But even on mobile, the dominant use case is shifting towards access from smart devices rather than from features phones. - Himanshu Gupta on Medium

Mobile vs. Desktop - India 2011

Kind of interesting, no? Even with a massive marketshare, Google is paying attention to how its users and the online public at large are searching, and actively positioning themselves to make sure they stay top-of-mind.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yes, search services need to advertise too...

When I see ads/marketing for digital products and services (like Chrome, Skype, etc.) I imagine how difficult it must be to develop multi-media campaigns that effectively get the "experience" in question across to a particular audience. And then I see ads like the one below for Google Search and marvel at how they have so effectively (and, seemingly easily) relayed a not-so-easy-to-relay message to so many who may not have "got it" before, yet again affirming my faith in all things Google.

Thanks to Karim Kanji for sharing.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

C is for Cookie!

NOTE: this post originally appeared on the scratch blog on March 26, 2013

Previously, on the scratch blog: 

Elan yammered on about how he thinks he is fat, and how it bothers him that his spammy online activities result in ad-upon-ad from companies trying to sell him weight loss solutions.

And now…

Elan Packer: Things you should know when you travel the Interweb

People on the Internet track things. They cookie (no, Elan, not THAT kind of cookie), tag and retarget. They hitch on to your online travels and try to deliver relevant—or in many cases seemingly NOT relevant (but based on your activity to date all the same)—messaging in the form of ads. Or they’re just trying to get as many impressions as possible. The strategies and tactics vary, but ultimately the facts remain:
  • Where you go/where you have been is trackable.
  • Your search habits are predictable/targetable.
    • That said, just because you’ve entered a search term relevant to someone’s business, doesn’t mean you’re ready to be bombarded with their sales pitch, but this, clearly, happens.
  • SEM and SEO retargeting.
    • What route (paid/organic) did they take to get to your site, and what did they do once they got there?
    • Combine those two factors and you have a “better” sense of that consumer’s behaviour.
  • You can be targeted based on your email activity.
    • Did you unsubscribe? Did you click on the link? Did you wait a week before you clicked on the link? Did you forward the email? Was there retargeting in the body of the email body, which doesn’t require you to do anything but open the email.
  • You can retarget contextually.
    • Inferences are made based on your online actions. If you are looking into airfare options to Florida, it’s possible that the airline in question, and local hotel are going to mutually benefit by targeting their respective site traffic.
Here endeth the lesson.

Further… Elan, you’re not fat. You’re just big-boned. And that’s ok. We like you. We really, really like you. And, based on what we’ve just discussed… the Internet? It only knows what you tell it. Somehow, someway, you’ve either acted in such a way that the Internet can assume/infer fatness, or you’ve directly told it that you’re fat. Why would you do that? It’s just weird.

For some extra fun, just for Elan: A site for people addicted to Dr. Pepper.

Friday, January 4, 2013

I Love Landing Pages

[NOTE: if you don't want to read my drivel, you can skip down to the part where I source some smart people talking about landing pages]

Think of the sections of a site as ingredients, and the variables (button color, etc.) as spices. Your landing page is a meal. If its ingredients suck… spices won’t help. 
- Bryan Eisenberg paraphrased in this aimclear blog post.

Landing Pages. There seems to a bit of confusion surrounding their value and usage. Despite, or perhaps because of this confusion, there are also a significant number of people (at least in my world right now) who have a strong opinion about Landing Pages and the value they may or may not bring to the digital marketing table.

It's one thing to have an argument for or against landing pages, or whether the practice is useful/valuable for your brand and business. It's quite another to be in that conversation and not know what they are how they can or should be used.

That said, if you google "landing pages," the sheer number of results that come up speaking to "Landing Pages: Why you should care", "What are Landing Pages", "Why your Landing Page sucks" and "Top 10 ways to improve your Landing Page" tells me that a lot of people are looking for information on this subject, and clearly many of them aren't getting what they want (apparently many landing pages "suck"). Maybe I shouldn't be surprised there's a lot of confusion surrounding them. Maybe I should spend more time learning how to clearly define and deliver the value I believe in...

Working in the digital space, I've always made the assumption (wrongly, it seems) that the concept and usage of a landing page is quite clear: The client/brand/organization/person has something they want to promote or focus on. They need to direct users to a page that speaks to that, and that only, and that presents a clear call to action.

The problem: The website pushes bigger picture messaging and drills down to more specific calls-to-action as users navigate. It isn't/wasn't built to clearly/definitely push one goal or action, or at least not the goal or action this "campaign" is focusing on.

The solution: Create a page that does focus on the focus issue, and that pushes the singular goal or action.

That's the simple way of looking at it... with that focused, targeted page our advertising will be more effective (because a user won't be clicking through to a general brand page, they'll be clicking through to a page that reflects the ad or search result they click on and, ultimately, the intent behind the reason they were online in the first place), our search results will be better and our conversion opportunities will be higher because there won't be a hierarchy of clickthrough decisions to choose from. If the page is designed properly, the next step(s) should be very clear.

Add to that remarketing/retargeting strategies, different user/demographic behaviours for different products and calls-to-action... the concept of a landing page specific to a message, product, campaign, etc. makes a lot of sense, no?

Yes. That said, let's be honest: There are people who are WAY smarter than I am who spin a much better yarn on Landing Pages. Here's one of my favourites from +Marty Weintraub's aimclear (well, not Marty himself, rather from +Lauren Litwinka) ...

Masterful Landing Page Optimization: Do It For the Beagles #SESNY

The Landing Page. It’s one of the most important elements of your online marketing campaign. Why? Because it’s what a healthy bulk of your online marketing efforts – organic, paid, and social – point towards. So why are so many landing pages so sucky nope – sucky is the most accurate word to describe them.


More for your reading pleasure...

Best Landing Page Definitions:

According to...

A landing page is a website page that allows you to capture a visitor's information through a lead form.
Kissmetrics: (less of a definition, and more of a "why")
A well-designed landing page can greatly increase conversions for your PPC or email marketing campaigns. Rather than directing visitors from those sources to your general website (where they may have a hard time finding what they’re looking for), you can direct them to a specially-designed landing page that steers them in exactly the direction you want them to take.
And on of my faves...

The webpage where customers end up after they click your ad. 

Technorati token: DJ993Y76HXY8

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Taking a break in the Dad Lounge

Stopped by Gary Edgar's "The Dad Lounge" last week, settled in for a bit with a beer, talked technology... and kids. Next post will likely be on podcasts and how they still have a place in the digital space.

Take a listen here: Mike Connell joins the podcast to talk about technology, baby monitors and vampire killing marionettes. Don’t miss episode 2.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social networks and kids

My son checking his tweets, likes, shares and stock prices
Working in the digital space provides a lot of insight into the goods and bads of social media, especially as it pertains to the family and our kids. Like any media, there are inherent dangers for the uninitiated, but even us "experts" find ourselves in trouble and unsure about how to act in certain situations. My kids are still too young to have online personas of their own, however I was recently part of a conversation where the mum was dead-set against her daughter (13) being on Facebook for at least another year, even though all of her other friends were already there and ultimately I had to disagree.

I did think "fair enough" out of the gate, but I quickly had to ask why. In all transparency the subsequent conversation occurred in my head. I didn't ask her why to her face. She was very... set on her tack (yes, please use sailing jargon whenever possible) and since I hadn't had a chance to make this kind of decision for my own family I was going to reserve judgement/public confrontation (for now).

But really: Why? At this stage, we (both my wife and I) lean towards education and awareness versus avoidance. By refusing to let your kids on Facebook at, say, 13, are you effectively stopping them? Or are they finding ways to get on there with their friends unbeknownst to you, armed with zero knowledge or sense of caution and care. All that said, I'm also not a fan of "but Zane and Barbara Sue's parents said it was ok" (names are altered to protect the innocent... from exposure on this blog, but also from those horrible handles), but where do we set the boundaries? Do we stay firm with "I said 14, and 14 it remains." What if your son or daughter are a mature 12 or 13 year old? What if they show aptitude and interest in things that can really only be found online? Stick to our guns, or bend, educate and monitor?

I don't have the answer, but if my kids are anything like me (and so far, maddeningly, they are), they'll find a way to go wherever and whenever I don't want them to. Just to spite me. So, for now, I'm all about showing them the way, exhibiting the dos and don'ts and making it easy to find out what to do next. They are only almost-four and almost-two, so this isn't something I have to address yet, but I also know that this will come up WAY before 13 or 14. Possibly in the next couple of months. Kidding. Kind of.

Make sense, or am I a bad parent?

NOTE: I don't really want an answer to the latter...

Another note: There's a great article on brighterlife.ca that goes a lot deeper into "How to keep your kids safe online". I'm a fan of their three Cs of cyberspace safety: content, conduct, contact. Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Don't bet against the Internet

This post originally appeared on the scratch blog on July 31, 2012.
Don’t let the words f*ck you up. It’s not social media you’re betting against, it’s the Internet… and if you’re betting against the Internet, I wish you the best of luck.

This, loosely paraphrased, was from Gary Vaynerchuk [vay-ner-chuk] (@garyvee), best-selling author and self-trained social media expert at last week’s inaugural Social Mix from @jugnoome (#SoMix2012 was amazing, by the way. I highly recommend it). Gary was the closing speaker for the day-long social media marketing event. His message wasn’t new: the Internet is big. But how he evangelized and contextualized the message was inspirational. Gary’s most recent book, The Thank You Economy, would have been called “Why radio is going to change the game” in the 1920s. In the ‘90s, it would’ve been called “Why Amazon is Going to Take Over the Retailing World”. Ultimately, though, it’s about something bigger than these tools… it transcends immediate application and speaks to something greater than a single revolutionary platform.

We rave about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media channels du jour because they work. Remember when you first started email campaigning vs. what, faxes?? You’re going to where the customers are, faster. That’s what social media is. Community building, networking, sharing and, ultimately, it’s a route-to-market.

It amazes me to be part of so-called integrated strategies that include traditional media buys. Clients will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV, radio and print. They’ll nod, understanding how expensive it can be, and get excited at the prospect of that massive TV audience for their 30-second ad. Of course they’re not thinking about the throngs of people who got up to take a piss during their spot, or those that PVR (yes, using PVR as a verb. All the cool kids are doing it). They’re not asking for better metrics. They don’t seem to care that they don’t, really, know who is seeing their ads.

Enter the digital media buy. “Why would we do Facebook? What kind or ROI are we talking about? How do we know people are clicking on our ads? Can we target women?” Where did this imbalance come from? What’s the ROI? In Gary Vee’s words: “What’s the ROI of your mother??” What’s the ROI of your print ad that has a CPM based on the fact that "John" may leave the magazine in the cr*pper and two other people will read it (and maybe turn to page 57 where your ad lives)?

It’s scary how effective social media can be. The targeting opportunities in Facebook are insane: 25- to 54-year-old women who live in Toronto, who are married, who have a birthday in the next week, who like basket-weaving and have friends named “Sue” (maybe not that last one, but you know what I mean). We can advertise to that group with multiple messages, point them to wherever we want them to go and, incredibly, we can also insert pieces of code at the landing point to measure their activities and, ultimately, capture the data to remarket to them days, weeks or months later to maintain the touch point with the brand. Show me how a print ad can do that.

Anyway, even after all that we still have clients who claim social isn’t for them. They don’t “believe in it.” Really? You don’t believe the stats that one in four people who see something on Pinterest make a purchase? You don’t think it’s important that Pinterest receives almost 1.5 million visitors each day and provides more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined? It’s not social you’re betting against. That’s just a word. It’s the Internet you’re claiming doesn’t work. Let’s ask Blockbuster what they think about that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When it comes to networking, just do it.

This is a reposting of my Guest Column for The Toronto Business Times from May 2, 2012.

"If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business," says Scott Stratten, president of Un-Marketing (with more than 120,000 followers on Twitter and 7,000 on Facebook) in his book called, yes, UnMarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

I'm not ashamed to say a book that turns the concept of marketing on its head has changed the way I run my business.

Getting audiences to engage with brands and convert on specific objectives is my reason for being in the nine-to-whatever (or unreasonable facsimile of what passes for a workday these days) world.

Ultimately that means I build relationships. In fact, I'm often so busy building relationships for my clients that I find little time left to build and maintain any of my own.

So, how do small business owners and consultants maintain a healthy relationship with their network? Sometimes, in practice, we don't, it's true, but in theory...

1. Keep social networking profiles current

People are connecting with us all the time, and we don't even know it. It's important to ensure we're communicating the right information.

The main players in social networking for business are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and there's no quick fix or easy way to update all three at the same time. I have weekly, monthly and quarterly reminders in my calendar to ensure that everything I would ever want somebody to know is readily available on my social networks. It's possible I might miss a weekly update, but monthly and quarterly reminders make sure the gaps don't get too big.

2. Don't be shy

Connect, like and follow. This is how it works, right? Someone "likes" or "follows" us, generally we like or follow them back. Not always, and often depending on who they are, but generally we'll reciprocate the action.

You need to set aside 30 minutes every week (at a minimum, and for each social network) to proactively identify people to connect with, like or follow.

3. Practice Inbox Zero

The biggest time suck in my life is email. Managing subscriptions, notifications, personal and, of course, work correspondence can be overwhelming. The problem? An out-of-hand inbox hides a lot of networking opportunities. When I learned about Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero, email overload didn't go away, but implementing the process (Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, Do) ensures that we slowly but surely address all communication points and clean house at the same time.

A clean inbox makes each touch point that much easier to address and (eventually) frees up more time to focus on those other networking opportunities.

Ultimately, what's the single most important thing to remember when it comes to networking? Do it. Even if you feel you don't have the time.

"You need to return this book if you say, 'I don't have time to build relationships online!' and yet will drive 45 minutes to a networking event, stay three hours, and drive 45 minutes back home," Stratten says in UnMarketing.

What's important to you and how are you going to grow your business? What's the ROI on your networking activities? Figure it out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spread the word