Sunday, February 27, 2011

Unbounce Sounds Like the ConstantContact of Landing Pages

Everybody knows that unique landing pages are a great device for measuring who’s visited your website and what they did there. Well, I just found out about Unbounce, a site that makes landing page design and testing almost idiot proof (or so it appears…)

The company was founded in 2009, but, until today, I didn’t know Unbounce existed. I’m late to the party, but I’m enthusiastic. I thought other marketers might get equally excited (and, no, I don’t work for Unbounce; I’ve never even used it).

Truth is, technology very seldom makes life simpler and cheaper for marketing professionals. Unbounce developers say anybody who can use PowerPoint can use Unbounce. I don’t know about that, but this looks like a technology worth investigating.

I see striking similarities between Unbounce and ConstantContact (which I have used and like very much). An abundance of copycat services has followed since ConstantContact launched in 1998, but this service gave marketers (particularly those working for smaller, less heavily funded organizations) entry to the world of online newsletters. This option enabled a lot of marketers to bypass costly (and, in my view, overpriced) “website designers” and “html programmers” and deliver needed information to customers, members, and donors. Unbounce would appear to have similar advantages, including:

• affordability ($50/month for sites with 2,500 unique visitors/month)

• templates that allow marketers to very quickly set up a landing page

• ease of A/B testing of landing page components

• desktop execution that requires no participation from the IT department. I don’t mean to be disrespectful here, but this feature allows marketers to grab the reins and chase down market trends.

Again, I haven’t used Unbounce, so I can’t vouch for it personally. But I did a little research (below) to help marketers evaluate for themselves. All these links appear on page one of the “Unbounce” Google search. More research would produce additional reviews/evaluations.

• Which Multivariate. “The real strength of the solution is that the same person who creates the landing page can publish it live and run an A/B split test without ever touching the code.”

• Mixergy. “ … Unbounce, a tool that makes it dead easy to create and test landing pages.”

• AppVita. “If you’re a marketing professional putting together a new landing page for an important campaign, then you’re exactly the type of user Unbounce is looking for.”

• SchneiderB. “… I began experimenting with landing pages and discovered a hidden gem, Unbounce … I began using it immediately and I love their product for 6 reasons.”

• Disruptive Conversations. “I've used the site now for various ad campaigns, email newsletter links, print ads and more. What I like in particular is that it is so very easy to try out multiple variations of a landing page and see which one works the best.” “For many of the smaller mom-and-pop sites, simply creating the test pages or sections is beyond their capabilities … these new products come with a built in WYSIWYG editor, which truly lowers the barrier of entry for split testing.”

Reedge.Making the Unbounce landing page respond dynamically to users’ behavior and users’ search keywords can increase conversion even more.”

p.s. Thanks to Cindy Kilgore, manager of creative development at EU Services, whose great tweet alerted me to Unbounce.

-- scrubbed by marketing brillo

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Technology Beams You Up, Scotty? QR Codes!

Real life stories are the best examples, so here are a few that tout the value of QR codes.

Perfect for social medial: TDN recently featured a post by Heidi Tolliver-Nigro, “What Are You Doing To Compete with Email?” Richard Munoz, one of the commentators, noted that “more and more personal messages are reaching me via social media rather than through my primary email address .. Perhaps it’s time for printed direct mail to do the same. 2D barcodes that link a direct mail piece to aFacebook profile are one way.”

Great for print ads, too. QR Codes popped up on my radar in another way this week. Target Marketing asked me to participate in a survey evaluating ten of their advertisers. Only one of the 10 featured a QR code in the ad. Why? Where’s the response vehicle? Ads used to feature 800 numbers, but everybody knows that meant talking to a salesperson. QR codes are different. These can lead straight to information, not marketing … and information is the new marketing? Right?

Superb for mobile. And then there was my email exchange with a friend who owns a successful small biz in D.C. Here’s his message to the coupon pitchers: Get a QR Code: “Maybe it's the guy in me, but I hate having to remember coupons. Starbucks sends me the free drink coupon for my loyalty. Yaay. Except when I'm in Starbucks, the coupon is always at home. I put it in my bag, then I don't go to Starbucks. Now I'm worried that I'm gonna lose it before I use it. I like online coupons that I open purchase and use from my phone. I know my phone is always with me.”

There’s more. A lot more. So how ‘bout it? If you’ve got a story to tell, queue up!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Professor: Facebook Is the Digital Equivalent of “Kiss Kiss.” It is Not Human Connection.

Having mothered two teenagers, I read the New York Times article about parental fury aimed at teenagers, with interest. Only when I got to the last paragraph, however, did I find the nugget that prompted (no, compelled) me to write this blog.

To quote: “Amid the debate about whether social networks are depriving us of healthier, non-virtual encounters, a University of Texas study last fall claimed that Facebook was not supplanting such interactions.”

Hmm... So what – in the researcher’s own words -- did the University of Texas reportedly find out? Just this: “Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook is making us more social, [emphasis added] albeit in ways unique to the digital age.”

Sorry, Associate Professor S. Craig Watkins, I don’t even know what that means. Whose “popular opinion”? What “digital age”? Most glaringly, how are you defining “more social”? HELP!

The entire conclusion must be hogwash. It's certainly nonsense unbefitting a Phd-carrying associate professor of radio-TV-film at the University of Texas. I’m not buying what you're selling – and for good reason.

The source of the research is 900 Facebook users who are current college students and recent college graduates. What the heck did we expect these profoundly biased “research participants” to say about their Facebook activity? Of course they agreed they were primarily on FB to be “connected and involved” with their peers and family. What other conceivable reason might be offered?

Talk about asking the inmates what they love about the asylum! Hello?

Can we please define “connected and involved”? Please? Puh-leeeeeze? I mean that is the point, for Pete’s sake.

Look a little closer and you’ll find that this study actually underscores that social media has replaced face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, drop-in visits, even one-to-one email. And that pretty much leaves a lot of college-aged Facebook users with fewer (probably significantly fewer) non-sexual*, in-flesh, touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling interactions with other human beings.

Keyboard interface is not human interaction. Go there if you must, but let’s not pretend Facebook is human interaction and don’t insist that it has us “connected to and involved” with our friends and family. Au contraire, mon ami. Just like the Housewives of Beverly Hills, Facebook enables us to “kiss kiss” hello and goodbye. I can't say this won't be the new reality. But, for Pete's sake, let's not, surrealistically, pretend a cow's not a cow.

* My inclusion of “non-sexual” interaction here is purposeful, since college-student sexual activity itself is tending to the impersonal, as noted in this study of binge drinking and sex by another University of Texas prof. I suspect that thisdrinking/sex trend reflects the same ineptitude for genuine human interaction that’s reflected in Facebook activity.

p.s. You can download the Facebook study pdf. But don’t expect to learn anything that a mother of a teenager doesn’t already know.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, February 11, 2011

Content Rules for Marketers: Notes from the Master

Yesterday I went to hear Ann Handley, co-author of Content Rules and guru at MarketingProfs, talk about the challenges that marketers face in creating catchy content for websites, blogs, and social media.

I picked up four types of info from Ann: stats, musts, messages, and stories/samples, plus this key point: Blogging is the single best way to create content, but …

Many marketers are afraid to blog and here are the three reasons they cite:

• I don’t know what to say

• It’s difficult for me to find topics to write about.

• I don’t know how to write copy that will excite our clients.

Nevertheless, blogging counts. Consider these stats:

• Companies that blog pull 55% more website visitors

• Companies that blog enjoy 97% more inbound links.

• The best content reflects the “soul of who you are” and that’s true for businesses, too.

So, to push yourself and your organization ahead, understand the following five musts when creating content. The good news? All are familiar terrain to writers (brand journalists), editors, and marketers!

  1. Share or Solve. Don’t be shrill and don’t sell.
  2. Show, Don’t Tell. Share examples, stories, case studies, charts, graphs, and pictures.
  3. Speak Human. Say it simple and straight. Be yourself.
  4. Build Momentum. Help readers understand what you want them to do (you are still a marketer, yes?). Go here; tell me this; buy that; click on; share your opinion, etc.
  5. Do something unexpected. With all the information out there, you’ll need to break through the clutter, so surprise them.


1. Let your blog serve as a sales force. Put up no walls and require no registration.

2. Think through your calls to action. What creative ways can you dream up to make something happen?

3. Host your blog and your website on something your organization owns (your own domain or your own Wordpress/Blogger spot. Facebook is owned by Facebook, so don’t site there. Feed in if you want to, but have your own Internet url.

4. Are you that marketer who must "do it all" for your organization? Start small, tap into your own passion, play to your personal strengths, and get help from a pro – even part-time help -- if you need it.

5. If you’re overwhelmed with content development, consider whether or not you can attract outside voices – customers, donors, members, other bloggers – to contribute.

6. Run your blog like a magazine. Explore whether or not there are various staff people in your organization who can contribute. Identify their passion and see if they’re willing to take on a “beat” in your blogazine.

7. Re-imagine content every chance you can. Do you have a large white paper? Break it down into articles. From there, write blogs. Film a video commentary with an expert. Develop some related podcast interviews. Make a slideshow. Feature pieces on your Facebook page. Tweet all of it.


• Content Done Right: My Sears Community. Lots of information here related to stuff that Sears sells, but w/o a direct sales message.

• Something Unexpected: Agilent’s “silly video”

• Re-imagining.

- Kinaxis may have a boring topic – supply chain management – but their site features a blog, of course, but also a “community” for learning, laughing, sharing, connecting.

- Openview Labs takes imagination everywhere with a corporate blogging ebook, video, podcasts, articles, and lots more.

The major takeaway?

Before the social media boom, brands relied on third-party ink to build credibility. No more. Today, brands are expected to build credibility by communicating and providing information .. and – in the main – marketers are given this responsibility.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hey, I'm a "brand journalist." Who knew?

I'm happy to be myself, but I avoid talking about myself on this blog. Forgive me. I'm a little excited right now. This morning, I attended Ann Handley's seminar dedicated to the notion that Content Rules. This morning I learned a new name for what I do.

I am a "brand journalist."

This is a term Ann threw out during the Q&A, when somebody asked how a small organization can possibly "do it all" -- website, blog, social media, content curation and management, etc. Ann's answer was to hire a "brand journalist." Why? Because this is the person who has the skills specific to the accelerating demand for corporate and nonprofit content.

The specific skills of a brand journalist blend marketing, PR, and journalism and include the following attributes:

1. The ability to analyze and identify the needs of the audience for whom content is created.

2. A skill for writing fresh, authoritative, but also conversational, friendly, and approachable stories.

3. A penchant for show-don't-tell writing that's easy to read and accessible to many reader segments.

4. An understanding of and experience with all the ways to present content: blogging, articles, video, podcasting, slidesharing, etc.

5. Knowing how to "reimagine" content, which means, perceiving how to rethink, recreate, and rewrite current material to meet multiple cross-platform needs.

6. A writing style that builds momentum and can take the reader along to the next step or action.

Several weeks ago, I set up a new blog titled Brands That Share, so Ann's word choice was an exciting moment for me. I heard the new role of brand journalism defined exactly as I have been envisioning it.

My next blog will share other takeaways from this seminar. But, for now, I just need to say it: I'm a brand journalist!

And thank you for listening!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brilliant Zinio, Breathtaking Magazines

We may not have direct mail sweepstakes from Publishers' Clearinghouse, but we do have email from digital/interactive publisher Zinio. Last year, I regularly received marketing emails from Zinio and I didn’t mind. Most of the time I deleted, but every now and then I’d open and be amazed what a great marketing tool these “free magazine articles” were.

Last summer, for example, the Zinio Daily Spotlight focused on “Water,” followed by a few thirst-inducing statistics:

• 100 gallons – amount of water the average American uses per day, enough to fill 1,600 glasses
• $600 – amount the average home spends annually on energy to heat water.

What did these striking statistics come from? I had to find out, so I clicked “read it.” That’s when I learned that all these tips were in the “Green Home Guide” issue of Popular Science. I realized I don’t know much about science, popular or otherwise. I should. Why don’t I?

Zinio did this to me often. In myriad ways, this digital company reminded me of the value and expertise found in magazines, whose editors and writers know oodles about their topic areas. Besides, most any magazine is just plain joyous to look it.

Zinio seems to be marketing differently now. I don't get any more Daily Spotlights or "read it" emails. (Okay, I didn't subscribe to anything, so that's fair enough.) Also, on Zinio's website, I notice that much of their advertising today is aimed at iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and other mobile readers. If digital downloads will save magazines, that’s a good thing, though I, personally, would miss the feel of glossy paper, the vibrant color, and the whoosh scent of a printed magazine.

Meanwhile, it's fun to cruise around Zinio’s website and peek inside contemporary publications like SPIN and T3, if for no other reason than to check the hip graphics and page layouts. It’s even a treat to sift through the titles of magazines still in print.

Long live magazines!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo