Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Landing Page Testing Tips from WhichTestWon

Today’s webinar from WhichTestWon, focused listeners again on the testing of landing pages.

Note: With the advent of the ubiquitous QR code, landing pages will certainly take on greater significance than ever, so it pays to get this fundamental part of direct marketing right.

Here are some quick tips from presenters Anne Holland, publisher of, and Anna Talerico, executive vice president of Ion Interactive.

1. Test the big picture stuff -- the landing page experience, the page layout, the offer, and the aesthetics.

2. What to test first -- Headline wording, distraction-removal, images, forms/check-outs, and buttons/response links.

3. Multivariate versus A/B Testing. A/B testing is about testing one element on a page against another element on the page, or one page against another. Multivariate testing is more about testing multiple elements on a single page. Multivariate testing isn’t “fancier,” but it’s more complex, so it does take longer to get significant results.

4. When you’re testing, it takes time to reach desired “confidence levels.” Many marketers want at least a 95% confidence level in order to run the winner forward, so it’s important to wait until the test has had at least two – preferably three -- weeks to run. Things can shift even at the highest level of confidence, so give the test time. No matter how eager you are to talk about the test, hold your results close to the chest until sufficient time has been invested. On the other hand, when there’s a big variance in one test result versus another, it’s okay to consider moving earlier to remove the poor player. Just be careful not to rush it.

5. What four outcomes matter to your CFO? More sales, more qualified leads, lower cost per lead, and higher revenues per cart -- that’s what your test results are working toward. Therefore, be careful about testing for testing’s sake and never lose sight of these four desired outcomes in testing.

6. The “thank you” page where folks land to pick-up their free giveaways should be used to influence what you are testing at the top of the experience. This is your first conversion for that person and should be the start of a great relationship. It's worth time to get your thank-you page right.


What if you have to pull the plug on a never-ending test in which results remain unclear? This may be one time you need to use your good marketing intuition to make a choice. Which one of the options do you not want to work with any longer? Pull that one.

How do you test without code or IT help? Marketers have a choice of many testing tools that facilitate self-sufficient operation (Google, for example). WhichTestWon has a 5-minute video that instructs marketers how to get started in testing without IT help.

If I have dynamic pages, how do I test? Usually when you have dynamic/changing content on site, you can still test the shell of the page and the layout of the page.

Do I have to wait 21 days for email testing? No, email is a little different. On the other hand, you want to wait until you have sufficient data (for example, it takes time to measure cart abandonment or reaction to shifting banner ads).

How do I know if my results are statistically significant? This information will be part of the reports you’re getting. If this feature isn’t part of your reporting system, change systems.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Is Content Marketing Making Us Dumb?

Writing on his rethinc.k blog last week, Jason Wilson posted “Content Marketing Will Kill the Law.” Not a question, mind you, a declaration.

Wilson, vice president of Jones McClure publishing in Houston, likens much of today’s “content” in the legal field to a golf course, “overrun by trees, grasses, and weeds clumped together in patches.”

Wilson is describing what he perceives as a dearth of those “weighty tomes” that, traditionally, feature a substantial body of analytical material. “Now, thanks to the Internet," he says, "lawyers spend their time writing SEO pieces. Lawyers are no longer scholars organizing and explaining the law, but brand developers and managers.”

I can’t disagree, but I am compelled to point out the competitive jungle out there. What’s an ESQ to do?

Wilson acknowledges that his detractors say lawyers are producing more content than ever. He remains skeptical. “Where is the insight, how far does it extend?” he wonders. “You use terms like content, curation, and real-time as if these are the Three Kings that will lead us to a new era of knowledge and understanding. But I’ve actually tried to understand areas of the law using only the content marketing I could find, and it has failed me up to now. Have you tried to practice law from it?”

I wouldn’t argue with Wilson. Not a bit. In fact, I applaud him. But I do need to underscore that content market is just that: marketing. It's a way for people "in the know" to connect with and influence prospective and current customers.

Let’s say it again. Content marketing is, indeed, “information,” but it need not be “analysis.” It can be statistics and definitions, case studies, and opinion. It can provoke thought and even probe, but its purpose is to offer the reader an overview, a synopsis, a round-up, and a quick look. In short, content marketing is a lot closer to public relations that it is to education. Those of us who do content marketing know that.

To his credit, as Wilson moves through his blog, he acknowledges this point. But he makes another poignant observation that actually scares me. “The end result of the shift from weighty tomes to content marketing is this: the disparity between the haves and the have nots is going to grow. Large law will compensate for the dearth of comprehensive analytical content by creating its own and using it in-house, or selling it to others at a steep cost.”

I fear that as much as Wilson does. Sadly, I think we’re already seeing this trend in areas both inside and outside the law. The deepest research – the most detailed, investigative, and diagnostic – is saved for those who can afford it. For-profit outfits like Gartner, Forrester and even MarketingSherpa (to name only a few), give away information in executive summary or teaser form, but reserve the complete deal for folks who can pay $499 and (way) up. That’s not a criticism at all. It’s the reality of economic survival in a capitalist society.

Besides, hasn’t this always been true? Haven't the best educational resources always been primarily for those who have money – the elite schools, the brainiest professors, the costliest books, the in-depth research, and the pricey trade associations?

We experienced a bright shining moment there for a while, when the middle class was finally gaining access to some of the educational perks traditionally reserved for the rich folks. But the economy has exploded that populist notion. Meanwhile, the volume and speed of information – thrown at everybody, all at once – has nurtured the trend to shallow. Filling in the gap, at least partially, is the Internet, with its free “content.”

The legal field may have some peculiarities, but I think Wilson’s concern about content marketing is a scapegoat for more serious issues – namely, society’s move from a growing to a shrinking middle class, along with a decline in thinking, analysis, and self-examination replaced by the quick fix. That worries me, too.

Nobody so far seems to have a solution for the dumbing down of society, but it’s probably a blessing that content marketers are available to help overwhelmed attorneys – and the rest of us -- stay in the race.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

From Tradesman to Now, What's NEXT in Marketing?

It seems as though marketing and advertising have gone through six macro stages to date. We’re still counting, of course, though we’re counting much much faster now, so fast that by 2015 we’ll likely be in stage seven.. whatever that is.

1. Marketing by Reputation. Since forever until about the 1800s, local tradesmen (yes, mostly men) have been selling a known product to a local audience with excellent customer service as the core principle.

2. Marketing by Exclusivity. In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, companies like Sears and Ford developed a national customer base by selling a product few companies offered.

3. Marketing by Description. In the 1930s and 1940s, advertisers marketed to a national audience by describing, in depth, the features of a product.

4. Marketing by Sizzle. This would be the 60s and 70s advertising of the Mad Men, which separates the product features from the ad, focusing instead on some abstract “connection” the customer might make to the product. This worked well nationally and grabbed status-bound global customers, too.

5. Marketing by Community. That’s us, in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, with social media “communities,” and crowd sourcing. This marketing mechanism started global and it’s still evolving.

6. Marketing by Information Sharing. That the trend du jour in 2011. It’s way global, it’s off the starting block relatively faster than social media, and I have no idea how long it will last or how it will evolve.

7. Next? Right … like I know the answer to that. Still, I can imagine that “next” will cater to either lots of “at home” or, alternatively, "on the go" consumption, via either a very large or a very small screen; will require fewer, if any, in-person connections; will span global and nano-consumption models; and, possibly, require very little "marketing."

How can we sell anything without marketing? I don’t know. I just know that about 100 years ago, not even the richest imagination could conjure up – or believe – that a pair of shoes from any of hundreds of shoemakers could be sold by giving away detailed information, generally--but not necessarily specifically--related to a given product…all of it without ever meeting the shoemaker (or the customer).


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It’s All About the Database. It’s All About the Marketing.

Everybody is raving about Groupon’s speedy domination of the old-fashioned coupon business. Some consumers are wondering what the fuss is all about. Marketers know. The fuss is the same brouhaha that’s accelerated Facebook’s valuation to $75 billion and rising. It’s the database.

This morning I received an email from my credit card company offering me 15% off my next purchase at a local department store. Last week, I spent $200 at that department store. My credit card company knows that. I’m sure the department store is a partner in this joint promotion. They may have paid for it. The point is that my credit card company knows where I shop and what I buy. I’m in their database.

Groupon knows what my credit card company knows… except they know even more. Groupon knows what I don’t buy. They know who else bought what I bought on a given day (my consumer cohort). And every time I buy or don’t buy, they know even more. Their knowledge is exponential and investors are drooling.

There's more. Groupon offers a range of products and services – and that range is spreading. On Saturday, I saw a local business show featuring a real estate broker from Chicago who has partnered with Groupon to offer a $1,000 rebate on closing costs for $25. The catch? The deal has to close with either the buyer or the seller working with the real estate firm. Groupon will at least consider getting it on with anybody who sells anything. And the database grows.

And then there’s the reality TV show, Georgetown Cupcake, which features a couple of cute sisters from Canada who have customers lining the street to scarf down little treats with big calories. Somehow these two women have become an overnight sensation in a superficial city known more for its wonkiness than its cuisine. Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis are now baking 5,000 cupcakes a day. At $3.00 apiece (guesstimate, probably low knowing Georgetown prices), that’s a $15,000/day gross. Working 365 days a year (and why wouldn’t they?), these entrepreneurs are grossing $5,475,000 a year. Are their cupcakes to die for? I’m sure they’re good. They say the cupcakes are baked on site, using Valrhona chocolate, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, European sweet cream butter, gourmet chocolate sprinkles (yeah, like we know what any of that means, but, hey; it sounds exclusive … I’ll take a half dozen).

But, really, that’s not the point. Wait! Actually that IS the point.

These business owners market themselves brilliantly. They have an aristocratic location, a darling logo, personality, accessibility, a friendly attitude, and singular pink rubber boots. They knew zilch about professional baking when they started the business, but they have terrific branding experience tailor made for the label-conscious D.C. market segment. Katherine Kallinis, 29, was an event planner for Gucci, and Sophie worked in private equity. These sisters know their status-desperate market and they speak to it just right.

Certainly, these tales are no-brainers for smart marketers, but there’s a lovely reminder here for our profession.

The Mad Men of 2011 can sell snow to an Eskimo because they know their Eskimos. That’s why investors love Groupon and Facebook -- and anybody who’s got a rich database. And that’s why the DC cognescenti (who absolutely must be in the know about absolutely everything) shop at Georgetown Cupcake. It’s all about the marketing.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Which Content Works At Which Stage of Marketing? Tips for B2B-ers.

April Brown, president/CEO, Rubicon Group, presented at the April 6 Marketing Automation 101 webcast sponsored by DM News with Eloqua.

The webcast focused on automated lead management systems (technology) designed to boost prospect conversion and loyalty/retention.

Brown says that automating the marketing process improves results. She cites statistics achieved in key marketing/sales efforts, including: sales forecast accuracy up 17%; lead conversions up 107%; revenue per sales rep up 20%; increase in “deal size” up 40%.

One dimension of the marketing process involves using content (fresh or repurposed) to pull a given prospect into the buying cycle, and then track the stages that prospect goes through in becoming a loyal customer. “What matters is that you are delivering content at the right point in the buying cycle to match with the stages of decision making,” she says.

Brown identifies ten types of content that can be delivered, as well as the various stages of decision-making most affected by each type, in her experience. “In general, here is [the type of content] we have found to work in the various buckets [buyer awareness, comprehension, consideration, preference, loyalty],” she says.

• Industry trends – awareness/comprehension
• Data sheets -- comprehension
• Case studies – consideration, preference
• White paper—comprehension, consideration
• Analyst reports – awareness, preference, loyalty
• Demos/pilots – comprehension, consideration
• F2F meetings – preference, loyalty
• Newsletters -- loyalty
• Promotions – preference, loyalty
• Social media – awareness, consideration

Brown also discussed lead scoring, the process that helps marketers rank one prospect against another and identify where a given prospect sits within the buying cycle. For example is the prospect: a) the right customer, but not interested; b) not the ideal customer, but very interested; c) a good fit and very interested; etc.?

Lead scoring fuses explicit and implicit scoring.

Explicit Scoring relates to the “profile fit” and stems from what prospects say, for example:

• job role
• industry
• pain/need identified
• lead source

As defined, content plays a key role in implicit scoring.

Implicit Scoring relates to a prospect’s behavioral characteristics or what they do, for example:

• attend industry events
• download a high-value asset with last 30 days
• visit high-value content
• click through from an email campaign.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Faceless Interview Pens A New Chapter in Content Aggregation

I follow Laura Dodd (@digthisgig) on Twitter, but I don’t know her personally. Still her simple Tweet caught my eye. It read, “My new book is in stores tomorrow!

I clicked through, of course, and found a video featuring a twenty-something (her description, not mine) telling how she had aggregated content for her new book, Dig This Gig. The self-help manual is designed to show first-timers what’s actually going on in the job market they’re entering: what do titles really mean, what are employers really looking for, etc. etc.

Dodd says the process that ended in her book grew organically, beginning in conversations with her twenty-something friends already in the marketplace. As such online conversations are wont to do, the process webbed outward via social media to an ever larger group from whom she drew material. In other words, she gathered empirical evidence -- commentary, opinion, and “sharing” -- from friends and friends-of-friends online.

This is quite a contemporary approach to expertise, but one that the twenty-somethings reportedly trust more than information from distant “experts.” To this cohort, somebody you don’t know definitely needs to know somebody you do know ... or somebody you know who knows somebody.

The empirical road to book publishing isn’t anything new, or course. Helen Gurley Brown took this approach all the way to the bank when she wrote Sex and the Single Girl in 1962. Still, Laura Dodd’s book – which may or may not be successful – exemplifies a growing (and likely permanent) trend in content aggregation: the faceless, joined-at-the-web interview.

So, business execs everywhere: Add social media aggregation to your content development strategy. Perhaps, over time, we’ll have less respect for this “friends” approach to expertise. But for now, I give kudos to Laura Dodd. Like all success stories she’s got the first step down – she’s early to market. I wish her the best.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Four Must-Do Practices for Senior Executives and One New Twist On An Old-Fashioned Solution

January’s newsletter from McKinsey Quarterly included an article to help senior executives cope with information overload. The advice boils down to four must-dos:

1. Stop multi-tasking. It’s addictive, makes us anxious, slows us down, and impairs creative problem solving. Acknowledge, reevaluate, and adjust the mind-set that glues us to futile work patterns.

2. Focus. Resist intellectual over-consumption. Create and protect “alone time.” According to article authors Derek Dean and Caroline Webb, each day senior executives should shut down email, close web browsers, send phone calls to voice mail and – if they must – leave the BlackBerry or smart phone where they can’t check it.

3. Filter. Look only at the things that matter or need a decision. Delegate. Don’t read “cc’d” emails and consider only matters that have been researched and prefiltered by the sender.

4. Forget. In short, regularly do something that puts work out of your mind.

But hold on there … This is all well and good (very good, actually), but there’s a problem. The "Just do it" tagline is a glib response to the "How do I do it?” conundrum – and we all know that.

So I got to thinking about the how-to part of the focus-and-filter equation. And that’s when I thought of yesteryear’s "executive secretarial" function. Hear me out.

This vital -- albeit old-fashioned corporate function -- got thrown out with word processors and the downsizing rampage of the 80s. Capitol Hill still has it, though, up there, they call it the “administrative assistant.” I’m sure this power-position exists elsewhere as a tweaked version of the executive secretary, but I’m looking at this a bit differently. I'm thinking that what senior executives need this time around, is an "executive content manager." To do what? To focus and filter so that senior executives can stop multi-tasking and forget.

What are the qualifications of the 21st Century Executive Content Manager?

1. Absolute integrity... a person you can trust NOT to discuss your business with anyone except you... a person to whom you grant open access to your email accounts, who can capably sift through, route, and abstract what you need to know, turning a useless mountain into a focused molehill.

2. Intelligence ... somebody smart and intuitive, who can navigate the swift political waters and who actually understands what is important, both intellectually and functionally.

3. Superior communications and interpersonal skills... somebody who can read, write, condense, perceive, abstract, and – perhaps most important of all – schmooze.

Sound good? It does to me!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, April 1, 2011

When It Doesn’t Make Sense, It Doesn’t Make Sense

I ran across a new “marketing idea” today (short version: Ecko wants people to body-tatoo its brand wherever). I hate it. I mean there are problems here.

Never mind that the Tattooed One may decide Ecko is OUT like yesterday’s polyester. What if Ecko spies its brand on a serial killer or, worse yet, a dog groomer? What about THAT “permanent solution,” folks?

And yet… sickened as I am, I do sense a marketing gem in this wacky idea: To wit: take two utterly disparate practices/notions/idiocies and put them together .. permanently. My mind races to disparate connections …

SmartCars and tapioca; mobile phones and Crazy Glue; lawn chairs and Petri dishes; Mooshu Pork and hair spray; aging skin and Michelin tires (wait.. have you seen Rubber?).

And this is just what I came up with in 22 seconds? Imagine what a marketing TEAM could devise.

I see it. I do. An Ecko logo somewhere on Snooki. (Hey, I never said this was going to make sense, right?)

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Technology is the problem. Technology is the solution. Let us pray.

In February, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council released results of a study that show today’s marketers struggling to innovate while keeping up with exploding technology.

Dubbed Unify to Multiply Marketing Ecosystem Effectiveness* [whew; that’s a mouthful] the report shows chief marketers scrambling to centralize data while extracting meaningful knowledge from vast volumes of transactional, behavioral, and attitudinal information. The dance has marketers seeking out partnerships with IT experts and/or relying on third-party sources to supplement customer profiling.

All the while, product life cycles are shorter and more tenuous. Consumer audiences are increasingly connected, opinionated, and virally influential. Supply chains and customer markets are more complex and distributed globally. And demand side marketing and sell-through requirements are now more resource intensive and channel-driven, requiring greater integration and alignment with the field.

It’s tough out there.

According to the white paper report sponsored by Webtrends, marketing process improvement, efficiency, and yield are directly tied to more effective use of tools—better platforms, analytics, and intelligence that improves rich media content creation, relevancy, delivery, access, control, workflow, partner collaboration, market engagement and sales lead provisioning, as well as campaign measurement and tracking.

It’s relentless out there.

Despite these pressing requirements, most marketers are hamstrung with antiquated legacy systems, an inability to “talk tech” with IT groups, and lack of resources to implement marketing automation projects. In short, tools that improve the quality and outcome of marketing decisions, as well as the effectiveness and performance of marketing teams and partners, are hard to come by.

It’s lethal out there.

This is the bad news. The good news? Well, we’re still looking for that.

In the report, the CMO Council identifies the top 10 ways marketers can create “marketing ecosystem value.” This includes the need to:

• Break down functional silos
• Institutionalize the use of data analytics
• Provide market insights + intelligence on-demand
• Transfer best-practice knowledge worldwide
• Synchronize supply and demand side operations
• Add discipline and rigor to campaign design, development, testing and delivery
• Ensure brand consistency, compliance and digital asset control
• Power the pipeline across acquisition, cultivation, and closure cycles
• Maximize customer value – relationships, revenue, and rapport
• Institute closed-loop performance measurement systems

What we haven’t been offered are the “how-tos” for breaking down functional silos or any of the rest of it. I mean, haven’t we been talking about this for years? HELP!

Source: The 20-plus page strategic brief can be downloaded here.

p.s. Why did they have to give this study such a jargon-ridden title? Yikes!

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