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Posts from October 2007

October 30, 2007

Using Email to Build Trust

Over the last few years, marketers working in companies of all shapes and sizes have come to appreciate the complexities involved in getting their email messages delivered, opened and acted upon. Much of this can be attributed to the efforts of several reputable Email Service Providers (ESPs). But, if you’re like many marketers, what has remained a bit of a mystery are some of the most cost effective day-to-day activities that you can take to: • Increase the likelihood of email landing in the right inboxes; • Strengthen relationships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs); and • Apply best email marketing practices. That’s what I’ll be tackling with my contributions to One Degree. Let me begin by sharing with you some practical suggestions for building a list of recipients who will look forward to receiving and engaging with your emails. In other words, here are ways to ensure that you build online relationships based on trust. 1. Gather and Respect Consent. Email is an effective tool for building trust online but, only when you have solicited consent and continue to respect it over the long term. In Canada, this requirement is actually built into obligations outlined in the Federal privacy legislation (PIPEDA) that applies to all companies. 2. Be Patient. Be Methodical. Building a list is building a relationship. When doing so – particularly online – potential list members will need to interact with your marketing efforts several times before you capture their trust. For example, when it comes to gathering information, do it in bite-sized chunks – collecting the first name and email address during initial interactions and detailed profile information over several follow-up interactions. Identifying this online marketing reality – whether you are growing a list from scratch or gathering more information from current subscribers – helps you to manage your campaign’s expectations and set realistic targets for each initiative. 3. Be Clear. When building your list, it is imperative that you are clear about what action you require from potential list members. For example, are you asking for a box to be “checked” or “unchecked”? Do you want people to review your privacy policy or do you require it? Providing this type of clarity helps to ensure the information you gather is relevant/accurate and that recipients value your offerings enough to have engaged in the actions that you request. 4. Provide Valuable Options. Building a worthwhile list means having a commitment to maintaining the online relationship once you have established it. As a result, you need to recognize, acknowledge and adapt to the fact that recipients have a range of different priorities. For example, they may love you for your industry knowledge but be disinterested in your product information. Integrate these variations into your list-building efforts by providing distinctive and meaningful options during enrollments. 5. Manage Expectations. Just as you need to be clear and concise about what actions you need from potential list members, you want to outline very specific expectations about what you will be providing. For example, are you going to be emailing subscribers once a month, once a year or in response to specific inquiries? Follow these steps and your emails will be accepted, opened and acted upon because you have an online relationship that is founded on trust.

DMC Keynote: Dr. Anita Sands, VP Innovation from RBC

Dr. Anita Sands gave one of the most popular keynotes at this year's Digital Marketing Conference.  Discussing the topic of innovation, she reminded marketers that sometimes innovation is small.  And that innovation is ultimately about what is valuable to your customers. A little snippet from her talk ...

* Innovation connects what is possible to what is valuable to our clients and our shareholders. * Don't mistake innovation for invention; innovation doesn't have to be something new. * New ways of applying old stuff, or kind of new stuff. * APPLIED innovation. Ideas are not the problem.  Implementation and measurement are the challenge.

In this video, Dr. Sands shares a few thoughts about how to get started innovating in your organization.

DMC Keynote: Chuck Porter from Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Chuck Porter, Chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, gave a keynote at the Digital Marketing Conference on, essentially, where digital marketing is headed. After his presentation, Alexa caught up with him and he shared his two key takeaways from his talk.

October 29, 2007

DMC: Steve Levy from Ipsos-Reid on next steps for Canadian Marketers

Steve Levy, President, Market Research Eastern Canada, Ipsos Reid Corporation, presented the results of "The Canadian Digital Marketing Pulse, Part 2" at the Canadian Marketing Association's Digital Marketing Conference on October 25 and 26. These were the two most important points he wanted to leave with the audience.

DMC: There is No Such Thing as Mobile Marketing in Canada

Steve Levy, President of Market Research in Eastern Canada for IPSOS Reid, declared at this week's CMA digital marketing conference that there is no mobile marketing in Canada. According to their research, 27% of Canadian marketers agree that mobile marketing will be very important in the future with 9% indicating they are practicing it now. Steve indicated he didn't know how anybody could actually be doing mobile marketing now as Canadian carriers don't yet support it. I had an opportunity to speak with Steve after his presentation and suggested that his definition of Mobile Marketing was likely different from the 9% practicing it in Canada today. He pointed out that when he walks by a retail outlet he doesn't get coupons or messaging sent to his mobile device - which is how he defines mobile marketing. His definition really refers to location based services (LBS) or sometimes referred to as location based messaging (LBM). LBS / LBM does work in Canada across all carriers for those with built-in GPS in their devices (like the Blackberry 8800), but all the examples I've worked with require you to download a supporting application to your mobile device to make it work. Related to this are QR Codes (or Quick Response Codes) which are already rampant in other countries. Oh, another interesting stat from the Ipsos-Reid survey, 29% of marketers believe that QR Codes will be a part of many campaigns in the next three years. I'll cover more on LBS & QR Codes in an upcoming article. Mobile Marketing is more than LBS and QR Codes, although it is true that the future of Mobile Marketing could revolve around them. Mobile Marketing is about creating conversations and creating engagement with audiences through the Mobile channel. Put another way, mobile marketing is about amplifying branded events, extending product or service experiences and extending the reach of a campaign which may already include TV, print, web, and email. When I give an overview of Mobile Marketing to our clients, I tend to break it out into four channels: 1) SMS (or text messaging) & MMS 2) Downloading (ringtones, video & images) & Applications 3) Mobile Web 4) Mobile advertising Of course others may define or categorize the mobile channel a bit differently, but I've found that using this approach can bring clarity and focus to your conversations. Over the coming weeks, I'll provide my point of view of how to leverage each of these channels into your marketing mix. This year's CMA conference had its moments, but I'm looking forward to next year's conference where I'm expecting a location based message to be delivered from centre stage. If you're doing mobile marketing in Canada, we'd love to hear from you at One Degree! Got a great case study to share? Talk to us!

Impressions, Notes and Videos from the CMA's Digital Marketing Conference

One Degree (in the form of myself and Alexa Clark) attended the CMA's Digital Marketing Conference last week. We had the opportunity to sit down with a number of the speakers and get their "What is the One Thing You Want People to Take Away from Your Presentation?" We also spoke with some of the participants and got their perspective on "What is the One Thing You Learned at the DMC this Year?" We'll be posting these videos over the next week or so. Alexa shot and edited all videos as well as a number of photos. They have been posted to the CMA's Digital Marketing Conference event page on Facebook. We also saw a number of our contributors at the DMC and the keynotes there inspired some folks, so we should see some additional commentary from One Degree members. If we didn't get to see you at the DMC, but you'd like to share the "One Thing You Learned", send it in. I'll be doing a compilation post. In any case, it was great to see so many One Degree readers and contributors there!

October 25, 2007

Wunderman (WPP) Acquires Blast Radius

Canadian digital powerhouse Blast Radius has been acquired by WPP-owned direct marketing firm Wunderman. One of the driving reasons for the acquisition ... budgets shifting from traditional to digital:
The accelerated migration of budgets has increased Wunderman's sense of urgency about ramping up its digital services. "I'm surprised at the speed at which clients are moving real communication dollars into the [digital] channel," said Wunderman Chairman and CEO Daniel Morel, adding he expects the history of advertising will one day be divided into "before search" and "after search."
Blast's depth in digital as well as their focus on social networking and helping brands tell stories through community also made them an attractive target for acquisition. Source: ClickZ

SOHO/SME Toronto Roundup

October seems to be Conference Month for me. The first one on the circuit was the . The conference, whose focus is Small Office Home Office "For Businesses On The Grow", was held in Toronto last week and is going to be in Vancouver for its 11th year on October 30th.

As an entrepreneur running a home office for the last 10 years this conference is designed for me.  I went looking for new ideas on keeping things organised, managing remote teams, and of course gadgets. I love my tech toys.

The morning Keynote session started with Yahoo! Canada -- The New Era of Marketing to Canadians Online's Maor Daniel's fact-filled presentation discussing the opportunities for Canadians to market better online.  Lots of info on Canadian online usage stats, SEO tips, and of course a little sell.   Best comment? "Marketers aren't leading, they're following consumers online"  (BTW, Maor made his presentation available for One Degree readers, and you can see it below.)

The Entrepreneur Success Panel -- Ray Civello of AVEDA, Cam Heaps & Greg Taylor of Steam Whistle Brewing and Kerry Knee of   --  were all pretty clear that, business plan or not, clarity of vision, a unique offering and tenacity are really the things that will drive you to success... well that and some catchy marketing.  Actually their marketing message was pretty clear too - everything you do is a marketing activity, so make sure every gesture, choice and breath reinforces the brand image you want. I think Ray Civello summed it up when he said: "Dream big and tell everybody about it!"

Another inspirational kick-in-the-butt, came from , who said "we talk about what we can't do, more than what we can."  She added "if you spent as much time creating an intention and building the attributes you need to do it  - you'd do it!"

My gadget fix for the day came from  from .  He took us through some cool new tools and toys that will let the SOHOer leave the office behind - , , , , , , , and of course  technology.

I liked the fact that as opposed to most SOHO-targeted shows I've attended,  the event and exhibitors seemed fairly B2B-focused rather than "small"- and "home"- focused. It was a nice shift and created a positive and professional environment. 

Though I must say, I don't think opening the bar before all the presentations are complete is really a smart move.  Even the last speaker didn't show up in his presentation room until 75 minutes after it was supposed to start.  

Swag of note: Rogers was handing out branded emergency cell phone chargers that run off AA batteries. Very cool!

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For those of you in Vancouver, SOHO/SME will be held on October 30. OneDegree readers can register online for a free tradeshow pass.

October 24, 2007

"Noise to Signal" on Air Travel

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Social Networking for Boomers - “Meh?” Well, Maybe “Yeh!”

I have many friends in the Baby Boomer category. Those whose businesses aren’t technology-related seem to be fairly uninterested in social networks.  Granted sites like MySpace (with its crazed graphics overload) and Facebook (with its university inception) haven’t made Boomers feel quite at home in the social networking world.    But things they are a’ changin’.

Sure, marketers need not target Boomers directly.  Instead, they can be honing today’s consumers who will someday become more stable, affluent middle-agers. As for present-day Boomers, social marketing can reach them mostly circuitously - if a campaign creates enough buzz it will spread to Boomers and if a site ranks highly, its visibility will increase and Boomers will find the site/product more easily. But there are others who see great potential in, and are specifically targeting, baby boomers.

So far elders have been an untapped market, and it appears, one that is ripe for advertisers.” writes Kristina Knight on Bizreport.com, and they do more shopping online than any other demographic. Global public relations firm Weber Shandwick discovered that “companies can gain a significant competitive advantage by creating marketing programs that target baby boomers' expansive relationship networks.”

Some are quick to get in on the action. Eons is a social network (from Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor) which bills itself as “Your online gathering place for people lovin’ life on the flip side of 50!”. It invites Boomers to post blogs within the site, make “new friends and reconnect with old ones” and get advice on a wide array of Boomer-geared topics (including health and parent/elder care).  Visitors can search for their friends (match their Outlook or similar address book contacts to the database) before signing up.  Further, it offers them the option of playing “brain building games” (likely influenced by the Boomer popularity of Nintendo’s ”Brain Age”), contests which are sponsored by Boomer-focused companies. So far the site’s popularity appears to be steadily increasing.

Personal Life Media is a podcast and blog ad network which claims that those 50-year olds are “ripe for an Internet-delivered content experience with the ethos of mind, body, soul and heart integration” and aims to expose its audience to “music, ideas and stories that will broaden your purview on love, sex, green living, cool trends, new beauty concepts, great music, anti-aging, global consciousness, personal transformation and more”. Another site with similar base target is Growing Bolder.  Initially, however, I’m not too impressed by its pre-site.  (Then again, I’m not the target, so I guess I don’t have to be.)  I find it way too pushy and it asks Boomers (who tend to be very cautious about privacy) for their email address, without being clear on what the site will offer.

All in all, it certainly appears that the Boomer generation can be “brought into the conversation”.  Just make sure you’re speaking their language.

October 23, 2007

Are you going to the CMA's Digital Marketing Conference this week?

Are you going to the CMA's Digital Marketing Conference this Thursday and Friday? If so, I'll be there. I'm leading the round table discussion on Blogs as well as soaking up wisdom from some of the great folks on the speaking roster. I'm really interested in what Dr. Anita Sands, VP Innovation from RBC has to say. And I'm hoping Mark Hurst from Good Experience can give me some tips on whipping my inbox into shape. Folks from Edelman, Heavy.com, Facebook and Nettwerk are going to be there as well. Lots of good stuff! If you're going and you read One Degree, please find me and introduce yourself. We'll also have a roving reporter, Alexa Clark, on the scene as well. She's going to be doing video interviews ... both with speakers and attendees. So, snag one of us! Would love your feedback on how we're doing as well as on what you'd like to see in the future.

First Time in Canada: eMetrics Coming to Toronto in 2008

For the first time in Canada, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit is coming to Toronto on April 1-3.    Produced by eMetrics Canada and led by conference director, Andrea Hadley, the event lineup will feature a mix of Canadian, US and International speakers. 

Assisting Andrea with this effort will be the Advisory Board, consisting of Joseph Carrabis (NextStageEvolution), Stephane Hamel (Immeria.net), Alex Langshur (PublicInsite) and me (June Li, ClickInsight) With Joseph being from Halifax and Andrea from Vancouver, we have coast to coast coverage.
eMetrics Summits began as an collegial 50 person summit in 2002 in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.   A testament to the growing recognition of the need to not only measure and optimize one's online presence, the intimate Santa Barbara eMetrics summit has evolved into the Marketing Optimization Summit, a 5-city effort, the largest being the 6-track 3-day event that just concluded in Washington D.C.  An estimated 600 people were in attendance from all parts of the globe.  It's an extremely energizing, mind-expanding 3 days of discussion, ideas and many new friends.

We'd love to hear your ideas for topics.  Feel free to comment here and start the conversation about themes and topics.   Do you have a great case study to share?  Or do you want to exhibit or be a sponsor, moderator or facilitator?   Visit our contact page for ways to get involved.

Third Screen Continues to Grow in Popularity in Canada

Although often referred to as the “third screen”, there are actually more mobile devices (2.8 billion) worldwide than internet PCs and TVs combined (2.5 billion)!  A few reports have been released over the last week that highlight the fact that adoption continues to grow in Canada and how people (and marketers) who are using Mobile devices are changing too. Here are some highlights:

Text Messaging (SMS):  793.3 million text messages were sent in June 2007 alone - or about 26.5 million per day. 4.3 billion text messages were sent up until June of this year - which equals the total of all text messages sent in 2006. It’s very possible that we’ll see upwards of 10 billion text messages sent this year in Canada.  One reason driving this trend is the mass adoption of "all you can eat" SMS plans in Canada. For about $10/month, you can text all you want.  Marketers have also been getting more into the game - there are about 300 active shortcodes in Canada right now.  Source: CWTA

Smsstats

Mobile Ad serving: According to Admob - one of the world’s largest mobile marketplace, 42% of all mobile ad impressions (text and browse) are U.S. based. India is next at 10%, followed by South Africa at 6.9% and the UK at 5.4%. Canada’s inventory represents only 1.6%. Although mobile ads can be served many different ways (downloads, mobile communities, news & information mobile web portals), Canadian carriers have not yet embraced mobile ad serving like in other countries. Look for this to change soon.

Mobile Browse: With no “all you can eat” data plans yet available to the consumer in Canada, usage of Mobile browse is still pretty low at around 11%.  This is less than half the world’s average which is around 25%.  In countries where data plans are either fixed or really cheap, the mobile web has really taken off. The top 5 markets for the mobile web are the U.S., India, South Africa, UK, and Indonesia.  Also interesting is that 4 of the top 10 mobile devices in the U.S. are PDAs - three Blackberry models and the Samsung Blackjack.  Until the Canadian carriers offer really cheap or fixed data plans, we don’t expect the same growth in mobile web as other mobile channels. This may all change when the iPhone eventually makes its way to Canada…so stay tuned!

It’s been an exciting year so far for Mobile. It may be time to start referring to mobile as the “first” screen.

Straight from the Source - Do's and Do Not Do's of Blogger Relations

You're planning your product launch. You've got a kick-ass product. You've read all the latest "Top 10" promotion techniques. You've been scouring One Degree for all the tips you can find on WoM, PR and viral marketing. You're ready... or are you? Have you considered the humble blogger? I'm not talking the high profile, A-listers with thousands of daily readers. I'm talking about those of us who blog for passion - food bloggers, mommy bloggers, metrobloggers, shopping bloggers & photobloggers. We're out there sharing our impressions of upcoming events, cool new products and great promotions with our readerships who listen when we talk. The question is: when we want to talk about you, are you prepared to help us enthuse or are you pissing us off without even knowing it?

Bloggers want information without having to ask for it.
We aren't professional journalists, we aren't going to push people out of the way to get a pithy quote or your head of development's name.  Hey, some of us even have straight jobs and can't go to your product launch or press conference.  Make it possible for us to write about you anyway.  Put this stuff online and make it easy to get to.  In the last month, I've dug for and had to do without - FAQ sheets, usable logos and icons, product photos and speaker's names.  I'll leave out a great quote if I can't tell people who said it.

Bloggers want hands on experiences. 
Sure the free lunch will get us out to your demo, but if you want us to write about your new product, site or great idea give us something to play with.  I know you can't give your product away to everyone, but remember sometimes it's cheaper to give someone product than a bag filled with branded swag. Besides, bloggers care about your product and how it works more than traditional media, and we're less likely to write about something we haven't actually used ourselves.  Let us try it out!

Bloggers aren't writing to pad the headline.
We generally aren't generalists and actually want to know more than what you're including in your 3 paragraph press release.  Give us meat, information, quotes, specs.  We aren't going to call and ask. Tell us up front. Spend a little time and write 2 or 3 press releases focused on your different audiences... Eg. foodies, neighbourhood promoters, arts community.  If I get another press release saying "a wide range of international cuisines will be served" I will scream! Tell me who's serving what!

Cheapeatsbgirl Bloggers love the swag.
Teeshirts, coffee mugs, laptop bags, key fobs... this lets bloggers share their love of your product in any way they want using the vehicle of their choice.  Of course there is a limit, and quality matters,  but even the most jaded blogger can be turned with a piece of smart branded swag.  Besides, swag creates the opportunity for excellent user-generated product placement shots don't you think? In summary, if I can't find it in under 5 minutes, it's not going in the post. [Photo courtesy of Mondo Lulu]

October 22, 2007

Need Help Finding the Perfect Domain?

Even in this age of globalization, the .com reigns supreme.  Having trouble coming up with the perfect name?  Or curious about how you might purchase a "parked" domain from someone looking to make a quick buck (but without inciting a million dollar bidding war)?

Mashable (a Web 2.0 and social networking news blog) has put together a collection of 30+ Tools for Naming and Registering Your Domain. They cover everything from tools that help you choose a great name (my favourites are BustAName and NameBoy) as well as registrars who offer extra tools with your domain (I'm pleased to see that two Canadian firms Tucows and Webnames.ca are featured).  Finally, they have a separate post with resources for finding and purchasing that perfect after-market name. If you ever need a little help finding the perfect domain, there are tools out there to help you.

October 18, 2007

"Noise to Signal" on Scruples

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Consumers Don't Want Mobile Advertising

Following up on yesterday's post about mobile marketing, I came across this piece in eMarketer, "Mobile Users Easy to Annoy". Seems like those of us who want to do mobile advertising might be out of luck ...

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to a Maritz Research survey of Generation Y consumers said they were unlikely or definitely unlikely to subscribe to texted retail offers sent to their handsets.

Maritzresearch1

The WebVisible-Nielsen survey was even gloomier, with 92% of respondents saying that local business ads sent to their mobile phones would irritate them. Similarly, four-fifths of mobile users in an Ingenio-sponsored survey conducted by Harris Interactive said that text messages sent by companies would be totally unacceptable.

Maritzresearch2

This speaks to the need for marketers to tread lightly, smartly and in concert with the expectations of the customers.  If you're planning on mobile, why not start a consumer advocacy panel or other customer-centric initiative to see how you and your product can support your customer's lifestyle rather than impinging upon it? If you are already doing mobile marketing, what kind of feedback have you received?

Wednesday, October 30 – SOHO-SME Business Conference & Expo - Vancouver

SohologoVancouver's October 30, 2007 SOHO-SME  conference and expo is the premier event for those who want a unique event experience that will motivate, inspire, and drive business success while complimenting the sales, marketing, and branding objectives of participating sponsors, exhibitors and industry partners.

Admission includes access to the main conference & tradeshow program for free. Interact with exhibitors and sponsors, attend and learn at the feature stage presentations, and more throughout the day.

In addition to keynote presentations and seminars, SOHO-SME Vancouver 2007 includes:

  • "Ask the Expert" one-on-one advice
  • Business networking events
  • Access to government & corporate sponsors

One Degree readers get special pricing on registration, including a FREE tradeshow pass when they register online!

Check out the savings on the One Degree registration page.

To learn more about SOHO-SME Vancouver's 2007, visit the conference Web site.

Handvertising - Would You Do This?

I just got an email pitch from Handvertising USA

Cocacolahand

And all I can think is "Seriously?"  This is where we are as marketers?  This is the best we can do?  I understand that they are initially targeting clubs and other event venues.  But really? What do you think?  Am I off base?  Is this the best thing since sliced bread? Under what circumstances would you recommend Handvertising to your client - and to which client?

October 17, 2007

Mobile Marketing 101

Parkbench Everything I have heard this year from folks that "know" says that virtual worlds and mobile are the next two big things.  Let's talk about mobile.  Time Warner is doing it and doing it well.  In an interview at Marketing Sherpa, they offer a number of thoughts, including 10 practical how to tips, on doing mobile right (limited time access).  Here were my five take-aways:

  1. Understand what you offer that would be good in a mobile environment.  At the top of Time Warner's list:
    • What’s happening right now, such as news, weather and sports scores
    • Ringtones, wallpaper and other items that brand the mobile experience as your own
    • Time-killer entertainment features, including games, video, photos and fun lists
  2. There are a lot of devices out there.Time Warner tests regularly on 3 dozen devices. Make sure you budget for that.
  3. All vendors are not alike.  You might (likely) need a different one for text messaging than you need for a WAP or mobile site.  Make sure they can help you with things like discoverability of your content.
  4. Integrate your mobile offering with the rest of your brand.  Make sure you use all channels at your disposal to market it.
  5. Remember your customer's environment.  Mobile users are often in a time conscious situation.  Don't abuse their attention.

It's a really great piece with some helpful, practical insights.  My question - who is doing mobile well in Canada?  Is there anything unique about the Canadian environment that marketers should know?  What kind of content do you get on your mobile device? Would love to hear thoughts - whether you are consuming mobile content, or preparing it for consumption.

Photo Credit: Annie in Beziers

So You Think You Can Market?

Bargain_queen_contest
Have you been looking for the best way to spring your brilliant viral marketing plan on an unsuspecting, Christmas shopping public? Well, here's your chance! We heard today (via Craphammer) that Gavin of Servant of Chaos is partnering with fashion site The Bargain Queen to hold a contest for the best viral marketing idea. The winner is decided by popular vote, so this is your chance to showcase your style. Aside from fame and glory, the winner will also receive a cool new iPod Touch. Mmm . . . Touch . . .

Get the rest of the contest details here and may the best marketer win!

Still running Web Analytics 1.0? Time to get into 2.0 and 3.0 gear!

I came across a great presentation today from Eric Peterson of WebAnalyticsDemystified.com.  He and his organization are crazy-expert specialists in Web analytics.  Now, this isn't really my field (truth be told, numbers and reports make my eyes glaze over a bit).  But!  What excited me about Eric's presentation is the framing of the questions that he recommends we ask as marketers moving from a Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 and even into a Web 3.0 world.

Peterson gives us the context of the typical interaction of a Web 1.0 customer:
Peterson1
He then maps the paths of a Web 2.0 customer, showing the complexity of entry path (direct access, RSS feed, email, widget) and subsequent activity:

Peterson2
In trying to create a shift to 2.0 analytics, Eric discusses how ANALYSIS is the desired outcome, not reports (good news for me!).  To quote him:

Waaaaaay too much emphasis is put on generating reports in web analytics
• Reports are a necessary evil
• But they are still evil
Analyze what you need to drive your business up the RAMP
• Recommendations, not reports
• Insights, not indicators
• Analysis driving actions!
If you’re not doing some type of testing, you’re not doing web analytics!  It doesn’t matter if you’re doing multivariate testing or simple A/B testing, as long as you’re testing!

He then offers a number of key questions that different parties who have a stake in a web business should be asking:

Site Operators: What site performance issues lead to low customer satisfaction?
Bloggers: What content aggregators and referrers drive the most subscriptions?
Product Manufacturer: What ads drive the most complete downloads of a product or driver?
Designers and Programmers: Why and where do visitors struggle using our RIAs?
Content Providers: What is the most popular story across our entire network today?
Online Marketers: Where do our most engaged visitors come from?

Finally, he takes a crack at some of the unique challenges and opportunities of Web 3.0 (for Peterson, Web 3.0 is mobile):

Web 3.0 will be about mobile computing  - All the same problems on smaller screens with different usability challenges, potentially without JavaScript and cookies ... But Web 3.0 will create unique opportunities:
• Every request for information could be tied to a good unique ID
• Every request for information could be coupled with a geographic location
And with that information, we can ask new questions:
• Which of our stores was the visitor in or near when they came to our site?
• What offers do we have in the visitor’s neighborhood at work or at home?
• Can the visitor's location or demographic profile be used to disambiguate search?

Eric's full presentation is available on his company's website.  This content is taken from the Keynote at SEMphonic Change from Sept 20, 2007.

October 14, 2007

Five Questions for Harlequin

Harlequin1_004

Recently, Harlequin held its first event in Second Life – a reading of The Reincarnationist (published on their MIRA Books imprint) and live chat with author M.J. Rose.  The event was held in a venue built specially for Harlequin, an Italian piazza that recreated one of the main locations in the book.  The venue is living on after the event.  Residents can explore the piazza and adjoining church with crypt to find clues to the mystery in the book as well as a sample first chapter and additional information about the author.

One Degree sat down with Jenny Bullough, Manager of Digital Content and Interactivity at Harlequin Enterprises, to discuss this foray into Second Life.

One Degree: What made you decide to hold an event in Second Life?  How does it complement other events on the book tour?  How did you get the word out?

We decided on Second Life for a number of reasons: because the unique nature of the virtual world would allow us to recreate settings from the novel; because holding an author Q&A in Second Life would allow numerous readers to interact with the author in real time from their own time zones; and because the theme of the novel is very much in keeping with the concept of a virtual world, as the protagonist is experiencing another, “second” life through intense past-life regressions.

The event complemented the author’s own book tour because, like other author events, attendees could interact with her directly in real-time through the SL chat function, and sample the novel through the audio segment.

We got the word out in-world mainly by posting classifieds and listing the event in the SL events; in RL we reached out to book bloggers and review sites.

One Degree: What are your measures of success for this project?  Are you selling books in-world?

We’ll judge the event successful if we’ve increased awareness of MJ Rose and the book – and judging by the number of interview requests fielded by the author and myself both before and after the event, it’s been successful.  We aren’t selling the books in-world per se, but if you click on any book or poster of the book at the event site it will take you to a website where you can buy the book in print, ebook, or digital audio formats.

Harlequin1_008

One Degree: What were the challenges you faced putting together this event?  Are there issues or questions that came up that surprised you?

There were the usual technology challenges (some attendees had lag-time issues with SL that we couldn’t affect; the author’s access to SL was fairly basic and as a result she experienced significant lag during the event), and I had to overcome my own ignorance about the capabilities of SL when planning the event.

One Degree: Compared to real-life events, is the cost (both in time and dollars) more or less expensive?  Anything that came up that you didn’t expect?

Confession time: I don’t know, I’ve never organized a real-life author event!  I would say however, that based on the cost of this event in time and dollars, it’s certainly worth it.

One Degree: What is your advice to marketers who are considering a foray into virtual worlds?  Anything tips or tricks?  Are virtual worlds better for certain types of brands?

My advice would be to consider your brand and your product and make sure it’s the right fit for the right virtual world.  Second Life was a good fit for M.J. Rose and The Reincarnationist; however, because SL is restricted to those 18 and older, it might not be right for a young adult novel, for example.  And my only other advice would be to plan extensively, including involving yourself in the virtual world long before the implementation stage so that you know exactly what you’re getting into.

One Degree: What were your big “lessons learned”?  Is Harlequin planning any other events in Second Life or other virtual worlds?

Our biggest lesson learned is that there was a lot more interest generated out of the event than we expected, and we unfortunately had not planned with the author to hold any follow-up events; as a result of this learning, we are currently putting together a more extensive plan for our next author and book, which will involve multiple events in SL tied to the novel’s theme and settings as well as another Q&A or two with the author.  Stay tuned for more news!  And if you want more info, join the MIRA Books group in SL to receive updates and exclusive invites to upcoming events!

Thursday, November 15 - Talk is Cheap - Toronto

TiclogoTalk Is Cheap (Thursday evening, November 15) — an unconference for Toronto-area PR and corporate communications practitioners interested in social media (Web 2.0) is looking for presenters and registrants.

In the spirit of unconferences like Podcamp or Case Camp, Talk Is Cheap is free and features short presentations from registrants who will be sharing their expertise and experience with colleagues.

Talk Is Cheap is a forum where PR and corporate communications practitioners who are aware of the social media phenomenon and want to find out more can come together with practitioners who have experience in these spaces and willing to share those experiences with colleagues. Corporate communications and PR students interested in learning more about social media’s impact on the biz would also benefit. So, whether you've only heard about, just dabbled in, or are a master of blogs or podcasts or wikis or Facebook or myRagan or The Communicators Network or Twitter or Bloglines or, well you get the idea, Talk Is Cheap is for you!

Talk Is Cheap will happen at The Centre for Creative Communications, a campus of Centennial College located about 10 minutes from downtown Toronto. It is made possible through funding provided by the Toronto chapter of IABC (International Association of Business Communicators).

To find out more or to register, check out the the Talk Is Cheap Web site.

October 11, 2007

Don't Monetize Your Friends

Imagine getting paid to socialize. At first, sounds great. Sort of like politics. You earn money meeting people, having drinks with friends, calling to wish happy birthday. But slowly, your behavior changes. You start socializing in the most financially rewarding ways. You call people excessively and leave long-winded voice messages when they ignore you. Suddenly, you can’t have real relationships. You commodify your friendships. And when your friends get offended, you blow them off and look for more financially rewarding relationships.

Then your boss sweetens the pot. Rather than just pay for your social activity, she starts paying for the social activity of people you refer to the company. So you’re even less interested in real relationships. You focus on referring people—friends or not, who cares—then kick back while they monetize their friendships. Suddenly, it’s not about friendship at all. Your social life becomes a line item in a spreadsheet.

It might sound far-fetched. But if a new social networking site called Yuwie succeeds, that’s exactly how the future of online friendship might look. Started in May 2007, Yuwie is similar to MySpace and Facebook, with one big difference: it pays users for generated activity—views of their profile and photos, for example—and that of people they refer. Sort of like a pyramid scheme. And it threatens the foundation of social networking: the whole “social” part.

A recipe for spam

Getting accurate information about Yuwie from users is a challenge. Most reviewers have a vested interest in its survival—and in referring you to sign up. So even a site called Yuwie Scam includes a banner with a link containing the site owner’s referral code.

What most report, however, is needing to refer lots of “friends” to make money. Yuwie pays users a portion of advertising revenue, and as anyone with a web magazine or blog knows, online advertising revenue isn’t the ticket to financial freedom. In fact, Yuwie notes that if you refer 19,683 friends, who in turn generate about 19.7 million impressions, you’ll still make just about $984 a month.

Seems like lots of virtual birthday cards for little money.

Or maybe just lots of spam. Because that’s the other, obvious impact of paying for impressions. First, people will embed their referral links in spam around the web, trying to entice others to register and bring them ever closer to the 20,000 friends they need to pay the rent. Second, people will post spam to Yuwie itself, trying to increase their impression count to jack their earnings.

Don’t add me

Now, I’m not against affiliate marketing or paying for user-generated content. The former rewards people for promoting products with less risk to marketers and, in best-case scenarios, helps users by aligning ads with relevant content. The latter encourages online efforts; people who place Google AdSense ads on their blogs, for example, can benefit from visits, encouraging them to post better content and increase their readership.

Yuwie, however, doesn’t appear to be a viable long-term model. First, it turns something people don’t want to monetize—their friendships and social life—into a commodity. Second, it rewards people for referrals regardless of their relationship. Third, it threatens to create more useless impressions for advertisers, at a time when many advertisers already doubt the value of advertising on social networking sites and sites with user-generated content.

Of course, none of this has stopped Yuwie from growing faster than an online hoax. The promise of free money has that effect. And so Alexa reports that the reach for Yuwie has grown 92,900% in the past three months, making it the 5,547th most visited website on the internet.

But are users of social networking websites, advertisers, those seeking financial independence, or your friends any better off? Unlikely. And if you think I’m wrong, please create a Yuwie account and refer 20,000 friends to prove it.

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