One Degree is one of Canada's leading online publications about digital marketing, online communications and social media. It's written by some of Canada's bright lights and rising stars in these areas. Thank you for visiting!
One Degree is one of Canada's leading online publications about digital marketing, online communications and social media. It's written by some of Canada's bright lights and rising stars in these areas. Thank you for visiting!
Seasons Greetings, everyone! One Degree is headed into the holidays both with an eye for eggnog but also the exciting task of moving our favourite Canadian marketing blog to a new platform. We won't be publishing any new content but working behind the scenes to get everything ready.
We'll be officially launching (fingers crossed) on January 7th. RSS subscribers, your transition should be relatively seamless. Email subscribers, we're going to make every effort to make your transition seamless as well. But you may experience a slight hiccup - just chalk it up to the 'nog.
We already have some great content lined up for 2008 .. including more videos from IAB's Big Day - this time in Toronto, reviews of new research out from Forrester on social media and some SEO case studies. We also have some exciting plans for contributing to the larger Canadian marketing community ... but I'll wait to announce those.
Domain transfers and propagation being what they are ... please hold your emails to the @onedegree.ca domain. If it's urgent, please contact me at kate AT reinvent DOT ca.
Thank you for all your support and contributions in 2007. I'm really excited about what 2008 holds in store for us! Happy Holidays!
In this final round of holiday etoys and activities, we've discovered a number of unusual activities. There also continue to be some incredible efforts around charitable giving. Instead of doing a crazy review like before .. here's a list with links. Enjoy!
One of my favourites (though technically not an ecard or viral video) is the 15 Below project from TAXI. Instead of giving staff and client gifts this year, TAXI has designed a coat that can be insulated with newspaper and can withstand temperatures up to -15 (the temperature that causes Cold Alerts to be put into effect). This coat will be distributed to homeless across North America on behalf of TAXI clients and staff. You can view the story of the coat and its design as well as a video of it being put to the test on their site www.15belowproject.org.
The breakout session that I attended at the IAB's Big Day in Montreal was called Widgets: Tools for Branding and Beyond. Moderated by Mitch Joel of Twist Image, the panel included Carrie Lysenko from The Weather Network, Chantal Rossi from Google Canada, and Jerome Carron from Microsoft Canada.
Widgets (or as some call them, gadgets) have exploded in popularity over the last few years. You may know them as the embedded type that are mini-web applications and appear on platforms like Google’s iGoogle custom home page or Facebook’s zombies. Or there are the types that you download and sit on your desktop sending you details on the weather in your city or other custom data. Mobile widgets bring information to your portable devices, giving you information on the fly.
The panel did a great job discussing the business case for brands to enter the widget space. With the cost of development being fairly low-cost, widgets drive traffic back to your web site, increasing revenue. As marketers, widgets will allow you to push consumer-relevant information in real time and allow users to customize how they want the information displayed or accessed. Treating your little space like a mini-web site, you can give people the information that they want the most, releasing custom content that is only available to widget users, thereby creating demand for the application itself.
Chantal Rossi of Google advises that brands try to be the first in their market to deploy a widget, commenting that baby and pet care segments are growing quickly, as those consumers want quick and easy access to information. However, Jerome Carron’s experience with Vista’s new side bar gadgets has shown that making the information too confusing or complex to access will not lead to widespread adoption. Carrie Lysenko has been responsible for the very successful gadgets at the Weather Network for 3 years, making her a veritable old timer in the industry.
If you are in the position of selling the idea of creating a widget as part of your marketing mix, she recommends having your clients and try out a variety of widgets in different segments to discover how they work and the value that they can bring. Here’s more from Mitch Joel, Jerome Caron and Carrie Lysenko on whether marketers should enter the widget space and what the barriers to adoption might be:
Keynote: Sean Moffitt, Agent Wildfire Inc. Let’s Get Wiki – Building Your Brand in a Customer Controlled Marketplace It comes as no surprise that word-of-mouth marketer, Sean Moffitt’s keynote address was absolutely jam packed with stats on social media usage, brand integration and spending, clearly showing that a fundamental shift in marketing is underway.
For instance, he notes that although 70% of companies are currently spending less than 2.5% of their budgets on social marketing, 81% of respondents projected that by 2012 they will spend at least as much on conversational marketing as traditional marketing. Where consumers are spending as much as 20% of their time online, advertisers are only dedicating 8% of their budget on that channel and accordingly Moffitt advises spending 20% of your advertising budget on conversational marketing.
For traditional marketers this may represent a hard sell internally, but Moffitt is quick to point out that brands that have engaged their customers enough to build evangelism have grown by over 15% this year alone.
The morning case studies, which also made up the next day’s Roadshow event, highlighted the successes of publishers who leveraged traditional media with digital campaigns to get the biggest returns. Participants included Rogers Digital Media (Nestlé Singles), Yahoo! Canada (J.C. Penny), Transcontinental Media (Wonder Bra), Sympatico/MSN (Bud Light), Canada.com (Deal or No Deal), Canoe.ca (LotoQuebec).
However, it was Marshall Self from the AOL Media Network speaking about a technology being used in behavioural targeting called “retargeting” that really piqued my attention. Using West Jet as an example, he explained how visitors who left the site before their transaction was completed could be tracked to other sites within the AOL network, allowing ads to be served to relevant potential customers. This approach is a shift away from traditional behavioural targeting, allowing a company like West Jet to have ads served on sites that may have nothing to do with travel, but are still be targeted to people who are likely to have a higher conversion rate.
Here’s Marshall explaining the ins and outs of retargeting:
In late November, IAB Canada held a one day conference "The Big Day: Genius Edition" in both Montreal and Toronto. We were lucky to have folks available to cover both. This first recap, session summaries and videos is submitted by new contributor, Adele McAlear in Montreal ...
Nearly 200 people braved Montreal’s first snowfall to attend the IAB's Interactive to the Max Big Day in Montreal on November 20, 2007, highlighting the newest trends in online marketing, presented by Marketing Magazine and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. The day had a great mix of case studies, two keynotes and six panel discussions, giving attendees a wide base of knowledge and experiences to absorb. For marketers looking for new tools and tactics that they can add to their toolbox, the day was a great way to hear what worked, and sometimes what didn’t. And, unlike the Big Day in Toronto and the Roadshow case studies that took place across the country, the content of the Montreal conference was presented in French and English, with an emphasis on the Quebec experience. I give full credit to the organizers, who clearly understand that new marketing is all about knowing your customer. My three session reports include:
See individual posts for details and videos.
We've gathered up a few more holiday cards/virals for your
time-wasting pleasure research. Most are Canadian though I have included one from the US because it is a great example of the integration of online and offline components, plus the use of a couple of social networking tools. Enjoy!
mighty.ca's Mighty Mistletoe Videocard
This is the offering from mighty.ca - a videocard featuring each of their staff and how they "pucker-up" under the mistletoe. It's a really simply idea, and I found it quite charming. The enthusiasm and the individualism of each of their employees really shows through and makes me smile every time I choose a staff member. I found about this through a Facebook link from one of my friends.
Citizens Bank's Decorate a Gingerbread Card
Another brand that has combined charitable giving with an online holiday activity. Citizens Bank has created a "decorate your own gingerbread cookie" card. For every card that is sent, Citizens Bank will donate $1 to the Canadian Association of Food Banks. I found out about this via a friend's Facebook link. I was interested to note that there is both a "share on Facebook" as well as a "bookmark this on del.icio.us" button on this page on Citizens Bank's website. Note: I've found that my browser doesn't always resolve their URL for their holiday card. This is a link to the page on their website that describes it in case the above link doesn't work for you.
Chestnuts roasting on the open fire ... eCards filling your cluttered inbox. Facebook apps make your profile all aglow ... Merry Christmas to you (apologies to Mel Tormé and Robert Wells). Yup, it's that time of year, when clients and agencies alike show off their creative chops and sometimes cheeky spirit with fun holiday messages. Sometimes it's an eCard, sometimes it's a video, sometimes it's a cool website ... but the best Christmas gift would be it going viral. We take a look at some of the promotions that we've been sent this year or discovered. Part of what is interesting to me about these is how they came to my attention ... only a few came through email, several came through Facebook or other social networking links.
Virgin Mobile Canada's Go Jesus
Funky video from Virgin Mobile Canada showing how things *could* have gone down on Christmas Eve. I think it's pretty funny and definitely fits in with Virgin's brand. Feels like it goes on a smidge too long .. but if you're into this kind of dancing and music, you probably won't notice. This was sent to me directly via email.
One of the most interesting things I get to do in my role as General Manager, Domain Portfolio at Tucows is manage the sale of domain names that we own to third party buyers. Since joining the company, my team and I have dealt with countless inquiries from prospective domain name buyers looking to acquire a domain name from our portfolio. I've seen all sorts of approaches taken, some good, some not so good, and I wanted to share with you the story of one sale that we made because it's a textbook case of how NOT to buy a domain name.
One morning, we received an "urgent" email and series of phone calls from an agency wanting to purchase a particular domain name.
That was their first mistake.
They explained that they were looking to acquire this domain name on behalf of one of their clients and that they needed to close the deal with us by the end of the day. Apparently, they had shortlisted several different domain names for this client and urgently needed to be able to tell their client that same evening that they'd secured one of the domain names.
That was their second mistake.
When it came time for me to negotiate the price of the domain name with the agency, it quickly became apparent to me that I was dealing with people who were spending money that wasn't their own and - worse - could care less. Technically, of course, this was correct - the agency was buying the domain name on behalf of their client - but they obviously didn't care how much their client would have to pay for the domain name as long as it was within a loosely defined range.
That was their third, and biggest, mistake.
You’re sure “Crowdsourcing” isn’t that thing they do at concerts, but what exactly is it? Coined by Jeff Howe in his June 2006 Wired piece, the term refers to “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.”
A relatively new term, Crowdsourcing has evolved to encompass other similar practices, each with the common purpose of enlisting a community to provide design or feedback. Community members can be asked to provide input on a product or even develop it. They can create their own advertisements or figure out a solution to a problem; some concepts which frequently appear under the “Crowdsourcing” umbrella include : Mass Collaboration, Consumer-generated Media, some forays into Human Computation and Crowdcasting, among others.
As a bonus to marketers, Crowdsourcing can frequently produce the dual effect of promoting a company to the masses, while simultaneously encouraging their input in its development, all at a fraction of the cost of generating that progress in-house. Lego’s foray into crowdsourcing with its Mindstorms NXT created a buzz that “lit up online message boards and techie blogs, which in turn helped rev up demand for the [product’s] release”.
In his article “Crowdsourcing”, Gary Stein notes: “Companies that already involve consumers in product development have a leg up. ... Lego has turned consumers into partners by drastically shrinking the distance between creator and consumer and stretching the boundary between employee and customer to the point where it's highly permeable. Which makes the task of marketing a cinch.” He goes on to emphasize that: “participants are given consumers. You hardly have to do anything to get them to buy, use, and (ahem) talk about the product. That, my marketing friends, is the real power and relevance of crowdsourcing.”
Threadless knows this module well. The company describes itself as “an ongoing tee shirt design competition” which works like this: “Four to six designs are chosen every week from 600+ submissions to be printed and sold from the site with the winning designers receiving $2,000 in cash and prizes.” Threadless has been immensely successful – quite a feat for a business founded by two guys who were not even of voting age (read: off to my therapist now to discuss feelings of inadequacy...).
Trendwatching is another innovative business which gets its pool of over 8,000 “spotters” to watch for the latest thing, findings which “help marketers, CEOs, researchers, and anyone else interested in the future of business and consumerism, to dream up new goods, services and experiences for (or even better, with) their customers”.
Of course, the use of crowds is not limited to product development. Procter and Gamble created Tremor which taps into the teen market to promote its products including hair colouring and guitar company, Gibson, is actively soliciting consumers to create their own instructional video for its new product, the Robot Guitar.
By requesting input and reviews, businesses can know what products consumers prefer and, subsequently, what they should further stock or promote. Further, while Crowdsourcing makes it easy to learn from the community about a need for enhancement, it can be similarly beneficial in improving something that is already functioning well but could be superior (e.g. Netflix’s recommendation system).
So, it’s all good, right? Not exactly. There are many benefits to be gained from this process, but there are also disadvantages. Some worry about the blandness of a product if consensus is necessary for its conception, or of the possibility of groupthink and herd mentality, especially when voting tallies are visible. Other concerns include exploitation of people for little money and the potential loss of jobs.
And even with the right ingredients, there's no guaranteeing success, Assignment Zero editor Lauren Sandler, commented: “It’s like throwing a party. You program the iPod, mix the punch and dim the lights and then at 8 o’clock people show up. And then who knows what is going to happen?”
So it’s a gamble and it’s controversial? Yep, to some extent, it is. There are, however, factors which encourage success (assuaging your conscience will be discussed in a future article). I equate these elements with flu vaccines – they may not keep you from all the bugs, but they keep the most popular ones at bay.
Tapping the right crowds is essential, as is the understanding that “successful crowdsourcing taps into a well of passion about a product that stretches beyond monetary incentives”. And while communities can be very active, these organizations still need organization. Tread carefully with this last point, as leadership is essential, but monitoring with too heavy a hand can often have the unfortunate result of discouraging participation – the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Stay tuned. The series continues with Episode 2 – “Are You Afraid of the Crowds?”
Photo credit: Faceparty by RichardAM
We all know that the world’s first collaborative encyclopedia would not be possible without crowdsourcing – but how else do companies make this concept work? And moreover, how can you, the reader, use it to further your business? Barry Libert and Jon Spector’s new book We are Smarter than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business is a mini-encyclopedia of crowdsourcing for business, describing over 60 examples of companies (including background information and their processes) that harnessed the community hive to great success. As the title implies, the authors take the concept a step further, offering suggestions as to how readers can use crowdsourcing to increase the profitability of their company and, true to their collaborative mindset, they give credit to, and pepper the book with quotes from their own online community contributors.
Businesses are “getting smarter by tapping the collective brainpower of community,” declare the authors early on. "Savvy companies are turning to the Internet hordes for help with new product development, customer service, sales, production, finance, and even management. They prosper by searching out, nurturing and tapping the expertise of individual online communities, customers included."
The concept of Crowdsourcing has been getting some much needed attention of late (with the popularity of books such as Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams’ Wikinomics and James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds). Indeed, many businesses do use crowdsourcing to help them (the most popular instance being Wikipedia). But the book is laudable for presenting other lesser known instances, and profiling businesses which employ the concept in unexpected ways.
The book demonstrates that people want to be experts and share their experience (e.g. VirtualTourist), want to offer advice about a product they’re fond of to their peers (e.g. Cookshack), are willing to give feedback for rewards (e.g. Virgin Mobile USA’s Sugar Mama program), and can be mobilized for a common goal or to invest in a company (e.g. Common Angels). In fact, in describing Netflix’s recommendation system, the book eloquently states: “By enticing them to rate films, Netflix achieves the latest in business magic tricks, getting customers to serve themselves."
We are Smarter than Me is a valuable source of information on how to use crowdsourcing to increase the profitability of a business. I have but a few minor issues. One is the book's coining of the term “C-We-O” (guess) which, although clever, makes me cringe just a little. Also, the authors’ viewpoint on the topic (crowdsourcing: love it!) is infectious, but the book only occasionally cites the potential pitfalls of crowdsourcing (mostly relegated to the “sidebar”). I could have used some more examples of mistakes to avoid in employing this method and further discussions of the drawbacks of such implementation. Is that just the cynic in me?
By and large, I absolutely enjoyed reading We are Smarter Than Me - it was clear, informative and easy to read (without oversimplifying its concepts). Even if you have never given a second thought to incorporating crowdsourcing into your way of doing business, after reading this book you might find yourself wondering how you too can unleash the power of crowds.
SEMPO Canada, the Canadian Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, is involved in the launch of SEMPO's 4th annual State of Search Marketing Survey. Whether you are seasoned in SEM or still wet behind the ears, your input is valued and needed! Therefore, if you have been involved in the preparation and/or implementation of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Plan in 2007 or if you know someone in your organization or network who has, we want to hear from you.
Please take a few minutes to answer the 4th SEMPO Survey here.
Your help means a lot to us in improving the growth of Search Marketing in Canada. Feel free to blog about it and thanks for you collaboration!
More on SEMPO Canada: SEMPO Canada is a Canadian Non-Profit Professional Search Marketing Association working to increase awareness and promote the value of Search Engine Marketing in Canada. This Working Group was founded in November 2006 by Ken Jurina & Alexandre Brabant and focuses on improving the growth, awareness and understanding Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in Canada, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Link Building, Pay Per Click Management, best practices in this new field of marketing and how it uniquely pertains and is of relevance to Canadians worldwide across any sector, vertical or industry.
Barry Libert is the co-CEO of Mzinga. He is also the co-author of WE ARE SMARTER THAN ME: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business (look for One Degree's review later this week!) Drawing on their own research and the insights from an enormous community of more than 4,000 people, Barry and co-author Jon Spector wrote about what works, and what doesn’t, when you are building community into your decision making and business processes, and how to profit from the wisdom of crowds.
One Degree asked Barry Libert Five Questions about building a successful community, how crowdsourcing can lead to profitability and how businesses need to adapt to this new collaborative environment.
One Degree: How did the book get started?
Well the book got started for me in 1995, when my wife and I were sort of talking about what was wrong with business. And the answer she had was, “Businesses don’t care.” ... The bottom line was that they gave “lip service”, she used to say, to employees, to customers and to investors, but really leaders didn’t have a real relationship with their people and with their customers ... And her analogy was, “Can you imagine going to a party, Barry and you didn’t know the names of your relatives? That’s business."
And I really thought about how business leaders didn’t care about relationships and that’s why the original book title was: “My Wife’s Right”. Because she was arguing that in a world in which people did care, profoundly care, businesses would be far more successful.
One Degree: Your book focuses on businesses who employed crowdsourcing (mostly) to great profitability. What is essential in building a successful community? Does it need a “leader”?
Communities really don’t run on their own. Just like in the physical world. They [community leaders] don’t have to work for the company, they can basically just be facilitators, people who really care ... There has to be a party coordinator to make sure there’s food for everybody, there’s dance, there’s music, there’s chairs, there’s a table. Somebody has to be caring for the community and tending to all of its needs.
So we found the most successful communities not only used today’s technology - in fact, that’s a second level concern. The best communities had real community facilitators, people that really, really care about the community. They care about how well they’re doing, how often they’re interacting, are their needs being met? And we found that with all of our clients, such as with Goldcorp, which built a community buying new gold ore or Trip Advisor, which had community managers who made sure there was lots of vibrant user-generated content on the site.
One Degree: P&G did an excellent job in terms of "harnessing the hive", in this case, of Moms. Could you explain that concept a bit?
Proctor and Gamble has always had a great franchise, the brand franchise – but they didn’t really connect with their customers. Some connected P&G with their soap opera ads or through the products they sell. But those aren’t connections - those are just transactions. P&G built a community called Vocalpoint and they essentially enlisted the help of 850,000 stay-at-home moms to help them create new products and new services, like Dawn Direct Foam If you think about it, think about how profoundly different it is that Procter and Gamble now gets 25 to 30 percent of its product ideas from stay-at-home moms. That’s a far more profound type of interaction than advertising on one of their daily soaps.
One Degree: I was really surprised to see that some companies had, in fact, allowed their customers to provide customer service. In particular, I loved the example of what was done with Cookshack. What did you think about that one?
Cookshack is a very neat one, isn’t it? They basically outsourced customer support. They got people who used their products to basically create different recipes and different ways to use their cooker to produce a better smoked product in their backyard.
But you know, I think you see it all the time. My example is my son who drives a Mazda RX8 and every time he would go to the Mazda service department they would have no idea how to do things he wanted to do with it. So he went on the Mazda RX8 forum, which is not affiliated with Mazda, and found out from the users, the fanatics, the fans of Mazda (who basically are extending the Mazda brand, but Mazda doesn’t understand it this way)... He went into a private label Mazda RX8 club and found great new products and offerings from other members of the “fan club” who had designed it for his RX8 and he would buy from them.
One Degree: How do you think businesses are changing, or need to change, because of this collaborative environment?
People don’t realize that the difference between business and community is that community has a recurring nature to it. Business mostly has a transactional nature to it: "I want to sell you something. As long as you buy it from me, I can go sell something to the next person.” I don’t really think that really works in a place, in a world, where anyone can buy anything from anyone. They can get cars from tons of manufacturers, they can get appliances from any manufacturer. They can get information from any number of distributors. You name it.
So what I really think going to happen is that people in business are going to realize they’re really just competing for peoples’ attention, for people’s emotion. And business will realize they have a very low emotional quotient around how they interact with humans. And if they don’t interact with them in new ways, I think customers are just going to say: “I’m not interested in what you have to sell me anymore. It’s a global world I can buy from anywhere – so if you’re not the lowest price, I’m not gonna buy.”
More than ever now, people want to have their emotional needs met - not just their transactional and financial needs.
Here are three questions that I get asked all the time:• “How do we know that we have a good list?” • “How do we maintain our list?” • “How can we repair our list?”
Great questions! The challenge is that they don’t usually get posed until after resources and time have been spent on building email lists or after a marketing campaign has shown disappointing results.
No need to worry. If you follow the practical suggestions that I outlined in my last post, your list should be populated by recipients who will gladly receive and act upon your email because you have approached list-building as “relationship-building”. But, if you’re new to building online relationships or have inherited lists, here are some tips to help you out.
“How do we know that we have a good list?”
To determine if your list is good, answer these two questions:
Are Your Emails Being Received?
Look at your bounce rates. You should be aiming for a delivery rate of over 98% across all campaigns and all segments. Calculate this percentage by taking the total bounces and dividing by the total number of messages sent.
How Are Your Emails Being Acted Upon?
Of course, this is the ultimate test. If your list is strong – and you send content that is relevant to your audiences – you should see conversion rates that consistently increase over time. At the same time, you could expect to see multiple clicks per email. While this isn’t a definitive metric – because a poorly designed email might cause similar results – it can be one indication of a list of engaged recipients.
“How do we maintain our list?”
Like building a list, maintaining a list largely depends on your ability to sustain a valued online relationship. When you are content with the quality of your list, one way that you can preserve it is by sending a reminder to reconfirm recipients’ interest in your company/offerings/etc. For example, “In order to continue receiving your (INSERT PUBLICATION NAME), we must obtain a renewal consent from you. Click here to renew your subscription.”
“How can we repair our list?”
Finally, to repair a list, you should consider ‘sunsetting’ – a process whereby you methodically remove email addresses of those recipients who do not actively engage with your email. Of course, taking both of these steps will likely reduce the number of email recipients. But, since the quality of your list is not measured by volume but rather by engagement, your campaigns will be all the better for it.
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