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The Strategy Web – going mobile on an iphone app

The mobile iphone app trend can be heard all over the bloggosphere. We all know the future is mobile and people want to read their preferred social medians on the go. And some web-experts have launched their own iPhone app lately. The Strategy Web (download in iTunes) went mobile with the start of this year 2010 as well…

Two of my favorite web-experts Jeremiah Owyang and Seth Goddin started their iPhone app more or less at the same time. And they all can be read every day, for free. You just have to download it on your iPhone!

Jeremiah and I have chosen the nice developer guys from MotherApp to get our personal version of a real iphone app. It took the guys just one short week to get the app live on iTunes. And this is not only a mobile version of our blog without heavy graphic load in the back-end. This is a true iPhone app with native Apple interface which includes the integration of all the main relevant social media platforms of my social web strategy (except from Facebook): Blog, Twitter and YouTube.

TSW iPhone App As

Above: screenshot of the app start page and latest blog update

TSW iPhone App Bs

Above: screenshot of a post page, YouTube channel, and the Twitter timeline.

MotherApp offers an interesting way to get your brand and content mobile. Even if there is no internet connection the content can be read as it is downloaded. Good work!

Two further iPhone apps I woul dlike to recommend. Take a look at Guy Kawasaki and Brian Solis (he even has integrated location-based features).

This is still an early stages version. Two negative things that will hopefully improve in the future: Brands need a developer to create the iPhone app and only my comments can be seen – not really social web world, I know. But hey, who is perfect…?!

Let me know what you think. Looking forward to your feedback.

News Update – Best of the Day

Best of the DayWhat happens when you ask SMB’s on their social media usage?. Here is the answer: A report interviewed 1,000 small business owners with fewer than 100 employees and wanted to know their attitudes and marketing plans for 2010. The key findings…

31% don’t use social media because their customers don’t use social media.
29% don’t have the time or staff available to do it properly (a well-know problem)
52% plan to devote more resources to cause marketing in 2010.

H&M finds itself in the social media critics after it came out that they are destroying and discarding clothes that they cannot sell. The official H&M Facebook page is quite successful and has nearly 1.5 mio fans. It will be interesting to see how they react and what social media experts will be telling them to do – and how they are working around this “social media storm”. Here are some tips for companies

Trying to find a retrospective for 2009 was a challenge. But I finally found this great video by Rob Cottingham, looking back at 2009 in doodles…

The Evolution of the Engagement Economy

Banner Social NetworksTalking about new trends on the social web, marketers always love the point of view when brands are involved. They love to negotiate, as I call it, on the “cost per engagement (cpe)” level. Businesses and their communication suppliers always try to get customers engaged in brands. Some years ago, this was difficult. Now, it seems easy. And this topic becomes even more relevant for future marketing strategies when you think about today’s engagement economy.

The engagement economy nowadays is doing things companies never thought would happen: There are people forwarding brand videos (which generate massive engagement), admitting to be emotionally involved in brands. We’ve got people publicly telling their peers how much they love products, services or companies. And then there are people discussing about products and how they would change these products and services in order to make them more profitable for the manufacturer. This is all happening right up to the point where people are basically saying “I am a brand maniac of…” – fantastic and unbelievable in one go, right?

So, if we take a look back and analyze this trend from a long-term web-strategic point of view, companies need to rethink the future of their web-marketing efforts as the social web transforms the value of processes in sales and marketing.

At an event last week a marketer I know quite well took me aside and asked: “Why are people not as engaged when clicking banners as they are when becoming fans or followers of brands on the social web?” And my first reaction was to give a shrug. But then I realized the huge potential of the thought and I said: “Gimme some days and I will try to blog an answer.”

whyblog_1In my view, a major part of the explanation to this phenomenon lies in the evolutionary process of the engagement economy and their brand commitment when people even want to become social VIPs or brand-vangelists and accept the ads from their favorite brands in their social graphs.

Emotions
The emotional-impact of banner advertising and of “social media engagement” is completely different – on those who ‘follow’ the people that click on traditional advertising (display or affiliate) and on those who become fans or followers.

Somebody who clicks a banner ad is not engaged in any kind of brand emotionality: This person is just interested in the offer or the message that grins in his face saying: “I am nice, ain’t I?!” So, why not take a glance at the offer (especially when coupons or incentives are involved) as it is a short-term sales boost via email or some other traditional online advertising format. The person who is clicking on a fan page wants to know more about the brand values, why people have become fans, who they are. This is someone who wants to give some kind of emotional kick back to the brand and the “engaged brand peers”. And just by becoming a fan, they give the brands more positive rewards than they probably realize – kind of like an ultimate pay back which has never existed in that form or to that extent before.

Action
People who participate in banner advertising come from the passive “lean-back economy”. Some experts are already wondering, if banners are dying. My answer is: No, as banners follow a different purpose than the social web marketing activity! The benefit for traditional online advertising is the click, resulting in the quick consumption of news and information. The engagement economy loves to lean forward and get in the driver seat of the brand communication and discussion. Emotionally motivated by the sweet feeling of competence, this engaged person argues about the good and bad of the brand values. When you look at Nespresso and Starbucks social media activities and other impressive examples on Facebook or Twitter, or you take the latest example of the IKEA Facebook campaign all what companies are doing is throwing some communication crums in. And the fans “crowd together” and pick them up with greedy brand enthusiasm. They give the companies and their peers input and feedback with comments, questions and by sharing the brand content and ideas. The emotions get their pay-off by little brand incentives and keep the wheels of engagement buzz turning.

Time
Think about how much time people spend with a brand when clicking on a banner versus being on a fan page. A banner is meant to save time – as does an offer – just by its intention and nature, as well as the message it carries. Check the offer and then be off as quick as possible. Is this the way a banner works? I think so. Rate this short interaction against the time of a brand experience on a fan page. People listen, learn and participate in the conversation about the brand, and come back to see how the communication proceeds. Not because a banner asks for their time to do so, but as the people want it themselves. The customer is the active part of the brand communication, not the company. The customer pays attention to the brand and donates “engagement time” as the new value or ROI for all brand communication efforts.

And then, why do they stay longer on a fan page? The answer is easy: Their “brand friends” are there. They feel to be in good company and this is what builds comfort, driven by a “warm feeling of friendship, networking and community”. You are not alone, you have something in common just by spending time on the same topic: a brand commitment.

Spot On!
The engagement economy is in charge of brand communication and brand commitment. The company still owns it but they are being managed by engaged brand fans. Now, my question to you: Is this true? What is your experience and your strategy when working with this new engagement economy?

Dean Donaldson: Future Trends in Digital Marketing

For some years now, we have an annual meet-and-greet trend show for digital marketing in Germany. Some years it was called OMD (Online Marketing Duesseldorf), and now we have the DMEXCO. And every year, I find somebody at the conference where I think, this person is the perfect presenter or speaker (and not just all talk).

This year I had the chance to listen to and to speak with Dean Donaldson, digital strategist at Eyeblaster. Just listen carefully about the future trends of digital marketing, and don’t tell me that this man doesn’t have the talent to get somebody engaged in a discussion (or a vision).

In his 5-minutes outlook he shares his thoughts about banners on a PC (“…this is so long gone…”), about mobile phone (“…that are no longer phones…”), about bill-boards (“… that are talking to you…”) and, and, and…

And he sees the moral challenges and privacy one of the hardest things to tackle for the future …and for the internet of things.

Interested to hear what you think about his view and his thoughts…

Holiday season: 'Out of the office' replies not trendy anymore?

the-beachIn our times of social networking, there is an experience that I make which is in some way amusing. In some way it is quite difficult to understand why people do what they do.

Fact is, people tell their contacts via social networks that they will be going on holidays… and don’t send as many ‘Out of the office’ replies in a reactive way as they used to do anymore. The proactive communication approach via social networks seems to be the future.

Years ago, especially in the holiday season, there was an increase in incoming mails with ‘Out of the office’ replies. No matter if you sent an email, or not. Those automated (response) mails did not surprise anyone anymore. We all got used ti it.

Today these automated mails seem to be decreasing, if not vanishing completely. And there is a reason for it: The digital business world is changing. Why is this happening? Social Networks have taken over the sovereignty of the ‘Out of the office’ reply. And the question that I raised some months ago, if business 3.0 will be nearly without emails, seems to show the first signs of ´modern impact.

twitter-holidays-2

If someone is on holiday, we get the notice via social networks… and we receive it already some days before people change their desk chair for a beach bar stool at the pool. People tell us in their status updates when and how long they will be going on holidays. And they do tell us at least some days in advance. If this is clever or not, I have not figured out yet.

The reason behind this preventive behavior seems to be quite obvious because it might also be unnecessary. No ‘Out of the office’ reply means ‘No automated mails’ for business partners, clients or people that did not really think of contacting me while I am sitting in the sand at some beach hundred miles away from work.

It is definitely a good service for a promising partnership. People can plan in advance if they need something from the contact that will be going on holidays.

twitter-holidays-1

Nevertheless, some business people -or shall I say social networker- should also think about the possible aftermath as the web is public, others might be listening carefully and messages might get into the wrong hands of burglars or thieves who can also plan in advance where and how to get rich the next day. Although status updates can only be seen by your clients, partners or friends, we all know that we don’t really know everyone in depth as we would love to.

As you see in the picture here, some people also wrote it on Twitter, and I don’t know if this is a safe way…

But letting your contacts know about your holidays via social networks is definitely a business trend and a service that is coming up.

Spot on!
Curious to see if you see this trend as well? How do handle this topic yourself? Do you use status update in order to tell your business partners or friends that you will be going on holidays?

Looking forward to your comments…

PS: Sometimes our German’s offline reputation scares me a bit…
twitter-holidays-3

Ad Effectiveness – Mixing Apples & Eggs?

Sometimes you read a study and think: “Ah, this is interesting information”. So, you write about it in a News Update.

And then, you stumble upon it again, and think twice about the research. This happened to me with the ‘Ad Effectiveness study’ conducted by Forbes. And browsing through it again, my feeling was that the title of this eMarketer article reflected the result, but the study itself mixes apples and eggs in some way…

Still, the main statement of the study remains an important trend in online marketing, and is an even more important praise for the work of online publishers (yes, probably a bit self-referential for Forbes).

“Respondents were by far the least happy with ad networks, with half saying that the results did not meet expectations” (…) “Ad network spending is all about demand fulfillment while direct-to-publisher display is much aligned with the traditional advertising goals of demand creation,” said Forbes.com president and CEO Jim Spanfeller.

However, it has to be said that ‘ad networks’ is not a tactic for generating conversion. It is a supplier that offers ‘cheap space’ by bundling platforms into offers in most cases. Platform owners have a much deeper understanding of their target group and can definitely do a better consulting in terms of converting their target group into potentials for their clients. Absolutely, I agree with that statement, having done this for years…

BUT: Taking my view on the study, the set up of the study is in some way irritating. When the marketing executives were asked on budget allocations the results were these…

…and what they see as most effective tactics for generating conversion? Site or page sponsorship and SEO were considered the most effective ways online.

Thinking about the answering options (and bearing in mind my brand theme ‘tools, tactics, trends’) that were given to the responding marketers though, these options need to be separated from each other…

The question, I was asking myself is… Is viral marketing really an ad tactic? In my eyes it is not. It is a strategic communication tactic which integrates viral ads as some relevant online marketing tool.

So, this study set up seems to be a comparison of apple and eggs. Viral marketing is done in social networks. It is the way in which brand awareness other marketing objectives can be increased. Viral ads is the tool that may be spread like a computer virus by the users. It cannot be influenced like banner or text ads. Nor can it be bought. So, it is a modern marketing trend with little historical definition or proven success.

And, maybe such a study should think about: What can be bought by marketers, and what cannot in our times of social media.

Spot on!
The following summary is meant to make clear what steps have to be done first by marketers to create the conversation results their bosses appreciate… and it is a guideline for the chronology of setting up an online marketing strategy.

1.) Tactics
At first, marketers have to think about the tactics they can choose from…
SEO, e-mail and e-newsletter, site and page sponsorship, corporate web TV or viral marketing.

2.) Tools
Then, they have to decide on the tools that can be used to make these tactics efficient…
good texts (I am missing this most interesting option), banners, or viral ads.

3.) Trends
And finally, we have options that might create powerful conversion…
The use of ad networks, behavioral targeting and pay per ‘x’ models (x=impression, unique user, sales, click etc.)

If the online industry continues to publish studies that mix apples and eggs, it is no wonder that 57% of respondents said they still spend less than 25% of their marketing budgets online.

It is still early days in online marketing, it seems…

Study: How women use blogs and social networking…

A recent study Women in Social Media from BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, shows that the motivation of women using blogs and social networking differs. Blogs for women follow the purpose to find the right information while social networking platforms have the ‘mere’ sense to connect.

The results state that US women are nearly twice as likely to use blogs than social networking sites. Blogs are seen especially valuable as a source of information (64%), advice and recommendations (43%), and opinion-sharing (55%). Social networking sites are more used to share their strong affinity to connect and to entertain themselves.

Women show much more interest and increase their activity in social media. So, women are turning to blogs (55%), social networks (75%) and online status updating (20%) to satisfy their interest.

The new study found that women spend less and less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading magazines or newspapers.

And for women blogs are becoming more and more important as a trendsetting and purchase sources of information. Seeing the influence of blogs on purchase decisions, the study makes clear that women are more likely to buy a product after reading a customer post or reports about the item. 45% of survey respondents bought a product after reading about it on a blog.

“The scale of social media usage among US women continues to grow, and blogs remain the go-to resource for those who want to gather information, share ideas and get reliable advice,” said Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder and COO. “At a time when the economy is top-of-mind for more than 70% of these active social media participants, women who blog are turning to online resources, including blogs, to help them make their day-to-day purchasing decisions.”

Spot On!
The influence of blogs on purchase decisions shows the importance for companies to evaluate blogs as a new important part for their media plans. Reading about the habits and attitudes, the study revealed that half of the survey respondents participate in social media activity daily and weekly or more often. When we think of the 42 million women participating in social media weekly, 55% of women do some form of blogging activity; 75% participate in social networks (i.e. Facebook or MySpace) and 20% are using Twitter. The data provided shows the change in the media landscape. While traditional platform face a decrease of importance, social media is on an all time high. The time seems right to rethink traditional and digital media planning.

How to write text ads that generate leads

In school we have learned how to write a summary in 5 sentences max. Isn’t this exactly what we need to create (newsletter) text ads that are meant to generate leads? Let’s see…

The last nine years working with customers on silicon.de, we have seen hundreds of bookings for text ads in our newsletters. In most of the cases these were meant to generate leads as we say. Now sure, leads is a powerful and impactful term ensuring the future of business, sales opportunities and save the job of responsible decision makers in marketing or sales departments.

Lead generation can be seen as collecting addresses (contact generation), profiling customer needs for products and services (interest generation), or using the direct offer for real sales or bargains (lead generation). For this post we make no distinction on the three different categories and just want to focus on the 5 sentences formula.

Headline
The number one…
The one-sentence headline is the door-opener, the eye-catcher, the first impression on your customer and your access to lead opportunities – and revenue in the end. If you fail there, the rest of your text ad will be deleted immediately in front of your customers eyes. An effect we call the ‘Skip this ad’ view…

As customers -hopefully- spend some time reading your headline (remember that this is a gift customers hand over to your business…), you should give them some kind of benefit in return from the start. So my advice is, find successful openings to create a basis for your lead generation idea from the start.

The offer. This must be written in clear words and addressing the customers needs, desires … or purse.
Examples: Get your free paper… Use 25% offer… Profit from money back…
The rhetorical question. All things that appear to be clear to customers but raise attention and/or curiosity. In Twitter days, we realized that people with rhetorical text messages generate big interest. My most-read post ended ‘… future of the business, or business of the future’. Using oxymoron is just fabulous…
Example: Don’t you want to win the lottery? Don’t you think firewalls are necessary? Don’t you think washing hands saves your health?
The advice. The world is full of questions and everyone is eager to get more insight in tools, tactics and trends which leads to even more questions. The more valuable ‘coaching effect’ we offer, the better our reputation becomes – and with that our convergence. ‘How to’ is the answer to those questions… and the reason for the headline of this post.
The ‘buzz verb’. Indicate with the first words what the (potential) customer is intended to do and what your business expectation is. This is a direct approach which is most often used for real lead generation.
Examples: Read now…, Buy now…, Follow up…, Enter data…
The ROI view. Especially in times of recession everybody is looking for better profitability. If there are ‘easy-to-receive’ options, people are open to use those and leave their data with your business.
Examples: Become more productive…, Save money by…, Increase sales with…

Body text
Sentence two to four (max.)…
The body text outlines the benefit and explains the customer how and why using the offer is desirable and makes sense. In my theory this should be done with the following 3 sentences, or optional as main ideas for your body text. Addressing the customer that is already leering to the point-of-sale (POS) …

Problem. Customers who see their responsibility have more urge to get in touch with your offer and business benefit than those who are just tangent to the issue as a tiny part of a (business) system. Target the people you are interested in by describing problems, duties or responsibilities your target group wants to get rid off or find an ease in – and which are on an open plate in public (business) talks.
Examples: How your live can change…, How your sales can benefit…, How your wife is happier…
Opportunity. Use stats or testimonials that your customers can identify with. These should illustrate your problem statement. In case you haven’t invented a complete new product, offer a comparison which puts the benefit in pictures like a metaphor.
Example: People that have used this have lived 3-times longer than…, People that bought this product, saved 25% off their time…
Scenario. The conclusion of the previous explanation, leading to just one intention. Wanting to ‘own’ the product, service, etc…
Example: Seeing these facts, you have the proof why…, Reading this you have not many options… (not ‘no’ option – no teacher mode!)

PS: The body text framework is also a successful structure that works for Google text ads.

Call-To-Action
Last sentence, number five…
Don’t leave the user in the scenario mode. Tell the (potential) customer what he/she needs to do now. Take him/her by the hand and push their eyes with ONE sentence to ONE action point (=URL). No confusion, just conversion!
Example: Click here…, Download now here…, Save now with one click….

Spot On!
Generally speaking: One break per ‘block’ (headline – body text – call-to-action). The shorter the message, the more open customers are to have a glance at it.

PLUS: A text ad is not a branding tool! Mentioning products more than once is useless. Trademark as well as copyright signs have no right to exist in text ads. Please use banners if you are after branding and awareness.

Brevity is the soul of wit. And if you need help, just let me know…

UK: Internet users love browsing social media – less shopping

A recent study by Hitwise reveales that UK Internet users are spending more time browsing online media than ‘going’ online shopping. In March 2009 9.8% of all UK Internet visits were directed to social networking websites and 8.6% to online retail websites. Compared to 2008, the figures turned around (online retailers 9.7% – social networks 8.2%).

In the passed year, online retailers sawe a downsize in traffic from paid search like sponsored or paid for links on search engines (i.e. like Google, Yahoo!, Live and Ask) – 2009: 8.9% and 2008: 10,1% of visits to online retailers came from a paid search listing.

“The growth of social networking, online video and the continuing popularity of news websites has meant that an increasing proportion of consumer’s online time in the UK has been devoted to online media,” commented Robin Goad, Hitwise’s Director of Research.

The traffic that Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and the likes generates for online retailers increased in one year from 5.2% to 7.1%. And social networks now generate 58.3% more traffic than webmail providers (Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and GoogleMail). The best performing categories in 2009 were Auctions, Fashion and Department Stores.

“Social networks are a relatively small but fast growing source of traffic for online retailers,” commented Goad. “At present, only a minority of retailers pick up a significant amount of traffic from social networks, but many of those that do have seen a positive impact on traffic. For example, fashion retailer ASOS has a strong presence on Facebook and in March received 13.3% of its traffic from the social network. Another example – in a very different market – is online bookseller Abebooks, which currently receives a quarter of all its UK Internet traffic from social networks, more than it gets from search engines.”

Spot On!
Is this showing a trend that people are willing to buy products in social networks? In the UK, it sounds possible. It could be the next step. We all know that the easy purchase process is a winner – for companies and customers. Thinking of the future of social networks, companies should consider engaging with customers much more on social networks while also integrating ‘light’ e-commerce opportunities in their Facebook Fan pages or in their company profiles at XING. Or at least indicate and lead the way for customers to some good offers or marketing activities. And re-thinking efforts on big spendings for paid search is definitely something that needs to be thought about…

News Update – Best of the Day

If you have a vision for some trend or future business, it makes you happy to see that people pick up similar thoughts and spread them on the web. When I had the idea of creating the personal web manager, I thought this will be ‘utopia’. Now, Virgina Heffernan writes about the ‘necessity’ of Twitter and finalizes…

“I wish I was rich and had personal assistants.” Right on. And those assistants, presumably, could do our Twitterwork for us.

Thank you Virgina, this is just what I want to see. The New York Times blog supporting my vision… ace.

Internet Protocol TV (IP TV) is winning in recession times in the States. Sites like Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Video and TV.com are on the rise and changing the common world of the television industry. AdAge interviewed Verizon CMO John Stratton on the future of TV – and asking if IP TV is a threat for the old TV industry.

Will Internet users be paying for content in the future? Chris Poley throws in a thought that the web world will not touch – but definitely should focus on in the future.

“The economy has forced the Internet’s hand to act as a serious business, with all the responsibilities that go with success. For us as end users, it will take some getting used to, buying the milk when the cow was once free. But in these troubled times, we have little choice but to accept the inevitable. As President Obama’s chief of staff is credited with saying, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

PS: This reminds me of my ‘The Social Globe‘ idea…