Marketing News – September 15, 2007

As usually, Marketing News was an interesting read.  This time the magazine had two very interesting case studies.

The Brains Behind the Foam (page 14).

Farris Manufacturing introduced a new product into the market of medical foams designed to help in treatment of deep cuts and wounds – QuadraFoam.  The product was initially introduced as a part of a line of medical foams; each specific foam suitable for one specific task.  QuadraFoam was different – it was one product that could be used for several tasks. With the help of Morsekode , the new product was rebranded as the only product in a completely new category.

Up, Up and Away (page 23).

This case study highlights value of multivariate testing for high-traffic consumer web sites. Performance of Delta.com booking system was increased based on the testing. One of the optimization examples: tests showed that a loyalty program instruction on the top of the page somehow discouraged customers from proceeding with their booking process.  Removal of the instruction increased conversions.  Delta.com used services of Optimost  in multivariate testing.

Interesting, I have not heard about Optimost before, but familiar with Offermatica  and Memetrics.

Another curious article highlighted connection of marketing and innovation:

Dream a Little Dream (page 19).

The article highlighted not only the need for innovation, but also need in the focus for innovation activities.  Innovation needs to be driven by marketing, rather than engineering; companies should start from the consumer needs rather than technical possibilities. 

5 keys to innovation

  • define your purpose: from whom…
  • sponsor risk-taking: reward innovation disregarding its success
  • ask positive questions
  • leverage diverse perspectives: involve people with different backgrounds and perspectives
  • use your whole brain: don’t limit the effort to left-brain activity

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Woman’s shopping habits are rather constant and do not change with income/age
  • In-game advertising is growing, but several companies are working on trying to measure ROI
  • Integrated marketing concept may need to be replaced with Alignment concept.  “…more alignment is needed and perhaps less integration.  It means getting all the functional specialists to work together as a coherent whole to develop and deliver messages and incentives for the organization and its brands.”  Interesting… (page 34).
  • Playboy is getting into social networking sites business with the attempt to target college men. Curious… My personal view is that this is a rater strange move, considering that social networks are more frequented by women rather than men, except professional networks, such as LinkedIn…
  • New data on the perennial discussion about the effectiveness of NPS (Net Promoter Score) for predicting future financial performance. The article’s conclusion: “…all net metrics are no better (and usually worse) as predictors of performance than standard satisfaction and loyalty measures – which are also much more precise, and therefore require significantly smaller sample size…”
  • Market share of premium chocolate grew, “drivers for growth include health benefits of dark chocolate and a general trend toward premium products.”  Oh, those “health benefits” claims…  I am soooooo skeptical…   🙂

MIMA Summit 2007

As usually, MIMA Summit was wonderful and very useful.  It was also a pleasure to be in one room with people in the industry who struggle with the same technical problems.  Great time to catch up on the musings of industry grapevine… 🙂

Morning Keynote
Lee Rainie, director, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Though this presentation did not give us, the industry enthusiasts, new perspective on interactive world, it validated a general view with numbers and specifics. 

Technology is redefining our communication patterns and does it with surprising speed. One third of college students have blogs (12% of adults have)
More than half of college students read blogs (35% of adults do it too)

Lee Rainie discussed research done by Pew Internet & American Life Project, which evaluated assets, actions, and attitudes of American people toward modern technology.  The research discovered several categories:
• 8% Omnivores – love gadgets; these early adopters are more likely to be younger and to be male
• 7% Connectors – frantic communicators; mostly women who love anything helping them to connect with others
• 8% Lackluster Veterans – people who do similar things comparing to two previous groups, but not “as thrilled” about it.  This group is older and likes to turn off their cell phones once in a while; dislike “always on” world
• 8% Productivity Enhancers – love what new technologies allow them do at work
• 10% Mobile Centrics – love their phones, but not early adopters
• 10% Connected but Hassled – hate to monitor their communications; feel information overload
• 8% Inexperienced Experimenters – 50-ish; OK with technology, when somebody teach them how to use it…
• 15% Light but Satisfied – your oldest tech-savvy relative
• 11% Indifferents – proudly resistant to technology
• 15% Off the Network – no Internet access, no cell phone; older, poorer group

We can take a test to find our own category at http://www.pewinternet.org/quiz/quiz.asp  and view its complete description.  Ha! I was classified as a connector – I am not 🙂 I watch every job related trend (and even fad), but use my cell phone only in emergencies…

How all of it changes our lives?
1. Increases volume of information (Lee Rainie recommended to read  The Long Tail
2. Increases velocity of the information – we are learning and reacting quickly
3. Venues of interacting with information and people multiply – possibility of “absent presence” – an act of being somewhere physically (classroom for example), but not mentally (checking e-mail)
4. Changes our search strategies – we have an idea that the info is available online
5. Changes our tactics of getting the information – “continuous partial attention” and if something is interesting “deep dives”
6. Changes our classification of information relevance – “Daily me” setup, where a person can pre-select what information is relevant and what is not.
7. Encourages to ask others for explanation of available information
8. New reading strategies – “horizontal reading” of excerpts with looking into entire articles only if needed
9. Voting –  Digg and ability to comment
10. Creation of new information and unprecedented visibility of creators of new information
 
Think of yourself as a news node for information and interaction

Think of yourself as a societal network node

Search Engines became the second opinion for medical diagnoses

It all looks like a new world…

Be confident in what you already know about how to attract the attention of customers and connect with them

Session 1
Qualifying the Overall Value of the Web Channel
Jason Burby

It was a very interesting session…  it discussed so fundamental and basic point…  that most of the audience could see perfectly, but often could not find a way to convey to others.

How to define value of the Web Channel?  We need to start from the business goals.

1. What is success?
2. What is the value of success?
3. Analysis of results – what can be improved?
4. Prioritization based on the greatest impact..  (this is a really tough one 🙂 )

The presenter discovered through his experience that the most typical problem in many companies is the “big dog approach.”  This approach does not take into consideration business goals or potential impact of the project… This approach is… to execute what the most senior manager likes…

Recommended book written by the presenter
Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions

The question from the audience: What can we do to overcome “big dog approach”?

The answer: We need to find executive support and make baby steps… 

I also discussed this presentation with a person I knew on the agency side.  My hope was that it was the agency, that can be bold enough to tell the big dog that something is silly.  However, the person from the agency side thought that internal people have better chance explaining the big dog that something is silly.  Our own approach that “the other side” should do it was quite silly.

Session 2
Moving Your Online Strategy Beyond the Banner Ad

Dale Herigstad

Wow!  That was an eye candy!

We saw incredible new navigation techniques, including 3D, ideas beyond simple web page, and “media conversion” example.  I don’t know if I agree with the argument of conversion versus creation of new categories…  but it looked very convincing.

We can see something futuristic at
http://uk.wii.com/exp/
and check Microsoft Surface on YouTube.

Will it be mainstream one day?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  🙂

One little idea that I think will become a reality…  the presenter suggested that at some point when a person is trying to chose fish on the market, he can pull out his mobile device and read (or watch) suggestions on how to select a good piece of fish…

Lunch Keynote
Unconventional Collaboration:
Insights Gathered from Three Years of Collaboration at 37signals
Jason Fried

Quite interesting and “out-of-the box” approach to collaboration. The main idea: to get something done, people need some uninterrupted time to do it.  Constant meetings and interruptions are not productive.  Recommendation: prohibition on direct contact during some periods of time (maybe Thursday afternoon?).

Another interesting idea – smaller teams.  Recommended team size is two people.  Splitting project into smaller pieces – no project managers…  Less (if any) requirements descriptions, but more often showing  customer the project on the current stage. 

The most spectacular: creation of the software starting from the design of the interface.  Yes, they value the user experience more then coder’s convenience. 

Session 3
P.I.M.P My Reports (Web Analytics)
Bret Busse

Most people take the data and reporting it.  What is needed: helping to make better decisions.  It could be done by:

P  Planning
I  Imagery
M  Messaging
P  Presentation (yep, the same “inductive logic” 🙂 )

We need to ask and answer questions…  we need to strive to ask better questions…

We need to emphasize important data, often by removing unimportant data. How to get a point across with data: group data, add example, make main point, find theme.

Different types of charts are good for different purposes:
Trend – to show trend
Bar – to emphasize value
Pie – data makeup
Horizontal bar – show difference between valued

Oh, Web Analytics… It is very pleasant to see a group of people who struggle with the same things 🙂

Session 4
Widgets
Robert Weber

The most interesting point: think about a widget as a microsite distributed differently.

Session 5
Ten Trends Shaping the Digital World
Jim Lecinski – from our beloved and omnipresent Google

The trends:

  1. “Always on world..” We need to have our marketing activities always available, because our prospects are always searching for them
  2. Be ready online for what is happening offline.  We need to react on news stories (favorable and unfavorable).  Great point: when negative stories about Splenda appeared in press, Splenda bought PPC to explain its point of view.  The only problem was that the “point of view” could be much more effective if instead of tiny text (11px probably), the company would provide a video… or at least a little bigger text… 🙂 )
  3. Don’t “built it and hope they will come.”  Well-known Bud TV story was an example.  Don’t provide content from you perspective – chop it up and give it to the people where they are and where they want to see it.  Don’t force people to go to your site to get content.
  4. Big portals are important, but also niche web sites.  Ads are viewed more on niche web sites and people pay to them more attention.  The long tail!
  5. Make video the centerpiece of your online strategy. Heinz Ketchup made video contest on the web the destination and used TV ads to promote it. Measurement of success – cost per engaged second on the site.
  6. Give your customer an opportunity to chose you – RSS
  7. Tap into wisdom of crowds and drive innovation and creativity (Fiat car design – with help of public voting on different variations).
  8. Be where your customers are at the point of relevance – promo for contextual search (I am not crazy about contextual search for b-to-b)
  9. Keep your eye on how computer architecture is changing. We no longer store major information on our hard drives… it lives “on the cloud.”  Online calendars, pictures could be retrieved form e-mail, etc.
  10. Digital is the center of the word. 

It was very exciting day.  Great presentations!  I can not wait to listen to podcasts of the presentations that I missed.

The only thing that I did not like was food…  Oh, I am picky 🙂

BtoB Magazine – September 10, 2007

The most interesting section of the magazine was 10 Great Web Sites.  Yes, they are great.  Yes, they are useful.  Yes, they are b-to-b. 

What is interesting, and obvious, is the desire to make the site suitable for the user and, at the same time, don’t forget about the business goal of the site.  These sites were changed after researching the target audience, building personas, studying focus group results, and analyzing traffic patterns on the site.  This approach takes time to develop, but it gives results. 

The recommendation is clear “Don’t use Flash or video unless it serves a specific purpose.”  How true… How true…

My favorites:
www.deloitte.com/
“We’ve organized the site based on the business issues that people are worried about or experiencing.”

www.Staples.com
… extensive usability studies and creation of seven different personas

www.national.com
National Semicondusctor performs extensive focus group research, as well as ranking and blind studies, at least once a year, and uses that information to develop site tools.