Joey Taravella

Marketing: Science versus art

November 25th, 2014

The discoveries of science can never fully bridge the mystery of the human mind. We need art to discern the difference. The effective marketer converts experiments and metrics into elegant forms of communication. For the marketing organization to be truly successful, it must respect both the science and the art. Indeed, marketing translates science into art.

-Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute

 

As the FlintsNotes.com curator, I often come across profound observations like this one.

I try to have Flint elaborate on them, or at least jot down some notes of other lectures or observations that pertain to it. Flint sometimes says jokingly that he has been “accused of being a scientist,” the scientific approach to marketing being sometimes seen as a means to an end.

In a perfect world, we would instinctively know what our customers want, and the best way to communicate our message.

 

The science of marketing

The science behind online marketing today is a fairly new tool in which we can use to learn a great deal about our prospects.

This tool, the Internet, enables us to track how prospects react to our various offers or messaging. One of the reasons why this method of testing is superior is because it is a record of how your customers have already performed. It is far more powerful than a focus group – for example, where a person may believe they will act one way, but in reality, behave a in a completely different manner.

The art of marketing has been around for arguably much longer.

Since the dawn of man, we have been convincing each other to purchase or accept food, weapons, goods or even religious beliefs. The ability to connect with another human being, to innately know what the other person is seeking, becomes one of the sharpest weapons in the marketer’s arsenal.

Metrics and data analytics can begin to paint the picture of what your prospects are truly interested in.

Even when prospects do not accept an offer or click the desired button, the choices they do not make tell a great deal about what they want.

By interpreting these results, the marketer can glean discoveries about their customers’ behavior that can be implemented across various other channels.

When the marketer can be sure an offer is being communicated effectively online through testing, that same messaging is likely to be just as effective in other channels like direct mail, or in-person at a store.

 

We are all trying to understand one of the greatest mysteries known to man – the human mind

Once the blueprint of a marketing campaign have been identified using metrics, analytics and data, the marketer can begin to craft the most powerful messaging and creative based on those insights.

It is no longer just an artist creating messaging that he thinks the prospect will react positively to, it is messaging that he knows the prospect will react positively to. The art form takes the messaging to the next level, where science alone cannot go.

The “science” and “art” behind marketing campaigns are not mutually exclusive.

Science is used to give the art a direction. By using science, we can develop a basis of understanding about the customer. With art, we go a step further, taking what we know about our customers to what we should know.

 

You might also like

Marketing Research Chart: Measuring website optimization ROI [MarketingSherpa chart]

Web Optimization: Can you repeat your test results? [More from the blogs]

Email Optimization: Improve response with 5 insights from 10,000 tests [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

Testing and Optimization: 4 inspirational examples of experimentation and success [More from the blogs]

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Jessica Lorenz

Event Marketing: How much should I expect to pay for a keynote?

November 21st, 2014

When I was asked to find costs for keynotes as a younger, fresher and greener event content coordinator, I thought it would be as easy as asking Google, “How much does it cost to have [name] speak at an event?”

After all, Google holds the answer for almost everything – it can even answer questions like: Do I have Ebola? How do you know if a guy likes you? What should I eat for dinner?

Unfortunately, it turned out to not be as simple as Googling it. Many factors determined behind the scenes go into how much you’ll spend on a keynote. This is why many speaker bureaus say “contact us for fee” in order to share that number.

Whenever I searched for an estimated keynote cost for a specific speaker, or even a generic title, the search results brought up speaker agencies, which is not what I wanted.

Although Google has been faithful to me in the past, there are some questions I ask that I’m still forced to answer and research on my own.

Here are the questions I typed into the search bar – in a million different ways – which I eventually had to learn.

 

Why is there such secrecy around speaker fees?

Depending on location, duration of the keynote and audience size, a speaker will adjust his or her fees.

The easiest way to establish and negotiate a keynote’s cost is by contacting them directly, which has been made moderately easy with the rise of social media and the ability to get (almost) anyone’s email address with a quick search.

However, not all speakers are so easy to track down.

You might decide to use a speaker agency. These resources can be incredibly frustrating to use as an event planner because once you contact the bureau for a speaker fee, you become a sales lead. You can now expect the agent to inevitably harass you about booking one of their speakers and to generously “keep you in mind” for future events.

With so many other things that I juggle throughout the day, like establishing the rest of the Summit agenda and working with other speakers, fielding calls is the last thing I have time for.

However, speaker bureaus can be helpful if you’re working with a blank slate or have a notoriously private speaker. They specialize in finding and contacting a highly sought-after keynotes who you can’t get a hold of on your own (at a price, of course).

 

Is there any way that I can estimate a budget for a keynote? How much does it cost to have a [insert career vertical] keynote at my event?

Although costs vary from speaker to speaker, I’ve noticed some trends while doing research for keynote speakers on our events – basic guidelines to help estimate spend.

keynote-speaker-ranges

 

Speakers determine their own fees. One speaker might think that their content is worth $10,000 and is more than happy to work with you, whereas someone more qualified might think that they’re worth $250,000 and there’s no flexibility in their mind.

Apart from that human element, this chart has three explanations:

Read more…

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Andrea Johnson

What’s the Most Important Ecommerce Challenge? On-time Shipping

November 18th, 2014

You can optimize your website, signage and marketing, but if you can’t deliver what the customer orders when they expect it,  it’s all for naught.

That’s the word from Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief of “Retail TouchPoints,” a digital publication that covers customer-facing aspects of retail.

She spoke about the challenges of fulfillment with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition earlier this year.

“The most important thing is getting your inventory right,” Debbie pointed out. “It’s not as sexy as digital signage or what you’re doing face-to-face or on mobile technology or inside your store or website. But if customers want to buy online, you have to make sure you’re ready to fulfill orders when they want them.”

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Selena Blue

Nonprofit Marketing: 3 tips to increase year-end revenue

November 14th, 2014

With the end of the year approaching fast, it’s not only retail industry marketers who have campaigns to implement. It’s also a busy season for nonprofit marketers – a time of the year for holiday giving and year-end contributions.

What can nonprofit marketers do to increase their fourth quarter revenue? We’re sharing three tips for you that have proven effective for others, and might prove useful for you, too.

 

Tip #1. Coordinate your offline and online marketing efforts

It can be hard to stand out in a crowded mailbox – both your physical mail box and email inbox. That’s why HealthConnect One wanted use both channels in its year-end campaign. The team had previously sent out direct mail including an appeal letter to its supporters, but they decided email might be a great way to reinforce the message.

By creating a four-email campaign around the direct mail piece, the nonprofit saw a 50% increase in revenue compared to the prior year. To see the emails and learn more about the campaign, check out the MarketingSherpa case study, “Email Marketing: Four short emails boost year-end revenue 50% for nonprofit organization.”

 

Tip #2. Provide “quick donate” links for previous donors

The Obama for America campaign wanted to enable repeat donors to effortlessly give again. This required a few steps.

First, they encouraged donors to save their payment information during checkout. Second, they sent out emails with multiple calls-to-action (CTA) for different contribution levels. Third, with one click of the CTA, donors could donate again without visiting a landing page or filling out a form.

obama-email

 

The result? Conversion rates increased 300% on average when using the links.

To learn more about this tip and other tactics the campaign used, read the MarketingSherpa case study, “Email Testing: How the Obama campaign generated approximately $500 million in donations from email marketing.”

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Jessica Lorenz

Newsletter Engagement: 3 tactics Calendars.com used to improve its monthly sends

November 11th, 2014

When Marcia Oakes, Senior Online Marketing Manager at Calendars.com, was challenged with the task of defining the company’s email campaign, she dove at the chance of evolving the campaign from promotions to engagement.

Marcia and her team hoped to develop a newsletter that people wanted to read and a way to “engage with subscribers without asking them to open up their wallets.”

The result was a newsletter with refreshing and relevant content that resonated with the customer.

 

Find your voice

The team at Calendars.com used a calendar format as a template for the newsletter send. Not only was this visually different than other emails in the inbox, but it was very fitting for the brand.

They also used a previously shelved trademark phrase, “Flip Day,” to describe the newsletter send. (Flip Day, if you’re wondering, is the ceremonial and satisfying day that you flip your calendar from one month to another.)

By using this resource they already had, it empowered the team to communicate with their audience in a purposeful way, without promoting products.

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Daniel Burstein

Why You Should Consider Customer Service to be 1-to-1 Marketing

November 7th, 2014

Some retailers only see customer service as an expense.

They view it as a cost that needs to be ruthlessly cut to the bare minimum by incentivizing call center reps to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible and push customers to self-service portals instead of providing easy contact information.

Yet, a major challenge retailers face is that many are resellers and the products they sell are commodities.

 

If a customer can buy the product in many places, why should they buy from you?

Since the products are the same, retailers need to create a unique value proposition for their store.

One unique element of value can be your store’s customer service. According to data from the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study, customer responsiveness correlates with success.

Stop thinking of customer service as a cost center and start thinking about it as an investment in one-to-one marketing.

Let me show you what I mean by using a customer journey as an example.

In this case, the customer journey is one I intimately understand since it was my own. (Please Note: I am overdramatizing it for effect and to highlight different decisions that go through the buyer’s head. In reality, some of these journeys may happen in a matter of minutes and many happen at a subconscious level for the customer.)

 

My customer journey

In my hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., it has been raining and hot and cold and dark and bright and buggy and all sorts of other excuses I could come up with for not going running. I needed a fool-proof method for exercising.

After doing some pain-point-level research, I discovered a recumbent exercise bike would be the solution I was looking for, since I could comfortably catch up on HBO Go while exercising – just the motivation I needed. Some product category research led me to the Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike.

Now that my product search was complete, I had to decide where to buy it. This was a commodity product with the same exact model available at many retailers. A quick foray into a shopping search engine identified 38 online stores that sold the exact same bike.

 

One-to-many marketing

There were price differences, and that helped with store selection. But another factor that helped with store selection was one-to-many marketing.

With so many selections, there were various stores I trusted thanks to their overall advertising and branding campaigns, print ads, newspaper circulars, content marketing, a physical presence in my hometown and many other tactics I would consider one-to-many marketing.

This branding, combined with my overall experience with these stores in the past – even excellent branding can’t outweigh negative customer experiences – caused me to prefer some stores over others.

However, there were still many stores to choose from.

  Read more…

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Erin Hogg

Content Marketing: Lord of the airline safety videos

November 4th, 2014

Since when did airline safety videos become so darn viral?

What used to be a dry and boring legal formality has now become a way to engage audiences outside of the plane cabin.

As a huge fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movie franchises, my inner nerd did backflips when I watched Air New Zealand’s newest airline safety video:

 

For those not so familiar with the world of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the filming location for all three “Lord of the Rings” films as well as the more recent “Hobbit” movies.

Featuring actors and characters from the movies, as well as flight attendants dressed as elves and an appearance from director Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand really outdid themselves. (However, I would have liked to see a little more Gollum in the video.)

This isn’t the first time the airline has capitalized on the “Hobbit” hype for its in-flight safety videos. In 2012, they used the theme in coordination with the first “Hobbit” film in the series.

Delta VideoHowever, Air New Zealand is not alone in taking safety videos to the next level.

Delta has produced some pretty entertaining safety videos as well, notably this 80s-inspired throwback featuring big hair, crazy clothes and of course some iconic characters from the time.

 

Storytelling in the strangest places

These safety videos, while still used for the in-flight safety precautions, were undoubtedly created to become viral online.

What was once an untapped resource has become a way to kill two birds with one stone: comply with FAA regulations and entertain viewers.

But even more than that, these videos are great content marketing. For Air New Zealand, the company is gaining more brand awareness from these videos because, let’s face it, most people will probably never make the 24-hour trek to the island.

However, by embracing its ties to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and getting creative, it’s found a way to reach audiences who may have never heard of the airline company before.

For larger airlines like Delta, I would argue that having more entertaining safety videos is a way to spice up what used to be mundane travel for 165 million travelers each year.

As a popular network, these videos add more personality to the brand.

For me personally, I saw one of Delta’s comedic videos on a trip I took, and that video was the first thing I told my family about when I landed was that video. Even on the flight, people were chuckling and talking about the video, even if they had seen a similar one on a previous trip.

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Jessica Lorenz

3 Instagram Lessons You Can Learn from Taylor Swift

October 31st, 2014

Taylor Swift uses Instagram just like I do. She takes photos of her cats, maybe takes a short clip of them jumping into boxes or snaps a photo of something that she baked that evening.

But, unlike me, Taylor has 12 million followers.

Aside from sharing her fascination with cats and baked goods, she also leverages Instagram to tease music she’s working on through behind-the-scenes glimpses into the recording studio or photos of lyrics that are yet to be released.

The brilliance of marrying these two techniques is two-fold. Not only is she using Instagram to market her albums, but also the personal and fun posts on her Instagram account give fans a glimpse into her world. By inviting fans into her home, it makes them feel like they’re actually friends with Taylor.

Cats

 

She makes her fans feel like they’re not too different than her (despite millions billions of dollars).

This strategy is part of Taylor’s value proposition. She tries to make her fans feel like friends. To supplement this strategy, she hosts and personally appears at secret fan parties around the world for “all-star” supporters, making Swifties feel special just for being her fans (I’m still waiting for my invite, Tay).

This is in stark contrast to the “arms-length” celebrities who keep themselves locked up in giant, fancy mansions in the Hollywood Hills with 12-foot ivy-covered fences and 24-hour security, quietly posting the occasional PR-induced Tweet.

Fan-Party

 

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Daniel Burstein

Corporate Creativity: Managing your marketing team (and career) to balance innovation and execution

October 28th, 2014

You, my friend, are a knowledge worker.

All marketers are.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was first coined by management guru Peter Drucker in the 50s.

Of Drucker’s six factors for knowledge worker productivity, the one I want to discuss in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post is:

“Continuing innovation has to be part of the work, the task and the responsibility of knowledge workers.”

This sounds like the perfect description of the challenges facing the modern marketer today.

 

Come up with out-of-the-box ideas (while sitting in a box)

Corporate CreativityNo longer can you rely on reaching potential customers by running a TV ad on the three major networks. Marketers must find innovative ways to use an endless (and growing) array of channels to reach customers.

They must combine smart uses of data and metrics to understand what their customers want and make sure they are delivering that content effectively (while proving the effectiveness to business leaders).

They must also combine this innovative thinking with persistence and process-orientation. After all, marketers must be able to execute these campaigns in complex corporate environments while managing budgets, agency and vendor relationships and corporate policy.

Essentially, marketers need corporate creativity.

 

Is corporate creativity an oxymoron?

“Creativity” is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

Also, the connotation of “corporate” is “Oppressively awful in that numbingly ‘cubicle in a hermetically-sealed office’ kind of way: lacking good quality, morality or ethics, excellence, creativity, spontaneity, kindness, love, integrity, beauty or intrinsic worth and meaning,” according to the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary.

In other words, these two aspects of marketing success do not necessarily go hand-in-hand  — innovation and execution.

It is your challenge as a marketing leader to make sure your team (and even your agencies and vendors) never lose that wild spark when working on your brand and campaigns.

Yet, they must be able to execute, manage projects and deliver on time and on budget.

Quite the conundrum. It’s a challenge that deeply interests me, so when I recently came across an article by Joe Robinson in Entrepreneur magazine, “The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off,” I knew I had to talk to Jeff Stibel, CEO, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of Wired for Thought from Harvard Business Press and Breakpoint from Palgrave Macmillan Trade.

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Jessica Lorenz

Event Marketing: 4 questions to ask before submitting a speaking application

October 24th, 2014

Speaking at events offers a great opportunity for marketers to build their own personal brand and reputation in the industry as well as improve their career. It also provides a way for solutions providers to gain credibility through customer success stories.

However, getting on stage is easier said than done.

If you’ve ever applied to speak at an event, you probably know that it can take a while to hear back from application evaluators, if you hear anything at all.Summit Speaker

Having applied to speak at several events in the past, I can relate — but I also have the inside scoop on what happens on the agenda-building side.

Over the past couple of weeks, the MECLABS content team, myself included, has been hard at work sifting through hundreds of speaking applications for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 in Las Vegas.

I’ve spent over 30 hours reading through applications, analyzing blog posts, watching videos and reaching out to applicants.

During those long hours, I began to develop four fundamental questions to ask myself when sorting applications into the “yes” or “no” stack, and I want to share those four questions with you:

 

1. Did you take time and effort to explain your story completely?

It’s disheartening to see people throw away an opportunity to win over the evaluators. Applications where you’re given the chance to tell someone about your story should take more than a sentence or single word, or, big oops, left blank entirely.

This is your chance to tell your story. Give the application reviewer a story and let them imagine how it would be presented on stage.

If you’re the hero of the story, explain the challenges that you overcame.

Be a storyteller in your application. J.K. Rowling could have summed up all the Harry Potter novels by simply writing, “Harry Potter went to school and learned how to overcome challenges.” Instead, she expanded this story into seven complete novels, detailing the events that unfolded and inviting you into the life, experiences and thoughts of Harry, not just offering the world a simplified plot.

The art of storytelling — even in a speaking application — is important and will set you apart from the hundreds of other applicants.

The effort that you put into your application is a preview of the effort that you’ll put into the content you present.

If we ask for a video and your reply is, “I have one, but I can’t find it,” we’re not going to go look for it. If you write, “Will provide video upon request” under the section where we requested a video, your application will likely be disregarded altogether.

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