Monday, March 28, 2011

Behavioral Target Marketing or A/B Testing – A Head Scratcher

I just read an article that pitted these two tactics against each other and asked which was better.
I scratched my head on this one. Why forego either?
If I’ve learned anything in my 20+ years of marketing, operations and management (which I view very connected, btw) it is that ‘getting it right’ is like peeling an onion. And if you can, you peel two or three layers at once and see where your highest gain is.
Example: If I had both options  behavioral marketing and A/B testing available to me, I’d use both!  Many times with clients I will recommend a tactic and they automatically assume (and most state) that I am ruling out other tactics. The truth is that couldn’t be further from the truth!
When I’ve done campaigns with behavioral data available to me, I still do an A/B test to a small, but statistically relevant group before I launch the campaign. Why use one tactic when you can test, use both tactics and identify the winner?
To get the very best ROI for my clients or company, I want to make sure that when I “pull the trigger” with the big gun (the campaign budget) that I am confident that I have identified the very best strategy. I want to yield the highest return that I can and this can be an area to navigate with some clients or management folks.
Unless you’ve used all forms of marketing (online and offline), selecting one tactic for the desired outcome is risky. Plus, depending upon your product or service, you may truly need an integrated approach to completely ‘touch’ all of your prospects. Many times, one size does not fit all.
I love having behavioral data at my fingertips. However, you will not find the golden key that unlocks the door to all of your customers. You will find identifiers which can help you with imaging, placement, messaging and more, but you should try at least an A/B test of differing approaches that fit within the characteristics of the behavioral data and see which one wins.  If you get a true front runner, that’s your winner and launch your campaign with the winner. Sometimes though you will find the results similar and this tells you that you’ve hit good messaging and look back to the responders and see what differs between the A responders to the B responders and then peel your data back one more layer and separate the “A type” from the “B type”.
For example, let’s say you find that the A responders were in a different geo target than the B responders. It would be silly to hit both geo areas with the same media. By testing behavioral data, you can enhance the data and thereby increase intelligence to the data for further campaigns.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social Marketing - Not as Easy as it Sounds - Guest Blog From a Savvy Social Marketer - Darya Bushmakin

Social marketing is not as easy as it sounds. Most small to mid-size business owners can benefit from social marketing, but most do not really understand what is involved with it. Many think social marketing means creating a Facebook account and then waiting for the customers to seek you out. It does not happen that way at all. Social marketing involves building relationships with the right group of consumers. There is no step by step process that will work for every business when it comes to social marketing. As every business is different, every target consumer group is different. Finding the right group to socially market to is not easy. The path is not a straight line from A to B. This explains why so many people who try social marketing on their own get so discouraged.
Thankfully, there are experts in social marketing to make the journey much easier and more beneficial. The problem is many business owners think they can tackle social marketing on their own. Why hire an expert when one can create a Facebook and Twitter or any page for that matter on their own, at no cost? The answer to that question is very similar to the question, why hire an accountant? You hire an expert in the field because they are an expert. They know things you do not know. Just as the accountant knows the current tax law and where to get the best write-offs, a social marketing expert knows how to create a comprehensive marketing strategy. They know how to find the clients you are looking for. They understand how to keep these customers engaged in your company. Just finding the customers won’t do anything for business if these customers are not socially engaged and converting to customers.
Social marketing does not happen overnight. While hiring an expert may seem like an unnecessary expense to you, try and remind yourself that you need to spend money to make money. Do not think you can hire someone for a month, sales will go through the roof, and then you can just take over where the professional left off. (Again, referring this business function to the accountant, you wouldn’t take over your book keeping or tax preparation after a month of accounting services, right?!) It takes time and effort for social marketing to work the way it is meant to work.
One example I can give you is a client who had a set monthly budget and after several months was starting to reap the rewards. In this case, it was being asked to write and or speak on her topic of expertise. Once the success happened, she drastically reduced her social marketing budget. Almost in an instant her website visits went from the thousands to zero – yes—zero! This is the best example I can give you as to why you should use a professional for social media and why it should remain a line item in your marketing budget permanently.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CMOO – Fad or Fabulous?

Why add another “O” to an executive title or in some cases add an executive to the team? Doesn’t this seem like a fad or a way to add self importance, or God forbid, a way to fatten a probable over inflated or over worked executive team? Here’s my take.
Whether you add an “O” or merely acknowledge that there is a need for Marketing and Operations to be synchronized, on the same page, or at least talk and plan together is what is important. The point is that the two are interconnected to achieve success.
I know from my personal experience that when I am in a Marketing role and I mention that I managed a 150,000+ sq. ft warehouse with over 1,000 skus plus a mail house operation, I immediately get more respect and cooperation from the Operations people because they know “I get it”. I know what it is like to manage the project from a time, resource, equipment and budget standpoint. Yes, I know how to drive a forklift and I can stuff envelopes too (when the auto-stuffer is broken!).
One of my ex-college professors at UCLA teaches that organizations behave the way in which they are structured. The theory is that there has to be a fair level of balanced power. This thinking, although I have experienced it WAY TOO many times, reminds me of our human pettiness. “I’m a Director and you are a Manager so what I say goes.” This type of mentality, albeit efficient on the battle field, has outgrown its usefulness in today’s web-like matrix organizations. Now, don’t get me wrong, as our dear past president would say, you need a “deciderer” ;) and that is a given, but the dialogue, planning and creativity is best when everyone contributes. Some of the best ideas and solutions that I have been the “deciderer” on (LOVE saying that—tee hee) have sprung from the insight of an administrative assistant or receptionist! Yup, I said, “an administrative assistant or receptionist”.
It makes sense when you think about it. Their role often involves listening, observing and learning the idiosyncrasies of different people. In other words, they see, hear and know a lot. Any time I go into a new situation, I make fast friends with the receptionist. You’d be amazed with the info I have procured prior to a client meeting, interview or pitch. They are a fountain of information on corporate culture, individual worker’s preferences and are usually on a first name basis with the CEO. (I wrote about this in an earlier post advising people to ‘always be nice to the receptionist’.
Now back to the “O” dilemma. I haven’t seen it work well when the Marketing Head reports into Operations – say a COO. Usually great ideas are laid to bed when the COO hears of the cost, complications, etc. This is especially true in lean organizations where the COO also has finance report into her/him. In situations where the CMO and the COO are equal, it generally falls to the “deciderer” to either pick a “winner” or dilute the plan with compromises that make the plan far less zealous than originally planned.
By creating the CMOO position, it is a huge nod to marketing folks that they need to be intimately knowledgeable with the operational aspects of implementing their grand marketing scheme. I cannot tell you how many operational people roll their eyes when they are told that they are being brought into a launch for a ‘new marketing program’. (The “launch?” They should have been brought into the brainstorming session!) These meetings usually end in a disaster or the campaign suffers because the marketing people didn’t even give implementation of their grand idea a thought and inevitably, it is either too costly or too timely to implement as they designed it. 
So, I guess, I vote “yes” on the extra “O”. If for no other reason than it creates an educational, if not at a minimum, an understanding that successful marketing MUST HAVE successful operational support and process integrated into the campaign. With the cohesion of Marketing and Operations, working shoulder to shoulder (or brain to brain) there is a much higher probability that a hard hitting, ROI driven, timely and effective campaign can be launched without any huge surprises or the dreaded words, “that can’t be done”.
So, a word of advice to those marketers who are not in an organization where marketing and operations are thought of as close family relatives, take your counterpart in operations out to lunch. And, at lunch, tell them what you are thinking about doing and ask them, “how (or would) that work?” Not only will you learn something, but you’ll gain a friend and maybe some support. You might even gain a friendly hand when you’re deep in trouble trying to accomplish something for the company or a client in an unreasonable timeline that has been dictated to you.
This post is dedicated to all of those amazing operational friends who taught me so much and saved my “bacon” many times when I was in a pinch as a marketer.