Align your offline and online marketing (from 2008 SES Expo – updated)

Back in 2008, I saw this post — an interview with Rob Murray, President at iProspect.   He was also one of the keynote speakers at the 2008 Search Engine Strategies expo, held in San Jose, California. The interview appeared in SEMGeek, an online blog that covered the SES Expo, as well as issues on search engine marketing.  For more, check out

I liked his comments, but one statement which particularly caught my attention is the need for an alignment in offline and search marketing efforts (see Rob’s response to Question #4 in the post).  He was not the only one who has identified the need back in 2008.

At that time, I also discovered a Harvard Business Review ideacast (#42) in which Duncan Watts, a business researcher, talked about his research on viral online campaigns.  He noted that in order to have effective virtual marketing, the initial seed of “carriers” – consumers who use word of mouth – would have to be large to reach a substantial number of potential customers. The epidemic analogy typically used for the concept of viral marketing is somewhat flawed because an epidemic seed was smaller than that needed for an effective marketing campaign.

The researcher was advocating the usage of traditional media and online marketing as a hybrid viral method to help drive a message from a big seed, even when the message is burning out over time. The traditional media is used to create the seed; the online marketing tools gives the “carriers” a means to pass the message along. Proctor and Gamble used this method to market an Eco-friendly version of Tide, which Watts studied.

It is this mix that companies large and small must seek to best market products and services.  Given the increasing use of mobile and tablet devices, monitoring attribution is increasingly key for developing useful marketing strategy.

(originally posted August 17, 2008)

How relevant keywords in Facebook differs from those in search engines

Facebook conducted a great Facebook Ads presentation at the recent Search Engine Strategies New York expo in March. I sat in the audience as Sarah Smith, head of Online Operations in Facebook’s new Austin office, spoke about how small businesses and marketers should use Facebook ads. Great timing on Facebook’s part to offer a review to SES goers, given the recent statistics that online users are spending more time on Facebook than Google, and the massive buzz of the Betty White Hosting Saturday Night Live fanpage.

One of the best takeaways was regarding how keywords in Facebook ad content should be selected. Keywords should be deployed such that they connect to lifestyle activity, events, or how a product is used. These obtain the best response results in Facebook. This differs from search engine keyword tactics, where specific words or broad match incorporating a specific word is used. In fact Facebook calls keyword phrases “likes and interests”, similar to the FHTML that is a variation of HTML.

For example, the words “wine” or “red wine” may be used by a winery, but in a Facebook ad, phrases such “fine dining” will help the ad appear to relevant Facebook audience. According to Smith, businesses can use Facebook to find customers before they use the search engines to seek your business, product, or services.

This implies a few aspects that businesses and marketers should keep in mind:

  • Beyond a different keyword strategy, Facebook users are searching differently than those who are using search engines. This means campaign content must be formulated for Facebook with a different search in mind than that for a search engine.
  • Businesses that confuse web analytics for simply keyword performance will have to end. If a Facebook campaign is used alongside a PPC (Adwords, Adcenter, etc.), those business will miss opportunities to optimize their marketing and gain customers because all the channels will be treated the same.
  • Marketers will have to understand the influences and preferences customers more deeply to generate the “likes and interests” for the Facebook ads.

Ok, it’s your turn…how do you see advertising in Facebook being different than in Google or Bing Yahoo?

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How to organize your social media usage – the beginning of analytics

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The stream of social media tools seems never ending. Every day a new update or twist of usage comes along, to the point that it becomes difficult to know where to start. To that end, I am posting a presentation as a primer on using social media. It’s a great way to figure how to get the ball rolling.

This presentation was first shown at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis class in November 2009. My client was Eric Anderson, who was conducting a special class on communication. The presentation covers the following:

  • how social media formed with the internet
  • a chart of different kinds of social media
  • great starting place for building a blog or Twitter profile
  • analytics tools

Since the presentation there have been even newer developments. A follow up to this presentation is being planned shortly, including using rating and Q&A sites as well as new sources for blogs such as BizSugar, and the growing predominance of geolocation tools like Foursquare, so stay tuned for more ways to organize your engagement online!

Annotation comes to Google Analytics

In the fury and excitement over Monday’s announcement of Google providing realtime search — timely given the Search Engine Strategies expo occurring in Chicago this week — Google also let slip a few other features announcements, namely annotation for Google Analytics. Users can now add annotations to data points, notes regarding a perceived trend. This makes GA more customizable and help users share consensus on which data is a significant trend.

You can read about Google Analytics’ new feature at Mashable. You can also view the video that shows the new annotation feature.

When Facebook is Not A Marketer’s Friend

Honda Accord Crosstour
Introducing a new product, such as the Honda Crosstour, can be frought with customer reaction that can jade social media critics into cancelling a campaign. But read below to learn how to be manage complaints.

In September, 2009, Honda unveiled a variant on the Honda Accord. Called the Crosstour, the vehicle is a large 5-door hatchback, designed to appeal to SUV owners who want versatility but in a more sedan-like form. The hybrid design has become the latest rage in the industry, starting with BMW’s X6 and continuing with Acura’s ZDX, also being introduced with the Crosstour (Acura is Honda’s luxury division. According to Honda few components are shared between the ZDX and Crosstour).

But Honda ran into a marketing storm when it unveiled the Crosstour on a Facebook fan page. Fans immediately panned the vehicle’s appearance. Worse, Honda responded to specific posts with very general comments, which prompted more negative fan comments. Honda has since released more reveals of the Crosstour in more colors and interior pics, but the damage to initial buzz was done.

Companies need to understand how to position a brand extension with online communities. Accord is a very popular vehicle, but its popularity is among family car owners looking for reliable and affordable transportation. A FB fan is a fan in a true sense — they’re enthusiastic for the product be it Jack Daniels or Beyonce Knowles.

Also fans will want to share the experience. A vehicle reveal exposing the Crosstour to the FB crowd may have not be the best audience. Accord does not carry the same FB-like enthusiasm like a Ford Mustang or Nissan 370Z. An extension to a entry model like the Civic would potentially have been a potentially better choice for this channel, given its image with young buyers and tuner car heritage (Honda recently embraced the tuner image with a CivicNation ad campaign).

To Honda’s credit, Facebook has seen an increase in adults, in segments that would be a potential audience for the Crosstour (The average age on FB is 35 years old, with more women than men). But this potential audience is recent relative to this campaign timing, so the “usual crowd”, vocal and responsive, may have been the first to see the Crosstour reveal and comment.

Automobiles can be difficult to market. Vehicles contain definitive physical features that can be an elephant in the room when it comes to consumer impact. And these features can not be easily changed without a substantial engineering budget, very difficult in a competitive market with slim margins on some vehicle lines.

For example, Ford had a great handling vehicle in a compact sedan called the Contour, but had a negative in the rear leg room layout. The European-developed sedan needed more room, and the issue was highlighted in various car magazines. This is a feature or product quality that is not changed easily. For Ford it took developing a different offering, the Fusion. While not a direct replacement, the Fusion is larger than the Contour, carries more room, and developed on platform targeted for American roads.

Exposure online means immediate feedback, so buzz on a product like an automobile is extremely vulnerable to negative response. A grille change or trim change may not cover up a general sentiment that a overall shape is ugly or that a vehicle has poor function of its major features. GM made trim changes to the Pontiac Aztek, but the vehicle was (and still is among critics and consumers) considered an ugly vehicle that should have been re-imagined before production. These examples are why I still pay attention to automotive marketing even though I am now 8 years out of the game (I worked at Ford and interned at GM, as well as having lifelong car enthusiasm).

Small businesses can learn how to market extension of services by monitoring launches of extension products from large businesses, then learn to apply albeit on a small and quicker scale (fail fast, learn & apply quickly). Owners can search for blog posts or follow Twitter feeds to see what worked, what didn’t, and reflect on how the suggestions and tone can best be used in their own services and products.

Engage your fans, but be cautious of egging on negative statements from the community if you can not really address fan concerns with specific actions or solutions.

Check out the Crosstour fanpage to see the comments. If you think I am alone in my thoughts, check out the comments at Autoblog.