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)

Increase your patience, retailers! Online Shopping is becoming Online Browsing

Which would you believe is true when a customer comes to your website – the customer sees what they want, then go ahead to purchase? Or that the customer visits several times?

If you said the latter, you get a gold star.  Recent Google posts indicate that more customers are delaying their online purchase, and browsing. This has increased the number of days between first arriving on a site and making a conversion (in this case purchase).

You can see a bar graph of the average number of browsing days by product category on the Google Retail Advertising blog.  This data is based on the 2009 holiday shopping season.  Electronics, home appliances, and home furnishings had the longer average number of browsing days (16 days), while beauty items, gift cards, and pet supplies had the shortest periods (7 days).

The data also confirms what many analytics folks have said for a long time —

  • Your traffic does not immediately purchase when they arrive on your site.
  • Your traffic is not monolithic – they come for different reasons. In this case cited, there’s browsing as well as taking action
  • Your analytics is important for understanding the site behavior
  • You have an opportunity to provide content that would inform your visitors and potentially encourage conversion

Have you and your marketing team seen a difference in website performance from more browsing at your site? What do you feel lead to more “browsing”? Or is it just client and customer behavior that was inevitable? Feel free to share your insights…

US social media users more likely than average adult to watch video/TV online.

This post is based on a retweet from @eMarketer. The retweet is their Stat of the day: US social media users are 7.7% more likely than average adults to watch video/TV online. (Via RAMA)

This information also confirms that to market through social media, you can not simply ignore other video media. Some commercials, such as the Lebron/Kobe puppet commercials from Nike have found their way to YouTube.  Clever subject matter and coordination of social media tools can help increase consumer awareness of a product and its features.

It is also possible with older media such as television.  At times, your audience is online with a laptop while the TV is on.  A potential customer can see an TV ad asking  the viewer to come to a Facebook Fan Page or website, and go to it immediately on their laptop or even mobile device.  The best marketing comes from the best coordinated effort.

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.

Do You Use Social Media for Finding Home Repair Services?

We use social media for so many recommendations on products ranging from the cars we buy to the electronics for our play (That’s a nod to a best friend for his audio, er, habit!). But what about household repairs and services, such as plumbing or electrical work? Do you use social media to find the best contractor? If so, which services do you use social media for? And which social media do you use the most?

A brief simple poll has been started on Linked In. You can check it out here and vote. We’ll have a follow up on the results in a few weeks. You can also add your comments here at Zimana blog.

In the meantime, I think I heard Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor from afar…. 🙂