Mobile Revolution

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If I leave the house and realize I left my phone at home I will turn around no matter the circumstance and head back to grab it. My mobile device is within five feet of me about 95% of the day. Without it I feel disconnected and anxious. I have created this obnoxious habit, just like many of my peers, where I manage to check my phone an unreasonable amount throughout the day.

We are part of a generation that cannot comprehend life without a mobile device. Some would even say it is a part of us. It is how we express ourselves and communicate with the rest of the world.

And this is why the mobile market has advanced to what it is today. This is a focus for brands considering consumers are waiting to engulf digital content on their devices. This is a new medium that brands cannot look over with consumers. This is a way to connect with mobile users anywhere and anytime.

Ironically enough, as I am writing this lovely blog, my three roommates come into my room to distract me. At one point it gets quiet, I turn around and all three of them are texting on their phones…

So, what does this mean for marketers and everyday people?

It is a mobile revolution. According to Marko Muellner, “nearly 50 percent of users access social media via their mobile phones, which means that social audiences are becoming increasingly synonymous with mobile audiences.” This means, if you want your business to be successful, it needs to be compatible with a mobile device. Your website needs to mobile optimized but still represents their company as a whole. It is vital that marketers fully heighten the mobile experience. Below is a graphic that shows how much an average user spends on Facebook on their mobile phone versus desktop:

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Mobile offers exciting new ways to serve users. The potential continues to grow considering it is becoming a much more powerful advertising medium. In the end, it is about the en- tire mobile consumer experience, both conventional and digital.

Sources:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/classic-guide-to-mobile-advertising.pdf

http://www.istockanalyst.com/finance/story/6386603/gm-just-gave-facebook-s-mobile-strategy-a-big-wet-kiss

So you think you can hide?

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It comes to a point where everyone is fair game. We all use our debit cards when we purchase items so there is a good chance we are in a system somewhere that is tracking the potential of our next purchase and what it will possibly be. The success behind this is all tied into database marketing.

It might sound bland but it is absolutely amazing what companies can find out about us based upon our buying habits. In one famous case involving an angry father and his teenage daughter, the father came into Target complaining about ads for baby clothes and cribs sent to his teenage daughter. He was appalled and demanded that they stopped. After the manager apologized various times the father later admitted he found out his daughter was actually due in August. Situations like these are astonishing and can really open up your eyes to the power of database marketing. It allows companies to gain insight on customer details, even if it hasn’t been provided to them.

The key here is to not be too blatant about what you actually know about consumers. Companies have to be careful how far they take certain information because it can lead to a slippery slope that they are ultimately trying to avoid. According to Charles Duhigg from the New York Times, Target has a Guest ID for each consumer and they can collect data such as your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. And this is where database marketing comes into play. From here Target is able to analyze their consumers and market specifically for them. This is when the importance of ad placement comes into play. Target does not want you to know that you are being personally marketed to and that they know more about you than you ever have realized.

Database marketing is undeniably effective but can make one wonder how far can a company dig before they know too much? It will inevitably grow considering that it is capable of providing the ultimate experience for the consumer. Marketers use the data to learn more about customers and compare customers’ value to the company and provide more specialized offerings for customers.

So, basically next time you buy something you don’t want anyone to know about- use cash.

Sources:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/how-companies-learn-your-secrets-nytimes-com.pdf

Squirming to Learn SQL

Are you looking for a way to set yourself apart from all the other freshly graduated marketing students? Here is your answer: Structured Query Language. We live in a digital age and having exceptional technical skills is a must when entering the job market. SQL is designed for managing data held in a relational database management system. As a simpler thought, for those of you that are having a hard time wrapping your mind around it, it is basically a database language that allows you to search through your data in a more efficient manner. SQL is the key to more efficient and interactive research of your data.

SQL is an incredible successful and solid technology. It is EVERYWHERE. All iPhones have easy access to a SQL database and many applications on your phone use it directly. It runs banks, hospitals, universities, governments, small businesses, and large ones.  How does it work exactly? SQL understands fields that are in tables, and how to find the data in the tables is based on the contents of the fields. Below are the four general steps of SQL operations:

Create:

Putting data into tables.

Read:

Query data out of a table.

Update:

Change data already in a table.

Delete:

Remove data from the table.

This is a fundamental set of features EVERY data storage system must have.

One aspect of marketing that really focuses on the use of SQL is research. Some common firms that use SQL are Nielson, ComScore, and Ipsos. I researched a few marketing positions that are currently up for grabs and having a basic understanding of SQL is necessary for all of them. So, for those of you that are about to pull your hair out due to the stress of having to learn ANOTHER language, just jump on this handy dandy sight http://www.w3schools.com/sql/default.asp . Trust me, it was not as intimidating as I initially thought. Plus, if worse comes to worse, there is always the SQL FAIRY!

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Halloween costume anyone?

But really, SQL skills are worth their weight in gold. It is time to dive into this intimidating world of structured query language and realize the true potential of this skill set. Not only will it set you apart, becoming an informed SQL user will enable you to make informed decisions and gain a deeper understanding of all databases.

Now that you are squirming in your seat to learn the ins and outs of SQL, here is a cute cat meme to ease your mind:

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Okay, let’s get to it!!

Sources:

http://sql.learncodethehardway.org/book/introduction.html

http://vaultanalytics.com/marketinganalytics/2012/10/why-learning-sql-will-change-your-life/

http://moz.com/blog/every-marketer-should-be-technical

The ABCs of A/B Testing

Wondering how you can optimize your website and create a page that will keep users coming back for more? Well, for those that are patient enough for results, A/B testing is the right tool for you. It allows users to show you what they prefer while surfing your website all the way to the nitty-gritty such as colors, fonts, and link sizes. Perhaps changing a link from green to red sounds tedious and unnecessary, but surprisingly it can have an extreme impact on the overall success of a website. Various aspects of a website can deter users from completing the task you want them to do whether it means finalizing an order or just signing up for a membership. Everything needs to be based on the user experience and finding the key aspects of that “ultimate experience”.

Below is an excellent example of how simple a change could be:

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So, what exactly is A/B testing?

Perhaps you have this amazing, simple and chic website that is getting tons of hits but for some reason customers are filling up their cart but not managing to make it past the check out. What could possibly be holding them back from finalizing their purchase? Something as simple as having too many pages to go through to make the purchase can have a detrimental impact to the success of a website. In order to test this theory out, it is up to A/B testing to test both forms of the website (A being the original with three pages to checkout and B being the website with one checkout page).

Tip: Keep it Clean

This meme reminds us to keep all testing on ONE aspect of the website as explained below:

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When considering this test, it is vital to test both forms of the website simultaneously, that way you receive accurate data of each version according to the “Ultimate Guide in A/B testing”.  It is also necessary to only test one aspect of the website. If you decide to test the number of checkout pages, color variations and font sizes it will be hard to tell which aspect is actually having an impact on the success of the website. t is also important to never conclude the test to early. This can easily lead to misconstrued results of the A/B test. So, in order to have a successful A/B test, keep it simple:

Red or Green?

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A website needs to be efficient and simple, easy as that. No one wants to search for the checkout button or go through pages of checkout procedures. As an online shopper myself, I can confess to simply leaving a page if something was not straightforward and efficient. I am much too impatient to wait for the next page to load or search for the checkout button. This is why being “user friendly” is a necessary attribute to a successful website.  Little aspects of a website have a large impact!

A/B testing may seem like a long process considering you can only focus on one aspect of a website at a time but it is crucial in overall performance of a website. So, take the time to perfect your website. Keep the complexity of each change to a minimum and if it takes a few tries to get to the core of the problem you will be making positive changes along the way.

Cheers to the science behind marketing!

Sources:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/the-ultimate-guide-to-ab-testing-smashing-magazine.pdf

http://unbounce.com/a-b-testing/ab-test-hygiene-checkup/

http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/01/14/11-obvious-ab-tests-you-should-try/

Cheers to late night coding!

I just finished my two hours of coding and I am actually quite impressed with what I managed to get through in such a short amount of time. This was the first time I have actually had a hands on experience with coding (other than a bit when it came to good old MySpace). Below is an image of how far I managed to get before my eyes started to bulge:

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Overall, it was really easy to get the hang of other than a few hang-ups towards the end when it came to switching the font color. I really anticipated it to be more difficult than it was and it made me want to delve further into my new Codecademy account. I actually enjoyed the process of some of it and it was fun to actually see what I was doing as I was changing the codes.

As a college student who is attempting to make my resume “stand out” it would certainly be an excellent addition to my list of technical skills. Basic coding skills are practically a necessity when it comes to applying for jobs. I wish the business students here at Western were required to take a course in coding. That being said, I plan on taking some time to go through many more exercises on Codecademy!

Three Times a Charm

The three types of media are paid, earned, and owned.

Paid media is more of a traditional form of advertising. It includes facets such as print, television, radio, and direct mail. In paid media the brand pays to leverage a channel.  For the average consumer it has become more of an eyesore, and as of late, has declining response rates.

Owned media is more of a Facebook fan page, blog or corporate website. The benefits of owned media is that it builds a more long-term relationship with potential customers. The only issues with owned media is that there are no guarantees and it takes time to build those loyal consumers.

Earned media has a more “word of mouth” feel. Earned focuses more on Facebook comments, blogs, and twitter mentions and replies. Below is an example that visually diagrams the three different types of media according to Sean Corcoran’s blog on Defining Earned, Owned, and Paid media.

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As of late, paid and earned have been meshing into one due to companies merging advertisements into Facebook pages and twitter accounts. Inevitably, due to this merge, paid media has lost significance in the overall marketing strategy of a company.

Although effective, paid media has become more of a numbing nuisance than something that actually has an impact in the marketing world. People are surrounded by constant paid media that it does not nearly have as much of an impact as marketers once thought. This is leading to a desperate group of marketers who are doing anything they can to engage their audience. It is time to step out of the box and engage potential consumers in a way that is more enticing than this original form of marketing.

Sources:

http://blog.hootsuite.com/converged-media-brito-part-1/

blogs.forrester.com

Content is KEY

Content marketing is all about creating a dynamic relationship with your audience. Content marketing needs to be about what consumers actually care about and they should come to your website first for valid information and answers before being tempted to look elsewhere.  Consumers want to be educated and treated like an equal versus being constantly pitched ideas filled with undertones that do not necessarily portray the truth.  It is about creating relevant and valid information for the targeted audience.

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One of the biggest struggles when it comes to content marketing is having consistent, high quality information that will keep your audience engaged and asking for more. It can be difficult to find a continuous stream of relevant information and writers block can ensue. It is important to have a relevant plan for content so your website is cohesive and does not consist of sporadic thoughts and ideas.

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Not only is it important to have a focus, it is also vital to implement a sense of authority amongst your audience. Authority may not seem difficult to come by but it really is entirely up to your consumers. According to A Content Marketing Strategy that Works, there is plenty of work to do before you grow an audience size viable enough to make you and your brand online authorities. You will know when you have achieved this because you will receive feedback, your audience will grow organically, and you are gaining insight into what the audience actually wants. The main three priorities when it comes to content marketing is creating great content, making sure it gets found in search engines, and promoting it to your followers. Content Marketing is all about feeding the audience engaging information that will keep them coming back for more.

Sources:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/a-content-marketing-strategy-that-works.pdf