Marketing within the Means

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Growth Hackers excel at using techniques such as search engine optimization, web site analytics, content marketing and A/B testing. Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing. For example, utilizing social media and viral marketing instead of using more traditional media. To sum it up a bit, this new buzzword floating around the marketing world basically means growing a brand faster without using traditional marketing tactics.

Perhaps breaking it down will make it a bit clearer:

The term “growth” is used in the literal sense. It is about the company’s overall growth (primarily up and to the right).

The term “hacker” is a bit more figurative. They think outside the box, discover new ways to solve problems, and focus on creative aspects to defy the odds.

Basically, put together, a Growth Hacker needs to use both sides of the brain. Time to be creative as well as analytical!

Apparently Albert Einstein agrees…

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What exactly does this mean for the up and coming marketer?

It is time to utilize analytical thinking, product engineering and creativity to significantly increase their company’s core metrics. It is necessary to have a love for data, creativity, and curiosity.

One prime example of a company that utilized Growth Hacking is AirBnB. This company is a service for people to put up their homes, apartments, and any other type of rental that other people can pay to use for an amount of time and it is a way to find other places to stay or live that might provide cheaper and different benefit than a hotel. They incorporated growth hacking by taking what they already had going and making it more accessible. They knew their business model had potential, but they needed a way to increase their visibility, so they chose one of the most popular C2C websites- good ol’ Craigslist. The engineers working for this company used reverse engineering to integrate AirBnB with Craigslist so that people searching on Craigslist would be directed to AirBnB as well. They flawlessly incorporated their listings into Craigslist, which in turn proved to be a monumental success.

Growth Hacking is the future for growing your brand without using traditional techniques. It is a comprehensive tool that utilizes social media and viral marketing.

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Sources:

http://mashable.com/2013/09/02/growth-hacking/

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/the-definitive-guide-to-growth-hack.pdf

Two Heads are Better than One

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Cocreation, in theory, is every marketers dream. It enables consumers to be engaged in the creation of the new product, which allows innovation at a very low cost.  Consumers are able and willing to provide ideas and input for goods or services that have not yet been met by that particular market. It creates an open dialogue of that will hopefully lead to improvement on the existing offerings. Companies not only engage consumers at the creation of a product, they also can engage them throughout the entire product development life cycle.

When was the last time your favorite brand asked YOU what you desired from their product? The value of co-creation rises form the unique and personalized experience for the consumer. It makes the consumer feel as thought the brand actually cares about what they think as well as what they have to say. It incorporates a new, deeper relationship with the consumer. Not only are they a customer, they were a part of the creation, which overall generates more loyalty to the brand or product.

Before a firm can cocreate there are a few aspects to consider. How exactly do they plan on implementing this social interaction with consumers and at what stages do they want the consumer to be involved in. A few advantages to cocreation according to Consumer Cocreation in New Product Development, “consumer-firm interaction allows the firm to strengthen its relationship with its end consumers, monitor their experiences to improve its product and the associated marketing strategy, and save money in areas such as advertising and product support.” Listening to consumers makes the world of new product development much easier. Monitoring what they have to say about the product on various social media forums allows firms to understand the flaws of their products and what the consumers actually want.

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Before we get too excited about cocreation, there are certainly some downsides to this entire concept. According to Understand the perils of Co-creation, “these programs are hard to run. Some customers “hijack” them—instead of offering real ideas, they seize the chance to ridicule the company. Such hijacking is one of the biggest challenges companies face. Prior research suggests that about half of co-creation campaigns fail.” Cocreation also creates an environment of complete transparency on behalf of the firm. Concerns about secrecy of the product have become an issue. There are also issues with ownership of intellectual property, which can lead to a debate with the issues behind this. This could also potentially lead to legal issues. Considering you are asking your entire population of consumers for input, this can also lead to an information overload. Also, many product ideas are sometimes entirely beyond the company’s realistic capabilities.

But really, the idea behind cocreation still has a lot of kinks to work out before companies can really appreciate the input of their most valuable asset, the consumer. If a company can find an efficient way to cocreate, then it is an invaluable edge to the future of new product development.

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Sources:

http://hbr.org/2013/09/understand-the-perils-of-co-creation/

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/cocreation-journal-of-service-research.pdf

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

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/

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

A Bored Generation

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The future of marketing is in the hands of social media. It is now unreasonably simple to access an entire population, whereas 50 years ago it would have taken weeks if not months. This is a gold mine for those who want to promote ideas and develop a presence in this competitive age of marketing.

Living in this age of information has created this sense of grief when we walk out the door without our smartphones in our pocket.  The average person checks their phones 34 times a day according to cnn.com. It is time for marketers take advantage of our obsessive habit and develop alternative ways to actually engage consumers. Everyday we are bombarded with more social media advertisements than we can count. We have become immune to them and in order for something to actually engage the average consumer it will take a lot more than a tweet or a Facebook post. We need to utilize these resources and this accessibility by standing out with emotional or engaging videos. A prime example of an engaging video is on the following link:

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Social media has become so prevalent that in order for marketers to actually engage their target audience they have to take the time to actively engage them and develop an intimacy and relationship that creates a unique experience.

It is time for marketers to step out of the box with this new generation of obsessive smart phone users. We need to intrigue them enough in order to stop their perpetual scrolling by creating a new form of engaging marketing.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/28/ep.smartphone.obsessed.cohen/index.html