Game Changers – New Digital Requirements that will Change Your Marketing Plan

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Mobilegeddon, Instagram Ads, Pinterest Search – just a few of the top digital tactics that have come out in just the first six months of this year have (if you’re already on top of them) or will (if you aren’t) change your entire marketing plan for this year. Here’s a recap of the game changers that will change your marketing plan – and if you’re a good marketer, you’ll change it now, not later.

  • Mobile First. Mobile search surpassed desktop search earlier this year – and then, on April 21, Google released an algorithm update that penalized non-mobile optimized (or responsive) websites. ‘Mobilegeddon’ as it was called, was a flurry of marketers scrambling to figure out how to either; (a) bite the bullet and redesign their website in a responsive / mobile optimized format – or – (b) find a workaround to appease Google in the meantime.
    • Impact #1 – Google continues to release algorithm updates that reward sites with a great user experience. Get it right now, or scramble to catch up with the next update.
    • Impact #2 – Mobile is in the lead for certain metrics, but remain device agnostic. When in doubt, keep user experience and audience interests at the forefront of all marketing decisions).
    • Impact #3 – Channel strategies should shift to accommodate more mobile targeted tactics: Paid Search Campaigns skewed to mobile devices, ramp up Facebook advertising (knowing that Facebook also is a ‘mobile first’ company), optimize for Local Search, and the list goes on.
  • Social Advertising & Content.  Social platforms continue to open up new targeting methods with advertising options, and they’re only getting better. Pinterest now allows advertising, animated (‘cinematic’) pins that can be optimized in the same way you optimize for search (Pinterest’s search team is from Google, so you can imagine there’s some similarity in their search algorithm there). Instagram is opening up advertising options to more advertisers, and can pull in Facebook Advertising targeting capabilities. Facebook Advertising is now critical (and one of the only ways to get in front of your audience), and targeting strategies are getting better, all while advertising costs rise (so get in now, while the gettin’s cheap-er!).
    • Impact #1 – Shift advertising budget allocation towards social channels (not next year, now) to ensure that you’re getting highly targeted visibility in a new channel, while the ‘channel clutter’ is low, and taking advantage of a low-cost awareness and conversion platform.
    • Bonus Point – Social signals still count as a factor in search rank, even with Google’s latest algorithm update.
    • Impact #2 – Optimize your social content both for search engine and native search indexing. We’ve created a culture of ‘searchers’, it’s up to you to connect searching consumers with your brand.
    • Impact #3 – Create relevant content. Start first by defining the specific channel audience, then the targeting capabilities, and develop the most relevant social content possible for that audience.
  • Twitter Counts in Search.  Now that Google & Twitter have a deal to index tweets again, this easy content channel can turn into a long-tail search dream.
    • Impact #1 – Reconsider Twitter in your social channel mix. Consider it as a SEO aide and a social channel, with a focus on driving visibility for long-tail terms and converting that visibility to traffic.
    • Impact #2 – Optimize Tweets. Look to your SEO Keyword Research / Plan to help guide your Twitter content calendar by incorporating target keywords into topics and tweets.
    • Impact #3 – Run Twitter Advertising Tests. There is a solid correlation between highly visible tweets (via retweets, audience size) and the likelihood that your tweet will show up in Google search. Consider running Twitter advertising tests to help boost channel visibility, followers and select tweets.
  • Content is More Than King, it’s the Kingdom. Search, social and paid advertising channels can’t run without content. Yet, if siloed, content development becomes very segmented and inefficient. It’s time we rethink how we look at content as an afterthought, and make it as important as digital marketing is to a business. Reconsider how you look at content. Is it an afterthought, or the leading thought?
    • Impact #1 – Create a master content calendar that aggregates content needs and output on all channels: SEO, Blog, Social Media, Paid Media, Email, PR. Find content gaps where there are missing holes between the ideal customer content experience and what you currently have. Then create the right content, and make it user friendly. If you wouldn’t watch / read / share it – why would your audience?
    • Bonus point: Create a content repository, if you don’t already have one. With needs for content growing, staying organized will be key.
    • Impact #2 – Invest in rapid, high-quality content resources and partners. Content can’t take forever to develop any more, and it doesn’t have to. The right resources and partners can enable you to produce more content that is valuable, visible and trackable. You have to feed the beast, and he’s hungry.
    • Impact #3 – Make content accountable. Every piece of content should have a set of performance metrics attributed to it. Some content will perform better than others, and that success path should be tracked. Consider content like shooting arrows out to your audience: you’ll want to see where they land, and figure out what you did to land the good ones.

So – if you’re following the digital marketing plan that you set in place last year, it’s already out of date. Follow the plan that will work, now – and use an agency to tell the difference.

Betabrand’s bet on Success

Hat’s off to Betabrand – and there relentless promotion (and strategic targeting methods) with their office yoga pant.  They know how to target the right consumer audience and go in for the kill (even if it takes unlimited promoted posts in a row and Free Shipping to compete with all of the other marketing noise out there).  They also understand that they can generate demand with consumer-tested/demanded products with tactics like promoted posts, email list gen, and product annoucements before the product is even available.  In today’s day & age, 2-3 months isn’t too long to wait for a good thing…

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Grainger & B2B Biz – Discovery Marketing

W. W. Grainger, No. 15 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, provided some great insight to Internet Retailer as to how they make online marketing work for B2B – and that it generates more than 30% of all sales ($2.7 billion online).  Here are a couple tactics that have made their B2B tic;

  • Paid Search (6M keywords for 1M products)
  • Invested Value in Search Marketing and SEO
  • Highly Targeted Emails (less volume, more target)
  • Big Data (using online data to inform offline sales, esp. with shopping cart abandonment rates)

It’s marketing strategy and understanding like this that KEEPS them at the top as the largest retailer of maintenance, repair and operations supplier.

“We don’t really go after customers online,” vice president of e-commerce Paul Miller told attendees today at the B2B Multichannel conference in Phoenix. “If we’re doing our job right, they should be finding us.”

“If they can’t find us or can’t get to our site, all the rest of the equation falls off,” Miller says. “We make sure to ask where the customer is when they start their journey and try to be relevant in that search. You can’t underestimate the importance of those first parts of the journey.”

…it sounds like they have a true understanding of what’s up next, Discovery Marketing.

Rand Fishkin + New Approach, CliffsNotes.

Brad Miller of Search Engine Watch sums up a recent interview w/ Rand Fishkin of Moz – to get his take on some of the hot topics for SEO in 2013 and a new approach for some…

  1. Local Search for National Brands (think nationally, compete locally)
  2. Content Marketing: How to Stand Out (‘industry source’)
  3. Where Should Content Live? (on your site – go long term)
  4. Getting Picked Up (more visibility & engagement, not dates)
  5. Link Building vs. Social Signals (corollary for holistic approach)
  6. Email Marketing & SEO (start connecting the two)
  7. Google+ (using it for authorship / leadership visibility)
  8. and the rest of the interview, here.

Matt Cutts, Moonshots & the Future @ PubCon, CliffsNotes.

Talk about a great way to wrap up the year – SEL summed up Cutts’ Pubcon speech about Moonshot and the future of SEO in beautiful bullets and snippets galore like;

  • Moonshot changes (voice, convo search, Google Now, word relationships)
  • Core Quality changes (HBird, Panda softening, Authorities)
  • Webspam Changes (Penguin, spam networks, advertorials)
  • Communication w/ webmasters
  • Future of Search (machine learning, mobile, authorship/identity/social)
  • Webspam Trends (hacking, hot topics)

AND – most importantly, his advice…

  • mobile.
  • auto-complete requests for Chrome
  • ad-heavy pages above fold
  • authorship tightening
  • rich snippets
  • smarter on javascript

Slackers Beware!

Copy & pasting content from other sites to create “new” web content won’t help you rank (or is it not really so bad? …yet?).  So yep – we’re back to square one with content marketing here – original, quality content.  Cutts provides a great response to a question in from New Delhi, India

“I fear you may be heading for heartbreak,” Cutts replied in the video. He added that if this is something you’re considering, you should really be asking yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. For example, are you trying to automate? – SEW.


Constant Evolution in PR

Another great report by PSFK…

The major change that Golin Harris implemented in their workplace was to restructure the company into four communities of experts rather than a typical PR agency of generalists. This model, known as the G4 model consists of: catalysts, strategist, creators, and connectors, and will be discussed in more depth in tomorrow’s 2nd video: FROM GENERALISTS TO SPECIALISTS

To intercept conversations as they are happening and leverage real-time marking opportunities, Golin Harris has created The Bridge: a space that shows what’s happening across all media channels at one time. This will be highlighted in the 3rd video: ALWAYS-AWARE, EVER-READY

In the 4th video HOLISTIC TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING, we discover how Golin Harris is treating media the same way consumers do by blowing away the silos and becoming more integrated.

To complete THE FUTURE OF PR series, Golin Harris will discuss how they are creating modern, integrated campaigns which see paid, earned, owned, and shared media all working together to deliver clients better results.

via PSFK:

Southwest Gets It.

It’s the return of the site guide avatar – and I love it!  Southwest Airlines definitely gets it (which I love) – people don’t want to have to work to figure out new terms, new programs – people don’t want to have to WORK to do anything, beyond what their bosses force them to do.  (aside from those weird people that do full-time scrapbooking).  So, for the release of their new Rapid Rewards Program, they sent an HTML email that led to a nice, passive site experience.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy these new program details…

Fans Dont = Influence

Interesting perspective from Matthew Creamer in AdAge today.  It’s a good reminder to Marketing Professionals that don’t get it – but it’s a no brainer to those that do.  Social Media is almost equivalent to a 100% opt-in email list.  You’ve got to start at the top of the funnel to drive action – just like you have to have fans to drive awareness to action.

Tips for Online Dev

  • You cannot rely on the end goal being incentive enough to encourage individuals to cooperate on achieving the end goal
  • Design so that incremental participation results in incremental gains
  • Provide tools that enable intended participants to construct their own evidentary rationales for participating
  • Rather than trying to develop solutions to individual problems, construct means for actions in two seemingly unrelated domains to benefit each other
  • A public spectacle is engaging, requires no long-term commitment. It encourages people to observe, ask questions and occasionally, even to participate
  • Create social projects complex enough that a single individual cannot explain it to others, forcing participants to work together to find solutions.


1.7 Billion Millenials

A staggering 1.7 billion people in the world today are aged between 15 and 30 years of age. This generation encompasses the ‘largest, most diverse, educated and influential shoppers on the planet.’ Yet, when you think about the generation born between 1980 and 1995, we call them “8095-ers”, it often seems that marketers and communication professionals define Millennial as a homogenous ‘youth/student’ group rather than exploring their diversity.

Consider this: the first of this group turned 30 this year, they have mortgages, children and careers. And yes, the use of technology is also a way of life for them. In fact, 65% of global 8095-ers in our study said that they are only to be disconnected for one hour a day, if at all. While technology makes this constant connection possible, it brings with it such a significant amount of background noise. As they build their own filters for this, to sort out what’s important to them, it is important for us to remember that their digital media is only one part of the way in which they learn about, respond to and engage with brands.

Brands as Form of Self Expression: Brand preference is the No. 1 identifier that 8095-ers are willing to share online; in some places they preferred to share a brand preference more than their name. 82% of 8095-ers have joined a brand sponsored online community, and one in four is members of seven. That’s a lot of identifiers. And nothing matters more than quality, authenticity and integrity. Also, one in three 8095-ers depend on brands to learn about new trends – in some places brands are more powerful than celebrities- and many depend on brands to be real catalysts in their life.

Information is a Key to Influence: Brand purchasing decisions are not made in silos. Even when considering some of the most basic purchases, over 50 percent of 8095-ers use four or more sources of information to help them make their purchase decision and a third use seven or more sources.

Action is Intrinsic: Worldwide eight in ten 8095-ers take action every week on behalf of a trusted brand. More importantly, this action is, on average, more positive than it is negative. Nearly half will share positive brand experiences.

Reverberation Rules: By reverberation we mean the cross influence that this group has on each other and their friends and family. En masse, 8095-ers think they are influencers with, 76% believing they are highly depended upon for their opinions, and if their friends don’t approve over a third won’t make that purchase. More than one third of global 8095-ers actually admitted to us that they won’t likely make a purchase that their friends don’t approve of.


Taking a Cross-Channel Approach

One takes it for granted these days that all marketing professionals are up to their analog ears in digital projects. But a new report from the CMO Council and Accenture indicates that serious engagement with digital channels — while more the rule than the exception — is considerably less than universal among top-level marketing executives.
In a survey for the report, 78 percent of CMOs agreed that “digital channels are important to their organization” — which, of course, leaves a sizable minority who don’t feel that way. Just over half the CMOs (55 percent) agreed that “Access to customer intelligence is critical to competitive advantage”; 50 percent agreed that “Technology now underpins and shapes the entire customer experience.”

Such tepid numbers may help explain why barely more than one-third of the CMOs (35 percent) said they’re “heavily committed and invested” in interactive digital marketing strategies. (The polling was fielded June through September, with about three-fourths of the responses coming from companies based in North America. The report as a whole focused on the relationship between CMOs and chief information officers and the need for them to align their priorities.)

Many of the respondents conceded that their companies are laggards in use of digital marketing: Just 38 percent “believed their organization was prepared to exploit the opportunities presented by digital marketing channels.” Why are many unprepared to do so? Fifty-nine percent pointed to “insufficient funding”; 46 percent mentioned “lack of senior management understanding.” At least the CMOs aren’t overconfident about the strength of their digital efforts. A mere 27 percent subscribed to the statement, “We know what we need to know about customers’ usage of our digital channels.”

When asked to identify their “top technology priorities to improve business performance,” 52 percent of the CMOs put “more efficient customer interaction” on the list; 47 percent cited “improved customer insight.”

What Matters Most

Only people matter
They matter more than clients, more than teams, more than fancy buildings, smart suits or posh titles; they matter even more than the ideas. Great ideas are just what happen when the right people are put together and organized (or not) in the right way. The only role of agency management is to find, retain, organize and inspire others. If management is not doing this, they’re part of the problem.

None of us is as good as all of us
This is a classic Bogle-ism, one of his very best, and it’s never been more true than today. Avoid the Prima donna at all costs; as Calle Sjoenell (our ECD on Google at BBH) notes, ‘no egos, no drama’.

Ask forgiveness, not permission
The people that make a difference tend to be the ones that don’t seek approval first. They are often not the most popular. They’re rarely the most rewarded. But they’re the most valuable. If you can bring yourself to put up with them, they will be your secret weapon. And they’re way better on your team than on someone else’s.

Awesome is always scary
The vast chasm between really good and extraordinary is filled with fear. If you push yourself to the extent that you’re deeply uncomfortable, you’ll be fine; if you’re comfortable, you’re not pushing hard enough.

Give *everything* away
Be generous with ideas, with credit, with opportunities, and most important of all, with time. Although it’s not the real point, be reassured that this generosity *always* comes back.

Do less, but do it better
We try and do too much because we’re not honest with ourselves about what we’re best at and we’re not honest with our clients about what we’re really capable of. One of the unheralded roles of planning is to distill, simplify and encourage focus; to eliminate nonsense, or the chance that nonsense might occur. Strategy is, indeed, the art of sacrifice.

We can’t be friends *all* the time
If we’re not passionate about what we do, we should pack up and leave. If you’re not upsetting someone, somewhere, most of the time, you’ll end up with ‘average’. This includes clients, but perhaps more importantly applies internally.

Build & love your network
You don’t have to share an office with the best people around to work with them, or learn from them. If you’re lucky, you’ll share an office with some of them (I’ve been lucky many times over). When Mel & I launched Labs we had no idea we’d develop such a strong group of supporters and advisors. We still have no idea how we have. But they – not us – have built Labs.

PowerPoint is the enemy of awesome
There’s an inverse relationship between the quantity of PowerPoint produced by a team and both the quality of work produced by that team, and their level of happiness.

Make sure it’s fun
It’s all just a gigantic game.

So, summing up this already tediously over-long account, this is the deal:

People Eat with their Eyes

…and no one reads web copy.  So – what is it really there for?  (good question).  If something doesn’t look appealing – let’s be honest – it ISN’T appealing.

The world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants is looking to revamp their menus, store design, and ordering experience.  With a juicy budget of $2.4 billion, in 2011 McDonalds is set to rebuild 400 ‘domestic outposts’, refurbish 1,600 existing restaurants and create an extra 1000 to boot.

With over 31,000 restaurants worldwide located in over 100 countries, the big challenge for McDonalds is to curate each restaurant to account for different cultural dining practices.  To do this McDonalds VP of concept and design Denis Weil has created a team of corporate design leaders to research and get a feel for local design trends which will make each restaurant unique to its area.

Juicy Design’s Tom Williams has been working with the restaurant giant since 2003, redeveloping restaurants in Australia and now across Asia and the US.  He states the design brief was simply to “make things unique.”

Reportedly the first complete makeover since the late-seventies; one of the many changes in-restaurant will see McCafe coffee machines relocating next to tills, exhibiting barista skills in true cafe style.  Whilst oatmeal-ordering customers will be served their meal, hand-stirred at least twelve times to instill a sense of a ‘home-cooked’ breakfast.  Drive-through sales will also be redesigned for those with large orders, easy traffic and minimising wait time.

President and COO Don Thompson explains;

People eat with their eyes first…If you have a restaurant that is appealing, contemporary, and relevant both from the street and interior, the food tastes better.

Digital Success = Project 10^100

Google explores a pedal-powered public monorail system…

Shweeb is a transportation project that has come out of Google’s Project 10100program, where Google solicits and supports ideas that change the world by helping as many people as possible. The monorail-based system is cycle-powered, bringing riders around a prototype track that’s currently being tested in New Zealand. The pod-like enclosures have been designed to reduce draft and fatigue, allowing riders to transport themselves along a route at up to 45 km/hr. Along with four other submissions to Project 10100, Google has selected Shweeb to be funded with just over $1 million as a way to explore innovation in public transport. According to their website, Shweeb will soon announce the location where they will build the first transit Shweeb for public use.

Barcode for File Transfer

For creative professionals, protecting all the visual materials associated with explaining a new idea is an important task most don’t make time for. It can also be a daunting learning curve of researching and understanding legal terms and process that individuals really don’t have time to spend doing. A new UK not for profit organization called Creative Barcode aims to make the process of establishing protection for creative assets easier. They have developed an application which generates digital barcodes that can be attached to written or visual concepts to denote ownership and outline usage permissions. A unique barcode can be generated for each piece of work and provides proof of ownership for materials used for creative pitches, proposal submissions, or competition work. The barcodes can be applied to digital files or paper-based media.

Creative Barcode offers a file transfer service which can be accessed by third parties using a unique password. The software also allows for the transfer of ownership to either the buyer of the work of individuals looking to licence content.