The Marketing Measurement Maze: measuring marketing is a mess.

Forgive the illustrative nature of the headline  – but I had to laugh out loud about this whole thing or else I would cry.

This post is a follow up to my previous post about how fragile measuring marketing technology really is based on a real time experience I was having with Technorati regarding the authority ranking of this blog.    Unhappily, my initial concerns about marketing measurement were realized so it is worth recapping.

About a week ago, by accident, I learn that according to Technorati this blog, getting a mere 1,000 visitors a month, vaulted 4x in authority rankings to about 400 when previously I ranked about 100. For about a week, I jumped up and down a few times going between 400 and then 600 (see pictures in my previous post).I contacted Technorati and told them I think there is a glitch. I got a very polite answer to tell me they are updating their rankings system and some blogs are radically shifting in position as a result.  Sounded rather fuzzy to me, but hey – what do I know?

After that response, over the course of the next 3 days, my blog bounced around some more in the 400 to 600 range and then yesterday I seem to have settled back into my original humble ranking of about 100. OK – I think – that sounds more reasonable – except now I am not even listed in the directory at all!

I went from a blogger superstar to a non entity in just three days and it is still not “unglitched”.

To put this into perspective, I get that when you are making improvement to a site, things go weird for a bit. But since Technorati is largely viewed as the authority on blogging ranking (and thus ad value), this whole episode is ample proof of the sorry state of measuring marketing efficacy. You often can’t trust the measurement data because of innocent technology glitches and then you have no way to verify the accuracy of the measurement reporting data you’re getting.

While it’s tempting to brush this aside as some little blimp in the world of marketing measurement – you can’t because the financial consequences can be significant. Imagine if my blog was a commerce oriented site or if I am advertiser trying to assess what’s the audience reach of all these blogs. Such variations in rankings can mean a lot of money gets spent or not depending on which side of the glitch you happen to fall on.  And this type of glitch is just the tip of the iceberg. I have seen measurement issues across the marketing landscape from traffic reporting to ad buys to data you get from PPD or CPL marketing programs.

Bottom line. It’s time to get serious about measuring marketing efficacy. Now it is a mess!

Judy Shapiro

What’s face time?

    

Whoopi Goldberg had a funny special on Bravo a while ago about modern life as it is being experienced by those of us weaned on free love and then conscious parenting… She observed, rightly, that while our children are smarter than we are, we are raising a generation of “barbarians”. She was commenting on the fact that our children are proficient tweeters, and IM’ers and texters. But they have too little interactive with real people in the real world.

 

Enter face time.

 

I would bet that some enterprising young graduate student has already tracked how much less face time kids have today versus even just a generation ago. It is obvious – the only question is how much less face time do our kids today have versus even 20 years ago. I would bet the actual figure would horrify most of us.

 

Our kids spend more time in front of devices instead of spending time interacting with human beings. And they are the worse for it. It was Whoopi’s point and it is well worth noting.

 

So what to do? Instead of bemoaning the situation and throwing up your hands in surrender. Fight fire with fire. Use technology to solve the problem it created.

 

Enter video chat.

 

You heard me. For those of you who think it is not for them - think again and get over it. Our highly mobile kids need to be with us even if they are not with us. Video chat has become so easy, that most anyone can figure it out. There are a few ways to do this, including a free video chat software from a company called Paltalk. With this software (and a webcam) you can see your kids and they can see you. In fact up to 10 of you can see each at once. Go get it and get on with it.

 

Face time – delivered technology style.

 

Judy Shapiro  

Can you teach a new dog old tricks?

 

The buzz around all the new digital marketing tactics can be so confusing – Web 2.0, social marketing, D-PR, blogs, viral marketing, widgets, WOM and on and on and on. I sometimes get the feeling that all the Web 2.0 companies and agencies want to keep this all very mysterious so we all have to go to the “experts”.

 

Well –  think again.

 

Believe it or not – despite all the buzz – the principles that drive the good marketing have not changed and it is really quite simple.

 

1) Know what your target wants and satisfy the need.

 2) Know what your competition is doing and why you can satisfy your customer’s need better than the other guy.

3) Get the word out within a structured and disciplined plan approach.

 

This simple outline does not minimize the complexity there can be in understanding and executing – but the deliverables need to be crisply reduced to these basics.

 

And when it comes to #3 – don’t let any “new media” agency tell you that it is impossible to do a digital marketing media plan. That’s just plain rubbish. The ability to create a “digital media plan” like any traditional marketing plan absolutely is possible. Digital marketing campaigns are centered around planning content campaigns where strategic themes are developed and seeded across the digital media landscape. These content campaigns can be done within a specified timeframe (e.g. 90 days) and can be measured to see how they drove search volumes.

 

So indeed you can teach a new “media” dog old tricks – it is called marketing and media planning.

 

And if your agency does not get it – find yourself a “new” new dog.

Judy Shapiro    

The downside of doing the corporate “Let’s throw it up against the blogging wall to see what sticks” approach to digital marketing

 

I come from a simpler marketing time.

 

As David Meerman Scott explained in his recent book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, I was one of those cool agency folks who, “…sit in hip offices dreaming up ways to interrupt people so that they pay attention to a one-way message”.

 

I worked at a large ad agency (NWAyer) on accounts like DeBeers – diamonds is forever, AT&T – Reach out and touch someone and I even got to bring back Punchy of Hawaiian Punch fame when P&G bought the brand in the 1980s.

 

They were simpler days because marketing was able to be planned. You wanted “awareness” there were relatively few ways to do it and it costs money. Lots of it.

 

And so we cool agency folks became insulated and complacent. I remember when “Prodigy” did a major presentation at the agency and people bet on how fast it would fail (if you know what Prodigy is – please raise your hand and email me. If you don’t – never mind). My agency colleagues were only half right. Prodigy did fail – but the concept of connectivity lived on to what we now know and love as the Internet.

 

Now however, a corporate marketing exec type has to integrate traditional media with all these emerging concepts and make sense of it. Worse, any program he does now involves legions of people NOT from marketing. A corp marketing exec needs people from development and database management and web deployment teams and on and on. Gone are the “one department decision/ deployment” days.  

 

And if that wasn’t enough – agencies that know digital marketing tend to be run by twenty something’s who are just bigger kids just with bigger toys. They never had to stand in front of the CEO or CFO and explain why you needed another $50,000 to talk to people who aren’t even reporters!

 

Well it’s enough to make any corp marketing exec cry. I know because enough of my friends are in those roles and they come crying to me.

 

But there’s hope.

 

The trick now is for companies to find ways to plan these programs within predictable parameters just like a good old fashioned media plans because corporate budget are not known to be nimble. “But wait”, I hear you say, “viral IS UNPREDICTABLE”. The paradox of social marketing is that it often catches you unprepared and by the time you get your budget act together, well, your moment is gone.

 

The way to manage that within a corporate environment is to create a platform that organizes content distribution (which is the heart and soul of digital marketing) across media within a “campaign” model. Rather than throwing lots of social marketing toys onto the scene to see what sticks, plan campaigns around content distribution and key phrases that coordinate across functions – SEM, PR, article syndication and so forth within a specific timeframe that can be planned. This approach won’t cover all unexpected activities, but it beats trying to get any CFO to warm up to the idea of spending $50K so you can have a presence on Facebook.

 

Trust me – it ain’t pretty.

 

Judy Shapiro  

PR or D-PR – how to get the most from your PR agency

  

 

I can’t stand it anymore.

 

If I hear one more friend or colleague complain about their PR agency, I will scream. Within the past week alone I heard 4 complaints about PR agencies. “They don’t get it”. “I am disappointed with the results”. The drone is the same. The question is why does it seem that level of complaints has reached a loud pitch?

 

The answer is because we have not updated our understanding of how to use PR in the increasingly digitally focused marketing world. Well it’s best to start right now.

 

We all know that there is “new media” (a.k.a. digital media) and traditional media (such as TV). Well PR has the same distinction that looks like this.

 

Traditional PR = media outreach. Period. That means your PR agency gets reporters to pick up a news item about your company. If that’s what you want – then many PR agencies are just fine. But for many eCommerce centric businesses, an occasional media pickup does not seem to have the value it used to. It does not build an audience reliably or consistently. And it does not seem to create the “buzz” many companies are looking for.

 

So what happened? A great pickup in the New York Times used to give a business more lift in the past than nowadays. But don’t blame the PR agency.  

 

Part of the reason for the decline of the power of traditional PR is the decline of the power of the media as sole purveyors of our news. Now news can be procured through complex and open channels. Private individuals can capture a video segment on their cell phone that becomes front page news. A person networking on a community site reports on her experience with the government and an investigation is launched. But many PR pro’s continued to cultivate the traditional media outlets even as their influence declines. .

 

That’s how D- PR (digital PR) is different. D-PR is about the ability to create and manage a public conversation through a myriad of digital tools that drive public opinion.  This approach allows for a continuous presence that sustains a business rather than a one time article that drives short term results. That type of planning and execution takes digital PR savvy in knowing the new tools needed to target new audiences that traditional PR agencies don’t normally address.

 

And D-PR turns traditional PR planning on its head. Rather than hiring a PR agency to pitch a story and hope users will follow, D-PR takes an alternate approach. It uses digital technology to seed usage among key user groups and gets them talking about it. Once these champions user groups have been established (they need not be big numbers – just passionate about you), then do the “traditional PR” outreach. D-PR is the “new PR” – true public relations in its broadest and most inclusive sense.

 

So please stop beating up your PR agency. Start understanding what you are paying for.

 

Judy Shapiro

“Viral marketing in a box” for free — for real.

Your site is new and there you are. All dressed up and no one is buying. You know that to make this work, you need to get traffic but more important you need to convert traffic into a sale. And you know that viral marketing is a powerful “lubricant” that facilitates this process.

But you know you can’t afford to spend as much as you would like and more to the point you are not sure what to do in the first place.

To the rescue is a new initiative from Comodo, a large Certification Authority,  that delivers something no one else is – a “viral marketing program in a box” –for free – no cost. This initiative is called UserTrust and it creates a viral marketing platform where people can submit ratings for you. This is one of the most effective ways to build credibility and trustworthiness among prospects.  This is viral marketing at its best.

The cost to you is nothing because that’s how we will help build more great eBusinesses that we can deliver great products and services to. It is how the Internet will grow and our success with it.

So ignite your own viral marketing campaign today. Join UserTrust and let the power of people’s opinion drive your business.

Judy Shapiro

“But it’s not fair!”

As children, we cling to the notion that life is fair. It is how we, as children, can make sense of a world. After all, if there are 3 candies and 3 kids – fairness helps kids know what they can expect.

This notion of fairness unfortunately is not how life often works. Long ago I abandoned my childish attachment to fairness and replaced it with a more mature devotion to balance.

While superficially “balance” just seems to be another word for “fairness” – they are really quite different.

Fairness is used to manage expectations, like 3 candies – 3 kids. Everyone knows who gets what. But it is also a passive, static activity. The principles of fairness drive the action and the participants are subjugated to the rules of fairness.

Balance, on the other hand is a created thing. The participants are the ones who create the energy of equilibrium creating the balanced state. And balance is always shifting – never static.

This week I was reminded of this lesson and how it pertains to emarketing. Stuff happens in the big city. Sometimes in marketing great stuff happens – you get a great review from an important publication. But sometimes – you get a bad review because the editor did not understand your solution. How unfair you rage.  On first instinct you want to call the editor and appeal to his sense of fairness.  You want to scream into virtual cyberspace … “But it’s not fair…”

I had the chance to relearn this lesson when we recently got an unfair review by a reporter for a desktop security solution. Sophisticated technology can take a bit of time to fully understand and it would be easy to overlook a feature. And that’s what happened here. The editor just got his facts wrong. And based on wrong facts this editor posted a blog entry on his popular technology blog declaring our product unreliable. Not good for a security product.

Not good at all and I immediately launched into my instinctive crisis management action plan. Get to the editor, show him the error of his ways and then I imagined, he would change his posts to be “fair” to our solution.  

But I was able to observe that crisis management in the online world isn’t about fairness. I learned this week that crisis management in the online world is about balance. It is about owning the trajectory of the balance that is to be created. The party that drives pace of the equilibrium is the one that wins the emarketing war.

That translates into closely monitoring how the incorrect blog cascades through the blog-o-sphere and responding to the incorrect assumptions. That translates into being very vocal and very candid about your concerns in public. That translates into being sure that your point of view is visibly out there.

It’s not a perfect science. How far do you push? But the fundamentals are straightforward. Quickly get your perspective out in as many places and ways as you can. Control the conversation so you can create the balanced state.

Fairness won’t win an emarketing battle – balance will.

Judy Shapiro

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,193 other followers