Attribution

The campaign has been running for a month now, you’ve spent 10k trying to get people to buy seats for a conference your company is organizing, you did your homework and selected multiple digital channels according to your target (Social, Display, Search, Referral, Email.) In order to know the success of your campaign and optimize for future ones, your boss ask you to present a detail ROI, explaining how much of the budget you invest in each channel and how many sales can be attributed to each of them.

This is called in marketing “Attribution”; the process of pointing down which actions or events contribute to achieving a desired conversion (sale) and it which proportion (credit). The concept of attribution started to gain traction when marketers begun to implement campaigns across multiple channels, the need for measuring the effectiveness and contribution of each channel to the overall campaign emerged, but the challenge was how to do it? You could attribute a percentage of the sale to a TV ad and another to a print ad, but how did you account for word of mouth? or for brand value?.

Of course this being a digital marketing blog, everything starts with the internet, with the use of this new channel by marketers, new tracking and accountability capabilities were now at their disposal, with a little bit of statistical knowledge this data could be used more effectively towards measuring attribution of campaigns.

Avinash Kaushik is one of the most respected web analytics experts in the industry, being part of the original Google team and the writer of several books about the topic he certainly has the street credit to talk about attribution. In his blog Occam’s Razor, Kaushik presents us with the challenge of measuring attribution in digital channels. He also provides us with several multi-channel attribution models that you can use (while in Google Analytics):

  • Last Click Attribution Model:  this model attributes the 100% of the conversion to the last interaction made by the user. For example; a user came to the amazon website to buy the product that he left on his shopping cart last time he was there, an email remind him that he had this product on his shopping cart, he clicked through the link of the email and finished the purchase. In this case 100% of the sale is attributed to the email. There are obvious disadvantages in using this model, hardly a conversion can be attributed to only one thing! but in my opinion is better than not measuring attribution at all.
  • Last Non-Direct Click Attribution Model: this model is very similar to the first one but it discriminates the direct interaction that often occurs before a conversion. Most of the time the conversion end up being attributed in a 100% to the referral (place from where the user is coming).
  • First Click Attribution Model: rather than giving 100% of the attribution to the last click made by the user, this models reverts it and focus on the first interaction done by the user, most of the time can be tracked backed to the search or nowadays to social.
  • Linear Attribution Model: in this model the marketer tracks back all the interaction (steps) made by the user before converting and assigns  equal credit to each one them for the convention. Its more comprehensive than the models we saw before because at least gives credits to other actions in the funnel.
  • Time Decay Attribution Model: It parts from the premise that the touch point that interacts the latest before the conversion gets more credit than its predecessors.
  • Position Based Attribution Model: This model parts from the premise that the first and last interactions are the more important ones, thus assigning more credits to these ones and distributing the rest among the other touch points in the conversion funnel.
  • Customized Model: Using another model as your starting point and then layering other factors on top of it to reach a model that best fits your conversion funnel.

If you are not measuring attributions of your online campaign, you should start now!, the Time Decay model is a great starting point, just remember that every touch point influences the conversion and that the funnel may look very different depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

For more information on attribution model or a detail guide of how to implement them in Google Analytics I invite you to check out Occam’s Razor:

http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/multi-channel-attribution-definitions-models/

http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/multi-channel-attribution-modeling-good-bad-ugly-models/

Hyper-Targeting: Good or Bad ?

They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano But When I Started to Play!… One of the most celebrated pieces of ad from all times, from one of the fathers of marketing and advertising John Caples. It originally ran in 1925 and even back then Caples was trying to target potential customers looking for piano lessons.

they-laughed

Targeting is no other thing than developing and placing a specific communication (an ad) to reach consumers based on their specific characteristics (demographic, geographic, psychographic, etc.).

Now taking a 90 year leap from Caples piano lessons ad, in a world of digital display advertising, SEM and social media targeting has become a fundamental process. Brands are pushing for more effectives ways to reach the consumers, but they also want a detail ROI analysis and real time metrics. This makes the digital channels the new battlefield for brands competing to reach costumers, and targeting the new way to leverage the data deluge available online.

But what happens when you want to reach a extremely specific niche, you pile targeting variable on top of others in order to build the desired population and then it hits you, the group of people you are trying to reach online is only a few hundred … This is known as Hyper-targeting and can represent a serious threat to your digital campaign.

Understanding the problems if our audience gets to small to reach, let’s now review some good tips to make the most of targeting from AOL’s Display University:

1) Use your resources: Incorporate everything and everyone that will add value to the planning process, salespeople and customer service know the customer better than anyone

2) Start with a broad target: Looking at a larger audience gives you the opportunity to modify the parameters as you go, being able to react better to the marketplace and using the data more efficiently.

3) Let the network work for you: Ad servers and ad networks have built in optimization technologies, Google Adwords for example, opting-in for these suggestions will allow you to have a better outcome in your targeting.

Sources: https://www.advertising.com/displayuniversity/audience-and-targeting/hyper-targeting

The difference between keywords and queries

If you know about search marketing, and by this I simply mean that you have used a search engine before, then you know that the search query is the backbone of the process. We type our queries into the search engine with the hope that the results displayed will be the ones we are looking for.

If you are like me, then you used to think that a search query and a keyword were actually the same thing, a word or combination of words that reflected our intent for information. But as semantic as it may seems, there are actually different things, and to be successful in the SEO game marketers must understand such differences, let’s take a deeper look into the concepts of each:

The Keyword: 

The keyword is the exact term marketers are targeting in an SEO or SEM campaign, meaning what marketers are advertising as a part of its strategy. For example: “Blue Jean”

The Queries:

Is what the user of the search engine types in order to find something, is subjective because a query can be typed in literally thousands of ways to find the same thing (Address, Product/ Service, Information). For example:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.01.10 PM

So what’s the big deal? you maybe asking, well it’s simple marketers have to try and make its keywords as inclusive but as the same time as matching as possible to their customers queries, thats the key to a good campaign.

0218-neil-patel-02

The first step of a SEO or SEM campaign is a keyword research, digging for the perfect keywords to target, after identifying them marketers should broaden such keywords to be inclusive of all possible queries (see image above), and in that process the discovery of others strong keywords is common.

Remember, if you want to satisfied your customers you have to place yourself in their shoes, keywords are not real but queries are very real! by going the extra mile and understanding this you will always be present at your customers search result page.

The source of this post information is an article from the Search Engine Journal, I invite you to read it at: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/understanding-difference-queries-keywords/126421/

The Best Email Marketing Campaign in History.

The title of this post was exactly what I typed into the google search bar, I wasn’t impressed when the search came back with dozens of articles dating back to 2012 and talking about the second presidential campaign of Barack Obama. It is widely known in the marketing world that the Obama presidential campaigns represented a breakthrough in political-marketing due to the use of digital platforms specially; email, websites and social networks.

But first let’s take a step forward, how do you measure the success of an email campaign? Well the answer is depends! Some obvious indicators of performance are; Open rates, clickthrough rates, forwarding or sharing, bounce rates, etc. But we say it depends because everything has to tied up to what you as a marketer are trying to accomplish, your conversion!

In the case of President Obama’s second campaign their conversion was to get donations from his followers. People who had provided their emails to the campaign received such emails asking for donations and had to click through the link to land in the donations website, and finally donate money. It was a much harder process that it seems, the campaign had to secure a huge database of emails (with consent, obviously), design the email in such a way that it would end on their followers inbox and at last, redact it in a way that encouraged the followers to complete the action.

To accomplish such tasks the campaign relied on A/B testing, a statistical tool that helps marketers to discover the best possible combination of variables in order to obtain more interactions. Sometimes the campaign would test as much as 18 variations of the content and subject lines before sending one email! The work paid off, according to Bloomberg Business, most of the $690 millions that the campaign raised online came directly from emails. The success that the campaign had in email marketing provided the President  with a clear advantage in founding over his competitors, having a profound impact in the outcome of the elections.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 7.59.49 PM

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-11-29/the-science-behind-those-obama-campaign-e-mails

SPAM – Or how not to bother your customers !

In 1970, the world acclaimed British comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” made a sketch about a cafe that only served breakfasts containing SPAM in it. As the desperate costumer tried to ask for something without SPAM he was rudely bother by a group of vikings chanting the nonsense words “SPAM, SPAM SPAM…”

From then on the word became a synonym of something annoying, it wasn’t until the early 90’s that the word found a meaning in the context of electronic communications. Nowadays we regard SPAM as “Unsolicited Bulk Email”*,meaning that the recipient of the email hasn’t granted any permission to receive such communications, and that the email is part of a collection of several emails with the exact same content.

Most of the times these emails have a commercial intention, and in some cases they have a scam or fraudulent nature. In other cases, what can be SPAM for some people may not be for others: Familiarity with the brand, Relevance of the content, Experience with the sender. All of these are subjectives aspects that can condone an email as SPAM or not.

So now that we understand a little better the concept of SPAM let’s review a couple of situations in which marketers can send communications to consumers without them being classified as unsolicited emails:

  • The consumers has given explicit consent to the company to send them communications related to a topic of their interest // A user opting-in to receive offers from a e-commerce website. 

OR

  • The company has collected from the consumer their email, while explaining the purpose of the action // When a consumer registers for a pharmacy rewards program and the store clerks collects their email. 

Sources:

*Spamhouse- https://www.spamhaus.org/consumer/definition/

Mobile First or People First ?

“Mobile First” is a hot topic nowadays in marketing. Apps like UBER or WAZE are showing the world the power of mobile, not just because of the underlining need they seek to attend, but also because of the platform they use to deliver their services. It is obvious that mobile is the present and future of marketing. As a matter of fact, as you are reading this lines, the trends suggest that it is 55% more probable that you are visiting this blog post from a mobile device rather than from your laptop or desktop. By the end of 2013, mobile apps usage exceeded the time we spent on our PC’s (desktop or laptop), that’s incredible! Considering that the modern “mobile device” is no more than 10 years old.  (Source: CNN Money)

In simple words, “Mobile First” means that when thinking of any digital effort -for example designing a website- we consider how it will look/work/feel on a mobile device first. This has significant implications under the scope of marketing for many reasons: a revolution in direct marketing, geo-targeting, infinite data, point of sale influence, more control over the touch points, a social brand, etc.

Another interesting perspective about mobile marketing, is the one presented by David Sable in his AdAge article titled: “The Real World Isn’t Mobile-First — It’s People-First /Marketers Need to Build Experiences for Life, Not for Machines”. Where he makes a call for caution when thinking about mobile marketing and the penetration of apps. He states that people are looking for real life experiences, not digital; and that the use of mobile should be focused on reinforcing real-life experiences, not imitating them. He uses examples like Warby Parker, an e-commerce that made the journey from a digital front-store to a brick and mortar one.

Sable leaves us with what he calls “truths about mobile” and encourages us to think about each one of them:

  • Big data is a buzzword. Primal data helps us understand human behavior.
  • Marketing to people can never be reduced to algorithms. Humanity always surprises.
  • Real life takes place offline. Purposeful connection must be the beacon for convergence.
  • Understand Generation World. Focus on insights that will lead you to actionable ideas, whether or not they are digital.
  • And, beware of being driven by only new things. Let’s use insight to learn from human behavior, so we can build a future that is worthy of us.

I agree with the vision of Sable, for me it’s not a matter of design or interface; it’s a matter of the overall experience, the experience in front the screen and off it. We should be thinking about leveraging on mobile to create unique real-life experiences, not to exchange these with digital ones.

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/02/28/technology/mobile/mobile-apps-internet/

http://adage.com/article/agency-viewpoint/real-world-mobile-people/297423/

User Experience: Concepts and some examples.

The concept of User Experience (UX) is often confused with User Interaction, in simple words UX is what the consumers feel when they interact with a product or a service that includes a digital platform, hence the word user (Websites, Smartphones, Apps, Gaming Consoles), this includes perceptions such as utility, effectiveness and quality.

Now let’s review a couple of examples of UX, first from an email from Expedia.com promoting their weekly “deals”, by clicking at their email we end up in a landing page that displays all their hotel destinations discounts.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.05.25 PM

I as a user of Expedia have always had a great experience with their service and see value in their discounts, so when getting to this landing page that is well designed and simple enough to navigate my UX is very positive, serving its purpose.

But what about the UX on  a website I’ve never visited before, How would I feel ? Will I have a good experience with it, will I understand their call to action?. Let’s do the exercise with two websites:

http://www.parents.com/

I do a quick search on google about parenting websites (the starting point of my UX), the first search match is a magazine call parents, the main page has a lot of advertising and not so much content, the colors are soft and bright and the design is simple and intuitive to navigate. The news section is placed on the upper left part of the website, I’m guessing that they want to position their content as the most relevant aspect and also this is the section of the website that gets most traffic.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 11.47.33 AM

Overall Parents.com is an information source for parenting, just like the magazine with the same name, most of its content revolts around this topic. The content in the website is 50% Stock and 50% Flow, covering both purposes of the site; Be a beacon of parenting topics online (Stock content) and also provide their base users with daily information (Flow content). I would describe my experience with this website as moderately positive, since the content is appropriate and the design of the website is simple, but if I can position myself on the shoes of their target users then their UX is very positive.

https://www.esurance.com/

Esurance is an online insurance company specialized in the discount market, immediately when you get to the homepage you see that their call to action is for you to get an insurance quote with their calculator tool. In my opinion the homepage and the results of the quote calculator page are the ones that get most of the traffic, very similar to a discount traveling website.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 12.04.23 PM

The website design is simple and attractive, is almost natural to navigate, all of their content is Stock, since its static and doesn’t change. The UX for anyone looking for a car insurance is excellent, it will give you in a matter of seconds what you are really looking forward to know; the estimated quota.

The seamless experience.

If you live in New York, chances are that you know what Seamless.com is, or at least you have walked by a restaurant that has the seamless sticker on their window.

 logo

Seamless.com is an online delivery service, that enables the users to order food virtually from any restaurant in their neighborhood and have it delivered to their homes, all payments including the tip  are done online before ordering. Sounds great right? having literally thousands of options to choose and all from the convenience of your mobile device.

But with that many options, how do consumers know which food would they like? or how does the food look? after all, eating is as much as as a visual experience as it is about taste. What if before trying a new restaurant or a new dish you could see online how that meal is cooked? wouldn’t that mitigate the risks of ordering food in a new place? as attractive as this may sound to the consumers, Seamless.com hasn’t used much video in their advertising campaigns, they could leverage of this type of restaurant (their partners) generated content and used them to create a series of fun and interactive online videos.

The videos could be edited on a 1 min ad and be distributed among several online media outlets, social networks and even on their own website. This way they would be empowering their partners by sharing their content, showing their consumers how the food they order is made, and lastly doing something more interesting than their current subway banners.

http://www.seamless.com/food-delivery/home/

Social Marketing in 2015: It’s not free anymore and it is still all about content.

Yesterday I read two very interesting articles about how the landscape of social media marketing was going to play out this year, the first one by Michael Price for the Huff Post and the second one by Roger Katz for ClickZ (find the links at the bottom)


Both authors talk about what they expect is going to happen in social media marketing in 2015, they  have great points and also slightly different angles. But more interestingly they both agree in two trends: 


It’s not free: Social media is exponentially growing in budget allocation among the biggest brands. If you saw the 2015 Super-Bowl ad of Coca-Cola you should know that they spent + $4 MM in a 60 second ad that seeks to support their whole upcoming 2015 digital strategy; so try to figure out how much money they are investing in social media marketing. If you are new to the social media game or if you are not being successful at it, I suggest you stop thinking of social media as an intern’s role and plan to invest heavily on it.

Content is still the king: With new social channels appearing everyday, companies are struggling to be present in all of them (and with relevant content), this is driving many companies to hire agencies to produce their contents. In my opinion this is a huge mistake, content seats in the middle of any digital marketing strategy, and outsourcing it is only gonna diminish its quality. If you want to be a star or keep being one in social media you should strive to produce content that’s truly meaningful and informative for your audience.

The Role of Digital Marketing

Is Digital Marketing better for branding or for direct response campaigns?

In the early years of the Internet (I know this sounds like a biblical quote) the tasks consumers did online were restricted to a handful of activities, the favorite one and still heavily used, was sending and receiving emails. People got to their offices at 8 am and started sorting thru a bunch of emails, some work related, other offers from tech savvy companies and even some news feeds from content providers like AOL or Yahoo.

Back then someone figured out that companies could send their direct marketing correspondence to the emails they had in their databases and save the money of printing and sending huge catalogs by traditional mail, from then on the applications provided by the internet for direct marketing have been mind blowing! From sending millions of different mails to your different target segments in seconds, to developing a programatic campaign to target a zip code with an special regional offers thru their mobiles, the possibilities have become endless.

And what about branding? Well with the proliferation of social networks as a type of media a new channel of communications has been opened, and in this one the audience not just listens but also speaks back. Brands are using the social networks to interact with their costumers and promote their products and services, examples like CocaCola evidence that if done well Digital Marketing can become the ultimate tool for branding.

Like the name of this blog suggests, the trends show that the consumer will become a constantly connected individual and that all marketing applications will be online rendering the current concept of Digital Marketing to become the concept of Marketing.