Big Data or Big Brother?

1-Big_Data_Big_Challenges_teaserThese days, in the marketing world it seems to be all about big data.  Data is needed to establish an accurate list of a brand’s consumers.  Data is needed to tie a company’s advertising efforts back to their sales practices in a customer relationship management (CRM) system to their marketing automation platform and determine return on investment (ROI). Data is needed to help businesses reach their target audiences with greater impact.  But where does their right to track our behavior to maximize their own profits cease become not only intrusive, but a violation of our most basic rights to privacy.

Sure, data aggregation is nothing new. But when companies start collecting your personal information, often without your knowledge or consent, not only does that pose a substantial public relations (PR) problem but a legal one was well.

Over the last few years, I noticed that if I looked up an item on Amazon.com but never bought it, the next day, it started appearing on my Facebook page as a result of the company selling my personal cookie data to show me the products it feels are of most importance for me as a consumer. From a financial perspective, I have no doubt that it is profitable for Facebook. But are such practices crossing a line regarding privacy and tracking that should not be crossed?

2-landscape-of-big-data_510ace3d9f9ccAt a digital media conference I attended last week, one of the most lively debates we had concerned privacy issues concerning the usage of consumer data to develop personas to better target a brand’s consumers. Some people saw the development of such personas as harmless. However, others saw it was a clear violation of that consumer’s rights, while one gentleman in attendance saw any use of consumer data for the creation of personas by any organization as both immortal, but illegal as well as discrimination.

While I would not go that far myself, it is a concern that I as both a consumer and a marketer share. There is no clear cut answer regarding this topic, the battle wages on.

So marketers, on what side do you fall?  What is your opinion of using consumer data for marketing and research purposes?

Why Mobile Advertising is Still Relevant

2a-Mobile-MarketingMobile marketing can help any company communicate more effectively.  Within my own marketing department even, I have heard people say that mobile marketing does not make sense for companies these days because social media marketing is more effective. However, I personally disagree.

While both have their own unique benefits, mobile marketing can be an important channel for many organizations because it can engage them in a way that desktop websites and social media even cannot match.

Both technology and electronic devices have advanced significantly over the years, making this channel more important than ever for many brands. Mobile marketing has several benefits regarding the usage of mobile phones according to J. Hopkins and J. Turner, including the following:

  • Mobile devices are personal and is usually not shared with other consumers
  • Mobile devices are typically carried with us at all times, whether we are at work, home, or traveling
  • Mobile devices always turned on (unless the battery goes dead, which can happen of course)
  • Mobile devices can easily capture the how consumers respond through social media channels
  • Mobile devices can describe someone’s specific geographical location

I believe that mobile marketing is unique in how the channel can not only providing consumers with an effective sales pitch, but also can potentially target the content based on your geographic location.  This could help people find a retail chain near their location that they did not know existed, their proximity to a favorite brick and mortar retail stores for mobile coupons, exclusive discount offers and more! Talk about effective integrated marketing communication!

So marketers, what do you think about mobile marketing?  What do you see as its most important benefits and disadvantages?

2b-Reported-Major-Advantages-graphic

The Four M’s of Effective Social Media Marketing

After more than a decade as a professional marketer, I have seen and heard quite a lot about social media marketing and why it is an important part of a brand’s online communication strategy. While we all know about how we can personalize our two-way conversations with consumers and humanize large global entities, it is important to never lose sight of how to improve your social media strategy.

Regardless of to what extent your brand uses this tactic in its mix, monitoring, managing, measuring, and monetizing your social media marketing efforts are vital to safeguarding your brand’s online reputation and long-term equity with consumers.  So make sure you are following Kevin Bobowski’s four M’s of effective social media to maximize the impact of your initiatives and protect your brand.

  1. Monitor. Sure, social media monitoring is time consuming, but in the fast-faced world of microblogs like Twitter, all it takes is seconds for a brand name to be damaged.  Be sure to track what people are saying about your brand online and monitor their activity, so you can identify potential areas of concern and proactively respond before an issue becomes a problem, as well as identify areas of concern that need attention.
  2. Manage. Many marketers believe that once a social media campaign is launched all the hard work is done. However, in reality, that is when the hard work is just beginning.  Keep track of how the campaign is performing and respond regularly as needed to give your campaign the best chance of success.
  3. Measure. Accurate measurement of social media marketing can be challenging, especially when efforts are spread across numerous networks and platforms. But at the same time, proper measurement is the only way to determine what is working and what is not.  Discover ways to engage through earned and paid advertising to give your brand’s efforts a definitive dollar amount that can be translated into uncover your company social media marketing return on investment.
  4. Monetize. Marketing can be a lot of different things, but at the end of the day advertising is all about sales numbers.  Social media marketing is a great way to create buzz and engage consumers about a new product line, event, or sales initiative.  Be creative and find ways of tying all of your marketing initiative back to social media to encourage online traffic across numerous channels and become an integrated marketing superstar!

So if you haven’t already marketers, stop for a moment and consider how you are using the four M’s for effective social media marketing. Together, each aspect can make an impact, but together, they formulate an unbeatable strategy!

Why Websites Are Still Important In Online Marketing

1-no-websiteOver the last couple of years, I have read a lot from several marketers throughout the country about how websites were no longer relevant in online marketing. As a matter of fact, just this past week a co-worker asked me why our employer even had a corporate website because, “it’s just a glorified billboard isn’t it?”

This made me pause and question why some people could possibly think that websites were not still important to online marketing as they once were.

These days, marketers regularly implement digital marketing tactics across numerous channels, including desktop and mobile websites, blogs, social media, and mobile.

Throughout my career as a digital marketing specialist, I have seen how effective a well-designed website can positively impact a brand’s integrated marketing effort.  Without a doubt, using emerging media is a great way to drive conversations and a two-way dialogue with a brand’s audience. A website, though, still has a unique and very important part in an effective integrated advertising mix, and will for many years to come.

2-googmobileresearchSocial media marketing will continue to drive and nurture conversations about the brand in a special and mutually beneficial two-way conversation, while blogs will be used to provide a more personalized brand message. But only a website can bridge that gap between the marketing message and the much needed analytical data required to improve online marketing by the proper determination and measurement of how a brand is (or isn’t) meeting consumer needs and expectations of their consumers.

Such vital data analysis can be done by measuring the website’s ability to meet both short and long-term goals, and their impact on both sales and positive brand sentiment.

So if someone tells you a website is no longer relevant don’t believe them. As long as there are digital devices capable of displaying websites, the need for them will be alive and well.

But that fact doesn’t mean that website technology will not need to evolve to stay relevant to the needs of consumers.  Responsive design is vital to ensure it can be seen on mobile devices, especially when considering that mobile traffic has increased substantially over the last few years.

So, what do you think marketers? Are websites still an important and meaningful way to market to your target audience? Or do other digital advertising methods like social media, blogs, or mobile marketing make a more substantial impact?

Why Location-Based Mobile Marketing Works

1-adidasThese days, adding marketing initiatives that make full use mobile devices and are tailored for this increasingly important channel is vital. Smartphones and marketers commonly make use of GPS (global position system) technology that allows brands to know where we are and what stores and businesses are within our vicinity.

Then when brands want to effectively target certain demographic or psychographic group, the company can just look at the data and history on your phone (if you allow it of course) to tailor marketing ads that are intended to be the most relevant for you as an individual.  Two of the best mobile campaigns last year were done by Adidas and Best Western.

For example, when customers were already at an Adidas store received a mobile ad for customers to search through the mobile website helping them find a store to fit their needs.  The hope was that it would make the shopping experience faster, more convenient, and increase in-store sales, naturally.

2-bestwesternMeanwhile, for business travelers, finding a good hotel is important. That is why a location-based mobile marketing campaign from Best Western was so smart. The hotel chain ran mobile ads in airports throughout the state of Washington.  The ads run were customized for travelers, and with the help of integration of PayPal Media Network, were able to instantly view a map or book a room. While this tactic might not work for all viewers of the ad, it sure had an impact!  This campaign increased sales from those last-minute customers who found themselves were unexpectedly needing a hotel room for the night and not knowing where to turn.

So marketers, sound off below.  What is your opinion of mobile marketing?  Do you feel this is a good way to reach consumers and increase sales?  What impact do you feel mobile ads have on brick and mortar stores?

Viral Marketing Lessons from ‘The Blair Witch Project’

1-viralOne of the absolutely scariest movies I have ever seen was a small, independently –and quite cheaply – made film called The Blair Witch Project.

When it was released over 15 years ago, it was a surprise hit at the box office and made over $250 million at the box office. The Blair Witch Project was a surprise hit, in large part due to a monstrously successful viral marketing campaign.

For those of you unfamiliar with the film, you can view the first and second trailers for the movie below.

2-blair_watchWhen the movie first came out, the way it was marketed those first few weeks, people were not sure if it was a fictional film (which it was) or if it was a real story.

On the printed movie posters, the makers were able to generate an enormous amount of buzz by making that point ambiguous.  For example, of the film it was noted on many of the movie posters for The Blair Witch Project that:

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkttsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary.  A year later their footage was found.”

In fact, a main source of advertising for the picture was word-of-mouth marketing.

I know that is why I saw the movie back in 1999. A friend of a friend heard about it, who told my friend, who told me – and so the cycle continued on and on and on. That continued nationwide for weeks, until the movie literally became a phenomenon. Nearly everyone in the country either knew about it, was talking about it, or had seen it.

2-blair_witchIn the end, few movies before, or since have been so brilliantly marketed on a viral level. For its time, the film truly created a new and exciting way to reach your target audience. It was fresh, it was different – it was also one of the scariest movies I personally have ever seen (and I love horror movies and have seen hundreds, so that is saying a lot).

So marketers, sound off below. What did you think of The Blair Witch Project and its viral marketing efforts? Can you think of any other films that had successful viral marketing campaigns?

How Gatorade Turned Slow Sales Around with In-Game Advertising

1-gatoradeIn recent years, Gatorade has paired up with sports video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) – which makes a line of sports-related video games – to increase sales and brand awareness, while reinforcing positive sentiments about the brand. The young athletes they are trying to reach actively follow many of the most popular major professional sports affiliations in the U.S. – including the NFL, NHL, and NBA – which have their own video game titles at EA.

Those video game titles provide valuable opportunities to demonstrate how the sports drink increases an athlete’s performance. Within the games, the logo, individual bottles, as well as large containers on the sidelines with the logo are featured to remind players of the Gatorade brand.

But how effective is this tactic?  Well, one year following the implementation of in-game advertising, a study conducted by The Nielsen Company, outlined how this approach increased sales and boosted brand awareness. Using in-game advertising resulted in an increase in how much households in the United States spent on Gatorade 24 percent, and resulted in a return on investment (ROI) of $3.11.

2-gatoradeWhile in-game advertising may not be right for all brands, if your target audience plays a certain type of video game genre, it is an approach worth considering. After all, digital advertising is not just websites and social media anymore!

So marketers, sound off below on your thoughts about in-game advertising. What do you think of Gatorade’s in-game advertising tactics?  Are they ethical? Do you see any cons to using this approach to promote a product or service?