The End Has Come

This will be my last required post for my Digital Marketing class. I am glad that I was given the chance to create this blog and try my hand at writing. It was interesting to see how many of my friends were actually interested in reading about what I had to say. I was happy to see that I did gain some attention in the blog world and gained many followers that were not people who I knew.

So what did I learn?

The main take away I got from this class and experience is how important digital marketing is. It wasn’t like I wasn’t already aware of this but I didn’t know to what extent its importance held. Digital marketing has its moment when it is in your face and obvious, like paid search and banner ads.

paid search

You know it exists and you see that it exists. Most of these type of digital marketing can be annoying and people want it to go away. What I didn’t realize was the amount of marketing that is sneaky about being marketing.  For example, lets talk about content marketing.

content marketing

Most of the time there is content marketing people don’t even realize that is advertisement. They are just fun, engaging items that bring the user to your site and you don’t even realize what they are doing.

Digital Marketing and just marketing in general is all about being the puppet master. We use different strategies like, inbound marketing, social media, database marketing,etc… to persuade users to come to our site and buy our products.  This has become a second nature to the users and they are so unaware how much everything has to do with marketing.

sparky-doodles-puppet-master_o_2150535

The skill that marketers need to have is knowing how to relate and draw in all the different people. Personalization is a key factor  in drawing in all different types of users. Supplying different types of content on your blog or on your site allows for people to find something to their liking with your company.  This is why it is extremely important for marketers to not only be creative but to also have technical skills. By having technical skills marketers will be able to help the users even more and they will be faster about it. Research will go quicker and decisions can be made by the marketers with confidence, instead of having to trust what the IT guy is saying. Going through code academy was a great experience in this class and I am happy that I’ve made the decision to learn more and more about coding.

I could go on and on about what I learned in this class but I suggest that you read my past posts to hear more about what I have to say about digital marketing.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that it was interesting to see how many people of my friends would read my blog and  how many new followers I was able to obtain. Well for the last day of my blog I did a bit of an experiment. I’ve been using Klout for a while now  and I was interested in how many people were influenced by me to a point that they would do what I asked.  For two days I asked people to help me out and read my blog. I never expected the results I would get but I got over 728 views in one day.

Capture

Throughout the quarter I had been pretty consistent with my blog. I gained more and more followers but would  only get roughly 20 views per post.  I would regularly post on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I would just tell people they should read the blog but there was no real incentive for them to do what I asked. The fact that in one day I was able to get 728 views, granted only roughly 60 visitors, shows that I do influence a large group of people as long as there is something in it for them. In this case it was helping out a classmate and I promised I would stop giving them a hard time about reading my blog.

This could be used in digital marketing also. Brands want their customers to want to help them out, for example in co-creation. The dream is to ask your customers to do something, doesn’t matter what it is, and they will do it without a second thought. Granted me asking them to read my blog was very simple and easy but just  think if I kept asking small favors from my followers and escalating the level of difficulty each time. If the user gets something out of the favor, whether it be physical or psychological, they will more likely want to help. I’m excited to keep writing this blog and see what I can make out of this.

For the end of this blog I would like to say that I learned a lot and I defiantly got a lot out of this class.

I became HootSuite Certified: untitled

I became Google Analytics Certified:GAIQ

I also wrote 14,775 words with an overall view of 1,315.

Thank you for continuously reading and walking with me through this process.

Advertisements

How To Stalk Your Customers To The Fullest: Database Marketing

Last week I spoke about SQL and how to use it when searching through your database. What I didn’t go into was how you optimize the data that makes the database. Today I am going to talk about how to market the data in your business database.

Database Marketing

This is a form of direct marketing that uses databases of customers or potential customers to generate personalized communications in order to promote a product or service for marketing purposes. Database marketing takes advantage of information in the marketing database to develop and implement action plans to enhance marketing results.  There are many ways you can use database marketing for your business. Some ways are very beneficial but then there are ways it can be used that could be detrimental to your business. 

The benefits of database marketing is that it can improve profitability. It does this because you can specifically target and allocate resources  to improve efficiency, which increases your profit margins. This also improves your sales because if done well you can save money by limiting the unprofitable markets segments. Database marketing also enhances communication with your customers because you can look at all the data you collected and see which types of communication are consistent and worthwhile to keep up with. Another benefit is that database marketing can improve your products. By collecting information about customers buying habits and the commentary they provide you, you can keep improving the products that need improvement and drop that products that are not beneficial to your brand. An example of this is Starbucks and their loyalty card.

Print

Starbucks currently has 6 million registered card members. By being a member Starbucks is collecting data about you; the kind of drinks you get, what time of the day you get a drink, how many times a week you buy a drink, etc… So Starbucks took all of this data that they collected and can now segment their customers into different markets. They can create personalized promotions to send to specific gold members immediately, usually through your mobile device. By using the data collected, not only are they able to communicate with their customers better, but they have been able to focus on the key indicators that effect a customer’s satisfaction and attempt to improve upon them.

Another great example of database marketing is going to take us across the pond to British Telecommunications.

bt-logo1

They partnered with Devon Direct, a full service direct marketing agency.  British Telecommunications main problem was customer retention. By using the data in their database BT created fully customized and personalized brochures for their customers. These brochures introduced new products and services that might be of interest to the customer. The personal savings and order forms were customized specifically for each customer, based on the database information.  By doing this and sending out over a million brochures  a week they gained response rates of 14%-32%. In one mailing, one-third of the 11.5 million households responded to the brochure and bought one of the products.  Now this was not easy for BT to do. Behind database marketing are very highly skilled techies. Granted everyone should learn how to fiend for themselves when it comes to databases and looking through data, but to customize and personalize advertisement successfully you are going to need IT people. The software structure behind personalization is very complex.

Now I have painted a bit of a pretty picture for database marketing but be aware you can go down a wrong path when using database marketing. A very popular example is Target.

target

You probably have heard about the discovery that Target made after going through thousands of  pieces of customer data, but if not I will give you a brief overview. Target knows everything about you. They have demographic data on you and they have trends based on you. They essentially want to be you, so that they can know exactly what and when  you going to buy and have the products available for you.  Target began studying the shopping habits of customers who were going through life changing events, particularly new parents. They studied what these  customers bought once they had a child and then dug into their history and analyzed what they bought before the child was born.  One trend that Target found was women will buy large quantities of lotion when they are in their second trimester. In the end Target found 25 products that women are likely to buy when they are pregnant. They even were able to estimate due dates. By knowing this information Target began sending out coupons to customers who they believed to be pregnant. They would  even be sending coupons out to customers who didn’t even know they were pregnant. To Target this didn’t really seem like a huge problem, just another way to market and gain profit. Then a parent came into Target and began accusing Target for sending his “not pregnant” child maternity coupons. Eventually the father found out he was wrong and obviously needed to have a few more conversations with his daughter, but the lesson of this story is they were invading the privacy of the customers. Granted most of the advertising these days invades our privacy but it does it in a way that we don’t really notice it. By just sending customers personalized coupons about being pregnant Target was flaunting it in the customers face that they knew more about them then they knew about themselves. Target was luckily able to catch this problem before it became to large and now are hiding the fact that they may know you are pregnant. They are doing this by putting random ads, for like rakes, on one page and the other page has maternity sales. I guess the moral of this story is pay attention to the ads that Target sends you because they may  be trying to tell you something.

As you can see database marketing is a great way to better your business and the products that you provide but it can be a little disturbing for customers. Make sure that when you begin utilizing database marketing that you keep your customers in mind and how they might feel about the information that you know about them.

If you would like to read further into Starbucks, BT, or Target follow these links:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/print-at-starbucks-data-pours-in-but-what-to-do-with-it.pdf

http://www.dbmarketing.com/articles/Art164.htm

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/how-companies-learn-your-secrets-nytimes-com.pdf

A/B Testing: The Scientific Method Of Marketing

how_ab_works_diagram_695

A/B Testing is the scientific method of marketing. It is used to test different aspects of marketing techniques your business uses to find out which one is more successful than the other. Lets use the diagram from above as an example. Lets say your business is trying to figure out to gain more traffic to your website through subject lines in your email. You have a Group A (Control Group) and Group B (Test Group).  Group A is going to be your control group, so if you have a subject line that you  normally use or a constant format for your subject line then you would still use it here. For example I am responsible for sending out the emails for my marketing club. Typically I use the subject line “SMA Meeting (Date)” This is what I would use for Group A. Now Group B is your testing group. This is where you use your experimental subject line. For example to draw more members to come to the next weeks meeting I might use  the subject line: “SMA Networking Social”.

After you have your Group A and Group B it is time to pick who should be sent which. This should be completely random. You don’t want to be bias towards who sees what because that could cause your data to be skewed. Some suggestions would be just randomly choosing half and half or creating an excel sheet and choosing a random number and then counting the list till you get to that number. Once you get to that number take that email and start all over again.

Once you have your groups set make sure to set a conversion goal. For example with the email subject line you could use a conversion of how many people open the email or if that is showing little data, how many people go to your webpage through the email link. One thing to keep is mind is that you need to make sure you are testing both of these subject lines at the same time so that  everyone is getting the same information in the email and to minimize the outside variables affecting the users decision to open/not open the email.

When it comes to email a great site to use is MailChimp. Follow this link and it will give you the steps to creating a A/B campaign through their site : http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-can-i-run-an-a-b-split-test-campaign-on-my-content/. MailChimp can track how many people open your emails or follow the link on the email and other exciting things! If you are deciding to test variables on your webpage you can easily create a code to embed into your website. Visual Optimizer can take you through the steps  if you follow this link: https://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/ab-testing/.

So you have set up your conversion rate and now it’s time to get testing! Like I stated earlier, test both groups at the same time.  Make sure you don’t stop your test too early. If you end a test too early than you will not have as much information as possible and you may not be able to make valid conclusions. On that note make sure you don’t end too late because this could begin to make you lose conversion rates all together. I wish I could tell you what the perfect length is for your A/B testing but it really all depends on what your testing and what your goals are.  Luckily Visual Optimization has a handy-dandy calculator that  you can use to figure out a suggestion of how long you should keep your testing going. The calculator is located through this link: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/ab-split-test-duration/.

Now once you have tested to the fullest you get to look at the data. To me this is the funnest part. Being able to analyze data and see if your hypothesis was right. Sometimes the results can be way different from your hypothesis but you do not know best. 

1

Yes, really. Numbers tell the truth as long as you did your testing correctly. Granted there will be some skewed data and sometimes your A/B test is going to fail, but do not go with your gut feeling. Also if you do not like the numbers that are showing half way through your test DO NOT MAKE CHANGES. That will cause more variations in your data and you would have to throw all of your data away. So once you have analyzed your data the one that reaches your conversion goal the most will be the one you want to go with.  For example if one subject lines gives you 25 clicks and the other gives you 5 clicks, then you are going to want to go with the 25 click subject line.

That is A/B testing in a nutshell. Make sure you keep in mind that A/B testing does not work every time and you should not feel discouraged if it shows no results. You should keep doing tests over and over because you can only improve your marketing techniques. I think it is kind of obvious why A/B testing is so important  for your business. By partaking in this method you are going to improve your websites and your marketing because the users are going to be pointing out what needs improvement without even knowing they are doing it. This is only going to bring greater traffic and leads to your site.  This also makes sure that your business is focused on constant improvement. If you would like to read more about A/B testing and see some successful cases follow this link: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/case-studies.php

The Wonderful World Of Coding

In today’s blog I am going to talk about coding, which I am so excited about. At Western Washington University I am double majoring in Marketing and Management Information Systems. I personally love the MIS major because I am given the chance to learn the ins and outs of information systems.  In the higher-level classes I am learning the basics of coding and it has been so much fun. Currently I am learning Visual Basic. It is very hard and complicated but after I finally get a program to work I feel so accomplished.  I just wish I had the time and money to learn all the different types of computer languages. There is a solution to my problem and it is called Codecademy: http://www.codecademy.com/

This is a FREE resource, where you can learn all of the different computer languages. You can learn it on your own time and it is so user-friendly. It also doesn’t take very long to work your way through the different lessons. They give you step by step directions on each line of code. In less than a half an hour I was able to code my name into bubbles as you can see below:

taylor

On the actual website I was able to make the bubbles move around whenever I put my mouse over my name. The fact that I didn’t even spend 30 minutes and was able to do that is so cool to me. Coding is not as hard as everyone thinks. I then moved to learning how to write code for a website. This took me a bit longer to do but  that was because I wanted it to represent me and honestly I got lost in all the fun I was having.

website

The last thing that I learned how to do in this two hour time span was  create the sun and the earth. The earth rotates around the sun. That was a little bit more complicated but what is so great about Codecademy is there wasn’t a moment where I felt  totally lost.

space

By the end of spending two hours on this site I had done all three tutorials and had begun learning HTML and CSS. Granted I have a bit of a background in coding,  but it is not as much as anyone else. Yet I was able to accomplish all of this in such a short time. Honestly if I can do it you can do it.  If you haven’t checked it out I really suggest you do, at least to just get the feel of what coding is about.

Now why does this matter to people in the marketing field?

This should not be an area that marketers ignore. You should not be in the dark about what the IT people are doing.  I think the biggest mistake of a marketer is having no idea how the sites you advertise on are created. Now I am not saying that a marketer should be able to code a crazy complicated program but you should at least be comfortable with technology.  Being comfortable with the technology is going to make you more confident and maybe step out of your comfort zone when it comes to working with the website or trying out new ideas.  Another great reason to be comfortable with the coding language is you will actually be able to talk to  and understand the IT people.

Gone are the days where you give the IT people a brief description of what you want and they get frustrated because you don’t understand the limitations and possibilities of what they can do. Now you can learn exactly what can be done and the challenges that IT people have to deal with. Your going to understand them better and that creates more of a consensus.

Really in the end everything you do is programming. Planning what to advertise and when to advertise and where to advertise is programming. You have to decide the process you are going to take and where everything is going to be.  You just don’t see it as programming because you were not taught to see it that way.  By understanding programming I think that you will learn to look even more analytically at all of your processes.

Learning to code is so much fun and it is so rewarding.  I don’t know about you but the feeling that the meme below represents is a pretty great one and if coding makes you feel this way then why wouldn’t you want to learn?

just-created-a-website-using-html-coding-lets-c-u-do-dat

http://chiefmartec.com/2011/12/why-marketers-should-learn-how-to-program/