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Danny Flamberg's Profile Danny Flamberg posted an entry Are Websites Obsolete?Manhattan Marketing Maven
If information and engagement are business goals, websites, the ultimate icons of the Internet age, are quickly becoming obsolete. Consumers now engage and interact with mobile apps, social networks, text messages, email and dynamically loaded loyalty cards much more than they do brand websites.  In fact, for the vast majority of brands, consumers visit the site once; get the information they want, opt-in and never return. That’s why savvy marketers are looking carefully and skeptically at added investments in complex websites. Many are de-emphasizing the role of a website in a brand’s digital ecosystem preferring instead to use more agile and cheaper channels to maintain on-going relationships and generate sales.  The rapid adoption of mobile and social media has changed the marketing calculus about the content and the role of branded websites. Once the cornerstone of a brand’s online identity, today the function of a website is just a small part of an overall brand experience.  In the beginning there were web pages, a way for brands to stake a claim on the newly invented World Wide Web. Consumers expected every brand to have an 800 number and a web page. Next site builders embraced interactive technologies to engage customers. Flash, video, SFX, bells and whistles and keeping up with the Joneses was the norm.  Having a cool website and getting on a Top 10 list mattered. After a technology shakeout, websites were focused achieving business results. ROI was king, or at least talked about as if it were king. Encyclopedic websites were built. Governance was split between marketing and IT. Brands consolidated assets. Metrics trumped show biz. After a period of corporate consolidation, individual brands felt oppressed broke out by creating mini-sites and syndicating to drive traffic and attract broader audiences. Video, photo carousels, animation and games were ubiquitous. Social sharing was introduced. And brands began to orchestrate messaging, traffic and content between brand sites and Facebook and place branded content on allied sites or in places frequented by most likely prospects or customers. (This is now called native advertising.) But many marketers never gave customers reasons to return to the site after the first visit or registration. Websites now are accessed primarily using smartphones and tablets. Websites compete with and/or compliment native apps for content and tools to spawn repeat customer engagement. Some sites are also interconnected with branded social network assets. Some are not. But websites are no longer a sole or even principle destination. Rather they are an element in an evolving brand ecosystem structured to engage customers over time and achieve measurable business goals. Marketers have to discern what customers want and how they want it and then decide what kind of experience they want to offer. The design and array of digital assets requires an understanding of customer needs and a data-driven customer engagement strategy. The current thinking is that a branded site should drive consumers to take a specific desired action(s). Design and content should be organized strictly to achieve that objective. Upgrading or building a website today can’t be done in a vacuum. It has to be part of a customer engagement plan that anticipates customer needs for information, validation, incentives and/or repeat purchases over time. Creating a website today requires a relationship context that integrates the attitudes and likely day-to-day behaviors of your brand’s best customers.[...] If information and engagement are business goals, websites, the ultimate icons of the Internet age, are quickly becoming obsolete. Consumers now engage and interact with mobile apps, social networks, text messages, email and dynamically loaded loyalty cards much more than they do brand websites.  In fact, for the vast majority of brands, consumers visit the site once; get the information they want, opt-in and never return. That’s why savvy marketers are looking carefully and skep[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Facebook Courts Direct MarketersManhattan Marketing Maven
Facebook Exchange,  FBX the ads in the News Feed -- the primo real estate on Facebook -- is a year old and vying to become an indispensible partner to direct and CRM marketers. The pitch directly addresses the needs and anxieties of brands that want consumers to take action on social networks. Facebook, in a new deck circulating to advertisers, argues that they can find, mirror and more accurately target audiences, simultaneously access desktop and mobile users on a broad range of devices, leverage search and display ads across the Internet and do better ROI metrics. There is nothing subtle in Facebook’s move to curate, qualify and market audience segments. Absent is the long-standing claim that Facebook is strictly about relationships, sharing, engagement and saving the world. Most of the magic is a three-stage data mining process. By taking data from brands and combining it with demographic, psychographic and behavioral data from third party sources like Epsilon, Acxiom and Datalogic, marketers can get a tighter bead on likely buyers. Then by matching combined brand and outside data with Facebook profiles, the platform can deliver a specific message to large numbers of individuals meeting very narrow criteria eliminating waste and optimizing the likelihood that consumers will opt-in, share, sign-up, download or buy something. Like traditional publishers or broadcasters, Facebook claims to offer seamless and measurable targeting, reach and delivery. Facebook claims a 50% accuracy advantage over the average online campaign. This is the Holy Grail for direct marketers; maximum response with minimal waste across channels at efficient costs. For brands without a direct marketing or CRM infrastructure, Facebook potentially is a plug-and-play solution since brands can potentially find and reach their best customers, find more prospects that look like best customers or create new target segments virtually on the fly. But while Facebook will deliver a branded message to targeted users and tell you what percent of your database are on Facebook, they won’t share the details or trade data with brands. With massive reach and strong frequency, based on the fact that people check their newsfeed as much as fourteen times each day, Facebook is looking to take serious market share away from display advertising, search and email marketing. The social network’s leading mobile posture is a second strong direct response argument. With zillions accessing Facebook everyday on smartphones and tablets, a brand can reach their customers and prospects and finesse all the costly, complicated and confusing device, rendering and carrier issues with one partner. Tight targeting and mobile access when combined with links to branded websites, pixel tracking for retargeting and internal databases, gives a brand continuous exposure to people who have shown any sign of interest. This is, depending on your perspective, is either super-targeting or super-stalking. Either way, research shows that it delivers more, faster response. It also explains how that pair of shoes you looked at on Zappos follow you around the Internet and appear on your Facebook page. Newsfeed or Timeline units, a 154x154 pixel image and several lines of copy, were created precisely to enable precision targeting and pixel tracking to enable retargeting on Facebook and across the web. Consumers can like, share and comment on FBX ads, so virility is baked in.  My clients using these units are reporting strong cost effective results. And even though many have been extorted into buying ads since Facebook choked off access to the fans they accumulated by manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, the guys paying the bills now can find out how many fans, followers or likers are actually buying products. Facebook is aggressively addressing direct marketing fundamentals and focusing on critical ROI concerns. Many of their social network peers are following suit. It will be fascinating to see how and how quickly traditional direct response partners [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry The Importance of Customer PreferenceManhattan Marketing Maven
In a world filled with endless consumer choices, too many marketers still push out one-size-fits-all messages. Very few CRM cadences are self-directed by consumers, which might account for generally flat or low response and engagement rates.  At a time when everybody is a gamer used to picking characters or avatars, setting game play levels and making choices of all kinds, marketers rarely give their customers and prospects the option to set preferences for content, channels or cadence. Too many acquisition, lead generation, usage stimulation, loyalty or adherence programs are serial fulfillment exercises rather than genuine expressions of customer relationships. They are one-way streets masquerading as two-way relationships. And while it’s much easier for marketers to decide what to say and when to carpet bomb their lists, it is counterproductive.  The “R” in CRM needs to be more prominent in the thinking, programming and infrastructure of marketers. There is a reluctance to ask consumers for more information based on a generalized anxiety about privacy. But this is a fake-out. Greater data yields more personalized, relevant and useful content, which, in turn gives customers greater value and a stronger connection to the brand. Study after study has shown that when consumers perceive genuine value they are ready, willing and able to share personal information. This value exchange is the core of all CRM programs.  Similarly, when consumers set preferences and brands execute on them, research suggests that engagement, purchases and customer satisfaction soar. The trick is incorporating preference as a highly desired element with a CRM architecture or environment. A brand without a preference center is partially faking CRM.  Ideally customers should be steered to a preference center early in the relationship; when their interest and intentions are high. They should be asked for basic contact data and the requisite opt-ins and then be given some choices about what kind of information or incentives they want, how frequently they want them and which communication channel is best to reach them without annoying them.   Setting up a preference center requires a modest amount of database preparation and an infrastructure to securely capture and transmit the data provided. In some cases, this data can be stored in ESP tools and used to inform triggers and business rules for email. You can’t really create a preference center unless you have a database architecture in place. The challenge is the investment. Too many clients see even modest infrastructure costs as “non productive” since there is no immediate ROI. That view is myopic. Giving customers choices and in so doing binding them to their favorite brands pays off again and again over time. When it comes to preference, brands need to step up to honor and accommodate customer preferences.   In a world filled with endless consumer choices, too many marketers still push out one-size-fits-all messages. Very few CRM cadences are self-directed by consumers, which might account for generally flat or low response and engagement rates.  At a time when everybody is a gamer used to picking characters or avatars, setting game play levels and making choices of all kinds, marketers rarely give their customers and prospects the option to set preferences for content, channels or cadence. Too many acquisition, lead generation, usage stimulation, loyalty or adherence programs are serial fulfillment exercises rather than genuine expressions of customer relationships. They are one-way streets masquerading as two-way relationships. And while it’s much easier for marketers to decide what to say and when to carpet bomb their lists, it is counterproductive.  The “R” in CRM needs to be more prominent in the thinking, programming and infrastructure of marketers. There is a reluctance to ask consumers for more information based on a generalized anxiety about privacy. But th[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Retailers Double Down on MobileManhattan Marketing Maven
At this time of the year, retailers make technical and functionality investment decisions focused on Holiday 2014. The biggest issue is what to invest in mobile marketing.  Fortunately retailers can rely on the 13th Annual Merchant Survey produced by my friend and colleague, Lauren Freedman at the e-tailing group, for insight and direction.  Mobile users browse stores, open promotional emails, compare features, functions and prices, showroom, photograph goods and share products with friends. Mobile accounts for 20 percent of traffic for the majority of retailers surveyed. For one in five retailers, mobile traffic is 30 percent. (In contrast, the majority of responders peg social traffic at less than 2 percent.) According to the survey, 50% of those surveyed report that mobile consumers contribute at least 5 percent to their revenues and another 32 percent say mobile contributes at least 10 percent.  Seventy-five percent of survey responders say mobile is “critical to the growth of our business.”  But 39 percent admit “its hard to know where to invest relative to mobile initiatives.” And while its critical that retail sites need to render properly on smartphones and tablets, nobody really knows which added functionality would drive more profitable conversions and repeat purchases?  Retail competition is fierce and conversion rates have remained stagnant at 2-3% over the last few years. Almost half of retailers are focused on improving their pages and brand experiences. Another third are amping up onsite merchandising, upgrading sites and instituting responsive design.  One in three are spending more than $100,000 on mobile enhancements.  My hunch is that the best investment is in messaging not necessarily functionality. For the foreseeable future mobile will primarily be a research tool not a buying mechanism. Most email is now read on mobile devices.  Video is moving in the same direction. Mobile search is an increasingly important factor. This leads me to four new mobile retail messaging tactics.  Frequency. Crafting a single impactful message and communicating it often yields greater awareness sooner.  The same message, more times on more devices equals higher reach and more persuasion. Synchronize a persuasive offer and communicate it within a defined time window (think SuperBowl) to penetrate and persuade a target group faster than ever before.  Sequencing.  Parse a retail pitch. This applies the classic 1940s Burma Shave OOH approach to mobile. The additive value of sequential messages over a limited time period can hammer home a promotion or sale.  Fractal Messaging. A variation on sequencing would be to acknowledge different facets of a brand’s appeal and expose different facets or offers at different times to different people using different devices. Product details and rich images go on tablets while sale pricing, sale dates and bonus offers go on smartphones, in SMS messages or are placed in online media,  This assumes that consumer moods, mindsets and tasks are different by device. So while prospects may resent ads on their smartphone, they might be willing to watch pre-rolls or other video formats on a tablet or phablet.  By understanding how consumers use devices both in terms of the mechanics (who, what and where) and their sensibilities (openness to being interrupted or interacted with) brands can optimize sales by aligning with consumers’ workflow and life style patterns. Orchestration. Assign specific marketing tasks to specific devices in the same way that Bach, Beethoven and Brahms assigned specific roles to specific instruments. One plays the base theme. Another adds the variations. TV, print or catalogs lay down the basic message, while tablet content amplifies or expands the message and smartphones become the channel for consumer reaction, interaction and response.   mCommerce is still in its infancy. Beyon[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Tumblr's Timid Ad PlayManhattan Marketing Maven
Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to gain consideration and access to social ad budgets, while differentiating themselves from the competition to attract specific brands and buys.  To do this, Tumblr raises a couple of new ideas about the use and value of social networks for brands.  Play the Platform. Tumblr argues that they are a two-fer – an independent web platform featuring an easy to use CMS, which can fit seamlessly into a brands’ overall digital ecosystem, and a large and growing global social network. Creating a branded Tumblr, marketers can expand reach, add link juice and add to a robust content strategy by creating a digital brand asset.  A blank canvas, a Tumblr blog can be anything, though the more successful ones are highly visual, featuring striking images, videos and gifs. There are no comment options, beyond reblogging, so sentiment tends to be more positive than on other social platforms.  A branded Tumblr page is part of the Tumblr network and its emerging topical community subsets. This potentially yields some endorsement by association and the prospect of added viral distribution not to mention a future ad targeting option.  Free Virility. In contrast to Facebook, who has choked off access to followers, Tumblr argues that reblogging is an engine of goodness for brands. Each individual blogger creates a Tumblr post, which is often curated and reblogged by others who reach large audiences where reblogging takes place again. They have created a waterfall chart to help marketers wrap their heads around this fundamental social media concept. The only missing part is hard data to prove it.  One uniquely interesting aspect of Tumblr reblogging is a latency period. More than half of reblogs take place more than 15 days after an original post. This suggests either that usage is less frequent or intense or that users take their time and give more consideration to the memes they share.  But in spite of these interesting sales pitches, buying Tumblr is a challenge.  Blog content is highly visual and idiosyncratic. Users only see content from those they follow. To develop significant followings to get substantial reach and or frequency against desirable segments, brands will have to accumulate followers. Brands need to know why people use Tumblr and how either the people and their intentions, moods and behaviors differ from the other social networks.  You can follow anyone without his or her blessing so the WOM value and personal endorsement aspect is likely to be weaker than on Facebook. Each user follows a different set of bloggers and nobody has crunched the numbers to determine what the patterns and affinities might be so aggregating audiences at scale is not really possible.  Content categories aren’t marketing channels. So far, targeting options are limited to gender and geography; hardly sophisticated tools. For Tumblr attracts 12.8 million moms (referred to as Mumblrs) but there is no clear or easy path to reach them!    Tumblr has a sizeable audience but they haven’t yet packaged it to sell to advertisers. Maybe this reflects tension between the original intention of founder David Carp and the aggressive plans of acquirer Marissa Mayer. But unless they get much more serious about slicing and dicing the audience and giving marketers a reason to buy, they will not be competitive.  [...] Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to gain consideration and acce[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Tumblr's Timid Ad PlayManhattan Marketing Maven
Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to gain consideration and access to social ad budgets, while differentiating themselves from the competition to attract specific brands and buys.  To do this, Tumblr raises a couple of new ideas about the use and value of social networks for brands.  Play the Platform. Tumblr argues that they are a two-fer – an independent web platform featuring an easy to use CMS, which can fit seamlessly into a brands’ overall digital ecosystem, and a large and growing global social network. Creating a branded Tumblr, marketers can expand reach, add link juice and add to a robust content strategy by creating a digital brand asset.  A blank canvas, a Tumblr blog can be anything, though the more successful ones are highly visual, featuring striking images, videos and gifs. There are no comment options, beyond reblogging, so sentiment tends to be more positive than on other social platforms.  A branded Tumblr page is part of the Tumblr network and its emerging topical community subsets. This potentially yields some endorsement by association and the prospect of added viral distribution not to mention a future ad targeting option.  Free Virility. In contrast to Facebook, who has choked off access to followers, Tumblr argues that reblogging is an engine of goodness for brands. Each individual blogger creates a Tumblr post, which is often curated and reblogged by others who reach large audiences where reblogging takes place again. They have created a waterfall chart to help marketers wrap their heads around this fundamental social media concept. The only missing part is hard data to prove it.  One uniquely interesting aspect of Tumblr reblogging is a latency period. More than half of reblogs take place more than 15 days after an original post. This suggests either that usage is less frequent or intense or that users take their time and give more consideration to the memes they share.  But in spite of these interesting sales pitches, buying Tumblr is a challenge.  Blog content is highly visual and idiosyncratic. Users only see content from those they follow. To develop significant followings to get substantial reach and or frequency against desirable segments, brands will have to accumulate followers. Brands need to know why people use Tumblr and how either the people and their intentions, moods and behaviors differ from the other social networks.  You can follow anyone without his or her blessing so the WOM value and personal endorsement aspect is likely to be weaker than on Facebook. Each user follows a different set of bloggers and nobody has crunched the numbers to determine what the patterns and affinities might be so aggregating audiences at scale is not really possible.  Content categories aren’t marketing channels. So far, targeting options are limited to gender and geography; hardly sophisticated tools. For Tumblr attracts 12.8 million moms (referred to as Mumblrs) but there is no clear or easy path to reach them!    Tumblr has a sizeable audience but they haven’t yet packaged it to sell to advertisers. Maybe this reflects tension between the original intention of founder David Carp and the aggressive plans of acquirer Marissa Mayer. But unless they get much more serious about slicing and dicing the audience and giving marketers a reason to buy, they will not be competitive.  [...] Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Frankly Facing FacebookManhattan Marketing Maven
Face it! Facebook has led marketers down the primrose path. They taught us about and addicted us to free earned media. They encouraged us to spend money to attract and engage millions of followers. They ran us through the “like” gates. And now they have tightly restricted access to the audiences we created and extorted us by creating a pay-for-play platform.  By steadily manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, Facebook has systematically reduced access to the fan bases we built. The latest estimates are that less than 2% of a brand’s fans actually see brand posts. And many marketers assume that brand reach will soon be zero. Today we have to pay to reach the audiences we attracted to the Facebook platform. Ironically, Facebook has evolved into an old media model where editorial (posts) is clearly different and separated from reach (advertising). Savvy marketers are now asking tougher questions about metrics and ROI. If we have to pay for what we used to get for free, what is the business impact of Facebook advertising and how does it move product or build brand loyalty? Engagement, which has been the ill-defined, but widely accepted payoff for several years, is falling out of favor as a useful metric. But there are few hard numbers to justify sustaining investments. The answers are elusive and Facebook’s doubtful and self-serving “research” does little to convince skeptical CFOs. Surprisingly, brand marketers’ response has been muted. Few are willing to buck the 800-pound gorilla in our midst. Many are reluctant to tell their bosses that this once high-flying platform, filled with the promise of free viral reach and added engagement value, has radically changed. New and bigger budgets are required to make it useful. One school of thought is betting on creativity. They argue that if a brand can come up with really cool content -- the stuff that everyone wants to see or know about --that even with 2% reach, fans will spread the word among themselves. These marketers are doubling down on video, gifs and games. They are working overtime to devise memes with wings.  A second school is playing ball with Facebook. These brands are investing ad dollars for both desktop and mobile units. They are using the 200+ targeting channels, comparing brand databases with Facebook’s, running contests and promotions and experimenting with different units and page placements, in an attempt to regain access to fans and expand their reach or frequency among Facebook’s billion users. There are many cases of successful lead generation and awareness campaigns, though the ROI varies widely.  A third segment is abandoning Facebook in favor of other emerging social networks. Competing against Facebook’s muscular marketplace positioning, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and others have increased sales efforts, created new packages, expressed a willingness to customize units and experiment cooperatively with brands to redirect dollars that might otherwise have gone to Zuckerberg & Company.     Now that the stakes have changed and the ante is higher, brands are asking tougher measurement questions, demanding a greater connection between social media activity and business results and further degrading “engagement” as an indicator of communication value.[...] Face it! Facebook has led marketers down the primrose path. They taught us about and addicted us to free earned media. They encouraged us to spend money to attract and engage millions of followers. They ran us through the “like” gates. And now they have tightly restricted access to the audiences we created and extorted us by creating a pay-for-play platform.  By steadily manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, Facebook has systematically reduced access to the fan bases we built. The latest estimates are that less than 2% of a brand’s fans actually see brand posts. And many marketers[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Women Dominate Smartphone UseManhattan Marketing Maven
The Chinese say women hold up half the sky. According to new research on smartphone use from Nielsen, ExactTarget, Pew and Simmons Connect, compiled into infographics by financesonline.com, women have a dominant hold on smartphone usage. Everyone knows that men and women think act and feel differently, but women have embraced smartphones as an all-encompassing Swiss Army Knife for life. Men use their phones selectively, like a tool, to accomplish specific tasks.  Women are more likely than men to use their smartphones for messaging, talk, web surfing, social networking, games, app downloads and picture taking or sharing. Men and women use email about the same. Men dominate in watching videos, listening to music, reading newspapers and using the GPS app or device. Looking at mobile social media use, men focus on business and dating while women go for relationship building, sharing, entertainment and self-help.  Not surprising gender differences affect consumer behavior. Men are 1.5 times more likely to scan coupons or QR codes. Men are less likely to ignore social media ads and prefer commercial messages with cars, sports, action and sexual themes. In contrast women ignore more social and mobile ads, even though they follow 4 times more brands than men. Women prefer ads with sentimental, family, real-life and pet themes.  The clear implications for marketers are …  Gender Matters. Consider whom you are addressing, both what they doing as they move through their day and how they generally think about mobility and social media. The old clichés and assumptions are no longer valid. Abandon them. Design offers and calls-to-action accordingly. One Size Doesn’t Fit All. If they think, act and use language differently, it only makes sense to create different content aimed at men and women.  Target Behavior. Now that you know what they use phones for and the themes that resonate with men and women, time and target messages to intersect natural mobile or social behavior. Efficiently give me the information they’re after and make female-oriented content entertaining and shareable. Honor Half the Sky. Women have been early adopters and are aggressive users of mobile and social technologies. Don’t under-estimate them. Don’t forget their role as household CFO and principal buyer of almost every category of goods and services. Women frequently influence men. And interactions between the genders are often relevant in building brand awareness, consideration and preference. The Chinese say women hold up half the sky. According to new research on smartphone use from Nielsen, ExactTarget, Pew and Simmons Connect, compiled into infographics by financesonline.com, women have a dominant hold on smartphone usage. Everyone knows that men and women think act and feel differently, but women have embraced smartphones as an all-encompassing Swiss Army Knife for life. Men use their phones selectively, like a tool, to accomplish specific tasks.  Women are more likely than men to use their smartphones for messaging, talk, web surfing, social networking, games, app downloads and picture taking or sharing. Men and women use email about the same. Men dominate in watching videos, listening to music, reading newspapers and using the GPS app or device. Looking at mobile social media use, men focus on business and dating while women go for relationship building, sharing, entertainment and self-help.  Not surprising gender differences affect consumer behavior. Men are 1.5 times more likely to scan coupons or QR codes. Men are less likely to ignore social media ads and prefer commercial messages with cars, sports, action and sexual themes. In contrast women ignore more social and mobile ads, even though they follow 4 times more brands than men. Women prefer ads with sentimental, family, real-life and pet themes.[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Instagram InsurgentManhattan Marketing Maven
Instagram, the photo and video-sharing app owned by Facebook, is the fastest growing social network with 35 million monthly smartphone users spending 257 minutes per month. Forty percent of their traffic is in the United States where 58 percent use the app every day. Seven in ten are women (18-44) with household incomes of $75,000 or more who are actively looking to be surprised, diverted and delighted. Instagram, according to research by L2 Think Tank, registers 15 times the engagement and double the engaged user base of its parent, Facebook.  “Instagram resembles a modern day bazaar – one that I visit on my phone when I have a free moment.” Jenna Wortham wrote in The New York Times. “A huge part of the appeal is that the goods I’m perusing are sandwiched in my Instagram feed between my friends; selfies and pictures of snow covered spots where they’ve stopped during the day. Stumbling across an unexpected and gorgeous find … on a special app like Instagram brings with it the excitement of discovery not unlike the titillating thrill you get when coming across a rare find at a flea market.”  Casual shoppers and a broad variety of brands have embraced this 100% mobile marketplace. A survey by Teen Vogue found that Instagram is the number one platform that inspires product purchases. Instagram, according to a recent Shopify study, generates the second highest order values among social networks and ranks fourth in sales conversion in spite of the fact that the platform has just created its first ad units and direct links to branded websites or eCommerce platforms are prohibited.  So what do Calvin Klein, Ben & Jerry’s L’Oreal, Honda, Uhaul, Macy’s, Gap, Chanel, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Target, Gucci, Victoria’s Secret, Harrods and Laboutin plus 93 percent of prestige brands know that you don’t?  These 4 key tactics …  Intercept Behavior. Women have led the smartphone revolution. They clutch their phones as virtual controllers for busy lives. Instagram meets them in the course of their normal daily behavior and offers diversion, surprise and entertainment in context. The app has become a guilty pleasure intertwined with friends, family and workflow.  Since 30 percent of women access social networks by smartphone each day, Instagram is perceived as an authentic collection of ideas and images in real time curated by trusted sources. There might not be a better synthesis of targeting, content and channels.  Sell by Showing. Photos and fifteen second videos are the coin of the realm. Instagram might be the absolute proof that a picture is worth a thousand words. Also given its global reach, pictures often communicate fundamentals without a need for translation.  Both individuals and brands post. The average prestige brand posts 6 images a week and 72 percent post 15-second videos, usually one every two weeks. The photos get 1.5X the engagement. Producing high quality short video is a gating factor which should disappear over time.  Facilitate Sharing. Comments, re-posts and sharing to other social networks, especially Facebook (9 out of 10 shares) and Twitter are common. Instagram, like Twitter, is becoming a real-time companion to off-line events. During New York Fashion Week 100,000 fashion-related images were posted to Instagram by 33,000 unique users while the top fashion brands averaged about 7 posts per day.  #InstagramDirect connects individuals to each other to share posts. Consumers can opt-in to follow brands or celebrities and set push alerts about new content from favorite brands and friends. There seems to be a broad understanding that friends share interests, tastes, perspectives and Instagram imagery.  Use Your Ecosystem. The smart guys import Instagram images and user-generated content into branded webs[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 6 Killer Email TacticsManhattan Marketing Maven
E-mail is the strike force medium for online and offline retailers because 95% of online users get it and receive an average of 416 commercial messages per month. 91% check their e-mail at least once a day and 70% say they always open e-mails from their favorite companies and 84% say its their preferred channel for engaging with retailers. Don’t let the social/mobile crowd fool you.  Social media gets the buzz, but email delivers the traffic.  Nearly one in every three e-mails gets opened. More than half open on mobile devices and as much as a third of openers act on the offers. In general, for every dollar spent on e-mail marketing, retailers get $44.25 in return.  The big tactical decisions are about frequency or cadence and offers. Some form of free shipping and a minimum of a 10 percent discount are table stakes. And at least weekly for most of the year, except for holidays seems to be the norm.  Six e-mail marketing best practices separate the winners from the losers:  Write Telegraphic Subject Lines. For one-third of recipients, the subject line is the only criteria for opening. Put the offer and the CTA in the SUBJ line but understand that less is better. Subject lines with fewer than 10 characters have a 58 percent open rate and better than a 2.5% CTR. Shorter is always better. If you can work in the customer’s name and/or location, you can spike open rates. Everybody immediately responds to his or her own name.  Short & Sweet Content. Focus on the offer. Aim for 4 paragraphs maximum. Limit the possible CTAs. Click rate degrades with the number of links, so focus your customers on seeing a single powerful offer and direct them to click on a big colorful link or button or two. Avoid the urge to load up on logos and taglines. Present the product or service clearly. Find a stand-alone illustration or image to make your point and ask for the order. Like a letter, adding a personal signature, evidence of human interaction, can increase opens by 5 times and clicks by 3.5 times.  Since everyone already knows the potent proven retail words your offer has to pay it off in a differentiating and motivating way to deliver a decent CTA or CTOA.  Time Your Send. Most e-mail is opened during business hours (10a-4p) and the majority of response happens in the first hour after delivery. More than half of mobile e-mail is opened from 5p till 8a. Consider these cycles and what peole normally do during these time periods as you craft content and offers.  Open rates peak mid week, on Tuesdays and Wednesday, though the highest click through rates are on Sunday.  The most e-mail is sent on Wednesday so the burden to stand out midweek is greatest. Saturdays draw the lowest volume, maybe an opportunity to flank the competition.  There is a lot of click through action early in the AM.  That’s why so many retailers transmit overnight to catch consumers when they check their e-mail first thing in the morning. Open rates generally peak at 10am and then gently slope downward throughout the business day.  Be Transparent on the FROM line. Twenty-four percent of recipients only open e-mail from names they recognize. Transparency works best. Use your brand name. The higher your brand awareness; the better your open rate.  Optimize for Mobile. More than half of all e-mail is opened on mobile devices. Too many render badly and drive customers away. Design for smartphones with clear calls-to-action and big buttons for fat fingers. Aim for more elegant rendering on tablets, but expect buying actions to take place from home in the evenings.  Keep Sending. Consumers want options and choices. They are not bothered by hundreds of e-mails in their inboxes because, for the most part, they’ve asked for them. The mor[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Big Data Promises Personalized MedicineManhattan Marketing Maven
By 2020, big data technology will turn every person into his/her own mobile health network. Each person will wear a device -- a ring, a bracelet, a Google Glass -- wirelessly connected to an app that will monitor and transmit vital signs and key indicators of every condition they have. Smarter and more complex fitness bands will marry up with the increasing sophistication of medical and wellness apps to create the ability to monitor and measure almost every significant indicator.  Trailing results, plus medical records, DNA and up-to-the-minute stats, will be accessible to EMTs or in the ER, in the case of an accident or incident, and will be routinely trafficked to primary care providers. How we feel will be determined by a series of common, standardized data points instead of vague, indescribable feelings.  This data stream, which will be encrypted and stored in the cloud, will be seamlessly and continuously connected to each person's eMR, primary care and specialist doctors, their payer and probably some government entity, which will aggregate and analyze mountains of data.  Personal data will be transmitted on a routine schedule and instantly compared to established norms, standards of care and business rules in real time. When spikes or anomalies occur in the routine transmission of personal data, alerts will be sent to the patient, the doctor, the pharmacy, the caregivers or EMTs, if necessary.  Many of the sub-components of this ecosystem exist or are in development. Drs. Robin Cook and Eric Topol, writing in The Wall Street Journal, argue that all the physiological data monitored in hospital intensive care units can today be recorded and continuously analyzed on smartphones. A variety of technologies under development will enable smartphones to produce and use all the studies currently done in a medical lab including chemistries, blood values and microbiological studies. And with slight variations apps will be able to carry out urinalysis, specific gravity pH and levels for glucose, protein, red and white blood cells, bilirubin and nitrates and determine if a woman is pregnant.  Preventive or compliance behavior will be programmed in advance with "if this; do that" automated logic.  For Drs. Cook and Topol, a smartphone will become an avatar physician that’s always with you and always on. Between now and then, software standards will have to be negotiated and interoperability protocols established. This will be a prolonged marketplace battle well worth fighting.  We will all be connected to a national health grid that will be immediately accessible on many devices. Most people will be willing to trade a degree of privacy for a huge difference in health care. Over time the insights from this massive data mart will shape national health care policy and set new standards of care in each therapeutic category. This will be a messy, contentious, loud and intensely political exercise that will require a few iterations to get it right, given the array of vested and entrenched interests at the table.  But, as a result, our ability to predict disease progress and develop more effective and cost efficient treatment algorithms will triple. And our ability to proactively intervene and to respond quickly to medical problems will take a quantum leap forward. Related articles [tt] WSJ: Cook and Topol: How Digital Medicine Will Soon Save Your Life [...] By 2020, big data technology will turn every person into his/her own mobile health network. Each person will wear a device -- a ring, a bracelet, a Google Glass -- wirelessly connected to an app that will monitor and transmit vital signs and key indicators of every condition they have. Smarter and more complex fitness bands will marry up with the [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry The Techno-War in the StoreManhattan Marketing Maven
The stealth cyberwar between the US, Israel and Iran is child’s play compared to the techno-war brewing in virtually every major retail store. Since the physical act of shopping will never disappear, the savvy players are investing in technology to better engage audiences and steadily increase market share.  Big chains are marrying up with technology providers to attract store traffic, serve up personalized offers or recommendations and reward repeat customers. Consumers’ embrace of mobile technology is driving a complete re-engineering of the retail experience.  In re-thinking the store experience, retailers are zeroing-in on loyal customers and those with a high probability to become repeat buyers and vocal brand advocates.  Initiatives have begun to reduce buying friction, enable personal cadences, make shopping a richer, more fun experience and reward repeat behavior.    Driving Traffic  Getting consumers into the store frequently has always been job number one. Technology investments seek to increase the frequency of planned visits and to motivate spur of the moment activity.  Email, text and social media, segmented based on individual consumer behavior, have been principal drivers of regular visits and vital coupon delivery vehicles. Localized search, keyed by geo-fencing, is beginning to be widely deployed to prompt in-the-moment traffic. And Instagram is becoming a potent platform for Target, Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret and Michael Kors to show their wares and stimulate customer desire.  NAPA and retailers in many categories, including grocery, are testing reserve online/pick-up in store programs. This guarantees a store visit, sets a positive customer expectation and holds out the hope that the experience will spark impulse purchases.  Experiments are being conducted which time outbound, personalized text messages and offers by day-part or by previous purchases. These can be extended to out-of-home media and digital LED displays, in-car screens and other devices like in the movie, Artificial Intelligence.   In-Store Engagement  Once customers arrive in the store, an array of technologies is being tested to meet and greet them, direct them to merchandise, keep them there longer and sell them stuff. Since 83 percent of smartphone users use their phones in stores, accessing these devices as a shopping companion is mandatory, not only to blunt showrooming but also to mirror consumer behavior.  Foursquare and Facedeals distribute offers in real time as do QR codes on products, on signage or on LED displays. Video kiosks and triggered shelf-talkers engage the senses while RFID tags, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals can be used to zero-in on and trigger messaging aimed at active shoppers.  Apple installed iBeacon in its iOS7 software to track movement through the aisles of all its US stores. The software will also enable triggered messages in scan-able or video formats to iPad and iPhone users.  Two start-ups, Nomi and Swirl, tack Wi-Fi signals offering the ability to map in-store traffic patterns and push messages to a customer’s phone while they’re seeing and touching merchandise or deciding what to buy. Comparative pricing tools and reviews from experts or users can be served up in real-time. Using branded apps, offers and incentives can be linked to products under consideration.  Best Buy, Macy’s, American Eagle, JC Penney, Crate & Barrel and Sports Authority have deployed Shopkick, an app, with 6 million users, to track and communicate with shoppers in the moment.  It’s being used both to drive store visits and to engage active shoppers when they’re in stores. Kohl’s, in a five store experiment, was a[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Avoiding the Content Creation TrapManhattan Marketing Maven
Content is the new black. Content is the new media. Content is everything. Content is king. Content is over-hyped.  Many of my clients feel compelled to create or curate content as an adjunct to the goods or services they produce. The theory is that content is stickier. Content drives repetitive site visits and purchases. Content provides context. And content differentiates brands one from another.  Distributed content gets more traffic than branded websites. By spreading content around the web or on social media, brands lure consumers with linked pathways back to your site. Jay Baer calls this the dandelion strategy. Seeds are spread far and wide and the website is the stalk bringing everything together. Pharmaceutical companies have embraced this strategy big time. Each one has a mountain of disease, condition awareness and product-related content in virtually every imaginable format. But nobody is sure if it pays off or pays out.  The reality is that too much content is the same. Much of it is not new. And very little is own-able by brands. A look at SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics shows that compared to home pages, product descriptions and deal sections, very few consumers actually use the content that’s being created, syndicated or compiled on brand sites.  And can you blame them? Does anyone really need another wellness tip, recipe, checklist, how-to video, home exercise regimen, infographic, or product diagram? How many links to the same memes, pictures, videos and articles does anyone really want? And does anyone really want this stuff from his or her peanut butter, prescription drug, toilet tissue, fast food joint or bank?  The relentless creation and collection of gratuitous advice leaves most of us cold. Joe Queenan, writing in The Wall Street Journal, captured this sentiment when he wrote, “A major part of the Internet’s appeal is the immediate availability of useful advice on virtually any topic. If people have the right information in their hands, the Web’s evangelists proclaimed, they will make the right decisions. Things haven’t worked out the way they hoped. People still smoke. People still text while driving. People still vote Republican.”  Creating or collecting content is comforting for brand managers even if their customers are ambivalent or disinterested. Content keeps the grubby business of selling at arm’s length and positions a brand, at least in the minds of marketers, as concerned, caring and credible.  But gaining consumer credit requires realistic calculation to understand where a brand can participate in the conversation and what value a brand can realistically provide and own. Generally two criteria apply.  Standing. Brands are sorted into discrete folders in our brains. How you are sorted determines how, when, and where you can enter into the conversation. An athletic wear brand can speak credibly about exercise and wellness or sports. A food brand can talk about nutrition. A fashion brand can assess red carpet creations. But brands need to stick closely to how consumers perceive them.  Brands have less standing than friends, co-workers or family members. The level of credibility, awareness, interest and trust in a brand, determines the aperture you have for reaching target customers. Familiar brands have more standing than invisibles or newbies.  Standing also defines the angle of attack. A complete stranger approaching customers with random content prompts immediate confusion or rejection. Getting good juicy gossip from a trusted friend is the opposite end of the spectrum. Plotting your standing will separate intrusive from credible and invited content.  Posture. The approach to custome[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry The State of Media MixologyManhattan Marketing Maven
If I had a dollar every time a client asked about media mix or tried to define which channel accomplishes a particular marketing task or objective, I’d be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg.  In spite of an explosion of channels, media and marketing strategies, there are no rules of thumb and there is no consensus on what does what. This gets confusing quickly when you consider the continuously evolving array of digital, social and mobile options. As a result, marketers chase this illusive beast in search of a framework for allocating time, effort and money and for measuring key performance indicators (KPIs).  In theory, most channels can accomplish a variety of tasks from creating brand awareness, to generating leads, sales or buzz or reinforcing brand loyalty and advocacy. The tricky part is crafting and parsing the key message and then delivering it through multiple channels at the right time to the right people in the right way at the right price.  Media mix modeling tends to focus on media efficiencies and getting the best prices. They are generally used as a planning and negotiation tools. I haven’t seen a model that can accurately predict consumer activity or that can produce a behavioral (or sales) forecast that can be measured. The challenge is to build a model that considers business goals and consumer behavior and then ranks or weights the relative impact of messages and media versus the relative investments during a fixed campaign time frame.  In the old days, TV was the universal reach tool. Print extended reach, added frequency and vertically reinforced the message. Radio was the mobile reminder medium with a local personalized appeal that reached hard-to-find audiences, like teenagers. Out-of- Home was the LBS of its time. Direct mail got you one-to-one targeting and FSIs delivered coupons. Life was simple and satisfying.  Now that’s all gone. Writing in The New York Times, David Carr says we live in “an age of individualized media cocoons … each of us is building our own little campfire on our phone, tablet and big screen at a time and place of our own choosing. “  Consumer media use, which used to be predictable by demographics, has gone ka-fluey! Finding and aggregating a sizable audience at a decent price at the right point in the customer journey now takes much more time and effort than ever before. Orchestrating messages and media to achieve widespread penetration and persuasion is still much more of an art than a science. The alchemy changes product by product and target audience by target audience. No wonder agencies, media firms and marketers are trying to isolate and package discrete audiences so that they can replicate or adjust the formula to achieve cost efficiencies and profit margins.  Marketers are faced with the need to orchestrate campaigns where attitudes, behaviors and devices are dependent variables. Reach frequency and impact/activation are still the critical objectives.  But like Mozart, marketers have to construct the symphony from the ground up. Most use search as a baseline and call on TV, web or print to express the melodic line.  Then message variations and alternative channels  (apps, online display, mobile and social media) have to be creatively integrated in time.  And while I don’t have a simple one-size-fits-all solution, here’s what I’m learning along the way.  TV/Cable/Video. These media are becoming almost indistinguishable from one another since consumers use them all and use them idiosyncratically. TV still can reach millions, especially live broadcast events like the Super Bowl, but finding the right mix of programming and time slots to re[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Engagement Planning EvolvesManhattan Marketing Maven
The confluence of digital, mobile and social media with big data offers the possibility of addressing, targeting and engaging audiences and segments differently than ever before. Rather than try to psyche out prospects and target them by media use, careful analysis of consumer cohorts can suggest more organic, natural and genuine ways to reach and persuade prospects.  The difference is that rather than guess what a target audience is thinking and doing, we can now track them and either document or reasonably infer attitudes, mechanics and behavior. This requires thinking about what people do, think or relate to and what devices they use throughout a day or a week or a month. By building sophisticated profiles and personas of discrete audiences, we can create more resonant messages and deliver them at times and on devices or social platforms that are integral to customers’ normal behavior. Advertising no longer has to be a disruptive intrusion. Ads can become a useful value-add that inspires purchase and brand loyalty.  Consider the proverbial Soccer Mom. On a generic level, she’s 25-44, CFO of the household with a static and often stretched income. Chief decision-maker and principal shopper for a broad array of products and services, her smartphone is her life controller and her tablet is the source of “me time” entertainment, education and diversion. She probably works and is also the scheduler, driver and concierge for her kids. Her partner, her employer, her kids, her friends, neighbors, girlfriends and family plus every marketer wants her time, attention and budget.     But there are many flavors of Soccer Mom. Geography, ethnicity, health and education are variables that affect her outlook, coping or management style and preferences. To persuade her, layer in her taste in music, movies, books, games, food, décor, fashion and hobbies. First time moms have more energy, anxiety and information-seeking needs than moms of multiple kids. Lean-in moms think and act differently than traditional moms or moms who are also care givers for elderly parents. Triathlete or yoga moms have different agendas and priorities, as do moms of kids with ADHD.  Aggregating a wide range of data about moms, enables marketers to slice and dice the generic audience into discrete segments which can be addressed on their own terms in ways that authentically fit into their lifestyles and expectations. This engagement planning methodology blends traditional attitudinal market research with behavioral data to produce a richer, more insightful and practical picture of customers and prospects.  Understanding how real people think and act in real time drives a different way to attack creative development and media planning. A data-rich multi-dimensional, channel neutral perspective is the next big thing for savvy marketers and advertisers.     The confluence of digital, mobile and social media with big data offers the possibility of addressing, targeting and engaging audiences and segments differently than ever before. Rather than try to psyche out prospects and target them by media use, careful analysis of consumer cohorts can suggest more organic, natural and genuine ways to reach and persuade prospects.  The difference is that rather than guess what a target audience is thinking and doing, we can now track them and either document or reasonably infer attitudes, mechanics and behavior. This requires thinking about what people do, think or relate to and what devices they use throughout a day or a week or a month. By building sophisticated profiles and personas of discrete audiences, we can create more [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Leverage Loyalty FundamentalsManhattan Marketing Maven
In a nation that loves to eat out, restaurants ought to be CRM learning laboratories. Unfortunately they’re not. But Jim Daleen, CEO of Appsuite, hopes to change all that.  Restaurateurs commonly skimp on marketing. They don’t think about connecting their brand to their customers. Many assume that the food and the ambiance will do it for them automatically, saving an investment in technology or marketing people. But this state of mind ignores the key psychological factor that underlies loyalty. People want to be known and recognized in their favorite restaurants. Personal customized service pays off whether it’s a free drink, a bonus dessert, an amuse bouche or just a bit of public schmoozing with the chef. A loyal restaurant customer will spend $10,000 over five years if they eat out once a week and spend $40.  So if that’s the average lifetime value of a fan, it’s well worth managing the customer relationship.  In constructing his app, Daleen focused on 3 critical building blocks of customer loyalty.  Utility. His app enables patrons to book a table, either directly or through Open Table, order a take out meal, divert themselves during wait times with menus, games and fun food facts, check in on Foursquare or share the menu or their review on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook or Twitter. The app synchs with common customer behavior. It provides a helpful service and is designed to be used in context. Useful value exchange is the foundation stone for building consumer loyalty.  Connection. You can’t stimulate customer traffic and repeat purchases if you aren’t connected to your customer base. The app creates a virtual private network (VPN) between a restaurant and its patrons enabling personal, targeted pushed messages. Cueing best customers about specials, reminding them its osso bucco night or delivering a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day offer creates momentum and reinforces the sensation of belonging or of being an insider that consumers treasure.  Rewards & Incentives. The app has a built-in points system that connects to a restaurant’s POS system. Not only can restaurateurs track orders, food or wine preferences and dollar value, they can reward selected purchases, incent social sharing and enroll their best customers as brand advocates. Each restaurant can set up a cadence for rewards using business rules to deliver rewards, coupons or offers directly to patrons’ phones.  Loyalty is a function of brand familiarity, utility, connection and rewards. Jim Daleen’s AppSuite leverages these fundamentals. So maybe soon restaurants will be at the leading edge of CRM practices. Related articles AppSuite, the Hospitality Technology Experts, Layout the Future of Customer Loyalty [...] In a nation that loves to eat out, restaurants ought to be CRM learning laboratories. Unfortunately they’re not. But Jim Daleen, CEO of Appsuite, hopes to change all that.  Restaurateurs commonly skimp on marketing. They don’t think about connecting their brand to their customers. Many assume that the food and the ambiance will do it for them automatically, saving an investment in technology or marketing people. But this state of mind ignores the key psychological factor that underlies loyalty. People want to be known and recognized in their favorite restaurants. Personal customized service pays off whether it’s a free drink, a bonus dessert, an amuse bouche or just a bit of public schmoozing with the chef. A loyal restaurant customer will spend $10,000 over five years if they eat out once a week and spend $40.  So if that’s the average lifetime valu[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Meeting Customer ExpectationsManhattan Marketing Maven
At the dawn of a new year there’s lots of talk about new devices, new technologies, new tactics and new trends. But there’s not much talk about evolving customer expectations, which, to a large degree, determine how all these new things are perceived or received.  Consumers hold fundamental attitudes about brands that don’t change much over time, even while the channels they use to interact evolve. Consumers have existing brand relationships and are generally willing to trade data for convenience, utility or deals.  They expect the brands they care about to care back. Brand loyalists insist that the relationship must be two-way, respectful and interactive.  Consumers have a point of view and expect to be heard -- explicitly when they choose to act and implicitly when they call, click, visit or buy. To meet and capitalize on these baseline expectations, focus on these 3 fundamental expectations.  Always be Available. Sam Walton was right. Brands need to be there whenever and however customers want to buy. This means having a 24/7 presence in the channels or on the devices your customers use most. And while not every channel or medium makes sense for every brand, being available, offering several contact options, making it easy to click, download, print, chat or buy are table stakes.  Understanding what each segment needs and providing an 800# or other retro, but highly effective tools, is part and parcel of this expectation.  Enable Preference Setting. Customers want it their way. A nation of gamers is used to setting the level and choosing from an array of options. Brands need to abandon the one-size-fits-all super cost efficient model in favor of giving customers the option to specify the content they want, the format they want it in and the delivery channel and frequency they prefer. All the research shows that brands that deliver against variable customer preferences drive significant spikes in customer satisfaction, incremental sales and brand loyalty.   Once set, customers expect brands to adhere to preferences and use them to personalize relevant messages. Your best customers, like your best friends, assume that the relationship is dynamic and cumulative over time.  They expect brands to pay attention and to use cues from the conversation or their actions to advance intimacy.  They expect that purchase and activity history will inform branded communications and become filters to curate the messages and offers they receive. This assumption makes re-targeting tolerable and even appreciated. But the flipside is equally true. Sending irrelevant, untimely or out-of-context messages will sour things quickly.  Listen & Respond. Loyal customers pay attention to and care about favorite brands the way family members care about each other. They have opinions about brand posture, products, services, prices, competitors and people. And they aren’t bashful about expressing them to the brand directly and by broadcasting them in social media.  Consumers expect brands to celebrate and shout out positive feedback and to jump on complaints and customer service issues quickly and efficiently. Everyone is a critic or a consumer advocate in two clicks. Understanding consumers’ need to have a say is as important as providing them with the best possible product set.  So, before you get carried away with the latest social or mobile trend or ad unit, recalibrate your marketing plan to align with these fundamental expectations. The investment will pay off in spades.[...] At the dawn of a new year there’s lots of ta[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 4 Hot Marketing Topics for 2014Manhattan Marketing Maven
A new year means new budgets, new priorities, new alignments and new worries. Here are four critical issues my clients are working on for 2014.  Leveraging Loyalty. People with strong connections to favorite brands buy more, buy more often and influence others to buy. Identifying, engaging and motivating these people to serve as vocal advocates are high on every brand’s wish list. Incenting loyal customers to talk up a brand, especially in social media, is an incredibly efficient way to go to market. A strong base of loyalists gives brands added flexibility in allocating trade and media resources.  The challenge is that loyalty is a fleeting psychological state not just a points, rewards or coupon scheme. The heartiest brand advocate can be eliminated with a single bad experience or an incredible price offer. Today’s tout can be tomorrow’s critic with one click. Consumers are fickle and are constantly being offered new and different deals in the hope to enroll them as loyal customers. The archetypical programs, like air miles, have been consistently devalued and complicated.  Getting loyalty right is a matter of understanding the customer mindset, in the moment and over time, and mapping an appropriate series of stimuli and responses to intersect customer behavior and attitudes. Ideally brands can enhance existing consumer behavior by focusing on the most profitable prospects by combining triggered surprise and delight experiences with escalating incentives that can be tracked and quantified.  The ultimate solution is a combination of customer intimacy and smart segmentation, regular genuine two-way conversation and feedback and a data infrastructure for continuous measurement and improvement. This sounds much easier than it is to execute well.  Making Sense of Measurement. Brands have gone statistics crazy. Everybody counts everything. Each silo reports numbers weekly, monthly and quarterly. Each agency produces a colorful graphic dashboard. Marketers have mountains of data that they can’t make sense of.  Brands are missing the big picture and lack actionable intelligence. The search is on for standardized key performance indicators (KPIs).  Generally there are two critical metrics questions. Are we meeting our business/profitability goals or forecasts? And are we using our resources as efficiently as possible?  Getting the answers requires brands to break down silos and share sensitive business data with key partners. Centralizing analysis of disparate data with one team, preferably a team without media buying responsibilities, provides dispassionate insights.  Developing a reporting cadence that is long enough to see developing trends and short enough to respond to marketplace or competitive developments is critical.  Synching Social Media.  The role, value and ROI of social networks have been a mystery since they came on the scene. Now that many brands have considerable followings and social networks are morphing from purely word-of-mouth to paid advertising vehicles, marketers are eager to understand how the channels fit together and how they map to and impact consumer buying cycles.  Brands are asking tactical questions. Is Facebook an awareness or lead generation tool? Will carefully crafted or sponsored celebrity tweets impact the top or the bottom of the sales funnel. Can Pinterest drive brand differentiation and preference or accelerate the buying process? Should brands run simultaneous or sequential email, Facebook ads and broadcast or cable spots to introduce a new product?&[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 4 Marketing Predictions for 2014Manhattan Marketing Maven
It’s the end of the year and every pundit, yours truly included, has an open opportunity to predict the future. So here’s my best guess at four critical factors that will be driving innovations, insights and interactions for brands, advertisers and marketers in 2014.  Mobile Matters Most.  A majority of searches, email opens and Internet access either is, or will soon, be via mobile devices. On-the-go is the new normal. Brands need to create assets that are easily rendered, clear and easy to use on smartphones, phablets and tablets. Consumers have zero tolerance for broken images or links or microscopic unreadable copy. UX design of brand assets for mobile devices is mandatory. So is design that synchs with all the mobile operating systems.  Different devices are used for different tasks. Tablets are dominant for shopping and entertainment, often used at home on the couch while channel surfing or multi-tasking. It will become increasingly important to develop variations of campaigns aimed at different devices and different mindsets, since each segment uses devices with different intentions, at different times and with different agility. Hand-eye coordination is a big differentiator. Teenagers and old ladies won’t share the same expectations or the same content.  Follow-Me Media. We now have the technology to track behavior across channels. We know when you open and click on an email and this data triggers the banners you see as you surf the web or scroll through your Facebook timeline. This works in reverse and in several other novel variations, which will get increasingly granular, personal and sophisticated.  Some consumers find this intrusive and creepy. But as a marketing tool this version of pixel tracking allows us to efficiently follow up on the slightest expression of interest. It also allows products you looked at or clicked on to follow you around until you take a desired action. For the most part the high conversion rates that result from this re-targeting outweigh the small numbers of opt-outs.  Social Goes DM. Social networks are artificially limiting viral reach in favor of pay-for-play. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and everybody else are splitting platform functionality between editorial posts and paid advertising. Increasingly, the networks are manipulating the algorithms to favor paid advertising and monetize their huge audiences. They are becoming hardcore direct marketers. Social networks are developing and evolving ad units and targeting channels designed expressly to collect opt-ins, generate leads and eventually sell products and services directly. They are positioning themselves against online publishers and are becoming savvy database marketers and eager collaborators with high spending brands. They have a direct financial interest, large segment-able audiences and considerable technical resources to easily trump sites selling both classic banners and rich media units. Expect lots of content, cadence and contextual experimentation and significant shifts in spending from online display ads to social network ads. This will dramatically alter editorial social strategies for building audiences, generating likes and using content to engage followers and fans. Brands will have to finesse network greed to reach and interact with audiences they’ve already paid to aggregate. Native reach or virility for posts and tweets will fall significantly.  Engagement Gets Real.  Bombarded by commercial messages, busy multi-tasking, anxious about money and either empowe[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry What Women WantManhattan Marketing Maven
Women buy everything. They are the ultimate predictors of commercial success for most brands. The recent SheSpeaks/LippeTaylor Holiday Shopping Index offers us some insights into consumers’ confidence levels and holiday shopping plans.  Among the 3000 American women surveyed the economic outlook is mixed. Forty percent feel confident or somewhat confident in their families’ financial situation and forty-three percent don’t, up nineteen points from last year. This reflects the haves versus the have-nots we are hearing about daily.  Ninety one percent of those responding will spend the same or less than last year. About half (48%) will spend less on holiday gifts while another forty-three percent will spend the same as last year. So its no surprise that retail is running below forecast regardless of a shorter holiday season.  Most consumers will shop both online and offline. Six out of ten will use a shopping app. The most popular apps will be those offering coupons, retail store apps and comparative shopping tools. Finding value, getting the most for the money and racking up loyalty points or scoring deals is clearly on women’s minds. Facebook, Amazon Wish Lists and Pinterest will be useful shopping resources. One in five shoppers will seek out flash sale sites.  Women are generally concerned about the quality of gifts received. Tchotchkes and knick-knacks are the absolute worst. Extended family members generally give the worst gifts, which explains why 25% of those surveyed admit to re-gifting.  If you are shopping for women clothing, personal technology, beauty products and gift cards are at the top of their wish lists. Though making the right brand, size or quality decision can be tricky. If in doubt, give a gift card because nothing says, “I love you” better than cash or cash equivalents.  While not surprising, these results suggest that the economy is still much shakier than we’ve been thinking. The impetus for brands and marketers is to focus on customer experience to establish value and incent sales Women buy everything. They are the ultimate predictors of commercial success for most brands. The recent SheSpeaks/LippeTaylor Holiday Shopping Index offers us some insights into consumers’ confidence levels and holiday shopping plans.  Among the 3000 American women surveyed the economic outlook is mixed. Forty percent feel confident or somewhat confident in their families’ financial situation and forty-three percent don’t, up nineteen points from last year. This reflects the haves versus the have-nots we are hearing about daily.  Ninety one percent of those responding will spend the same or less than last year. About half (48%) will spend less on holiday gifts while another forty-three percent will spend the same as last year. So its no surprise that retail is running below forecast regardless of a shorter holiday season.  Most consumers will shop both online and offline. Six out of ten will use a shopping app. The most popular apps will be those offering coupons, retail store apps and comparative shopping tools. Finding value, getting the most for the money and racking up loyalty points or scoring deals is clearly on women’s minds. Facebook, Amazon Wish Lists and Pinterest will be useful shopping resources. One in five shoppers will seek out flash sale sites.  Women are generally concerned about the quality of gifts received. Tchotchkes and knick-knacks are the absolute worst. Extended family members generally give the worst gif[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Optimizing Holiday EmailManhattan Marketing Maven
The holiday email frenzy is in full swing as Black Friday offers clog everyone’s inbox.Email is becoming increasingly formulaic as marketers test, learn and apply lessons learned from responders.  This is troubling to some creative types who don’t want to be confined by research or constrained by conventions developed by left-brain analytical wonks. But the reason email is so widely accepted, used and effective is because we have shared learnings collectively and continuously found new creative ways to illustrate our offers and craft our language. Here are seven new findings from Marketo, MailChimp, Pamorama, MarketingSherpa  and the Center for Media Research who looked at billions of emails to help make holiday email more effective at engaging and converting customers. 1. Visuals matter. 65 percent of people are visual learners so communicating with images is critical. People scan email. They don’t read it. This explains the explosion of infographics. Maybe this is why video on landing pages increases conversion by 86%. Email should be visually stimulating and telegraphic.  2. Add social sharing buttons.  They increase click-thru rates by 158%. People mix and match their media and share things broadly. If you make sharing easy, consumers will reward you with pass-along impressions.  3. Personalization counts. But surprisingly the use of both first and last name is 3.5 times more effective in driving open rates than first name only and twice as effective as using just the surname. Psychologically we are less casual than we think we are. People bridle at brands or strangers addressing them in too familiar a way.  4. “Freebie” tops “free” in subject lines for prompting more opens. The difference in value perception drives more than 10X more opens. Free is abused, overused and burned out in medical, retail and travel sectors.  5. Urgency matters but threats of loss don’t fly. Words like urgent, breaking, important and alert resulted in open rates way above normal. Invitations and announcements (and all the variations of these words) still trigger curiosity opens. But consumers hate being told they are missing something or it’s their last chance. These messages yield widespread ambivalence and opt-outs.  6. Thanking drives extraordinary response. Asking them to sign –up has the opposite effect. Aggressive opt-in requests are counterproductive. Similarly asking for donations and charitable actions fall on deaf ears. Aggressive fundraising language is a turn off.  Email marketing is a hard working tool for all marketers. Almost half of consumers cite email as their preferred form of communication with brands. Applying lessons from on-going research insures that consumers will continue to rely on email for ideas, offers and purchases.  7. Forget Weekends. Email response is the least on Sunday and Saturday. Consumers aren’t glued to email on weekends. They actually do real stuff. Midweek --Tuesday and Wednesday – are your best bet for optimizing opens and clicks. The jury is out on the best time of day, though there are several vocal advocates for 6am to set the day’s agenda.  Almost half of consumers cite email as their preferred communications mode with brands. Applying the lessons from our collective research will maintain and expand that preference.[...] The holiday email frenzy is in full swing as Black Friday offers clog everyone’s inbox.Email is becoming increasingly formulaic as marketers tes[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Unpacking EngagementManhattan Marketing Maven
Engagement has become a term that means everything and nothing. Too often it’s used offensively, defensively or indiscriminately to thrust or parry arguments about strategy, technology, media or creative.  Engagement is the desired human interaction that results from marketing activity. It’s a feeling, a thought or possibly an action that a person takes in anticipation of or in response to messaging or functionality.  Engagement planning starts with the desired response in mind and then maps customer attitudes and behaviors to find relevant and appropriate inflection points to begin the conversation. Engagement planning doesn’t start with tactics or channels. It starts with an understanding of what real people are likely to feel, think or do in response to an artificial stimulus. In order to enter the conversation and frame up an initial message, marketers need to consider these five factors.  Creature Cycles. We are creatures of habit. We do things in predictable ways. Standard behavior patterns include where we go, how we get there, what we expect, what we do and in what sequence we approach tasks. Most of us prioritize tasks and people in repeatable ways.  Understanding internal drivers and external influences affecting target audiences allow us to find openings for marketing. The goal is to find ways to intersect the lives and life patterns of customers and prospects that synch up with what they do, want, need or expect. The first step in planning engagement is to figure out how to be relevant and useful.  Standing. Openness to people and ideas is a function of familiarity and standing. If I know and respect you I’m much more open to you than if you are a complete stranger. Brands are sorted into discrete folders in our brains. You have to know how you are sorted and what standing you have to enter into the conversation. An athletic wear brand can probably speak credibly about exercise and wellness, less so about politics or cultural issues.  Brands have less standing than friends, co-workers or family members. The level of credibility, awareness, interest and trust in a brand, basically how brands are sorted, determines the aperture you have for reaching target customers.  Engagement planning has to begin with an assessment of your standing which might lead to the decision to borrow standing from those with better connections or connotations. (This is the origin of influencer and member-get-member marketing.) High awareness brands have more standing than invisibles or newbies.  Standing defines the angle of attack. A complete stranger approaching customers using personal information or outsized claims prompts immediate revulsion and rejection. Getting good juicy gossip from a trusted friend is the opposite end of the spectrum. Plotting your standing will separate intrusive from invited messages.  Posture. There are many ways to approach customers. Usually the approach is a function of the state of the relationship. In some cases a message delivered by a credible third party has more impact than a direct approach. In the case of brand loyalists, whispering insider or advanced information in their ears builds demand, satisfaction and loyalty faster. And for those actively shopping, eye-to-eye, direct offers can drive faster conversion. Posture affects the psychology of your positioning and shapes the tone, manner, language and attitude of creative.  Timing.  Timing is everything. Te[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Big Data Meets Programmatic BuyingManhattan Marketing Maven
The pace of automation, interconnections and change in digital media buying is staggering. And while there’s still considerable blabbing, handwringing, stalling and excuse making about programmatic buying, reality is way ahead of the rhetoric even if media firms and their clients aren’t leading the charge. The days of armies of young media planners and buyers wielding spreadsheets are being replaced by a business rules that instruct computers to buy and optimize in real time. Think about it. Americans are spending much more time online than on TV, yet most of the ad dollars flow to TV. Similarly people are using mobile media extensively yet there’s just a trickle of brands experimenting with mobile advertising. The likely reason is the continuing need for efficient reach, measured in gross tonnage of eyeballs, mixed with 6 ounces of conventional wisdom and 2 tablespoons of inertia.  As social and mobile media ascend to dominance, advertisers will be looking for transparency (who saw their ads) and performance (who clicked, signed up or bought) according to Sephi Shapira, CEO of Massive Impact. These rough equivalents of general and direct marketing will become increasingly important as smartphones and tablets merge into Phablets, which in Q2 2013 have 25MM units in market.  Ultimately everything on the phone/phablet will talk to each other and be available to marketers to enable ad serving. Consumers will be targeted by device, by apps installed, by the games they play, by names in their phone book, by browser or even by the pictures they take. And while this has a 1984 feel to it, the concentration and mining of data will make messages more relevant to each individual.  To accommodate these needs real-time bidding (RTB) is accelerating and becoming more sophisticated. In terms of inventory control and access, auction style bidding puts each unit and each potential customer up for bid. Prices are determined moment by moment in relentless auctions managed by demand side platforms (DSPs).  In terms of targeting or retargeting, by using contextual data rather than demographics as the principal targeting criteria, brands can track what consumers do and where they go in order to direct the messages served to them.  Ads can be directed by device, by location, and by collaborative filters that, like Amazon, infer what people want based on what they’ve done or what their friends do.  “For a generation that live their lives entirely online, there’s no such thing as TMI,” in Sephi’s opinion. “And while this may feel creepy to some, younger consumers appreciate the behind-the-scenes filtering that delivers information and offers about things they actually like and care about.”  Facebook, on the strength of FBX units, has gone from zero to sixty in record time transforming both the timeline and the right column ads into direct response and pay for performance vehicles. With the number of Facebook users accessing the platform on mobile devices now approaching 50%, real time mobile ads are likely to play an increasing role for brands.  Ninety percent of the automated inventory is now being sold on a cost per action basis. Publishers display messages as often as necessary to drive a guaranteed number of actions. Brands pay only for performance; less for a click and more for a sale.  But with guaranteed performance and predictable costs, there’s very little risk. Automated[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry No Patience for the WSJ Pay WallManhattan Marketing Maven
Generally I have little patience for pay walls. In the case of the Wall Street Journal, I’m an aggrieved subscriber so this will be a rant.  I wanted to read and print a story online. I logged in and engaged with a Live Chat operator named “Jefferson” who was polite but robotic. Immediately upon clicking the chat button I was accosted by an extensive form and a warning that the queue was 4 minutes long.  This disembowels live chat as an instant engagement or gratification tool. If you have to wait four minutes and endure an interrogation just to get access, your customers begin their interaction by being annoyed and angry.  Then Jefferson tells me hold on while he verifies my entry. So much for the prime marketing directive -- lavish love on your paying customers. When he returns having verified me, he asks for my user name; as if I haven’t already forked over enough information that he should have known from my log-in.  Since I don’t remember it, he tells me. But I still can’t read or print the story so it was an exercise in frustration. Then Jefferson runs out of gas. He can’t explain why I can’t get what I paid for and he’s pretty much done with me. I walk away doubly pissed; I’ve been dissed and disowned by a publication I read everyday and a website that could care less.  Now maybe Rupert Murdock doesn’t care about his customers. But in an age of dying newspapers you might think that the brain trust running the Journal would pay more attention to the impact of their technology investment rather than employ tools and people who only serve to alienate their customer base. Generally I have little patience for pay walls. In the case of the Wall Street Journal, I’m an aggrieved subscriber so this will be a rant.  I wanted to read and print a story online. I logged in and engaged with a Live Chat operator named “Jefferson” who was polite but robotic. Immediately upon clicking the chat button I was accosted by an extensive form and a warning that the queue was 4 minutes long.  This disembowels live chat as an instant engagement or gratification tool. If you have to wait four minutes and endure an interrogation just to get access, your customers begin their interaction by being annoyed and angry.  Then Jefferson tells me hold on while he verifies my entry. So much for the prime marketing directive -- lavish love on your paying customers. When he returns having verified me, he asks for my user name; as if I haven’t already forked over enough information that he should have known from my log-in.  Since I don’t remember it, he tells me. But I still can’t read or print the story so it was an exercise in frustration. Then Jefferson runs out of gas. He can’t explain why I can’t get what I paid for and he’s pretty much done with me. I walk away doubly pissed; I’ve been dissed and disowned by a publication I read everyday and a website that could care less.  Now maybe Rupert Murdock doesn’t care about his customers. But in an age of dying newspapers you might think that the brain trust running the Journal would pay more attention to the impact of their technology investment rather than employ tools and people who only serve to alienate their customer base.[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 7 Ways to Sell ObamacareManhattan Marketing Maven
The introduction of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is a marketing case study in what not to do.  Health exchanges are a new fundamentally different and untried way for consumers to approach healthcare, especially for those millions without it. Established insurance brands compete with lesser known brands and start-ups in a free-for-all retail arena that is driven primarily by monthly costs.    Communications have to take a retail direct marketing approach rather than a wonky policy-making tone and manner. Governments and insurers need to become 24/7 retailers. And the websites ought to scale and work properly.  This unique marketing opportunity is especially challenging because nobody really understands what Obamacare is or how it will work. And political voices on the left and the right are dedicated to keeping it that way. Surveys of healthy millennials, the most desirable and necessary customers, indicate many see no need to insure themselves.  To compete in this marketplace, consider these seven tactics:  Brand Identity Rules. If they’ve heard of you, you have a fighting chance. Awareness and preference are top priorities. Even well established insurers, used to selling through employers, will be below the radar. Establishing a clear brand voice and positioning is critical to retail success. We just might be on the cusp of a new round of spokespeople on the order and magnitude of Flo, The Gecko or the AFLAC duck. Though early efforts in several states seem to be very fluffy and short on details. Voice, tone, attitude and manner count. The classic insurance industry posture; we-know-what’s-best-for-you will not fly.  Two-Way Conversations. Establishing a direct-to-consumer brand requires engaging your target customers in a meaningful conversation. Your best prospects don’t just buy a product; they buy into the company providing it. Aligning brand values and sentiments with best prospects is critical. Establishing a position, as a knowledgeable friend and adviser without preaching or scaring prospects matters. Giving consumers opportunities to ask and to tell will separate the winners from the also-rans.  Name It. Keep it simple and intuitive.  Bundling plans with snappy, telegraphic names will assist consumers. A “Young Family Plan” instantly communicates targeting, intention and value. Anticipate likely consumer segments (e.g. singles, partners, new families, growing families) and construct affordable packages with fewer rather than more choices to resonate with millennial consumers.  Talk Price. Millennials are unemployed, underemployed and strapped. Every thing they do is run through an affordability filter. The driving marketplace variables will be the what’s-in-it-for-me compared to the monthly price. Consumers will separate “must-have” from “nice-to-haves” then decide how the price will impact their monthly budgets. Don’t be bashful about communicating price and value. Don’t hesitate to offer different payment schemes. Even though its mandatory, if the fine is cheaper than the fees, there is no incentive to buy. Smart players will sell-in very affordable plans and then up-sell over time.    Be Present. Millennials are on the move and highly social. Presenting your brand in social and mobile media is table stakes. Understanding which devices and forums serve which[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Gmail Tabs Don't HurtManhattan Marketing Maven
In July, Google unilaterally decided to sort and filter Gmail users mailboxes for them. By introducing Tabs, Google proactively directed each inbound email to one of five tabs; primary, promotions, social, updates and forums. Commercial emailers went nuts. Assuming they were being unfairly ghettoized, they said Google was out to screw them.  As it turns out, you get what you need and expect. A new study of early responses to Gmail Tabs by Return Path shows that people who frequently engage with commercial email aren’t deterred or bothered by the tabs. Medium users are still medium users and the unresponsive are still unresponsive.   Tabs have been a convenience for the 11% of Gmail users who love commercial email. They are reading roughly 60% of the emails they’ve opted into. The promotion tab is an easy access door to the shopping information they desire. These people love the idea that deals come directly to them. They want to know what’s going on and what’s on sale. They were never going to be put off by a sorting solution because the content is anticipated and important to them.  The bulk of Gmail users (88%) are moderately engaged with email. Most have opted in for lots of stuff some of which is no longer relevant and some is top of mind. They are reading email at about the same rate with fewer commercial emails ending up in their SPAM boxes. These guys pick and choose based on From lines, SUBJ lines and offers.  Not surprising, the people who don’t open, don’t open using Tabs. For them the promotion tab removes email that was going to be ignored anyway. They read less but are less annoyed by irrelevant messages. The goods news for merchants is that they represent just 1% of Gmail users.  Some vertical merchants, notably airlines, credit cards and daily deals, have seen significant increases in engagement post Tabs. Social networking and dating senders saw a dip which tracks with downward trending engagement rates.  Gmail Tabs hasn’t hurt retailers or consumers. And since Tabs don’t apply to mobile usage, now approaching 50% of all email opens, any future negative impact can be mitigated. It’s one less thing to worry about during the highest email volume season.  Related articles The new Gmail tabs: What conclusions can we draw? Gmail Tabs: What They Mean for Email Marketing Getting Rid of the Inbox Tabs [...] In July, Google unilaterally decided to sort and filter Gmail users mailboxes for them. By introducing Tabs, Google proactively directed each inbound email to one of five tabs; primary, promotions, social, updates and forums. Commercial emailers went nuts. Assuming they were being unfairly ghettoized, they said Google was out to screw them.  As it turns out, you get what you need and expect. A new study of early responses to Gmail Tabs by Return Path shows that people who frequently engage with commercial email aren’t deterred or bothered by the tabs. Medium users are still medium users and the unresponsive are still unresponsive.   Tabs have been a convenience for the 11% of Gmail users who love commercial email. They are reading roughly 60% of the emails they’ve opted into. The promotion tab is an easy access door to the shopping information they desire. These people love the idea that deals come directly to them. They want to know what’s going on [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Crowdsourcing Software ReviewsManhattan Marketing Maven
Buying CRM software is a pain in the ass. Each suite starts with a different premise. Most software firms have a single core expertise but pretend to know everything or claim it’s easy to bolt on automation tools or ERP software. Rarely do the day-to-day users get a voice in the choice.  Prospects confront a tsunami of techno-blab focused on features and functions, which rarely translates into a clear understanding of how this stuff will actually work to meet your practical business needs. And then there’s the money part.  The software costs X. You must spend Y to install it. Then caught up Z for training.  Then there are costs for add-ons and upgrades. (This Total Cost of Ownership number often makes the high priced offer seem more affordable.) Usually, a team undertakes the search and makes the decision. A line executive or CFO type assesses strategic value. A CIO or IT guy looks under the hood. And a procurement or business affairs person negotiates the deal.  Until recently, the only source of help were consulting firms who evaluate, rank and display the relative positions and merits of competing software vendors. The problem with this is three fold. In some cases the evaluators are not technicians but journalists who can be manipulated by vendors. The evaluations are an amalgam of undocumented opinions with no way to evaluate their validity, weight or bias.  And the consultants are not independent like Consumer Reports. They sell the evaluations to vendors and to buyers. So there is a financial incentive not to slaughter anyone and a natural tendency to give everyone the equivalent of a “B.” Buyers are still left trying to figure out which one is the best.  Now Matt Gorniak, and fellow software sales refugees, thinks they can crowdsource software reviews to yield better, more genuine, more democratic and more practical insights to help buyers. A belief in word-of-mouth advertising led them to create G2crowd.com, a customer ratings site for software featuring 2000 software products in 200 categories, with a name reminiscent of the designation for military intelligence (hopefully skipping the oxymoron).  According to Matt, the average buyer asks, “How do I make a good decision among a set a complicated products with an endless array of claims?” His answer is to look at software the way you look at travel (TripAdvisor.com), restaurants (Zagat.com) or contractors (Judyslist.com) by relying on the wisdom of the crowd. Relying on multiple identified sources, you get unbiased software reviews that come at the products from a variety of perspectives. Reviews can be filtered by function, price and vendor. The stated goal is to fairly review software products away from the influence of vendor marketing.  Reviewers are vetted by being forced to sign up/in with their LinkedIn ID. Supposedly the sheer mass of users and the diverse points of view will give buyers enough insight, direction and intelligence to make the right decision. Importing a B2C technique into the high-ticket B2B universe, G2Crowd.com aspires to be the Yelp.com of software and knock off Gartner, Forrester and their competitors.  And while the freemium model sounds goofy, especially to someone like me who worked at SAP, its probably worth a try. G2 will try to make money by selling deeper, richer rev[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry The App FantasyManhattan Marketing Maven
Apps hold out the possibility of fulfilling marketers’ persistent fantasy  -- that consumers will record daily, personal activity and that this data will fuel on-going relationship marketing programs. This belief is especially strong among pharmaceutical marketers who dream of patient diaries and yearn for patient data as a door opener for the patient-doctor conversation, widely acknowledged to be the single biggest hurdle in the DTC.  Depending on how you count, there are as many as 97,000 existing mHealth apps ranging from broad-based health and wellness tools to single brand, single action apps. Three out of four are paid apps. Fifty seven percent are aimed at consumers and most are either dosing calculators or reference materials.  In real life, less than 1000 of these apps have more than 500 downloads. Pinch Media reports that just 30% of apps are used the day after they are downloaded. And twenty days later the number drops to 5 percent. Americans have an average of 41 apps on their but actually use just eight or 1 out of every 5 apps they download.  There are dozens of apps for chronic disease states like diabetes, asthma and depression that record incidents and data points or track adherence to dosing.  The Pew Internet Project reported in January 2013, that 69 percent of Americans track some kind of health data and one in five of them use some form of technology. All apps live or die by providing either utility or diversion.  Apps could give us 24/7 medical monitoring with the potential to better understand how people respond to conditions and the opportunity for heath care pros and brands to be in regular conversation with people about their particular heath issues. Apps have the potential to marry data flows and body mechanics to Marcus Welby, MD.  But this won’t happen automatically. Marketers need to do much more ethnographic research about patients, better understand the practical behaviors and day-to-day attitudes of people suffering from diseases and think carefully about the interplay of 3 or more devices with each other and the real world in order to develop apps that real people will actually want and use.  Apps hold out the possibility of fulfilling marketers’ persistent fantasy  -- that consumers will record daily, personal activity and that this data will fuel on-going relationship marketing programs. This belief is especially strong among pharmaceutical marketers who dream of patient diaries and yearn for patient data as a door opener for the patient-doctor conversation, widely acknowledged to be the single biggest hurdle in the DTC.  Depending on how you count, there are as many as 97,000 existing mHealth apps ranging from broad-based health and wellness tools to single brand, single action apps. Three out of four are paid apps. Fifty seven percent are aimed at consumers and most are either dosing calculators or reference materials.  In real life, less than 1000 of these apps have more than 500 downloads. Pinch Media reports that just 30% of apps are used the day after they are downloaded. And twenty days later the number drops to 5 percent. Americans have an average of 41 apps on their but actually use just eight or 1 out of every 5 apps they download.  There are dozens of apps for chronic diseas[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Inside Big BrotherManhattan Marketing Maven
Who scares you more – the NSA, collecting every bit of electronic communication you create on every device in every channel, or Acxiom, collecting and aggregating every bit of data about who you are, where you are, what you do and what you have?  This week, Acxiom, the nation’s biggest data aggregator, in a pointed move to stave off additional regulation, created a new free data portal for consumers to see, read, process and edit your own data. You can even opt-out.  Don’t think for a second this is a gratuitous act of kindness or a public service. This is a bold and creative attempt to pre-empt or soften threatened privacy legislation or regulation. By proactively giving consumers a look into the black box, Acxiom hopes to stave off added scrutiny, reporting or disclosures.  About the data.com offers a free glimpse into what they know about you. You get access in 20 seconds by confirming your name, postal address, email address, date of birth and social security number; the key data points that enable aggregators to find and sort you. These facts are also the critical variables that establish and validate identity in the world of data collection.  Once you’re in, the site indicates where the data originated – bank records, credit cards, merchants, surveys, government records, telephone books, property records, tax rolls, licensing agencies, website cookies, magazine subscriptions, club memberships, etc. The information is sorted into six categories – characteristic data (demographics), home data, vehicle data, economic data, shopping data and household interests. Some easily collected or inferred facts (e.g. race, religion, alcohol use, heiress, frequent trips to Vegas) are not displayed. Each section can be easily edited/updated in two clicks.  Looking through each section you can quickly see what your credit cards, mortgage records, driving license and reading habits reveal about you. You can sense how Acxiom and its competitors dice and slice you into sellable segments. It becomes clear why you get mail and the e-mail from the marketers pursuing you. You’re a baby boomer who owns a home, holds a graduate degree, drives a two-year old car worth more than $30,000, lives in a desirable zip code, owns a Mac and buys lots of stuff online. Thinking across categories, you get a relative feel for where you might fit in society and how desirable (or not) you might be to credit card marketers, charity solicitors, packaged tour operators, airlines, live performance marketers, realtors or luxury car salesmen.  It’s ingenious. Consumers get to see their dossier and correct or update the information. Acxiom gets the benefit of the doubt and the benefit of real-time self-corrected data. And, while you can opt-out; the site warns you that opting out won’t stop the SPAM. It merely will insure you get irrelevant SPAM.  The privacy debate is moot and menacing. Nobody really controls his or her own data. In case after case, consumers willingly and happily give up data in return for coupons, sweepstakes entries or trinkets. The question is who has access to your data and how much trouble or misery can they cause you by using it.  Who is worse  – a faceless government bureaucrat or a faceless marketing bureauc[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry I Miss JerryManhattan Marketing Maven
I miss Jerry Lewis. Labor Day isn’t the same without him not only because he’s an incredible comic but also because he was the original social media marketer.  His 44 year run left us with four enduring lessons. Create Own-able, Original Content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheel chairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big-band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls and the tote boards that conjure up the ghost of Ed McMahon, the lame local anchors and the tear-wrenching appeals all signal led Labor Day and MDA. Jerry consistently used original content to claim significant year-round mind space and to drive a singular and differentiated brand message.  There are thousands of charities and thousands of celebrity do-gooders, but there was only one Jerry and his kids. Make it Personal. We all genuinely knew Jerry. He’d been a part of our lives since the 1950s. There was a great national catharsis each year as the telethon kicks off that focuses on Jerry. It was partly a morbid health-watch to see which diseases and which side effects of treatments Jerry himself will display each year. But even before he created a Facebook page or a Twitter account Jerry was engaging us by leveraging his comedy antics and by singing those signature songs – “Smile”, “What the World Needs Now” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Jerry understood, maybe better than anyone that people buy people. He used emotion, humor, shtick, flattery and frank talk to connect with different audience segments. Persistent Positioning. Jerry and MDA staked out the same position and for 44 years they delivered on it and raised more than $1.4 billion to fight muscular diseases. MDA owned Labor Day. There was nothing better and nothing more reliable and more comforting than watching Jerry, on The Love Network.  The predictable and familiar parade of firefighters, convenience store owners, letter carriers, realtors, oil companies, Harley Davidson executives and other random sponsors presenting those over-sized checks at random moments during the Labor Day weekend were signature moments.  Jerry knew that you position yourself, plant your flag and stick to it. Fads come and go but audiences crave the familiar. Network Your Networks. Jerry and MDA put together an incredibly potent series of partnerships and alliances that consistently deliver results. The lesson is -- connect the dots. Use your networks to extend your reach, frequency and engagement with your customer base. Don’t be bashful about mashing things together or cross-pollinating ideas among your allies. Happy Labor Day.    [...] I miss Jerry Lewis. Labor Day isn’t the same without him not only because he’s an incredible comic but also because he was the original social media marketer.  His 44 year run left us with four enduring lessons. Create Own-able, Original Content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheel chairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big-band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls and the tote boards that conjure up the ghost of Ed McMahon, the lame local anchors and the tear-wrenching appeals all signal led Labor [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 6 Ways to Beat the E-mail OnslaughtManhattan Marketing Maven
It’s the dog days of August. Merchants of all stripes are putting the final touches on their plans for fall. As Back-to-School gives way to Halloween and Columbus Day, extreme profit pressure and declining list rental prices, the lowest rates ever in the Worldata Index, will prompt the most aggressive retailers to float Black Friday offers as early as mid or late October. There is a tsunami of e-mail headed toward us.  E-mail is the strike force medium for online and offline retailers because 95% of online users get it and receive an average of 416 commercial messages per month. 91% check their e-mail at least once a day and 70% say they always open e-mails from their favorite companies. Seventy-four percent say it’s their preferred channel for receiving commercial messages. Social media gets the buzz, but email delivers the traffic.  During Q1 2013, nearly one in every three e-mails was opened, the best results in recent history. Half open on mobile devices and as much as a third of openers act on the offers. In general, for every dollar spent on e-mail marketing, retailers get $44.25 in return.  The big tactical decisions are about frequency or cadence and offers. Some form of free shipping and a minimum of a 10 percent discount are table stakes. And 3-4 times per week between November 15 and December 24 seem to be the norm.  Six e-mail marketing best practices will separate the winners from the losers:  Write Telegraphic Subject Lines. For one-third of recipients, the subject line is the only criteria for opening. Put the offer and the CTA in the SUBJ line but understand that less is better. Subject lines with fewer than 10 characters have a 58 percent open rate and better than a 2.5% CTR. Shorter is always better. If you can work in the customer’s name and/or location, you can spike open rates. Everybody immediately responds to their own name.  Short & Sweet Content. Focus on the offer. Aim for 4 paragraphs maximum. Limit the possible CTAs. Click rate degrades with the number of links, so focus your customers on seeing a single powerful offer and direct them to click on a big colorful link or button or two. Avoid the urge to load up on logos and taglines. Present the product or service clearly. Find a stand-alone illustration or image to make your point and ask for the order. Adding a personal signature, evidence of human interaction, can increase opens by 5 times and clicks by 3.5 times.  Potent proven retail words like – free, coupons, sale, today, news, and special -- resonate particularly well. But since everybody knows this, your offer has to pay it off in a differentiating and motivating way to deliver a decent click through or click to open rate.  Time Your Send. Most e-mail is opened during business hours (10a-4p) and the majority of response happens in the first hour after delivery. More than half of mobile e-mail is opened from 5p till 8a. Consider these cycles as you craft content and offers.  Open rates peak mid week, on Tuesdays and Wednesday, though the highest click through rates are on Sunday.  The most e-mail is sent on Wednesday so the burden to stand out midweek is greatest. Saturdays draw the lowest volume, maybe an [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry A Snapshot of Social Media MetricsManhattan Marketing Maven
Eight out of ten agencies are monitoring social media for clients. Though there are too many tools, too few benchmarks and too few ways to integrate data from multiple sources according to the 4A’s inaugural “Agency Social Media Monitoring and Reporting Survey.”  With “significant variation in social media monitoring, reporting and associated business practices from one agency to another” … more than half of respondents felt they were doing a good job for clients, even though many clients are still not convinced of the value of social media. Agencies, of all shapes and sizes, are looking for better ways to understand what’s being said about brands across a growing array of social media platforms.  Google Analytics, used by 70 percent of responding agencies, leads the pack in terms of monitoring and reporting tools. Hootsuite and Radian6 with a 59 share and a 36 share, respectively, are the next most used tools. One third of responding agencies spend between $1000 and $4999 per month licensing tool sets. No other tool got more than 20% of responses in an arena where 52% of agencies believe the current tools available are insufficient and seven in ten have trouble evaluating and differentiating between tools.  The outputs, most often measured by these tools, and presented using PowerPoint or Keynote, are engagement, connections/fans/followers and brand mentions. Agencies are clearly grappling with defining social media success. Just 18 months ago brands and their agencies were racing to accumulate fans and followers. Today we’re touting ill-defined engagement scores and counting posts, shares and comments as we attempt to explain to clients how these social activities impact brand awareness, preference and purchase or deliver incremental media value.  Bottom line: Social media monitoring and reporting is still in it’s infancy. We’re not sure what to measure or how in order to quantify the value of social media to clients looking for marked increases in branding, sales metrics or ROI. Eight out of ten agencies are monitoring social media for clients. Though there are too many tools, too few benchmarks and too few ways to integrate data from multiple sources according to the 4A’s inaugural “Agency Social Media Monitoring and Reporting Survey.”  With “significant variation in social media monitoring, reporting and associated business practices from one agency to another” … more than half of respondents felt they were doing a good job for clients, even though many clients are still not convinced of the value of social media. Agencies, of all shapes and sizes, are looking for better ways to understand what’s being said about brands across a growing array of social media platforms.  Google Analytics, used by 70 percent of responding agencies, leads the pack in terms of monitoring and reporting tools. Hootsuite and Radian6 with a 59 share and a 36 share, respectively, are the next most used tools. One third of responding agencies spend between $1000 and $4999 per month licensing tool sets. No other tool got more than 20% of responses in an arena where 52% of agencies believe the current tools available are insufficient and seven i[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Banish Banner Ads!Manhattan Marketing Maven
Online display advertising – banners – came to life, eighteen years ago, as a direct lift from print onto the Web. Ads adjacent to content would, so the theory goes, perform much like magazine and newspaper ads had for a century.  In the early years, marketers experimented with banners that rotated, sung, lit up, buzzed and otherwise intruded. After significant consumer backlash, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) led publishers to create standard sizes, technical specs and placements. Since then display ads have become an automatic and routine element in media plans. Today buying and selling these commodities is automated much like program stock trading.  The problem is that the basic premise was wrong. Display ads do NOT perform like print ads. Trust and recall levels are significantly higher for print ads. Almost from the beginning consumers looked past them. “Banner blindness” was diagnosed early on but marketers eager to go digital ignored the disease and its symptoms. When clients balked at paltry lead generation, site traffic or sales results, publishers touted banners for awareness building. This is the reigning conventional wisdom.  Last year, according to ComScore, 5.3 trillion display ads were served in the US. Four hundred and forty five advertisers each paid for and delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. The average Internet user was exposed to 1707 of them each month, 2094 if you’re between 25 and 34 years old, even though between 31-54 percent of display ads can’t actually be seen because of technical, browser settings or rendering issues.  In the 1.7 seconds that consumers glance past ads, only 1 percent of these ads drew a click. And just 8 percent of all Internet users account for 85% of all clicks. On mobile devices more than 50% of clicks are accidental. According to Solve Media, you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.  The implication is, according to Susan Vranica writing in the June 11th edition of the Wall Street Journal, “that billions of marketing dollars are being poured down a digital drain.” In an age of emergent content marketing, its time to banish banners in favor of media units that are seen, interact and engage with customers and prospects. Online display advertising – banners – came to life, eighteen years ago, as a direct lift from print onto the Web. Ads adjacent to content would, so the theory goes, perform much like magazine and newspaper ads had for a century.  In the early years, marketers experimented with banners that rotated, sung, lit up, buzzed and otherwise intruded. After significant consumer backlash, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) led publishers to create standard sizes, technical specs and placements. Since then display ads have become an automatic and routine element in media plans. Today buying and selling these commodities is automated much like program stock trading.  The problem is that the basic premise was wrong. Display ads do NOT perform like print ads. Trust and recall levels are significantly higher for print ads. Almost from the beginning consumers looked past them. “Banner blindn[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 4 Ways to Support Creative PeopleManhattan Marketing Maven
Creative people are the heart and soul of every good agency. They create the art in service to commerce that the rest of us sell. But getting smart and savvy account and strategy people to contribute significantly and collaboratively to the creative process is not a slam-dunk.  Account and planning types support the creative team by finding relevant insights, mining customer data, understanding the customer’s journey from awareness to purchase and by projecting client business goals and communications sensibilities. Ideally the support team packages all this up as a springboard for the creative, who then internalize the brief and make the magic.  But real life is much messier. Here are 4 proven ways to support creatives.  Differentiate. There are very few unique things on this planet. Every product or service has a competitor or two. Finding the real point of difference, that actually matters to prospective buyers, and communicating it to the copy and art guys is critical. Do whatever you can to explain, illustrate and articulate the practical, physical, mechanical and emotional differences between your brand and its competitors. Use analogies, schematics, examples, stories or sock puppets to get this across. Don’t stop till your teams can credibly playback the point of difference.  Provide Context. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Your creative team needs to understand the full product cycle, the competitive environment, the brand history, voice, tone and manner plus whatever else is going on at retail, in social or broadcast media or on mobile devices. You are asking them to board and re-route a moving train. They need to know what they are getting into and the forces that their ideas will have to contend with.  Think Experience. An ad prompts seeing, thinking, feeling and action. Define what these are and what you need the creative execution to accomplish. Think through and detail where prospects are (physically and emotionally), what they already think about the brand or the category, what kind of offers and ideas they respond to and what you want them to do in response to your message.   Walk thru how a person goes from total ignorance of a brand to fervent advocacy. Then map out the inflection points and the media touches over time along the way. Factor in reach across channels and frequency; the number of times or ways your target population is likely to hear or see your ads. Creatives need to empathetically see the world from a prospect’s perspective in order to get inside their heads and intercept them in the course of their routine online and offline behavior. Sharing the experience expedites the process.  Set Limits. Most people need deadlines. Some geniuses don’t. They are rare exceptions. Clearly and carefully cue creatives about what is needed when. Also be very clear about client mandates, legal requirements and client sensibilities. These are necessary evils that can annoy or limit creative people. But make sure they are properly accounted for.     Working with great creative people is one of the joys of being in advertising. There’s no better [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Facebook Goes DirectManhattan Marketing Maven
From the moment, the first brand on Facebook collected 10,000 fans, marketers have been asking about the relationship between “likes” and sales. Initially Facebook found a dozen ways to deflect the conversation.  Facebook doesn’t really sell, they’d say. Its about relationships, buzz and engagement. Facebook is a tool for generating comment, creating warm fuzzies and enrolling fans as advocates for products and services and creating some sense of loyalty.  But the guys paying the bills kept asking. How many fans, followers or likers are buying my products? How many are referring friends? How many are buying repeatedly? Finally Facebook created ad units to address these ROI concerns.  The latest innovation, launched in May called Facebook Exchange (FBX), is inventory in the News Feed (the primo real estate on Facebook). FBX cannot be bought directly from Facebook. Units must be purchased only through an FBX qualified company. Unlike right hand side (RHS) Facebook ads, which are sold on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) or cost-per click (CPC) basis, FBX inventory is priced as a cost-per-insertion, limited to one each day.  These units, a 154x154 pixel image and several lines of copy, were created to enable precision targeting, links to outside websites where marketers actually sell stuff and pixel tracking to enable retargeting on Facebook and across the web. Consumers can like, share and comment on FBX ads, so a measure of virility is baked in.  Adroll, a Facebook retargeting partner and FBX qualified company, looked at 547 advertisers across industry verticals spending between $1000/month and $20,000/month to generate over one billion impressions using FBX and using ad inventory on the right hand side of everyone’s page. They zeroed-in on retargeting, their specialty, and compared results against traditional display and retargeting inventory from online ad exchanges like Google’s DoubleClick, Yahoo’s Right Medias Exchange and AppNexus.  The research validates FBX alone and in combination with RHS as a potential direct marketing tool. News Feed retargeting had a click-thru-rate (CTR) 49% greater than RHS and 21% better that standard web retargeting. News Feed cost-per-clicks (CPCs) was half of RHS ads and 1/5th of web retargeting. Conversion fared less well. FBX ads yielded 9% fewer clicks than the web and 16% less than RHS, which are generally considered anemic by direct marketers.  FBX plus RHS drove more clicks at lower costs, even though combined their reach is significantly less than standard web targeting. Finding the right inventory mix will be our next challenge. In the first seven days of adding FBX to RHS, Adroll discovered a 62% increase in total clicks with an average decrease in CPCs of 30 percent. In the campaigns studied FBX was just 0.5% of the impressions but drove 14.7% of the clicks – promising results.  Clearly Facebook is trying to create the right inventory to help brands link social activity with sales and loyalty. FBX is a step in the right direction worthy of further testing.[...] From the moment, the first brand on Facebook[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Write Sizzling Subject LinesManhattan Marketing Maven
Subject lines initiate successful email marketing. The right subject line opens up a conversation or a relationship as quickly as “abracadabra.” The wrong line condemns your brand to die alone in the dark. Great subject lines are like great billboards or great headlines; they telegraph easily understood information to drive immediate comprehension and action.  Marketers are sending more email than ever. They stack up in an inbox, which may or may not be fully opened. Multiple adjacent subject lines compete for fleeting attention. Faced with huge numbers of emails lined up one after the other, a SUBJ line must signal instant value.  An open Inbox displaying sequential emails is email marketing’s “moment of truth.” It’s just as easy to click as to delete. Your 50 characters are competing in real time against genuine friends, family, personal messages and other brands making claims or offers. An open is life.  A deletion is death.   Adestra, a UK-based email service provider, looked at 2.2 billion emails representing 90,000 campaigns in an attempt to benchmark the words and phrases that work best. Defined using conventional email metrics, a best SUBJ line contains those words or phrases that drive more opens and clicks, improves the open to click ratio and/or reduces the opt-out or unsubscribe rate compared to industry benchmarks. Get the complete report here.  Consider four topline results.  Skip the Expected. While everyone sends monthly newsletters by e-mail, using the word “newsletter in the subject line has just a marginal impact on open rates (+0.7%) but really hurts your click-thru-rate (CTR) which plummets -18%.  Maybe it’s too pat and too expected. Other expected terms like “report,” “learn” and “book” and  “monthly” trend downward in terms of driving opens and clicks.  Evidently people don’t want to see themselves as scheduled or predictable. They discount standard message cadences.  Aim for Immediacy. The implied urgency and immediacy of the word “alert” prompts a 38% bump in opens and a 61.7% spike in clicks. People are hooked on knowing what’s going on right now. Words like “daily” get 27.8% more opens and 100% more clicks than the norm. “New” yields +17.2% clicks and 38.2% more opens while “News” drives +34.8% opens and +47.7% clicks. “Breaking” gets +35.4% opens and +77.6% clicks.Present your message as new, exciting and of the moment.  Present a Deal.  Predictably “free delivery” drives 50.7% more opens and 135% more clicks.  “Sale” has +23.2 opens and +60.7% clicks. “X% Off” has a similar impact. Everybody wants to save money or get more for less. Watch out for generic terms like “save” or “cheap” or “free” and avoid aggressive terms like “buy.” These classic retail words depress opens and clicks.  Try Multi-Word Headlines. Multiple key words separated by a straight vertical line drive +27.5% opens and 90.7% clicks. The same kind of alignment separated by commas drive +17.8% opens and 67% mor[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry SEO is a Must-WinManhattan Marketing Maven
Organic search is the base line digital marketing tactic for most marketing campaigns. Considered an important, if arcane, art it is characterized by a constant cat-and-mouse game between search practitioners and Google or Yahoo/Bing and a dynamic tension between SEO specialists and copywriters. Unfortunately too often its taken for granted.  New research from Chitika, based 300 million search impressions in the Us and Canada during the week of May 21-27, 2013, indicates that winning and losing at natural search is clear; you either win big or die quickly. If you don’t place among the top 3-5 positions on the search engine results page (SERPs) you get none of the benefits of your investment. It’s win big or go home. Get the complete report here.  If you earn the top listing on Google, you get 33 percent of the traffic. If you come second, you get 18 percent, roughly half. And if you place third, you receive just 11%, or almost half again. The results mirror classic direct marketing response rates.  Seventy-five percent of all traffic is accounted for by the fifth position on the first results page. If you don’t make page one (92% of all traffic) the maxim access you can hope to achieve is a mere 8% of the total search-driven traffic.  Evidently people click on the first result then quickly scan roughly to the fold. Compete found that 53% of all clicks go to the first link and just 15% to the second. These results were directionally validated by a 2011 Slingshot SEO study that found 18% of clicks go to the top ranked result and just 10% to number two.  Searchers are finicky and impatient. They jump to the next page or two if they aren’t satisfied. Given this typical search behavior, its better to be number one on page two or three than number 6 or 7 on the first page. The data supports a similar degradation in traffic from the first listing even on subsequent results pages!  For most marketers rankings drive traffic; that’s the pay off. There’s not much value in bragging rights to a SERPs position that doesn’t pay off in site traffic. Although it sounds like a mother’s classic scold, “it doesn’t pay to be number two.”  SEO is an increasingly important part of digital marketing, especially as content plays a bigger and bigger role in brad awareness, lead generation and loyalty campaigns. But SEO looks like a zero sum game. Marketers need to bring their “A” game to win and keep playing their “A” game to keep on top by routinely adjusting to Google’s changing algorithms.[...] Organic search is the base line digital marketing tactic for most marketing campaigns. Considered an important, if arcane, art it is characterized by a constant cat-and-mouse game between search practitioners and Google or Yahoo/Bing and a dynamic tension between SEO specialists and copywriters. Unfortunately too often its taken for granted.  New research from Chitika, based 300 million search impressions in the Us and Canada during the week of May 21-27, 2013, indicates that winning and losing at natural sear[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Run Better Social Media ContestsManhattan Marketing Maven
Contests are a staple of social media. They generate leads, opt-ins, sharing, comments and virility. The conventional wisdom is that simple contests spawn cost efficient customer engagement that makes people happy.  Consumers are comfortable with the give-to-win proposition. They will give up bits of personal information, post or tweet, upload a photo or a comment, vote, take a survey or refer somebody in return for a chance to win. Few calculate the odds.  Many contests and giveaways are designed for lead generation. Recently Unbounce released a study, based on 3 million visitors to 100 websites using their platform between March 15 and April 15th, which promises to improve contest performance and lead conversion. For example, contests with prizes of $500 or more generated 700% more subscribers than landing pages without contests.  Here’s their POV.  Set an end date. People don’t respond to open ended contests because they figure they have plenty of time to do it later. By specifying a start and an end date, you build-in urgency. Consumers understand that the clock is ticking.  Use the word “Giveaway.” “Promotion” sounds like it might or might not be a sale. “Sweepstakes” feels too chancy. “Giveaway” resulted in 27% more conversions than sweepstakes and 50% more than promotion because it connotes a freebie.  Like Gating Sucks. This trick has been played out. Widgets that asked for email addresses drove 80% more subscriptions than the request to “like” a page. The like gate has become a signal for consumers to bug out.  Bottom Right, Brand Names and Photos Win. The contest sign up box in the bottom right corner of the page drew 125% more subscriptions than bottom left. Similarly when the promotion box had a picture, almost any picture, conversion increased by 22 percent. When a brand name is attached to the giveaway details conversions saw a 28% spike.  We have trained consumers where to look and what to look for. Don’t swim against this tide.  Signal Ease of Entry. Site visitors are lazy. They want all the goodies but don’t want to work for it. When you direct them to “enter in seconds” versus a big honking “enter” button, opt-ins increased by 33 percent. Tell them how easy it is.  Optimizing giveaways and contests is a matter of tweaking and re-tweaking. These simple tips suggest, as Michael Aagaad suggests, “value plus relevance equals more conversions.” This is true for contest rules and prizing strategy as well as the subtleties of constructing effective landing pages.[...] Contests are a staple of social media. They generate leads, opt-ins, sharing, comments and virility. The conventional wisdom is that simple contests spawn cost efficient customer engagement that makes people happy.  Consumers are comfortable with the give-to-win proposition. They will give up bits of personal information, post or tweet, upload a photo or a comment, vote, take a survey or refer somebody in return for a chance to win. Few calculate the [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry New Visual Engagement InsightsManhattan Marketing Maven
A picture’s worth a thousand words as regular users of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest know all too well. A new visual study from Curalate offers unusual insights into which images resonate and engage us best.  Curalate, a visual marketing and analytics firm, looked at 500,000 images on Pinterest across 30 visual dimensions. You can get their infographic here. The goal was to identify the visual elements that drove greater re-pins.    According to CEO Apu Gupta humans interacted with pictures before words because sight is our most developed sense. He speculated, “We initially started painting pictures on walls which were more emotional than text and are a minimal commitment.” Pictures, he says, offer so much context that minimal copy is needed to explain them or to orient the viewer.  Here’s a quick summary of the findings:  Red/orange images get 2X the re-pins of blue images Multi-colors are re-pinned 3.23X more than pictures with just 1 dominant color Medium lit images get 20X re-pins over darker images Images with less than 30% whitespace are re-pinned the most Images that are 50% saturated get 10X more re-pins Vertical images with an aspect ratio of 2.3-4.5 are re-pinned 60X more often Pictures with less than 10% background get 2-4X more re-pins Pictures with smooth textures get re-pinned 17X more than rough textures Brand images without faces get 23% more re-pins than those with faces  To some extent, these findings are an insight into our reptilian brains. They are also a reflection of how we have been visually trained by media since childhood. The lack of interest in seeing people is counterintuitive especially when you consider that the underlying psychology revealed in this study suggests that warm, clear, proportional, colorful and familiar images are the things that draw us in, capture our imaginations and motivate us to share. This is a big step toward a visual formula for increased engagement. A picture’s worth a thousand words as regular users of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest know all too well. A new visual study from Curalate offers unusual insights into which images resonate and engage us best.  Curalate, a visual marketing and analytics firm, looked at 500,000 images on Pinterest across 30 visual dimensions. You can get their infographic here. The goal was to identify the visual elements that drove greater re-pins.    According to CEO Apu Gupta humans interacted with pictures before words because sight is our most developed sense. He speculated, “We initially started painting pictures on walls which were more emotional than text and are a minimal commitment.” Pictures, he says, offer so much context that minimal copy is needed to explain them or to orient the viewer.  Here’s a quick summary of the findings:  Red/orange images get 2X the re-pins of blue images Multi-colors are re-pinned 3.23X more than pictures with just 1 dominant color Medium lit images get 20X r[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Apps are the Future of DTCManhattan Marketing Maven
We are at the dawn of a mobile, personal health revolution. Beginning soon, technology will play a much bigger role in all aspects of healthcare and will have a heightened role and urgency for marketers selling drugs, health brands, devices, therapies and services. Apps will become a critical marketing and promotion tool.   Apps hold out the possibility of fulfilling marketers persistent fantasy  -- that consumers will record daily, personal activity and that this data will fuel on-going relationship marketing programs. This belief is especially strong among pharmaceutical marketers who dream of patient diaries and yearn for patient data as a door opener for the patient-doctor conversation, widely acknowledged to be the single biggest hurdle in the DTC arena. Apps also offer technology for overcoming the two biggest consumer adherence and conversion stumbling blocks – what’s in it for me (WiiFM) and do it for me (DiFM).  Depending on how you count, there are as many as 97,000 existing mHealth apps ranging from broad-based health and wellness tools to single brand, single action apps. Three out of four are paid apps. Forty-three percent are aimed at healthcare professionals. The majority of those are either dosing calculators or reference materials.  In real life, less than 1000 of these apps have had more than 500 downloads. And nobody knows much about actual usage. On average, Americans have 41 apps on their smartphones and actually use eight or 1 out of every 5 apps they download. Most, apps haven’t caught on because they don’t provide consumers with enough value to prompt use. But soon they will.  New technologies like Fitbit, Nike+ and Up by Jawbone passively collect data using wearable devices that can be downloaded and distributed. These tools play to a general consumer desire to have technology do things for them by running in the background. Walgreens app with its scan-to-refill feature is gaining traction because it saves time and is fun to use. Walgreens, who have 10 apps in-market, reports that app users generate 6 million visits a week to its online sites and four times the sales of store-only customers.  There are dozens of apps for chronic disease states like diabetes, asthma and depression that record incidents and data points or track adherence to dosing.  The Pew Internet Project reported in January 2013, that 69 percent of Americans track some kind of health data and one in five of them use some form of technology. All apps live or die by providing either utility or diversion.  In the not too distant future an array of sensor-like apps to monitor vital signs and measure specific symptoms will hit the market. The uChek Urine Analyzer app, in development in India by Biosense Technologies helps patients read up to 10 biomarkers using reagent strips and the smartphone’s camera. You dip the strip in urine, photograph it and in moments, by comparing the image with a stored database, get a read-out of [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Winning the E-mail Numbers GameManhattan Marketing Maven
It’s not the number of email addresses on your list. It’s the behavioral quality of the names. In email marketing size doesn’t matter. Segments do.  Too many marketers measure their email program by counting valid email addresses. This is a classic way marketers are evaluated. If you grow the list you’re good. If you shrink it, you’re not. But while this may get you a bonus, it won’t get you results. The ugly truth is that at any given moment 20-30 percent of your list are dead men walking – consumers who haven’t opted out but have stopped caring, opening and clicking.  Email lists are fluid. Consumers want info and deals and then they don’t. Need, greed, timing, serendipity, promotions, cash flow and personality all drive inflows and outflows. The quantity, cadence, content, subject lines and offers in e-mail incent future interest and clicks or they don’t.  Monitoring these variables is tedious but well worth it.  The key to continued email effectiveness is to be brutally honest about the list. Focus on these 3 critical tactics. Recency Rules. People have a huge propensity to re-take a recent action again. They just did something. It feels good. They’ll do it again. Segment your list by recency and you’ll have a proxy barometer for brand health. Make your best offers to the people who bought last and they’ll buy again. If you can factor in purchase history, product cognates or monetary value, you will get even better results. Recent responders are the sharp tip of the email marketing spear.  Behavior Beats Demography. It’s what they do; not who they are that matters. Separate your list by opens and clicks. Mail more frequently to responders. Remember recency rules. After 6 touches and no response check their pulse. Tell them you are ending their subscription. In the absence of a response, dump them off the list. If you don’t you’ll have a bigger list but lower response rates so your bonus or promotion will be in jeopardy.  Content is King.  They signed up with expectations of interesting news, deals and offers. If the content doesn’t deliver, consumers bail out. You must constantly test and evaluate the content. Mix up the offers. Test the sequences. Limit the number of items and stories in your email. More than 5 choices generally confuse consumers. Less is more.  Consumers are paradoxical. They want consistency and surprise. They want to know you are there for them regularly but they don’t want the same thing every time. Factor in offline behavior like average number of store visits, average ticket and average annual purchases per customer into your thinking. Nobody lives by email alone. Your content plan has to integrate into shopping mindsets and practical creature behaviors. Plan on cross-pollinating the experiences and parse your email messages to synch with sales, seasonality or style changes.  A smaller more responsive email list trumps a monste[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Remarketing & Retargeting RevisitedManhattan Marketing Maven
Retargeting, also called remarketing, begins by dropping a cookie on site visitors. This enables marketers to follow them as they search, do social networking or flit from site to site. A person coming to your site can then be discretely followed by ads reflecting the content they viewed or reflecting their psycho-demographic profile.  This tactic is particularly powerful because 90 percent of retail site visits don’t yield a sale. But consumers exposed to remarketing messages are 70 percent more likely to convert than those who are not exposed. And consumers who convert after retargeting generally spend 50 percent more than those who convert initially. So, marketers, who take a second or a third bite of the apple, by using retargeting, succeed better. And CPMs are much lower than banner advertising while the yield can be dramatic, as high as a 37% conversion rate.  This has to be done carefully and with discretion and considered timing. Since many consumers find this very creepy and quickly abandon the brand retargeting them. If this feels like the Tom Cruise movie, AI, you are getting the point.  Marketers can follow prospects as they search Bing or Google, socialize in networks or as they surf the Web. The mechanics of retargeting are done through third party networks. And there are a bunch of them including Google’s Display Network, the Facebook Exchange, AdMeld, Pubmatic and Rubicon.  Similarly there are a bunch of emerging demand side platforms (DSPs) to manage this process. The leaders include AdRoll, AppNexus, Brandscreen, Criteo, DataXu, MediaMath, Nanigans, Kenshoo, Optimal, RocketFuel, Tellapart, TheTradeDesk, Xasis and X+1.  The newest entrant in the DSP fray is Pinpoint, from Blue Fountain Media. Pinpoint claims to offer retargeting based on search history, demographics, geography and recency (within 24 hours), which, according to Gabe Shaoolian, is a proxy for consumer intent.  “Pinpoint captures expressed interest and intent. It enables a brand to target a 40-year old upscale Mom on Long Island who wants a specific ring setting, with a specific gemstone, “ Gabe opines. “Because Pinpoint tracks online behavior and marries it to aggregated data, marketers get much more precision in terms of reaching interested consumers, identifying consumer intent and capitalizing on timing. It’s a retargeting trifecta.”  Pinpoint clams to be “a new frontier in advertising.” It was beta tested with Oppenheimer Funds who found “better than expected results” that compared favorably to other DSP platforms they tried.  Shaoolian is positioning this tool as a “big data play for medium and small marketers” than will provide “real-time bidding at the best prices.”  There is no question that retargeting is effective. There is evidence that third party networks can provide the right inventory and that various tools can plan, buy, optimize and rep[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 5 Key Mobile Marketing MovesManhattan Marketing Maven
Mobility will turn us into direct, relationship and database marketers.That’s the cornerstone message from two new studies --  Forrester’s “2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers” and Urbanairship’s “Connect with the Connected.” The keys to successfully making this transformation will be surrendering control to consumers while continuously creating relevant and resonant content.  Let’s start with a few key facts.  Mobile is here. By the end of the year half of all Americans will have smartphones.Most brand and marketers know this but haven’t put either strategy or infrastructure in-place. Mobility changes almost everything.  Smartphones have replaced PCs, watches, rolodexes, maps, cameras, game devices, remote controls, landlines, books, boarding passes, coupons and loyalty cards. And they are closing in on wallets. People spend as much time with their phones as they do with TV.  Smartphones are an appendage for younger consumers. They are their phones, which are very personal, heavily customized and in constant use. Don’t be surprised if Levi’s or Lees creates jeans with a special quick-draw phone pocket, which also prevents inadvertent butt dialing.  Apps are “hit” driven. There are millions of them. They rise into and fall out of fashion as quickly as the Top 40. The average person has 40 on their phone but only really uses 8-10. Getting onto a consumer’s phone is tough. Staying on is even tougher. A successful app must either provide instant utility or repeatable entertainment.  Open beats closed systems. Android is ascendant and will continue to be because it’s becoming ubiquitous. Apple may have a few tricks up its sleeve, but bet on Android, and many variations of Android, across devices and geographies to ultimately dominate.  Soon apps and native phone technologies will work together and talk to each other. Think about how interoperability might impact your business.  For example, the accelerometer notices you are walking funny and double checks with the pedometer. The GPS pipes up and says you’re off course on your way home. The med app then quickly checks your heart rate and blood pressure, and then signals the Walgreen’s app to reorder your meds.  Context Matters. Where you are (location) and what you’re doing (attention) determine your mood and your openness to brands. “ Your customer is not the same person when they wake up as when they are working mid-day – each persona has different needs and desires.”  Americans are putting computers in their pockets and expecting them to work and add value on-demand. Brands have to ask themselves, “ Are you interrupting them or making life a little better?”  To the extent that consumers use your app, you have an always-on virtual private network (VPN) connection to them. You have to respect this, insure privacy and use it sparingly.�[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 6 Web 5.0 ImperativesManhattan Marketing Maven
In the beginning there were web pages. Brands staked their claims on the newly invented World Wide Web. Web 1.0 met consumer expectations that every brand would have an 800 number and a web page as points of contact. Web 2.0 was about finding, developing and embracing interactive technologies to engage customers, prospects and other constituencies. It was about Flash, bells and whistles and keeping up with the Joneses. Having a cool website mattered. Web 3.0 was about business results. It was a phase of encyclopedic websites. Governance was split between marketing and IT. The Holy Grail was a fully realized multi-dimensional interactive relationship between a brand and its customer base nurtured by using the latest and greatest tools to achieve predictable business results. Metrics, rather than showbiz, began to be important. In the Web 4.0 era, brands broke out of the corporate mold and sidestepped corporate rules to create countless mini-sites. Experimenting with one-off efforts to slip away from IT and corporate design and functionality restrictions, it was a re-run of 2.0 with more internal conflict and a much broader experimentation with designs, content and functionality. Video, photo carousels, animation and games were deployed. Social sharing was introduced. Brands began to orchestrate messaging, traffic and content between branded sites and Facebook. Today’s Web 5.0 is about the surgical use of sites to achieve specific marketing objectives in an era of near total mobility. Sites are no longer all things to all consumers. They are built to specifically and immediately achieve discrete business goals. They assume that context and mobility married to established best design, SEO and functionality practices will achieve results effectively and efficiently. And while everyone thinks they know how to create a 5.0 website, it is hardly the case. That’s why Gabe Shaoolian, founder of Blue Fountain Media is emerging as a Web 5.0 guru based on the sheer volume of sites he’s built and his UX-driven insights.  Here are his six Web 5.0 imperatives. Start at the End. Determine what you want to the site to do. Then use user experience design techniques to direct visitors to make the desired action. Be rigorous. Eliminate anything that will distract or impede users. Put the most important stuff up front. Avoid too much scrolling. Pre-plan the page pathways. Then map them to business objectives. Use Responsive Design. The Internet has gone mobile. Build sites that automatically stretch to fit the screens they’re viewed on. Given the high rate of smartphone turnover and tablet adoption, responsive design is much easier and efficient than creating separate versions for each operating system and its variants. It will take a bit longer and cost a bit more. But the payoff, in terms of user experience and SEO, will be well worth it. Write for Scanners. Strive [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 4 Latest Loyalty Marketing StrategiesManhattan Marketing Maven
Marketers have been manufacturing consumer loyalty through rewards and loyalty programs since the 1970s. The average American belongs to seven programs and 7 out of 10 are willing to join more programs.  Most of us sign up for rewards from airlines, credit cards, grocery stores, gas stations, favorite retailers and a hotel chain or car rental firm. A third of most programs have members who have defected in-place without formally cancelling. Forty seven percent of respondents stopped participating in one of their programs in the last year.  And yet in spite of competition and attrition, fifty-seven percent of respondents say they modify when and where they buy to maximize loyalty benefits. Forty-six percent say their choice of brands is a function of optimizing reward value. Loyalty marketing is personal, fickle, schizophrenic and well worth doing.  Building and sustaining loyalty is tricky. Its part stimulus-and-response conditioning, part value exchange and part emotion or experience driven brand love. The dynamic mix of these rational and irrational elements in the context of larger macro economic factors, like a recession, or micro factors, like an awful experience with a store clerk, can change quickly.  What looks valuable today; is piddling tomorrow. Too often the experience of trying to redeem points or miles is so frustrating, infuriating or just plain unfair that it destroys the rationale for collecting them. On the other hand a free trip, automatically applied coupons or discounts that yield free groceries or a first class upgrade can be sublime.  Enter Maritz Loyalty Marketing who recently published its first US Loyalty Marketing Report, under the leadership of Scott Robinson and Bob Macdonald. They surveyed more than 6000 people in 30 national loyalty programs across six industry sectors. Here are the 4 key drivers of loyalty program satisfaction they discovered.  Relevant Communication is Critical. Duh! While more than 9 out of 10 members want to hear from their loyalty programs only half (53%) see the communications are relevant. Fifty-seven percent of members read everything they get from their rewards programs while just 12% say it’s too much. Everybody wants to know the rules, the news and what’s in it for me.  Duplicate Channels. Almost all participants (96%) want communication and almost half (46%) want it in at least three channels. Seventy-three percent want their mobile device to interact with their loyalty programs. But only a third (37%) see mobile as their primary loyalty channel. These are the people most likely to download loyalty apps. Loyalty loyalists want their communications on their terms and they want a choice of access points that they direct.  Finesse the Cool-to-Creepy Spectrum. Sixty nine percent like and want personalized offers based on purchasing habi[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Death to Blogger Whores!Manhattan Marketing Maven
After reading a number of case studies describing how brands have used social influencers to drive commercial success, I get the feeling that bloggers are like Congressmen; they can be easily bought and paid for.  And while FTC rules demand full disclosure, it seems that the journalistic ethics of early bloggers has succumbed to the easy baksheesh offered by brands, and their PR or social marketing firms, eager to marshal what appears to be consumer endorsements or momentum.  Duane Reade’s “Show Us Some Leg” campaign outlined in the May edition of Internet Retailer , got me thinking about this. Working with a firm called Collective Bias, they identified likely bloggers using social listening tools. Then paid selected bloggers to go to the store, buy the products and crow about both experiences early and often. Duane Reade claims that over the 6-week campaign hosiery sales increased 28 percent.  Though they aren’t really willing to attribute the sales spike solely to suborned bloggers. They paid up but they aren’t sure what they got in return.  Zach Reiss-Davis of Forrester Research points out that it’s a cheap way to rally peer-to-peer reviews and to present what appear to be brand endorsements from fellow consumers. Marketers looking to efficiently buy word-of-mouth advertising can get some blog love to “bend a conversation in your direction.”  As a long-term independent blogger, there’s something skeevy in this. Maybe I’m old fashioned. Or maybe I’m getting cranky in my old age. But if you’re a paid endorser, taking products and talking points from a brand, you absolutely have to disclose. It’s not only the law; it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise you’re just a covert whore. Similarly, agencies and firms organizing fake groundswells of social conversation ought to be held accountable, exposed, embarrassed and fined by the FTC.  Brands can buy ads, pay endorsers, hire spokespeople, deploy affiliate programs and run all kinds of interactive events and experiences. Consumers understand the deal. They know who is talking to them and why.  The great thing about social media is that it can be a real unvarnished conversation among people who share ideas and interests. Undercover advocates pollute and skew the genuine organic interaction between people that honest bloggers and credible social networks have worked hard to create.  Fakers and liars should be rooted and hooted out.   [...] After reading a number of case studies describing how brands have used social influencers to drive commercial success, I get the feeling that bloggers are like Congressmen; they can be easily bought and paid for.  And while FTC rules demand full disclosure, it seems that the journalistic ethics of early bloggers has succumbed to the easy baksh[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Tumblr's Advertising ChallengeManhattan Marketing Maven
The cool kids have abandoned Facebook and headed to Tumblr.  Twenty-nine million unique visitors signed in four days each week to gain access to 44 billion posts on 102 million blogs. The average user logged-in for 154 minutes and looked at 30 pages per visit. One in eight used a mobile device to tumble.  Tumblr users skew male, young (18-34), single, childless and rich (1/3 have household income greater than $100K). One in five is Hispanic and one in six is in the Pacific Time zone.  Now that they’ve drawn a crowd, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They have a “Radar” feature, which highlights curated posts and is supposedly seen by everyone, although I can’t figure out which posts in my feed are the “Radar” ones. I checked my dashboard and couldn’t find an ad even though they sell access at a minimum of $25,000 a pop. Supposedly, a bunch of well known brands have used the platform. But I’ve never seen hide nor hare of them, nor do I follow any of them. Maybe they appear in the 50-odd content categories that range from Actors, Cute and Gaming to Poetry, Street Style, and TV.  They’ve also rolled out a mobile ad unit, initially embraced by GE, Warner Brothers and ABC, that is served four times each day in their iOS and Android app. And they insist that ads appear as posts rather than as ads. I’ve never seen one of these puppies either.  Buying Tumblr for brands is a challenge.  Blog content is highly visual and idiosyncratic. Like Facebook users only see content from those they follow. Unlike Facebook you can follow anyone without his or her blessing. So brands will have to develop significant followings to get substantial reach and or frequency against desirable segments.  The content categories aren’t channels per se just convenient ways to find blogs to follow. And they don’t reflect anything by a tiny selection of the 102 million blogs. Brands can’t frame up appropriate messaging because there is no common experience. Each of the 29 million users follows a different set of bloggers for 29 million different reasons and nobody has crunched the numbers to determine what the patterns and affinities might be.  The other consideration, beyond advertising competition from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, is an undefined user experience and customer expectation set. Brands need to know why people use Tumblr and how either the people and their moods and behaviors differ from the other social networks. And we haven’t even started to talk about qualifying the audience or determining product and service use. It’s hard to imagine running contests, begging for Likes or distributing coupons to this crowd on this platform. So what’s a brand to do?  As a focus group of one, for me Tumblr is a diversio[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry 3 Convenient IllusionsManhattan Marketing Maven
If you watch Mad Men regularly and filter out all the illegal and non-PC stuff, it becomes pretty clear that not much has changed in Adland in sixty years. Agencies are run pretty much the way they are depicted on TV. Evidently the great management and technology revolutions sidestepped Madison Avenue.  If you doubt me ask how many Six Sigma black belts work in your agency or describe which consultants re-engineered your studio or production departments. And while there has been significant increases in financial controls and cutbacks, ad agencies are notorious for lack of predictable and consistent business processes, spotty project management and the inability to forecast and deliver profit and productivity gains reliably. Never ones to miss a fad, agency executives have embraced a number of new concepts in an attempt to demonstrate to prospective clients and employees how forward thinking and innovative they really are. These “innovations” are comfortable and convenient illusions that help agency managers sleep at night. But they’ve had little or no impact on either the chronically broken agency business model or the productivity, creativity or profitability of agencies. The dream makers need their own illusions, too. Consider these 3 concepts that have gained widespread conversation and adoption if not, business traction among ad agencies.  Creative Technologists. Like unicorns, these mythic hard-to-find creatures are part creative, part techie and part wizard. Having one suggests that an agency is able to generate breakthrough tech savvy ideas that become global memes, give traditional campaigns smart digital executions or enable agencies to make applets, apps, widgets and viral or video memes that are as cool and shareable as those created by Google or Intel.  What isn’t clear is how these new hybrid players are accepted (or not) by traditionally run and managed agencies who barely understand the need for interaction and engagement much less complex, two-way digital, mobile or social technologies. Frequently embedded in creative departments with the idea that they will form a triad with copywriters and art directors, most practitioners are frustrated by the lack of baseline technical knowledge, among their peers and co-workers, the reluctance to give a pure digital guy a seat at the ideation table or the inability to prioritize digital thinking and organically connect digital assets to core creative concepts.  In the last few years, agencies have acquired people with these titles to keep up with first movers and to demonstrate their technology prowess in credentials meetings. The breakout creative executions that have resulted across the industry are concentrated in a handful of agencies and can be counted on one hand. [...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Master Mobile E-mailManhattan Marketing Maven
Mobility has transformed e-mail. Unfortunately too many brands haven’t kept pace. As a result, they squander the power and impact of the most ubiquitous and most effective digital communications channel because messages don’t render properly or links drive users to pages that can’t be read or properly interacted with.  Ninety percent of e-mail subscribers access the same e-mail account on multiple devices. Between 15 and 65 percent of e-mails are opened on these devices, according to the guys at emailmonday, often at different locations and with expectations than before. Savvy marketers are using “sniffers” to identify the universe of devices and/or turning to responsive design to automatically adapt and resize e-mail creative and technology for maximum impact.  Everybody has to factor in basic changes. Mobile screens have different dimensions, usually smaller and narrower. You have to put the most important thing up top. Mobile users are on the go. They scan. They spend less time per e-mail so they need to get to the point faster and need different response mechanisms. You are getting partial attention and the flick of a thumb rather than a full screen, two focused eyes and ten fingers or a mouse for response agility.  Your call to action must be clear and BIG. Increase the point size of text so it can be seen in any light and from any angle. Buttons, links and other response mechanisms need to be presented early and enlarged to account for fat fingers and finger faults. Put a link to your mobile website in the pre-header to offer an option to read the e-mail in the browser.  Be sure that any destination is equally mobile friendly. Think about the entire experience from transmission/reception to interaction to destination/desired action. If you break any part of the chain, you essentially dump your customer or prospect. Too many e-mails opened on mobile devices take customers to pages that don’t work or look awful when they get there. Just kiss off those customers.   The expectation of frictionless mobility combined with an in-the-moment intensity of interest amplifies the emotional reaction to your message. When it works its pure brand mojo. When it doesn’t your brand takes a bigger hit than if your e-mail doesn’t work right on a desktop or laptop. The good news is that simple planning and fixes allow you to maximize customer satisfaction.[...] Mobility has transformed e-mail. Unfortunately too many brands haven’t kept pace. As a result, they squander the power and impact of the most ubiquitous and most effective digital communications channel because messages don’t render properly or links drive users to pages that can’t be read or properly interacted with.  Ninety perc[...]



Danny Flamberg posted an entry Can CPG Crack the CRM Code?Manhattan Marketing Maven
CPG brands have had an off-and-on relationship with CRM and loyalty marketing over the years. Every brand attracts loyalists. Most brands fantasize about identifying, motivating and rewarding them since they buy more, buy more often and tell everyone they know about the brands they love. Every so often CRM becomes the flavor of the year in CPGland.  But CPG brands haven’t succeeded in CRM for three fundamental reasons.  Customer Ownership. Classically retailers built relationships with brand advocates and CPG firms paid the bills. They sort of cooperated with each other to reach and engage customers. For many retailers, CPG is the cash cow behind their shopper marketing activities and many retail chains make a huge effort to optimize CPG contributions often by including brands in promotions, circulars and loyalty card reward efforts. But CPGs and retail partners don’t always have the same priorities or marketing objectives. Retailers prefer to set the marketing agenda and choose the tactics that CPGs subsidize. Retailers rarely, and then only selectively, share customer data with CPG partners..  Digital, social and mobile media allow brands to side step retail relationships and develop independent relationships with their fans. New technologies can disrupt, circumvent or compliment existing retail loyalty or CRM programs. But CPG marketers haven’t figured out how to work with or work around retail partners and are reluctant to compete with or alienate them.  Data Ownership. The pendulum, both in terms of customer sensibilities and CPG budget allocations, seems to be swinging toward building and sustaining direct consumer relationships. P&G, Nestle, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oreal and Kellogg’s have all initiated large scale data mart projects aimed at centralizing efficient data collection in service to relationship building and marketing or loyalty programs. With little or no data sharing from retailers, these firms are starting fresh, although they have the budgets to buy or rent big data to get started.  These initiatives, which tend to provoke internal turf battles, turn on the ability to motivate consumers to opt-in and create cost efficient mechanisms to capture data and trigger personalized communications. Gaining access to consumers is easy. Convincing them to part with data, preferences, purchase history and/or real time behavior is a serious challenge. So is figuring out what to do with the data they collect and getting multiple brands within a portfolio to play nicely together.  Relationship. Perspective CPG marketers see CRM as a cheaper channel to activate sales. These programs start with the premise that by communicating and couponing, they ca[...]