Archive for the ‘Social Media Marketing’ Category

Why More Members, Money, and Ads Don’t Always Mean More Success: A B2B Marketer’s Survival Guide

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.

Historical Lessons

B2B marketing lessons from Facebook and MySpaceThere is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?

My answer is certainly–yes! This question is particularly compelling today as we see Facebook set new records in terms of users, market valuation and revenue growth and wait with anticipation to see if Myspace can reinvent itself after conceding its market leadership position in social networking back in 2008. How can the respective histories and behaviors of these two companies inform the best practices for B2B marketers?

Background on the two social media sites

From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.

In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.

Lessons

The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes.  These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.

A bigger user base is not always better

Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.

Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.

But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.

The importance of the Network Effect

Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.

This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray.  Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.

Make customers happy before you worry about money

While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.

Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.

In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.

Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.

The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing.  Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.

The importance of targeted ads

Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.

Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads.  Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.

Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”

It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.

Example of bad MySpace ads

An image of Myspace inbox screen with advertising ranging from a spammy new scientific way to lose weight and free credit reports, to sour candy

Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate

Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.

In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.

While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.

Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”

For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.

About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.

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The Complete Guide to Google+ for B2B Marketing [Infographic]

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Guest post by Dave Landry.

Google+ seems to be an enigma in the social world, the quiet kid in the corner of the room that most are afraid to interact with. This is particularly so in marketing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, Google+ can be friendly and a resource with amazing results when a respective marketer learns how to utilize it in the right manner.

Google+ is all about visibility, exponentially so when it comes to B2B campaigning. Learning about Circles, Communities, Influencers and Authorship is the first key to G+ B2B domination. You’ll also need to be prepared to:

  • • Keep Up With Your Plus Stream
  • • Share Content Daily
  • • Reach Out to Influencers
  • • Use Google Hangouts
  • • Use Communities
  • • Monitor Follower Growth

Need more details? No sweat! This infographic below will have you on track to G+ B2B marketing success. Good luck!

Guide to article marketing with Google+

Dave Landry Jr.About the author: Dave LJ is a financial expert who also studies and writes about social media’s use in business and marketing efforts. He is very excited to contribute to Webbiquity.

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5 Twitter Strategies And Tools To Take Your Branded Account To the Next Level

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Guest post by Logan Strain.

If you’ve invested the groundwork necessary to build a Twitter account, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing it actually gain steam. Your best tweets get retweeted on a regular basis, you can count on discovering more followers every time you check in, and you can see that you’re developing a strong presence on a noisy platform.

Advanced Twitter tactics and toolsBut all accounts reach a level of stagnation if you use the same tactics over and over again. If you see your growth starting to level off, it might be time to shake things up a bit with new techniques.

How can you break through a Twitter plateau and take your account to an even greater level of success? Use these these five helpful Twitter tools and strategies to build upon what you have already established.

1) Improve Multimedia With Twitter Cards

A highly powerful yet underused optional feature of Twitter is the Twitter card. This feature, developed by Twitter, allows accounts to create media-rich experiences that can help you stand out in the mostly text platform. Accounts can use one of seven different cards in a single tweet.

  • • Gallery cards that display images
  • • Photo cards that include a single image
  • • Summary cards with a link
  • • Summary cards with images
  • • App cards
  • • Player cards which showcase videos
  • • Product cards

For example, if you want to show off a few different photos of a brand new product on Twitter, you can use the gallery card to display shots from several angles. Or you can use the photo card to add a large picture to your tweet when you link to your blog.

Using one of these cards increases click-throughs and engagement, since they make your tweets look so much different from those ones in your followers’ feeds.

While Twitter cards have been adopted by some major brands, they are still not used by everyone. To learn more, check out Forbes’ great comprehensive overview on this nifty feature and how to implement it.

2) Use Tweriod For Perfectly Timed Tweets

When you tweet can have a huge impact on how much engagement your tweets generate. While there have been some studies on the best overall tweeting time, every account is different. So how do you find a tweeting schedule that is perfect for your particular niche?

Tweriod is a powerful (and free) tool that can give you actionable analytics to supercharge your tweeting. The tool analyzes your tweets and your followers tweets, and lets you know what tweeting times give you the best results. With this information in hand, you can fine tune when you tweet using your tweet scheduler.

3) Experiment With New Hashtags

Hashtags, of course, are essential to getting attention on Twitter. If Twitter is one giant cocktail party, then hashtags are how you take part in a conversation. Most established accounts use a handful of hashtags, either ones directly related to their industry or market, or ones that have successfully garnered engagement in the past.

But if you keep using the same hashtags, you’ll keep getting the same results. Break out of your tweeting routine by exploring other hashtags to connect with. One easy way to brainstorm new hashtags you can try is use the app in Hashtagify.me.

Just enter your most common hashtags, and it will give you other common hashtags that are commonly associated with it. Now you have several more ways to connect with Twitter users with which you can experiment.

4) Create Your Own Branded Hashtag

There’s no reason why you have to use hashtags that are already popular. You can really break through by creating a hashtag of your very own. For example, to promote their “Share A Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola created the hashtag #shareacoke.

In promoting their breakfast items, Taco Bell joked that “Breakfast Burrito from a burger place? That’s like taking a T Rex to yoga.” They then encouraged other followers to create their own jokes in that vein using the hashtag #thatslike. Think of an interesting or funny way you can engage your potential customers with a clever and original hashtag.

5) Optimize Tweet Length

Since 140 characters is so short, many social media marketers take advantage of the full amount of space available with every tweet. But that strategy may overestimate the attention span of the users of the most hyperactive social network on the Internet. Some studies even suggest that the optimal length of a tweet is a paltry 100 characters.

Shortening tweets below Twitter’s limits has resulted in increased engagement for some marketers. Try your hand at extreme brevity for a week of tweeting and see if it has an impact in shares and favorites.

Never Stop Testing

How do you know you’re making the most of the time you spend building up your Twitter account? By consistently trying new things, and keeping what works. Any Twitter account can see steady growth if you simply maintain a steady and consistent tweeting schedule. But if you want to supercharge your growth, you’ll need to rethink your tactics on a week by week basis.

Logan Strain is a web content creator who regularly contributes to Instant Checkmate’s blog, a father, and a podcast addict. When he’s not browsing reddit, playing with his daughter, or binge-watching Netflix, he’s creating top notch web content. Follow him on Twitter @LM_Strain.

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23 Outstanding Social PR Guides

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

As noted in several of the posts highlighted below, the PR professional has changed considerably over the past few years. The audiences, topics, tools, and tactics employed in PR have evolved.

The PRiodic Table of Elements

Image credit: PRNews

Foremost among these developments is the shift from communicating primarily to a closely-guarded list of traditional “media’ contacts (editors and paid journalists) to working with an amorphous and expanding pool of influencers in specific industries and specialties: vendors, buyers, brand advocates, bloggers, freelance writer, peers, and others.

This shift has led to today’s emphasis on “social” PR. But it’s not merely about using social media platforms and outreach; as one of five pillars in the web presence optimization framework, PR now impacts SEO, content marketing, website design, and other marketing disciplines.

What role do press releases play in PR today? Are they still important for SEO? Is blogger outreach still an effective PR strategy? What are the best practices for social PR?

Find the answers to these questions and others here in almost two dozen noteworthy social PR articles, posts, and guides from the past 18 months.

Social PR Strategies and Tactics

What Brands Can Learn From @TODAYshow in 2014 by #SocialPR Chat

Lisa BuyerSocial PR expert Lisa Buyer writes about the transition of the TODAY show’s social media presence from awkward to awesome, and offers four related tips, including the importance of inspiring and training your own team first: “Brands of all sizes have the strongest army of brand advocates closer than they might think, with the right direction and structure – employees make the best brand cheerleaders.”

Why the News Release is Alive, and Well, and Thriving in the Wired World by Strategic Objectives

Deb WeinsteinDeborah Weinstein expertly explains how the news release have evolved over time, why news releases serve as a pillar of content marketing (news releases are “a tool we PR pros use to communicate with mainstream and social media journalists who share their stories, AKA “earned media,” with your brand or organization’s key audiences – be they consumers, stakeholders, shareholders, regulatory authorities, and/or, all of the above”), and what opportunities this creates for PR professionals today.

The Soft and Subtle PR Pitch of Content Marketing by Sword and the Script

Frank StrongThe brilliant Frank Strong says he’s “reached a point in my career where my best PR efforts aren’t made with a telephone or email, but rather with useful content that’s made freely available,” and explains six ways content marketing is invaluable for PR, among them “credibility” in the form of social proof as well as how “people, including the influential, look at us as individuals when they weigh a pitch.” Quality content and engagement matter.

Breaking PR: The Essential Elements of PR by PR News

Casysey-WeltonCaysey Welton showcases graphical “PRiodic Table of Elements,” which lays out “several important elements that a PR pro needs to consider on a day-to-day basis,” from the basics of jumaity, logistics, and budgeting through ethics, framing, media relations, and negotiation, in this quick-read post.

Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are by SocialSteve’s Blog

Steve GoldnerSteve Goldner explores why many PR professionals and agencies struggle to get results with social media, despite the fact that “PR companies are very well suited for driving social marketing success because their entire success is based upon relationships (and) relationships are what drive social success.” Among the reasons: PR professionals have traditionally carefully guarded their contact lists, and have historically dealt almost exclusively with professional journalists. The world has changed.

Forrester #CMO REPORT: Embracing Digital and Delivering Brand Experience by #SocialPR Chat

Carah Von FunkCarah Von Funk reveals research findings that “By 2016, Forrester predicts advertisers will spend more than $77 billion on digital marketing, more than they spend on television today and that interactive marketing…will comprise a full 26% of their total spend,” then presents four tips for marketers and social PR professionals to capitalize on these trends, including “CMOs need to take stock of this digital disruption and embrace it by working across departments to assess their digital readiness and identify every area their brand experience can be improved including messaging, actions and product.”

Guides to the Evolution of PR

You Know You Are in PR When… by B2B PR Sense Blog
***** 5 STARS

Wendy MarxThe awesome Wendy Marx provides an entertaining and video-rich look at how the PR industry has changed over the past decade. For example: “You knew you were in PR when you wined and dined a reporter over a 1 1/2-hour lunch with much camaraderie and laughter (while today) You know you are in PR when the reporter you previously worked with is now heading up editorial for a major brand.”

Quick Refresh on Untapped Opportunities for PR by Ishmael’s Corner

Lou HoffmanLou Hoffman offers “three thoughts for pushing out of the comfort zone and generating greater results” with PR, such as using tools like HARO and ProfNet to build lists of freelance journalists, because “As media properties have reinvented themselves to make the economics work, they have greater dependence on freelancers. Yet, many consider freelance journalists as second-class citizens when they deserve the same treatment as staff writers. In fact, one could make an argument for spending more time with freelance journalists since they’re NOT getting crushed with pitches and tend to be more open to input from PR.”

What’s Changed, What Hasn’t in Media Relations by Business2Community
***** 5 STARS

Jon GreerAcknowledging that “the news media has changed enormously in the last 10 years,” Jon Greer astutely details five characteristics of media relations that remain constant (e.g., “There are still hundreds of pitching targets: While the mainstream media sector has shrunk, online-only media and blogs have risen up to fill much of the void”) and five that have clearly changed (i.e., “There are fewer reporters and less space in traditional media outlets…Those that are left are being bombarded with pitches” – so your pitch to one of these individuals had better be exceptional).

Guides to the Intersection of PR and SEO

A Guide to Press Release Optimization by Business Wire

Acknowledging that “inserting targeted keywords with unnatural links is no longer a best practice for your organization’s communications plan,” this guide offers 10 alternative tactics for maximizing the SEO value of news releases, such as that Google’s Hummingbird update rewards good writing: “Focus on writing for humans and creating a good user experience, and Google Hummingbird will take note. Including relevant terms continues to be important, but they need to be in context with your story.”

Enduring Questions on Press Releases and SEO by Sword and the Script

While the days of using marginal-quality, link-filled press releases to game SEO are clearly over, Frank Strong (again)here explains why strategic, newsworthy, well-crafted news releases still do have SEO value, and supplies five tips for getting better search results from press releases, such as “Use multimedia (photos and video)…Multimedia is important for two reasons.  First because search engines return a blend of search results, or ‘blended search’…Second, because visuals draw viewers in…viewers will stay on page (with multimedia) for up to 30 seconds longer.”

7 Ways to Obtain “Unicorn” News Links to Your Site Using PR by iMedia Connection

Allison FreelandNoting that “PR and SEO are becoming converging marketing practices” (yes, within the context of WPO), Allison Freeland walks through “seven ways to obtain juicy links from news organizations to your website,” including press release distribution through the reputable news wire services; producing unique issue / research studies; and producing / distributing infographics (which “still have value”).

Guides to Influencer and Blogger Outreach

How to Find Niche Influencers in Google+, Twitter and the World at Large by Bruce Clay Blog

Chelsea AdamsChelsea Adams details half-a-dozen techniques for identifying influencers in any market segment or topic area, from checking out who speaks frequently at relevant industry conferences to finding authors on Amazon.com (“Are they on Twitter? Are they on Google+? Do they have a lot of followers?”) and using tools like FollowerWonk to analyze the key influencers on your key influencers.

GroupHigh.com – The “Blogger Outreach” Multi-Tool by Justice Mitchell

Justice MitchellJustice Mitchell writes a glowing and detailed review of GroupHigh, a tool that helps identify bloggers for outreach by topic (along with supplemental information about each blogger including location, associated/guest bloggers, Moz rank, and other attributes); analyze competitor blogs; and track and measure outreach campaigns.

The 10 best ways to pitch a blogger by ragan.com

David Meerman ScottAuthor and PR guru David Meerman Scott, who (not surprisingly) receives “several hundred pitches a week from well-meaning PR people,” offers 10 do’s and don’ts for getting the attention of influential bloggers, among them understanding that bloggers can provide coverage in multiple ways (“I might tweet about your product. Maybe you have a story worth adding to a book I’m working on, or including in a speech. Don’t limit yourself”) and not offering guest posts unless the blogger actually accepts them.

Bad Outreach Examples – How Not to Secure a Guest Blogging Spot by SteamFeed

Charlotte VarelaCharlotte Varela shares five examples of awful blogger outreach, explaining why each goes beyond ineffective to the point of offensiveness (e.g., “Rule number one of guest blogging – never talk about or ask about links in the initial outreach email! This clearly demonstrates that you’re after a link and nothing else”), as well as six helpful tips for maximizing your odds of success.

How to Find Key Online Influencers by MyBeak Social Media

Laura-Lee WalkerNoting that “Active web users create about 500 million impressions or data points on products and services per year, yet 80 percent of these user impressions were made by a mere 6 percent of users on social media,” Laura-Lee Walker explains how to use tools like Klout for Business and Traackr to identify and effectively engage key influencers in any realm to “get them sharing stories about your brand.”

Streamlining Blogger Outreach With Inkybee by Soulati-‘TUDE!

Jayme SoulatiThe smart and delightful Jayme Soulati explains how to use Inkybee, a platform that helps identify bloggers by topic or niche to facilitate blogger outreach activities. She notes that beyond just building lists, the tool also enables PR professionals to set up, track, and measure results from blogger outreach efforts.

Guest Blogging Guides

How Guest Blogging was Affected by Penguin 2.0 by AudienceBloom

Jayson DeMersIgnore the obnoxious pop-up here and you’ll find a helpful post from Jayson DeMers explaining how changes to Google’s search algorithm have impacted the value and practice of guest blogging, along with four tips for continuing to get value from this practice, such as focusing on content rather than links (“Google will begin to recognize mentions of a company or its website on other sites, even if that site isn’t directly linking to them. This is known as a citation, and is currently thought to play a major role in helping Google understand the buzz or importance of a particular brand”).

5 Tips for Guest Posting on Higher End Blogs by HigherVisibility

Amanda DiSilvestroAs Amanda DiSilvestro points out, techniques that work fine for obtaining guest-posting opportunities on smaller blogs don’t work with the large A-list blogs. She then steps through five tactics that must be approached differently for outreach to larger blogs, among them: “Take your time and form connections, and then use those connections. As with most things in business, who you know will come in handy. Authoritative blogs want to see that you have made connections to other important figures in the industry (or even in their specific company). If you can name drop, I highly recommend it.”

Guides to Creating Social Media Newsrooms

Why (And How) Brands Should Build Newsrooms by Contently

Shane SnowShane Snow publishes wisdom gleaned from his interview with former New York Times editor Neil Chase, regarding the value of buiding a brand newsroom (“Today, a business can create and distribute quality content that engages people…But creating content is a new skill for most companies, so it requires new capabilities and expertise. Building a brand newsroom gives the business control over its messaging and content — and the ability to create and distribute content quickly”), how it should be staffed, common pitfalls to avoid, and more.

The Social Newsroom – How To Make It Happen by MindJumpers

Jonas Klit NielsenJonas Klit Nielsen outlines “the ingredients you need to leverage” in creating an online brand newsroom, from (of course) your news itself (“The key is to catch the specific news that people talk about when standing by the digital water cooler that is the Facebook news feed…Just remember – the conversational topics must be in context with your brand”) and social behavior to understanding the creative skills required and measuring performance.

Brands with online newsrooms still lack SEO, content plans by Brafton

This post reports on research from Newsdesk showing that “98 percent of the world’s largest brands have their own online newsrooms,’ but also spells out how brands are struggling to keep content fresh, use relevant and high-quality images, and capitalize on the SEO potential offered by online newsrooms.

 

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The Future of Digital Marketing According to the Giants

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Guest post by Clayton Wood.

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have been making acquisitions that could change the way digital marketing is done in the near future. What seemed to be objects of science-fiction books and shows are now being developed in the real world, and may be used for marketing. These companies have also made purchases that many people didn’t quite think were obvious, but perfectly made sense in hindsight.

But what do these purchases tell us about the direction digital marketing is going? Let’s have a look.

Digital Marketing will be about Heightened User Experiences

The giants are taking a page out of science fiction books to develop technology that will heighten and improve user experience. Virtual reality seems to be one of the hottest trends: Google has Google Glass, Facebook bought Oculus VR (which makes the virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Rift), and Yahoo! bought, absorbed, and shut down Cloud Party. These purchases forced Sony to announce Project Morpheus, their own take on virtual reality.

How Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Sony are changing the future of digital marketingThough these acquisitions don’t tell us much in terms of what exactly these giants have cooking, the firms have made generic statements about what they want to achieve, and these statements focus on heightened user experience.

We also know that whatever it is they are developing won’t materialize within the year—we need to give it a couple of years. We know one thing for sure: although they purchased VR gaming companies, the technological developments we can expect won’t be limited to gaming. These purchases tell us that real-time information delivery, social interaction, immersive content and improved ecommerce experiences are in store for us in the near future.

Take Mark Zuckerberg’s statement when Facebook purchased Oculus VR earlier this year:

Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.

Data Tracking becomes a Strong Online Marketing Asset

We know how important data is to any marketing campaign, online or otherwise: without it, you cannot optimize the processes you have in place and improve the overall performance of your business. Google certainly knows this – their Webmaster Tools, Analytics and AdWords platforms belong to the most informative, readily available data tracking technology there is online.

It seems this year, they want to improve their platforms even further. They bought Adometry, a marketing analytics and optimization platform. Google explains that the acquisition “will build on the momentum of our existing measurement and analytics offerings, which include Google Analytics Premium as well as other products,” adding:

Attribution solutions, like Adometry’s, help businesses better understand the influence that different marketing tools — digital, offline, email, and more — have along their customers’ paths to purchase (http://goo.gl/tXTliw). This heightened understanding, in turn, enables businesses to measure marketing impact, allocate their resources more wisely, and provide people with ads and messages that they’re likely to care about.

This shows that digital marketing is likely moving to become more performance-based and accurately measurable. Data is becoming a strong online marketing asset, and marketers will likely devote a lot of effort and resources into analyzing and making the most of consumer data. Companies using performance models for growing channels, such as mobile and video, will soon be a common sight.

Human insights, combined with machine learning and real-time predictive analytics, will pave the way for easier, more data-driven marketing strategies.

Fun and Experience will be the Cornerstones of Most Marketing Strategies

In today’s ever-changing marketing world, it’s not enough to just get the attention of your consumers, you also have to give them something new—an experience. Consumers will be looking for something more than visually entertaining, they’ll want fun and experience.

Groundbreaking marketing creativity and innovation anchored on wearable technology and augmented reality can be expected. This will likely lead to digital marketing without boundaries; one that’s fueled by strategies focusing on fun, immersive experiences.

“Personal” Will Have a Whole New Meaning

Soon, it might not be enough for companies to just know what you want; they will likely also want to know when you’re most likely to want something. At the start of the year, Apple applied for a patent for a technology that would make inferences about the moods of people in real time.

“If an individual is preoccupied or unhappy, the individual may not be as receptive to certain types of content,” Apple explained.

Their solution? Figure out how a person is feeling at any given moment, and use that data to target content—or more accurately, ads—to be delivered at the right place and the right time.

Combining the technology on data tracking and analysis with the innovations in wearable technology, we can expect marketers to combine behavioral indicators—such as the rate of ‘likes’, comments, shares, the applications users open first, and the date, time, location and other specifics of their online interaction—with physical indicators tracked by a smartwatch or some other wearable gadget.

The word “personal” will have a whole new meaning, especially when it concerns digital marketing and online interactions.

Whatever updates and innovations may come, one thing is for sure: the digital marketing of today won’t certainly look the same as tomorrow’s. Companies clearly will be gearing for the future—are you?

How about you? What do you think is the future of digital marketing?

 

About the author: Clayton Wood is passionate about communicating the impact that technology has in online marketing. He is the Marketing Director of SEOReseller.com and managing partner of numerous successful online brands that offer white label SEO and other online marketing services. Clayton can be found on LinkedIn and Google+.

 

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