Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Machines Will Take over Marketing

Harvard Business School professor Jeffrey F. Rayport predicts that technology will soon take over marketing.

"What Salesforce.com did for sales management and NetSuite did for financial management, software-as-a-service providers will do for marketing, by automating much of what marketers do every day," Rayport says.

As ever greater dollars are shifted to digital from other forms of marketing, marketing technology will rise in importance—and spell doom for activities like planning, budgeting and management.

"Instead of setting advertising budgets on quarterly cycles, marketers will launch ad initiatives whenever opportunities emerge, and they will optimize them for efficiency and effectiveness on the fly," Rayport says. 

"Bidding on ad exchanges already happens in real time; enhancements in media placement and creative execution (for example, what image goes with what copy for a given recipient) will occur with similar speed. The 'budget cycle' is already a quaint idea. It will soon be a thing of the past."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

White Noise

Too much content is killing content marketing, says William Yates, an executive with the UK-based digital agency Novacom.

Marketers know full well customers are time-starved, but continue nonetheless to spew "protracted blogs, long, drawn out how-to articles, and over-written so-called white papers."

Most of this content is "textual junk," Yates says; and the oversupply threatens to turn marketing communications into "marketing white noise."

In fact, Yates contends, a transition is already afoot: customers are becoming more discerning.

"Discernment is the other side of the transition coin, and as this side of the coin is flipped and hits the sunlight, and discrimination prevails, so this incessant stream of nonsense will be perceived for what it actually is: valueless."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Watch Your Step with "Jive"

I read an e-book recently that, packaging-wise, would earn the envy of any marketer.

But all its polish and pizazz were wasted on me when I collided with an all-too-common blunder business writers make: confusing the words jive and jibe.

The e-book read:

"Influencer marketing jives with content marketing. Influencer marketing doesn't just jive well with with content marketing. It IS content marketing."

The writer meant "jibe."

The verb jibe means to accord with something.

The noun jive means swing music, foolish chatter, or the jargon of hipsters. As a verb, jive means to dance, talk or mislead.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

To Spur Innovation, Sponsor Playtime

Do deadlines breed innovative work?

Rarely, say most organizational behaviorists.

That's because creativity results from the playful association of ideas.

Deadlines dampen that play.

While they drive workers to work harder and longer—and even lead them to think they're innovating—deadlines, in fact, kill creativity.

To lessen deadlines' deadening effect, behaviorists suggest bosses:
  • Set deadlines that allow for playtime—and build some into every week

  • Shield workers under deadline from interruptions

  • Help workers understand why particular deadlines are mission-critical

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Planet are You on?

"Effective stories match the worldview of the people you are telling the story to," Seth Godin says.

The last time I checked, in my world the least effective way to persuade people you were trustworthy was to claim you were trustworthy.

What worldview does Overstock.com think customers have?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How Does It Feel?

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the recording by Bob Dylan of his masterwork, "Like a Rolling Stone."

A semicentennial anniversary should make you feel old. 

But most of us live outside time.

I remember a TV comedy skit from the 1970s by British comedian Benny Hill. 

Called "Woodstick," it depicted the feeble antics of a half million cane-toting geezers banned together for the imagined 50th-year reunion at Woodstock.

Feeling as frolicsome and randy as teens, the alumni were too doddering to act on their urges; when they tried, they fell down. And therein lay the gag.

Today a lot of us could star in that skit.

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time," writes novelist Milan Kundera. "Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Thing of Beauty

What's more important In marketing emails, copy or design?

In a new report on email marketing from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, digital strategist Jason Falls answers the question—categorically.

It's copy.

"Nothing makes an email more powerful than expertly written copy," Falls writes.

"Catching the recipient’s attention, taking them on a quick journey, and making them believe that more than anything they have to take the action you want them to take and take it right now, is a thing of beauty."

Falls quotes Derek Halpern, a fellow digital guru who "swears by text-only emails."

“I’ve experimented with both simple text and fancy HTML," Halpern says, "and in all my experience, simple text generates the best results."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Should You Use "Free" in Your Subject Lines?

Although the adjective can stampede customers, most experts urge you never use "free" in the subject line of marketing emails.

That's because "free" is a so-called "trigger word" which, thanks to spam filters, might well earn you a goose egg in the delivery column.

Similar trigger words include "urgent," "guaranteed," amazing" and "unlimited."

But there's good news for marketers.

As spam filters get smarter, they're learning to distinguish emails sent by bona fide marketers from those blasted by flimflammers.

Smarter spam filtration means marketers can take "free" off the list of trigger words.

I asked digital guru Jason Fallswho recommends rule-breaking to email marketers, whether you should worry about using "free" in subject lines.

"There are actually two reasons it's only a minimal concern," Jason said. 

"First, only spam filters set to a very high level of filtration would weed it out. I'd guess you've seen some 'free' headlines in your inbox in the last few months.

"Also, once you have someone subscribing to your email list, most email systems and filtration methods learn to trust emails that you see, but don't mark as spam. It's sort of a machine-learning way of white listing email addresses. 

"So using a headline like that with a segmented list of people you have sent to before, have opened before, or are long-time list members means the email is more likely to get through than not."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Brother is Watching You. But Not for Long.

Marketers' abuse of mobile data, long before it triggers government regulation, will destroy consumers' trust in many major brands, according to Thomas Husson, an analyst with Forrester.

"Mobility will change the nature of the data marketers can use and act upon," Husson writes. 

"Via sensors on wearables or smartphones, marketers will access data on our bodies and our whereabouts in real-time."

The almighty nature of mobile data, Husson believes, will tempt marketers to break consumers' anonymities—and their trust as well.

Marketers who think of privacy as just some "legal and compliance issue" are riding for a fall.

"Consumers are increasingly aware of the value of their data and expect brands to deliver clear benefits in exchange of the personal data they share," Husson says. 

"Moving forward, we believe consumers will increasingly take control of the brand relationship via mobile trusted agents. Brand trust will be built on mobile experiences. In fact, brands’ survival will depend on their ability to build trust."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Three's the Charm

Overzealous marketers devote countless hours to fashioning piles of product claims, when three would do just fine.

According to a study by behavioral scientists Suzanne Shu and Kurt Carlson, audiences react positively when exposed to one, two or three product claims, but turn suddenly skeptical when that number climbs to four.

While okay with three or fewer product claims, when exposed to more than three, audiences decide they're being manipulated—and begin to doubt the message and the messenger.

So the next time you're tempted to add yet another advantage to the pile, remember: Three's the charm.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

All You Need is Love

Simply by adding one word to a fundraising appeal, two behavioral scientists doubled donations during a study conducted in France.

Nicolas Gu├ęguen and Lubomir Lamy placed collection boxes in stores every day for two weeks, and recorded the amounts given at the end of each day. 

The boxes featured a photo of a starving woman and infant and read, "Women students in business trying to organize a humanitarian action in Togo. We are relying on your support."

Each box was identical, except for a call to action printed under the money slot. 

Some boxes read, "Donating = Helping" under the slot. Some read, "Donating = Loving." And the rest had no call to action.

To assure store location didn't bias the study, the scientists relocated the boxes at random each morning.

The results after the two weeks were startling.

Every day, the boxes reading "Donating = Loving" attracted twice as much money as the other boxes.

"We can conclude that evoking love is a powerful technique to enhance people's altruistic behavior," the scientists said.
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