Why do some researchers spend so much time on useless statistics?

A little levity for your day.

Every week I look forward to reading the articles that are emailed to me from the CMO.com News in Review. This week an article titled 5 Degrees of Twitter Separation, caught my attention. I thought that it had to be a teaser for something more important than the title indicated.

I clicked on the link to discover that I was wrong. It was just a ridiculous article about how all Twitter users are removed from one another by only five degrees of separation. My initial thought was, “Who in the world cares?” So I reread the article, hoping that I might have missed something of value. Nope, my first impression was right! The article WAS based on a useless statistic that I didn’t care about. Why would someone spend valuable time and resources writing an article about how far removed I might be from Ashton Kutcher on Twitter? Most people who are even vaguely familiar with Twitter know that users don’t read 99% of the tweets that are posted by the people they are following anyway. That’s why I try to keep the number of people I’m following to a reasonable minimum; because I don’t want to sift through all the junk tweets to get to the few with some meat. This ridiculous 5 degrees of separation statistic has so little value to me as a marketing professional, that I was actually amazed that CMO.com would waste valuable space promoting it.

However, it did prompt me to seek out other useless statistics that researchers have found important enough to study, yet have very little value to…well…anyone!

Here are a few:

• Most people have an above average number of legs.
• 3 out of 10 men, and 1 out of 10 women are left-handed or
• Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada has the largest number of bars per
capita than anywhere else in the world
• On average, there are 178 sesame seeds on each McDonalds Big Mac bun
• Odds of being killed by falling out of bed - 1 in 2 million
• Termites eat through wood 2 times faster when listening to rock
• Driving at 75 miles (121 km) per hour, it would take 258 days to
drive around one of Saturn's rings
• 40 per cent of women have hurled footwear at a man
• The average person will spend two weeks over their lifetime
waiting for the traffic lights to change (Although I bet that
Washington, DC drivers are above average!)
• Assuming Rudolph was in front, there are 40,320 ways to rearrange
the other eight reindeer
• You are more likely to get attacked by a cow than a shark
• Oh, and here’s one I got from Twitter: Based on various sources,
on average 54.1167% of all statistics are meaningless

Do you have a few other useless statistics you’d like to share? Post them here.

Is It Time for Social Email Marketing?

Email marketing has been developing for a long time. However, its biggest threats, spamming issue and poor out-of-date list, lead it to low open rates. So does email have a future? Is it on the way out? Or is it just getting smarter?

Email isn't dying. It’s still "the glue" of an integrated campaign. It has its own place in generating mass interest and mass distribution of messages and offers to a target audience. According to eMarketer’s survey, 69% of respondents plan to increase spending on email marketing efforts – more than any other marketing strategy in 2010.

Nowadays, people are exposed to around 5,000 ads a day. With flooding inboxes and increasing number of companies sending email, email-marketing strategy is required to gain a new positioning in order to cope with the intense competition. In order to convey a consistent and personalized experience, integrated marketing solution with the combination of multi-channels such as email, landing pages and social media, make it easy to spread the message, but still keep it focused.

A lot of email marketers are still hesitant about using social media. In fact, the integration of email and social media help to achieve a better reach, offer people more choice and provide them content and value in function of their needs. What’s more?

  • Social media improves email response rates. According to a recent report from GetResponse, it is found that email with social media button generated significantly higher click-through rates than email with no sharing option.

  • Social media has its huge sharing power thanks to its large base of users. Its multi-level effect can spread the message not only people in your network but also their friends’ networks and so on

  • The cost of inserting social media function is almost zero. So it’s pure ROI

  • Active social networkers check their email inboxes far more regularly than those who spend less time on social networks, according to a recent finding

  • Social marketing and email marketing are sharing some common characteristics. First, they are all about dealing with people, creating connections and relationships, based on sharing, listening and engaging abilities to build trust and respect. Second, in order to do that, it requires both social marketing and email marketing to provide good and relevant content to create the “right” personalization in the “right” context in order to receive value. Finally, Both of them are considered parts of an overall marketing strategy. 

Social networks and email can feed each other, but just knowing that isn't enough. Much like successful email marketing requires more effort than blasting away at your customer list, getting your recipients to share your emails on social sites requires more effort than just dropping icons into your message template. So you have to know how to do it correctly to make it work. Some tactical ideas for integrating the two strategies include:

Testing and Educating

  • Experiment the placement position of social network links in your messages (top, middle or bottom), what social networks you link to and how many social network links you should include in your messages

  • Educate your readers about how and why they should share your content. Give them a good reason to share your promotional emails with their friends. Feature your social-sharing option in your welcome messages. Devote prime space in your regular mailings to highlight the location and use of your sharing icons or links.


  • Encourage consumer-generated content and peer reviews on your different social media platforms, and then add this as a section in newsletters. People seem to be more interested in these content than the traditional information.

  • Set up an automated trigger that sends a message requesting a product review after a purchase to build up your database of user-generated reviews. You can then populate personalized emails with these reviews according to each recipient’s interests or purchase history, resulting in messages that are more targeted and engaging to recipients

  • Create your own corporation network. Site visitors can discuss about products and industry topics. These discussions create good fodder for e-newsletters, and forming ideas for specific articles from new e-mail newsletters

  • Use the search functions. You can follow your company and product names via Google e-mail alerts, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to gain market knowledge and good ammunition for e-mail marketing.


  • Include a sharing button to other social networks on your emails.

  • Use the email service provider (ESP)’s social marketing capabilities. Most major ESPs and e-mail software providers can send your e-mails directly to your social networks

  • Use your status to publicize the e-mail newsletter on social media, probably a day before sending the newsletter to remind people it’s coming, and get them excited about it

  • Using a blog to highlight content from an e-newsletter once or twice a month, and inviting readers to download the full content via a landing page

  • Conduct a timely poll on social networks and creating a visual representation of the results, in an e-newsletter

  • Leverage social media channels to offer email subscribers customized options 

  • Set your company up as a resource and an expert by responding to questions or getting involved in discussions on Facebook or Linkedin. 

  • Make sure the people, who were sent from social media sites, can easily find the content you want them to see on your landing page. So you should have a clear and clean design with good navigation.

Today, many marketers believe that if your messages are relevant, timely and interesting with a great integration with social media, your audience will gladly help your brand message ripple across the Internet. How’re about you? Are you confident enough to say so? Is there anything left in the list above? Waiting for your thoughts! In the mean time, have a look on this interesting video, explaining the  convergence between email and social media. Enjoy!

Online Search - Latest Trends and Innovations

Online market is growing rapidly and it will continue to grow in much more better way. According to Forrester’s report on interactive marketing tactics, the top three areas where marketers feel most potential over the next three years are social media, online video and SEO. Companies will focus more of their marketing budget on SEO. However, trends and techniques in search marketing tend to fluctuate over the years regarding to the fact that search engine market is developing in a very fast pace. It’s been time to watch out these changes and trends in online search for appropriate corporate marketing strategies

Currently, Google still rule the world’s search engine market, following by Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. After the Microsoft- Yahoo partnership at the beginning of this year, it's now going to be a Two-Engine, 80/20 world. The end users will be the beneficiaries of this highly competitive landscape. What the numbers need to show in the future is not so much the percentage of total searches each engine has but more so the influence of each engine as they compare to all the other ways that people are getting their information these days. So the question is: What is happening out there? 

1. Search engines keep its traffic 

Traditionally search engines wanted to send traffic to the most relevant web pages based on search terms. But today players like Google and Bing are both doing more to make their visitors stickier and get their queries answered without ever having to leave the engine to keep more traffic. Anytime when you “google” the weather forecasts, the currency exchanges, the soccer scores or the travel information, the results are right there on the search page, no need to go anywhere. More of this type of information is expected to be available.

2. Mobile search by location, voices and sights

Searching by location on mobile shows that the geo craze now has come to search engine on mobile devices. Google optimizes mobile search suggestions based on location to make its its search suggestions on mobile devices even easier.. Now you have the option “Near me now” on Google page in iPhone or Android cell phone to bring up search results close to your immediate location. Let's take a look, comparing the desktop search suggestions to the mobile suggestions.

Searching by voices, which was launched a year ago, enables millions of users to speak to Google. The combination between voice searching and language translation is expected to spread the search power to a larger base of users and new markets.

Searching by sights is rather new but expected to gain more notice and increasing usage. Now with only a mobile phone’s camera, you can send your picture to search engines like Google to know what you are seeing. It’s extremely helpful when going travel, exploring new places and studying. It is just so convenient and practical!

3. Search teams up with social media 

Social media has proven itself to be a productive and effective way to get the word out there and it seems like search engines are picking up on it. Social sites within the search engine results pages are here to stay. If brands do not control their Twitter page, they risk losing control of their brand’s message on Twitter and in search. So, search matters in social media marketing. So it’s time to include social media optimization as one of the SEO strategies for SEO companies.

4. Real-time search 

Microsoft and Google are racing on the real-time search integration in a response to the increasing power of social media and networks. Being partnership with leading social networks like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku and Identi. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular social sites, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. So basically, the real-time search enables you to discover breaking news the moment it's happening, even if it's not the popular news of the day, and even if you didn't know about it beforehand. And, as part of the launch of real-time, Google also added "hot topics" to Google Trends to show the most common topics people are publishing to the web in real-time. 

5. Personalized search

Personalized search is here to stay. Both Google and Bing have released their "permanent" personalization of results. Search engines are now storing information about what you’re searching for even if you’re not signed in. So basically, personalized search helps you to get more relevant, useful search results, recommendations, and other personalized features

Personalized search does present some new challenges for SEO. It is difficult to explain to clients how personalized search results appear at various positions depending upon who is carrying out the search. So changes in SEO tactics such as providing fresh, relevant, engaging and updated content, making it easy to bookmark but still not overlooking the universal search are necessary.

BP & The Pres Need PR Help

OK, I’ve been trying to avoid blogging about the BP oil disaster, as it seems to be a popular topic for every other blogger in America regardless of which side of the political isle you sit on.

However, the PR gaffes from both BP and the Obama administration have made it impossible to ignore any longer. Their continual ignorance makes me wonder if they either don’t have good PR advisors or if they are just not listening to the advisors they have.

BP’s PR agency of record is The Brunswick Group, which up until now, has had a stellar reputation. However, in a recent story in Advertising Age, here is what the magazine’s Michael Bush wrote:

“All of the industry executives and competitors of Brunswick that Ad Age spoke to, who all asked not to be identified, praised the shop for its work in the mergers-and-acquisitions, financial-communications, litigation, CEO-positioning and corporate-communications sectors. But a number of them questioned the decision to have the agency's Washington office lead the crisis based on its size. “

It appears that The Brunswick Group may be in over its head and/or is simply not identifying all possible scenarios.

In my opinion, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that a company chairman should never refer to the people his company hurt as “small people”; that a company president should never say, “I want my life back”, when his company has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; or for that same president to take a vacation and watch his personal yacht race, while gulf fishermen watch their livelihoods disappear, as their boats sit in dry dock.

I’m not sure what The Brunswick Group is doing, but it clearly isn’t enough. Although in fairness, it is difficult defending the indefensible.

As for President Obama… well, his PR braintrust isn’t faring much better. Why would you wait a month to visit an area that has been devastated by a disaster, then claim that you are in charge of the clean up effort, when that effort is a joke? Then the President decided to attend baseball games, play golf, entertain friends and athletes at the White House, and otherwise enjoy all the benefits that being the President has to offer, while his constituents along the gulf coast continued to watch their lives fall apart. You would have thought he’d have learned something after the Bush handling of Katrina, especially since he was one of Bush’s harshest critics. But it appears that he learned nothing.

Exactly what did having the BP leadership team sitting in front of a congressional hearing accomplish other than giving members of congress a platform to grandstand? Did they really think that Americans didn’t already know that BP was responsible for the oil leak? Did they really think that the questions that they asked BP execs haven’t already been asked of Tony Hayward and his minions dozens of times already? It was a pathetic attempt to look like leaders, by people who are anything but! However, it's what congress does best.

To continually claim that BP doesn’t care about the disaster, in my opinion, is just naïve and ignorant. If someone, anyone, can give me one good reason why BP wouldn’t want this disaster cleaned up as quickly as possible, I’m listening! BP has absolutely NOTHING to gain by this situation lingering on.

Has BP made mistakes? Many! Has President Obama made mistakes? You bet!! Do they both want this disaster to end as quickly as possible? Absolutely! Are they both just as incompetent in their efforts to do so? No question about it.

Please stop pointing fingers. Just fix the problem and make sure that taxpayers don’t wind up footing the bill.

The Underwater Iceberg of Location-Based Mobile Services

Last time I have mentioned about the concept of location and geo-fence as one of the expected trends in mobile marketing this year. It becomes hotter with more competitors, including established services, emerging businesses and big online companies. All of them are joining the geo-location battle.

Currently there are two most popular location-based mobile apps, Foursquare and Gowalla, working as both a social network and a game, built on GPS function and user-generated contents. Basically, they two all allow users to share their location with friends. So, when you walk into a bar or restaurant or mall, you probably "check-in" on your cell phone, and your friends will see where you are. You get rewarded for frequent check-in activities. That’s quite simple!

Just in case you really still have no idea about what they are, or for further information, here are the summaries of FourSquare and Gowalla on CrunchBase

What are their differences?

Here is a brief comparison done by Mashable:

What do users get? 

• Connecting with friends, knowing where they were and getting tips from other people for each location
• The fun of earning badges and various perks from the places where they check in.
• Accessibily to your check-in history, giving you a snapshot of “What, Where, When, Who”

Let’s talk business!

The clever part here is that you get points for checking-in. But the really cleverer part is more about business. These geo-social networks are certainly capturing marketers’ attention. Through smartphones that signal someone’s location, stores and brands like Starbucks, Tasti-D-Lite, Macy’s and Pepsi are getting live information about when and where people are shopping. Some companies are turning Foursquare or Gowalla into a virtual loyalty-card program, while others are creating their own location applications, customers discounts or other rewards for shopping.

So basically, Foursquare and Gowalla are rolling out free analytics programs that will give participating businesses detailed information on who is checking-in to their locations, and give them the ability to communicate with the visitors. That’s what set these services apart.

The risky side

While some may find interested in sharing their location, the concept of automatic geo-location a little hard to accept, especially in terms of privacy concerns, Are people ready to share their personal locative information? Probaly. Or not really.

A recent poll on some reasons more people aren’t using check-in services revealed privacy and security concerns as a number-one reason.

The future

• Giants get into the game with motivation of the true value which comes from targeted advertising based on locality. The only question for these businesses to answer now is whether or not location-based rewards are the killer feature or if location can stand alone.

  1. Facebook has been actively testing multiple location products and considering various implementations of some form of location feature.

  2. Twitter has announced their official plans for location. “Twitter Places”, the product enables users to “tag Tweets with specific places Additionally, the product integrates with Foursquare and Gowalla. However, Twitter isn’t implementing a badges service right now. 

• Database of consumer behaviors and lifestyle can be built from location-based services. For instance, insurance companies can start tracking this data to have a more accurate way of determining risk and rates.
• Companies and retailers will have more creative approaches, incentives and campaigns to encourage consumers using these check-in services.

Social Games – No More Playing Around!

If you have a Facebook account, you're probably familiar with games like Farmville, Mafia Wars or Texas Hold’em Poker. The world of social network gaming is seen as a comparatively gentle one. Players are more likely to be growing crops and cooking dinners than slaying monsters and killing bad guys. These games might seem like a good way to entertain with no entrance condition. However, anyone who is involved deeply into it will find that it’s only the surface of the iceberg. So what’s more?

1. What are Social Games?

Social Games = Casual Games (user engagement) + Social Networking (viral distribution)

Basic types of social games include:

• Multiplayer games that utilize the social graph as part of the game. (Parking Wars, PackRat,..)
• Games which mainly involves socializing or social activities like chatting, trading, or flirting. (Farm Ville, Pet Society, Friends For Sale…)
• Turn-based games that are played within a social context or with friends. (Texas Hold'em Poker, Scrabble,…)
• Competitive casual games with friends-only leaderboards. (Who Has the Biggest Brain?, Word Challenge,…)

2. Working Principles

Most of social games work on four basic principles:

Simple gameplay, which does not require much tactical or strategical thought. Just simply click on something and get the reward, then make it to other higher rewards in similar steps 
Real-time based element, which require you to wait for sometime when starting a process and doing activities. It doesn’t take much time for each visit but requires you to come back everyday, or even several times per day.
Microtransactions, which are the solution for the dilemma of real time elements. To advance faster, game players need to buy more clicks or more rewards per time unit. For those who don’t want to spend money, they can do something like signing-up or taking a survey with the game company’s commercial partners
Network connections, which means using the power of social networks. Friends can help or recruit each other in a social game even if you aren't online at the same time. 

So basically, the common rule is to get people hooked with easy rewards, then block them from gaining those rewards as fast as they want, make them pay you money directly or via another company, and encourage them to invite all their friends to participate. In fact all of these games can be played without spending any real money, and without signing up for shady offers to receive more in-game currency. But in-game earnings will never be enough to keep things interesting. That’s the story!

3. Top Games

4. Top Companies

Most of social-game companies have built their entire business model around relatively tiny micro-transactions. Because the games are free, what companies are trying to do is get as many people engaged in the game as possible. Then they try to maximise the number of those players that we can offer something interesting to - that they would be willing to pay money for. Furthermore, the companies also try to maintain players’ interest through constant updates. 

Current big players include:

Zynga - 700 employees and $200 mil revenues in 2009, the developer of Facebook.
Playfish - 250 employees and $75 mil revenues in 2009 
Playdom - 300 employees and $50 mil revenues in 2009, the leader on MySpace

Even these companies have made huge revenue, their reputation is going down. Last year, Tech Crunch revealed a video featuring Zynga CEO Mark Pincus saying the company "did every horrible thing in the book" to make money off of player. It was a hit to the company and players at that time

5. Security and Social Risks

• To accumulate significant amounts of currency, players can either purchase some with their credit card or sign up for an account or do some surveys with a third-party service. But it found that these surveys contain risks with its request to get your mobile phone number and end up at subscription for an unknown service at a specific cost.
• Being targeted by hackers and viruses is another possibility of playing social games. Some bugs can destroy all of your game progress.
• Spamming friends by numerous updates, requests or invitations might cause inconveniences and may lead to losing some “real” friends

6. Future of Social Games

• The expansion of social networks in terms of size and popularity will bring social games to more users. Furthermore, social networks are widely seen as the new email and the new SMS diving rich, shared content that capitalizes on mass interaction
• The development of smartphone market, app market and social networking usage on smart phones will enhance the popularity of social games.
• Game companies are planning to build up their own social networks
• Current social game players are aged between 18 and 34 but the 40+ market and the “mass market” are also present and potential.
• The upcoming social games will be more targeted and diverse in categories in order to cope with the increasing competition. 
• The second generation of social games will be more developed in terms of gameplay and graphics. With Flash 10's 3D capabilities, 3D games may be coming to social networking sites soon.
• More channels and methods of trading virtual goods will be established. More online platforms to support game players will become popular.

Is Stephen Strasburg a Marketer's Dream or Nightmare?

Let’s face facts: Stephen Strasburg is bigger than the Washington Nationals. Right now more people are interested in seeing Strasburg pitch than they are in watching the National’s win.

While it is great for an organization to have a face that will help sell tickets and generate excitement, this one may just prove to be more of a marketing challenge than a benefit…at least in the short term. Here’s why:

There are a few professional athletes who immediately come to mind whose reputations were bigger than the franchises they represented: Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Babe Ruth, Pelé, Jackie Robinson. I’m sure you can come up with a few more.

However, the primary difference between these players and Stephen Strasburg is that they played every game. Strasburg pitches once every five games. How can you build a marketing campaign that will sell tickets to all your games when your best weapon is a player that only takes the field about once a week? Do you sell “the player” or do you sell “the franchise”.

Additionally, these other players had quality teams around them that helped their franchises win, giving their respective marketing departments the ability to integrate two sellable messages: “see a great player, see a great team”. I don’t think that the National’s can be put in that classification yet. As of today, they’re still in the cellar of the National League East.

We’re all familiar with the aphorism, “A rising tide lifts all boats”. In this case it could be applied to the Nationals; as in all likelihood, they should see some residual financial benefits from the excitement surrounding Strasburg, even when he’s not playing. But if you focus your marketing messages on one marquee player, what happens to the franchise if that player begins to play poorly or worse, gets injured and is out for the season? You can’t rely on the residual benefits of a franchise player who is in rehab.

About a year ago, I saw a terrific panel discussion on sports marketing that was hosted by the DC Chapter of the American Marketing Association. One of the panelists was John Guagliano, the National’s VP of Marketing. In his closing remarks he said that the Nationals were selling “hope”. While the comment was made half in jest, I think it was somewhat prophetic.

The Nationals now have the hottest commodity in Major League Baseball in Strasburg; the next coming in 17 year old phenom Bryce Harper, who could reach the big leagues by the ripe old age of 20; an all star third baseman in Ryan Zimmerman who is only 26 years old; and by all accounts a strong list of prospects down in the minors.

For all intents and purposes, the future does look bright for the Nationals. But the team needs to sell tickets and sponsorships…today! You can only sell “hope” for so long. At some point you have to start selling results. And so far, the Nationals haven’t done that.

There is no doubt that the team is better with Strasburg on the roster, but he isn’t going to sell out 81 home games when he is only playing in 16 of them.

IKEA's Brilliant "Tagging" Campaign on Facebook

One of the most clever digital campaign last year should belong to IKEA. They set up a profile for the store manager and launched a simple message: "Tag yourself on the furniture that you want to win (in each image). Then write a statement about why you should win in the comment field below the photo. Then hope you were the first to tag that item and had the best justification. Winners will be contacted directly through Facebook. Good luck!" 

Some of the best campaign strategies are simple, and none simpler than using the default “tagging” tool on Facebook to help create a buzz for an online competition. With the way tagging works on Facebook, the moment you tagged anything, everyone in your network instantly knew what was up for grabs. Subsequently, thousands and thousands of people were flooding the Facebook page in search of freebies. A very clever approach for small budget campaigns. 

The Latest Hits in Mobile Marketing

The mobile market is exploding. Cell phone penetration has been surpassing cable TVs and home PCs in many countries. Mobile marketing expenditures are expected to exceed $2 billion in 2010. Thirty-eight percent of youth already claim that mobile is more important to them than their wallet! Click-through rates on mobile ads are even higher than online. Mobile advertising is beginning to show a track record of results, both on click-through and in leading to purchase.

So marketers surely see the potential of mobile marketing. But what are the latest hits and take-aways for them to get on the current market? Here come four highlighted trends to think of

1. Smartphone market's growth

Smartphone ownership increased to 17% of mobile users in 2009, according to Comscore. Smartphone penetration is estimated to reach 50% of the market by the middle of 2011
  • Smartphones change mobile users behaviours, leading to more entertaining usage (music, games) and mobile web activities (internet, email). As a result, mobile web will reach more people and mobile sites will be significantly invested in the upcoming years. 

  • Smartphone owners continue to be predominantly male, most likely between the ages of 25 and 34

  • Mobile platforms for smartphones are enhanced with social media apps, such as Twitter and Facebook, which just announced a 54% increase in mobile use in the past six months. 

2. Change in SMS campaign tactics

There is a lot of potential with SMS campaigns and a number of companies have shown real success with them. 
  • Previous SMS campaigns shown that the key to success is to integrate the SMS campaign into the rest of the marketing campaign; highlight the shortcode across other forms of advertising. SMS is highly measurable, so the results should be tracked and campaigns should be modified over time

  • SMS campaigns are now built not simply based on one-way messaging but consumer-created content and active participation. 

  • CRM databases tend to be linked into mobile marketing. Retailers can apply this into their SMS campaigns.

  • Mobile coupons through SMS become popular

3. Increasing mobile apps

Mobile apps differ from standard WAP banner ads, location-based text ads and mobile video by engaging consumers and immersing them into a branded environment in which users will be more receptive to brand messages in a far more interactive and viral platform. Mobile app downloads across all handsets are estimated to climb from over 7 billion downloads in 2009 to almost 50 billion in 2012. Advertising contributed almost 12% of the overall apps revenue in 2009 and is expected to more than double to over 28%. Games are most downloaded apps, coming next Entertainment and Social Networking

  • Supply will exceed demand in mobile apps. Discovery of apps is now an issue with the massive increasing number of apps. Launching a new app becomes a challenge and requires more innovations and investment. Apps markets are evolving differently worldwide, indicating a need for creating different apps business models instead of a "one size fits all" approach.

  • The battle of the app stores becomes more intense. In 2009 the number of app stores leapt from 8 to 38 and is expected to further increase in 2010. It signifies a battle for survival of the fittest among app stores worldwide, with app revenue and growth opportunities growing significantly.

  • Apple still dominates the app market. Though Blackberry has a huge number of handsets,  low awareness of the app store and complicated app installation are a pain for them. 

  • Most of the current mobile marketing campaigns request a mobile app development.

4. Geographic and behavioral targeting

Targeting people based on location and using behaviours is the biggest opportunity for marketers in mobile. Location and behaviour data will begin to be mined as a rich new source of insights that marketers can harness to improve the effectiveness of their efforts. By knowing the location of the phone, SMS campaigns can be directly targeted. 
  • Foursquare, a geo-social network, allowing people to share location with friend, is capturing marketer’s attention. 

  • Geo-fence, a virtual field around any location that is used to trigger a mobile marketing message to a user when they enter or exit the area, is forecasted to become part of marketers' vocabulary.

  • Retailers and businesses are offering coupons, promotions and sales for consumers checking in through location-triggered application on their mobile phones.

  • The evolution of search is also moving to mobile platforms with more emphasis on the local and social, as well as behavioral targeting. Mobile search will continue to grow in 2010 and beyond. More localization and businesses will be expected to relate to mobile search. 

All in all, three key drivers of mobile marketing in 2010 and perhaps in upcoming years have been predicted as Location, Relevancy and Immediacy. Advertisers will be increasingly drawn to mobile's unique opportunity to reach and engage consumers with immediate and location-specific content at the most relevant content to different consumer groups. And privacy is another critical issue for advertisers to consider in order to protect personal identification information.

The Handshake of Social Media and World Cup 2010

As the world’s biggest sport event is coming in the next three days, its heat is spreading further and hotter than ever before. The world is going to stop for a month to watch out the game.

Sport connects people. And so do social media. With more than 40 million active Facebook users, 50 million daily tweets and millions of views on Youtube everyday, social media have been becoming more popular since the previous game in 2006. So this will be the first World Cup experiencing the explosive growth of social marketing. There’s buzz about the role the social media will play in the action off the field. The only question: What have you seen, here and there?

FIFA developed its own service

FIFA has plans to get in on the action with its own social networking service called TheClub on its official website. There are more than 1.6 million members attended so far, who connect to other fans around the world.

Social networking sites are ready

The marketing strategies of World Cup 2010 include the use of Facebook sites to connect fans on global and regional levels and Twitter accounts to provide updates on the preliminary news and action. It’s expected to drive a record amount of social media traffic as users descend on Twitter and Facebook to critique refereeing decisions, celebrate goals or simply taunt the opposition.
  • Facebook has an app that ranks soccer passion based on number of “Likes” fans hit for their team, divided by the number of Internet users in that country. Moreover, football fans have already participated in Facebok fanpages and groups and got daily updates about this global "social" event in advance of the 32 team competition.

  • Twitter has already commented that they expect this year’s World Cup to drive more online traffic than the U.S. presidential election and the Super Bowl. Very much like the Winter Olympics look for Twitter to be a tremendous source for 2010 World Cup breaking in the moment news, insight and reactions.

Brands are getting more social 

FIFA sponsors and partners have also evolved their strategies for building and sustaining online buzz around the tournament. Brands have multiple planned online touch points for the World Cup. They are also directly or indirectly participating in World Cup social media marketing related endeavors.
  • Coca-Cola has launched an online contest called the ‘Longest Celebration’ competition , inspired by Roger Milla’s post-goal dance at Italia ’90, which allegedly inspired a new generation of dance moves. The contest simply encourages users around the world to upload their own creative goal celebrations to YouTube.

  • Budweiser takes creativity to the next level with the “Bud House”- an online reality show featuring one fan from each of the 32 qualifying countries living in a house in Cape Town with contestants eliminated when their team is knocked out

  • McDonalds launched its online World Cup Predictor, in the form of an online fanstasy tournament, asking fans to use their knowledge to predict which teams will win which games, round-by-round

  • Sony Ericsson has launched the Twittercup which appears to be an online competition at its very simplest – the more tweets your nation receives, the further they go in the cup. Launched in December 2009, the Twittercup has already amassed 43,000 tweets

  • Castrol is launching the ‘Castrol Index’ and Castrol Predictor apps this month – the first a system for rating players (measuring passes, tackles and moves) housed on www.fifa.com to find the team of the tournament, the second using past team and player performance data to calculate which nations have the best chance of success at South Africa 2010

The real question is what kind of impact are these campaigns going to have on helping brands get the online traction their multi-million dollar investment demands?

Why isn't Marketing Viewed as a Strategic Leader in your Organization?

In a recent article in Marketing Week, Diageo chief marketing officer Andy Fennell says “the marketing discipline undersells itself when it promotes the discipline as merely the provider of ‘creative services’.”

Generally speaking, this comment could apply to any division within an organization by just substituting the name of another discipline for “marketing”. For example, IT is often viewed as the provider of information technology services and the HR department is just as often viewed as the provider of “hiring and benefits” services. However, as a marketer, the point Fennell is trying to make is that marketers should play a lead role in organizational strategic planning, but instead, often propagate the "we're just the creative guys" perception by not taking greater ownership of that planning, resulting in a myopic view of the critical value of the marketing department.

The first challenge to overcoming this perception is finding and working for a company that welcomes marketing leadership as a contributor to the overall business plan. Unfortunately, there are organizations who look at marketing (and other departments as well) strictly as a deliverable or support division, not a strategic contributor. However, once you’ve found a company willing to listen to your input, you need to demonstrate an interest in the broader business plan. If a marketer only cares about marketing, then he/she is going to be viewed only as a “marketing services provider”. On the other hand, if a marketer demonstrates that his/her vision and knowledge can help develop and direct the business plan, he/she will successfully dispel the prejudiced view of marketers as just "the creative guys".

Interestingly enough, there are generally two divisions within a company that interact with virtually every other division regularly: finance and marketing/communications. Yet in many cases, of the two divisional leaders, only the CFO is always consulted on business strategy.

For a company not to seek the marketing department's counsel, or for the marketing department not to be a leader in broader business planning is, in my opinion, short sighted.

However, a shift in perceptions doesn’t occur without someone actively working to change those perceptions. Only you can do that. So ask for the ball and then run with it!

Fahion 2.0 – Not Just a Fad!

Today, I will talk about the combination of fashion and social media, my two favourites. Let's start with the recent rising of fashion bloggers, who have ruled front rows in fashion weeks of high-class brands, which is not a surprise anymore. They are young, quirky and stylist, from a 13-year-old girl, Tavi Gevinson to the shoe-loving teenager, Jane Alridge and many other twenty-something online writers. With a combined audience of half a million readers and the power to make items sell out instantly with their recommendations, these bloggers were clearly people worthy of fashion’s attentions. So, the questions are: Where is this power actually coming from?And why in fashion and beauty industry?

• Power of Word-of Mouth

There is a fact that the fashion and beauty business has always enjoyed a certain word-of-mouth evangelism. When it comes to the promotion of these kinds of products to enhance people’s appearance, consumers listen and believe more in advice coming from friends or acquaintance that they can trust. Keeping that in mind, the fashion industry has tried different approaches to leverage the power of word-of-mouth product endorsement

Levi’s is a good case. This year, they launched a campaign named “Levi’s girl”, targetting the female fan base, to find a voice for their brand on Facebook community, following their successful “Levi’s guy” last year. That person should ideally already have a strong social media presence and be passionate about fashion and style. Videos of finalists will be shared and voted by Facebook community members. This campaign is just great as it helps the brand to engage with existing Facebook fans and attract new fans from contestants’ social networks. What’s more, it will create a huge word-of-mouth for Levi’s on social media.

• Consumer-Created Content

On the first generation of fashion brand websites, marketers have promoted and sold products directly. They did miss the word-of-mouth factor, which has been playing an important role in consumers’ mind for building their own “colour”, image and personality. Consumers want to be fashionable and beautiful in their very own way. Therefore, the absence of this important dimension to personalized selling was soon corrected with consumer-created content. Many brands, such as Nike, Longchamp, etc, allow their consumers to design and personalize the product themselves online through the interactivity of web 2.0. Inspirational online stores and social shopping trends are also blooming.

• Peer Recommendations

Blogs, social networks, discussion boards, and so on are containing consumer’s recommended brands and also their reviews and comments on different products. It opens a new era of peer recommendation on the internet. Many consumers started to take notice of these newfound opportunities, and developed a whole new category of must-visit web destinations. From the traditional “point of purchase” concept, marketers are now familiar with the new concept of “point of recommendation”. 

Nowadays, to catch up with the trend, powerful fashion bloggers have been cooperating with brands to “recommend” their products to readers. They have been attending fashion events frequently and even becoming brand designers. Jane Alridge, author of the fashion blog SeaOfShoes, who was invited to design a new shoe collection for the Urban Outfitters, is one of many examples for this.

To sum up, social media can dramatically increase return on investment and allow brands to generate a global following of loyal customers with relatively low investment. Marketers in fashion and beauty industry seeking to leverage these exciting new trends should pay attention to social media as they represent the best opportunities to take full advantage of the Internet for your brands. 

Six Reasons of Using Google Adwords for Your Advertising Campaign

To compete, you need to be found. Then to be found, you need to say something. But to build sales lead, you need to connect to your targeted customers. So it's all about competition on the internet. And it is undeniable that search engine marketing helps marketers a lot to enhance the performance online. The topic seems outdated but should be reviewed frequently. Anyone who is interested in or curious about online marketing in general or search engine marketing in particulars should understand thoroughly how it works and benefits your organization. Here it comes with 6 reasons for choosing and using Google Adwords, the leading search engine advertiser, for your online campaign:

Google Adwords can generate qualified sales lead
It is fundamental to any Google Adwords campaign to identify and select relevant and profitable keywords. Popular and obvious keyword may cost more, while keyword combinations or more specific keywords are better for the market niche. Therefore, smart key word selection can increase the qualified the sales lead according to 80/20 rule.

Google Adwords can reach worldwide and reach targeted customers 
Google's AdWords match up advertisers with content that their target market peruses regularly. It can also reach markets which were previously hard and expensive to access.

Businesses only pay Google when the ads were clicked
As a pay-per-click advertising form, businesses only pay when their ads work.

Google Adwords is a very affordable form of advertising
With low entry fee and spending on performance, Google Adwords is very cost-effective in comparison with other traditional advertising channels

• Google Adwords offer opportunities to improve the search engine optimization (SEO). 
Generally, SEO can be defined as the activity of optimizing Web pages or whole sites in order to make them more search engine-friendly, thus getting higher positions in search results. Therefore, it helps to improve quality and popularity of the corporate website.

Google Adwords is easily to monitor and control.
Google Adwords Service allows advertisers easily monitor the performance of their ads, provides detailed report on their spending and analyzes the effectiveness of the ad campaign.

So that's the point. Hope you enjoy it and welcome discussion!

Overselling can kill the customer experience

Most retailers teach their associates the art of "up selling". That is, how to convince a customer that an extra item would enhance the one they are looking to buy, or that a more expensive version might be a better option. Up selling is most common in retail outlets where associates work off of commission or bonuses.

However, there are dangers to up selling if the associate appears too aggressive or anxious to get you to spend more money. It can alienate the customer and damage the brand loyalty that may have otherwise been developed.

I recently returned from a brief respite at a beautiful golf resort in central Virginia with my family. One day I got a nice massage that was quite enjoyable. I really appreciated how the masseuse explained to me each element of the massage so that I understood its intent and how it would help relax my sore muscles. She also shared this information in such a manner that it didn't interfere with my relaxation and the soft, calming music that was playing in the background.

After the massage, I was preparing to return to the locker room to shower, then pay on my way out, when the masseuse began hard selling me on a collection of oils and skin care products that I really had no interest in buying. That brief moment of overselling turned a good customer experience into a bad one.

I would have preferred that she just explain the benefits of each oil that was used, while letting me know that they were available for purchase if I was interested, rather than try to force them down my throat while I was walking down the hall in a bathrobe.

Just a note to the wise: It's OK to teach your associates and sales teams the art of up-selling, but don't incentivize them so much on those sales that it leads to a damaged customer experience and lack of trust in your brand.

You know why car dealerships have such bad reputations? Because they are so focused on squeezing every possible dollar out of each sale. Dealerships and their sales associates fail to recognize that they can generate significantly more revenue through return customers and referrals than they can by misleading customers into paying for extras they neither need nor want. They are willing to sacrifice long term brand equity for short term sales by up selling customers on virtually everything. They oversell!

Often a soft sell or presentation of "options" is a better tactic, and one that is more likely to secure a loyal customer.

Corporate Blogging – DOs and DON'Ts

There is a truth that you can’t avoid, that is your story being cut by traditional corporate communications. The story is diluted with every single layer when going through the “traditional” routes of corporate communications, thus, often delivering a watered-down product. Blogging is different.

Many organizations are still finding their voice online and corporate blogging is one way to achieve this. It is not surprising that they are still making mistakes. The secret to success is accepting that a blog is not a traditional marketing tool. So basically, what are Dos and DON’Ts in corporate blogging?

  • Identify the corporate blog’s primary objective. Internals or externals?

  • Know your audience

  • Create blogging policies. 

  • Decide who should blog. CEO or employees or both?

  • Use your company knowledge wisely by encouraging contributors within the company

  • Embed thought leadership, connection with leaders, corporate culture, and branding

  • Decide how to obtain feedbacks and handle them

  • Engage readers and encourage them to contribute through comments and constructive criticism

  • Make a mix of forums and blogs by allowing people continue the conversation in a more constructive forum.

  • Trust bloggers and readers to go and find out for themselves the answers

  • Provide time and long-term commitment to your blog

  • Keep it short, fresh, consistent and professional. 

  • Update regular content

  • Be structured

  • Monitor frequently

  • Have fun and enjoy!

  • Say "We should have one but..." or “ We have no time to blog”

  • Keep in mind that“build it and they will come” mentality. Because a blog will not magically generate traffic. 

  • Act like faceless corporation. As people don’t like interacting with organizations, corporations or machines. People like talking to people. So throw the "corporate" out the window. 

  • Make it a marketing blog. As people prefer to read something with personality rather than advertising posts. So marketers should think of yourself as an editor rather than an author

  • Post all the robotic press releases and boring business jargon.

  • Worry that their competition will read it and rip off their expertise and ideas

  • Expect too much from your readers

  • Give up!

Again, these are some guidelines, not rules. Make your blog unique, but do remember that it is likely to be a popular touch point for the people you want to reach, probably more so than other areas of your website. Use it to inform, educate, inspire and engage.

Quit Facebook Day – To Leave or Not To Leave?

May 31st is the first officially unofficial Quit Facebook Day. To mark protest against issues such as privacy, data management, fake warnings and phising attacks, the day is when users plan to delete their accounts and leave Facebook altogether. It was formed by a teamed-up group of dissatisfied Facebook users in an effort to organize a mass, coordinated exodus from Facebook--and they're using social networks to do it.

However, quitting Facebook isn't easy. Facebook is engaging, enjoyable and addictive. It keeps people in contact with family and friends. Quitting Facebook is like quitting smoking. To many people, Facebook is the internet. 

Therefore, not many people have seemed to like the idea of quitting Facebook. Up to this moment, only 34506 have committed to delete their Facebook accounts (counts on quitfacebookday.com) Considering the fact that Facebook has somewhere in the range of 500 million users, 35,000 just doesn't seem substantial enough to make Mark Zuckerberg shed a tear. The lack of interest thus far is a telling indication of the average Facebooker's indifference to the ongoing privacy debate.

Currently, Facebook’s privacy policy has 50 different settings, 170 different options and contains almost 6,000 words, longer than the US Constitution! Although there is an evolution in privacy issue to protect users (check this LINK for more details), Facebook makes it difficult for the average user to understand or manage this.

So the simple rule is this: if you don’t want your personal information made public, don’t post it on the web. That’s especially true for sites where data sharing is an integral part of the system.

In the end, what's your decision? To leave or not to leave?