EdgeRank: Do day to day users think it is a good idea?

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So first lets talk a little bit about what Edgerank is for those who are unfamiliar with the subject. It is a algorithm that Facebook used to determine what showed up on your news feed. Now that social media is evolving so rapidly, even this one time somewhat complex algorithm that dealt with affinity, weight, and decay is a thing of the past. Now to take its place is something more complex that all the details are still not yet known. So lets take a look at the edgerank  criteria. Affinity is a relationship in a sense, who is interacting with you on facebook, who you have engaged with in the past. The weight can be thought of as what kind of things that you are posting and how popular they are amongst your friends (i.e photos, videos, comments, and likes). Decay is how long that your posts has been up in relation to time, basically it is time. So all this things are put into the algorithm to determine what came up on your friends’ news feed, but the question I am here to ask, and  that others have in the past is; do we need a more complex facebook? Is facebook deviating away from a winning model to only complicate things and frustrate users?

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To be honest, before a few days ago I had no idea that this was a thing. I read many articles and one that I read was about Mark Cuban and his frustration that his media on facebook wasn’t reaching all of his Maverick’s fanbase and that in order for it to be effective it would cost him on the upwards of three thousand dollars. Mark goes on to talk about what a time suck that facebook is and that this is a feature that we all like about facebook.  I am sure it is easy to share the sentiment that facebook should always be simple, but it is an ever changing social network and always has been. The more that people look to it to promote their businesses, the more that facebook will try to capitalize on business’s using their services. Facebook is a technology based business that is ever evolving and trying to stay current in the ever changing landscape of social media. It now tries to contend with the new and upcoming while dealing with the mecca that many business users have taken to the Twitter platform. I don’t necessarily think that facebook is trying to be extra greedy, but at the end of the day they are a business that is always looking for ways to increase ROI. I believe that they also want to be on the cutting edge so they don’t get left behind. With so many buzz words like search optimization and relevance I think that this isn’t too shocking of a trajectory. We have become so used to these freemium models that it has become an expectation.

So what to do? If asked by a client tmr, what should we do to pursue a more aggressive facebook campaign?  I would say that  it comes down to engagement. If we want our message to come across in a optimal way that we need to be engaging with people. Putting content out their that isn’t spammy. I think this is one of the things that Mark Cuban overlooked in some of his arguement. Also sidenote, I found it interesting that he says that it is just a way to catch up with friends and is a time suck, but in the same stroke he and his employees use it to market products and events in the business realm. In business it takes money to make money, and I feel that Mark is jumping the shark.

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a network of awesome

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Today I want to take a look at two really interesting practices of co-creation and crowdsourcing. So what is co-creation? According to the JSR (Journal Service Research) it is a collaborative new product development in which consumers actively contribute and select various elements of a new product offering. This is just about as good of a definition as any. All I can say is that we live in a really crazy, unique, and awesome time. Simply put the internet. We have been able to collaborate in such amazing ways by having access to a network that allow companies and people a like to have access to one another’s skill sets, which has led to some pretty cool things.

Examples

What are some behaviors that encourage co-creation? This is a somewhat loaded question, because there are many reasons why people want to particpate. It ranges from psychological to monetary reasons. Some ways that companies have encouraged co-creation is by increasing benefits, profit sharing, reducing cost to contributors, improving quality.
What are some of roadblocks that prohibit co-creation? Co-creation can be easier said than done. Often consumers needs are complex and companies may not be able to fully assess or afford to see a product come to realization. Another thing that migh stifle co-creation is that companies may not want to share intellectual property that may make them vulnerable or exposed to competitors.

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What is Crowdsourcing? It is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
Who is doing it? There are many companies, customers, and innovators who are participating in collaborative efforts to overcome hurdles, or just share insights into a product that they might want to see developed. Where do you find funding, or who might you enlist to do the work? A few companies that I wanted to talk about are Kickstarter and Quirky. Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform. You support an idea that you would like to see come to life by pledging money where you as a pledger will hopefully see a tangible reward. I say hopefully because Kickstarter isn’t without flaws. One of the biggest hurdles for many people who have great ideas is seeing them all the way through. I will never forget when a wise man once told me that “good ideas are cheap, implementation is expensive”. This in an essence is what Kickstarter struggles the most with. Kickstarter itself has somewhat hands off approach. There have been many cool projects that have come to fruition in kickstarter’s defense. Quirky takes a more hands on approach. It takes peoples submissions for the next million dollar idea, sorts them, takes the best ideas, and creates them, distributes them, and offers 10-30% profit sharing to the person who submitted the idea. Pretty awesome if you are the person who has a bunch of ideas, but may not have the time or logistics to see them through. Quirky takes on most of the heavy lifting. Pretty cool company.

In today’s world you don’t need a million dollars to launch that great idea, and if you do, you can find financial help from peers and investors through crowdsourcing. If you need help solving complex problems or to help brainstorm the next idea you can enlist the world through the portal we call the internet. Co-creation and crowdsourcing is becoming quite relevant and useful. I think we will continue to see more and more projects done through collaboration. Pretty awesome that we have leveled the playing field. It seems as though the internet’s compressing of space and time has had some pretty cool benefits.

Money in digital

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Wow the future of money is fascinating and somewhat disturbing. It is always a nice idea to think of making life as seamless and cool as possible, and it seems as though a data trail is inevitable. But do we want even more information out there for third parties who are using this information to make insane profits from our habits? This is just something to think about. For example if in the next five years, do we want yet another party such as Google, Square, Paypal, Levelup, or the company who has yet to emerge to know what we are purchasing? One could argue that Google probably already have a good idea. Google has already compiled and made a lucrative sum off of the data that we already share in exchange to use some of their awesome products. Is this just the price of admission or should we be leery of jumping on the next band wagon and enjoying these freemium products we have grown accustomed to? I always get this sense that we are trying to see how many functions we can jam into our smartphones. It will be interesting to see where technology peaks in relation with our smartphones.
I love having a smartphone that removes barriers from my life and makes it easy for me to function on a day to day basis, but sometimes when I am not marveling at that “great” new app, I have a fleeting thought run through my head, that says can this really be this awesome, could the implications of this technology misused be a really bad thing? Then I usually smartly forget that menacing thought so I don’t end up wearing the tin foil hat. I think that it is healthy to have a certain amount of skepticism when constantly being bombarded with the next life changing thing that we all have to have. How much better will holding up your phone as opposed to using your credit card be?
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These are just some of my concerns, but that isn’t stopping the tech world from going full steam ahead, with the digital currency and payment methods of tomorrow. There are many companies that want to be the company that levels the playing field in using our smartphones as a wallet. Google wallet which is backed by the tech giant Google is probably a safe bet, although there are more such as a homegrown company in Boston called Level Up that is trying to integrate the web into its payment model. Then you have the Square that has made a lot of progress in incorporating your phone to your banking and exchange needs, however still has external hardware to maximize functionality. Jack Dorsey CEO of Square and cofounder of twitter coins the term “frictionless” the company that offers it all in a very usable format. The company that makes the entire experience frictionless and encompasses the 360 view of consumer’s needs will most likely be the victor. Then there is Bitcoin which still has many of us scratching their heads. So the is much out their to decipher and to anticipate as to which modes of currency and how we are likely to spend that currency. Here is a link to my digital marketing prof’s blog, the content is very useful if you want a little knowledge and background to some of the issues raised in this blog. And just remember “Cash is King”.

Growth of Mobile Marketing

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So I just read an interesting fun fact that mobile marketing is set to eclipse radio in advertising in the not so distant future. By 2017 mobile spending will be estimated at 42 billion dollars. Wow! Smartphones have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Today we are on our phones more than ever. We have so many uses for our phone and there is no end in sight to the capabilities derived from these handheld devices. What we have in the palm of our hands is stuff from Star Trek…. but better. With all the possibilities we are becoming more and more captivated. It is nothing for me to walk around the university I attend and at least see 40% of the student body walking to classes to be on there phone in one fashion or another.
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So what does this mean to you as a aspiring marketer? It means a lot. The implications of being able to reach people at all times through their mobile devices is huge. With geo locating we can also manipulate what ads go where so they can be more relevant to a potential customer in your neck of the woods. Mobile marketing is a rapidly growing field. Like stated earlier it is becoming a more relevant player soon to surpass radio and possibly one day print. This is a new field of marketing that is growing and will need people to fill in the skill set gaps a long the way. Which means new jobs.
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Some are critical of data needed to make this an efficient way to advertise, but data itself is becoming more and more user friendly as well. It is inevitable that this will be the progression in nearly all marketing jobs to some degree. The duality of qualitative and quantitative data is more prominent than ever before. One of the main reasons is that we have the tools to measure just about each and every metric that we would want to know about our business. Something to be mindful about is not placing all the emphasis on data. We are human beings and as much as we highly think of linear progressions, we aren’t always linear. In fact one could argue that things happen more in a step process. The task however is still the same, insightfully anticipating our target markets needs and purchasing behavior.
I would like to challenge you after reading this, to think about ways in which you already get advertised to on your device. Which ways would give you the best user experience? I know that for myself I don’t get a ton of mobile advertising, and when I do I usually get annoyed that the information is usually irrelevant to anything that I do and I usually ignore it or pay for the upgrade to not see it at all. So please feel free to leave your comments. I would love to hear them. Who knows, you could be sitting on the next billion dollar idea!
If you would like to learn more about mobile marketing then please read this comprehensive pdf Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising.

Personalization is King

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Do you remember when the only thing the computer was good for was solitaire and porn? Well a lot has changed since then. The landscape of the digital world we live in keeps getting bigger, and yet smaller at the same time. What I mean is that there is more and more information being added everyday, there is so much data that we have skill set gaps in deciphering all of it, and yet our experience on the web is getting more and more tailored, some would say almost myopic.

With the emergence of new businesses coming to market, there is a trend of the more personalized the experience the better chance your company is going to have higher customer satisfaction, which in turn lends that your company will be more successful. Just a few companies that come to mind Google, Netflix, and Amazon to name a few. What they have in common is that they base decisions on your behavior while using the internet. They give you relevant information that will be beneficial to you, which in turn makes your experience  way more awesome than having to navigate through a bunch of clutter. The end result is when you get on one of your computing devices you are accessing relevant information that is helping make your life more efficient. In a generic sense we as people like that.

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So what does this mean for the future? Our digital landscape is becoming more and more personalized. More importantly it is becoming the norm. We are seeing data manipulation and personalization everywhere from  buying a book, pair of shoes, to helping win presidential campaigns. So let’s face it many companies are becoming more personalized and there has been a lot of debate over whether this is ethical because of the methods in acquiring information in order for us to have this awesome tailored experience. In the UK they banned the use of cookies, which is a large part of how companies are able to customize your computing experience on the internet. If we decide that we don’t have a problem with the use of cookies here in America, then we will keep pushing forward in the customized aspect of peoples computing needs. This has huge implications for the landscape of marketing which is a constantly changing landscape. It means that we will keep pushing forward in meeting people on digital grounds. The learning curve is going to be hitting more of your target audience with more relevant information, which in turn should lead to higher ROI, all while maintaining a coherent message and finding ways to make a participative brand experience that will engage your target audience. custom3

So lets face it, we are going to have to give up a little privacy to get the most beneficial services. This is helpful to the company who wants the business in helping meet your needs, which in turn will be very helpful to the customer experience. Not only that, but it will be very helpful if you are trying to get a job in this growing field. There are a lot of moving parts in the experiences we have on websites such as Amazon, when you buy the book and you immediately get recommendations to other great books closely related, that you can then decide if you are interested in by reading many insightful reviews from your peers. All while seeing a thoughtfully placed  add for that awesome Gore-Tex jacket that has been chosen for you because you searched Arcteryx in the Google search engine beforehand. There are many different aspects to digital marketing that makes this all possible.

I will be the first to admit the digital world has the connotation of “Big Brother”, but lets face it we like having things personalized to meet our needs.  All that said I would love to hear your thoughts. and how you feel about the digital landscape in which many of us find ourselves.

Why SQL will make you a marketing baller

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What is SQL?

So I guess we should first talk about what SQL stands for and what it does. SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and what it is, is a special programming language designed for managing data held in a relational database management. RDBMS

How to learn?

Now more than ever there are many options out there for learning to code. I know that in one of my recent blogs I talked about using HTML on codecademy, but there are many different sites to sharpen your teeth. I really liked the list provided in the blog by Jaime Steven called Every Marketer Should Be Technical. Also just a very good read.

SQLfairyWhat can SQL do for you?

SQL can do many things. SQL can execute queries, retrieve data, can update records, delete records, create new databases, create stored procedures, create views in database, and set permissions on tables, procedures, and views. Basically eliminating Excel from things dealing with your site or where you have to download data. I know that sounds like a lot, and don’t worry you aren’t crazy… it is. The learning curve isn’t terrible. As marketers, we don’t necessarily need to be a web developer, we just need to be able to manipulate pertinent information with out sabotaging what the developer has going on. You can more than double your speed in which you can learn and execute your marketing campaigns and stand to look like a marketing guru. Also just by learning SQL you will be among the few in the marketing arena. The percentage for marketers that know SQL is in single digits. Hello! Can you say differentiation? Differentiation and proficiency = JOB. The field is expansive and has many gaps from skill set to employment. It helps to have a formal education, but you don’t necessarily have to have a degree in computer science to land one of these jobs.  I don’t want to take away from the fact that learning SQL takes an incredible amount of time of just sitting down and actually going through commands. There is much to learn. Once again though, as a marketer you really just need to know enough to use data in your marketing world.

So who is doing SQL well?

There are many companies that have enjoyed the success of using SQL. One I want to show is that of Chevron. You can check out many others on this informative  Microsoft PDF. These are just an illustration of some companies that are viewable.

“Chevron, one of the world’s largest oil companies, with assets in more than 100 countries, encourages its employees to analyze data and create rich reports. Information Technology Company, a business unit of Chevron, deployed Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 to provide Chevron employees with self-service analysis and report creation capabilities. Users will be able to create enhanced reports with new visualization and analysis tools. The company has also improved the performance of one of its critical business intelligence applications.

Chevron decided to take advantage of its substantial investment in SQL Server by upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. The organization saw that the software could meet its needs for high availability, self-service reporting and enhanced analysis capabilities.

“The self-service business intelligence features in SQL Server 2008 R2 will give our subject matter experts the tools they need to create their own dynamic reports. They will…have easy access to all their data.”

Stephen Walker, Enterprise Database Architect, Chevron Data Management Solution”

 

Many companies experience success with the use of SQL in their data manipulation. The field of data is becoming more and more prevalent, and many of us have no idea how to use it in a meaningful way. This is why SQL is our friend. So if you are looking for a new career opportunity or just looking to build your resume, SQL is a great skill to put in your portfolio. I hope you enjoyed. Please feel free to leave your feedback. Always enjoy your insights.

Want to boost ROI? Test, Test, and more Test

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Have you been thinking of ways to boost ROI from your internet presence? Your answer should always be YES. How might you go about that? The answer, A/B testing.  A/B testing can greatly increase the conversion rate on your website. So what is A/B testing you might be wondering? A/B testing is  a term commonly used in web development, online marketing, and other forms of advertising to describe simple randomized experiments with two variants, A and B, which are the control and treatment in the controlled experiment. This can lead to very helpful and lucrative insights. You might realize that your green buy now button, has 20% less conversion than if you used a red buy now button. This is just a generic example, but testing little things throughout your website could give your business a big boost. One thing that I recommend, is suspending your beliefs, let the testing do the talking. Sometimes the answers can be quite surprising.

Digital A/B testing use to be only for giants such as Google and Amazon, but the further technology has come the more accessible it has become for small businesses. Data used to be harder to access in general, but now it is becoming a daily function of a business. We are using this real time information in a more meaningful way. The best part is that we have tools to measure our progress. Beware, that A/B testing can prove more difficult than the concept lets on, some companies can have negative and inconclusive results. A/B testing should be done with thought, and possibly the enlisted help of a professional.

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So let’s talk about some successful examples, what they tested, and how it has affected their business. One company that has seen the benefits of A/B testing is KinderCare. Just by changing and testing on their landing page, they eliminated bounce rate by 65% and increased conversion by 2% which lead to more people seeing their message, which means that they were able to enroll more families into KinderCare.

WePay is another company that is doing this well. WePay held testing as a contest where engineers could set up different parameters, and let the customers who visited the site do the talking on what worked best by the way that they navigated through the site.

I would also like to note, that some of the most successful businesses in A/B testing are the digital marketing firms, helping provide consulting and administering tests for companies that want A/B testing done.

A/B testing is nothing new. This has been done for many years in marketing. What makes digital so interesting is that there are direct metrics to measure progress. There are tools that are accessible to measure how long A/B testing should happen. How to set up multiple tests that may increase or decrease to ROI. One such tool is Visual Website Optimizer. Google has an optimizer as well. If you would like to learn more I recommend checking out Mark Staton’s blog. There are some good links to some informative info on who the players are and how A/B testing is done in further depth.