Posted tagged ‘marketing’

Forum spam = marketing fail

January 29, 2009

I’ve been saying it for some time that forum spam is the quickest root to gaining an untrustworthy reputation online. Even though some of my clients have tried to contract me to seed links to sites, I’m still of the opinion that linking sites out of proper context is the lowest form of spam!

I am very active in a number of forums. If I’m working on a campaign that is in context with a thread that I read I may link to it, however my real point is that true online marketing is picked up by communities through its merit and its visibility. Brands shouldn’t have to post on forums saying “hey check this out *link*”.


Online marketing that succeeds today relies on intelligent ideas implemented in a unique and interesting way. Spam is the brainchild of brands and companies that refuse to open themselves up to modern social media roots.

FlickR, consumer blogs, youtube, live web events, webinars, webTV! These are the tools that have been around for ages that still work in a digital world. Spam is a waste of time, money and destroys brand credability.

Reliability is key to your relationships

November 11, 2008

Building relationships is key to success online.  However, it’s not about a relationship with your target market, it’s about relationships with the individuals who take an active interest in you.  It’s not just about writing blog posts, it’s about conversing with individuals, giving them the time of day and just generally making them realise that you listen and are interested in them.  With your offline relationships, with friends, partners and family, you need to be trustworthy and reliable.  If a friend calls you in need, you need to be able to be there for them and the same goes online, but with different needs.

Your audience has needs just like everybody else.  I’ve had a few ideas, but let me know if you can think of any more:

– Information:  The need to be kept in the loop.  Tell them about future posts, changes to the blog, what you are doing this week, your favourite team.

– Entertainment: The need to have a new post to read when they log on.  It’s all about content.

– Communication: The need to transfer information and opinions between them and you.  Talk to them, email them back, add them to your Twitter feed, ask them questions.

– Self gratification:  The need to feel important.  Reference individual readers in your posts, talk about how great they are, or what they have done for you.  make them feel special.

To be reliable online, you need to be there for your readers.  If you can become someone’s “go-to” blog, the first site they check each day, you are on the road to success.  But for this to happen you need to always fulfill at least one of their needs.  The easiest need to fulfill is Entertainment, by publishing plenty of content.  However, the way forward is through experimentation to find what your audience need.  Have a go, it really is worth it.

The top mistakes for business blogs

November 5, 2008

How many times have you seen it.  Some business somewhere decides it’s a good idea to write a blog (probably about their steelworks, or maybe they have a new lint remover to sell…) to generate traffic to their landing page and generally make them a squillion dollars in profit.  However, we always see the same mistakes over and over again.  They are as follows:

– Assuming we are interested in posts JUST about their products and services:  Without interesting content to draw in your audience, people will stay away.

– Spamming hundreds of links all over the blog and Twitter profile:  Viewers will jump site the second they see several links in one post.  The same goes for Twitter, but on a larger scale.  Links on Twitter must be limited, but most importantly, of interest to your readers.  If they want to see your site, they’ll look on your profile.

– Weekly updates:  If you want traffic, employ an enthusiastic English graduate to write as many interesting and thought provoking blog posts each day.  Weekly updates just don’t cut it.

– One way information stream:  You’re not providing TV adverts anymore.  Your audience needs to be engaged, conversed with, treated well, have their opinions asked and just generally made to feel like they matter.  You need to have a flow of information to and from your audience, so use Twitter, Friend Feed, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, and any other tool to keep in touch with your readers and encourage a two way information stream.

– Formal and rigid:  Finally, it’s important that you don’t sit at your computer writing blog posts with your business hat on.  Take it off, throw it away, chill out and and have fun.  Sure, you may be representing your business, but the medium of blogging allows (nay, requires) you to take more of an informal role.  People want to be chatted with, not presented to.

Harry Enfield

Heat mapping, and knowing where people look

November 4, 2008

Knowing what people do on your site is paramount.  Very often your mental image of your audience (intelligent and wealthy 20 somethings, eager to spend money on your must have electronic lint remover..) can be a little innaccurate (no-one is interested in an elecronic lint remover), so knowing what these people ACTUALLY look at when browsing your site is nearly impossible.  Do you have adverts and banners, or maybe an RSS feed that you want your audience to look at?  Well how do you know if it is well positioned?  Sure, we can see the links people click, but having this visualised over a period of time provides a huge amount of useful information that simple tools such as google analytics can’t provide.

confettiHave a look at  Crazy Egg is a service that provides tools such as “Confetti” click tracker and heatmaps that show the “hottest” parts of your site.  It lets you know the areas that are most effective, and the cold areas that people just don’t seem to care about.

What I really like about Crazy egg is that it’s so much more advanced than Google analytics.  I’ve worked for clients before who have just used analytics, and whilst you get to see a fair bit of information regarding traffic, you only realise how in-the-dark you are when you eventually use tools such as Crazy Egg.

With the information provided by Crazy Egg and a bit of brainstorming you can invent some fairly interesting strategies to increase your site profitabilty.  Here are a few I’ve thought of:

– Find the “hot” areas of your site and situate value adding sectors there

– Compare various site layouts over a period of time to find the most successful strategy

– Online ROI can be difficult to prove, so use heatmapping to demonstrate to your clients the interest your promotions receive

– Use heatmapping to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of banners and to promote social media marketing

– Return the favor to your audience.  Provide information on their own heatmapping, and direct them to areas they may be interested in.

I’m sure there are many more ideas out there, but the moral of the story is that Crazy Egg is a tool that could prove very, very useful.


Cursebird: New and rude tool for Twitter

October 31, 2008

I’ve just stumbled across a new tool for Twitter:  Cursebird.

Very basically, Cursebird is a Micro-blog like Twitter, that streams all Twitter posts that contain swear words.  Built by Richard Henry (, it’s a simple concept that is beginning to recieve quite a cult following.  Man’s nature of loving that which is taboo has given cursebird a cult status, providing hours of enjoyment (and a long list of new words not to be said in front of Grandma) for it’s users.

Now, I’m not one to promote profanity (quite the opposite actually), but the concept of Cursebird will have many impacts on the social media market.  Why can’t companies use similar technology to stream up-to-the-second updates for any Twitter posts that contain brand names or brand specific market conversation?  I can think of ten ideas that can use Cursebird’s technology to benefit a brand’s marketing and research campaigns.

It will be an interesting site to follow, so long as your boss (or grandma) isn’t looking over your shoulder..

Useful traffic, and looking after your customers

October 2, 2008

I read awhile ago an article written by Seth Godin, legendary blogger, regarding “good and bad” traffic to your website. Seth mused that, like a supermarket, you only want paying customers to be browsing your store and that if you can find a way to avoid the browsers, you’d do well. However, I disagree.

A supermarket has limited space at the checkouts and on the aisles, so it’s natural for them to want to remove the non-paying customers. However, an online store does not have a limit to the number of people who can browse (ok, depending on th server, but any decent set-up should be prepared for large numbers), and are not hindered by having more than just the paying customers.

However, Seth failed to consider one key ingredient in his argument. If you have two sites, selling identical merchandise at identical prices who have the same costs and also exactly the same turnover each month, yet one site has double the traffic, which site is going to do better? The answe (and it’s fairly obvious) is the site with the higher traffic. More people looking at the products will drive future sales through word of mouth, and the higher traffic will push the site further up Google’s page ranking system so he site will appear more visibly within Google.

No company should ever dissuade non-paying customers from their shop. Treat every customer like he or she is the most important thing in your world, and you’ll do well. I’ve actually been asked to leave a store before because I spent too much time browsing, and yes, I have never been back their. It’s a bad message to send to businesses, and should be avoided at all costs.

I’m an avid reader of Seth’s blog, and would count him up there as one of my main influences to get where I am today. Jump over to Seth’s blog and learn something new:

“Hip” marketing techniques, and how to work with the younger market

October 2, 2008

No, this isn’t about how to sell replacement ball and socket joints, this is about how risky it can be to try the “down wit’ it” style marketing. That is, marketing designed to appeal to the younger customer.

It’s common to see media campaigns that have been designed with the under 20s in mind, they generally have some sort of role model employed to look “cool”, a slick slogan, fashionable music and loud and vibrant colors. It’s all a huge cliche, and doesn’t work, especially online.

The younger generation doesn’t want a rap written for them and they don’t want a pop band as the role models. If you want really get in touch with them, you need to spend more time listening then speaking. Kids spend their entire lives being talked at, in school, at home and on TV, so the last thing they want is to be told how to behave or what to buy. However, the business who manages to get them talking is the business that can truly dominate this market. If you can find a way to get them communicating to each other and to you in a large enough community, where everybody can hear each other’s opinions, in a vibrant and stimulating atmosphere where the conversation can spread to new groups, you’ll have the beginnings of an explosive market.

But how do you do this? Email me to find out.

How to kill an international habit, and other lessons from cigarettes

October 1, 2008

It’s quite an interesting state of affairs when the weight of the government is thrown behind a campaign to destroy an industry.  It’s a rare state of affairs when an institution tries hard to STOP people buying a product without cutting it off at the source (the manufacturer), yet this is what has been happening in many countries around the world.

Cigarette adverts have been banned from TV and media, sponsorship has stopped, taxes have increased hugely, people are told where they can’t smoke and even the packaging has been taken over by the government. It’s interesting to see the big leagues from the marketing world trying to figure out how to stop people buying something, as everything they have ever learnt goes against what they are trying to do.  For example, the newest scheme is to change the packaging (can you imagine this in any other industry?) to add scary images to put off potential buyers.  Yet the problem they have now faced is the huge PR machine they have put into place to effectively market the new packs!  The story was on every news channel this morning, on the Radio, and in the newspapers.  They just need to make the pictures collectable (I’ll swap you my bloated corpse sticker for your diseased lung..) and the scheme will be complete in it’s failure.

Although the government has attacked every sector of the tabacco industry, they continue to fail.  If they are so happy to change the marketing, the packaging, the distribution and even where the customers can use the product, why don’t they take the next step?  If the government is so interested in smoking, why not cut down the number of cigarettes a person can buy at one time, or cut the tabacco or tar content within cigarettes in half.  Why don’t the government put a Russian Rolette cigarette in every pack made of asbestos, to really put off the smokers?

Personally, I’m totally against smoking, but this post isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t do it.  I’m more interested in how no matter what the marketeers try, they can’t do anything BUT market the cigarettes.  Although they have worked hard to wipe the thought of smoking off the minds of teenagers for years, they continue to promote smoking in the media day in, day out, by talking about how bad it is for you, how only the “bad kids” do it, what it costs and where you can’t do it.  When have kids EVER worried about that sort of thing?  it just makes it more desirable.  If they hear about smoking and are told not to do it, you’re going to find them trying it within a week, just to see if it really is that bad.

To stop selling cigarettes, keep up the good work with the scary messages and pictures, but please, stop promoting your latest ideas in the media.  You may think it’s negative PR for smoking, but in some cases, all PR is good PR.  If people are trying to take their mind of smoking whilst they try to quit, the last thing they want to hear all day is talk about smoking.

Right, I’m going to try out smoking, to see if it really is as bad as it sounds..

Does expensive fuel improve your car?

October 1, 2008

I was running low on fuel this morning, so I pulled into a BP forecourt to fill up.  Although all the pumps with berths on the right were taken, I have a small city car so I pulled into a left hand berth, smiled at the annoyed looking SUV drivers waiting for the other pumps, and went to stretch the nossle around my car to the tank.  However, annoyingly, the nossle on the normal priced fuel wouldn’t stretch, so I was forced to indulge my car in expensive “high octane” fuel, as this was the only pump that stretched.. (Thank god the only choice wasn’t diesel.  I propably would have filled up with diesel, just to prevent the smirks from the SUV drivers)

Anyway, this made me think.  Is the quality of the fuel actually there?  Do we assume it’s better quality because of the price?  Is it the Ferrari branded adverts that have made us think it’s better quality?  If Michael Schumacher tells us he uses it, it must be good right?

After filling up, I excitedly jumped into my car, expecting it to start up with the growl of an angry Italian beast under the bonnet.  I expected, nay, demanded, that I fly round the next round-about on two wheels and eventually pile through the pearly gates backwards and on fire.  Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, and my car feels EXACTLY the same as it did before.

Now, I don’t know anyone else who uses the more expensive version of petrol, which is already more expensive than saying “yes Mr bank manager, I’d love to invest my money with you”, so that CLEARLY proves to me that the adverts don’t work.  However, if this scientifically proven conclusion is indeed accurate (unlikely) and not completely made up (more likely) then they must have other methods of making the sale.

Ever the cynic, I have concluded that the only method the petrol companies have for selling the “high quality” stuff (we all know it comes from the same reservoir under the garage anyway) is by ensuring the regular fuel pumps are out of order so we have no choice, or by giving away a free Ferrari hat with all purchases…

How important is online social media?

September 30, 2008

I was asked today, by a prospective client, why I think online social media is important.  The situation this was presented in, and the way it played out, reminded me of the IBM advert currently running.

A cyncical boss asks a young manager for reasons why he should sign an energy saving proposal.  Sure, he muses, the tree huggers will be happy, but he needs to see a monetary benefit.  His mind is quickly changed when the young apprentice explains that the energy saving will halve the $18 million energy bill spent last year, and suddenly the tight fisted manager is a tree hugger.  Cute cartoon animals dance around the room, Disney-esque music begins to play, IBM are made to look like they really do care about the environment and, somewhere, advertising executives wearing shiny suits and driving big fuel guzzling cars hi-five each other over a job well done.

So when asked about the benefits of social media, I decided to simplify it beyond any tech savvy language and tell it straight, in the hope that cartoon animals will take flight to prove my point…

“Why do we use influencers within social media?  Because each selected influencer has an audience of several thousand readers each day.  Multiply that by the huge number of influential bloggers and forum members and you have a huge audience.  Now, these guys can either support your brand, or they can hinder it.  If you upset them, they could destroy you.  If you look after them, just imagine the possibilities.”

Unfortunately, this didn’t have the impact I wanted.  Disney failed to deliver, and quite frankly the cartoon birds that decided to pitch up and fly around my head seemed decidely demotivated, and quite frankly, drunk…

Anyway, some people are a little old fashioned and struggle to realise the power of social media, preferring to buy billboards and to post leaflets.  Why work with social media when you can pay big bucks to have an advert on after the “X-Factor”?  He even went as far as saying “if they get negative, we’ll fight fire with fire and stop them!”.  After biting my fist and closing my eyes for a few seconds, I decided to try another approach.

Ok then, whilst you spend millions on conventional advertisments, how many people do you think really read your sales pitch?  Do you think they see an advert and say:

“Wow! That bill board says that the new tracker mortgage is great, and that the bank is really very stable!  It must be true, bill boards can’t lie..”?

The trouble is, people have been desensitised by years of marketing, and no longer trust what the companies say.  However, if a good friend of your tells you that the new Dyson is the best vacuum cleaner ever made, you’d be tempted to buy it.  Social media is no different, except the one person raving about the new quadruple cyclone, ball shaped, hover hoover (there you go dyson, that idea’s on the house), is telling thousands and thousands of people who have gone to their site looking specifically for pre-purchase information on what product to buy.  Social media content is far more influential than advertising as the content is written by trusted community members, and reaches a wider audience.

Any click of recognition or understanding?  Nope, so I went for the facts and figures.

“In the space of 4 months, we increased a large British broadcaster’s web traffic by 401%, with a sales increase of 26%, without using expensive advertising or pay-per-click, for the same cost as one small TV advert”.

Ding!  Lightbulb.  That did it.