31 March 2010

A Brief History of Marketing

If you are keen and have the time, Lovely article in AdAge listing milestones over the last 80 years  http://adage.com/article?article_id=142967#1950

Interestingly, I just learnt the current Advertising Council evolved from the World War II Advertising Council.

Posted via email from Suresh Ramaswamy's posterous

25 March 2010

Value from Digital Marketing

Nice recent thought piece by McKinsey on Four Ways to Get More Value from Digital Marketing (premium membership required)

It argues, since the days of the internet becoming an important channel to reach & influence, marketers have regarded it as a vast laboratory, launching experiment after experiment to crack the code that generates sales & customer loyalty. Fair point.

But that most experiments fail, as they are not centered around the way consumers are adopting digital channels and fundamentally altering the way they make decisions (see the changing Consumer Decision Journey).

The article goes on to offer 4 suggestions to help improve success:

  1. Coordinate marketing activities, to engage the consumer, throughout an increasingly digital purchase journey. 
  2. Harness expressed interest in brands by syndicating content 
  3. Think like a large-scale multimedia publisher to manage the staggering increase in the content needed to support products, segments, channels, and promotions. 
  4. Finally, plot how to gather and use the plethora of digital data now available.

Whilst the first 3 suggestions are elaborated well, I specifically liked their classification of monitoring & usage of digital data via a simple 2 x 3 matrix

 Y axis specifying intent - Passive Tracking / Active Probing

 X axis seeking answers to 3 basic questions: What are customers seeing? What are customers doing? What are customers saying?


This simple matrix helps map a brands focus around digital data and it's current emphasis on active probing, whilst marketing continues to find ways to crack the Digital Marketing code.

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23 March 2010

Canon, easy darling!

I buy a lens and retail asks me to register the product online for warranty.
I go to the Canon Singapore site, and immediately a 4Q experience survey pops up. I agree to participate, although I had hardly started the registration.
I look to find the link to register. I’m wondering if I should look under Support or Customer Care, but I find the link easily. Click on it and it takes me to the registration page. All good so far.
I go to the registration landing page and it asks me to log in. As I don’t have an account yet  I need to register, before I register my lens. I bring up the form, and pleasantly surprised one gets 3 months extra warranty to register online. Things are getting better.
I start on the form and surprised at the information they need to set up an account. And the excuses they provide to collect key Personal Identifiable Information. (PII) makes me crack up :)!

1.       NRIC or FIN numbers. Click on why do I need this information and you get. 

2.       If you need a unique identifier, why ask for a phone number /email address (captured later in the Contact Number & Email address)? Why not use of these data data fields as your UI?

3.       They then want my full mailing address with pin code, and it’s mandatory. For what?
Now some smart consultant could have told them, “Boss every registrant is potential opportunity. Let’s collect PII, Permission & Multiple modes of Contact. We know their age and if they are M/F from their IC# to segment and plan Up-sell/X Sell. And we can use the mailing address to narrow down communications by postal codes. Make it mandatory, so we have all the information on the first go”.
Noble intention, but it ignores the first rule of good data collection. Collect only what you need at the moment.
Needless to say, I decided to risk the lens without the warranty. Now if only they had sent me a follow up mail, following basic registration, with the extended warranty in exchange for additional PII, we would have had the beginnings of a conversation. Not too late, but is anyone at Canon listening?

22 March 2010

Choosing Data Charts

Gene Zelazny's handy table to choose charts.

 Now, Andrew Abela  has developed this neat flow-chart.

Both great starts to help choose your charts. To help design the chart without junk, Edward Tufte is always a great source.

Posted via email from Suresh Ramaswamy's posterous

16 March 2010

Multivariate Testing for Website Conversion Optimisation. My POV.

Website Conversion Testing is a topic with many gurus, but few practitioners. And even the few tend to follow DM testing practices, without extending it to the possibilities.

There are reasons why this is the case - lack of support from internal Web IT Teams, limitations in the initial site structure, CMS limitations, tracking limitations, budgets, individual KPIs, need to obfuscate results, politics etc..But one of the key issues IMHO, is how the hypothesis for testing is being framed. So let's take a step back into the basics.

Why do we test?
The reason for testing is simple - to know what works. And use the learning to market efficiently. Period. Typical testing paths include Observe > Hypothesis > Test > Evaluate.

In situations where data is available, the hypothesis is mainly re-examining previous research & analysis than collecting new data. In the absence of data, it is usually a strong hunch with a potential big impact on business.

Common Elements of Website Conversion Testing
By it’s very nature, websites are perfect for conversion testing. Elements that can be tested include (treating each page as a Landing Page):

  • Headlines – Content/Format (text/graphic)
  • Offer
  • Descriptive Copy – Bullet/Blocks. Lists of features & benefits and their ordering
  • Presentation of Product/Service – Image/Screen Shots/Tours/Life Styles
  • Call To Actions – Links/Buttons/Forms
  • Elements that build confidence in the proposition – Users/Testimonials/Validation
  • Contextual information – Links/Propositions
  • Design Elements – Template/Layout

All of the above elements, if present on the page, can be tested across the dimensions of Relevance, Location, Quality, Prominence, and Proximity.

User Experience - an additional dimension to framing the testing hypothesis for website conversion optimization.
Besides the above elements that comprise a webpage, it is important to understand the layering of what composes the final user experience  from the abstract to the concrete, namely:

Layer 1 -    Site Objectives/User Needs

Layer 2 -    Content Requirements/Functional Specifications

Layer 3 -   Information Architecture/Interaction Design

Layer 4 -   Interface Design/Navigation Design

Finally, Layer 5 -     Visual Design

Today we have FREE & Paid tools to set up and run the website conversion tests, provided we are not hindered by limitations to testing listed above.  But it’s key we identify the layers impacting user experience being tested, along with the page elements, when framing the hypothesis to ensure the results can be used optimally.

To reiterate, the reason for testing is simple - to know what works. And use the learning to market efficiently. When website conversion hypothesis are framed to include Page & User Experience elements, the results should help you focus on the most important elements you should be tweaking, if any, to maximise the investment & learning. Happy testing!

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