Archives for September 2009

Are You Wasting Your Advertising?

I hope you have heard the famous words of John Wanamaker “I know half of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”

Today the phrase should be something like “Half my Advertising is wasted because I do not advertise responsibly” or “Half of my advertising is wasted; I can stop that but I fail to use the data”.

Yes that is correct. We have an abundance of data today to help us save the wastage. There is no shortage of tools that will collect all sorts of data. Yet many marketers fail to act responsibly and use this data to stop advertising waste and also save customers from unwanted ads.

Here are some examples that will show you what I mean

  • Newsletter – Nordstrom – In my blog post on email and relevance, I showed an example of an email from Nordstrom that had irrelevant offers. As result of this, not only did Nordstrom waste time, effort and money but also lost a subscriber. Advertising was wasted.
  • Newsletter – Drugstors.com – Same as Nordstrom. Not only did Drugstore lose a subscriber, but a high profile marketing guru “Seth Godin” wrote about this on his blog. Adverting was wasted and resulted in negative publicity.
  • Paid Search – I searched for ‘iPhone Charger” on Google and saw an ad from “Walmart” titled “iPhone”.

    I could take one of the following two actions

    1. Ignore this ad as it does not have relevant copy, which results in lower CTR on the ad and hence higher CPC that Walmart will end up paying in future. (Google punishes you if you don’t have high performing ads).
    2. I click on it and Walmart pays for the click.

    I chose to click on the ad and landed on a page that showed me results for “ipod” instead of “iPhone chargers”. Wow!!! What a mismatch. Net result: My time was wasted with irrelevant results, Walmart wasted its money by paying for click that did not generate any value. Advertising was wasted.

    Here is another example: Search Pay Per Click Tip : A Simple Way to Increase Profit.

  • Offline Advertising – Netflix recently sent me two snail mail pieces on the same day.
    1. Offer to join Netflix and get first month free – Great, I like it, I think I should join Netflix. Wait…I am already a member and receive my movies from them all the time. So should I cancel my subscription and join again to avail this offer? Netflix is known for movie recommendations it makes to its customer based on their past history. Can’t they tie their database to see who is already a member so that they don’t send junk mail to that subscriber? Advertising was wasted.
    2. Offer to recommend Netflix to my friends – They have done it several times now. I have never referred any of my friends as most of them are already subscriber plus who has time to save a print coupon and give it to a friend. The web is full of coupons and they can get it from there. Netflix should have looked at my referral history, I have never referred anybody. Stop sending junk mail and avoid wastage.
  • Display Advertising – We all know the web is full of irrelevant ads. An example is an ad from Air Linus of NYTimes.com for flights from New York to Ireland. I think this works for those who are in New York, but not for me. I live in Seattle. Just because I am browsing NYTimes.com does not mean I live in New York or interested in going to Ireland. Advertising waste could have been avoided by just checking my Geo location. Money Wasted. Advertising was wasted.

Are you advertising responsibly? Are you using data to make sure you are not wasting your adverting?

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Why Did Adobe Buy Omniture?

The news of Omniture Acquisition by Adobe came as a big surprise to me. I was not surprised that Omniture got acquired just the fact the Adobe acquired them.

I always thought that Omniture would be a good fit for Oracle as an extension to their CRM tools. Adobe was not even on my radar as a company who could potentially acquire Omniture. I was also surprised at the valuation Omniture got. 1.86 billions for a company that is still in red and had 335.5 Million in sales in last 12 month (source: MSN Money) is way too much in my opinion.

So why did Adobe pay such a premium to acquire Omniture? What does it bring to Adobe? I am not entirely sure what Adobe has in mind. Following are the ways that I think Adobe might use Omniture:

  • Measurement Ready Interactive Media – Flash, PDF, Adobe Air application will all come ready with Omniture tags for measurement and optimization.
  • Self optimizing flash widgets/ads – Designers will be able to put all assets (copy, images, etc.) in a flash file/Adobe Air application and the application will automatically arrange them on the fly based on customer’s interest, intent, day part etc. This will be driven by both Site catalyst and Test&Target. However designers might have a hard time dealing with this concept.
  • Self optimizing landing pages – Same as above but will be more on site. Flash on the landing page will change based on who the customer is.
  • Self guiding PDF – Ability to modify/adjust the pdf content on the fly based on who the customer is, what have they done in past on site or with other content etc. Think about A/B testing or Targeting within a PDF document.
  • PDF Tracking – Creators of pdf content will not only be able to see how many people downloaded a particular piece of content but they will also be
    • Find out about the circulation of the content. Did a person who downloaded the paper sent it to others?
    • Find out, how far did the reader go through the file?
    • Find out, if reader searched for something in the pdf? What were the keywords?
    • Tie the content analytics with site analytics to optimize and target the site side experience as well as arm the sales force with the information.
  • Adobe products as SaaS– Omniture brings SaaS expertise to Adobe which adobe might be able to leverage to sell their products as SaaS.

Other Players in Web Analytics

Coremetrics and Webtrends are the only two large Web Analytics companies that are still independent. The whole industry is talking about when and who will acquire them.

I have long speculated that Webtrends will be acquired by Microsoft. I still believe that it is possible. Given that Microsoft and Adobe have a few competing products, why would MSFT continue to use Omniture on their web properties and provide that information to Adobe? Microsoft might decide to part ways with Omniture and once again seriously consider other options e.g. buy Webtrends.

Some of the other possible candidates to acquire Web Analytics companies are
AOL
IBM
Oracle
Cisco
APPLE
Big Interactive Agencies
Ad Networks

I think Webtrends will be acquired in less than a year, possibly in next 6 months. Coremetrics might remain independent for a while.

What do you think?

Few other blogs that you might want to read:

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7 Ways to Create Relevancy in Emails

People are bombarded with hundreds of email messages each day. However a majority of the emails end up in the trash because of their irrelevance to the recipients.

On Oct 30th, 2008 I write a blog post on relevancy and emails. To state my point I showed an example of an email that John Song received from Nordstrom. John, who had never purchased any women products from Nordstrom, was receiving emails promoting women products.

During our conversation John said that he was a big fan of Nordstrom and was ok with receiving and ignoring irrelevant emails but he wished that they would send him relevant products/offers though.

No matter how big a fan a person is of brand, eventually the patience runs out. Guess what happened recently? John got so tired of the irrelevant emails that he finally hit the small “unsubscribe” link on the email he recently received. Done. Gone. Here is what John wrote on his Facebook status (came via his Twitter update).

Companies work very hard to get people to come to their sites and then to subscribe to their emails. But it appears that not many of them work hard enough to keep these subscribers. Someone (subscriber) who took time to fill a form on the site to subscribe to the email is ready to open his wallet. It is the job of a business to help that person open that wallet and spend that hard earned cash. But it can only happen if the business sells the customer what a customer wants and not what the business needs or wants to sell. Unfortunately, most of the emails consumer get today contain the products that business wants to sell and not necessarily what a customer wants to buy. Below are 7 ways that you can use to create relevancy in your emails and standout from the crowd.

7 ways to create relevancy in the emails

  • Browsing History – Use the subscriber’s onsite browsing history to find out what products he looked at but has not bought yet. This list should give you an idea of his interest. Based on this learning determine what products you should offer in your emails.
  • Email Click Through – Use his past email click-though behavior to determine what peaks his interest. If a customer has shown interests in certain products/contents/offers in past then they are very likely to be interested in similar products/offers/content. Someone who only clicks on discounted is most likely to open an email that says so and also click on a product that is on discount. Use that information to target.
  • Shopping Cart Abandonment – Use the shopping cart abandonment history to determine what products he is interested in. Use the time triggered email to encourage him to come back and finish the process. You can also send offers but be careful (check out Targeting Cart Abandonment by Email.
  • Purchase History – Use his past purchase history to determine what he buys. Use not only online data but also offline, phone order and catalog order data. Make recommendations in the email based on past purchases. E.g. if you know that he buys blue shirts then recommend new blue shirts. Depending on what products your sell you might also send complementary items.
  • Frequency and Recency – How often does the customer come to your site and when was the last time you saw him. Frequency and recency of visit is a strong indicator of a customer’s likelihood of buying from a site. The longer the customer takes to return to your site the more are the chances that you will loose him as a customer. Timing your email message can bring that customer back into buying mode. Use frequency and recency to determine if you need to send a coupon or some other promotion to bring the customer back to the site before it is too late.
  • Help Them Help You – If you do feel you have to send something unrelated to persons interest (e.g. provide him an opportunity to see what else you sell maybe lure him into buying something he might not have considered) then send it along with something relevant to him. E.g. send discount on women apparel along with some discount for men stuff.
  • No Email – If you don’t have anything relevant to send to a customer then please don’t send an email. As mentioned before people are bombarded with irrelevant emails every day, you need to stand out of the crowd and make your email count so don’t send any email if you don’t have anything to offer.

Hope these tips help. Email me if you need help finding the right analytics and email solution.

Questions? Comments?

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