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Will You Survive 2010?

10 Tips for Maximizing Your Digital Marketing Programs

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Digital Marketing / Tips and Tricks / Press / Press Mentions

Image Source - Sony Pictures Digital Inc.

There's been plenty of chatter lately over who will survive 2012 but that's two whole years aways! What are you doing to prepare for 2010? From a digital marketing perspective, that is.

MediaPost recently published its annual "Survival Guide" -- a collection of articles geared towards specific segments to help them prosper in the coming year. I shared my thoughts for the guide for agencies and the guide for CMOs. The excerpts with my POV are below (note: the bolding is from MediaPost, not me). Stay tuned on the flip-side for my 10 digital marketing tips for 2010.
Twitter will find a way to make some money
-- from you. "Licensing tweets to search engines for inclusion in their results pages is just the beginning. Expect to see full-on ad placements embedded in the tweet stream," says Aaron Goldman, managing partner at Connectual. "And subscription fees for corporate accounts with more robust features."

Search is a neglected research resource, says Goldman. "Heck, Google can predict flu outbreaks before the CDC. Using this treasure trove of data just to maximize ROI only from search is a sin."

No one yet realizes the full potential of Twitter, not even its founders. "By the end of 2010, it'll become clear how this platform fits into the marketing communications mix. And it'll spawn an entire category of service providers looking to cash in, "says Aaron Goldman, managing partner at Connectual."The same way there's now an SEM on every corner, and in every basement, Twitter management shops will spring up left and right."
10 Digital Marketing Tips for 2010

 1. Don't Ignore Twitter. Sure, your brand may not lend itself well to tweeting regularly. But I promise, no matter how big or small your company may be, someone is tweeting about it. And, while you may not need to be actively tweeting, you certainly need to be monitoring what people are tweeting about you. Clearly, the ideal Twitter ad formats have yet to be developed, although I outlined 4 suggestions a few months ago. Until these opportunities emerge, the best practice is to listen to what people are tweeting about you and reply to as many as you have the bandwidth to handle. And remember, don't just reply to the dissenters, reinforce positive word of mouth by rewarding your brand advocates with special promos or even just a thank you tweet.

2. Leverage Search Beyond SEM. As I told MediaPost, search is an oft-overlooked resource when it comes to digital marketing research and planning. My colleague, Lance Neuhauser of PHD, likes to say, search is a "fuel for business-intelligent marketing." Search represents the world's largest focus group. And the insights gleamed from search can be applied to all areas of the marketing mix from creative strategy to product development. For some practical tips, check out my presentation from OMMA Global NY for 10 ways to leverage search beyond SEM.

3. Don't Forget About Context. It seems like buying audiences is all the rage for agencies these days. But, in the race to aggregate eyeballs and disintermediate the networks, one of advertising's golden rules is being forgotten. As awesome as audiences are and as much as mindset matters, context is still king. I don't care how you know that I'm a father and sports enthusiast, I'm not going to respond to your ad for a Little Tykes basketball hoop while I'm checking stock quotes on Yahoo Finance or poking my friends on Facebook. Hit me while I'm searching for gifts or on a parenting blog, though, and we're in business. This is the point I was trying to make in my post about News Corp, Google, and Microsoft. Now I'm not trying to say behavioral targeting doesn't work. I'm just saying that the best targeting combines both relevant behaviors and context. Accordingly, the holy grail is advertising in online financial statements based on purchase patterns and displayed adjacent to relevant transactions. Cardlytics (disclosure: Connectual partner) has a white-label platform for banks and credit/debit/prepaid providers to serve ads in-line with specific transactions. And, best of all, pricing is based strictly on performance.

4. Never Stop Optimizing. There are a plethora of tools out there to help you fine-tune your digital marketing programs from dynamic creative optimization like TumriDotomi and Teracent -- the latter was recently acquired by Google -- to on-site multivariate testing tools like AmadesaSiteSpect and Omniture Test and Target. And let's not forget about web analytics tools like Google AnalyticsWebtrendsCoremetrics and Omniture SiteCatalyst as well as paid search marketing platforms like KenshooMarin SoftwareSearch IgniteAtlas Search and DART Search. The best tools (and marketers) are those that recognize that, when it comes to testing, there is never a winner. If you're not deploying these techniques, you're leaving money on the table.

5. Get Hip to Mobile. If nothing else, Google's $750mm purchase of AdMob signaled that mobile is crossing the chasm. The state of mobile marketing today reminds me a lot of search circa 2002. At that time, it was still an emerging platform. Everyone saw the potential but many marketers and agencies chose to sit on the sidelines while the marketplace sorted itself out. Let's not make that same mistake again. I'm not saying everyone needs to rush out and buy mobile advertising or start an in-house mobile group but designate a subject matter expert and begin evaluating partners and platforms. At the very least, make sure you have a WAP site so that the people that are trying to connect with you from their handheld aren't left hanging. There's no question that the best mobile ad formats -- see my 5 picks to click -- are yet to emerge at scale, but waiting for that to happen before developing your mobile strategy is like waiting for the fire to spread to another room before calling the fire department or picking up the extinguisher yourself. The tools are available today from providers like Tagga (disclosure: Connectual partner) to make creating WAP sites and deploying SMS campaigns simple so go forth and quell that fire.

6. Give People a Deal (or at least make them feel like they're getting one). With the economy still in the crapper, consumers are being thriftier than ever with their spending and seeking deals at every turn. For evidence of this trend in play, look no further than the fastest growing search terms which include coupons and discounts. Now, more than ever, retailers need to create unique promotions to make their customers and potential customers feel like they're getting a great deal. It could be free-shipping or some sort of product bundling, but clinging to your old positioning or brand attributes won't work unless you're Audemars Piguet. DDB put out a great whitepaper, Realizing Opportunities in Challenging Times, that highlights the "consumer price/value equation" and how strong creative messaging can turn challenges into opportunities. The paper also cites eMarketer research showing how behavior changes during economic downturns, specifically as it relates to deal-seeking, price comparison, coupon usage, discount shopping, bulk purchasing and stocking up.

7. Re-evaluate Your Agency and Technology Partnerships. Now is a great time to take stock of your roster and make sure that you've got the right partnerships in place to navigate an increasingly fragmented media and marketing landscape. And I'm not just saying that because agencies and tech providers are willing to bend over backwards when it comes to fee arrangements to win new business -- although that certainly helps. With emerging disciplines like exchanges, mobile and social coming to the forefront and more mature platforms like search, display, and video becoming entrenched in the mix, some critical decisions need to be made. Are you better off with a one-stop shop (aka AOR) that checks all these boxes? Do you have the resources (and patience) to develop a best-of-breed network of partners? How much of your marketing can be handled in-house? Who owns your data and how is it being shared across all platforms?  There's no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions so I encourage you to take a hard look in the mirror and make sure you're surrounded yourself with the right talent and technology both internally and externally.

8. When It Comes to Social Media, Remember Friends and Followers Are Not Key Metrics. If I see another case study showing Facebook friends and Twitter followers as the only bullets under the results section, I'm going to vomit. Yes, friends and followers can be key performance indicators but they are not, in-and-of-themselves, metrics or goals to aspire to. David Berkowitz offers some sound guidance on the conundrum that is social media measurement in his post, "6 Questions for 100 Metrics." At the end of the day, the only goals you should care about are profit-related. This is a lesson I learned from Tom Kuthy at Resolution Media (disclosure: Connectual partner). When doing business discovery, Tom teaches his team to ladder up all KPI's and metrics to business goals centered around revenue and cost. So, while I applaud Dell for measuring sales generated by Twitter, let's not forget that revenue is only one-half of the profit equation. We must factor in labor costs of staffers managing social media when evaluating success. By my calculation, for every dollar Dell has taken in viaTwitter to date, it has spent three. The bottom line here is that, if you aren't connecting the dots from your friends to your bottom line, you're missing the boat. And all those friends you have with you are going to sink with the ship.

9. Experiment. I know it's difficult to set aside speculative testing budgets, especially when you can't even fully fund your top performing channels. But with so many new tools and platforms presenting themselves every day, it's a sin not to have some of your own data points on how these opportunities perform for your business. Just like Google has its employees set aside 20% of their time to focus on non-core projects, so, too, should you set aside a small portion of your budget for testing. With the pace of innovation so rapid, it's hard enough to keep up with the latest trends in the trades much less test them against your business metrics. But without a commitment to continually testing, you'll find your marketing program quickly plateauing. The barriers to entry for many of these platforms are so low -- both in terms of cost and technology -- that there's really no reason not to engage. Siphon off a group (or a percentage of people's time) within your marketing department to act as a lab of sorts and remember, no one ever found gold by mining the same creek and just panning deeper.   

10. Buy My Book. Speaking of lessons learned from Google, I just agreed to terms with McGraw-Hill Professional to publish, "Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From Google." It should be on the shelves by the Fall of 2010. In the book, I'll share 20 innovative lessons that Google taught the marketing world through a mix of case studies, anecdotes and my own personal insights. I've started a blog for the book at -- make sure to submit your email address to be notified when the book is published. I also have an active Twitter account @LearnFromGoogle for people to share lessons they've learned from Google -- for every 100 followers, I'll randomly pull 1 name to receive a signed copy. I'll be going relatively dark on blog posts and original columns in Q1 while I put all my writing energy into the book so thanks for bearing with me during that time. Hope to have a great product to show for it come fall.

Best wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and here's hoping for peace and prosperity for all in 2010. Take heed to these 10 tips and I can assure you that you'll achieve at least one of these.

Update 1/9: I've migrated my book website and Twitter account to and @GoogleyLessons

Update 2/5: The book is half-way done. Details on Digital Sea Change.


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