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  1. The Importance of Where: Geo-Targeting Is a Marketer’s Best Friend

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    Geo-targeting allows marketers to target consumers where they are, but it should be used as part of a larger, omnichannel strategy in order to create the most effective marketing.

    Picture the Internet marketing landscape a decade ago. It was a jumble of ad products, all of them vying to be the loudest voice in the room. When brands began to familiarize themselves with geo-targeting and the idea that they could customize messaging based on a potential customer’s location, it seemed to be an attractive alternative. Here was an ad strategy focused on relevance. Here was an approach that made sense.

    It’s these characteristics that have kept geo-targeting going strong in the years since. Case studies and industry articles frequently tout its advantages, from boosting conversion rates to maximizing ROI. But a marketing plan can’t thrive if it doesn’t evolve, especially in a digitally progressive environment. Reaching consumers through the desktop is no longer a sure thing, and their preference for an omnichannel experience requires a strategy shift.

    Location-based advertising is exactly that. Geo-targeting and location-based targeting are the same in a way, combining mobile marketing with location-based services (LBS) native to mobile devices, services typically used for mapping and directions, weather apps, and geo-social networking. In marketing, their applications are even more widespread. They allow retailers and brands to bypass the need to target consumers with cookies that track online behavior, instead concentrating their efforts on where customers are spending their time and using that data to inform ad messaging. If a consumer is waiting for a bus near a Starbucks and is served an ad about the latest seasonal drink, that’s an impression well spent. Content is nothing without context, and location-based advertising ensures that marketers get both.

    But is this really the best approach? Some believe it’s even more effective to deliver ads related to areas where consumers spend time than it is to zero in on an exact location. The latter presumes the consumer is in-market for a product, which may not be the case; if they’re rushing to work, or they’re in an unfamiliar part of town for an appointment, they might not stop to make a purchase. Leveraging information about multiple locations where they’ve been, however, provides insight into their lifestyle, preferences, and routine — data that marketers can use to create more meaningful messaging. Keeping your brand top of mind even when shoppers aren’t on your street can produce actionable results.

    Taking the concept a step further, marketers are embracing geo-fencing, another iteration of geo-targeting. Think of it as a virtual enclosure determined and defined by the advertiser. When a consumer enters it, the advertiser receives an alert and an ad message is deployed. It’s incredibly useful for retailers and restaurants: deliver a coupon to a consumer when she gets near the mall, or an ad promoting a brand new fast-food location when a smartphone user enters the neighborhood. Uber is currently using geo-fencing to ensure its drivers don’t get too close to LAX airport, where they aren’t licensed to operate. With geo-targeting products, mobile marketers can develop messaging that’s unique to specific states, provinces, DMAs, or geo-fences. Retailers in major cities have used geo-fencing to ping consumers when they get within a 10- or 20-mile radius of a location, knowing customers come in from the suburbs. Hotels can use it to reach travelers on the highway. Others have employed the tactic to increase awareness of seasonal sales or special events that tend to draw a broad audience from afar. And as part of a loyalty or CRM program, geo-fencing allows brands to deliver bonuses and discounts that keep consumers coming back.

    There are geo-targeting scenarios, though, that should give marketers pause. Geo-fencing isn’t yet widespread, but adoption is growing…so what happens when every store on the block is pelting consumers with location-targeted ads? Or when multiple stores owned by the same parent company find themselves robbing one another of business?

    The solution? Don’t rely on geo-targeting alone. Pull in additional user data from social media to flesh out consumer profiles and craft ads sure to resonate with their recipients. Leverage environmental factors like time of day and weather to build more personalized creative. That’s really where geo-fencing belongs: in a marketing strategy that integrates multiple programs and technologies to create a cross-channel experience that’s ultra-relevant and always-on.

    Omnichannel shopping is the new normal, as evidenced by the scores of consumers who now utilize every available channel to get what they need. Mobile media has become an integral part of the consumer experience.

    And geo-targeting is right by its side.

  2. Marketing Departments to Move Majority of Apps to Cloud in 2 Years

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    Forty-seven percent of marketing departments will have 60 percent of their apps on a cloud platform within two years.

    Almost half of marketing departments will have two-thirds of their applications on a cloud platform in two years, a report from 451 Research has revealed.

    The report, entitled Beyond Infrastructure: Cloud 2.0 Signifies New Opportunities for Cloud Service Providers, was commissioned by Microsoft and provides insights into the future of cloud service providers, such as the Managed Service Provider and Cloud Service Provider landscape.

    The report revealed that within two years, 47 percent of marketing departments and 34 percent of enterprises will have 60 percent or more of their applications on a cloud platform.

    It also established that enterprises’ highest expectations when moving to the cloud is “gaining improved technology quality on platforms and applications” at 22 percent, followed by “helping to grow the business” at 18 percent, then “improved availability and better business service,” at 13 percent.

    Out of all the enterprises surveyed that are running an on-premises private cloud with a hosted private cloud, 45 percent said they were using an on-premises private cloud with a public cloud, while 32 percent said they have a hosted private cloud integrated to a public cloud.

  3. Strategic Resends: Working Smarter, Not Harder

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    Resending similar emails throughout a campaign could allow you to cut down on the work required and increase your return on investment.

    One of my favorite sayings is “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

    I was reminded of this recently in a meeting with a client. The organization (a large not-for-profit) engaged our firm for a digital transformation (DT), a large multi-year project. This meeting was outside the scope of that; I was asked to review the email marketing plan promoting their 2015 conference.

    Overall, I was very impressed. They’ve put together a very comprehensive, well-thought-out, content-marketing-focused campaign. The conference is in May and the frequency is two email messages a week (it started sometime around the first of the year) until the opening keynote. But here’s what gave me pause: every single email is unique.

    On the one hand, developing totally new copy for every email is amazing. They will likely have a few standard templates that they use, but there is no repeat usage of content (with the exception of the call to action to register, which runs throughout). None at all.

    They have a very well done editorial calendar that identifies topics (a mix of speakers, topics, events, etc.) for each email. It’s a beautiful plan and one that I feel confident they will be successful with. But they are not, first and foremost, a publisher. And an editorial calendar like this, with this frequency and variety of topics, can be a bear. Do they have the resources to execute? How much will it cost? Can they really keep up this pace AND keep the quality of the content high?

    Knowing what I know of not-for-profits (they run lean; this client is no exception even though they are large,) I can’t help but ask myself: could they get the same end result but with less time, less effort, and fewer resources?

    Put another way, could they generate the same number of attendees and the same overall revenue but spend less on unique content creation? If they could, that would increase their overall return on investment (ROI). Which is never a bad thing, especially for a not-for-profit organization.

    The key to success here is strategic resends.

    According to Epsilon’s Q3 2014 Email Trends and Benchmarks Report, average open rates are 31.5 percent. This client’s open rates are a little below this on average, although the initial conference emails had surpassed it. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s use the 31.5 percent figure.

    So for each email sent roughly (I say roughly because open rate is not an absolute measure) 68.5 percent of the list won’t open the email; they won’t read the copy. So when you resend it, even if it’s only a few days or a week later, it will be new to them. And for those that did see it – as long as you’re not resending the same email every single week, seeing it a second time shouldn’t dramatically depress response.

    Hence my recommendation that they consider strategic resends.

    If the second mailing each week was a resend of a previous email, that would cut their content creation workload in half. Their frequency would stay the same, so the revenue generated should be the same (or perhaps even more, see below).

    Here’s how I would have structured it, assuming a six-month advanced lead to the conference:

    • First month: develop and send one brand-new email message per week
    • Second month:
      • Develop and send one brand-new email message per week
      • Resend the emails sent the previous month, one per week, just to those who did not open each on its previous send (this will be roughly 70 percent of the list)
    • Remaining months:
      • Develop and send one brand-new email message per week
      • Make the second send of each week a resend – to the entire list – of an email that was previously very successful at driving registrations. This last piece – identifying and using emails which have proven themselves – is critical. Here’s where you have the opportunity to not just match but surpass the revenue you could generate using completely new content, which is unproven.

    While this example is promoting a conference, you can use this model for any multi-effort, multi-month campaign. It will decrease the time, effort, and resources involved in development – and it just might generate more revenue than using completely new creative for each send.

    Try it yourself and let me know how it goes!

    Until next time,


  4. Dancing With the Content Stars: Marketers’ Changing Role at the NewFronts

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    As the NewFronts approach, it’s time to think about how your brand can succeed in the new media buying landscape.

    If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already checked out the schedule for this year’s NewFronts. You’ve figured out which events you’ll attend. You’re thinking about how 2015 will compare to previous years. You’ve picked your dress and the perfect corsage. You’re ready for digital video’s prom night, and more specifically, you’re thinking about what the NewFronts will have in store for your brand.

    In the four years since the Digital Content NewFronts burst onto the scene, we’ve gone from six founding partners to 33 presenters, spanning digital and traditional media. Everyone comes with star-studded dance-cards, brand partnerships, and innovative show concepts, all aiming to woo prospective advertisers to join their content tango.

    There’s definitely something different in the air around the NewFronts this year. Revealing original slates is table stakes. The big ask for brands will be how active a role they can play in creating custom content and integrating into original content. Brand association and adjacency is the icing, not the cake. Brands are smarter on their target consumers than ever before and have earned their rightful seat at the table to shape the next generation of consumer behavior.

    So how do brands really own the dance floor going into the NewFronts and for the balance of the year?

    1. Buy Storytelling Instead of 30-Second Pre-Roll

    If you’re going into NewFronts with the notion of simply buying time – a 30-second slot of pre-roll – then you’re in it for the wrong reasons. You should be there to invest in original storytelling that is created to impact and engage with an increasingly dynamic consumer base. You should get the full package – a massive and diverse set of content, across all screens, at massive scale. Coming to the big dance with an arbitrary number of pre-roll spots to fill is so 2014. 2015 is the year of content that gets better with your brand’s involvement.

    Research has long proven that consumers are interested in compelling, relevant, and device-appropriate content, whether it comes from a publisher, brand, or a mixture of the two, is effectively irrelevant. Consumers’ inclination to consume and, more importantly, share content actually increases with the presence of a known brand/advertiser. This year, brands have the unique opportunity to forge new relationships with their consumers and leave them with an emotional connection and a different brand experience than they might be expecting – which, when done right, is priceless.

    Storytelling remains the most powerful tool in our communication arsenal and it is evolving, and not just for content creators, but for brand advertisers as well. It’s time to say goodbye to the typical buyer/seller relationship and hello to a deeper and more meaningful relationship bound by storytelling and content co-creation.

    2. Forget Your Role as a Brand – Think Like a Content Creator and a Consumer

    From The Huffington Post’s Good News partnership with State Farm to the ephemeral Snapchat, the last several years have revolutionized storytelling and how brands can reach audiences. The amount and variety of content competing for viewers’ attention is overwhelming. And on top of all that, most viewers today arecontent creators in their own right, with such easy access to everything from iMovie to Instagram or Vine, and now Periscope. As marketers, we have a brand-new set of digital and social tools at our disposal, and we need to lean in the way our consumers do.

    This year at NewFronts, push your content creation partners to help you discover and test out ahead of mainstream adoption. It can be impractical to do as a standalone – nearly impossible to keep up with consumers. How should we be telling stories based on the dynamic and changing consumer habits? What channels should we be using to tell those stories? How can we think like a consumer because, well, we are all consumers. What do you watch? How do you watch it? What content is compelling to you and why and what role can brands play in that?

    3. Take Risks – Don’t Be Afraid to Break Out Some New Moves

    Integrate yourself fully into the content conga line. It’s not always about the perfect, buttoned-up piece of marketing copy; it’s about making your brand a character, or in some cases, an active participant in the content. Custom content is more interpretive dance than ballet. Playing it safe won’t help you get down on the dance floor, and being overly cautious of new moves and trends will not only hold you back, but also will make you noticeably less connected to the experimentation consumers of all generations are driving for themselves.

    Take the Olive Garden’s integration in a recent episode of Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as an example. The restaurant plays a role in the larger plot of the story and communicates its brand promise without viewers seeing it as an outright and obnoxious play for their attention.

    4. Remember to Learn

    While it is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the sizzles and splash of the NewFront stages, there will hopefully be a lot of learning and sharing from the presenting companies and executives.

    As marketers, we have always risen to the challenges presented by an industry in constant flux. We’ve gone from flashy print ads to actual Flash ads. We integrated ourselves so well into a genre that it bears the name of a product: “soap operas.” When DVRs threatened to make the 30-second spot obsolete, we invented pre-roll and programmatic, and made native advertising smoother than butter.

    The industry continues to change and evolve, but the consumer technology boom has accelerated the rate of innovation and in many cases outpaced our [advertising’s] response. The challenge is to take more creative risk; to be an innovator; to be a leader. Consumers are only going to become more connected, consuming content in new ways that we can’t possibly predict right now. We should take this opportunity to shape consumer behavior, and redefine what it means to tell a brand story.

  5. Are Your Subscribers “Swiping Left”?

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    If your email marketing campaigns aren’t resulting in a lot of “right swipes,” or engagement, then maybe it’s time to look into CRM retargeting solutions to help you connect with your email soulmates.

    Tinder is a lot like email marketing. It is people-based. Robots don’t hook up and they don’t like email very much.

    Like Tinder, most people swipe left if they see your email campaigns, but unlike Tinder, they inevitably get another chance to swipe right the very next day. Just send another email.

    Other than online dating and email marketing, could you even name any other industry where 25 percent goal attainment is top of the class? You would stop flying an airline that crashed 75 percent of the time, but if 25 percent of the email you send gets opened, you probably jump for joy.

    No email marketer is sad or insulted when 75 percent of her audience ignores her. She has this built into her model. She knows that her work gets swiped left every day.

    But the advantage of Tinder is that you know the person is nearby. If you swipe right and they swipe left, you can always try a different approach. Be daring. Maybe even something as radical as going up to them and saying “hello” in person.

    If email marketers want more chances to find love, they need to get off the app and try a new approach for reaching all these people that swipe left. They need to use their data to get in front of their audience when they’re paying attention,

    And they need to do it without sending more email.

    Last week, Liz Rutgersson wrote a very useful article titled “5 Ways to Target Email Users With Display Ads,” featured here on ClickZ. While not exhaustive, it was an excellent primer on outlining the buying capabilities within mostly webmail services like Gmail,, and Yahoo. Other than LinkedIn, the ads that you can run in these services do not appear within emails themselves, but are rather around the inbox or are a special vehicle like Gmail Sponsored Promotions. These are like a real email except that it wasn’t sent by anybody and always inboxes.

    If you are trying to date and acquire new email subscribers, running these ads may be decent tactics to try. But they are not great ways to win back the love of someone who has “swiped left.”

    When you buy display ads on Gmail Sponsored Promotions, you are not supplying any user data to reach your own subscribers. Instead, you are “prospecting.” Prospecting is the practice of looking for customers to acquire, something referred to as “top of the funnel.” This is not CRM retargeting. It is advertising plain and simple. You are trying to hook up with someone you do not know. You should expect low click rates.

    But if you are tired of the bar scene, and your users are “swiping left” when you send them email, there is another way. The era of people-based marketing offers marketers several other ways to reach your existing email subscribers without paying Google again.

    CRM retargeting is the answer to the “swiping left” problem in email.

    The first major CRM retargeting platform was launched in 2013 by Facebook, which they named Custom Audience. It was followed soon thereafter by Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, a virtually identical offering whose differentiation was the presentation of the ads (in Tweetstream as opposed to News Feed) and the size of the audience (hundreds of millions of users rather than Facebook’s billion-plus).

    Facebook and Twitter offer solutions to the ongoing problem of message timing and attention.

    In email, your messages continue to pile up whether you log in or not, in the order they were received. If you received 1,000 emails while you were on vacation, they pile up in the order that they were received, with the oldest at the bottom. Because email is a send-based medium, this is a fact of life.

    However, CRM retargeting is a real-time offering. The only time that you will get an ad within Twitter or Facebook is when you are logged in to those services. There is no such thing as “when is the best time to send” a Facebook Custom Audience or Twitter Tailored Audience campaign. The only time these campaigns can be seen is when the user is logged in.

    When users log in to these services, they use email addresses, phone numbers, or user IDs. If you are using your subscriber CRM data to reach your fans in Facebook or Twitter, you will only have the chance to bid on them and show an ad when they are logged in. Like Tinder, you can only match up when you log in.

    In email you have no such option. So sending more mail in hopes of timing it right has become a tactic.

    If this tactic isn’t resulting in more “right swipes,” maybe it’s time for you to investigate CRM retargeting and see what people-based email advertising solutions can do to help you hook up with your closest email soulmates.