Sunday, 8 January 2017

Buyer Journey: Mapping Digital Channels & Metrics

My previous post on "Measuring the effectiveness of paid digital campaigns" inspired me to write this post. In fact, i encounter this question from my colleagues a lot that - What is an ideal channel mix for a digital campaign? Well, my answer to them is that it all depends on the campaign objective & the attributes of your target audience. It may not be necessary that all individuals in your target audience are in same phase of their buyer journey or not all might be progressing in a similar way. Some of them might be already aware of your brand, some might be considering other brand options just because they read a negative review about your brand and a fraction of your target audience could be on the verge of buying from your brand and are waiting for that final trigger. And hence, it may not be appropriate to just consider one or two ad units/channels for your digital campaign.

To answer the question on an ideal channel mix for a digital campaign, one should have the capability to segment the audience on the basis of where they're in their respective buying journey & then map various digital channels and their respective ad formats to those segments. On the basis of my experience & learning, i've created an illustration that maps channels & their respective formats with various phases of customer buying journey (Awareness, Consideration, Purchase & Engage).

digital channels mapped with buyer journey
Digital Channels: Buyer journey
NOTE: You may use channels mentioned in 'Purchase' phase in 'Consideration' phase as well, the illustration above is a subjective view on what formats work best in which phase. Regardless of the channel, the messaging used on these channels plays a crucial role & must align with users in respective phases for eg. a discount code migh work well for audience in consideration & purchase phase.

Now, once the campaign is over you might want to measure its performance. In my previous post - Measuring the effectiveness of paid digital campaigns i mentioned key metrics that should be considered for measuring the overall success of a digital campaign. In addition to that you might also be required to report digital metrics for customer buying phases. I prepared below table that lists down channel wise key metrics for each buying phase:

digital-metrics-buying-cycle
Digital Metrics: Buying cycle
Hope you find this information useful. i will look forward for your feedbacks in comments section below.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Measuring the Effectiveness of Paid Digital Campaigns

How do you measure the effectiveness of a digital campaign? Is it sufficient to evaluate campaign performance on the basis of campaign metrics alone?

We often boast about no. of impressions served & video views garnered but when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of any digital campaign, digital marketers need to don sales hat. Why? Because every impression cost advertisers a good amount of money and it is unfair as well as illogical if we fail to report the return on ad spend (ROAS).

A successful digital campaign not only depends on efficient targeting and optimization but also on good quality content, conversion friendly page and efficient tracking. Hence, it's important that an end of the campaign report contains both digital campaign metrics as well as content performance metrics (such as avg. time on page & bounce rate). In order to evaluate campaign performance, it's absolutely critical that marketing and sales tools talk with each other.  There are plethora of campaign metrics available for advertisers to report but according to me two key metrics that really matter are sales & impressions per sales (or impressions per profit) & this is applicable for awareness and lead generation type campaigns. 

While many may contest that a brand awareness campaign should not have sales as a metric but just pause on that thought and think - Would you not like to know how many ad impressions resulted in $1 profit in my business? An awareness driven or engagement driven campaign ultimately impact the bottom line of your company.

I prepared a sample template that can be used to measure effectiveness of any paid digital campaign:

Paid-Campaign-Analysis-Template
Paid-Campaign-Analysis-Template
Please note that i have knowingly not added various optimization related metrics such as cost per click, cpm, cost per lead etc., simply because we need to track them on a daily basis - this above template is more ideal for an end of the campaign reporting (however, you can still calculate these metrics using this template). Also, if you know the Profit margins of sales achieved through this campaign i would urge you to also report Impressions per profit figure for your respective products.

Feel free to add / tweak this template as per your business needs. I would love to get your feedback in the comments section.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

How to create a Push notification strategy for B2B audience?

In a B2B business where sales cycles run long, it becomes all the more important for businesses to nurture their audience with relevant messaging over a period of time. Most of it is typically done by sending emails containing right mix of content (or offers in case of B2C). Over past few years, advertisers have also started investing in social nurturing i.e. running a re-marketing campaign by showing ads on prospect's social network feeds. Push notifications is yet another medium to remind or engage prospects with your brand. Push notifications may or may not be used for sending promotional offers alone, they're a great medium to notify users about an upcoming event or webinar as well. B2B businesses can make use of Push notifications to various ways.

Push notifications aren't new. Typically mobile apps send push notifications to users so that the users visit and perform the intended action. B2B businesses that do not have a mobile app can still send these notifications by putting a JavaScript code in all pages of their website (including blogs & business pages) & nurture the website visitors with relevant content until they convert (or give business). The most important question that requires brainstorming is - What is an ideal push notification strategy? 

Every business is different. "One size fits all" may not work when it comes to creating a push notification strategy however, there're few basic concepts that are common to B2B businesses and below strategies may help:

a. Blogs Section Visitors: Have a Blog? Send push notifications to all blog subscribers whenever a new blog post is created. You can also create segments basis blog categories/tags and blogger profiles & send relevant notifications to relevant audience.

b. Business Pages Visitors: Send push notifications to all users who browse business content in your website - Users who're returning often to a particular section of your website show they're are in 'Interest' phase of AIDA framework and should be nurtured with content related to that particular section/ service.

c. Engagement: Identify users who engages with your content the most i.e. spend more than X minutes or engages with more than Y events on the page (click links, watch video, download pdfs etc.). Such users have progressed to "Desire" phase and advertisers may want to send them a push notification about providing them some incentives (some % off on premium services, free event passes, extended services etc.).

d. Lead Form Aborts: Users who visit lead form/ subscription page but leave without purchase or form submission -These are those advanced users who're on the verge of converting (or giving business/ purchase your services). Push notifications to them must contain a strong incentive so that they come back and finish the purchase.


IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER

A/B Test: B2B businesses must A/B test various content pieces sent as push notifications and capture user engagement on them to decide which one is working and which isn't. 

Frequency & Timing: Please refrain from spamming or sending too many push notifications to your subscribers otherwise they will unsubscribe and whole strategy may go for a toss. While many advertisers send push notifications on a daily basis, my personal opinion is to keep it to 3-4 times a week only.

Targeting: Push notifications can be targeted to a particular user segment. Various audience segmentation can be made such as segmenting users basis content consumed, time spend, website engagement, geography, returning v/s new visitors etc.

Browser Compatibility, UTM Tagging & Secure Websites (HTTPS): Push notifications may not work on all browsers however, it does work on Google chrome & Firefox. The links that you promote must be properly tagged with UTM parameters (so that you can track the traffic easily in google analytics). Non-secure websites require double opt-in hence, it's recommended to have a secure URL (HTTPS) so that you increase opt-in subscriber base easily.

Integration with Marketing automation platforms: Various push notification providers do integrate with automation platforms such as Eloqua etc. Subscriber ID can be mapped with user's unique identifier (such as phone, email address etc.) and advertisers can then take the push notification strategy to a whole new level. Mapping subscriber IDs would allow advertisers to send personalized notifications.

Remember, the sole objective of nurturing audience is to assist conversion or get business for your organization. So, if it's via email, social, sms, push notification or an integrated approach all that's required is a strong strategy, efficient targeting, interesting content (to drive user action) and impeccable optimization.

All you need is a "push" !

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Dark Social

According to RadiumOne report, globally almost 70% of social shares are dark. For France, it's as high as 81%.

dark-social-share-global
% of Shares - Dark Social

What is "Dark Social?

Dark social refers to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what a web analytics program can measure or track & attribute it to social (or right channel).

Analytics will report this traffic as a 'Direct Traffic' ! So, if you're a social media lead for your organization then this is a definite cause of worry for you.


Why this happens?

If a certain type of web traffic fails to pass referral information on to your analytics programs (such as Google analytics), the analytics will not be able to report these visits as a referral from a particular website & hence these visits will be reported as "Direct visits" in analytics. It can happen because of following reasons:

a. Traffic from Native mobile apps (such as Facebook, Instagram etc.) opening an in-app browser of force mobile browsers to open the the URL clicked - in both cases the browser itself is going to directly to the site and thus it looks like direct traffic in Google analytics. 

b. Traffic from Messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook messenger etc. - these chats clients do not pass the referrer information (unless you tag the URLs)

c. Traffic from a secure to non-secure website: The referrer information is not passed to analytics when you click a HTTP link from a HTTPS link (please note - social channels use secure browsing).

d. Traffic from Email: We know traffic from emails are reported as direct unless you tag the URLs in your email marketing programs. This is typically mentioned under Dark social rather than calling it as 'Dark email'.

There're terms such as 'Dark Search' & 'Dark Mobile' as well however they're no different, it's just a segmentation of traffic that lacks any link in attribution into 3 categories viz. Dark Search, Dark Social & Dark Mobile. (Recommended read in this aspect is this Search Engline Land Post).


How do i Measure it?

See, it's very difficult for someone to remember a long URL of any website (unless you're Sherlock Holmes !), it's highly unlikely that someone is going to type a long link in the browser to open a page deep inside your website. 

Also, not many people click on bookmarked links so, if we're able to find all direct visits after excluding home page & section fonts - we can make some estimation for 'Dark social' traffic coming to our website.


How to Reduce it?

Just use Google UTM URL while putting up your website's link in any of social & email channels. Use correct source so that Google identify the visit & attribute it to right source instead of direct.

Here's the link for Google UTM URL builder.

Let's move outside of Dark !

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Will Bots Be New Customer Service Agents?

If you're a reader in 2020 then this post might be redundant for you.

If not, then go on.. read this post to know how bots might make take over as new service agents and replace humans employed in various job functions.

Bot fever is taking over the world eg. Apple Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa bot, Facebook’s artificially intelligent smartphone assistant M, mobile app such as Haptik etc. They're becoming more than simple personal assistants. Springbot in Facebook messenger, a shopping concierge bot that provides tailored shopping options to your price range. 

Bot's aren't limited to social media, they're also find a place in multinational companies as well. RBS, for instance, will deploy a virtual assistant called Luvo to deal with day-to-day customer problems from lost or stolen bank cards to forgotten pin numbers. American fast food chain Taco Bell announced the TacoBot, which you can text via the Slack messaging app. You can order Domino’s pizza through Amazon’s AI assistant Echo and multinationals like Unilever and BMW use a simple Q&A bot that can answer any question a customer services employee would.  

But the bigger question is can they match the human experience?

Imagine you say - I would like to buy a thin crust Domino's vegetable extravaganza & within 5 minutes you've a drone with your pizza & a message that the amount is deducted from your online wallet.

Checkout Amazon Echo video:


(Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. Hands-free and always on, Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, to instantly provide information, answer questions, play music, read the news, check sports scores or the weather, and even explain what a snack stadium is.)

Watch out! the future is coming.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

WEBSITE PERSONALIZATION

Imagine you go to shop to buy something and the only thing you see there is exactly what you were looking for or variants of the same of products related to them. Wouldn't you buy the items? Of course you will. Wouldn't it save time for you? Of course it will. Wouldn't you buy more related item that were complementary to what you were looking for? Of course you will and not only that you were also able to find the cheapest option as per your needs & why is that? Because you got products personalized for your needs.

Ques. What problem has Personalization solved for you & the shopkeeper?
Ans.
FOR YOU
  • Gave you what you were looking for; 
  • Gave more discounted options; 
  • Gave option to buy related products that you might have needed in future; 
  • Saved Time for you  (a lot of time that you might have wasted in searching for the product)
FOR SHOPKEEPER
  • Instant purchase
  • Cross sell
  • More footfalls (because you'll have a high tendency to go there to purchase because of good shopping experience in the past)
Now just replicate this into an online world.

Website personalization according to various user attributes not only impacts the conversions and increase no. of visits and engagement but also provide a good user experience. Website can be personalized according to various attributes, some of them are:

Geography (basis IP addresses from where the visit is being done) - You might want to show Delhi region specific deals in your website to users who're browsing your website from Delhi.

Past user behavior - In case of returning visitors, personalization logic can be build by tracking their past browsing behavior such as which pages they view the most, which events they engaged with the most, do they see more of product demo videos or download product specification sheets etc. This data will be more accurate for logged-in users as compared with non-logged-in users (but both type can be personalized) - Do not confuse this with Remarketing advertisement.

Industry/ Company specific attributes - Some companies such as Demandbase can personalize website content basis visits made by users belonging to a particular Industry. This is more valid for B2B organizations who cater to multiple industries. Some of the other tools that can assist organizations in personalization are: Coremetrics Intelligent OfferAdobe Test and Target  etc.. The list of all tools can be accessed here

Others - There are various other attributes as well by which website content can be personalized. some of the important ones are: Device, Source & medium of the visit, Visitor type, URL etc. 

There're studies that validate how important website personalization has become is today's age.

  • According to Janrain, nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests. 

  • After looking at data from more than 93,000 calls-to-action over a 12 month period, HubSpot found that CTAs targeted to the user had a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-action that were the same for all visitors.
  • A 2013 Monetate/eConsultancy Study found that in-house marketers who are personalizing their web experiences (and able to quantify the improvement) see on average a 19% uplift in sales. 
Below mind-map shows a simple website personalization logic for a B2B organization:

b2b-website-personalization
B2B website personalization


In order to succeed, be relevant and stay ahead of competition businesses around the world need to have a proper website personalization strategy.

Happy reading !

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How to Target Specific Individuals using Digital Channels?

Well, this post wasn't planned at all. A call from work on same topic encouraged me to write a blog post on this. It may or may not be often that businesses around the world feel this need of targeting only specific individuals for promotions. I work for a B2B company and for us, it's almost essential to be very frugal in our spends and ensure whatever little we spend, they are very focused and restricted to our target set of audience only.

There're various ways (paid and non-paid) which allows advertisers to target either set of individuals or audience who exhibits similar characteristics. Please note that advertising methods on all channels require a customer's opt-in which means if someone has not opted in to receive email newsletters or facebook ads then they will not receive any of your promotional messages on respective channels. However, if they're opt-in individuals then you may send promotional ads to them digitally from following ways:

A) EMAIL MARKETING
If you know the email ids of your target audience then the best possible way is to send them an email with compelling & attractive headline. You may devise a strategy to nurture your audience with series of emails scheduled on a timely basis. Email marketing is still considered to be the best & cheapest way to reach out to your target audience and evoke response or influence conversions.

B) LINKEDIN INMAILS
Engage with them on LinkedIn via InMails. With InMails 2.0, dynamic delivery allows high open rates and increased probability of conversions/ engagement. Individuals who wish to send InMails to target individuals may purchase InMails credits themselves and send InMails instantly.
 
C) CUSTOM AUDIENCE
A Custom audience list can be created in Google Adwords, Facebook & Twitter by uploading a list of target email addresses (when in doubt, use both personal & professional emails). The audience can then be segmented & targeted digitally on respective channels. Advertisers can also leverage similar audience feature on these platforms that allow them to reach out to individuals who’re similar to their target contacts.

D) TAGGING & DIRECT MESSAGE
If you and your target audience are following each other on Twitter & Facebook then you may write a tweet & post respectively, mentioning their handles or tagging them on the post. A notification will go to them and they can read the content they’re tagged on and may engage with you directly over there on respective platforms.
 
E) ADROLL CRM RE-TARGETING
Adroll has a feature of CRM re-targeting which works similar to custom audiences in Google, Facebook & Twitter. The advertiser needs to upload a list of email ids/ directly import from CRM in the Adroll dashboard and the tool will then show them banner ads/ facebook/ twitter ads to these audience. Adroll can also target similar audiences who exhibits characteristics similar to your target audience.

F) ONLINE GROUPS & DISCUSSION FORUMS
Identify groups related to your service/ expertise and start a topic/ discussion. Before doing this, make sure that their target audience is a part of that group. If you’ve your own group/ community to which your target audience has already subscribed for then you may engage with them directly over there or they can receive content/topic in regular email newsletters.

Hope you'll find this info useful.