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SearchTHIS: Searching for Research

SearchTHIS: Searching for Research Kevin Ryan

Search engine user and use studies are everywhere. Everyone is out to prove the value of something and demonstrate that their way of interpreting data is the best way. Of course, the perusal of and ultimately useful takeaway from said research requires a delicate, sometimes skeptical eye. One study says paid search is the golden goose, another says everyone is ignoring paid listings. So who's right?

If you are like me (heaven forbid) you use many sources for information and scrutinize them carefully. Two studies have recently come across my desk that may shed some light on the daily difficulties of understanding the latest round of search activity.

While at AD:TECH, I heard the latest from Gord Hotchkiss, president and chief executive of Enquiro, a Canadian search solutions firm, among other things. On the way back, I picked up a copy of the latest Hitwise search site study. Both shed some uncharted light on search.

ENQUIRO-ing minds want to know

Focus groups and surveys can provide us with attitudes beyond observational data shown in panel-based compilations. Enquiro conducted a bit of primary research with opt-in search users to not only get their thoughts on commerce-based searches, but also to listen to the search pathology. Most research studies are less than entertaining to read, but I have to admit, both recent Enquiro papers had me hanging on like I was reading a Nick Hornsby novel.

Among the revelations offered, Enquiro has grouped searchers into four categories with progressive search logistics. The first group comprised mostly young men called "scan and clickers." This group moves through search results quickly and rarely reads the detail on search listings, paid or otherwise. Rather than look on subsequent pages, they preferred to abandon a search quickly. Young men moving in and out fast and not paying attention to details? Whodathunkit? I do so miss my youth. Moral: If you want to reach the young ones, better be quick and relevant.

The second group sounds like a dance move: "two-step scanners." Apparently when a man approaches middle age, he adds a step to search activity. The 42-year-old (average age) males gave search results a once over, and then charged back in for more if nothing seemed like an obvious choice. My personal theory is at this age, a man is either married or in a long-standing relationship. This results in an individual trained to spend a bit more time on the details. Something tells me I am going to get a few emails about that last comment.

The last two groups are "deliberate researchers" and "1-2-3 searchers." Neither group seemed to like sponsored results, both read the listings and finally, both contained some women. The difference between the former and the latter search group was that deliberate researchers read all of the listings and then made a decision, and the 1-2-3s tended to select the first relevant result and run.

Speaking of researching a purchase, another "ah-ha" in the study showed a trend for users being in the early stages of the buying cycle in search. I have seen a few studies leaning 180 degrees from this perspective. In fact, a portion of the value proposition for search is its directive purchase tendency. I'd say both points are valid, but one must ponder the depth of research that has to be conducted on the behalf of the product or service offered. Longer decisions on higher consideration (and priced) purchases while lower consideration offerings may happen a bit more quickly. When brand search terms are involved, abandon the long buying cycle approach and go for the gusto.

Of course, the data comes from a small sample (24 Canadians, don't get me started on the Canuck factor) but I think the behavioral information proves valuable, nonetheless. Enquiro monitored user activity and each user received a post activity interview to gather more intelligence. For example, while some groups moved away from paid listings, Enquiro did point out that relevant paid results had a good chance of receiving action from searchers. In any case, let's see what the good people from Hitwise have to say.

News from Down Under

The Melbourne, Australia-based online measurement company, Hitwise, threw a whopper or two our way recently with its latest venture into search intelligence. I am referring to the report that became famous of late for pointing out that search activity paled in comparison to porn site visits. The study showed that while top three search sites Yahoo!, MSN Search and Google accounted for 5.5 percent of visitors in the United States, more than 18 percent went to porn.

The mainstream press has been a bit unfair on this one since all porn content was grouped together and compared to three search sites. I wonder how the numbers would look if you compared the top three porn sites to all search, or, how about people searching for porn? Since I am approaching sidebar rant status, I'd like to take a moment to thank the porn industry for the dominant portion of ad formats we all enjoy today.

Not surprisingly, Hitwise reported that between August 2003 and August 2004, Google's search audience grew more than 30 percent while Yahoo! grew only 2.4 percent and poor MSN lost about 15 percent of its audience. Ouch. In the grand tradition of combining qualitative (more informative) with quantitative (hard numbers) research to form a conclusion, another interesting note from the Enquiro paper pointed out that few users had trouble distinguishing paid listings from unpaid ones in Google -- while a large portion were confused as to who paid for what in MSN. As I have said many times, all search is paid and we are training the U.S. population to think paid search is bad. This phenomenon might just explain MSN's southward audience trend.

More bad news for Yahoo! and MSN is detailed in the report showing that both sites are reaching the lower income demographic in the household income range of $30,000 to $60,000. How about some good news for MSN? While the evil scientists deep within Microsoft's search bunker are working on the next secret search weapon -- codename: Longhorn -- it seems users are looking to MSN for shopping and travel commerce activity at a higher frequency than on Google or Yahoo! Good news for cheap travel vendors, bad news for high-priced luxury vacation sales.

Speaking of travel, it seems users are trending toward vertical search sites in shopping and classified categories as well. Highlights from the Hitwise study credited this assessment to a drop in search referrals to these content areas from search sites. Makes perfect sense -- users in this area are looking for reliable, accurate information and once one finds a site with those qualities, one really doesn't need the search site anymore.

Know end in sight

Sure, search user habits are the subject of much debate these days. Last year's IAB search study had some search marketers up in arms because the data pointed toward paid search favorability among users. Search firms and optimization gurus were quick to point out user habits led them to organic or natural results. The fallout from said action? Marketers are once again left wondering.

The IAB is doing another research study this year, and more studies, white papers and alleged research will come our way, inevitably. The horrible truth is many of these reports will have their credibility called into question because of small sample sizes, sponsor-driven agendas or natural biases. Rest assured, I'll be here to help wade through it all. That is, if I haven't gone blind from all the data and chosen a simpler life among the monks in Tibet. Until next week, my friends -- or as the Dalai Lama says, "Tashi Dalek."

iMedia search columnist Kevin Ryan's current and former client roster reads like a "who's who" in big brands: Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. Ryan believes in sound guidance, creative thought, accountable actions and collaborative execution as applied to search, or any form of marketing. His principled approach and staunch commitment to the industry have made him one of the most sought after personalities in online marketing. Ryan volunteers with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization and several regional non-profit organizations.

Since the target audiences were very lifestyle- and attitude-focused, Mediaedge:cia determined that behavioral targeting and my company's (TACODA) behavioral ad network would be a good fit in their online media mix. The idea was to create awareness among these groups of audiences across a number of quality sites, and serve them relevant ads no matter where or what kind of specific content they were consuming at the moment.

The planning and account managers worked together to analyze target audience data to leverage both pre-set standard segments (i.e., health-conscious, sports / fitness enthusiasts) as well as to create some custom segments built on the characteristics of the audiences that were already visiting the marketer’s website.

Mediaedge:cia and Tacoda employed a "funnel" approach for the campaign, using different techniques to find and message to consumers at the various stages of the "purchase funnel." At the top of the funnel is self-optimizing "cluster" targeting (Tacoda Spectrum™) -- an ad optimization technique whereby an advertiser’s message is initially delivered broadly to hundreds of different behavioral segments and then optimized to deliver only to those “clusters” of segments that perform best. In the middle of the funnel, precision targeting (Tacoda Audience Point™) was used to reach specific, pre-defined audience groups that were expected to be the best target audiences. At the bottom of the funnel, retargeting (Tacoda Encore™) was employed to "re-message" to consumers who had recently visited the Snapple Green Tea site to reinforce the product launch message and to encourage them to return to the product site.

Reporting of the performance of the campaigns across the three products and the dozens of audience segments were provided weekly, and the teams communicated weekly during the course of the campaign to discuss and implement optimizations.

The campaign’s results were evaluated on two levels. The first is how effective was the media in increasing awareness among health-conscious consumers of the new Snapple Green Tea product line? The second is what media planning insight "takeaways" could be delivered to Snapple to better understand how their new Green Tea messaging and products are working in the marketplace and what specific audience groups they are resonating with best (as well as which groups they were not working well with).

The original goal of the campaign was to increase the awareness of the new Snapple Green Tea line among health-conscious consumers. To evaluate this achievement, Mediaedge:cia and Tacoda worked with comScore to measure the impact of the campaign on the concentration of health-conscious Snapple site visitors. This evaluation took place with the comScore panel before, during and after the two-month campaign.

The results in this area surpassed expectations. During the course of the two-month campaign, the site's index of health-conscious consumers increased by 30 percent, from an index of 141 (on a 100 basis) to 184. This means that relative to all web browsers, the likelihood that health-conscious consumers would visit Snapple sites increased by 30 percent.

Mediaedge:cia also tracked click rates, though they were not primary drivers. The clickthrough rates for the optimized "cluster" targeting was strong, as was the rate for the re-targeting component. The rate for the precision targeting component, as typical of non-click optimized campaigns, was below average for the campaign. However, this component was intended for creating awareness and brand impact, not necessarily responsiveness.

Since this was a new product launch, another key goal of the campaign was to capture insights into the best target consumers. The initial expectation was that the product would be best received by health-conscious consumers, particularly those also interested in sports and athletics.

To measure this, Tacoda created audience insight reports on the consumer response reached at each of the three levels of the funnel. At the top of the funnel, Tacoda mapped the characteristics of 364 different behavioral segments by both responsiveness and volume. This was where the results got particularly interesting. As expected, health-conscious audiences were one of the most responsive, as were consumers who recently viewed food-related content.

However, the campaign also did well with a number of other high-end consumer segments, including arts and literature, business, travel and news. Also, while the numbers were relatively small, the campaign performed well with electronics and sweepstakes segments. Surprisingly, it did poorly with playing sports, sports fans, family, shopping, gaming and IT segments, as youll see in this chart:

Of course, since these results only indicate the responsive of particular audience segments to the campaign, it is important to view them in context with the audience insights from the other campaign components.

As part of the campaign, Tacoda tagged the Snapple Green Tea website and mapped its audience to the behavioral audience segments. This gave Mediaedge:cia and Snapple the ability to better understand who their "natural" consumers were and to compare them to those reached by the campaign.

Interestingly, the product site’s visitors indexed highest for the arts and literature, beauty and real estate categories, while health came in fourth. Finding real estate was a surprise, since it hadn’t indexed highly during the campaign and had not been on the radar screen as a likely target audience. It likely represents some underlying life stage -- getting married, graduating school, recently becoming a parent, et cetera -- that ties in with one of the more obvious segments.

On the other side, and counter to expectations, the categories of playing sports and sports fans indexed very low on the Snapple site, much like they did in the campaign.

The results from the re-targeting program were presented in the same manner. Basically, by re-messaging to audience groups that had already been to the Snapple website, the results here were expected to provide validation of the best target consumers -- the power users -- as well as to "out" those segments that responded well to the campaign but whose interests were probably false positives for one reason or another. The re-targeting performance by audience segments proved that heath, art and literature and beauty were the real power user audiences for Snapple Green Tea, with movies a close follower. The shopping and food segments were strong as well. Surprisingly, the electronics segment did very well -- it had not indexed high for natural site visitation -- but it responded well when messaged and re-messaged.

As expected, the sweepstakes audience did very poorly in response to re-targeting. Their initial responsiveness, as their title suggests, probably stems from a general behavioral tendency to click a lot and respond a lot, but here they did not have much interest in following up. These are probably much like the people who enter lots of sweepstakes and like to talk on the phone to telemarketers. See chart below:

Finally, all of the audience insights were distilled into an audience map that broke out into four distinct audience groups:
1) Click, Visit & Return, which was headed by health and arts & literature;
2) Click & Return, which was headed by food and electronics
3) Visit & Return, which was headed by beauty
4) Click, which was headed by sweepstakes.

Thus far, the Mashup Developer Community is exceeding its initial goals. From the day the community launched, JackBe saw a sustained increase in traffic across all of its website properties. A thousand members joined the community in the first few months, and the community now has more than 2,000 members, resulting in an almost immediate 30 percent incremental increase to overall web traffic. While JackBe could have temporarily bought this type of traffic increase, it could not get this type of sustainable traffic without building its own community.

Most importantly, members of the community have shown that they are willing to interact instead of just look. And interestingly, JackBe's employees were just eager to join the new community. Upon launch of the site, some of the best forum participants and blog posters were JackBe's own developers. This outward-facing community became a conduit for people with vast knowledge on the subject who previously lacked a public outlet to share experiences.

Better sales and customer support. In addition to the incremental increase in site traffic across JackBe's web properties, the company has seen the Mashup Developer Community have a decided impact on its sales efforts. Since its launch, the community has resulted in additional leads to the company's marketing database. More importantly, the community's influence on closed sales deals is trending toward 100 percent -- almost every single lead that results in a sale is a person who is visiting the community and taking advantage of it as a resource.

One reason the community site touches almost every deal is that the enterprise mashup software market is in its early stages. All of JackBe's prospective customers are beginners who have questions. Of course, each potential customer who downloads JackBe software has an account team and sales resources assigned to it. However, the community complements this traditional sales ownership as prospects visit the community for answers to their questions and learn by doing. The result is a scalable way for the buying audience to find high-quality answers to questions without inflating the demands on the sales teams.

Better market research and market reach. At the same time, JackBe's marketing and development groups use the community as a valuable first-hand market research tool. Whereas statistical research and analyst reports offer generalized, high-level analysis (typically with a high price tag), the community offers immediate, tangible feedback unlike other traditional market research vehicles.

Forum questions, blog posts, community polls, and other user-generated content on the site provide tangible, concrete market research directly from the people who are using them. In addition, JackBe's community has quickly resulted in high organic search engine rankings in dozens of niche search terms and phrases. The resulting click-through traffic is highly focused and therefore very likely to be engaged by the content on JackBe's community.

Measurements of campaign success include the following points:

  • 30 percent increase in overall web traffic

  • Delivered 90 percent of desired functionality in two weeks

  • Platform development required only 56 lines of custom code

  • More than 2,000 new community members in six months

  • 25 percent the cost of a proprietary solution

  • Community influence on sales pipeline close to 100 percent

Lessons learned and best practices
Marketers looking to construct their own online communities can take away several lessons from JackBe's experience in building its Mashup Developer Community. A few best practices and lessons learned include:

  1. The agenda should be broader than your products. Make your community an educational resource on a general topic (and not just another marketing outlet for your product), and you will appeal to a much wider audience.

  2. Everyone is a member. You cannot predict who will be your best contributors, and everyone should have the opportunity help sell and market your company, including your own employees.

  3. Help people help themselves. Provide an environment where visitors can learn by doing, and they will become members. Enable members to discover answers to their questions on their own, and they will keep coming back.

  4. Don't reinvent the wheel and pay for it. Explore open source social marketing technology as a cost-effective way to extend the reach of your limited marketing budget, while taking advantage of innovative new concepts and technologies that enable you build better relationships with your customers.

Chris Warner is VP of marketing for JackBe and co-manager for JackBe's Mashup Developer Community. Bryan House is director of marketing for Acquia.

On Twitter? Follow Warner at @jackbe and House at @acquia. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Explore new roles

Along with taking a fresh look at digital marketing strategies and tactics for 2014 and beyond, consider adding new people. How can you be successful in an ever-changing digital marketing landscape utilizing the same individuals and job descriptions? Your team must evolve with the marketplace. Here are a few new roles to consider, particularly if you are a larger organization with a strong brand presence:

  • Chief storyteller: One of the recent trends in digital marketing is the concept of "storytelling." Rather than relegate the responsibility to your PR, search, or social team, why not hire a professional storyteller to ensure your marketing messages are framed within the storytelling framework, are consistently communicated, and reflect your brand and culture? This person may have a Master's in English, originate from the ad or film industry, or generally be a gifted marketing professional. All that matters is that they are the keeper of the stories for your brand.

  • Content curator: With the rising interest in content marketing, information is being created at a record pace. With so much content being created by so many different people in so many different locations, who are responsible for collecting, organizing, integrating, and measurement for your organization? Someone with a comfort level or experience with content curation is an essential role moving forward. Think retired librarian or even a financial analyst for the role. Anyone comfortable organizing content and making it easily accessible is ideal. Related statistic: Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for all types of content marketing, with a rating of 89 percent. Who's managing your customer testimonials?

  • Data evangelist: Data are being generated at every turn in the digital world, from website analytics and social media to sales and marketing automation. Unfortunately, all of this information is being collected by different teams and platforms and is not likely being shared or managed consistently. The data evangelist is responsible for ensuring all departments are talking to each other and leveraging the data for greater insight. Hire yourself one today, if you're serious about leveraging data to move your business forward.

  • Customer service marketing liaison: The line between marketing and customer service has been blurred, particularly in social media. While customer service representatives often have the ideal mindset for customer interactions in social media, they may not have the experience or sophistication of marketers when it comes to being power users of social platforms and tools. Ensure both departments benefit from close interaction and collaboration of a marketing liaison. This person will be able to speak the language of both customer service representatives and marketers alike and understand how both can work together to be more effective.

  • Social media marketing evangelist: I've described this role in previous articles, but in essence, this role is more strategic than a typical social media manager. If you haven't upgraded or otherwise retooled your social media team, consider this role and the impact of being able to leverage the horsepower of your entire organization to move the needle in social media.

Get deep, immersive, and personalized with content

I've been saying for years, as have other digital marketers, that content is king. In 2014 and beyond, content will take on new forms, meaning, and impact on marketing. In terms of deep content, Google's Hummingbird algorithm update rewards deep content with improvements in semantic search. You no longer have to worry about burying your highly technical or detailed content deeper in your website architecture. Google will find and elevate it in search with a focus on contextual relevance.

Converse to deep content; be sure to make all information useful to prospects widely available and accessible. Balance the need to create value in the marketing automation process (lead forms) with the reality that prospects are one click away from finding what they want somewhere else. Break down the walls and you may see the benefits immediately.

Beyond deep and accessible content, Google also loves multi-media content. Businesses and publishers that have been using images, video, and audio in conjunction with text on their websites, blogs, and social profiles have been rewarded with increased visibility and engagement. Fun fact: Social posts receive 94 percent more attention when multi-media is utilized. On a related note, consumers (and Google) appreciate real-time content and interactions. Consider increasing the amount of live engagements with website visitors, including click-to-call, chat, and live webinars in 2014.

One compelling statistic you may have seen recently sets the stage for 2014 digital marketing: Seventy-eight percent of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. While creating custom content takes a significant investment, the rewards can be compelling. A key component of custom content is personalization (targeting), which will become more mainstream as tools become more affordable and companies see the ROI first-hand. What level of personalization are you utilizing in your email, search, and social marketing?

Go SoLoMo

For those of you not "jiggy" with it, "Go SoLoMo" stands for go social, local, and mobile. Many marketers would say they are already "there," but I beg to differ. Fun fact: Ninety-three percent of marketers already say they use social media for business. While that may be true, using and truly maximizing are two different levels of engagement, and you need to know where you are on that spectrum.

In 2014, look for a more balanced social media program. From general awareness and content creation to engagement and conversion, ensure you have thoroughly tested and committed to the big six platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. Don't forget to evaluate other evolving platforms, including Instagram, Vine, iTunes, Foursquare, and SnapChat, to maximize reach. Ensure your social profiles are properly integrated into your website, blog, and email communications. Social sharing drives the web, as well as influences rankings.

As social adoption and usage evolves, it is critical that your company create and maintain a unique voice and tone that is relevant to your brand and customers. Equally important in 2014 and beyond is the ability to engage in real-time and bringing context to conversations. A recent example is Arby's witty reaction to Pharrell's bizarre hat at the Grammy Awards.

In terms of going local, 91 percent of U.S. adults have their mobile device within arm's reach. What are you doing to take advantage of the new reality of mobile consumption and targeting capabilities? Don't forget to claim, optimize, and manage your local listings, particularly if you are a multi-location consumer retail business. Keeping an eye on reviews is essential for hospitality businesses where decisions are made on the fly and on foot.

Double-down on digital advertising

As much as my background in PR and SEO biased me toward "earned" and "owned" media, "paid" has its place. Now more than ever, that place is front and center in the world of digital. While all research points to bigger investments in digital advertising by marketers in 2014, there are hurdles to achieving maximum return that require creativity to overcome.

Fun facts: Fifty-four percent of online ads are not seen by their intended audience, and 50 percent of web ads go entirely unseen. There is hope, however. As 4G speed becomes readily available across mobile networks, video is becoming more viable as an advertising medium. That being said, a trend in video advertising is that it will be more contextual than personal in 2014 and beyond. That means you have to look at ad buys more strategically than ever before.

In terms of general creativity in advertising, I've personally been impressed with noise-cutting innovative advertising from Dodge, Pepsi, and Old Spice. Dodge partnered with Will Farrell on a series of Dodge Durango ads that boosted visibility for the movie and SUV sales. The recent Pepsi halftime ad was not during the Super Bowl, but rather for the Grammys. Old Spice is back with a series of internet-based products that men shouldn't buy, and require an "Internetervention." What creative ways will you use to cut through the noise in 2014?

Embrace technology and big data

While I've been pleased the "big data" buzz has subsided somewhat, the reality is only now sinking in for marketers. The reality is that all companies and marketing efforts create data. The question is what are you doing to leverage that data to create actionable insights that drive your digital marketing in 2014 and beyond? Industry pundits recently spoke up about their thoughts on big data and technology moving forward:

  • "The biggest disruptor that we're sure about is the arrival of big data and machine intelligence everywhere. The ability to find people, to talk specifically to them, to judge them, to rank what they're doing, to decide what to do with your products... [it] changes every business globally." -- Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google

  • "Marketers will start contextualizing their data, drawing even richer insights, and using those insights to create not just more relevant, but personalized campaigns and experiences. In short, 2014 will be the year that marketers begin to turn big data into smart data." -- Melissa Parrish, Principal Analyst, Forrester

  • "The ad tech community would have to move beyond the cookie to evolve in the multi-device, web vs. app, iOS vs. Android world." -- Adam Berke, President, AdRoll

In terms of understanding the marketing technology landscape, Chiefmartec put together a comprehensive "supergraphic" to print out for your boardroom wall. WebDAM also assembled an infographic worth a look that highlights "20 Marketing Statistics that Will Influence Decisions in 2014."  Bottom line: Your understanding of the marketing technology landscape and how key players can help you leverage big data will determine your success in 2014.

Cross your channels and dot your eyes

The holy grail of measurement is the ability to understand how various marketing channels (online and offline) impact your business. Cross-channel analytics has seen significant growth the past few years, but medium and small businesses still lack the sophistication to understand which half of their marketing investment is working. The good news is that the technology continues to become more affordable and powerful, offering better measurement than ever before.

Even without robust multi-touch attribution measurement or predictive analytics in place, you must still have a mastery of your various marketing channels. Integration and consistency of messaging across channels is critical. In 2014, explore the relationship between offline and online marketing, particularly as it relates to social media. Explore how you drive offline marketing efforts via social media.

One area of continued investment in 2014 will be conversion optimization. In order to remain competitive, you must be able to maximize online conversions, and the best way to do that is through testing. Landing page optimization is the most common form of technology and process for achieving this goal. Fun fact: Landing pages that included videos see an 86 percent increase in conversions.

Last but not least, expand your thinking about analytics. Consider new ways to measure social and brand impact of digital marketing. In a recent article, "6 Ways to Measure Twitter Share of Voice Beyond Brand Mentions," Simply Measured shared thoughts on brand-centric metrics you may not have considered as a consumer-facing brand. I have my own thoughts about what you should and shouldn't be measuring in social media as well.

We're nearly a third of the way through 2014. What are you doing to ensure your digital marketing success? Consider evaluating and adopting one of these seven ideas above to maximize your return on investment this year.

Kent Lewis is president and founder of Anvil Media, a search engine marketing agency based in Portland, Ore.

On Twitter? Follow Lewis at @kentjlewis. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"A competition concept, clouds with ladders on blue," image via Shutterstock.

Cut to the chase

In the final round of presentations to win new business, try starting the meeting like this: "I know we are the third company to present, and you probably have an emerging leader in mind. To help with your decision making, if you think about the strengths of that leading choice, what are you most excited about so that I can really gear my presentation toward addressing our capabilities in those areas?" Cut to the chase and help them in their decision to pick you. Don't kill them with PPTs just because you can.

Offer choice

In the same vein of getting to their interests, offer them the choice of what they hear and how they hear it. Envision opening with this line of conversation: "So we've got a few different ways we can go. I've got a detailed 20-slide PPT that covers our company, how the product works, and our customers. I've also got some iPads with content and videos where we could start high-level and drill down into one or two areas that you pick. Or I could just go to the whiteboard and sketch out how our technology would fit in with your current systems. Where would you all like to start?" Even if they say go through the PPT, they have now made that choice, and their mindset will be more attuned to paying attention.

Let logic prevail

If people like humor and wit, and BDMs/TDMS are people, then BDMs/TDMs like humor and wit. What do "I Love Lucy," "Seinfeld," "Friends," and "Saturday Night Live" have in common? They are funny. They have audiences that love them. In addition to their fancy work titles, treat your B2B audience as people (the ones watching TV in their sweats). If it works with your personality, be a little funny. Throw in some humor and humanity. Think about your job being a balance of relaying the information needed for them to make a decision (or whatever your communication goal is), while being entertaining and engaging in the process.  

Focus on love

OK, don't really focus on love, but do focus on like. Focus on relationships and people. If you have an hour with your target audience, plan on 15 to 20 minutes for introductions (although don't necessarily put that much time on your agenda slide). You are selling yourself as much as your product/service so take time to get to know people. Don't recite your resume in introductions. No one cares. Do try to find some commonalities. Do try to understand what each person cares about and how it's relevant to what you are there to talk about.

Dialog not monologue

Make a goal to never get through all your content (because your audience gets so involved -- not because you have lots of slides and talk slow). The easiest way to achieve that goal is to get your audience asking questions and drilling down with interest. You can always follow up with anything important that you missed. Sales presentation nirvana is you needing to grab the whiteboard pen to answer questions in real time, showing how it would all work, and then sending customized content for follow up and additional touch points.  

Think about a green, two-headed, bandana-wearing, surfing labrador

This is reinforcement to be visual and stand out. Can you see that green, two-headed, bandana-wearing, surfing labrador? Say the words slowly. See it now? Beyond standing out and being visual, the point here is to be surprising. Do something interesting and or random to keep your audience engaged and attentive. Sometimes you have to speak to fill time on an agenda. No matter how great a speaker you are, and no matter how interested your audience is in what you have to say, minds are going to wander. Phones are going to buzz in pockets driving people to email. Stop talking at some point. Ask the audience a question. Put up an odd visual and have people guess what it has to do with what you are talking about and then make the connection for them. Play a video. Have a quiz. Do something surprising. 

Brian Ladyman is leader of consumer engagement at Slalom.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Have a plan

Of course, the beauty of marketing in the moment is the spontaneity, but in order to truly capitalize on that moment, you have to plan. Find national or global events that are relevant to your brand. We're seeing brands hire teams of social media marketers and community managers to sit in social command centers and monitor conversations during events.

Develop policies or guidelines around responses. Not only should you be monitoring the conversation, but you should also have a set of guidelines letting community managers know when they should participate.

Understand who your approvers are. Should an opportunity present itself, it's important to know who has the final say on whether you can go live. It's equally as important that this person (or people) are in the room with you, or at least easily accessible. There's no time to waste, and this is why war rooms exist.

Be a bit of a fortuneteller. We know you can't see into the future, and there isn't a crystal ball that will show you opportunities, but if you can, try and think ahead, brainstorm possible opportunities, and come up with some creative ideas in advance.

Choose the best channel

Twitter isn't always the answer. While it is a great platform for real-time events, streaming, using hashtags to index content, and more, we've seen other brands have success hosting Google+ Hangouts or offering exclusive experiences on Facebook or Instagram. Determine which channel suits not only the event, but also your brand.

The New York Times, for example, has used Google+ Hangouts to connect with Olympic athletes. This capitalized on the timeliness of the Olympics, as well as providing a useful and relevant experience for its readers.

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing

There are several apps that fall into the new "erasable media" category that may be interesting for moment marketing campaigns. HBO's "Girls" promoted the third season of its hit series using Snapchat to snap disappearing photos and quick videos from the red carpet premiere.

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing


Be authentic

Avoid being overly promotional. Unless your brand is sponsoring the event (and sometimes even if it is), the audience is more interested in the event taking place than what your brand has to advertise. It's essential to be a part of the conversation and interact with the audience in a natural way.

Don't force yourself in. And certainly don't be fake.

We've also seen a rise in brands trying too hard to take advantage of a current event, specifically, tragic events. Just because something is going on that may affect your customers, if your brand is not specifically identified as being part of this event, it is distasteful and opportunistic to take advantage of the situation.

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing  

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing

Consumers have become accustomed to brands interjecting into their conversations. Some even welcome it. Especially when the interjection comes in an authentic, non-disruptive, and useful way. Moment marketing is an opportunity for brands to gather insights from these interactions and establish value-driven feedback with customers. If brands are listening and gathering insights from these interactions, then we can start to build meaningful customer relationships that are not only timely, but also relevant.

The Super Bowl is the epitome of moment marketing. Brands have the attention of millions and, if done right, can score with a genuine and clever message. Although there wasn't a clear winner this year, there were a few brands that marketed in the moment, just right.

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing

3 ways to capitalize on moment marketing

The new world of moment marketing is giving brands and marketers the opportunity to take part in intelligent marketing -- marketing in the now. Think about how you can be more spontaneous to make an even bigger, more relevant impact.

Lauren Friedman is head of social business enablement at Adobe.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Good time in casino" image via Shutterstock.

Kevin Ryan founded the strategic consulting firm Motivity Marketing in April 2007. Ryan is known throughout the world as an interactive marketing thought leader, particularly in the search marketing arena. Today's Motivity is a group of...

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