Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

It’s easy to imagine how a company moves to variable pricing. They follow the money. They test into it. They realize that the buying behavior of shoppers varies from day to day and hour to hour. Their analytics tells them that someone using Safari has higher average purchases than someone using Firefox. They know that visitors that come to their website after visiting certain websites are more or less price sensitive than if they come from other referring sites. And sometimes, they’ve even learned that it pays to increase prices based on repeat visits. In other words, on some sites, the best price you’ll ever get is the first one they show you. Shop around, come back, and you’ll pay more. (Sort of like a car salesman, who knows that if you come back, he’s got you, and he doesn’t have to lower his price to make the sale.)

Then a marketing manager or someone in the sales department makes the case that they can improve profits by harnessing all of this data into a variable pricing strategy. It’s hard to argue with the data.

So the company invests in a pricing engine or builds its own pricing algorithms and institutes variable pricing. And guess what? Profits go up. Sales go up because shoppers are getting deals created with their buying habits in mind. After all, it is an accepted rule of Internet marketing (and direct marketing before it) that the more relevant and personalized the offer, the better the response. And milking every extra dollar out of a sale (or, in some cases, many extra dollars) increases profits.

A slam dunk, right?

Anybody who remembers the relevance of that phrase knows where I’m going with this.

Pricing may seem like a commodity, but in fact, it is part of brand identity. As is the relationship a buyer has with a brand. And just to be clear, a retailer is a brand, too. Sure, Target sells brands, but it is also a brand. People shop at Target as opposed to Wal-Mart for many of the same reasons that they choose Land’s End over Old Navy.

If you found out that the person next to you in line paid less for the same sweater at Land’s End than you did, how satisfied with Land’s End would you be?

Some shoppers will be so upset they’ll never come back. And others will find out how to get the lower price, and then make sure they do that from now on.

Let’s call the first shopper a Brand Shopper. And the second a Price Shopper.

Price Shoppers are smart. They find coupon sites. They find discount codes. They follow blogs and Twitter feeds that promise to find and deliver the best prices. Some of them use bots or apps to notify them of the best prices on specific retailers and shopping aggregators.

And in many cases, price shoppers know that brand distinction isn’t as important as it used to be. As Seth Godin famously said, most products these days are “good enough.” In other words, the upcharge for a top brand isn’t always worth it, and price shoppers often know that.

If you are courting price shoppers, then you’re always in a pricing war where the shoppers are as well-armed as you are… sometimes better. And the competition can almost always undercut you… unless you’re the rock bottom price, in which case, you’re not varying your prices anyway. You’re Wal-Mart.

With variable pricing, price shoppers learn when to buy, and when not to buy. The profits you initially expected from this major segment wither away.

Now let’s look at Brand Shoppers, the core of your business. Your house list, so to speak. They love you. They swear by you. They only wear/drive/eat you. But it turns out, brand is about more than just quality, or value. Brand is emotional. Brand lets people willingly buy inferior products out of love, or a sense of belonging, or even habit. In other words, brand is like a relationship, the human kind.

And nobody likes to feel cheated on, or duped, or lied to, or made a fool of. When they do, they dump you like a bag of bread that’s gone moldy.

So what happens to your brand loyalists when they find out that you’re playing fast and loose with pricing and they get no benefit for being a loyal customer? Even worse, what happens when they find out that you’ll give a better discount to someone who’s never bought from you before, rather than they, who sing your praises, evangelize your brand to all who will listen, and buy whatever new product you throw at them?

So yeah, variable pricing looks great from inside the bubble. But can someone please explain to me the value of a brand in a world where we’re made to feel like chumps if we don’t outsource our shopping decisions to mindless shopping bots that always find us the best prices, regardless of source, regardless of emotion, regardless of loyalty?

Like I said. Slam dunk.

Question: When is a 50% off sale not really a bargain?

Answer: When a company has jacked up their prices first.

In the days before the internet and smartphones that let you scan a bar code and get competitive prices instantly, it was common practice to jack up prices before putting them on sale. Customers who didn’t do their homework (and this kind of homework was much harder back then) would think they were getting a deal, when they really weren’t.

Even today, this practice is widespread enough that Bob’s Discount Furniture has cut a swath through the discount retail furniture business by offering everyday low prices and comparing themselves to the trumped up sale prices at their competitors.

But this latest scam by FTD combines 21st century tech with 20th century chicanery.

If you haven’t heard, FTD offered Groupon users a $20 Off Coupon for Valentines’s Day flowers. According to CNN Money, nearly 3,300 users signed up for the deal. Sounds good, right? Sure, except that it turns out that FTD sent these Groupon users to a separate landing page with prices that were higher than their regular prices. The high service and shipping charges depleted the savings further, so the claimed 50% off was virtually negated. And to add insult to injury, the flowers wouldn’t even be delivered until after Valentines Day.

Groupon cancelled the offer and FTD has already taken down the offending landing page.

Now I’m not a big fan of Groupon to begin with, at least from the marketing side of the equation. I’m sure there are bargains to be had for shoppers, but the jury is still out as to whether companies that use Groupon are making any money. There have been many successful Groupon campaigns, but the abrupt and often unmanageable influx of business, frequently by Groupon members who rarely if ever convert into loyal customers for the retailer, combined with the cost of the promotion and rev share with Groupon, often leads to failure. Some Groupon retailers are getting burned, like Posies Bakery & Cafe who blogged about their negative Groupon experience back in September. Or Gregg Gibbs, whose Chicago Bagel Authority netted $15,000 for $80,000 worth of food, according to this article in the Chicago Tribune.

But regardless of whether you like Groupon or not, FTD is the real culprit here. According to TechCrunch, the coupon only worked if you went through the Groupon link. Going to the regular FTD site landed you on a page where the $50 Groupon flowers were sold for $40. So FTD knew what they were doing. They deliberately increased the price shown to Groupon members. And they charged a service fee.

Can you imagine the marketing meeting where FTD discussed this plan? What were they thinking? Didn’t anybody at the meeting point out that if at any point anybody went to FTD via any path other than the Groupon link, they’d see a different, cheaper offer?

Can someone please explain to me why FTD thinks their customers are cyber-savvy enough to use Groupon, but too stupid to spend a couple of seconds clicking around to check out the actual value of the deal?

Did you see the bit on HLN about bedbugs infesting firehouses in Albuquerque, New Mexico the other day?

What caught my attention wasn’t the bugs, which are popping up all over the place like Tea Party candidates.

Nor was it the fact that the Firefighter Wives Auxillary Association went to a national high end mattress company and asked them donate 170 mattresses to the firestations, which they did. (You can read the whole story here.)

What hooked me was that the mattress company has requested to remain anonymous.

That’s right — anonymous!

As some of you might know, I co-authored a book with Dr. Richard Steckel about cause related marketing titled “Making Money While Making a Difference: How to Profit with a Nonprofit Partner.”

The entire book is about the positive bottom line benefits of cause-related marketing, an absolute win-win when done right, and while I wrote it over a decade ago, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put in anything about the benefits of anonymous donations.

BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE! At least not to marketing or sales. There are the tax benefits, of course, which must be monumental for 170 mattresses. And as my wife suggested, there may be a religious angle, which I guess would be good for your soul and future accommodations in whichever afterlife you may believe in.

But you have to agree that it’s an unusual move, in this day and age when organizations from NASA to Oakley were falling all over themselves to milk the publicity from helping out the Chilean miners. (Can you say $450 sunglasses, or $41 Million in media exposure?)

I’m still dumbfounded by it. Companies are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to, well, make money while making a difference. Opportunities like this one.

Which leads me to wonder, can someone please explain whether I’m right, or whether I’ve become so jaded that I can’t see an act of charity as anything other than a missed marketing opportunity?

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I was at SMX East Tuesday and attended a session on Facebook advertising. The experts on the panel were talking about how, in order to actually get useful results out of advertising on the world’s largest social network, they had to change their Facebook creative as often as 4-5 times a day to combat blindness, fatigue and annoyance.

Swapping out ads every few hours? Optimizing banner campaigns and paid search and websites on the fly? Managing brand reputations that can change in hours thanks to a viral video or a negative blog post?

When did advertising get so hard?

It used to be, you ran a TV spot on Must See TV and the whole world knew about your product.

It used to be, you rented a great mailing list, sent out a juicy catalog half the size of a phonebook, and watched the orders come rolling in over the phone or in the mail.

It used to be, you did your keyword research, put up a bunch of paid search ads in Google AdWords, and watched people come to your site and buy things.

It’s not like it used to be.

Advertising has gotten really tough. And it’s gotten tough because our target audiences stopped being targets and started being participants.

Now, you have to listen to them – but if you do, you can learn what you need to succeed.

Now you have to engage them – and when you do, they’ll reward you with the real version of the brand loyalty you thought you had before.

Now, you have to treat your customers like a Facebook Friend, a Twitter Follower, an engaged stakeholder – and if you don’t, they’ll find a company who does, but only after they tell everyone how shabbily you treated them. (5 years ago, if you said this to a client, they would have called you crazy and shown you the door.)

The bad news is that there are more channels, more touchpoints, and more tools than ever before, and they’re labor intensive, difficult to quantify, and constantly changing. (Just keeping up with the changes to Google is a full time job!)

The good news is that there are more channels, more touchpoints, and more tools than ever before at our disposal to change the way we relate to our customers.

So can someone please explain to me why, rather than change their methods to get the most advantage out of these newly engaged and empowered customers, so many advertisers are just trying to find a way to make the new mediums work like the old ones?

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I just saw “The Social Network” and I loved it. Aaron Sorkin proved once again that he is the best dialogue writer in Hollywood (followed closely by Quentin Tarantino and Diablo Cody, IMHO). His words, and director David Fincher’s skill, kept the movie flowing and riveting, never once sounding anything but utterly real and believable.

And Jesse Eisenberg made Mark Zuckerberg into an everyman for our generation.

In the first scene, Zuckerberg tells his girlfriend that there are more geniuses in China than there are people in the US. We begin to see Zuckerberg as an everyman: even though he’s a genius, and knows it, that doesn’t guarantee entry into the members-only clubs where the cool people hang out.

“The Social Network” is about us, all of us, trying to fit in, looking for a place to belong, and finding our voice: collectively and individually. It’s a messy process, and there will be sins of commission and omission along the way.

I heard a reviewer on whatever cable channel was on at the time saying that this movie isn’t just the movie of a decade, it’s the movie of the generation, and that got me thinking.

We live in a time that future generations will look back on as revolutionary. And it’s not revolutionary because men like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg built products and companies that changed everything: it’s revolutionary because society was ready to embrace the new world their creations helped birth.

That new world is the world of virtually simultaneous, planet-wide shared awareness, perception and discussion.

Think about it. How do you get your information now? How do you experience the world? And most importantly, how do you share it, and what’s the lag time between discovery and dissemination?

I used to be a newspaper junkie. Then a Google News Junkie. Now, I have a News list on Twitter that gets the latest updates from the WSJ, The NY Times, Huffington Post, CNN, Mashable, Techcrunch and more. (The WSJ alone has dozens of Twitter feeds.) Now I can finally scan the news quickly and easily and know what’s going on everywhere instantly.

A few days ago, the shooting at the University of Texas was first reported on Twitter by students on campus. And as the situation developed, the local police were sending out their “official updates” to the news networks via Twitter.

The implications for Marketing and Advertising are sweeping. Because in the new era, ideas don’t spread because you throw money into spreading them. An idea spreads now because the wired-together world likes it and tells itself about it. The internet is littered with the corpses of bad ideas drenched in the blood of wasted marketing dollars.

Yes, getting heard among the rising background noise is hard. And at its most basic level, if you don’t know how to use the tools of social media, or don’t have the time, then marketers and advertisers can help.

But make no mistake: the ultimate success or failure of an idea, a product or a service is now dependent upon the quality of the idea, the product or the service. If people like it, they tell others. If they don’t, they don’t. And the way people find out about things these days is through a connected, always-on social network that exists online and off, via text and email and word of mouth across mobile phones and smart phones and laptops and computers, via Facebook and Twitter and Google.

It didn’t used to be that way, and that is sad for the good ideas that died stillborn and unheard, for lack of money or wherewithal. But I say, good riddance to the old world, and welcome to the new.

And yet, there are still those who resist the tide and cling to the ways they’ve always known, who look at multiple channels and only see fragmentation, who look at millions of people talking about what’s important to them and only perceive self-indulgent and distracting noise.

Can someone please explain to me how anyone can look at this time as anything less than a revolution, as the dawn of an era where a world of billions of individuals finally came together to know itself as a whole community greater than the sum of its parts?

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I can’t remember the last time I got a personal letter. Even my birthday and anniversary cards are likely to come via email these days. But my daughter got a postcard yesterday from her soon-to-be First Grade teacher telling her how excited she was to meet her when school starts in a few days. Not only was it totally unexpected, but the look on my daughter’s face has already sent the teacher’s Brand Perception through the roof in our family.

My daughter is not alone in responding favorably to Direct Mail. According to the August, 2010 Consumer Channel Preference Study by Epsilon Targeting, 18-34 year-olds overwhelmingly prefer to receive information via postal mail compared to any other medium across a wide variety of categories, with one exception (Travel). (You can download the full study here. And thanks to the TM Tipline newsletter for tipping me off to the new study.)

As you can see from the following sample of products and services, the preference for direct mail over email is staggering. In no case is it less than 2 to 1, and in one case, direct mail beats email by nearly 6 to 1.

Product/Service Mail Email
Sensitive Health 43% 9%
Prescription 41% 11%
General Health 37% 11%
Personal Care 37% 10%
Food Product 36% 11%
Cleaning Product 34% 9%
Financial Services 40% 7%
Insurance 38% 8%
Travel 28% 13%

There’s more in the survey. For instance, when it comes to household products, Newspaper Inserts are in second place, preferred 2 to 3 times more than email. For health related products, information from friends, family and doctors is more desirable than email, although still not as desirable as direct mail. (Maybe that’s because direct mail can be more private and less confrontational than asking your best friend, lover or doctor about a medical need?)

The survey also assessed trust, and found, as expected, that for health care, medical professionals are most trusted. For everything else, friends and family are at the top. The next most trusted source is newspapers, followed by company websites. Social Media like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are in the basement at 7-8%.

Source Trust
Doctor/Nurse 80%
Friends or Family 57%
Newspaper 26%
Company Websites 22%
Television 20%
Direct Mail Brochures or Flyers 18%
Radio 16%
Email 12%
Other Online Sites 11%
Cell Phone 9%
Blogs 8%
Facebook 8%
Online Forums 8%
YouTube 7%
Twitter 7%
Other Social Media 7%

So what are we to derive from this survey? Well, aside from the premise that more people prefer and trust dead tree communications (direct mail, newspapers) over electronic ones, I think the big lesson here is that you can’t put all of your communications in one basket. At its best, direct mail only reached a 43% preference. That means that 57% of potential customers want to be communicated with through a different medium.

As the Director of Integrated Marketing at Tanen Directed Advertising, a channel-neutral direct marketing agency, this is good news to me. It supports what I’ve always believed: combined arms tactics beat single tactic strategies every time.

It also means you can never stop testing. What works today may not work tomorrow. Just a few years ago, email was outperforming direct mail. Adults 18-34 may prefer direct mail now, but what will that cohort prefer when it’s made up of today’s tweens and teens? Will people who’ve never even read a newspaper trust one?

Media channels may rise and fall in popularity and effectiveness, but I think it’s safe to say that in the rapidly changing world of advertising, there are no silver bullets, no perfect answers. A multi-channel strategy gives you the best chance of success. More importantly, communications across each channel often reinforce each other, creating synergies you can’t get with a single communication.

Even some of the most successful “social media” campaigns in recent memory have been multi-channel. As Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media has said,  “If your customers are there, you need to be there too… You need to listen… see how they behave and act similarly.” He was talking about social media, but I say his insight applies to all forms of marketing and advertising.

People live multi-channel lives. They want some information one way, and other information a different way, sometimes at the same time. So can someone please explain to me why there are still some advertisers who operate with a one-channel-fits-all mindset?

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In social media, it’s not the size that matters.

Here it is, June 2010, and I’m still hearing things like this:

“We’re not one of your big clients. We have to focus on the basics:  direct marketing, email blasts, you know. We don’t have the time or the people for social media.”

And…

“It’s not like we’re a local mom and pop business,  we need scale. Sure, we like the idea of Facebook fans, but really, how much can we move the needle on Facebook?”

Can a company really be too small or too big to benefit from a social media strategy?

David and Goliath comparisons don’t get any clearer than Pizza Hut vs. Naked Pizza. Big vs. small.  Old vs. new. Mass produced, pre-made, highly processed fast food vs. healthy, natural, hand-made fast food.

And yet there’s something both of them can agree on.  One of the biggest ingredients to their recipe for growth is social media. Social media, with its low cost of entry both in terms of cost and required skills (anyone can have a free Facebook page, and with nearly 400 million active Facebook users, nearly everyone does) works especially well for really small, local companies, so let’s start with David:  Naked Pizza.

Naked Pizza, a franchise started in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2006, has embraced Twitter fully, down to putting a huge Twitter sign outside their store. Last year, they ran a Twitter-only promotion they credited with 15% of their day’s sales. A month later, nearly 70% of the customers calling in for orders were Twitter followers. They’ve got 5 new locations opening soon, and another 17 franchises awarded across the country, with reports of 40 new locations planned in Florida alone.

So what about Goliath?

This year Pizza Hut expects to hit $2 billion in online orders this year, according to a recent article in Chief Marketer. Papa Johns did that much in 2009, comprising 25% of their global business. 30% of Domino’s sales are online.

Fueling much of Pizza Hut’s growth is due their social media strategy. As of today, Pizza Hut has 1,393,776 million fans on Facebook. Last year they ran a national campaign to hire a Twintern, a summer Twitter Intern, whose job was to promote the company on Twitter and Facebook and handle online reputation monitoring. The winner, Alexa Robinson (@pizzahut), has been credited with helping grow Pizza Hut’s Twitter followers from 3,000 to 30,000. Robinson was so successful she was hired as Pizza Hut’s Tweetologist, a full time job that has expanded to include public appearances at events in New York City, Philadelphia, Little Rock, Richmond, Va., Columbia, S.C., and Des Moines, Iowa. — all tracked on Foursquare, of course, with pictures on Flickr.

Two companies, one big, one small, both benefiting from social media. It seems pretty clear to me, at least in this case, that it’s not the size that matters in social media, it’s what you do with it.

Does your company have a social media strategy? If not, can someone in your organization give me a call and please explain to me why you don’t?

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Have you ever seen a monkey riding a dog herding sheep?

I have.

I was at the Angola Prison Rodeo in Angola, Louisiana, helping my friend Marrus celebrate her 40th Birthday.

What’s the Angola Prison Rodeo, you may ask? (Unless you’ve seen Stir Crazy, of course.)

Well, it’s a rodeo, only the cowboys are prisoners and Angola is a maximum-security penitentiary and so they go at it like they’ve got nothing left to lose. And maybe they don’t, given that Angola’s nickname used to be “The Bloodiest Prison in the World.” Actually, they’re competing for Commissary money, which I was told translates to better food and maybe cigarettes, so, well, you get the picture.

The Angola Prison Rodeo is the longest running Prison Rodeo in the country. One of the crowd’s favorite events is called Convict Poker. 4 prisoners sit around a table, they let loose a bull, and the last one sitting wins. First time they did that, the bull came in directly behind one of the prisoners, and hit so hard all 4 prisoners and the table went airborne.

And yet, Convict Poker was not the most amazing event I witnessed that day. Nor was Wild Cow Milking, Buddy Pick-Up or Guts & Glory.

Because, you see, I saw 3 Capuchin monkeys riding on 3 Border Collies herding a bunch of sheep. And pretty much simultaneously each and every one of The Marrus Pranksters turned to each other and said, “Now I’ve seen everything.”

From our nosebleed seats it was hard to tell if the monkeys were strapped on, drugged or the best darned Border Collie-ridin’ monkeys this side of the Pecos. But I developed a strong opinion when one of them kind of slipped and was sideways to the dog. His little hands were flailing trying to fend off the ground against which the Border Collie seemed determined to bounce him. The trainer came out and righted the monkey, so I’m betting definitely strapped and quite possibly drugged.

We left Angola prison, safely aboard The Hoosegow Express, and took the hours long ride back to New Orleans. The ride was made more enjoyable by mixed drinks and incredible conversation. And every once in a while, someone would blurt out “Holy shit! I just saw monkeys riding dogs herding sheep.” or something to that effect, and then go back to their conversation.

I pulled out my souvenir program to read about it and found, much to my surprise, not a single mention of monkeys riding dogs herding sheep. No pictures. Not even listed on the program. And it’s not the first time they’ve had monkeys riding dogs herding sheep at the Angola Prison Rodeo, according to one of The Marrus Pranksters who’d been there before and accidentally “forgot” to tell us about the spectacle in advance.

In fact, the website doesn’t mention it either. Or the posters. Or the videos. Or the press release. Or the Advertising Opportunity page on the website.  Of course they sell advertising. The rodeo attracts over 70,000 people annually, who spend their money on inmate-created crafts and feast on delicacies like Fried Coca Cola and Alligator Po’ Boys.

And yet, what do you think the first thing everyone who went to that rodeo tells their friends about? What do they tweet and blog and Facebook about?

Monkeys riding dogs herding sheep.

What if it were your business? What if you had something utterly remarkable, a true Seth Godin-worthy Purple Cow? Would you never mention it in any of your marketing materials? Never once discuss it in a press release?

I hear some of you whispering about the practice of not advertising certain off-menu secret items at places like In ‘n Out Burger, and maybe you’ve got a point. Sometimes not talking about something is cooler than talking about it. But I don’t think that’s the case here. And besides, as compelling as Gummy Bear Smoothies at Jamba Juice or Mochi topping at Pinkberry may be, they’re not as remarkable as what we all saw at Angola Prison that day.

So can someone please explain to me why in blazes the Angola Prison Rodeo doesn’t tell people that if they just come on by they’ll get to see monkeys riding dogs herding sheep?

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Sometimes, in the afternoon, between cups of coffee, when my eyes droop and I drift off, I daydream of a world where the roads are paved with golden bricks and I know exactly which advertising channel to credit for a sale or a site visit. Did the billboard with a URL lead to the sale, or the tweet with the bit.ly short link, or the hyperlinked news story (press release) on the newspaper website, or the ad in the magazine, or the postcard, or the TV commercial telling you to “Text ‘Ruby Slippers’ to 526727”, or the natural search listing or the paid search ad or the dozens of mentions in the dozens of blogs or the lions and tigers and bears, oh my…

And then I wake up and remember that as the Director of Integrated Marketing at a direct marketing focused agency, (albeit in Connecticut, not Kansas) it’s my job to attempt to give credit where credit is due, and I smile because yesterday, thanks to Google, my job got easier.

Yesterday Google announced the beta testing of their AdWords Search Funnels. Currently, the last search ad clicked on gets credit for a conversion. But the fact is that many people perform more than one search before they finally click on an ad and then convert, sometimes over the course of days and even weeks. But with Search Funnels, Google can tell you which keywords contributed to the conversion, and which didn’t, for up to 30 days. It will show you how many clicks and impressions happened before the conversion, as well as time lag from first to last. I’m not part of the beta test, but when Google rolls out the product I’ll have a much better sense of which parts of my search campaigns are helping, and which aren’t. Who knows how many keywords I’ve paused erroneously, actually hurting my conversions, when I should have given them credit for an “assist.”

Google’s Search Funnels will help you go beyond the last click, but Microsoft’s Engagement Mapping is even more transformational. At a panel I attended at this year’s AdTechNY, Microsoft discussed their initiative to get beyond simply crediting the last click in order to help advertisers more properly attribute the impact of all advertising, not just search, on a conversion.  Engagement Mapping was developed by the Microsoft Advertising Institute, whose recent research showed that “searchers clicking on a result are 56 percent more likely to convert if they have been exposed to online display ads.”

I remember when DoubleClick (now owned by Google) first released “View Thru Conversion” statistics that showed that the impact of banner ads persisted well beyond their first impression, and that many people who didn’t click the ads converted later. DoubleClick could only do that because their ad serving technology and tracking mechanisms gave them a vast data pool to look at, and it breathed new life into online display advertising.

It’s important to know which advertising efforts should get the credit for the sale, because without it how can you truly determine ROI?

Think about it this way. A friend tells you about a movie. You read an interview with the director in Entertainment Weekly. You see the preview in a movie theater. And on a video rental. And online. You fan the movie on Facebook. Another friend tells you about the movie. Someone sends you a promotional clip from YouTube. And then your significant other says, “What movie do you want to go see tonight?” and you go to Google or Bing or Yahoo and type in NYC Movie Times and there’s the movie you heard about and then you check out RottenTomatoes.com real quick to make sure it’s not a dog and then go to Fandango and buy your tickets.

Who would you credit with influencing your choice? In the world of “last click gets the credit” the winner is a rotten tomato.

True direct marketers don’t know, they test. We try to base our decisions on data. We have so much more data than ever before, and the more we learn, the easier it becomes to fill in the gaps and make better assumptions. Better assumptions lead to more successful tests which lead to better results.

Sometimes, like with Search Funnels, the new data teaches us that we didn’t know what we thought we knew, or what we thought the data was telling us. And sometimes, when we look behind the curtain, the wizards dispensing that data turn out not to be wizards after all.

So can someone please explain to me why some people seem more eager to trust a wicked witch who promises them an unrealistic certainty over a good witch who only promises to do her best?

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“Just the facts, M’am.”

Pepsi, who has advertised in every Super Bowl for 23 years, is shifting its entire Super Bowl budget into social media via its charitable crowdsourcing community called The Pepsi Refresh Project.

According to a UMass Dartmouth Study released this month, 80% of the Inc 500 use social networking as a marketing tool. And 89% of them say it was successful, “using hits, comments, leads or sales as primary indicators of success.”

The Mobile Internet Report by Morgan Stanley, released in December, says,

“Regarding the pace of change, we believe more users will likely connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within five years.”

Okay, that wasn’t a fact. That was a prediction. But it’s a conviction backed up by a 424 page research report.

But this is: as of today, the Red Cross had raised $22 million for Haiti relief thru text donations alone. And I don’t know about you, but I first found out about the effort on Twitter.

I could keep listing facts that prove the value of social media, but I’m lazy. Instead, I’m going to post this great video, Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman, that I found on Josef Katz’s Marketing Maestro blog that addresses the ROI of social media.

Pepsi. Ford. Gary Vinochuk. Zappos. Lenovo. Burger King. Blend Tec. Dell. Intuit. Volkswagen. Barak Obama. The Red Cross.

They all get it.

Can someone please explain to me why there are still people who don’t?