Evolution of Social Commerce

Social Commerce is on the rise and companies seem to be hugely benefiting by adapting strategies which puts community in the forefront. Although, the basic premise of social commerce is driven by the customer, it is absolutely important that a platform be given to the customer to engage. This gives the context to create the conversation between the brand and the customer, which is essential to make the social commerce successful.

I recently met up with Bazaarvoice, which offers tools to build such a platform and I am thoroughly impressed by their approach. You can read more about their social commerce solutions by visiting the website, www.bazaarvoice.com.

Uncovering The Right Models For Campaign Attribution

Since the advent of online commerce, marketers are seeking solution to one unresolved question. How do you evaluate performance of online campaigns? Particularly, at a time when global organisations are increasingly relying on online advertising to improve visibility. It is true that measuring offline campaigns can be equally tricky, but online measurement is titillating. Simply because, there are enough mechanisms to employ a tangible measurement tool and marketers dwell with an increased expectation of being able to track and measure online campaigns.

Also, without effective measurement, it is a little challenging to convince senior management, those particularly averse to the new world of digital media. Lack of a good attribution model skews marketing contributions either by over-inflating or by under reporting the performance of a particular campaign.

Typically, an average conversion will have multiple touch points. For illustrative purposes, I have tried to capture five common online channels, which assists the conversion path. In the below example, I have taken paid search as the user’s first touch point, before he/she visits other channels such as display/display retargeting, affiliates, organic search, social media and finally converts by visiting the website directly. Now we are clearly aware that a user interacted with 5 different channels before converting, but what we don’t know is how much of an influence all these channels have on the user’s buying behaviour.

Old school attribution logic says that since the user visits the website to convert, this particular event should be fully attributed with the conversion, which clearly is the last click model. But does that mean that there is little need or necessity to run campaigns on different channels? This is where it begins to get clouded.

Marketers have experimented with different attribution models to identify the significance of a particular campaign. For example, from the above instance where a user travels through five different touch points starting from paid search before converting, we could attribute campaigns the in the following ways.

  • First click: Where Paid Search as the first touch point claims full credit for the conversion
  • Last Click: Since the user comes directly to the website, this model completely ignores the initial touch points and attributes the conversion to the direct visit.
  • Distributed: This is one of the simplest of attribution models where each channel is equally attributed.
  • Linear: This particular model attributes the value to a conversion based on recency of the user interaction in an ascending order, with the last touch point receiving the highest attribution.
  • Weighted: Weighted attribution model focuses on weighing the campaigns based on their significance.We have seen the different attribution models that can be applied to campaigns. But does that explain which model we should be using? Yes, I personally feel that weighted attribution is the way to go. However, one must realise that there are some subjective considerations while using this model.

In the above example, I have indicatively weighed Paid Search and Direct Visit with the highest attribution, while sharing a smaller percentage between the other touch points. This is a completely subjective option. Instead of weighing Paid Search higher, you may feel that for your particular campaigns, a display ad which has an online promotion initiates the traffic push. In such an instance, you may want to weigh a higher attribution to the display ad. Or you may feel that the one of your high converting keywords gains significant keyword positions on search engines, resulting in higher traffic, for which you may consider weighing Organic search with a higher attribution. You may even want to award a higher attribution to the recency of the interaction.

Weighted attribution certainly allows you to attribute the conversions effectively, but is it ‘the’ model for attribution? Well, it is debatable. However, one must understand that to fully comprehend the impact of different channels, it is imminent that we have to delve deeper. What the weighted attribution model offers is an improvement over other attribution models.

An Essential Guide to Successful Blogger Outreach

Blogger OutreachWith social media rapidly consuming the internet space, it is increasingly becoming a part of our media landscape. In the recent days, more and more online news sites have embraced the pay wall model, resulting in social media, particularly blogs becoming an important source of news, opinions and products. Blogs represent an affordable opportunity to promote products & brands.

SO, WHAT IS BLOGGER OUTREACH?
In simple words, it is a process where businesses reach out to bloggers who are influential within a particular area of interest to the brand, product or service and have an interested audience (or target customers) where they can facilitate a conversation.

Businesses encourage this conversation, by offering something valuable which could be of interest to the blogger as well as his/her audience, which will then ensure acquisition of the bloggers audience, who could potentially be repeat customers to the business.

HOW DOES BLOGGER OUTREACH WORK?
Bloggers have an audience and have the ability to open a window of opportunity for the business to reach out to their reader-base, some of who could already be customers and many who are completely new. These readers help the brand websites by not just being a source of traffic, but also by being advocates of these brands to their own communities as well as search engines, which effectively would help in increasing conversions online as well as offline.

Most bloggers tend to write about subjects they are passionate about and on most times, the write-up is owned by the bloggers. The blog and the subject matter are therefore, extremely personal endeavours to bloggers. Choosing an influential blog /blogger in areas not just specific to the blogger, but also for us to promote our brand sentiments is the first step towards formalising a blogger outreach strategy.

Once we choose the blog/blogger and our niches, there are many ways to work with them (see box).

Bloggers Interest

WHY BLOGS?
The great thing about blogs is that they work in conjunction with the existing marketing efforts. For example, an online press release could generate sufficient buzz to result in a blog review. This blog review can then be promoted across a multitude of social media sites such as Facebook & Twitter, be bookmarked through social bookmarking tools such as delicious & digg and even communicated through our email marketing efforts. This results in creating that social influence which is fast evolving as one of the key metrics in the buying decision making.

Benefits of Blogger OutreachAbove all, blogger outreach of course, substantiates SEO efforts and helps in ranking higher on search engines, thereby ensuring higher visibility and traffic. The SEO benefits mainly come from the social interaction within the blogging community, where information and opinion is shared with individuals across many domains. Considering all these factors, Blogger Outreach remains one of the favoured strategies for online marketing. However, it has it’s own risks associated with it, which we will leave for another day.

Credits: 4 Imprint Blue Papers – Blogger Outreach.

The Fountain of Youth

I was reading an article the other day on Business week which quoted a recent report by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. According to FCO’s British Behaviour Abroad report, around 600 Britons are rescued from drowning in Australia every year. Citing various other countries where Britons get arrested while traveling, the report also claims that most of the freak accidents are either alcohol or drugs induced.¬†That reminds me of a Mandrake’s vintage comic strip which I had read a while ago. Tourists go abroad to get away from their regular mundane lives. Holidays are usually associated with letting yourself go and having a good time. This leads to over indulgent habits. Everyone is out to seek the fountain of (hic) of youth…only if they took enough care to ensure that they don’t wreak havoc in the host country!!!

iPad finally arrives….

Nearly a month after placing the order, my iPad 3G+Wi-Fi finally shipped today. I was frantically hooked to the Macrumors forums following an extended thread which had details about other fanboy’s experiences, but mine took way too longer than everyone else’s. At one point, I had given up on the hope as no money had been debited from my bank accounts as well. I was desperate and after three calls to Apple Customer Service, finally was able to track it. Turns out, Apple only blocks the payment on the card until the products are ready to be shipped. Also, the Apple cases and the docks along with the Camera connector kit was delaying the shipping of an iPad.

It finally did arrive, except for the Camera Connector Kit. First impressions are…it’s incredible. One of the best gadgets I have ever had!!!!

iWant…iPad…

I wasn’t expecting iPad to be unavailable for such extended periods of time. I assumed that I could land one home by visiting the flagship store on Regent Street. Now, given that I was away in Munich for the Bank Holiday weekend since the launch, I should have ordered the pad online. Now, it’s neither available instore, nor available online, which is kind of frustrating. I have ordered one anyway, which has an expected ship date of 15 June. Hope it’s earlier than that. My next post on this blog will be via my shiny new iPad 3G + Wireless.

Until then!!!

Social Media & The Brand – How businesses fumble in the Media Space?

So much has already been written about social media. In fact, many businesses have already ingrained social media into their business and marketing strategies. So, it comes as a huge surprise to see a few which are complete laggards. While businesses of all sizes and shapes have an established social presence, a number of them are still behind and beyond the social media realm. This is purely due to of the lack of a defined structure and strategy.

After nearly three years in online marketing, which includes a whole lot of social media activity, I must agree on one thing. Small businesses are certainly more receptive to the ever changing technology and the media that constantly evolves with it. They are also more likely to benefit as early adopters to these initiatives. They leverage the small amount publicity they get in the initial years and by the time other big businesses catch up, they have estbalished strategies which sets the ground work for big businesses to build on.

In the last few years, working for a small business, I have experimented with every new online marketing initiative that has been thrown at us by tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Some of them stuck by, and some of them, well, got stuck. From the early days of Delicious & Digg to WordPress & Livejournal, as well as the recent phenomenon named Twitter & Facebook, I have tried everything new that came out of the box for my old company. Today, it is fairly well known in the Social Media and Online Marketing world. If I look back on the proudest moments of my employment, two instances stand out among many others:

When our online marketing initiatives were used as a Case Study for a Text Book for Master’s Degree and when a renowned Search Engine Marketing service provider patted our back in front of 200 other online marketing professionals. While these two instances are much cherished moments of my life, I also wonder what made the online marketing so successful in a small business such as the one I worked for.

It immediately strikes to me that it was neither my enthusiasm for new media, nor the technology that was on offer which made these social media initiatives sucessful. Without outstanding business leadership, you neither get the enthusiasm, nor are aware of technology. I clearly remember when I was offered the role, I was told that apart from my regular responsibilities, I have two hours to read and keep abreast of the development of online marketing, which probably made what I am today. Something like a Google philosophy: 20% time

Now it pains me to see injudicious timing, ill-advised social media approaches, particularly when the media space is completely convoluted.  I feel that given the current adoption by businesses, you really need to rise up and stand tall to make your mark. Companies with inward looking social media approaches are sure to hit the wall as soon as they open their doors. Facebook & Twitter offer two of the most exciting platforms for businesses to take off. Both these platforms certainly deserve a clarity of thought and a well defined strategy, otherwise they are sure to be also rans.