Shipping

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I’ve been away from this blog for a while. Things were getting busy with Native Tongue, and oh that thing called life got in the way. After working in my own startup and other startup ventures for the past few years, the one thing that I’m always reminded of is a Steve Jobs quote “Real artist ship”. Its important to deliver. Whether its a new feature, design, product, its refers to getting it out the door. You learn so much more about what you are doing when people interact with it.

I also came across a good blog post from Joel at Buffer (great product btw!) which reinforced it. He referred to the “fear of not shipping” and mentioned how blogging regularly is also a product that needs to ship. I always thought of shipping as a product orientated concept. But shipping is a mindset. The team at Buffer reguarly ship out blog posts on a weekly basis, creating dedicated times to generate content and to post it.

Shipping should be a pervasive culture in your organisation, particularly in a startup. It needs to apply to all activities. Whether its delivering new features, getting product into the hands of customers, sending out that monthly eDM (email direct marketing), etc… You need to maintain velocity and momentum. Doing things on a regular basis creates habits. Its also difficult when there are so many things to do in a startup, so you need to priortise what needs to ship.

I think I just need to get that first blog post out the door to get that mindset back again. I’m always surprised when people tell me they read my blog, or that I haven’t updated it in a while, or what I wrote made them think. I also believe that a lot of people underestimate the power of content and content marketing. When you blog (or create other content online), you start becoming more influential and build trust with your audience. I truly believe that I’ve gotten opportunities from writing great content and built trust with customers and peers this way. People go to your online presence, they read your linkedin profile, blog, twitter, instagram, etc…

I wanted to end this blog post with a new video I came across which I highly recommend you to watch. Its Guy Kawasaki talking about the “top 10 mistakes entrepreneurs make” (starts at 3.20). I’m pretty sure I’ve made all of them, but that is what makes me an entrepreneur. Willingness to do things, make things, break things, and to ship.

I’m out like not shipping,

Matt Ho

This video looks kinda insane

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I will never understand why people do sports like this….it must the rush, the adrenalin, overcoming your fears and the risk involved. I cringed when I saw some of those injuries.

Anyhow, this is pure co-incidence – but at work we did a creative exercise where we created online display ads for a fictious energy drink, Fuqu. Then I came across the new Redbull website. I really like what Redbull is doing with its video content. They are positioning it with an adventure / extreme sport image. Redbull is associated with skateboarding, BMX riding, flying planes etc… It’s very cool.

I don’t really drink redbull these days (as they are bad for your health!). However, their videos are very slick and their marketing strategy is very good, particularly with social media. Check out their facebook page and integration with twitter. Redbull sponsored athletes provide Twitter updates and the feed is aggregated onto the facebook page.

I’m out like major wipeouts,

Matt

Beware the Witch of Man

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On Monday night, about 300 people gathered for the inaugural launch of the social media club in Sydney. The event was held at the Polo & Supper Club in Oxford St and the event was well attended by the masses. By the masses I’m referring to marketing people, the digerati, the twitterati, PR people, etc…or whatever you want to call them. The key note speakers were the fake Stephen Conroy aka Leslie Nassar (love your work!) and Adam Ferrier of Naked Communications. The MC for the night was Tim Burrowes, editor of Mumbrella.  The topic for the night was “authenticity & transparency in social media” – one of those airy fairy marketing topics. 

At 6.30pm when I arrived, the place was pumping. They had two levels booked out, and the bottom level where the main arena was, was absolutely packed. Standing room only! (Well bars are made for standing room).

Man with the $349 jacket

Adam Ferrier went first and spoke about their infamous “girl in the jacket campaign”. This campaign was created for Witchery to launch their mens range and they had a budget of zero (emphasis) and wanted to generate a lot of buzz. So they created a fictious story where girl sees boy in cafe she fancies, boy leaves jacket, girl wants to find boy. Girl then goes to the enormous length of posting a video on youtube. The story then got amplified as the main stream press picked it up and they showed that Sunrise breakfast program, newspapers, etc… Their intention was to get the brand noticed and get people talking about Witchery Man. Check it:

 

As of now, 212,100 views in youtube. Pretty impressive for a budget of zero. I’ve watched the video for the first time, and although I have the benefit of hindsight, I would have been highly skeptical of it at the time. The way that she goes to great lengths to describe the jacket and how the “perfect guy” would be wearing it. In fact its not a bad jacket. Subliminal advertising must work on the weak.

Then the press started asking who is this girl, is this a marketing campaign, who is behind this? They eventually got outed. Naked & Witchery came clean and posted a video response saying yes it was us. I’ve only seen the videos now (after the talk) so here it in all its glory:

Man, I cringed when I saw this. It could have been executed a lot better and definently with more class – the way that Heidi turns it into a ad for the jacket. In fact, the only time I cringed even more in the last 24 hrs was when I heard Adam Ferrier’s response as to whether Naked was arrogant.

Its all about generating conversations

It seemed that for most of the night Adam was defending Naked’s actions. He even had stats to back himself up. But at the end of the day, I think he was convincing and I agree with Tim Burrowes comments on Mumbrella that he did help to sway the crowd onto his side.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with this tactic of creating a false story or building a mysterious story to get customers engaged and talking about a brand. Brands do it all the time. It’s what we do as marketers. Can Jordan really fly? (Wait, there is doubt?), are pure blondes really made from pristine rivers? Brands make up stories and fantasies all the time to get customers talking and excited. All they want to do is generate buzz. If that’s the objective, then Naked slam dunked it.

Was the public misled about Girl in the Jacket. I have no doubt they were. Was their a line that was crossed? Yes – only when they made that cringeworthy followup video. If Naked did not do the followup video like that, I think it would have been a great campaign. Consumers are smarter than what we give them credit for.

Was it groundbreaking? Of course not. In fact some guy in the audience asked “Did the Witchery Man campaign helped increase the popularty of social media?” – dude are you kidding me? They posted a youtube video about a fake story and it got picked up by the press. It’s not as if they created Twitter. When the story was being told, I immediately thought of the real life campaign of NY girl of my dreams, the cybersearch by one NYC man for an aussie girl he met on the subway. I came across this when I was travelling in the States, and I had actually thought about it when I started reading about this campaign and the connection became even more clearer last night. 

I agree with Adam’s insight that social media is a communication channel. It could be more than that, but at the end of the day that’s primarily what it is. Yes it is democratizing media (see Ashton Kutcher). However, it does make it a lot harder for brands and marketers to do something similar now because people think they got screwed over.

It nots really Stephen Conroy?

I love Leslie’s work as the fake stephen conroy. Dude is funny but a walking PR disaster. He didn’t have a lot to say on the night and Tim was trying to involve him as much as possible by asking him questions as well. But he definently had a couple of good insights – that not everything created by companies on social media is great. Everyone does go nuts when they see a brand do something on social media. 

If you want to see more of the Witchery Man campaign check the video from the night.

I’m out like the man in the jacket, 

Matt

Creative Lego ads – brings back childhood memories!

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I love lego. I used to love the big lego exhibitions in the city, which my parents used to take me to as a kid. You would see  these crazy lego sculptures and wonder how people made them (and how they were held together!)

And these ads are so clever! Some of them are very simple but so witty and funny. Minimalist is the key.

LEGO – TANK

legoad-tank1

 

LEGO – ALICIA KEYS

legoad-alicia-keys

For more check out here. It’s worth it, trust me!

I’m out like lego exhibitions,

Matthew Ho.

p.s. someone bring them back!

Ad:Tech Sydney – First Day Impressions: talking to myspace.com, netpartners, post click, girls.com.au

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adtech_sydney

Ad:tech started in Sydney today. It’s a 2 day expo, with similar events held in San Francisco, Paris, London, Chicago, New York, Singapore. It’s basically for online marketing companies, for those involved in advertising technology. The official line is:

“ad:tech is an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition. Worldwide shows blend keynote speakers, topic driven panels and workshops to provide attendees with the tools and techniques they need to compete in a changing world”

I arrived there around lunch time.  I had my express check in pass (thanks ad:tech!), so got buzzed in pretty quick. The first stand lo and behold was Next Digital/Commquest! Which is my company – more on this later.

I was in a rush because I was supposed to go to the Yahoo search masterclass. In the corner of my eye, I saw a guy from my media buying class who’s a dedicated search guy. However, when I got there, the seminar was over. Disappointed, I trudged back and went to the Yahoo search stand and asked them what it was about. I also asked them for notes of the presentation and hopefully they can email it to me. Hit me up if you would like a copy of the notes.

Overall, ad:tech didn’t actually look that full. Maybe its because I expected it be at full capacity. Or perhaps, there were seminars going on. There’s paid seminars, with 3 different tracks but to go to them you need to have a conference pass which costs $1k. I’m just going to the free stuff =) You can check out the different stands, talk to people, and listen to the free seminars. It reminds me of a big careers fair!

Next Digital has got prime position, near the front door and we’ve decked it out in a hospital theme with hospital bed, flasks of weird liquids, IV drip, and doctors walking around with stethoscopes. The theme its “Digital Health Check”, and we’re offering free audits of digital marketing strategy, websites, etc.. We are taking appointments and doing followups. Kate Kendall, editor of marketing mag called it  best stand at expo. Have a look here:

nd-stand-ad-tech

Next Digital was giving a talk after the Yahoo one, so I briefly saw my director Mark Edwards, speaking about digital strategy.  Its a small seated area with about 30 seats and people were standing in the back, 3 rows deep! He had some really good content, however the sound quality was quite poor.The mic and the speakers weren’t loud enough. For the guys standing in the back like me, you couldn’t hear him clearly. As the stands are right next to auditorium area,  there’s so much background noise. It’s a shame and it something the organiser’s will have to look at for next year. Perhaps move the speaking stage a little bit further into a quieter area and turn up the mics!!!!!!!!

I spoke to a couple of interesting people /companies at the stands. Vincent and I walked around and spoke to the following stands. I’ve provided a short commentary on each one:

Fox Interactive 

Websites : Myspace.com, Rottentomatoes.com (movie review site), ign.com (similar to gamespot.com), Askmen.com.

We were talking to Sharon May-Tanous, Group Sales Manager, and she showed us a new feature on myspace.com. There’s this function called “Myspace recharge” where u can recharge your phone by buying credits / topups. Very cool. I’ve always advocated that social networks should do more in the transactional & ecommerce space, given that we spend so much time on there. According to Nielsen research, time spent on social networking has overtaken personal email. Myspace are also releasing a new visa credit card as well, targeted towards younger people. Its going to work like a prepaid debit card. It will be an interesting move for them.

They had a very cool stand with lots of monitors. If you look at the above sites I’ve listed in the heading and click through, you’ll realise that their are Australian versions with localised content. That’s something that they are trying to push, localisation. Rottentomatoes.com is mostly made up of American movies and reviews, so its good a move to have some Aussie content in there too. 

I told her I didn’t use Myspace anymore and she got a bit grouchy LOL. I’ll stick with Facebook, but I’ll check Myspace.com for music related stuff. FYI, I’m name dropping here, but I met Brett Brewer, one of the co-founders of Myspace at the Digital Tipping Point a few weeks ago. He’s sold off myspace to Rupert Murdoch and is now CEO of a social networking advertising company called AdKnowledge. He’s a very cool guy, down to earth, and I guess I’ll have to hit him up on myspace?  

Netpartners – Content network advertising / traffic broking

This area is new to me. I’m still new to search marketing and online advertising, but I understand the basics like clicks, CPM, CPA, conversions and al that jargon. But there’s this whole new area regarding content network / affiliate marketing, etc.. It’s to do with advertising on 3rd party sites, publishers, etc… I spoke to Alan Wan, Affiliate Manager, he explained to me what it was about and I think I got the gist of it. Netpartners is a Hong Kong outfit, mainly targetting US and UK markets. I have to do a bit more research in to this area regarding affiliate marketing. At ad:tech, there were a number of stands, I would say 1/3 selling these services. It was pretty funny, because he was talking English to us and as we were winding down our conversation he asked if we spoke Chinese! Vincent and him started talking, and then I joined in, but I don’t think he understood me very well since my Cantonese is pretty bad and heavily accented. 

Post Click - affiliate marketing

We spoke to the BD manager there. I’ve actually heard of them. Post click specialises in niche affiliate marketing. I’m still getting the hang of this term – its advertising on a network of sites. e.g. you would like to advertise to websites in Indonesia targeting students coming to Australia. They would go represent you and negotiate, and source sites for you to advertise on. They must have relationships with traffic brokers (a new term I learnt) and work out how much you have to pay for CPA, cost per action which is for lead or conversion generation if someone clicks on an ad. Post Click most likely takes a set up fee and a slice of the action e.g. CPC of 1 cent (cost per click of $0.01). 

Girls.com.au / Femail.com.au

I’m not sure why but we wondered over to this stand. We were just curious, and it was right next to ours. They’ve got 2 websites which are online magazines targeted towards females. Girls.com.au has a demo of 18 – 35, skewed towards younger females. Femail.com.au has a demo of 25+. These mags have been running for about 10 years online and has similar content to Vogue, Cleo, etc.. The opportunities are for advertising towards a very specific demographic. 

They also own female.com.au and redirect all the traffic to femail.com.au. however, they are not going to switch over to female.com.au because of the search engine rankings – its already been optimised (SEO baby!!).

CABO Networks – Pay for performance marketing

I spoke to Jurgen Cautreels, who’s over here from Miami. These guys have offices in Miami and Sydney, that’s TWO awesome beach places. They do stuff related to traffic marketing, lists, and email marketing. 

iAD & Pureprofile

I’ve lumped them together even though they are two very distinct companies. Only because they have both presented at our offices. I like iAD, but I feel that their technology is way ahead of its time. When they came into our office and explained their product, they left a lot of us dumbfounded, including me. If you can’t explain to a bunch of people that are pretty technology savvy, your going to struggle with other people as well. Even their blurb in ad:tech is hard to understand – something about a multi-function device, etc…

Ad:Tech on Twitter & Blog

If you are keen to follow with the latest adtech updates, check out twitter. People are twittering using the following hashtags:

#adtechsyd

#atsyd

For the 3 different seminar tracks, there’s also:

#atsyd1 

#atsyd2 

#atsyd3

There’s heaps of ad:tech tweeting going on, and I’ve been following the conversations via twitter and tweetdeck (i’ve got my search groups on for each hashtag!).

You can also check out ad:tech brain blog, I’ve been reading and commenting on it over the past month or so. 

See you there

If you are going to be there, look for me at the Next Digital /Commquest stand in the late afternoon. I’m going to be there in a white coat, and also checking some of the other stands and seminars. 

I’m out like day 1 of ad:tech, 

Matthew Ho aka inspiredworlds

How to improve your email marketing: Part 1

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One of the hats I wear at work is email marketing, amongst other talents I possess – SMS, Promotions, Microsites, Basketballer manager, Chocolate Scotch Finger connosieur.  On a regular basis, I speak with customers of all shapes and sizes about email marketing. I was talking today to one of my colleagues about some email marketing tips, some of which I want to share with you. I have decided to break these posts down into parts, since there is so much I can discuss about email marketing.

Some of these tips I’ve picked up along the way, from general observation, actual practice, from reading email marketing articles and a lot simply from being a recipient of email newsletters!

1.Plan your email marketing strategy

You must plan! You can’t be sending out random emails whenever you feel like it. There’s gotta be an email strategy in place in line with your overrall marketing and communication strategy. Plan for regular communication with your customers, stakeholders and subscribers. Because a failure to plan is a plan to fail!

You can take a longer term view and look at it on annual basis. Think about your peak periods, events, specific times where you need to ramp up communication. If you are a retailer, consider sales periods, downtimes, etc… If you plan to hold a major sale, what better way to drive people to the store then to send a quick email to your mailing list. Perhaps in periods of  expected quieter activity, send out more emails to drive sales and visits to your website.

Do not send out random emails in the dark. A lot of people actually do this, and you can only expect mixed results.

2. Aim to send a regular email

When someone knocks on your door, when do you open it? If its in the middle of the night, and you don’t know the person, are you going to open it? Probably not.

The same applies to email marketing. If you send a regular email on an expected day, you are more likely to get opens and clicks. It’s because I know its coming in and its a friendly party. If something random turns up, or on irregular basis, I’m more likely to ignore it or even opt out.

3. Test your email to an internal test list with different email clients

I can’t emphasise this enough. You may think you’ve done an absolute bang up job and created the perfect newsletter. But when you send it out, one of the pictures look funny or the text is distorted. Customer’s will laugh at you, your brand gets tarnished, it looks sloppy. In two seconds, your subscriber realises you stuffed up.

I suggest that you test extensively to a small group of people. Having more than one person means that you are less likely to miss something. Like a painter deeply involved in his artwork or a student engaged in his year long thesis, these people rarely see the flaws in their work. Because they are so deeply involved. You need a fresh pair of eyes to review it.

Ensure you send to a variety of email clients. Email clients are hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc….. the reason you do this is because emails can render differently in hotmail as opposed to gmail. You need to ensure the email has been designed to look the same.

4. Keep your subject line short and simple, yet catchy

Sounds easy right? Some people recommend 6 words or less. There’s no hard or fast rule. But remember this: you only have a few seconds to impress someone to read an email in their inbox. An unattractive subject line means delete button.

5. People don’t read emails , they scan

I rarely read online articles in full online. The same applies to emails. Online attention spans are just really short. I look at the top, scroll to the bottom and read the ending. If something catches my eye, I’ll look deeper into it. That is why you cannot have large slabs of text in an email. You CANNOT expect people to read emails in full. Intrepid, puts out the longest email ever and I don’t even bother reading it. (I do not see how they won an email marketing award).

Make your email into bite sized chunks. Consider it as an appetiser, inviting people to find out more information. Have a lead in, a few paragraphs, and the rest on your website. Or just keep the content short.

6. Please, please do not write headings sideways

I’ve seen a few powerpoint slides and email newsletter with vertical headings. I’m sorry, but it looks very bad because they are not clear. Anything that makes me require extra effort to interpret, I don’t like – if it means I have to tilt my head sideways, fuggetaboutit!

7. Have a very clear understanding about email marketing prices

Some email marketing platforms charge access fees, record upload feed, monthly subscription fees. So understand how it works. The thing I like about the email marketing platform I support is that the pricing is pretty clear to the public. You know what you are paying.

Enquire about increased or decreased capacity. Most of the email marketing platforms work have some kind of per email volume basis i.e 1,000 email cost $x dollars. However, what happens when you require extra emails? If you want to send 5,000 more for your January specials, are you able to do so? And how much will it cost?

That is why you need to plan ahead. Understand if you are locked into a specific amount per month or if you can change your capacity.

8. Segmenting your email database to deliver relevant communication

Email marketers and advertisers always talk about segmenting your database. Why is this important? Well the more you know about your customers, the more you can personalise the communication and serve them relevant content.

If you can, break up your database into groups. For example, if I am working for a sports store, I might be able to split the database into people interested in soccer, basketball, football and rugby union. I don’t want to send basketball fans sales about soccer shinpads, because they are probably not interested. You have to gather information about them, through sales data, membership drives, instore and online promotions, inviting people to give you more details. You have to give people an incentive to provide their details. If they feel that they are getting a benefit from it, and also continue to recieve relevant communication from you, then that will build a healthy relationship with your customer.

9. Integrate other digital marketing efforts with your email marketing

Again, this feeds back into point 1. Email marketing cannot be considered in isolation to other marketing efforts. Online display advertising (ODA), search, websites, offline advertising, all tie in together.

10. Have a valid reply address

I abhor email communication which says “noreply@company.com”. It’s annoying because sometimes you DO want to reply to them. And if you do and do not realise it, it bounces back. You should have a valid email address. There may be customer complaints, sales inquiries, unsubscriptions, who knows. You will lose that opportunity of subscriber communication if have no return address. Why should you be able to send emails to them and they can’t send emails back to you?!!!

That’s all for now. I hope that will be helpful to your email marketing efforts. In times like now, it’s all about maximising your dollar spend and getting the best ROI (Return on Investment). Email marketing typically for every $1 spent, has an ROI of $57. Which is fantastic for a budget conscious time.

I’m out like spam,

Matthew Ho.