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Advertising attribution for audio

podcastingPodcasts continue to surge in popularity and content producers and sponsors are flocking to the medium. Calls to action for advertisers are a little different for audio and require some new ways of tracking. Here are a few observations for how podcast ads can be set up to be measurable so advertisers know what’s working and so podcast producers can convey the value they bring.

Audio CTA Examples

The Tim Ferriss show is a blockbuster in the podcast world and is known to drive huge sales. Jamie Foxx calls him ‘the Oprah Winfrey of audio” for that reason. Ferriss excels at quantifying things in general and his audio ads are no exception. He’s good at monetizing content in a way that’s not slimy. So it’s no wonder his shows provide plenty of good examples of smart CTAs and campaign attribution.

Shorter URLs

URL shorteners can make it easier to direct traffic verbally, especially if you’ve got a dedicated offer you’re trying to track. Tim Ferriss uses the obscure .blog TLD for short links to content on his site, which often augments the material available directly in the podcast episode.

He also sends people to response URLs that are set up just for him. That way the sponsor can note traffic being directed to this page in their web analytics tool and have a sense of how much the podcast ad is responsible for.

Search keywords

Sometimes it’s easier to direct people to search for a resource rather than try to recite a long URL over audio. Podcast hosts (or guests) can instruct listeners how to create a query that will work on Google or in an on-site search.

Maybe the most impressive example of this technique in action is when Seth Godin is a guest on a podcast. The host simply tells the audience to google ‘Seth’ and of course his prolific marketing blog shows up first. Being able to reliably tell people to just search for your first name is reserved for enormously well-known and reputable personalities, with loads of search-friend content online (i.e. Seth Godin.)

Podcast-specific discount codes/offers

This one isn’t specific to audio format but it’s especially important there. When sponsors are willing to attach an offer for new customers, making that offer code a vanity code allows for better attribution. Plus publishers appreciate having an exclusive offer to make to listeners versus repeating an offer that’s already readily available.

Fuzzy attribution works too

Not all results have to be quantitative. In addition to hard stats, podcasters can use publish dates as a way to note the influence of their ads on the audience. Noting the business results before and after the initial airing can be effective as long as the results are dramatic enough.

The Tim Ferriss Show often notes that products sell out quickly after being featured on the air. TV shows like Shark Tank also share the attribution challenges of being a broadcast medium and often airs updates to previous deals to reinforce the value of the tank.

Triggered memory storage for delayed responses

Podcasts are often consumed in a setting that doesn’t allow for immediate response. If you’re driving, exercising or raking leaves while listening, you’re not going to take action right away and are already distracted by your task. Using tricks to make it easy to mentally file the information for later use is essential. At a minimum, use repetition to ensure the CTA isn’t lost in the clutter.

Free Ad Impressions Through Mnemonics

Frequency is a key element of campaign design, especially in retargeting efforts. Multiple touches usually do better than one-off messages. But additional impressions will increase the rate of spend too. It’s a balancing act to find an efficient rate of spend and a satisfactory return on investment.

Credit: Neil Patel

Credit: Neil Patel

That’s if you’re paying for additional impressions. It works better if you can get them for free.

While adding external impressions will increase costs, mental repetitions are free. By developing creative specifically designed to enhance recall, you can increase the returns on your campaigns without breaking the budget.

Mental recall by design

There are myriad techniques for improving recall including classic advertising tactics like repetition and setting slogans to music. For more creative ideas, and to get the most drastic effects, we can look to memory champions and the mnemonics they use.

Each year the top mental performers in the US gather to compete in the USA Memory Championships. Performing feats of memorization such as recalling entire blocks of poetry upon a single exposure to it and committing hundreds of digits of random numbers to memory, they use mental tricks to help enhance recall. Our target audiences may not be focused on memorizing details but we can still employ some of the techniques used.

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There are a lot of techniques that competitors use to store and recall large amounts of random information. One of the popular and effective is the Method of Ioci or constructing a mind palace.  A mind palace is a mental image of a fictional place that contains rooms and other structure features that you can place items within. By leaving memorable items to trigger you memory within your palace, you can evoke memories by walking through your palace.

For example your palace may contain a kitchen, a pantry and a dining room among other rooms. To recall a 3 of clubs and 5 of hearts when memorizing a deck of cards, you might place 3 cavemen at the dining table, arguing about dinner. (Cavemen carry clubs.) They could be eating their favorite artichoke dip (fave = five, artichoke = hearts). And the story goes on from there as you walk from room to room through your palace.

According to memory experts the key to selecting effective characters and events is making them remarkable and out of the ordinary. The more absurd or emotional or personal the events the better. So cavemen are better than golfers because you don’t see them every day and artichoke dip is better for me than candy conversation hearts because I happen to actually like it. Those valentine hearts are nasty.

We can borrow that best practice for memory by using familiar settings in the creative, incorporating absurdities and using known personal preferences. Create visual ads that accomplish this by incorporating visuals that crazy, personal or emotional, or all three.

Absurd visuals

This one’s easy. Just make your creative a little more bizarre to add more potential for recall. You don’t have to go all the way to deranged, just make it something you don’t see every day.

Here’s a well put together ad campaign from Mutual Jewelers Insurance.

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It takes what could be a mundane topic in insurance coverage and ads an absurd twist: a ring stealing crab. This campaign gets bonus points for using animated display ads, which grab attention, and for adding absurd words as well as visuals. There are a series of ads that each use an obscure vocabulary to describe the theft, with alliteration to boot. “Criminal crustaceans” and “beach bandits” are memorable because they’re unusual and kind of weird.

Emotion

Adding emotion doesn’t have to mean making people weep or being overly serious. Your ad should evoke a feeling, the stronger the better, to boost memorability.

This image from Granite Gear is actually from their Instagram feed but is a good example of tapping into the emotions of the target audience.

granite-gear

The image is paired with the copy “Hang on summer, don’t leave just yet…”. Every backpacker knows the bittersweet feeling of summer winding down. Plus the image itself shows why summer is worth savoring. It depicts one of the rewards of a long hike: a peaceful sunrise after a good night’s rest in the tent. This makes good use of an emotional reaction unique to the target audience rather than going for a completely syrupy ad to try and make general consumers misty eyed.

The notorious Puppy Monkey Baby Super Bowl ad combined emotion (repulsion) with absurdity and got double the recall. But don’t let the desire to boost the stickiness of the ad overtake the brand message you’re trying to convey. It is possible to overdo it.

Personal meaning

Memory champs incorporate their own meaningful spaces and memories into their palaces. Experiences unique to you are more likely to be recalled when referenced externally. If you’ve ever caught a whiff of a unique smell from your hometown’s factory or a special dish your mom used to make when you were young, you know how it can take you back to a host of memories.

It can be a challenge to pinpoint personal settings since everyone’s experience is unique. But you can work with experiences that are shared by your community, your experiences unique to a profession or your geography. SCUBA diving enthusiasts probably all remember the feeling of getting their certification card in the mail or downloading their underwater photos from their camera after a dive. If you are a real estate agent you probably know how it feels to cash a commission check on a hard-earned sale, memorable because of the hurdles overcome. And people within a local community probably have memories attached to the local landmarks that are popular within the area.

Spire Credit Union is squarely focused on the Midwest, and the Twin Cities in particular. Their storytelling ads are peppered with landmarks and any local will instantly recognize. This helps their brand connect as ‘one of us’ but it also helps their message stick. The next time someone in the neighborhood walks by a building or vista featured in an ad, it has the potential to trigger recall.

 

A little effort for a big return

Utilizing 3rd party organizations to power retargeting ads can be a great way to get feet wet and to leverage advanced segmenting tools. It’s tempting to also outsource the development of the ads themselves too. Take care not to accept the basic templated ad shells that are available out of the box. If you go beyond brand colors and logo as the extent of your customization, you have the chance to multiply the effectiveness of your campaign by leveraging mnemonics, just like a champion mental athlete.

 

Add flesh to personas with cookies

User persona poster by Chase Oliver

User persona poster by Chase Oliver

User personas are great tools for focusing messaging and keeping your users’ motivations at the forefront when developing content and products. A classic way of displaying a user persona internally is through a visual poster that can be hung on a wall. To add more color, and to make things more practical, you can pull the profile off of the wall and onto the screen with web advertising.

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The interest map

To start, create a new user profile on your OS. This will make it easy to switch profiles and not contaminate one group of data with another.

Then, start creating a digital footprint with your user’s pain points in mind. In the fictional example of Mary Manning, she’s a middle aged real estate agent who lives in Nashville. Based on her user persona, she may visit sites about marketing, look at products that she can use in her real estate career and of course do some social networking.

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Creating click streams that advertisers will tap into will take some work. Spread the task over days or weeks to build a robust click stream. To make it easier for them to identify and target your persona, make sure to fill out profiles with the big data collectors like Facebook and Twitter. Retargeting campaigns are especially prevalent on the web so visit some content and product sites that may have a budget to lure you back. If you click on a web advertisement to begin a visit, you’re more likely to be tracked and put into a retargeting bucket.

Viewing the Results

After ‘Mary’ has made her interests and shopping patterns known, you can start to see how her world is impacted by other advertisements, providing great context for your own messaging strategy. Browsing general interest sites like local news pages and weather forecasts should start to reveal which companies are spending money to reach your ideal users.

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twitter ad

 

After spending some time walking in Mary’s shoes, you might be surprised to learn which companies are dominating her attention, especially if they are not a direct competitor for your product or service.

Treat your personas’ digital footprints as assets, updating the stream once in a while. Then you can tap into a live picture of her world any time you need to, and get a real picture of her potential experience online, based on real (virtual) world conditions.

 

 

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Making your ideas their ideas (plus sneaky shortcuts for recall)

Getting someone else to come around to your point of view can be a tricky thing.  Before you can ask your audience to act, you’ll need to make them aware of your point of view and convince them to consider it. It’s even tougher to change a point of view that they already have. You could take on the task directly and come armed with a list of arguments and facts. But that’s just the standard way of doing things.

West Coast Trail, British Columbia

Another approach is to talk around the issue, subtly shaping the decision-making landscape. Like the forestry service offering a path through the woods that fits the setting, you clear obstacles and offer the best path past hazards while still allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions. It’s more difficult to do and takes more time. But it can be a lot more effective.

Groomed Trails and Shortcuts 

When planting an idea you have to be early enough to affect your audience before they take a firm position. And you can’t come on too strong or they’ll know the idea is not their own. A long term awareness campaign requires a lot of faith and patience. But we can also take advantage of shortcuts.  An idea that comes from a single source can take quite a long time to wedge itself into consciousness. Having the idea reinforced by multiple, independent sources greatly increase that message’s effectiveness. And you get even further by getting your audience to agree with that message on their own, or at least recall your claim for a positive reason.  (Plus the act of recalling something can deliver positive benefits on its own as well.)

Total recall

Getting your audience to recall your message can jumpstart your attempts at persuasion and there are several effective tools for the job. Have you ever had to remember a phone number without having a pen to write it down? If you’re like most people, you repeat it to yourself, out loud (at least if there’s nobody else around to look at you funny.) There’s something about speaking that makes it easier to remember. There has actually been quite a bit of neuroscience research on the topic – suffice to say voicing your ideas requires additional brainpower that helps with recall.

Likewise, concepts and arguments stick when you try them on for size, either in your head or on paper. Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators said, “thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.” Translating an abstract thought into coherent communication requires you to process it first.

Examples

So how can you get your audience to try out your idea without putting up conscious barriers first? As a thought exercise, let’s take a look at some potential techniques and how they might play out in a creative campaign.

1. Awareness campaign plus 3rd party ask  – Let’s say you’re a small Chicago based company in a competitive industry like organic snack food. You could run a two part campaign to cement your message of being a local favorite. In part one, you’d do a typical awareness effort like becoming a sponsor at a 5K or a summer festival in town. Give away samples and literature that describe how you’ve been connected to your city for x number or years or another unique and re-callable claim.

In step 2, follow up with the people that were exposed to your brand claim shortly after the event but do it through a 3rd party. Your goal is to trigger the memory of their initial interaction with you (and reap the benefits of that recognition) and to use a positive reward to solidify your brand positioning claim. Continuing the example of a local snack company, you could create a simple Facebook quiz run by Windy City Software that lets users answer questions about how well they know their hometown. One of the questions will be related to your claim. “Which of these companies based in Oak Park was one of the first organic snack options in Chicago?…” The user is motivated to dredge up the memory in order to get the question right and your claim is reinforced.

 The rest of the quiz can be fun cover or you could band together with like minded complementary vendors who might also like to get involved.By the way Facebook has always made it easy to target advertising to a specific segment like residents of your city or neighborhood. They have also recently added an option to upload your own set of email addresses in order to create a custom advertising segment – as an event sponsor you might have access to just such a list.

2. Whitepaper and custom captcha – A lot of smart marketers are using content marketing to good effect these days. If you work in an industry where you can offer a helpful guide or intro to an unfamiliar issue, whitepapers are great ways to introduce your brand. Traditionally, content marketers will write a whitepaper and offer it for free on a webpage. In order to reduce friction and encourage as much use as possible, whitepapers are often offered without having to register or fill in a form at all.I agree with line ofthinking and believe it works out best in the end to avoid the temptation of requiring a name or email address. But even cynical consumers understand the need for short captcha tools to guard against abuse. Why not ditch the traditional captcha tools and come up with a custom one that works to your branding advantage? Ask them a simple question that makes them think, even a little bit, about your brand. “This guide to DIY photography is brought to you by the lighting pros at ______”

 By requiring that they type the answer, you’ve added a measure of stickiness to your branding message.

3. Co-opt a common sound and link it to your brand claim.  – As anyone who has had a jingle stuck in their head knows, audio can make a terrific vehicle for recall. If you were a pet food company you could incorporate the whirring sound of a can being opened into your TV or radio ads about the quality of your product. By linking your claim of being a superior brand to the common sound of a can opener working, you can encourage recall every time your audience encounters that trigger.

On a similar note, you could create a useful preparedness mnemonic that doubles as a recall device. 1-800-ASK-GARY is a lawyer referral service that already seems to be everywhere these days.  During their radio ads, they could offer an acrostic for accident victims to remember what to do while at the same time encouraging brand recall.
G – Get out of the way of traffic and put on hazards
A – Authorities: call the police and, if necessary, an ambulance
R – Record information including notes about the accident and insurance info
Y – Your rights – don’t admit to guilt or sign anything and call a lawyer. 1-800-ASK-GARY is there 24/7 to answer your legal questions.

Each of these hypothetical campaigns use recall as a means of getting your message to ‘cut in line’ amid the clutter of traditional noise. What other creative ideas can you come up with for getting consumers to process ideas and boosting recall?

The Free Way to Upgrade Your Infographics with Tableau

I came across data visualization tool Tableau yesterday and am impressed, especially for what it could mean for link building.

Data In, Brilliance Out
Tableau offers user friendly tools for building interactive interfaces to data. For large data sets and for storytelling involving multiple dimensions, their visualizations are very effective and easy to put together. They even offer a free version for bloggers and other digital publishers.

It may be easy to think of Excel graphs when looking at Tableau’s case studies but these visualizations are different than what comes out of the box from Microsoft. They are built to be interactive. Instead of asking users to stare at lines and numbers to try to make sense of them, Tableau’s product invites people to start clicking and discovering.

2005 Hurricane Data

Better Infographics
We all know that infographics can be a great way to tell the story behind a spreadsheet of dull numbers and as a result, can be great content for link building. With so many infographics out there it can be difficult to make one that stands out. Tableau helps by adding the draw of interaction and movement.

For link builders, these interactive graphics are especially helpful. Because the graphic isn’t just a flat image, it’s more likely that publishers will link to your page rather than simply swiping the .jpg file. Plus because it’s interactive, you’re allowing users to discover their own conclusions. If the blogger you’re pitching uncovers a nugget that’s interesting, they’ll have more ownership of the tool than if you simply handed the insight to them.

But the best reason that Tableau is worth checking out is that it’s easy and free. If you’ve hired a designer to work on infographics before, you know that it can be time consuming and expensive. One firm that I talked to recently wanted to charge double to make a graphic interactive. With the simple desktop software that Tableau offers, you can set up your own graphics with all the control that you like, produce more of them and spend less money to do it.

If you have interesting data that you want to bring to life quickly, Tableau is a nice option.

Wed Dash Combo
Wed Dash Combo

Powered by Tableau

Bonus use for bulk link lists

In a follow up to yesterday’s post on evaluating potential linking sites in bulk, here’s one more way to use your new lists of links

Once you’ve pulled down all of the links from a round up page like social-media.alltop.com, you’ve got a list of authoritative sources on a niche topic. If it’s a subject that you’re interested in keeping up on, you can create a Google Custom Search Engine based on your list.
Then, when you’re interested in what the social media pundits have to say about a news item, or if you’re interested in finding posts that combine a specific idea (say coffee for example) with your niche’s point of view, instead of doing a general Google search and getting all kinds of results, you can restrict your queries to your handpicked list of experts in that niche.

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=017565783639329627654%3Auqjfczpkwha&ie=UTF-8&q=coffee

And don’t forget that you can add advanced search operators such as date range to your CSE search by appending the results URL

Batch link evaluation

When link building, it’s often necessary to gather a large list of targets for a campaign. Here’s one way to quickly get some good URLs, with basic metrics attached, without pulling them one by one.

Let’s say you’ve got a new infographic about coffee and you’re trying to find a list of blogs that would potentially be interested in posting about it. The first step is to find some pages that list the kind of blogs that we’re after. Lists like these are popular on the web so we shouldn’t have too much trouble. Google is a good place to start, either by searching for round up posts or by using the SERPs themselves as a list. Also try Technorati, DMOZ and Alltop.

Once you’ve got a page with a bunch of links listed, copy the URLs. It’s often easiest to use a tool like SEO for Firefox for this. Right click the page and select SEO XRay.

The SEO for Firefox plugin overlays some data on top of the page you’re on. Select external links and export them as a CSV file.

If you need to clean up your list to filter out duplicates, ads and other irrelevant links, pull open your CSV with Excel. Then copy them to your clipboard for the next step.

To add some quick evaluation metrics, try backlinks.in. It’s a tool built on SEOMoz’s Linkscape data and allows you to evaluate up to 1000 URLs per day in bulk. You get page MozRank and the number of backlinks for each URL, which can help you prioritize your potential link targets.

Paste back into Excel and you’re set to start pitching!

*Update – see a bonus use for batch link lists here

Hacking LinkedIn for Research

LinkedIn.com is as close to a comprehensive business directory as there is and usually reveals a lot about a company’s make up. But if you’ve ever tried to track down business leads, site owners or potential partners, you’ve probably had trouble locating the right person to contact at some point. Try this trick to get more names out of LinkedIn and locate that key person.

Let’s say you’re trying to get in touch with Pixar to show them your new promotional product. You start by searching for “marketing pixar” in LinkedIn’s search box.After browsing the results, you think the person with the title “Marketing and Promotions at Pixar Animation Studios” would be the perfect one to contact. By clicking through you can see work, education and connection details but the name of the contact is listed as private.
Bummer. Without a name it’s difficult to go much further. Here’s what you do.

Scroll down the mystery contact’s profile until you see the section labeled “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” You’ll see the names of other people that are closely associated with your contact.
Try clicking on a few of them. If you find one that’s in your network (even a 3rd degree contact) you’ll see their profile page.
Going back to our Pixar example, viewers of our target’s profile also viewed the Director of Worldwide Publicity. Since we apparently have some friends in common, I’m able to click through to her profile.

Once I’ve got Robin’s profile page open, I can scroll down to her “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” section. Because she’s closely associated with our “Marketing and Promotions” target, chances are that person will appear in her list. And she does! Using the title that we saw on the private profile page, along with background info that is available on private pages like education, we can confidently match the two and identify the mystery contact.

Depending on her privacy settings, you can now click through to her detail profile or just note the name and do some additional research on Google.

And that’s it. It’s one of those tips that doesn’t work every time but it may help in your research. Happy hunting!