January Cambridge Search Engine Marketing Meetup

Who said that search engine marketing is yesterday’s news and it is all about social media these days? Yesterday I discovered a meetup on Twitter and decided to sneak out from the nightly festivities with the Tangy clan to attend the monthly confab of the Cambridge Search Engine Marketing group (this was the closest name I could get out of anyone).  The topic interested me and the location ( the Robbins Library in Arlington) was a winner. Here are some highlights from the evening. After breaking up into two groups (“advanced” and “soon to be advanced”), we proceeded with individual introductions by the 60 attendees.  I cringed at the idea but soon realized that this was pretty helpful to understand the audience.  Each group then had a Q&A session covering a range of topics including paid search, affiliate marketing, social media and online lead generation strategies. Here are some my other observations from the evening: Online lead generation businesses are alive and kicking even in the down economy – There were people with lead gen businesses for a variety of markets including weddings, baby products, lawyers, real estate and replacement windows.  I guess everyone needs still leads. People are still trying to figure out the intersection of search and social media. Affiliate marketing is still going strong – A couple attendees (including me) were interested in learning more about the latest in creating affiliate networks. Tuning paid search campaigns is still a major challenge for people – A number of people mentioned that their organic search is performing well but their paid programs need help. I’d like to thank Peter Davis and Jim Spencer for leading the “less experienced discussion.  Some of the questions were pretty random but they found a way to keep things on topic.  It was also nice to finally meet both of them in person after connecting with them online (yes, via Twitter). Finally, I’d like to give shoutouts to Eric Sugalski of Rascodog who is promoting his new dog leash and Kiril from Bigskinny.net who is building his thin wallet business.  Best of luck to both of you in 2009. All in all, it was a worthwhile event and I plan to attend in February.  You should check it out if you are in the...

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Audio from my Social Media Breakfast 11 presentation

Here is a recording of my talk at the Boston Social Media Breakfast 11. Special thanks to Adam...

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My Slides for Social Media Breakfast 11 in Cambridge

Yesterday I shared a series of social media experiments we performed last summer at Firstgiving. #SMB11: Social Media For Social Change View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: boston...

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ABC: Always Be Compiling

One of my lasting recollections from yesterday’s elections was how effectively the Obama campaign used its database.  I never made a donation.  I never attended an event. I never even talked with a chugger.  All I did was forward a laugh-out-loud viral video to my wife and I was hooked. Early yesterday morning I received an email from the campaign reminding me that it wasn’t over yet and there was still time to send that viral video to friends.  They were encouraging me to send to ten friends and they would send it to ten friends…You get the idea. We all know that identifying a target market is imperative to any marketer.  That is frequently followed by the slow, painful process of compiling a list of likely targets or a “prospect universe”.  Whether you build it yourself or buy it from a third party, it is often difficult to capture more than 75% of a population.  Each new data source shows diminishing returns so you need to think creatively about how to source new names.  Inbound and outbound marketing helps but the acquisition costs can be prohibitive. This viral Obama video was impressive.  I didn’t hesitate to forward it on and unwittingly gave them my name for a future appeal (OK, I should have read the privacy policy more carefully).  Getting people to share their name and interests in exchange for information or entertainment is a proven acquisition technique and we just witnessed a group that mastered this art. Can you suggest any other creative examples of ways to economically build a prospect...

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Can you trust anyone?

The issue of trust seems to be everywhere today. Can we trust our politicians when they say we need a massive bank bailout? Can I trust that this charity will spend my money wisely? Can I trust this online business is not some elaborate phishing scheme to clean out my bank account? Over the years, some of the brightest marketing minds have explored ways to build trust between a customer and business. In 2003, Glen Urban, former Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management (and my grad school research adviser) published a paper titled “The Trust Imperative” which shares things you can do to build trust. It highlights specific ideas like “being transparent in all you do” and “helping customers help themselves”. Even though this research was performed almost 10 years ago, I marvel at how the key points of it are still relevant today for online businesses. You can find the full paper...

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Everyday virality: Five ways to make your marketing more sharable

What once was a fun and hip way to promote your product or service has now become a common rationalization for the next magical project pitched by your favorite agency.  Just take a minute and Google “viral marketing”.  You’ll find an endless stream of creative types touting some viral video, screensaver or other form of microdrivel.  If you dig a little deeper, however, you discover some pretty interesting content about what it takes to make something “viral”. I started this post with the goal of creating another one of those “<insert prime number here> ways to make your marketing more viral” rants.  I’ll get to that in a minute but before I do let’s demystify all that is viral. Viral spread is more challenging if your offering isn’t inherently sharable. Virality isn’t a silver bullet if your other marketing programs aren’t working. Some pretty smart people have recently challenged the view that all it takes is a couple of “big sneezers” to to create an online “epidemic”. Viral is not a business model (apologies to the 50+ social bookmarking sites who will soon be sucking on fumes). BurgerKing’s subservient chicken really isn’t a chicken. So what is viral?  Well, in many ways it is very similar to some old school things like customer referral and customer advocacy programs. You know, give your best and/or most vocal customers easy ways to “tell a friend” and maybe they get a little something back for their troubles.  Like many web 2.0 ideas, you just take an tried and true concept like customer referrals and soak it in a sharable application-based infusion to get $25M+ of VC pixie dust (See Widgetbox). Unfortunately, many of us live in World 1.0 and have CEOs and boards that measure performance based archaic things like revenue and profits.  So for the rest of us, here are some simple ways you can make your online marketing more sharable (you can still use the word viral if you want to impress your boss or poker buddies).  In the long run it can be cheaper to get your happy customers to do your marketing for you.  This doesn’t mean you can cut all your old school “push” marketing programs, but viral programs can make a big difference. So here is my list of five things you can do to make your marketing more viral: 1. Get your users to consciously share your brand – This means adding “email a friend” and other sharable links on every page. 2. Get your users to unconsciously share your brand – Think Hotmail.  They built a huge business by adding a simple footer to...

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