Unusual Unica bucks business blogging routine, retires blog

Sometimes the tone here at the ‘Slice can be a little down. So few businesses seem to know what they’re doing with social media marketing, so many techniques are overblown, so much to criticize. But the other day, I ran across evidence that some people are getting it, and doing something about it. After a bit more than a year, Unica is retiring their corporate blog. CMO Carol Meyers writes, with my emphasis: Why are we ending The Marketers’ Consortium? The Marketers’ Consortium did meet our initial goals (no, this is not sugar-coating for the public view). We have actually had more visitors than we ever anticipated and a steady stream of regular readers. But when we weighed the return to Unica and value to our customers against the investment of time and resources, we realized the blog was not the wisest investment for us right now. Brava, I say! Way to go for recognizing an underwhelming program and conserving your resources for more impactful things. Too many blog for no reason other than they think they should, then keep blogging because they don’t want to look like quitters. You can substitute all kinds of things for “blog” and “blogging” in that line. That said, I think Unica did it pretty much right. They chose a topic close to their business and they got good writers to add good content. And they measured it. Given the line of business they’re in, it would be pretty embarrassing not to, but many cobblers’ children run barefoot out there. As you mull this lesson and ask yourself if blogs are right for your business, I’ll leave you with Unica’s three blogging lessons: 1) Blogs may not rock your world 2) Blogs are not free 3) Blogs should deliver a return on investment Study them and...

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Further evidence of the decline and fall of live events

This turgid PC World headline popped out of my newsfeed this morning: Startup Company Asked to Leave Demo Show. Naturally, I had to click on this and find out what the fuss was all about. Here’s the skinny: A scheduled presenter, mEgo at the semi-annual DEMOfall conference was summarily thrown out after it was learned that the company broke the rules by unveiling its product two weeks early at the TechCrunch40 conference. Ok, seems fair enough. The first rule of DEMO is, show at DEMO first. mEgo (gotta love the interCap there) broke the rule so DEMO showed them the door. But that’s not my point. My point is that the only reason I am blogging – or even thinking – about DEMO and mEgo is that mEgo broke DEMO’s rules. This fancy conference of first-ever product announcements simply didn’t make my radar screen. mEgo’s product, whatever it might be, would have been completely unknown to me. Am I out of touch? Maybe. Did mEgo engineer this cynical but effective PR move? Hard to tell. Their site and blog show no evidence of either righteous indignation or contrition. But you know who does get it here? TechCrunch40, that’s who. That’s not just because they have an interCap. TechCrunch40 is the blog that mEgo announced with before DEMO, and this “controversy” is all over their site. As the challenger going after some of DEMO’s established market, TechCrunch has everything to gain by not only scooping DEMO with a prior mEgo announcement, but also by making a fuss about it after mEgo gets kicked out of DEMO. What’s the takeaway here for smart companies? Big live events have long lead times, and you can only lose your product’s launch virgininty once. Choose your partners wisely, and don’t be afraid to use all the tools of PR to your...

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Customer Advocacy on the Web: How Do You Measure It?

I am a scientist at heart and am always pressing my people for better ways to understand the effectiveness of program spends. This morning, I found a great series of articles by Heidi Cohen on ClickZ about “Retention Marketing”. http://www.clickz.com/3626900 She offers some advice on how to track the effectiveness of your customer advocacy programs including: Collating feedback from all touchpoints Keeping an eye on your message board traffic Staying on top of key third party discussion sites – you can buy tools to automate this Tallying the number of customer referrals As she reminds us, your customers can talk about you in many places and it is important to understand the impact of your retention and referral...

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We’re gonna party like its 1999

I read in the Wall Street Journal this morning that Google and Microsoft are in an epic battle for the hearts and minds (and ad dollars) of Facebook. Besides not knowing who to cheer for, my mind drifted to Geocities and Tripod (what ever happened to them?). Then in the “Money and Investing” section, Dennis K. Berman offers a cautionary tale based on the rise and fall of an earlier generation of community sites. Did you know that only nine of the top 20 most trafficked sites on Aug 2003 are still on that list? The author highlights the need for continual innovation to keep the community fresh and alive – sensible advice for prevent users from chasing the next interesting thing (I didn’t say fad) after graduating from high school or...

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Data fetishists and people who love them

There’s been a lot of swirl around Ian Ayres, an econometrician and law professor at Yale, and his new book, Super Crunchers, and I’m generally in favor of it. Ayres advocates using data, not intuition, to make decisions. “duh” you say? Me too, but apparently there are lots of people who prefer their own intneral compass to the votes of customers. It’s no coincidence that the issue of Newsweek that reviewed Ayres’ book has Alan Greenspan on the cover. In this wired world, we’re swimming in data – log files, CRM, registration forms, hits, clicks, sessions, the works – but not enough decision makers have the desire or the tools to turn those data (yes, they’re plural) into actionalbe information. They see number crunching as easy as miss out on the most important part, the experimental design. A recent article in Newsweek about Super Crunchers contains an instructive example. Ayres chose the title of his book by running two Google ads that appeared in random order when someone searched for phrases like “data mining.” The decision was made by the plurality who clicked on the ad for “Super Crunchers” rather than the competing title, “The End of Intuition.” People looking for an easy way out will see this as justification to test everything with anonymous masses, let majority rule and never speak with another individual human again. But they will find themselves in a poultry-ovum priority quandry – how do you choose which candidate names to test without first testing those names? And it gets worse – how do you know if Google adwords is really polling the right people, in this case potential buyers of your book? Is the result with 500 hits really better than the one with 450 hits? You can take the intuition out of evaluating an experiment – and I think you should – but you can’t take the essential creativity out of designing a good experiment in the first place. Remember, friends don’t let friends crunch numbers...

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