Today, Facebook published a case study about us and our client, Wander Beauty. 4.4X increase in sales, 59% decrease in cost per sale, 2.3X increase in conversion rate, all documented, and we couldn't happier.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Purdue University is buying Kaplan, hoping to reap the benefits of the Kaplan brand, and to create a viable online presence.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels said “We took a long build-or-buy analysis and came to the honest recognition that we would be very unlikely to succeed building it ourselves."
This makes plenty of sense for everyone. Purdue gets a ready made online business and Kaplan gets the brand equity of a world-class University.
I predict that this is the first wave of this, and that we'll see plenty more not-for-profit-/-for-profit M & A.
A few observations:
- The purdue team has a steep, steep learning curve ahead of them. Get ready for a world full of acronyms, Mr. Daniels. CPA, CPL, CPO and CPE are about the become the most important words you know.
- I have to think that this would not have happened in a Clinton Administration, for better or worse.
- One wonders about Purdue's endowment. One suspects that it shrinking, and that this acquisition is a bold move to turn that tide.
About the blurring between native advertising and content: Here's a screenshot of the New York Daily News from this AM. I was 100% certain that "What is Nissan Predictive Collision Warning" was a sponsored post, because honestly, how could it not be? But a quick click through to the next page shows that it's an actual article. This can't be good for readers, the paper's bottom line, or Nissan.
One of the most exciting new paid media marketing avenues is online influencer marketing. Put simply, it's connecting consumer brands with content creators on popular online networks, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr. Once connected, the brands pay influencers to create content that promotes their products or services. Think of it as the social media version of a listicle.
This concept isn't new. Companies have always reached out to influencers in an effort to get their brand some coverage. But now that this has been formalized into online platforms, industry leaders and media outlets are taking notice. Huffington Post estimates that influencer marketing will climb to 50% of digital marketing budgets for online marketers in 2016, completely disrupting the display industry over the coming years. While that has yet to be seen, it's still something to keep your eye on. Influencer marketing sits at an interesting intersection between paid media, SEO, partnerships, and content marketing. Due to the nature of the service, the content being created is useful in multiple ways:
Driving Sales: The main reason why people participate in paid advertising is to drive sales. We all know that. But what does the return look like for influencer marketing? Well, a 2015 Burst Media study found that advertisers saw a return of $6.85 for every dollar they spent. But how do you track that? Many marketplaces offer some kind of tracking option for your campaign. For example, Grapevine offers conversion tracking, so you can see exactly how many sales an influencer has delivered. Other platforms, like FameBit, encourage appending URLs with additional tracking code so that you can track conversions through services like Google Analytics.
SEO Content: A major benefit of this kind of content is the fact that it generates new back-links. The better the influencer the more popular the content, the higher that content will rank on services like Google and YouTube. Additionally, many content marketers have their own websites and blogs. Brands can negotiate blog posts into the service contact to ensure that a search-engine backlink will come from the content.
Partnership/Cross-Branding: A big part of growing exposure for your business is organizing partnerships and orchestrating cross-branding between companies. This kind of content has inherent cross-branding opportunities. When a content creator creates a video on your product, your brand become associated with that influencer. That’s choosing the right influencers for your brand is such a key element to this kind of service.
Content Marketing: Depending on what your brand is receiving from your influencers, you can leverage that influencer content towards your own. An important part of SEO is maintaining and publishing blog content. The promotions you receive from these influencers can be used for this exact purpose. Additionally, if your company is interested in looking into paid content marketing services (like Taboola), your business’ new blog content can be adapted to an additional revenue stream.
Advocate Marketing: According to Forbes, referrals from current customers are the best marketing method to obtaining customers at the lowest cost. Capturing “brand-hero” fans from influential content creators brings opinionated and outspoken customers to your doors. These people love what they love, and do it loudly. This advocate influence quickly turns your best customers into referral and review machines, exponentially expanding your brand’s visibility. Influencer marketing is an interesting way to diversify your paid media marketing efforts. Not only does it take place on everyone’s favorite social networks, but it also has the added implicit benefits in SEO and brand recognition. With influencer marketing startups already pulling in millions from investors, this growing multi-functional side of online advertising is a great way to drive sales and spread the word about your brand.
We're building a website for one of our newest clients, the Dry Dock Electric Co. They will sell LED Filament bulbs, so you can have your cake and eat it too - - - or at least, be environmentally friendly and have great lighting, too. We can't say too much about it for now, but it looks awesome. Which is no surprise, given the people behind it.
"According to contracts unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Bee shows that the school administration actually, naively thought it could purge a negative moment from Google. Judging by a quick search today, the effort was a total failure:" (UC David, please call us. Thanks.)
We fired a client this week. This is unusual, so I thought I‘d spell out why we did so. “The Client” was referred to us by a friend and liked our experience, so we went live in short order, adhering to our 90-day plan (all new clients get a three month plan of deliverables, goals, and expected results). Within 30 days, they decided to stop advertising and re-group. 60 days later we went live again… for about 5 days. After another 60 days where the client rejiggered the site, we went live again… for about five days. After one more 60-days-offline, 5-days-on cycle, I called them and told them we could no longer work with them.
Rather than offer generalities about mismatched expectations or clients getting what they deserve, I thought I’d list the specific reasons we made this call: We didn’t make any money. We get paid to run a client’s advertising. When they’re not advertising, we don’t make any money. Because they kept stopping and starting, our total billing for them over the last 90 days was $350. Which is fine except… They didn’t spend enough to learn. Not hitting an ROI target isn’t bad news, if you’re learning things that will help you hit it next month. Being live for 5 out of every 60 days? Not going to get any learnings there. They were a time drain. They wanted to talk weekly while they were offline. This is also conceptually fine, but… They went in circles.
At first, the site was product focused. A revision zeroed in on the service aspect of the business. The third re-do was back to focusing on product. The fourth re-design was back to service. They wanted us to solve problems that we had nothing to do with, but didn’t give us the tools to do so. When they rebuilt their shopping cart in Shopify, there was a problem tracking sales in Analytics. Fine, this happens. They demanded that we fix this – we didn’t develop their Shopify integration, but fine, we can do that – but wouldn’t give us access to the system. So, between money, time concerns, not listening, circling back to old directions, unrealistic tech help expectations, and condescension, I think we made the right choice.
Our two cents on the Yelp employee who got fired after publishing a piece on how hard working at Yelp was: Good for her. I'm sure she expected to be fired - now anywhere she goes she'll stand out in an interview. Side note about employee expectations: everyone wants to make more money. I do, you do, and our interns do. But it's not an employer's job to pay someone as much as possible; it's an employer's responsibility to treat people fairly, and with respect, hopefully, and to give them honest feedback. I'm not sure what Ms. Jane's intention was in writing the piece, but I'm glad she did: it's opened up cool discussions in our office, and I hope yours too.
We’re hiring at least three positions; we’re lucky to be doing well enough to need new staff ASAP. (If you’re interested they range in salary from $45,000 to $65,000, depending on experience. They are SEO Account Manager, Paid Media Account Manager, and Social Media Account Manager.) So you know what to expect, our typical interview process goes like this: We put an advertisement out. After 1 week, we go through the resumes, and invite the best fits to a phone screen, a quick 10 minute phone conversation where we ask some basic questions and get a sense of the candidate. We might set aside 2 hours to just do 10 minute phone screens. The people who do best on those phone screens we, ask to come in for a face to face. If you think you’re a good fit for any of these roles, please send a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were lucky to attend a cocktail party for one of our clients, One Grand Books. Their Summer Installation at Whisper Editions was closing last night. For those who haven't been, Whisper's space is awesome. One Grand Books is the brain child of Aaron Hicklin. Its premise: If you were on a desert island for the rest of your life, what 10 books would you take? Mr. Hicklin's curated these lists with help from friends like Tom Ford, Carrie Brownstein, Michael Stipe and more. Super cool.
Eleanor Friedberger (The Fiery Furnaces) Richard Hell (Richard Hell and the Voidoids, amongst much else) and Andrew Solomon (everywhere) read from Lawrence Durrell, Richard Hell, and Carl Sandburg, respectively. One Grand Books Sample Desert Island reading lists from Glenn Ligon, Penny Arcade, Erica Jong, And Justin Vivian Bond.