A Business Technology Place

Give it a go

Disclaimer: I am a Google Adsense user on my blog, but I do not pay for Google ad placements on search results.

Several years ago I received an offer from Google for $100 worth of free ad placements. It was the start of a grand adventure at work. We ended up using the $100 credit to purchases ads for the eCommerce site at work and then multiplied the value of the credit. As you would imagine that led to more ad purchases (paid this time) and quite a bit of fun exploring different ad placement,.  bidding, and keyword techniques.

This last week, I received a very similar offer from Google. They are offering $100 if I spend $25. It’s for new customers only. I am classified as a new user because I’ve not used paid ad placements with my personal account or blog. It’s tempting to play with the credit for fun, but the purpose of my blog isn’t eCommerce sales.

I like the concept. I remember telling my manager that configuring the bidding and pricing of Google adwords felt like gambling. The great thing was it was easier to turn the odds in our favor and no one became suspicious if we left the day with more money than when we started.

So with all that said, I do experiment with adsense ad placements on my blog. Maybe I should give it a go.

Onward and upward!

Silly Marketers – Tricks are for Kids

trixrabbit1Sometimes marketing pieces catch my attention and create thought. I look at the message, call to action, and design elements of the marketing. I consider the effectiveness of the piece in my life and think about how it might be received by others as well.  In an effective marketer’s toolbox of tricks is the ability to create a perceived need for their products and services. But can we take back the prize from the rabbit or will we fall to seduction of the message?

Is data driven marketing like the creeper?

People like messages that are relevant to them. Someone once said to me, “If it can help my life then good, otherwise don’t waste my time.”  But is it a little creepy to think about how much the marketer knows about us? My wife and daughter comment all the time about online ads that show products they searched for a couple of days ago. They call it big brother. I call it big cookie.

A couple of examples of marketing in my life this week:

#1 – Acura Vehicle Buy Back

I received a letter via postal mail from the “Acura Vehicle Acquisition Department” this week. They’ve been after me for several years because they want me to trade-in my 2004 Acura for a newer model at a local dealership. What they know about me is that I purchased a 2004 model Acura from them as a pre-owned vehicle in 2007. I suspect, but I’m not sure, that they know I still own the car. (probably by-way of some public data record source on the vehicle VIN)  The letter uses variable elements of my name, the year/model of the car, thee closest Acura dealer to my home, and the sales manager’s name at the dealer.

This form of marketing at least takes an educated guess that I may be in the market for another car since the one I have is ten years old. But it ends there. The call-to-action and marketing offer say they’ll keep my payments the same on a newer vehicle on their lot. That of course would be a neat trick since I’ve owned the car for years.  Can they match $0 monthly payment?

I should also mention that I love the car. It’s been such a good fit for me that even at 10 years old and 145K miles I still love it! There’s a teenager in my life that will need a car soon. What should I do?? 🙂

#2 – Dollar Shave Club

A few weeks ago I wrote about subscribing to the Dollar Shave Club. It’s time for my first monthly supply order and I received an email from the company this week with notification. I was thoroughly impressed with the email. They informed me the date of my shipment, the contents of the shipment, and offered to put additional related products in the package if I notified them before it shipped.

Dollar Shave Club Reminder

That email is a great case study in both marketing and customer service. I like the cross sell for additional products with both product photo and price. The call-to-action is very clear with the big button for purchase. How easy could it be?

Certainly I’m aware that the company’s “shaving butter” is higher priced than my existing shaving creme. But the product does work differently from the creme and maybe I would pay a little extra not to have to pick it up at the store.

Thinking about the marketer behind this email I see several advantages they have. They use my  customer profile to establish the base of the message. (What I’ve ordered in the past and when the next supply ships.) But now, they are also starting to collect more data on my usage and interests. They know I opened the email. They know when I opened the email. They’ll track to see if I order any of the complementary shaving products and could use that for future offers.

Should we help the marketers?

The upside to helping the marketers is that gives them opportunity to craft more personal and relevant messages for us. The downside is that it requires sharing what many consider private information. So who wins the trick?

What I did for a close shave

I fell for a Facebook advertisement.

If you are a man, you’ve probably seen the ad on Facebook for the Dollar Shave Club. I finally gave in to the temptation tonight and I’ve ordered a supply of the 4X option. I never thought I would let Facebook influence a purchase, but it happened. The allure of the product was too strong and the investment risk is minimal. I’m hoping for the best.DollarShaveClub

Let’s do the numbers.

For starters I typically get over one month from the same blade with my current marketing hyped multi-blade cartridge. I do this by keeping the blade dry between uses. After a shave, I make sure to dry the blade by shaking-out excess water and using a towel. Then I store the blade pressed against a silica moisture packet. If you haven’t tried this then I encourage you do so. It’s the secret the blade marketers don’t want you to know.

With my existing blades, I can buy 8 cartridges for $26. If I get 4 weeks (conservative with my drying method) from each cartridge then that is 32 weeks for $26.

For the 4X option in the Dollar Shave Club I will receive 4 cartridges per month for $6. So for 32 weeks (8 months) my investment is $48. That’s almost 2x the cost as just buying a cartridge locally. However, I’ll have 32 cartridges in that span of time. If I cancel the monthly subscription after 8 months. I should have 24 remaining cartridges in supply which is enough to last me another 2 years!

Thinking of it another way my cost per cartridge (also my cost per month) with my existing method is $3.25. With the Dollar Shave Club my cost per cartridge after 8 months is $1.50.

Of course this assumes the product works.

I bet the blades will be fine. I still can’t believe I fell for a Facebook ad. But I’ll do anything for a close shave. Or maybe I just like squeezing another buck in my favor. Kudos on the product marketing by Dollar Shave Club team.

If you want to check out their options and start your own trial then follow this link.


Update July 13 – 

I looked more closely at the Dollar Shave Club site today and noticed they have options to lessen the frequency of delivery as well as an option to pause delivery. This is a great feature for customers like me who may want to extend the life of a cartridge beyond a week.

The B2B Lead Generation Puzzle

It’s the classic sales and marketing dilemma. How can I generate more leads to turn into more sales? When I worked in a marketing technology group one of my responsibilities was to connect digital media with B2B leads. I wanted to provide a framework and toolset to create leads for the sales team.

The question I kept asking myself was “where do business buyers research information at the beginning of their purchasing decision?” I wanted to insert credible information in front of buyers that created leads for my colleagues in sales. As I reflect on it, I wanted the answer to the question to have digital media somewhere in it. I wanted to justify marketing spend in areas of online content, social media sites, online groups, and online forums. At the same time I knew that successful sales employees create their leads through a strong network of people relationships, not electronic tools.

My plan was to use digital media sites and forums to plant information about products and services and then measure which ones were more effective in generating leads. To do this I first looked at membership in online forums, the content of the conversations, and the type of postings. I learned a few things and validated some others.

Know the etiquette of the location.

Don’t post sales ads in an online forum that is setup for discussion to solve. Online forums are for helping people solve problems and to present solutions to problems. Online forums are for learning and sharing.

Sales ads with call-to-actions for offers and promotions are more commonly accepted with email, printed materials, and case studies.

No surprises here.

Email can be a Trojan horse.

At the time many social media sites were blocked by corporate firewall and proxy servers. I could not create leads if prospective and buyers couldn’t participate. But email was a way to get to an inbox. All I had to do was to make sure that I didn’t violate spam rules. Recipients voted with clicks. If the content and offer were compelling then we could get click and maybe a lead.

The basics.

Bring value to someone by solving a problem for them. Business is based on the exchange of services that provide value to both sides.

Solving the puzzle

I don’t think there is one right answer or one right prescription. People, industry, tools, and products are all part of the equation. I don’t have the answer but often consider the puzzle. Kudos to those that find a niche.

Email delivery isn’t guaranteed

A recent service incident with email provided a reminder to me that email delivery is not guaranteed for message delivery. In the incident, the sender was using email to deliver a specific 1-to-1 message. It was not a marketing campaign. Since the distribution list was large, they chose to send the emails in batch through a provider. The problem was that some of the recipients never received the email message even though the ESP stats showed 100% delivery rate.

Photo credit: Dimitrios Kaisaris

Photo credit: Dimitrios Kaisaris

There are multiple factors that affect email delivery and some of them are out of the control of the sender. The sender can control attributes such as subject and message content but they can’t completely control what happens after the email is handed to an ESP on behalf of the recipient. From that point there are spam/bulk mail rules at the ESP as well as personalized mailbox rules for the recipient that affect the message delivery.

By chance, I was registering for Peachtree Road Race (10K) which requires a lottery for registration. I noticed the following statement on their explanation of how runners would be notified of the lottery results.

All individuals within the “Group” will be informed of their selection into the 2013 Peachtree by March 25 via email or through the searchable results on peachtreeroadrace.org and ajc.com/peachtree.

Email is efficient, fast, and low cost. But email delivery is not guaranteed. So when we use email to deliver specific B2C or B2B messages that require some type of acknowledgement, it’s a good idea to augment the message with another form of message delivery such as a postal mail piece or electronic posting on a web site.