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Video That Works, And Why

Several weeks ago, I described my own experiment using video linked from my email signature to promote a new marketing service. I’ve since run across another example, featured prominently on the home page of cloud management vendor RightScale, that presents another interesting possibility for zeroing in on specific types of prospects.

 

My video (now up to 93 views) is a general overview of my service, which is appropriate since it’s pushed out via my email signature and aimed at someone learning about it for the first time. RightScale’s  relies on pull (visitors to the Web site choosing to view it) and is thus very technical, aimed at convincing those who would actually get their hands dirty with it.

 

If you were tracking readership (viewership) of such collateral, knowing who watched this video (versus a more general product overview) would identify the system admins and database administrators in your audience, allowing you to customize future offers or content for them.

 

In any case, good for RightScale for knowing their audience and targeting a well-done video at them.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Who’s Got Your Back?

 It’s a story as old as management: If no one person has responsibility for a new project, it’s likely to wither and die. It should come as no surprise, then, that the same is true of readership tracking.

Brian Massey, who writes often about customer conversion issues, argues that such a person needs advanced spreadsheet skills, Web analytics, applied marketing metrics, stats, report writing and charting as well as a “natural curiosity about why people do what they do. I'd also throw in A/B and Multivariate testing,” he says, “but this list is pretty tough already.” Or, maybe

 

If finding someone like that sounds overwhelming, independent consultant Dennis Head (who held senior marketing positions at Avaya and Lucent/Octel) sets a somewhat lower bar: Taking the time and effort to map out the strategy and content” you’ll offer  prospects. When readership tracking fails, he says, 90 percent of the time it’s because companies wouldn’t spend the money and effort to take this simple step.

 

Maybe you can’t hire a superstar like Brian suggests, but you certainly need to know your value proposition and how to communicate it. Otherwise, this economic climate will get even uglier for you than it has to.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Point Person/Team Is Key to Marketing Automation

For some time I’ve been talking about the benefits of marketing-automation software to better identify quality leads, improve the relationship between marketing and sales and make it easier to manage marketing campaigns. Lo and behold, a recent survey from Marketing Sherpa shows these are among the major benefits users are actually seeing. All is not completely rosy, though: The survey also showed that 68 percent of marketing automation software users felt they were either underutilizing their marketing automation software, or their use of it was only fair.

The biggest obstacles, customers reported, was that their in-house staff lacked the time and the training to master the software. Those who reported the most success were those who named a person, or even a dedicated team, to administer and monitor the new marketing automation tools. Critical success factors in naming such a dedicated person/team, says Marketing Sherpa, are to  clearly define their role and to include sales in defining the criteria used to score and qualify leads.

If you don’t have an extra person or team to throw at this job, consider outsourcing the work to an outside vendor who lives and breaths marketing automation all day. The extra cost could more than pay for itself in more sales at a lower cost per transaction. You can see the Marketing Sherpa report until February 4th.    You can also see a Webcast of a fuller survey through their partner Babcock & Jenkins.  

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Life After Death for PR Agencies

When the mass media – and even niche media – die, what’s a PR agency to do? Help its clients become their own publishers, reaching out directly to customers with everything from white papers to blogs to print magazines to podcasts and videocasts. So says content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi, in a presentation he gave recently to a group of PR professionals in Cincinnati. He points out that “since PR professionals understand the value of, and how to develop a story, they are placed perfectly to be in the middle of the organizational content engine. “ Many are, of course already doing that, but he asks whether they are “owning” the production of content within an organization that is targeted to customers and prospects. That function of working so closely with an organization to develop, send and monitor the performance of their custom content is, I think, the next frontier for PR firms and the way to keep themselves relevant in this “post-media” age. I’m wondering, though, how many PR firms can re-imagine themselves in this new role – and how many clients are ready to give their PR partners such a prominent role.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Lights, Camera, Email?

About a month ago an email from AppAssure Software Inc. about their Replay DR recovery software caught my eye with the words “Watch a 2-minute video on Replay.”  Hmm, I thought; short product demos embedded in email signatures. Can this work?

I clicked through, liked what I saw and asked Director of Marketing Dan Soschin who thought this up and how it worked out. It all grew, he says, out of an effort to standardize what had been a chaotic mix of email signatures sent out by their sales reps. One thing led to another, the video email signature was born.

The video link “works extraordinarily well,” he says, and “generates a lot of interest.” In fact, says Soschin, “one of our sales reps made a cold call and the person he spoke with didn’t have much time to chat, but let our sales guy send an e-mail… the prospect clicked the video, liked what he saw, and scheduled a one on one demo”

I narrated my own video and in December (despite light email traffic due to the recession and the holidays) chalked up 65 viewings of a two and a half minute Powerpoint presentation promoting some new marketing services. That’s probably 60 more people than I would have reached with direct outbound marketing efforts. As AppAssure found, the prospect doesn’t have to invest 30 minutes in hearing your pitch, but can click through, watch on impulse and be done in three minutes.

Creating the video took about 20 hours, which I could not cut down to ten. Key steps included, of course, writing the script and creating the presentation. To keep the viewer entertained, I did a lot of cutting and pasting of images and screenshots (using the $50 SnagIt) and went through a big learning curve on managing animation in Powerpoint. Then there is the recording the narration, for which you’ll want a room without an echo, a $30 USB mike and a glass of water to cut the dust after your 29th retake narrating that pesky slide 6.

Once you’re done, note that embedding video in the email itself is usually NOT an option, for various technical reasons. YouTube is indeed a respectable place to post videos (see: Barack Obama) but they must be under ten minutes, 1Gbyte or less in size, and preferably in H.264, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video formats. I found the $40 Wondershare PPT to Video 5.0.0 an easy-to-use way to convert and condense my presentations. If you’re doing product demos, or want more video and audio editing capabilities, SnagIt’s more versatile and more expensive counterpart $300 Camtasia is by all accounts the way to go.

I haven’t closed any sales yet as a result of the video, but it’s still early. Aside from the time you’ll spend, it’s a cost-effective way to get your message out there, and keeping your pitch to three minutes DOES force you to polish your pitch. I’d be curious to hear how video within signatures has worked for others, and whether anyone has found a site that can track visitors, not just report on total hits.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Formerly Famous Feline Faces Fade-Out

When the Chicago Tribunes goes bankrupt and even PC Magazine gives up the print ghost, it was only a matter of time before eWeek (PCWeek, in the prehistoric days I was there) gave the boot to Spencer F. Katt.

Spencer F. Katt was the swaggering, know-it-all, well-connected and somewhat dissolute feline “author” of the rumor column in eWeek, and in some ways the soul of the publication. I still remember the Thursday-night publication crunch, as reporters worked their sources to confirm their front-page scoops, lest they be relegated to a brief mention in the Katt column.

Spencer was irreverent, snide, high-rolling and seemingly at every posh industry event and the elbow of every industry pooh-bah – kind of the way PCWeek saw itself. Tickets to the Katt parties at Comdex, held to reward loyal tipsters and recruit new ones, were among the most sought-after of prizes. Today, the idea of readers waiting a week to hear the latest dish in a print rumor column is as quaint as a Wall Street tycoon checking a stock ticker. It’s no wonder that in eWeek’s last issue, the Katt bid his adieu.

Readers are now their own Spencer F. Katt, reporting rumors, giving their spin on the latest executive shakeup, even uploading videos about, say, notebook batteries  bursting into flames (just the sort of incendiary news the Katt would have loved.) IT vendors no longer rely on the IT trade press to publicize their products and strategies. They flood customers every day with white papers, email newsletters, Webcasts, Webinars and podcasts. Every last bit and byte are available, on-demand, anywhere, anytime from their Blackberries or smart phones.

Spencer F. Katt isn’t the first revolutionary to be killed by the forces – in this case, the personal computer and the Internet – he helped unleash, but it’s still sobering to see the once-mighty Katt shuffling off into irrelevancy. Readers are on their own now to monger their own rumors, and IT vendors have no one to blame but themselves if they can’t buff their own images in the mirror of the Internet.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Time Trumps $$, Even Now

Do giveaways convince a prospect to download a demo? Based on my own scientific sample – me – and my experience in the last week, I’d have to say no.

 

Five days ago I received an email invite from Vocus Inc. whose software purports to help PR companies better manage and, most importantly, track the results of their PR efforts by tracking mentions in mainstream media, blogs, and other channels. This intrigued me because it parallels some of my own marketing measurement work, but Vocus offered a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card for anyone who watched an on-line demo.

 

What a way to save on holiday shopping, I thought. But I kept putting off the demo because I had my own critical marketing work to do. Day after day, the email sat in my inbox while more pressing work kept me from doing the demo. Then, one day, when I finally clicked through to the demo I saw the gift card offer was good only “while supplies last.” By that time, I figured, they’d probably run out of gift cards and the demo fell off my to-do list.

 

Does this mean giveaways never work? No. But they do send a message that your content isn’t valuable enough to click through to without a bribe. A few suggestions:

                       

If you only have a limited number of giveaways, turn that into an incentive to act fast by limiting them to the first 50, 100, or 500 prospects who act. Don’t offer a giveaway unless you can afford enough to give the prospect a chance of qualifying.

 

Put the registration form AFTER, not before, the demo. That way, time-strapped prospects like me won’t be scared off by the time it takes to fill out the form, and more folks will see at least a portion of your demo.

 

And above all, don’t make the giveaway the prime reason for doing the demo. Making more money for their company, making their jobs easier or keeping their jobs by working smarter are worth far more in the long run than any gift certificate.

 

Having said all that, Vocus’ software looks intriguing, as a centralized content management and analytics platform. If any of you have used it (or seen the demo) drop me a line and I’ll spread the word…

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Tech Target: So Much for Good News

Just a month ago I touted TechTarget’s focused on-line content strategy as the key to its success. On Thursday, the company said (in a filing with the SEC) that it was closing its two print publications and cutting its workforce by 12 percent.

While job cuts are never a good sign, TechTarget’s decisions to launch Storage in March 2002, and its acquisition the following year of Information Security, always flew in the face of the slow-motion collapse of print pubs. With even mainstream publications like PC Magazine going Web-only, its little surprise TechTarget shuttered its only two print properties.

The bigger question for online content aggregation sites like TechTarget is how badly online ad spending will be hurt by the downturn. That’s something industry observers themselves can’t agree on. In its filing, TechTarget pointed out that it’s also hired 150 people over the last two years, and – even more importantly – “has approximately $68,800,000 in cash, short-term and long-term investments.”

I still believe offering prospects highly targeted, high-quality content, and tracking their readership of it, is the best way to sell complex, big-ticket items. That’s the strategy TechTarget has followed so far and why, despite the recent news, it’s still in relatively good shape. Still to be seen: Just how online ad spending fares in 2009, and how good a job TechTarget can do tailoring its tracking and ad strategies to turn readers into buyers.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
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