The Era of Nebulous Advertising Metrics is DEAD

15 10 2008

With this I am on a mission. Given the ubiquitous notion that some how, advertising results can not be scientifically quantified, I believe, in this era of website analytical tools that we have (in practical terms) eclipsed that construct.  NO MORE will purchasers of advertising throw money down the toilet for non-results.  Instead, with a little bit of savvy and a properly prepared website, small businesses (including nonprofits and other budget strapped biz) will find a way to quantize advertising outreach efforts in such a way that nourishes results.

Here is what to do if you are a small business with a limited advertising budget:

  1. Install Google Analytics; or capture website traffic data in your choice of metric tool (C-Panel or Webalizer)
  2. Everytime an advertising purchase is made, match that up to a conversion action at your site (Outcomes are best:  Paid for products, or, Sales Leads)
  3. For the given time period of your advertising program equate your website viewer’s behavior to “conversions;” i.e., if you spend $1000 on TV ads for a given period and you receive 10 purchasing clients (purchasing $100 of products and/or services each), the ad purchaser can safely quantify the transaction as break even

There may be more to the story.  You might experience a 1:1 dollar for dollar trade-off (ROI) but the awareness of the public to your good or service may be worth the expenditure now that there are potential customers ready to buy.

Also, you may find that website visitations are way up but “conversion” is slow to follow in a difficult economic period.  By quantifying “interested” consumers, you might consider this a benefit to potential for sales; a key indicator that your advertising was successful.  You reached the audience, they were engaged enough to visit your site looking for more information, but they didn’t purchase (“convert”) due to circumstances beyond your control.  Admittedly, this last example is more “quality” than “quantity” but such a result has merit.  It means that an adjustment needs to be made to the advertising ROI calculation–where intent to buy is less than a confirmed purchase

Such results might mean that you can adjust content at your site to be more persuasive or more user friendly allowing viewers to execute a transaction in the near future.

Here is my formula for improved advertising results:

  • Begin looking at your website analytics with a shrewd eye for opportunities
  • Match ad dollars spent to actual consumer behavior (quantity and quality)
  • Compare and contrast different ad campaigns to evaluate cost effectiveness in any media platform (print, radio, TV, PPC or SEO)

With this approach, most advertising dollars can be assigned a fairly conservative ROI number.  Holding your ad sales person to account for and demonstrate results will allow the market for advertising to “correct” in such a way that allows greater emphasis on results rather than “pie in the sky” promises (for all of us!).  The jig is up!  Advertising sales is no longer a hit or miss proposition!


Nonprofit Video Marketing Strategy

14 07 2008

After a break, I am back with my latest call for a technological solution to low cost, high ROI marketing approach for nonprofits: video marketing. For those close to me, you have likely heard my incessant nagging for nonprofits to bring short, concise videos to their website audience.

The reasons are many:

  1. People don’t read ~ they scan text ~ but they will sit through a 2-5 minute video with a latte and danish if the content is relevant. On average, that’s about 400-1000 words of content ( @200 words per page) you probably didn’t want to type anyway, so efforts to reach your audience in the video medium are greatly enhanced.
  2. Video is persuasive, visceral and when well crafted, a timeless snapshot of your organizational values, service to the community and mission in general. People relate better to other people (on screen) than they do to text.
  3. The cost to produce video is low and the general population has the technological infrastructure to view, send and receive these types of files now. Simply buy a miniDV camera for less than $300, and if you are not lucky enough to have a newer Mac, pick up some simple video editing software (which I found for free at wikipedia’s open source software list ) and BAM you can create video for your website in no time. That means for less than a dollar a day, you can create video! Ads in your local newspaper can’t compete on a cost effectiveness basis!
  4. Capturing an organizational event like a fundraiser on video and using that to analyze and evaluate it is a great benefit for planning future events as well as archiving previous ones. In the event of staff turnover, your new event planner will no doubt be grateful to see the evolution of your community events to inspire new growth in the program. PLUS, if your production quality is good enough, put the whole thing on a DVD and you have a low cost give-away OR, you can create a new revenue stream by soliciting sponsors to advertise. For orgs like the Special Olympics or March of Dimes, this is a brilliant way for the community to remain involved long after the event and likely a fantastic resource for further event development. (My brain is just bursting with ideas at the possibilities here!)
  5. Posting video content on social sites like YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, Facebook and (if it is super short) Flickr, can help bring traffic to your regular website, thus creating inbound links which are a major component of findability in search engines like Google. Wouldn’t it be great if the introduction to your org by a searching citizen was a short and sweet 2 minute video that asked him or her to join your cause? Chances are they are more motivated by a happy smiling person, than they are to a bunch of dense, if not rambling, text.

So, I know what you are thinking: IF I am such a big advocate of video, why am I not shooting this and posting it in a video podcast? The truth is my camera quality and computer are not quite up to speed with the technology yet. Hopefully, one day soon, I will convert to a hybrid version of video AND text where I draft my content in written form, shoot the video and post them both. That’s coming soon, so stay tuned…

In the meantime, if your organization can afford it, give it a try. Its fun, but more importantly, its really the next level of for your organizational message, and as I said, the benefits are too many to foresake.

The Icky Wiki; A Moment of Reflection on the Use of Jargon and Parlance

17 06 2008

Wiki = Glossary.

Blog = (The contraction of) Web + Log

RSS = Really Simple Syndication (some of you might disagree but hey I am being concise here)

Governmental institutions love Acronyms like the Alphabet Agencies set up by FDR under the New Deal

The disciplines of science, from Anthropology to Zoology developed their own taxonomies to better clarify and classify what the heck they are talking about to one another.

So is it at all surprising that here is another domain, the Internet, that involves more new words? Moreover, is it surprising that those inside the technology realm tend to use these new jargon terms to sound smart and exclude others outside our lil-iverse?

My point is we should try to use jargon appropriately and inclusively. For those of us hoping everyone gets across the bridge (over the Gap of Understanding) we are compelled to make it easy for everyone. So I am gonna “borrow” someone’s Internet Wiki and post it here…  The Winner is Wikipedia and the entry “Web 2.0”

Any offerings are warmly invited.

Sustainable Marketing: is Web 2.0 the Solution?

12 06 2008

After this quarter’s NVCF Council meeting today, I found myself in a strangely optimistic yet frustrated state. One of the attending directors asked desperately: “How can we reach out to the community with a more effective return and yet without all of the direct mail that often is mistaken for junk mail?!?!?!”

My heart leaped out of my chest! This is what I have been talking about for months to this community and yet the message has not penetrated. What is the problem, people?!??! I have been trying to demonstrate how to get your mission, message and success standout among the constant barrage of other competing messages for months now! From pizza coupons to credit card campaigns, the direct mail thang is really not sustainable and arguably not viable if a 1-3% return is all one can expect. We all know we need something more, but what?!?!?!?

DUH! Its Social Networking with the Internet, right? Or is this a pipe dream that will never be implemented?

Without the present state of Internet technology that is so cost effective and easy to use, it would be blood, sweat, tears and elbow grease that throttles an effective, exhaustive and exhausting outreach campaign. BUT NOW, given the many opportunities to maximize and archive your efforts with Web 2.0 applications like Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, you can do it with style and grace (your brand and logo) without the need for much more brochures, postage or bill posting. Collaborate with similar nonprofits to share ad space in traditional media and you effectively increase your outreach at a portion of the cost.

But what really frustrated me was the fact that here is this executive director, (who probably didn’t attend my previous speech because it wasn’t about “money” as in Annie B’s Fundraising campaign) and here she is crying out for tools and solutions. Damn! What a crazy mixed up world! I have been giving the cow away for free at this blog for 4 months now and she is still oblivious. Not to mention anyone of the nonprofit blogs I link to in my blog roll have ooooooooooooooooooooooooooodles of resources that are begging for attention. If you are a nonprofit executive director and you have a question on how to handle something, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Ask the blogging community, and I bet you a Billiondy Gazilliondy Dollars there is an answer out there for you. No need to get rhetorical in public, get the solution at a blog and share it!

That is why we also need to research (at least 15 minutes a day) other nonprofit blogs to find out what works and share your findings at your own blog. Research, Learn, Share, Rinse, Repeat ~ I believe this is the way; so, why aren’t more people adopting these often free tools for their outreach strategy? I am mystified!

Therefore, I pose the question: are Web2.0 tools a sustainable outreach solution? or am I missing something here? RSVP in my comment space!

New Look For This Blog

6 06 2008

Thanks to Bryan Veloso for his theme ChaoticSoul!  Also thanks to Free Blog Headers for Theme Designers, Background Desktop Images

My mantra:  “A website should be as wonderful and up-to-date as a fresh baked loaf of bread!”  Using existing open source stuff helps to mitigate design and implementation costs.  Off-the-rack solutions may seem generic or unethical, but if we trackback and give due credit, we all win.  Besides, I am just gonna wanna change it again in a few weeks anyway…

Thanks again to the open source community at wordpress and beyond for your awesome resources!

Is Your Organization Ready for On-line Social Networking?

29 04 2008

GuideStar Article excerpt:

Now that user-generated content—blogs, video, discussion groups, chats, and so forth—is the norm and users expect their Web experience to provide interactivity in addition to information, many nonprofits are faced with deciding when and how to use on-line social networking as part of their Web presence.

The simple brochureware site (one that just contains information about the organization) and direct donation site of the past are no longer enough. Fortunately, it is not necessary to build your own on-line social networking site. But you do need to know how to become part of an existing community, and tie it to your existing Web presence, to use social networking effectively… Read the entire article here

OK… This is a good jumping off point for me to comment.  This article hammers it out plainly for all to see that a new paradigm of content creation and interactivity is now a mission critical approach for any organization wishing to grow; public, private, for-profit or not, its time for all of us to dedicate ourselves to creating interactive content at our websites.

This is going to be difficult for some of us.  As I said before, most people over the age of 45 that I talk to claim to have difficulty understanding the big picture here.  Although I urge them to punch their way out their paper-bag-learning-curve, some of the comments I hear rise to a level of technophobia–making it difficult to communicate and instruct people on what is really a simple concept:

Research other website content, tools and resources

Model the best examples in your approach

Trumpet your organization’s message in these ways

Share and post often

Adopt appropriate technologies to save time like RSS feeds and Feed Readers

If you pay attention and take it as it comes, eventually you will be a BlogStar!  Developing audience increasing participation and learning from other organizations will help your org improve possibility frontiers going forward.

Then again, you could always take the wait and see approach.  But trust me, doing this stuff really is fun and extremely helpful.

Searching for Friends and Finding Tragedy…

23 04 2008

As the days turn to months and years go by in the flash of an eye, nostalgia can creep up on us and suddenly we are on a mission to find that old girlfriend or boyfriend or whomever. This morning I woke up from a dream in which a very good friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years) was driving on a dangerous road and rammed into a freshly carved hillside. We weren’t hurt in my dream, but it startled me awake and so I plopped down in front of my computer and entered his name:

Lyne S. Berry

Fortunately Lyne has an unusual name so I could dispense with the Billiondy Gazzilliondy hits that Google often returns in a basic search.

Unfortunately, my friend has suffered a catastrophic loss of his daughter and wife 2 years ago. Here is the sad story as found at the first and only link relating to my dear old friend, Lyne {pronounced “Line”}:

Oakland Tribune December 20, 2006

Fifth-grader from Union City to be memorialized Saturday McKenna

By Linh Tat

UNION CITY — Holding a memorial service for his daughter just days before she was to turn 11 is not how Lyne Berry had envisioned celebrating her birthday.

Nor is it how he had envisioned observing his own birthday, which falls one day after the service, on Christmas Eve.

But that’s what he must do.

On Saturday, the Union City resident will hold a memorial service for McKenna Berry, a fifth-grader at Searles Elementary School, who died after a car accident east of Gilroy last weekend.

McKenna, who would have turned 11 on Dec. 26, was knocked unconscious when the vehicle her mother was driving flipped several times on Highway 152 near Pacheco Pass and ended up on the other side of the median Saturday afternoon, said Starlyn Berry, McKenna’s sister, who also was in the 1994 Ford Explorer. No other vehicles were hit.

McKenna and her mother, Ann Berry of Gilroy, were airlifted to hospitals in the area. McKenna died Saturday afternoon from blunt- force injuries, and her mother was pronounced brain-dead the next day at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, according to the coroner’s office in Stanislaus County.

Starlyn, 15, a sophomore at James Logan High School in Union City, sustained a fractured knee and bruises. Another passenger, Leonard Gutierrez, 38, of Gilroy, suffered major injuries and was taken to a hospital, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.

Starlyn said she does not know why her mother lost control of the car while driving in the fast lane. Alcohol was not a factor, and everyone was wearing seat belts, Lyne Berry said police officers told him. Lyne and Ann Berry divorced about seven years ago.

An animal lover, McKenna dreamed of becoming a veterinarian and had asked for more Littlest Pet Shop toy animals for Christmas to add to her collection of about 30 “pets.”

McKenna used to own cats and rabbits when she lived with her mother in Morgan Hill, and she helped take care of a snake at her father’s place. McKenna, who believed in Santa Claus, also loved swimming, riding her bicycle around the neighborhood, playing outdoors and meeting new people. “She would say hi to anybody. It didn’t matter who you were, what you were. If you were a person, you were her friend,” Lyne Berry said.

Fifth-grade teacher Vince Furia noted McKenna’s love of hula hoops and of animals — she had surrounded her desk with photographs of her cats earlier this year.

After some bumps in the road, when she first enrolled at Searles Elementary about 11/2 years ago, McKenna was starting to excel academically, Furia said.

“I was beginning to see how bright she really was,” Furia said. “She really emerged as a very strong reader, someone who just had a natural intelligence and who could give intelligent answers if she really applied herself.”

To help pay for medical and memorial service expenses, Berry has established the McKenna Berry Memorial Fund, account No. 603062639 at Bank of the West, 33301 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, 94587.

Any money remaining after bills have been paid will be donated to a local animal shelter in McKenna’s name, her father said.

Saturday’s memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 35450 Newark Blvd., Newark.

“She had this electric personality that grabbed you,” Berry said. “She’s going to be missed by everybody that knew her.”