Connect with us:

The 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing Blog

Best practices, training and innovations in Digital Strategy.

The power of marketing language: when it is time to say “STOP”!

September 21, 2012 – 12:36 pm

The rising popularity of social media represents a real opportunity for many businesses with one condition: to be used in an intelligent manner in such a way to boost their brand.

With millions of people chatting, sharing pictures and networking, companies have a real chance to use these platforms to pitch their products or get their customers’ feedback. If companies do know how to use these social platforms in a correct manner, they will arrive in a position where their customers will create/produce the advertising ads for them and then share the new media products with their friends. All these – for free.

But what happens if something goes wrong?

What happens if there is too much creativity and things get out of control?

It is very important to understand that same tools that can bring your brand to a point it has never been before, can carry many risks that sometimes can be unpredicted.

For instance, Toyota Matrix -   the advertising company that worked for this client decided to create an innovative social media campaign with real-life elements… Unfortunately, no one knew what this “high-end creative process’ would lead to. Basically, their concept was based on the famous MTV show (Punk’d). According to the plan, a prospective buyer of a Matrix would single out a friend to be the target of a prank. This may be the perfect scenario for some free marketing across social media channels.

Things got out of control when one of the targets – Amber Duick, received a series of emails from a fictious British soccer hooligan (Sebastian Bowler). He told her in the emails he would come to visit her and will bring out his pit bull as well. One of these emails contained a fake bill for damages made by Bowler in a hotel room. According to the information Duick got, the soccer hooligan had left as contact information her email address.

The consequence was easy to guess… Duick filed a lawsuit of $10 million.

To defend themselves, Toyota and their advertising company considered the claim as being “”entirely without merit adding that Duick had already granted her permission to receive e-mails and other communications from Toyota.

While the plaintiff was terrified – according to her lawyer, the next question is….had the email specified the entire process was an advertising campaign? If so, the woman would not have been so scared….

Again, beyond creativity and beyond any kind of sophisticated strategy it has to be about marketing language!

This is one of the situations when it makes a difference of $10 million (damage that can be counted) but the brand damage as a whole cannot be estimated because it is reflected not only in social media (number of impressions or other variables) but also in sales.

This is the story of ‘Your Other You’ campaign that failed because the language was inappropriate and because no one took into consideration that such an approach is so unpredictable and consequently, marketers have to be very careful when they judge any kind of approach as being creative –crazy –not interesting-risky. In other words, this is a part of marketing where focus groups cannot really help just like new scripts for a indie movie. You cannot predict, you cannot test your customer’s taste – you risk a lot. This being said, do not put additional pressure on your campaign by trying to pass over the edge but rather create a positive context and engage your prospective customer into it rather than building a real life situation that is turning into a sinister joke…..


The customer you are looking for, you already have

September 20, 2012 – 9:22 am
Damjan Dano

The latest research done by Adobe Inc. and their Digital Index section of the website shows that the Pareto principle should not be forgotten and still plays a valuable role in the business planning process.  The research outlines that 41% of online revenue comes from returning (customers who have already purchased something twice on your website) and repeat purchases (post-second purchase visitors that buy more stuff), who represent only 8% of total visitors to your online store.

The research states that in the US, only 1% of shoppers actually make a purchase, but more then 75% of retail marketing budgets are spent on search and display advertising to attract these type of visitors, not to bring or to increase the brand loyalty with the repeat purchasers.

The lesson from the report is to invest in brand loyalty, to make sure your current customers are satisfied and are coming back or referring you to their social circles, before you go and spend money chasing new customers that most likely will not convert. Tools like e-mail marketing, social media strategies and loyalty promotions and even simple thank you notes are the channels that should be used to target your valuable customers.


Drowning in e-mail? You’re not alone.

February 14, 2012 – 7:41 pm
Damjan Dano

Another awesome infographic on the topic of e-mail communication, developed by the Boomerang for Gmail tool that helps you schedule an email to be sent later.

The infographic shares insights from 5 million analyzed e-mails and explains that the average e-mail user received 147 messages every day, and spends around 2 hours on e-mail daily. Which is a lot of time!

Many other interesting details worth reading are included in this graphic:

Couple months ago I’ve read an interesting and controversial article in the news about a former French finance minister, now CEO of Atos Origin, one of the largest IT companies in France, who gave it’s employees 18 months to adapt a practice of not communicating via e-mail.

After the deadline, the company will only communicate via phone, IM chat and in person communication.

The decision by the executive Tiery Breton was made after analyzing over 200 company e-mails and concluding that only 10% of the e-mails are valid and useful, while the rest are distraction. They also concluded that employees are spending from 5-20 hrs a week only on e-mails,

What’s your opinion on this topic? It’s certainly an interesting discussion. How do you handle e-mail?


Saturday Blueliner Newsminer

June 18, 2011 – 12:13 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Hello everyone. I had a couple work items yesterday afternoon which prevented me from posting the weekly digital media wrapup. Thus, I present to you a special Saturday edition. Let us begin with the who, what, when, why, and how.   

1.  The Webby Awards

I didn’t have a chance to watch them, but I heard this year was one of the better editions.  It took place here in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom. They also continued the tradition of acceptance speeches with five words.  Here is a good synopsis of the event. The headline link is a portal to complete video coverage presented by YouTube.

2.  RIM Not Producing Spring Blackberries

Investors came down on the Canadian firm this week after sluggish data on earnings for the last quarter.  They also worry about RIM’s ability to maintain standing in the mobile marketplace.  Android phones and the new iPhone are scheduled to launch in September with upgraded OS servers while RIM plans to continue pushing older devices which have struggled to gain sales traction.  RIM executives feel that their products will produce juice for developers. The cup dryeth for others.

3.  Apple Trying To Shut Down Venue Recording

Many of you know that in the blogosphere, the video of a live concert experience is the new cassette recording. It can be shared in real-time as opposed to being found through tertiary sources like a music vendor or shop.  Apple is looking to earn a patent to stop all that.  According to the headline from Mashable, the motivation lies in avoiding copyright infringement with major content distributors.  The article makes an interesting suggestion that Apple could charge users a fee for recording in a public concert space.  If scaled, it could change the video sharing experience for everyone involved.

4.  The History of Email

This morning, Mashable had an infographic depicting the history of email as a communication tool.  You can view it above in the piece. According to the release, email networks existed in the public sector for a decade before the term was coded.  Some people today wonder about the future of email with the continued development of video content and social media outreach.  Quality marketers believe that email remains an effective measurement of customer preferences and tastes.  It also offers the widest platform to debate and discuss objectives of the day. Viva email!

5.  Senate Reviews Digital Privacy Mandate

From, the Senate is looking to revise a 1986 law for modern times to protect the personal data of the public. This law, named the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, has a clause where Internet users have more protection when data is stored locally.  The article also touches on law enforcement obtaining a search warrant before obtaining data records for a criminal investigation.  Other Acts are being debated in Congress now between Republicans who refuse to budge an ounce, forcing Democrats to seriously weaken mandates before submission. Corporations, as we know, need to step up their security encryption policies before the government does it. And fast. I’m talking to you, Sony.

That’s the Blue news on this Saturday at midpoint. Enjoy.








Facts About The Digital Boomer

May 2, 2011 – 4:34 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Generalizations are often made about the baby boomers.  They are fearful of technology. They do not have the energy or memory skills to successfully navigate the blurry technological advancement of our time.  Parents just don’t understand has been a running phrase etched in our skulls.    

This piece from Direct Marketing News, however, tells us a different story.  This generation makes up 26% of the current population according to the U.S. Census Bureau for a total of 79 million Americans.  They also hold several of the most powerful positions in our global marketplace. Some luminaries include Paul Allen and the President among others, who manage 50% of the country’s discretionary spending.  They feel that the interactive marketing community is ignoring them, and want retribution.

As the writer Anthony Franco asks us, how do we engage this demographic who have such depth of influence? Everything must be kept simple.  Your online advertising campaigns must carry a simple message with clear direction of your business objectives. Your blog or email newsletter can alert your key customers of news updates. Daily tips can be released by the real-time channel, depending on response rates.  Social media portals like Twitter and video sharing sites work great when the message correlates with the product.  Your blog should also have a link that goes straight to customer service for troubleshooting. A labyrinthe website with useless landing pages can really hurt your impression with this demographic. Then the sales do not flow into your business.

Baby boomers will spend time reviewing your site if they know that assistance is available. Web developers must design applications to match behavioral patterns of their customer.  Links with partnerships are always good if your website does not have the answer.

Like any marketer, being prescient is the key to optimizing strategy.  A good website rich in keywords does not hurt either.


Wellness and Health Research With Technology

April 5, 2011 – 3:58 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

A few weeks back in San Diego, health care executives gathered to talk about the potential for technology to impact lifestyle.  Technology is making a strong impact on wellness as the younger demographic loses access to health care.  The new package passed by Obama remains a mystery, so the individual must take greater initiative.    

Doctors have responded by versing themselves in new applications. They are also stepping up engagement through social media and CRM enterprises.  A personal visit from a sales campaign still pays the biggest dividends, at the tune of 61%, according to research group Knowledge Networks.  Compounded with the emergence of tablet devices, physicians have access to discover the newest developments in medicine at an unheard of pace.

The brisk pace of digital information also is important to consider for a couple of reasons.  Developers must be sure that their campaign promotions are entertaining before anything else. New people to wellness transformations are skeptics at first, lacking the proper confidence to follow through with the steps.  A memorable program with a backbone of interactivity and humor will go a long way towards fulfillment.


Gmail Motion, In the Flesh

April 4, 2011 – 4:47 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

True interactivity goes beyond just pushing content across multiple channels.  It involves physical engagement of the senses. Google made a prank on Friday about controlling your e-mail account with motion.  As Freud said, humor can be a defense mechanism for uncomfortable scenarios.

At the University of Southern California, members of the ICT MxR laboratory went into the Microsoft Kinect platform to write messages without touching a keyboard.  All in all, it looks nothing more than an extension of the Gmail Motion prank. But it’s amusing nonetheless. Enjoy. Who would have thought that MSNBC News posted such quirky content? Kudos to them for the find.



No One Wants To Read Your Whitepaper, by Lauren Carlson

April 1, 2011 – 9:00 am
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Digital marketing professionals get them in our box daily.  We have learned to delete at first sight.  Usually, that is the wisest strategy since some have been marked with viruses which put your laptop in the emergency room (Tekserve). The uninitiated wonder what I am talking about right now. I’m talking about white papers.  White papers are supposedly authoritative sales pitches detailing the value of a strategy.  They talk about the research methodology. Sometimes the papers are deeply critical. Sometimes they offer antidotes to industry market trends.

Either way, my industry colleague Lauren Carlson talked about the white paper on her corporate blog.  She speaks about marketers continuing to use the white paper as a sales tool when integrated CRM solutions offer a lot more reach in real-time.  Consumers don’t have time to sit and read about unfamiliar items.  She also breaks down the value of Twitter hashtags for chat rolls and microsites. Here is her introductory paragraph….

“I have no interest in reading a War and Peace-style sales pitch — and, let’s face it, that’s what most whitepapers are these days. Once scholarly in their ambition, whitepapers have devolved into thinly-veiled, lengthy sales pitches that no longer appeal to the educated buyer’s shortened attention span. Companies need to find new and more direct ways to reach the buyer 2.0 without going all Tolstoy on them.”

Read more:






Posterous Starts An E-Mail Marketing Toolbox

March 30, 2011 – 3:26 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Posterous is a microblogging site. More of them do exist besides Tumblr, who is still on network overload. Posterous differentiates itself with the ability to post without creating an account. Mimicking a post-it note, Posterous has a service where the message is short but lucid with ominpresence.  On first glance, the site also holds a stronger sharing toolbox. CrunchBase has more company information here.  

E-mail marketers who need to make budget improvements should consider this new tool. These marketers would include anyone from social media managers to donor specialists in philanthropy.  As this story from Direct Marketing News suggests, the San Francisco startup has 20% of their customer base being small businesses. Therefore, the site carries an air of professionalism in its toolkit. The startup continues to work with vendors like SendGrid to ensure that subscribers receive messages regardless of channel. This new e-mail marketing tool integrates your daily blog post with an update for social media networks and newsletter campaigns.  You kill four birds with one digital stone. The story revealed one more interesting feature.

When a customer signs up, they can configure their preferences like any site.  For example, someone post to the platform, then a message is sent. The catch here is that the marketer appears as the sender, and the post title appears in the subject line.  Any multimedia content in the post transmits with the newsletter. Again, you can simplify your campaigns with a tinker and virally spread on a controlled level.  Managers would love that flexibility.  Posterous executives plan to integrate more tools this summer. Positive feedback of the new e-mail marketing should increase their small business base along with spurring subscriber diversification.

E-mail marketers interested in Posterous, click here.




How to Turn Your Billboard into an Interactive Marketing Campaign and Measure ROI

March 18, 2011 – 1:54 pm
Asif Anwar

Placing an advertisement on a billboard in a high traffic area will surely bring results. Measuring it however, can be a  tough job. For each marketing campaign, measuring performance is crucial. Measuring the efficiency of a advertisement depends on 2 things: 1. Clickthrough Rate or CTR and 2. Return on Investment or ROI. For a billboard, Clickthrough Rate refers to the percentage of the desired action from impressions. Unless eye and camera tracking technology improves, it is not possible to monitor the clickthrough rate. However, monitoring the return on marketing investment is possible- If you know your traffic sources.

Hire us for Interactive Marketing - How to Turn Your Billboard into Interactive Marketing Campaign

If you invest in Billboard Advertising, then you can take some initiatives to make your display more interactive while effectively measuring it’s ROI.

Using a Landing Page URL

A website on your billboard is good for marketing and branding  but does not allow you to properly measure ROI from multiple campaigns that direct on your domain. The best way to measure ROI, is referring to an alternate URL, one that does not disturb your expected web traffic.  For the URL, you can:

  • Create a new isolated/orphan landing page on your site (make sure it is blocked from search engines and not used in other web marketing campaigns)
  • Purchase a new domain and refer the billboard visitors to that site (you can also make it redirect to the landing page on your site or just use URL masking or use frames/iframes)
  • Use the existing landing page with parameters built by Google URL Builder (it allows you to see custom reports in web analytics from ad variations reports)
  • Use an easy to read shortened link. specifically delivers analytics that you can use to measure traffic from your advertisement. Other URL Shortener Services that supply analytics will work just as well.

The URL visits can be easily tracked with Google Analytics or any other Web Analytics application. This gives the campaign transparency and allows for high ROI visibility. The URL you refer on the billboard should be easily readable. Long URLs won’t typically generate action. Often, most conversions happen after the fact, so it is wise to help the readers remember your URL.

Using QR Codes

QR Codes have been around for long time, but the use of these 2-dimensional codes for Interactive Marketing is a new trend.  It helps you to download information or generate a specific action on your mobile phone using widely available bar-code scanners. For the iPhone (Semacode), Android Phones (QuickMark), Blackberry (ScanLife), Symbian Phones or Nokia (UpCode) are among several competing apps that can read QR Codes from any printed media or digital screen.

QR Codes are now being used for Internet Marketing, Mobile Marketing, and even Word of Mouth Marketing. With QR Codes, any camera-enabled smartphone users can:

  • Be referred to a specific URL
  • Get a phone number, allowing them to can call instantly
  • Download business cards to save on their phone and make calls at a later time
  • Get an email address and/or enable them to send emails from phone instantly
  • Be referred to a geographical location on Google Maps and help them to come to your place of business
  • Can be sent an event invitation, which can be saved in phone’s calendar
  • Be shown a text message (This can also be a coupon)
  • Get an SMS template to send queries to your business cellphone number
  • Gain access to your sponsored WiFi Network, etc.

The interaction with QR Codes are increasing day by day and steadily becoming the bridge between the real and virtual worlds. Determine the type of interaction that will deliver the best visibility of your ROI. There are many sites that allows you to generate QR codes (e.g. Zxing Projects QR Generator). A major service currently in use is the Google Chart API. Here is an article on how you can generate QR Codes in bulk with Google Chart API.

Using Coupons

Coupons are one of the best ways to track where a customer has come from.  You can mention an easily readable coupon code for all (e.g. gimme20%less) or generate a custom coupon code from any specific URL mentioned on the billboard. The URL can be a purchased domain, a landing page on your site,  or a easily readable shortened link. This enables you to distinguish between regular web traffic and traffic from your billboard.

Numerous softwares and online services will allow you to easily generate custom coupons through the URL. If you are sending the billboard reader to a URL with a custom coupon, it is recommended to have them visit a custom landing that is blocked from search engines. Once people use their coupons, you are able to retreive information on traffic sources using the database. It is imperative that you make sure that the coupon codes can be tracked. To get a true ROI on that particular segment of your campaign, ensure that it is not made available in other forms of media (e.g. search engine, word of mouth, etc).

Using Call Analytics,, and Mongoose Metrics have call tracking services that you can be monitored from Google Analytics. However, there are several other call tracking and analytics softwares that your can use. They generate a unique phone number (even toll-free) that you can use on the billboard. When someone calls, you can see how much traffic came from your billboard advertisement and then use Google Analyitcs to see how long they were on the call.

Again, it is imperative that this phone number is not made available elsewhere. There will always be a risk that word of mouth marketing will ruin your direct analytics. This information being shared is beyond your control.

Email Tracking

Email is one of the most convenient ways of communication, even on mobile devices. Make sure you have a different email address on the billboard than the one you use in other media campaigns. This will allow you to verify the emails you get on the allocated address are coming from billboard advert. If you incentivize people sending emails to that address e.g. with coupon, then you can also trigger the behavior of the billboard audience to send emails to the custom address rather than other addresses or web contact forms.

Bluetooth Advertising Near the Billboard

Bluetooth Adverts are the newest trend in mobile marketing. If your billboard is in convenient location, then you can send more interactive information and coupons to your billboard Bluetooth users. You can easily transmit richer content to your viewers. Moreover you can also digitally track the Bluetooth downloads.

google parnter