Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget...a Time to Remember

In honour of those who lost their lives so that we could experience the freedom that we enjoy today!

Also for our American neighbours...a time to Remember

To all the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice...R.I.P...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Google Analytics Has Grown Up

I was digging around reviewing some traffic data in Google Analytics when I noticed a few new changes. The old and constrained Google Analytics that we once knew has decided to pick up its game. Traditionally GA has been a great tool for providing high level insights at a quick glance. The no cost price tag along with its ease of use make it a great low cost option for those looking to gain some insight about their site. Although, the tool has had its limitations in respect to the richness of insights that users could extrapolate from the data.

Google Analytics does offer some interesting things that you can do with it with relative ease although in comparison to fee based tools, there certainly were (and continue to be) some areas for improvement.

A couple of the key areas where Google Analytics lacked were in being able to provide a sophisticated custom reporting option as well providing the ability to drill down deeper based on various site segments. The tool now provides users with the ability to gain deeper context into the data which will provide valuable insights and ultimately more actionable results.

Custom Reporting

Advanced Segmentation

Visit Avinash Kaushik's Occam's Razor for an in-depth review of the step by step process.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama, The Social Media President

The American people have clearly made their choice and made it convincingly clear about who it is that they want to lead their country out of a difficult time. An election that saw record turnouts at the polls and the first African American president of the United States will not soon be forgotten and is now a moment in history.

It has been a long and difficult challenge for both parties and only one was left standing after all the dust had cleared. In looking back at each party's campaigns, it is evident who had a stronger online presence. By raising over $200 million solely through online donations, Barack Obama's team realized the value of what a well developed and tightly managed internet strategy is able to deliver.

There were many touch points that their strategy covered including a presidential candidate website along with active accounts with a number of leading social network sites all intended to drive traffic to the main site.

Obama's profiles have generated hundreds of thousands of followers and more importantly, listeners. Continuous dialogue has been maintained and monitored by Obama's people I'm sure while potential voters have been provided with a forum in which they are able to express their opinions and have their voices heard.

The metrics are highly convincing in terms of social media measures and with last night's result, it would be difficult to argue that the internet did not play a small role at the very least in leading American's to making an informed decision.

Through my research I came across a blog written by Alex Cleanthous who does a great job of illustrating the 6 Lessons We Can Learn From Barack Obama’s Online Marketing Strategy. He highlights effective persuasion tactics and information architecture among other things.

Now that Obama's goal has been met it will be interesting to see how the online strategy will shift as Obama gets sworn into office in 2009.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Vote!

In honour of today's U.S. presidential election...

I may not be from the U.S. although the message is compelling and I'm sure that it has inspired many Americans to register using the Google Maps resource.

Granted, the use of an all-star team of A-list celebrities will get users attention every time. Albeit, the messaging still needs to be delivered with precision which I believe was achieved in this web exclusive PSA.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Global Web Currency

Product or service referrals from friends, colleagues and family members are sometimes valued and other times not so much based on whether or not you have the same taste or unfulfilled needs. Although, when comparing a referral from a trusted source to that of an unknown business entity whose primary interest is to get you to buy, more often than not you will be more interested in listening to what your reference has to say.

For the reasons mentioned above, Word of Mouth (WOM) tends to be the most highly valuable marketing resource with high profit potential if managed correctly. How does a marketer nurture this type of communication and how is a company able to provide a WOM vehicle at the point of purchase where consumers can instantly gain enough trust to commit to a sale?

A model that quickly began to change the power of the web has been the rating system similar to that used by eBay and Amazon just to name a few. People buying products are able to leave feedback about their purchase experience ranging from product condition to shipping and even the entire shopping experience. The higher the rating and the better the quality of feedback, the more likely that others will feel confident in committing their money to the same experience.

With the explosion of social media in recent years led by MySpace, Facebook and Habbo to name a few, a new form of currency is rapidly evolving called Social Capital. In essence the larger a social community is, the greater potential that it holds in spreading a message to a listening audience. Considering the network is generally comprised of individuals who know each other relatively well, members are more likely to be receptive to the messages being sent to them.

To further demonstrate the value of social communities, Google recently announced that it has a patent pending to rank influential people in these types of sites. In turn, Google could charge a premium for ads served in association with high ranking individuals.

The challenge then becomes how to tap into the Trust Economy and how is one able to translate these relationships into revenue. As was mentioned in an earlier post Red Bull Goes Social, new social network integration tools are now being offered and are providing real opportunities for converting visitors into customers.

Facebook Connect as was used on the Red Bull site allows visitors to log in to their Facebook account directly through the site. The site owner then has the ability to access user information while the user is able to publish their comments on their Facebook user's news feed. Google has also developed a common API which is defined across a number of websites capable of offering similar features.

The potential of these tools are far reaching. By combining rating systems and powerful social community integration tools, online merchants have the resources to create an environment where consumers may engage with brands on a deeper level while bridging consumer trust barriers.

It will be interesting to see how brands incorporate these tools into their online strategies. Please feel free to share examples of sites currently using these features.