Friday, September 21, 2012

Digital Marketing Trading Eco System : the stock brokers are here

Some times you feel that the digital marketing ecosystem in India is not evolving, but then you are hit by a train and thats make you get up and realize that India is and has always been a leapfrogging country... 

The train that hit me some time back was the "Trading Desk" culture creeping into the digital marketing eco system. 

Just so that all of us are on the same page here is an info graphic by pretarget of a  trading desk in the digital ecosystem compared to the traditional stock brokers. I found it very interesting. 

This is what was interesting to me in the above image."Stock brokers ----> trading desk". why you may ask, two reasons... One that it will open job opportunities for people in the traditional trading industry to try their analytical skills in an industry which is hugely deficient in their kind of resource and secondly it will also get measurability back into the mind set of traditional advertisers in a big way. Things like ROI, Investment, performance, "best bang for the buck"  etc. will be back in flavor. 

My only worry is that trading desk in the traditional eco system are also plagued by the ill's of the eco system, not transparent, fraud, insider trading, circular trading etc. I am seeing some of it also creeping in as the larger corporation (Agencies) are already feeling the heat from independent trading desks and are setting up their own similar outfits in the name of "demand side platforms" and " Single buying windows", dont know how that will pan out but the frog-leaping continues....

Some Interesting links to some players in the indian eco system are mentioned below. 

1. Xaxis : WPP's trading desk 
2. Komli Atom : DSP & RTB platform 
3. Vizury : RTB platform 
4. Rubicon : RTB & DSP platform 
5. Appnexus : DSP 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Performance Design : Part 2 : Landing Page Design

Thanks for the overwhelming response on the part one to the series on performance design for digital marketing. 

Here Part (2)DueX. Performance design in landing pages.

Now this is most interesting......

See firstly you need to understand, I am not changing the schematics of digital marketing here, all I am saying is, based on my experience, there is definitely some method to the madness of designing your creative content for performance.

So be it 
  1. Mailer design.
  2. Landing page design. 
  3. Banner design.
  4. SEM text creative. 
All of them are fine while they are in the space of design and creativity, where subtle nuances make the visitor feel nice and the user journey is all about experience. In performance design, all the above are put to rest to "insure"  some of the following.
  1. Get the best "On Site Conversion".
  2. Get the user to focus on the proposition .
  3. Get a specific kind of response from the user.
  4. Let the user not flutter away into a navigation abyss.
So as a marketeer you should be worried about the following
  1. Bounce  Rate : this will tell you what you are targeting 
  2. Out bound Links: based on the need, number of outbound links can be reduced etc.
  3. Authentication (If it is a lead / registration based campaign)
  4. Phone Numbers
  5. Attribution 
  6. Analytic's
Having said that, below are the schematics for some of the best performing landing pages for lead / signup based campaigns .

The "Sign Up"

This is a classic design, why do i say so , this will remind you of all the email service providers, social media signup's, product signup's you would have ever done. The tried & tested design that does not go wrong atleast for languages written from left to right. [ thats a large number of launages :-)]

The "Generator"

Very similar to the classic design but with more number of fields and for sure a authentication procedure built in.This kind of form are usually used for lead generation activity and can transform into many types of pages some of them shown below.

The "Requester"

A very interesting innovation in the lead generation world and some advertisers swear by it. This form of page design is typical of product companies that want the user to first understand the product in details and ask for the user details subtly.

The "Ancient Scroll"

This format came into existence in the late 1990's and  was primarily used by scam website from hair growth to slimming lotions but in recent times we have seen serious marketing being done with such formats. The Idea with the long scroll is to inform the customer about all the possible information that he can assimilate and then ask him to complete a desired action.

Don't go by the image typical scroll can be up---------------to 2000-2200 pixels in length

The "DisRupTor"

This format came into existence when the advertiser(s) got desperate :). Most of the times this methodology is used by advertisers who feel that even before the user has gone thru the website / content, he / she should register for a special offer.In the indian ECO-System this is "seen" to be working but I am not sure if any one has done the analysis from a user engagement perspective.


One nuance that I would like to highlight for performance campaigns that have landing pages with numbers mentioned on them.
  • An interesting thing that can be deployed, where for every referrer you show a different number, enabling you to track back the call-in's on each number.
On Authentication: one of the biggest things that can be done to improve your performance campaign results is to add an authentication layer. Some of them that can be deployed.
  1. IP Validation 
  2. SMS verification
  3. Email verification 
  4. Clip based verification
  5. Voice call Authentication. 
Each of the above have their pro's, so you will have to try a few to get to know what works best for you.

Other things that are important, which based on my experience that should be present as a part of your registration form are as follows.
  1. The registrations form should have 
    1. NULL character check 
    2. Phone Number validation (7,8,9) , Ten digit (for India)
    3. Numeric check in numeric fields  
    4. Protection & Check for SQL injection 
  2. Analytics
    1. Goal conversion matrices w.r.t 
      1. clickable points
      2. time on site 
      3. exit links
    2. UTM parameters shouldbe tracked and analysied
  3. Content
    1. Should be SEO friendly
    2. The page should have a link in the sitemap.xml link
For a sales performance campaign the design is little complicated and is intertwined with technology, will try and cover that in a different post. 

As always, will look forward to the readers feedback. Banner Design will be next. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Your Digital Marketing Team : Start up

Ever wondered as to what should be the size of the digital marketing team of a startup that has got its first round of funding from an  angel investor or maybe first round VC.

Over the last four years I have come across only a few companies that have a serious mandate on the internet side and have really thought about the team structure before doing big digital media spends.

Here's my view on the size of a digital marketing team for start-ups with some funding(Angel/VC )

This is taking into account that I always tell start-ups to run their first Google, Social or Media campaigns on their own. This is primarily because of two reasons.
  1. Learning at any stage in life never hurts anyone.
  2. Mistakes, make you learn faster.
 And the obvious reasons
  1. You will know what are things like bidding / CPM / CPC / CPA, beside keywords, Adgroups, Ad-Text etc
  2. When you are trying hire someone, you can have a meaningful conversation :)
  3. Your understanding of your competition will increase.  That is if you keep a watch on what they are advertising on. (Keywords / Websites / etc)
  4. You will get to know a lot of publishers like Rediff / yahoo / MSN Etc
  5. Understand On Site conversion in a better manner. 
Having said that the following team structure with future expansion possibility can be deployed.

Oh : Before I Start :Answer this first.

Q. Who should the digital marketing SPOC report into.
  1. CTO
  2. CMO
  3. COO
  4. CEO
Nopes .... I am not answering this one and shaking a hornets nest...

The ORG chart should look something like this.

Startup phase

What the above graphic basically says is the fact that at the start-up stage the promoter himself should be involved in all the marketing activities. So the promoter should setup a google account for advertising along with a Facebook account etc. 

Media buys will be limited but interacting with the top publishers enables them to get more insight into the media industry so a direct interaction is important. 

Note : google account  means the following. 
  1. Google account on credit card / Google account on credit with the help of google outsourced vendors in India who are managing the campaign on behalf of the company i.e."Do it for me" model of google
  2. When I am saying google, it should not stop the start-up from trying yahoo/bing Pay per click inventories as well.

First Round : Angel Fund. 

Depending on the angel fund that the start-up raises, it is important to get a few people in place. It also depends if the angel fund gives you the mandate to create a in-house digital marketing practice in the first place or not. This decision is one of the most critical ones for start-up that have a eCommerce or internet based business.

One twist that can be done at this stage is to introduce an audit team. 

so what is this audit team. Senior professionals from the search engine marketing companies that can be roped in as mentors or some company that can work on assignment basis of not managing the campaign but to come and do weekly audits of the campaign being run in-house. 

This will enable two things. 
  1. Keep the in-house SEM manager on his toes for (Budgets / Edits / Updates / strategy) etc. 
  2. Ensure that there is learning from seasoned professional(s).
note : A similar audit team can work with you for your social media marketing campaigns as well. 

Having said the above, One good implementation I saw in a startup was that the tech head used to run the SEM campaign along with the help of the marketing head till the time they got the first round VC funding. This enabled the company to get technology play implemented into their marketing campaigns day(1).

Depending upon the budgets to be spent the team can look at the following members along with the digital marketing team. 
  1. Ad creative developer 
  2. Content developer 
  3. Technology manager
Along with people, it would always be wise to get third parting ad serving  implemented, as it would help in getting some good analytics in to place along with conversion tracking and attribution

If the mandate is large and if the VC provides for a larger team then the decision to hire people should come from the business objective rather than the mandates of a startup.

happy team building .... 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Performance Design : Part 1 : Mailer Design

Ever wondered why a registration page design is the way it is. Why certain times a advertising mailer in you mail box has a certain format. 

I will try and make design decision easier for you w.r.t digital marketing collateral being designed by you for a performance campaign. 

First Off the block is "Mailer Design".

Why am I choosing mailer design, because in India this tends to still work the best when it comes to performance campaigns. 

Based on experience , here is my take on it.

Name : " The Data Gen" 

The above Wire-Frame has been used as one of the most effective form based mailer schematics. This type works best with lead generation campaigns.This design gives the user visual information and a brief description about the offering before showing any inclination to fill in the form .
Name : "Footer Shooter"...

A very interesting wire-frame, this design enables the user to go thru all the details in a very detailed manner. I had recently seen a mailer by a real-estate company that had used this wire-frame. The Most interesting part of this mailer design is the simplicity of the mailer and also the user does not have to scroll all the way back up before filling in the form.

Name : " Deal-a-rator"

The new entrant in the mailer design format, specially with the entry on the deal sites. The user gets the deal of the day and an opportunity to get registered & avail the offer instantaneously. Have seen some very interesting results with this design implementation.

Name : "Smart eCommerce"

This is one mailer design that has been abused by eCommerce sites to the core. One way this can work is, if the user interests and buying data can be integrated to the mailing system.This will enable generation of email specific to the user resulting into better response. 

Name : "The BIG Daddy"

Similar to the one above, the only difference being that this one should be used a little less frequently. This design should be used for a very very special offer or coupon code distributions. Typically a little heavy on the delivery side, so optimize the images in this implementation.

Name : "The Flyer"

Interestingly this format works best for destination Marketing & Holidays, as this is totally about the visual delight, nothing more... nothing less.Usually take the user to a page where more information is displayed.

Having given some design aspects please also look at technology before sending out mailers. 
  1. Check your spam score regularly.
  2. Get white-listed servers for doing mailing.
  3. Get a third party tracking solution for get open rate / click thru and conversions. 
  4. Map user interest based on clicks and visits on the site.
  5. Use your Facebook & Twitter connect logos @ the bottom of the mailer enabling one more medium to connect to the user.
Note : 

Optimize your mailer on the screen resolution based on the screen size available in the email service providers mail display area. 


Hope you have a great time
Happy mailing. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Magic Number : On Site Conversion : OSC

Another day another term.... OSC . On site conversion or visitor to conversion ratio.

The best way to gauge a campaign is the OSC Number. Now when I say gauge the campaign it is meant for the complete 360 degree of the campaign.From Communication / Interaction / engagement to fulfillment / gratification can all be measured by OSC.

Don't believe me, think of it as your test result score... ah!! you are getting it now... 

All your preparation / study / notes / exam paper written sheet and then the teachers interaction with the answer sheet and the final score all reflect on the entire process you followed before appearing for the test .

The result was the final score to that preparation. 

So OSC has a similar impact. 

So you are still skeptical, as to why I am harping on this number... My explanation is as follows. 

OSC defines the following only "the visitor to conversion ratio" but on a whole it also says lots of things about the campaign, communication, website, quality of traffic, pricing of the product being offered or even the navigation of the website. 

A good / high OSC would mean
  1. The banner communication is correct insuring that the user is getting the call for action very clearly.
  2. The navigation on the site is easy enough for the user to navigate thru to the offering and complete the desired action.
  3. The on page communication is also interesting enough for the user to engage with the brand.
I am saying this because of the following user journey.

Now if any of the parameters are not correct your OSC will get hit. Even a slight drop can be an area of concern. 

On the other had this number can be used for A/B testing of communication / navigation / user flow / pricing etc.A slight jump in this number can change your desired action cost.

Having said that, don't get over board with it, it is just an indicator but a very important one so do keep a watch.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buying Efficiencies : Continued ... CPA ( Cost Per action)

So we are back to the basic again. 

Buying CPA or Cost per Action / Acquisition. Now people would say, what are we talking about here, this is the last currency that you can buy digital media on, so what efficiency are we talking about. 

People understand that CPM / CPC inventories are where efficiencies will yield better results with CPA. So what would CPA efficiencies yield. 

Good question my dear Watson. But the answer resides with the question it self. 

CPA or cost per action is often confused with cost per sale(CPS) campaigns. That should not be the case. Action = any fundamental or desired user behavior predefined by the advertiser.  so it could be any on the followings 
  1. Cost per sale 
  2. Cost per registration / signup 
  3. Cost per download 
  4. Cost per resume upload 
  5. Cost per lead
  6. Etc.
or Hell.. it could well be
  1. Cost per visitor on the site.
So here are the some of the tricks of the trade that you should know while dealing with CPA purchases.

It all about efficiencies so think of this all the way.
  1. Cost per lead.
    1. They all say, a lead is a lead is a lead...I say "qualify them". Use every trick in the trade to do so as this is the starting block for the business that works on leads. 
    2. Qualified lead will drive efficiencies all the way to better sales. 
    3. Better quality lead with a higher intent will get at-least 30-40% efficiencies on the call center.[the call center people will love you for this.]
  2. Cost per registration 
    1. Registration = future distributions lists so ensure that they are reachable 
    2. Registration data should be slice-able.
  3.  Cost per sale 
    1. First rule : Attribution has to be present. with out it, Its a "no go".
    2. Do a balancing act with first time buyer and repeat buyer.
    3. Handle repeat buyers a little differently.
  So what are the validation process that you can incorporate while you are doing cost per action performance campaign. 
  1. Voice Call authentication 
  2. SMS Verification 
  3. CLIP based verification
  4. Email Verification 
  5. Captcha Verification
  6. IP validation 
  7. Using Facebook connect
So let me try and explain a few of them and the various  nuances of each verifications process.

1. Voice call Authentication : In this the user is called on his phone and pre recorded message is played, which has certain cal fro action like " Would you want our sales representative to call you" etc. and also disqualification lines  like "press 3 if you dont want our sales representative to call you."

This will yield you interested parties from the campaign in which the Intent to engage with the brand is very high.

Some issues : Due to TRAI guidelines, calling can only be initiated if you are closing a sales process, so only some type of companies are allowed to do so like travel agents , airlines etc.
[NOTE : Pls check the updated TRAI guidelines before implementing]

2. SMS Verification : In this the process user is sent an SMS while he is registering on the site. the SMS carries a pin code that the users needs to enter at the time of registration. this insures that the number in genuine and is reachable for future communications. This process is also governed by the TRAI guidelines.
[NOTE : Pls check the updated TRAI guidelines before implementing]

3. CLIP based verification  : or "Caller Line Identification Presentation" this has been used in a lot of places internationally but only came to limelight recently in india. here the user has to dial a number which captures the CLIP and informs the server that "A" specific number called. In this some bit of coding is required at the server side to insure that the number called information is notified to the session in which the user is registering enabling him to get verified. A live example of this can be found on ""

4. Email Verification : This is pretty standard procedure, user is sent a link on his email id to verify the email address. "Interestingly I have seen with one of the advertisers that this process has increased his sale thru rate, not sure why but it has. Maybe it is to do with the fact that user has to log into an other system to verify and he would only do so if has a desperate need for the services being offered."
5. Captca & IP validation : I am sure you are aware of these, they eliminate the use of BOTS or automated tools to register. The IP validation is also used for elimination of clicks that come from the same IP address on a COST per VISITOR model.
6. Facebook Connect : An interesting way to eliminate all kinds of issues this also gives a lot of insight into the user profile. the only question is that the offering has to be superb enough to get the user to sigh on using Facebook connect as it can potentially give the advertiser a lot of information some times even more information than desired.
Pls note verification process in a CPA kind of efficiencies buying is important as it enables the better conversions / sales / interaction / engagement with the user.
Happy buying & a great campaign execution. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Clicks Vs Visitors : Sounds Fishy.... what goes unreported

As digital marketing professionals this is one of the most biggest unsolved mysteries of digital advertising.

The clicks I buy don't result into visitor on the Analytic side... I am sure you would have thought of this as well even if you have run a small insignificant campaign on the Internet.

Some of the most common answers are like this.
  1. Its your analytic tool that is under reporting 
  2. Are you tracking the visitors using unique parameters.
  3. I dont think you are using a paid tool, the free tool is not very efficient / sufficient. 
  4. This is a common problem !!
  5. I think you need to check the code, talk to your tech team
  6. you should use analytic only as a  indicator and not precise.
Having said that I am now embarking upon a journey to seek out the real truth behind this mystery.

Tools are packed & ready... let us see what searching for this yield on the all seeing eye. "GOOGLE".

and the lightning strikes.

Read this.

I am not surprised by some of the answers on this. But even after doing all this I have seen advertisers cribbing about the discrepancy of up to 50%.

So my mystery study went on to see what other people think about this.

This is what i found out.

Article one .

Article two.

An old one this only says that the problem has been in existence for a long time.!category-topic/adwords/campaign-management/x7UlTKT4tcA

As back as 2007 people were discussing this.

On SEOMOZ  a recent discussion.

One more on seomoz.

Still no answers.... the mystery deepens... why and why on earth can technology not solve this.

I saw people saying things like.
  1. I dont Know 
  2. Its a common problem 
  3. Maybe this, maybe that.... 
But no body had a concrete solution.

So here is my take on the age old mystery. Do test out and share results. I have done the same for a few campaigns that we mange and the results are quite promising
  1. Get your analytic code way up on the html execution order. First line after body tag.<this will eliminate the question of people navigating to other pages before the complete page loads>
  2. Get IP address along with date time stamp of each visit on your site. < This will eliminate the issue of multiple clicks per user in a short span of time>
  3. Remove All third party scripts from the initial page load.  I don't know if you have noticed on your status bar , if you are using third party ad-servers the amount of time that take to load the banner or some ad unit.<This will eliminate the load time issue>
    1. See that all third party scripts are loaded after real content of the page along with the navigation has loaded.By then your analytics scripts should also have fired.
    2. Facebook connect, some times can take a lot of time to load
    3. twiter feeds and other RSS feeds can also take some time to load
    4. Active API's with third party servers can take time to load
    5. Load adserving tools after the page is loaded.
  4. Always get your server-logs out from the cold storage of the server and run them thru some log report management tool . <Not sure if shared hosting website provide this, but asking wont kill you.> 
The mystery machine is still on this trail, will post update of new adventures and log reports...