What We Can Learn from The New York Times Being Behind the Times

May 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

320-Innovation_fullThe Gray Lady has problems – more than just the firing of Jill Abramson or lack of reporting on Jill Abramson’s demise. It seems the Times is behind the times in all things digital.  On May 15, Buzz Feed leaked the 96-page New York Times Innovation Report that candidly describes the digital struggles and weaknesses of the legendary print icon.    The report focuses on digital providers like Vox, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed.  The report describes the institutional inertia that is keeping many businesses from embracing the new face of marketing.  And in some terrible irony of ironies, it was that upstart BuzzFeed that leaked the story.

Key learnings for all marketers today.

1.  Beware of Disrupters.  The news biz is changing like all business today.  Once small outsiders like BuzzFeed and  Huffington Post are now garnering more traffic than the Times.  Sound familiar?  Like Amazon, AirBnB, Uber and other disrupters?  The report gives some of the hallmarks of disruptive innovators – introduced by an outsider, less expensive than existing products, targeting new or underserved markets, initially inferior to existing products and advanced by an enabling technology.  Sound familiar in your business category?  Your competition may not be who it was yesterday. Today the New York Times is facing disparate competition such as LinkedIn’s Pulse Publishing platform,  Flipboard’s visual presentation of news, Vox as a collector of live blogging in passionate verticals, or Yahoo News that has hired Katie Couric and repurposes the best of news.

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2.  Stories Find Readers Today.  The Times identified a trend showing that users are moving away from browsing and actually expect the news to come to them through social media, mobile notifications, aggregators and more.

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of The Guardian’s website says, “The realization that you have to go find your audience — they’re not going to just come and read it — has been transformative.”

 

Death of the Home Page.   Only a third of readers visit the home page of The New York Times. And those who do visit are spending less time on it. Page views and minutes spent per reader dropped by double-digit percentages in the year 2013.  Where do people see your content?  We cannot expect our website to be the first view of information.

home-page-v-socialNews from Social Media.  Less than 10% of the New York Times traffic comes from social media compared to Buzzfeed who gets 60% of their traffic from social media.  In fact, I read the story about the New York Times report on LinkedIn and Mashable first.

Marketers cannot expect just one media to work for them.  It takes  multiple ways to get your important news out.  Social media, email marketing, guest posts, podcasts, interviews, speaking engagements, search marketing and even advertising, if well timed and placed.

3.  Content Packaging is as Important as the Story.  Journalists have thought that the story is the thing.  Build it and they will come.  But today, a journalist must craft the right story for the audience, understanding the reader relevance.  I was stunned by a story from Forbes writer Kashmir Hill who took an anecdote buried in a 5,000 word article in the times and repackaged it as “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did.”  Her Forbes article has been viewed 2,455,821 times, and was the chief traffic driver for the Times story.  Crafting the right point of view takes a real understanding of your target audience.  And then, you have to position your story appropriately, with engaging content.

4.  Timing is Everything.  The Times is publishing their best content on a schedule meant for print.  They publish the majority of their content in the late evening, in order for it to make the morning paper, while  the majority of their traffic is in the morning hours. The biggest stories are published on Sundays for the venerable Sunday Paper, even though Sunday is the slowest day for traffic online.  A lesson to marketers here is are you publishing at times when you audience will see them?  In today’s world, the news is a 24-hour operation and news consumers expect to have it on a 24-hour schedule.

5.  Every Story Needs A Promotional Strategy.  All content needs a promotion strategy.  The publishing of the story is just the beginning.  What is the social strategy?  Is there a checklist for publishing that includes search headline, tags, images, pre-written Facebook and Twitter posts?

“Even ProPublica, that bastion of old-school journalism values, goes to extraordinary lengths to give stories a boost. An editor meets with search, social and public relations specialists to develop a promotion strategy for every story. And reporters must submit five tweets along with each story they file.”

How can you repurpose the content?  The Times report tells, “On a whim, Andrew Phelps created a Flipboard magazine of our most important obits of the year and it became the best-read collection in the history of the platform.”  The Gawker took a 161 year old story from The Times to help introduce “12 Years as a Slave”.

Consumers Expect Personalization.   The Times is looking at new engines to foster personalization online.  Increasingly, consumers are expecting to have options served up to them based on preferences.  Can readers follow their favorite columnists?

Engagement is everyone’s job.  A key learning is that you need to engage with your audience – respond to comments, answer emails and converse on social media.  Equally important is looking at the list of influencers that can help spread your message and interact with them.  Or events that help create community.

6.  Silos are out, teams are in.  Here is the telling statement:  “Our Twitter account is run by the newsroom. Our Facebook account is run by the business side.”  Departments need to break down walls and work together.  The refiguring of team is important to create more harmonious efforts.  The Times has recognized the power of collaboration focused on reader experience.  What a wonderful concept!

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.  So, as The Times goes, it seems they are embarking upon an important journey.

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Marketing to Women: The Future of Reading

April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Katie Dunham and the LA Library Bookmobile

Katie Dunham and the LA Library Bookmobile

I just returned from the LA Festival of Books and on my plane trip home, as I juggled between my iPad and a paperback, I wondered about the future of reading.  Some think we are in a transition as disruptive as Gutenberg’s printing presses more than 500 years ago.  In fact, some in Silicon Valley think Gutenberg was the first technology geek and call him their patron saint.

The Facts, Please!

Women contributed to 58% of book purchases in 2012, up from 55% in 2011.

According to Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans now have some type of handheld device–either a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle– for reading e-content. That number is up from 43% of adults who had either of those devices in September 2013, so adoption is growing.

Some 76% of all adults have read a book in the past year, but 82% of women have read a book in the past year.  The typical adult read or listened to five books during the year but the median number of books read by women was 14 books.  Those who read books on an e-reader tend to be more female, while gender is fairly evenly split on iPad book readership.  The amount we read has stayed fairly level the past few years.

But here’s an interesting statistic.  The majority of those reading e-readers still read print books as well.  Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.

Sure, publishing is changing.  Bookstores have become curated collections, not mass marketers, and writers are unchained and able to post their own books to Amazon.  But as I walked through the LA Festival of Books and saw and heard people lovingly hold and share their books and heard authors speak of their inspirations, I realized that story is still alive and well.  And that is the future of reading.

Google This: How Google Makes Its Money

July 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

How is this for a fact!  The $32.2 billion Google made from Google Ads last year is more valuable than the country of Panama and the 31 poorest countries in the world combined!

Some more fun facts are included in this infographic about Google –  like the most expensive keywords.

revenue

Marketing to Moms: Four Things to Consider Before Developing an App

April 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

iStock_000020962728XSmallConsidering an app to market to moms?  A recent study found that 97% of moms made a purchase on their tablet in the last month and they’re spending significantly more time on their tablets than laptops. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to provide value for moms on their tablets.

One way to make the most of moms on tablets is by developing an app for your brand. However, developing an app, especially for the first time, is not an easy task. It requires a big budget, skilled engineers, and dedicated marketers to build a useful, powerful app.

So before you begin, there are 4 key things to keep in mind when planning to develop a new app:

App functionality – In order to be truly effective, apps must be smart, innovative, and provide value to the customer. Know when your customers will be downloading the app and why they need it at that moment. Determine the use case scenario and keep it top of mind throughout all stages of development. Also know that you don’t have to include all potential features in the first release of the app. Prioritize the essential elements and add additional functionality in future releases.

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Operating systems – You don’t need to develop an app for all platforms to be successful. Rather, understand the devices before choosing one or a few. First, narrow down your options by knowing which device your target audience uses. For example, about 51% of moms own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, compared to 52% of teenagers owning an Android. Second, understand the pros and cons of the various platforms. Windows is known for its flexibility and provides a great user experience. Apple has fewer models and screen sizes so testing is easier. However, a rejection from Apple’s App Store means more time and money to make improvements. With Android, though, it’s easier to get apps into the Google Play store. On the down side, there are many Android models and testing on all of them is nearly impossible. Finally, testing on various devices requires lots of Quality Assurance (QA), not only for the first release but also to maintain the app as devices update their operating systems. Don’t forget to budget for ongoing QA as you develop your plan.

Pricing model – Will the app support your core business or will it be the sole revenue stream? If your business has other revenue sources, you may offer the app for free because it builds mobile presence and authority for your brand. If this will be your main revenue source, the app itself might be free but perhaps it will generate revenue through an eCommerce engine or paid membership. While some paid apps are very successful, tablet users have been shown to prefer free apps with ads to paid apps. Paid apps accounted for only 23% of all tablet app downloads in 2012. Does your app offer something that customers will pay for or does it offer another value to your business?

Download strategies – Marketing your app and getting customers to download it provides a huge challenge. Make sure your app is searchable within the app store. You can do this by choosing the most relevant keywords. What will customers be looking for when you want them to find your app? Find out and use those keywords. Note, you are limited a specific number of characters for keywords. For Apple, keywords must be less than 100 characters. Another download strategy is through email marketing. Email your existing customers and include a direct link to the app store so they can download the app immediately. Make it easy for them to find and download. Also consider integrating a social sharing element into your app so users market the app for you.

Creating an app may or may not be worth it for your business, but after thinking through each of these topics you should have a better idea of your approach and strategy. For more insights on the habits of moms on tablets and how to build the best app strategy for your brand, download the white paper, “Tablets 101: A Primer for Mom-Focused Brands.”

This guest post is by Katie Petrillo. She is the B2B Marketing Manager at Punchbowl, where she writes about marketing to moms for the Punchbowl Trends blog. Follow her on Twitter @PunchbowlTrends and find her on Google+.

Marketing to Moms (and Dads): The State of the American Mom 2013

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

FE_DA_BabyPlayTablet_071712The 2013 State of the American Mom report is out – and interestingly, they actually looked at opinions of both Moms and Dads.

Here are some of the results important for marketing to moms – and dads:

Men shop around too.  An equal amount of Moms and Dads, 78% and 76% respectively, shop at more than one grocery store weekly.  Most make the extra trip for the best sale prices.

Smartphones are the tool of choice.  Almost 60% of moms have a smartphone, compared to 44% in 2011.  It is certainly the primary organizer of life.  The report shows Moms are playing games (64%), looking up stores/locations (58%) and finding nearby restaurants (50%).

Baby wants a smartphone and a laptop too!  Of course, you know children won’t even know how to turn pages in a magazine or a book.  43% of Moms report their children start using a laptop or desktop at 3 – 6 years, and 25% of Moms say that’s when they start using a phone or tablet.

What are the trends behind these facts?

Multichannel Shopping.  Consumers are challenging retailers and brands to keep up with their multichannel shopping behaviors.  Two-thirds of all shoppers regularly use more than one channel to make purchases.  While the Mom report is talking about physical grocery stores, many are shopping online, warehouse stores, farmers markets, specialty stores and grocery stores to fill their pantries.  Some 70% still use bricks and mortar stores, but 47% are online.  And all research begins online before those “reality” shopping trips.

Life on a Smartphone.  We just feel smarter with a smartphone. Nielsen says in their 2013 Mobile Consumer Report that 61% of all adults have a smartphone and 94% have some type of mobile phone. Of course, we don’t actually talk on our phones.  We send and receive an average of 764 text messages versus 164 calls sent/received on our phones.  We use our phones for a variety of activities – email, music, shopping, location services and internet browsing.

Digital Children.  Hilary DeCesare, a cyberbullying expert and CEO of kids’ social networking site Everloop, thinks in an increasingly digital world, it’s important to expose children to different technologies early so that they are prepared to adapt and thrive in more advanced professional settings. The digital expert thinks kids as young as 2 can benefit from tablet use, as long as the parent “is monitoring what [the] child is watching.”

Marketing to Women: Slideshare as Advertising on LinkedIn

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

operafrocks460For marketers trying to reach business audiences, this new LinkedIn ad feature is something to sing about.  For advertising folks, it might be a nightmare, depending on how creative the slideshow is.   Imagine this – you can include your slide presentation in an ad.  It’s turning the humble Powerpoint into a new form of interactive advertising.

slide-3-638_610x458Here’s how it works.

On your LinkedIn page, you have a sidebar area where text ads are included.  Now, you will see the Slideshare box in that sidebar. (See red outlined area.)  It’s a Slideshare presentation sized down for the ad dimensions.  You will be able to click on it and see the presentation without leaving LinkedIn.  You will only be served an ad if you are the target audience.

The concept was initially tested with GE and Constant Contact with success.  The ads are called SlideShare Content Ads.  They will appear as a “sponsored presentation,” and users can click through it within the advertisement or they can expand it into a full-page view. It’s also a way to acquire leads through links and information capture.

For us advertising geeks, here’s the scoop from Adweek:  “The ads are being priced on a cost-per-thousand-impressions basis and can be targeted to LinkedIn users’ profile information, such as company name or size, seniority and job function, said a LinkedIn spokesperson. In terms of reporting metrics, “LinkedIn provides an aggregate of non-personally identifiable profile and demographic data of members who see a campaign. This includes things like the job function, industry and seniority of those that view and click.  Also included is content viewing metrics like number of views, average time on presentations, and average time spent per slide,” the spokesperson said.”

Sample Ad

Why Slideshare?

These LinkedIn folks are pretty smart.  They purchased Slideshare last year and we are now seeing the fruits of their labor.  They recently launched their Influencer prominent blogger program.  And now there is chatter about the purchase of my favorite news reader Pulse.  Imagine what they can do with that platform.  LinkedIn is definitely building a unique business content platform.

Guerrilla Marketing Strategies in a World of Marketing Automation and Software Bots

March 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

You know that guy– the guy who recently bought a beach front house and now goes on vacations to Corsica and Maldives? Yeah, that guy.

That guy and the millions of others of those guys who did that all have one big thing in common. They were not middle or late adopters of change. They were able to forecast, anticipate, and take advantage of change. During all that randomness and chaos around any disruptive change, it’s actually possible to take a quantum leap in your business positioning. We all know that. But oddly, its those few million guys with a Yacht in places like San Diego Harbor who don’t resist change.

You may not think you do. But I remember not too long ago when just about everybody said, “Well, that’s the end of personal safety. Crime is going to skyrocket because of these darn automated teller machines.”

“I would never put money in an ATM! How do I know that they’re not going to say they didn’t get my deposit in the morning?!”

Yep, if you look back to when you were still in school, people actually said those things.

What about, “I’d never buy a compact disk. It doesn’t have that authentic pop, fiz, and scratching sound.”

Then there’s, “Why would anyone buy an iPhone? A phone is for p-h-o-n-e-c-a-l-l-s. Apps? I got plenty on my Pentium 3 workstation!”

Or how about, “Email? Why would I possibly want to give everyone in the world access to my personal communications? All they have to do is guess my password!”

This one is my favorite, “That’s the dumbest idea in the world! None of your personality comes through in a typewriter written letter!”

Yep, people actually said these things.

Ironically, the people who said these things and resist change now fall into two categories today. First, the people who never see any quantum leaps in their business growth; Second, the people who do. The second group want everyone to think that the new disruptive technology won’t go anywhere until they’re fully positioned in it.

Right now, the biggest change happening in media is marketing automation.

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If you tell anyone you’re using automation software to do your social media marketing, their immediate reaction is going to be disgust and objections of disauthenticity. But these people fall into two categories, the people who won’t see any business advantage as the new world of automated marketing sweeps through media and the ones who want you to think it won’t until it’s too late for you.

Major Fortune 500 companies use companies like Marketo and Hubspot. You may have even heard of these companies. Many have. Few realize they make software that automates marketing.

I changed banks when BofA first used an voice automated operator. The technology sucked. I was sure BofA would go bankrupt but instead, every bank started using IVR technology. Now, it’s faster than a human operator.

You’re busy enough just trying to give your customers and clients exceptional value. Use deeply experienced and persuasive marketing consultants like Jamie Dunham|Brand Wise to craft your marketing message. Use marketing automation to reach an unfair (to your competition) number of potential customers. Let me borrow your new yacht from time to time.

by Robert Wan, Business Consultant, iPhone App Programmer, and Forbes Contributor. Follow him @journik

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