Wired Pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘best practices

So much about innovation is changing. Globalization, increased need for speed to market, increased costs, mobile workforce, and maybe most importantly the proliferation of the Internet and online collaborative tools. I think O’Reilly’s quote sums it up nicely.

“The central principle behind the success of the giants born in the Web 1.0 era who have survived to lead the Web 2.0 era appears to be this, that they have embraced the power of the web to harness collective intelligence.”

O’Reilly, 2005

Title: Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for your Organization’s Toughest Challenges

Author: Andrew McAfee (not the security guy)

Pub Date: 2009, Harvard Business Press

This is not another “2.0” fluff book. McAfee’s book is a great overview of the changing competitive landscape and the role Web 2.0 tools can play in helping enterprises stay competitive. How? Mostly by helping enterprises become more innovative within and outside their corporate walls.

Corporations can no longer rely on inside R&D and product development teams as the only means of innovation. Instead, if they want to remain competitive, they must reach out to employees throughout the enterprise, as well as vendors, customers, and even competitors. McAfee believes (and I agree) that enterprises who use new collaborative Web 2.0 tools to facilitate innovation inside and outside their enterprises will be more successful than those who don’t.

Using real examples along with current research findings McAfee outlines the potential and benefits of Web 2.0 tools for innovation within large and small enterprises.

Some tidbits:

  • “Enterprise 2.0…allows good new business ideas to emerge from anywhere and spread organically, rather than being developed at the center and imposed from the top down.”
  • “I have yet to come across any true horror stories – scenarios that make me question whether the risks associated with deploying [Web 2.0 tools] actually do outweigh the benefits.”
  • “I do not advocate that decision makers should ask for quantitative ROI analyses, either before approving and Enterprise 2.0 effort or to assess its progress.” A controversial statement to be sure, but McAfee makes a compelling argument for this stance.

Best piece of advice:

“Enterprise 2.0 is about abandoning the assumption that unilateral control is the best way to achieve desired outcomes, and instead trusting in people’s ability to interact productively without constant supervision from above.”

Want to hear more?

You can keep up with McAfee here:

duck“Aflac!” We’ve all heard it and we all know it’s the Aflac duck. As a brand symbol, the Aflac duck has been one of the most successful in terms of recognition. Not so good in terms of people knowing what the company does, but certainly an excellent tool for building initial awareness. Well now the duck has turned to social media and is doing a pretty good job.

Duck, duck, Facebook.

The Aflac duck is now on Facebook. But what the duck is doing right that other aren’t is this…

  1. He, I’m assuming it’s a he, doesn’t just talk about himself and his company. He brings humor and personality to his posts with a lot of duck references and photos of his workplace.
  2. He shows a softer, more personal side of the company by uses his page to raise money for the Aflac Cancer Center charity. (They raised over $1M). He posts videos of the children who receive these donations.
  3. He uses contest to draw people into participation.
  4. He’s current – linking to popular videos on YouTube and icanhascheezburger.com.

As of this post he has over 160,000 fans. But we all know that just having fans doesn’t mean engagement. According to Alfac, their fan page receives more interaction per fan than any of the other top 10 fan pages (iMedia). Just check out his photo page and you can see all the people uploading photos of ducks and commenting on them.

A duck that quacks and tweets.

Aflac is also using Twitter to reach out to customers and extend their brand awareness. As with Facebook, they are talking about more than just themselves. From a Twitter perspective they are also doing some things right:

  • The writing is light and witty.
  • They cross-promote their charities (and fun videos) here as well as on Facebook.
  • They have a combination of just simple tweets, RTs, and links to other sites. Mimics what real “tweeple” do.
  • And again humor, personality, and references to current events abound. Just cracked some Skittles, then Kanye came out of nowhere and grabbed them. I guess Beyonce deserved them more.” How do you not smile?

The duck is also active on Twibe for popular shows like LOST and The Office, and uses twitpic.

Extending the Aflac brand.

Alfac is a great example of how to extend your brand using social media. The company also seems to be just trying things out and feeling their way through – another great lesson.  They understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. They can walk before they run. (OK, I’m down with the cheesy clichés.)

Will it create more business? We’ll have to wait and see But awareness and connection to the brand is the first step to getting new customers. The duck connects you to the company and that trickles down for many into a feeling that the company is more than just a corporate entity, that it’s personal.  Exactly what you’d want in an insurance company.

Kudos to Alfac.

As an educator, I’ve always looked for new and interesting ways to engage my students (that desire also followed me into the corporate world when I started speaking and presenting to clients).

As a future college professor, and hopefully a soon to be teaching assistant, I’m collecting examples of how professors are using technology to connect with students where they live (i.e., online) and to create more dynamic learning environments.

Here are some resources I’ve come across related to using technology in the classroom.

  • Academic Commons attempted to “understand better the changing nature of learning in new media environments and the potential of new media environments to make learning–and faculty insights into teaching–visible and usable.”
  • Visible Knowledge Project, “a five-year project looking at the impact of technology on learning, primarily in the humanities, through the lens of the scholarship of teaching and learning.”  The studies were conducted from 2000 to 2005, and a lot has changed since then, so it will be interesting to see if findings still ring true.
  • Classroom experiment conducted by Dr. Wesch at Kansas State University. “Instead of the standard syllabus that requires everybody to read a few articles to discuss, we decided instead to organize ourselves into a Smart Mob that would try to read a good hunk of the literature on a single topic in one go.”

I hope that all educators continually mix up what they do in the classroom, looking to find the right mix of technology and face-to-face with the hopes of creating a more dynamic, and yes, fun, way to learn.

If you know of others experimenting with technology in the classroom, let me know.

­I often hear people ask, “How do I go about creating an online community?”  “What resources will I need?” “How much time will it take?”  All good questions, but taken out of the context of “why” you want to create a community, they’re difficult if not impossible to answer.

It’s the “why” that needs to be answered first.  The “what” and the “how” are merely the tactics you’ll use to implement the why.

Online communities aren’t about you.

When I ask B2B companies “why” they want to start online communities, they typically answer with things like:

  • To drive sales.
  • To get more leads in the pipeline.
  • To push out information about our products to our customers.

If you’re starting here, ask yourself, “Would a community really want to help me do those things?”  The answer is they wouldn’t – none of this benefits the member.

Shift your focus and think about what the community does for its members.

Successful online communities focus on benefits to members.  Generating leads and driving sales may be desired outcomes, but they shouldn’t be the “why.”

For example, Deloitte is creating a community for CFO’s that allows them to discuss Sarbanes-Oxley regulations in terms of its effects on their businesses.  Which regulations are working, which are onerous, and what they think should be done to reduce the burden on businesses while protecting the public.  Deloitte plans to provide the information to the legislature to help them gain a better understanding of the real impact of the law.

Benefits to members?  Sharing information with other experts, learning from others, potentially having a positive effect on legislation that reduces impacts to their organization.

Benefits to Deliotte?  Getting into the heads of potential customers and having a better understanding of their issues and needs.  Now they’re better positioned to adapt services to address those needs.  They’re also increasing awareness with this specific audience.  All things that should positively impact leads and ultimately drive product innovation and sales.

Ask yourself “why” members would care.

So if your thinking about whether an online community makes sense for your company, ask yourself first if it makes sense for the members.

If you focus on truly trying to help or facilitate the needs of the community, you’ll be more likely to be successful at realizing benefits to your company.

What communities have you see that have succeeded?  Why did they work?

­Many B2B companies are looking into whether they should leverage communities as part of their marketing strategy.  Whether your objective is to create a closer connection to your customers, connect customers to each other, or explore new ideas, it’s important to build communities around something people are already interested in.

So how can you know in advance if people will be interested?

It’s likely you’ll never really know what the response will be until you try, but I did hear a great tip in a podcast the other day about looking at what your buyers are already doing offline and moving those communities online.  It’s a great idea, so I started thinking how we could leverage that idea for our clients.

How do I pick the right topic to explore?

Start by identifying regularly scheduled industry events or meetings where your buyers get together to discuss topics of interest.  These can be centered around topics or specific roles.  Don’t forget to look at local and regional meetings too.  Heck, you likely already participate in some of these meetings.

Next, ask yourself:

  • Which group would benefit the most from real-time, more frequent communications?
  • Which group discusses topics that are I/my company can add value to?
  • Which groups do I already have a connection with?

Prioritize the list, then start exploring the benefits an online community would bring to the participants.  There must be a clear benefit to the participants or you won’t succeed.

If you can sync the group’s objectives with your company’s objectives you’re more likely to have a winning topic.

For those of you who’ve already started online communities, how did you go about selecting and audience or topic?

I’ve been a fan of Adaptive Path for a while now, but never expected to ever have any influence or input when it came to their marketing tactics.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, they’re a big user experience shop out on the West coast.  They have clients like Intel, Crayola, NPR, and Cathay Pacific.  Who’d ever think they’d be listening to what I was saying.  But I was wrong.

On Monday, I posted about eNewsletter subject lines.  I used Adaptive Path’s as an example.  Much to my surprise I got an email that same day from Roland Smart, Senior Marketing Manager for Adaptive Path.

He said he’d been having conversations internally about the subject line and that my post was “enough of an impetus to make something change.” “Please note that our next newsletter will have a new subject line!”

And sure enough, they were true to their word.
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Adaptive Path is a company who understands the need to monitor the blogosphere for conversation around their company and what they provide.  But more importantly, they engag­e in conversation and truly listen.

Are you listening in?  You should be.

It’s easy.  Just set up an iGoogle Home page and pull in searches from Google Blog Search for your company’s name.  Take it one step further and add your competitors.  You’ll be surprised what you find and who’s talking about you.

For those you not familiar with Adaptive Path, they work with companies to create better products and services through experience strategy and experience design. This involves focusing on the end customer, and their total experience, from the start of the development cycle through an ongoing relationship with the brand.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.

Everyone out there has heard how critical the subject line is for eMail.  So it surprised me that some of the regular eNewsletters I get use only the eNewsletter title and date as the subject.  ­

I’m sure I’m like most people and subscribe to more things than I can read.  I’m always moving stuff to my “Read Me” folder to look at later (sometimes days later).  Today I had a few minutes (but only a few), so I wanted to quickly scan my list for an interesting tidbit.  I have specific sources that I like, so I tend to sort using the “from” field.

Here’s what I saw:

email1_2.jpg

Here’s what I did:

email2_1.jpg

I skipped all the subject lines that were the same thing over and over and clicked on the one that looked interesting.  Adaptive Path – a great newsletter BTW – got no “eyeball” time because their subject line wasn’t helpful.

Here’s the so what:

It’s no surprise that I was drawn to the subject that gave me some insight into what was inside and matched up with my interests.

What is surprising is that as marketers we often forget how our one tiny subject line can be caught in a mass of other subject lines. You’re battling for attention in a short attention span world.  When the subject of your eNewsletter is the same thing over and over, it stops standing out in the crowd.

Here’s what to try:

Even if your eNewsletter holds lots of info, pick a feature story to highlight and make it part of your subject.  Adotas (show above) does just that.  You’re more likely to get clicked by providing details (even just one) than being generic.

If you’re using a generic subject line for a regular eNewsletter or eMail blast, try changing up your subject line and see if your open rate jumps.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.

For B2B technology companies, whitepapers are a great way to generate awareness and educate potential buyers about your solutions.

­According to a recent KnowledgeStorm study:

  • 65% of IT buyer decision makers and 62% of influencers said they read a whitepaper within the last 90 days
  • 58% of decision makers and 63% of influencers said they read 2-5 whitepapers in that period
  • 57% of technology buyers said they passed on a whitepaper to others within their organization

So how do you increase interest in and downloads of your whitepapers?

  • Give buyers content they value.
    • Survey data, how-to guides, and educational content are the most valued.
    • 82% of IT buyers said content targeted at their specific industry was most valuable, followed by 34% who said content targeted to their specific job function was highly valued.
  • Give buyers a preview – titles alone aren’t enough.
    • 75% of buyers want to read at least one paragraph before providing registration info.  Interestingly enough, only 48% of marketers provide this type of info.
    • You can increase downloads by simply providing one or more paragraphs of content prior to registration.
  • Remove barriers to registration.
    • Most buyers will give you their correct name (72%) and email (68%) (however they often use a personal email instead of their business email – this helps them separate work related email from outside sources). Less than 40% give a real phone number or answer additional questions.
    • Try asking for just a name and email.  It’s easy for buyers and gets you the information you need to follow up.
    • Clearly state how you will use registration information.
    • Include a link to your privacy policy next to the submit button.
  • Repurpose your whitepaper content.
    • 60% of IT buyers indicated that whitepapers would be more interesting as podcasts.
    • Some B2B companies have found that repurposing whitepapers into podcasts increases downloads.
  • Follow up on downloads within 2 days.
    • The majority of buyers who download your content are quickly scanning it for relevance and putting it away to read it more thoroughly later.  So, it’s important to follow up quickly because it reminds them that they’ve downloaded your content.
    • 72% of buyers say that timeliness of follow-up impacts their impression of the company and it products.
    • Use email to follow up as it’s the preferred method of buyers.  (Whitepaper downloads typically signal a buyer in the early phases of the buying cycle.  As this point, they aren’t ready to talk directly with someone at your company, they prefer being contacted via email.)

Test what works best for your buyer.

Whitepaper downloads are a great place to start testing what works best for your buyers.

  1. Start by measuring the number of downloads you get today.
  2. Change up one aspect based on the best practices above.
  3. Measure the difference.
  4. Keep what works, and discard what doesn’t.

Keep tweaking the process until you’ve optimized downloads for your audience.  Let us know what works best for you.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.

­According to a recent study by MarketingSherpa, there seems to be a disconnect between what marketers feel is valuable to their buyers and what buyers say has value.  In order to determine what content had the most value, MarketingSherpa asked B2B buyers and B2B marketers to indicate which types of content they felt was worthy of registration.

Where they agreed:

  • Both marketers and buyers felt whitepapers still had the most value (assuming the content is good of course).
  • There was also agreement on the perceived value of analyst reports.  But that’s where the agreement ended.

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Where they disagreed:

  • Marketers placed a heavier value on demos, podcasts, and online videos than did their buyers.
  • Buyers placed a heavier value on case studies, product literature, and archived articles than their marketing counterparts.
  • One of the most striking differences was in the perceived value of demos, webcasts, and podcasts.

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So why the big differences?

It makes sense that marketers would place a heavy value on rich media assets like webcasts, podcasts, and videos because they tend to cost more and take more time to create than other types of content.  It may be that in marketers’ minds, their value can’t be detached from the time and effort it took to create them.

From the buyers’ perspective, they’re looking for information that helps them make an informed buying decision.  They want product details (e.g., literature), insights into why your solution is better (e.g., whitepapers), and comfort in hearing how others have succeeded using your solutions (e.g., case studies).

They also want to get a good idea of what your product does early on in the decision process (e.g., demos).  Since this is a key factor in helping them understand what you have to offer, they likely expect to have access without registration.

What does this mean for me?

The take away here isn’t that you should add registration for product literature and case studies (whitepapers yes).  Or, that podcasts and webcasts have no value.  Instead what’s revealing is the type of content B2B buyers value.

According to what they said, whitepapers, case studies, analyst reports, and product literature are at the top of their list (in that order).

Armed with that knowledge, take a fresh look at your site and your content from your buyer’s perspective.  Do you have what they want?  Is it easy to find?  Are you promoting the most valuable content across your site?

(Charts from MarketingSherpa, 2008-09 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide).


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