This quarter I took a chance and chose to take a digital marketing course. This is my last year of my graduate degree and cannot be more ecstatic to be so close to be done with school for a while. My initial thought before taking this course was “I CANNOT WAIT!” I was SO excited to take a course focused solely on marketing again! It had been a while since I had gotten this chance, so I pounced on it. Despite my excitement, I was still nervous. I had been so used to my program classmates, that I knew it would be completely different because I was the only graduate student taking the course. However, I must say, as I am reflecting on this class, it is one of the BEST classes I’ve ever taken. I have learned so much from A/B testing, growth hacking, co-creation, inbound marketing, SEO, SQL, Google Analytics, coding, and much more.
This has been such a great experience because this course was a great class to take side-by-side some of the job positions I hold currently. In one position particularly, I create online email campaigns and am working to sustain their social media presence. Concepts in this course have taught me what to do and what NOT to do (especially). Many of the articles we have read and discussed have made me more confident in my digital marketing capabilities. In thinking back on this class, I think the #1 key takeaway for me was how to effectively post content on company websites and social media sites. I always understood that it was very important what you post, but I did not know specific details on when to post, how frequent to post, how long to make your posts, how to interact with your customers on social media sites, etc. This is VERY important to know when I am about to go into the workforce.
But how important are digital marketing courses in college? At the Harvard Extension School, a Digital Marketing: Social Media and Online Strategies course is taught in order to give students with the knowledge needed to develop comprehensive digital marketing and social media plans. It is believed that in today’s rapidly changing environment, there are new opportunities and challenges for marketers to face – such as digital marketing. And how important is digital marketing in the workforce? People nowadays are consuming more digital content on a daily basis. Digital marketing is set to be the future of marketing and it is often believed that digital media will soon replace more traditional forms altogether.
In the past three months, I was tasked to write a blog – which was something I have never done before. But I must say, I have had many potential employers asking me about my blog and what inspired me to write it. I owe it all to this class. In the three months, I have had 338 views with 33 followers to my blog and an overall word count of 11,293 words. Below are my stats for this blog:
In relation to my Twitter account, although I only have 22 followers, I can admit that I can definitely pay more attention to my Twitter presence. I was also given the opportunities to become:
HootSuite Professional Certified!
AND Google Analytics Qualified!
I am ECSTATIC to be walking away from this class with so much more knowledge and certifications that will definitely help me in the future. Overall, what a great class – I learned so much about digital marketing and am so pleased to have gotten the chance to take this course.
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. However, do not be mistaken – a growth hacker is NOT a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is just different – “a growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth”. Every decision that a growth hacker makes is informed by growth. Every strategy, tactic, and initiative is attempted in hopes of growing.
In short, the five phases of growth hacking are: it begins with Product Market Fit – this can be explained by growth hacking as having marketing goals that are “driven by product instincts”. These hackers try to achieve a product that is perfectly designed to fit a specific and critical need for a well-defined audience. The following phase is to find your growth hack – hack the growth together though any means possible (e.g. A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email or open graph). Once you pull in your first users, the next phase is the Viral Lift – refine the product until the rate of sharing goes up. Retaining and Optimizing is the next phase with the final phase being to Start Again.
But how do you get customers without having to pay for them? Here are a few tips that have worked for others: fast site speed, social proof (e.g. testimonials, logos, customer statistics, case studies), on ramp programs (e.g. the new user experience, email drip campaigns), barebones home pages (e.g. Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Groupon), product integrations (e.g. where do you make your stand? Can you get out?), and viral loops.
So what do you think? Growth hacking is on the rise – using A/B testing, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph, growth hackers are able to answer the question of “How do I get customers for my product?”
Have you ever wondered who was actually looking at what you post on Facebook? Personally, I am an avid Facebook user since I now have it linked to my mobile phone. But who doesn’t nowadays? What I found interesting was that everything you post on Facebook does NOT actually show up on all your friends’ news feed. If the person does not interact with you, you will not see their recent postings. But how does Facebook do this? With something called EdgeRank – an algorithm that is used to determine where and what posts appear on each individual user’s news feed.
EdgeRank is used to let users view the most relevant and wanted content. Understanding this algorithm is actually quite easy – the more you engage with a friend or page, the more likely you are to see their posts. On the other end, the more users give negative feedback, the less likely you are to see that post. So what single piece of advice do I have for you? Make better posts! Now I’m not just talking about pictures, but really well-written posts that your viewers will WANT to see. The better posts you make, the more interaction and engagement you will get from your friends as well as better placement on their news feed.
The three main components of EdgeRank are: Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay. To help you understand these terms, Affinity is the relationship you have with the users – the amount of time a user has interacted with your page affects how likely they are to see your posts. Weight is how much priority the algorithm gives to your post. However, it is important to note that this is based on the post type – photos and videos taking the top priority, followed by links. Lastly, Time Decay keeps track of how old your posts are – the older the post, the less likely it will be to show up in a friend’s news feed. In addition to these three main components, there are four specific action-points that EdgeRank uses every time you make a post. These are: user’s past interactions with the author, user’s past interactions with that post type, reactions from other users for that particular post, and the amount of complaints or negative feedback you get on that post. The graphic below helps illustrate how these components work:
So how do you get to be on the top of the newsfeed? Post regularly – especially on weekdays. Posting photos also help users interact with your content. Ask plenty of questions that encourage engagement, but keep it CLEAN! One bad post can lead to a stream of complaints – which can ultimately affect how likely you are going to land on users’ news feed. Lastly, as I CANNOT stress enough, focus on providing consistent, high-quality content on a regular basis for your viewers to regularly engage with.
However, there are many people who believe that Facebook’s original newsfeed ranking system, EdgeRank, is dead. Over the years, Facebook has continuously updated it’s algorithm to where many other aspects are equally important in addition to the three main components. With this, it is often believed that the newsfeed algorithm of today is much more sophisticated than years before. Additional categories that now need to be taken into consideration are relationship settings, post types, the ability to hide a post or report spam, click on ads or view other timelines, and new technical considerations.
Large entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban believe that as time has progressed, we need to de-emphasize pushing customers to like business pages on Facebook. Rather, we need to focus on building up our followings across all existing social media platforms and evaluate those that we feel can grow a material following. This way, businesses can keep their newsfeed an engaging service where people can come to get the information that is most interesting to them. This will ensure that company Facebook pages are not a ‘time waster’ as Mark Cuban believes it is. However, in my opinion, he does have a point. Facebook does seem to pass the time quickly; however, I do not mind this as long as I enjoy what I am viewing. I find entertainment from viewing pictures, posts, and links that pop up from friends or from the pages that I like.
If I were asked to improve an organization’s performance on Facebook, I would first begin by looking at the three main components and the four specific action-points in relation to the organization. How do we measure up? The next step would be to identify where the organization lacks among these categories. Where can we improve? How often do we post? What time during the day do we post? Do we constantly try to engage with our customers?
All in all, EdgeRank is not that complicated to understand. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – underestimating this tool can be detrimental if you do not take advantage of its tactical benefits. To be honest, before this winter season I was not familiar with EdgeRank, let alone its important benefits. And I’m not the only one – very few people have heard of it and for those of who have, many cannot claim that they fully understand it. So do me a favor – look this algorithm up yourself and become familiar with it!
The Internet has become a very useful tool for customers to now be involved in the development and usage of what companies sell. In this light, the customers have become co-creators of value. Fiat is a company that successfully enhanced their relationship with their customers this way. Fiat invited potential customers to visit their website and select their desired features. From this, Fiat was able to gain valuable insight into what the targeted customer group wanted in a vehicle. The company was able to test different design concepts at a low cost as well as design a car that was reflective of customer preferences. This new way of creating value leads to strong customer loyalty because in today’s society, customers are able to search for better deals through the Internet. Co-creation makes a stronger bond between the customer and producer because it engages the customer directly in the production or distribution of value.
But what are other companies doing with this type of information? Larger, technology companies such as Cisco Systems and Red Hat each use co-creation at various stages of the value chain. Another great example is Amazon.com that uses co-creation to encourage readers to post reviews for others to see. The biggest mistake a company can make with this information is selling their co-created value to third parties without advance notice or consent from your customers. You will COMPLETELY loose the trust you have with your customers and the strong loyalty and bond you hold with them. Personally, I find the subject of product co-creation very fascinating. It is interesting to understand these concepts and relate them to companies that either do it well or do it poorly.
There are many different reasons about what motivates customers in regards to co-creation. Each customer is different – customers vary based on their interest and ability to participate. But what DOES motivate customers to co-create? Some are motivated by financial rewards such as prizes or profit sharing, or indirectly through intellectual property or visibility they might receive. However, some are not motivated by money and choose to freely share their effort in the post ideation stages of co-creation. Some customers are motivated by social benefits such as titles or other forms of recognition that will increase their status, social esteem, or strengthen their ties with relevant others. Others might be motivated by the desire to gain technology knowledge by participating in forums and development groups. Lastly, customers may participate in co-creation for psychological reasons to enhance intrinsic motivation and sense of self-expression and pride.
From a company’s perspective, there are also reasons that may hinder the co-creation process. Characteristics that impede co-creation initiatives are concerns about secrecy, questioning around the ownership of intellectual property, information overload, and customer ideas may be infeasible from a production standpoint. However, there are also reasons that may stimulate the co-creation process. Characteristics that stimulate co-creation initiatives are increasing the benefits that customers receive from participating and reducing the costs to the customers who participate.
Previous to co-creation, companies used ‘crowdsourcing’ to try and understand customer needs. Although this is similar to co-creation, it is arguable that crowdsourcing is less tactical and organized as the co-creation process. It is said that co-creation is the difference between people creating a great idea for you and people working with you to make a good idea great. It works because who knows what customers want more than the customer? Co-creation was created to be a planning tool to gain insight, help redefine concepts, and making small ideas, big and great.
Personally, I think that co-creation is EXTREMELY valuable and important for companies to implement and pursue because it can increasing productivity and efficiency gains since customers are able to provide their valuable input at essentially no-cost. This process also brings the company closer to meeting their customer needs and a higher commercial potential.
In today’s society, smartphones are becoming the new credit cards! Payment options such as Google Wallet, LevelUp, and Square are becoming the most popular forms of online payment used now-a-days. Although you may think so, these apps are hardly more convenient to use. They are just cleverly designed and fun to use! But do you really need this? Traditional credit cards work just fine – so nobody truly ‘needs’ these services. It is just another way for businesses to collect more personal information about us.
However, these companies won’t give up – last year LevelUp launched “connected apps” for people to access a built-in payment and rewards level. Participating companies can easily connect to LevelUp to take specific, authorized actions on behalf of LevelUp users. This can be in forms such as charging a payment, viewing transaction history, or even pushing credit to user accounts. By creating this “connected apps”, LevelUp has created a way to purchase online easier, quicker, and more securely.
By linking online payments with user loyalty programs, LevelUp should remind you of Starbucks and their loyalty program. The mobile industry needed a large company like Starbucks to try online payment options. Currently, Starbucks has a mobile payment app, but most of their customers do not use it. Why might you ask? Because customers are waiting for something better, easier, simpler, and faster. However, once this happens, credit cards will begin disappearing. Personally, I do not see the need to use mobile payment apps. However, I am not the early adopter in this situation. Once mobile payment apps become more common, which I foresee in the future, every company will need to reorganize themselves to implement this feature.
Emerging is the use of Bitcoin (also known as crypto-currency), a form of virtual cash used to buy goods and services online. It is a digital currency that uses peer-to-peer technology to facilitate instant payments. By how do you get them? You must first choose your wallet to store all your Bitcoins. In order to get bitcoins, you must first accept them as a payment for goods and services or by buying them from someone or exchanging them using your bank account. There is a growing number of services and merchants that are now accepting Bitcoin all around the world – you can use Bitcoin to pay them and rate your experience to help businesses get more visibility.
In my opinion, I think the future for Bitcoin is very bright. With the number of companies now accepting Bitcoin, I feel as though it is going to grow stronger. I do not, however, believe that we are all going to be paid in ALL Bitcoins in the future. Personally, I think this would be very risky to do, and there would be a backlash from many different companies. For example, in the United States, Bitcoins are still controversial because they can be used to anonymously transfer illicit funds or hide unreported income from the IRS. With controversies such as this, I feel that Bitcoin will take some time to catch on.
What do you think of the Mobile World?
Who are the main leaders in this industry? Android and iOS continue to be the leaders in the smartphone market. With the rise of smartphones, mobile advertising has been steadily increasing in the recent years. Mobile Ad Spending to Hit $42 Billion in 2017, Eclipsing Radio! Although arguably not compared to television advertising, mobile advertising has surpassed radio advertising by a little over $9 billion. It is predicted that growth in the future years will be fueled by continuously improving market conditions, measurement standardization, and new targeting technologies.
Guess Who’s Planning to Spend Big in Mobile? CPG Advertisers – Highest Level of Overall Optimism Since 2007. As mobile technology has begun to ‘boom’, advertisers from all different industries and markets have begun to adopt mobile advertising. One of the most unlikely, advertisers in the consumer packaged-goods category, have been late adopters, but are beginning to invest and will increase their spending in mobile advertising over the next year.
However, are these marketers jumping the gun? There are arguments, such as Smartphone Advertising Myths Debunked, that say that targeting customers on phones is not as reliable as other forms of advertising – television and radio advertising. But my argument against this is that mobile technology is on the rise. Cynics can argue all they want about how it may be unreliable, but when the technology improves and it DOES get better, they will be the ones getting left in the dust. In today’s society, people use their mobile phones as a source of convenience. 17.4% of Global Web Traffic Comes Through Mobile and people around the globe are accessing the web through their phones more than ever! What is these cynics’ biggest argument anyways?
These mobile users want a fast, simple site that provides them with the information they need. Today, savvy mobile users have high expectations for mobile sites. So critics may argue that mobile advertising may not be effective, but wouldn’t you rather try and build a good relationship with the customers that are mobile users? In The Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising, mobile touchpoints such as QR codes, SMS, NFC, and photo recognition allow marketers to instantly connect with the customer.
Are you convinced that mobile has become a very powerful tool to connect with your target audience? It has become a tool to be just a few clicks away from reading the news, watching television, communicating, socializing, shopping, and more! But be careful because since mobile is such a personal medium for mobile users, it is also the easiest place for marketers to make mistakes that can turn a customer away forever. In The Biggest Mistakes in Mobile App Marketing, too many companies just make smaller versions of the brand’s desktop site. This is a big mistake! Mobile users want an easy way to be able to just tap a button to make a purchase, get directions from their current location, and see where the closest restaurants and stores are. What you CAN do to attract mobile customers is to help simplify their lives by simplifying your mobile site. Make it easy for customers to find your mobile app, allow customers to leave reviews, and create prompts to remind customers to leave these reviews and even make a purchase. People return to your app because it has ongoing value for them, not because you want them too.