Posts filed under Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy and Program Planning Presentation: Online Marketing Summit Phoenix 2011

I was honored yet again today to have the opportunity to speak at the Super Regional of the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix. My topic was Digital Marketing Strategy and Program Planning, and the deck is here for you to view. If you have any questions/comments, don't hesitate to ask. And yes, there were lasers!

Digital Marketing Strategy - Digital Marketing Planning - Strategic Planning - Online Marketing Summit Phoenix-June 2011-ethology-mike corak

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Mike Corak

Posted on June 17, 2011 and filed under Strategy, Integrated Marketing.

Mountain Travel Symposium 2011 #MTS2011 - Marketing Online - Tools & Strategies to Grow T

I was just fortunate enough to present at #MTS2011 - the Mountain Travel Symposium - here in Beaver Creek, CO. The title of my presentation was Marketing Online, Tools & Strategies to Grow Top-Line Revenue. An extremely broad topic, with way too much data and insights, I have posted the presentation on SlideShare and have embedded it here as promised.

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Mike Corak

Specific to travel, we looked at opportunities to improve revenue online, talking about the tools, processes, and insights we use to do so. Plus, we handed out lasers to make the presentation more interactive, a big hit indeed. We walked through a planning process designed to find tactical flaws related to revenue, and create active steps to build effective programs as a result. Great crowd, thanks for having me!

8 Social Media Tips for the Hospitality Industry

A week ago I was lucky enough  to present at Social Media for Business (SMAZ), an Arizona social media conference that draws over 300 attendees from the state and beyond.  Fred von Graf, the curator and networking machine Arizona is so very lucky to call our own, always puts on a great show, and this time, SMAZ featured Jay Baer and Amber Naslund's book tour stop for "The Now Revolution" a social media must buy, and a must see if they come to your town. I'm definitely blessed - Fred has allowed me speak multiple times knowing that I'll bring something new to the table if asked to do so.  While I've presented planning steps, resourcing suggestions, and orchestrated content marketing and strategy discussions around social at SMAZ, and have seen many others present how-to's, talk about metrics, inspiration, and more, I couldn't recall seeing an industry focused presentation beyond some great ones geared towards non-profits.  In turn, I created and presented "Social Media Best Practices for Hospitality" an industry focused tip deck that I hope you find helpful, and I hope to expand on as time goes on.

Of course, there's some number of them to allow this post to "go viral" - 8 in this case.  In order, the tips you'll find inside include:

  1. Understand Content Demand In Relation to Your Business
  2. Identify, Quantify, and Examine the Opportunity Around Topical Points of Interest
  3. Organize Internally for Success
  4. Be Hospitable (for crying out loud)
  5. Encourage the Behavior you Desire
  6. Social Location/Mobile Opportunities
  7. Get the Right Kind of Help
  8. Utilize Remarketing to Extend the Conversation

Take a look and let me know what you think.  Was there something I missed?  I've also included some references to properties doing it right - be sure to follow them for real life references beyond the relevant life of this slide deck! Thanks to Altimeter Group and Jeremiah Owyang for the great study referenced, and as always, Brian Solis and JESS3 for the Conversation Prism (I have one in my home and work offices, what would I do without it?).

Relevant Content and Data Sitting in a Tree - Gaining Customer Advocates

Content Relevancy is key to enhancing any email program and as ISP's move to add engagement stats to there bulk/spam filters, you need your customers to be more involved in your email program. A recent stat from Jupiter Research says 51% of those surveyed will unsubscribe if content is not of interest.

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix 2010 - Search and Social Data Mining to Improve Content Relevance - Follow-up

As many of you know, Digital Marketing Strategy was honored last week to be included in Aaron Kahlow's Online Marketing Summit regional conference in Phoenix (Mike Corak - "Relevant Content is King" session, David Hibbs closing keynote panel - email expert).  A great show, and like an avalanche, OMS continues to gain steam with many of the digital industry's best and brightest attending and speaking.  The Phoenix summit was the kick-off of the new Online Marketing Summit tour, a 23 city show with stops across the US and Canada.  If it's coming to a city near you, I definitely recommend checking it out - a perfect mix of local and national insight, with strong networking opportunities.  The Phoenix version featured topics including social media, content strategy and distribution, search, email, usability and loads of case studies presented by tactical experts and communication executives alike.  It appears future shows on the tour will have more of the same - a great formula - fantastic! As a follow-up to my presentation at OMS Phoenix (Relevant Content is King)

I would like to share some of the Q&A generated at the event and directly to me over the last few days:

Q - With Yahoo!'s purchase of Associated Content (slide 14), and the growth of other large content publishers like Demand Media, what can smaller publishers do to compete with these entities?

A - The content production and distribution game will not be won solely through the quantity of content produced, but rather, by the return on investment the produced content provides.  Extremely relevant, link worthy content that results in conversions, more than eyeballs and visits, is what both advertisers and target audiences desire, and what publishers will eventually be held accountable to.  While small publishers may not possess the ability to build content in the same mass and with the efficiency of larger players, they will have the opportunity to outwork and outsmart larger publishers through niche understanding of communities and target audiences, and frankly, creativity and relentless elbow grease.  Let's remember, content publishers don't determine what content is noteworthy - the public does, and by understanding what content is in demand (through search demand research), and what that interest means (through search and social conversation analysis), smaller publishers can get one-step closer to outperforming the competition.

Q: In reference to your navigation naming example (slides 43 and 44), should smaller players that have a harder time ranking for competitive phrases use less popular keywords?

A: No.  While it's tempting to leverage the power of a site's architecture to rank in search for all targeted phrases including less competitive long-tail phrases, you're better off using the most common vernacular in way-finding messaging to ensure you make the most relevant connections possible with the user.  Further, this behavior, along with matching linguistics in titles, meta, headlines and copy, is shown to encourage those linking to your pages to use this common vernacular in their links, helping sites rank for those more competitive phrases over time.

Q: How do you know that consumers use the same language online as they do offline?  Have you seen improved results from this type of research for communications in both online and offline communications?

A: The short answer is that we've tested this theory and it holds true in all online and offline communications.  Why?  Because requests for information and conversations online are conducted by actual real people!    More scientifically, typical offline to online behavior shows that people take interest generated offline to online tools like search engines to fulfill their interest, meaning that data taken from search shows offline content interest by nature.

Any other questions? Feel free to ask them here.  For the record, we're looking to improve the content of this presentation for future speaking opportunities, and would appreciate any feedback you may have.  Thank you as always!

Black Friday Online - A Digital Marketer's View of Early A.M. Activities

It's 5 a.m. in Arizona , which equates to 4:00 a.m. PST, 7 a.m. EST, and 6 a.m. CST.  This puts me close enough to the middle of the launch of the annual shopping feeding frenzy that I'm unofficially ringing the bell, and calling this the online observer's start of what we've all been schooled to know as "Black Friday," the biggest shopping day of the year for retailers and consumers alike.  While traditionally an in-store experience, more and more retailers are bringing Black Friday online, not only advertising promotions occurring at their brick and mortar locations, but also fishing for sales through their web stores.  Let's see what's happening at this early hour, shall we?

Examining PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, activity is always a good way to get a quick lay of the land.  Paying for a phrase is an important indicator of corporate level interest as there's a financial investment attached, all be it relatively small, and not necessarily an indicator of true revenue production as we can only see the ad and its placement, not its conversion through this lens.  None the less, looking at the term "Black Friday"  we see the following:

"Black Friday" SERPBlack Friday SERP YahooBlack Friday Bing SERP

Some points of interest:

  1. Black Friday advertisements are largely dominated by big box retailers these days with very little action from local players, likely due to the cost to compete.  Additionally, some Black Friday entrepreneurs (coupon sites, blogs, etc.), and odd-balls like Visa are advertising under the flag of "savings," have entered the conversation.
  2. Open competition exists between online only retailers like Dell and Amazon and multi-channel retailers, and the lines are blurring more than ever.
  3. Few are maximizing the budget they're spending online by implementing according to best practice, and creating relationships beyond Black Friday.  The remainder of this post concentrates on opportunities to improve results.

The Post Click Experience

The largest opportunity for improvement across the board starts with the point of engagement, most commonly, the website.  Few retailers go the extra mile to optimize the post click experience for their customers, ensuring relevance between the ad and the offer, and therefore maximizing results.  Note this post will largely ignore impediments like requiring users to choose a store, or the balance between promoting online and offline sales realizing that these business decisions go beyond what we are able to examine from the outside.

Relevance to Black Friday - About half of the retailers above acknowledge that visitors came from a "Black Friday" related search phrase and ad, a start but too low.  Example, Target takes the visitor to a page touting its "2 Day Sale." The urgency of Black Friday is not there, nor are any calls to action to purchase online.  While spending across all sites, this is the effort that leaves the most to be desired.

Target Black Friday 2009 Landing Page

What I do like about Target's effort is the concentration on collecting contact info to further the conversation.  Linking to social media outposts would have been wise, as would exposing the fields required to subscribe to Target's communications.

Call to Action, Creating Relationships Beyond Black Friday - Walmart does miss the opportunity to create a connection beyond picking a local store (email, social links, etc all can build relationships past this visit should a web visitor not purchase on or offline).

[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignnone" width="570" caption="Walmart Black Friday Landing Page 2009"]Walmart Black Friday Landing Page 2009[/caption]

It should be noted that Walmart does have links to social media outposts, however, they exist near the bottom of the page and therefore may as well not exist.

Ease of Use - Others like Sears who create a great connection to products and the brand, unfortunately bombard the visitor with a non-consumable product listing page (see the craziness at here - below is one of three screen shots required to capture the page).  I'd guess the bounce rate of this page to be equal to Target's if not higher.

Sears Pay Per Click Landing Page

The Winner? - While far from perfect, the best multi-channel retail experience that I've seen thus far comes from JCPenney.

JCPenney Black Friday2009  Landing Page

Driving store traffic is huge for most retailers believing you'll buy more than the sale you come to the store for - no argument - and JCPenney definitely provides information for users to make the connection.  JCPenney however also understands that an online sale is valuable, and promotes them online with vigor, and links. As well, navigation exists to shop all deals, and links exist that allow visitors to connect with the brand in social media.  The user experience is underwhelming visually, borrowing from print ads, but the info is there and ready for visitor action.

Of course, Dell and Amazon (who is leading the twitter buzz war per Mashable) are doing a great job and get it.  Not unexpected, their business is online and their effort is superior, and frankly, easier to execute upon promoting a singular point of purchase.  Amazon makes a quick connection to products and purchase, the name of their game, allowing their strong website to do the rest.  Dell however goes the extra mile, allowing visitors to share their deals and connect via their strong social media presence.

Dell Black Friday 2009 Landing Page

The lone knock on Dell?  A visitor is forced to click on another ad on the Dell site prior to arriving here.

Creating One-to-One Relationships

Forget the sale today, the lifetime value of an engaged customer more often than not outweighs the short term profit sacrificed to begin a relationship.  With a strong push for contact and interest acquisition while customer attention is high, it's quite possible that the brands listed could exceed their revenue totals from today through proper customer lifecycle marketing to these audiences over the next 12 months.  Here's how:

Data Capture - Improving data capture is an opportunity for all advertisers mentioned in this post.  Email and mobile are great opportunities to provide a subscriber the information they want at the time of need, with the later often being enough incentive to supply it.  What about providing deeper savings to those already on the contact list as an incentive to sign-up?

Social Media - Social media provides a unique opportunity to bring actual brand and community interaction to the relationship building process. The social media possibilities could spawn five posts of their own as my notes go for miles, but a few tidbits:

  • All retailers at this point should be allowing visitors to share the deals they are finding with their social networks using the method and outpost of their choice.
  • Retailers should absolutely be promoting contact aggregation and membership in their social media programs at every turn in the communication cycle.  On the topic, it's unbelievable to me that not a retailer on this list appears to be utilizing Facebook Connect to help the cause!
  • Utilizing geo based applications like foursquare or GoWalla are no-brainers, and custom applications and widgets based on location could also be amazing.  What if smart phone users could find special products and deals only known to them in-store using their devices?  Augmented reality?  Implementation is a real possibility, and not outrageously expensive.

Other Opportunities for Improvement

Search Engine Optimization - Given the media budgets  spent today, it only makes sense that search engine optimization (SEO) be ephasized to lower the reliance on one-time spend. As far as I can tell, Black Friday isn't going anywhere, and a permenent, indexable presence wouldn't hurt.  If an off-site permanent presence is preferred, procurement of an existing Black Friday site or URL would provide a buffer from the main site, and could be obtained for a similar budget to the media that is being spent.

Content Improvement - Across the board, it should be noted that quality content was completely absent, often times substituting offline ads for engaging and actionable copy, images and video.  The most overlooked, and critical to conversion, strategic and engaging copy is proven to move the needle, and the user through the digital experience to the conversion desired.

Testing - If you're not testing, you're leaving money on the table, and the landing pages and ad copy reviewed today didn't seem all that dynamic.  Even if your promotion is a day long, there's always opportunity to improve results, much of which can be done through automation.

Breaking the Mold - Just being different can often separate companies from the competition and create some much needed buzz, and digital couldn't be a more malleable implementation medium.  Live inventory reports online by store?  Local advertising online?  Online product demos before Black Friday?  Offers through new technology?  Releasing products throughout the day with live messaging?  The options are bound only by the imagination.

So how was your Black Friday experience in 2009?  Were your expectations met?  Are you expecting more from Cyber Monday?

[caption id="attachment_101" align="alignleft" width="56" caption="Mike Corak"]Mike Corak[/caption]

Mike Corak lead the strategic planning practice and account management efforts at the time of this post at Off Madison Ave, now performing similar tasks at, and is co-founder of  An active member of the digital marketing community and frequent blogger and speaker, Mike's passion is interactive marketing. Mike's developed and implemented winning digital and integrated strategies for hundreds of companies over his 12 year career including the likes of Coca Cola, ConAgra Foods, ConocoPhillips, FedEx, Fujitsu, Nike, Office Depot, and Walt Disney. Contact Mike at, or interact with Mike here: twitter, LinkedIn.

Posted on November 27, 2009 and filed under Strategy, Lifecycle Marketing, Integrated Marketing.