Making Sense of Multi-Channel Madness

This is a live blog post from the Online Marketing Summit. Interview with Keynote John Boris, CMO of Shutterfly.


 John's Comments:

"Real time intelligence. It's a lot more complicated and time consuming but so much more rewarding than it's ever been before."

"I try to install a sense of personal ownership about our money. I encourage the team to think about new ideas and make decisions about how to spend budget as if it was their own money. That accountability allows them to be more creative and more efficient than not."

"Innovation is not just the newest thing out there and whatever is trending, it could be a new approach to something old"

"We spend the vast majority of our budgets online. Then we optimize the hell out of each of them. We have KPIs and metrics for everything, understand everything. Every month is different, every customer is different, and we measure all of that."

"Always understand the worst performing thing you are doing. Then remove that and put that effort or budget into something else that's performing better."

"They are starting to invest more offline because it's differentiating them from their online competitors. They won't know what the ROI is going to be, but they know it's going to work."

"Did we bend the curve on our brand exposure on Google because of our offline efforts? Absolutely it did. And we were acquiring better customers because they had a stronger brand loyalty to our brand."

"The Average person looks at their phone on average 150 times per day." - Wow, I'm guilty of this...

"If 30% of your traffic is coming from mobile you should be spending 30% of your R&D budget on mobile"

"There is no good way to show that discovery happens on a lean back device when you're at home watching TV then going back to purchase on your laptop the next day."

"We have set aside some money to play and learn more about what we can do with mobile."

"We look at things right brain, left brain as much as we can. I love looking at brand and analytics. I am realistic enough to know that there are things we are going to be doing that can't be quantifiable but that I know adds value and is important to our overall marketing mix."

"True lift - people struggle with it all the time. We struggle with it too! Some of it is just intuitive gut and just test and measure absolutely everything we can and optimize the heck out of each one over and over again."

"Data is critical to any business and especially online businesses. If I could trade off budget for more analytics I would. It's essential. We look at importer, CPA, Cost Per New, Return on Ad Spend, LTV, ROI. We are in the process of creating a multi-touch attribution model. Display plus paid search plus affiliate becomes a sale. But how and what does that mean. If you could understand which customers shop once a year or once a month, how do you treat those customers differently from each other."

"Pictures are a motive. People want to communicate through images. There are about 350 images a day posted on our Facebook. We don't want people to take more photos. We want people to do more with their photos and share them in meaningful ways."

"We've made great stides in social over the last two years. We have over 2MM fans across our channels. I'm a believer in social media. It's an incredibly compelling way to engage with your customers with a relevant and meaningful way. You can 't just pump out offer after offer after offer. It has to be relevant, timely and thoughtful. When we do that it's successful. I approach engagement as the first measurement tool with this first and ROI second. Engagement is always first."

"Social gives you opportunity that is amazing, but you have to treat it with respect or you're going to loose your friends and followers."

"We have millions of customers in our database. Not all are active. We've been around for over 10 years. We are a very Q4 centric business. So try to sell photo gifts, photo books around babies, birthdays, etc. Offline you are put into a separate bucket because you don't know if the person is going to see the TV ad or not. We have a very robust CRM team to send a relevant piece to the right person in the right mindset at the right time which sends meaningful messages based on what we know about our costumers whether through direct mail, email or retargeting."

"We took people's photos and sent them personal messages with their picture in a new format or in a Christmas card and did the work for them, and it's becoming an extremely successful strategy for us."

"Visual merchandising is what we invest a lot of time, energy and investment on. We ask, what is the best way to display this? We test different things. We continually experiment with that. That's not just for the website either, it's on banners, display, e-mail, etc. Visual is as responsive as you can get and a picture really does say 1000 words, so this is something we continue to put forth and try to perfect as much as possible. You don't have to perfect it, you just have to always try to continue to improve."

"Long tail can mean different things for different folks. Long tail search for us is huge. People are getting smarter and they are using very specific terms to find exactly what they are looking for. But there is the long tail customer as well. In our system they look dormant but they may be travelling and are taking a season off. You have to consider they are still around and a brand advocate even if they are not currently active."

"Always feed the top of your funnel. But also nurture your existing CRM. From a channel standpoint, it's more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep the ones we have."

"I love DM! What if you extended your product catalogue and mailed it to your customer? We are experimenting with all these things and continuing to improve them as we go."

Other great brands like Shutterfly are Blurb and Picaboo. If you are an affiliate you can check out their affiliate programs on AIM's Affiliate Program page here.

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How To Break Through the Personalization Filter

This is a live blog post from the Online Marketing Summit (#OMSummit) presented by Katherine Watier Ong (@kwatier) of

social media and search break through

The Most Important Transition: Google moved from keyword based results to entities and connections based on results.

Google +'s purpose is not to be a social network. It's not there to compete against Facebook or twitter. It's there to identify and help Google understand your connections and entity. Think of it like that, not as a social network, but an opportunity to rank more strongly in search.

Search results are now becoming so smart that Google's figuring out how all your connections work to feed you only the most relevant content specific to you (and your connections, interests, etc). This works especially well when you are logged into google. This is powered by your Google Data (check your dashboard and update your Google account so your search results are most relevant to your personal interests and connections).

There are 40 personalization factors (check out this link for a full list:


Bing Search 2012

Bing is similar to Google, but has interesting integration features with Facebook and Twitter.  You can ask your friends questions dirtily from search. Bing's results are powered by your Microsoft data.


Personalization on Facebook

Hop on the Beta Facebook Graph Search to be one of the first to experience the direction of personalization. It will also help you figure out personalized data about other people.


Personalization on Twitter

They are in the game too!. This includes your connections, how strong they are, signals you have, recognition of your gender and show feeds most related to you, etc.


Removing Search Personalization

Think about your underlying assumption.... when you non-perslnzed the search results, are you going to see what your target audience sees?

Ask people to send you a screenshot of the same keyword for fun to see the different personalized results they get in Google. 🙂

But the question is, how do you break through the personalization as a marketer?


Create Personas for your Target Audience

  • Demographics
  • Job Level
  • Pain Points
  • Obejctions to attitude chage
  • Routine for a typical day
  • Level of sophistication with technology
  • Online information sources / social networks


Conversion through Conversation - ask questions and find solutions related to the immediate situation and need of your audience.

Create content for your target audience. That content should focus on their needs, desires, emotional motivators, etc.

  • Use all the social buttons on your site
  • Google + !!
  • Use rel=author and other schema markup to increase CTR, build up the Author Rank and following of your company's thought leaders.
  • Create a surround sound of social media mentions around your target audience.
  • Create and promote high quality content regularly that matches your audiences's needs.

Intercept them during a prime moment. 76% of online adults it the US have clicked on links to related stories. "There is no arguing good content is in high demand. Consumers spend more than seven hours per week actively looking for it, viewing up to four articles before they make a buying decision."

Measure  to see if it's working. Google searches / mo compared to your analytics traffic by keyword. Social media monitoring to view an increase in volume around your brand name and products. - this helps you figure out what your audience is doing. Easy and extremely useful.


Key Takeaways

  • Know your customer. Use their language.
  • Have them test your message
  • Create search personas and measure against assumptions
  • Provide online content that is quality and shareable
  • Build social communities around your brand - especially

Performance Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing Part 2

Affiliate Marketing vs Performance Marketing
A few days ago I posted an article originally titled "Performance Marketing is NOT Affiliate Marketing", however it caused some confusion as to my position on particular things so I changed it to Performance Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing. The main point of my post was to demonstrate that in affiliate marketing, in this case from a merchant perspective (since most of my readers are advertisers), there needs to be some actual performance and effort attributed to sales. In reality, this goes for any type of affiliate or merchant partner.

From the affiliate side, this is equivalent to signing up and promoting a program that doesn't convert. In this case, there is no performance from the merchant side.  That was the point of that post. However, upon receiving some good constructive feedback as to how the title and exclusion of some additional points might contribute to an already confusing topic (and I'm always open to positive constructive feedback), I wanted to share a few more points and insights that might shed some light on this subject.


Here are a few more thoughts on the subject:

1. Performance Marketing as a term can encompass many different channels in the digital marketing space. Technically, any marketing program that produces a return that is higher than the return it was receiving before is performance marketing, because it's performing.

2. Affiliates, merchants, networks, agencies and anyone within the affiliate marketing space call themselves by a variety of names. A post by Missy Ward from a couple of years ago explains these terms and differences well.

3. Todd Crawford, owner of Impact Radius comments "I feel the terms “performance advertising, advertiser and media partner” are better terms for the currently used “affiliate marketing, merchant, affiliate/publisher” if the intention is to move the industry in a direction that aligns it more closely with other advertising like display, search, email, tv, radio, direct mail, print, etc." I think this comment aligns with the point of my previous post because it shows affiliates and merchants alike needing to perform to provide value to their partners.

4. There will likely still be confusion over the next few years about the term "Performance Marketing" because it can encompass so many things, be part of so many channels and support so many people's individual views. However it's a term that stands strong in the affiliate marketing space because it is "performance" driven.

Regardless of whether we want to term the phrase "performance marketing", "partnership marketing", "affiliate marketing" or "associate marketing", in this case, a level of effort and performance to drive incremental value, to me, still stands.



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