Recently, I have been thinking about how search can play more of a part in discovery and exploration with SAS Text Miner. Unsupervised text discovery usually begins with a look at the frequent or highly weighted terms in the collection, perhaps includes some edits to the synonym and stop lists, […]
We have a love/hate relationship with ads. Whether they’re on television, in our favorite publications, or online, we love them if they’re relevant and interesting, or get annoyed when they get in the way of [insert whatever we’re doing]. I have to admit: I rarely watch a television show in real-time anymore. I’ll record a show, wait 20+ minutes, and “chase the show” with the recording—ad-free.
So what does this have to do with big data privacy, the “soapbox” I’ve been standing on for weeks? (Ha!) Well, some would have you believe that the big data privacy debate is all about online advertising—i.e., you get interesting, relevant ads in exchange for your personal information. If this what you believe, you’re sort of missing the point. Read on and see if you agree.
About online advertising. Do you remember September 3rd when Facebook had an 18-minute outage? Given that Facebook generates about $22,000 per minute, this means they lost almost $400K during that outage. This may sound like a drop in the bucket for them, but if you add in all the lost revenue from all the businesses who generate ad revenue on Facebook’s platform, a lot more than $400K was lost.
Advertising is big money, and behavioral online advertising is even bigger money – and companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo! get that. They know what we’re clicking, posting, liking, and commenting on, and they’re using this information to better target us for advertisers. And contrary to popular belief, when it comes to advertising and privacy, advertisers really don’t care about what we do or where we go. They only care about one thing: getting us to buy whatever they’re selling.
Why this matters. You may be thinking, “So what? What’s the harm?” I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a targeted ad when you’re surfing for a certain item online or a coupon delivered to your smartphone when you’re near one of your favorite stores? It seems like a harmless trade-off: a little bit of your personal information in exchange for some helpful, free service that could help save you some money.
But here’s the catch: the information we freely share is not just used by these advertisers selling stuff to us. It’s being used, bought, and sold by a lot of other data “players”—some good, some bad, some we’ve given explicit permission to, some we haven’t—and none of which we have any control over.
The big data privacy debate is not just about online advertising—or even the collection of data. It’s about who’s using our data, why they’re using it, and how we can protect ourselves from privacy invasions when we don’t even know who’s watching us. It’s about you, me, them, and us.
The bottom line. Vigilance, not apathy, is the right response to the opportunities and challenges this big data era is ushering in. Be mindful of what you click and share. If you don’t click it or share it, “they” can’t use it or abuse it.
We all get it now - big data is both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers. And the opportunity is realized by applying analytics to garner the insights that lead to better marketing. And big data is really BIG - so the data now available to marketers is like a digital "horn of plenty," a virtual cornucopia just overflowing with potential information.
And the point for marketers in Tamara's post here is analogous to the message of this biblical parable once used by John F. Kennedy:
To those whom much is given, much is expected.
As the steward of the customer relationship, marketing can't just harvest and use the truckloads of customers' personal data irresponsibly - it's reasonable that we'd be expected to safeguard it and respect the rights of the owners of that data.
There's more information on consumer's expectations regarding digital behavior and personalization that you can read in this report based on a global study SAS conducted this year:
Check it out and let us know what you think!
We recently held a half-day session devoted entirely to search marketing that gave us an opportunity to cast a wide net internally about this very important topic. I learned some new things and also had a few moments where it seemed the obvious was being presented, but sometimes even "hearing the obvious" can be valuable because it prompts you to make new connections and draw useful conclusions. That was the case for me.
Search engine marketing vs. search engine optimization
When considering search, it’s helpful to remember the distinction between “search engine marketing” (SEM) and “search engine optimization” (SEO). SEM is the focus on increasing website visibility in search engines through paid placement and optimization, whereas SEO deals with website improvements to climb to the top of organic search. Simply put, SEM is paying to associate your web content with terms and phrases so your web page shows up in the paid suggestions at the top of the page in search results (or along the side of the page). SEO is giving your web content the best chances of showing up near the top of the page for a given search term or phrase. You earn SEO with relevant content and with a plethora of techniques relating to keywords, links, URL structure and others that I won't delve into here. Both areas are important and are mutually-reinforcing, so paying attention to both is key.
Search – it’s what we do
Search is important simply because so much of our everyday lives are spent online. When online, we search, we find, we read, we react, we comment, we share. Even in the middle of our browsing session, we might open another tab to search for something related or simply loop back to search when needed. Quite simply - it's what people do online. And because of that, if we are not already doing this, we marketers need to rethink every aspect what we do in terms of search.
Search compels marketers to change
Of course, marketers still need to focus on our target market(s) and do all we can to understand what they need. When broken down to discrete activities, our work entails many things (not in any particular order): listening, responding, offering, inviting, engaging, studying, analyzing, segmenting, reading, writing, designing, creating and so on. From that view, what emerges is that the most important interactions with our target market involve content in some form and that's why search matters so much. We might understand how our new whitepaper relates to the business issues, but can our target market make that same connection? Let's hope so. Using search marketing techniques are ways to boost that likelihood.
Search reinforces Marketing 101: Know thy customer
Understanding how our content might be searched for is how we help our market connect our content to their issue. Content can be images, descriptions, PDFs, podcasts, videos, webcasts, webinars or updates. Even Tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates are all content. The new world of digital marketing enables new ways to reach customers with great content. We can also measure our effectiveness in many ways, but it also has empowered the customer to tune you out if you’re irrelevant to them. So content is king, but only as long as the customer agrees that it reigns or they go searching elsewhere to get what they need.
An equally bad outcome is that they never find you because you’ve not adjusted the way you do things to fit the new rules of search-driven digital marketing. The rules are simple, but equally important – keywords, tags, page layout and other factors of good search-driven marketing all stem from what the customer prioritizes. Get them wrong, and you won’t even show up when they ask for what you can offer.
Whether tuning you out or simply never finding you, either case is a disconnect that is eminently preventable and it highlights the importance of understanding the customer. It’s come full circle back to Marketing 101, folks, but with a twist – so pay attention and understand how the twist impacts how you are going about marketing. The stakes for getting it right have never been higher (and they’re equally high for getting it wrong).
Use SAS to get full customer profiles
So a complete customer profile has never been more important, and SAS Customer Intelligence solutions give you the ability to get full customer profiles and make the most of them. For some great stories of how our customers understand online behaviors, please visit our customer success stories for Customer Experience Analytics. Please let me know your views on search and its impact on marketing.
My friend and colleague, Matt Fulk, has detailed in his posts some of the great ways we've used SAS Customer Intelligence to improve our own marketing. Using SAS fits with our culture of measurement and analysis that keeps us constantly focused on finding better ways to do things, and one area that has received some well-deserved scrutiny is third-party tradeshows.
Tradeshow opportunities are evaluated at SAS using a standard process we've developed, and even so we've found that some of the most promising opportunities have not produced the hoped-for results. That said, tradeshows have a place in a well-balanced marketing plan, so one way to mitigate any downside potential is to focus on ways to improve the results with “ongoing impact.” Here are five of my favorites:
1. Look for pre- and post-show touches
Admittedly, there is nothing new or whiz-bang about pre- and post-show touches, but I'd suggest this as one of your minimum requirements when considering any tradeshow opportunity. If the show won't provide the pre-registration list and the actual attendee list, try to find the value with the 4 suggestions below. Since these events are gatherings of your target market, use your interactions to try to get your audience to opt-in to something, such as your blog or a resource center. Doing that extends your interactions well after the show.
2. Engage with Social Media – before, during and after the show
This is low-hanging fruit when your audience is professional marketers, but there are some industries where social media adoption is just now starting to grow. Whatever the case, use available social media channels because doing that can be more impactful than pre-and-post show postcards or email blasts for three important reasons. First, by engaging in the social media aspects of the show, you are associating your name and that of your company with the show and its “hot topics.” Second, your target market will self-identify and self-qualify themselves simply by following you or "liking" you when you emerge in this context. Third, you can build your relationships with these people over time by engaging with them on their terms and in their preferred medium.
How to do it? Look in same places where you are most active, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn:
- On Twitter, look for the show's hashtag and use it, such as #DMA2011, #FMF11 and #NCDM. Before the show, share your plans and also the parts of the upcoming event you're most excited about. During the show, tweet during sessions and share the points you find most interesting. After the show, ask for input and provide suggestions for ways to learn more about some of the major topics at the show.
- On Facebook, look for the show's page and "like it." Comment on posts and share what you're most interested in or details about your plans at the show by focusing on how it will enhance the show experience for attendees.
- On LinkedIn, share your plans for the show with your own followers, and consider creating an event page for any side-activities you've planned during the show. Look for the show's presence in any LinkedIn groups and join them. As on Facebook, comment in the group's discussions on topics that are raised and relate it back to your enthusiasm for the show. Highlight the ways your plans for the show will enhance the experience for attendees.
3. Provide speakers for a session or two
Research the process for submitting abstracts for speaking opportunities and submit multiple on as many topics as is relevant. Ask about the show's themes and what the major topics are for which show organizers need content. Try to engage one of your customers whose experience will be most interesting for the audience, or find a thought leader to speak if your budget allows it. A noted author with a recently published book is a good choice because you can include a drawing for signed copies of the book in the session.
During the session, introduce the speaker to the audience in a way that explains the connection between what your company does and why it made sense to sponsor the speaker. Keep it short and to the point (60 - 90 seconds) and do not do a sales pitch - it's an explanation why the sponsorship makes sense to the audience. Close the session with an invitation to subscribe to your blog or a link to visit and learn more - make it easy for the audience to opt-in to ongoing impact.
4. Throw a party
Unless your target market has restrictions on hospitality (such as governments), a reception or executive dinner is a great way to enhance your target market's experience at the show. Even if they are unable to accept, you'll have made an impression simply by extending the invitation. Plan it so that it supports the content in any speaking sessions at the show you're sponsoring, and/or include your speakers as the featured speaker. This is yet another opportunity for customers to self-qualify by accepting your invitation, and then it gives you the chance to have a more in-depth conversation away from the hustle & bustle of an exhibition hall. Make sure you have enough people from your company so that each attendee at the hospitality event gets some attention and boosts the inclination to have an ongoing relationship.
5. Preserve the content and share it
My perspective is that video recording your speaking session and having the rights to promote the content is the best way to drive ongoing impact at a tradeshow . There are many, many reasons why I believe that and here are some of them:
- Doing that is a great way to engage the folks who may have wanted to attend the event, but somehow could not be there.
- You can offer the video as a post-show "thank you" gesture. One nice example was detailed by Justin Huntsman in his post which includes an embedded YouTube link about our session at the 2011 eMetrics Optimization Summit in San Francisco.
- A video recording can also be transcripted and the content can be re-cast as a summary paper, which is downloadable or printable at will to read even when not online. These can be wonderfully engaging documents. even on potentially dry topics. A great example is from that same session at eMetricsm which we was turned into a paper titled, "How to Stop Annoying Your Customers."
- You can also take the audio feed of the session and turn it into a podcast - some people prefer this medium. As an example, here is the link to a podcast series from a session we hosted at the 2011 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference.
- Having the fresh content gives you a good reason to reach out to your contacts to share it, and you can amplify that impact by tying it to a lead nurturing campaign. Or you can even use it to spark interest in your support of the show the following year.
- Doing all of the above gives you lots of searchable content - so find all the ways you can make it searchable and you'll really have ongoing impact.
On the topic of search, consider this - YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, but it is a separate search "ecosystem" than Internet search. Knowing that, you can surface your content in both worlds by posting the video recording both to YouTube and on your Website. With relevant tagging, you've put a toe-hold for your company in both search ecosystems on that topic, and you've also tied it to that large tradeshow in both places. Bada-bing!
Here's an example of how we did that with David Meerman Scott's Thought Leadership session at DMA:2011, which we posted to both YouTube and to sas.com. What's even nicer is that David included the recording in a blog post of his own and our friends at the DMA have included the asset on the DMA Knowledge Center. We're also crafting a whitepaper from this content and it's nearly finished so check back and I'll post the link in a comment below.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, and especially your ideas. Let's add to this list with other examples of what you've done or may have seen others do well. As always, thank you for following!
The Customer Support Website has hundreds of thousands of content pieces. Each piece could answer someone's question. But it isn't an answer until two things happen: 1) someone has a question, and 2) they find the content in time to be helpful.
I've talked about this before, but I'll say it again. Each person you meet will have their own way of locating content. No method is wrong. No method is THE way either. The possibilities are staggering. Over time, I have or will talk about many ways to locate and share content. But today, it's about the search.
Many of you went to work on May 18th, 2011, accessed support.sas.com, and discovered new search features. Judging by your comments, some of you like the changes, some of you are still discovering them, and others could use a little help getting the most out of these changes. I'm here to help.
As an aside, I'd like to thank those of you who sent in comments. Your comments helped us identify issues. Some we have already fixed. Some we are still working on. And some are being evaluated for later updates. Don't rely on your friends to comment. Tell us what you like and what you don't.
To make this a little easier, I'm going to divide these explorations into multiple posts. This post is going to focus on general layout, date sorting, and display options.
The most noticeable change comes in the page design and layout. Ladies and gentlemen, the new search results page:
To see and experience these features, go to support.sas.com and type "keyboard shortcuts" in the search field at the top of the page. Submit the search.
Section 5 lists the items that match your search term. This part of the results page didn't change much. Two differences to note. We increased the default number of items displayed. Now you can quickly scroll through the top 25 results. If an item is a component of a book, the title of the complete book is shown in bold just under the title of the item. You can see an example of this in the first result.
If the top 25 results aren't enough, Section 3 makes it easy for you to move back and forth within all of the pages of results.
If the top 25 results are plenty but you want to reduce the amount of scrolling required, select the Hide results summaries option shown in Section 4. This is a toggle that will shrink the results display and show only the title of each item returned -- a handy feature when you have a very good idea of the item you need.
Not sure how many results there are or what you searched for? Section 7 is a display field that shows the term or phase for which you searched as well as the number of results returned. Many times, you will see 1 - 25 of top 500, which indicates that there are a lot of results for your query. If you don't see a good result candidate in the first few results, visit Section 1 to focus on a subset of the results or Section 2 to refine your search.
There is one more option for modifying your display. In Section 6, you can change the sort order from one related to the relevance of item to a sort order based on date. The sort order that is in effect is displayed in bold. To change the sort order, select the option displayed in blue. Sorting by date can be very effective when searching conference papers (we know them by year) or for content relevant to older releases of SAS.
Two of the biggest changes are represented in Section 1 and Section 2. Section 2 is a new tabbed structure that lets you easily access the search field to refine your search. Notice that the second tab is the Advanced Search tab. Select Advanced Search to create fantastic boolean searches or to change the number of items displayed on your results page. Switching between the tabs retains your search query so that you can refine your search as often as necessary. Read this earlier post for more information about advanced search.
Section 1 is what this is all about: the ability to drill through the sections of the site to learn which section contains the most search results for your term. In our example, the Knowledge Base contains the most results with 49. Select Knowledge Base to reveal that 35 of the results are part of the SAS documentation, 8 results are papers and 6 are a Sample or a SAS Note. You will also notice when you select Knowledge Base that the results displayed in Section 5 now only reflect those 49 items. Because there are so many great uses of this Subset feature, I'll talk about it more in a later post.
Whew. Is this a blog post or a novella? Give the search a try and tell me what you think. I can't wait to hear.
- A drillable navigation on the search results page shows result totals for various sections of content (papers, SAS Notes, Community pages, and so forth). As you drill deeper into the site, the displayed search results become more focused.
- A more accessible, integrated, advanced search. (Look for the tabs in the middle of the page.)
- Sorting capabilities than enable you to sort results by creation/modified date or result relevance. (Relevance is a measure of how well the search engine thinks the document matches your search terms.)
- A toggle that enables you to show or hide document summaries.
- A redesigned filtering mechanism for narrowing the search results for 9.2 documentation, 9.2 installation instructions, and all Samples & SAS Notes content. The filtering mechanism has moved to the tabbed structure in the middle of the page. The Results tab is available only for these specific sections of content.
Another look to hold you until morning....
Update The search is ready!! Dave, one of our Webmasters, pulled off the deployment without a hitch. The new search is live. Take it for a spin and let me know what you think. Your comments helped to create this foundation change in search and will help improve it even more.