In the book written by Ryan Holiday, Growth Hacker Marketing he chronicles the use of hacker marketing tactics that has become part of the foundation of digital marketing today both the good and bad.
What is Hacker Marketing?
Lets start from the beginning, these are marketing techniques created by programmers to build a user base for their free technology. This tech start-up business model was inspired by the story of Netscape who built one of the first widely used browsers for the internet. It was released on October 13,1994 and the browser was so popular it captured 75% of users in 4 months. Then on August 9, 1995, the company had an IPO and after the first day of trading the company was valued at US$2.9 billion.
Give it away for free, become popular and then sell the company was the dot-com boom model. Companies with no revenues can become a billion dollar company based on the valuation of the user base. What a great business model.
The hacker growth marketing model is to create a self perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions that focuses on user sign-ups not brand awareness. Ryan talks about the story of Hotmail that launched in 1996 on how how they used an email signature to help get new users. They used the signature “ Sent by Hotmail”, acquired 10 million users and then was sold to MIcrosoft for $400 million in 1997. The growth after 30 months was 30 million users of the free email service.
This viral marketing technique was one of the first digital marketing innovations and “Going Viral” meant something different now. This model and techniques has been used by Gmail, DropBox, Uber, Twitter, SnapChat. Skype Instrgragm, Pinterest, Linkedin to help build their companies.
The goal of these dot-com companies was to build a superior product, create hype, be popular and sell company. They used emails, pay per click, blogs, social, publicity and platform APIs in their digital toolbox. This new breed of tech start-ups did not follow conventional rules to create hype for their products and some resorted with sinful behavior like fake social media profiles, hacking websites and make offensive or fake comments. Unfortunately, the challenge to minimize the impact of bad actors in the digital ecosystem will not go away as it s a global issue and all we can do is try to keep up.
All the digital marketing activity in Ryan’s book though are linked to an offer/incentive such free trial, free account or refer a friend to gain users that follows direct marketing principles. Ryan makes the point that traditional advertising was expensive and wasteful and hacker marketing was the way to go for marketers. He makes a point, but the techniques used for tech start-up does not translate well into other products at different stages of their life cycle. I see how this work for a free app, but not for the launch of a new gardening tool. Perhaps I am wrong.
Fast forward today there is a plethora of digital ad options that has been unleashed in this chase for the buy-out. According to an IPSO survey of CMA members there are 14 digital tools to choose from, some I call core digital, social media essentials and the third category leading edge. I put mobile in the leading edge as it a relatively young channel and the ad models are still evolving. But today tech start-ups need revenue to attract a buyers attention now and that is advertising.
The next generation of Google Chrome (2018) browser will have ad blockers built into them and Safari released changes to their browser that deletes browser cookies from the website you visit to prevent surveillance marketing when you surf the web, so ads to not follow you. As with any live organic ecosystem changes will always happen, new threats will surface , but in the end Caveat Emptor – “Buyer Beware” is still the golden rule on the internet since the its beginning.
GQ magazine has named controversial former San Francisco 49r’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Citizen of the Year. Their website proclaims that they are “Celebrating the man who became a movement.” Or perhaps they just hope to cash in with tons of free publicity and and big newsstand sales? Regardless, it’s a gutsy move and a powerful cover treatment.
Here’s GQ’s pitch:
“Much has changed in the four years since Colin Kaepernick was last on the cover of GQ. Back then he was a rippling superhero of a quarterback on the rise. But a simple act—kneeling during the national anthem—changed everything. It cost him his job. It also transformed Colin Kaepernick into a lightning rod and a powerful symbol of activism and resistance.
Though Colin Kaepernick continues his silent protest, he agreed to collaborate with GQ on a special project for our December Men of the Year issue in an effort to, as the piece explains, “reclaim the narrative of his protest.” He helped us assemble a ten-person team of his closest confidants—including rapper J.Cole, director Ava DuVernay, activist Harry Belafonte, and Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour—to speak on the subjects of activism, protest, and equality, and to offer some rare insights into Colin Kaepernick himself.
Paired with the piece are inspiring images by Martin Schoeller, who photographed Kaepernick in Harlem, intending to evoke the spirit of Muhammad Ali’s anti-Vietnam War protests in the neighborhood during the late 60s.”
If anyone understands how to create audience-specific content, it’s a magazine. Hundreds of years of experience have given magazines the ability to capture audience attention with well-crafted content.
Until the internet came along and changed all the rules.
The internet has changed the way content is created, marketed, distributed, and consumed, and many magazines have been slow to adapt, sticking with inefficient systems to publish content, slogging through time consuming processes for managing data, doing things the way they’ve always been done, and recognizing neither the new opportunities nor the true challenges.
If you want to grow an online audience, it’s not enough to simply port your print content and processes over to your digital media. You need to maximize editorial efforts and leverage content in a variety of new ways through smart technical solutions that give your magazine the ability to captivate online visitors, and serve online advertisers and subscribers more efficiently.
Here are 5 opportunities your magazine should be pursuing (or at least thinking about), in order to succeed in today’s digital publishing environment.
1.Understand how people are accessing your content
More often than not your readers are accessing your content from their mobile device. That is, if you’ve made your site responsive to mobile platforms. A responsive site will render correctly to whatever device your reader is using, ensuring a good viewing experience. If your site is not responsive, readers can get frustrated trying to achieve their goals, resulting not only in lost audience share, but also compromised search results, as Google gives preference to responsive pages.
Further, audiences simply aren’t reading digital content the way they read print content. In fact, they may not be “reading” at all. On average, web visitors read only 20 percent of the text on a page, and often favour visual content. And even when they are reading, they’re often really scanning -- looking for key page elements to give them the main idea without having to spend more than a few seconds on the page. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for long-form content, just that it’s critical to understand how your audience prefers its web content.
2. Make use of the full complement of digital content formats
Traditional magazine stories are feature-length articles that take weeks or months to produce. But web has created a broader definition of content -- video, slideshows, infographics, social media, etc. -- and a quicker timeline for getting it published.
For example, you might not bother to do a feature story on that event you attended last weekend, but if it’s something your audience is interested in, why not snap a few photos, write a few captions, and post it as a slideshow? It’s easy to generate appealing content your audience expects. And it’s absolutely critical to supplement your magazine’s feature content with frequent updates and multimedia stories.
3. Automate your subscriptions
There is no excuse anymore for running manual processes in circulation fulfillment. Your magazine’s content management system can do it all for you -- from allowing subscribers to purchase and renew online, to integrating with third-party fulfillment companies.
In fact, you should only have one central data storage system for all of your subscriber information, web user profiles, and e-mail lists, meaning there’s only one place where you need to make updates. And you can shift most of that responsibility onto your users and subscribers, enabling them to self-manage their subscriptions and personal info.
4. Maximize editorial efficiencies and repurpose content
Magazine processes are often filled with redundancies. A writer creates an article in Word. A web editor puts it online. A marketer writes and posts a Tweet, and writes teaser content for a newsletter. Writers have even reported quitting over challenges with inefficient systems.
It’s time to stop recreating the wheel every time you need to repurpose your content. Give your writers access to create their stories right in the CMS. Then, publish your content and let the CMS do the rest. You can sync your content management system with your social media channels, e-newsletter tools, and syndication channels so that you only need to create the content once.
5. Experiment with revenue generation tactics
Ads have been magazines’ main bread and butter since the beginning of time, but simple implementations of online ads haven’t delivered the dollars (with some exceptions like Google’s Adwords platform).
But digital platforms have enabled many new options for revenue generation: targeted (and retargetted) ads, native content, sponsored features, sponsored sections, syndicated content, e-mail marketing (yes, it still works!), not to mention content monetization in the form of paid archive access, micro subscriptions, and porous paywalls. The Atlantic is one example of a magazine that is winning at digital due to its innovation with online revenue sources. Habitat Magazine, which redesigned its site last year to capture new digital opportunities has found success selling access to its archives, sponsored videos, and digital subscriptions.
If you haven’t broken out of your ad revenue comfort zone, now is the time. The options are almost unlimited.
Doug Plant is the Client Engagement Manager at Mugo Web, a Vancouver-based web development firm specializing in websites for publishers. He likes working on web projects because the return on investment is so easy to recognize; working with eZ Publish because it is so efficient to deliver on; and working with the Mugo Web team to deliver great tools to publishers.
As we saw in articles 1 & 2, we talked about testing and about the critical importance of identifying each and every ad you prepare. Those should be the foundation for everything that goes out to the marketplace.
One challenge that I've run into on a number of occasions is that my clients have considered themselves to be the target group. While that may or may not be the case, in the majority, you are selling a product or service to fix someone else's problem. Your tastes as the product or service-solution provider are probably really different from the recipient who needs your expertise, or product or service.
Several years back, I had one client who was infamously attached to a particular media. It's a very fine media, but it was the only one he would use because it was the only one that he felt delivered the message that he would see. My challenge to him was quite simply, please remember, you are not the target audience for what we are trying to sell. I applaud you for being so attached to this particular media, but it should not be the only vehicle that we utilize. Ultimately he relented and we did use a mix including his favourite, but used the mix of media to reach a broader platform and still stay within budget.
I think that's a critical component for too many advertisers. They unfortunately, and unwittingly, sometimes have blinders on so that they only want to use the media that they see, recognize, understand, appreciate and are familiar with.
It's always a good comfort zone to be using something that you know and like and trust, and importantly if you have tested and if it's working for you, keep using it. I have no quarrel with that, however I want you to make sure you don't discount or dismiss other opportunities...because I never read that magazine, I don't listen to that radio station or I never get home in time to watch TV .
You’re right! You don't! But you are not selling to you. You are selling to the hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands who are interested in your product, or service. They don't really care what you would watch. What you want to do is put your message in front of them on the platforms and the times that resonate for them. If you have a chance to see it, that's great. You will see the commercial before it goes to air and we can give you scheduling as to when it will be on air if you want to take the time to record it and watch it later. We can give you a list of the websites that we’ll be appearing on if you want to personally go in and look at it, that's excellent. But don't dismiss other media options just because they are not familiar to you. They are familiar to your audience.
Your media professional should be able to put in front of you empirical data showing you this is why you need to utilize radio in addition to magazine. Why online platforms are going to be a powerful assist to the magazine and out of home campaign. There is immense power in buying a second or third or more media and not just more of one. Using multiple forms of media allows you to specifically gear your efforts towards target and sub-target markets to reap the highest rewards. Outliers in target market populations may connect with ads in a way you haven't predicted yet. Only through hitting your audience on all fronts can you gain the invaluable data that allows you to focus future campaigns.
Whatever it is, firstly it should be measurable, empirical to justify it, but secondly and importantly it has to be reaching your preferred target group. I elaborate on this on Media Spike #45 which you can access from here. (click here for part of 57 tutorials for free)
As I mentioned at the outset, the chances are pretty good you are not your products’ target group. Don't just rely on your gut or instinct or your own taste in media for where to place the ad. Goodness sake I've placed hundreds, maybe thousands of ads in media that I know from a buyer’s standpoint and not from a users standpoint. That's fine because like it or not, I'm not always a target group for such-and-such a product. But I do know the right media to get your message in front of the proper target.
When you're developing who your audience is, please take the time to be as specific as possible. You don't want to get so finite that you end up with a universe of twelve people and I've seen that happen. However, don't pick the wrong place or the wrong target group or both and then wonder gee, why is this such a lacklustre response? Nobody is buying my new space-age shovel, my post hole diggers, my whatever. They need to know that you're providing a solution. The solution it provides has to be what they need, and has to be in the media that they are going to respond to and act on.
To illustrate, one client in particular was a real sports fan. Just like yours truly. Pick, a sport and I'm there.
They put the ad on the sports radio station because that's what they listen to. But their primary audience was for younger females who had little, if any interest in most of these sporting programs. It's disappointing because it was such a powerful campaign if it had been properly directed to the right audience. Here's what I want you to do. To fix mistake number three, do the proper research find out who is really buying your product or service. Maybe that's through a survey, a store intercept survey, an online survey, a mail out, something that genuinely tells you who is buying your product or identifies who your candidates are. You can get as specific as possible by gender and age, by income and lifestyle, and a host of other demographic details that will help you zero in on them.
As much as you’re able, please do not rely on the universe of one sampling. Well my mom Liked that. Oh perfect. You should always love Mom. But Mom's not necessarily buying the new car ramps or the trampoline for the kids. That’s not to say they're not influencers, but understand who is going to be making those decisions and if it is Mom that's great. If it's Dad or a Dad and Mom or if it's the boss or if it's the treasurer, or your financial officer in the company you really, truly need to know who you're going after to make your ads work harder, be more impactful and importantly cost you less,
yes cost you less.
You will get a better return on investment and give you more to spend for future marketing if you take the time to identify who it is you want to go after. What message you want to put in front of them and which media best reaches them. Believe me, after three decades, I can tell you it is well worth the research to know your audience.
Okay, so what you're looking for are some characteristics which consistently define your audience. Then you can create your desired message using the right radio station or website, outdoor media, or newspapers that efficiently and effectively reaches them.
As I mentioned in Article # 1, take the time to test the ad, or multiple ads on a small scale to see what works. Spend small to see what’s working before you open up the wallet big-time. You'll have a lot of coding in place and a lot of planning to do. However it will pay dividends when you hit the sweet spot of the ad, or the ad in the right media or media mix that brings in the customers. By the way, many of your media sales reps should be able to give you detailed profiles from all of their resources to give you a clear handle on who you’re after. Let them do some leg-work. Tell them who you want to reach. In many cases it's a very specific age and income bracket that you're after.
You want to see how well their media, whatever radio station, magazine, newspaper, it happens to be, you want to see how well their media gets in front of those audience members and eyeballs on a regular basis, so can you track how well they're performing. Respectfully, I don't mean just ‘Likes’. That's not that's not really a true measurement of how well the product is doing. You want a measurable return on investment. If all you're getting is 500 likes or 35 shares etc., that’s nice. However that’s not what your marketing is about. It should be bringing you back at least a dollar for every dollar you put out there. You want your target group to be buying. Not just liking. You want to be able to say that we spent $1,000 for this ad and it brought in $2,000 dollars worth of new business.
When you are testing your ads, take the time to do it on a small scale. Refine your message and your audience. Here's the best analogy that I will leave you with, you don't need to eat a whole bowl of soup to find out if it's salty usually one or two spoonfuls will tell you.
Here’s a little bonus to help you along in your planning, my Media Briefing Template and a special offer for 9 Secrets E-book.
I have cut the chord on my TV for over 5 years now as I did not see the value of having both internet and cable, if I could get the same programming on the internet. The latest stats on chord cutting estimate that 1 in 4 households in Canada will have cut the chord by the end of the 2017. Netflix has becoming my primary source of home entertainment plus station websites. I have been using an old mac mini to power my TV and have been getting messages that my web browser is no longer supported and that issue is now affecting the TV streaming and some sites will not work anymore now.
So I decided to bite the bullet and buy updated hardware that supports the latest software even the though I did not want to retire the Mac Mini. I considered getting another Mac Mini but it would cost me anywhere from $200 - $500 for a used one Kijiji. I decided however to buy an Android media streaming box instead, my sister had one in her house and found that it was not very user friendly and the quality of the video was poor, but they bought it 2 years ago. For the uninitiated the Android Media Streaming box is a TV streaming device that allows you to get content from the internet and stream it to your TV through the HDMI port.
I shopped for one and found that they cost anywhere from $80 to $200. I looked at Best Buy, Walmart and Staples but they only offered it only online for $130 before taxes and I would have wait 1-2 weeks, but I wanted now and talk with somebody before I buy it. I ended buying it at Canada Computes as they stocked these devices in their store and had multiple models to choose from. The one I bought was from MyGica and it cost me $140 before taxes.
The device is tiny and measures 3.25” x 3.25” x 0.75” ( w x l x h) and comes with 2GB of ram, 16G of storage, 2.0 GHZ dual processor and supports 4K resolution. The operating system is Android 5.0 that is used in smartphones and you will use the Google Play Store to get the apps that work on the media player. Some of the preloaded apps were Netflix, Facebook YouTube and Chrome browser. It also comes bundled with a Kodi file storage system for pictures, music and video, 4K media player and the MyGica App Store where you can access more content.
It comes with a TV remote with a key board on the backside. It has USB(2), HDMI, audio/video out and ethernet ports andcan connect to your home network with wifi. Through the USB port you can connect to an external storage to access your digital library. You will need a wireless mouse to work the apps and games.
Since this is a mobile operating system the apps that are downloaded are designed for the smartphone, not a 50 inch tv and some look out of place or just do not work on the media player. There are TV apps in the Google Play Store to choose from and one of them was Popcorn Time, a popular torrent based entertainment site that is free to use. Torrent sites are nice to have but you have to wait 15-30 min for it download so you can watch it versus Neflix which is immediate viewing. There are other TV apps like Crackle, Puffin TV and Amazon to choose from and I feel this is just the beginning of a of new TV subscription market.
Here are the screenshots of three apps Facebook, CBC TV and Popcorn Time. You can tell that Facebook and CBC are smartphone apps and Popcorn Time is a TV app designed for a video streamer, but all 3 work fine.
The future of video distribution will eventually end up on the internet side of the equation with cable becoming obsolete eventually, we can see it now where consumers can buy a monthly subscription to a TV app and the choice is going to get bigger. One more final thought a lot of the streaming services are commercial free which will impact the tv ad market as this market grows. The next question is now should you have a TV app as part of your publishng model of the fture.