4 Take Aways for Digital Marketing (Hint: Snacking is Good)
Yesterday's fifth annual Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco sold out and was packed not only with women (and a few brave men) in publishing, but with a tremendous array of ideas we can all use in digital marketing.
Whispers of Meredith EVP and Chief Digital Officer Liz Schimel soon becoming Time Inc. Sunset magazine President Barb Newton’s boss (they were sitting next to each other on the Future of Publishing breakfast panel) leapfrogged by the end of the day to news of a Time Inc. spin off.
Below are the ideas that persistently and passionately popped up, whether in video, print, or digital writing.
1. Find out what your audience is using.
Alex Hardiman, director of mobile products for The New York Times, let us in on the medium habits of their readers. They watch TV in the morning and evening, use their tablets in the same time slot, use their desktop at work, and use their cell phone all the time. This leads the NYT to pursue all those platforms, but at different times of the day with differently packaged content.
Lindsey Turrentine and Molly Wood of CNET and Always On, respectively, went further, saying when you are building your new product, include a distribution strategy. Is your audience likely to watch this on Xbox or Roku? Long-form video like Always On should be broken up in segments for the short-form smartphones users to enjoy. The 20-minute Always On, a “Top Gear for Tech”, is seen 50% more in its entirety off its own site, CNET. On CNET, it's consumed in bite-sized segments and embedded in product reviews.
2. Wrap your world in words.
Even in this day of video and graphic dominance, words rule. How's that? According to Wood, people are more likely to share her words than a simple segment of Always On. Turrentine gave an example of a video that got 85 thousand hits on YouTube while a few words of text wrapping the same video got 1.5 million hits. (Tip: take videos and write about them for easy video content).
Kara Swisher of AllThingsD needed only to mention her paragraph on Marissa Mayer's work at work memo to make the point.
Jen Vescio of ESPN points out that articles and reading are catalysts for more. An article about sports leads to renting a movie about the same topic, or a product related to the topic. She suggests looking into adding e-commerce onto your site, but asks you to be cautious about giving away too much money, or all your data.
3. Snacking is in—not just for food.
Mobile is exciting, if confounding, for almost everyone. We are a people of snackers, and mobile is the perfect snacking device. Information in short bits, when you need it, works. And since you're just snacking, you don't mind being pulled away to a different snack (say, an ad) as much as when you are deeply involved in something. So several leaders saw great potential with mobile.
4. Getting audiences—social media works.
Flipboard got a shout out from several Future of Publishing panelists as a means of getting audience, and of making money by selling advertising against it. Pinterest and Instagram were lauded by Liz Schimel of Meredith and Barb Newton of Time, Inc. for getting audience, while Kara Swisher, with nearly 900,000 followers, gave the nod to Twitter as her best audience driver. Karen Wickre of Twitter asked everyone to think creatively about how to use Twitter and applauded Sunset's creative use of the Twitter party, where chefs were asked to converse with fans about food after an event.
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.