Better in Beta – Agile Marketing and Products

101/365 - Control

As I chew though our FY2012 marketing process, I couldn’t help but think of a more Agile approach. Why limit this iterative fast moving approach to just software development? Switching gears and channels at market speed.

I struggle to see how the market will be the same in a years time for any business these days. Let alone start-ups and anyone wanting to be cutting edge.

With an agile business – priorities will shift.

OLD: Am I meeting outdated budgets and targets. NEW: Have I balanced the risk of pushing a bad release vs. not being first to market.

What if Beta options become mainstream?

AB testing is a step towards this, but what if we marketed with bravery, tried that strap line that wasn’t quite on brand, or pushed the boundaries. Moving to weekly releases means you can adjust to topical issues, allow for the weather, factor in days your team are away. Or if man flu strikes, push lines with great Wife Acceptance Factor.

From a business perspective, moving your product or service to subscriptions or royalties is a great model.

The marketer in me wonders what opportunities outside software there are for agile builds in both marketing and daily life, here’s some ideas I have, would love to hear yours.

Life in BETA

TV Beta

  • Ad channel – where you can test various ads
  • Shows – run alternate endings to The Inbetweeners or the Event – with the winning scenario (social buzz) being the one the writers expand on for next week.

Phone Beta

  • Apple send you a shell, or motherboard that you can drop updates into.

Kindle Beta

  • For non fiction – receive updates to core data or facts in a book for a reduced price via subscription.
  • For Fiction – sequels, prequels, or alternate endings. Even downloadable movies once released.

Bike Beta

  • A bike manufacturer running Beta releases, where – for a subscription – you can expect upgrades parts to come out to you at a later date.

Car Beta

  • With hybrid platforms gaining traction, (its an old idea) but what if you could have a skeleton, strap on MPV for outings with the kids or the Ferrari shell for mum and dad night.


  • What about one in the value pack that’s different and a QR code to like it. Lychee in one bottle of cider, nappies with two fasteners, two bagels with raisins.

Life could be better in Beta, what would you like to see?

Photo: Micah Taylor – Flickr

Apps vs. Mobile Websites

NPR iPad App Ad

Like many I struggle with getting to grips with the distinctions of iPad and iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps. Let alone deciding which fits the people, objectives and strategy I have for our digital presence.

Tablets are booming, but still not yet mainstream. Many juggle their corporate issue blackberry and iPhone for a cross mixture of personal and business use.

To add to the complexity, is your company up to managing the development of apps, on top of all the other facets of digital marketing. A large learning curve, even if you’re outsourcing the development work.

So here’s a brain dump on the pros and cons


It’s cool to have an app. A mobile website has little fanfare nor a marketplace in which to promote it.


Scheduled releases, versions and weekly data pushes are good for road-mapping both functionality and content bundles. Good for resource planning. You’re at the app stores’ mercy for release dates though. Smaller shops may escape IT protocol by outsourcing their app builds, which could aid speed to market.

Websites do have the bonus of meeting all mobile devices in a single build, can be modified in hours, and data updated in seconds.

One decision to make, is, does an app allow you to address a specific need, that your website can’t do, due to the many stakeholders. But then again, a micro site could do this, and secure logins could be outsourced (I’m not sure about login protocols via apps).


Both websites and apps have similar functionality, the distinction being the use of native features and seamlessness of an app. Touch screen manipulation and shininess is a little better in an app too. You can tailor both to implied and explicit preferences.

Can CSS3 and HTML 5 (Flash and or Silverlight if you’re that way inclined) let you cut and split data, infographics, build stories and customise, just as an app would?

You can be offline, with an app. But clients could be offline, with an error, that you can’t push an update to! Mind, they could print it too, heaven forbid…

Locked In

Locking your customers into a app, forces the app to meet your projects needs, or implies constant upgrades. Not only to improve functionality, but also to keep clients entertained.

It does mean, with a good app, they’re not tempted to browse away.

They also miss out on opportunities to see what else you’re doing on your website, less you pipe it in.

App Opportunities

I think transactional apps and data manipulation apps have legs. What’s enticing for me in an app is the ability to seamlessly tie functionality together. I see client and corporate dashboards as a more interesting proposal.

  • See your calendar, emails, tasks, documents, collaborate and analyse all in a single tool. 
  • Monitor stuff, get reports and analytics from otherwise disconnected sources in a single place,

Does anyone have any other B2B dashboard apps they like?

Photo:via: Camera Slayer

Structuring Your Company for New Media Success

A Framework for the Social Business

After co-creating live with @briansolis last week I’ve been thinking through organisational structure – with a specific focus on the marketing arm of course.

With an SME, managing CRM, Digital Marketing, Customer Service,The Brand and budgets is relatively easy as you’ve got all those specialist, usually within arms reach. Spread that across an organisation in 5 continents with thousands of employees, and it’s a different story.

In today’s economy, with the emergence of New Media and the expectations our clients are setting, large corporations need the agility to react, just to stay in play.

Its time to arm the organisation!

Training Hub

A central team, formulates the Brand Strategy and scalable tactics for engaging with clients. This hub has the power to teach and spread skills, discovering regional experts. Best practice and guidelines are spread, and adapt with Agile velocity.
Together with training, the central hub helps with: “listening” tools and setting up internal communication streams. It sets paths and priorities for connections with HR, Accounts, Sales, PR and internal experts. The central team ensures New Media and engagement are a priority for these teams.

Regional Spokes

Spokes lead to these trained, or digital natives, empowered throughout the organisation. They are charged with evangelising the brand and marketing best practices, highlighting failures as well. Local nuance, tactical site choices, regional preferences are made, yet central learnings and “tone of voice” (set by the Brand definition) remain intact. Country level or service/product level hubs develop.

Feedback Loop

With the entire marketing organisation engaging with clients, actionable insights and leads need to be spread. Connected marketing analysis is recorded via a global campaign management system, or engagement “logging” mechanism of sorts. A weighted best practice library will develop, honing organisational learnings and adapting the training manual. Leveraging the engagement log as validation.

Hub nodes, with their local or specialism insights, feed back to the central team. The training manual adapts, budgets expand, and revenues rise. With hubs, nodes and spokes in place, the model will expand beyond marketing. Silos, knowledge, thick hierarchies and power hoarding will recede. Replaced by a customer and community centric, learning, agile organisation.

Armed with insights, outstanding levels of sales response, customer service, and in contact with their brand evangelists, the company can attack 2011!

Dellb2b huddle with Brian Solis – My notes

Quick thoughts from today’s DellB2B FIR Google huddle.

To really leverage Social Media- It starts with a company that is behind your efforts! As a whole, top down, from the Csuite.
So to get buy in, budget etc. Stop talking about social media, talk about who you’re trying to reach.

By not saying anything in social you’re saying everything. Does that mean you don’t value having conversations with your buyers!?

You can’t let the conversation happen without you and it takes homework and personal engagement to grow a B2B social media presence!

Brian’s recent research:

93% of business buyers say companies should have a presence in social media.

But 83% believe you should engage and add value at a personal level. Not just an rss feed of Marketing speak!

The true value is one to one to many!!

Using social monitoring software to search key terms and brands, may not give you a full understanding of what social media can bring to your organisation and lead generation available. So people may not be discussing your brand per se, but they’re definitely talking your topics! Maybe not in Twitter or FaceBook – but forums, blogs, comments, ratings.

Every company is a media company, proving to client bases that your the thought leader in your space, and at your employees are as well. And taking that to the next level that they are engaging and discussing their topic speciality with clients. To refine these interactions, in terms of spreading your thought leadership, Klout and other measurement tools let us spend time with our potential brand advocates. Leverage their reach in their niche.

The future of business is not created, it’s co-created. As our Brand image in the social space, more and more dictates the direction of our companies. Engaging in social media is investing in insight, becoming the experts you used to employ to spread your brand, learning about the marketplace and adapting first. Putting customers back to the front and centre of your business.

Digital Cream Notes: Real Time Marketing, ROI and Internal Support

I’ve had the pleasure today of attending the @econsultancy Digital Cream event. A roundtable huddle for the heads and directors of online, web and digital marketing.

After attending sessions on Content Strategy, Mobile APPs and Measuring ROI on Social Media  it was great to see some common themes, pain points and best practices coming through.

Social Media is just Media

It was comforting to be among those that have accepted social is here to stay and a big player in their online marketing mix. PR is no longer traditional vs. new media, the later now far to important to ignore. While we were all active in the space to varying degrees, what interested me the most were the various metrics measured as a result.

Tracking click thrus from tweets, posts and links was a given, and attributing to conversions something we were all trying to tie up. Get that full picture.

Other interesting metrics were the benefits outside of marketing – like the reduced call centre costs that forums, twitter messages and blog posts were giving. Or Q&A sites and review sites spreading the base of the sales funnel.

Providing insightful metrics was also key. Not just total fans or average clicks, but the propensity to by of those clients that like you in FaceBook, join your group or follow you.

Tailored content is king

Your website through Beta, Multivariate and implied preferences needs to fit the user. Some have totally different experiences for those returning for a quick buy vs. the first time client, who steps through storytelling to understand the brand and benefits of the service/product. Come in from google search, one look. Return to finalise that flight, and all the local tips are showing for that destination.

Some are taking Social Media monitoring to the next level and scrapping copy to speak the way their audience does. Imagine – a website for your clients 🙂 And maybe even some of their content piped in, their reviews, both positive and negative!!!

Cultural Change for Realtime marketing and PR

While we’re rolling out our Digital Marketing strategy it seems that half the battle to winning the client over is having the internal mechanisms in place to deal with this change. We will have open, honest fast moving conversations with out clients. And having the PR, Social Media and Sales teams co-ordinated to do this is paramount.

While we “run this by legal” the clock is ticking.

Old school – we could take a week, come back with a preferred statement, or wait for the crisis to blow over.

New school – if we haven’t resolved it in a day, or maybe an hour in some industries, we’ve lost the sale, lost an evangelist or tarnished the brand permanently.

Reactions to this ranged from cutting back the hierarchies and everything being pumped through the central hub, to (the more sustainable in my mind) full blown university in Social Media – with training part of KPIs.

Glocal Content and Responsibility

It seems apparent that the true leaders will be those that have a centre of learning to teach decentralised content hubs. Employees will be empowered to act as brand champions. Trusted, no, expected to do so.

A learning library within the company, combined with attributable actionable analytics, will mean – our web presence won’t be a microfiche of every piece of content that “just had to go up”, but will be something employees are proud of.

My efforts, tweet, comment and that thought piece drove X dollars to our bottom line!!


Filter out the noise on Twitter

Old Television

Think back to the first time Infomercials came out on TV, I’m sure they were really successful to start and grabbed our interest. The wise cottoned on quick and switched the channel.
The same will happen with Twitter.

Sadly there’s still weight in the phrase “but wait there’s more” – and I also lament that many will follow @charliesheen to see what he’s touting. Maybe even buy his affiliates’ products. Heck, I took a glimpse, as I like some of his work, but I’m not into following actors or bands. Just not my thing.

I’ll be watching my own channels of leaders and other quality tweeters! Skipping the Ads and anything irrelivant. Glancing up at my favorite TV shows between the evenings RRS reader and Twitter reviews.

As people get through their first few tweets and start to understand things, they realise there’s “a lot of noise” on twitter and that’s what lists, search filters, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are for.

Handy tips:

Set up a saved search for your favourite topics, a couple of my current ones are

And list up those important to you. Like my leaders and in real life lists.

Set these as screens in Tweetdeck or HootSuite – and use them across your: iStuff (iPad, iPod, iPhone), desktop, laptop and Androids. Both have APPs for all major mobiles and the iPad.

How do you guys filter the noise?

Image by Beige Alert

Tip: Social Media RSS feeds

Here’s a list of Social Media RSS feeds. Good for backing data up, displaying on your blog, and also if you want one window or dashboard to see everything happening in one place.

For those unfamiliar with RRS or readers, read this and set yourself up with Google Reader.

Note: substitute “nickwallen” for your user name in these examples.


Here are the various feed URLs:


Ahh gotcha, I do have a few private checkins so won’t share my details. Here’s where to find your RSS feed if you were thinking of backing it up.


Here’s the instructions:


Here’s the instructions:


RSS at the bottom of your photo stream page:

Subscribe to nickwallen’s photostream – Latest


Sadly my feed is empty:


Some simple blog rss urls too!






With the number of custom templates on all blogs now, most will have custom RSS links right on the page. The best I’ve seen for tracking is

Reporting ROI in web marketing

A little back, I wrote about focusing on your website as a hub. Rightly so @iconic88 pointed out that it ain’t just about a good website and content hub. There’s plenty of other spaces and places that clients interact with you online. We understand that social media, transparency and engaging with clients in their space is key.

It you’re lucky, your C-Suite get this too. But what does this mean to them in dollars and sense/cents.

Once you’ve cracked that hub and head out to engage with clients and prospects on their grounds – via social media and careful, creative advertising – you need to really understand the return on the time, effort and dollars you spend. Having an encompassing view of what your getting back will help you explain to your boss why you keep “playing on FaceBook all day”. Many fortune 500 companies still block the major social media sites, so its not surprising that the budget for head count and tools to work this arena is still minimal.

Many are finding the rush is on. Social Media joins PPC, SEO, Display and APPs. There’s so many ways to easily eat up an online marketing budget, yet little focus on creating a learning, measuring library. Somewhere to record the results from all these traffic sources and learn.

Dashboard views from the myriad of analytics providers can give you vital statistics on what’s keeping your website alive. But what about bundling that into actionable parcels for those that don’t talk long tails and CPC all day long? We are building a web presence and interacting to constantly engage with our clients, but what if we could break these interactions into micro campaigns? Then report back in bursts.

Micro Campaign parts

  • Multivariate emails go out with different subjects and two content options
  • Pointing to two articles online – server security and office security
  • Timed tweets from the corporate and sales teams accounts, three content options, 2 #hastags
  •  Display ads – three sites, four options
  • Facebook page posts
  • Linked in group posts
  • Likes on FaceBook

A realtime view of the results is available for everyone. The Twitter page would look a little something like this.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

With each stat allowing drill down to displaying the cross linkages between the various facets of the campaign.

Hover on each metric, compare to your last campaign, or compare to industry average. And the statistics are tied to each article, so a thumbnail view campaign archive, lets you browse the most successful campaigns.

Now that you’re successfully collecting all this data, tie it to a user profile and pipe it to your CRM. Let your sales team have real-time insights too!