SnapChat’s $3billion Question

There’s been a lot of focus on SnapChat lately, and what they have up their sleeve if they’re turning down $3,000,000,000. I think they made a huge mistake turning down that amount of money, but that’s not to say I think SnapChat is worthless either. Here is what I see for SnapChat as a marketing tool.

First, they need to implement a few simple features to make it useful for brands. They are: 

  1. Location-based Snaps
  2. Pre-Snap “subtext” (I’ll explain further below)
  3. Longer Snaps

I spoke in a previous post about SnapChat’s power of urgency, and how users give a FULL, UNDIVIDED 10 seconds of attention to a Snap when it comes through. What do you think is worth more: 10 seconds of undivided attention, or a 30 second commercial someone may not even be watching? I’m betting on the former.

Anyway, here’s how that urgency comes into play. Allow me to paint a picture in your mind. You walk into Finishline, your phone vibrates, you see that you have a Snap from Finishline. The “Pre-Snap Subtext” tells you to open the Snap at the checkout for 15% off. You pick out your shoes, head to the register, and open the Snap (which lasts roughly a minute). The cashier scans the barcode in your snap, and you receive your discount.

Sure, that’s a perfect scenario, but knowing that Snap is in your pocket will make you think a lot harder about making a purchase. They know you’re interested because you’re already in the store. That’s about as close to the end of the conversion funnel as you can get. That Snap could pull you through.  

As for monetizing this, I’m not sure. SnapChat could charge brands $1 per Snap sent, or redeemed. $.10 for a Snap, $.10 to add location, $.10 to add Subtext, and another $.10 to add extra length. (These numbers are all rough numbers, but a sweet spot could be found.)

With 400 million Snaps sent a day, that’s quite a bit of income.

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SoLoMo: Social, Local, Mobile

Everyone has a smartphone these days. Almost, anyway. Almost everyone with a smartphone is also on a social network. Almost all of those people are using their device on the go. This has provided a huge opportunity for marketers to create touchpoints for consumers on their most personal device, just feet from a physical location.

Foursquare is so confident in the power of their mobile-local platform, that they won’t collect from advertisers unless a conversion happens. Circle identifies themselves as a “local network” and not “social.” Apple’s iAds can optimize in-app advertisements for a certain geolocation. In a previous post, I wrote about the power of urgency SnapChat could leverage if they create location based snaps.

With search residing at the end of the funnel for digital purchases, SoLoMo resides at the end of the funnel for physical purchases. As these platforms expand, you’ll see offers popping up on your phone wherever you go. It could be for a pair of shoes at a shop around the corner. It could be for a gas station 10 miles ahead when you start to get low on fuel. It could be a restaurant having a lunch special when you Tweet that it’s almost time for food.

It’s almost invasive how powerful your smartphone with a GPS is. But with the rate technology and targeting is improving, your smartphone will give you exactly what you want, with some kind of incentive, before you even know that you want it.

Search, SEO, SEM, PPC, OMG

Search has become a whole new animal with SEO, SEM, retargeting, and social networking. If you’re doing everything perfectly (and maybe not even then), you’ll be at the top of the search page when someone Bings your brand, or a relevant keyword. You won’t just be at the top. Your paid ads will be first, followed by your website. Then they’ll see your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Maybe they’ll see your Google+ page, and a Wikipedia page about you.

If you do everything perfectly, your competitor won’t even be on the first page. Unfortunately, no one is perfect, and no one has an unlimited budget to pay for all the best keywords, optimize their site perfectly, and spend enough time on social to make every platform shine through. So, how can you possibly win the search game?

Bad news is you can’t really WIN. The good news is that your competitors have the same challenges, especially if you’re doing things correctly. Take the time to optimize your website, deliver great relevant content, and add in the correct Schemas and you’re well on your way. Make sure you’re present on all of the correct social networks. If you’re not sure which those are, look for your competitors. If they’re on it, you should be, too. If they aren’t, it could be an opportunity for you. Bid on some keywords on Bing and Google. Maybe you need to buy your own brand keywords, maybe you don’t, but you should have something relevant.

Improving your search rankings takes time and effort, and usually some money. Search is very closely related to the end of the conversion funnel, though. Make sure the rest of your marketing efforts aren’t wasted. When someone is interested enough to search for you, you want to be able to close the deal.

Programmatic Buying, RTB, and Display

I have a love-hate relationship with display ads. The ‘hate’ comes merely from the fact that they exist, and they are all over the websites I frequent, asking me to buy this, or sign up for that. The ‘love’ comes from RTB or Programmatic Buying.

Buying ads from a premium publisher are a fantastic way to get your ads in front of your target audience, on a relevant site, and only spend your entire budget. Even these premium publishers can’t guarantee a good click through rate. RTB solves these problems by spending a bit of money to find your target audience, and then spending a bit more to find the best customers, and then knocking it out of the park spending just a bit more.

When you buy ads through an RTB network, they’ll start off displaying your ads on a wide range of relevant sites at a very low CPM. Shortly after, the optimization kicks in, finds where the most clicks are coming from, and spends more money in those areas. This process continues and cycles until your target audience is found, the best publishers established, and the optimal price point is set. When reviewing the campaign and analyzing the statistics of it, you’ll see a few things.

The first is that your weekly impressions will drop over time. That’s bad, right? Not necessarily. While those impressions are dropping, you’ll see CPM going up, too. Wait, that’s even worse. Sure, but then you notice your clicks and CTR. They’ve skyrocketed. This is because the RTB network has found where your clicks are coming from, and spending more money to make sure you get the highest quality impressions. So, while your total impressions are going down, the quality of them is maximized, and you’ll end up getting more clicks and more conversions for less money overall.

I love display ads.

Content Rich Websites

The old days of pumping your website full of metatags and embedding ridiculous code to improve your search rank are over. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all too smart with their fancy algorithms to let you get away with that. If you want to get found in search without paying a ton of money, you have to cram your website with great content.

This content can be anything your users find valuable: pictures, videos, links to other awesome articles, your own thoughts. The problem with pictures and videos and your own thoughts is that these algorithms can’t see them, and they’re not always sure about the context. This is important, because while content is king, context is God.

Lucky for us, the geniuses over at schema.org have created these incredibly confusing, but even more incredibly useful Schemas. If you’re serious about SEO, and you should be, you’ll need to utilize them as much as possible.

“Great! How do I use them?” you might say to me. Well, they’re sets of HTML code you can use to give context to something extremely abstract. For example, if you’re writing about a movie directed by someone named John Smith, there’s no way the spiders crawling your site will know that he’s directing a movie. Therefore, no one searching for John Smith, movie director, will find you.

This is where the Schemas come into play. By adding the movie schema code to that bit of your article, and adding the director code around John Smith’s name, the spider crawling your page will know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. On the surface, readers will see John Smith, Director, and search engines will see the same on the back end.

You can have the best content in the world, all of the stuff that readers love, but it’s not always the same stuff search engines love. Using Schemas ensure that we’re all on the same page.

Storytelling in Digital

Before digital media we had very few channels through which to tell a brand’s story. TV, Radio, Print, and Out Of Home were about the only forms of media marketers and advertisers could utilize to tell their story any way they wanted. With the emergence of the internet, channels such as websites, social networks, and online newspapers have really created a mess.

With traditional media, it was easy to keep a story consistent. Television was the star, and Radio, Print, and OOH were the supporting actors and actresses. Each channel had a specific role, and it was easy to discern the way your message was delivered through each. TV was moving images, Radio was audible, Print and OOH were still images. Along with delivering the message was the challenge of delivering it to the right people. Targeting the right audience through these channels was quite a bit easier, because there were less of them.

With digital media, every form of traditional media has a counterpart. TV has YouTube. Radio has Pandora. Print has a website. OOH has banner ads. TV also has Vimeo, and YouKu, and Instagram, and Vine. Radio also has iTunes Radio, and iHeartRadio, and Rdio, and podcasts. Print has Flipboard, RSS feeds, and not just a website, but thousands (not including blogs). OOH has website banner ads, and Facebook Ads, and sponsored tweets, and in-app ads.

Media is becoming incredibly fragmented. 

For brands trying to tell a story, this is the new challenge. Every single one of these channels has a different tone, and needs to be utilized in a specific way. Your audience might be heavily invested in one of more these, and not invested in one at all. Once you’ve figured out where they are, you have to figure out how to tell the story. You can’t change the message, you have to change the messenger. You have to tell the same story in Twitter’s sarcastic tone, in Instagram’s beautiful and elegant tone, and in YouTube’s well-produced, professional tone.

Good luck!