Profiting from LinkedIn and Targeting Past and Future Subscribers

I’ve been getting a daily morning digest lately called Associations Now from the American Society of Association Executives. They do a good job highlighting success stories from associations. And since the membership model is becoming more popular for publishers, it’s worthwhile to describe 3 recent stories.

1. Profiting from LinkedIn. A membership study last year by the International Coach Federation found that 97% of their members were on LinkedIn. So they targeted 30 groups on LinkedIn with “above-the-fold” display ads, sponsored InMail messages, and sponsored updates in LinkedIn’s news feed. They then created a custom landing page and Google sales funnel to track new members. Links were offered to this type of content: “Are you guilty of these branding blunders that coaches often make?”

LinkedIn sends weekly progress reports along with recommendations. For example, ICF’s 300×250 ad size was performing better than the 160×600, so they reallocated funds accordingly. The InMail had an average open rate of 33%. Their button on the display ad said, “I’m interested,” rather than, “I want to join.” The outcome: For a $25,000 investment, ICF enrolled 1,899 new members at $245 each for revenue of $465,255.

The next test will come at renewal time. One good sign: A group of new members on LinkedIn have asked ICF if they can start an “ICF Millennials” group there.

The takeaway: Find out where your potential members/subscribers are hanging out “socially” and pursue with what’s natural in that platform.

2. Connect with your past. For an association he was consulting with, Kevin Whorton, president of Whorton Marketing & Research, found that 40% of their members over the last 15 years were “one and dones.” He says that “most associations don’t realize their pool of past members is likely larger than their number of current members” and that the pool falls into 3 categories: 10% he calls “hell no” former members—forget them; 30% may be receptive to rejoining; while 60% may prefer a simple customer relationship.

“There’s a politeness to staying in touch and encouraging them to come back, but there’s also a great risk in terms of just working the heck out of that file and wearing out your welcome with those people,” Whorton says. “So, usually, their response to your promotion should tell you what bucket they fall into in the future.”

Use the knowledge you have of them to tailor the messages you send, he says. It will show that you recognize your previous relationship. “Response rates to a marketing campaign for former members, when it’s done right, can be four to five times that of a campaign reaching out to new prospects.” Even if they have been lapsed for some time, Whorton still wants you to acknowledge the past. “…it still matters in the mindset of the person. I will probably never forget that I belonged to an organization that I paid dues to 12 years ago. When they write me, I’ll be reminded of it.”

The takeaway: Past members/subscribers who are open to your continued contact should be approached as previous supporters.

3. Connect to your future. Harvey Mudd College decided several years ago that they needed to get more women interested in computer programming. After looking at the history of the problem, the college knew it had to give women access to the computer programming profession as soon as they arrived on campus. So they offered to pay for all female first-year students to attend the world’s largest conference of women technologists—the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Faculty also tailored the introductory class to be more inviting for women.

It worked: The percentage of women graduates of the school’s computer science program jumped from 10% in 2005 to about 40% in 2011.

The takeaway: Changes—especially in the makeup of your members/subscribers—don’t happen magically. A targeted effort must be made and can be successful.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Bailey Set to Dispense Analytics and Social Media Wisdom at BIMS

“I was recently interviewed for a webcast/podcast by one of these young guys in a new company,” Matt Bailey told me on the phone last week. “So I went through one of my training modules for him. It went well. He wrote me right after—wait, let me find the email—about what was going to happen after this thing went live. Really impressive. It was much more than just getting it out there.”

Bailey started to read from the email. “‘The podcast went live this morning, here’s the link, here’s who it goes to, here’s where and when it will be reposted within 6 weeks. A system marker will go out to promote each podcast.’ Rinse and repeat,” he added.

Anyone attending Bailey’s 2½-hour social media workshop on the morning of Nov. 10 at SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Miami Beach will leave with a similar plan. (Early-bird pricing ends tomorrow!) The first hour he will lecture but the second hour will involve calendars and active planning. Your social media work “should be something you can do in a half hour each day if it’s planned right.”

I knew I was on the same page with Bailey when he said, “Publish great content and make sure people know it’s there.” He even pointed to that same New York Times leaked Digital Report that I’ve often referred to. “One of the big things I pulled from that is the different mindset of The Huffington Post. When you finish writing a story there, it marks the beginning of its article life. For The New York Times it marks the end. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Listening to Bailey is both a learning and pleasing experience. It helps that he’s in a good place, accepting a recent offer to sell his client services business to a former partner, giving him more time to do what he loves—speaking and training. “There was a limit to what [speaking assignments] I had been taking,” he said. “I’ve developed online marketing training for the DMA and Lynda.com. And now I’m working on my own as a follow-up to my talks.”

He also teaches a bit at Rutgers University and has a new book coming out titled Wired to Be Wowed: Great Marketing Isn’t an Accident. “It’s different [from his first, the more textbooky Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day]. You can read this one on a flight and be happy. Although the first one is still relevant because I never talked tactics, always strategy.”

“Having a publishing schedule is the key,” Bailey said. “What content can you plan for, do ahead of time? Every Thanksgiving you can do an article about this. Get it ready. Is it good Facebook content? Two weeks later let’s put it on Facebook with a different picture and headline. We’ll look at what we got in likes and see if we can beat it.

“You don’t pre-push on Twitter; no one cares unless it’s timely. Where does it make sense to push this article? When are we going to do it? How? Break into little parts? Then we’ll do a content marketing and social media marketing calendar.”

Bailey laughs hearing himself say content marketing. “I think I’ve been doing that for many years.” As for social media, so many people are using it yet failing to identify who their target customers are. In his training he asks, what makes you decide what you put on Facebook? Your target market is upper income people in their 40s 50s and 60s. So think about who you have dealt with, the name, the face, who have you met? Are you posting Facebook updates that that person would want to read? Are you speaking to the people you’re trying to target?”

Bailey watches many companies put young people and/or interns in charge of their social media “because they’re young and they know the stuff. But they don’t know how to identify target markets, he said, and lack the experience to get the most out of it.”

“There’s a decision-making matrix [in social media] that you can look at from an ROI perspective,” he said. You can look at behavior, who is contributing, whether people are reading more than one article. If they come from this source, what do they tend to do? Are they looking at that page and moving on?

Bailey’s other big go-to is analytics. He’s also presenting a session at BIMS on online testing. “Analytics is the heart of marketing; it’s where you learn,” he says. “So many companies don’t ask that next question or they may not be talking to [their audience] correctly.”

I recall Bailey delivering sessions on Google Analytics that were clear and insightful. Is that still a focus? “Yes, it remains a good starter package,” he said. “If you’re not using it, you’re banging your head. If you’re doing e-commerce with any level of seriousness, not just sales calculations, but inventory…it’s the way to go.

“If you want more accurate, drilling down information, you could pay for another analytics package. But very few people are using all of Google Analytics. They are using maybe a fourth of what it can do. Are you tracking goals? Do you have goal values established? That’s an important conversation. What’s your value of a subscription vs. the value of an email address? [Can you say] it’s worth this much to get an email address?”

I asked how he keeps up with all the changes. “Authorship has changed, links have changed, but the more things change, the more they stay the same…If you focus on one area, you lose sight of the holistic development standpoint, so it’s best to keep [new things] at arm’s length, unless it fits. That’s what I’ve always done.”

In his session on online testing, he will look at the tools on the market like iTracking and A/B testing. Some are well-known, some not. But he will also get across the message that testing is more than taking a day or two every month to test a couple things. This is the behavior of your potential customers!

“People with testing experiencing get great results and can point to why. They make time. It comes down to ultimately creating a culture of testing,” he said. “You can start small, so people can see the results [and why you are] trying to produce a data-centric culture. Before we can get anything, what does the data say?…What is a good third-party way to look at my data, to test in a low-impact, high yield way?”

With some speakers, you leave their session with notes. With Bailey, you’ll leave with a plan.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

IIN Member Profile: Andrew Leighton, Director of Product Development and Licensing, Aroq Limited, Worcestershire, U.K.

SIPA: We last talked about a year and a half ago. How are things going?
ANDREW: It has been a good year, playing catch up a bit. There’s always a chasm to cross with new products.

At the time, you had just come up with an online platform called QUBE for your automotive vertical. It focused on data and its high perceived value. You said that, “News is becoming such a commodity, but data is more tangible. You can take it and do more with it.” Is it still doing well?
Yes, QUBE helps consistently keep our renewal rates high there. The reports that we were previously doing weren’t renewable. QUBE gives us a higher user base within client organisations—it’s valued across a wide number of job departments. We can get a higher number of people using the account this way. Always better when you can do that.

Have there been other keys to this enhanced engagement?
The main way to get additional seats to use the product is to allow trial access. Give the whole corporation access to evaluate it. That drives usage. The other thing is we recently launched an alert service by email. That caused a dramatic jump in usage. It’s flexible—customers can choose the frequency they receive them. With 40 sectors, that’s important. It has boosted usage.

That’s so much better than waiting for the last month and trying to increase usage.
Yes, we can demonstrate to the main account representative at renewal time that we’ve had contact from 200 people in their organization who have downloaded x number of pages. It’s easy to gather up the stats. The other thing we’re doing is securing multi-year agreements. This way they are assured that rates don’t go up. And we secure their business.

Let’s go back for a minute. How did Aroq get started?
Back in ’99, the two co-owners worked as software consultants and saw a market for what they were working on. They were able to take some technical people with them to get started.

And they had the same four verticals—auto, drinks, food and style?
Yes. We’re often asked why we haven’t expanded, but it seems that there is always room to grow within these verticals.

What kind of financial model do you have?
We’re pretty spread out. We sell news and insights, market research, advertising—predominately, what people need. We’ll also give custom research. We’ve done well at upgrading individuals to groups and then to enterprise-wide licensing.

And you’re dealing more with new products now?
As traditional products start to stagnate, we have to find new ways to deliver data and research online. Google is changing how it finds research products. We have to develop new products or else we’ll fizzle out. But that takes ramped up time and energy. There are 2 key things we’re looking at: higher value products and those that we can grow. It has to be renewable and subscription-based.

And that’s across all four verticals?
Yes. We hired a product manager for the auto division to manage QUBE so that helps me. We’re also exploring product development through partnerships. There are big opportunities to bring industry information together across a single service. We’re partnering with companies that have been producing the content for many years, but haven’t necessarily found the best way to take it to market.

And now you have a greater focus on data?
Yes, the focus is still to have data in our products to increase value. Data complements data. There might be a news story on exhaust suppliers and that leads to QUBE where there is a whole sector’s worth of data on exhausts. Customers can look at that and 10 years plus archives of news—and then drill down from there. The challenge we have is that customers see value in the data but then may not want it. They actually want this, this and this. So that can be an impediment to development.

How have you dealt with giving away free content or data?
You don’t want to give everything, We’ll do a 30-day trial for £1. Let people try it in their inbox. That way we get payment details and can auto renew, unless you cancel. It has increased membership. We also do some high value research trials. We let our sales guy talk to the customer and leave it up to him. Maybe he’ll give a company two days access to everything or a trial to our main news site.

You use the word membership rather than subscriber.
The term alone makes you feel part of a community. Our forums have also helped but it’s hard to build a B2B community. We We We consider ourselves foremost a service provider in each vertical industry.

Have you tried to replicate QUBE in your other verticals?
Our auto content has a specific higher value subscription offering, so it works particularly well there. This type of research that we do for auto wouldn’t work for, say, drinks. For drinks, food and style, we’re working on other high-value, subscription-based services. We’re talking with our clients a lot and learning from our experiences on auto.

Brookings Event on the Mobile Economy Highlights Key Role of Patents

Brookings Institution Vice President and Director of Governance Studies Darrell M. West hosted an interesting event today on “The State of the Mobile Economy: Innovation, Investment and Economic Impact around the World.”   During the event, West and a panel discussed “The State of the Mobile Economy, 2014: Its impact and Future.”  Panelists included Todd Dickinson (former Executive Director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association), Deanna Tanner Okun (partner at Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP), Derrick Brent (Associate General Counsel at Masimo), and Keith Mallinson (Founder of the mobile telecom consultancy WiseHarbor).

West presided over a substantive conversation that focussed heavily on the importance of the patent system as a key driver for the mobile economy.  What is particularly striking is the rise of China as a location for filing patents.  China currently holds the lead with the United States coming in second place.  The panelists agreed that this is a significant development, although Keith Mallinson cautioned that it is important to monitor carefully the possibility that competition policies could have the practical effect of undermining the value of patents in China.  This is certainly true and a policy issue that the Beijing-based United States Information Technology Office (USITO – SIIA is one of the founders of USITO) reviews closely.

The West report also includes the results of a Time Magazine September 2-27, 2013 survey of 6,133 adults in 17 countries asking the question of whether they consider inventions to be important for their societies.  Again, China came out on top with 95% of respondents saying inventions were important to their country vice 81% in the United States.  It is important not to read too much into this survey in terms of the public supporting specific patent policies.  Having said that, the survey does suggest that publics around the world are open to the idea that a strong patent system is essential for innovation.

Clearly, a strong patent system, including strong protections for software, is critical for sectors which are at the cutting edge of spearheading today’s and tomorrow’s economic growth.  Watch the webcast of today’s event and read the report, and you will gain a deeper understanding of why this is the case for the mobile economy.

About SIIA
The Software & Information Industry Association is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries. SIIA provides global services in government relations, business development, corporate education and intellectual property protection to the leading companies that are setting the pace for the digital age.


Carl Schonander is Director of International Public Policy at SIIA.

The Value in Creating a Data-centric Culture

Finding out what the customer wants has officially become the new standard. It reached the comic strip Dilbert over the weekend.

“I think we need to be more customer-centric,” Dilbert tells the big boss.
“You mean raise our prices?”
“I mean focus on the needs of our customers.”
“You mean we should be a monopoly so they need us?
“Um. No. We should find out what they need and then give it to them.”
“They need to buy our products…”

Andrew Leighton, director of product development and licensing, for Aroq Limited in the U.K., also told me how valuable data is to his business.

“Yes, the focus is still to have data in our products to increase value. Data complements data. There might be a news story on exhaust suppliers and that leads to QUBE [their online platform for their automotive vertical] where there is a whole sector’s worth of data on exhausts. Customers can look at that and 10 years plus archives of news—and then drill down from there. The challenge we have is that customers see value in the data but then may not want it. They actually want this, this and this. So that can be an impediment to development.”

Yes, one problem with testing and data is that it might not come out the way you want. We need to be results-agnostic, just rooting for clear data and not any one side.

Above all, “you’re trying to produce a data-centric culture,” Matt Bailey, a consultant and founder of SiteLogic, told me last week. “Before we can get anything, what does the data say?”

“I looked at a proposal for a $50,000 redevelopment to a website. ‘I mean I like the sketches,’ I told them, ‘they look nice,’ but why is it there? Is the data there that people aren’t responding to what you have currently and will respond to what’s here? You have a lot of nice looking things but no data.”

Have they tested the various parts of the website to see what is working? That’s a huge part of what Jellyfish does.

“Testing is fundamental to what we do,” said Carola York, managing director of Jellyfish Publishing. “Our mantra is test, analyze and refine. We test every element involved in a campaign—different keywords, different landing pages, wording on the call to actions, colors on buttons etc. Once we have attracted a potential customer [to a site], we want them to stay and then sign up. And we’ve learnt that beautiful doesn’t always work. A designer might say that the creative needs a full overhaul, but in reality, the existing creative can work better, with just a minor tweak. What’s key is to split test and look at the results. The numbers ultimately tell.

Of course, testing takes time, but Bailey concurs with York about its importance. After all, the purpose is to monitor the behaviour of your potential customers!

“People with testing experiencing get great results and can point to why,” Bailey said. “They make time. It comes down to ultimately creating a culture of testing,” he said. “You can start small, so people can see the results [and why you are] trying to produce a data-centric culture. Before we can get anything, what does the data say?…What is a good third-party way to look at my data, to test in a low-impact, high yield way?”

“That’s what we get paid for,” York said when asked about the time testing takes. We monitor all the key statistics every single day. The closer and better you manage a campaign, the more you get out of it.”

The now-famous New York Times digital report acknowledged much more than once the absence of a data-centric culture. So big or small, having all the resources at your disposal clearly isn’t the answer.

“We don’t regularly use data to inform our decisions in the newsroom, which means we are missing out on an opportunity to better understand reader behavior, adjust to trends and drive traffic to our journalism,” the report said. “This makes it more difficult to set goals and assess progress. A strong analytics operation is essential to every one of these digital needs.”

I’m sure almost every person I interview would say amen to that, Bailey double or triple. I found one other note in the Times report interesting. They wrote that the Times needs to “find ways to empower our current digital staff. We want a culture of experimentation in the newsroom. For example, we could give producers responsibility for more testing, and then ask them to share their findings with the organization.”

Sharing. Testing. Empowerment. Analytics. Data. Could be a new acronym. In STEAD we trust. Hmmm? I’ll test it.

 


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

 

Intellectual Property Roundup

Google Settles With Photographers Over Book Scanning Lawsuit (The Next Web)
Google has announced a settlement with a coalition of photographers over use of their work in its Google Books scanning project.

Getty is Suing Microsoft Over Photo-Embedding Widget (The Wall Street Journal)
Getty Images, owner of one of the largest collections of digital photographs, said it sued Microsoft for copyright infringement over a tool that lets website owners embed images generated by the Bing search engine.

Fox News Suffers Major Legal Defeat to TVEyes (The Hollywood Reporter)
In the copyright infringement suit Fox News brought against the video monitoring company TVEyes, a service that monitors and transcribes video from cable, broadcast and radio for subscribers, a New York federal judge issued a significant “fair use” ruling, and in the process, handed Fox News a major legal loss in its attempts to protect its news shows from exploitation.

BBC Says Heaby VPN Users ARe Probably Pirates (The Register)
BBC Worldwide told the Australian government that heavy VPN users should be assumed to be engaged in piracy and that ISPs should surveil their users.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Event to Examine Software’s Transformative Impact on the US Economy & Employment

Join SIIA for lunch and dialogue with business leaders on how software is transforming the U.S. economy, and reinventing the way businesses and consumers operate. The event, “The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation,” will take place on September 17 from 11:30am-1pm in Room HVC 215 of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Featuring an exclusive interview with Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews.RSVP HERE.

At the event SIIA will unveil its new report, “The U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment.” This SIIA report is a comprehensive review of the software industry’s economic impact, authored by former Undersecretary of Commerce for economic Affairs, Robert Shapiro. For more information, or to register, click here.

SIIA to Participate in in FTC Workshop on Big Data and Discrimination

The FTC recently made available the agenda and list of participants for its upcoming Workshop “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” which will take place on Monday, Sept. 15. Mark MacCarthy, SIIA’s Vice President for Public Policy, will be participating on the panel focused assessing what is on the horizon for big data, exploring both the benefits and potential harms for particular populations of consumers. The workshop will include a range of academics, consumer advocates, industry and technology experts, including SIIA member SAS on a panel covering the current landscape of big data analytics. The workshop is a follow-up to the Administration’s white paper released in April.

SIIA and Tech Industry Press Enactment of USA Freedom Act

On Monday, SIIA joined with a group of technology industry associations in sending a letter to U.S. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging the Senate to act in a bipartisan fashion and swiftly pass the USA FREEDOM Act (S.2685). In sending the letter, SIIA highlighted the need for surveillance reform in the U.S. as an essential part of restoring the public trust and providing support for U.S. businesses internationally. The USA FREEDOM Act modifies legislation already passed by the House in May, and it balances critical U.S. national security objectives and individual privacy needs. At this time, Senate leadership has not indicated when the legislation will be considered. With very few days of the congressional session remaining this month, consideration of the legislation could slip to the lame duck session after the November elections.

New European Commissioners Likely to be Announced this Week

The President-Elect of the European Commission, former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claud Juncker, is expected to announce the portfolio allocation of the next European Commission sometime this week. The Commission is the executive branch of the European Union. Besides Italy’s Federica Mogherini, nominated to be the Commission High Representative for Foreign Affairs, we do not know who will take over the different Directorates General (akin to government departments) of the Commission. After the nominations are announced, the European Parliament has to give its consent, including for Juncker and Mogherini.

From an SIIA member standpoint, the Directorates General in charge of trade, justice and the internal market are the most significant because they control trade, intellectual property and privacy/data flow issues. Given that there will be a new Commission and a new Parliament, we can expect significant activity affecting SIIA member interests. Juncker’s “Political Guidelines for the Next European Commission” suggest that this will be the case. The Guidelines lay out ten priorities. Priority number two is called: “A Connected Digital Market.” Juncker plans to “swiftly” conclude negotiations on new European data protection rules. (Note: Interestingly the political declaration does not specify whether the rules will take the form of a Regulation or a Directive. The current draft of the new rules is a Regulation. Regulations become law in Member States without the Members having to change their laws for the Regulation to come into effect. Directives need to be “transposed” into Member State law through national legislation.) Juncker also plans on “modernizing copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution and changed consumer behavior.” Priority number six calls for: “A Reasonable and Balanced Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.” The Resident-Elect says he will “not sacrifice data protection standards “on the altar of free trade.”


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

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