Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts

Spammers are Marketers Too...Right?

Internet spammers are, if anything, very very persistent. And while it's obviously not the same three or four masterminds sending every "chEEp V!@gRa!" email out there, the sheer volume of spam speaks to its popularity and, apparently, success.

It's kinda like those warning labels on appliances [please take off clothes before ironing]. The concept seems ridiculous to most of us...but they obviously exist for a reason.

japanese warning

It seems ridiculous, but obviously someone's getting paid from spam.

The Economics of Spam

According to a BBC News article, a recent spam study showed a conversion rate of only 0.00001%. That's an average of one online pharmacy sale in every 12.5 million emails - or in this case, 28 sales out of 350 million emails. The scary thing is, with bots automatically multiplying and distributing these messages, all spammers have to do is wait and cash in. The study estimated that the most sophisticated spam networks are generating over $2 million annually. And while that number seems mind-blowing, it's important to keep in mind the size and scope of these operations - not the mention the time they've had to evolve.

The Evolution of Spam

I actually got the idea for this post after reading a surprisingly emotional and manipulative message in my gmail spambox. Click the screenshot below to check it out - it's a definite must read.

gmail spam message

Traditionally, spammers aren't known for their grammar, spelling, or precision with the written word. But after years of practice, it seems that someone in upper-management has sent a memo stressing the importance such skills. And frankly, as any good marketer would expect, a little time, testing, and practice has led to better campaigns. Of course, I can't speak to the conversion rates, just the quality of the message itself. If you're too lazy to actually click the thumbnail above (disgraceful), I'll summarize what I believe to be the key details of this message.

Sender: Simon Taylor, 65-year-old British-native living in Dubai

Important details:

1) Wife and two children died in a car accident six years ago
2) Used to be a workaholic until losing his family put his life into perspective
3) Currently undergoing treatment for Oesophageal Cancer
4) Has lost his ability to talk
5) Only has a few months left to live

Reason for email: Needs help distributing $5 million among charities

How he earned money: Owned two businesses in Dubai

Before getting sick: "I have been helping orphans in orphanage/ motherless homes. I have donated some money to orphans in Sudan, South Africa, Cameroon, Brazil, Spain, Austria, Germany and some Asian countries."

Why he needs ME: "Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them."

What's in it for me?: "I'm willing to offer you a reward If you are willing to help please reply as soon as you can. May the good Lord bless you and your family."

Number of religious allusions: 5

Now, the grammar and spelling may not be perfect, but what Simon lacks in formal education, he makes up for in tragic emotional appeal. Simon is the King Lear of Dubai and wants nothing more than to donate his hard earned cash to charities across the world. And without my help, his relatives may squander the rest of his wealth. How can you say no to that?

simon taylor and fam

Honestly, I think the only thing missing is a picture of him and his family at the indoor ski slope Ski Dubai. But, give it time - Simon, like any marketer, is improving with practice. Best of luck, my man.

Hit Me.

Social Capital and Branding - One Tweet at a Time

During my sophomore year of school, I was originally pretty reluctant to open up a facebook account. And while I didn't quite know what to expect, it was the voyeur aspect of facebook that eventually sold me - you know what I mean. Needless to say, I fell in love with Zuckerberg's creation shortly after and never looked back. And consequently, I've been working to move a little further up on the adoption curve to prevent myself from becoming that guy who doesn't use [insert latest interwebs sensation here].com.

Enter Twitter.

Joining A Movement

I finally adopted Twitter last week - in the most ass-backward way possible. Without the unbelievable success of facebook status updates, there's not a chance in the world I'd pick up Twitter. Of course, status updates were only created by Zuckerberg et al. in order to cash-in on the rise of micro-blogging. But I don't really care either way - I love them both.

Twitter is brilliant because it provides users with a powerful sense of contribution, immediacy, and access that's simply not available elsewhere. There's an air of camaraderie in most tweets that facilitates dialogue among mavens, celebs, and johnny-TwitterFoxes alike. Whether it's 23-y/o @Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore, the radio DJ's from @The Sandbox, or the hilarious guys behind, everyone subscribes to this unspoken culture of reciprocity and sharing.

Twitter allows any 20-something studentfessional to consume, produce, and promote anything across the interwebs with outrageous efficiency. More importantly, it's understood that feedback, retweets, and @replies are essential to the community's success - no matter how many followers you have. Anybody can be a rockstar.

Infinite Possibilities

But while Twitter still enjoys an overwhelmingly positive and pollution-free atmosphere (i.e.; not Myspace), the site's proliferation (and increasing relevance) are both undeniable. Nielson Online just released its list of top 20 social networks - and the numbers don't lie. The most stunning stat was undoubtedly the '07-'08 YOY growth of Twitter: 664% - which makes it far-and-away the fastest growing social network on the web. Granted, it only logged a unique audience of 2,665 in Dec. '08 - nothing compared to the near 60k of Myspace and Facebook. But of course, this concept (illusion) of privileged dialogue is among Twitter's greatest draws.

Every great brand aims to build meaningful relationships with consumers - and the internet is a powerful tool. But Twitter provides brands with a transparancy and accessibility that no blog or facebook page can match. Mashable released an excellent overview of the 40 best brands on Twitter, which illustrates exactly what I mean. But I particularly like one 'brand' that's not listed: NHL All-Star Alex Ovechkin.

Autograph or @Reply?

I may not be a hardcore hockey fan, but the recent tweets of hockey sensation Alex Ovechkin show Twitter-branding at its finest. Ovechkin is known in the NHL for his raw talent and larger-than-life personality. In fact, you may have seen him in the cool tv spot promoting the league's All-Star Skills Competition.

After his performance last year, Ovechkin was favored to win the skills competition again this season. And of course, there was a lot of speculation among the fans and media about what he might show-off. In the days leading up to the event, Ovechkin engaged fans with tweets like:

"Lots of questions about my trick shot plans - mine's a secret. Kane has some good stuff, though:"

"Last hint before go to ice - I show one of my shots before, but not in last year's."

Ovechkin also texted-in a tweet just minutes after stepping off the ice:

"'Did ya like it?' from txt"

Ovechkin's real-time updates absolutely scream honesty and fan-commitment. And of course, with the skills competition being decided by fan votes via text message, Ovechkin brilliantly tapped his online resources - not by asking for votes, but simply reinforcing the emotional relationship he's worked to build with fans across the world.
Ovechkin understands what many other top brands on Twitter do not - followers don't need to be personally addressed in every tweet - they just want to feel that way. The fact that he updated fans directly before and after his performance is far more valuable than pumping out generic @replies one-by-one.

Ovechkin realizes that Twitter's true power lies in its narrative. His 1,749 followers don't care what he did in practice. Instead, they want an all-access peek at his emotions and fallibility. My favorite Ovechkin tweet is from just after his televised practice the morning of the event. Obviously aware of the swarm of media attention in Montreal, the 23 y/o says with a healthy mix of humor and self-consciousness:

"'Nobody saw me fall in practice, did they?' "

Honesty. Transparency. Emotion. -In 140 characters or less. That's how a Twitter brand communicates

Hit me.

Alcoholic Energy Drinks: Tasty Enough For Children

It looks like someone might be out to destroy Anheuser-Busch and the Miller Brewing Company - but come on, it's not like they're putting alcohol in energy drinks...right?

OK. Well it's not like teenagers are the biggest consumers of energy drinks...right?

Fine. But can you blame 'Big Alcohol' for trying to capitalize on the booming energy drink market? It's the Joe Camel ratio: the earlier you start them, the higher their LCV.

A recent Ad Age article mentions that A-B and Miller (the respective 'brewers' of TILT and SPARKS) are facing a lawsuit from the Center for Science and Public Interest - or CSPI. You may recognize some of its amazing work on lawsuits like:

1) Smuckers 100% Jam because it's not 100% berries
2) KFC et al - over Trans Fat
3) Soda ban in public schools
4) and my favorite: Kellogg lawsuit over its marketing to kids. Ridiculous.

I can't wait to see the adult spots for: Poptarts, Eggo waffles, and Cocoa Krispies.

So the CSPI is suing A-B and Miller for "deceptive marketing" over the combination of alcohol and stimulants in Tilt and Sparks. According to AdAge, the CSPI also suggests that the lack of advertising for these drinks IMPLIES that the stimulants "counteract the effects of alcohol." And to top it off, the colors and packaging may appeal to underage buyers.

OK. Let's pick this lawsuit apart as a marketer:

1) Underage Buyers - Yes, these "adult energy" products look like every other energy drink on the shelf. By entering this market, A-B and MBC are looking to pick up some profit with "cash cow" products. Genius. Energy drinks like Monster and Rockstar epitomize the 'extreme' image sold to young males - have you noticed Monster's X-game sponsorships?

Here are the facts: a 19 year-old professional snowboarder isn't much different from his 22 year-old counterpart. But when both athletes choose an energy drink, only one can buy alcohol. If A-B and MBC want to cash-in, they've got to hit this same 'extreme' market. These brewers have positioned their adult energy products perfectly - a) cash-cow product, a) no tv advertising, and c) placed with the other alcohol, not energy drinks. Case Closed.

2) No FDA approval - Yes, the combination of alcohol and stimulants is not approved by the FDA. Are there health risks associated with drinking alcohol? Yup. How bout with energy drinks? Yup. But neither company denies these risks.

If I can buy 500 capsules of ExtenZ male enhancement (unapproved), don't I deserve a drink like Sparks to take the edge off when they don't work?

The CSPI complains, "these companies are intentionally spiking their products with stimulants." But isn't that the point of alcoholic energy drinks?

Unless Sparks is placed in the energy drink cooler with a new cartoon mascot, it should be left alone with all the other products that require an ID. How else are you supposed to stay awake on your drive home?

Hit Me.