Gamers in the ivory towers

A recent survey of 7,100 executives revealed a secret C-level indulgence: video games. PopCap Games conducted the survey, and here is a summary of their findings:

This representative sample suggests that as many as 80 million white collar workers play casual games. Of those white collar workers surveyed, nearly a quarter (24%) said they play “at work” — with fully 35% of CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives saying they play at work.

Tameka Kee of MediaPost points out the most promising implication for business-to-business (B2B) marketers: “These ad-supported games reach their targets on an unexpected, but increasingly popular medium.” In other words, they reach the men and women who screen their calls, have someone else sort through their mail and block unknown emails.

At last we know what they’re doing behind those closed doors.

When an online social media effort goes terribly wrong

Marketers love the idea of using online social media. Why shouldn’t they? Promotion on online communities provides something no advertisement could ever deliver: Authenticity. After all, another term for online social media is electronic word of mouth. So what happens when a marketer is behind the community postings on a subject, and gets savagely “outed” by a prominent member?

Here’s a compelling and instructive story of online “gotcha” at its worst. Read this story by online marketing expert Jennifer Laycock and heed its warnings. Three of her tips are the following:

  1. Never respond immediately when things get sour
  2. No matter how valid it may be, don’t attack your attacker
  3. If there’s anything you are guilty of, admit it immediately

Sadly, at least one of these was learned the hard way.

Enjoy the story, and let me know of any other social marketing tipsheets that you think are based on hard-won knowledge instead of the standard best practices.

Taking a break for two weeks

Last week I clicked on a link to a friend’s blog, only to find this message. It seemed an apt metaphor for why I am taking a brief break — the first extended vacation since I started this blog in May of last year.

Bandwidth Exceeded

I look forward to returning the fourth week of September, rested, refreshed and ready to continue my exploration of marketing technology with you.

Sponsored SMS bulletins show promise

New media consultant and columnist Steve Smith speculated recently in MediaPost that we will soon be receiving many more sponsored messages with our cell phone’s text bulletins. These text bulletins, also known as SMS messages, are the 140-character packets that helped Justine Ezarik rack up a 300-page AT&T cell phone bill. (She reports that Twitter and the SMS feature of Facebook were the biggest culprits. Each message sent and received was separately itemized.)

The good news is these messages will be extremely targeted, and are “opted into” in exchange for the content received. An example cited by Smith is NASCAR race updates, sent to the 200,000 subscribers to this branded program. He explains that if a supermarket chain would want to target those interested in NASCAR, “There is enough mass there to net perhaps 80,000 users in a general geographic region.”

That’s enough to make quite an impact. Especially since response rates are impressively high.

Although the initial calls to action must be quite brief — 20 to 80 characters — the extremely targeted nature of the messages helps response. A “response” is usually hitting reply, to receive a full (up to 140 characters) expansion of the offer and a URL to click on. This graphic , provided by the MoVoxx site, helps illustrate the typical process:

How InTxt by MoVoxx works

Alec Andronikov, who is the managing partner of MoVoxx, says that of the many billions of SMS messages sent each month, somewhere around 500 million of them are some kind of publisher-pushed alert. And each could conceivably be sponsored. Smith continues:

Right now, [Andronikov] claims about 3.5 million uniques with sports, travel, dating and newspapers comprising the largest content categories. … Andronikov claims a response rate of 2.5% to 4% on the SMS ads.

That means a hypothetical, regionally-based supermarket chain running a NASCAR promotion could get their entire message in front of at least 2,000 fans (80,000 recipients of the initial, sponsored message multiplied by a 2.5% response rate). If the offer is compelling enough, this can win the chain hundreds of new customers.

The ability to target consumers by age, gender and zip code — as well as areas of personal interest, as implied by the content to which a consumer subscribes — promises a way to take the junk out of junk text messages.

Through testing we’ll soon see whether these campaigns “have legs” — whether they can generate enough of a return on investment to make them a smart, new marketing tactic.

Shepherd your online prospects to conversion with a strong email reminder

MarketingSherpa does a lot of things right, so I should not have been surprised to get this conversion email from them last week. It should serve as a reminder that when someone begins a conversion process and bails out, all is not lost. Note the tone and content of this case study quality email message:

Dear Jeff Larche,

I noticed you began to enroll in the MarketingSherpa 7-day Free Trial Membership, but you didn’t complete the process.

Is there anything I can do to help?

I will be happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. In spite of our best efforts, some people have had questions they didn’t find answered completely on our information page.

The Free Trial provides tremendous value for marketers who want a faster, easier way to access ALL of MarketingSherpa’s content:

  • Private Research Database-Search 3,000+ stats on marketing instantly
  • Creative Samples Library-Search 2,600+ real-life campaign
    samples for inspiration
  • Topical Index-52 Topics listed from B-to-B Lead Generation to Viral Marketing

Click on your choice for a Sherpa Microsite all about that topic with Case Studies, How-to Articles & more. If you activate your free trial today you will also receive:

  • 10% Discount to the Sherpa Store that can be used instantly
  • Special Introductory Rate for annual membership (that’s $200 off normal retail value) should you decide to continue after your trial period.

You can re-visit the information page, and continue activating your 7-Day Free Trial here:

The Free Trial Membership is absolutely risk-free. You may cancel at any time during your trial and we will not charge you a cent.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to call me or email me and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

My phone number is: [toll free number withheld here], or if you prefer, email your question to [email address withheld here].

Thank you for your time.

Yours Truly,

Hope Hopkins
Membership Services

P.S. We are currently offering a free PDF download of Sherpa’s Top 5 Case Studies on Online Video Advertising upon activating your Free Trial.

Brilliant! They emphasize the benefits of joining now, make it easy, and sweeten the kitty at every turn. This reminds me of an Alexander Pope poem I memorized as a kid (I know, I was a weird child):

Men should be taught
As if you taught them not
With things unknown
Proposed as things forgot

Great advice then and now.