Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Please Enter Your License Plate Number in the Box...
As if people aren't skittish enough about providing their email address to businesses for marketing purposes, imagine a future where your license plate number is just as sought after. It seems that may not be so far off: Wired News says the same infrared license plate reading (LPR) technology used by the police to read the plates of crime suspects is poised to enter the private sector and become a tool to track individual motorists' comings and goings.
Privacy concerns aside, this has interesting implications for business marketers who one day will not only be able to purchase the hardware but gain access to the databases linking a plate number to a specific person and (presumably) tailor messages and offers to them based on their driving behavior. The article says Andy Bucholz of G2 Tactics, one of the designers of the technology, believes LPR will be instrumental in everything from "helping insurance companies find missing cars to letting retail chains chart customer migrations."[my emphasis]
Wow. Such an application would enable the ultimate in behavioral targeting — after watching customer driving behavior for a bit, computer algorithms a la Amazon's Recommendations might send a personalized offer to a store in advance of my arrival (of course welcoming me with the appropriate amount of fanfare as an LPR scans my plate upon pulling into the parking lot!). Who knows? Some might even use it to try to stop me from visiting a competing store. Consumer applications seem a little more obvious. How business-to-business marketers might find use for it are still murky.
But even if yet-to-be drafted privacy laws prevent marketers from buying access to truly personal data or companies from misusing the tech to spy on employees, the $US 25,000 price tag for G2's PlateFinder won't stop someone from buying a few to place in key locations and start building their own database of prospects to track based on license plate numbers instead of anonymous web cookies. Funny that we may soon be able to use technology to provide relevant, targeted marketing messages even to the Luddites who refuse to use the Internet.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Making Lemonade From Lemons: Buzz Provides Unexpected Boost
Setting Up the Lemonade Stand – er - Study
At the time of the nominations, I had just posted “Taken Your Metrics Multivitamin Today?”, which included a link to download a lead scorecard tool. Since the link clicks through to a summary page followed by a download form, it seemed like a good opportunity to track not only the buzz value of MarketingSherpa’s link to this blog, but also to gauge interest in the tool and any drop-off as a result of having to supply some information to download the free tool. Since visitors to the MarketingSherpa voting page were not required to vote in every category, or even to view the blogs featured (though they ought to have done so before casting a vote!) I was even more curious to see if there would be much of a response.
For an impromptu buzz marketing campaign, I was fairly impressed with the results. For the week the voting lasted, I tracked roughly a 10x increase in daily unique visitors to the blog. Of those visitors — most of whom were first-timers — more than 11% clicked through to the lead scorecard summary page. 100% of the clicked-through visitors followed the link to the download form.
At this point it got more interesting. These days most people do not like to give out “personal” information if they don’t have to and I wish I didn’t need to ask for it, but its just too hard to give away all the time put into developing tools with no sense of who’s downloading them. I always recommend requiring the minimum amount of information from prospects to reduce form abandonment, so I decided to only ask for a name and email address. I provided a clear explanation that I had no intentions to use the information for nefarious purposes and included an opt-out to never receive future emails (yes, a double opt-in procedure would be best, but there was little time to put one in place for the test). Despite all the precautions, I was prepared for some pretty serious abandonment.
In the end, 31% of unique visitors had their interest piqued sufficiently to consider handing over a few bits of information to get the lead scorecard and less than half chose to opt-out of future emails. Of course, with this permission comes tremendous responsibility: to evaluate whether the content of the next communication is relevant to the needs of the audience that has entrusted their information to me. I don’t take that lightly.
I don’t know if the results measure up to the return one should expect from a buzz marketing campaign intentionally set up as such, but this example does provide some benchmark of what’s possible. Best of all, the impact has been sustained: traffic levels continue to track well above the levels seen before the “campaign.” Proof that it really does pay to make lemonade from lemons — even when the lemonade is free!