November 30, 2012

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4 Ways to Find Top Digital Talent The growth of digital, social and mobile communications has sparked a frenzied search for players with digital chops even though there are no consensus job definitions and no simple or common ways to assess digital talent. No two organizations are alike. Two digital producers or two digital strategists have disparate job descriptions, different skill sets plus radically or randomly different experience and technical knowledge. You’d think that finding great digitally savvy players is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. There are so many good people actively looking, especially in New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston, Philly, Austin, the DC suburbs and Chicago that you can ping your LinkedIn or Facebook network and turn up six candidates in 24 hours; one better than the next. Yet, like any marketing task, clear strategy and careful planning must precede campaign execution. Here are 4 ways to insure you get the talent you need. Triangulate from the Ideal. The ideal digital player is grounded in classical marketing disciplines, has knowledge of several vertical industries, experience in offline media, common sense and a keen interest in all things digital. You are looking for a person who knows what’s possible, a person who can visualize how a branded message is formed and communicated as the strands of a campaign come together. The ideal player can explain the branding rationale, the desired customer experience and the operational steps to connect the dots to an interested but ignorant client. Comfortable with the technical requirements of HTML5, Ajax, Axure or Adobe Air and conversant with ad serving, mobile standards, behavioral targeting, CAN SPAM rules and complex metrics, the ideal digital player can visualize and sell a path from what was to what will be in ways that makes sense to front line managers and measurably improve a client’s business. You need a hard-headed business person with enough vision and nerve to separate value from hype and to cherry pick the tactics that will make a difference in a distinct competitive market. The number of Facebook friends or their facility with Flickr or Twitter is much less important than their ability to visualize and apply evolving technology to solve business problems and deliver business results. Look in the Mirror. No two organizations seek the same person, even when the job title or description is identical. People either fit or they don’t. To find the right player, the hiring manager has to be clear about the skills they need and who might fit the role. After demonstrable skills are established, chemistry is the key hiring criteria. Don’t delude yourself about nature of the organization and the established centers of power and influence. Ask yourself how the skills and personality requirements play out in your particular environment. If you factor this in at the outset, you dramatically improve the chances of finding the right person. If you pretend you’re living in the model organization, you will fake yourself out and spin your wheels. Calibrate Context. A new hire is joining an organization in-motion. To find the best person for the job, you need a clear read on where the organization is and where it’s going. Look carefully at the job itself. Finding somebody to be the first person to lead a digital team requires much different skills and personality traits than simply refilling an established leadership slot. Successful hiring is matchmaking. Factor in personality and power relationships. Can the current team leader work well with an equal or stronger talent or personality? Will they be challenged or threatened by different personalities with different work experiences. Look at dependencies and contingencies in the organizational design. For example, some creative directors own and lead UI and technical design functions. They are looking for a cog in a well-oiled machine. Others don’t. They are looking to find a person who can serve two masters at once and not get crosswise with either. Every new opening is an opportunity to make course corrections. But in fixing the wrongs of the past, many of us create new problems. To overcompensate for a polarizing personality, we often hire a wimp. To get added technical skills, we sometimes trade off common sense. Balancing what was with what should be is the challenge. Assess Skill at Each Level. Candidates do not guild the lily anymore than they always have, so ask pointed questions, set up theoretical scenarios and expose candidates to multiple interviews to establish exactly what they really know and really can do. The extent of this...
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Improving Behavioral Targeting Behavioral targeting is the standard for ad targeting and dynamic content serving but in spite of good automation tools and easy-to-use CMS systems, we still haven’t fully cracked the code. Re-marketing and triggered messaging delivers much better response and significant uplift in conversion; usually better than the original targeted message. Behavioral targeting gives us the ability to zero-in hyper-efficiently on those with a higher propensity to buy in real time. But there are no clear formulas to determine what inferences can accurately be drawn from demonstrated behavior. We’re still guessing wrong too often. We have to evaluate and engage anonymous surfers and clickers and, like Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, we must determine in seconds who is worth following and engaging and who isn’t. Consider 3 basic criteria for evaluating or scoring behavior. Repetitive Behavior Someone who does the same thing again and again or visits the same content repeatedly is probably more interested than the average Joe. It’s reasonable to guess that someone returning for a 3rd click is probably interested, if not a real buyer. Repetition ratchets up intent to purchase. The vital questions are -- how many visits signal intent and on which visit should we proactively prompt an interaction? How do we know how much repetition is sufficient to encourage conversion or at what point does a “Big Brother” intervention freak out a prospect? Sequential Behavior By watching where customers went before and after visiting our brand, we get better insight. If she visits the same product at a competitor site, that signals active shopping. If she looks at a product that normally goes together and sells together with the first product we can infer serious consideration. Someone who accesses or responds in multiple ways or at different times is more interested and has a higher purchase intent that a person using only one media channel. If we collect data from multiple channels (cookies, e-mail, search, log-ins, registrations, purchase history, coupon redemption, downloads, etc.) we see patterns that will suggest how to weight and model observed behavior. Use of Multiple Response Devices More actions equal greater intent. If she fills in a form, signs up for an e-mail newsletter, downloads a whitepaper, prints out a PDF, uses a zoom feature, puts data into a calculator or clicks a “contact me” button we have a semi-qualified lead. Most responders are generally interested but may not be ready-to-buy. The act of responding, while rarely more than 2 percent of those exposed to an offer, cues us to apply extra effort or TLC to prompt a buy. By watching what prospects do over time and across platforms, we can triangulate purchase intent and intensity. This applies particularly to high value, considered purchases like cars, stocks, diamonds, real estate. It works especially well in B2B marketing where the shopping cycle is longer and where the decision has more variables. The key to behavioral targeting is the data sets, analysis and observations that drive the business rules for serving up ads and content. It’s the thinking not the automation that matters. Getting these inferences and algorithms right helps us sell more things faster to those most likely to buy. If it doesn’t, it is just voyeurism.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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