All posts by Peter

YPG’s Julien Billot at BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: Digital is Key to Revival

In true disruptive technology style, YPG is separating digital sales from print sales to allow the company to grow overall even as print continues to decline, noted YPG CEO Julien Billot, during a keynote at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 22.

Billot noted that YPG has been leaking revenues, with revenues now 3X lower than in 2008. Growth will not come from existing customers, but must come from new customers. “Ninety percent of its customers still have print products. Meanwhile, “50 percent of non-advertisers do not believe YP is a credible digital brand nor feel that their customers use YP platforms,” said Billot.

To turn things around, Billot is plotting three phases of “resetting,” which he says is different from “transformation.” Between now and 2018, there will be a “return to growth” focused on stand alone digital. The final phase will be dedicated to accelerating growth, with a sustainable digital business — one that is focused as much on media as on sales.

“We are much more in the media business today,” he noted. Much of the resetting will be oriented towards new branding to change the way that people think about YP, he added, noting that he will budget Can $25 Million for the next four years to achieve this goal.

Acxiom ‘s Scott Howe, BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: ‘Almost Any Data Can Be Helpful’ for SMBs

“Not all data is created equal, but almost anything can be helpful,” said Acxiom CEO and President Scott Howe, who keynoted at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23. Now they can choose among connection speed, day part, geotarget, behavioral — or ideally, a multi-variable segment. If they can mix and match with a multi-variable, SMBs can see a lift approaching 6950 percent from unenhanced efforts.

“For so long, only thing SMBs could do to monetize was search, direct mail… things that allowed them to go a little granular… but they could not do what big guys did. Now they can,” said Howe. “But multichannel marketing works and should be a priority in your efforts. The best marketers know they need to do everything.”

Howe noted that SMBs are “nervous about this stuff” and often withdraw. But for digital resellers, it should be all about “test and learn, test and learn.”

Marketers can’t do anything, however, unless they get consumers to give permissions. Howe is confident that such permissions will be forthcoming. “Consumers want to have a voice,” said Howe.

Big Data at BIA/Kelsey, New Orleans: SMBs and Big Data ‘Sophistication’

SMBs are increasingly incorporating data analytics into their marketing efforts and not surprisingly, data vendors and service providers are working to entrench themselves with SMB digital marketing channels, as several industry leaders noted at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23.

For SMBs, “it is not about size, it is about sophistication,” noted InfoGroup CDO Matt Graves. “Sophistication is what matters in how SMBs target,” and may translate into such channels as multichannel buys and geo-targeting.

But SMBs are not easy to work with. “SMBs are our hardest customers,” says Graves. “They are not as forgiving as our larger customers. They want us to come up with a plan to help them be successful.”

Speaking on the same session, Radius VP Megan Austin Karlen cautioned that data cannot be treated as one homogenous category — it is a living organism with new inputs all the time. There is data at rest (volume); data in motion (velocity); data in many forms (variety); and data in doubt (veracity). You cannot settle on traditional firmographic segmentation, she noted. Data also needs to be paired with software that enables merchants to access, analyze and integrate data in a simple and effective way.”

Radius itself made news at the conference, announcing a Series C raise of $54.7 Million.

Facebook’s Joe Devoy, BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: ‘Pairing Advertising, Sales Data’

Facebook announced today an ambitious program to match sales related data from a variety of sources to show ROI. Speaking at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing event in New Orleans, Product Marketing Manager Joe Devoy noted that the program reaches out to Facebook users for feedback because sales results cannot really be ascertained from click thrus. The program is being tested with national advertisers, but is clearly aimed at SMBs, who make up the vast majority of Facebook’s 1.5 million advertisers.

“Within local, our misision is to create the most relevant ads for people on the platform, says Devoy. But “Measuring offline sales has always been difficult,” says Devoy. “Clicks don’t have an impact on the performance of the campaign.” Ninety- nine percent of people who saw an ad on Facebook and later went into the store never click on an ad.

The program’s ad exposure helps tremendously. There is a 70 percent higher ROI from campaigns that maximize reach, and an 8X return on ad spend, says Devoy. At the end of the day, “Facebook reaches the majority of consumers. We can reach any vertical,” he says.

Signpost: CRM, Marketing Automation Enhance Promotions

Signpost_Logo (3)

Deals and coupons remain anchors for local business promotion. But they can now be customized based on customer behavior and better marketing automation tools.
Signpost is eager to leverage these developments. While the 200 person company launched in 2011 as a “Deals Scout” and promotions manager – initially supporting Google Offers and others — it has increasingly gotten into software development.

Today, the company – which has raised about $15 million from Spark Capital, Google Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners and others — announced a new strategy that measures SMB interactions with customers (calls, email and credit card transactions). That data is then used it to drive a number of automated marketing solutions (coupons, reviews, referrals). It can also be used to generate real time reports on spending behavior, and rank customers by transaction activity, transaction size and recent interactions.

Pricing for the service is set for $199 a month, which represents a $50 increase from the earlier, promotions-oriented effort.

The question for Signpost is whether it can effectively carve out a niche for itself. Other companies, ranging from Marketo and HubSpot to Groupon, First Data and ForwardLine, are also delivering a wider range of SMB targeting services based on customer behavior they are tracking.

Signpost CEO Stu Wall is a featured speaker at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing, which takes place Sept. 22-24 in New Orleans. You can get more information here.


Signpost CEO Stu Wall

A Few Quick Thoughts on Apple’s Big Announcements

A lot of us were glued to our screens today to watch or catch the feeds on the Apple announcements re iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay and Apple Watch. What will the new announcements mean to our local ecosystem? To date, Apple’s focus on local has mostly been geared to Apple Maps. But here are a few things:

1. More content for larger screens. When the iPad was introduced, vendors such as Matchbin bet the bank that it would lead to higher paid subscriptions and new types of advertising. It didn’t really happen. But more content is behind the firewall now than before. The intro of the larger iPhone 6 and the really big iPhone 6 Plus – on top of other Phablets by Samsung et al might push this evolution further – and spur the develop of new tablet-ready and phablet-ready local content.

2. A jumpstart for Digital Payments. Apple Pay is being launched as an NFC wireless payment mechanism. Unlike the struggling Google Wallet, it is being supported by most of the industry’s payment processors and financial institutions; allowing consumers to tie their payment cards to their phones. The introduction of Apple Pay won’t turn plastic extinct overnight – the payments card infrastructure is extremely deep. But it does validate NFC as a wireless payments technology, and should help build acceptance for digital payments. The challenge here: It is not converting Apple users. It is converting Millenials.

3. Enter the Apple Watch. It may take a while for iWatch and other wearables to really catch on beyond the early adopters, who do not really impact local outside of tech centers such as San Francisco. But combined with Apple Pay, the Apple Watch should help build acceptance for local store payments, public transport and other services (and impulse cash less buying.) Again, their immediate importance is in Apple’s validation of both wearables and NFC. See how LevelUp is excited about the prospect .

Apple’s system appears to be overloaded, but don’t forget to download the free U2 album, Songs of Innocence, which will be available on iTunes until 9/13.

Kilponen: SMB Retailers Need to Focus on Foot Traffic Drivers

What should SMB retailers do to level the playing field with larger regional and national retailers? There are no easy answers, but they should really focus on mobile and geo location targeting, says Wanderful Media COO Doug Kilponen. Search has major limitations for them.

“In the old days, you could create free traffic from Google and the like. But SEO is dead for small retailers,” says Kilponen, previously CMO at Merchant Circle. “It’s been taken up by the Amazons and Google of the world. If you do a search term on products, it is a black hole. You can rarely find a way out.”

Mobile, however, represents “new opportunity “ for SMBs — albeit one that is misunderstood. “For small retailers, it is still about foot traffic,” says Kilponen. That means they should tap into location based services; engage local friends via social media; post products in certain categories; and target uses via promotions. Mobile SMB platforms such as Wanderful’s Find&Save Storefront provides “a stronger ROI than what we’ve seen in search,” he adds.

Kilponen is speaking on SMB retail at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing Sept. 22-24 in New Orleans. You can register here.