Friday News Round-up: Google Never Forgets, Email as Homework

by | Aug 5, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive, Industry News | 0 comments

Here’s this week’s round-up of “must read” news stories for marketers.  What makes these stories stand out?  They offer key information or lessons that multi-channel distributed marketing organizations should take to heart.

  1. Google Never Forgets:  Lest anyone forget that once something is online and indexed by a search engine, a filing by search giant Google in its ongoing legal battle with Oracle over the way that Android uses Java should bring the point home with a nice touch of irony. Google wants a judge to throw out Oracle’s claims based on 17-year-old testimony from an unlikely source:  Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt.  What’s unlikely about the chairman of a company arguing against a claim by a rival?  Well, in 1994, when Schmidt testified before Congress, he wasn’t affiliated with Google.  He was CTO of Sun Microsystems, the creator and owner of Java.  

    Here’s what he said then:  “With respect to intellectual property rights, Sun strongly believes in — and will defend — the rights of intellectual property owners to maximize their returns on product implementations. At the same time, we believe that interface specifications are not protectable under copyright.”  

    It’s that last part that’s especially relevant, because the current case hinges almost entirely on the interface specifications for Java, which are a key part of how the Android smart phone displays text. 

    The lesson for marketers:  Whenever you’re writing anything — from a press release to a video script, web copy or even testimony for an executive to give when lobbying in Congress — remember that Google never forgets.  In the rush of getting copy produced on deadline, it’s easy to think of short-term news cycles and short-term goals.  But copy that is written today may come back to haunt you years from now, in the most unlikely way.  The courts are becoming clogged with cases where search engines are turning up old marketing documents or company presentations and using them against the company. 

  2. Targeting and Sales Collateral Spending Top Priorities in CMO Survey:  The Distributed Marketing Blog just published the two-part results of its own survey of spending plans for 2012, so the CMO Survey reported in eMarketer didn’t surprise us much.  That survey shows that the number one expense for marketing organizations this year is sales collateral and content.  And the number one step CMO’s are taking to improve results?  Better customer segmentation and targeting followed by investing in the tools they need for digital demand generation. 

    The lesson for marketers:  Even as we’re being asked to master new skill sets and develop new communications channels with our customers, we can’t overlook the basics.  Sales people need content — microsites, email templates and messages, sales and data sheets, proposals, presentations and other collateral — and even the best content won’t produce results unless you know who your customers are and how to reach them.  Last, but not least, old manual processes don’t work.  Distributed marketing platforms that streamline the process are becoming essential as the number of channels proliferate and customers demand ever more personalized marketing messages.

  3. Email Becomes Homework:  For years, the best thinking in email marketing has predicted the best times to send email based on open rates and unsubscribe rates.  And the timing was pretty consistent between 1995 and 2009.  But over the last two years, it’s started to change.  Now, the highest open rates — nearly twice that of messages sent any other time — happen on Saturday morning.  And mail that arrives before 8:30 a.m. gets opened at much higher rates than mail that arrives during the regular business day. 

    Why?  According to Dan Zarrella, author of The Social Media Marketing Book,  email has become the homework that business people perform outside their busy workday. 

    “Just like a child who has a ritual they perform when they do homework — whether that’s lying on the floor, listening to music, sitting in the same chair at the kitchen table, or whatever — we’ve developed our own rituals for email,” Zarrella says.

    The lesson for marketers:
      Take a look at Zarella’s research, and then test your own messaging to find the optimal time to send your email.  Perhaps more importantly, don’t forget to optimize your email for mobile phones, because one of the key findings in his research is that 88.8% of business email recipients now reads email on a mobile device.

  4. What Marketers Can Learn from News Corp.:  Watching the phone hacking debacle in the U.K. from afar, it’s easy to think, “I’m glad it can’t happen in my company.”  But according to the Corporate Secretary column in Business Insider, in many companies the conversation is all about compliance — and not a voluntary initiative to create governance that goes beyond compliance to spot and root out business practices that can lead to trouble down the line. 

    The lesson for marketers: Sometimes what is legal, and what is right, aren’t the same thing.  In the push to succeed, to accomplish goals with diminishing resources and increasing budget constraints, shortcuts can be attractive.  But a shortcut today can become something else tomorrow, so looking at the long term ethical implications of actions is part of good corporate governance.

  5. Social Media – The New Nightmare for IT Security:  Forbes published a thoughtful look at the enterprise security aspects of social media last week.  Over a billion people access social media sites from their work computers, according to security expert Chris Poulin, who adds that the trouble with this isn’t necessarily lost productivity. 

    The trouble is that when people are on social media sites, they behave more like home computer users — happily clicking away and downloading this and that while sharing content with little thought to vexing issues like copyrights and intellectual property rights. “This unchecked flow of data is a new source of sensitive information and creates security loopholes for serious cyber attacks,” Poulin says. 

    The lesson for marketers:  Empowering employees to become brand and company advocates on social media sites requires training — and that training has to extend far beyond the marketing department, to include compliance, security, and best practices.   

    Social media doesn’t have to be a security nightmare.
    Cartoon credit: Australian cartoonist Scott Hampson made this cartoon available on his website under a creative commons license — check out his other cartoons whenever you need a laugh.