Archive for the ‘General’ Category
It was the beginning of a non-stop day at Quest HQ with questions and ideas coming from every corner of the office; YouTube series ideas and talent questions, chips retail launch specs and what about that new ad format? Keeping up with the outside world, I checked Google Analytics to see how e-com was doing.
I stopped in my tracks.
We had more than five times the active users that we should see on a normal day. How could that be possible? It was not as much traffic as we’d get during a new product launch but the numbers were huge. Too huge.
I raced over to our social team. Nothing was out of the ordinary. All systems normal over at E-com and customer support. Tech confirmed the traffic spike and said the site was holding up fine (This much traffic would have killed our site just two years ago).
We weren’t getting a Denial of Service attack nor had Justin Beiber tweeted about us. Still, I needed to know what was going on. The mystery remained until, a few hours later, our community manager found it. A tweet from Orange is the New Black actress Alysia Reiner. It was an US Magazine article.
“Snacks in my bag, thx jimmy choo (big clutch)”: The actress made sure to stock her clutch with snacks to get through the long night ahead.
The magazine article is about Alysia at the Emmys. Nothing health or fitness related. Quest isn’t mentioned by name. There’s no link to our website. It’s just the above image. A high barrier to entry for a new visitor requiring the disruption of their current flow (browsing US Magazine) to open a new tab and do a Google search for ‘Quest Bar’.
Yet tens of thousands US Magazine readers came to the Quest website.
Quest is built around the social experience, so blending social with a celebrity and a mainstream source like US Magazine is a big win. While I’d like to take credit for the magazine placement myself, or give credit to our PR team, I can’t. Alysia Reiner is simply an authentic fan of our products. Ultimately, that is better than any orchestrated post could ever be. All good news then, right? Countless people were being introduced to Quest for the first time. Protein shakes for everyone! Not so fast.
This massive influx of new visitors brought with them the opportunity for me and our team to learn. And there was a big lesson waiting to be learned. Throughout the two-day traffic spike one key metric wasn’t budging. Sales.
Most of the new visitors landed on our Protein Bars page (third organic Google result) instead of our home page (first and second organic Google result). That’s far from the ideal flow. The Protein Bars page isn’t helpful to a new customer – and is rarely the first thing they see. The user experience of that page was designed to easily select and order different flavors of Quest Bars. It wasn’t made with an US Magazine reader in mind; a person who knows nothing about Quest. Over half of these new visitors didn’t make it past the Protein Bars page. Conversions didn’t increase in relation to the traffic either. Tons of impressions, high bounce and a low conversion rate – the stuff of e-com nightmares.
By 7pm the traffic spike was holding strong but the office had finally started to calm. I took a moment to consider the US Magazine audience and put myself into their mindset. I thought about their experience as they spent an average of 2.5 minutes on our site. What did they see? What did they think? How did they feel?
They didn’t see our amazing community, our fun content or delicious recipes. Since most people didn’t click past the Protein Bars Page, they didn’t even know what makes a Quest Bar special – the features and benefits that any Quest fan could recite in their sleep. Without a broader context, these new users simply left the site, hungry for some more celebrity gossip.
Not all is lost, however. We got our first ‘touch’ with a lot of new potential fans. In the coming weeks, a retargeted banner ad, a 15 second recipe, or a Transformation of the Week will hopefully bring them back. Maybe one of their friends is already a Quest fan and will share one of our Wednesday memes. Quest is now the radar of a lot of people who had never heard of us. A classic PR win.
More importantly, however, the traffic surge prompted us to think about user flow from different entry points and demographics. Our UX designer is re-thinking how to layout the page and our E-Com team is working on our sales funnel. It’s useful to challenge base assumptions (no one is landing on the Protein Bars page) that may lead to new opportunities (what if they do?). These basic techniques are easy to lose sight of when you’re growing fast but can be more profound than a fancy new software suite or behavioral ad targeting solution.
It’s helpful to take a moment and think about your site from the perspective of someone outside your niche market. What will happen when US Magazine posts a picture of your product?
Picture tens of thousands of fans waiting by their computers, refreshing a website to pre-order the hot new product. Is it the iPhone 6? Oculus Rift? Nope, it’s a bag of chips.
How do you pre-sell chips on the internet? Through the power of community.
Quest’s product launch strategy is unique within the food and fitness industries. By building a massive community, we are able to market and build buzz for new products to over 1 million consumers. We fuel Quest’s online ecosystem with high value content (videos, images, blogs) that fans love to talk about and share on our social channels and their own. And when it comes to launching a new product, our fans get just as excited as we do.
Read on for the three stage product strategy. Note: All social posts are embeds from the original source so the Likes, Shares and Comments are in real time.
Stage 1: HYPE
It had been almost 8 months since we launched our latest Quest Bar flavor, Cookies and Cream. Fans were hungry for something new. When we teased the above image the fans were ignited and immediately began speculation in the comment thread, on personal social channels, message boards and blogs. Most assumed we were releasing another Quest Bar flavor. The image contained a clue however; to a discerning fan, the wrapper was clearly not from a Quest Bar.
The next day we made it clear we weren’t just releasing a new protein bar flavor, but a whole new product line. At this point, speculation shifted from bar flavor ideas to new product ideas. Some users went so far as looking up our trademark filings in hopes of discovering what the new product was.
It’s fun to see fans getting excited and it would be easy to prolong the hype stage for weeks. But this is a short marketing cycle. 15-second attention spans mean that your marketing campaign will only stay top of mind for a few days. Build hype for too long and fans will either forget about your product or get tired of the message. React in real time. Think of yourself as the director of a film, adjusting performances to get a specific audience reaction.
Quest Memes consistently garner the highest engagement, so we used them as part of the chips hype cycle. These images get a lot of shares, tags and regrams, which help circulate the message to an extended audience who may not engage with the Quest brand.
People have been burned for decades with the notion of ‘healthier’ chips which have slightly fewer carbs and a little more protein, but are not actually good for you. We had to make it clear that our product really was different from a nutrition standpoint but still tasted as good as traditional potato chips.
The first few hundred bags of Quest Protein Chips that came off the production line were next-day aired to key influencers. The influencers received a cryptic email letting them know we had sent them a new product and asking them to record their reaction. The turnaround would be tight. We needed their reaction videos back within 24 hours so we could edit the clips into a teaser and a reveal video. The influencers would then post their reaction videos to their social channels the day after.
STAGE 2: REVEAL
While the fans couldn’t sample the chips themselves, if taste-testing influencers liked the new product, chances are the fans would too. While a bigger brand may have controlled product sampling and feedback tightly, we wanted honest reactions. The influencers didn’t receive talking points or rules dictating what the could or couldn’t say. All we wanted was the truth — and we were willing to share that truth with the rest of our fans in a very transparent way.
Videos often gets lower engagement for us, especially on Facebook. This image announced the Protein Chips along with the flavor assortment and release information. Ultimately, the video generated thousands of organic impressions with an amazing reach and outperformed the image. Our core fan base and their friends all knew about Quest Protein Chips before we even began accepting orders. Our ‘talking about’ on Facebook jumped 60% and new fan acquisition increased 66% over the week prior.
Our influencers began uploading their full unboxing videos to Instagram and YouTube which have over 180,000 views on YouTube.
STAGE 3: RELEASE
Unique views to QuestNutrition.com spiked to over 220% above normal throughout the day. Our Amazon Web Services hosting scaled to match the task, unlike years prior when our site would go down minutes after we opened up a pre-sale.
There’s social capital gained from being the first amongst your friends to post a picture of the new Quest product. It’s a signal that you are not only part of the club, but a top-ranking early adopter within it.
Our #HappyFriday image became our most Liked image on Instagram, ever. It was the first image of the Protein Chips in the hands of a consumer. We had a different image ready to post for this day, but a fan submitted image was far more powerful than what we generated internally. It’s a case of letting go of your marketing and giving the fans control.
The entire week saw a unique traffic lift of nearly 100% with sales to match.
Bonus stage – STAGE 4: RETAIL
One benefit of releasing direct-to-consumer first is that we get feedback on the new product, ranging from taste to how it arrives when we ship. Hearing directly from our fans allows us to make changes before going out to our 10,000+ retail partners. When done correctly, it’s only a matter of days before fans post asking when they can purchase the new product at GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, 24 Hour Fitness or other sports nutrition retailer. With Protein Chips, the requests started before the pre-sale even began.
It was clear that our fans wanted Quest Protein Chips in stores as soon as possible. Our retail partners felt the same way. Sending a new product through the retail channel takes time to coordinate and ship, but Protein Chips will be in stores soon. This will create a second round of fan excitement and opportunities that are unique to the in-store environment with in-person interaction.
Your relationship with your fans is like any relationship, online or off. It’s a give and take. When it comes to the fan/brand relationship I’d reframe that to give and ask. I suggest to give exponentially more than you ask for. When you do, fans will come out in a big way to enjoy the excitement and support a brand that they love. Break down your release schedule, be aware how long you can stay top of mind, react in real time and give your fans control.
All posts below this one were written many moons ago.
What a blast!
I’m an Apple Fan Boy. I don’t try to hide it with my MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad. They are great devices. But lately I’ve been… looking. It started with the HTC EVO. Based on the specs and the early reviews, this phone looks like a beast. Or as Engadget said
… its magnificent list of specs reads as though it was scribbled on a napkin after a merry band of gadget nerds got tipsy at the watering hole and started riffing about their idea of the ultimate mobile device: a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 4.3-inch WVGA display, 8 megapixel camera with 720p video recording, HDMI-out, and WiMAX compatibility.
A true powerhouse.
Google has positioned itself in a beautiful way with Android. The fact that I (and many other Apple loyalists) am considering jumping over to Android is a big deal. It’s all part of what I’m calling the Big Fight.
The Power Players of the Big Fight are:
And to a lesser extent
MySpace for starting it all
Twitter for introducing real time
FourSquare for introducing location
The Big Fight is real time, location aware and across all screens. The Big Fight is about control of you – voicemail to email to your social feed and texts; what you are watching on TV or Hulu and who you are watching it with, where you are eating lunch and what you are about to purchase. Your identity (online and off) and that of all your friends. Everything is content and it is all monetizable. That means the top contenders – Google, Apple and Facebook, need access to it all.
Google has established dominance in consumer mobile with Android. It has leverage on more platforms than Apple since Anroid isn’t device specific. Google also has a few social networks (That aren’t doing well, yet). It has massive ad capabilities. In some capacity, it has all the elements that Apple and Facebook have combined. Which is why it is no surprise that iPhone 4.0 is rumored to have tight Facebook integration. They need each other, while Google is able to do it on its own (with massive acquisitions and help from people like Sony and Intel). Apple/Facebook is all about a closed, secure, easy environment for ‘normal’ people. They are mainstream. Google is open but also geeky.
Google has their cards lined up in a way that should make Apple worried because this war has just begun.
Apple tried to get on your TV with their failed Apple TV. While they now have a true content consumption device with the iPad, it’s a personal consumption device. They are behind on taking over your living room. Google TV will (hopefully) bring the web video experience to the big (consumer) screen. No more hunkering around a 21in monitor to watch those funny YouTube videos. It will be seamless on Google TV.
I have been envisioning a dual device content experience for a while. Sit in the living room with the TV on and interact with a tablet or phone. That’s built in to Google TV. Say you are watching one of the new Fall shows on NBC with your HTC EVO in hand. During a commercial you’ll be able to push that funny YouTube video from phone to Google TV seamlessly, watch it with everyone, then get back to your show. That’s fun. That’s event / crowd driven in a new way.
And it’s only the start.
The Android tablet is coming out soon. Now we get some real interactive possibilities in the Android / Google TV ecosystem. For example, a new soap is set to air on MTV which has a choose your own adventure style ending. I don’t think choose your own adventure will have legs in any space, but picking the ending will at least feel natural when you have a device sitting on your lap (instead of having to remember your choice, then the next time you are at a computer remember to go to the Mtv site and pick it). The interaction here is probably more of a marketing hook than anything else and I doubt it will have any Android (or iPad) integration. What will be coming after that, however, is immersive interactive experiences that truly enhances the story.
Enhancing the story is vital. It’s the only way this stuff will stick around and evolve. If it’s not adding emotion, if it’s not helping the story, what’s the point?
Innovative interactive possibilities will surely come in the 2011 and 2012 fall lineup. At that point there will be a large enough group of people wanting to interact who will have the hardware to do it. Even if it’s 200,000 people it allows for HUGE advertiser play. Those 200,000 will be Hyper Engaged. They’ll interact with the show and its brands on their tablet or phone. They’ll investigate product integrations, or perhaps their device will notify them with coupons (or something less lame).
Google now has a complete TV platform, including heavy monetization capabilities.
Where does that leave Apple and Facebook? Facebook has already demonstrated its ability for social viewing with CNNs election coverage integration. It was a good small screen experience. How will Apple and Facebook get into the big screen market? Apple must find a TV strategy if it is going to be a contender in the Big Fight. The iPad is obviously their first step. I’m designing content for it. I think its game changing. But Apple needs to find a way to leverage me on the couch watching TV, because that experience isn’t going anywhere. It’s just going to get better.
Nick talking about his iPad again. Awesome.
I’ve been watching old episodes of Arrested Development and The Office in ‘passive mode’ on my iPad for a while. They play like music in the background. I’ll glance over while making dinner or brushing my teeth. Why not, right? The iPad makes me want to have content playing at all times. Examining this experience, and the other options available through this device, is important in understanding how it’s going to work in 5-10 years.
The next Story Telling Revolution.
Having exhausted my tolerance of comedy I’d seen ten times before, I put on this lecture by Amy Jo Kim about social game design.
(It’s long but worth it)
The lessons learned from the above video I will save. Instead, I want to examine my habit. I took my netbook out and started writing down thoughts and questions. This was an active experience. But the active element was not contained within the iPad environment. That option isn’t available. Yet. The lecture wasn’t scripted or story driven but the habit of ‘doing’ while watching seemed natural.
Since it was a lazy Sunday, I next fired up the DailyMotion app to watch Compulsions. I had a pre-release DVD of this and watched it months ago, but I watched it on my computer. At work. On my second monitor. While I emailed. And Tweeted. And caught up on RSS feeds. And cycled between 5 different browsers with 10 tabs in each. A multitasked nightmare. I have tons going on every computing second. It’s not an optimal way to consume content; to get lost in a story. It’s a passive experience. Computing habits are deeply engrained, however, and hard to break.
Luckily, a new habit is being formed now.
The iPad habit. First, you aren’t multi-tasked to death (The iPad despertly needs the 4.0 update to support multitasking, but even with that, you’ll be focused on one thing at a time. My iPad is jailbroken so I’ve already got multitasking). Second, all content is treated the same. Screen size democracy. The 9-inch screen feels bigger than it is. I’ve watched a ton of TV shows and features, so Compulsions was no different than LOST. You lose that stigma of ‘It’s on your computer so it’s bad’. Third, it’s a ‘lean in’ experience. The iPhone OS has been CREATED to lean in. No one has yet capitalized on viewing filmed entertainment in a ‘lean in’ environment. That will be here soon.
On a tablet you want to TOUCH. It feels right. That’s where our new form of entertainment is going to shine. You won’t have a million things going on, but since the habit of doing while watching has been established, some sort of interaction will be natural. I was ready to touch and play with Compulsions. The option just doesn’t exist.
On your 52in web connected tv, you’re gong to want to sit back and watch. That will be your tradiational content experience, indistinguishable from what’s on TV today (Except there will be more options with lower budget and niched targeted shows replacing what we today call Web Series). The hybrid experience will be consuming content on the big screen while you interact via the tablet. This will be great for tentpole events.
With a million iPads sold and people downloading (and paying for) Apps at a breakneck speed, the new market is creating itself. The options are emerging. Now we just need the platform and story. Two parallel paths that need to be developed in tandem. You’ll be seeing that from me very soon.
I was about to finish up a different post when I found this http://craftymind.com/factory/html5video/CanvasVideo.html
Go there. Now. In your modern HTML5 compliant browser. This is a seemingly small step with HUGE implications. While this implementation may not seem exciting at first glance, this is a perfect example of ‘touching’ video.
Last Saturday I was part of a panel at the Dallas International Film Festival about creativity on the web.
Short, one-off viral videos have driven interest in original content for the web. But with the introduction of hi-def, web-based players, cheaper high quality cameras and increasingly savvy viewers we may be approaching a watershed moment: a time when the web is the final destination for high-end material. Is the web a viable outlet for creative, original content?
Matt Bolish (Dallas IFF): Moderator
Justin Muller: Dream Factory
Jessica Rose: Lonely Girl 15
Joy Gohring: DateAHuman.com
Tina Santomauro: Atom.com
Nicholas Robinson: Vuguru
Moderator Matt Bolish did a great job focusing our discussion. I had a few opportunities to chat with Matt prior to the panel and was happy to see he shares the same enthusiasm about the digital space as I do. On the panel, we covered all sides of the digital content creation equation – development, marketing, and distribution. I always welcome an opportunity to discuss the future of our industry. This panel was an excellent chance to do so with a bright and talented group. The audience was similarly engaged, and while they all wondered how to make money (We’re working on that), they were excited about the possibilities. My fellow panelists and I all agreed, before the panel started, that the answer to the core question was, obviously, a loud YES – The web is a viable outlet for creative original content.
It’s to be expected that a panel about content creation on the web, by people intimately involved, will go in the direction that it did. The most encouraging and surprisng conversations were the ones I had with everyone else at the festival. The volunteers and general festival-goers ‘got’ what I am doing and see how important the digital space is becoming. I don’t think that would have been the case even last year. Sometimes it takes a one-on-one conversation to drive home the point that there are high quality, engaging stories being told online. If I can get one new person to tune in, that’s a success.
While the Streamys may not have gone over very well, the overwhelmingly positive reactions of everyone at Dallas is encouraging. As long as we push forward and work through the obstacles, an incredibly promising future awaits. You can check out DIFFs recap here.
The first film festival I ever entered was a statewide German competition called Sprachfest (The cool kids in central Maine took German for their required language class). I, unfortunately, was horrible at German. My recipe for a good grade, as it often was, was to make a movie. I wrote a script in English and had my more competent friends translate and act. It was a high concept schlocky comedy called Gilligan’s Winter Island. Titanic meets Gilliigan’s Island. With a lightsaber battle for good measure, mostly because I just learned how to rotoscope.
The night before the festival I was ready to export my masterpiece via the Iomega Buzz. All you old school filmmakers remember that piece of crap. And, as is often the case with deadlines and technology, the Buzz died. 6am quickly rolled around and the technical difficulties were only getting worse. I rolled with the punches, setup a tripod, and filmed the computer monitor as I played back the film fullscreen. Scan lines and all. It was the only option. I couldn’t walk into Sprachfest empty handed and disappoint my classmates, teacher, school, and an easy A.
My eyes were closed the second Winter Island started to play. How embarrassing. The only source of redemption? The lightsabers. Thank God for them. As we all know from George Lucas, special effects can save any horrible movie. I won third place (Out of pity I’m sure).
This is a long and roundabout way to get to my thoughts about last night’s Streamy Awards. But anyone who has ever created anything knows things go wrong. It’s how this world works. Both the audience and the creators have to eventually roll with it. Because of that, I’ll give the Streamys a pass on the technical front. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.
Sadly, technical issues were far from the only problem. The primary purpose of the Streamys is to show the world top tier digital content and to explain, by exceptional examples, why this new form of entertainment is high quality, here to stay and to be taken seriously. Our time to shine.
I’m all for self deprecating humor. It’s a great way to hide the tears show how down to earth you are. But it’s vital to take a step back and look at the big picture. The positioning of digital content is how the rest of the world is going to perceive it. If the awards say web content is crap, then that’s what everyone else will think. Subpar production of the show itself is just toxic icing on a undercooked cake.
Granted, there IS a lot of junk out there on the web. It’s an inevitable result of a totally open ecosystem and to be expected. Roll with that. The Streamys must showcase whats great and shout from the rooftops YES, WE HAVE AMAZING CONTENT. Until WE take ourselves seriously, NO ONE ELSE WILL. A high profile host like Paul Scheer was great exposure, but the way he was used only heightened the problem. Control the things that are under your control. To have Paul’s script mostly make fun of web content is beyond counter productive. And frankly it’s overdone. Yes, we all get it that no one is making a lot of money. Yet.
Speaking of money, we need to be appealing to advertisers. What are they going to think now? Our awards show was filled with profanity, nudity, technical problems, and disgusting behavior. If we are to survive and ultimately thrive, we have to be smart from the beginning. Treat this like a joke and we’ll be treated like jokers. I can’t imagine how upset some of the brands involved with the awards must be. We ALL have a responsibility to show them this was isolated. Felecia Day, as always, was spot on in her acceptance speech. It’s unfair that she had to go on stage to accept the award while fighting back what must be an avalanche of incredible frustration.
For those of us who live and breathe this world, the entire night was a slap in the face.
I was sitting behind Chris. This was not planned and he was rightfully pissed off.
The good news is we can only go up. I hate to bust out a quote from the Big Boss, but
Succeeding is not really a life experience that does that much good. Failing is more sobering and enlightening.
Recovering from failure is often easier than building from success.
- Michael Eisner
I can’t begin to comprehend how complicated running a live production like the Streamys must be. The TubeFilter team are all top notch and should not be the sole recipients of the blame. We are in this together. It’s everybody’s fault. Luckily, that means everyone can work together to ensure this never happens again. 2010 can be a landmark year for digital content. Let’s learn from this failure and move forward.
On a final note, thank you to the incredibly talented people who won and were nominated. People like Bernie Su, Mark Gantt, Jesse Warren, Felecia Day, Randy and Jason Sklar, Brett Register, and Jeremy Redleaf (Who should have been awarded on Sunday, not Wednesday) are top notch creators who are serious about this space. Thank you all. Oh, and don’t put the Crafty winners and nominees in the balcony. They are a big part of this and should have been down in the main area.
In the meantime, I’ll work on creating a real life lightsaber just in case we need another distraction. It’ll beat naked geeks. Or at least scare them away.