Beta Marketing

One of the speakers at the Gaming Conference India 2011 this morning, mentioned as an aside that it was important to have high quality products when you launch, because not unlike the case of WarHammer, bad press can destroy your product. This is something that has never been more true! News travels quickly on social media, and bad news always travels faster than good.

What does this have to do with my beta release? Today a lot of software gets released as beta, with developers believing that users will help refine the bugs and contribute to the development. Whilst this is still true, today your beta needs to be really well finished.

A polished, easy to use beta, that evolves quickly in response to users concerns and comments may earn positive reviews, more beta users and hopefully customers. A poorly finished beta, may very quickly earn the opposite – bad reviews, user drop off and worse a strong negative sentiment before the actual release!

You can’t hide behind the beta tag anymore. Today a software beta release is akin to the pre-launch of a new restaurant, an enormously powerful marketing tool if done right, and nothing less than a catastrophe if it goes wrong.

Listening to Customer Feedback

Are you listening?

Businesses spend a lot of money on polls, customer surveys, satisfaction reports and other forms of market research. Which is why it’s surprising that so few invest (a comparatively small amount) to use social media tools to analyze customer feedback. Listening & understanding client opinions should be the first stage of any marketing campaign, and with social media, it’s possibly one of the easiest campaigns to implement. Unlike other mediums it’ll also get you real-time feedback.

I’m not going to go into the details of how to listen, Chris Brogan, and many others, do a good job of providing tips on which tools to use – whatever your budgets are. Be warned though, the old rule of garbage in – garbage out still applies! You still need to know where to look, whom to ask your proverbial questions to (prospective clients, dell evangelists vs the dell-hell group), what questions to ask and most importantly you’ll need to be able to interpret your findings into meaningful information, which can be harder than it looks.

The skills you’ve developed from traditional marketing still apply, and you’ll need to use them regularly. Social Media is just a medium, not a substitue for analysis, interpretation and applied intelligence.

Video Advertising on Steroids

I followed a random link through to the HearSaySocial website, at first I was confused, really confused. I couldn’t find a straight answer to the simple question: “What does HearSaySocial do?” Except for a video link there was nothing really meaningful, I’ve since filed the website, into my list of websites-not-to-use-as-reference-material.

The video link on the other hand, was exceptional. No, that’s under selling it. It was more awesome than any promotional web video I’ve ever seen. It very effectively communicated what the company does, but by that point I wasn’t interested. I wanted to know what creative geniuses developed the video, and the answer is EpipheoStudios (Their website is also a bit cryptic about what they do till you watch the video or click on the About Us button). I won’t rant about how good they are, go see for yourself.

I will however point out the fact that users accessing websites from low bandwidth connections (or mobiles) will struggle to download video content. So after you’ve spent your marketing dollars on a great video, remember to add a bit of old fashioned text for the people that can’t watch it*.

*This may not apply if you sell video content creation and really need people to watch your stuff to understand why they should buy your services.