Thursday, December 24, 2009

Social Media... maturing as an advertising medium

I'm really looking forward to the day when social media matures as an advertising medium. I feel as though social media advertising is currently pigeonholed into the same boat as mobile (which has been in the same boat for the last four years): it's about one to two years away from maturing as a medium for advertising.That doesn't mean that social media (or mobile, for that matter) is not a strong marketing medium. It just means we have to be honest about what needs to be fixed -- or else bad ads will continue to happen to good people.

We also have to be clear on the differences between advertising and marketing. Advertising is defined as a form of communication used to influence individuals to purchase products or services. Marketing is defined as an integrated communications process through which individuals and communities are informed and persuaded that their needs can be met by products or services.

The primary difference, when you break them down, is where your money goes! Advertising really means paying to broadcast or display a message, whereas marketing refers to all the differentiated components that allow a brand to convey a message to a consumer, of which advertising is just one tactic. Marketing is the umbrella term.

Currently, social media ads are inexpensive, untargeted and not as effective as they could be. Social media is great at marketing (when used properly), but it currently falls down when it comes to paid advertising. From a marketing perspective, it is a great way of engaging/interacting with a consumer through presence and seeding: creating a presence for the consumer to interact with and inserting (seeding) into existing conversations that may be of relevance to the brand.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers

This is what I have learned from my association with a large group of Mommy Bloggers over the past year and from being the CMO of e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers who can sniff out a poseur brand. Brands need to be the conduit for information to moms from other moms and from experts, but be wary of star power... celebrities don’t cut it. Marketers that have a mom’s trust have worked to earn it, by making good products, offering relevant advice and engaging those moms. All peers have influence to some degree... especially when marketing to women so the more you understand the relate to the community the better off the brand. If you market to women recognize and benefit from the value women place on authenticity. Women are busy with multiple responsibilities so keep your site's navigation intuitive and simple, and keep your message clear and concise.

The bottom line: Brand marketing (especially to women) in a social media world... it's about relevance, transparency and authenticity.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Future of Social Networking/Marketing 2010

The next important growth feature for social networks will be ubiquity. Social networks must be woven into everything we encounter and social media/marketing should be integrated into the fabric of all marketing channels, strategically managed from 360 perspective. Social Media is a platform... Social Marketing is how it is leveraged by a brand.

It may expand to the point where we choose to allow profiles to be shared among users of different social networks. I believe that even if we develop a portable profile that allows us to have a single access and to pick and choose where and when to share it on different social networks, we will want to have separate identities for different social networks. What will evolve is the ability to manage our identities in a unified manner and to have the kind of openness that would allow us to map our friend’s list across different services.

Another stage of evolutionary development will be the transformation of the communications layer embedded within social networks. The wall on Facebook has become a single messaging area of a user’s profile page, where other users can post comments. It is the wall that keeps users coming back to check for new messages again and again. Although there is a need for many compelling reasons to attract users, communications improvements, such as seamless widgets or video will be important to the social fabric. This goes beyond mere stickiness or growth through user-generated content. It becomes the future portal to every type of conceived, and yet-to-be-conceived communications technologies as they emerge including Twitter. Many misunderstand Twitter... it is not a broadcast tool and not a standalone for marketing, but an enhancement and extremely valuable networking, experimenting and seeding tool.

Nothing speaks to the opportunity of social networking more than the opportunity to leverage these relationship into online sales. The value of contacting me on the web within my contextual area of choice, provides a powerful means of monetizing my social interactions. Much as Google now uses my contextual online search experiences to target advertising to me based on that context, each person’s social profile will carry a CPI, Cost per Individual that will far outperform any CPM or CPA basis for valuation. Businesses that integrate with social networks could activate better recommendations from the group dynamic and generate more revenue. But more importantly they will also be able to target, cherry-pick and activate valuable members and fans.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

e.l.f. Cosmetics, Social Media/Marketing

e.l.f. Cosmetics growth and marketing was built on what I call social media 1.0... email, blogs and reviews, then onto MySpace and FB, and felt that moving into the more scaleable environments that interact and take advantage of the viral nature of the social graph was the obvious next step.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Bloggers have become our primary focus with respect to ubiquitous social media platforms. The tweeting is done by a team that reports and is monitored daily by me and my Director of Marketing. I have an individual who takes primary responsibility for each handle and I jump into both at appropriate moments. I am very hands on and totally manage the message. There is no official policy... as it evolves as we move forward and is very fluid.

Every month the referrals to our site from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube grow, in addition to their conversion rate to customers. We keep a watch on chatter about our brand which is also growing at a rapid pace fostered by our involvement in these spaces, and daily outreach to and with the blogging community. We have also directly incentivized and created sales with the tweeting of coupon codes and contests and placing similar offers on Facebook.

Twitter and other engagement platforms work hand in hand with the word of mouth marketing upon which we have built e.l.f. from the beginning. We will leverage and grow any such opportunities that present themselves in the future and plan to expand our use of and involvement with the YouTube and Twitter platforms as well as aggressively working with and courting the Blogger community, especially Mommy Bloggers.

Twitter - makeup tips, coupons, promos, fun, engagement
Twitter - product of the day, reviews, pr, & comparisons
Our Fan Page:

elfonomics… Why Pay More? "SPREAD THE WORD"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Social Media & your Brand - getting started

Who am I:
Ted Rubin Chief Marketing Officer e.l.f. Cosmetics… we consider ourselves a Social Commerce site. “We allow women to spoil themselves without going broke”
Our products sell for $1, $3 & $5 and we compete directly with the prestige brands.

Finding enough hours in the day to take advantages of the opportunities to grow our business in the current economic environment. Where to we put our resources where they benefit us most taking market share from the prestige brands.

Myth vs. Reality:
Myth… Nobody had figured out how to monitize Social Media

Reality… it is the Social Media sites who are having a hard time monetizing their eyeballs and traffic. Brands, such as e.l.f., are monetizing Social Media every day. We started in what I call social media 1.0 by building our brand through our blog, content, and email. 2.0 brought us into the realm of reaching out through more and more mediums and watching our customer/members on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc, and now in what I believe is the 3.0 stage we are building engagement using these assets and others and building/showcasing our own within our own platform.

The mistakes I see being made is trying to measure Social engagement with the same tools we measure every other digital touch point. In my view email, search, even banner ads, have spoiled marketers into thinking everything can be and must be measured with the metrics used to gauge success in other mediums. I am not sue of what the next stage will be but right now as we are building our Social Media audience, and testing, I have three stages with which I measure… #1 is Audience growth, #2 is Reactivity… getting them to take an action, and #3 Stickiness… keeping them coming back, engaged and interacting. After we achieve all these I feel measurement will easily follow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview With Ted Rubin from e.l.f. Sunday, November 29, 2009

Below you will find my interview with Ted Rubin, the Chief Marketing Officer for Eyes Lips Face (better known as e.l.f.) cosmetics

I met Ted at the speed networking round at BlogWorld and I was impressed by his energy (he talks and acts fast) and I was inspired in his belief in social media and blogging. Please note that you do not have to be interested in cosmetics to gain knowledge from the interview, there are many practices that can be used in many industries.

In Ted’s own words, “Social media is the cornerstone of what we do. This company was found on social media 1.0. We were one of the first companies who blogged four years ago. Recently, I implemented a seven day a week blogging rule, everyone in the company must blog every day.”

Here is one of my favorite quotes from my conversation with Ted regarding social media… “This is an engagement world and people want to have some place to go. When a brand puts things out, people respond, and it keeps going.”

How did you get involved with e.l.f. ( My career as an online marketer started when I worked with Seth Godin at Yoyodyne (the first online Direct Mail company, it was purchased by Yahoo in October of ‘98). e.l.f. believed because they were a beauty destination site, that an online marketing professional was more suitable for the marketing position rather than a traditional a cosmetics marketing professional. (Ted started with e.l.f. about 18 months ago).

How Does the e.l.f. Marketing Work? e.l.f. does not have a traditional marketing budget; all of the marketing is done with partnerships, co-promotion & social marketing. (I personally found this to be very interesting).e.l.f. has “members,” how one becomes a “member” of the e.l.f. site?If you purchase from the site, you automatically become a member. There is no fee to be a member, anyone can just sign up and become a member without a purchase. You can be a member without making a purchase, but you cannot make a purchase without becoming a member. Members receive emails with specials and advice; there is less than a ½ percentage of drop out of email rate.

I asked Ted for some examples of successes: The “New Face of e.l.f. for 2010 - Beauty at All Ages” competition is quite popular at the moment. Women can enter to become the face of e.l.f. Four semi-finalists will be selected: a woman in her teens, one in her 20s, 30s and a woman who is 40+. There will be one popular vote winner of all of the women. Ted explained that the “popular vote winner” will not necessarily be the “new face” but potentially could be the “new face” of e.l.f. (There is a clause in the contest rules that allows a judging panel to select the winner, or model, for the advertising or social media campaign). The popular vote winner will win a Family Vacation for 4 to Beaches Resorts and e.l.f. make up. The winner may potentially receive a contract to be the “face” of e.l.f. e.l.f. is partnering with for the Beauty of All Ages competition, using their platform for the contest. will put together an engine, run it and promote it through Social Media.

What type of response would be expected from this sort of campaign? On an average month, e.l.f. receives 60 to 80 Public Relations related posts in relevant beauty and fashion magazines. Why this sort of positive attention?

Ted explained that he believed it was a combination of a timely product that women love, that is able to compete head to head with prestige brands from a quality standpoint. Ted pointed out that e.l.f. has won several Allure awards.

More successes… Warner’s Bras recently had a promotion with e.l.f. in JCPenny stores. A hang tag was placed on the Warner’s Bras where consumers would receive a free French manicure kit from e.l.f. with a $20 purchase. This was a big win for e.l.f. because their product is not carried in JCPenny stores (e.l.f. is not in JCPenny’s stores because their cosmetics department is operated by Sephora). Warner’s purchased the French manicure sets from e.l.f. and gave the product away as a gift with purchase. Additionally, e.l.f. is currently partnering with large brands like: Virgin Mobile, Hearst and Conde Nast. Partnerships with various other brands are the main focus of e.l.f. marketing, “I do not spend one dime on ads” said Ted.

Ted went on to explain that the brand "allows women to spoil themselves without going broke" and this is attractive to their various partners.

Does being a discount brand hurt the perception of the brand? Ted corrected me and said that their customer was the “value” community not the “discount” community. The brand has made a big push during the current economic environment. Answering the question, “How good could it be for $1, $3 or $5?” The answer is: a great product with a smaller budget for packaging, manufacturing, and marketing.

What other types of marketing or grass roots efforts do you take part in? e.l.f. will donate product for giveaways either as a favor, for a charitable event, or a quid pro quo. At times, e.l.f. will participate in an event where people are personally giving away their product. “For example, mommy bloggers are huge (we don’t pay them), they write about our products and we do giveaways for them. The reason they (the mommy bloggers) worked with us in the past is because they love our product and they love our price and we support their efforts.”

Make Up at Home (a program run by e.l.f.)Make Up at Home is an offline promotion that was launched at BlogHer. e.l.f. brought together top mommy bloggers and beauty bloggers to have make-up parties in their homes. Ted explained that “By the end of 2009, we will have hosted a total of 50 parties.” Allure magazine provides the content for the parties that the bloggers organize (make up kits, magazines, guides, information, printed up all collateral materials). The ladies take photos of the events, share them with their friends and blog about the parties. e.l.f. works with SheSpeaks – WOMM agency for women to assist with the operation of this campaign.Due to the popularity of Make Up at Home parties, some bloggers have decided to host events on a larger scale. In Los Angeles, bloggers are hosting a house party for 75 to 100 women. The party will appear on MomTV and have media present at the event. In 2010, e.l.f. is hoping to roll out the Make Up at Home campaign and host 1000 parties. They are currently looking for a sponsor for the 2010 parties who is interested in piggybacking on the engagement the makeup home parties create .

Some e.l.f. stats... Currently, the e.l.f. site has in excess of two million members. The site receives a few hundred thousand “uniques” (unique page views) and 10 – 12mm page views each month. 65% of all sales take place on website. As of March, Target is carrying e.l.f.'s $1 line and their studio line in 75% of their stores nationwide.

Demographics Billed as 18 to 34 originally and now their mean customer is 36.
Broadest part of demo is 27 to 45
11% sales are women 50+

Ted seemed both excited and a bit surprised that his consumer base was “everywhere” – all over the US. “Mid America mostly but we’re going east coast, we are going everywhere.”

Social Media stats (as of November ‘09) 33,000+ Facebook fans (US & UK)32,000+ Twitter followers between all presences 1000+ videos on YouTube with 100,’s of thousands of hits

I asked Ted how they manage their FB page and blog, what do they do to keep people interested? “We provide a lot of content on our FB page. Most of it is NOT about e.l.f., it is about our partners and cool stuff we found on the street. Our creative director may be out and about and find something that was cool and we write about it. We talk about our virtual make-over, we post your own pics or celebrity pics. We promote Facebook only promotions on the page and we have certain content that can only be found on Facebook.“Twitter is our strongest presence, we give beauty tips, make-up tips, we give promos, coupons, etc. Answer questions about the product or we send them in the right direction if we can. We also launch new initiatives via twitter. We try to send people to Target. We promote people posting pics and videos on YouTube through our twitter pages.”

On YouTube, e.l.f. has a well organized presence, currently they have their incentive video “Our Definition of Beauty” and the tag line is: “We’d love to see your definition of Beauty.” Consumers then submit their personal videos of their definition of beauty and add to e.l.f.’s YouTube presence.

Affiliate Marketing“Our Affiliate Program is run through Commission Junction ‘they blow LinkShare away’. We’ve more than doubled our business since we left LinkShare. We have an agency BlueCherryGroup who manages the whole process for us. They give us reports. 80% of our business comes from 20% of our publishers. We try to build the programs up with our middle guys. We find everyone is looking for aggressive promotions these days – Coupon sites work well for our affiliates.”

Because this post is on e.l.f. cosmetics, I thought I would include some links for you anyone who may be interested in some current promotions that e.l.f. is running...

e.l.f. Face. All Powder, Blush, Cover Sticks Only $1!Cyber Monday Special! 70% Off Minerals One Day Only! Use code CM70MINAll Mineral makeup 25% Off! Use Coupon Code EGMINERALC With Any Order Of $25.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Going for the homerun! One of the reasons prospecting gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the attention we give it, is because we treat it like it is the fast track to the end goal of sales. We swing for the homerun, rather than a first base hit. Prospecting (as we defined earlier) is an "exploration" process. Sure, when prospecting for minerals, the ultimate goal is finding gold. Just like when prospecting for customers, the ultimate goal is landing sales. Still, prospecting for gold involves more than sticking your pan in the water. You must first sift through the other items you pull from the river in order to find that nugget you seek. In sales, the same applies. Consider prospecting a sifting process and not your end your game, and you'll be more successful with it.