The Story of Bob McRecords
Bob McRecords arrives at his office on the 12th floor of the EarJam record label headquarters Monday morning as usual, still wiping the sleep from his eyes and sipping his first coffee. He had spent the weekend attending shows for one of the label’s biggest artists and was suffering the consequences of back-to-back late nights out. But it’s a big week for EarJam Records, and more specifically for Bob. Their newest musical superstar will be releasing her debut album and, as the digital marketing manager for the label, it’s up to Bob to ensure that it sells. As Bob drains the final sip of his liquid energy, he settles into his chair and prepares for his best marketing effort, ever.
Today, Bob is not just a digital marketer. Today Bob is a superhero in the world of Digital Marketing, saving the damsel in distress from flat record sales, and taking EarJam records into Profit Town – one digital album at a time.
From Man to Super-Man.
Bob’s biggest responsibility is to ensure an album’s digital marketing is optimized to earn as many online purchases as possible throughout the entire release cycle (from pre-order, to release day and beyond). The album is being sold across the major digital music outlets, with the largest and most powerful being iTunes.
Bob’s standard promotional plan includes marketing the album across all of EarJam’s social channels, YouTube, on their website, in a press release, setting up an AdWords campaign targeted towards English speaking countries in which this artist has passionate followings, and to work with the artist’s managers to push the promotions on the individual artist’s website, social channels and wherever else they can.
From experience Bob knows that the link to iTunes within these promotions with a strong call to action is arguably the most important facet to drive sales. As music fans can be extremely impulsive, ensuring that the link to the music allows every fan to act on their impulse and buy the album in that moment is vital. If set up right, Bob also knows that each link can tell a story from those users, and help him with future marketing campaigns.
For previous releases, Bob built his iTunes links through various services such as glnk.it and SmartURL, and with some tedious work he was able to ensure that every international reader is sent to the correct iTunes storefront. Bob proudly reminisces on how he received a promotion a year prior for recognizing the effects of something called “Geo-Fragmentation,” and overcoming it for the label’s digital marketing by using global links. However, for this release Bob has another trick up his sleeve that he only recently learned about… the iTunes Affiliate Program.
He knows that iTunes will pay commissions for referring people to their store to buy music, movies, apps and e-books. He has a hunch that by affiliating the links he includes in all of his online marketing, he can earn EarJam some additional revenue on top of his normal record sales. He’s also heard that the iTunes Affiliate Program has some interesting reporting that should help him gain additional insight into his campaigns, and as Bob always says, knowledge is power.
A friend in the industry recently told Bob about a service that not only allows you to create global links to overcome Geo-Fragmentation but also allows you to earn affiliate commissions from every iTunes storefront while you’re at it. The service is called GeoRiot, and it is going to be Bob’s secret weapon for creating the best online promotional campaign EarJam has ever seen.
As Bob’s coffee starts to kick in, an email comes through containing the creative for the album’s digital campaign, and Bob eagerly opens the attachments. The art is captivating. Everything is on point, and Bob knows that whatever links these visuals feature are going to get clicks.
Excited by the content from his creative team, Bob get’s right to work building the links to go with it.
He goes to GeoRiot.com and in a matter of seconds the new EarJam account is created. He then dashes to the iTunes Affiliate Program sign-up page to make an affiliate account for iTunes.
Next, Bob zooms into the GeoRiot dashboard, pastes in his iTunes affiliate IDs, then prepares for the final piece: prepping those global links. Onto the Links page he flies, where he drops in the iTunes link for the album and instantly he is given a globally translated and affiliated “Geni.us link.” Finally, Bob customizes the URL to make it more informative and attractive for fans who see it, and voilà!
Bob leans back in his chair and smiles. Only he knows the digital marketing mastery taking place that is about to change the way EarJam does online promotions forever. Bob takes a moment to appreciate the screen in front of him, while absent-mindedly taking a sip of his already empty coffee mug.
After adding the Geni.us links to each of the promotional creative pieces, and finishing his second cup of coffee, Bob loops in his teams to go over the plan. With the web design team, the social media team, the publicist and the artists manager all on board, the campaign is a go. Bob gives the signal, a flurry of keyboard strokes and mouse clicks are heard, and the world is given the gift of Bob’s campaign.
The next day, Bob arrives to work eager (and a little more awake) to check on his GeoRiot dashboard and see how his new links are performing. After his initial shock from the comprehensive and detailed nature of the reporting dashboard subsides, Bob dives in to see what marketing insights he might discover. He knows that EarJam’s affiliate commissions will take at least 3-5 days to be reported and that the pre-order sales can’t be known until after the release date but, he does see clicks coming from his campaign.
A week later (including another exciting weekend at his favorite venues) the new album officially drops and the entire label is euphoric, as love (and revenue) from fans around the world pours in.
Bob’s time, attention and physical self is pulled in a million directions amidst the chaos of the release, but his links quietly continue racking up the clicks and sales.
The following day Bob finds 10 minutes to take a breather and immediately goes to check on how his links are performing. On top off all the acclaim the artist is receiving publicly, Bob knows that his global affiliate link strategy will be the icing on the cake.
It’s been a week after first publishing his Geni.us links, the official iTunes album release has come and gone, and a plethora of link performance data greets Bob when he opens up the EarJam account dashboard on GeoRiot.
While clicking to log into the dashboard, Bob notices a lot of interesting article titles in the GeoRiot blog. As he scrolls through them he makes a note to save an hour later in the week to read all the informative content he sees. However, one post, titled “The Drop: The Lifespan of an Online Music Album Release, Measured in Clicks” sparks his curiosity and he clicks to learn more about exactly when and where people click from to buy an album on iTunes. Among the fascinating stats in the article, he is most surprised to learn that 20% of all iTunes album purchases are made during the post-release period (after the two weeks immediately following the album’s release). This little nugget of insight inspires Bob to refine his digital marketing push to maximize long term sales.
He breaks his attention on the infographic to take another sip of his caffeinated beverage and navigates back to the GeoRiot dashboard, which is chock-full of bright graphs.
He sees exactly how many clicks each link has generated. He also sees how many affiliate commissions each link has earned. The EPC (earnings per click) metric he is shown tells him how efficient each link is at generating affiliate commissions.
This is more than just coffee money that’s showing show up in the ‘commissions’ column. Plus, the EPCs are justifying the little extra something he put into the PPC campaigns. It’s also interesting to see which marketing channels were leading to affiliate commissions. Bob knows this is important but it doesn’t paint the full picture he’s looking for.
A quick Google search helps him realize he’s right. While EarJam can earn affiliate commissions on anything purchased by someone on iTunes within 24 hours of clicking their link, Bob quickly learns that it is impossible to tell whether those commissions were earned from purchases of his instant-grat track, the album or something completely unrelated.
However, after a little research on the GeoRiot acronym “RCS” that he finds amidst the various reports, his tight-lipped smile grows into a full ear-to-ear grin. It turns out that “RCS” stands for “Relative Conversion Score” which is a really crafty way that GeoRiot uses information from each click, link and the resulting affiliate sales to determine how successful each of his links are at selling a specific item. Even better, this brand new metric tells Bob how much each variable in his reports (such as which countries, websites, devices and operating system) impact a fan’s likelihood of buying the album and track that he is promoting. Now he is well on his way to closing the attribution loop on his marketing campaigns and can start to fine-tune his marketing strategy. He is so excited imagining the possibilities, that he has to pause and walk around the office floor for a second (and grab another cup of coffee) to regain his focus. (Below you can see Bob’s dashboard)
Knowing that there is still plenty of life left in this release, Bob starts crafting a plan to make EarJam’s marketing even more efficient.
First, he closely examines the RCS for the various referrers to compare the performance of links in each channel (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Press Release, Label Website, Artist Website, Artist Facebook, Artist Twitter). When Bob sees this breakdown (see below) he is fascinated by what it tells him. His links placed in Tweets and in the descriptions of YouTube music videos for the track are producing impressive Relative Conversion Scores (in other words, they are doing a great job of getting people to buy the album). His Facebook posts, however, are suffering from a serious case of non-conversion-itis. Armed with this new knowledge, McRecords immediately calls up the EarJam social media team to implement an uptick in promotional Tweets and an email campaign featuring the most popular music video from the album. He also has them cancel the rest of the paid campaign on Facebook as it’s clearly not performing.
Then, looking at the Relative Conversion Score (RCS) by country Bob sees that clicks from Europe have Relative Conversion Scores through the roof. “Eeeeexcellent,” says Bob in his best Mr. Burns impression.
Calling up his EarJam counterparts in Europe, Bob explains to them the high propensity for purchasing among European fans. They quickly assemble a list of actionable items based on this insight. Atop this list is a note to have EarJam Europe add social media posts featuring Bob’s links to their schedule. Bob sends the links to his colleagues and can’t help but beam inwardly as he finishes off his late morning cup of Joe. He then takes the money left over from his now canceled Facebook campaign, then re-allocates it to another Adwords campaign for the album directed towards Italy, Spain and Belgium, the three countries with the highest RCS.
As Bob continues to analyze his dashboard he is also surprised to discover that 1/5 of the clicks on the album are from fans on Kindle and Android devices. It takes him most of a trip back to the kitchen for more coffee to remember that he saw an option for “Add Scenarios” when he was first building his Geni.us links. He doesn’t even get to the kitchen before spinning 180° and heading back to his desk (this isn’t an uncommon occurrence for Bob). He pulls up his GeoRiot dashboard and goes to the Links page. There it is, the option to add additional scenarios for each link! With some quick changes for the scenario settings he was able to send all clicks from Kindle devices to the Amazon MP3 Store and clicks coming from Android to Google Play which should really help boost conversion rates!
Another two weeks go by. Bob continues to monitor his dashboard, making note of any metrics that stand out, and tweaking his campaign to squeeze the most out of every link. He watches as his affiliate commissions steadily grow and his superstar continues to climb the charts faster than any EarJam artist in history. All the while he can’t keep from thinking “These guys do not pay me enough.”
No Bob, they don’t.
And that is the story of how Bob McRecords became a digital marketing superhero and not only launched a musical career but also earned EarJam a lot of unforeseen revenue using his superpower – globalized affiliate links.