Boston College

Digital Marketing Experiment 2: Marketing on LinkedIn

Having had some success driving traffic to our site using Facebook Ads, we decided to target LinkedIn for our next experiment.  As a professional social network, LinkedIn has significant information about education, work history, and industry that could help us target BC Alumni in the Technology Space.  Our goal with this campaign, therefore, was to find decision makers in this space, and bring them to the Alumni Central landing page of our site.  From this page, they can learn more about how to help the club including checking out the Hire an Eagle profiles, following us on social media, and even signing up to be a resource.  All in all, we expected that LinkedIn would provide a great opportunity for us to learn a new channel and gain some significant alumni exposure in the process.

linkedin

Initial Experience

In beginning the process, the first thing I noticed was that the flows to set up an ad do not make for a great user experience.  It was not immediately apparent to me how to get started, and when I did get on the right track I ran into issues uploading images and making edits that required backtracking.  Despite this, however, I eventually got the ad set up how I wanted it proclaiming “Help out an MBA at BC!” and directing them to our Alumni Central page to find out how.  Once the content was written, I moved on to setting up the parameters.  LinkedIn requires you to set a minimum budget of $10 per day.  The lowest I could set my max bid for impressions was $5.73 should anyone click the ad.  This was not particularly well explained, so it took some time to figure out the settings.  With a total budget of just $50, I was worried that we would exhaust our funds very quicky and with only a few folks clicking through to our site.  While some clicks were better than none, my expectations were that we would only get a few visits to our site and even fewer responses to our contact form.

The Ad in Action

As it turns out, my fears about burning through our whole budget immediately were misplaced.  Despite a target audience of more than 6000 individuals, we only got 3 impressions over the course of a month, none of which resulted in any clicks.  As a result, the campaign was costless for us, but it was also resultsless.

li2

Adjusting

My first indication that something was wrong came in email form from LinkedIn, where the Ads Optimization email showed a whole lot of zeroes.  Despite the name of the email, however, the only guidance given was a suggestion to widen the audience.  This begged the questions of how much and who to include?  Widening the audience would mean making tradeoffs regarding target industries or the level of decision-making power.  At the end of the day, the tradeoffs simply didn’t seem worth it and the user experience was not pleasant enough to continue.  Instead, I shifted my strategy to personally post in a number of BC related alumni groups.  Theoretically, the exposure would be less as alumni would only see the post when in the group as opposed to it appearing whenever they browsed, but in practice, BC’s active alumni presence actually led to wider exposure, and organic visits to our site.  Four alums even signed up to help out the club.

Key Takeaways

While we had high hopes for LinkedIn ads, it turns out they were not a great choice for our purposes.  With a small budget, and less experience in the realm of social marketing, the constraints and user experience made it difficult for us to launch a useful campaign.  Likewise, the reporting and optimization insights are far from prescriptive.  Overall, it seems that LinkedIn advertising might be useful for companies with experienced digital marketers and high budgets, but that smaller bootstrapped organizations such as our own are better off using the organic channels that LinkedIn provides such as groups and stories.

Up Next: Targeted Tweets!

David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club

Catching up with the Product Team: Failing Forward

One of the Tech Club’s three goals is to build the key skills that will make our members successful in the Tech sector.  Since many of our members are interested in Product Management and Start-Ups, we decided to start our own Product Team.  The goal?  Go through the entire product development process from identifying pain points to testing hypotheses to prototyping to launching a product.  In our last update, we had arrived at five different hypotheses to address two different pain points.  Since we don’t have the resources to build all of them, we needed to figure out how to test the concepts for user acceptance early on in the game.

The First Concept

Our first concept was a service you could check before leaving the house that would remind you of what you needed to bring with you.  It would adapt to your preferences and to current trends.  This would address the pain points of being unprepared as well as forgetting things when you come home since you could cross-reference the list to see what you brought before leaving your location.  We felt very good about the value and confident that people would be interested but wanted to make sure.

Defining Success

While we were confident that people would see value in a product like this, it would not be enough for them to be interested, we would need them to demonstrate a willingness to take meaningful action.  Ultimately, we determined that users could demonstrate this by adding their emails to the Beta list so they could be the first to try the app when it was ready.  If we could get even a few people to give their emails, we determined, that would be enough of a token of interest to be worth pursuing a minimum viable product.

Testing the Concept

In order to collect email addresses, we built a simple landing page on our website explaining that “ForgetMeNot” is an app currently under development that reminds you of what you need and learns your preferences so you never leave the house unprepared.  It contained an embedded Google form to collect emails.  While we have seen a substantial increase in web traffic, it would not provide enough organic traffic to give us a good indication of interest.  As a result, we ran a $25 Facebook ad campaign to drive young urbanites to our page.  The ad would run for five days.

ForgetMeNot

Interpreting the Results

After a little over 5000 impressions we had a click through rate of 0.55%, representing a cost per click of $0.86.  While this is not up to par for agency ads, the CTR is actually above the average for external site ads, but the CPC is more costly.  Still however, taken alone, these results seemed to suggest that ForgetMeNot had similar appeal to existing and successful applications currently on the market.  There was one more step though, would people take action by adding themselves to the Beta list?  Of the 29 people who clicked our ad, only one took this action.  That represents just 3.5% of our clicks and a miserly .02% of impressions.  Viewed in this light, the foundation for pursuing this idea further simply does not exist.

Failing Forward

While the results were disappointing to a degree, they are also extremely exciting.  For $25 and no development, we were able to get a good handle on user demand and pivot to the next idea without wasting time or money.  With 4 more ideas left to test, we will continue to move fast and fail forward!

 

David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club

 

Code and Coffee

As part of the Tech Club’s goal of creating opportunities for students to further develop their “hard skills” through practical learning experiences, we’ve recently been hosting weekly Code & Coffee sessions. We had our first meeting two weeks ago, and it was a great success as we crushed code and rocked out to “Don’t Stop Believing” Pandora radio.

These meetings are primarily designed to promote a collaborative learning experience for those trying to learn programming. Instead of individuals tackling it on their own, the idea is to create an environment where students can seek help from each other as they move through the same curriculum.

The sessions are essentially structured as a self-directed study group that meets on a weekly basis to go through a set curriculum together. The curriculum we’ve been following is the Python tutorial on Codecademy. Python is a great introductory coding language due to its heavy emphasis on readability. It also appears to be the language of choice among data scientists. The Codecademy platform is highly interactive and especially intuitive / user-friendly for beginner programmers. The entire tutorial only takes about 13 hours to complete, and we’ve already made solid progress during our last two sessions.

Grad Techers getting their code and coffee on!

Grad Techers getting their code and coffee on!

Setting aside a weekly meeting time is also intended to maintain a higher level of discipline when it comes developing these hard skills. From my own personal experience of attempting to teach myself programming through an online course, I’ve struggled to keep up with it. Something more important or pressing always seems to come up—it’s so easy to push off going through that next online lecture or exercise without a set schedule. We’re hoping that working alongside others in a collaborative group setting that meets regularly should make it easier (and hopefully more enjoyable!) to keep up with the material.

Once a group of us is able to develop a decent comfort level with Python, the longer term goal of these sessions is to work on a Kaggle project together to really put our skills to the test. Kaggle is a platform for predictive modeling and analytics competitions on which companies and researchers post their data and then data miners/statisticians compete to produce the best model (essentially the data science version of TopCoder). Tackling one of these real-life projects would provide a great opportunity to practically apply the skills we develop.

We’re hoping that interested students will take advantage of the opportunity to develop their technical “hard skills” to supplement the conceptual material and softer skills of BC’s MBA program. Join us on Friday afternoons at 2:30pm—if not for the coding, then at least for the free coffee, good music and good company! What better way to spend a Friday afternoon?

Also all levels of programming experience are welcome! In fact, advanced programmers are particularly encouraged to attend. If you have any other projects you’re working on using languages other than Python, please don’t feel restricted at all – this group is truly designed to learn and collaborate as much as possible.

If you have any suggestions for our group, please don’t hesitate to let me know. These sessions are definitely a work-in-progress! Email kenersko@bc.edu for any questions, suggestions, etc.

Kori Kenerson is a 2nd Year MBA and VP of Analytics for the Grad Tech Club