Almost Timely News, 8 August 2021: Traveling the World Virtually, Advanced Content Marketing Analytics

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Almost Timely News: Traveling the World Virtually, Advanced Content Marketing Analytics (8/8)

Almost Timely News

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What’s On My Mind: Traveling the World Virtually

If there’s one thing I’ve delved more deeply into during the last 18 months, it’s practical virtual reality. I bought an Oculus Quest headset a couple years ago when it became the first VR headset that didn’t need a computer to power it, and I played with it a bit when I first got it, then put it away as other things caught my interest.

Fast forward to 18 months ago when the world first shut down for the pandemic, and I dusted it off. I played around with the entertainment for a bit, but found two applications that were incredible. The first was YouTube VR, the ability to see videos made with 360 degree cameras. From riding roller coasters to doing a spacewalk to going on safari in Africa with a lion pride, there were all kinds of interesting virtual experiences to be had, some of which I simply don’t plan to do, like skydiving or going on a wing-suit ride.

But the second experience, the killer app for me, is an app called Wander. Wander is simply Google Street View in VR. Any place Google Street View has data is a place you can go, and I spend at least 15 minutes a day in the app, sometimes much more. One of my favorite games to play is to turn off the in-app map, hit Random Location, and then try to figure out what country I’ve been dropped into using the contextual clues around me, like this:

A place on Earth I was dropped off

Take a guess without Googling where this might be. What are the clues that could give you hints as to what nation it is? I had to travel down the road a bit further before I knew where it was, because I wasn’t familiar with that brand of gas station.

Here’s another example. I had a guess based on the writing, but I was wrong.

Another place on earth

The first photo is from Czechia, which for those of us who are older is the modern name for the Czech Republic. Benzina is a Central European gas station chain; it wasn’t until I saw a billboard with an ad for a .cz domain name that I knew where I was.

The second photo is from Mongolia, which you could tell by the writing on the green door in the lower right hand side of the photo. I didn’t know that Mongolia uses two different writing systems, Cyrillic and Mongolian, but if you knew that, then this was a dead giveaway.

I’ve learned four things while traveling the world virtually.

  1. If you ever wonder what it’s like to be illiterate, drop into a nation where you don’t know the language at all, like Bhutan or Thailand for me. It’s hard to imagine illiteracy if you are literate and you never venture outside the region where your language is spoken, but it’s a fascinating, empathy-building experience once you do.
  2. Travel to places virtually where you’re unlikely to go. I was in Puerto Williams at the very southern tip of Chile the other day. To get there from Boston would be something like US$3,500 one way and 51 hours of flights, three planes, and then several hours of driving. Is dropping in virtually as good as the real thing? No. Is it better than not knowing or seeing at all? Yes. There are places like Venice, Italy that I may not ever get to, or at least not in time before climate change makes them unrecognizable. But I can take a ride on a gondola virtually right now. You don’t have to wait or save up money to start traveling virtually to interesting, hard-to-reach places around the world.

  3. Learn the underlying meta-language and meta-culture of humanity. There are only a certain number of rational ways to do things as humans, and we develop a design language of sorts in our behaviors that crosses boundaries and cultures. As a business person and a marketer, this is an invaluable lesson. When you start to decode what’s common in our human experience regardless of culture and language, you can make your own marketing more powerful by making it more universal. Take a look at this street in Cherven Bryag, Bulgaria:

Cherven Bryag

I can’t read Cyrillic. I can’t speak Bulgarian. But you can probably decode just by the general shapes and sizes of the signage alone what kinds of shops these are, where the door is, how you would go about doing business here as a customer. You can understand the marketing even if you don’t understand the language.

  1. Start breaking your own biases. In the USA, American media tends to portray certain countries with very specific stereotypes (and rarely positive ones). When you start journeying around the world in VR, those stereotypes get put to the test – and often fall apart. When you think of Mexico, what comes to mind?

It’s probably not this:

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

Other than the Spanish language on some of the signs and vehicles, you could easily mistake this part of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico as any southern USA city. Quite different than what is shown in the news and in movies and TV.

And that’s the big meta-lesson that I learned: we’re all pretty much the same. A place to live is a place to live. A store is a store, whether it’s on Fifth Avenue in NYC or on the side of the road in Uganda. We all have much, much more in common than we do differences as humans, as a species, as a race. Media and politicians make their money on emphasizing the differences, but when you travel and see firsthand – virtually or in real life – what life is like for others, those differences are smaller than the similarities.

Here’s some more great news: you don’t need a VR headset to do this. There are free sites and games like Mapcrunch or Geoguesser that do exactly what I do – drop you off somewhere randomly, and let you find your way. They won’t be in VR, but that’s not mandatory. You can also just hit up Street View in Google Maps on the web or download the Google Street View apps in iOS or Android.

Try it out. Explore your world from wherever you are. See how much you know about other nations and cultures. You might surprise yourself, find the next vacation you want to take, reduce a bias or impression you had, or discover an insight you can apply to your marketing. It’s a big world. Go see it.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

If I had to suggest only one of these articles to read from this week on the blog, it would be the piece on content marketing metrics. I’m spending a lot of time lately digging into content and analyzing it, and this eventual series will be a look at the outcomes.

Skill Up With Free Classes

These are just a few of the free classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Ad: Make Better Videos with Techsmith Camtasia

If you enjoy my videos, like You Ask, I Answer, Do Something With Your Marketing, Saturday Night Data Party, and many others, then consider using the platform I use to edit and publish them: Techsmith Camtasia. Camtasia is just the right balance between too easy and inflexible, like iMovie, and absurdly complex and expensive, like Adobe Premiere. It’s got just the right features, from subtitle editing to all the usual transitions and special effects, and it’s a desktop app, so there’s none of this crazy trying to “edit in the cloud” (which is insane for video production). If you need to produce videos, screencasts, and even animations, give Camtasia a try.

Good Reads, Long Reads, Interesting Stuff

Fun, Games, and Entertainment

Economics, Politics, Environment, and Society

Ad: How to Prove the ROI of your Marketing Agency

I put together a brand new talk on how agencies could use data-driven marketing as a way to showcase their value and real results they obtain. Fundamentally, agencies need to take five steps to make this journey:

  1. Become data-driven. Making decisions with data allows you to act faster and make better decisions when done right.
  2. Be crystal clear about KPIs. What’s a KPI? It’s the number you get your bonus for (or fired for).
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  4. Use data to become proactive. Impress clients by being more proactive and pushing them.
  5. Squeeze all the juice from your tools. You probably don’t need to buy more tools.

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How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • MAICON, September 2021, virtual
  • MarTech East, September 2021, virtual
  • Content Marketing World, September 2021, Cleveland, OH
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2021, virtual
  • HELLO Conference, October 2021, New Jersey

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn

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