The Knewton Blog

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Knewton @ Google

Posted in Knerds on April 2, 2010 by

This post comes from Amy McDowell.

Last week, I was invited to participate at Google’s 2nd Annual Spring Training summit as a guest panelist for Knewton. Knewton must be doing something right—as our VP of Online Marketing, I was asked to provide insight and commentary on the changing digital marketing landscape.

So, what is this Google Spring Training summit, you ask? Fortunately for this endomorphic marketer, there was no physical exertion or hand-eye coordination involved. Rather, it was Google’s attempt to get their business clients back into the swing of things (no pun intended). Back in March 2009, during the depths of the economic recession, Google had the foresight to develop a conference with one objective – rally their clients to come out of hiding (aka “Spend more with Google!”) and arm them with tools and information to battle challenging business environment.

MAGNA’s latest research indicates that the first quarter of 2010 represents the last quarter of decline for the US advertising economy. Businesses are now finally coming out the woodwork (knock on wood!). As per this year’s Spring Training’s theme — “Hit it Home” — the agenda focused on results. With that goal in mind, the Google team presented a cleverly-themed seminar that redefined the traditional P’s of marketing to a crowd of hopeful but battle-scarred (scared?) industry veterans…

  • Pulse: The internet is full of tools (such as Google Insights for Search) to understand the interests of consumers. Not knowing what is happening as it is happening is not an excuse.
  • Pace: Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist for Google states “The greatest gift you can be given from the Internet is to be proven wrong fast”—the ability to quickly make changes to your business strategy and direction based on real-time feedback from is what differentiates the online innovators from the off-line followers.
  • Precision: Be relevant and targeted– customers are individuals, not cohorts or segments. Treat them as such through products and information that adds value to their lives and interests.
  • Performance: Google used verbs such as “Measure. Tinker. Quantify. Unite.” The underlying theme is constant iteration and optimization. Best summed by the Japanese word Kaizen, which refers to a philosophy or a set of practices that focus upon continuous improvement.
  • Participation: This is a huge part of why “social media” has been the industry buzzword for the past year. Consumers are friends—treat them like it with communication that is engaging and interactive.

These 5 P’s really resonated with Knewton’s approach to our GMAT, LSAT and SAT prep courses. Over the past year, we have developed analytical tools, invested in technological infrastructure and conducted market research to help us understand the “pulse” of the student community. As a start-up, our typical “pace” has always been between “hyper-drive” and “warp-speed” (sorry, for the geeky reference here). We strive to meet the precise, individual learning needs of each student by adorning our courses with the latest educational technology and proven pedagogical methodology. And finally, Knewton has always had a deep interest having students participate in the evolution of our courses. We integrated a course evaluation system using NPS to actively solicit student feedback. Apple enjoys the highest NPS in the technology business at 77%, Amazon is 74%, Google at 71%. Knewton’s NPS is currently 76%, an endorsement we are proud of after just one year!

After an eventful day at Google’s offices, I went home feeling exhausted but excited about all I learned. There was a lot to do to change the market’s perception of how engaging and effective test prep can be.

Luckily, Knewton not only has a fantastic team of experts, educators and innovators to help make this happen—we also have thousands of students actively contributing to our adaptive learning platform to help ensure we are heading in the right direction.