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DSC00064Marketing Misfire Photo of the Week I couldn't resist taking this photo while walking around in Manhattan. I'll leave the company name out of it but this was their main marketing message on the front of the building. They may want to consider...

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video-300x300Beginner's Guide to Video Marketing Disclaimer: I'm am not a professional video producer. If you've read my blog for a few years you'll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams'...

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Clean ShirtsHome Delivery Dry Cleaning Case Study: How Performance... Many of my readers are marketing professionals so stick with me on this post until the end. Although it looks like a post reviewing local dry cleaners it was actually inspired out of seeing first hand...

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Hotel Video Marketing - Good Tool or Not? I recently wrote about an experience I had in Europe staying at Ibis hotels. I was impressed with their marketing of their services and the backing of that brand marketing by hotel staff. The post was...

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Yoda.sized5 Steps To Analyzing That New Marketing Effort I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it's amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects...

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Are We All Clear On What Engagement Means?

Category : online marketing, social marketing

3

I was reading through my daily onslaught of newsletters, emails, blog posts, articles, etc. and I saw the word Engagement crop up more than a few times. The thought crossed my mind that five or ten years ago that term was not even on the radar for marketers or it had a totally different meaning. All of sudden, you better know what that means and how to implement the metric if you want to get a good marketing job.

I did a little digging and came up with a few posts that help define engagement and what it means to you:

One thing that is clear is that engagement means something different to every marketer. Engagement for me might mean a lead while engagement for you could mean an online purchase or a website visit. I think the term is being defined by the day as we find new ways to measure our social and online marketing efforts.

What does engagement mean for you?


What’s Black, White and Read All Over? Or Not.

Category : online marketing, print advertising

4

newspaper.jpgI’ve seen a couple instances this week that leave me wondering if we are really seeing the decline in print publications and print advertising. I’ve been well documented on this site as saying I much prefer online marketing, but I still do believe there is a place for print ads.

I missed the story in the Star Tribune, but Paul Jahn ran a quick post about the fact the Tribune here in Minneapolis is losing 145 positions – 50 of those in the newsroom. Are advertisers shifting their funds elsewhere?

The second is related to a popular trade magazine in which I advertise. The magazine, Telephony, has been popular for some time in the telecommunications industry. I received my recent copy and noticed 7 companies ran ads in the issue! That blew me away to see so few print ads in this magazine. Telephony has done a great job of developing their website and finding ways to get advertisers opportunities online. Are companies beginning to make a big shift away from their magazine and onto their website?

Although I prefer online advertising, I’m not willing to lay print to rest quite yet. Jim Logan had a good post recently about the value of combining old and new advertising in a marketing plan. There is alot of truth in that. Mark Pott’s also had an interesting look at some comments by Bill Gates and his views of the death of print.

Is this topic old news? What are your thoughts on the topic?


Testing Landing Pages is ROI Winner

Category : online marketing

2

I recently wrote a post about my 2007 revamp of my PPC campaigns and the focus was on landing pages. I feel like I’m hammering home the topic, but I came across another quality article from Chief Marketer that has relevance for the small business marketer. The focus of the article is on the topic of landing page testing and how a study showed this was a big ROI winner for marketers.

“On the one hand, this didn’t surprise us, because landing-page tests have ranked as the highest-impact tests in other online media for years. In fact, a December 2006 MarketingSherpa study of the world’s heaviest online advertisers revealed that 56% had budgeted significantly for landing-page A/B tests in 2007.”

Anne Holland, president of MarketingSherpa, does a nice job of presenting the topic and offering a couple of examples. What really got my attention was her comments on running tests when your web or IT group can’t help you. This is a huge issue for small business marketers. She writes:

“My suggestion: Try a few campaigns using supercheap, alternative Web page applications. What are these? You can find blogging software, online survey form software, and landing-page testing software from a variety of providers online that cost less than $50 a month. With a little ingenuity, all of these can be set up to look very much like a page on your own Website as you might want it to appear for e-mail clickthroughs.”

As I’ve said before, I’m not a web developer. I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m not an expert. I have the opportunity right now to beta test Google AdWords’ new Website Optimization tool and the biggest obstacle is getting the three sets of code set up on our website. Our website is rather complex and although Google does a nice job of laying out the instructions, the installation has had some challenges. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a full web team to work with??? Well, I don’t have that and many others do not either. Does this leave me disadvantaged? I don’t believe so. Anne’s suggestions are one route and there is always more than one way to test.

I’m going to look into Anne’s suggestion and compare her idea with Google’s new Website Optimization tool. So far Google’s tool looks incredible, but if I can’t get the code working, I won’t be able to use it. I hope to review the tool on this blog along with Anne’s suggestion as well.


See How Old School Marketing Can Get Social

Category : b to b marketing, online marketing, social marketing

0
I love finding examples of stodgy, “old school” marketing doing a 180 degree spin and trying today’s social marketing mediums to market their products. I spent quite a few years marketing products and services in the telecommunications market – many of those spent trying to market telcom equipment to service providers. I’ve enjoyed watching companies such as Cisco and others re-brand themselves using social media.tellabs.jpg

I was searching for some information on the TelephonyOnline website which is a popular magazine and online resource center for telecommunications related news. On the main page is this banner ad (right) from Tellabs. The banner ad consists of a 4 minute video clip highlighting the stories of 5 “echo boomers” – a generation of people who are constantly connected and in need of the highest level of service from service providers.

Tellabs is a manufacturer of telcom equipment used by service providers in their networks. Instead of the usual “here’s are product – see how it can fit into your network” approach, Tellabs is saying to the service provider, “here is your end user, this is what they need and want, and this is how we can help you provide what they need”. In the words of my favorite Guinness characters, Brilliant!

Plus, check out the landing page they put up for people who click through. The themes are carried over right into the website experience which truly enhances the campaign. There is also a place for interaction where they’re letting people tell how “on the go” technology has inspired their life. Thus letting the service provider’s customers create a viral life for the campaign.

The “Inspire the New Life” campaign is new, fresh and grabbing attention. This article also points to their campaign and talks about other examples of businesses looking to social media for interaction with their customer base.

A case could be made that they went a bit too far with the music, screensaver, and wallpaper downloads. The service provider executives who are going to sign off on the Tellabs equipment purchase may not have much of an interest, but the point is they created a buzz and brought their customer in touch with the end user. They created a marketing campaign that solves a problem for their customer – that’s what it’s all about!

What are your thoughts after looking at their campaign?


Great Opportunity: Online Marketing Telesummit

Category : online marketing

0

I came across this great opportunity from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. John is a well-respected marketing professional who will no doubt provide great information for small business marketers. His online marketing telesummit is geared towards small business:

“No matter if you do business in your town or around the world, the Internet has become an essential small business marketing tool! Attend the Duct Tape Marketing small business Internet marketing super class broken into three fast moving live sessions – each packed with laser specific details for moving your business ahead in this rapidly changing medium.”

Plus, being web-based you can catch the recorded sessions if you miss one. I’m planning on signing up!


Let’s Not Obsess Over SEO

Category : online marketing, paid search, search engine marketing, strategy

3

angry.jpgThis is as close to a rant as you will get from me. After reading some recent posts, I’m afraid the message being sent to small business marketers considering outside consultants for SEO is that unless you’re willing to turn over your online strategy, spend big money, and don’t ask questions you’re offending the consultant and don’t deserve to be “accepted” as a client.

I’ve found myself heading to my delicio.us account to catch up on some bookmarked posts this last weekend. I read no less than three posts from respected SEO experts in our marketing blog community writing about their ignorant clients who don’t understand the science of SEO. They wrote about how frustrated they are that they need to explain search engine optimization over and over again. Get over it! That’s business.

(I made the decision during the writing of this post to NOT link to those blogs because the authors have great blogs that I don’t want to discourage my readers from visiting.)

There was recently a debate about whether SEO is “rocket science” or not. I take the position that SEO is an important part of any marketing plan and takes talented people to execute. It is a science.

With that said, I don’t want the small business marketer to be put off by some of the recent posts. Search engine optimization is an important component of an overall marketing strategy, but you don’t have to obsess over it. Here are some tips to looking into this side of your business.

  • Prioritize: If your business is dependent on search engine traffic for all of your sales, stop reading this post, and start obsessing about SEO! Now, for the rest of you small business marketers, take a step back and assess where SEO fits into your overall plan. Your time and money needs to spread among advertising, lead generation, marketing campaigns, PR, product launches, branding, your website, etc. Search engine marketing may play a role in all of the above list or just a few.
  • Get Educated: I do believe you need to be somewhat well-read on the topic of SEO before you start interviewing consultants. You need to understand the basics and be able to understand the recommendations being made. The better you understand search engine marketing, the easier time you’ll have figuring out what you need for your business. Remember, SEO is an overall strategy – not just one or two tasks.
  • Shop Around: Too many web design companies are claiming to have SEO/SEM expertise. From my experience, this means one of the designers took a class in SEO and can now apply a list of keywords to title tags and meta tags. That is not optimization. Make sure you’re talking to the right types of consultants. You’ll waste a lot of money if you don’t bring in someone that truly knows search marketing. Trust me, you can tell the difference between a designer and an SEO professional.
  • Know Your Goals: Search marketing is a broad topic – know what your goals are before meeting with a consultant. Is it only high organic rankings on search engines? Are you interested in paid search? Will social media play a role in your plans? Knowing what you want will help communication and trust levels with potential consultants.
  • Devise a plan: Currently, I’m looking at developing a social media room that will be part of a complete optimization strategy. I’m putting my goals in place and drawing up a plan depicting what I want the end result to be. I’m looking at a more social arm to a site for distributing PR materials such as press releases, white papers and video. I’ll work to keep some of this in-house and I’ll look at having a consultant help me with the plan and implementation. As a small business marketing manager, I can’t expect to effectively take all this on myself – although I’d like to! Know what your time and budget will allow before hiring a consultant.
  • Ask Questions: Despite some of the recent posts mentioned above, don’t hesitate to ask questions. I don’t believe there is a dumb question. Many of the talented SEO professionals writing blogs are very open to questions. I’ve written many off-line and asked advice. I can only remember once or twice when I was blown off. If you’re wondering about a recommendation made or trying to find additional info, search blog posts and ask away. That’s the beauty of the blogosphere!

Here are a couple of additional resources I’ve come across and bookmarked over the last year:

I know there are many more out there. Can you offer up some resources?


ComScore Networks To Measure Social Media

Category : b to b marketing, online marketing

0

This article on BtoB Online is a very quick blurb announcing that ComScore Networks has announced an R&D effort to measure conversational media and blogs.

“ComScore Networks announced a research and development initiative to provide measurement of social media such as blogs and online communities. As part of the research project, comScore said, it will build a database that will use a customized weighting and projection system designed specifically to measure conversational media and blogs. ComScore said the measurement system will help advertisers quantify the value of blog audiences. “

I found this press release on their website as well announcing a partnership with Federated Media.

This type of measurement would be very large for small businesses who want to get into social media, but want data to back up their efforts. Who knows how far ComScore will get with this, but it’s worth watching.


A Useful and Engaging New Site for Online Ads

Category : online marketing, Uncategorized

4

chameleon_logo.gifAs most bloggers can relate, I get a few emails a week asking me to check out a site, product, or service. Some are obviously spam and others are legitimate requests. Recently, I received a nice email from James at adverlicio.us.His email was obviously not spam. In fact, it was one of the better I’ve seen. He related to my site well and said his one-of-a-kind site of archived online ads could offer the small business marketing manager a source of research and inspiration.

I checked it out, of course, but hadn’t plan to write about it. Well, I’m in the market for a new online banner ad approach and sought out adverlicio.us. James was right – I found some ideas and enjoyed the search. Thus, I thought the site deserved a post! There is some great creative out there and I like the site logo (top left).

I’ve recently become a fan of banner ads that somehow engage the reader to interact. This one by Yahoo caught my eye.

Search Marketing’s Alter Ego

Category : online marketing, paid search, search engine marketing, Uncategorized

1

I love statistics. How could you not? Statistics offer you the chance to see what worked in the past and hints as to how you might succeed in the future. The stats that most interest me these days (besides Fantasy Baseball stats) are website and search marketing analytics.

For any small business marketer, analytics are a low-cost way to monitor the effectiveness of your online (and some off-line) marketing programs. You can monitor which keywords are performing well in organic and paid search campaigns, monitor conversions, track landing pages, see where your visitors are located, and much more. But, did you know that search marketing has an alter ego?

To the delight of many small businesses, search marketing doubles as a market research tool. Many analytics packages are cheap (or free) these days which offers marketers a chance to take a snap shot of their target market without spending alot of time or money. Let’s outline a few ways you can conduct market research through your analytics:

Long-tailed keywords: Checking what search terms were used to get to your site can offer you insight into what interests your customers the most. Let’s take a simple example (and please note I have no experience with selling shoes). Say, for instance, you sold shoes online. Typical terms that lead to your site may include running shoes, tennis shoes, dress shoes, etc. If you’re monitoring your logs you may start to see trends on customer searches – for instance, “black plain-toe dress shoes” or “women’s low-heel dress shoes”. If you see trends develop around color, style, ect. you may be seeing the interests of your customers come out via their searching behavior. With this information, you can select product imagery or descriptive text in upcoming ads or landing page content that might put you a step ahead of your competition in landing a conversion.

Navigational Analysis: The Google Analytics package I’m using for one of my sites has a great navigational feature that allows you to open up any page on your site and see where people click to from that page. What a great way to spy on your visitors and learn what they’re really after (hopefully not the exit!). Finding popular links in your site can help you learn what is currently popular with your customers. Maybe its time to push that material to the home page or use it in upcoming online or print ads?

Bounce rate vs. Page Views: Select a few of the keywords that are at the core of your business and analyze what happens when searchers click on your organic or paid ad result when searching on those keywords. Do they click through to more information on your site or do they leave without any more page views? Results can give you feedback on how your products and services are connecting with your target audience. If a keyword represents a popular product or service in the marketplace and your bounce rate is high, it’s obvious your customers are looking for something else than what you have to offer. Possibly a different variation? If page views are high (and hopefully conversions) on certain keywords, you must be hitting the mark. Maybe its time to transition your approach on those keywords to some of your higher bounce rate keywords.

Organic Page Views vs. PPC Page Views: Ever wonder where your customers are in their buying cycle? Organic page views vs. PPC page views may offer you some insight. Some may argue, but I believe PPC clicks are from people who have gone past the research phase and are moving into the buying or researching vendor phase in the search marketing funnel. Again, take a few of the keywords at the core of your business and see which search result – organic or PPC – is getting more page views. This can help you understand where your customers are in the decision process and how you can tailor a message to take advantage of that.

Location of Clicks: I enjoy seeing from where in the world clicks come to get to my sites. Far reaching places I’ve never heard of show up in my logs. This is valuable information. Perhaps you’re seeing a rise in clicks from Europe or maybe, if you’re a more local US establishment, you’re seeing clicks coming from a bordering state. Either way, if a trend becomes significant, the time may have come to offer products or services in that bordering state or time for a focused ad campaign in Europe.

Market research is very time consuming and if you’re a small business marketer, it means time is being pulled from something else. The above methods can save you time and money and offer you in-depth insights into the interests and habits of your customers. Do you use analytics for any market research I don’t mention above?

No eCommerce? Email Marketing Still Works!

Category : email marketing, online marketing

1

I was in the process of planning a post discussing email marketing for companies who do not sell their products or services on the web. I had read a couple articles and posts in the last month which focused on email marketing as a tool only to drive eCommerce transactions. Sure, emails are great for that, but I think there are many more uses to email marketing – especially in a B to B environment.

Well, Karen Talavera of Synchronicity Marketing stole my thunder. I was researching some content for the post and came across an excellent article written by her for BtoB’s eMail Marketing Insight. She outlined my main points! So, let’s read what SHE has to say:

“Many organizations can’t or don’t sell products and services online. For them, the concept of driving sales conversions via e-mail to an e-commerce-enabled Web site makes about as much sense as leading a horse to a well instead of a river. These companies instead rely on their Web sites to educate interested prospects, cultivate inquiries and accelerate leads—and their best application of e-mail marketing is to do the same. Here’s how:

  • Answer inquiries. A non-e-commerce Web site is ideal for gathering and fielding inquiries. E-mail is used to respond to those inquiries with customized information, answer specific questions or, better yet, the all-important invitation to begin the sales process in the company’s channels of choice. For b-to-b marketers, that may mean setting phone appointments or initial meetings, or referring to a distributor or reseller.
  • Educate. What are the steps prospects must take in order to buy from you? Do they know what those steps are? What are the typical objections to a purchase decision? In the often complex and lengthy b-to-b buying cycles that involve group consensus-building or decision-making, it pays to address and overcome known objections early through proactive e-mail campaigns.
  • Accelerate. Once a prospect (or even a returning customer) is well into the sales funnel, there’s a special role for e-mail marketing and the premise is simple: Multiple communications channels increase response. E-mail regularly scheduled in conjunction with individual account exec or sales team contact will accelerate qualified prospects into customers. E-mail is also a route for conveying exclusive offers, incentives or limited-time deadlines that prompt open opportunities to close rather than linger indefinitely.
  • Build and sustain customer communication. Do you proactively reach out to customers to share news, announcements, and information of interest to them rather than you? E-mail is ideal for distributing information, yet too often that information is irrelevant to the audience; either it isn’t customized enough or is manufactured simply to fill yet another e-newsletter. Don’t push content solely for the sake of maintaining a particular contact frequency once a prospect converts to a customer if it isn’t useful, relevant, and engaging.”

Email marketing is a powerful way to educate, drive traffic, and generate leads even if you don’t sell through your website. The harder you work to refine your email strategy, the bigger the pay-off.