Posts filed under 'Internet Marketing'

Who Is Safe From Online Price Transparency?

In a world of ultimate price transparency, where the majority of shoppers go online to research products before buying them online or off, how can a retailer online succeed? You have to compete with a myriad of competing companies online, most importantly Amazon which has a broader product assortment (thanks to their marketplace), less stock outs, rated best customer service, and quick shipping. If you sell a product that can be found using a specific search like “sony hdr-cx160”, in other words, really easy to do price comparisons, than you’re in trouble. A strategy of selling average stuff to average people is not a sustainable one, it’s a race to who can do it the cheapest. In the early days of ecommerce you could get away with it, but now customers have the tools and have been trained on how to find the lowest price online.

Companies that have a protective barrier from their private label that only sell in their channel like Pottery Barn, Tiffanys and JCrew will survive. Companies that have sell stories, curate content and products worth talking about are the ones that will work. Businesses that cultivate a group of people with the same mission and then let the business be the symbol that those within the group use to identify themselves and identify each other will win.

No matter how savvy at search, display, attribution or analytics you are, I think that the real secret to success online in the future isn’t more unique ways of discounting but is a brand that means something.

Add comment August 5th, 2011

Remarketing Timeline Strategy

Deciding the time frame that you use to retarget both prospects and purchasers from your website make a big difference. Visitors that leave the site without buying have the most potential for coming back and purchasing in the first 14 days (of course the tricky part is figuring our whether they would have come back anyway without seeing your ads). The more time passes, the colder the prospect gets in terms of re-activating them as a customer. Past purchasers are just the opposite. Right after purchase isn’t the smartest time to serve them ads since they just purchased, but depending on your product, the more time passes the more valuable they are to message.

Add comment July 27th, 2011

What Is Your Content Curation Strategy?

Content creation is an important marketing strategy for a business and so is content curation.

At the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA in August 2010 Eric Schmidt said, “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until  2003. That’s something like five exabytes of data.”

With that perspective in mind, it makes sense that curation on the web is really important.

Seth Godin explains it in his post Nearly Infinite, “If you know 100,000 words, names and brand names, there are now a hundred trillion different searches you can do… with only two words in combination.  No, you might not want to search on Starbucks Matzoh, but you could. Just knowing what to search for is now as difficult as the search itself.
In the face of infinity, many of us are panicking and searching less, going shallower, relying on bestseller lists and simple recommendations. The vast majority of Google searches are just one or two words, and obvious ones at that. The long tail gets a lot shorter when you don’t know what’s out there.”

A business can take advantage of this problem that most people face online by curating content for their blog. Use the purpose of your business as the theme of your blog and then find other blogs and content out there that focus on that same content and re-post it. If your business purpose is something that people want to rally behind then your blog can be the rallying point.

Magazine publishers don’t sell magazines and web sites don’t sell content, they sell their audiences to advertisers. They do it by focusing on a topic that attracts a lot of visitors and then churning out a lot of content, most of it curated, on a daily basis for advertisers to sponsor. There’s nothing really special about what publishers do that a brand couldn’t do. So instead of paying publishers to be able to brand their content, make your own content and brand it all for free.

1 comment May 1st, 2011

Online Marketing Is Like Fly Fishing

This is a long analogy so bear with me.

You can’t catch fish unless you put your line in the water. In the case of fly fishing, you can throw your line in the water but if the fish aren’t interested your fly will float on by. The fish don’t care if it’s a really expensive fly, really cheap fly, if your a pro fly fisherman or if this is the first time you’ve ever fished. If they’re not interested, they’re not interested and you can never predict 100% what the fish will bite.

Online marketing is very similar. Trying to guess what piece of content or marketing message customers will bite on is unpredictable (just look at how random the most watched videos on YouTube are). The stream of content the fish are swimming in is getting wider and faster everyday. And the context of your marketing message will unavoidably be among very armature, poor quality and/or irrelevant messages (lots of flies out there for fish to bite on). Most of the pieces of content brands put on YouTube cost 100 times that of the video next to it and chances are, half the time the viewer doesn’t even notice and chooses the home made and poor quality option instead. The carefully crafted Facebook marketing page and status updates the advertising agency has meticulously built over a two month period will appear in the customers news feed right next to their friend’s post of a shaky video with terrible audio, and yet, that video is what will be viewed and shared instead.

So why do brands spend so much money on advertising agencies to create very expensive flies, to be cast in front of very unpredictable fish, in a stream that is covered with millions of other inexpensive, armature and home made flies for the fish to bite on?

The traditional model of advertising where months of time and effort and put into “the big idea” for the brand to sell one consistent branding message costs too much and doesn’t scale online. In the past it made sense because every time you would cast your fly it cost a lot of money but there weren’t very many fisherman because of the high cost and the stream was smaller and slower moving.

I think the future of online marketing is about having as many lines in the water as possible. The goal should not be to have the most expensive, finely-tuned, most researched or highest quality single idea. Every post, tweet, update and video is another line in the water that gives you one more chance to get a bite. The amount of effort and cost that is traditionally spent on the big expensive ideas that ad agencies sell to brands are not worth it. The customers don’t care, they’ll let that beloved idea float on by.

The lower the cost of distribution, the more content will exist and the lower the attention level of the customer will be. The lower the attention level, the lower the cost of production should be to accommodate more frequent and diverse ideas.

Add comment April 15th, 2011

What Is Your Content Creation Strategy?

Instead of asking, “what is your marketing strategy?”, I think the more important question is, “what is your content creation strategy?”

Churning out fresh content is the essence of SEO, fuels your Facebook fans and Twitter followers, adds credibility and trust to your brand, helps customers down the conversion funnel, holds the customer’s attention and enhances the customer’s memory.

It’s not easy to blog regularly, upload current videos to your YouTube channel, tweeting and feeding Facebook. But it’s a heck of a lot more worth it than a traditional marketing strategy of having well crafted ads placed periodically in places where people try to ignore them.

And when it comes to quality vs quantity, I think quantity is more important. I’d rather have a few hundred (and growing everyday) fishing lines in the water that a couple really expensive ones.

So what does a content creation strategy look like? I’m still working on that one, but what it begins to look like is a cadence of timely content based on:

  • Being a teacher
  • Going behind the scenes
  • Giving a little at a time
  • Focusing on their interests, not yours
  • One on one dialogs
  • Making customers famous
  • Being a curator

In the end your content creation strategy earns you attention by being a publisher instead of paying some other publisher for their audience’s attention.

2 comments March 5th, 2011

eCommerce Shifting To DealCommerce

There is a surge of deal sites on the internet and I don’t think it’s a good thing for businesses. Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook Deals, Google Offers, Woot, Gilt Group and on and on, all get too much credit for the services they provide: It’s not that hard to give stuff away for cheap on the internet where spreading information is as simple as a click. Retailers have gotten caught up in all the promotion hype of these businesses and have trained customers to be very price sensitive and to not buy anything until it’s on sale. I’m very skeptical of whether these flash sales and deal networks really add value to the business: sure they are getting a ton of volume quickly but are they getting more customers? It’s my opinion that the people who use these deal sites could care less about being return customers and are more interested in jumping to the next business that gives them a deal. Take a look at the growth of the query Coupon Code from Insights for Search:
From a study posted on the Google Retail Blog: 25%, the majority, of people who “Like” brands on Facebook do so for discounts.
The amount of people researching online before they buy is going up: one study shows “58% of Americans now reporting that they perform online research concerning the products and services that they are considering purchasing,” and another says, “34% of customers research online and then went to the store to purchase the products.” The more prolific these deal sites become the easier people doing their research will find them and the harder it will be for a company to sell something at full price.

Add comment February 8th, 2011

Going Deeper With AdWords Remarketing

Here are a few ideas on getting the most out of Google Adword’s remarketing:

Remarketing to everyone who visits your site can be wasteful and expensive since there are a lot of visitors who bounced immediately after visiting. No matter how many ads they see they have no interest. You’re better off remarketing to those people who showed a higher level of interest by visiting multiple pages. To do this create a Custom Combination that includes tags from more than one page. In the New Custom Combination screen, select all audiences from one tag and then create another list that includes a separate tag.

Like in this example for a site that sells both women’s and kid’s products, this custom combination will include only people who have visited both a women’s page and visited a kid’s page, no bounces.

AdWords remarketing also allows for reactivation campaigns where you target people who have purchased in the past with a message to get them to come back and purchase again. Create a new remarketing list and click the Select From Existing Tags radio button. Whatever you call your conversion, or “action name” will show up. Select it, and give it a 90 day duration. Then make another remarketing list the same way but this time give it a 60 day duration. Then make a new custom combination where you select all of the 90 day audiance and none of the 60 day audience. This way you will retarget people who have purchased 90 to 60 days ago. The maximum membership duration for your cookie is 540 days, so if your product is a seasonal one, you could message past purchasers over a year after they purchased to remind its that time of year again to come back and buy.

Chances are most people who buy from your site, buy the same day they visit. So sending them a remarketing ad as soon as they leave can be a waste and is going to give your retargeting ads more than their fair share of credit. Waiting a day before showing them ads can help you weed out those people who would have come back and bought the same day anyway. Setting this up is just like the tip above but instead of using your conversion tag, use any of the tags you have set up on your site. Make the membership duration for one of them 1 day and then make a new custom combination that excludes all audiances from that 1 day list. Now your ads will show to people after one day has past.

3 comments January 9th, 2011

How To Determine Your AdWords Budget

Your AdWords budget is a little different then a traditional marketing budget because it changes based on your average order value and your cost per conversion.
Think about it: if you got $50 for every $40 you spent, how big of a budget would you want to have? You would want to have the largest budget you could possibly have because the more money you spend, the more money you make right?!
Traditional advertising budgets spent on billboards, TV or magazines have no way of knowing how much money is being made back on your investment – hence the reason for having a budget.
Below is my AdWords Budget Calculator built in excel for calculating the sweet spot for your budget. Feel free to download it at the bottom of this post.
AdWords Budget Calculator
So the first thing you need to decide is how much a sale is worth to you – weather it’s the worth of one lead, the margin you make on a sale, or the value of a visit – I call it the average order value. Next, you determine your cost per conversion. This is derived by cost divided by conversions. If you’re just starting out you won’t know what this metric is in your AdWords account since you need to accumulate some clicks and conversions. But you can still use the tool to make a goal for your cost per conversion.
Once you start playing around with the calculator you’ll see the relationship between these metrics and your revenue. The more you can decrease costs to get that average order value to go up, and the more you can optimize your AdWords campaigns to get that cost per conversion down – the more revenue you make. Obviously no matter how large of a budget you have, at some point there won’t be enough demand, in the form of searches triggering your ads, to allow you to continue to make more money. This is where expanding your keyword lists comes in and the process starts all over again.

Download AdWords Budget Calculator

Add comment December 13th, 2010

Facebook Marketing Dashboard Download

Facebook has some pretty cool metrics for Pages that you can access from the insights tool. This can be navigated to by clicking Ads & Pages on the homepage’s left sidebar, then Pages on the Ads Manager left sidebar. From there, click on insights and you can export data about traffic, Likes, and interactions from your Fan Page using the “Export” button in the top right corner.

I made this marketing dashboard below using that data from Facebook Insights and a few metrics from Google Analytics. (The numbers are all fictional so don’t read into them too much).
The purpose of this dashboard is to visualize Facebook’s impact on the business’s website in terms of revenue and measure the quality of the content posted on the Facebook page.

Facebook Marketing Dashboard

Click for larger view

The top left graph shows total number of Likes with a line graph over the top of it showing total number of visits to the site from Facebook. Do more Likes equate to more visits to your site? You would need to get visits data from Google Analytics to put this together.
The next chart over shows total amount of revenue from Facebook. Revenue may not be the goal of your site for Facebook, maybe its leads generated or email and RSS subscriptions. Whatever it is, you should try to quantify some kind of outcome as a result of your efforts on Facebook. More Likes of your page should be a means to an end, not the end itself.
The bottom left chart shows daily stream impressions (amount of impressions your status updates have had in your fan’s news feeds) with a line over it showing a percentage of attrition – meaning number of people un-liking you. It’s important to be posting good content that people would want and at the same time not post it so frequently that it burns people out. In my example you can see a correlation between frequency of impressions and the number of un-likes. You can also see that number of un-likes has decreased and looks like it is still decreasing which is a sign that the frequency and quality is getting closer to the sweet spot.
The last chart shows the amount of interaction the fans have with the page in terms of Likes and comments on a daily basis. Again, this is a good way to monitor the quality of your Facebook page’s content.
So there you have it, my take on a marketing dashboard for Facebook. It doesn’t include anything having to do with Facebook ads, I think I’ll tackle that dashboard next. Let me know what you think, and if you’re interested, click this link to download the Facebook Marketing Dashboard in Excel.

Add comment December 9th, 2010

Your SEO Strategy Is Your Online Marketing Strategy

Thinking of the two as different strategies is like keeping product development and marketing in separate silos. Good marketing is when the product is the marketing. Making a crap product and then trying to position it as something very cool and needed is an expensive and uphill battle, likewise making a site and then working on the SEO strategy is also very short sighted. If you’ve ever done an SEO audit before you know its pretty much like saying, “let me evaluate how well your online marketing is done”.

Is the purpose of SEO to get more traffic or get more customers? The two don’t necessarily co-inside. If you build your SEO strategy as an afterthought instead of it being your marketing strategy, you’ll probably get more traffic but not more customers. A separate SEO strategy usually sounds like, “I want to rank high for this keyword.” To which the answer is usually, “what makes you think you deserve to rank high for that keyword?” If your site is built to offer the best information, service, resource and user experience then it will rank high for that keyword. If your site doesn’t meet that criteria then doing a bunch of “link building” will just cause more people to come to your site and quickly leave again because you don’t offer what they are looking for.

So when designing a marketing strategy online think of it as an SEO strategy and results are bound to be more effective.

Add comment September 22nd, 2010

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Hi, my name is Zach Olsen, internet marketing professional, web entrepreneur & proud dad. Read more...

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