Archive for August, 2007

Search Engine Optimization and Web Presence

Search marketing consists of two different aspects: natural, or organic search, and paid-search. Through the proper utilization of these marketing initiatives, companies can enhance and increase their web presence relatively inexpensively, or even at no cost at all!

At the Center for eBizitPA‘s seminar, “Enhance Your Web Presence Through Search Marketing,” held yesterday, August 23rd, 2007 in Franklin, PA, three experts on the topic discussed both paid and natural search. The concluding presentation consisted of a critical analysis of six different attendees’ company websites.

PennTAP LogoPennTAP’s Donald LeGoullon kicked off the seminar with his presentation on natural, or organic search engine marketing and the search engine optimization (SEO), the improvement of the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines. LeGoullon efficiently covered a great deal of quality information regarding the state and usage of search engines today, and useful tips and tricks in order to raise companies’ websites upwards in the ranking of search engine results using SEO. Although only given an hour of time, LeGoullon did a tremendous job of efficiently creating a general understanding of what SEO is, as well as ways to use it to increase the visibility of a web site on the web.eDynaQuote logo

Doug Luthringer, Client Development Manager for eDynaQuote, and an avid ebay seller, was the second speaker of this half-day seminar, speaking about paid search using Google AdWords, which offers pay per click (PPC) advertising, and site targeted advertising for both text and banner ads. Google AdWords LogoThe ads placed on Google AdWords are included in the following locations on the Google Search engine, when the purchased key search terms are searched for.

Google AdWords Placement

Luthringer began his presentation by introducing the concept of paid search marketing with common terms and the different pricing models available. Some of these pricing models include pay per click, pay per lead, pay-per-sale, and performance pricing. The presentation continued with specifics about the Google AdWords service, as well as a step by step tutorial on how to set up an account, design ads, and purchase keywords for the ad. Tips and tactics for creating an effective ad to optimize results and ROI were also covered.

The final presentation of the seminar was presented by Cathy von Birgelen, of the eMarketing Learning Center at eBizitPA, and Don LeGoullon. Six individual company websites were constructively analyzed by these professionals from a marketing and SEO point of view. Many suggestions were made on how the sites could be improved. The positive and effective aspects of the website were also pointed out as a guide for what other companies should and should not be doing with regards to their web site creation. For more information on how to get a personalized analysis of your company’s website, contact Don LeGoullon at PennTAP via email, or telephone (814-677-3152).

If you missed this event, continue to visit eBizitPA’s website for other similar search or e-marketing courses! If you attended this seminar, we invite you to comment on the overall quality and value of the information presented throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Note: This event was sponsored by:

eMarketing Skills and Training Survey

Technology Industry Partnership

On behalf of the Northwest Pennsylvania Technology Industry Partnership, the Center for eBusiness and Advanced IT (eBizITPA) and the Technology Council of Northwest Pennsylvania are conducting research to gain insights and understanding about the needs of employers and their employees in the areas of e-marketing.

If you are an employee or owner of a Pennsylvania-based business, we would like to invite you to participate in this survey. In exchange for volunteering ten minutes of your time to answer some questions, the first 50 survey respondents will each receive a $10 gift certificate good for the business of your choice to be redeemed at

Your participation in this survey will help us to understand what is important to employers and employees, as well as how you view the challenges and opportunities of e-marketing. With your feedback, we hope to achieve the following objectives:

  • Identify current levels of e-marketing awareness, attitudes and interest.
  • Identify skills and training most needed for successful integration of e-marketing strategies and techniques into your enterprise.
  • Develop effective training programs to provide the knowledge and skills identified.
  • Assist relevant professionals within Pennsylvania businesses in obtaining the required knowledge and skills to apply emerging marketing methods and technologies used in expanding business options and creating new and diverse marketplace opportunities.
  • Assist agencies, Web developers/designers and consultants to attain e-marketing expertise and to develop services and solutions offerings; which would include both software development and consulting services.

We understand that your time is valuable, and we have kept the survey as brief and concise as possible. We will thank all of our survey participants by sending them a copy of the aggregated survey data.

To participate in this survey and be eligible to receive $10 redeemable at,

Click here.


Thank you for your participation!

AOL Advertising Sales Manager Gary Sherwood Addresses Local Erie Advertisers

Erie Ad Club LogoThe much anticipated Erie Ad Club new members’ luncheon took place today at the Erie Club, with a very large turnout. The 70 seats that had originally been reserved looked to have increased quite a bit, creating a buzz of anticipation and excitement in the meeting room. Soon after the attendees had helped themselves to a lunch spread of salad, sandwiches, soups, and cookies, Gary Sherwood, Advertising Sales Manager of AOL Media Services, was introduced and took the mic.AOL

His comprehensive presentation consisted of a broad overview of the current state of the online advertising market in comparison to past years and other advertising and marketing mediums that are being utilized by advertisers and marketers. Sherwood began with consumer behaviors and what they mean for companies. The first characteristic of internet users was identified as the idea of multi-tasking. The amount of available consumer media in our world has exploded in the past years with the growth of recent technologies. Despite this growth, there remains only 24 hours in a day to try to consume all of this information and entertainment. This has resulted in a general tendency to multi task, and the use of technology to compress content and time. Time, in the online space, is all relative.

TiVoAn example Sherwood cited was TiVo, “Who would have thought five years ago that one hour of television could be watched within 40 minutes, or a three hour football game could be watched within a half hour?”

Sherwood continued by outlining four factors that are driving this multi-tasking activity in users:

1. Broadband as mainstream

2. Searching

3. Limitless distribution channels and the vast amount of user generated content.

4. Online video streaming.

One hundred and seventy six million people are online in the US today, and more than 50% of them have access to broadband internet from their own homes. This broadband becoming a mainstream, and in some cases a necessity, has led to a change in users’ online habits, spending more time on the internet, and more likely to become creators and distributors of the content itself.Google

Users who go to the internet to look for a certain company, location, or information about a topic, stop first at a search engine. There are 6.4 billion monthly searches on the Google search engine alone. This search feature is a way of organizing online behavior, which can be greatly utilized by advertisers seeking prospects through search marketing. This solution is available to all levels of companies, even those who do not have a large marketing budget, because a max spending amount per month can be set, and companies only pay when their links are clicked.

YouTubeThe streaming of video streams in 1999 was about one billion. In contrast, the estimated amount of video streams in 2007 will be 35 billion. As you can see, the popularity of video streaming has exploded, and includes users viewing television shows, movies, selected clips, popular advertisements, or random videos on sites such as YouTube.

Online advertising facilitates a one to one, interactive relationship from the first step of awareness all the way through to the transaction. It allows companies and their customers to engage in a unique dialogue that other mediums can not compete with. It is also measurable in real time. Companies can track clicks, which pages of a web site the user clicked through to, how much time they spent on the page, and many other factors almost immediately.

Gary Sherwood concluded his presentation by summarizing his presentation with the comment that the online world is the ultimate on demand user format, where the consumers are in control of the content. When they log online, they are either looking for something that will make their life easier at that moment, or communication with the online community.

Facebook LogoAt this point in the luncheon, Sherwood opened it up for questions about online advertising in general. An extremely interesting question, in my opinion, was asked about the potential of social networking sites as marketing or advertising venues. Sherwood replied that he did not know the specifics of that medium and how it works, but he stated his personal opinion about what should be done, if in fact is not being carried out already. Users of these social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace, usually enter massive amounts of personal information about themselves, including particular interests, occupations, geographical location, etc. The social networking sites themselves could then used this self-proclaimedMySpace Logo information to segment these individuals into different “buckets.” This way, those who are interested in sports would see narrowly segmented sports advertisements when logged into the site.

I, personally, know that Facebook does something similar to this. Advertisers can choose to reach only those individuals that are in certain “networks,” or geographical areas. To some extent, Sherwood’s opinion on the ideal way to advertise on social networking sites is already being implemented. However, it seems that advertisers should be able to segment even more, leading to more of that interactive one to one relationship we discussed before.Amazon Logo

Another interesting topic brought up in the Q&A was the idea of websites “remembering” your information to make it easier for users to fill out forms, initiate transactions, etc, as well as to help the website’s company to appeal to you. For example, Amazon’s website recommends different products that you may be interested in based on the selections it “remembered” you either looked at or purchased. Sherwood explained that these websites work by tracking the IP addresses, which are unique for every computer. The site “cookies” the user every time he or she browses the website or clicks a link. The site will “remember” the actions taken by that computer in order to appeal more to the users.

This presentation was an extremely good overview of e-marketing. However, there are numerous aspects that weren’t touched on, simply because of the short nature of the luncheon. However, we would like for you to continue the dialogue about these different types of media being used for marketing. What do you think about the potential of social networking sites as a marketing medium? Does “cookie-ing” an individual invade their privacy? What about blogging or podcasting? Are these media appropriate for marketing?

Internet Retailing Roundtable Briefing

The Internet Retailing roundtable featuring Jeff Parnell was held on Tuesday, July 31st, at National City Bank’s community room. The first roundtable was an incredibly interesting and productive meeting for all those who attended. For those of you who did attend, thank you for your participation, and please leave some feedback about your takes from the meeting. For those of you who were unavailable, feel free to browse today’s posting to get the gist of the discussion that was held. There will be future events, so keep checking the blog for updates so that you may attend the next event! 

Our industry expert featured at this breakfast, Jeff Parnell, began the discussion by speaking about the big picture approach to internet retailing, drawing from his experiences at Blair Corporation. He divided his experiences in leading the e-commerce endeavor at Blair into four separate stages, using the four “S’s.” Survival. Stability. Success. Significance. He then proceeded to talk about each of these stages in more detail. 

The first stage was the survival in the 2000 era. The e-commerce unit at Blair began as separate from the primary business units of menswear, womenswear, and home furnishings but from Day One, the e-comm team recognized the value of including all product lines on the website and worked to achieve synergies and efficiencies across product lines. Since the staff of this new unit only consisted of four individuals, there were on a race to drive revenue and demonstrate the “new” channel’s impact very quickly. They began to leverage every resource available from the other business units, including house lists and catalogs, in order to attract and acquire customers for the new online Blair store. They also tested many new methods that may help them in their acquisition of leads, in order to survive as a successful business entity. Some of these methods include email marketing, portal deals, strategic alliances, and affiliate programs.  

Soon, Blair’s e-commerce was in good health, showing vital signs of life and a good deal of potential. During this phase of Stability, team members from menswear, womenswear, and home furnishings began to work more closely, moving to what is called Multi-channel retailingOpportunities to more profitably liquidate discontinued product online also began to emerge and this “product line” took root as a key sales driver (typical customers purchased clearance items AND full-priced apparel).

Success came early, beating the first year forecast by achieving more than $30 million in gross revenue in the first year. The small staff of the e-commerce unit proved their worth and value, ending the race with consistent revenue achievements that surpassed original goals and expectations.

New initiatives were soon designed with the purpose of extending Blair’s reach and acquiring new customers. Strategic partnerships with internet marketing services, such as Performics,  to manage affiliate marketing programs.  In an affiliate marketing program, a publisher (in this case, Performics) receives a commission for generating a transaction, such as a lead or sale, for an advertiser (Blair) that the publisher is promoting. 

The Significance stage is the toughest for businesses, which comes after making the bottom line impact. For Blair, it became evident that the e-commerce channel was able to sell clearance and liquidate inventory faster, while making more profit. Therefore, the company closed several physical outlet locations (including one in Erie).  The level of collaboration between merchants and marketers continued to grow significantly, and this laid the foundation for new innovations that were closely aligned with corporate strategy.  Blair also implemented an e-commerce analytics application using Coremetrics in order to enable customer tracking from the original open of an email or click of a link to the shopping cart and transaction. This ability to track customer activity from acquisition to the transaction (and across the entire product line) is called the Long Tail. 

AJ Miceli, a Gannon Communication Arts professor and Director of Marketing for commented on Parnell’s use of affiliate programs and shared how developed their own proprietary affiliate program application.  Miceli said that the good affiliates are hard for smaller companies to find on their own.   He stated, “You end up dealing with link farms, and in general just bad sites.” He also pointed out that the better affiliates are becoming very picky about the deals they offer and are more interested in partnering with larger companies and better known brands. is currently rethinking their affiliate approach and is involved with negotiations to engage an affiliate marketing technology platform with thousands of affiliates participating. This endeavor should help find more niche affiliates that compliment‘s offerings.  

Internet Retailing requires a consistent vision and a serious commitment in resource to develop revenue streams from the online channel. Parnell pointed out that “most companies don’t follow their vision” in their efforts and actions. 

Parnell shared other experiences with issues that almost all online retailers find challenging…free shipping and email. It seems free shipping becomes the de-facto standard by 4th quarter pushing holiday sales.  He recommended testing various shipping offers such as giving free shipping on orders over the average order price.  Companies also should not forget to include the handling charge to cover picking and packaging of the products. Many online retailers follow the S&H rate cards that catalogers started. 

Parnell is a seasoned pro at Internet retailing, and those attending the roundtable were able to benefit first hand from his answers to questions and the discussions that took place.

BIG Thanks to Technology Council through the Technology Industry Partnership for sponsoring the breakfast.

Keep checking the blog for more upcoming events! Here are additional recommendations that Parnell offered to help local retailers succeed in the online channel. 

  • Get your website everywhere you are: business cards, email, physical mail, banner ads, etc. 
  • Be consistent between catalogs, website, and emails in terms of your product offerings, look, feel, and tone. 
  • Traditional advertising is not dead, but usually are linked to an online website via a link. 
  • Implement Web 2.0 activities to engage customer = customer interaction with your company website (Blair launched a customer recommendation engine called “Bazaar Voice” during Q4, 2006).
  • Include customer product reviews, FAQ, interesting stories about buying your products, polls, etc. 

Must have resources for Internet Retailers: 

Internet Retailer magazine

Practical eCommerce a community for e-retailers

Note: Jeff Parnell is a 22 year veteran in direct marketing and a pioneer in Internet retailing since 1996. Joining Blair Corporation in 2000, Parnell led that company’s e-commerce initiative from start-up to revenue of nearly $100 million in just six years. Currently, Parnell is the managing director of the Erie-based JHP Direct Corporation, reviewing e-commerce start-up and acquisition opportunities.

eMarketing Special Interest Group

August 2007
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