Archive for the 'education' Category

Research makes compelling argument for the importance of educating small business owners about the online channel

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence

Research from Research Brief column on MediaPost

According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend
less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

My comment: This is not a sustainable business model in today’s digital economy.

The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.
The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:• 82% use search engines

57% use Yellow Pages directories.
53% use local newspapers
49% use Internet Yellow Pages
49% use TV
38% use direct mail
32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less.

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing.  Among those small businesses that have a website:
• 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or
“poor”
• 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close
competitor
• 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
• Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to
their website
• 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
• 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
• 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
• Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
• 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those,
30% do no Internet advertising

My Comment: eBizITPA Education and the eMarketing Learning Center are performing research to learn more about small businesses knowledge and interest in eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing  strategies Training.  Click to learn more about survey results.  Click to download a copy of the eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing eBook

Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:
• 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
• 42% say they use the local newspaper less

For the purpose of this survey, the term “local business” refers to any retail business in a respondent’s local area, including restaurants, entertainment venues, places of recreation, etc. and services such as plumbers or accountants. The term “Internet Yellow Pages” refers to online Yellow Pages websites such as yellowpages.com, judysbook.com, superpages.com, etc.

Center for Media Research, February 13, 2009
MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

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I Got Personal with PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Attendees got personal with PURL at the Manufacturers Association on February 19th when Joe Mehl of Dispatch and George Sackandy of Intelmarx spoke about the benefits of combining PURL with traditional direct mail marketing. But let’s not jump into the benefits until we uncover what PURL is and how it even works. 

 

What is PURL?

PURL, also known as a Personal URL, is a Web page address that has been personalized to a specific recipient using their name.  The idea being that a person is more likely to visit a Web page that is personalized with their name in the URL out of curiosity of what information is there. Once they go to that web address, the information is tailored specifically to them based on data the organization already has on file. For example, women may see more humanistic language and images verses a man who would see more competitive/methodical content.

 

How does it work?

According to Joe Mehl from the seminar, these are the steps taken in the PURL process:

 

  1. Contact receives a direct mail or e-mail message describing an offer enticing them to visit their PURL (ex. http://www.gettingpersonal.com/CathySmith)
  2. The welcome screen on the web page is directed to the recipient using their name
    An example of what a Login Page would look like

    An example of a Welcome Screen

  3. A contact information page is pre-populated with any data that may already exist and is relevant to the offer
  4. The prospect is asked to complete a short survey probing them for more information
    An example of a survey page

    An example of a survey page

  5. A marketing message or offer is given
  6. A thank you page appears providing other links and downloads to the viewer
  7. Follow up happens immediately whether it is an e-mail or a phone call
  8. Now the sales process on this individual can begin

 

Okay, now that we have figured out what PURL is and how it works, it is time to look at how PURLs can be beneficial.

 

Why use a PURL?

According to George Sackandy, CEO and Founder of Intelmarx, the direct mail industry has a response rate of only 2 percent. This means that the non-response rate is 98 percent! We receive thousands of marketing messages each day and only respond to few and far between. So, how do marketers grab the attention of their prospects? They use PURL in combination with mailing pieces to attract customers!

 

One case study conducted at Albertson College proved that by incorporating PURLs and variable data printing in their recruiting materials, the school could increase their response rate by 18.7 percent. The school was originally sending large packets of information about every program to all prospective students. This was a lot of information to juggle through and not personal in any way to the person opening it. Prospective students were not responding because the packet looked just like all of the others they had received from other colleges. Albertson decided to get personal. They used information that had already existed about prospects in order to send them a direct mail piece including a PURL. When students went to their PURL, the page was catered to the individual based on their interests, activities, and future major of choice. Albertson took a few extra steps to change their recruiting using PURLs and what a difference it made. Now this gives plenty of reason to use PURLs in any marketing campaign! By using PURL you can increase response rates, leads, and overall profit. Why not give it a try for your business?

 

For more information on Intelmarx click here

For more information on Dispatch click here 

 

 

How the web is driving the new rules of marketing and PR

Did You Know…

92% of people use the Web to evaluate purchase options, yet less than 30% of businesses allocate dollars for online marketing.

 

Over 30 % of online visitors go to social media sites.

 

Gen Y (aged 18 to 28) is the most Internet-savvy group, spending more time online than they do watching television, with 42 percent watching online video at least once per month.

 

The older Generation X (aged 29 to 42) also use technology extensively for more task driven needs, especially when they intersect with business and family.

 

*This research is part of Forrester’s 2008 North America Technographics Benchmark survey which gathered data from around 61,000 consumers in the US and Canada.

 

 

“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” – How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly

For decades, marketers have relied on buying expensive advertising and begging for media coverage. We interrupted “prospects” with our egotistical “messages” in the hopes of generating interest from buyers (who usually ignored us anyway), but the Internet is a marketing channel that is dramatically changing how we perform. As marketers, we must shift our thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy where we target specific audiences and niches we want to reach.

Writing news releases is no longer just for when we have big news.  Now we write news releases that highlight our ideas and stories and we distribute them online so that our buyers and constituents can get them on the news search engines and vertical content sites.  As Meerman points out, the “Internet has made public relations public again after years of almost exclusive focus on media.”

The online marketing channel requires more than a big idea with great creative and a one-way message. Smart marketers now communicate with buyers through content rich Web sites, blogs, YouTube videos, e-books, and other online media that buyers actually want to consume. To succeed in marketing online, we need to adapt to using these very direct and interactive social media strategies. These mediums help us communicate and engage customers in places where we have no physical presence but where the customer can find out about what we offer and how we can meet their needs. The products and services offered by tuned-in companies resonate with people who willingly buy without being coerced. 

 If you would like to learn some of the new criteria for marketing & PR and how to succeed in a digital world, then come listen and ask questions of David Meerman Scott, a nationally renowned speaker and best-selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

 Scott will be the keynote speaker at the Advertising Federation of Northwest Pennsylvania’s Erie Ad Day on Thursday, September 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, 55 West Bay Drive, in downtown Erie. The full-day professional development event will focus on the theory, tactics and technologies driving the advertising and marketing communications industry.

Learn how to leverage the potential that Web-based communication offers. A step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the new rules of marketing and PR will be provided, showing how to identify audiences, create compelling messages, get those messages to the most consumers possible, and lead those consumers directly into the buying process. Told with many case studies and real-world examples, this a practical discussion about the new reality of PR and marketing.

 Register online at: http://www.afnwpa.org/membership/creative_spark_registration

Or register by phone at (814) 451-8677.

Listen to Podcast

Get the lowdown on the New Rules of Marketing and PR in a podcast interview with David right here:   http://www.ebizitpa.org/audio/davidMScott.asp

 

Your Web site as a sales and marketing channel…

Today’s savvy online users expect to go to the Internet and get something accomplished. They expect your Web site to help them fulfill their mission. If your site does not provide the information they need or they have to think too hard they will move on to a competitor’s site that will have what they need.

 

A Web site is an electronic form of your business marketing channel. Do you know how to build a dialog with a customer through a Web site, how to qualify them as a lead or convert them to a sale?  How about if what you sell is more complex, like a course or a custom made component?  I can confidently do a good job helping people pinpoint their needs and help them make purchase decision when I am on the phone or face to face.  I have plenty of consulting experience doing it that way. It is a mix of asking the right questions, good listening skills and then aligning what you have with their specific needs or goals.

 

But what are the activities that make a product or service desirable to a visitor through a Web site, where it’s open to the world 24/7.  How do you really begin a sales or persuasive dialog with visitors to your Web site? 

 

I can share from our experiences with our Web site at eBizITPA. Between our web specialist, marketing manager and program managers we have been experimenting and trying to determine what information do our customers need to make an informed decision and how do we influence them to take action.  For the IT Kickstart program we have documents they are able to access and download to apply for IT Kickstart.  This is the type of self service that gives visitors access any time when it is convenient for them.  But are we providing enough information for them to evaluate the program and answer their questions and concerns? Probably not because we still receive phone calls asking about how the program works.

 

We also continuously try to improve our messaging about our professional development programs like classes and seminars so that our visitors can understand how they will benefit from participating. Ultimately try to persuade them to register.  But we struggle with questions such as how much information do they need, how do they want to receive the information and can they locate it in an intuitive fashion? Just recently one of our email recipients responded to a promotional conference email saying the message was pretty generic and do we have some more detail on what is going to be covered. 

 

Holly Buchanan podcastWe recently posted an interview on the conference Web site with the featured speaker Holly Buchanan, a conversion expert in online marketing and persuasion architecture. In the interview Holly gives a sneak peak on her presentation called Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, listen as she teases us with a few good nuggets you will be able to immediately take away. We learned using multimedia mediums such as, podcasts and videos can help our visitors better comprehend and understand our offerings. However, was there a clear pathway to the information? Well, clearly not for this fella.

 

The conference will have an afternoon session that will be an interactive web assessment where Holly agreed to review several sites on a first come first serve basis. We submitted the Center’s Web site and the Conference microsite in hopes that Holly will give us feedback on how we can improve our customer’s experience, improve responses to our messages and meet our marketing objectives.

 

We’re tough and we can take whatever Holly tells us because in the end we know she only wants to help us succeed.  Hope to see you there!

 

Quick resource:

Future Now has a fun and very telling instrument called the Customer Focus Calculator aptly called the WeWe. Use it to check if your site mostly talks about your customer and their needs or are you talking mostly about your business. Use it and you will see immediately.

 

Holly Buchanan is a Senior Persuasion Architect at Future Now Inc. Future Now is a digital marketing optimization company based in New York.

Search Marketing; One of the Triumvirate Three

Search Engine Marketing is one of three most essential online marketing strategies for businesses that are seriously committed to using the online channel to find new markets, build awareness, promote product and services, qualify and generate leads, acquire new customers and close a sale. The triumvirate three includes having a website and email marketing but I will cover those another time. 

New activities are emerging and becoming a significant influence on Search Engine Marketing.  This includes Web 2.0 activities commonly known as social media, social networks, and user generated content.  Sites like Facebook, Blogs, Video sites like YouTube and user reviewed sites like Digg all of have the ability to influence searcher behavior by generating valuable inbound links which are so important to a search optimization strategy. 

Effective online marketers are always looking for ways to enhance and improve website visibility in natural or organic search engine listings.  The primary goal for most is to increase the number of visitors and increase online conversions. 

Google Paid and Organic Search            

Optimizing your website involves a process of testing and tweaking website structure, search terms research, content creation and link equity. So understanding how to use Web 2.0 activities and linking strategies starts with understanding your particular audience and figuring out how they will benefit, if at all. 

However, Paid Search Marketing, also known as Pay Per Click (PPC,) is the fastest growing tactic used to drive relevant and qualified leads.  Google, MSN and Yahoo all have paid sponsor or advertising opportunities driving close to $6 billion dollars in 2006. One reason PPC is so compelling is because it delivers results almost immediately. Quick measurable results make PPC a smart way to plan your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. All the major search engines offer reporting and analytics tools so you can monitor and tack every click gaining valuable data to be used when planning your SEO strategy.  It makes sense to develop a combination of PPC and SEO strategies for driving traffic and generating leads.  

Search marketing is one of the tools you need to market in today’s digitally savvy world.  Search marketing is a long term strategic investment and marketers need to evaluate how it fits into their marketing plans. Start taking advantage of search and other tactics and technologies to grow your business and gain an edge.


sem2home.jpgBecome an eMarketing Rockstar! Attend the SEM II: Join the eVolution Conference. The web is outpacing all other media for user involvement.  This conference and other educational programs offered at the eMarketing Learning Center @ eBizITPA will help you understand, navigate and integrate Internet marketing strategies to support you business growth.  This evet is sponsored by the NWIRCErie Ad Club Members and Tech Council Members qualify for special rate.

Viral Marketing Strategies Not so Easy to Spread

email signatureWeb 2.0 Tools I recently presented at the Nonprofit Partnership’s Conference on Interactive Web Strategies That Build Your Nonprofit. The presentation provided an overview of online giving and why it’s on the rise. I covered many of the most popular interactive strategies, including interactive Web sites and e-mail marketing, and then focused on Web 2.0 activities; technologies that include group fundraising platforms and social networks to support fundraising and influence donors’ action.

After the event, I received an e-mail from one of the participants in my session asking for clarification on a few things. This person specifically wanted me to provide more detail about one of the topics I briefly discussed called viral marketing. I deliberately decided not to get into much detail on viral marketing because it is one of the most difficult strategies to successfully implement. However, I thought I would try and provide more detail on this topic since someone asked.

The terms “viral marketing” and “viral advertising” refer to marketing techniques that use social networks to increase brand awareness through self-replicating viral processes. Viral marketing is enabled by the Internet, and more specifically e-mail, by encouraging people to pass along a marketing or fundraising message to friends who view the message and then pass it on to their friends.Sometimes it is as simple as putting information in your e-mail signature or asking the e-mail recipient to forward an e-mail to anyone they feel would be interested in the information.

However, developing a successful viral marketing campaign that will get serious traction and reach is not that simple. If you work with an agency or marketing firm you definitely will want to get them engaged. You need to be very creative; just because you have a message you want to share does not guarantee others will find it interesting. It must appeal uniquely to the target group so that the users will generate the velocity of interest for pass-along, as well as uploading to their social network pages.

If you think you’ve got the bug and want to spread it around, here is some advice on how to get started. Keep us in the loop if you have success!  

Four step approach for developing a viral marketing strategy:

1. Understand the behavior of who you want to reach.  Relatively older (30+) online users are more likely to forward commercial or fundraising messages to friends or tell friends about a video, picture, game or an ad. Younger (25 and under) online users are more apt to use social networking sites to upload and share videos, photos, fundraising widgets and more. 

2. Create a viral message and/or object that appeals to the segment you want to reach.  What is the goal of your message? Here is where creative thinking really counts because you need to determine what form your viral marketing strategy will take. Is the message a promotion, a call to action, humorous content, jokes and cartoons. a video, a game, picture(s), a song, a contest? Whatever you decide, it must be self contained so it can be moved, passed along, or uploaded.  3. Put together a distribution and publicity plan.  Start with the obvious publicity channels like publications and ezines, news media and newswire. Identify the environments where your target group goes for interacting and where idea sharing spreads at super sonic speed. These could be online communities, affinity sites, forums, listservs, blogs, social networks, etc. Wherever your target group congregates is where you want to be.  

4. Develop a Search Engine Marketing plan.  Optimize the message or surrounding Web site with relevant keywords and phrases. This will extend your reach and capture those who hear the buzz but have not been exposed to the message or object. 

Examples: Very basic viral e-mail marketing in signature:

email signature

email signature

Automated marketing e-mail campaign management tool with “send to friend” option:

 send-to-a-freind.jpg

 Animated e-mail cartoon messages:  great job animated cartoon 

Method’s “Share your confessions and come clean…”: http://www.comeclean.com

 Clean Methods confess your sins viral marketing object

Nonprofit message “Operation Gratitude” video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02tcb7b34do

Nonprofit promotional message “Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save Darfur”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGbP23uHYE8

To learn more about viral marketing, visit these resources: 

Web Marketing Today http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles-clean.htm      Dr. Wilson is a sage when it comes to Internet marketing.  He also presented at eBizITPA’s Internet Sales and Marketing Conference in 2005

Read Seth Godin’s book “Unleashing the Ideavirus”.  I have it on CD and it explains the viral marketing phenomena and includes word of mouth and permission marketing.

seth godin viral marketing idea virus     http://www.sethgodin.com/ideavirus/

Do You Know Your eMarketing Metrics?

Do you know how to measure the success of your online marketing activities?

Do you know how many unique visitors enter through your home page?

Do you know how many exit your site after entering the home page?

Do you know what the relative bounce rate benchmark is specific to your site?

You should.  Every site is different but the rule of thumb is it should be well under 50%.  Think about it…if 50% or more visitors are coming to your home page and then exiting you’ve got a problem…maybe a relevance problem?  Maybe the copy or look and feel does not speak to your target audience.  Perhaps visitors are confused about your offerings and how you can help them.  If you are using your site to generate leads and the bounce rate is high, then your homepage is performing very poorly.  You need to know your website metrics information and then optimize the page to perform more effectively. 

This is the kind of information AJ Miceli, VP of Marketing for FishUSA.com and Communications Professor at Gannon shares in his webinar:  eMarketing Metrics, Benchmarks & Tactics offered by eBizITPA.  It is packed with industry standard metrics for web, email, and search engine marketing that you absolutely need to know for optimizing online marketing value. 

AJ already conducted the research, pouring over hundreds of dollars of industry benchmark reports including: Email Marketing Benchmark Guide from MarketingSherpa and the Response Rate Study from The Direct Marketing Association.  He gives you all the metrics, analytics, definitions and he tells you how to get started measuring your own set of internal benchmarks. 

AJ is easy to get know and listen to.  I’ve know him for many years, going back before he was an online pioneer, starting an ISP back in the early 1990’s, his entrepreneurial activities have grown along with the growth of the internet. He knows how to leverage the internet as a marketing channel and help grow a successful pure play e-tail business like FishUSA.com. It means tracking and monitoring all your activities, online and offline.  And that is what is so great about online marketing – you can track and measure just about everything.   


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