Archive for the 'Marketing' 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 

 

 

“This Isn’t the Same Old Marketing and PR You’ve Tried Before”

This was the message that best-selling author and e-mail marketing expert David Meerman Scott stressed to those in attendance at the 2008 Erie Ad Day. Scott presented content from his most recent book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly. Scott has also published several e-books which he makes available on his Web site.

Know Your Buyers

The old rules of marketing stated: “Buy your way in with advertising, beg your way in with PR.” Think of it like a person shouting a message through a megaphone to a crowd of people.

The new rule of marketing is to “think like a publisher.” Publish your way in with great content on the Web and let people spread the word for you. In essence, give them the megaphone. This is called “going viral.” If you market in a manner that is in sync with your buyers’ personas, they will find your product/service and spread the word. Essentially, they will pick up your megaphone.

Scott discussed the importance of creating a detailed buyer persona profile. The example he gave was “Internet Ian.” “Internet Ian” has the following qualities:

  • Internet/Web Marketing Manager
  • Lives his life (personal and business) online- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Digg
  • He is 26 years old, has a bachelors degree from Carnegie Mellon and met his last girlfriend on Facebook using the SuperPoke application
  • Likes beta software and edits HTML directly

“Internet Ian” is obviously best reached through the online channel. This further demonstrates why it’s important to know your buyer personas. If you were relying only on advertising through print, television, radio and the like, chances are your message would be missing the “Internet Ians” of the world.

Publish Good Content and Speak Their Language

Post online content your customers will deem valuable. Stop marketing to nameless, faceless prospects and get to know your buyers. According to Scott, “be buyer centric.” A tip to being buyer centric- speak your buyers’ language. Avoid industry jargon and fluff. Consider hiring a journalist to write your content.

Channels to Use

Forget about white papers. As exciting as white papers are, it’s time to switch to publishing e-books. What makes e-books effective is the fact that people can instantly see the value of a product that looks like it is for sale, but can actually be downloaded for free. The key point to remember about e-books is that they should contain material that people want to read. In addition to publishing e-books, participate in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Also, start reading, commenting and writing blogs. These are all effective, yet often overlooked methods of reaching your buyers. But remember, these tools will be useless unless you understand your buyer personas.

World Wide Rave and Word-of-Mouse

Welcome to the rave! A World Wide Rave occurs when millions of people spread your ideas and tell your stories. This is the new form of PR, getting people to talk about what you offer and share their experience with whomever they come in contact with.

Word-of-Mouse is another concept that is coming to the forefront of the online marketing channel. For years, the only way to spread ideas was to buy expensive advertising or beg the media to cover a story about a company’s products/services. Now, with publishing great content online (which is often free to do), people are eager to share information with their family, friends, and colleagues. David Meerman Scott has written an e-book about word-of-mouse to help marketers take advantage of the power of viral marketing.

A great example of the World Wide Rave and word-of-mouse in action is the recent launch of the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter by Universal Orlando Resort. Cindy Gordon, vice president of new media and marketing partnerships at Universal Orlando decided to promote the upcoming attraction by spreading the word to seven Harry Potter fans she found on Mugglenet, a Harry Potter fansite. These seven people were invited to participate in a top-secret Webcast held at midnight on May 31, 2007. The Webcast detailed how the team of 20 designers is working to bring together the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park which is set to open in late 2009 or early 2010. After those lucky seven saw the Webcast, they were encouraged to share the news of the theme park with their friends. Just by telling seven people, 350 million people were eventually informed of the park. The World Wide Rave and word-of-mouse were the only tactics used to reach people beyond the original seven and the results, as you can see, were nothing short of magical.

The Take-Away

“On the web, you are what you publish.” If you publish nothing, you are nothing. Ready to get started following the new rules? Additional information regarding viral markeitng and other topics related to the new rules of marketing is available on both David Meerman Scott’s Website and blog.

To find dates, links and registration for other valuable presentations, visit the eMarketing Learning Center or eMarketing Special Interest Group Web sites.

Erie Ad Day 2008 was coordinated by the Advertising Federation of Northwest Pennsylvania and sponsored by eBizITPA, the eMarketing Learning Center, eMarketing Special Interest Group and PAPA Advertising.

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.

Discover Paid Search from A to Q

eBizITPA hosted a conference on December 6, 2007, entitled “SEM II: Join the Evolution.” The event was a great success, providing its attendees with some first rate information on the basics of search engine marketing, both paid and natural, as well as the steps that need to be taken in order to get started.

The conference kicked off with Neal Rabogliatti’s presentation on SEO, which was discussed in further detail in a prior post, The Next Step in SEO Presentations.

After a short break, Justin Seibert of Direct Online Marketing spoke on paid search marketing in his presentation, Get Found Fast! Learn Paid Search Marketing from A to Q. Seibert delivered an informative and dynamic presentation, incorporating some introductory information with more advanced, instructional information meant to assist individuals in creating a paid search campaign.

Paid ads are those that companies purchase, using paid search marketing programs such as Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. They are usually listed at the very top and right hand sides of organic search results, although their location differs from search engine to search engine. Seibert continued by explaining how purchasing paid search ads on Google, Yahoo!, or other search engines differ. As of October 2007, Google owned 58.5% of the market share, followed by Yahoo! at 22.9%. Seibert noted that, although Microsoft search engines only had 9.7% of searchers, they are growing steadily, and should not be ignored.

The benefits of paid search are many, including:

  • immediate results, instead of waiting 2-6 months for search engines to crawl and index your site.
  • budget control: allows you to set a certain monthly spending, and then stops placing your ads once your monthly limit is hit.
  • geographic reach: allows you to customize the geographic areas that are reached by your ads instead of simply broadcasting them to the entire region.
  • Result based: the results are fully trackable; you know right away if it is working or not.

At this point, Seibert began talking about how paid search is NOT for everybody. He laid some guidelines, saying that it is probably NOT for you if:

  • You are a monopoly/ oligopoly: there is not much competition with keyword terms because you are the only, or one of two companies that provide the product or service.
  • Are in a search competitive industry with a small budget: in this situations, keyword terms are at very high bid rates, and some companies would use up their monthly allocated budget very quickly with little results.
  • Can only sell to a small geographic area which has yet to adopt to technology.

Once a company decides that paid search is right for them, they should decide if they should do it in house or hire an outside firm to handle it for them. Generally, if the company has a small budget, they should try in-house paid search. It is when time and resources are lacking when companies should decide to use an outside agency to handle search campaigns for them.

Begin a Paid Search Campaign!
Seibert then began a comprehensive tutorial for those who would decide to try in-house paid search marketing. The first step is to set up an account with the search engine you would like your ads to appear on.

  1. Set up an account
  2. Decide which geographic area you would like to target
  3. Write your ad: carefully choose your headline, description lines, and display URL.
    1. It is recommended that you use the Keyword Insertion Tool: this will insert the keyword the individual searched for into the headline of your ad so that they will be more likely to click the link due to relevancy.
  4. Choose your keywords after carrying out basic keyword research. Related keywords are usually suggested by your search provider after you create your ad.
  5. Set your budget and max bids

Tips for Better Results
Seibert also had a variety of tips and resources for anybody who decides to take on paid search marketing in house.

  • Positioning: you do not need to be #1. Aim for the top five search results instead, so that you’re not pouring your resources into a one or two spot difference.
  • Pick actual keywords being used by those searching for you, not keyword terms that you, as an expert of your business industry, would necessarily use.
  • Landing pages: generally, do NOT send people to your home page, but to a page on your site which would be most relevant to what they searched for.
  • Check out the competition: if a competitor is doing a good job, try to copy their techniques in order to compete.
  • Don’t forget to test everything so you know if it’s working!
  • Again, test everything!

Overall, Seibert’s presentation was very in depth and informational, containing specific instruction on how to get started implementing paid search. This is the type of information the “do it yourself” individuals are looking for. For more information, contact Seibert on his own website, Direct Online Marketing.

The Next Step in SEO Presentations

During the SEM II- Join the Evolution Conference on December 6, 2007, Neal Rabogliatti’s presentation on how to implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was, in my opinion, the missing portion of most SEO presentation and articles readily available today. Not only did Rabogliatti present the basics, but he suggested specific steps to take to implement SEO, a step many professionals are reluctant to take unless they are working directly for a client at a high hourly rate.

Introducing… SEO
Rabogliatti began by presenting an “E-Strategy Process,” where he explained seven phases of optimizing a site for both search engines and user friendly design.

  1. Define your goal: be as specific as possible
  2. Discovery: who is our specific audience?
  3. Research: find the terminology that should be used to appeal to the largest audience
  4. Compiling and Arranging: decide on the terms you should use in the site
  5. Review and test the keyword terms in order to modify your keyword selection
  6. Execute the plan: have a web developer create and launch the site
  7. Market, Promote, Optimize and Maintain the site

Rabogliatti stressed the importance of the initial planning phases in order to implement the most effective SEO plan. He also mentioned that, if possible, the web developer should be a part of all phases in order to increase his understanding of the goals.

The discussion then led to a basic explanation of SEO, including how search engines usually rank sites. The search engines first send out “spiders” that crawl your site, finding the pages linked to your site, and therefore creating an index of the page. The page is then ranked according to the page content’s relevancy to the key term that is being searched for. The ranking, or relevancy, of a site is determined by referencing:

  • Page Content: text keyword density should be around 5-7% of code. This can be found using a Keyword Density Checker.
  • Organizing Codes: Page Title, meta tags, and keyword tags can all be used to increase keywords and relevancy of your site.
  • Link Popularity: the number of external sites that link to your site.

How to Implement SEO
We now get into the “how to” section of Rabogliatti’s presentation, which begins with his “designing for success” suggestions. User friendly sites tend to be the most SEO friendly, therefore ranking as more relevant than non-user friendly sites. Your web developer should pay close attention to the following aspects of the site architecture and layout in order to maximize SEO potential:

  • File and Folder Structure: folder directories should be as close to the root directories as possible. The further from the root directory, the more likely the search engine is to interpret the file as less relevant and important, resulting in a lower ranking or no indexing of the pages furthest away.
  • Page Layout: the actual content containing the keywords should be as close to the beginning of the code as possible.
    • Keep content at beginning of code. Content that begins after code line 150 may actually be ignored by most search engines.
    • Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can help bring relevant content into the first few lines by referring to an external (CSS) file in order to give the instructions for what the page should look like.
    • Stay away from frame and table layouts, as search engines generally read these layouts differently than the order of importance.
    • Use Div / Layers in order to enable the code to tell the search engines which sections to read first, and therefore which are most relevant.
  • Navigational Structure: ensure every page is accessible from another within two clicks. This helps search engines index your site.

Social Media and SEO
Rabogliatti also introduced social media within the SEO context. Social media consists of online tools that people use to share opinions, insights, and information with one another in the form of text, images, audio, or video. It can be classified into four different types:

  1. Bookmarking Sites: users bookmark their favorite sites, which creates a link to that site, increasing the SEM power of the site. Examples include Del.icio.us or reddit.
  2. Media Sharing Sites: examples include YouTube and Flickr
  3. Blogs
  4. Content Syndication: people place press releases and announcements on these sites, which increase the search engine marketing power of the site. An example is Digg.

There are several things you can do to use social media to help increase your search engine marketing power:

  1. Make tagging and bookmarking easy by adding a tool below each article, post, or on each page inviting visitors to share this tool. An example includes Add This.
  2. Create Content: begin to contribute to the current discussion on whatever topics in your area of expertise are hot at the moment. Become a thought leader in your field by getting involved through posts containing your opinion and the information your target audience is looking for.
  3. Know How to Target Your Audience: do some research to find out what they want, and then give it to them through the creation of content.

Helpful Tools
The following are some helpful tools that Rabogliatti recommends in order to utilize search engine optimization most effectively:

Overall, Rabogliatti did a tremendous job presenting this valuable information to the attendees of the conference. As well as providing some helpful and descriptive “how to” tips, he was lively and entertaining, obviously passionate and knowledgeable about the topic. Thanks Neal, for your wonderful presentation and insightful SEO tips!


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