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October 31, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Judith DeCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008

By Li Evans

Although I wasn't out running myself all around getting photos at SMX East this year, I did manage to get quite a few really nice photos of friends enjoying themselves at the conference.  Just like this one of Judith deCabbit Lewis who blogs at SEO-Chicks and my pal (who I call "the Zen Mom") Kim Krause Berg of Cre8pc, who hunkered down in the speakers room with me.  Kim's shirt was really cool,  I don't think this photo could do it justice. :)

Judith deCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008

If you like this photo of Judith deCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at SMX East 2008, there's over 40 photos for you all to check out.

Obamafy Your Next Campaign

By Y.M. Ousley

Whether or not you agree with his policies or views, Barack Obama has unarguably run an exceptionally well marketed campaign. Using the internet to build support isn't new – Howard Dean, Ron Paul both built early support online. But Obama's campaign is a study in turning the online support into action that every marketer can take a page from.

A list of strategies to replicate in your next campaign

Establish a benefit early, emphasize it often

Change. For nearly all of his campaign, Obama has been the candidate for change. No matter if you think he would be a change for the better or worse, when most Americans hear the word “change,” they associate that message with one candidate.

There weren't always details of exactly what would change, how it would affect you or your family, and perhaps on purpose. Strange as it sounds, (good) branding sells products by not focusing on products. Economic policy, foreign relations policy, energy policy – all very important products that both candidates are trying to sell to voters, but most people aren't voting for the individual products, they're voting for the brand. Obama established himself as the brand of change very early on, and his campaign repeats it often. For many, this establishes consistency and reliability. That doesn't mean it will sway everyone – McCain supporters may view him as consistently and reliably wrong with respect to their view, but his brand benefit is easy to identify.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

The more products you sell, the greater the need to build your brand. Start establishing a message of your site as a whole entity, rather than one that's a sum of parts. For Amazon, it's been fulfillment – once exclusively for books, now for everything from electronics to web hosting. For Zappos, it's customer service – once exclusively for shoes, now for clothes. Whatever your benefit, drive it into everything you do internally or externally.

Call to action, make it easy to act

I'm registered to vote in Washington, DC, but won't be there on November 4th. Months ago, I saw a (likely geo-targeted) banner reminding me of absentee voting deadlines and dates. I submitted my information online, received instructions for submitting the official documents, and later received my ballot. To receive subsequent information from Obama I simply had to check a box.

The branding will not make a difference if people aren't driven to action. By showing the absentee voting ads to people outside the US with deadlines, there was a clear call to action. In responding, the process clearly guided potential voters to the end result: registering to vote, or requesting absentee ballots.

If I visit the website now, the first page I see is a donation form. Any question what the Obama campaign wants from visitors? For a campaign that is one of the best funded in recent history, it appears the call to action is clear.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

Whether your traffic comes from organic search, paid search, affiliates, banners or branding, make it easy for people to act. I recently saw an ad encouraging me to “shop now” for Nanette Lepore clothing at Bergdorf Goodman. So I clicked the ad. Instead of going to a section featuring the top in the ad, or other clothing from Nanette Lepore, I ended up at a page of Wear to Work tops. Huh?

If I'm particularly dedicated, I could click through 12 pages of tops, or try to figure out where the Nanette Lepore page is in the general menu, or... try my search at ShopStyle, or even Google, or just close the window and go back to the website I was reading.

Very few will have the type of ongoing press or funding of a presidential campaign. As a marketer, you don't have unlimited time with your audience. For the moment that you manage to hold their attention, or distract them from the numerous other things they have to do, it's your responsibility to make doing business with you as easy as possible. If you want people to buy, don't send them to a page encouraging them to browse. If you want readers to return, encourage them at the start of the article to subscribe to your feed or sign up for a newsletter. If you want a link to a special section or report, give people a copy and paste code.

No matter how easy the process, not everyone will vote, not everyone will buy, subscribe or link. But you stand to get far more votes, sales, readers or links if you remove barriers that make it difficult.

Stay in touch

I signed up for the Barack Obama newsletter when I submitted my information for my absentee ballot, and boy did they keep in touch. Newsletters, alerts, blog feeds – most people get so many emails or messages everyday that the natural instinct is not to add to the noise. But going against the natural instinct can be an incredibly effective marketing strategy.

Since I signed up, I've received at least one email every day. The subjects are different – some encourage me to donate, others to make campaign calls to voters in swing states, and some inviting me to rallies. They've been from the same address, but are authored (according to the from line) by Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, campaign manager David Plouffe, and the list goes on. I don't always have time to read each email, but every week at least one subject line or sender usually stands out.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

Build your list. Email marketing is old and familiar. In getting to know the young(er) and sexy marketing methods of search, social media and mobile it's often overlooked, but is absolutely still relevant. Google, Facebook, MySpace are pervasive, but for near 100% penetration of people online, email is still the killer app of choice.

I don't have formal studies to support (if you know of any, please leave in the comments), but I'd gamble that for as much time as you spend on your 2.0 site of choice (twitter, friendfeed, facebook, etc), you spend as much or more time on email. So does your audience.

Staying in touch without being a pest can be difficult, but frequency works. Sure, you'll get people who unsubscribe, but even if you emailed once every blue moon, you'd still get people who leave. Anecdotally speaking, you'll have far more people who stay. Generally speaking, you have one chance to make your pitch to someone who clicks on one of your ads (text or otherwise) or search listings. Generally speaking, you have 365 chances to make your pitch to someone who joins your mailing list. You don't have to be a math whiz to like the odds of email. The Obama campaign has taken this a step further with mobile updates for important announcements and live events. The only discouragement against frequency here would come for countries where users are likely to pay a significant amount to receive text or mobile updates.

Even McCain supporters admit admiration for the success of Obama's campaign. From the amount of money raised, to the extent the internet's been used to build, maintain and grow support. There are many other parts which I give kudos to as a marketer – the 30 minute infomercial, product placement. Politics aside, it's been a phenomenal integrated marketing campaign with contributions from many mediums. While few of us will have the budget or level of press to replicate to the letter, it's certainly within reason to duplicate some of the results in your next online campaign.

Disclaimer: I became an Obama supporter shortly after the RNC. He also resides in the same Chicago neighborhood where my family lives, but hasn't palled around with me (Ylayn Meredith the Marketer).

October 29, 2008

Phinally a Phillanie in Philly with the Phillies!

By Li Evans

Carlos_ruiz_brad_lidge_phillies_win_world_series_2008 Please humor a gal who's been longing for a trophy to come back to Philly.....

A lot of you who know me personally know I'm a Philly Sports Gal.  Die hard Eagles fan, Love the Flyers, Phillies and Sixers.  The Soul started up this year with a Championship.... and FINALLY after 25 years of a Major Championship drought, the Phillies win the World Series - PHINALLY!.

Let me tell you, as a Philly fan, it's a LONG time coming!  The last 46 hours have been torture, with the game getting suspended on Monday due to weather.... but this is so sweet.

Congrats to the Phightin' Phillies! :)

Friday the parade starts at noon - 20th & Market and then goes down Broad Street (of course) then ends at Citzen's Bank Park, woo hoo!

October 28, 2008

The Elements of a Great Web Analytics Dashboard

By Alex Cohen

If you work in an agency or the client side, you know how important it is to communicate your project's results.  As a team lead for paid search, I'm always evaluating, presenting and defending data and reports.  As a web analyst, I've been through the pain of setting them up.  Here are a few of my tips for a great dashboard.

The Elements of a Great Dashboard

  • KpidashboardSummary - Put the most relevant KPIs at the top in the biggest font.  If you only had 1 minute to communicate to an executive, what would you say?  That should be the set of summary KPIs.
  • Summary Trend - A single data point rarely makes sense.  Instead, you have to couch it in context to help answer the key question "Is that good or bad?"  There's a few easy options:
    • Month over Month changes
    • Year over Year changes
    • Comparison vs. other channels or sites
  • KPI Trend - You probably can't, and shouldn't, stuff all of your KPIs into the summary area.  Instead, break out your data into meaningful chunks underneath the summary.  Use the same trending that makes sense in the summary at this segment level.
  • Granularity - Different audiences care about different things.  There is no one-size-fits-all dashboard.  Match the depth of your metrics to your audience, which generally goes something like this:

  • Graphs - In every presentation I've seen or done, the visuals always get the most attention.  We are visual people and well designed graphs can tell stories more quickly to a wider audience than raw data.  You'll likely have to shop around ideas and sell them.  Let the visuals help.
  • Analysis & Action - This one should really be a no brainer, but data without insight is pointless.  It's the interpretation *combined* with how I act on it that matters.  "What does that mean and what should I do about it?"  Connect the dots or it's just paper

So, what works for you?  For Search Marketing Gurus, this is Alex Cohen of Digital Alex.

Optimizing Your Product Data Feed for the Holiday Rush

By Donna McCarthy

Holiday-season As we get closer to the 2008 Holiday season, everyone is asking how can I best optimize my product data feed and how can I increase my conversion rate to get more sales over my competition. Below I will outline a few helpful simple helpful hints to increase your conversion rate and increase your revenue.

Optimize Production Descriptions

First, your product descriptions need to stand out to make the consumer want to click on your products links instead of your competition. The primary goal is to differentiate your products from your competition. How do you do that? You need to really take time with your product descriptions. Make them as unique as possible, do not use the general product descriptions provided by the manufacturer.  Chances are this is what everyone else is using. Include things like your shipping costs, if the item is available online only, or if you’re running a special discount. Your descriptions are key to making your products stand out among the competition.

Update Feeds Frequently

Second, make sure you are updating your product data feeds frequently. You should update your feeds as often as your inventory changes. Pricing and products need to be as fresh as possible. Nothing depresses a conversion rate more, than when a consumer clicks on a product which is out of stock.

Check Your Landing Pages

Third and I think the most important, is your landing pages. Make sure your landing page URLs go directly to your product pages. So many times, I’ve seen data feeds where all the landing pages go to the home page. Why would you send the consumer to your home page, when they have already selected the product they want?

These helpful hints probably seem really obvious, but you would be surprised how many companies are not using these best practices. That’s good news for you! You now have the advantage to get better conversion rates and earn more revenue.

October 26, 2008

Twitter As a Terrorist Tool?

By Li Evans

Terrorism Cartoon by BradFitzpatrick.com I was doing my normal reading of the main stream media sites - CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews and my eyes got a glimpse of a headline that contained the word "Twitter" in it, so of course, curiously I clicked on it. 

"U.S. Army Says Blogging Site 'Twitter' Could Become Terrorist Tool"

*blink*  ..... *crickets* ..... *blink*

Wow, really?!  A terrorist tool?  Now I don't know about you folks, but I tend to give terrorist a little more credit in the secret and brains department.  Ideally these folks don't want ANYONE knowing what they are up to right?  I mean seriously, a terrorist tool?

According a a report by the Agence France-Presse news agency, the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion contains a chapter entitled “Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter,” which expresses concern over the increasing use of Twitter by political and religious groups.

Am I wrong, are we not in America?  Seriously, isn't this they way that grassroots efforts are suppose to work?  They use tools to communicate a like minded message and join together for a common cause.

I think what the government is missing, very clearly here, is the way social communities police themselves.  If there's a crazy person in the group, or on the channel or in the forum, or espousing crap from their blogs, people either do two things 1) Ignore Them or 2) Look at their blog for the next crazy thing they are saying and laugh.

Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives,” the Army report said.

Most normal human beings can spot a whack job a mile a way.  At least the type of whack jobs this report is describing.  These whack jobs can say whatever they want on twitter, it's just like they can print whatever they want, too.  It's just like those people with the weird hairdos and clothese at the airport that are selling flowers, or those Scientology members passing out fliers on Market St. in San Francisco.  Unless you want to listen to the music or read the message, you trash the communication device or ignore it altogether - you just don't listen to it.

Hugh_macleod_cool_sheep_cartoon The article goes on ..... "The blogging service and social networking site has previously sent out messages known as “Tweets” faster than news organizations during such major news events as the July Los Angeles earthquake and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis."

I guess they forget to give credit to Scoble for getting a tweet about the earthquakes in China.  I guess they also missed that Beth Kanter raised over $2,500 dollars for Cambodian Children, in an hour live from Gnomedex.  I guess they missed the thousands of other great things Twitter's been used for and to spread the word about in an instance? 

Maybe Joe the Plumber should tweet his questions to the candidates, and then maybe it'll be worth the candidates mentioning how great Twitter is, instead of our government labeling it a terrorist tool?

What say you?

October 25, 2008

eMetrics: Search From Now On

By Li Evans

Emetrics_search_from_now_on_1 The last session of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington DC that I attended before hitting the road and heading back north to Philly was on the Acqisition Track, entitled "Search from Now On".  None other than my great friend Mike Grehan of Acronym Media was presenting.  If you didn't know, Mike's writing his 3rd book on Search Marketing, as well as a white paper about search engines and their new listening signals.

A Bit of Search History

Mike starts of by showing a slide of a quote from Vannevar Bush, then summarizing what was on the screen as "information can become lost and all over the place and it would be great to put it all together."

"As We May Think", is a piece that Vannevar Bush wrote that questions, instead of making the weapons of mass destruction, couldn't we instead create something great for mankind? 1945 Bush invented the fax machine, computer and the internet, MEMEX - is really the world wide web.

Bush argues that as humans we should turn our scientific efforts from increasing physical ability too making all previous collected human knowledge more accessible. Now take a look at Google today.  Google's mission is to organize the world's information to make it universally accessible and useful.

Continue reading "eMetrics: Search From Now On" »

October 24, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesdays Meeting

By Li Evans

This week's fun photo comes from this past week's conference, eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington DC.  I was glad to see a few of my search friends there, including the very charming Matt Williams of No Possum Consulting (you gotta see his business cards!) and the always fun Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit.  Before I had to scurry off to another dinner with local friends I attended the Web Analytics Wednesday meeting at eMetrics and hung out with Matt & Amanda, they kindly obliged me with their smiles when I asked for pictures!

Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesday Meeting

If you like this photo of Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesday Meeting, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit 2008, there's over 140 photos for you all to check out.

emetrics: Web 2.0 Measurements in Today's B2B World

By Li Evans

Emetrics_web2.0_b2b_1 The last session in the Social Media track on the 3rd day of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit was presented by Joshua Siler of Babcock & Jenkins.  Then session focused on Web 2.0 and how B2B business can utilize and measure the success.

Joshua starts of the session with a slide that says 75% of Fortune 1000 companies with websites will have some kind of online social networking initiative for marketing or customer relations purposes, 50% of those campaigns will be classified as failures.

Continue reading "emetrics: Web 2.0 Measurements in Today's B2B World" »

October 23, 2008

eMetrics: Key, Relevance Factors of Expanding Followers, Friends & Fans, In Your Online Community

By Li Evans

The last session of day 1 (technically it was day 2) here at the eMetrics Optimization Summit was the most engaging of all the social media tracks.  It had three different presenters and they all had some great information for the audience on how they use different social media to build their audience of fans, friends and followers and how that also affects other social media mediums they are in.  Each had very to the point, key, relevance factors of how you can utilize these social media tools.

Beth Kanter of Beth's Blog - How Non-Profits Can Use Social Media

Emetrics_beth_kanter First off, Beth is a ball of energy and enthusiasm about blogging and social media.  Seriously, her enthusiasm is contagious!  You could tell this the minute she stood up and greeted the audience.  What Beth is known for is using her blog to raise money for non-profit causes, such as sending kids to school in Cambodia.  Not only does she raise money through her blog, she also raises money through her Twitter account too.

At the Gnomedex Conference, Beth launched a fundraising campaign from the podium on Twitter.  Within 45 minutes she had raised over 2,500.00.  By the end of the day, she raised over 4,500.00.  This was also lived streamed over the TV on one of the cable networks.  

What is the ROI of Blogging?

Beth started of this segment of her presentation with "the sum of time and money saved plus money earned or donated plus benefits translated."  But in all honesty, although the numbers are what people judge campaign by, there are intangibles that can't be fully measured by numbers ..... it's more than just math.

Continue reading "eMetrics: Key, Relevance Factors of Expanding Followers, Friends & Fans, In Your Online Community" »

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