October 16, 2007

eMetrics - Jim Novo Presents on Actionable Testing Even a Manager Could Love

By Mike Churchill

I spent the afternoon attending the Behavioral Targeting and Testing track, where Jim Novo of Drilling Down delivered an excellent presentation on “Actionable testing and reporting even a manager could love.”  Jim’s proposal is to develop your reporting efforts such that you are reporting on people – not campaigns. Many times, there are multiple factors influencing the customer’s behavior on site, and the only way to properly account for those other factors is through the use of a control group.

For example, suppose you are running an email campaign to your existing customer base, and during the course of the campaign, the company is also running a PPC campaign, a Superbowl ad, and during this same time a major news event related to the company breaks.  When reporting on the effectiveness of the email ads, how would you account for those other (possibly significant) factors?

Continue reading "eMetrics - Jim Novo Presents on Actionable Testing Even a Manager Could Love" »

October 08, 2007

Food For Thought: What 12 Inches of Flour, Sausage, and Cheese Could Have Gotten You!

By Karl Ribas

Hey all! It’s me, Karl. I know it’s been awhile since my last post here on SMG, but I figured today is as good of a day as any to pick-up right where I left off a few weeks back. Well, that and I fear Li will beat me with a stick if I don’t publish something soon.

So what have I been up to lately? Well, like most people in this industry, I’ve had a lot on my plate… and not just in a work sense. A couple of months ago, my girlfriend and I purchased a home not all that far from where we grew up and currently work. Since then, we’ve both been quite the busy bees touching up the place and adding our own personally style to the house… not to mention many after-work visits to the local Home Depot. All in all, it’s been a real blast and I think we’ve finally reached a point where we can just sit back and enjoy our new home… meaning that I’ll once again have the free-time needed to contribute to this blog on a regular basis.

One of the cool things I’m finding about moving into a new neighborhood is meeting and getting to know the locals. Surprisingly enough our experiences with both, our neighbors and the neighboring businesses, have been pleasant ones. I’ve heard the numerous horror stories about moving into a neighborhood of A-holes, but this was certainly not the case. In fact, being new to the neighborhood, we’ve been receiving specialty coupons and vouchers from many of the local businesses and eateries… and all have been appreciated.

Continue reading "Food For Thought: What 12 Inches of Flour, Sausage, and Cheese Could Have Gotten You! " »

April 02, 2007

DoubleClick For Sale - Part 2

By Michael Abolafia

According to a recent article it looks like Google, Yahoo and AOL have joined Microsoft as interested parties to purchase DoubleClick.  As i mentioned in my previous blog entry, the affiliate network GoogleyahooPerformics would be a part of this sale.  I feel as though a sale to Microsoft, Google and Yahoo would have the potential to greatly change the affiliate space.

Many people have come out and said that the new Google CPA network would be the end of affiliate marketing.  I do not believe that to be true at all.  Could it take a small cut out of traditional Affiliate Marketing?  Maybe.  However, to me affiliate marketing is about relationships and matching offerings to the needs of a marketing partner.  This could be in the form of interactive banners, data feeds, search banners, etc.  Until Google could offer these types of customizability and relationships their offerings will not have a big negative impact on the Affiliate Marketing space.  But could the purchase of DoubleClick provide them with this opportunity?

Leveraging Paid Search and Affiliate Marketing

By Account Deleted

Maguire In a recent blog post, I wrote about the Death of Affiliate Marketing in the online marketplace. Citing that companies are being more cost conscious with all of the expensive monthly fees, setup costs, affiliates bidding on Trademark terms in paid search, etc...  Well, after giving this some thought, there are some useful and opportunistic tactics where companies can leverage their affiliate relationship in paid search resulting in a Win-Win for everyone, especially the consumer. I'm NOT talking about traditional Branding.... I'm talking about New Customer Aquisition.

Trademark Bidding Rules:
Ok, so we all know that there are major issues regarding Trademark Bidding with competitors and affiliates bidding on a company 's trademark search terms. In most cases with SEM, the "branding" search terms drive the most revenue at the lowest costs, resulting in a continuous ROAS% profit machine. However, as I have learned firsthand in this industry, acquiring new customers by bidding on more generic search terms is getting increasingly more expensive as competition and saturation influence ROAS and profit margins.

So in order to "not piss-off" affiliates who are trying to generate additional sales, position your affiliate network NOT as a Branding Channel, but as an Acquisition Channel because the "SEM reality check" has taught us that getting new customers is more expensive and just shutting affiliates down because of  Trademark bidding is a ticket for disaster because they will go elsewhere, most likely to a competitor. You need to empower them with genuine and useful information to entice them to  come back to the program and give them the initiative and tools they need to drive more new customers. (ie. share the love!)

Help me... Help you! (Entice your Affiliates in SEM Battles)
After discussing the Trademark woes,  it's a good thing to share with your affiliates new ideas that can excite and bring back to life this once powerful marketing channel. Let them know things like "hey, of the 10,000 keywords that we are bidding on, only 10% are driving successful revenue (mostly brand terms). Share with them that there is a great opportunity for them to penetrate new markets and you need their help do it. Make them feel they are a part of the overall plan and be very clear that they will be rewarded for their participation.

Here are some other things that can be addressed:

  1. Provide them with new products coming to market which can give you that all-important "upper hand" on competitors.
  2. Give them new customer acquisition bonuses based on specific product categories/segments that have historically achieved lower ROAS% in the past
  3. Provide them with SEM tactical best practices docs such as ...
    1. Keyword research for top products (provide them with keywords)
    2. Examples of Ad/Creatives that have work well iin the past
    3. Provide them with new (CTA) landing pages
  4. Just be honest with them. Share some basic analytics/data with them
    1. Conversion rates
    2. Top 100 products
    3. Top converting products
    4. Bounce Rates

If there is anything to gain from affiliate marketing and paid search, it's finding a way to make it successful over the short term but most importantly the long term. One of the hardest things anyone can do with paid search is to turn it into a highly profitable, money-making machine that adjusts itself to market conditions. As competitors continue to saturate the market and raise CPCs, it becomes more and more difficult to acquire new customers while sustaining a healthy ROAS% based on traditional Cost/Margins of products & services. It is this trend alone where the Affiliate Marketing Channel can be leveraged to your advantage. Let your affiliates drive more qualified NEW customers to your website and lastly let the affiliate know that you want them to succeed because if you can help them succeed, imagine the long term benefit of new and repeat buyers over the next 5-10 years.

March 29, 2007

8 Online Marketing Tips for Libraries

By Li Evans

Librarybooks I've got a soft spot for libraries.  I love books, and as a kid, I'd spend hours upon hours with my neighbors in our library which was just around the block from my house.  Lately, a lot of librarians have been linking to Search Marketing Gurus.  Our article on the 31 Places to Manage Your Reputation Online has become rather popular with these great group of people.

So with all of that in mind, I wanted to come up with some quick tips and ideas to help any library with a website to take advantage of some simple and easy online marketing ideas:

  • List your library with Google Local
    Most libraries take for granted that they will come up in local searches.  While it can be assumed, this would be only natural that a library is listed in the Google Local listings, it isn't always the case.  Don't let your library miss out on this opportunity to be found, submit your library's information at Google's Business Center.


  • Promote Your Library's URL Offiline
    Library's can miss the perfect opportunity to reach beyond their doors when they don't promote their website URL.  From printing it on library cards, to ensuring that the stickers that show the book is property of the library, all present perfect opportunities to remind readers of the library's website, long after they walk out the doors.  Any type of fliers that are printed to promote library events, make sure your URL is prominently displayed as more and more people look to a website to gather more information about events they see posted on billboards, roadsigns and even on TV.


  • Photo Galleries & Flickr Badges
    People of all walks of life, love to look at pictures.  Showing off pictures of events at the library is a great way to draw attention to them and to share the great time that was had.  Flickr and other photo sharing services allow you to store your pictures and share them with an entire community.  Flickr also always you to create "badges" (like the one at the top of "SMG" here) which bring attention to your photos and get people interested in the website.


  • Start a Book Review Blog
    Starting a blog is simple these days.  From typepad, to wordpress to blogger, you can start a blog for free, customize it to your liking and update it as often as you want.  For libraries on a budget, most of these services have free versions which you can utilize.  Promoting is easy, just post a link to it within the navigation of your library's website.  Ensure that your blog is properly branded with your library's information and links back to the library's main site.

    Using the blog to help promote new books that are coming into the library by offering a review, is a great way to build up interest for people to check out and read the books.  You can also highlight the "classics", childens' books and the list can go on.  Don't forget, you can easily generate interest in a long forgotten book this way too!


  • Create "Reviews by Library Members" Section of the Library Website
    Get your membership involved.  Create a special section of your website dedicated to library members and what they read.  When checking out their books, ask your members if they'd be interested in sharing their opinions of the book when they bring it back in, and if they'd like you to feature it on the website.  Including a small picture of them along with their review can add that personal touch, which will more than likely encourage them to pass on the link to family and friends.


  • Events Calendar Online - PDF Version
    Posting your events on your website is a great way to inform visitors who come to your website of the upcoming events.  However, how do you hold their interest after they leave your website?  Create the calendar in some kind of text editor or spreadsheet and then make it into a down-loadable PDF version.  This will enable you to brand the calendar with the Library's information, and the visitor to hang it on their refrigerator, and keep you in mind each time they go for the milk with those cookies!


  • Create an Opt-In Email Newsletter
    If you haven't already, create an opt-in email newsletter for library members.  Offer a way to sign up on your website, and keep a sheet for a newsletter "sign up" right where members check in and check out their books.  Don't forget to ASK!! 

    Newsletters that people opt-in for are a great way to speak to a very captive and highly targeted audience.  They want to know what's going on at the library, they want to know what kind of books are coming in, and usually they want to help out if they can!  That leads me to my last "tip."


  • Create a Volunteers Section on the Website
    Wouldn't it be great to highlight those contributions of time, energy and assistance no matter how big or small they are?  Most people love to be recognized for their efforts, and we all like to be thanked for giving our time.  What better way to say thank you, than to have it for everyone to see?  Using pictures, quotes and special graphics can even personalize the page a little more.  It will also lead to your volunteers passing the link to the page along to their family and friends.

Feel free to contribute any other ideas you might have to help out your local library or any library for that matter!  These great folks, do a tremendous job each and every day to help all of our communities, it's the least we can do to help them out a little.

March 11, 2007

How Twitter Could Become Useful To Businesses

By Li Evans

Twitterlogo Twitter me this, Twitter me that.  Just what is Twitter and can this new phenom be useful in business?  At first glance, one might think, this is just an annoyance that only "tweenagers" could tolerate enough to love.  But if Twitter actually tweaked a few of it's features, it could become a useful medium for businesses that want to get relevant information about products and services to a captive mobile audience.  Right now, there's a lot of buzz going on about Twitter, check out what's been out on Techmeme in the last 24 hours (updated:  seems like Twitter's quite a hot topic, so I've added some more links!):

Twitterpublicannouncements Twitter allows you to let people within your social network of friends on Twitter know where you are and what you are doing every time you send a SMS Text Message.  If you are just joining to check it out and aren't quite use to this type of communication you can become annoyed, rather easily, and really fast.  It can also end up running up your cellphone bill if you don't have unlimited text messaging.  But knowing that the probable audience for Twitter are 14-25 year olds who stay connected via texting SMS message, Twitter does a perfect job of keeping that social group connected.

But is there a business model that could garner Twitter money?  Perhaps through some kind of ads being served up through this channel, it could.  However, this age group Twitter primarily serves is notorious for being "ad blind" since they've grown up with ad based services.  What Twitter might be better off doing is charging for premium channel creation.  This type of channel would allow for one way texting of messages out to the group of subscribed social network/community members. 

Providing this type of service could possibly broaden their appeal to a more diverse market base.  It would also allow companies to market to captive audiences that could potentially lead to higher conversion rates.

  • Provide Business Channels
    If Twitter could provide channels for business, wherein a business could post information about expos, appearances, seminars, etc.  for subscribers to their channel, this could become a very useful tool.
  • Provide Musician Channels
    Twitter could provide this as a tool to allow bands, solo performers or even musicians for hire.  In providing a channel to broadcast out to their fans information about places and times they playing, when new music is released or even personal appearances by members of the group, twitter can be additional resource to MySpace that "indie" performers love so much.
  • Provide Publisher Channels
    Twitter could provide a channel for authors and publishers to announce the release of new publications.  They could also use this as a medium to help promote new book launches sending out messages where the authors will be for book signings.
  • Provide Entertainment Channels
    Much like all the other suggestions above, Twitter could provide networks, movie studios, and other entertainment outlets with their own "channels" where they could broadcast out information about new shows, cast updates, movie premiers, and all other information related to their particular industry.
  • Provide Sports Information Channels
    Along the same lines of the other ideas, this could focus around certain sports as well as offering team specific "channels."  This could allow the teams to offer special promotional seating offers, meet & greets with players, autograph signing sessions and special appearances.

In providing these types of "subscribe to channels", Twitter would offer a one way "push" of information (from the business to the subscriber) and  limit the "noise"  someone could get with  unwanted text messages from other fans saying "hey great offer" or "cool dude, I can't wait."  Fans themselves can set up those types of groups on Twitter (and already do) - which allows for the social aspect to continue to grow at an immense rate.

TwitterbadgesTwitter, right now, its something to look at.  It's interesting to experiment with, on a personal social level.  For right now though, businesses might want to wait to see what Twitter offers in the future before tapping into this new technology/service.

January 23, 2007

Techmeme vs. Digg - Knowing Your Audience & Client

By Li Evans

Techmemevsdigg Techmeme vs. Digg?  There really shouldn't be a comparison, should there?  However after thinking about this for a while there is a bit of a comparison when it comes to "getting noticed".  After reading Kim Krause Berg's post about not Digging being Dugg on Digg, I sat and thought about this a bit more in depth.  It's really about knowing who your audience is, or who your customer's audience is and knowing whether or not Techmeme, Digg or any other of these social media and social news services, fit.

I'm sure who 85% of my audience is.  It's readers who want to learn more about the Search and Internet Marketing Industry.  My readers are people who tend to be Tech Savvy or at least Internet Savvy, professionals who are over the age of 20.  These are professionals who understand or at least acknowledge that most of SEO isn't spam.  These people will tend to read and trust what they see on Techmeme before Digg.

Audience Digg, although the traffic numbers are very alluring, is NOT my audience.  The majority of users on the service do not understand anything about this industry and consider the majority of it as Spam.  They might be educated in other areas, but a decent portion of the highly active users are much younger and haven't a clue what this industry is really about.  That much is apparent by the comments they leave on Digg and also on the blog articles that are Dugg.

When I look at a client's audience, I find for the majority of them, Techmeme isn't the ideal place to look at to attract new audience members.  Digg, Netscape, Reddit & Newsvines are more of a fit for my clients.  Other social media services like Stumble Upon or MySpace might also offer another place to find new audience members. It is all about knowing your client intimately enough to understand how to reach their target audience.

Writing If you are a new blogger, don't worry about getting Dugg or even hitting Techmeme, that's secondary to providing good content.  Concentrate on establishing and knowing who your audience is, then decide what social media option best for you -- and your audience.  Once you have your hands around who's reading your blog, then experiment a little with providing some different types content, but remember, your base audience is your most loyal - don't piss them off.

If you write great content that serves a purpose and is valuable (and not all about you), other bloggers and people will notice and link to it.  Over time, you'll build a great base that will help to build your audience on its own.  Sure it's great to be Dugg, and you'll find a few good additions to your audience, but the more valuable audience member is one referred by a current reader.

So keep this in mind, in the end, it isn't about writing for Techmeme verses writing for Digg - it's about writing great content for your audience that keeps them coming back for more. 

January 20, 2007

My Super Proposal Gets Some Super Coverage

By Li Evans

UPDATE: Proposal to happen on Veronica Mars

I just got done hopping around the major news sites, of course Hilary's the big news right now, but my eyes fell upon something a little "closer to home" when I came to MSNBC's siteJoe Morin's efforts to help J.P.'s "My Super Proposal" have hit the front page of MSNBC. 


With about 3 weeks left till the Super Bowl's kick off, I certainly hope we get to hear some good news, and I'm really cheering for Joe's efforts.  MSNBC is reporting in the article that something is going to be finalized on Monday - apparently 6 companies are in the running!  What an amazing turn of events, and a lot in part to Joe's efforts.

Joe himself is even getting a little press for Storybids, Inc., with a couple of paragraph mentions about how Joe became involved and what his role and Storybids' role is with My Super Proposal.


I'm keeping my eyes glued to Joe's blog on Monday, that's for sure, I'll make sure to pass on what I find out too.

January 09, 2007

2007 Brings Web 2.0 to the Print World

By Li Evans

Timelogo Not even a full month into 2007 and there's a blazing trail of print media embracing Web 2.0.  Two magazine announced some major initiatives, and these should really put those in the print who haven't already looked at the web as a resource world, make them really start looking at increasing their web presence.  Not only are magazines and newspapers adding social news submission buttons, but they are utilizing trackback technologies, social networking features and even launching small social networks and blog dedicated to specific topics or sections of their publications.

  1. Timemostpopular Time Magazine launched their new redesign today.  The have also launched blogs for segmented areas such as Nerd World (I do feel loved now!) and Work in Progress - to name a few.  Time also has its own "Most Popular" area, looking very "Reddit"ish or "Netscape"ish.  First glance I've gotten, I like the new design and I like the new blogs.
  2. Hearst Corporation snaps up eCrush and it's sister sites.  Hearst is embracing the social networking scene with eCrush, eSpin & HighSchoolStyleBoard.  It has some very robust plans in the upcoming months they will be launching CosmoGIRL.com, Seventeen.com, and Teenmag.com in February.  Plans are also in the works for MyPromShopper.com to launch later this month.

This year is definitely going to be the year of the widget, but I also believe its going to be the year of "Print" truly embracing the Internet and taking full advantage of its many opportunities.  Lets hope they realize they also need to understand how all this Internet and Search Marketing works and look to our industry to help them along the way.

January 02, 2007

Can Microsoft Get it Right in 2007?

By Li Evans

2006 was not a banner year for Microsoft by any means.  Between delays of the new operating system (Vista) launching after the holiday season, to the launch of "Live Search", to the year end major snafu of sending laptops to bloggers, Microsoft has some heavy PR, Marketing and Branding issues on its hands.  2007 is going to be a year to watch and see how Microsoft deals with not being a leader in several areas that it tried to wade into.

Microsoft Marketing, Branding & PR Issues

  • Msnsearchorlivesearch Live Search vs. MSN Search - Microsoft has got some serious issues here.  Do "normal" people even know what "Live Search" is?  In the summer when Live Search was launched it perplexed me to no end.  Microsoft was already lagging behind Google and Yahoo in search.  Now add in the confusion between Live Search and MSN Search, its only managed pushed them further behind.  Advice:  Mr. Berkowitz please pick a name/brand, stick behind that brand and MARKET the darn thing to the "normal" people.
  • Zunead2_1 Zune - Where to go with this one, so many levels, so many mis-steps.  I don't even know if anything can save this brand/product.  Perhaps they should just let this product slip silently into the netherland?  Why with product advertisements that feature creepy bugs and skulls - it's a wonder they even sell at all with a campaign like that.  Advice:  Get a new advertising campaign, find customer evangelists and let them promote the product, and put a stop to incidents where stores are using Zune marketing pieces to promote iPods.
  • Freeacerlaptop_1"Bribing Bloggers" - Of course this wasn't the intent of the campaign to promote the launch of Vista, but it is how it has shaken out.  Pile on top, that it was Edelman who handled this (remember the Walmart Flogging Fiasco) campaign and it just made things worse.  In all honesty, it wasn't a bad idea at all, just how it was all handled did it in.  The lack of explanation, lack of disclosure on Edelman, Microsoft and don't forget AMD and Acer, and then the horrible indecision of whether or not the bloggers were allowed to keep the laptops - killed this beyond death.  Advice:  Really think before engaging the blogosphere with projects like this.  Giving laptops to the likes of Gizmodo, is one thing, but other bloggers should be filled in entirely on the who, what, when, where, why and how before they receive "free gifts" like they were sent.

That's just the three biggest issues that come to my mind - there are others that just compound onto this problems. Their search index is easy to game/spam, and security issues with Vista are just a few additional issues that come to mind.  However, not all is grimstone and pestilence at Redmond!  Microsoft actually has been doing somethings right, perhaps if they took lessons from their successes, and broadened them it could help them turn things around in 2007.

What Microsoft Does Right

  • Adcenter Microsoft AdCenter - For a lot of marketers, AdCenter is where they get the best conversions.  If Microsoft could only work out the small kinks (reporting issues, etc.), they could have a really great product here.  They figured out how to give merchants what they want, now if they could only give it to them reliably, they'd have more "great press" about AdCenter.  Highlighting their advertisers' conversions rates wouldn't be a bad marketing idea either.
  • Xbox XBox - I don't game, I don't own any consoles, however I have friends who are gamers and they tell me, along with other prominent industry professionals that the XBox is a great gaming console.  The online gaming features are second to none and that in this Microsoft "Got it Right."  Engage the captive audience and create customer evangelists - word of mouth in the gaming industry is gold, just look at what its done for the Wii.
  • Adcenterlabs Microsoft adCenter Labs - This little hidden treasure isn't something a lot of folks know about, and perhaps they should.  Microsoft is not known for sharing or giving a lot of things to webmasters, but with adCenter Labs things are different.  Marketers can find a lot of different, informative and pretty neat tools to help with PPC & Contextual Ads and even Behavioral Targeting.  If Microsoft can utilize this as a point to really engage their merchants and even just engage webmasters as a whole (like Google's webmaster central) they might get a little more respect in the search arena.

How Microsoft pushes forward is totally up to them, but perhaps they should really take a look at what they are doing right and why they are succeeding.  Zunead_1 Of course it goes without question, they need to look at their mistakes and learn from them (please please please, get rid of the creepy bugs on the Zune ads!).  2007 marks a new year for everyone - hopefully Microsoft can make it a turnaround year for themselves.

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