Monthly Archives: August 2009

VACATION

TV-in sandsI’ll be on vacation for two weeks, so won’t be able to post or pass on any new ideas and information.  But fear not!  I’ll be back in September with even more interesting stuff!  Talk to you all then.

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Social Media Checklist for Internet Marketeers

Having outstanding content is crucial in a good social media campaign, but  many times the overall framework around the campaign can make or break your initiatives. Not only do you want to make sure that your campaign is overwhelmingly successful, but that you can track all of the metrics of this success.

Content related items

  • Thoroughly check your hosting – Make sure that your hosting can withstand a flurry of traffic – that can many times cripple a server. Contact your hosting provider and see if they could handle 25,000 visits in a 5 minute span.  Many people think they are going to do alright, but end up crashing during primetime, wasting all their work.
  • Doublecheck your content – Many times, even with excellent bandwidth and a reliable host, webmasters can shoot themselves in the foot in their execution of the content. Say you have 100 images to accompany a top 100 list and they all measure about 40kb an image. Your host’s processor might have the allotted amount of bandwidth for the data transfer, but the processor might get crushed trying to serve the 100 images to 10,000 visitors a minute and crash the site. Use things like Amazon S3 or Flickr for image hosting and YouTube or Vimeo for video hosting, so you won’t strain your own hosting resources.
  • Think about social voting buttons & badges – One thing that can bring voting to a halt is the lack of voting buttons on a page. If using buttons and badges, make sure that each button is going to the specific place and pre-load as much as possible so that users won’t have to think as much.
  • Look for events to avoid – Even the most awesome content in the world would have gotten lost during Michael Jackson’s funeral, when all of the social networks were crippled by the bandwidth. Many events are impossible to avoid, but there are so many others (elections/ceremonies/holidays …etc) which can be avoided.
  • Schedule launch for primetime – Make sure that you are giving your content its due and launch when you think you will have the most success; don’t just launch when it is done. If launching on Twitter, select the time of day and week where you think you will have as much pickup as possible. Same with the social news/bookmarking sites, make sure to set yourself up to utilize your networks to the maximum.
  • Analytics check – This is a no-brainer, make sure that you are tracking as much as possible during a campaign.  Having instant access to traffic stats is ideal, as you will be able to find out what is working well and try to exploit similar outlets.
  • Make sure additional support is ready – If looking to bolster your campaigns with other forms of marketing such as PPC campaigns, press releases, blogger outreach lists  or contextual ads, make sure that they are all set and ready to launch.  Many times these methods have an approval process or a good deal of footwork that have to be done before they can be launched. Make sure everything is buttoned down before launching.

Baseline Reporting

  • URL link check – View the number of inbound links to that specific page. Why? You should be tracking as many metrics as possible so that you can show detailed results to clients. Tracking the number of inbound links pre-launch will enable you to give your client direct results from the work that you have done.
  • Domain link check – This is mainly for smaller websites, but is still a great practice to track for all clients. One of the byproducts of promoting a specific page is that the main domain will garner links as well as the specific page in question. For many sites, every link counts and you want to make sure that you track everything!
  • Track overall pickups – Before launching, make sure that you have the proper resources to track all mentions of the campaign so that you will be able to justify the chatter about your campaign. SocialMention, WhosTalkin & Raven SEO Tools all have built in monitoring (as well as many others out there) that will allow you to really find (and save) what people are saying about you.
  • URL ranking report – One of the main results that you will see from a successful social news site is a quick lift in the SERPs. Tools like SEMrush allow you to find out what a specific page is already ranking for (if ranking for anything at all). Then, 30 days after your campaign has ended, you will be able to show hard evidence of increases that your Social Media Campaign has made on your SEO efforts.
  • Domain ranking report – Just like the ‘domain link check’ successful promotion of a specific article will most likely help your overall domain authority, so do some basic groundwork on how the entire site is performing in the SERPs before launching your campaigns.

With this checklist, you should be properly equipped to not only run a successful campaign, but also be able to show cold hard facts on the success of any campaign as well!  Courtesy of SEARCHENGINELAND.com

SEO vs. PPC

According to a new study by Engine Ready, based on traffic to 26 e-retail sites in a 12-month period that ended June 30, visitors who arrive at a retailer’s site from paid search ads are 50% more likely to buy than those who come from clicking on a natural search link. The conversion rate from paid search is 2.03% versus 1.26% from organic search, according to the study as reported by Internet Retailer.From Wikipedia:

Pay per click (PPC) is an Internet advertising model, used on websites, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines (SEO),  advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market.

The current study is a follow up of a completed two year study in 2008 to identify the magnitude of any visitor behavioral trends based on traffic source in a way that could help marketers adjust their strategies to maximize value. Although there can be an almost endless number of individual traffic sources, notes the study, this study, identified and measured 4 primary traffic source categories that encapsulate all source origins:

  • Organic listings
  • Paid listings
  • Direct access and bookmarks
  • Other referrer  

Most likely to buy are consumers who navigate directly to a retailer’s site by typing in a URL or clicking on a bookmark, as their conversion rate registered at 7.38%. Consumers who came to an e-commerce site from another site or an e-mail converted at 6.58%, the study shows. The overall conversion rate was 3.6%.

The study found that:

  • Paid search visitors bought the most, with an average order value of $117.06 versus $109.27 for those coming from other sites, $106.64 for visitors from organic search and $95.29 from direct referrals, such as from a bookmark or direct entry of a URL
  • Average order value for all retailers in the study was $104.21, down 31.7% from a previous Engine Ready study that analyzed data from a two-year period that ended December 2007. Retailers said average order values from all channels have declined in the past 12 to 18 months
  • The average time on a site per visit increased 5.8% from the previous study to 4 minutes, 33 seconds. Consumers who navigated directly to a site spent 5 minutes, 8 seconds. The study found consumers who spent more time on a site were more likely to buy, but that their average order value was not higher than that of other buyers
  • Site visitors on average viewed 5.2 pages per visit, up 15.6% from the previous study. Those who came directly or from other sites or e-mail viewed the most pages, 6.2 on average
  • Average number of seconds on a page dropped 9% from the earlier study to 53 seconds, which could be a sign marketers are doing a better job of presenting information on their pages in a more easily readable format, the study says. Paid search visitors spent the most time on a page, 66 seconds on average.
  • 43.9% of all visitors left after viewing just one page, down slightly from 44.5% in the earlier study. Organic search produced the highest bounce rate, 48.5%, and direct access the lowest, 39.2%
  • Direct access produced the largest share of site visits (40%), followed by other referring sites and e-mail (27.9%), paid search (19.8%) and organic search (12.3%)

This study is based on an analysis of 20.8 million visits and 108 million page views to 26 e-commerce sites from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. 21 of the 27 companies in the latest study also provided data for the earlier Engine Ready study.

For additional information from InternetRetailer on this report, please visit here, and to access the PDF file of the 2008 study, please go to Engine Ready here.

Cold Calling Dos and Don’ts – RainToday

Here is an interesting podcast I came across. Courtesy of Rainmaker.com.
Cold Calling Dos and Don’ts – RainToday

Shared via AddThis

5 Social Media Campaign Killers

social media mapThere’s no fun quite like the period immediately after a new communications medium rises to prominence. While marketers awkwardly experiment with ways to bend the new medium to suit their mass marketing needs, we see a lot of cautious toe-dipping, overambitious power plays, and failed campaigns. It’s an exciting time to be in the marketing business.

It’s easy to critique a company that tries and fails within social media. It’s a popular internet pastime to look at approaches to social campaigns, critique them (often accompanied by heavy sarcasm), and explain how your approach would have been better. But what if you’re a marketing professional who has been given the rather challenging task of “figuring out” social media for your organization? It’s not so funny without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

I can’t make recommendations concerning your company’s approach to social media without an intimate knowledge of your business and its goals. No one can. However, there are a number of pitfalls — social media “campaign killers,” if you will — that ought to be avoided at all costs. Falling into any one these traps will result in a “face-palm” as your social media campaign withers and dies. Here they are (courtesy of IMediaConnection.com):

CAMPAIGN KILLER #1:  Putting Tactics Ahead of Strategy

CAMPAIGN KILLER #2:  Dishonesty

CAMPAIGN KILLER #3:  Commitment Issues 

CAMPAIGN KILLER #4:  Excessive Adspeak

CAMPAIGN KILLER #5:  Trusting Automation Over Human Beings

How to Create A Social Media Site

tin cans and stringAs social networks like Facebook and Twitter continue to grow in popularity, clients are turning to their agencies for help establishing a strong social media presence. But with the rapid growth of social media and the lightning-fast speed at which technology changes, agencies are finding it’s essential to have people on board who can keep up.

With any new technology, it’s hard to know when to jump on board and whether it’s worth establishing a new wing for new media. It can be funny to look back and see how other new technologies were either embraced or shunned; the show “Mad Men” poked fun at the reluctance to embrace television by having the fictitious Sterling Cooper agency start a television department with one member.

With its fast growth and wide audience, it’s safe to say social media will be a part of almost every campaign from here on out. But before an agency starts a social media department, there are some things to consider.

Do you need it?
Starting a new division in an agency costs money and could divert resources from other departments. Before an agency starts a social media department, it needs to look at its resources and clients’ needs.

At The Zimmerman Agency, a Florida-based agency that has done work for Aflac and Tobacco Free Florida, digital marketing was already a focus, in addition to traditional and PR work. But about two years ago, as client demand grew, the agency brought in some new hires and moved some existing staff to build a small social media department of a half-dozen members. Although the decision was initially met with some hesitation, that has changed, according to Executive Vice President and Director of Client Services Andy Jorishie.

“As a philosophy at this agency, we like to push digital in general. We don’t want to ghettoize it, as it has been,” he said. “It was an obvious decision.”

Molecular, whose clients include Adidas, Nikon, and T. Rowe Price, did things a little differently. Rather than build one department responsible for social media, the agency has been working to get everyone thinking about social media, with its emerging interactions practice driving that change.

“Everyone in our agency knows it is important and should be a part of all projects,” said Steve Mulder, head of emerging Interactions at Moecular. Mulder’s group isn’t necessarily responsible for all the social media work, but instead serves as the “hub of internal thought process,” as he put it.

The constantly changing world of social media can be tough to negotiate. A few years ago, Facebook was limited only to college students, and Twitter didn’t even exist. Now both are considered leading social network sites and, with millions of members, provide a huge audience for brands looking to promote themselves. Whether agencies can handle those fast-paced changes is up for debate.

“You need to move nimbly, and that’s not just going to happen at very large, established agencies,” said Michael Lazerow, founder and CEO of Buddy Media, a digital and social media marketing agency that has done work for brands including Reebok, Bud Light, and Fox News.

But for agencies that already make it a priority to stay on the cutting edge, a social media department may be a natural fit.

Mulder explained that Molecular assigns its principal consultants to focus areas every year, and their job is to look toward the future. It’s been several years since he signed up to work on new ideas centered on Web 2.0, and the social media landscape was very different back then — MySpace was far more popular than Facebook, and there was no Twitter — but Mulder said it was clear social media was going to be something agencies wanted to get ahead of.

“Even then, when Web 2.0 was barely a term, it was pretty obvious that things were moving quickly,” he said.

Buddy up
In some cases, it might make more sense to partner with another agency that already has strong ties to social media marketing. Lazerow argues that for now, agencies shouldn’t be starting new departments.

“It’s a very risky venture for an agency to open up a significant social media presence,” he said. “There’s $1 billion spent on social media and $5 billion spent on marketing. Why not wait until that number goes up to $5 billion or $10 billion?”

The 30-member team at Buddy Media focuses solely on building applications, pages, and widgets. Many of the company’s clients come through partnerships with other agencies.

“The smartest agencies are partnering, not building,” he said. “But that may change over time. We’re focused on a business that is much more closely aligned with the agencies than against them. We want to be partners now and partners in 10 years.”

For some agencies, it has made sense to start thinking about social media internally.

Get the right people
Who makes up a social media team largely depends on your agency’s focus.

With Buddy Media’s focus on the technical side of social media, Lazerow said most of the agency’s employees are web developers and designers. Teams at The Zimmerman Agency and Molecular combine creatives, technical developers, and account managers.

Just as important as actual skill, though, is ensuring everyone on the team knows and uses social media in their personal lives. Having those people as part of a social media department ensures clients won’t commit the biggest online faux pas: Looking like they’re trying too hard.

“It’s difficult to understand how an organization should use Twitter unless they live in Twitter themselves,” said Mulder.

Practice what you preach
For individual users, not a lot of thought goes into a Facebook page. It’s a casual and conversational medium that companies need to adopt to stay relevant online, but at the same time, they need to work their message in and avoid sounding cheesy.

Building its own social media presence has helped The Zimmerman Agency better understand what’s acceptable, Jorishie said.

“We practice what we preach. To be cool in social media is to talk in that language. You’ve got to be with it,” he said. “The more comfortable someone is with it in their personal lives, the more comfortable they are selling it.”

On its Facebook page, Zimmerman posts pictures of employees and company events alongside business news.

Because the platforms that social media pages run on are constantly changing, social media teams need to be flexible and able to come up with new ideas quickly.

“We’re in a business where the technology changes daily,” said Lazerow. “I think the question is, ‘What has changed over the last 10 minutes?'”

Sell, sell, sell
Fortunately, it’s getting easier for agencies to sell their clients on social media services, although that wasn’t always the case. Clients that are getting ahead of their agencies online is a more common problem.

Buddy Media, which is almost two years old, has gotten some of its business from clients whose agencies weren’t ready to take them into social media.

“It was a hard start. We had to convince the agencies to convince their clients,” Lazerow admitted. “Now we have clients saying, ‘Give me a social media solution yesterday.’ They’re looking at where consumers live.”

While Buddy Media gets many of its clients through partnerships with others that don’t offer social media as part of their marketing packages, sometimes clients will come to it directly when their agency isn’t moving fast enough on the digital front.

Thanks, in part, to the growing popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, businesses are becoming more aware, on their own, that these are tools they need to use. And as these websites age, agencies are able to provide their clients, for the first time, with some data about how social media can help them.

“Our direct stakeholders are seeing in other industries that companies are using social media to stand out. Clients are easier than ever to convince,” said Mulder. “There are a lot more success stories and a lot more metrics and results.”

Keep your team on its toes
Now that clients want to use social media in their marketing strategy, the questions they’re asking agencies are starting to change.

“The questions that they come with are a lot more immediate: ‘Is my audience ready for social media tools? How do I add to my online presence?'” Molecular’s Mulder said.

The challenge an agency is more likely to face, according to Zimmerman’s Jorishie, is convincing a client that although many social networking sites are free and, socially, require little time, that’s not the case for them.

“It’s been hard to convince some clients that it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a commitment,” he said, adding that Zimmerman offers different levels of digital services to its clients. “It’s a participatory thing. Like a garden, you have to grow it.”

When it comes to a presence on social websites like Facebook and Twitter, or even commenting and participation on their own brand sites, it’s important to have someone posting new content and moderating user-generated content.

“One of the assumptions companies make is it’s easy and cheap,” Jorishie said. “But you need to staff that can keep the dialogue alive. You don’t want to have ratings and reviews that aren’t moderated. You need to watch for spam.”

On the technical side, it can take a team to come up with new ideas and ways for companies to get themselves out there.

“There are a lot of moving parts and it’s labor intensive,” said Lazerow. “It’s more than just placing ads.”

Some industries have been slower to latch on to social media than others. The financial sector, for example, is more conservative and takes to new strategies more slowly. Medical companies have had concerns about privacy and legal issues. But, as social media has continued to grow steadily even those last hold-outs are coming around.

“We have healthcare firm client and we’re seeing a lot more flexibility and openness than there was two years ago from legal with what we can experiment with and try online,” Mulder said.

Conclusion
Social media is the wave of the future, but what the future will look like is anyone’s guess. Clients are more likely to expect a social media aspect to their marketing plan, but who provides that content will depend on an agency’s capabilities. For some, it makes sense to start an internal social media department, but for others, partnerships might be your answer.

Ultimately, an agency that is going to be successful in social media needs to be ready to adapt to clients’ needs while constantly watching changing technologies.

Courtesy of IMedia Connetion.

Mark Penn on Microtrends

Mark Penn, Burson-Marsteller CEO and former campaign advisor to Hillary Clinton was on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show at Noon to discuss his book Microtrends, now in paperback.

Lopate covers everything including the definition of a microtrend (something that reaches 1%, or 3 million people) and examples of products and ideas spreading this way–and how microtrends have changed since the financial downturn. I.E., the middle class is now empowered with information while the “elites” including Bernie Madoff’s clients are particularly susceptible to branding.

Some interesting ideas and perspectives from one of the pre-eminent pollsters and PR people in the country today. You can hear the whole interview HERE.  Courtesy of WNYC and PRNewser.