Online Marketing Strategies – EverEffect


A Site for Sore I

Posted in online strategies by Thomas Heed on October 25, 2007

“No, honey, the kids and I were thinking more about something with a salty breeze than the Bonneville Salt Flats.” My wife smiled, and sent me back to the computer in search of the perfect, affordable vacation getaway for our cabin-feverish, landlocked family.

“(We) offer luxurious, oceanfront vacation rentals; great rates online!” the ad copy virtually screamed at me.

The bait was meant to tempt, and I was hooked. I bit on the lure like an aggressive brook trout, and was reeled into a hospitality company’s website that ended up being, well … less than hospitable. Here are seven reasons why:

  1. Landed on the Home Page, which scrolled on forever. The company absolutely had to feature all fifteen locations, 350 properties, and eight resorts that they manage, complete with text and photos. Didn’t they?
  2. Prominently featured were locations in Arizona. I may be wrong, but there is no oceanfront property – luxurious or otherwise – in Phoenix or Tucson. Maybe these folks went to the Lex Luthor School of Real Estate. Otisburg … Otisburg?
  3. The site was designed to appeal to a number of target audiences, including Travel Agents, Real Estate Agents, Owner Agents, Time Share Owners, Vacationers (Families and Singles), and Current Clients.
  4. I was lured to the site to check out great deals on vacation rentals, not evaluate investment opportunities.
  5. View Our Video. Okay. But instead of letting me view their promotional video from the site, the company insisted that I pay to own their advertisement on DVD. Only $15.95, including S&H. If I’m interested enough to learn more about their properties, don’t make me shell out real dollars American for the privilege! Let me see it for FREE. Maybe I’ll even Forward to a Friend or six …
  6. Visitors are asked to Add to Cart before receiving any information on pricing. I’m thinking they have some real (cart) abandonment issues.
  7. The company has a number of Catalogs. None are available for download. Why make visitors order a catalog and then send via snail mail? Most, like me, would want to see the information immediately rather than wait days or weeks to receive it.

To recap: I was enticed to the site under false pretenses; there was an overwhelming amount of content, and a huge amount of it was irrelevant to me personally; the content that I was interested in was hard to find, and the company wanted me to wait to receive it, or worse, pay them to get it.

This fish got away. How many other visitors does this site fail to catch (convert)?

Does your website keep the promises your online campaigns make? If not, you could overly frustrate someone by creating an experience that is a site for a sore I!

Fantasy Analytics (Part 2)

Posted in Analytics by Thomas Heed on October 10, 2007

Employers worry about the impact of Fantasy Football on their bottom lines. One estimate, published in The Baltimore Business Journal, places national productivity losses at $1.1-billion a week due to fantasy football play at work.

The reason is that Fantasy Football is fun, and work is well … work. It doesn’t have to be that way. A slight alteration in the way you view web analytics can change your whole outlook.

The Draft
Keywords and phrases are your players. Your goal is to pick high-performers who can consistently rack up points for you, and then put your starting lineup in the best position to win (using SEO).

Fantasy Football Team Owners might use a Lineup Analyzer; you’ll rely on other tools to assess the demand for your players and the corresponding competition for them.

The Strategy
Most websites and online campaigns lose because they are of poor quality, they do not support company objectives, or they are not aligned with company strategy. The trick is to insure that your site is optimized for receptions (traffic) and completions (conversions).

The Standings
Conduct routine searches to see where your team (company) ranks in the Search Engine Report Pages (SERPs). Winning starts with knowing where you stand. This is the analytic equivalent of reviewing Fantasy Football scouting reports.

An extra point, SERPs also reveal which of your competitors are relying solely on organic search, and which ones are leveraging paid. Use this information to create a balanced attack (ratio of paid vs. organic) and keep costs down. It’s all about creating favorable matchups.

Tracking and Measurement
Fantasy football gurus spend an enormous amount of time tracking and analyzing live scores, trade opportunities, line-ups, injury and progress reports, etc.

If properly set up, you can track scores (sales), gauge player execution (non- or underperforming keywords and phrases) to inform lineup changes, and progress reports (ROI), and all in real-time!

Conflict
While some employers are launching an all-out blitz on fantasy football activities in the workplace, some HR consultants are suggesting that it brings employees together and even boosts careers. Somehow, I think CEOs – while they may be into Fantasy Football as much as you are – care more about the ROI on your marketing budget than the networking opportunities you might be generating by spending so much of your time on a make-believe game.

Real Life
Just spending a half an hour a day evaluating your online advertising and marketing initiatives can make all the difference between whether you’re operating a cost or a profit center.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”

Success online requires the use of analytics. It’s a matter of discipline. It’s a matter of will. And hopefully, I’ve proved it can be a matter of fun as well.

Fantasy Analytics (Part 1)

Posted in Analytics by Thomas Heed on October 4, 2007

Back in mid-August, The Indianapolis Business Journal ran a story about Fantasy Football Leagues and employer fears about their impact on productivity. Among the interesting stats:

  • 37 million Americans spend about an hour a week at work managing their make-believe teams
  • Employers lose up to $1.1 billion a week in lower productivity

The article included lots of information and advice on what employers can do to reduce Fantasy Football-related distraction infractions. A personal favorite, a warning about how allowing FF in the workplace could leave companies vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits.

A comment about web and email monitoring by employers caught my eye as well: “Eighty percent of companies already electronically monitor their employees in some way.” So, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck isn’t the only one cheating by stealing signals from the competition! If your boss has a team and it’s doing better than yours every week, find out what spy tool he or she is using to monitor your moves.

I found the furor over fantasy mostly amusing until about ten days ago when I accompanied my partners on a sales call. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a web site overhaul. “What should we do? Where should we start?”

Our prospect’s ice breaker, the first half of the meeting, was talking about – you guessed it – fantasy football. Thirty minutes of line-up analyzers, waiver wire and trade challenges, injury reports, sleepers and snoozers. One person in the conference room admitted that they spent five or six hours a week working on their imaginary team.

I finally asked, “How much time do you spend on web analytics every week?”

“Huh?”

Translation: I spend five hours a week analyzing fantasy football results; I don’t spend five minutes a week analyzing the results of my online advertising and marketing programs.

Analytics is not for everyone. I know that. Yet I couldn’t help wondering why someone would spend so much time and money on fantasy football but never dream of spending equal amounts of time and money on their own business. Again, we’re talking about 5-6 hours per week.

Bottom line: fantasy is fun, reality isn’t.

But in reality, if you’re not in the analytics game, you can bet that your competition is, and they’re throwing you for a loss.

In Part 2, learn how to make web analytics as fun as fantasy football. It may not lead you to fame, but it could make you a fortune.

Aesop on Marketing

Posted in online marketing by Thomas Heed on October 2, 2007

You probably don’t know this, but Aesop, apart from making his mark as a fabulist, was one of history’s first online marketing gurus. As proof, I offer the following case study:

Once upon a time, a boy thrust his hand into a pitcher full of peanuts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull his hand out of the pitcher, he was prevented from doing so by its narrow neck. Unwilling to lose the nuts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, the boy burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him, “Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand.”

The moral of the story: do not attempt too much at once.

How does this fable apply to online marketing? Well, let’s say you’re part of a large law practice. Imagine that your website is the jar, and your business is the boy.

Your firm specializes in corporate law, including Mergers & Acquisitions, Tax Law, Environmental Law, Labor Relations, SEC Compliance, Patent Law, and so forth. Like the boy, you want to grab as much business out of the jar as you possibly can. The jar’s narrow neck is the fact that your prospects don’t need your expertise in every area, but are seeking solutions to specific legal problems.

What should you do? Do not attempt too much at once.

  1. One story, one message. Aesop wrote dozens of fables, but sold them one at a time. If you offer lots of products or services do not attempt to sell them all at once in the same place. Devise a separate campaign for each offering and make sure that you’re relevant messaging gets to the right audience. Direct web visitors to those areas of your site that speak directly to their desires or needs. Traditional media sells to the lowest common denominator; online you cannot afford to.
  2. Don’t grab for too much all at once. Let’s say you’re advertising a weekend sale for women’s shoes. Aesop would never have publicized a URL directing his target audience to a Home Page featuring all manner of women’s clothing; the fabulous fabulist would have included a link directing interested parties right to a landing page featuring “funky, functional footwear for women.” Don’t overtly try to sell anything other than what has already got your audience’s attention (cross-selling and up selling are another topic). Think of it as the online version of “Would you like fries with that?”
  3. Tell a good story, and set yourself apart from the pack. Your unique story – or the manner in which you tell it – is a key differentiator. Lots of people wrote fables, and yet most of us can only name Aesop as the definitive master of this age-old craft. Tell a great story, and people will be drawn to your product or service. Best of all, they will remember you!

Focus on one initiative at a time and optimize it for success. Getting people to your website is hard work; driving them away is easy when you attempt to do too much.