Online Marketing Strategies – EverEffect

Yellow Pages Suck

Posted in Measurable Results,multivariate testing,online marketing by Jim Brown on November 26, 2007

For years they were considered the ‘lifeline’ for businesses to reach potential customers. 10 to 15 years ago I would have considered that a true statement. (It could be because that was the last time I knew where my phone book was!) Today, it is just simply not inaccurate, and I would challenge anyone who thought otherwise.

Why? Every year the Yellow Pages rate card goes up 3-7%, yet less and less people actually USE them. The decline in use closely mirrors the adoption of broadband internet service. With that, a large portion of young adults and business buyers NEVER consult the Yellow Pages at all – and they are controlling an ever-expanding portion of the dollars spent! Now, if your target market is one of the two population groups that is not adopting broadband internet services (the lower social-economic segment and the over 50 segment) you should be just fine.

Need more specifics?

Ad Placement

Wouldn’t it be nice if every company’s name started with ‘A’ so they could ALL be at the front of the directory? Let’s take a look at a pretty popular Yellow Page category: Heating and Cooling!

After eight full page ads and just as many half page ads that are horribly designed, yet begging for attention, you finally get to the phone number listings themselves. There you will find 70 (seventy – not a typo) companies that start with the letter ‘A.’ A-Fast Heating, A Perfect Climate, A-Plus Heating, AAA Heating, Aaron’s Heating… you get the point. How in the world are you supposed to stand out? I guess you buy a bigger ad.

Multiple Category Listings

Let’s assume you were a general contractor. Right out of the gate we can put you in that category for a nominal fee. What happens if people aren’t looking for a ‘general contractor,’ but rather a painter. You provide painting services yet you will not be seen when that person is looking – unless of course you buy that category too. The next potential customer wants someone to do a little bit of drywall installation – you do that as well, but again you are only listed under general contractor. I guess you’ll be buying another category?

Now, your budget is not very big to begin with, so what happens when you spread that budget over the 14 categories that a potential customer MIGHT look for you under? Your listing is diminished to next to nothing, and you might as well not be in there at all.

Ad Modification and Spending

I recently spent an afternoon with a local business who spends $13,000/month on Yellow Page advertising. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and realized that equated to over $150,000/year I started to chuckle and asked if he would like to keep more of that in his pocket.

He told me two things that really stuck out during the conversation.

  1. His business is dead November 15 – March 15. It is season and no one is in need of his service during those months. Regardless, Yellow Pages will still bill him $52,000 during that time where his phone will not ring one single time. If you knew this about your business – wouldn’t it be nice to turn OFF your advertising during this time?

  2. He recently added a new service to his business and was waiting until the new Yellow Pages came out so he could start advertising! Who said print isn’t dead? It seems like the moment a piece of paper rolls off the printer, it is already out of date. Why in the world does this business have to wait until the next printing of the Yellow Pages to START advertising his new service? What if the new service is a bust? He can’t do any testing of less than a year with this advertising method.

Shouldn’t YOU be in control of when your ads are modified and how much you are spending? Wouldn’t it be nice to do so on a monthly basis – or even a daily basis?

Measurable Results

“50% of our marketing dollars are wasted every year, the problem is we don’t know which half!” Sound familiar? What about – “80% of my business comes from the Yellow Pages.” Heard that one too?

The fact of the matter is – if you are not measuring your marketing, you are wasting money. Unless you have a special 800 number for every category in the yellow pages you will have NO idea of what is working and what it not – and at this point we are ONLY talking about leads. What happens after the call? Did they close? If not – why? When will you follow back up with them? What if 2 weeks go by – do you remember where they came from or do you just chalk it up as ‘another Yellow Page lead?’

Still not convinced?

You are reading this online – if I were wrong, you’d be reading this in your Yellow Pages!

Wondering where I got a copy of the Yellow Pages? After visiting with my grandpa this Thanksgiving I asked to borrow his copy for this blog entry. I know he’ll need it back.

Quality, Not Size, Matters

Posted in Measurable Results by Thomas Heed on November 14, 2007

At my company, EverEffect, we believe that the success of email marketing hinges on execution in two critical areas:

  1. The Quality of your List, the Quality of your Offer, and the Quality of your Call to Action
  2. Getting the Right Message to the Right Audience at the Right Time

Let’s start with your list. In Email Marketing, the quantity of people on your list matters far less than the quality of people on your list.

Case in point – EverEffect has organized a full day conference focused on interactive marketing featuring speakers from eight other companies ( We sent out an invitation to our email list (205); we secured another list and sent the invitation to its subscribers as well (more than 3,900).

We urge our clients not to buy or rent lists themselves, but we did so ourselves for two reasons: 1) we wanted to expand our reach to a targeted audience of online marketing professionals; and, 2) we wanted to use the exercise as an experiment to prove our point. The results are a staggering endorsement for permission-based email.

205 Emails Sent
73.6% Opens
44.6% Click-Through Rate
60.6 CTR/Open Ratio

Brand X
3,939 Emails Sent
37.9% Opens
12.9% Click-Through Rate
34.0 CTR/Open Ratio

Now, the primary goal of this particular send was to have Subscribers view a video invitation to the conference. Here’s where the stats get extremely interesting. One in three EverEffect Subscribers viewed the video compared to 1 in 42 Subscribers for the much larger list!

Take another look at the numbers. The smaller list outperformed the larger one in every key performance metric: nearly 2-1 in Opens; almost 4-1 in CTR; and, 14-1 in Conversions!*

Okay, inquiring minds want to know why. It boils down to this: EverEffect’s subscriber list is permission-based; Brand X’s is pseudo-permission-based. The people on our list know who we are, and – hopefully- anticipate receiving email from us; people on the Brand X list do not have a relationship with us, and have little incentive to open an EverEffect message.

It’s pretty simple, we have less quantity (we work on that every day), and more quality than the “borrowed” list.

Yes, it takes longer, and requires more effort, to build a quality list, but the results are worth it.

You don’t need a Tsunami-sized list to make your splash!

*In fairness, even the rental list outperformed advertising/marketing industry averages for Opens (37.9% vs. 24.6%) and CTR (12.9% vs. 2.8%). Source:

The Lion and The Fox

Posted in Analytics,Measurable Results by Thomas Heed on August 8, 2007

Once upon a time, there lived a hungry Lion who found it tough to acquire new customers (to eat). Possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit, he decided to advertise. He spent tens of thousands of dollars on a direct mail campaign, sending coupons to his neighbors inviting them to take advantage of a Free Lunch.

A few animals responded to the offer (about one percent), and came to visit the Lion in his den. Upon their arrival, the King of Beasts promptly devoured them.

An observant Fox quickly discovered the Lion’s trick, but kept his distance.

“Come on in for a bite,” said Mr. Lion.

“No thank you,” replied Mr. Fox. “I see a few footprints entering your establishment, but I don’t see any coming out.”

The Fox liked the Lion’s idea, but thought it needed to be fleshed out a little. He hired an Interactive Marketing Agency, and the nice people there helped him develop a strategic approach for lead generation and presented him with some killer creative to make it work.

First, the Fox threw a Jungle Block Party, and used the event to warn other animals about the Lion’s ploy. Once he had the trust of his fellow animals, it was easy for Mr. Fox to amass a huge, permission-based list of Subscribers for his email Nutritional Guide.

Next, Mr. Fox segmented his new list and emailed relevant messages to his Subscribers: Rabbits received an offer for free carrots; Squirrels an offer for free acorns; and, the local Bullfrog population an offer for free flies.

The response was overwhelming, nearly four times the weighted animal industry average! Animals — including a number of cranes lured by an offer of free minnows — flocked to Mr. Fox’s den where they received their free goodies, and were then (post-fattening up) eaten by the sly marketing exec.

Mr. Fox soon had more food than he could handle.

Fortunately, Mr. Fox’s advisors had helped him develop a post-send strategy to monetize the results of his campaign, which included the creation of a Diner’s Club for other Foxes. Membership fees alone more than covered the expense of his email initiative.

And the Lion? Mr. Fox’s warning, and the cost of his Direct Mail campaign, soon left Mr. Lion with no cash and no carrion. Word on the savannahs is that Mr. Lion was forced to accept a gig with an American Zoo to make ends meet.

The moral of our story? It takes a solid strategy to outfox your competition.

Sherlock Holmes: The Case for Web Analytics

Posted in Analytics,Measurable Results by Thomas Heed on August 2, 2007

Virtually everyone has a website these days, but to many, how to maintain a healthy site that generates growing returns remains a mystery. Why? Let’s face it – it’s a crime how many businesses still do not employ analytics to measure program performance, influence website enhancements, or drive profitability.

You may have a cool site, but if you’re failing to turn traffic into conversions, you need to do some real detective work.

Want to improve your website’s ROI? Consider hiring an online detective (web analytics expert). Someone who can uncover the clues behind your lack of conversions; someone who understands how to solve your problems by turning enigmatic information into real solutions. Consider hiring someone like … Sherlock Holmes.

Had Holmes been created today, instead of 1881, he would have been a web analytics guy and not a Deductive Detective. I offer the following quotes as proof positive:

Web Analytics is the Ultimate Brain Game

Holmes: “I cannot live without brain-work. What else is there to live for?”

Holmes: “What is the use of powers, when one has no field upon which to exert them? Crime is commonplace … “

If Holmes considered crime commonplace, no other field today would offer him the continuous challenge afforded by web analytics. Talk about brain-work! And heck, the constant, daily demands of this discipline would even curb his desire for cocaine as an alternative to boredom!

Web Analytics Play a Critical Role in Strategic Planning

Holmes: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”

Holmes: “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”

Holmes clearly recognized that real insights in the strategic planning process derive from Analytics. Value is created when the right information gets to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decisions to create the right outcomes.

Some Practice Web Analytics Better Than Others

Holmes: “Watson, you see everything. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. “

Holmes: “There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.”

In other words, lots of people can run reports, but there are too few analysts who know what to make of the metrics. It takes talent, imagination, and creativity to read between the lines and decipher where the actionable insights lie hidden within the stats. Holmes would be singular; that one in fifty.

You Can Analyze Too Many Things

Holmes: “It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise, your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated.”

Web Analytics is difficult: too much data; too many reports; not enough deep knowledge; too few real experts; and, not enough time. True, there are dozens of stats that one can analyze, but Holmes would only consider those metrics of vital, not incidental, importance. The result would be real improvements in ROI for his clients.

Holmes Was a Master Communicator

Holmes: “I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for example, is one ‘Upon the Distinction between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos’. In it I enumerate a hundred and forty forms of cigar, cigarette, and pipe tobacco, with coloured plates illustrating the difference in the ash.”

A monograph on tobacco would be ill-advised in this day and age, but what if Holmes were to focus on SEO and Pay-Per-Click? Imagine the White Papers he could write or the PowerPoint presentations he could create (all with nifty graphs, charts, and illustrations).

The Big Finish

Being a Web Analyst is like being a detective: it is hard, painstaking work that requires real commitment (recommend daily); those who practice it must be able to look at the same facts as others, but often arrive at different conclusions (insight); and, they must be able to recognize, and focus on, only the most critical, relevant information (what often appears trivial to the uninitiated) in order to provide solutions to problems that often seem impossible to overcome (measurable results; ROI). Sherlock Holmes would have been perfect for the job!

Chief Digital Officer’s – A Whole New World

Posted in Measurable Results,Strategic Planning by Jim Brown on July 19, 2007

The increasing adoption of a new title, Chief Digital Officer, has signaled the dawn of a new day for marketing. No longer will the web be seen as ‘just another marketing channel.’ Companies will now be able to harness the full ability of interactive marketing.

It wasn’t long ago (okay, so it still happens today), when having a website and sending out a templated mass email was the extent of a company’s online campaign. A former colleague of mine coined the phrase, “make me a website clown!” (Thanks Todd) The fact is, having a website is not just a check in the box for a marketing plan. A website is more than an online brochure. A website has the opportunity to be a living, breathing, element, which can engage a user, and allow them to interact with us the way they choose. Say good-bye to one way communication.

As companies increase their knowledge of the web, they will expect more out of the money they are spending. They will expect strategic planning, effective execution, and most importantly – measurable results! Donald Trump once said, “Hope is not a strategy.” He couldn’t have been more right. It’s great to have a beautifully designed, rich media website, but what happens when visitors arrive and don’t do what you expect them to do? Or worse yet, what happens if no one ever finds your website?

Gone are the days of the tech-savvy IT guy in the corner of the office directing the vision and functionality of a website. It requires a broader understanding of all aspects of a company from sales and marketing, to operations and includes IT. It’s time to challenge the old habits of a company and bring together the entities that formerly worked in silos.