Online Marketing Strategies – EverEffect


A Click Too Far

Posted in Conversion by Thomas Heed on July 9, 2007

“We get (fill in the blank) visitors to our website every month, but our conversions are horrible.” When I hear this, my very first question is always, “When your customers are ready to buy, are you primed to sell?”

A careful investigation of the site in question often reveals that the answer is, “No.”

Recent case in point – my sons absolutely adore dinosaurs. Friends told them that a local museum was showing a 3D Dinosaur documentary in its theater, and the boys requested, begged, pleaded, beseeched, and implored that my wife and I take them to see it. So, I set out to buy us tickets online.

Credit Card in hand, I wound up at a cool-looking site that soon had me hot under the collar. Clicked on Trailer (nothing like a sneak peek to get everyone excited), and received an invitation to try an interactive quiz. Neat feature; not what I asked for. Clicked Enter, and found myself presented with six different options to choose from (two of which were broken links), and still no Trailer. At this point, I was empathizing with the dinosaurs; I might go extinct before finding what I was looking for.

Next, I tried to buy tickets, and kept receiving prompts to do anything but. Believe me, I could go on and on and on, but you wouldn’t be able to take it anymore than I could. I abandoned the ticket-buying try.

If you’re not getting the conversions you think you should, ask yourself a few simple questions. What kind of experience have you created for the User? How easy is it for the User to navigate through the site or, if you’re selling something, how easy have you made it for them to buy? Does everything on your site even work?

In my museum example, everything was just too hard. Poor navigation, broken links, information labeled one thing on the home page and something else on the sub-page(s), and finally, when I did find what I was looking for and wished to act on it, I was asked to take A Click Too Far.

All of the above added up to a poor User experience and a lost conversion. I had been ready to buy, but the website had not been primed to sell.

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Will this be Carry-out or Delivery?

Posted in Uncategorized by Jim Brown on July 2, 2007

Pizza delivery is a multi-million dollar industry. So, why is it that they are so bad at sending relevant offers and promotions to their customers? They are notorious for sending coupons and product promotions through snail mail as well as Sunday newspaper advertisements.

Let’s take a look at a few of these blunders:

  • The Mailbox – Once a safe haven for personal correspondences the traditional mailbox has become overrun with untargeted and unsolicited junk from ‘direct-mail’ marketing companies. Nearly all junk mail falls into two categories, either unread and trashed, or stacked in a pile and forgotten about.
  • The Newspaper – The percentage of a pizza companies target audience that subscribes to, purchases, and/or reads a traditional print newspaper is approaching zero.
  • Competition – Let’s assume for a second that the previous two challenges were not true. As one goes to their mailbox or opens up the Sunday newspaper, the amount of competition for ad space of pizza purchases is amazing.

What can be done?

  • Targeting – Most people have a ‘usual.’ Pizza companies should take the buying patterns and tendencies of their customers into consideration when sending promotions. (i.e. Customer A in Indianapolis, Indiana buys three medium one topping pizzas almost every Sunday at 12:30pm – Consider sending an email Saturday night or early Sunday morning with a savings promotion for that customer or even offer them an alternative to their ‘usual.’
  • Acquiring – Other than the customers who never go outside of their ‘usual,’ the internet can be a great way to acquire new customers. Chances are, when a customer wants pizza they have already thrown away the junk mail where a pizza company sent their last ad. Therefore, make those same ads available online through PPC ads, paying online for the customers who WANT to see your promotion.
  • Make it Convenient – If a customer is sent an email promotion, or clicks on a PPC ad, and WANTS to buy, they should not have to change their mode of operation. Don’t make them pick up the phone, allow them to interact in the same means they found you.

There is a huge opportunity for local pizza companies to compete with the big chains online. It is not a matter of if – but when?

The Battle of Perception

Posted in Uncategorized by Thomas Heed on July 2, 2007

Al Ries and Jack Trout once wrote that “Marketing is not a battle of products; it’s a battle of perceptions.”

A client or prospect’s perception is your reality. Thus, you must sometimes find creative ways to alter their view of the world in order to help them realize their desired goals (and your own). To demonstrate how effective this technique can prove to be, I offer the following:

During his march through the near east, Alexander the Great came upon a mountain stronghold known as the Soghdian Rock.

The rock itself was sheer-faced and – so its defenders believed – impregnable.

At a prelim parley, Alexander offered the occupants safe conduct if they would surrender their fortress.

The negotiators laughed rudely, and asked whether Alexander’s men could fly, adding that they would surrender to winged soldiers, “as no other sort of person could cause us the least anxiety.”

Alexander at once combed through his entire army for experienced mountaineers and found some 300. He called for volunteers to scale the sheer rock face (the defenders only guarded the one direct route to the fortress). He offered vast rewards for the first 12 men up.

Every man volunteered for the perilous operation. They made the ascent by night, an extra hazard, and 30 of them plummeted to their deaths.

At dawn, a flutter of white flags broke out from the summit above the fortress. Alexander sent a herald to tell the defenders that if they looked up, they would see that he had found his winged men.

The Soghdians were so taken aback by this theatrical rearrangement of reality that they surrendered instantly, even though they outnumbered the mountaineers by 30,000 to less than 300 and the rest of Alexander’s men still had no path to the summit.

What’s this story have to do with marketing? Plenty. It is not about a battle of products (Army vs. Army); it is about a battle of perceptions (My Army is better than your Army). Alexander sealed the deal because he was able to create the perception that his men could accomplish the impossible (fly to the mountaintop), and not the reality (no one saw them do it) that led to victory.

Listen to your customers and prospects. Understand what it will take from their point of view to win them over. It may mean altering your own path, but in some cases, they are simply waiting for you to show them your winged men to convince them that it’s time to close the deal.

Find. Get. Keep. (Part 3 of 3)

Posted in Uncategorized by Jim Brown on June 14, 2007

KEEPing Customers Loyal to your Business

You’ve found your prospects. You’ve gotten them to become customers. Now what? Remember the old adage about the 80/20 rule? It says that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. There is also a saying about how it is cheaper to keep your existing customers then to find new ones.

If all of that is true – wouldn’t it make sense to have a strategy to stay in contact with these people? I’m positive that anyone reading this probably reads other blogs, they probably subscribe to several email newsletters, and I’m pretty sure they are probably members of social network sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

As consumers (or better yet – someone else’s prospects) we must remember that we WANT information, we WANT to be communicated with about topics that interest us, and we WANT to better understand. So, as a consumer if you know this is true, why then when you switch hats to play the role of business owner, or marketing manager do you NOT think YOUR customers want to hear from you?

Find. Get. Keep. (Part 2 of 3)

Posted in Conversion by Jim Brown on June 11, 2007

GETting Prospects to become Customers

In Part 1 of this series I mentioned a phrase, “It’s not about you.” Guess what – that still hold true in the ‘Get’ portion of the cycle as well. You could have the best looking site in the world (in your opinion), but if it does not DO what you want it to do (in most cases convert prospects into customers) is it really that good?

When a prospect comes to your website there used to be an old statistic that said you had seven seconds to capture their attention in order for them to stay on your site. Today – you’re LUCKY if you get seven seconds. Prospects want information. However, they want it in ways that make sense to them. You might be thinking to yourself – “fine, we’ll figure out how they want it, and give to them that way.” That would be great if there were only one type of prospect. Unfortunately, you will have some that want to watch a video, some that will want to see an animated demonstration, others will want to read about your service.

Kind of makes things a little more complicated doesn’t it? Your website must be engaging. It should be clear and focused and provide as much information as a prospect would desire in a means that makes the most sense… to THEM.

Find. Get. Keep. (Part 1 of 3)

Posted in SEO by Jim Brown on June 8, 2007

FINDing Prospects Online

So you have webpage. For some reason you go to Google (or Yahoo)… type in your company name and… BAM you don’t come up anywhere. Why is that? Why would you not be able to type your own name into a search engine and find your site? In August of 2005 there were 19.2 Billion (with a B) web pages indexed by Yahoo. Is there any surprise that it is more challenging than ever to be indexed by the search engines under relevant keywords?

Prospects ARE out there looking for your services, but if they can’t find them, that website you just paid $25K for is going to be pretty useless. In order to find your prospects online, you have to know (or at least try to figure out) what they are searching for. Let’s pretend you are a Professional Business Advice Consultant for example. How many people would type that phrase exactly into a search engine?

If you guessed zero – you win. Some may give up right there claiming “but that IS what I AM!” Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not about you?” It couldn’t be more true in this example. It is clearly NOT about you! There is a HUGE market for “Professional Business Advice Consultants,” but your prospects are searching for business coaching, business advice, small business consulting, starting a business, etc.

The key to being found online is to be relevant to what your prospects are searching for and then implementing a strategy to cut through the clutter known as ‘competition’ and get them to YOUR site.

Introducing Web 2.5

Posted in Uncategorized by Jim Brown on May 21, 2007

Wait… Web 2.5?? What happened to Web 2.0.

It’s a buzzword that by now we are all familiar with, and most – are tired of hearing. But what exactly is ‘Web 2.0.’ Is it really the stage of the Internet revolution we are currently experiencing?

To answer that question, let’s actually take a step back and figure out what Web 1.0 was. Web 1.0 viewed the Internet merely as a proprietary means for delivering content. During this time Netscape actually coined the term ‘WebTop’ in hopes of replacing the ‘DeskTop’ that Microsoft was the King of. The problem was, a browser was not going to eliminate the need for a desktop. What it ended up being was a server to control the data. With that theory company websites were simply online brochures. For the most part, you couldn’t interact with the content or really even DO anything with it. The companies controlled the dialogue. Their marketing message is all you got. What if you wanted more information? What if you had suggestions for use, or even feedback on how a product could be made better? Your best bet at that time would have been to contact the ‘Webmaster.’ Everything worked in silos – rarely, if ever, interacting with other websites or applications.

Okay – Web 1.0… silos, pushing information, owner controlled data… then what exactly is Web 2.0?

Originally coined by O’Reilly – Web 2.0 is viewing the internet as a platform, where YOU control the data! The best example of how Web 2.0 works is Google. Now, the fact that they are a mutli-billion (billion with a B) dollar company, it’s easy for them to be the leader. However, the examples that I will explain is what I’m trying to focus on. Google’s original business model was simply Internet searching, a model that has not changed significantly since the 1970’s. The basis of an Internet search is composed of three elements: the crawl, the index, and the query processor. So, how then did Google explode the way it did, and why is it a good example of Web 2.0? (The Search by John Battelle)

Google is not a stand-alone operation. As you surf the net, try your hardest to avoid Google… and I don’t mean Google.com. Try to avoid using one of its API’s (Application Programming Interface) that another web developer has implemented into its site. Try to avoid Google AdSense – a network of hundreds of thousands of website all displaying Google search or ad content. Okay, so you see how everyone else is using Google, so does that make it a Web 2.0 example? Not completely. With that example alone it may just sound like a good software program that people have found to make them more successful online. The Internet is a two way street. All those examples showed how you can use Google on other websites, but what else can you do with Google? Google not only pushes its content out to other websites – it pulls content from other websites to be displayed on a personalized homepage. In simple forms its an RSS reader, where you can pull sports scores from ESPN, or headlines from CNN, or new posts of your favorite blog, but if you’re not aware Google basically has its own version of Microsoft Office. The difference being – it is completely online. Google Docs (Microsoft Word), Google Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel), GMail (Outlook)… and where do you save all of these files?? Answer – Online. Google epitomizes using the WEB as a PLATFORM. Going back to what Netscape TRIED to do in the 90’s… Google is replacing the need for a ‘DeskTop.’

Okay – Okay... at this point you may think I’m working for Google, and am just an advocate of their products. Unfortunately that is not the case. 🙂

Web 2.0 is about Harnessing Collective Intelligence.

When was the last time you shopped on Amazon.com? You probably realized that it is a lot more than just books these days. However, I will use its origins for this example. Could you not go to BarnesandNoble.com and do the same search for a book that you could at Amazon? And, could you not get the same results, and pay nearly the same price? Of course you could. But what makes Amazon.com so powerful? YOU DO! User participation in rating the books, customer data in search vs purchases, all of this enables Amazon to lead with the most popular selection based on what people like YOU have said and or done.

With the Amazon example you start to see how YOU are a big part of Web 2.0. One of the most unusual applications of Web 2.0 (at least for me) is Wikipedia. The reason is because again… YOU control the information. Wikipedia is a online encyclopedia that is comprised of data and information supplied by its users. It can be edited by anyone. The thought behind it is with enough eyeballs on it – the bugs will work themselves out. I guess this means there will be no more door to door Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen! 🙂

In summary Web 2.0 is all about you. Your thoughts, your information, your knowledge, your habits, etc.

Now wait a second… isn’t the title of this piece ‘Introducing Web 2.5??’ It sure is!!

Web 2.5 is all about what we do next. We now have all of this user data… now what do we do with it? Web 2.5 is about the MEASUREMENT and relevance to business objectives. How can we take all of this user content (Videos, Blogs, iTunes Syndications, etc) and bring them together via XML or other web services that can easily be consumed on a computer OR more importantly ANY portable device? How do we learn from the lessons of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 to better engage audiences with interactive experiences? How can businesses leverage ‘Web 2.0’ and provide CLARITY on not only what all of this information means, but how it is all related (Key Performance Indicators and the RIGHT metrics)?

The new model for Web 2.5: FIND. GET. KEEP… all backed by: MEASUREMENT!

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