Archive for August, 2012

7 (Seven) Ways Market Research Can Feed Into Business Activities

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Most commonly, market research is viewed as a method to improve advertising and marketing initiatives and to develop products that are friendlier to specific markets. However, the true range of uses for market intelligence is much larger than most businesses think. The results of surveys and opinion polls can also be used to inform various company departments to support their diverse activities.

Moreover, advances in technology have brought about sophisticated do-it-yourself (DIY) research products, which means that businesses have more control over the costs, reach, and timing of research solutions. Those DIY offerings also deliver the advantage of instantaneous results that can be monitored in real time, offering a competitive edge when time is critically important.

The distinctive characteristics of DIY market research solutions give businesses an impressive ability to influence operations across multiple departments, especially in the following seven areas.

1. Language and Tone of Communications
In the many ways companies engage with their consumers, language plays a crucial role. Market intelligence can be especially useful in shaping the tone and content of marketing collateral and company communications to appeal to specific groups of consumers without being irrelevant or offensive.

Research can also help organizations working in highly sensitive capacities, such as hospices or charities for terminal illnesses. For example, gathering opinions from a panel of leukemia survivors can help the marketing department of a leukemia awareness organization to focus on the issues most important to patients and to employ appropriately sensitive, supportive, and inspiring language in its communications.

2. Media Buying and Placement
Market intelligence can be used to discover the best arenas in which to disseminate messaging and launch marketing campaigns. Insights into the minds and media habits of consumers can help create a strategy using the most appropriate venues for marketing, public relations, social media, search engine optimization, and other campaigns.

Also, when businesses move into unfamiliar territories, market research can play a vital role in determining the best approach. Surveys could be conducted to learn more about the consumers in this new market. Do they use social media sites or news sites more often? Do traditional print publications still outperform those online? Is one social network more popular than another? The results of such reports could then assist in choosing the best strategy for media buys, article placement, social media content, and so on.

3. Crisis Management
Being able to access immediate results and observe reactions can be critical to proper crisis-response activities. Whether a business is coming to terms with a sudden drop in public opinion, grappling with an event that hurts consumer confidence, facing something that causes a publicity catastrophe, or responding to a natural disaster, the advanced capabilities of DIY research solutions allow for swift deployment of online surveys, improving a company’s image while providing information vital to the formation of the most appropriate response.

Although such application of market insight might not be commonly employed, they can be as valuable as the traditional uses for market research (such as others in this list of seven uses) and should definitely be taken into account.

4. Advertising Campaigns
Market research has traditionally been used to help agencies craft targeted messages in their advertising programs to ensure they are appealing to the right demographics.

Although the subjective nature of advertorial response is hard to measure, surveys and opinion panels have long been used effectively to pinpoint the specific aspects of a product or campaign that will resonate most with consumers.

5. Product Development
Another traditional use for research panels and target audience surveys, product development can be greatly enhanced via market investigation and input from key demographics.

Learning what the consumer believes, needs, and wants can help to create tailored products that satisfy demand. Conversely, maintaining a conversation with current users of a certain product via a managed research panel can help a company become aware of any issues that need improvement or product aspects that should not be altered during product upgrades.

For example, a car manufacturer wishing to update a popular model could deploy surveys to current fans of the car to gauge their opinions on various aspects. Perhaps most people think the car is visually appealing but they are frustrated by the way it handles. Those results could feed into the development process to ensure that the new model will perform well without alienating anyone.

6. Brand Perceptions
Brand outreach, too, has often drawn upon market research to inform strategies. Businesses can conduct investigations into the marketplace to determine which aspects of their brands are being properly communicated. In this way, they can avoid wasting time and money emphasizing brand characteristics that are already common knowledge.

On the other hand, examining a target audience’s opinions of a brand can reveal areas for improvement. For example, a luxury brand might discover that consumers affiliate its products with convenience rather than indulgence, highlighting an area of current brand messaging that possibly needs altering.

7. Service Improvements
Surveys have often been use to gauge whether consumers are satisfied with a company’s services. Now, technologies moreover enable companies to create their own consumer communities, forming a direct and constant source of feedback.

For example, a business could post information and a link on its website for consumers to join its research community. Those who sign up and participate in such a forum can form a valuable source of information for monitoring service performance. Moreover, owning a research panel can extend other customer service areas to enhance overall response to consumer needs.

18 Tips to Accelerate Social Media and Digital ROI

Friday, August 24th, 2012

1. Align your SEO efforts with cross functional marketing team strategies.
2. Focus on measuring quality, not just quantity.
3. It’s not always about the sale.
4. Claim and optimize your Google+ Local page.
5. Align social data with CRM.
6. Collect and leverage social data to make more intelligent, data driven decisions.
7. Build a social media command center.
8. Harness multi-attribution modeling with web analytics.
9. Think email series, not email blasts.
10. Deploy triggered email and dialog tracks.
11. Create landing pages that seduce and convert.
12. Take control of your data.
13. Be smartly efficient about campaign testing.
14. Connect to the search psyche of your potential buying customer.
15. Always test your landing pages.
16. Develop a video marketing strategy.
17. Secure proper budget for digital campaigns.
18. Focus on the right social media metrics.

11 friendly tips to help PRs write effective press releases

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Posted 20 August 2012 09:44am by David Moth

In general PRs and journalists have a decent working relationship, or at least I like to think we do.

But new research by Pressfeed highlights the fact that we have differing opinions over what should be included in a press release.

Almost half (45%) of the PRs polled said that visual elements with a news story are not important at all to journalists, while 39% said it wasn’t necessary to add images, videos or graphics to a news release.

But 80% of the journalists included in the survey said it was important or very important to have access to photographs and visual images and 75% wanted video content.

We get hundreds of press releases at Econsultancy, some good, some not so good.

So here’s 11 friendly tips on how PRs can make their press releases more effective, and more likely to be opened and read…

1. Spelling!
It’s an obvious one, but you’d be amazed at the number of press releases we get through with spelling mistakes in the subject line. A favourite of mine was one about ‘Ryaniar’.

We’re all guilty of spelling errors at some point in time, but a mistake in the subject line makes you look like an amateur.

2. Get to the point
When sifting through press releases of a morning I don’t have time to read loads of preamble, so get to the point in the first paragraph.

If your first two paragraphs go on about how your client is a ‘leading cloud computing software supplier’ your audience will quickly lose interest and dispatch your email to the recycling bin.

More often than not your client isn’t the story, the research they’ve commissioned is, so lead with juicy stats rather than the client’s biography.

3. Keep it short
Even if your report is groundbreaking stuff, I don’t want to read a massive email listing every single detail.

Try to limit the email to four paragraphs, maybe five at a push, and use bullet points to make the interesting stats easier to read.

4. Send me the report
If you’re sending out a press release to promote a new piece of research then make sure to attach the report or include a link to it.

It’s extremely frustrating and a waste of time having to go back to a PR to request a copy of the report. And the same goes for charts and images – if you have them, send them through.

Journalists and bloggers are generally up against the clock so we don’t want to waste time by going back and forth for content that you’ve hinted at in your press release.

5. Know your publications
As far as I’m aware we’ve never published a client-win at Econsultancy and a quick scan through our blog would tell you that. Yet I still get sent several of them a day.

While it may seem like a good idea to send press releases to as many publications and blogs as possible in order to ensure coverage, in reality it is likely to severely undermine your reputation if you keep sending out irrelevant content.

6. ‘Big News’ is subjective
What is big news to one person is irrelevant spam to most other people. Think hard before including any terms like ‘exciting news’ or ‘big news’ in the subject line.

7. Keep the headline short
Think about how the subject line will look to the recipient. Email clients have a limited amount of visible space, so keep it concise otherwise half the headline will get chopped off.

8. Bear in mind that people will be reading it on mobile
Smartphones are nothing new, so try to take into account the fact that most journalists check their emails on a mobile device.

This makes concise writing and punchy headlines even more important.

9. DON’T USE CAPS
Nothing says “I’m spam, send me to the recycle bin” quite like a shouty, capped up headline. And the same goes for exclamation marks!!!!

Caps make the subject line difficult to read and it looks unprofessional. Do you cap up emails to clients? I hope not. So why do it in a press release?

10. Avoid jargon
When writing a blog post time is of the essence, so I don’t want to spend ages translating press releases into plain English.

We have a list of banned words for the Econsultancy blog and if I had my way ‘learnings’, ‘reaching out’ and ‘thought leader’ would be at the top of it.

11. The personal touch counts
There’s a huge amount to be said for building a relationship with bloggers and journalists and personalising emails. If a press release is obviously just part of a massive mail merge then it’s unlikely to get read.

But more importantly, if I recognise the name of the sender and have had some contact with them outside of simply being included on a press release list then I’m far more likely to open their emails.

Creative Ways to Use Twitter for Business

Monday, August 20th, 2012

These tips are designed to help you better organize and structure your Twitter strategy to get noticed.

1. Create a Conversation List. Who you follow defines your Twitter experience. A conversation list helps to organize people based on why you started following them in the first place. Make private lists of who inspires you in business, who inspires you in life, who has great tips for crowdsourced innovation. You can keep your lists private or go public with them.

2. Update your profile picture. This little square associates your business with an image in the minds of followers, so be mindful of its look, and follow these sub-rules:
• Make sure your logo fits the square. Obviously cropped or distorted ones look unprofessional. For PC users, the free tool Irfanview enables you to crop and resize photos in a snap. Mac users should try EasyCrop or GraphicConverter (our personal favorite)—both paid services, but relatively inexpensive. Free browser-based tools like Pic Resize will also let you crop or resize online.
• Ensure your logo is readable. Don’t use the space if the words in your logo can’t be read.
• Consider using a headshot. It’s easier to connect with faces than with logos. Or you can make like Uber Paris and use both a face and a logo in a creative way that matches your company’s spirit!
• If you use a photo, focus on the face. There isn’t room in a Twitter photo for whole-body shots on the beach.
• No animals or kids! We’re trying to connect with you, not your favorite things.

3. Rethink your visual branding. Create a custom graphic for your Twitter background to freshen things. Here are examples of Twitter backgrounds, and instructions for creating one.

4. Use Twitter to solve business challenges. Offer Twitter specials, reward retweeters, organize Tweetups in order to rally troops around your brand and motivate them to listen when you throw serious questions out there about your product or service. Better yet, put the product in their hands at the Tweetup!

The Point: Don’t tweet into a void. Organize your Twitter presence with greater purpose, and you’ll find a panoply of ways to make it work for you.

4 (Four) Tips for the Perfect PPC Landing Page

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Five years ago, Joel Chudleigh’s team managed to boost a client’s online conversion rate by 11% over a six-week period.

“After seeing those results it is fair to say that I have been interested to the point of obsession in how much difference the right layout, the right copy, and the right design can make to a website’s performance,” he writes at Deep Footprints.
He offers this advice for creating the perfect PPC landing page:

Understand your audience’s needs. Your landing page shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. Why is someone clicking on an ad? Your landing page should respond to that, and only that.

Be very specific. You have—at most—five seconds to make your case. So don’t lose a visitor’s interest with vague language about unspecified savings. Instead, intrigue her with a concrete reason to learn more: Save two hours per week, $500 per month.

Provide a credible reason to work with you. Why should someone choose you over a competitor who sells a similar product or service? Establish social proof with testimonials, case studies, and a list of impressive clients.

Create pleasing copy and design that complement each other. “We make snap judgments based on the way things look,” notes Chudleigh. “I have walked out of plenty of restaurants after taking a look around and just getting a bad vibe about the place before I am actually presented with any food.” Always remember that visitors will judge your landing page just as severely.

The Point: Make it a happy landing. Your ad has done its job; now it’s time for your landing page to urge a visitor onward.

PPC Ads Don’t Cannibalize Organic Search Listings

Monday, August 13th, 2012

One theory that some search marketers hold is that purchasing Google AdWords does not make financial sense because the ads will cannibalize organic listings. The theory supposes that the two forces, AdWords and SEO, are killing each other, and it is a bad strategy to spend money on both at the same time.

As an experiment, Google “paused” search ads to measure the effect that such a cessation had on organic search result clicks. What the study found was that users did not suddenly start clicking the natural results in the absence of AdWords results.

Those findings prove wrong the notion that any significant increase in clicks on organic listings would result if marketers were to decrease spending on PPC ads, with Google deducing that 50% of the time ad clicks are incremental when there’s a corresponding natural listing in the top rank.
Pay-per-click is here to stay

In 2011, when Google claimed that 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused, it may have been a bit hard for the Internet marketing community to believe that statistic. After all, Google would say something like that to protect the reputation of AdWords, its main money spinner.

Cutting costs on advertising does not increase natural clicks
What the Google experiment tells Google advertisers is this: If you reduce your ad spending to zero, you can’t expect for 89% of those clicks that would have gone to your ads to now be redirected to your Web page results in the natural SERPs.

Also, a Google report a month later showed that, most of the time, paid ads and natural listings seldom appear on the same page together anyway.

How often do paid and natural appear together?

A follow-up Google analysis in March 2012 found that 81% of the time, when there is a paid ad being displayed, no corresponding organic listing is on the first page.

The chances of finding a top-ranked listing paired with its paid counterpart on the same page is very slim. The possibility of the organic listing’s appearing on the same page at all as the paid listing is still a very rare occurrence.

If you have the top-ranking natural result, your chances of having a corresponding ad on the same page is just 9%, but that drops down to only 5% if you’re in positions 2-4, or a measly 4% in cases where you have a low-ranking site.

So, if you have a high-ranking website, you have a better chance of having both an ad and an organic result, but that may be related more to bigger budgets than anything else.

Averaging all of the different rankings, the study found that 66% of clicks were not associated with a related organic result.

We need both paid and unpaid results
The lesson to take away from these studies by Google is that search engine advertising is still a vital part of your online marketing portfolio, even if you are ranking highly for your keywords in the natural listings.
As both results (paid and natural) are very unlikely to ever appear together, you will be covering both bases by spending time and money on both.

4 Keys to a Successful Mobile Web Marketing Strategy

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Does your business have a mobile site that is designed with your mobile customer in mind? Is it a branded, usable, engaging experience?

If the answer is no, or if you’re not sure, you are not alone. According to Google, four out of five websites are not optimized for mobile consumption, and the bounce rates of such sites are typically over 80%.

If your site isn’t mobile friendly now, it’s time to make it so. People love the mobile Web.

Nearly three-quarters of smartphone owners access emails, and subsequently link to content, via their devices. And many of them like to shop using their smartphones, prompted by fellow users with whom they interact by phone while shopping.

Such mobile interactions push the user through to a website, and if that site isn’t optimized for mobile, then the opportunity to engage with that consumer is lost. Consider that 50% of users abandon a page if it hasn’t loaded within 10 seconds, and three out of five of those users never return.

You can’t afford to lose that many potential customers. And marketers now realize the enormity of this new channel’s potential for their business, but few have the knowledge of “how to mobilize.” So, I am glad to share with you some key steps to implementing a successful mobile Web strategy.

1. Understand the mobile consumer
Do some market research on mobile consumers. What information are they looking for, what are their specific habits and interests, what do they want to find out or do, what triggers them to do so, and where and when are they doing it?

Understand that people always have their mobile on and to hand. That personal relationship with a mobile device is what makes the mobile Web so powerful. Mobile consumers are using their phones for instant interaction with brands. This is great for you because if they see your ad campaign in print or TV, they want instant engagement and will reach for their mobile phone.

2. Analyze your mobile consumer—you have the data now
Analyse your website traffic and specifically mobile device users, the 20% of mobile users who patiently waited for your desktop Web pages to load on their mobile browsers.
Where did they go, what questions did they ask, what content was relevant to them, when did they use it, how long were they there? Analyze the 50% who bailed out: What were they trying to view, and where might they have gone instead?

Begin building a picture of the behaviors and needs of those who visit your site via a mobile device, and use that information as a foundation for your mobile strategy.

3. Optimize your content for a small screen
Find a strong mobile Web technology platform provider (or an agency that uses such technology) that has already addressed the problem of delivering the same experience across the scores of different mobile devices out there. You’ll want one that handles rich media and rich, interactive mobile experiences; delivers HTML5 (but also mark-up for older devices); collects user data; and has reporting and campaign management built into it.

Avoid using simple/quick site builders such as screen scraping or transcoding, which do a poor job of rendering your existing Web content. If you are serious about your brand, don’t compromise it on mobile.

If you plan to go it alone, then you’ll need a really smart Web team in-house who understand mobile best-practices.

4. Apply what you’ve learned
Apply the findings from your Web analysis. If you’ve discovered 90% of mobile visitors to your desktop site are simply looking for your physical location, then prioritize developing an easily discovered map and some geolocation functionality, then embed other content around it.

That’s a simplified example. Here’s a more complicated one, from a recent client, a baby food brand. We discovered that mobile visitors to the client’s site were, not surprisingly, new or expectant mothers. A large majority of them were accessing the site after midnight looking for feeding advice (presumably with baby in arms). Based on that information, we helped the client build its mobile experience around advice and support, thereby strengthening the client’s relationship with its site visitors and increasing purchases with tracked “special offers.”

Learn from the best

Take inspiration from these businesses and brands that have optimized for mobile and gained tremendous results:
• Amazon has made mobile accessible and trustworthy; it has integrated mobile with the Web experience, and the process works quickly and reliably.
• eBay reports processing one mobile transaction every second.
• Domino’s Pizza published recently that it had received 50% of UK orders via mobile and topped £1million sales via mobile in a single week.
• McDonald’s has been highly innovative with its mobile approach, using localized voucher codes and offers to drive customers in. Think about ways in which your own business could tap into the location-based capabilities that mobile uniquely presents.
• Since launching its dedicated mobile site, BuySpares (UK) recorded a 31% increase in revenue.

Generate Leads With LinkedIn Announcements

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

If you’re not using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, argues Shelly Kramer at MarketingProfs Daily Fix, you may be missing out on a very good thing: “According to data from HubSpot, LinkedIn is the most effective source of new business leads among the three leading social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

And a study of some 3,000-plus B2B marketers indicated that LinkedIn’s visitor-to-lead conversion rate is four times higher than that of Facebook and Twitter.”

With LinkedIn Announcements, you can send email messages straight to the inboxes of likely prospects. Sound good? Here’s the right way to do it:

• Ditch the default subject line. If you don’t take the time to write an original subject line, why should anyone take the time to read your message? Treat this like any other email campaign—intrigue your recipient with a subject line that compels further investigation.

• Make your copy irresistible. Grab your reader’s attention with a relevant case for action. “This is a great place for stats—not only can they present a compelling case in a short amount of space,” she notes, “but they can also help readers visualize a particular topic or subject matter, which will help pique their interest.”

• Include a call to action. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. Make your call to action, and the pathway to conversion, perfectly clear.

• Don’t be a jerk. Would you want an endless stream of irrelevant LinkedIn Announcements? Probably not. So treat this access to a prospect’s inbox with respect.

The Point: With a strong LinkedIn strategy, your lead gen program can generate the high-quality leads your sales team craves.

Is Outsourced PPC Right for You?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Have you considered using an agency to handle your PPC campaigns? “Knowing what to expect, and what not to expect can help you judge whether or not outsourcing this work is a good fit for your organization,” writes Nathan Pabich at the Renegade Search blog.
Pabich offers nine points to consider as you explore the option.

Here are a few examples of an outsourced PPC manager’s added value:

• Up-to-the-minute industry knowledge. A dedicated manager has a better view of the PPC landscape than an in-house employee who has multiple focal points. Why is that so important? Pabich offers an example: “Just within the last couple of months,” he notes, “AdWords announced two major changes that will affect the implementation of PPC strategies for the foreseeable future.”

• Broad experience in PPC campaigns. Because agencies manage so many campaigns across so many industries, they can often suggest solutions that might not occur to an in-house specialist whose experience is more limited.

• Cost savings through intelligent spending. Many default settings are designed to cost more than you actually need to spend; an experienced PPC manager can indentify and eliminate unnecessary expenditures.

Pabich also highlights a few things you should not expect from an outside agency. For instance:

• Even the strongest PPC campaign won’t compensate for a poorly designed site, or glitches in your merchant services.

• When you introduce new products or services, you’ll need to alert your PPC provider.

The Point: Know what you need to know. Asking the right questions up front can help determine whether an outsourced PPC manager can bring added value to your search marketing efforts.

Source: Renegade Search. Dramamine

Selling to SBOs: Three Points to Remember

Monday, August 6th, 2012

So you’ve set your company’s sights on selling to smaller businesses. Sure, they aren’t the heavy-hitters, the star accounts, but their loyalty could provide a nice budgetary cushion for your bigger sales efforts. And they’ll surely be thrilled to tap into your products or services, right?

Well, hold on a minute.

According to Scott Gillum, writing at the B2B Knowledge Sharing blog, that kind of thinking will place you among the many B2B marketers who, despite their best efforts, keep falling back to their “big company” ways when dealing with small-business owners (SBOs).

To encourage a better approach, Gillum has put together a list of 10 points to keep in mind when selling to SBOs, based on his study of a slew of reports from the Executive Council on Small Business. Here are three:

Don’t call them small! Remove the word “small” from all your communications. These are skilled professionals and full-time business owners.

But understand that small transactions are big deals to them. Don’t underestimate your need to prove value or ROI on what you would consider small transactions, Gillum advises. According to his research, the definition of a “major” purchase begins at $500 for SBOs.

Know they love to search. Face it: They’re not waiting for you to show up. “Rather than narrowing their list of vendors, 60% of owners now report expanding their consideration set through research,” says Gillum. And where do they search? Locally! SBOs search for products or services by name, not a brand, and they include their local area in the search, he notes.

The Point: Focus on the “owner” part. Put aside any concept of size, and approach SBOs as professionals with preferences. That perspective is sure to help get you noticed.

Source: B2B Knowledge Sharing.