Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christmas in July Post

The holidays are right around the corner. Now is a good time to check your strategies, especially if your company looks to this season for a good deal of its sales. There are some external factors to be aware of this year, including a presidential election, stalling economy, and higher gas prices.

Marketing Sherpa provides these dos and don'ts as helpful tips to consider:

Without question, testing new tactics and retesting older ones is a sure-fire way to achieve greater sales. Strong pieces of advice can also come in handy. Here are four intriguing dos and don’ts from marketers that are based on what they learned during last holiday season:

Do #1. Watch your price points in this economic downturn

"The overriding theme is going to be frugality," says Michael Cramer, Co-Founder, Adagio Teas. "Online shoppers will be thinking, 'How can I check out without spending too much money?' So, we are looking to appeal more with value propositions." Furthermore, Cramer and his team plan on setting their merchandising system to push products that are priced between $19 and $49. In addition, the five cross-sell items that appear on their products details pages will fall in that price range.

Do #2. Use incentives to push traffic towards Website

Use incentives to direct customers to the Website rather than the call center – especially if you are sending out a catalog. It will take some heat off your busy CRM reps and cut down your operations cost. Since employing this tactic, for instance, Legendary Whitetails has successfully transitioned 10% more sales to online that used to be offline.

Don't #1. Drop your print catalog the week of the presidential election

Wait until America becomes refocused on everyday life after the election. Your big-time efforts are going to get lost in the political hysteria and produce small-time results. Need proof? In 2004, Legendary Whitetails dropped the catalog right "on top of the election," says Mark Kaiser, VP Marketing. "And it wasn't a good drop. You need to let the criers cry and the yeahers yeah before they'll get back to doing regular things."

Don't #2. Focus too much on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Those days are important, but not to the point where you lose out on other marketing opportunities, says Neil Kugelman, CEO, "From what we've seen, ecommerce customers' big days are the last six days before Christmas. The last-minute orders are really huge."

Join the discussion by submitting topics or comments to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Say Hello to Cuil (Cool)

On Sunday night, former members of Google announced the release of (Pronounced Cool). Cuil is a brand new search engine that claims to be able index the most pages across the web.

The search engine seeks to provide more relevant results by indexing on keywords as well as the meaning behind the search of those keywords. The company is not selling paid search or advertising at this time, but may in the future.

The site strives to help the user search by providing helpful hints on how to narrow their searches to find the sites that they are seeking. The results produced are then categorized and the engine is currently returning results that are different from Google right now.

Join the discussion by submitting your topics or comments to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Banner Advertising Tips

Banner advertising is starting to peak and may soon level off according to some sources. IF you are employing banner advertising as part of your marketing programs, make sure to get the most effectiveness with tips from Marketing Sherpa:

The Sherpa also recommends 3 steps to improve performance:

In the first issue, almost 80% of newsletter readers scan some part of the ad in the left-hand column. By the second issue, that number is cut in half, and then halved again in the third viewing – bottoming out at 20%. It’s a dramatic illustration of ‘banner blindness’ – the process by which we are able to identify page geography by what’s familiar vs. strange and what’s relevant or not.

1. Change the landscape
The most powerful way to combat banner blindness is probably to vary the page template itself. By moving landmarks, you encourage the eye to conduct a more complete scan of the page. This is easiest in the email world, where creating and scheduling similar, but not identical, templates won’t send the Web team into paroxysms.

2. Change the look and feel of ads
If you can’t change the position of ads, think about changing ad sizes or the way they look. In our study, for instance, we swapped in a text list where a graphical ad had been positioned and saw a jump in attention. The eye tracks changes to a familiar landscape.

3. Increase ad rotation
The easiest way to combat blindness is to change ads frequently. For publishers, that’s easy. That’s not the case with sponsored placements or in-house advertising; these can sit static for long periods.Publish Post

Join the discussion on the AMA Pittsburgh blog by submitting your topic or comment.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Online Developments Update

It has been a busy summer for announcements and last week was no exception. Here are some of the recent developments to keep an eye on:

Google is said to be close to buying Digg. The Google empire has been acquiring complementary pieces at a rapid rate. Besides Digg, Google announced Knol a Wikipedia type entry and Lively a Second Life competitor. Add those to the partnership with Yahoo on search.

MySpace will begin selling music and concert tickets from its site. MySpace had already become a large music sharing network and this is a natural extension for the social network site. Amazon will handle the fulfillment for the new service.

Facebook will take advantage of its connection to Microsoft by incorporating Live Search on its network. This development has ramifications for your SEO efforts. You may not want to ignore MSN anymore as Facebook continues to grow in important demographics.

Speaking of SEO, Adobe announced that Flash and rich media applications will now be indexed by Google and others. There is a flurry of questions as to the ramifications. No one is sure what weight will be given and techniques for SEO within Flash have yet to evolve. One thing seems to be agreed upon, if you gained an advantage in rank because of a competitor’s flash rich site - that may be coming to an end.

A recent study by Borrell Associates, a Williamsburg, Va.-based market research firm, uncovered three major trends:
  • Spending on online display ads (web page banners, pop-ups, etc.) have been flat the past two years and are expected to top out at $12.6 billion in 2008, then decline more than 50 percent by 2012.
  • Paid search advertising will peak at $16.9 billion by 2009 and start declining.
  • Online promotions generated about $8 billion in 2007. This category will nearly triple by 2013 to $22.8 billion, exceeding all other online advertising categories, including paid search, banners, email and online audio/video advertising.

Join the discussion by submitting your topics or comments to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Price vs Service

Marketing Sherpa recently conducts a survey that compares a company and customer perspectives to ending a business relationship. Not surprisingly, companies still believe price is the number one driving factor. Customers on the other hand report that service is the number one reason.

Below is the Sherpa chart detailing the results:

Join the discussion by submitting your comment or topic to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Join Your Fellow Members on LinkedIn

Link up with fellow AMA Pittsburgh members on LinkedIn. AMA Pittsburgh has their own group on the site to aid in connecting member to member. As long as you are a current member, you can join the group at

If you are not a current member, you can join the AMA Pittsburgh chapter via the website at Now is a great time to join or renew your membership. August has the final summer mixer at Olive or Twist complete with drinks, food, a DJ, and I am told a few surprises as well.

There are great events planned for September and October, leading up to the Marketer of the Year Awards in December. More information on the fall events can be found in this space or on the website in the near future.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Neilsen Numbers

Online video continues to chisel into to normal tv watching habits. According to the venerable reporting agency Neilsen, Some 162 million went online in May. Video posted some strong numbers with 119 million unique viewers and 7.5 billion video streams viewed in May 2008.

Join the discussion, submit your comments or topics to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friendly Fridays

We invite you to the third and final summer mixer:

Thursday August 14th, 2008
@ Olive or Twist
5:30-7:30 p.m.

$20 per ticket, includes 2 drink tickets and food

Door Prizes & a DJ

RSVP online at by Wednesday August 13th, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Long Tail Buzz

Chris Anderson set the world on fire with his book ‘The Long Tail’ (I recommend it for reading). Now it seems the Long Tail has been applied to strategy all over the marketing universe from product to SEO.

I won’t pretend to explain Long Tail as it was enough to fill an entire book. The basic concept is that if you look at your sales, you will see a tail that starts with the highest sales down to the smaller sales. This graph from Wikipedia will help to explain:

From the chart you can see that a small number of products, services or customers can account for the largest amount of sales (Often referred to as 80/20 rule). However, Anderson realized that by offering a larger number of products and selling less of more without a major increase in cost, certain Internet companies such as ITunes, Amazon, and EBay were successful against the more established brick and mortar veterans.

Since this time the Long Tail has been applied in many places, often successfully. I still believe there are several industries where a long tail business model could make an impact, but that is a story for another time.

The term Long Tail seems to have its own long tail. Marketers are looking for Long Tail marketing programs that can deliver increased results. The major area that the Long Tail buzz has gotten its fuel is with SEO.

Research shows that a few keywords drive the largest percentage of traffic to your site. The issue many marketers face is that is becoming harder and likely more expensive to own these words whether organically or paid, especially if you are just starting out.

The long tail of SEO is the words or phrases beyond the nost popular for your company. The question is does it make sense to invest time and resources into these less popular keywords or devote to the few that drive the traffic.

Join the discussion by submitting your comments or topics to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

Webinar Tips

Webinars have become an integral part of marketing programs. With a rise in gas prices, webinars are poised for growth as audiences turn to the web rather than travel for events. With more and more online events popping up each day, Marketing Sherpa surveyed audiences to find out what will cause an attendee to leave a webinar.
The key finding was be sure your event stands up to how you advertise it. The single largest factor for leaving a webinar was events that over promised and under delivered. The Sherpa chart below illustrates common reasons for quitting a webinar.

Join the discussion by submitting your comment or topic to the AMA Pittsburgh blog. Mark your calendars for the final summer mixer on August 14th. Details to come soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Already Have a Mobile Marketing Program

One million was the key phrase yesterday. The US announced that it had one million names on its Anti-terrorism list. The bigger news was that Apple sold one million of its latest version IPhone. The company announced 10 million downloads from its apps store as well. This means that you as a marketer are already in the mobile marketing platform.

I know what you are saying to yourself. I don’t have mobile apps, widgets, or even a SMS/text marketing program. I am not doing mobile marketing. You might also be saying I am not a consumer brand or my demographic is not 13-25 so I don’t need mobile marketing.

Whether you are industrial, b-b, small, medium or large, you are now in the mobile marketing game. The fact that there are now one million more devices on top of the other communications equipment in the world that also have web access as integral to their services means that you have no choice but to be mobile marketing.

In fact you have 2 mobile marketing programs likely at your company right now. The first and primary is your current web site. This marketing tool can now be accessed by one million more people from their mobile device. The second is your email marketing programs.
Now that you have one million more potential prospects to view your website and email, you might want to review the accessibility of your site. Accessibility can refer to how easily accessed the information on your site is to the visually impaired, search engines, and now mobile devices.

If your site is heavily designed in programs such as Flash then that information will be lost to mobile device users. Make sure your site is designed to interact with these devices and use the fancier programming and design as an enhancement instead of the main architecture. Functionality will be key as you are accessed by your new mobile prospects.

Another item that you might want to review is how up to date is your information on the site. Keep your information fresh and relevant to encourage all of your visitors to use your website as a tool.

Once you have the basics fixed then you can look at all of the new ways that you can put mobile marketing to work for you. I personally know that many construction contractors carry Blackberrys now. That’s important to remember when you think that mobile marketing is just for consumer brands.

Here’s hoping that mobile marketing can make you one million more of what’s most important to you.

Join the discussion on the AMA Pittsburgh blog by submitting your comments.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Direct Mail Tactics

Dean Rieck, a leading direct copyriter prepared an excllent list of direct marketing tactics for Marketing Vox:

One of the primary advantages of using direct mail is the ability to divide and conquer: Your letter delivers a personal message and makes an offer. Your brochure demonstrates features and dramatizes benefits. Your order form calls for action and eases response.

Each piece performs a specific function and, because each is dedicated to that function, does a better job than a mailer that attempts to do everything simultaneously. With that in mind, consider testing an appropriate insert or involvement device that can boost response enough to offset the additional cost. Here are eight ideas:

1. Encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist. Is the offer relevant to your prospect? Prove that it is by including a simple quiz: "Do you qualify for our 80 percent discount on life insurance? Take this quiz and find out." Or a checklist: "25 ways our investment course can make you a millionaire in 10 years."

2. Make the offer tangible with a check or coupon. If you’re offering $25.00 off, enclose a coupon or simulated check worth $25.00 and instructions for returning it with an order. If you can, offer a real check that provides an instant reward or even activates a service when cashed. A check can be personalized and show through an envelope window.

3. Dramatize an offer with stamps or stickers. If you have several offers, configurations, or options, you can print each on a stamp and ask recipients to affix one to the order form. Stamps and stickers are highly involving and make it clear that action is required.

4. Answer objections or highlight a benefit with a lift letter. The lift letter is the dean of all inserts. It is usually a short message signed by someone of higher authority than the letter signer. It presents a second point of view, meets objections, adds credibility, highlights benefits, etc.

5. Increase credibility with a testimonial. Testimonials work best when you print them as a stand-alone piece, which increases the "bandwagon" effect. You can also have a benefit headline to introduce them, such as "Over 3 million satisfied customers agree, a Wahoo Widget lasts so long, it's the last widget you'll ever have to buy."

6. Prove your superiority with a sample. Let's say you're selling a coat or jacket to outdoor enthusiasts. You claim it will withstand all manner of torture because it's waterproof, fireproof, rip proof, and stain proof. Enclose a one-inch square of the fabric that is attached to a small card with instructions for testing its durability. This way, your prospect can see firsthand that your product is everything you say it is.

7. Emphasize exclusivity with a membership card. People like to belong. If you can structure your offer as joining a club or organization, you can send a membership card printed on plastic or heavy paper. You can even personalize it, provide contact information and list benefits.

8. Reinforce your guarantee with a merchandise return label. It's one thing to say a dissatisfied customer can return a product; it's another to actually provide a prepaid return label in advance. This shows how confident you are in your product and lowers perceived risk. One way to do this is to combine a label with a lift note that explains the return process and how there's no risk or obligation for responding.

You can sign up with Marketing Vox to receive their enewsletter on marketing topics. Mr. Rieck also offers the Direct Repsones Newsletter as well as a blog.

Join the discussion by submitting your comments to the AMA Pittsburgh blog. Spread the word and share the blog with your colleagues. Don't forget we want your profile for Friendly Fridays AMA Members.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Google Announces New Virtual Experience

Google announce a new virtual experience 3d website called "Lively". The new site is a competitor to Linden Labs Second Life, which was launched 5 years ago. Lively will feature avatars and other features similar to virtual experiences.

"If you enter a Lively room embedded on your favorite blog or website, you can immediately get a sense of the room creator's interests, just by looking at the furniture and environment they chose," Niniane Wang, engineering manager, who oversaw Lively's creation, said on Google's official blog.

Lively also allows for playing YouTube videos in virtual TVs and showing photos in virtual picture frames inside the rooms, Wang said.

Join the discussion by submitting your comments to the AMA Pittsburgh blog. We are always in search of AMA Pittsburgh member profiles for Friendly Fridays in this space.

See you tonight at the second AMA Pittsburgh Summer Mixer at Firehouse Lounge in the Strip.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

SEO Myths

SEO seems to have a magical quality to it, call it Google Mystique. Some think of it as a game. Some think of it as an impossible task. In this article, we look at some common SEO myths.

Michael Estrin a regular contributor to IMedia Connection wrote an excellent article titled ‘10 SEO Myths Debunked’. I’d like to share and discuss some of those myths.

Myth: Secret Tactics

Many believe you need to fool the search engines or try some out of the ordinary measures in order to gain position in search engine rankings. Before you try the next big hit tool, go back and read the SEO basics. Start with the basics and look to see if your site is optimized properly. If you do the basics well, we guarantee you that you will see results. Once you have the basics down then take a look at some other strategies and see what makes sense for you.

Myth: Optimize Only For Google

Yes, optimize for Google, but remember there are many other engines out there that people still use. Don’t forget the other guys.

Myth: SEO is Free

Paid search has now been classified as SEM (Search Engine Marketing). So if you are not payine then SEO is free. It is not free. Even if you do it yourself, there is still the cost of your time. How much is that worth? A SEO consultant has a cost. So do many of the tools that were in yesterday’s post that can help you with optimization.

Myth: SEO is a One Time Event

We have all seen this. You have just redesigned your website so its time for SEO. SEO is an ongoing program that should be measured, tweaked and integrated into marketing programs.

Myth: SEO Will Take Years to Show Results

Even though SEO is an ongoing program, most experts (and so do I) agree that you can see measurable results in 30-60 days.

Myth: Accessibility Doesn’t Matter

Usually, accessibility is the first thing I notice is a problem when I am asked to review a site for SEO. SEO and update ability of a site are the first thing that is sacrificed for design. I am all in favor of pleasing and forward thinking design, but you must balance design with functionality.
With the advent of mobile devices like the IPhone that gives users the chance to view the web, accessibility is even more important. Flash heavy sites choke IPhone users. They also throw off search engines. Build your site’s architecture for accessibility and use Flash where appropriate to enhance a site.

Join the discussion on the AMA Pittsburgh blog by leaving your comments. Feel free to submit topics for this blog and don't forget to send us your profile for Friendly Fridays.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

SEO Metrics

Search Engine Optimization has the ability to be measured in a variety of ways just like other marketing programs. Marketing Sherpa conducted a survey in January 2008 of marketers as what they saw as the most under utilized metrics for SEO. Take a lookf or your self and see how you can optimize your programs through better metrics in the face of rising SEM costs.

Join the discussion by leaving a comment to the AMA Pittsburgh blog. Feel free to submit topics of interests and don't forget that if you are an AMA Pittsburgh member that we want to meet you during Friendly Fridays in this space.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let's Mix It Up Again

Join us on Thursday, July 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Firehouse Lounge on the Deck in the Strip. Your $20 ticket includes food, two drinks, and as much mingling as you can handle. Door prizes & a DJ.

Don’t be shy. Come on down and join your fellow Pittsburgh sales and marketing professionals in proudly proclaiming

“I AM A… Marketer!”

Register online

Thursday, July 10, 2008 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Firehouse Lounge
On the Deck in the Strip
Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SEO Tips Part 2

In Part 2 we continue with Marketing Sherpa’s ‘Special Report: Online Keyword Research Guide: 5 Tips & 9 Useful Tools’. Today comes the 9 tools that you can use to help you with Search Engine Optimization.

The Sherpa has broken down 9 online tools to aid you in search engine optimization, including size, services, and pricing. Search Analytics
Database size: 19 million terms, 3 million sites.
Update frequency:
DailyResearch tools:
- Site-referral tool that shows most popular terms driving traffic to a given site or an industry category.
- Keyword-destination tool that shows which sites receive the most traffic from a specific search term.- Site comparison to show which of two sites has the traffic and engagement advantage for specific keywords.
• Top referring keywords for specific sites
• Site’s share of total referrals for keyword
• Keyword engagement (average amount of time people spent on the site after searching on the keyword)
• Keyword effectiveness (combination of total number of people and time spent on site)• Site ranking for key terms
• Average monthly search referralsPrice: Free registration, but viewing complete reports cost one or two site credits. Credit packages range from $20 - $500.
Best use: Competitive research.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Database size: Unavailable.
Update frequency: Unavailable.
Research tools:
- Keyword generator that displays list of relevant and related keywords to word or phrase entered.
- Keyword list generation based on website content for URL added.
- Keyword cost estimates for PPC campaigns.
• Advertiser competition for keywords
• Previous month search volume
• Average search volume
• Search volume trends
• Month in which highest search volume occurs
• Estimated ad position
• Average CPC
• Estimated traffic volume for list
• Sort by match type (broad, phrase, exact, negative)
Price: Free
Best use: New keyword generation; keyword list augmentation; pricing guidance for AdWords campaigns; integrating keyword lists into AdWords campaigns.

Keyword Discovery
Database size: 36 billion searches from 200 search engines worldwide.
Update frequency: Monthly.
Research tools:
- Top phrases that include search term.
- Related terms.
- Common misspellings.
- Top searches for particular industry.
- Domain researcher that identifies available domain names that contain keywords and phrases.
• Search volume
• Occurrence of term on sites
• Keyword Effectiveness Index
• Predicted daily volume
• Keyword density on your site or competitors’ sites
• Seasonal trends from previous 12 months
Price: Standard subscription, $69.95 monthly/$599.40 annually. Enterprise subscription, $495 monthly/$4455 annually.
Best use: Keyword list building; keyword list augmentation; global search campaign planning; competitive research.

Database size: 1 billion keywords.
Update frequency: Every two weeks.
Research tools:
- Keyword search shows top sites ranked on a given term for paid search and organic results.
- Domain search shows top keywords bid on by that domain, along with ad variations and landing page URLs being used.
- Keyword and domain search by specific market (United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, India, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa).
• Total keywords by site listed
• Ad position for keywords
• Approximate price per click on keyword
• Average clicks per day on a keyword
• Estimated ROI for keywords
• Number of competitors bidding on keywords
• Geographic breakdown of competition and keyword usage
• Historical trends for keyword usage
• Position of a given domain in organic search results
• Number of competitors using a keyword in SEO
Price: Free level limited to 20 search results per query; complete results for $89.95 monthly.
Best use: Competitive research; international campaign planning; directional data for keyword advertising selection.

Microsoft adCenter Add-in for Excel 2007
Database size: Unavailable.
Update frequency: Unavailable.
Research tools:
- Keyword suggestion shows terms related to a submitted keyword list.
- Keyword extraction shows popular terms contained in a submitted URL.
• Relevancy scores for suggested keywords
• Relevant terms contained in past search queries
• Campaign association (terms that have been bid on in adCenter)
• Top frequent keywords
• Top “spiky” keywords demonstrating recent and sudden popularity
• Suggested keyword categories
• Monthly or daily traffic forecasts
• Geographic search data
• Demographic search data (gender and age group)
• Monetization Key Performance Indicators (clicks, impressions, position, CTR, match type)
• Monetization metrics within industry verticals
Price: Free download for users with Excel 2007 and an AdCenter account.
Best use: Keyword list development and pricing guidance for MSN campaigns. Data can be extrapolated to estimate search traffic on Google and Yahoo.
Price: Free for adCenter account holders (must have Excel 2007). Still in beta.

SEO Digger
Database size: 60 Million English keywords in Google; 44 million English keywords in MSN, 11 million Russian keywords in Google.
Update frequency: Approximately every two weeks.
Research tools:
- Domain search shows all the key phrases for which a given site achieves a top-20 Google ranking.
• Site position on search engine results page
• Keyword popularity from Wordtracker
• Keyword popularity from Overture• Keyword popularity from Google
Price: Free. Unregistered users limited to 5 queries per hour, and can only see results for the specific link entered. Registered users can check entire domains (including internal pages), and can conduct 1,000 queries per hour, and 10 complete domain searches per hour.
Best use: Analysis of own site’s high-ranking terms; competitive research; ideas for search phrase semantics.

Database size: 13 million domains, 2.5 million keywords.
Update frequency: Monthly.
Research tools:
- Keyword search shows which sites and advertisers rank highly for a given term.
- Domain search shows statistics on a site’s advertising budget, top organic positions, top ad placement, and top competitors.
- Pre-assembled lists illustrate searching and advertising trends, including Top 500 Advertisers, Top 500 Organically Ranked Domains, Top 500 Most Clicked Terms, Top 1000 Most Expensive Keywords.
-SpyFu UK, which offers domain and keyword data for the UK market.
• Keyword cost per click
• Keyword clicks per day
• Keyword cost per day
• Number of advertisers bidding on a keyword
• Total keyword search results
• Historical trends in keyword average cost per click and clicks per day
• Top ads for a keyword
• Top search results for a keyword
• Domain advertising budget
• Domain total clicks per day
• Domain average cost per click
• Domain average clicks per day
• Domain average ad position
• Domain average number of ad competitors
• Domain average ad percentile
Price: Free registration for basic research functions. Subscription packages for full additional features — expanded lists of domain top organic positions and ad placements — range from $6.75 for a three-day trial; $38.50 monthly (auto renewal); $45 monthly (manual renewal); $296 annually (auto-renewal); $308 annually (manual renewal).Best use: Competitive research, directional data for keyword advertising selection.

Database: 330 million search terms.
Update Frequency: Daily.
Research tools:
- Keyword Universe displays popular related terms to a keyword or phrase, and how those terms are used in longer search phrases.
- Keyword Researcher allows you to import a list of up to 500 existing terms to find how those terms are used in exact searches, which terms are most popular, and how they can be re-ordered for additional coverage.
• Count (number of times the term appears in searches)
• Prediction of number of times the search term will appear in next 24 hours
• Keyword Effectiveness Index
• Estimated competition for keywords
Price: Free tool generates list of up to 100 related keywords. Full functionality with subscription for $59 monthly, $329 annually.
Best use: Keyword list building; keyword list augmentation.

Database size: 552 million keywords, 68 million unique search terms.
Update frequency: Monthly.
Research tools:
- Related keyword search for terms entered.
- Analysis of competing sites for a specific term.
- Download lists of top weekly or monthly search phrases.
• Total number of keywords found
• Estimated search volume
• Keyword Effectiveness Index
• Historical keyword data
• Keyword difficulty (Top domains for each keyword, with average links per month, total links, length at that position and other features to analyze how long it would take to rank in top 10 for a given term)
• Searcher demographics for keywords
Price: $7.95 one-day trial, $35 monthly.
Best use: Keyword list building; keyword list augmentation; SEO keyword strategies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SEO Tips

I’d like to share this report from Marketing Sherpa titled ‘Special Report: Online Keyword Research Guide: 5 Tips & 9 Useful Tools’. I broke it up into 2 parts with the 5 tips coming first.

Takeaway #1. Tools can’t replace your own research

You can’t build a search campaign solely on the terms generated by a keyword research tool. Your competitors are probably using the same tools as you are using, and can find the same terms.

Instead, you need to use those tools to augment the proprietary keyword research you’re performing for your company or clients:

- Look carefully at your own product names, popular terms used in your website copy and page titles, and internal site search queries terms.
- Study existing marketing materials, press releases and other content for important industry terms.
- Conduct your own online research on user forums, blogs and social media sites for terms and topics that users are talking about.
- Perform your own competitive analysis of how other companies are positioning their sites and search ads.

After completing your research, use a keyword research tool for the following tasks in generating your overall list:

- Starting a keyword list for a new product or new ad campaign.
- Seeing additional, related terms to supplement your internally generated lists when you’ve exhausted your own creativity.
- Checking your existing list for estimates of search volume and competition for PPC and organic placement.
- Gaining insight into unusual search syntax based on historical queries, which can help you generate new search phrases.

Takeaway #2. Data isn’t 100% accurate

The reliability of data is the most common caveat we heard from marketers who use online keyword-research tools.

The data these tools generate is typically only a snapshot of overall search activity, which depends on:

Sample size
Source of the data (one search engine vs. several; ISP data vs. proprietary Web scraping tools, etc.)
Frequency of update of data

“Volume estimates should always be taken with a grain of salt,” says Greg Hayes, Online Marketing Specialist, G.A.P Adventures. “They could be low or high depending on the day they were collected.”

Data accuracy can be a bigger issue as your search criteria become more granular. For example:

- Niche terms and long-tail keywords that have lower search volume may be less well represented in keyword databases. That was an issue for Bill Shaughnessy, Director, Online Marketing, EDGAR Online, as he conducted keyword research for long-tail financial search queries.

“The challenge I faced was with some of those less popular, less searched terms that an equity analyst might use, such as ‘derivative’ or ‘derivative models,’” says Shaughnessy. “I thought that [the tools] were lacking, because they kind of led you back to broader-based terms that I already had.”

- City-specific or regional data for geotargeting might not be well represented in keyword databases due to the lower volume of that search activity captured by the tools.

“There’s not enough data to make it statistically relevant,” says Melissa Mackey, Online Marketing Manager, Fluency Media.

Takeaway #3. Search advertising cost estimates are directional at best

Several tools will give you estimates for the average cost per click companies are paying on top keywords. But that data can’t tell you exactly how much you can expect to spend on a particular ad campaign.

For starters, many cost-estimating features only provide a cost index, showing whether the term in question typically commands a high, medium or low cost per click. Tools that provide actual price estimates typically display results in a range — for example, $0.50-$4.50 — that can lead to a wide variation in your potential budgeting needs.

Don’t look to tools for hard and fast CPC spending guidelines. Use them to create estimated costs for new keyword lists or develop an hypothesis on how keyword changes might impact your budget.

Takeaway #4. Use multiple tools for best results

Each tool uses different databases and analytics. So, their results will differ. But you can use those differences to your advantage by compiling data from several tools.

“I don’t think there is any one source that can do the job for you,” says Stuart Meyler, Principal, Stinson Partners. “We look at three or four of them to come up with a baseline.”
Paul Elliot, Partner, Acquisition Marketing, Brulant Inc., had his team create special algorithms that reconcile data from multiple research tools.

The more you experiment with different tools, the more you’ll find features and data sets that are most relevant to your business. You may trust one tool’s volume scores, but find better-related keyword suggestions elsewhere. Another might be particularly good at researching competitors’ search marketing activities. Use them all to enhance your strategy.

Takeaway #5. Always test the keywords in your own campaigns

Even the most accurate aggregate data is no match for live test results. Whenever you use an external tool to create a new keyword list, conduct a test of those terms as part of your research strategy.

“We always test a keyword list for 30 days to see if we have a realistic baseline or benchmark for where we should be moving forward,” says Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Media.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Interesting Survey Numbers

You may be feeling uneasy about adapting new media as part of your marketing programs. Sure, the stats show us that traditional marketing is declining and new media is growing. However, we know that there is still uneasiness over a customer base that is empowered and a communications explosion.

A recent study of CMOs shows that you are not alone.

The following information was reported by Ted Mininni in his blog.

Marketing Daily recently conducted an interview with The CMO Council’s Donovan Neale-May, who divulged some starting information. It appears that in a survey conducted by The CMO Council and the Boston Consulting Group of 1000 senior marketing execs, only 6% of respondents felt that their “go to market” capabilities were “very good.”

The opening paragraph shocked Mininni - “Marketers are not taking advantage of all-or even many-of the tools available to them to create effective sales and marketing platforms. What’s more, they know it-and they’re not doing much about it.”

The study and article disclosed that “despite their acknowledged deficiencies, the majority of executives are unwilling to stray outside of their comfort zone.”

* 66% of respondents reported that they remain focused on traditional marketing, branding and promotional communications.
* Only 26% reported making inroads in better understanding their consumer targets was a priority.
* Only 14% cited retail and service execution was a priority.

Neale-May observed that the “same old” proven marketing strategies might be effective, it’s also important to embrace “innovative new approaches.”

Many of the marketers surveyed recognized a need for the following:

* 52% are modifying sales and marketing strategies for better results.
* 32% need to hire new talent.
* Yet these two areas are not a fiscal priority-58% cited these two initiatives would have to be financed from current budgets.

The survey found that a healthy 48% of executives surveyed stated they had “insufficient resources as a barrier to implementing successful programs”. 48% said they had “talent issues” and 35% cited “a gap between current and desired capabilities.”

As to the future focus for the marketers surveyed?

* 56% are focused on ‘talent management and performance’-85% reported that they are rating the success of their marketing programs via revenue growth. And 53% reported that customer acquisition and retention were employed as marketing measures.
* 52% are focusing on ‘business strategy’
* Only 14% are focusing on investing in new metrics
* Only 12% are focusing on technology and IT
* Only 20% are focusing on productivity
* Only 10% are focusing on channel development

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