Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Internet Marketing in Hard Economic Times

As the news of global meltdowns, bankruptcies, foreclosures, layoffs and bailouts continues to mount, it is increasingly clear that we must tweak our promotional strategies to adjust for the harsh realities of the economic times. Whether we are in B-to-B or B-to-C, all of our customers are likely to spend less and our advertising budgets are likely to be trimmed accordingly.

That is why it appears to me that there is no better time to invest more in interactive internet promotional activities. Here is why:

Measurability - Internet advertising is more measurable than other forms of media. Don't believe me? Try to measure conversion rate for a billboard ad on a random street corner.
Scalability - With "guaranteed" banner ads which on only displayed when a relevant user is visiting the sight, the user gets a significantly more targeted form of media. "Guaranteed" banners are more expensive than "non-guaranteed" banners but the absolute cost is cheaper than non-internet forms of display ads.
Audience - The internet audience continues to grow. With over 300 million broadband subscribers globally it is very likely that your target market can be reached via internet marketing. If we compare this with the estimated 1.4 billion televisions on our planet we can get a perspective on the upside potential.

The key is to examine your customers buying cycle and determine where internet advertising can be most effective. If pre-sales and where that opportunity exists than attempt to educate you customer through your advertising to hopefully drive sales.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What an Obama Victory Says about Mobile Marketing

Early this morning, I received the following SMS:

We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion to this campaign. All of this happened because of you. Thanks, Barack

Never before have we seen a presidential campaign that has completely embraced Mobile Marketing as the one for Barack Obama. Whether it made the difference in him winning the Presidency is debatable. However, it is clear that from this moment forward all future presidential campaigns will have to utilize "new media" to reach specific demographic audiences.

The Obama campaign used SMS from the beginning of the campaign. However, there were two activities that were especially successful in engaging individuals to accept the medium from the campaign:

1. During the Super Bowl in February, 2008 the campaign ran and ad that asked its supporters to send "hope" to 62262 or O B A M A to "opt-in" to SMS communications.

2. August, 2008 the announcement of Obama's Vice Presidential running mate was made exclusively via SMS.

The lessons learned here is the power of cross media plays when it comes to Mobile Marketing. SMS marketing, combined with Web or even TV advertising can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the medium.

Now, it will be interesting to see if Obama continues to utilize SMS once he moves into the White House. I will be eager to receive a text message stating:

The financial crisis has been solved! Thanks, Barack

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Android vs. iPhone, Wrong Battle for Google

Yesterday, Google announced the long awaited G1 Android phone. In theory, the G1 should be tremendously successful for Google to leverage its advertising machine to take hold of local search and change the mobile advertising footprint. However, it appears that Google prefers to position the G1 directly against Apple's iPhone. In my view, the G1 does not measure up to the iPhone and will lose that battle.

After many iterations of Smartphones over the past few years, the killer application continues to be voice. Apple apparently has leveraged the popularity of the iPod to enter the Smartphone business. As a result, it is debatable whether Apple has changed the "killer app" paradigm with iTunes. If you believe that iTunes is critical to the success of the iPhone then it is impossible for G1 to directly compete since it doesn't even include a standard headphone jack.

Today, I attended an iBreakfast about Android vs. iPhone from an advertising perspective. The panelist included:

David Berkowitz,
Jon Lumerman, EarthQuake Media
Noah Elkin, Steak Digital

At this session I found it interesting that most of the discussion revolved around the "cool" applications that were demonstrated at the G1 announcement press meeting. However, there was limited talk around Google's core advertising competency. In order to make a dent in iPhone sales, the G1 has to achieve considerable sales. The iPhone has sold approximately 2,626,183 units in a year. If we compare those numbers to other mobile devices, we see that the hype around the iPhone is greater than the actual results.

Hype vs. Hard Unit Sales Numbers

Motorola RAZR V3 Series - 27,690,028
Motorola MotoKRZR - 5,306,736
LGVX8300 - 4,688,511
Nokia 6101 - 3,500,265
Motorola V325 - 2,927,648
Nokia 6010 - 2,711,021
LG VX9900 - 2,700,530
Apple iPhone - 2,626,183

Time will tell how the G1 phone will be received by consumers. It has had a rocky start with the developer community who felt somewhat abandoned when Google decided to release its latest software developer kit to finalist only in the Android Developer Challenge. This decision motivated many developers to move to competing platforms.

Here is a side by side comparison.

G1Price - $179 USD vs. iPhone - $199 USD

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

eMarketer Lowers 2008 Online Ad Spending Forecast

Today, eMarketer lowered its forecast for 2008 Online Ad Spending from $25.9 (USD) to $24.9 (USD). They attribute the lowered estimates to the economy and changing Ad Spending habits. It is noted that the lowered estimates still represent an increase of 17.4% increase over 2007.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Viacom Wants to Litigate not Innovate

As you have probably heard, Viacom is suing Google for $1 Billion (USD). They are claiming that YouTube contains over 150,000 copyrighted video clips that are not authorized for posting. When will media conglomerates learn that it is time to innovate instead of litigate. In the Information Age, information is not sacred. All of the worlds knowledge is just a click away. This includes music and videos. The media establishment has lost this same battle before with music sharing with the likes of Napster. What was the result of all the lawsuits and complaining? Today, music sharing still exists both legitimately and illegitimately. The most legitimate outlet being Apple's iTunes application which is poised to be the number one distributor of music in the United States (both offline and online). As a result, the profit margin for music and video's has eroded significantly and profit for MP3 players has been preserved.

Instead of fighting the inevitable sea of change, media companies such as viacom should be innovative with their intellectual property to preserve profitability in the age of information. Just as Apple has been able to create a product (iPod) that complements todays utility of the world wide web, media conglomerates should use their vast resources to develop similar types of products and services.

Disney appears to have been very proactive with this effort by making television shows on ABC available on its website after their broadcast of television. Perhaps there could be "behind-the-scenes" footage that would only be available on a pay-per-view website. I guarantee there would be customers for such a website in todays celeb gossip hungry society. In the age of information customers demand and will pay for access to information if it is perceived as valuable to a particular target market.

There is plenty of room for innovation especially in today's environment, if Viacom would prefer to litigate then it is likely that other businesses will innovate in their place.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Limbo’s Mobile Advertising Report, First Quarter 2008

Limbo has just released their quarterly mobile advertising report. The report covers the U.S. Market only but reveals some interesting trends with respect to mobile usage. It appears that over 50% of SMS users and mobile web surfers (WAP) are over 35 years old. This represents a complete reversal of previous data trends which indicated that the youth market dominated these forms of mobile media.

To see the detailed report click on the image.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Top 10 Converting Retail Sites (March 2008)

This is a list of the websites who have had the highest conversion rates for the month of March.

1. Office Depot - 20.9% (
2. QVC - 19.0% (
3. VistaPrint - 18.3% (
4. Roamans - 18.1% (
5. Lands End - 16.2% (
6. eBay - 15.7% (
7. - 15.5% (
8. - 15.3% (
9. L.L. Bean - 14.6% (
10. Pottery Barn Kids - 14.2% (

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Japan Setting the Blogging Standard

There are more blog posts in Japanese than any other language, according to Technorati Inc., which tacks over 113 million blogs globally. Last year, Technorati found 37% of all postings were in Japanese - about 1.5 million per day. Postings in English - from Americans, Britons, Austrailians and people in many other countries accounted for 36% of the total.

Japanese tend to view blogs more as exchanges with friends and a personal outlet than as news sources as Americans do, for discussing politics, technology and other issues. Content in Japan tends to be more personal as opposed to media centric.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

10 Keys to Successful Email Campaigns

In todays Internet Marketing world where your email customer database can shrink as quickly as it can grow, marketers require methods to improve their email marketing efforts. ProspectDB an email marketing company has the following 10 recommendations for successful email campaigns.

1) Be CAN-SPAM Compliant: Don't be deceptive with the subject line, include a full signature line with address and phone number, include opt-out instructions, etc. For more details on CAN-SPAM compliance, go to:

2) Make the Email Content as Personal as Possible: The more the email looks like one that the recipient would receive from a co-worker, colleague, or fellow professional/executive, the more likely they are to open it. Open with the persons name, end with a signature line, have the email actually come from a person instead of a generic email, etc.

3) Use a Dedicated Domain: If your company's main website is, don't use that domain for your marketing campaigns, use a dedicated domain just for your marketing campaigns, such as This prevents your primary domain and company website from ever being effected by complaints.

4) Response Options: Give the recipient of the email the option to reply to the email they have received, go to a website, or pick up the phone and call you. More options for response = more response.

5) Tracking Tradeoffs: realize that the more you do to track thing like open rates, click through rates, etc., the more likely your email is to be seen as unsolicited and the less likely it is to reach it's intended recipient.

6) Check your Email's Spam Score: Here is one service that I recommend: there are many more out there, and using as many as possible is advised.

7) Avoid Spam Catches: There are a million of these that you can unknowing included in you email content, but the general rule of thumb is: don't sound like a cheese commercial and you are less likely to be perceived as one. More specific examples include: Don't put lots of text in ALL CAPS, don't use words like "free" and "discount" frequently (and never in the subject line), don't use the words "remove", or "unsubscribe" in your unsubscribe instructions. If you are clever you can incorporate your unsubscribe instructions into a confidentiality agreement at the bottom of your email.

8) Follow up Immediately: follow up with results from your email campaign immediately, not a few days later, or a week later. A real person would follow up with a response that they received from an email that they sent out almost immediately, you should be set up to do the same.

9) Diversify and Customize: Use a variety of email content and subject lines when possible. This will make your emails look less like spam as they hit corporate servers and you will avoid the "all eggs in one basket" scenario. By diversifying you can also target the message more specifically to particular industries, title types, geographies, etc. A more specifically targeted email with customized content for a specific sub-group make a message even more relevant to the recipient and will yield better results.

10) Delivery Timing: Be conscientious of the times, dates, days of the weeks, and frequency with which the emails are delivered. There are a large number of theories regarding the best email delivery times, but in general you can be sure that Tuesday through Thursday is your best delivery window for B2B emails and in general you want to get the emails into the recipients' inbox during their working hours. Emails sent in the middle of the night are more likely to be spam and more likely to be viewed as such. If you can tweak your delivery settings to allow for a slight delay between each email, that has also been shown to improve results. Also, if you send out 1,000 emails a day spread out over 10 days, you will generally get better results than 10,00 emails all sent in one day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Preventing Click Fraud

There are several ways to reduce your risk of click fraud and keep conversion quality rates high. The following best practices and recommendations from ClickForensics can partially be helped with the use of web analytics software but may require extensive time. An expert third-party firm with the tools and analysis may be required to cost effectively reduce or eliminate click fraud.

1. Prevent low quality sites from displaying your ads. Some ad providers allow for exclusion lists you can populate with low performing sites.

2. Monitor who is clicking on your ads and the quality of conversion against your daily spend. Some ad providers allow for an IP exclusion list.

3. Only display your ads to the geo-location you are targeting.

4. Monitor the time of day you are receiving poor quality traffic. Use ad scheduling to improve conversions and reduce fraud.

5. Find the keywords that are attracting the fraud or low quality traffic to your site. Some of the highest cost keywords generate the highest levels of click fraud because they make the most money for fraudsters.

6. Identify competitors and block domains and IP addresses and establish special landing pages.

7. Engage with an independent click auditing expert. They have the tools, experience and time to rapidly analyze your search program and will provide data and actionable solutions to address immediately with the search providers.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

16 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO)

I have compiled this list from 5 different social media marketing blogs:

Rules 1-5 (Rohit Bhargava)

1. Increase your linkability - This is the first and most important priority for websites. Many sites are "static" - meaning they are rarely updated and used simply for a storefront. To optimize a site for social media, we need to increase the linkability of the content. Adding a blog is a great step, however there are many other ways such as creating white papers and thought pieces, or even simply aggregating content that exists elsewhere into a useful format.

2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy - Adding content features like quick buttons to "add to" are one way to make the process of tagging pages easier, but we go beyond this, making sure pages include a list of relevant tags, suggested notes for a link (which come up automatically when you go to tag a site), and making sure to tag our pages first on popular social bookmarking sites (including more than just the homepage).

3. Reward inbound links - Often used as a barometer for success of a blog (as well as a website), inbound links are paramount to rising in search results and overall rankings. To encourage more of them, we need to make it easy and provide clear rewards. From using Permalinks to recreating Similarly, listing recent linking blogs on your site provides the reward of visibility for those who link to you.

4. Help your content travel - Unlike much of SEO, SMO is not just about making changes to a site. When you have content that can be portable (such as PDFs, video files and audio files), submitting them to relevant sites will help your content travel further, and ultimately drive links back to your site.

5. Encourage the mashup - In a world of co-creation, it pays to be more open about letting others use your content (within reason). YouTube's idea of providing code to cut and paste so you can imbed videos from their site has fueled their growth. Syndicating your content through RSS also makes it easy for others to create mashups that can drive traffic or augment your content.

Rules 6-7 (Jeremiah Owyang)

6. Be a User Resource - even if it doesn’t help youAdd value to users, including outbound links to areas that could help them with their goals and purposes. Deployed corrected, even if you link to competitiors you stand to gain as the communities first source of information finding. How will this help SMO? Folks will link to your social site and tag is as helpful or the ‘ultimate’ guide in that space. As this adds up, it will become more and more relevent in search engine results.

7. Reward helpful and valuable users - Often helpful or popular users will be influencers and champions within your social site, devise ways to elevate them buy promoting their works on the homepage, or develope a rating system. Sometimes a quick email or note in private telling them you appreciate them can go a long way. Some folks have done that to me, and for communities I run, I do that as well. Only do if sincere. Perhaps this is not truly SMO, but it will help to keep the most valuable members of a community closer to your site.

Rules 8 - 11 (Cameron Olthius)

8. Participate - Join the conversation. Social Media is a two way street, lets not forget that. By conversing with the community you are creating awareness and prolonging your buzz. You are keeping it going and this often results in a snowball effect. Participating helps your message spread further and faster.

9. Know how to target your audience - If you don't even know your target audience you are in trouble. I would love to have everyone using my product too, but you need to be realistic. There is always going to be a certain audience you can appeal to and others that you can't. So know your appeal and who it is appealing to.

10. Create content - There are certain kinds of content that just naturally spread socially. It does not matter what industry you are in and what boring products you sell, there is always some kind of content that can be created that will work. Whether it is creating widgets, making people laugh, or writing a whitepaper, it can be done. Know what type of content can work for you and create it.

11. Be real - The community does not reward fakers.

Rules 12 - 13 (Loren Baker)

12. Don’t forget your roots, be humble - Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away being a BlogStar or industry talking head. Remember those who helped you along the way, and that respect will help all involved.

13. Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh - Social Media is changing and morphing by the minute, keep up on new tools, products and challenges in your social sphere.

Rules 14-16 (Lee Odden)

14. Develop a SMO strategy - define your objectives and set goals. Be fully aware of what your desired outcome is as a result of performing these tactics. Reputation, sales, influence, credibility, charity, traffic/page views, etc.

15. Choose your SMO tactics wisely - Be cognizant of what actions will influence the desired outcome with the most impact. According to Hans Peter Brondmo of Plum during the SES San Jose session "Marketing with Social Media", 1% of those involved with social media are creating content, 10% will enrich that content and 90% will consume it. That’s a lot of influence wielded by content creators and those that reblog and mashup. Think about what you can do to enable content creation as well as the repurposing of that content for what might possibly be the most productive outcome.

16. Make SMO part of your process and best practices - As with good SEO, SMO tactics should become part of your organization’s best practices. Find ways to incorporate SMO tactics at the “template” level of document creation and as part of information distribution. Minor things like encouraging social bookmarks and rewarding incoming links as a standard practice across the organization can go a long way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

6 Most Important Steps for your Marketing Plan

I participated in a Webinar today given by Marketing Experiements ( The topic of the webinar was 2008 Internet Marketing Strategy: Are You Prepared? They had some interesting recommendations for Marketers to implement in their 2008 marketing plans:

1. Implement truly reliable metrics
Ask yourself
  • Can you track all of the right information, at the right levels?
  • Can you perform timely and valid optimization tests?

2. Improve your capacity to test
Ensure you have

  • Necessary tools
  • Talent
  • Resources

3. Reorder your marketing priorities

  • FIRST, Focus on optimizing your Product
  • THEN, Optimize the communication of your value proposition
  • FINALLY, Drive as much profitable traffic as possible to your optimized site

4. Conduct a thorough competitive analysis

  • Assess your current competitive situation
  • Use this information to critically evaluate your value proposition

5. Explore and test new media

  • Blogs
  • Mobile marketing
  • Social media

6. Revolutionize the way you communicate