Tag Archives: google

Making Your Customers Comfortable

A big part of what makes the online arena attractive to marketers is the ability to engage customers and potential customers in a variety of ways. The most important “engagement” aspect, however, is a user’s experience with the site. If a site is cumbersome and not user-friendly, people aren’t going to spend a lot of time trying to navigate through what is fast becoming a bad experience for them.

Add to that the aspect of being asked to register, and most users will alter their behavior as a result.  A recent study by Janrain in conjunction with Blue Research noted that:

  • 75% of consumers take issue with being asked to register on a website and will change their behavior as a result
  • 76% of consumers admit to giving false information or leaving forms incomplete when creating a new account
  • 54% will either leave the site or not return
  • 17% go to a different site

The research indicates that “…consumers are frustrated with the traditional online registration process and will favor brands that make it easy for them to be recognized.…”

One method that surfaced as a solution to being recognized was being able to sign in using an existing social media log-in such as from Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers said that this would be an “attractive solution to the problem.” Of this 66%:

  • 42% feel that companies who offer this are more up to date, innovative and leave a more positive impression.
  • 55% say they are more likely to return to a site that automatically recognizes them
  • 48% say they are more likely to make a purchase

Making your site user-friendly goes a long way in your effort to keep customers engaged. Listen to what your customers tell you about your site. They spend the most time there. Make their time on your site beneficial for both them and you. Like most things in life, people use things that they are familiar with and make them the most comfortable. Sometimes that’s a website, and most times that’s your customer.

— Dave Capano, EVP, Director of Connection Planning

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When CPC and CPM Meet

DoubleClick recently released its benchmark figures for 2009. The overall Click-Through Rate (CTR) clocked in at a whopping 0.1%, which is comparable to the figure for 2008. For those of you not quick with a percentage, that means that for every 1,000 people who view an ad, one person clicks on it.  Click-Through Rates have been on the decline pretty much from their inception, starting at CTRs of 10% and 15% and drifting downward ever since. The fact that they have settled in around 0.1% may indicate that they have finally reached their low-water mark.

This figure is also significant because 1,000 is the rate that some publishers use to sell display advertising (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions or CPM).  It used to be that most CPMs charged by publishers were much higher than the cost per click, or CPC, (because click rates were higher than one in a thousand.)  Now that click rates have sunk to 0.1%, your CPM is your CPC. So if a publisher is using a CPM-based analog pricing model, and trying to charge a $50 CPM (because of their rich content and their valuable audience), you better be prepared to pay $50 a click. Conversely, if you are only willing to pay $10 a click and the publisher wants to charge $50 CPM, you best tell them to get real.

Not so un-coincidentally, Google recently decided to enter the display market. Google made its name in paid search by charging on a CPC basis and letting a free market-based bid model (theoretically) determine the CPC price. This created no real mystery for the advertiser, as they only pay for people clicking on their ads, and the bid model tells them what it will cost.  More of this kind of economic model will be a welcome entry to the display market. We should expect CPM-based publishers to start professing the brand message value of the display ads, and that it’s not all about clicks. Good luck with that one.

— Mike Reineck, Principal

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The Law of Unintended Consequences

Much has been written (and rightly so) about the value of paid-search advertising and its ability to deliver potential customers actively seeking information about a product or service. And advertisers have bought into the paid-search model in a big way, with a 2010 estimate of a cool $30 billion — just under half of all online ad spending.  But what advertisers haven’t been aware of is that paid search has been benefiting them in other ways, as well. This is a phenomenon known as the “Law of Unintended Consequences.” (Unintended consequences are those unplanned things that occur as a result of some action.) While most unintended consequences have a negative connotation associated with them, the opposite is true for paid search. Specifically, there are two areas where companies with paid-search programs have benefited: branding and improving organic-search results.

Studies done by both Google and Yahoo indicate that paid search helps improve branding, brand perception, and purchase intent. The key findings of the 2008 Google study reveal “…when the test brand appears in paid search positions, unaided awareness and purchase intent increase for that brand.” The survey also took into consideration the impact on competitive brands. It concluded that “… when the test brand appears in paid search positions, unaided and aided awareness decrease for other brands.”

The 2008 Yahoo study “…found that brands generated an average 160% increase in unaided awareness by being present in standard sponsored-text search results compared with when consumers weren’t exposed to their search ads.” It also found that consumers were 20 percent more likely to have positive perceptions of brands in the top paid-search position than those in second or third positions, and 30 percent more likely to consider purchasing a product when the brand was at the top of paid-search results.

While both these studies were done for the consumer package goods category, I believe that the same holds true for other categories. I’m not proposing that paid search will help unaided awareness by 160 percent in all categories. However, a paid-search impression helps create recognition in a potential customer’s mind. And that’s what an advertiser is seeking.

Additionally, a good paid-search campaign will also help boost a brand’s organic-search listing by increasing site traffic. Increased site traffic helps a brand’s relevancy scores in the paid-search algorithms. So, even when a brand might not be served as a paid listing, it may show at the top of the organic listings. Either way, it’s a win/win for an advertiser.

While the unintended consequences may often be negative, it’s not the case in paid search. Clients who make an investment in paid search will see a positive effect on their brand’s marketing efforts, and that’s an “intended” consequence.

— Dave Capano, EVP, Director of Media Services

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Preeettttttty!

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I got an iPad last week.
I must confess, I’ve been hustling so much on client business that I haven’t had a chance to really give it much of a test drive. I’m probably risking having it snatched back from my very hands for admitting this in the ethers. Some higher court of digital-rightness, headed by Mr. Jobs just gave a collective gasp, and at any moment I’ll be fried to a cinder by a Google satellite orbiting 10,000 miles above my head. Where’s my aluminum foil hat?

What I have noticed in my brief tinkering is the quality of the image it delivers. I’m a visual guy, you see (aren’t all guys, you’re probably saying). One thing that has made me gnash my teeth for the last couple years is the void between the spectral magnificence of my HD, mega-pixeled, blu-raydavies, LCD/LED/LDL/HDL, 50-inch Plasmod-a-tron and what passes for a quality picture on the Web. Which frankly, mostly look like ass.

Our recent integrated campaign for Manheim included 16:9 HD Web videos. I was a bit nervous at the prospect of how they would look online. As an agency, we deliver the highest quality work for our clients. If the channel it runs on can’t equal that quality, then our best efforts get trashed. I’m happy to say, on the iPad the videos look just as good as they did when we made them.

I now see a light at the end of the proverbial…and it’s coming from the screen I hold in my hand. It’s a symbiotic relationship, you see. The better the quality of the image a device can deliver the more demand there will be for better quality images. And that means future Web development will be looking to upgrade the pictures we see and navigate through. If you don’t believe me, check out the convergence just announced by Google, Sony, Intel, and Logitech.

So fly, be free, and make prettier content.

— Chris Schlegel, Chief Creative Officer

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They’re Talking about You. The Importance of Monitoring Social Media

Your customers are talking about you.  Are you listening?

With the explosion of social media outlets and people talking about your brand as well as your competitors, it has become more important to monitor this space for several reasons.  You should monitor this space to: manage your reputation, protect your brand, track a product launch or acquisition, measure the response of a campaign, listen to thoughts and opinions, analyze buzz, track your competitors, inform strategy, and determine ROI.

You should definitely be checking your brand’s Facebook and Twitter stats on a regular basis.  In addition to this, there are numerous tools to help you monitor your brand and the conversations that are occurring.  Some are as simple (and free) as alerts from Google or Yahoo!, where you can subscribe to keywords or URLs.  Google even has a blog search alert to help you wade through blogs that don’t always appear on the main Google search engine.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, your agency or a third-party company can help in this area.  Kilgannon provides three levels of social media monitoring for our clients:

  1. Basic reporting
  2. Basic reporting + analysis/interpretation of the data
  3. Basic reporting + analysis/interpretation of the data + brand dashboard

The basic reporting includes measurement of:

  1. Posts by day (including summaries of each one)
  2. Key discussion topics (word clouds – a visual representation of frequency of key words associated with the brand)
  3. Sentiment (positive, mixed, negative)
  4. Word and category analysis (adjectives, positives, negatives)
  5. Topic trends
  6. Where the content is coming from (e.g., blogs, microblogs, forums, etc.)
  7. Key sources of mentions (including relevance, number of posts, and influence)
  8. How top sources may link to each other

It also includes flagging of any unusual spikes as well as anything that requires an appropriate response.

Of course, listening is only step one.  Once you’ve mastered this, then it’s time to engage your agency to help you participate in the conversation by creating a brand presence and content (e.g., fan pages, Wikipedia pages, Twitter feeds, blog posts, YouTube channel, etc.).  But that’s a topic for a different blog!

– Stephen Weinstein – Director of Account Management

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Just because it’s social media, it doesn’t mean you can ignore search

When we begin assisting our clients in their social media efforts, one of the most common mistakes we find is a lack of consideration for search. Many times we even have difficulty finding their Web pages ourselves. The assumption is that because it’s social, it will live on its own without the need to worry about search. That it will go viral like a YouTube video of a kid acting silly.

Unfortunately, brands can’t count on that happening – no matter how important, funny or engaging your content is. Let’s say you are the Acme Cookie Company and you have a cookie called the Acme Wafer. It would not be uncommon to see a company set up a FaceBook or Twitter account as WaferLover.

So what’s the problem with that? There’s no reference to Acme or cookies. So when a customer searches for Acme cookies on Google, Facebook or Twitter, they won’t be able to find the page. The effort to create a fun, engaging brand experience ends up for naught.

Even worse, the product name isn’t even searchable because the name runs together.  And since the page isn’t promoted with advertising, the business is relying on sheer luck for customers to find their page. This doesn’t have to be the case. Just make sure you follow a little common sense.

Make sure your username and your information contain your brand name and/or company name. “Acme” or “Acme_Cookies” as usernames will most likely be found by search engines. Using Acme Wafers, written as two separate words, works better as the name of the page. Also, make sure your profile description or bio has relevant keyword information. That way, both your brand and your customers will have a much easier time engaging.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Writer

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