Social measures up
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that media would forever change with the advent of the popular social network’s ad platform is rightly ridiculed. Yet while advertisers have few success stories on sites like Facebook, the growth of the social Web is impossible to ignore. Facebook now adds a new user every seven seconds.
For all its growth and hype, social media has been unforgiving terrain for marketers. Their efforts to date have been decidedly experimental, consisting of sponsorships, ad placements or brand applications that have proven ineffective. “Whenever you try to apply a standard ad model to a social dynamic, it’s like oil and water,” said Sean Finnegan, chief digital officer at Starcom MediaVest Group.
Instead, look for marketers to weave social programs throughout their marketing, using free tools to monitor their brand health and respond to customer needs. Comcast, a brand with no shortage of detractors, has scored a rare win with customers by dedicating an employee to handle customer problems on micro-blogging network Twitter. Expect more brands to follow suit, not just on Twitter but throughout the social Web of blogs and other two-way media.
“The best way is to dig in and monitor what people are saying,” said Noah Brier, head of strategy at digital marketing firm Barbarian Group. “It can only help you.”
As budgets tighten, media such as display ads will come under scrutiny.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to how digital advertising will fare in the grip of a recession. On the one hand, optimists see tight budgets accelerating the shift from less measurable traditional media into more targeted digital channels. The pessimists, however, point out that stagnant budgets affect all marketing, even if digital outlets fare better.
Against this backdrop, experts expect marketers will continue to push for new ways to reach audiences through digital channels. Tried-and-true methods like search marketing look to remain stable, while advertisers pay more attention to getting more solid metrics on how consumers were influenced before they type a query into a search box.
That means old school methods like display ads and microsites will come under pressure. Social media looks set to remain on the top of advertisers’ agendas, as they look to apply the lessons of their early missteps in the area while adding real measurement to what have been experimental forays to date. As the Internet becomes more social, there will likewise be an acceleration of a move from purely technical implementations to using the Web’s emerging social infrastructure to connect on a more human level.
According to researcher eMarketer, online ad spending will climb 8.9 percent next year, from $23.6 billion to $25.7 billion. Back in August, just prior to Wall Street’s meltdown, eMarketer predicted that spending would surge 14 percent in 2009. But the economy is now taking its toll on all segments of media. Here is a roundup of how that spending may pan out:
Display ad blues
The Web has moved well beyond its former role as a place where banner ads and microsites are used to support the real meat of the offline marketing. Nowadays, the most high-profile campaigns are centered on the Web. Take “Whopper Virgins,” the latest Burger King push from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The centerpiece is a Web film, which is then spliced into components for traditional media. What’s more, the push has relied on the viral buzz of blogs and other digital outlets as much as big-money media buys.
Those type of efforts will put pressure on “traditional” digital efforts like run of the mill banner ads pumped out through ad networks and Flash microsites without any compelling reason for anyone to visit.
Forrester Research expects display ads to come under the scrutiny of tight-fisted marketers uncertain of their effectiveness.
Pricing is expected to rise just 8 percent after several years of uninterrupted, solid expansion. “The financial pressure will be severe,” said Dave Morgan, a former AOL executive. “When you take out big chunks of money, it’s not just the spend that disappears but also the competition.”
There is no doubt that internet marketing is a great way to sell products and services to make a lot of money. There is also no doubt that the internet is flooded with competition and you will need to do your internet marketing well in order to stand out from the crowd and claim you fortune. Many, many people try to market products on the internet unsuccessfully. In fact, for every five websites on the internet that are doing well there are ninety-five that are failing.
Not the best odds, but the good news is that you can be one of the three if you take the time to learn proper internet marketing techniques. Learning how to do something right often means discovering a lot of ways to do it wrong first and so to save you some time, here is a list of the top three mistakes that internet marketers make:
1. Not providing high-quality content on their site. Many people think you can just write a sentence or two about each product and create a “pretty” website and people will want to buy from them. There are two problems with this technique: first of all, getting a good search engine ranking is what will drive customers to your site and good content with the right keyword density is necessary to get a high search engine ranking. And secondly, once a person clicks to your site they expect to see some content. Good content will draw them in and keep them on your page long enough to entice them to make a purchase.
2. Using only one method of internet marketing. Too many would-be internet marketers focus all their attention on just one method of internet marketing. That is the equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket, if the bottom falls out you’re screwed. Using multiple internet marketing techniques allows customers to find you in a variety of ways like through search engine results, email marketing, article marketing and forum posts. The funny thing is that as you use different methods they boost your main goal of increasing search engine traffic at the same time.
3. Choosing an irrelevant product. Before you spend massive amounts of time and money doing internet marketing for a product you may love it is highly important that you find out if there is a market for it. If nobody wants to buy your product you can market ’til the cows come home and have the number one spot in the search engine rankings for your keyword, but if nobody is buying that it isn’t going to matter. You also want to choose a product where the market isn’t completely flooded already. In either case, it is vital that you do some research before you start your internet marketing campaign.
Avoiding these top three mistakes will help you get your internet marketing campaign off to a good start. Do your research and provide your customers with top-quality information and you will be on the right track for success in internet marketing.
Just about everybody in the Internet marketing world has a get-rich-quick scheme these days. Start looking around and you’ll find dozens of so-called “gurus” who are willing to share their techniques with you for some cash. The problem with these guys is that they often don’t even practice the techniques they offer.
They just make money selling books and the techniques they offer really don’t have real-world applications. They can offer you platitudes about what to do to create a successful Internet business but not a real money-making technique.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, most aspiring Internet Marketers think immediately of Google Ad words. The problem is, you may be thinking of Ad words, but so is everyone else. Google has wisely caught on to this and have appropriately raised their rates, making them untenable for many. Couple that with the new regulations coming down the pipe from Google and you have some serious problems.
One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.
How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.
You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.
A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.
In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.
My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.
It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.
You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.
So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?
What trends should internet marketers look for in 2009? I’ve decided to list some of my thoughts on changes in the industry for the coming year, what to expect and emerging marketing opportunities.
Social Media Tools – Just as social media marketing has become more popular over the last few years, so has the need for tools to help marketers manage this space. I expect more analytical and management tools for marketers to help make business sense of social media.
Closed Networks – Google will continue to be the major player in search, but do not underestimate closed networks (LinkedIn) and smaller players that fit a niche. Closed networks will continue to grow and may offer more opportunity to reach your target audience.
Internet TV – I have been hyping online TV services like Joost and Hulu for the past year. This will be the year for internet TV in my opinion. Services have jumped through some technical hurdles and now offer respectable performance over a broadband connection. Entertainment is becoming more personalized, so it only makes sense to watch what you want when you want.
Mobile Marketing – Now that we have more advanced mobile networks and devices (iPhone 3G and G2), companies are beginning to invest in mobile applications that compliment their online experience. Many of these applications will enable real time interaction with product and services. What was cocktail conversation a couple years ago will now become a reality for many mobile consumers.
What trends do you think will be the big movers in 2009?
President-elect Barack Obama’s top asset in pushing his agenda will not be his Cabinet secretaries or aides, but rather his online network. Obama’s political e-mail list tops 13 million names, a digital force that the incoming White House can tap to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support. It’s also a way for Obama to reach into every state, every city, and every neighborhood.
A study released Tuesday found that a quarter of Obama voters said they would continue to work online to support the new administration. The nonpartisan Pew Internet and American Life Project also found 62 percent of Obama’s voters say they would ask others to support Obama’s policies.
Welcome to the Democrats’ new permanent campaign, one planned online and executed on Main Street.
British housewives lead the way on the internet as they spend half their free time on the web.
The High Street may be taking a battering, but the recession is not stopping the army of British housewives from spending money as they splash the cash on the internet.
And they don’t just use it for shopping. From socialising to sharing information, the UK’s homemakers spend nearly half their free time surfing the web.
The study by analyst TNS, which examined 27,500 people across 16 countries, found British housewives spend an average of 47 per cent of their 5.8 hours a day of spare time online. This was longer than their counterparts in any other country as well as students, workers and even the unemployed.
In comparison American housewives spend 38 per cent of their free time online.
Four out of five housewives in Britain ranked the internet as ‘very important’, with most of them using it for shopping.
People in Britain are now spending over a billion pounds a month on the internet, according to market research company Mintel.
In the past month 68 per cent of Brits shopped online, just second in the global survey behind Germany, where 73 per cent of the country bought goods on the web. The global average is 57 per cent.
Winnipeg Company helps Obama’s Campaign for the Presidency, this was the latest story to hit the net on top of numerous others the last 6 months.
One of the greatest advantages of the Internet and search engines like Google is that you can find almost anything about almost anything or anyone. This is particularly true following the advent of web 2.0 technologies and increasingly sophisticated websites indexing everything from video to audio – we’ve come a long way from text rich sites with just an image or two to mix things up.
Of course, this information superhighway is also incredibly bad news if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself or your company on the wrong end of some bad press. Unlike the newspapers of yesteryear that were discarded after reading, online publications are indexed indefinitely, giving bad press an infinite shelf life
If your company is poorly represented on a site with a good PageRank, a respectable number of links and good rankings, chances are it will turn up near the top of the SERPs for searches on that company name. Not only does this mean the story will live on long after the facts may have changed, it’s also galling to discover that the old mantra of bad news selling translates equally aptly online. Say the bad press takes the form of a harsh critique of your restaurant. Upon seeing the piece, you take action and work solidly for six months to turn your eatery around. You change the menu, source new suppliers, opt for a complete revamp of the décor and hire a new head chef and sous chef. After all your hard work, you log back on and discover the bad review is still prominently positioned in a search for your business name. All because the review ran in an influential food mag or national newspaper.
How do you fight this and regain credibility? Most bad press relates to a particular service area or product, rather than attacking the entire business model. This, while unfortunate for the product being bad mouthed, is actually good news when it comes to rectifying the situation as it gives you a very specific plan of attack.
Even in SEO, the best defense is a good offense and there are several options available to you to replace the negative with the positive. The most effective way, is to focus on how the changes have been brought about and drown out the bad with good. That means developing a groundswell of support for the keyword or keywords being black balled. When attempting this, you must apply the fundamental rules of organic optimization while embracing the usefulness and grassroots potency of social media activity and multi-media content.
Research is always the first stage so ascertain which keywords trigger the bad press. Create a list so the whole set of phrases can be included in the image overhaul. This is also a good opportunity to re-assess any existing organic activity. Ask yourself if variations of these keywords such as location specific versions are now appropriate to your optimization. If you’ve grown as a company while making some fundamental changes to the business offering, chances are you will be able to add more words to the list.
The second stage is to understand why the negative press is gaining such prominent positions. Obviously if the site is well established and a respected resource, your situation isn’t helped. However, you can take advantage of their stronghold by running link reports and then sifting through the returned results. Pick out referrers with a good PageRank, domains that are particularly relevant to your own site and make a note of any social networking sites that you haven’t yet heard of or haven’t yet had the opportunity to use. This will form a fundamental part of your positivity drive.
Having developed an initial list of sites to target for linkbacks in order to negate the advantage of the bad publicity, you need to approach each of those sites and barter for a link. The most effective way to do this is to provide unique content. For newspaper sites, specialist portals and the like, why not create a press release announcing your re-launch, outlining all of the positive differences that have been made? Consider a launch party or opening night in order to get local press involved and then send out the PR to all of those sites on the original link back list. If you’re feeling brave, you can even send the piece to the author of the bad press you’re trying to sink. Invite them to come and review your product offering again, suggest a formal meeting or collaborate on a competition, pushing any newly gained sales tools such as client testimonials. The creation of new jobs if you’ve taken on new members of staff as part of the restructuring or even a great offer on the original product can pique the interest of the newshound who first slammed your offering.
With your PR campaign launched, you need to find other ways to build links and positive opinion about your brand or company. To do this, remember that the results pages of major engines like Google or no longer simply about text based content. Video, audio and images all play their part. Creating interesting and useful multi-media content makes a great addition to any traditional SEO campaign and is a useful part of the armor when driving out bad press. Create video content that is going to be of interest to others and make sure that it is easily shared. Video sharing typically takes place around sites like YouTube so incorporate this facility to get others to link back to it.
Social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Squidoo, Sphin and Digg are all powerful tools and an extension of the content diversity you’ll need to push unfavorable listings off the front page. Any social media campaign activity should be thought of as a chance to communicate with the consumer, not sell to them. Create content specifically for this purpose, invite their feedback and provide a space for conversation and the links and client goodwill you seek will follow. This same approach can also be used for forum activity. Rather than jumping in with any excuse to link back to your site, watch first, participate second. Take time to understand the forum profile and then introduce relevant content and responses. Ask probing questions and give answers that inform and watch the links flood in. Content creation managed this way often grows organically, being picked up by blogs or industry commentators to create yet more links and more goodwill.
As with a full-on SEO campaign, attempt to turn around a poor online reputation need to be sustained if they are to succeed. If you don’t have time to dedicate yourself, consider hiring an SEO company or external consultant on a short term basis to carry out your brief