Results are in for Cyber Monday 2009

What’s the Big Deal?

With the post-Thanksgiving excitement of Black Friday, do you ever wonder how Cyber Monday sales compare to its popular counterpart? First of all, some consumers may not even be familiar with the term, as it was recently coined in 2005. For online shopping enthusiasts, Cyber Monday refers to the first Monday after Black Friday. During this time, retailers scramble to entice shoppers with a hungry appetite for deals. Although critics have slammed this virtual holiday as an overrated marketing gimmick, retailers can’t complain about the increase in sales that they’ve been experiencing.

Shopping Insights

– At first glance, the fervor created by Cyber Monday may seem too good to be true. Upon closer inspection, hardcore shoppers may be totally disappointed. Really, how good of a deal is free shipping or 10% off your overall purchase? Some criticize retailers for luring buyers in, but offering no real deals.
– Have you ever wondered what your productive workers are really doing? Research shows that about 57% of online purchases were made from the workplace!
– With so much internet traffic, online criminals are preying on easy targets. Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these increased cyber crimes.

A Takeoff That’s Soon to Level Off?

According to analysis of 2009’s Cyber Monday, research shows that sales were up almost 14% from last year. Consumer demand seems to be thriving and retailers are just as willing to take advantage of the situation. Although these numbers are awesome in the short-term, opponents question the effectiveness of this so-called holiday in the long-run. Some retailers may even be diluting the anticipation of their Cyber Monday sales by offering deals during November and even extending promotions until December. It’s only a matter of time before we can accurately assess the staying power of Cyber Monday. For now, feel free to browse but think twice before you make that purchase!

Comparing Facebook Groups and Pages

The Facebook Fundamentals

Establishing your presence on Facebook is an important task whether you are promoting yourself or your business. Some may find that the process is not that straightforward. The first obstacle you will encounter is deciding whether to create a Group or a Page. For some businesses, choosing both is a possibility. So, before you put your time and effort in maintaining your new social media profiles, take some time to consider the pros and cons of each:

Facebook Groups

An easy way to think about Facebook Groups is that they are like any other group or club. A group administrator is in charge of providing members with information, news about events, and more. Other members can also be appointed to help facilitate information. Establishing a group is a great way to gain quick attention for a cause or event.

Pros
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Promote with ads
+ Create events and send reminders
+ Privacy controls (public, private, or closed)
Cons
– Not given any weight by search engines
– Unattractive URL
– No visitor information
– Limited to 5,000 members

Facebook Pages

In some ways, Facebook Pages are more informal than groups. There is no public administrator and users are called “fans”. With Pages, there are more options to track visitor information. Facebook pages are similar to normal Facebook profiles. But instead of a person, these pages are designated to represent a brand or celebrity. Some businesses opt for a Facebook Page to maintain a long-term relationship with fans.

Pros
+ Vanity URL
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Indexed by search engines
+ Ability to extend your SEO efforts
+ Can have over 5,000 fans
Cons
– Cannot send reminders for events
– No privacy controls, everything is public

Making Your Decision

Hopefully, some of these points have helped clear up any confusion. Experts generally agree that Facebook Groups are better for organizing users around a cause or upcoming event. Facebook Pages are useful for a company or celebrity to strengthen their online brand presence. Some argue that users feel more active as a Group member than an observing fan of a Facebook Page. Search marketers usually prefer using Pages because of their advantages in user statistics, while others may use a combination of both.

Small Businesses Benefit from Facebook

How to Take Advantage

Large corporations may have a bigger brand presence on social media sites but that doesn’t mean that small businesses cannot also benefit. Setting up a Facebook page for your business is a cost effective way to keep up with the latest customer trends. Facebook is an easy to use forum which allows customers easy access to upcoming news or events. Additionally, creating a strong online presence can help you rank better in search engine results and bring more relevant traffic to your site. An example of a small business that uses Facebook to its maximum potential is the Beverly Hills based Sprinkles Cupcakes. Founder Charles Nelson relies on building buzz through the Sprinkles Facebook page instead of traditional paid marketing efforts.

Stay Connected with Your Fans

Sprinkles uses Facebook to create a unique and engaging
relationship with their fans. They have even come up with a fun code system which gives the first customers with the secret phrase of the day the opportunity to get free treats! This is a great way to build word of mouth advertising, as well as bring customers to the store. A part of social networking sites is being just that, “social” – and being active can help small businesses succeed in this area. The key is to engage customers by providing help and insight or offering incentives and other promotions. By having a Facebook page, you can monitor the good and bad that is being said about your business. This is better than knowing nothing at all about how your company is perceived. It is even an effective tool that will give you the opportunity to fix those problems.

Using Other User-Friendly Sites

Local references and review sites are popular amongst customers who are looking to try new things. Yelp and Yahoo! Local Listings are perfect examples of these popular sites. Although there are many social networking sites out there, it is important to practice restraint and don’t overdo your efforts. Like any other investment, it takes patience to see a return on your hard work. Whether it is Facebook or any of these other sites, the key to strong staying power is steady maintenance of your page. It is foolish to put in numerous hours one day and then completely stop your efforts. Instead,  view it as a long-term project and set aside a couple minutes every other day to monitor your growth.

Search Marketing During a Recession


Think Positive

What should you do when it comes to your search marketing efforts during a recession? Many marketers believe that search marketing is somewhat recession-proof, but it pays to do your own research. It may be too soon to tell, so it doesn’t hurt to do some analysis. First, talk to your peers and ask them how business is going. You can learn a lot from their personal experiences and networking is always a big plus. Keeping up with the latest news means that you won’t get left behind during the next economic upturn. Things may look slow in the meanwhile, but don’t be easily discourage. Innovations like Google Wave or advances in mobile search marketing thrive during times like these!

Recession Dos

Invest: Whether it is time or money, experts suggest that a recession is a time to invest more into search marketing efforts. Why? Competitors may significantly cut back on their expenditures, so that leaves room for you to take advantage of an open market.
Think “Free”: Take advantage of free help that can come from link building and social networking. These efforts take more time than money and will improve the results that you’ll see in the long-run. You can also take time to give your website that much needed makeover.
Organize: Regardless of the economic conditions, a well-organized business always runs more efficiently. Keeping track of what you cut-back on or increase will help you easily make changes and see results.

Recession Don’ts

Don’t carry on as normal but don’t be afraid. Does that make sense? It is foolish to think that the recession doesn’t have some impact on a part of your business. Disregarding external factors is not beneficial and you won’t learn anything new. The worst thing that a business can do is to cut costs in blind fear. If you cut back or eliminate new content and a paid advertising campaign, why would you be surprised if your business suffers? It’s time think smarter and you can take these tips with you as you move ahead.

PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect

Just this morning, we sat in on a webinar titled, “PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect”.  It was hosted by Marin Software and Ken Jurina, the co-founder and CEO of of Epiar, Inc.  Here are some of the gems we plucked from our experience – some we know, but some of it was a kick in the pants to spend more time thinking negative.

Negative keywords instruct search engines to not display your ads, decreasing irrelevant queries, impressions and most importantly clicks and spend.

An interesting reverse logic idea that was mentioned: you may want to consider using negative keywords for legitimate terms.  Maybe these terms are spending a lot of money and bringing lots of traffic but they are expensive and converting poorly.  Other great reasons to use negative keywords are:

  • Expensive conversions
  • Expensive clicks
  • Limited budget
  • Bad brand association
  • Not relevant for the user
  • Quality improvements
  • Lowering costs

An important, sometimes hard to find tidbit for each of the search engines is:  What are their negative keyword limits?

  • With Google – 10,000 negative keywords in Ad Campaign or 5,000 at Ad Group Level
  • With Yahoo – 250 negative keywords at Ad Campaign Level or Ad Group Level
    • Singular term covers plural and misspellings
  • With Microsoft adCenter - 1024 character including spaces and commas
    • Campaign, ad group or keyword level

A major lesson seemed to be that ultimately, a combination of exact phrase broad and maximized negative keywords is the best way to target paid search.  Keep in mind that negative keywords have no impact on exact match terms.

So – I’m sold on the idea of switching to more broad and phrase matching and adding negative keywords to all of my accounts.  After adding broad and phrase match and negative keywords, what can I expect?

  • Your ads will now appear on the relevant long tail phrases
  • Your ads will get better exposure to better prospects, which means increased leads and increased revenue!
  • You can now advertise on long tail phrases where your competitors dare not tread, meaning more cheap clicks for you without the dangers of broad match.
  • Once your ads get impressions deep into the long tail phrases, your advertising reach may double, triple, or more!

OK – great, now how do I build these lists?  What tools are there for me to use?

Manually, using intuition and industry knowledge.

Scan through past referring phrases that did not convert, had bounce rates or were trash

So – In the end, negative keywords is a simple concept, important part of every campaign and can according, to today’s webinar, save up 20-40% on spend.  Wow, that’s a “no-brainer”.

How Quality Score Can Help Or Hurt Your Adwords Campaign

Quality score is a somewhat mysterious variable for Google Adwords campaigns that have a real effect on the cost of your advertising. The price of your pay per click ads is determined by a combination of your bid and your quality score, which means that a good quality score can get you a higher ranking for less than the other guy is paying. So how do I get a good quality score? Well, that’s where Google is a little vague, but there are some strategies.

You can use the keyword report to discover which keywords have a low Quality Score. Once you find those weak keywords, you can use the keyword analysis tool to find out what factors are affecting your score.
keyword_analysis_tool

The analysis really only gives you three categories and a thumbs up or down. It may not be very useful if you are trying to bump your score up from an 8 to a 10, but it will let you know when you are way off base. The three areas that affect your quality score are: keyword relevance, landing page or landing page load time. Basically you want to make sure your keyword is relevant to the page your ad is linking to, this means including your keyword on the page, and maybe even creating specific landing pages for certain keywords. Also if the link is broken or takes a long time to load, your quality score will go down.

Quality score may not be your number one concern when designing an adwords campaign, but it’s a good indicator of which ads aren’t working at all, and anything that makes your campaign more cost effective is worth the time.

One Keyword Per Page

It’s expensive to create and optimize pages for search, so why not try to jam as many keywords onto one page as possible? Unfortunately this scattershot approach won’t increase your ranking, instead only diluting your results. The best number of organic search keywords to target per page is one.

It is important to have one primary focus on the page, one concept that the page is about.
Now of course you can have more than one word on the page, or target two words that mean basically the same thing. For example optimizing the same page for “certified public accountant” and “CPA” makes perfect sense. However, you should resist the temptation to use the same page as the search landing page for “CPA”, “certified public accountant”, “tax accountant”, and “tax services”. Although all of these words are related, you won’t end up with a number one Google result this way.

The bad news is, this means lots of landing pages. Sure it’s more work, but doing something right usually is. The more concepts you try to cram on a page, the more you confuse the search engine, so keep it simple. Just start with pages for your best keywords, and add a few more every week. Over time you will see much better results for the effort.

Not everyone agrees with this strategy, and it is possible to get a number one rank for multiple keywords when they are less competitive, but in a competitive environment, it is important to specialize and be clear with your seo strategy. Keeping your target keywords as close to one as possible will keep you from spreading yourself too thin and losing out on valuable traffic.

Web Advertising for Mobile Browsers

The number of people accessing the web from their phones is skyrocketing. However, devices vary from full browsers like iPhone or Blackberry Storm to mobile browsers whose access to the web is more limited. As a result, websites and advertisements must be prepared to cater their search engine optimization campaigns to all types of browsers or risk being inaccessible to their customers.

For businesses who need to reach customers on the run, such as tow truck companies, locksmiths, or even restaurants, gearing pay per click advertising to mobile users is critical. It is important to think about what a mobile user will want to accomplish with a small device with limited speed and storage. Since mobile users are not likely to go beyond the first page of a website, getting the vital information out front and legible on a small device is key.

It is always a good idea to check to see how an ad renders in a mobile browser. Some mobile browsers don’t render flash or java well. When images, flash files, or script files are large, it may take some time for the website to render on a mobile device. One way to test mobile ads without paying for a full mobile site is to create a test site using a blogging platform like WordPress which has a mobile compatible plug-in. Google also has a mobile preview tool that will let you view mobile results from a laptop.

Adwords and Google Analytics also allow you to track your mobile conversions so organic SEO performance can be assessed and adjustments made. It can also be useful to have completely separate mobile versus desktop campaigns, sending traffic to different pages on your site for the same keywords based upon their device.

As phone browsers’ capability increase, it becomes more viable to reach customers anywhere and everywhere and convert a passing whim into a sale, but it will always remain crucial to distinguish properly between the needs of the mobile customer versus the desktop customer.

How to work with a search marketing company or consultant

I thought this topic would be relavant to our customers as well as others out there that work with a search marketing company or consultant. I recently spoke to one of our paid search and search engine optimization (SEO) customers today and discovered some interesting data. The orginal intent of the call was to followup on a new 800 number to better track the calls coming through. The customer went on to discuss what keywords are most effective for their paid search and SEO campaigins. This customer surveys all potential customers to find out what search engine they found them on, what keyword was specifically used to find them, and what state they’re calling from. With these 3 pieces of data we were able to make adjustments in real time to their paid search campaign. The SEO campaign does not have this flexibility but when it’s time to renew thier SEO campaign we can add some of these words to their campagin. So make sure to keep your search marketing company up to date on what’s working for you. The more information you can provide, the better the company or consultant will be able to fine tune the search marketing campaign. This could be done through a weekly phone call or a weekly email. If you’re not already tracking this information, start today. It’s your money so you might as well get the best value out of your marketing spend.

Here’s a list of some helpful things you can do yourself to get the most out of your search marketing campaign:

  • Track site traffic through free Google Analytics
  • Use free Google Webmaster Tools (You might need some help from a webmaster to get this initially setup)
  • Track your data on a spread sheet (what search engines you were found on, what words, was it organic or a paid search ad?, etc.)
  • Stay in touch with your search marketing company on a weekly basis
  • Stay current with search marketing trends by reading blogs like ours and one or all of these: Search Engine Land, Search Engine Guide, or SEOMoz (I currently subscribe to these and 6 others through Google Reader which is a nice way to feed all of these sites into one reader.
  • Request your paid search log-ins for Google, Yahoo, and MSN and log-in yourself to see what’s working and what words are being advertised. Some search marketing companies will not give this information out and provide generic reports. At emarketed we give access to your accounts if you request this information. You can login and run all types of reports to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Well that’s it for now. I will post more tips to this post in the future so stay tuned. Please also feel free to comment if you have some ideas that can help.

Facebook Advertising Case Study

We just launched a Facebook advertising campaign today targeting a demographic that likes to drink alcohol and/or use drugs. It will be interesting to see how this campaign does. The campaign is for a drug rehabilitation center located in Orange County, California. The ad management page is below along with a copy of the ad and the demographics. It’s currently targeting close to two hundred and fifty thousand Facebook users with an ad spend set for $100 per day.  The cost per click (CPC) is set to 0.55 cents a click. Stay tuned for updates on this campaign.

facebook advertising ad
Facebook advertising ad
facebook advertising ad manager
Facebook advertising ad manager