Is this how you’re treating your website

October 23rd, 2011 No Comments

No one would treat their store like this but how about their online store?

Google Analytics can help spot errors and drops in conversions, which cost you money, site registrations, or more.

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Tel Aviv

October 18th, 2011 No Comments

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Using Web Analytics to Measure Your PR Results

October 17th, 2011 No Comments

One of the things I’ve always advocated when consulting clients or internally is to measure business outcomes, not just activities.

Digital marketing has actually made tracking actual business results much easier and much more accountable than print or telephone channels.

In digital marketing, this requires web analytics. There are several types of analytics, but the most popular is click-stream, which tracks actual clicks and visits.

Many of us have Google Analytics or other click-stream tracking set up … but many of us probably have never checked it.

This is a huge mistake. By measuring our web data, we can:

  • determine the effects of our outcomes. In PR, this may be determining which media outlets or wire services drive more traffic or more conversions (you did define your conversion metrics, right?)
  • Determine effective channels
  • Determine which messaging drives more conversions
  • Determining if there are missed messages or missed areas that are gaining traction despite not being targeted – discover untargeted and hidden markets
  • Determine which channels, both paid and earned media, drive more conversions
  • Evaluate decision making funnels, across multi-channel campaigns

 

 

Traditional public relations measured outputs, not outcomes. Traditional PR reports measure data such as coverage volume, placements, sentiment, etc. But what business value does that provide?

Of course, before implementing a tool, we need to define our conversions: our overall business goal and the steps along the sales and decision funnel that are necessary in order to achieve this goal. As our campaign is running, we should be analyzing our results to see where we need to optimize. This may mean pitching new reporters, using a different wire service, or perhaps refining our message.

By incorporating an effective analytics programs into our marketing campaigns, we don’t have to guess the business results: rather we can see them as they happen. Without them, we’re operating blind.

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What I learned from Steve Jobs

October 14th, 2011 No Comments

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Brian asked Steve Jobs about his accomplishment. Jobs’s response: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful”

This is also how I see things.

Growing up expecting excellence – at one of the top high schools in America, going to a Tier I university, with many peers who went to Ivy League and Top 10 schools – excellence was the norm, not a singular achievement.

My standards are high but realistic. Normal to me and the community that I grew up in is excellent to others.

The standards are based on a minimum of best practices, knowledge, and commitment to intellectual rigor and knowing how to learn how to learn.

Sometimes, I admit, it can come out as complaining or disappointment.

Sometimes this is why I am disappointed in Israel or not always enthusiastic about a good idea. It’s good, but I’m used to great.

I wrote my first website at 15, the same time that I also wrote my first press release and pitched my first journalist. I started an organization that has influenced popular culture and the media over the past 15 years. I’ve been called partially responsible for founding a modern civil rights movement. So what? So did lots of others, and we haven’t yet achieved our goal.

I started my career as a college intern in the United States Senate, beginning in the halls of power. So what? So did lots of others. At one time in my life, I’ve been in the same room as every US president since Bill Clinton. So what? There were lots of other people also in that room, some of whom much closer to the president. Winning a Nobel Prize? That’s great. One of my classmate’s father won a Nobel while we were in high school. Truly an amazing achievement, but also one that I expect to happen every once in a while. Of course, I was broadly exposed to it. I didn’t win it myself. That Israel has 10 Nobels? Is that great, or should we have more? I expect more.

These are high expectations.

They are also achievable. Excellence is my norm. I can’t perform at low level, but perform best with other excellent peers.

OK, to be fair, I didn’t learn this message from Steve Jobs.

It’s how I’ve always lived my life.

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Are You Eating Your Own Social Media Dogfood?

October 10th, 2011 No Comments

Eating your own dogfood is when a company uses the products it makes.

Good Dog Food

Frequently, marketing teams don’t eat their own dogfood when it comes to social media.

And the result is often bad strategy.

Everyone now seems to be clamoring for “Social media.” “Open up a Facebook page,” they say … even if they don’t know why. Go Viral … even though they are lacking positioning.

Social media strategy frequently requires a Groundswell strategy, including:

  • Breaking down silos: operating across all touchpoints, including marketing, sales, customer service, R&D, etc.
  • Letting go of control: user-generated content
  • Realistic goals: it’s not viral but expectations aren’t realistic
  • Frequent, quality content. It’s not a montly newsletter or static website.
  • Allowing employees (Forrester’s HEROes)
  • Data & Analytics Focus, on a short-term and long-term basis
  • Technological Literacy: These tools are digital and need computer literacy
  • Corporate rules that allow for information gathering and social media access

However, this is not how traditional marketing, with its origin in brand management and reliance on one-way, static print, operated.

Therefore, traditional marketing, with its silos and technophobia, is often unable and unprepared to make working Web 2.0 marketing strategy that drives realistic business results (including, simply staying in business).

Marketing Profs also writes about why eating your own dog food is important.

    1. Creating a great online community or social-marketing program has just as much to do with the philosophy behind the effort as it does with the tools that facilitate such offerings.
    2. Just as the field of email marketing adopted best-practices like opt-outs and truthful subject lines, the discipline of community building and social marketing has best-practices that should be upheld. Anger your customers by posting fake comments in your own blog posts or talking trash about your competitors, and you’ll pay through negative PR, or worse—customer attrition.
    3. In such a transparent environment, there is little room for error. (Just ask global PR firm Edelman how its “Wal-Marting Across America” campaign for Wal-Mart turned out a couple of years back.) You also need to make a lot of decisions on the fly, so having an experienced “pilot” can make for a much smoother ride.

One of the reasons that companies use their own products first is to test them in real situations. With social media, too often your executives and marketing strategists are building strategy without understanding what the social media channels can and can not due and their cultural “language”.

We still have people talking about MySpace.

On the other hand, we also have some who throw in vocabulary which doesn’t actually make sense to anyone who is actively engaged. And others who are quick to berate their team for not being on the newest fad (when they don’t know how it’s going to work), begging companies to get a company page on Google+ (which don’t exist yet) when Google’s senior management isn’t even eating their own dog food, ignoring social strategy like the POST Methodology.

But you must eat your own dog food.

If not, your clients, customer, and community know.

According to David Armano, EVP of Global Integration at Edelman Digital:

you’d better show an intimate grasp of the space. Because, we’re all out there—Googling, Digging, looking for signs that you know what you’re talking about. Take a page out of Marcy’s book if you are in one of these roles. Engage people in relevant, meaningful ways and add a few notches of credibility to your belt.

If you’re not eating your own dogfood, it’s clear. You’re not credible. You don’t know what is going on with your customers, and your community, and you are probably also making bad strategy, causing significant damage to your business.

If you’re looking for an agency or hiring, ask the following questions (from Marketing Profs):

If you’re a brand looking for a company to build your online community or create your social-marketing program, ask that company the following questions:

  • Does it philosophically embrace the concepts that it’s asking you to adopt (e.g., transparency, authenticity, and a “give before you get” approach to value)?
  • Is it practicing what it preaches by blogging, engaging customers through its own customer-support community, commenting on other industry blogs, and engaging the public in places like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter?
  • Does it have “community” or “social” experience working with brands like yours?

If you don’t like dogfood, it’s time to get a taste for the Kibbles.

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Geoffrey Moore – The Chasm Has Evolved

October 4th, 2011 1 Comment

High tech marketing advice for 2011 from the guru of technology marketing, Geoffrey Moore.

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How to perform a SWOT Analysis

October 1st, 2011 No Comments

How and why you should perform a SWOT analysis as part of your organization’s strategic plan

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The Groundswell Business Strategies

September 26th, 2011 No Comments

Forrester Research Vice President Josh Bernoff says objectives, not technologies, should drive your Groundswell strategy.

Don’t say “Let’s be on Facebook or Google+.” That won’t provide business value. Instead, POST IT.

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Is Your Store Making Sales? How about Your Website?

September 24th, 2011 No Comments

If you owned a store and no one came to the store, you would worry. You wouldn’t say, “Well, I did my job. I opened up my store. There’s even merchandise here and a semi-functioning cash register. Someone who really wants to buy can.”

If that was the case, you would wonder what was wrong. Perhaps you would invest in a promotional campaign: maybe take out an advertisement, contact local media to try to get a story, give a sales discount to customers who check in via FourSquare, offer a Groupon or Living Social coupon, or pass out fliers in the parking lot.

If you build it, will they come?But, for many people, this is the case with the web. They build a website and expect customers to come knocking at their door. The web is not Field of Dreams. It’s just not true that if you build it, they will come.

Websites need to be seen by your target audience, who are taking your pre-defined actions (you did define them, right? If not, a strategic marketing consultant can help you map your business aims to your implementation). Maybe you need SEO, or advertising, or promoting your website to the media, or on your sales collateral? There are a lot of options, which work together in a holistic fashion.

OK, so now you’ve got traffic? But is it achieving your business goals?

Let’s go back to the store. The small store now is packed with visitors. Barely any space left, especially during some peak periods. There’s no room to move with all the visitors.

But they aren’t buying.

You wouldn’t say “But we’re getting a lot of visitors, so everything is OK.”

Sadly, the more sophisticated firms tend to say that about their website. They are doing the first steps of measuring site traffic and maybe even traffic courses, but that’s not enough to see if they are converting.

Your website serves to serve a business goal. That could be as simple as making sure potential customers know your hours and location to it could be downloading trial software, registering for your online class, making a purchase or donation.

Is it doing its goal? If not, why not?

Could it be poor design? Lack of credibility? Not clear what your positioning is? Why use your product? The conversion not clearly defined? No clear calls to action? There are a lot of problems but first you need to identify the process before you can identify the path to solve it.

Your website is there to serve business goals.

Make sure they are serving their goals. If not, test and optimizing.

Some keys to site optimization:

  1. Set business goals and translate them into technical goals
  2. Track these goals in your analytics solution. No need for an expensive system – Google Analytics will do for most needs, for click-stream data.
  3. Identify the results of your marketing channels: which channels are converting more and why
  4. Guess what’s converting and why and create new tests
  5. Test, Test, and Test.
  6. Adjust.
  7. Test some more
  8. Improve Results and Continue

In order to make revenue for ecommerce (and, ecommerce is anything in which your business requires conversions to take place online), the following is your funnel:

online_marketing_funnel

 

This requires both business and technical knowledge. It’s ideal if your business strategist understands technology and web analytics, as well, in order to ensure that the goals are properly defined, and are integrated.  But, even if you need a separate strategist and implementer, it’s important that its integrated.

Business Goal: To convert visitors. Conversions can be:

  • Sale
  • Increasing one sale to two sales
  • Attending for a seminar or class (for an educational institution, for example)
  • Making a donation

Objective:

  • Lowering online costs instead of via a call center or mail
  • Generating leads
  • Educating the public

Possible Tactics to Use and Integrate, after defining a clear marketing strategy and market positioning:

  • SEO
    • Link Building: Public Relations or Wire Service Distribution
    • Referral Traffic: Media Articles
    • Technical On-page Optimization
    • MARCOM: Content
    • Positioning: Keyword Research
  • Conversion Optimization
    • A/B or Multivariate Testing
    • Testing Different Calls to Action
    • Testing Form Design and Fields (are you asking too many questions or questions that your analytics tools will answer?)

Avi Hein is one of only about 36 individuals in Israel who are Google Analytics Certified, signifying certification and knowledge in website conversion and measurements.

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Are Your Business Goals Realistic?

September 16th, 2011 No Comments

I’ve touched before on the importance of strategic planning before: decide what you want to do before you decide what services or tactics you want to implement. One of my colleagues, The Cline Group’s Josh Cline (Disclaimer: I’m a past director at TCG and currently sit on the firm’s advisory board), also wrote about this on his company’s blog. Josh wrote:

So, what is the big problem? Companies today are forgetting the traditional holistic approach to marketing strategy. They are forgetting or ignoring basic business and marketing fundamentals like messaging and positioning, branding and overall perceptions. Companies are missing the basic marketing principles, such as mapping the marketing plan to the company’s short-term and long- term goals and its business objectives.

So, you have a goal, now what?

Make sure your goal makes sense and is realistic and achievable!

What makes a goal realistic, though? Some aspects of a realistic goal include:

  • Mapping to your short and long-term objectives: Yes, we know you want to make millions, have immense profits, and reach mass adoption but perhaps you need brand awareness which means that the freemium model will hurt your short-term revenue in order to create long-term adoption and long-term profits.
  • Do your tactics make sense for the goal: If you want business leads, than you need something that has a registration form. A video or media article probably isn’t the best route. It won’t offer leads. But if you’re looking to increase awareness or understanding of your product, those would be great channels to consider. If your goal is to get XXX leads, than is it being implemented in the channel that is going to provide XXX?
  • Understanding the benefits and risks of your communications channel: Having a social media account doesn’t mean you’re going to go “viral“. In fact – there’s no such thing as viral. You’re chances of an instant social boom are low. And if you do get the boom, it’s likely to “bust” pretty quick. Unfortunately, most companies still don’t get digital media channels, whether it’s social media, the web, search, mobile, or email, and so either don’t set any or don’t set the right goals for this channel. This is also true for lots of other channels, as well.
  • Understanding the decision cycle and sales funnel: Are you assuming instant success? Success and traction take time. Your first month might give you fewer leads or awareness (however you measure that) but after six months, the exposure to multiple touchpoints may lead to conversion?
  • Unique to your specific position: While it’s OK to get inspiration from others and the competitive landscape is very important, your firm is unique – it has unique staff and resources and sits in a very individualized competitive landscape. No other company, even in the same country and industry, is exactly like yours.
  • Adhere to industry norms: While no company is unique, unless you are so different, there are many things in which we have baselines for. If open-rates on emails in the construction industry are 28.7%, and you’re in the same industry, you should be aiming as an initial baseline for a similar open rate. Of course, you may end up doing better or worse, but that’s an important baseline. But, if you’re a construction firm and getting a 14.5% open rate, more common in the travel industry, I would be worried. However, if my goal is for a 50% open rate, clearly your goal is simply unrealistic and should be changed.

Realistic goals can certainly include projections for rapid growth, if that’s reasonable for your market. But they shouldn’t assume rapid growth because some other company did it. You’re not them, and if you’re assuming rapid growth based on someone else (“I’m going to be the next big Facebook”) than you already lost network effects and first player advantage.

Are you setting realistic and achievable goals?

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