Monday, March 30, 2009

Video Marketing Increasing - Tips on B2B Videos

Great article today in eMarketer on Video Marketing. The article talks about how online video marketing and advertising is increasing, except in B2B. They concluded that the biggest factor in B2B video marketing is the lack of audio in the office.

I’m sure you’ve seen all types of videos online. To me, the most annoying ones are the ones that pop-up automatically and can’t be turned off. Last week I was on several conference calls and during the conversion we were going to various Websites. One conversation in particular was regarding vendor selection. A particular vendor had a pop-up person.

At first glance having the person pop-up with audio looked interesting. The more interesting ones are when the person appears to be walking in from behind your Web page. It seemed clever to have someone tell you about the Website and company so you don’t have to read. However, during the second visit they become absolutely annoying, especially when you can’t turn them off.

That’s what happened to us during the conference call. In fact, what ended up happening is that we had to leave the site completely and in doing so the vendor dropped off our list. Of course, that’s the worse case scenario and I’ve seen reports where these pop-up people actually increase ROI – but wait, now that I think about it, the reports are always from the video producer – mmmm. We’ll have to do more research on this and get back to you.

Back to the video for B2B marketers. The pop-up audio people or “talking head” videos are not the only method used in when utilizing video. However, the article to us pointed out the obvious. You need subtitles on B2B videos. We’re producing videos for our clients and while the best version of the video is with the voice over, a viewer will be able to get the main points of the video without the sound.

In the article, they state that videos with subtitles were watched 91% to completion, compared with 66% to completion for those without subtitles. While we didn’t have the research to back us up we know how annoying unexpected sound can be in the office. It happens in our office too many times and takes everyone else off task. Plus, we know that many businesses do not have audio available to workers at the office. Its great to have the research data back-up our conclusions. Of course, many graphic artist do not prefer to have text obstruct their work, but just like a Website you must blend form and function with results driven marketing wining every time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Viral Marketing - Do the unexpected

We've been doing some video marketing for a few of our clients, and we're looking into a viral marketing campagin. Recently, I found a BLOG that was talking about how in viral marketing, one tip is doing something unexpected. They used that concept in this video as an example.

I'm still laughing at this one.

I found that John West has a series of ads that are all unexpected and have a similar theme "enduring the worst to bring you the best". A series of ads with a smiliar theme is another tip in viral marketing.

This one is the funniest John West video I've found. Its worth sharing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Increasing Website ROI

The last couple of posts have been regarding ROI and how to measure it. Once you know how to measure ROI how do you increase it? The simple answering is testing. Testing means different things to different people. Ask a programmer and their definition of testing involves clicking on links and testing the functional aspects of a site. Others, mostly non-marketing professionals, will assume testing is having the client view the Website or page and approve it. However, testing to a marketing professional involves much more than the functional aspect of the site.

Testing involves usability test, A/B split and multivariate testing. For best results you should be using a combination of all three. One of the most common misconceptions about testing is that is expensive. Our answer, is how expensive is it to NOT to test? If you want to put some numbers with this answer find out what your conversation ratio is and determine how much profits will increase by increasing your conversion rate.

We’re going to look at usability testing. First, let’s explain what it is. Usability testing means that you observer how a test subject uses your site. This can be as scientific and high tech as some of the labs we’ve used with two-way mirrors, several observers, multiple cameras and software recording every mouse move and keystroke. Or the test can be extremely low tech by simply observing the testing.

If you’ve been in marketing for sometime, I’m sure you’ve been involved with focus groups. This is somewhat similar. In focus groups you gather in a sample of your target audience and they use and discuss the product. In usability testing you gather a sample of your target audience and ask them to complete several timed tasks on your Website.

Each task it timed and recorded. Since the site owner should not be present at the test it is best to record the session. Designers and programmers also benefit greatly from viewing the testing as well. Many times sites are developed and designed based on our own preferences. You many notice that designers get stuck in “template” mode. The designs are appealing but they all begin to all look very similar. Participating in usability test is one way to stretch the designer’s creativity and sharpen their skills.

Each usability test we’ve done have always uncovered at least one “gold nugget” that made the testing worth doing. Usually there are several areas on a Web project that can be improved as a result of usability testing. The reason is simply. If your target audience can easily use your site the likely hood of them taking action increases.

One of the misconceptions about usability testing is that it uncovers problems with navigation or ease of site use. However, much more than those areas should be tested. One of the first questions we ask the subject is “what is this site about” or “what service/product does this company offer”. Then note how long it takes the subject to answer the question. These questions have nothing to do with design or navigation but rather content. If the subject is unable to quickly say what the site is about how can the site be successful?

A common mistake in usability testing is that the tester fails to test the test. Never conduct a test without first testing the test yourself. The test developer and tester should BOTH take the test.

I’ve often been asked from new clients how do they know if their current site has been given a usability test. Since I know this important phase of development is skipped by most developers (many are totally unaware of the process) I know can safely say their site was not tested. My response is that if the developer never mentioned it then it safe to say that it was not tested. There is cost involved in testing and no one is going to do extra work and not get paid for it.

How important is usability testing? Well the answer goes back to the earlier topic about how expensive is testing. If you know that a 1% increase in your conversion ratio will yield 300% in gross profits – then you can easily how important testing can be

Friday, March 13, 2009

ROI for Lead Generation Websites

On the last post we discussed return on investment (ROI) in general, for marketing projects. We’ve been asked how to measure ROI for lead generation (lead gen) Websites. The thinking here is the ecommerce Websites can easily be measured because someone is purchasing something and the cost and profit are clear. With lead gen sites it can’t be done because someone is not purchasing something online.

Lead gen sites and projects can be measured but you need extra information. First, you need to know the number of leads that Website (or all Internet activities) produces. Many people jus look at the leads from “Contact Us” forms but that’s not looking at the entire picture.

So, what else can you look at regarding leads from the Internet? Any other activity on the Internet can produce a lead. If you have PPC campaigns going on you can trace leads to landing pages which should have a form on it. In addition, you can have a service that offers a variety of phone numbers that all go into your main phone line but are traced back to the PPC campaign ad (we offer such a program). Leads from article marketing, videos, Web conferences, BLOGs, etc can all produce leads. How to trace it back is a topic for another post or White paper.

If you want to measure just one project such as your PPC campaign then you just count the leads from that activity. If you want to know overall how your entire Internet marketing strategy is working you need to track all of your activity.

Now that you are tracing all you leads, the next thing you need to know is how many on average, are qualified leads? Of course this number is going to go up and down each month. With each campaign you should test and monitor it for targeted leads. After a few months you should have an average number for qualified leads.

Now that you know how many qualified leads your project is producing, you need to know your average close ratio. As a sales manager or marketing director you should know the sales ratio for each sales rep and overall for the company or division. In some cases Internet leads are only distributed to a select group of sales reps so you just want to know that group’s close ratio and not the entire company’s sales ratio.

Now that you have these numbers you can determine your ROI.

Here’s an example. Let’s say all your Internet marketing projects cost $110,000.00. Your average sales price is $50,000.00. Your Internet activities produce on average, 200 leads per month. Of those 200 leads let’s be very conservative and say only 20% of them are really qualified leads (Someone ready, willing and able to purchase is going to be our standard or definition of qualified lead. You definition may be different.) That means the site is producing on average per month 40 qualified prospects.

Now, let’s say these qualified prospects are funneled to the sales reps and their close ratio is 20%. That means that 8 of the 40 prospects will convert into a sale each month. That means the Internet is producing $400,000.00 in sales per month ($50,000.00 avg. sales price X 8 avg. sales per month). Now take the $400,000.00 per month and multiple by 12 to get your yearly revenue which will be $4,800,000.00 in revenue.

However $4,800,000.00 is only revenue and you want ROI. As a business owner I want to know my gross net profit. So let’s subtract out your expenses and the expenses of the Internet project and you’ll have your ROI. Also, keep in mind that ROI is not just for one year so you need to look at the cost compared to the return over a given time frame.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Increasing your Internet ROI

Last Thursday I was asked to be on a panel discussion at the BMA luncheon meeting talking about how to increase ROI from your Website. It was a great presentation and I had a lot of fun doing it. Members from the association said that it was one of the best events that they had in some time. I’m still getting emails and calls from the luncheon asking for additional information, so I thought we would address some topics on our BLOG.

First, let’s talk about what ROI actually means. It seems like lately it’s a term that a lot of people are tossing around lately without knowing the definition. Many people just use the term to mean a generally that their projects or Website is successful. But measuring success is critical.

This is an area that separates a lot of marketing professionals, especially those involved with Internet marketing. We discuss this issue with our clients and they’re well aware of ROI and what it means. Also, keep in mind if you’re talking to a financial person the term and calculation is a bit different compared to marketers.

ROI is Return on Investment. It is the return over time that you will receive on your initial investment.

We tell our clients that they should expect a 3:1 ROI ratio with our projects. What does that mean? It means that for every dollar they spend with us that they receive three dollars in return in profit. Most receive a return much higher than that. However, that means AFTER they get their initial investment back. You also have to keep in mind that the investment should yield profit over time.

For what ever project you undertake you need to look at the return to see if it’s worth doing or if you would be better off investing the money is another way.

Some of the discussion talked about ROI on an ecommerce site VS a lead generation sites. You can and should measure ROI for both types of Web projects. Our next post will discuss how to measure ROI for a lead generation Website.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Twitter Mania for Business

I’ve just started Twittering a few weeks ago and I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of it. So far my experience has been positive. However, I’m constantly researching and testing how this tool could be used for business. Here’s what I know so far.

Can be a powerful networking tool if used correctly.
Businesses need to setup training and policies for employees to Twitter during work hours.
Once a strategy and process is place business should embrace the program.

What to Tweet about:
• Targeted questions or real business problems are very useful. I’ve stated “what I’m working on” and when it was problem solving activity, I found that others will offer suggestions and join the Tweets.
• I don’t care to hear what you had for lunch or that you’re hungry for ice-cream. To me, it just jams up the Tweets. Plus, if all you have to do is tell me what you’re eating and mention your products, I’m most likely going to stop following you.
• Tweets on issues that can be fully explained on a BLOG are great. Link it back to a BLOG or article.
• Ask people questions and engage them in conversion.
• Ask people for help with business problems. Offer solutions to others.
• Become a resource for people. Don’t bloviate (isn’t that a great word – guess who I learned that word from).
• Share information about your company but don’t over do it.

When to Tweet:

Set aside a couple of times a day to Tweet. But if you find that you’re spending too much time Tweeting and not enough time producing – stop it!

That’s all for now on Twitter for business. I’ll be taking notes and dong a bit more research before I put together an article on Twitter for business. Right now it’s always fun to investigate a new Internet tool. I just have to make sure I don’t get lost in Twitter land.

Oh, yes, one more thing. Check out this great page with 140+ Twitter Tools Twittermania

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Invited to Speak at St. Louis BMA Luncheon

I've just been invited to speak at the BMA luncheon meeting this Thursday. It's a panel discussion on ROI (return on investment). Ellen Sherberg, Publisher of the St. Louis Business Journal is moderator of the discussion. The group will discuss ways to improve your marketing ROI.

I constantly tell my clients we are NOT a Web company. We're a marketing company here to get you results. If you want a Web company there are plenty in town and I give them a list.

What's the difference? Well if you're focusing on design you're going to get great design. If you're focusing on results you're going to get results. Why not focus on both you say? Well, you do want great design but if from the bottom up you don't start with understanding a return on investment how do you expect to get a return.

First thing to consider is the organization that is in charge of your projects. Look at their background and accomplishments. Case in point I have a BSBA-Marketing and MBA. Plus, our clients see a minimum of 3:1. For every dollar they spend with us they get three in return.

Our best example is how we took a Website from $8,0000.00 in gross profits a month to $900,000.00 in gross profits a month. Yes, that blows out of the water the 3:1 but return but not everyone is going to achieve the same results.

After Thursday we'll be posting more on ROI and how to increase it.

To read more about the event go to our news story on the BMA and increasing ROI panel discussion.

If you're in town, I hope to see you there!

PPC - Keyword Strategy for High Organic Results

In managing PPC programs over the years we have always been careful not to include words or phrases where the product or company already ranks high. I have to say I really don’t understand this strategy at all.

If you are ranked on the first page on “widgets” for example, why would you include the word “widgets” in your PPC? Especially considering research and testing clearly shows that organic search results are clicked first and have a higher ROI. Why would you reduce your budget by including keywords that your site already ranks high?

I keep seeing this over and over again and we refuse to have our clients budgets reduced in this manner. Unless someone can explain their strategy I’m going to continue thinking it’s a waste of money.

Along the same line, why do companies purchase their name in a PPC campaign? Unless their site isn’t ranked well with their company name I see this as a waste as well. Just recently I searched in Google for Salesforce. We use Salesforce for our company and many of our clients, but I wanted to see what competitors are purchasing the name “Salesforce” in their PPC campaign.

The first link was a from a PPC campaign – from Salesforce. Guess what the first organic result is when you search for Salesforce. Yep, it’s Salesforce. And Salesforce had the second organic listing as well. I don’t get it. They must have money to burn. It looks like Oracle and other CRM companies are also purchasing “Salesforce” so I guess I get their logic. But when your company has the first two organic results I guess you want to really make sure that your site is found.

I did click on the PPC result for Salesforce because I figured it had to be that they purchased their own name in a PPC campaign because they have a killer landing page. They do have a landing page but it’s my favorite – one option only landing page. (See post for 2/28) They did have their logo hot linked in to their home page which is nicer than most “one option” landing page, but still only one option – complete the form to view a demo or try Salesforce for free for 30 days. What if I didn’t know anything about Salesforce? Why would I want to waste my time watching a demo or trying it for free until I know that the program is a good solution for my situation? It may not be what I want.

I suspect that Salesforce is testing their landing pages and PPC campaigns but I am extremely curious to find out the ROI on just purchasing their name. I would love to see the comparison between conversion rates on the PPC listing compared to the organic listing. It would be interesting.

Monday, March 02, 2009

PPC Campaign Tools

Currently we’re researching tools to manage multiple PPC campaigns. If you’re working with multiple clients who have multiple campaigns and several people in your organization who are managing the campaigns you need efficient tools to help.

As a manager, I need the ability to review my employee’s PPC campaigns and it’s extremely time consuming to go into each group campaign for an overall review. Google offers some nice tools, but we’re not always just using Google. Next, add in international campaigns with country specific search engines and you can see how complicated the problem really can be.

Right now we’re researching various tools. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment. We’ve gotten some great advice from our Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking friends, but we’re opening our research for additional comments, suggestions and advice. Yes, we’ll even consider a shameless plug for your PPC tools. (But don’t over do it.) ;)