What I wanted to know is whether tweeting can actually drive Google search volume in the same way that traditional media campaigns can increase search volumes. My experiment is very limited in time and scope, so not scientific at all, however, I wanted to share my early results.
What I did was set-up a Google Adwords campaign specifically for the exact match keyword “darby sieben”. On a side note, I encourage everybody I meet to do the following; a) register your own name as a domain name, and b) set-up a google alert on your name. I believe that personal reputation management will be a big trend in the next few years.
Second, I added no new blog posts for the first 20-days of May, my online communication was limited to Twitter only. I have actually run my Google Adwords campaign on my name for some time and see a correlation between blog posts and the increase in ad impressions. So for my experiment, I did not want to introduce the variable of a blog post into the equation.
Third, I tracked my posts on Twitter and the ad impression count through Google Adwords. Here is the chart for the first 20-days of May.
It would appear that there is a correlation between Tweeting and increasing search volumes. That said, this experiment is too limited to make any concrete conclusions, but directionally would seem to make sense if I view Twitter in the same way as traditional media. What I believe this does demonstrate is that viewing search volumes alone is not sufficient in and of itself for measuring ROI, rather a more holistic view of what causes search volumes may be more of an indicator of what actually drives usage.
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
In discussions with small business owners, when asked, what method of tracking do you use to measure your new sales, the most common response is “I ask my consumers where they heard about me”. Usually the second part of the conversation goes this way – “word of mouth is my best form of advertising” and “I tried many forms of advertising, none have worked for me”.
For this particular post I want to focus on two areas:
1) How word-of-mouth (WOM) needs support
2) How to leverage in-store questions and online traffic
I am a very strong believer in WOM and the incredible growth it can generate. That being said, WOM often takes more credit away from supporting advertising vehicles, giving the impression to a SME that their advertising is not working.
A typical conversation with a new customer may go like this:
Bus Owner: Thanks for coming in. How did you happen to hear about our store?
Customer: A friend recommended you
Bus Owner: That’s great, if you liked the service today, please tell your friends
The above dialogue is good, however, what if the conversation was slightly changed:
Bus Owner: Thanks for coming in. Can I ask you two questions about how you come to our store today?
Bus Owner: How did you hear about out store?
Customer: From a friend
Bus Owner: Thanks, how did you get our address?
Customer: From your website? From my friend? From the Yellow Pages?
Bus Owner: That’s great, if you liked the service today, please tell your friends about us and have them visit my website, Yellow Pages ad, etc. for my store details.
Of course the exact questions can be changed and tailored, but the main point is that in most cases WOM is supported by another medium that connects the buyer and the seller. People will refer people they like to people they trust, however, those same people will usually not know all the details about your business. WOM can accelerate your sales when you have a support mechanism behind it and you incorporate it into your WOM strategy.
In-Store Questions and Online Traffic
Continuing with the example above and examining customers who indicated they used the Internet to find your address, we need to examine our web analytics. The first question I usually get is, should I ask customers how they found me on the web? I advise against asking any questions about how people found you on the web. The reason is that there is a lot of confusion among web users – so the typical response is Google – even if they used MSN, Yahoo or something else. This gives the illusion that all web traffic is generated from Google – which is not the case. As a business owner, if you have a good analytics package – all you need to know from your customers is whether they saw your website. Once you have a in-store count you can cross-reference this with your web analytics to find out what is and is not working online.
As a side-note I want to share a quick story. I helped a auto dealer in Calgary with their tracking and customer acquisition strategies. Calgary has two major newspaper dailies – the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. We started by creating a baseline, by spending one month asking customers how they came to stop by the dealership. Of the two newspaper dailies what we found was that 25% came from paper 1 and 15% came from paper 2. Here is where it gets interesting – this particular dealership had not advertised in paper 2 for a couple of years, yet 15% of new customers said they found the dealership there. Here is my take on this non-scientific survey – when asked, some customers will simply answer what comes to their mind first as opposed to what is actual. Not because they are dishonest, just that they most likely don’t care and will answer to shut you up. The same thing is happening on the web – I bet I could take 10 people who use Yahoo Search as their primary engine and half of them, when asked quickly, would probably say Google. My point is that only relying on asking people how they found you on the web can be misleading, whereas this potential misleading information does not exist with web analytics.
Here are some stats from my mom’s business, The Bra Lady. What we have learned over the past 4-years of tracking results is that WOM is by far her #1 way of generating new business with the Internet as her primary support mechanism to WOM. What we have also found is that many people are referred to her business, but use search engines and directories to find her web address. Probably 80% of her new clients indicate that Internet played a role. NOTE: this may be high and in her particular situation makes a lot of sense – because she is a home based business. However, when I worked with Auto Dealers – this number was about the same and dentists were up there as well.
On a monthly basis we compare the number of referrals who indicate the Internet was a source of them finding her to her actual analytics – we use Google Analytics to understand better exactly how these people ending up finding her.
Here is the aggregate view:
In the above you will notice that the top three referrers of traffic are Google, YellowPages.ca, and Direct. Examining just the top three referrers, typically I would examine further both the traffic from YellowPages.ca and Google.
What I notice is the majority of keywords from Google are good quality. You will notice that keyword #20 – the one that references ebay is not considered a good keyword, however, this is the nature of search engines. It is important when examining search engine traffic to look at the keywords to get a accurate picture. The conclusion is that Google is generating good traffic.
What I notice is that the top referring URL from yellowpages.ca is the merchant page that was built for her business by YPG – this is good – it supports the decision to have the website URL located on this page. If I continue to examine further I see that users were searching using keywords we anticipated and specifically in Calgary. What I like about directory traffic is that people don’t surf directories. They go there for a purpose – usually to find something in particular – so the traffic generated here is high-quality.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
You will notice that we are also showing other top referrers in Facebook and CalgaryPlus.ca. I did a posting back in July of this year – Facebook – Can Local Business Florish in Social Networking? and its potential impact on local business – watch for this. For those of you interested – here is an article I posted back in 2005 on the strength of media companies and front-page placement – Power of Front Page Placement.
In conclusion – I would challenge any SME to dig a little deeper in 2008 in terms of their tracking and understanding of customers. Also I would encourage you to not presuppose answers as to where online traffic might come from. In Canada – we are continually bombarded with US news and information about the Internet, which sometimes gives us a US perspective on traffic as opposed to a CDN perspective on traffic. Build your measurement criteria, find the tools to track and examine them monthly – this will generate great results for your business in 2008.
Is your website enabled to be seen on a cellular phone? Are you using Google Adwords to promote your business? If you answered yes to both questions your business may already be displayed as part of Google’s Mobile Ad strategy. I came across a posting by Michael Blumenthal called Google Intros Search Ads on Google Mobile Search in which a letter was sent from Google indicating their short-term strategy for mobile ads and the criteria to be displayed. Here is a copy of that letter:
We are happy to announce a new feature that will allow you to easily reach additional qualified customers who are searching
Google from their mobile phones.
In the next few days, your search ads will be eligible to run on Google Mobile Search pages (like they currently do on Google.com).
We are offering this feature – and any resulting clicks – for free through November 18, so you can experiment with the rapidly growing mobile platform while still reaching qualified customers.
Each ad’s eligibility will be determined by its landing page and only ads with landing pages that can be adapted for viewing on mobile browsers will be shown. You can monitor each ad’s performance via a special performance tracking page within your account called “Performance Data: Search Ads on Google Mobile Search.”
Again, you will not be charged for clicks on these ads until November 19, at which time we will begin charging the usual CPC prices. And as always, you may opt-out of this feature at any time.
We hope you find this new feature helpful and profitable, and we urge you to learn more about it at our AdWords Help Center:
Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords.
The Google AdWords Team
If you fit the current criteria that you may already be taking advantage of this medium. Considering the growth of mobile and the mobile applications it is probably a good time to consider ensuring that your business can be viewed on a mobile phone. Not sure where to start – two suggestions; 1) find a design company that specializes in WAP, WML, and XHTML MP or 2) if you want to consider the process yourself, I suggest that you start by reading, Creating Web Content for Mobile Phone Browsers.
Here are some highlights from an article in January of this year titled – Putting 2.7 billion in context: Mobile phone users – which explores how large this industry has already become. The point to these stats, if you are a local business, is that your customers are either using or will be using mobile as a means to learn and connect with your business. Ensure that you are ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
* Worldwide there are about 800 million registered automobiles
* Today there are 1.3 billion fixed landline phones in the world
* Today there are about 1.5 billion TV sets in use in the world . (TV is often shared, especially in Asia where families are also large. So you might easily have 6 or even 10 watching the same TV show. The reach of TV is much beyond the 1.5 billion sets in use.)
* Today 1.4 Billion people carry at least one credit card.
* In most countries it is illegal for under 18 year olds to have credit cards
* There are about 850 million PCs
* In total over 750 million people access internet content via a mobile phone today
* About the total PC population or about 850 million people, access the web via a computer.
* During 2007 the first cross-over from PC to Mobile phones will happen, with more users accessing via phone than PC.
* The total shipped PDA population is about 85 million, most which are replacements.
* Thre are 85 Million iPod in use
* DVD recorders/ PVR shipments are under 100 million.
* Camcorders, are under 100 million total shipped (many as replacements).
* Gaming consoles have shipped near 200 million units, out of which 150 million are second generation (PS2/Xbox) or newer.
* The (stand-alone) digital camera has achieved shipments of near 300 million.
* There are 2.7 billion Mobile phones shipped (technically 2.7 billion in January, not December). They sold 950 million phones last year and the total worldwide mobile subscriber base grew from 2.1 billion to 2.7 billion.
* Phones are replaced every 18 months (and this is still shrinking)
* USA has reached 75% penetration for mobile phones
* The Western European average per capita penetration for mobile phones is already 110%
* Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Israel have penetration rates at about 140%
* China adds 6 million phones every month, India adds 7 million phones every month.
* Finland, Norway, Denmark and Portugal – each countries with 120% or more penetration rates – Mobilephones are less than 6 million units total.
* SMS Messaging Is Biggest Data App On Planet
* On the internet there are about 1.5 billion e-mail boxes, maintained by about 800 million people.
* 1.8 billion people are doing SMS texting.
* Last year over 42% of Americans were active in SMS already
* E-mail is opened in 24 hours and replied to in 48 hours.
* SMS is read within 15 minutes on average and responded within 60 minutes.
* 65% of e-mail is spam, less than 10% of SMS is spam.
* In South Korea five separate credit card services are available on the three mobile networks
* In South Korea almost 100% of credit card based point-of-purchase sites accept payment via mobile phone credit (and charge) cards
* Two years from launch almost 10% of South Korean phone users watch digital broadcast TV on their phones
* The Pop Idol formats have earned a windfall of over 700 million dollars out of text messaging votes
* In 2005 already half of all phones sold were cameraphones so cameraphones outsell digital cameras by more than 4 to 1 .
* There are 3.2 Billion to 3.8 Billion radio users.
* 73% of the population now uses the mobile phone as their portable clock.
* 2.7 Billion phones in active use. There is a subscription for 40% of the planet’s population.
* The mobile telecoms industry earned 725 Billion dollars last year.
* Global music industry earns 16% of its revenues from mobile phones (mostly ringing tones);
* Videogaming earns 14% of its global revenues from mobile.
* Mobile telecom growth in dollar terms, from 2005 to 2006, was 105 billion dollars.
Back on July 5, I posted Google Maps Advertising: How to do it and does it work and I wanted to share some early results.
Using thebralady.ca as the destination site and running both a regular adwords campaign as well as a local business ad campaign combined with conversion tracking when a user lands on the Maps page I have been surprised at the early results of this campaign.
So what have I discovered?
CTR (click thru rate): the CTR for the map advertising is outperforming that of the regular search ad by well over 50%.
Conversion Rate: This is the biggest surprise, the conversion rate on the clicks from the maps advertising is twice (that’s correct – 2 times) that of clicks coming from the search network.
Going into this campaign, I had no expectations, I did suspect however that maps may not be as successful. I am surprised by the results. What this suggests to me is that users are starting to learn the behavior of finding local businesses on maps and if the results continue, could potentially be a powerful tool in local advertising.
I will keep you posted on developments.
Today on the Google Blog – they have announced the release of Google Print which is intergated into your Adwords accounts.
From their blog:
“Even with the growth of online news sites, Americans still read newspapers. Over the course of a typical week, nearly 3 out of 4 adults (115 million) in the top 50 markets read a copy of a daily or Sunday newspaper.* That’s why thousands of businesses use print advertising every day to reach a local audience, and why we’ve announced that we’re extending Google AdWords to newspapers for most U.S. advertisers.”
The newspapers in the program include The New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WPO), Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times and San Jose Mercury News. The list of advertisers using the program includes NetFlix (NFLX), 1-800-FLOWERS (FLWS), Blue Nile (NILE), eBags, Mrs. Fields and LendingTree.
If you want to see more about this particular service – you can visit the Google Print Ads Site. If you happen to publish a daily newspaper and want to get in on the action, take at look at Adsense for Newspapers.
The next question is whether any of the Canadian newspaper publishers will push Google to open this program up in the Canadian market? Personally I think this is both a win for the publisher and the advertiser. Many small businesses in the US now have the opportunity to test newspaper advertising in a controlled and measurable fashion. Time will tell exactly how this impacts the newspaper industry in the US, but I sure the “net” will be positive.
Here is excert from the The Power of Newspapers page – Google’s Highlights of the value:
1) Newspapers give advertisers significant local reach. They are the voice of their community.
2) Newspapers help advertisers reach an attractive demographic
3) Newspapers are a key resource for shopping information that drives consumers to make purchases – online and offline
4) Newspapers are relevant throughout the purchase cycle
If you are a Google Maps user – you may have noticed that other icons are appearing on the maps other than the numbered bubbles. This is Google’s extension of their Adwords program where you can place your advertising directly on Google’s Maps. The following screenshots are from The Bra Lady, and yes, this is my Mom’s business.
How do you do this? Here is a high-level overview of the process.
Step #1 – you need to register yourself with Google’s Local Business Center. This process takes you through 6-steps of information with the final step being validation.
Step #2 – Go through the validation process – you can select a phone call, SMS or a post card.
Step #3 – Once validated – sign up for a Google Adwords account and build a local campaign. You will see the following message – “Since this campaign is locally targeted, we thought you might be interested in creating ads associated with your Google Maps business listing.”
Step #4 – Complete the specific local business ad aspects of the ad by selecting your image and the icon and your ad will appear on Google Maps.
Does Advertising on Google Maps Really Work?
This campaign for The Bra Lady has been running since the beginning of June. Early indications are, at least from the raw stats, that it is working. Let me explain – we are running two ads – one on Google Maps and the other on Google Search and its Search Network. In terms of click thru rate – the map ad is outperforming the regular ad by 1.42% – the map ad is producing a CTR of under 5%. As far as CTR goes – the map ad appears to be strong.
The average cost per click on the ad on the map is running slightly higher than the average cost per click for the regular Google Search and its Search Network ads. We are also using conversion tracking with the Map Page as the conversion meter. The converstion tracking is clearly showing that the Maps is outperforming Search.
The bottom line success factor is based on the number of new clients to the business. In this respect Google is contributing, along with her YellowPages.ca Ad to driving new sales. So in this case, the ads are working.