Archive | November 2006

When Search Marketing is The Wrong Thing To Do

As Search Marketing becomes mainstream and part of any media planning, the real question is; when is search marketing not a viable solution. Search marketing is still in its infancy in terms of who really understands this medium. Coupled with that there is the confusion of organic search and paid search. This article is not going to get into the specifics of each one, other than a very high level discussion of when search marketing is not the best alternative.
To start with, let’s ask the question – what is the dependency of search? Users requesting! That’s the dependency. The problem with that dependency is; “do you users know what to search for”? Here is a simply way of looking at search marketing – if your product or service is in demand and your objective is to grow your sales volume of an in demand product/service then search marketing should probably be part of your mix. The alternative is that if you have a product/service whereby there is no demand and you need to create it, then search marketing is probably not the best alternative – why – because nobody knows it exists, therefore, how can they conduct a search on it?

For starters ask yourself – does your business advertise in a directory? If so, you are probably a great candidate for search marketing, as directories are identical to search marketing – just in paper form. If you do a lot of radio advertising, flyer or direct mail advertising you may also be a good candidate for search marketing. These mediums have a sense of urgency around them and most businesses use them to drive sales or promotional events. Those business owners believe the demand already exists and therefore, they want to increase their share of it.

With that in mind, search marketing can be a great support mechanism to ensure growth in sales. For example, start your search marketing campaign on the day that your radio spots run – targeting the same message in your radio ads as on your search ads and using keywords pulled directly from your radio ad. What you are most likely to see is an increase in your search marketing campaign right after a radio ad run – people hear the ad, but need another venue to make the contact. This is the old technique used when companies would run a radio ad on a Thursday promoting their newspaper ad on a Friday for a sale on the weekend. Now, substitute newspaper for search marketing and you will be surprised at the ROI model with that combination.

Search marketing is not the end all be all form of marketing – it is another important piece of a marketing mix. The biggest mistake business owners make is that they are “hoping” search marketing is the answer to their sales lows (for all products/services) as opposed to asking the question – does search marketing really make sense for this particular product/service? Will users even know what it is to look for? If I examine my retail customers – what do they ask when they come in to my store and can I apply this to search marketing?

Google is processing all of your Checkout sales for free for the rest of 2006

This promotion is a clear attempt by Google to go after their main rival in e-commerce transactions, Paypal. At this point, Google checkout is based in US currency, but at some point they will start processing Canadian dollars as well.

So, as a Canadian, writing for Canadian businesses, why this particular post.

Simple, its a great opportunity for businesses to play with e-commerce. Many of my clients are Canadian businesses who actually sell products to the US or Internationally and we all know that the International currency is US funds. If there was ever a time to convert some of your existing traffic into sales, now is a good time to start.

The Google Checkout program is actually quite slick and is a fully integrated e-commerce solution in its basic form. If you happen to try out the service and make a few (or a lot) of sales before Christmas, let me know – I would be interested in your results.

Google’s Free Transaction Promotion.

User First – Revenue Later

On the Adwords Blog, Google has just released more information on the Update to their Landing Page initiative. Although this probably won’t affect the majority of my readers, this will no doubt affect some of them that have not put the attention on their landing pages as they should have in the past.

Here is a highlight from the article, in terms of what this means:

Why are you focusing on landing page quality?
The goal of our ongoing landing page quality initiative is to improve the experience of our users by providing high quality results not only in the ad text, but also once the user has clicked through to the site. We strongly believe that an excellent experience on the advertiser’s site is an essential element in earning the continued trust of our users. Clearly, the better the user experience, the more likely it is that users (who are also your potential customers) will continue to seek out — and click on — AdWords ads over the long term. This is to the advantage of everyone: users, advertisers, and Google alike.

Effectively what Google is trying to do is increase the value of its advertising network by ensuring that when a user clicks on a paid ad, they are taken to a page that is relevant. I think long-term, Google will prove this is the best strategy to have to ensure the value of their advertising network.

From personal experience, nothing ticks me off more than linking on an Adwords ad only to get to a page that contains links to the topic that I was trying to get to anyway – in the search term this is called Search Arbitrage – See post on Search Arbitrage – Good or Evil at Search Engine Watch.

The lesson here for all small to medium sized businesses, is a) make sure the content on your websites is relevant, b) if you engage in search marketing – target your advertising to the users as well as the landing pages, and c) don’t get caught up in the volume of clicks, rather track the quality of your users and their impact on conversions and revenues.

Canada’s First MSN Messenger Bot – A Story in Screenshots

Are you a high volume user of MSN Messenger? Do you live on your BlackBerry? Then you might be interested to know that Canada’s First MSN Bot is now live and you can use it to get your Yellow Pages.ca listings, maps, driving directions and more. This post is going to focus on some screen shots of the bot and how you can go about accessing it through your MSN Messenger. Once again, Yellow Pages Group in Canada is proving to be a worldwide leader in partnering with new technologies to access their data.

To start with, load your MSN Messenger and click on the Yellow Pages Tab on the left hand side,

Then select the tab to the right called IM Search, which brings you to the following screen:

Now we is a detailed description of the service, but if you want to start to get information from the bot, just click on the Add Me button,

At this point – it asks you whether you wish to start a conversation with imlocal@msn.com – since this is an automated bot, you can safely start a conversation. At this point, it takes you to the messenger window where you can start your conversation. When you first launch the service it basically sits there until you give it a command. You can type a variety of things, I will choose Dentist.

You will notice that because this is the first time I have used the bot – it also asked me for my postal code. I selected a random postal code and you can see that the bot is now going to get me information on dentists closest to that postal code.

Looking at the screen above, the bot has given me the 8 closest dentists to the postal code that I selected. From here I have the option to type "m" or " more" to see more results or simply type in a number to select a particular dentist and get more information.

I opted to select more information on dentist #8. The bot gives me a couple of more options – it provides me with a link to view more information about the dentist which loads this dentists YellowPages.ca advertising. I also have the choice to type in "dd" for driving directions or if I want to view a map to this location I can accept the invitation to do so.

When I select map, notice that my messenger window expands to provide me with a detailed map on the left hand side of the screen – powered by Windows Live – this is a very cool feature.

Finally I can select "dd" and it will provide driving directions from my address to the this location.

So, if you are a big user of MSN Messenger and Yellow Pages, now you can have the best of both worlds, through your computer or handheld device.

A Comparison of Advertising Between Google and Microsoft

This article came across my desk and since I have written on the past about the power of word of mouth advertising, I wanted to share this with all my readers.

Our friends at Zdnet have done a great job with there recent post – Google trumps Microsoft – here are some of the highlights for those of you that don’t have the time to read the full article.

99% of Google’s $122 billion market cap is derived from the sale of advertising – Adwords.

Question: If the Google CEO embraces advertising and the Google business model is wholly dependent on selling advertising, why then is Google so averse to spending money on advertising itself?

In Q3 Google generated $2.7 billion and spent $36 million on advertising (a mere 1.4% of its revenues)

Microsoft on the other hand spends a lot on R&D and Advertising – remember Windows 95 launch – expect a mega-million dollar ad spend with the launch of Vista as well.

Google’s utility and ease of use have made it one of the world’s best known brands almost entirely through word of mouth from satisfied users.

How does Google get away with it?

Google enjoys an unprecedented public good will and it manages that valuable asset keenly. Google is highly secretive and does not provide meaningful responses to press inquiries. Nevertheless, Google’s infrequent, but targeted, announcements routinely receive massive, and generally overwhelmingly positive, cost-free press coverage worldwide.

Google leverages its influence on the media to save hundreds of millions of dollars in product launch marketing expenses and to gain the interest of the world’s biggest free focus group, Google users.

Here are a couple of other related posts from Zdnet related to this subject:

Google vs. Yahoo: Google doesn’t support ad industry, Yahoo does – another good article discussing the differences between Google and Yahoo when it comes to spending money promoting their own sites.