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Improving ROI: 5 Insights

April 29th, 2009
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Return on investment is top of mind for marketers these days as most marketing efforts come under the scrutiny of ROI justification.

Here are a few insights gleaned from an interview with Jim Lenskold, President of the Lenskold Group, about how to improve and optimize the measurement of marketing ROI:

1. The biggest challenge in improving marketing ROI is removing cultural barriers and instilling a sense of discipline in planning and assessing the financial contribution of marketing.

2. Marketing strategies that do a better job targeting higher value, higher converting segments have the greatest impact on ROI.

3. Measurements that use market testing and modeling are most conclusive and often under-utilized when measuring marketing effectiveness.

4. Choosing measurements that provide insight about how to improve future initiatives is the most important step in generating greater performance and profitability.

5. Using revenue instead of profits as the return is a basic financial error that marketers make. It must be corrected for accurate ROI calculations and credibility with executives.

Great Idea for Tracking Organic Search Results

April 23rd, 2009
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When speaking with Erick Barney, VP of Marketing, at Motorcycle Superstore, about how his team saves precious marketing dollars for the company I couldn’t help overhearing a really innovative way they track organic search rankings.

The team creates thousands of web pages for key search terms to improve the site’s SEO. To make sure SEO efforts are effective they produce a monthly “Keyword Visibility Report.” It’s basically a report of how well the company’s top 100 keywords are performing.

“We have a scoring system to assign any movement,” Barney says. “Anything that’s 30 or above we just put an N/A. We track anything that’s got a position from 1 to 30 and we’ll plot it each month and as it moves around we’ll assign a new rank.”

The report makes it easy for them to see if their SEO efforts are paying off. In addition, Barney has an incentive program tied to the report, giving the team a reason to push the bar even further. How cool is that?

Let Purpose Drive Social Media Efforts

April 17th, 2009
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Think of all the organizations that have a single, powerful purpose that drives them. Google aims to help people find what they’re looking for online. AARP aims to enhance the aging population’s quality of life. Kohler aims to transform everyday commodities into art.

Purpose should drive social media efforts as well. It worked for the Brooklyn Museum, which won the 2008 Forrester Groundswell Award for “Social Impact.” The museum created a Facebook application called ArtShare, hosted a crowd-curated exhibit online, and put its entire collection online.

ArtShare allowed any museum or artist to share artwork on the social networking site. It allowed any Facebook user to display selected artworks on their profiles. The application attracted 3,007 active monthly users. The crowd-curated exhibit got 400,000 votes from the public.

And it was all driven by the museum’s purpose “to serve its diverse public as a dynamic, innovative, and welcoming center for learning through the visual arts.”

This might be a small example, but it’s one worth noting because these efforts raised awareness about the museum while perpetuating the museum’s mission.

Boost Subscriptions by Testing the Access Model

April 7th, 2009
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It’s easy to say *testing the access model* is a key to making money from content on the web. Most of you know, that’s easier said than done.

After interviewing Rob Grimshaw, Managing Director of FT.com, about the website’s stellar performance of lifting paid subscriptions and registered users last year, that’s the tactic that stuck to my thoughts.

I won’t go into all the details of how FT.com achieved a 9% lift in online subscriptions. You can read about it in an upcoming case study. But I will say that a series of simple tests around access to content was a huge part of the strategy.

Here’s a takeaway that didn’t make it into the article:

-Test the presentation of pricing

I noticed from a former case study about FT.com that the site formerly presented the pricing of subscriptions as per month or per year. And the new model automatically presented pricing as per week. Example: Under “Standard Subscription” the price is $3.49 per week (52 weeks in total).

When asked if the *per week* presentation boosted subscriptions, Rob said that testing it made “a tangible difference in the kind of response that we get.”

Basic Tips for Improving Ecommerce Experiences

March 31st, 2009
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About a month ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Tamara Adlin about best practices in improving users’ ecommerce experiences.

She was speaking at Etail West 2009 in Phoenix and I wanted get her insight since she’s been in the field for the past 18 years. She created the Customer Experience services team at Amazon.com.

Here were her Top 3 Tips for Enhancing Users’ Ecommerce Experiences:

Tip #1. Display differentiators and value propositions on the homepage

Adlin says 99% of the sites she sees fail to apply this simple rule. It’s as easy as constructing a simple statement, or bullet points, or a general voice that relays: Welcome. Here’s who we are. Here’s what we sell. Here’s how we’re different. Here’s why you should care. Here’s what you should do.

Tip #2. Look at the site from end-to-end

Companies should get into the habit of clicking through their site every day. Go to the site, click on the sale or promotion creative. Where does it take you? How can you make that process make more sense for the user? How can you give them exactly what they want?

Tip #3. Customer service is the key

Don’t slack on customer service efficiencies. If a customer says the product doesn’t work, invest in a proactive customer service department that offers to expedite a new product immediately. The positive word-of-mouth garnered from that simple gesture is worth thousands of marketing dollars.

New Social Media Metric: Impressions?

March 25th, 2009
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Eric Anderson, VP of Emerging Media at White Horse,  made some interesting points about what social media metrics marketers should and should not be measuring based on what he sees going on in the marketplace.

Here are some pointers I gleaned from his webinar, “The Only 3 Social Media Metrics That Matter:”

1. Don’t over quantify

Tools that measure social media are taking a cue from the web analytics industry. The problem is a company’s true social media presence is far too nuanced to be captured by measurement software.

2. Don’t focus on direct response

Marketers shouldn’t be looking at direct response actions that can be driven from social media. It destroys the real potential of social media. The purpose should be engaging with people in places they like to be, not turning them off by trying to make them go somewhere else.

3. Don’t freak out about ROI

He doesn’t mean don’t measure ROI. Marketers need to acknowledge that the ROI is much more complicated than anything that can be measured, Anderson says.

It’s important to recognize that social media – when considered a component of marketing – is so relatively inexpensive that it does not require the ROI metric.

So, what does he think is the right kind of metric for social media? Impressions!

Pretend that each social media interaction is an impression.

If measured that way, it could tell you: Will this program extend my message to more people than if I didn’t engage? If I add a social media component to my campaign will it add more impressions than if I did not?

Give Email Subscribers the Opportunity To Belong

March 9th, 2009
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Dan Heimbrock, President and CEO, HyperDrive Interactive, had so many great examples to share about how word-of-mouth and email marketing can work together to create brand advocates that I couldn’t help sharing one.

Heimbrock is presenting a case study at MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Email Marketing Summit, March 15-17, and I had the opportunity to interview him last week about the topic.

He says often the only incentive that people need to become brand advocates is an opportunity to belong to something they care about.

Read more…

Twitter Impacts Web Traffic

March 4th, 2009
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Is there a way to measure the ROI of social media?

I ask this question all the time and rarely get a concrete answer because it’s just one of those tactics that’s difficult to measure.

Research from MarketingSherpa’s new Social Media Marketing & PR Benchmark Guide suggests that 43% of marketers rank the inability to measure ROI the most significant barrier to social media adoption.

I still don’t have the answer, but here’s one example of a way social media can impact an Internet marketing campaign:

Read more…

Social Media Trend 2009: Optimize

February 27th, 2009
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Client-side marketers are optimizing social-media efforts this year, says Karen O’Brien, Partner, Interactive Services, Crimson Consulting. I asked Karen to describe the social-media trends among her big-brand clients.

Optimization is a big trend, she says.

Companies are optimizing social media by:

o setting standards and goals about how many members, RSS subscribers, friends, etc. they’d like to have on social-media channels

o setting standards and goals about conversations they want to target on social networks

o consolidating multiple presences on social networks, such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace (often, big companies have several profiles on various social networks, each profile representing a different product line, brand, or service)

“From a customer standpoint, it’s confusing to see a bunch of different [presences] unless they’re clearly labeled,” Karen says.

About 70% of consumers consider social-media sites to be sources of information that will influence purchasing decisions, according to research data in MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing & PR Benchmark Guide.

Now is more important than ever to optimize. Make sure your brand is not only meeting its goals, but also consolidating its social-media presence and clearly labeling each one.

Is Social Media Destined to Meld into All Marketing?

February 11th, 2009
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Karen O’Brien, Partner, Interactive Services, Crimson Consulting, said something really interesting about trends she’s been seeing with her Fortune 1,000 clients. I share it with you.

We were chatting about social media (a specialty of Karen’s), and she said she is seeing every business unit within companies, as well as every group with a geographical, segment, or product focus within companies, start to consider social media and implement it into their marketing efforts Read more…