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Keyword: ‘data’

Protect Customer Data to Keep Their Trust

July 3rd, 2008

Trust is a large part of marketing. You know that. Customers will not spend their money with you if they do not trust you.

Few things can shatter trust faster than a major data breach, and data breaches are up this year. Once customers find out that their credit card numbers, addresses and birth dates have been compromised, say “sayonara,” because they’re leaving.

Read more…

SherpaBlog: New Study Reveals Absolutely Pitiful Landing Page Marketing Data – Top 10 Worst Stats

November 12th, 2007

First, the good news: 46% of the 4,203 MarketingSherpa readers who answered our survey this September say their landing page conversions are up. Another 14% say conversions are holding steady, despite increased Web clutter and competition. (See link below for more study information.)

Bravo, guys! You may consider yourselves the elite.

Now here’s a stark list of the Top 10 Worst Landing Page Stats I never wanted to see in print:

#1. 48% – Can’t do any A/B testing at all
#2. 44% – Can’t measure landing page test results properly
#3. 42% – Ask more questions than needed on registration forms
#4. 40% – Only test landing pages at launch and then leave forever
#5. 35% – Send foreign-language ad clicks to English landing pages
#6. 35% – Use a single landing page for many traffic sources
#7. 25% – Don’t reflect big offline promos on their homepage
#8. 24% – Give affiliates zero landing page content or aid
#9. 21% – Require landing pages to match regular site layout 100%
#10. 16% – Don’t share landing page test results with their agency

Plus, here’s a bonus tremendously bad stat:

18% of surveyed marketers told Sherpa, “No one [in the department] knows our landing page results.”

These marketers are neither nobodies nor newbies. They work for often well-known brands, including B-to-B, ecommerce and consumer advertising. They have significant online budgets. And, typically their brands have seven or more landing pages live for campaigns at any one time.

Nearly all of them –- yes, including that 18% whose entire departments had no idea how their landing pages were doing — invest significantly in pay-per-click search marketing.

I don’t know. I feel like we should call for a moment of silence or something. Let us bow our heads for all that wasted budget, wasted clicks, wasted potential conversions.

I was brought up in New England where you save bits of string too short to be tied. Because waste not, want not … you know?

Squandering hard-won traffic on a non-tested, non-measured, non-optimized landing page seems to me to be almost an immoral thing.

However, I know it’s not your fault. Perhaps you are badly understaffed. Or IT can’t provide the analytics or Web support you need. Or maybe your CEO doesn’t believe in testing.

Whatever the reason, good luck in resolving things. I would dearly love to see all of these bad stats turn into thin little shadows of their former selves.

Related link:
The second edition of MarketingSherpa’s Landing Page Handbook, which contains the stats mentioned above, plus instructions on how to optimize landing pages for up to 40% conversion improvement is now available at:

Do Web 2.0 Ads Really Work? New Study Data Results Are Disappointing

May 7th, 2007

I’m in New York City today to give a speech about Web 2.0 at Sherpa’s annual Selling Online Subscriptions Summit. (See below for link to transcripts & slides.) So, as you can imagine Web 2.0 has been weighing on my mind a lot.

12% of Web traffic now supposedly goes to so-called Web 2.0 sites, such as MySpace, and Flickr, not to mention 17 million blogs. I guess you could say Web 2.0 is the reality TV of the Internet.

Which, of course, makes it enormously appealing to would-be advertisers. Or so platform owners such as Google hope. In fact, a Google exec proclaimed last month that “tens of billions in offline ad dollars” were going to shunt over to the Web as soon as YouTube made ads within videos easy for media buyers.

At last, an Internet format that old-school Madison Avenue TV commercial types can embrace.

But will it work? The funny thing is, for the past 10 years selling ads on user-generated content (UCG) was really tough. Before Tim O’Reilly came up with the snappy Web 2.0 nomenclature, online bulletin boards, discussion groups, personal profile databases, personal Web page networks and, yes, millions of blogs all existed. But they didn’t get much press, and it was nearly impossible to sell ads on them.

OK, part of the difference now is more video. But, that said, video has been available as an online ad format (AKA rich media) for ages.

The other part of the difference is pure, unadulterated hype. When New York agency types heard that the founder of Wikipedia was going to be in town this week for a breakfast, the deluge of registrations was so vast that event organizers had to switch locations twice.

Web 2.0 is cool, cool, cool, and everyone wants to tell their clients they are doing something in it.

But, ‘Where’s the data?’ you ask. Well, luckily, BlueLithium Labs came out with a new study last week with some well-researched and useful data. I’m including a hotlink to that study below. Three highlights:

o Ads on non-2.0 sites (classic editorial content sites) convert 31% better than ads run against user-generated content.
o Ads on top-brand non-2.0 sites (defined as comScore’s top 250) convert 175% better than user-generated content sites.
o However, 2.0 media is so *cheap* (as of now anyway) that it’s still worth testing. The minute the price goes up, buyer beware.

This is actually no big shock (except perhaps to Madison Avenue.) Human beings are all about *THEMSELVES*. Web 2.0 is incredibly appealing content because it’s all about you. Ads are generally not all about you. They are about the advertiser.

Super-targeted niche ads — especially those served by contextual systems such as the ones ITtoolbox recommends in their white paper (see link below) — can work really well in this case.

But if you’re a Madison Avenue media buyer, you are not remotely
interested in super-niche media buys. Even if the 2.0 media is cheaper per thousand, the admin, tracking, and creative costs of running dozens or hundreds of niche ads will far outweigh the savings.

In other words, if you are tasked with reaching 10 million consumers by Wednesday, which will you do — run 1,000 different super-niche campaigns or run 10 general ads on broad-reach media?

Which is why you can be sure we’ll be seeing lots of less-then-targeted TV ads on YouTube someday soon. And when the ads invariably don’t pull as many clicks as expected, Madison Avenue will shake their heads and say, “I told you the Internet wasn’t as good as it seemed.”

OK, call me cynical. Here are the links to that data for you:

BlueLithium’s new white paper on UCG advertising data:
(Open access)

ITtoolbox thinkpiece on B-to-B UCG advertising:
(Registration required)

MarketingSherpa’s Viral Hall of Fame 2007 – many entries used Web
2.0 promotional methods:
(Open access)

Transcript & Powerpoints from Sherpa’s Selling Online Subscriptions
Summit 2007 (including my Web 2.0 speech):

The Agony of (and Lack of Data on) Choosing New Site Colors

February 26th, 2007

These past two weeks, I’ve been in endless debates and design meetings trying to choose new colors for our revamped and expanded Web site.

If you’ve ever had to choose site colors, you’ll understand completely. The three biggest problems:

(1) Everything’s really subjective. What a color “means” can be personal or cultural, but it’s not the same for everyone. Did you know baby girls wore blue and boys wore pink 150 years ago? Did you consider the green-means-money rule doesn’t work outside the US?

(2) Everything looks slightly different on differing computers. Non-dithering hues notwithstanding, most people’s screens look a little different. Laptops vs desktop monitors, old vs new screens, Macs vs PCs, varying background glare … the differences are not massive. But they are enough to make a pale brown appear to be pink.

(3) There’s virtually no data on marketing and color.

I know because I checked our site’s new Research Database, which has more than 1,800 records, for stats on color. Very little came up.

Turns out, you can find loads of articles on the Web about color choices. However, most are based on hearsay instead of lab tests, cultural associations and/or broad generalizations that don’t help much when you’ve got a palate of hundreds of hues to choose from.

My next step was to check out our Case Study Library with nearly 750 Case Studies. Did anyone test color choices?

Well, yes, they did. However, results were disheartening to a marketer stuck in a design meeting. Aside from the twin factors of legibility and good taste (based on target demographic), color tests were *never* a big factor in improving conversion rates.

The important factors were invariably things such as:
o Traffic source
o Offer
o Specific words in copy
o Ease of navigation (including lack of distractions)
o Relevancy of images
o Trustworthiness
o Reading comprehension (type size, type color, background color)

The last item on the list nearly always resolved to fairly big type (11-12 points+), in black “ink” on a white background. So that’s not color so much as eye-enablement.

So, you could say to yourself, well, since color doesn’t matter like this other, far more important stuff, I’m not going to pay attention to it. Let’s pick something quickly and end the debate.

Except for one thing: branding.

It’s how I found myself in this pickle in the first place. If you check the Wayback Machine — — for 2000, you’ll see Sherpa’s first site colors were bright red and yellow. These were chosen non-scientifically because they are my absolute personal favorites.

However, nobody else liked them, so I was shanghaied a few years ago into picking new colors so MarketingSherpa’s brand would feel more “corporate.”

What’s corporate? We ended up with red and gray. Which looked fine, if a bit boring to me. Unfortunately, red and gray also looked fine to a bunch of our competitors. If you’re a color-sensitive person, Jupiter, eMarketer and MarketingSherpa all looked pretty much the same.

We needed a new color scheme to stand out from the fray. Our first choice, nicknamed ‘Operation Desert Storm’ was finally vetoed because sometimes a palette of khakis and dark red don’t have thrilling associations.

Our second choice, nicknamed ‘Kindergarten’ was far more cheerful, but also vetoed because, well, you can guess why.

We actually went live last week with our third choice, ‘Brownie.’ And then too many people on staff complained the softer hues looked unpleasantly pink on older laptop monitors. (I got emails from folks with the words ‘Pepto-Bismol’ in the subject line.)

Anyway, all of this is to explain, if you’re in color choice meetings yourself, I feel your pain. Deeply.

And also, if you’ve been confused by the odd changes our site colors have been going through over the past few weeks (and days to come), this is why. Please bear with us. It will all be over soon, and then we can concentrate on the
important stuff.

Search Marketing & At-Work Coupon Campaigns: Redemption Rate Data & 4 Useful Hotlinks

November 27th, 2006

Welcome to the very height of coupon season. Roughly 20% more coupons are redeemed this time of year than any other. But, according to a fascinating data report from CMS (see hotlink below), your redemption rate can range from a low 0.22% to 20% or higher depending mainly on the big three factors:

a. distribution method — in-store instant redemption pulls the best
b. coupon value — higher usually does better
c. expiration date — longer is preferred for print coupons

Coupons are not just for CPGs (consumer packaged goods) anymore. Two new ideas are:

o Search marketing and coupons

According to MarketingSherpa’s Search Marketing Benchmark Guide, more than 60% of US online consumers use search engines to research purchases at all price points (not just high-ticket) … which 68% of them fully intend to make offline. If you want to affect offline purchases, you have to be very visible in search results.

Offline conversions are a massive headache for search marketers. If you can’t measure your conversion rate from search ad to in-store purchase, it’s awfully hard to fight for the budget you really need. Adding downloadable coupons to your high-traffic search landing pages can really help.

According to CMS data as of June 2006, Internet coupon redemption rates have been rising from 0.54% in 2005 to 1.31% in 2006. That’s overall; I bet your redemptions could be better for your best search campaigns. Plus, the lessons you learn about which search terms convert better than others will be invaluable.

o At-work coupon campaigns

Again, according to CMS data, typical supermarket shelf pad coupons received a 6.05% average 2006 redemption rates; however, shelf pads at military base markets got 20.23% 2006 redemption rates. That’s almost double.

The difference is the joy of targeting.

Inspired by this, I wondered if there’s a way to target civilians at work as easily as you can place an FSI in the Sunday paper?

Turns out, now it’s possible. In fact, Trident launched a new chewing gum earlier this year by inserting samples plus a coupon to several million office workers’ hands via inner-office mail distribution. The response rate was reportedly five to 10 times what a typical newspaper FSI would have been, for roughly the same CPM.

You can select inner-office mail distribution by ZIP code, distance from retail location, and/or for some SIC codes. That kind of targeting capability makes my head swim with ideas … now, if I could only target coupon campaigns by department!

Oh, well, a girl can dream.

If you’ve conducted coupon campaigns linked to search or via at-work distribution, please let me know how they went for you.

If you, like me, like to review the data on campaign tactics, here are four of the most useful links I could find for you:

A. CouponInfoNow – educational Web site for marketers sponsored by CMS (registration required)

B. RetailWire — Extremely active, independent, online discussion forum for retailers and CPGs on topics including couponing (registration required)

C. Past MarketingSherpa special report on eCouponing, including redemption rates and best practices tips:
(Open access until Dec. 7)

D. Workplace Media – vendor offering coupon distribution at work

New Data on Search Marketing Click Fraud: Three Action Items

November 6th, 2006

According to MarketingSherpa research data, click fraud is the new email filtering.

This August, we conducted the largest study of search marketers ever — with 3,944 search marketers submitting their data. This was our third annual study. Last year I was surprised to see how few marketers were highly concerned about click fraud.

At the time, the hype in the press was nearly deafening, and click-fraud panels at all the big interactive marketing shows were making solemn pronouncements to packed audiences. Why then weren’t more marketers really worrying?

In the past year, both Google and Yahoo! settled lawsuits admitting publicly that, yes, there was fraud. Highly publicized Outsell analyst estimates have set fraud at about 13% overall. Plus, anecdotally, most marketers interviewed by MarketingSherpa for our weekly Case Studies told us they had noticed, and sometimes been reimbursed for, fraud activity.

So, when we rolled out our big annual SEM survey via email, Web and phone this August, I was expecting the answers to come back giving click fraud concerns high marks. I was wrong. Which is, again, why I should never make predictions but stick to analyzing the data at hand.

We asked marketers if they were monitoring their fraud levels or not and if they were terribly concerned about it. Only 9% were worried that “click fraud will only get worse.” On the other hand, only 20% said click fraud was a non-issue or on its way to becoming a non-issue.

At 55%, the vast majority of responders said, “Like email spam, click fraud will continue to cost time and money.” In other words, it’s here, it’s not getting much worse, it’s not getting much better … get used to it. Which, as I noted above, is pretty much the way a lot of marketers feel about email filters. You know a portion of your email will be filtered, you do your best to get permission mail through, but you’re also resigned to the fact that this will perhaps always be a problem.

Fraud = fact of life for everyone.

However, some marketers should be especially concerned. If you’re in one of these three categories, chances are that fraud will directly affect your marketing tactics in the next year:

#1. Extremely Competitive Niche SMB Industries

Often these are B-to-B marketers who are duking it out in an industry that’s so commoditized that a slight change in costs can hugely affect your bottom line — example teleconferencing services.

Or it’s a small everyone-knows-each-other industry where clicks are expensive and search marketing is run in-house, perhaps even by the company president. I’ve heard several anecdotal stories of sites that had high fraud levels except for the week each year when everyone (including the competition) was at the big annual trade show. Presumably they were too busy networking and partying to click on each other’s ads.

#2. Sites Paying Affiliates & Partners by the Click

The problem here is you’re counting on your affiliates and partners to monitor their click fraud potential carefully. If you’re blithely paying for traffic without carefully tracking the value of each click (and potential of fraud), then your partners have no incentive to worry about fraud.

This seems to be increasingly a problem of large, mainly offline brands who arrived at the Internet party a bit late. They started sites and affiliate programs because they knew they should as part of their Integrated Initiative, but management still thinks of the Internet as that little department down the hall. It’s only a small slice of total company revenues, so why put heavy measurement into place for it? But, without measurement, you’re laying yourself open … a bit like walking down a city sidewalk with $10 bills pinned to the back of your jacket.

#3. Second-Tier Search Advertisers

We consider any search engine that is used by less than 10% of the search audience to be in the Second Tier (a.k.a. ‘Tier B’). This means everyone except for Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search and

These companies make a great deal less from selling search clicks than the big four … so as you can imagine, they have far smaller budgets to fight fraud. Fraud fighting requires heavy-duty software plus a lot of people time. A fraud department at a major search engine might be staffed by dozens of people. A Second-Tier engine may only have one person handling that work.

The resulting fraud (along with far lower traffic) is one of the reasons that the majority of search advertisers avoid Second Tier. However, let me stress that not all Second-Tier engines are bad. I’ve met marketers who specialize in testing these engines who are delighted at some of their results.

For B-to-B marketers, some of the vertical B-to-B engines can provide highly qualified leads. For ecommerce marketers, some of the shopping comparison search engines can provide clicks that convert better than any other engine.

Other, more general Second-Tier engines are known for very low click pricing. You may not get all that many clicks, but they are a big bargain. Except for fraud that is. …

Which brings me to my top three action items if you are one of the above marketers beset by fraud concerns:

A. Track conversions by source

Get the budget for analytics software if you don’t already have a good package … and beyond that get the budget for a staffer to run and analyze the resulting reports.

The latter may be tougher than the former to get budgeting for. Management seems to be loath to let marketing departments grow these days. Plus, currently there’s a dearth of trained analytics staffers available on the jobs marketplace. You can advertise all you want — but without big bucks, you may not find anyone.

Some marketers hire the best math whiz they can from the recent grad crop of a local university. Others these days are outsourcing to places like India and Eastern Europe. In both cases, you’ll have to do a lot of training, but you’ll be able to afford the wages. And, there are lots of training manuals out there on database marketing and Web analytics. It’s just getting the dedicated, brainy staffer to read and act on them that’s the problem.

B. Review your search marketing contracts

Admit it, how often do you read every single word of a contract carefully before signing? Especially if that contract is on a computer screen where you can just click the “accept” button and move on with setting up your search marketing account?

Several marketers have spoken to me — shocked and dismayed — when the contract they signed with a search engine turned out not to have a click-fraud provision. You might (and they did) assume that if you buy something and it’s fraudulent the seller has to return your money. Guess again.

At least one of the top four search engines (and many more of the Second Tier) does not have a click-fraud payback provision in its standard advertiser contract. If you don’t know which one I’m talking about and you’re a heavy search advertiser, then you haven’t read your contacts carefully enough.

C. Invest in fraud tracking software/services

Only a third of the marketers we studied currently invest in tracking click fraud in any way, including internal tracking reports or external services. If fraud is a concern to you obviously that should change. Several vendors have sprung up in the past two years to help track this, pick the one that you think is most likely to survive the inevitable fallout as they mature.

And good luck!

Useful links related to this article

MarketingSherpa’s SearcnMarketing Benchmark Guide 2007:

MarketingSherpa’s vendors:

New Data on's TV Ad Impact: Should Google Watch Its Back?

October 23rd, 2006

Over the past year, (formerly AskJeeves) has run two heavy TV campaigns. The first was September 2005 and the second March 2006 (and they’re in the midst of another fall campaign now.), which is the fourth most-used search engine in the US, was hoping to lure users from the big three: Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search. (The days when AOL Search was one of the big three are long gone.)

Could well-done TV creative broadcast at high-enough saturation move the needle? Is it possible to break Google’s stride toward desktop domination? It’s a question Microsoft especially would love to know the answer to.

So, MarketingSherpa’s research team partnered with Compete Inc. to find out. You can see the results on the chart I’ve taken from our Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007 below. Chart

The thin line above shows’s ad spend. It’s pretty
dramatic; yet, at first glance, the results don’t appear to be. After a fairly major media spend,’s online market share went from just over 3% to a bit over 4.5% and then subsided a bit.

The answer to the question then is, yes, you can grow online market share, but perhaps only a little if your competitors are heavily entrenched and you won’t keep your peak forever.

However a look behind the numbers tells another story. From
August 2005 to August 2006, Compete and MarketingSherpa research also discovered that was the *only* major search engine to grow market share besides Google. Yahoo! and MSN Search both lost measured market share.

In that light,’s achievement is a major triumph.

Lesson learned? Google is a juggernaut. Expect MSN and Yahoo! to do heavy TV. And, if you do invest in major TV, be darned sure you’ve got a must-return-to site or service beforehand. Because one or two TV-driven visits per consumer do not ensure long-term loyalty.

Note: As with all MarketingSherpa content, the above chart is copyright protected. Please do not copy it; however, you can link to it on this permanent link.

Useful links related to this article

MarketingSherpa’s SearcnMarketing Benchmark Guide 2007:

MarketingSherpa’s vendors:

Research Data on Ads People Love vs Ads That Work

October 16th, 2006

It’s fun being at Sherpa because we often get to see new study data before anyone else. This week, Anderson Analytics pre-released their new GenX2Z College Brand Study results to us exclusively. (See link below to three charts from the study.)

They track which brands, ads and Web sites college students name as their “favorite.” Results:

o Web: MySpace unexpectedly leapfrogged to number one, past
FaceBook and YouTube.

o Brands: Nike is the most beloved brand for the second year in a row. Coke plummeted from number two in 2005 to 15 in 2006. Express and Apple each moved up substantially from the bottom to the middle of the top 15 pack.

o TV ads: The most popular commercials — Geico, Miller,
CitiBank, Volkswagen — were all chosen by students because they were the funniest. Humorous creative equals a home run in the college crowd.

Or does it?

Thing is, humor doesn’t equal loyalty. 2005’s most beloved Web site was demoted to number four this year.

Humor also doesn’t equal purchasing. None of the top brands named by students produce humorous ads. (And, according to
MarketingSherpa’s own 2005 study of IT professionals’ reactions to online ads, they loved to click on humorous banners but it didn’t affect their ultimate buying decision.)

Last week I was considering this data when I ran across USA
Today’s most recent Ad Track report.

As you may know, the weekly report conducted in partnership with Harris Interactive, asks more than 3,500 adult consumers whether they like a TV ad or not … and if they think it’s effective.

Last week’s study was about Hyundai’s Sonata ads. Reportedly, consumers thought these ads were 55% less effective than other ads on TV.

Here’s the thing, consumers are buying 44% more Sonatas this year compared to last year. USA Today’s reporter was mystified by this.

I wasn’t.

Thing is, the ads and marketing creative consumers like — or what they think is really funny — is not always (or sometimes ever) going to be the ad that moves the purchase needle. Plus, of course, the ad your own marketing team likes the most won’t necessarily be the winner either.

No one’s gut — neither your creative team’s nor end consumers’ — can tell you which ads will really work. Only testing can.

Which, pretty much sums up my entire marketing philosophy.
Got any data of your own on what people like versus what really works? Post it to this blog’s comments below …

Three useful links related to this blog:

#1. Three handy charts with more details on Anderson Analytics’ study

#2. USA Today’s Hyundai data:

#3. Anderson Analytics

Sponsor: Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007
MarketingSherpa’s new Search Benchmark Guide features

– 3,944 marketers share real-life SEM data
– B-to-B search campaign costs & results
– 18 Eyetracking lab heatmaps

Download your copy instantly at:
Or call 877-895-1717

Study Data: Absolutely Pitiful Ecommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment Stats — 4 Ways to Improve Yours

September 12th, 2006

I was completely unprepared to hear the horrible truth. We’ve interviewed dozens of top ecommerce marketers over the years for Sherpa Case Studies, and when we asked them, ‘What’s your cart abandonment rate?” nearly all told us “around 20-30%.”

When we surveyed 1,100 ecommerce marketers this year, I naively expected the data to match up. It didn’t. It really, really didn’t match at all.

Turns out the average cart abandon rate was 59.8%. (Lesson learned — never rely on anecdotal data as your primary source for important numbers.) This measurement was the total number of shoppers who actually purchased divided by far larger number of those who put something into their cart.

Why do nearly 60% of online shoppers abandon their carts at some point in the process?

As I’ve mentioned in a past column,, our research indicates the problem may not be the design of your shopping cart — in the distant past consumers couldn’t figure out how to check out or got tangled on the way. Nowadays, most consumers are very well trained in the steps of using an online shopping cart.

Instead, the problem is nearly entirely marketing related in nature. This should be good news because that means marketing can work to fix things without having to overly involve the technical department or invest in heaps of new programming.

According to our consumer research as well as Case Studies, you should be running the following four tests to see if you can reduce abandons:

Test #1. Promote return/exchange policies

Try placing a hotlinked bit of copy that reads something like “Returns Are Easy” in your cart. The place I would most recommend would be immediately next to the button shoppers click to confirm the order. You’ll make that nail-biting moment of final decision a bit easier.

Test #2. Post reassuring security icon(s)

I have to be honest at this point, even though some security vendors may hate me for it. Every single time I’ve asked marketers if adding a security-related icon to their site helped conversions, they’ve said yes. However, I haven’t seen any significant evidence that one particular icon works better than another. In fact, I strongly suspect the thing to test is not so much which icon but rather how many of them (do multiple work better than singular or is it protesting a bit too loudly about safety?) and the placement of them.

The cleverest test I ever heard of was a lesser-known merchant who placed the Better Business Bureau icon on the button that shoppers clicked to begin the checkout process. On that particular site, it helped sales. I’m not saying this would work for anyone else, just that it’s worth a test!

Test #3. Include privacy and trust language next to fields asking for personal data

We’ve been hammering on this for years, and it drives me nuts to see how many merchants still completely ignore it. Yes, there’s data showing it works. Yes, it’s stunningly easy to do … probably about 10 seconds of programming. I have no idea why this is overlooked — perhaps it’s too easy?

All you do is include a briefly worded hotlink such as “We Value Your Privacy” directly next to the form field where shoppers are asked to enter their email addresses.

Test #4. Remind them of their abandoned cart

Some merchants have tested running exit pops for everyone who abandons a cart … usually featuring an extra added discount. However, pops are vastly blocked these days, so you may as well test one, but don’t expect much.

The next best thing is to send an email to those abandons — but don’t make it overtly salesly. Instead, make it appear to be a routine transactional email. That’s not a lie, because it is after all a transaction they were in the middle of conducting when they left your site. You can simply — and possibly in text-only — note that the items are waiting in their cart for them.

Then, a few days later, you can send a second note alerting them the cart is about to expire, so you’re contacting them for their convenience so they can check out before it’s too late.

Other merchants have tested a “why didn’t you buy? or “what did we do wrong?” survey with great success. Partly the information is useful, but also the appearance of the survey in emails often by itself serves as a prod to complete the transaction. Either way you win.

Whatever tests you decide to run to increase cart stickiness, do them soon. Holiday season is a heartbeat away. In the meantime, see link below for more data from this study to help improve your site’s fourth-quarter performance.

— For a copy of MarketingSherpa’s Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2006 featuring 311 charts and 23 eyetracking heatmaps, go to:

Useful links related to this article

MarketingSherpa’s Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2007:

MarketingSherpa’s vendors:

Study Data: Easiest Way to Build Your Opt-in List With Targeted Business Prospects

August 22nd, 2006

According to MarketingSherpa’s latest B-to-B Marketing Study (see link below) 80% of business technology marketers who’ve tested co-registration as a way to generate new business leads in the past 12 months found it to be effective.

That data didn’t surprise me because I’ve seen similar data from marketers in many different niches, ranging from ecommerce sites such as Sierra Trading Post to news organizations such as USA Today to tech giants such as Oracle. In fact, 32% of marketers who gather new email names via co-registration offers on third-party sites say those names perform as well as regular house names.

So, exactly what is co-registration?

You simply put your opt-in offer as an extra check box on another site’s registration page or order form. Then, the other site sends you the names of everyone who checks that box so you can add them to your email list. You can pay on a per-name basis, or in some cases run the campaign as a barter.

Source #1. Controlled circulation networks

Several vendors run online networks gathering business executive names mainly for controlled circulation business magazines. (Example, one of them is SynapseConnect’s They place offers on a number of B-to-B sites and then ask responders to answer a long list of questions to qualify to receive targeted trade magazines for free.

Generally they sell co-registrations from this system for about $5-$8 a pop. This includes snail mail address and often even phone as well as email, and you can target by title, ZIP, industry, etc.

Most of these networks’ clients are trade magazine publishers, but I know of several B-to-B marketers who are using these services to grow their own lists as well.

Source #2. Creating your own third-party info site

I also know several B-to-B marketers who’ve gone this route. They got together with several complementary vendors in their same field and created an educational site for the industry. It can contain articles, a white paper library or a glossary, or even a special offer such as a sweeps.

All partners work together sending email campaigns to their own house files to visit this new site. Then all benefit from resulting registration opt-ins. An example of such a site is The CFO project.

Source #3. Special offers to business news sites

Although many trade magazines are still mired in the print-past and refuse to consider co-registration (often the ad sales reps haven’t even heard of it), some publications are testing ideas.

For example, The Economist has offered a co-registration program for more than two years to such advertisers as Oracle. In this case you purchase “complimentary Economist subscriptions” and they send out an offer to their opt-in list of free readers asking folks to sign up — handing over their email address to you — to get into the paid site. (See sample below.)

Source #4. Related vendor’s “thank you” pages

Are you friends with any vendors in your field who are not direct competitors but share a similar target market? Ask them if they would consider putting a co-registration offer on the “thank you” page of their own online offers.

So, when new prospects sign up for a webinar, white paper, email newsletter or to attend a user conference, the page after they sign up could say, “Thank you. You’ll get your XYZ in the mail. In the meantime, would you also like to sign up for this?”

Admission — aside from word of mouth, this sort of thank-you page co-registration is how my own company gains most of our new opt-in subscribers.

Three quick tips to maximize your co-registration campaign:

Tip #1. Isolate the incoming names

Best practices now say you should isolate co-registration names from your house list. Keep the files separate, or at least code name origin scrupulously so you can segment, mail, and track them separately. This way you know which partners send you great names and which to cut. You also can send targeted mailings and offers to those names in future that might not appeal as much to other lists.

Tip #2. Polish your creative

Your creative consists of a logo (generally 120×60 but some sites ask for 80×60) and about 250 characters of copy including white space. That’s not much copy, so just as you would with a search engine ad, carefully write it to be as powerful as it can be.

I recommend you test offer copy to see which pulls the best opt-ins for your program. However, “best” doesn’t equal “highest volume.” You want names that will be high-quality prospects, the rest are just a waste.

Tip #3. Be relaxed about barters

Don’t get too picky about name counts. Some barter deals will yield loads of names, others just a few. Again, remember that quality matters far more than quantity. As long as you are getting highly-targeted, responsive names, you are coming out ahead. Grab them and keep on smiling.

Useful links related to this article:

Co-registration samples:

— For a copy of MarketingSherpa’s new Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide, which features data on co-registration, go to: