Archive | October, 2008

Marketers’ Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future

As it is, more than a quarter of marketers surveyed said from half to all of their marketing is done via digital channels, and nearly 40% foresee that in 12 months from half to all their marketing will be done via digital channels:

 

The respondents, all of whom are either directly or indirectly responsible for managing digital marketing budget allocation across multiple channels, were asked about the top qualities they sought in their advertising and marketing agencies in the coming year.

Based on the survey results, Sapient Interactive, Sapient’s marketing services group, issued a Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future:

1. Greater knowledge of the digital space

More than one-third of marketers surveyed said they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the unchartered waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising.

Nearly half (45%) of the respondents have switched agencies (or plan to switch in the next 12 months) for one with greater digital knowledge or have hired an additional digital specialist to handle their interactive campaigns.

Regarding an agency’s area of expertise, 79% of respondents rated “interactive/digital” functions as “important/very important.”

2. More use of “pull interactions”

Nine in 10 respondents (90%) agree that to engage consumers with their brand it is increasingly important that their agency uses “pull interactions” such as social media and online communities rather than traditional “push” campaigns.

3. Leverage virtual communities

An overwhelming 94% of respondents expressed interest in leveraging virtual communities (public and private) to understand more about their target audience.

4. Agency executives who use the technology they are recommending

92% of respondents said it was “somewhat” or “very” important that agency employees use the technologies that they are recommending – such as Facebook, Flickr, wikis, blogs, – in their personal social media mix.

5. Chief Digital Officers make agencies more appealing

43% of marketers surveyed said agencies with chief digital officers are more appealing than those without.

6. Web 2.0 and social media savvy

63% of marketers surveyed said an agency’s Web 2.0 and social media capabilities are “important/very important” when it comes to agency selection.

7. Agencies that understand consumer behavior

76% of respondents deemed this as an “important/very important” aspect of their agency’s online digital marketing and interactive advertising area of expertise.

8. Demonstrate strategic thinking

77% of marketers surveyed ranked strategy/brain trust capabilities at the top of their agency wish list.

9. Branding and creative capabilities

67% of respondents ranked branding at the top of their agency wish list while 76% ranked creative capabilities as “important/very important.”

10. Ability to measure success

65% ranked analytics at the top of their agency wish list.

“Marketers want agencies that can deliver on these demands today – not by 2009 and beyond,” said Gaston Legorburu, chief creative officer, Sapient. “As the interactive channel becomes increasingly important, only those agencies that can create, manage and measure multi-channel campaigns will stay relevant and thrive in an uncertain economy.”

About the survey: The Agency of the Future Survey is a national survey designed to provide insight into what marketers want from their agencies in the next 12 months. Sponsored by Sapient, the survey was conducted via email and polled more than 200 respondents, all of whom are either directly or indirectly responsible for managing digital marketing budget allocation across multiple channels.

Some of the best eCommerce sites on the web

The best in eCommerce sites across the web. It didnt matter how big or small these sites were, only that they were well-executed, visually appealing, and made usability a high priority. So what about these sites makes them the favorites of the eCommerce community? Below we show you what they re doing right, along with unfortunate mistakes that can send an otherwise good eCommerce site to the back of the pack.

Do Keep It Simple

Apple was by far the most popular suggestion for a well-executed eCommerce site, and it’s not hard to see why. Apple’s minimalist design sensibility lends itself to a clean, intuitive shopping experience that starts from the homepage and extends all the way through the final steps of checkout. Customizing any product in the store is a straightforward, step-by-step process, guiding customers through the purchase with minimal distraction. In short, Apple concentrates on keeping the shopping process simple and uncluttered, making it easy for customers to find, customize and purchase products.

Abercrombie was also noted for its clean design and browsing simplicity. Products are browsed from side to side instead of up and down, keeping them above the fold. This simplicity carries into the checkout process, where all unnecessary elements of the page are taken away, guiding the customer through the purchase.

Do Give Customers Browsing Options

Customers can grow frustrated when they’re forced to find that perfect product by clicking through endless catalog pages. Sites that banish this inefficient practice using filtering systems and effective site search keep customers coming back for more, and quite a few were identified as favorites in our survey.

Endless.com helps customers browse their huge inventory of shoes and handbags with an intuitive, ultra-detailed layered navigation system. Customers can filter by category, brand, “color family, size, width, heel height, and price, quickly finding a pair of shoes for that new outfit.

Etsy, an online marketplace for independent artists, offers customers a variety of ways to find what they’re looking for in the site’s huge inventory of creative works. Customers can filter by color, customer picks, showcased artists, location where the product was made, just-listed products or products that customers with similar taste have purchased in the past. All of this is done using fun flash tools that engage the customer in the shopping process while helping them find what they need.

Do Feature Innovative Ways to Shop

Sometimes a certain kind of product requires a new way to shop online. Some of the sites our readers chose created better ways to for customers to shop for their product, improving the overall customer experience. Prickies, a button store, takes intuitive shopping to another level, enabling customers to drag and drop products into their always-visible shopping cart. Not only that, the cart instantly applies discounts when a certain number of items are added, creating visible incentives for customers to keep shopping. Customers can continually check the items in their cart, and switch them out if they spot a more appealing button.

Prickies identified what their customers wanted from an online button store, and the site delivers. The experience is almost identical to digging through a bucket of buttons at a local record store.

Surf Ride takes a similar approach to innovative shopping, providing flash-based skateboard and wakeboard “builders”. Customers are guided through the process of choosing the elements needed to built a complete board, giving customers a fun, individualized experience and creating an opportunity for the store to increase conversions.

Do Keep the Checkout Process Straightforward

It’s well-known that terrible usability in a store’s checkout process can cause customers to abandon a cart in droves and shop elsewhere. Take a look at some of the following sites, whose checkout process was a big reason why they were cited as our readers’ favorites.

Busted Tees, a t-shirt site, features a one-page checkout, only requiring customers to enter the information necessary for the purchase and doing it all on one page. Since everything needed for the purchase is immediately available, customers have less time to reconsider the purchase or leave because of frustrating load times, errors, etc.

Ikea begins the checkout process by showing customers how many steps are involved in the checkout from beginning to end, addressing a potential customer frustration before it has the chance to be a problem. From there, Ikea guides the customer through checkout with minimal distraction, keeping the process clear and straightforward at all times.

Don’t Spread a Single Product’s Sizes/Colors/Options Over Several Catalog Pages

It may be easier for the Store Owner to list a product’s options as completely separate products (with separate product pages), but for the customer, this catalog structure results in a shopping nightmare. Godiva‘s site, for example, spreads variations of a product out over text links at the bottom of each catalog page. It’s certainly not ideal for browsing, and, to the average customer, it’s far too much text for them to waste any more time. Threadless, conversely, allows you to select your shirt design, and then select simultaneously both the shirt type and its size, keeping a customer’s options straightforward and clear.

Don’t Provide Inaccurate In-Store Search

A customer shouldn’t be able to search your store for “mop” and get an mp3 player, a sheet set and a wrench. If no results are found for a product in your store’s search, inexact results should at least be labeled with a message such as, “We couldn’t find a product match for “mop”. Maybe these results can help you.” Customers then know why they’re being given inaccurate matches, and can adjust their search accordingly.

Amazon’s search not only alerts the customer that no products match the misspelled search term, they auto-correct the results, displaying products that match the correctly spelled search term.

Don’t Bury Your Store’s Contact Info

No matter how perfect your eCommerce site is, customers will inevitably encounter problems or have questions. In many of these cases, they’ll search for the site’s “Contact Us” to find the answers and the help they need. Some stores, however, attempt to bury their contact information, seemingly in an attempt to avoid those “time-wasting” customers. Contact information should be clearly labeled and accessible from anywhere in your store, allowing frustrated customers to get answers as quickly as possible.

NewEgg’s customer service tab is the first thing a potential customer sees when they visit the site, making it apparent that NewEgg is always available to its customers.

Don’t Let Marketing Overcome Useability

Retailers must always keep in mind the balance between marketing efforts and site usability. Posting banners or including extra steps in a store’s checkout can frustrate customers, causing them to abandon their cart and your store. Remember this balance for actions such as requiring your customers to register before making a purchase. If you see a trend of cart abandonment at the registration point in your store’s checkout, you might consider opting for a high-end solution that allows guest checkout or has customers register at the end of the checkout process.

Panic.com’s one page checkout bundles registration and checkout together, adding quick username and password entry to an already efficient checkout process.

Here are even more eCommerce sites that our readers found exceptional. Browse through them for inspiration,

  1. Home Depot
  2. La Fraise
  3. J. Crew
  4. Old Navy
  5. L.L. Bean
  6. Gap
  7. Crate and Barrel
  8. Play.com
  9. Free People
  10. Patagonia

Online Advertising Standards

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has introduced five initiatives to improve the efficiency and spur the growth of online advertising.

The initiatives, including best-practices documents and a video ad serving template, were introduced by the IAB at its annual Ad Operations Summit in New York. The IAB called upon the “entire digital ecosystem” to accept and work together on adopting the improvements.

“The important thing to note…is that these are transformational,” said IAB Vice President Jeremy Fain. “This is a huge day for the industry because these initiatives will allow us to transform the industry to a scalable media platform.”

Fain said the industry has reached a plateau of success that, without the implementation of the IAB initiatives, might be difficult to exceed. “Right now, we are struggling to handle our growth and as our growth continues to accelerate we need to have scalable systems and processes in place,” he said. “It’s a good problem to have, but we need to solve it as quickly as possible.”

Released in beta form, the XML-based solution called E- Business Interactive Standards is designed to “automate the transfer of business order information between advertising agencies and media companies.” IAB said the companies involved in testing the solution will work on doing so throughout 2009.

In its Interactive Advertising Workflow Best Practices document, the IAB is making “process recommendations” to agencies and publishers. These, according to the bureau, should improve communication and enhance efficiency of ad campaign operations.

Another XML-based solution, the Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST), would standardize communication between digital video players and servers, said the IAB. VAST enables publishers to use ad networks to sell unsold inventory and, by allowing third-party tags, would “reduce friction” with ad buyers and boost the yield of digital video, said the IAB.

Ways to reduce the load-time and otherwise improve the performance of online ads are detailed in Ad Load Performance Best Practices and a standard set of best practices for rich media ads are detailed in the IAB’s Best Practices for Rich Media Ads in Asynchronous Ad Environments.

The New York-based IAB has, as members, more than 375 media and technology companies. It says its members are involved in nearly 90 percent of online advertising in the United States.

Fain said a primary goal of a special “re-invention” task force created by the IAB was to ensure that its members and ad agencies worked together on creating the initiatives. The goal was to specifically target “operational frictions” that threatened to hamper online ad industry growth.

What is a Corporate Website?

What is a corporate web site?

It’s the domain they use after every advertisement where you can learn more about a company, you know it, anycompany.com.au

But we’re tired of the corporate website and all its happy marketing speak, stock photos of smart looking dudes or minority women crowded around the computer raving about your product, the positive press release, the happy customer testimonials, the row of executive portraits, the donations your corporate made to disaster relief, the one-sided view never ends.

While some of your traffic may be going up on your website, it’s not indicative of how corporate websites are being used. Analytics don’t tell us why people go to your site, and it may not be for the reason you want them to.

[The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet]

Why is your corporate website irrelevant?

Marketing has shifted, it’s no longer on two domains
Many web marketers are under the impression that the battles are only fought within Google search results and on the corporate domain. In reality, marketing has spread to many other areas where conversations occur: social networks, rating sites, chat rooms, and even blogs.

Decisions are made before they go to the corporate website
Yesterday, at lunch with a college student, she told me that her peers get ideas about product decisions on consumer rating sites, and from their peers. They use instant messaging, facebook, (and other social networks) and rarely directly type in a domain name to corporate website. If this holds true, then it’s assumed that prospects make decisions on other websites BEFORE they come to the corporate website to get factual information.

Factual information
Legally, corporations need to disclose product details, this is a strong case for the use of the corporate websites. However in my continued conversation with the Generation Y, she continued to tell me that she used corporate websites to get core feature stats and pricing, but that’s after she made a decision based upon her peer feedback to visit the corporate site.

The future, and how to stay relevant:

Websites are created with customers
This is disruptive, but I predict that the most relevant future websites will have customers building websites alongside employees. The most effective websites will contain a balanced point of view of both the product team and customers –even if they have qualms with the product.Thats why when we design a website we start with asking about the visitors to the website.

Unfiltered customer testimonials will appear
You’ll no longer only be the only one publishing to your website, customers, prospects, and other members of the community will have direct access to publish on your website. Sure, there will be controls to make sure the content is somewhat factual or reviewed, but it will be obvious to many that the only voice won’t be the marketing one.

Content will have both negative and positive views about your products
This one is hard to swallow, but how do you build the most trust? By being open, authentic, and transparent to the marketplace. We know from research that the highest degree of trust comes from those ‘like me’, a savvy marketer will allow content to appear from peers, customers, and the market. These will not always be a product rave, in fact it may be downright criticism, the goal? To take that feedback, and demonstrate in public how you will improve your offerings in plain view. Case study: Dell has done this with IdeaStorm.

Your website will be a Community Resource
This means that you’ll put your customers first, No Really, I mean it. This means providing analysis of not just yourself but to competitors as well, this means that you’ll link to competitors. Crazy? I did this myself at my previous role , I created a wiki for customers that linked to competitors, and it made me more relevant.

[The corporate website of the future will be a credible source of opinion and fact, authored by both the corporation and community. The result? A true first-stop community resource where information flows for better products and services]


Outcomes

Customers will make your site the first place to go for information, trust will increase, you may be able to build better products and services with real-time customer feedback, and most importantly, you’ll be a community resource that will help you meet your customer needs faster.

Visualize:
We’ll start to see customers help write the corporate newsletter, feeds pulling in industry blogs, media (audio and video) customers rating and ranking and voting for what features they want improved, product teams working directly with customers in real-time, and customers self-supporting each other.

If you need help with your strategy call Michael at The Website Marketing Group in Sydney on 1300 911 772

Have a good week

Make it a great one.

SEO

website marketing and development at sydney australia

1. Organic search engine marketing v. paid search engine marketing (PPC)
2. Blogs v. static web pages
3. Long tail keywords v. short head keywords
4. Unique content and Web 3.0
5. Internet marketing and Web 2.0

1. Organic Search Engine Marketing v. Paid Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

Organic search engine marketing is marketing a website to improve the ranking for its web pages in the organic, or natural, search engine results pages (SERPs).

Paid search engine marketing is incorporating paid advertising strategies such as Google’s Adwords or Yahoo’s Search Marketing in order to be listed in the “sponsored” or “advertisement” sections of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

With the increasing costs of paid search engine marketing, advertisers have been suffering from a downward trend in return on investment (ROI). On the other hand, with more sophisticated and proven strategies for organic search engine marketing, the return on investment (ROI) for those who market to rank higher naturally in the SERPs is increasing. Therefore, we advise ecommerce companies, affiliates and super-affiliates alike to shift their resources from paid search engine marketing to organic search engine marketing.

2. Blogs v. Static Web Pages

Blogs have an inherent and distinct advantage over static web pages. Search engines like blogs better. Everything being equal (design, content, page layout, H tags, Alt tags, age, etc.), a blog page will outrank a static web page more often than not. However, all things are not equal! Blogs take advantage of plug-ins, or features, to be very search engine friendly.
We create and customize “Power Blogs” for our clients. A “Power Blog” is a search engine friendly WordPress blog with tons of SEO plug-ins. Once we install a Power Blog we use it as a platform for Web 2.0 marketing, a.k.a. social marketing.

The benefits of our Power Blog include:

(A) Multi-Channel Visitor Strategy – Instead of having Google be responsible for 95% of your visitors, now you can also get visitors from all of the Blog Search Engines. Because blogs use RSS (really simple syndication), you will find that other websites are syndicating your content on their websites, bringing you more visitors and links. By having multiple streams of visitors you protect yourself in case one of your traffic streams starts to underperform.

(B) Free Links To Your Site – The amount of links that you have to your site plays a huge role in how highly you rank on Google. By utilizing the Trackback feature in WordPress, you can automatically get other websites to link to you for free.

3. Long Tail Keywords v. Short Head Keywords

Remember, this is called “Organic Search Engine Marketing”. It’s marketing, and marketing needs a focus. In order to focus in on what to market for, you need to have a solid foundation of the main keywords that describe your business and/or products that you are selling. These main keywords are one to three phrase keywords (or keyword phrases) generally speaking and are more than likely highly competitive. These types of keywords are known as “Short Head” keywords. For example, “car insurance.”

Once you know your short head keywords, you will want to market directly to more specific, longer keywords related to the main short head keywords. These longer, more specific keywords are known as “Long Tail” keywords. For example, “car insurance discounts in Georgia.”

Although the traffic for each long tail keyword is usually much less than its short tail relative, if you add up all the long tail keywords, they will usually add up to much more traffíc and most importantly, targeted traffíc, than the short tail keywords alone.

4. Unique Content and Web 3.0

Once you have targeted the long tail keywords for your business or niche, then you can start marketing for them.

The cornerstone for organic search engine marketing is unique content creation. Whether it’s 500-word articles, blog posts, blog comments, forum posts, social snippets, or videos, you are going to want to be able to create unique content based on your long tail keywords.

Web 3.0 is a term that refers to the future of the World Wide Web. In our opinion, that future includes the “Semantic Web” or web use affected by artificial intelligence. Sounds kind of like Star Wars, Alien and E.T. all wrapped into one big and scary WWW…doesn’t it?! Well, not really of course. Semantic Web in this case just means that search engines will be able to figure out what a web page is all about in a different, more intelligent way. The major idea here is that search engines will take a more encompassing view at a page and understand its meaning rather making a determination based on figuring out which keywords pop up most often. In this new Web 3.0 scenario, a search engine might find a web page on “sun tanning in Florida” to also be quite relevant to “sun tan oil application” and therefore líst this example page in the search engine results pages under both keywords.

What does Web 3.0 mean to you? Basically, when creating your unique content, keep the semantic web concept in mind and use synonyms for your target keyword wherever it’s natural. Don’t stuff keywords in your content, i.e. use a keyword just to use it and not when it should be used naturally…and don’t stuff keyword synonyms either!

5. Internet Marketing and Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is the “Social Web,” so naturally, the concept of social marketing should apply to today’s Internet Marketing strategies.

Social marketing includes posting on social networking, social news and social bookmarking websites.

You can also think of blogging as part of Web 2.0, and of course you’re covered because you have read Section 2 above.

In conclusion, whether you own your ecommerce business and sell your products, or if you are an affiliate or super-affiliate, organic search engine marketing must be on your “actions líst.” In the long run, outranking your competitors in the search engine results pages proves to bring a higher return on investment (ROI) than trying to out-advertise your competitors in paid search engine marketing.

You now have the basic know-how to create your organic search engine marketing strategy.