Online Marketing Goals

Know what you want…

Seems simple right? In my experience, dealing with hundreds of clients over the last 12 years, very few can actually quantify what they want.

Some tell me they want marketing help (far too vague), but when I ask about success metrics, they almost invariably cite traffic as their primary success measure. Now, not to discount traffic, but that’s not what pays the bills is it?

ROI shouldn’t be calculated on traffic*, but by counting other other measures. If your aim is engagement, count comments, reviews, buzz. If your aim is sales, count overall revenue increases, direct conversions, increase of average sales…

In an SEM campaign in particular, knowing what you want is vital, because every click costs you. Your campaigns should be highly segmented, helping you know where each dime goes, how each ad performs, how each keyword you’re buying contributes to the goals you’ve set.

Search Engine Guide has an excellent post up today about segmenting your keywords:

There are four distinct keyword segments each representing a different phase of the searcher’s buying cycle. After going through the process above you should be left with one or more groups of keyword that can be optimized into a page or several pages. The next step is to take each group and segment them even further based on those keyword segments.

Once you know what you want, you can do A/B testing to determine where your money’s going and whether or not your plan is working.  Know what you want and you have a heck of a lot better chance at getting it.

*there are a few, rare exceptions to this rule

NetworkSolutions – Solutions Stars Videos

At BlogWorld Expo, I was interviewed by Network Solutions to answer a few questions that their customers might have. There are a serious of almost a dozen videos up now, with some major big names in social media, but with my ego being monstrous, I’ve only linked to the ones I’m in 😉

The whole series is pretty good though, and if you have a few minutes, I recommend them.

Start with Listening
Strategy Drives Outreach
To Blog or Not to Blog
Rising Above the Noise

Amazing Ad For Wii On YouTube – Minor FAIL in WOM Execution

UPDATE: Wow! Take a look at the views now. 1.1M Nintendo seems to have fixed the sharing feature. As the below commenter, ellenb, mentioned, facebook, myspace, email, etc is now working. Even embed is now not falling below the other boxes, which allows me to embed below 🙂

Nintendo is using YouTube in a very unique way to promote WarioLand and the Wii. As he bursts through blocks and rocks his way through tunnels, the actual page layout of the YouTube site falls apart piece by piece. Innovative, interesting but unfortunately not quite perfect.

Rules of good word of mouth marketing are simple, and they ALWAYS include a sharing feature. Normally on YouTube I can share via embed, url or email. Obviously I see why embed won’t work, but the other sharing features are important. Viral stuff spreads easier with actual mechanisms that encourage virality.

So, I grade this one at 85%. Sad, because it’s so close to 100%.

CapitalOne’s Stupidity Has Impacted My Credit!=Process Broken

UPDATE: Wow! Look at their GetSatisfaction page.


If you like customer service horror stories, then you’ll love this one.

The Story

In February of this year, our heroine, yours truly, called CapitalOne to pay off one of her 3 credit cards with this company and to change her address and phone as she had recently moved and her forwarded mail was coming to an end. There was a whopping $5 balance so digging deep into her financial reserves she paid the trolls $5 while still on the line. Apparently a few days, after the card was paid to zero balance, these mean people accessed a $29.75 late fee on the $0 balance. Business process=broken

Pretty sure that’s not legal, but where does she go to complain? Government process=broken

Of course, as luck would have it, the trolls changed the address/phone on 2 of the cards, but not on this particular card. Business process=broken?

6 months went by, and our heroine lived blissfully unaware that the illegitimate late fee of $29.75 remained on the card. She was not receiving statements, so she had no idea that the CapitalOne monster was about to strike.

After checking her credit report earlier today, the heroine found that CapitalOne had charged-off the account for, you guessed it, $29.75. Yep, she now has an illegitimate charge-off on her credit for $29.75!

After 4 hours on the phone with CapitalOne today, and after talking to many of the Troll’s minions, she learned that they would not reopen the account and that they would not address the negative credit reporting. 4 hours of her life wasted and credit damaged only because the Trolls at CapitalOne do not have their **** together…

The Rant

It’s a sad story, but one we’ve all lived through at some mega-business in the past. The CapitalOnes, Comcasts and other notorious offenders continue to victimize on a daily basis.

But, why does this happen? Do people really start companies with evil, nefarious aims? Do they think that they will increase their customer base by pissing off the people who are shoveling money in their coffers? No. These companies hire fancy, dancy consultants to come in and ‘help’ them piss off their customers in the form of cost-cutting. Throat-cutting would be more appropriate terminology.

Hey, big business… Cut the damn marketing budget before you cut customer care. All the new orders you bring in will eventually be lost due to your prime suckage.

If your customers are !screaming! to get help and all you can think about is how to cut costs, you are bound to lose money. These consultants rarely care for the longevity of your company. They were brought in to immediately lower costs, but they have no stake in the future of your company so they could care less what their cuts do to your future.

Business Example

I recently had a discussion with a friend at a large company. Friend and company will remain nameless, of course. He was explaining to me why their customer service sucks. While his team begged to keep their customer focus, the execs told them that they had to cut $40k from the budget immediately (thanks consultants!). This was, of course, to pay for the companies large social networking experiment. Don’t even get me started on that one…

6 months later my friend was able to show measurable losses of revenue after the significant cuts in customer care and had the foresight to forecast future losses. Because his team did this work, and showed that the $70K cut had put them on track to lose $900K by year’s end, they were unleashed to again serve their customers with excellence. But, how much impact was done in those 6 months? To have him tell it, the impact was substantial. In fact, months after, they are forced to adopt a new, costly customer retention program that will add additional losses to the big savings that the consultant brought them. The sad thing is that before they mucked with their current setup, they were retaining customers just fine and were one of the top 5 *****s in their field.

Sadly, as consumers we have no way to educate big business on this truth. One would think execs would have learned this in their obligatory MBA education from a top school… (I know, now I’m just being snarky).

We have no real way to speak out against these retarded cousins of the business world and I’m tired of just giving up. The Better Business Bureau is useless. Yelp is about the best way to get any attention when you are railroaded by companies, but that really doesn’t work well unless it’s a local business. Any suggestions on how we take back our time, energy and buying power? GetSatisfaction?Anyone else have a customer service nightmare they want to share?

Affiliate Marketer Advertises On Adsense Via Twitter Ad

I’m a pretty heavy Twitter user, with the wealth of my communication going there lately, rather than to this blog. This is not due to any aversion to blogging, but more because of the time constraint I’m under right now. Apparently Gmail knows this, as any good email program/big brother should, and it recommends appropriate ads for me on a regular basis.

Today’s recommended ad had me doing a double take:

Twitter Affiliate Marketing Adsense Ad

Clicking this takes you to this Twitter user’s page:


Looks like he’s running some sort of contest to increase his Twitter followers. God, I hate that… Anyway, if you take a look at the link on his account, you’ll see his actual ad’s landing page (not linked because I don’t want to contribute to this guy’s Google juice): http://www.hexatrackdotcom/

So, the story is that this guy has found the Revolution in Search Engine Marketing and wants to let people in on the amazing news. Of course, membership is limited (damn the rules!) and you need to get in on this by some vague date in the near future because after that the price is going to go up. Whether or not they throw in a few ShamWow!s remains to be seen…

Apparently, they recognized that their audience was people who are looking to Uncover the “honeypots” of affiliate marketing. What’s not apparent is why they thought that Twitter sign-up ads would appeal to this crowd. I’m thinking they were too lazy/too uncreative to come up with good ad copy and they thought this was a very easy way to lend legitimacy to their product/personal brand (ie Twitter put up an ad and used this cool guy as their example Twitter page).

Do they really think that affiliate marketers are that stupid (ie marketers who can’t tell the difference between an ad for Twitter and an ad for a particular user’s page)? I’ve yet to meet an affiliate marketer that wasn’t savvy enough to see right through this. What I have met, in affiliate marketing and internet marketing in general, is lots of people who are interested in raking in easy cash and will shell out $50-$500 for that get-rich-quick, answer to world hunger, guaranteed to lose money, affiliate marketer tool. It appears to me that affiliate marketers aren’t really their target. The people they hope to fool with this ad will be ignorant enough to think that their product has value as well.

Doesn’t Google have some ‘branding’ guidelines that would take care of this? Where would a user go to report this?

Mojave Experiment – Vista Revisited

I hate Vista. Seriously. After hours of trying to get the damn thing to install on more than 3 PCs, running the beta for 6 months and then running the OS from Jan 07 to May 07, I hate this OS. Leopard had me at hello, but Vista pissed me off within hours… If you are a regular reader, you know that I have a few posts on Vista here already (all of which bring me serious search traffic, so I can’t be alone in my hatred):

But, after seeing the viral Mojave Experiment (thanks Justin), I’m tempted to give Microsoft another chance. Does that sound crazy coming from a Yahoo! employee? 😉

More on Mojave Experiment at TechMeme.

Give Them Value and They Will Buy

I won’t spend a great deal of time on this, but I want to give you a good example of useful marketing. Let’s say you wrote a book on organizing your home, as this woman has done.

Your goal is to get your book in front of the people who are going to buy it. Where do your potential customers go to find information on your topic? In this example, some of the potential readers search for organizing related information and some are regular readers of organizing related sites. To reach both of these potential customers, this author has written a piece on her topic. This is not a fluff piece, but a helpful and feature packed article.

Plan to Succeed: Teaching Kids The Planner Habit

Of course, I think I should say that in this case, the site came before the book, but for this example, let’s pretend like it’s a guest article on someone else’s site.

In her article, she’s linked to her book at the end, which gives this piece credibility and the author credibility (hey, she’s an expert on this topic, I should read her book!). In addition, this reaches the reader at the perfect time, when he/she has admitted a need for knowledge on the subject, via regular visits to the site or even better, via searching on that topic. The customer is at purchase point, because they are actively searching for the tool to fill the need.

This is a great example of smart marketing. Want bad examples? I can think of two that rarely help and usually hurt the credibility of your product.

Link exchanges – There is only limited value in dropping your link everywhere. Sure, you’ll have loads of links and that may be good for SEO, but it won’t get your message in front of your customers. At best, a well placed link may bring you a few good leads, but there isn’t enough of a call-to-action in a link to give you enough value to waste your time getting them where you want them.

Ezine/Article Distribution – These sites may show up well in search, but they have limited value in that people don’t trust them. Heck, I know some fabulous writers that use these and even though I know that I still have a hard time taking anything there seriously. Don’t agree? Check out this article and this one and tell me which one you trust more. Same article, same author, one feels slimy and marketing-ish and one just gives you the information you desire. I think the subtle, dirty feeling I get from the ezine one is because there is just so much crap found in article distribution. People use these types of sites just to market their goods, which are often smarmy in themselves, so there is no real feeling of ‘hey, this is great knowledge’. Instead, every article I read there makes me think ‘what are they trying to sell me’.

If you are using ezine articles and link drops, you are spending too much energy in the wrong places. You want your message to appear on sites that your potential customers use and trust. And, you want you message to be written without any sales pitch, because just by being an authority you are ‘selling’ your product.

The first author has really done her work efficiently and expertly. Her article answers the ‘is she credible?’ question implicitly and inspires confidence in her advice. These types of articles have so much more credibility AND likelihood of reaching your target audience than article distribution sites. She didn’t have to say, ‘if you want to learn more, check out my book on Amazon’. Her readers will make that leap on their own, because this article gave out much knowledge on the subject but still only whet their appetite for more.

It’s really a great example of giving your customers (or potential customers) really useful information to give yourself credibility and exposure. Smart move!

…and yes, I’m writing this because went through this process myself and ended up purchasing her book.

Great Ad Campaign – Cathy’s Book

As someone who was intrigued by the I hate Sarah Marshall campaign, if mildly disgusted with the blog, I did a double-take when I saw this google ad for Cathy’s Book:

Cathy's Book

If you are not familiar with Cathy’s book, it’s an alternate reality game book that was released with much success in 2006. While mostly aiming for teen readers, the plot is engaging enough that many adults have fallen under the author’s spell as well. Learn more at the Cathy’s Book Wikipedia entry.

The ad is likely to get people excited over the second book, Cathy’s Key, which comes out in May. But take a look at the ad. The copy is intriguing and the call to action is clear. The curiosity it created was overwhelming and even this cynical customer had to take a look.

Cathy's Book

I was presented with well done site, that again hinted at much but gave little away. Take a look at the video that was done.

The whole campaign was beginning to make me think that I would finally be forced to read first Cathy’s Book and then Cathy’s Key.

But, I had to know more. I clicked the ‘chat room’ link and got this page.

Cathy's Book

At first, I was thinking that this was a grade-A boneheaded move to release an ad with a site that was under construction. But, after viewing this little part, I knew this was part of the campaign.

Stock Art Funny

A little research turned up the answer. Of course, I’m not going to share it with you. Suffice it to say, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know it has something to do with a painting that Emma thinks is worth $600k and that hangs on Victor’s wall. Enough said…

When you are through with the riddle, you can view some of the evidence you got with the book and additional evidence that has ‘since been found’. It also gives you access to the forums, where over 1000 other Cathy’s Book readers can discuss theories.

The overall campaign is really smart, even the makeup deal (read the wikipedia entry), and it’s given teen girls a way to find out about a really cool book. Kudos to the marketing team (and authors). This book is now a must read for this old lady in her thirties.

Buy Cathy’s Book or Preorder Cathy’s Key today.’s Public Release Is Coming Up

Yan was nice enough to let me play around with Buxr a week or so ago and while I’ve only skimmed the surface, it warrants your attention. I’m not supposed to leak screen shots or anything, but if you do a little research you can see that some people have been a little more open on the subject already 😉

Yan talks specifically about Buxr’s differing approach here, but I still don’t feel comfortable giving you more details until it releases. Anyhoo, you can just wait til tomorrow and check it out on your own when it goes public.

Good luck to Yan as he attempts to make a dent in this crowded market. He’s been a pal for a while and he’s got a good idea of how online advertising works, especially from the publisher’s point of view, which is very important for those of us who are publishers. I’m looking forward to seeing more about Buxr tomorrow when all of you have had a chance to take it for a spin. Let me know what you think!