The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pabst Blue Ribbon and Negative Brand Perception, How Word of Mouth (WOM) and Brand Evangelists Can Impact Your Business


Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer (PBR) and Brand Evangelists.As we lead up to Labor Day, and all the barbecues that go along with it, I thought it would be fitting to write a post about beer. That’s right, beer and barbecues. I don’t really drink much, but I feel like having a burger at a barbecue sometimes requires a beer. ;-) A few weeks ago, we had some of our friends over for a barbecue. One of my friends, Chris Sullivan, walked in and I noticed he had brought a mini cooler with some beer. As we started the festivities, Chris asked if I wanted a beer. “Sure, I said, what do you have?” He took out a Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and handed it to me. --I’ll pause my story here for a second.-- Pabst Blue Ribbon? Are you serious? Did I time warp back to college? Are we stocking a fraternity party? Seriously, I was not ready to hear that brand! Then it hit me…Chris knows his alcohol. He’s a connoisseur of beer and wine. Could Chris be on to something?? Back to the story. I looked at Chris grabbing the red, white and blue can of PBR, and I asked, “Is this good?” Chris didn’t even pause. “It’s the best value on the beer market”. It’s an outstanding beer and it’s only $6 for a 12 pack. “OK, Chris, I’ll give it a shot. “ I took a drink of PBR and let me tell you, it was good. No, it was darn good! As I thought, Chris knew his stuff. Then we spent the next 10 or 15 minutes talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon, the awards it has one, how long it’s been around, etc. I also brought one over to my wife. She loved it too. And, as I looked at the 12 packs that had cost me $15 each sitting on the sidelines of our party, I couldn’t help but think that PBR may be the greatest barbecue find on the face of the earth. Yes, a bit dramatic, but I was blown away.

WOM and Brand Evangelists
Let me dissect this Word of Mouth Marketing experience for you and for Pabst Brewing Company. First, they obviously have a brand perception problem. Both my wife and I laughed when PBR was mentioned, but we ended up loving the product. So how can PBR (or any company for that matter) overcome a negative brand perception? I believe that loyal customers are part of the answer. Chris is a brand evangelist and clearly communicated the benefits of the product. In addition, Chris is a trusted source of information. It’s not like he rolled up to my house by chance, right? So, how can PBR foster Word of Mouth Marketing with the Chris’s of the world? That’s the key. I don’t think advertising would cut it for me. I would have laughed while watching a commercial, hearing a radio jingle, or being bombarded with display advertising. But Chris got through. If I were PBR, I would reach out to brand evangelists and empower them. Maybe they can set up a dedicated WOM program, empower their brand evangelists, recognize them publicly, and harness what every company is trying to harness, Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM). Seriously, it could be the most cost effective campaign they ever launched and could generate high value customers. That’s a nice segue to my next point. ;-)

PBR and Me, Second Generation WOM
How did Chris’s first generation WOM impact PBR? Well, now I won't shut up about Pabst Blue Ribbon. I’ve told dozens of people about it already, including my father in law, my brother in law, my friends and coworkers, and even random people buying beer. I’m serious, I think it’s a shame that most people don’t know how good PBR is! So, between me and Chris, PBR has 2 brand evangelists that are spreading the word like wildfire. Imagine if PBR had 100, 500, or 1000 evangelists like Chris spreading the word. Link in a PBR ambassadorship program and they’ve got themselves a serious WOM campaign. PBR, if you are listening, act on this…and fast. As a marketer, I’d be shocked if you couldn’t increase revenue significantly if you launched a program like this. Why? Because you have an outstanding product and most people don’t know it’s that good. Your brand needs help.

Help Educate Others About Your Brand
To summarize, if your product has a brand perception problem, and you truly believe that you have a great product, tap into your loyal customer base for help. My guess is that they will be happy to help you. Sure, you should structure a WOM program, but the benefits should greatly outweigh any cost involved. And, the beauty of brand evangelists is that they don’t go away when your advertising spend goes away (like paid search, tv advertising, display advertising, etc.) Chris is a powerful force of WOM for PBR, but I ask you…how many Chris’s are out there waiting to be unleashed on their respective communities? In marketing terms, it’s low cost, high value communications, with high impact results. Why wouldn’t you try this?

Now go out there and try some PBR during your Labor Day picnics! You won’t be disappointed. Feel free to come back to this post and let me know what you think of the beer. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Glenn Gabe
PBR Brand Evangelist
pbr-power@gsqi.com
1-888-PBR-POWER (ok, I’m kidding with the phone number, but the email address works!) :-)

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Long Tail of SEO, How Long Tail Keywords Impact Natural Search Traffic, Bounce Rate and Conversion.


The Long Tail of SEO and how it impacts your Natural Search initiatives.Imagine for a second that you are an SEO consultant and that you have a big presentation today. Your prospective client has an e-commerce store and a fledgling blog at this point. The first thing the CMO says to you is, “OK Mr. Hotshot SEO guy (or gal), tell me how you are going to help us rank for these 10 keywords?” You glance around the room and your heart starts to beat faster as you make eye contact with the CEO and COO both smirking at you. After a brief second, you turn to the CMO and say, “I’m not going to help you rank for those 10 keywords.” {There’s a collective gasp in the room.} You quickly follow with, “I’m going to help you rank for those 10 keywords plus the hundreds of long tail keywords that are associated with them!” Now you’ve got their attention. Did that sound a bit dramatic? It’s actually a common occurrence when speaking with people that aren’t heavily involved in Search Marketing. The common perception is that you should rank for a handful of competitive keywords and focus your attention on getting top rankings for them. I agree you should, but if you just focus on those top keywords, you would be missing a huge opportunity. Enter the long tail of SEO.

The Long Tail Explained
Let’s begin by defining the long tail. It’s a term that describes the strategy of selling a large number of unique items, although it may only be in small amounts per item. Think of a large e-commerce retailer and the amount of revenue generated from all of the items housed on the site (versus just the top 10 items). The “long tail” may generate more revenue than your top categories (when you combine all of the units sold). So, for our Search example, the long tail would be the hundreds (or thousands) of terms that derive from your competitive keywords. Here’s an example. Let’s say you sell HD TV’s. You might want to rank for the competitive keyword HD TV. However, you would also want to rank for 42 inch Samsung HD TV, how to choose the best HD TV, reviews for Plasma HD TV’s, etc. As you can see, the long tail keywords are simply more targeted search terms than your original keyword.

The Impact of The Long Tail on Natural Search Traffic, Bounce Rate and Conversion:
Now, you might be wondering what the impact of the long tail of SEO can be? In my experience, the long tail can be a powerful driver of targeted traffic to your website. Also, since long tail keywords tend to be more targeted (think “Samsung HD TV reviews”), you might find lower bounce rates per keyword (if you have content that matches what people are looking for of course). More on that later. If you have more overall SEO traffic and lower bounce rates, then you have a greater chance of converting visitors (which can mean more revenue, subscriptions, downloads, and other forms of conversion specific to your site). Yes, there is a connection to the success of your business! :-)

How Does This Translate To Your SEO Projects?
I ran some reports using KeywordDiscovery to give you a few tangible examples. Let’s say you sell men’s shoes (I’ll use a generic example without brand names). A quick report from KeywordDiscovery yields 2,143 keywords including the words men’s shoes. Now, you wouldn’t want to target all of these keywords since some don’t apply to someone buying men’s shoes, but there are a number of keywords that you might want to target. For example, men’s casual and dress shoes, men’s narrow shoes, men’s slip on shoes, or best men’s running shoes. You get the picture. Now, let’s say you don’t have an e-commerce store, but you target people looking for medical news (you might have an advertising model). Again using KeywordDiscovery, there are 490 keywords that include variations of medical news. Some of the keywords you might want to target include latest medical news, medical ethics in news, breaking medical news, controversial medical news, etc. For more information about finding the right keywords, please read my post about keyword research for SEO.

How does this affect what you do, SEO-wise?
Warning: I’m about to explain a very technical and important part of SEO. If you get confused based on my elaborate and technical response, please read this section again. {OK, I’ll cut the sarcasm…} In order to rank for specific keywords, you should actually have those keywords on your website. I know that’s a crazy concept, but it’s true. ;-) So, in order to target competitive keywords and their long tail counterparts, you should develop ways to include that text on your website, in your blog posts, in the tools you develop, etc. The actual content can take many forms and it’s one of the reasons I love SEO. You can be creative and develop ideas for new content and functionality for the site. Please read my blog post about SEO, the amazing multi-channel channel if you haven’t already. When you need to develop new content, you can take several routes, including developing new areas of your site, blogging, creating new functionality or tools on your site, writing whitepapers, issuing press releases, etc. You would just want to make sure that you target more terms than just the core competitive keywords I mentioned earlier in this post.

The Long Tail Summary:
Although this was just an introduction to the long tail of SEO, I hope you see the power of targeting more than just a few competitive keywords. SEO can be a robust marketing channel and can drive thousands of targeted visitors to your site via a multitude of search queries. Keyword research can help you determine those long tail keywords and then your web analytics package can help you determine which ones are generating quality traffic.

Last, but not least, my blog post has given you a great line for your next sales pitch! ;-)

GG

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Whuil? Why Cuil Has A Long Way To Go Before It Can Compete With Google


Cuil versus Google, Which search engine is better?.With all of the hype about the "Google Killer" Cuil over the past few weeks, I definitely wanted to give it a little time before officially commenting. When I heard a rival to Google was launching, I was absolutely intrigued, to say the least. I love Google, but I’m not sure any company should have 70% market share in any industry! :) That said, I never thought Cuil could hit the scene and pose a serious threat to Google, but my hope was that it could be a solid alternative to the search giant. The problem for Cuil, or any Google competitor for that matter, is that gaining users doesn’t entirely have to do with the quality of search results (although that is an important factor). Google is so ingrained in our society that it’s going to be hard for any search engine to stroll in and make a dent in big G. I’m neck deep in search engine marketing, including both SEO and SEM, so you bet I’ll try it out. But ask my mother if she knows of another engine… I’ll save you the time, she doesn’t. And let’s face it, Google does an incredible job with Search. It’s not like they provide horrible results with no variety. People wouldn’t use it if it did! More on that later.

Data Typically Doesn’t Lie
So what do I think of Cuil? I’m actually going to let the data do the talking. I tested out both Google and Cuil using the same search terms with the goal of viewing the relevance, quality, and variety of search results. Of course, I’ll add my own commentary to help give you a better picture of what I saw along the way. This is by no means a final test, but I think it gives us a good feel for how Cuil compares to Google right now. Let’s hop in.

DVD’s and e-Commerce
Let’s hit the web to buy one of my all time favorite movies… Jerry Maguire. A search on both Cuil and Google for Jerry Maguire DVD Prices yielded:

Google: Great listings leading me to Amazon.com and other e-commerce websites. Google also provided shopping one box results for the DVD, linking to various ecommerce websites. In addition, you can always click the shopping tab in Google to see a listing of Jerry Maguire DVD’s with their associated pricing. Google had me at hello. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. ;-)

Cuil: This was easy, Cuil returned NO RESULTS. Are you kidding me Cuil? We’re talking about Jerry Maguire here!

Learning something new and defining terms:
How about a search to define a term? Mobile technology is ridiculously hot now, so let’s define Bluetooth. I entered Define Bluetooth and found:

Both Google and Cuil returned good results, although I would argue that Google did a better job of providing more variety (giving you the ability to search news, blogs, etc.) I won’t knock Cuil too badly for this one. Let’s call it a slight advantage to Google.

Local Search
I recently looked for a plumber in our area, so let’s try both Google and Cuil for plumbers in Princeton, NJ:

Google: Outstanding results. Google's local results provided 10 local plumbers with the ability to read reviews, print coupons, watch videos, etc. In addition, Paid Search provided some interesting results too. I like the variety and the local search results. Nice.

Cuil: Unfortunately, Cuil returned misc. plumber sites, no reviews, a few weird, off-topic results like Foreign Affairs Author Page (what??). Winner, Google by a mile!

Maps and Directions
I recently played Lederach Golf Club in Pennsylvania, so let’s search by address in both engines. I entered 900 Clubhouse Drive Harleysville, PA and found:

Google: Displayed a Google Maps one box listing at the top, with a link to the full Google Maps listing. There I had the ability to get directions and find the best route. Excellent.

Cuil: Decent results, but if I'm entering an address, you can probably guess I'm looking for directions and a map. There were also some results for places to visit and stay in the general area (nice, but not really what I was looking for). Winner: Google hit a 300 yard drive and Cuil ended up in the fairway bunker. Both have a shot for par, but Google has the easier path. :)

Shopping and Coupon Codes
comScore recently reported that coupon sites have seen a surge in visitors. This makes sense, given the economy, so let’s start searching. I entered Coupon Codes Lands End and found:

Google: Solid results. Great coupon code websites, with retailmenot.com at the top of the list (one of my favorites). Paid Search also provided some good coupon code websites.

Cuil: Not so good. Although there were a few coupon code websites listed, there was one listed over and over again (allinonecoupons.com). I wasn’t thrilled with Cuil’s results and found myself wanting to see Google’s results again.
Winner: Enter “Google Wins” during checkout to receive a 20% discount! ;-)

Images and Photos
Let's search for some photos. I searched for Statue of Liberty Images and found:

Google: Image one box results with a link to Google Image Search. Needless to say, I found exactly what I was looking for in mere seconds in Google. There were also stock photography sites listed.

Cuil: Random weirdness with almost no images listed. Come on Cuil…it’s the Statue of Liberty! I know images aren’t what you do well, but if you are going to rival Google, images have to be part of the equation.

Obama versus Mccain
No need to explain why I’m searching for this one given our election in a few months! A search for Obama versus Mccain yielded:

Google: Google News one box results listed at the top of the page with one click to the latest news about Obama and Mccain. In addition, major news websites were listed like businessweek.com, The Washington post, newsweek.com, etc. This is hard to beat…

Cuil: I found some 404’s, random blogs, and overall average information. I wasn’t impressed.
The State of the Union? Google wins the election in a landslide.

Cuil as a Google Killer? Not yet…
So there’s my test and the subsequent results. You tell me, which search engine seems better to you? Would you stop using Google and use Cuil instead? I wouldn’t…at least not yet. I do hope Cuil improves and gains in popularity, but it’s not going to be easy. Cuil has a long way to go before the masses move to a new engine.

Google simply offers higher quality results that are more relevant, along with a wider variety of content. And, you can further target your results by selecting one of the major tabs Google provides (like news, blogs, finance, images, video, etc.) That’s hard to beat.

If I were the founders of Cuil, I would work hard to at least return high quality and relevant search results and then move on from there. If they can’t at least match Google's search results, then they are dead in the water. Actually, I believe that any new search engine trying to beat Google will have to bring a unique model to the table…much different than just showing search results. It’s hard enough to change people’s behavior, and that's especially true if you show no results for Jerry Maguire! Rod Tidwell would not be happy. :)

GG

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