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

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Email, A Tweet, Some Retweets and A Sale - How Twitter Can Impact Your B2B Sales


Case Study - How Twitter Can Impact Your B2B SalesI think many heavy Twitter users hear the same jokes and comments from people not using the service. “I don’t see any value in tweeting my ideas”, “Why would I want tell people what I had for breakfast”, “140 character updates, I don’t get it…”, “Why do I want to communicate with total strangers?”, so on and so forth. After hearing comments like this, it usually only takes me a few minutes to give real world examples of how Twitter is NOT what they were thinking and how they could use the service to help grow their own businesses. Those real world case studies go a long way when you are explaining a service that can be foreign to other people (even for people in marketing who aren’t that involved with social media.) So, I’m always on the lookout for more great examples of how Twitter (and social media) can impact companies, marketers, customers, etc. As you might guess, I’ve a got a good one that I’ve decided to share. :)

The Social Media Chain Reaction Needs a Spark
A few weeks ago, a blog post was published detailing some of the top software applications for a niche in an industry. The post included a startup that had recently just launched their new application. The founder of the startup was proud (as he should be) and blasted out an email newsletter announcing that they were included in the list of top apps. I’m not sure how many people were on the email list, but I can only imagine it wasn’t a large list (as the company recently just launched).

It wasn’t long before a link to the blog post hit the Twittersphere. The company in question has a very small Twitter following, so blasting out an email could only help get the word out. A quick review of their Twitter stream shows they are doing the right things, but they haven’t reached critical mass to make a significant impact. Some of the tweets linking to the blog post were from people who definitely have a strong Twitter following. Retweets soon followed and the word started to get out about the list of top apps. By no means was this a retweet extravaganza that I’ve seen with other posts, but it did get passed around quite a bit.

The Results: Email, Tweet, Retweet, Sale
It's sometimes funny how tweets end up finding the right people. It's similar to WOM, where several generations of communication can occur (stemming from the initial tweet). In a nutshell, the startup ended up landing its first international client in less than 12 hours from one of the initial tweets. The new customer saw the tweet (either by directly following a Twitter user or by tracking keywords in Twitter), clicked through to the blog post, and then chose to learn more about the startup's app. They obviously took the next step and inquired about the service and then pulled the trigger (all in less than 12 hours.) Oh by the way, this all cost nothing for the startup, nada, $0). And when B2B sales can generate thousands of dollars per customer (or tens of thousands of dollars depending on what you sell), you cannot downplay how powerful this Twitter example is.

A Quick Tangent About Email Marketing:
I wanted to point out that an email actually started the communication process. There’s quite a bit of buzz about social networking (and for good reason), but I still believe a strong and scrubbed in-house email list is worth its weight in gold.

Seeing the “Twitter” Light
For the startup, they now see the power of Twitter (and social media in general). But in my opinion, the company was somewhat lucky with what happened. Don’t get me wrong, their software solution looks impressive (especially for the industry they focus on). But, having cool software doesn’t necessarily translate to business success, especially with all the noise in today’s marketplace. It’s great that the blog post made its way to the right people, but the startup could have better facilitated the communication on social networks. No, you cannot control where the message ends up and how it gets passed along, but you can help get the word out to the right people during the launch via followers, fans, influencers, etc. That’s where having a strong presence on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can be extremely powerful.

In order to maximize their efforts and continually engage targeted users, the startup needs to tackle social media marketing on several fronts. Although they saw some success due to Twitter that day, they had to rely on someone else getting the word out. Imagine if they already had a strong following on Twitter and Facebook. What if they already had a global readership on their blog, and had connections with dozens of powerful bloggers in their industry? It’s not a stretch to think that the startup could have landed five or ten new customers versus one. The problem is that it takes time to build up a following, which I have written about several times before. Currently, the startup is in the initial stages of launching their social media marketing efforts. They are fighting the black hole of blogging and Twitter, but they are doing the right things. If they don’t get frustrated and keep driving forward, social media could end up being very powerful for them. They could end up driving the communication versus hoping someone else drives it for them.

In Order to Reap the Rewards of Social Media, Make Sure You’re in the Game
In order to make sure you can benefit from a situation like what I explained above, there are some initial steps you can take. First, develop a strategy for utilizing social media to engage targeted users. This includes understanding the people you want to reach, which types of content they want to see, which social networks you should be active on, how to gain real followers and not just zombie followers, etc. Second, join Twitter. You need to take the leap and join in order to get things moving. Once you join, you’ll need to work through the black hole of blogging and Twitter (like I mentioned above). You won’t build a strong following overnight, but if you do the right things consistently over time, you can end up building a targeted following. And those followers could have a profound impact on your business.

Track everything you can. Track your tweets, follower counts, blog posts, website activity from social networks, and conversion. Note, conversion doesn’t always mean a sale or an email registration (macro-conversions). It can be micro-conversions like downloads, videos viewed, content viewed, email links, etc. You need to understand how your social media marketing efforts are performing in order to make adjustments and grow your following.

Form relationships and not just followers. Yes, that’s the “social” part of social media. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with every follower and fan, but there will be a subset of your followers that you will definitely connect with. Once you form those relationships, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to rely on some of your followers to help your business. And by the way, you’ll probably be just as willing to help them too. Trust me, if you participate in Twitter the right way, you can’t help but meet really cool people with similar interests. Then it’s just a matter of how you engage your newfound friends and contacts.

Twitter Questions to Ponder
So, if you are one of those people asking “Why would I want to tell people what I had for breakfast on Twitter”, please read this post again. Then ask yourself the following questions:

1. How many new customers am I missing out on by not being on Twitter?
2. Are my competitors already there and doing the right things to engage targeted users?
3. How much time can I carve out during each day (yes, that’s every day) to participate on Twitter and other social networks?
4. Am I ready to engage other people and provide valuable content? Read this bullet again. Valuable tweets are NOT about promoting your own service ten times per day. It’s about providing information that your followers would find valuable.

A Final Note
There you have it. A pretty cool example of how email marketing led to a tweet, which led to retweets, and then ultimately a B2B sale (all in less than 12 hours). After reading this case study, you have to ask yourself the following question:

Are you going to be one of the people sitting on the sidelines and making fun of Twitter, or will you be landing new customers and growing your business?

Good question.

GG

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A CM-Mess for SEM - How Content Management Systems (CMS) Can Be a Thorn in Your SEM Side


CMS-related problems for SEM.It’s widely known in the search community that CMS packages can cause serious SEO problems. These problems can sometimes be caused by the actual CMS being used or by the implementation of that CMS. There’s definitely a distinction. And to be clear, not all CMS packages or implementations cause these problems. You just need to be careful when choosing and implementing one. When you start to look at the impact from content management systems, the list of potential SEO issues can get quite long. For example, you might run into canonical issues, duplicate content, lack of content optimization, issues with flash seo, unfriendly redirects, etc. The irony is that CMS packages are supposed to make your life easier (and some definitely do), but there are times they can cause serious headaches.

But I Mentioned SEM, and Not Just SEO
Even though most of the focus has been on content management systems impacting SEO, paid search can also be affected. I’ve run into several CMS-related problems that can end up inhibiting the success of your paid search campaigns. From developing custom landing pages to accurately tracking conversion to implementing multivariate testing, content management systems can sometimes present their own obstacles (or little gremlins depending on the issue at hand). That brings me to the point of this post!

My latest blog post on Search Engine Journal (which went live today) addresses this topic and covers four categories of potential problems that content management systems can cause while running paid search. The post provides a description of each problem, recommendations for making changes, and a list of key takeaways. If you’re a search marketer that’s working with a CMS (or attempting to work with a CMS), then I recommend reading my post. :) And if you think I left out any problems, definitely feel free to post a comment below or on Search Engine Journal.

To learn more, check out my post now:
A CM-Mess for SEM – Does Your Content Management System Cause These Paid Search Problems?

GG

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Exploring AdWords Geotargeting - 4 Points About Location Targeting in Google That Are Often Misunderstood


Why many new bloggers and Twitter users get frustrated and drop off the social media grid.I receive a lot of questions from local businesses about how to best geotarget their paid search ads in Google. AdWords actually provides some robust ways to target your ads by country, region, state, city, and there is also an option for choosing a custom location to target. For example, you could create a polygon on a map to choose a very specific area to target. But just because those options are available doesn’t mean that everyone using AdWords understands how location targeting actually works. I’m going to explain four points in this blog post that seem to confuse advertisers (plus one bonus topic). My goal is to arm you with the right information about geotargeting so you can understand the best ways to structure your campaigns and drive outstanding results.

Here are four points (plus a bonus topic at the end) about location targeting in AdWords that you might not realize are in effect while prospective customers are searching for your products or services.

Query Parsing
Some advertisers are confused when they geotarget a specific location and end up seeing visitors from outside that area. I hear questions about this often. Some advertisers believe that there must have been a glitch in AdWords that showed their ads to untargeted searchers. What’s actually happening is that Google uses query parsing to detect when a search is local in nature. So, if you are geotargeting New York City, but someone in Alabama searches for New York Hotels, Google might show them your ads targeted for New York. Again, that’s even if you are targeting people only in New York. You should keep this in mind if you plan to geotarget your campaigns, but also want to reach people outside that area for specific keywords.

Query Parsing in Action
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Query parsing in AdWords.

IP Address
If Google can determine your location via IP address, then you might see ads based on that location. So if your IP address shows you are from Princeton, New Jersey, and you search for bakeries, then you might see ads for bakeries in the Princeton area. Notice that the query bakeries did not have a local qualifier (such as a city or town). Google has continually refined the way that it handles queries that it deems local in nature. You might have noticed a big change in March of 2009, when the 10 pack of local listings (now 7 pack) was triggered via non-geo keywords. Prior to that, queries with geographic qualifiers would trigger local listings (such as bakeries in Princeton, NJ). Now they can be triggered via broad terms (if Google believes it’s a local search). Keep this in mind when building your keyword lists for geotargeted campaigns.

Local Ads Based on IP
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Local ads triggered via IP Address.

Google Country-Specific Search Engines
This point relates to the Google domain you are searching on (and Google has over 100 country-specific domains). When people are searching on Google, they will see ads based on the Google domain they are using, such as google.co.uk, google.ca, google.co.jp, etc. So, if you are located in Canada, but are using Google UK, ads will be UK-focused. If you are in Japan, but you are using Google.com (US), then your ads will be targeted for the US. This is important to understand if you will be targeting people in several countries. You would want to structure your campaigns so they are extremely targeted for the locations (and languages) you are focusing on.

Google Domain Driving Ads
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Ads displayed based on Google domain.

Location Targeting on the Content Network
If you are running campaigns on the content network, then geotargeting does work and come into play. This essentially means that your ads will show up on sites across the content network (or via specific placements) when visitors to those sites are within your targeted locations. So, if you are targeting Washington DC and your ads show up on about.com, then your ads should only show for visitors from the Washington DC area (or on pages that Google deems local in content). The latter point is similar to query parsing when keywords are involved. For example, if you are reading information about Princeton NJ, but you are outside of the Princeton area, you might still see geotargeted ads for Princeton. Since your ads are contextually targeted on the content network, queries are not part of the targeting process (because there is no query to target). For example, visitors aren’t searching to trigger your ads across the content network. Instead, Google is analyzing the page at hand and determining if your ad matches the content on that page. Note, there’s a difference between a query and a keyword. :)

Geotargeted Ads on the Content Network
Geotargeting on the Content Network.

Bonus: A Quick Note About Local Extensions (A Form of Ad Extensions)
Wouldn’t it be valuable to include your address in your text ad when it’s extremely relevant to the person searching? That’s a leading question, isn’t it? :) Location extensions enable you to do this and they are very easy to set up. If you are a business owner with a Google Local Business Center account, then you can attach your business address to your ads. Note, your listing must be validated in Google Local Business Center for your address to show up. When you use local extensions, your business address will show up below your traditional text ad as seen in the screenshot below. If you don’t have a local business center account, then you can manually enter up to nine addresses that can be used as local extensions. Check out the AdWords help center to learn more about local extensions.

Local Extensions in Action
Query parsing in AdWords.

Be Prepared to Target
I hope this post clarified some of the nuances of geotargeting in AdWords. As a paid search advertiser, it’s important to understand how Google uses location targeting so you can build your campaigns to maximize your results. From query parsing to Google domains to IP detection, there are several factors that can trigger your ads beyond the locations that you think you’re targeting. Now aim for the bullseye and target away. :)

GG

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