online marketing

Blog Series: How To Test For Internet Marketing Success: Part 2 – What to Test

In our last post about internet marketing testing, I discussed how to reduce the number of items to test, and now we can start to consider what you should include in your testing strategy.

Everyone has an opinion about testing and as a result disagreements within your team are actually a very effective place to start. One person may feel strongly about creative headlines and copy; while another person may be focused on one type of media that they feel is best. These issues can often be rsolved through testing. In my experience, the best things to test are things that make the most difference fastest. This generally includes the following two things: the offer and the advertising media.

The Offer
The offer is almost always the most important part of a campaign, and can come in many types. Early stage B2B offers are often white papers, a mid-stage offer may be a case study, and a late stage offer may be a sales presentation. All of these offers may be part of a complete and successful campaign. When you select an offer, remember to determine what you are asking users to do, and what their incentive is to do it. And of course, make sure your content is valuable and important.

The Media
The media you choose for your campaign is also of utmost importance. Making a mistake on which type to use is an easy way to blow a lot of money fast. An issue with media decisions is that they are often very expensive and can take up a large chunk of your budget. When choosing media it is important to evaluate each choice on similar criteria to enable you to analyze results when the campaign is over. For B2B campaigns, the metric our clients often use is the cost per quality lead. If you use a common criterion for success, it will be easier to evaluate the media test when it’s complete.

In today’s marketing environment, paid media may only be a small part of your media options. You need to manage your time on unpaid media as well, and time is money after all. If someone on your team is spending 8 hours per week on social media, make sure you allocate that time and include it in your cost per lead analysis when considering media choices.

Once you have a list of media options, it is critical to make small bets on new media until you have an understanding of the cost per lead. Too often marketing people throw 75% of their budget into a campaign without any knowledge of its performance. It’s vital to make smart small bets or it’s very hard to test. On the next post, we’ll talk about the testing process itself

To learn more download How to Test for Internet Marketing Success White Paper

Why Buy Marketing Services from an Internet Marketing Agency?

Internet Marketing ServicesAre you asking yourself “Should we buy online marketing services from an agency, or hire/train our own in-house person?”

This is a great question that cannot be answered without first considering the following:

Can we find one person to perform all the online marketing services we could get from an Internet marketing agency?

Almost certainly not, unless you are very fortunate.  Online marketing is comprised of different and disparate services, including Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Web Design and Development, Web Analytics, and more.  Generally, an online marketing professional is proficient at a few of these services, familiar with some, but incapable of being able to deliver quality work for all of these services.  To cover these online marketing services, companies are really looking at hiring a team of online marketing professionals, driving up the cost of taking these services in-house.

This is precisely what an agency provides – a complete team of online marketing professionals, each individually proficient at a couple of facets of online marketing and collectively proficient at all of them.

Do these online marketing services constitute a full-time job?

Generally, individual online marketing agency services are not full-time jobs.  Once running, Pay Per Click or Search Engine Optimization campaigns can usually be managed in a few hours a week.  Web Analytics and Email Campaigns take more time, but are still not usually full-time endeavors.  Web design and development can be very labor-intensive, but this work tends to be sporadic, only really busy when a new site launch is planned. Social Media can be very time intensive depending on the number of platforms and the amount of content.

By outsourcing these online marketing agency services, you can take advantage of a fully fleshed-out web marketing department, but on a part-time basis.  Many businesses find this approach a very attractive alternative.

Am I prepared to keep these positions filled?

Online marketing professionals are a mobile bunch.  Many take a position for a couple of years and then move on.  In this industry, someone who has held the same position for more than a few years is a rarity.

By outsourcing these services, you are also outsourcing the HR headaches of keeping the position filled.  When someone leaves the agency you’ve hired, it’s the responsibility of that agency to replace that person – not your company’s.

What is the best choice for me?

The “make-or-buy” decision is nothing new for any business in any industry.  While there are many companies that truly merit and require a department of online marketing pros, many companies, especially those in the B2B space, will find online marketing agency services will deliver better results, be more cost-effective and easier to manage.

Online Marketing: From Important to Vital

In a recent survey, Forrester asked 100 businesses about their spending plans for the upcoming recession.  While the respondents said that overall they were planning to cut marketing expenses, 45% of companies polled said that they planned to increase online marketing budgets while only 12% planned a decrease.  Why are they planning to grow online marketing?

The answer is clear.  Results and measurability.  When you do it well, online marketing produces results in a predictable and consistent way, and it allows you to see what spending is producing better results.  And you can get all of the metrics needed to help you make decisions to further improve results.

According to Josh Bernoff at Forrester, “Since interactive marketing programs are now fueled by measurable results, not dot-com madness, we believe that they can thrive in a recession.”

We live in a challenging environment where it’s vital to focus on what’s most effective first.  And as long as online marketing produces results that lead to sales revenue, it’s going to be critical for any business trying to grow during these challenging times.

Google AdWords: Tell Us Your Story

Submit Your Story Here!

I believe the day AdWords changed my life was the day I found out that AdWords made it possible to market products and/or services by placing a targeted advertisement on the Internet directed towards a specific audience with the ability to control and manage all activities in real time and report the results on a spreadsheet.

Since that day, I have learned that AdWords has not only helped us marketers use all the niche targeting we learned about and spent too much money for in college, but has also motivated an entire industry by setting a standard far higher than any other paid search interface can provide. Reaching out to a specific audience that is looking for you with the ability to change quickly is the marketing opportunity of a lifetime.

The usability of AW and the amount of control is phenomenal. A change sometimes within seconds and immediate visibility in a geo-targeted fashion is limited only by a lack of a will to succeed and a decent credit card. I have yet to hear a complaint about any customer satisfaction problems either, so if this Google thing is bulletproof we might as well use it to its fullest potential today. We have the ability to display messages to people that are looking for us, which should be placed on the totem pole of marketing just below word-of-mouth.

No wonder the industry is growing by the billions. It really is a new highway full of people seeing what is out there and AdWords provides outstanding billboards on stretches of road that people love to drive… and drive often. Google dominates the level of simplicity to access information quickly.

Putting advertisements on the first page of a search on the biggest search engine in the world with this much control is something no marketing tool to date can match.

AdWords ROCKS!

For more information on pay-per-click strategies, check out our white paper, “Optimizing PPC Search Marketing”

With the hopes of Spring just around the corner, it is time to do a little Spring cleaning and take back control of your PPC Campaign.

If your pay per click campaign has been running for awhile you probably have keywords and ads that have been added, paused, and deleted throughout your campaigns and adgroups. Your adgroups and keywords may no longer share that tight alignment that you (and Adwords) had hoped for. So what is one to do about it? There are two options; one start completely over and rebuild the campaign from the ground up using the knowledge gained from the existing campaign. Or two, use the current campaign structure and make improvements where they maybe so desperately needed.

If you are going to start fresh, compile your Adwords data from the last 3 months and begin to build a keyword pool using all the keywords that led to conversions and met the business’s requirements (performance metrics met, i.e. cost/conversion etc). Take those core keywords and begin to build out your keyword list with an emphasis on what worked in the past; all while keeping in mind what didn’t work. Once you have the list, begin to pare down and sort into categories (adgroups). Take a similar approach in identifying which adcopy were producers and which ones should be revamped. Pay close attention and look for patterns in your adcopy so you are able to realize which messages worked and which fell short when writing new adcopy.

Option two, the patch and repair method, while not as complete and comprehensive, you should still try to dedicate a few hours to making campaign improvements. Begin by heading into adgroups and removing keywords that have yielded little or no return. Think about each keyword as you prepare to remove them and ask yourself “Is there a better keyword or keyword permeation I could use in place? “; If not, hit the delete button. If your ad group contains keywords that have been paused (either by you or Google), and you can’t justify a reason to keep them …hit the delete button. Go through your Ads and purge any that are no longer working. Make a promise to yourself that you will revisit the Ads and their messages when time allows as well as look for other keyword opportunities in the near future.

The one piece not talked about was the offer / landing page component, as this warrants more than just a spring cleaning and tends to have more stakeholders involved.

Now that cob webs are removed and the vacuuming is done… you just maybe able to breathe a little easier the next time you login to manage your pay per click account.