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June 2013 Website Marketing Newsletter

Most businesses market online to grab attention solely to influence the first website visit of those at the start of their buying decision. With changes brought about by Google and Facebook we will soon be able to not only match our advertising to the different buying stages prospects have, but to also present these messages on our own site and on other sites that the prospects visit.

This is a subtle but powerful change that I predict will create a substantial boost to the effectiveness of the online channel.

But first up, let’s recap the way most online marketers spend their money now. For the vast majority it’s all about raising awareness for those at the first stage of the customer journey as they start their search for what you offer.

Google is the destination here, so the focus is on being found and then being clicked. Rankings, ad clicks, visits and visitors – these are all where it’s at. The greater the better across any or all of these metrics.

It’s all about eyeballs to start with followed by conversions. All going well, between 2% and let’s say 10% of those who visit a site as a result of this awareness strategy will convert and enter the sales funnel of whatever shape and size suits what is being sold.

This assumes that the remaining 90% + do what… Nothing? Stop looking? Decide that they don’t want what they were searching for anymore? Well of course none of these are correct. Just because they didn’t become your lead or buy from you doesn’t mean they are not going to do the same for one for your competitors.

A small amount will return. Perhaps your paid advertising ads will be used to re-cycle them back to your website. And all going well – some will buy this time. We frequently see this behaviour in the Conversion Attribution reports of our clients within Google Analytics. Returning visitors arriving back through AdWords clicks even though they have been to the site before.

“Why didn’t they bookmark the website” clients yell at the screen as they see their Google Ad spend inflate for no net new visitor growth. (When was the last time you bookmarked a website?)

Nevertheless there’s still a sizable amount of first time visitors who head off to review their options on the broader internet space. Never to return. This is part of the new opportunity, marketing to the 90% plus who came and didn’t purchase, and for whom you can present some enticing messages to out on the Internet to entice them back.

You have a few metrics to work with to craft your messages – the amount of times they visited, the places they visited and the time they spent looking. This all provides enough information to build a campaign that presents different messages to those with differing interest levels for different products at different stages of the buying process.

Here’s an example of how this could come together. Let’s say you are an accommodation provider in the Sydney area that offers a range of both short term and long term accommodation options for rooms of an executive style level.

The existing way of online marketing could include the following tactics:blog2

Now the editions to this list would include:

Segmenting your website visitors into three focus segments based on their behaviour – corporate customers, retail prospects who haven’t purchased before and corporate customers who are looking for a long term accommodation option.

For each segment to then produce a marketing campaign to be run on both the core website as well as other high traffic websites these people will visit. These campaigns are to change based on the length of time people have been in each segment. For example, we present different messages to those retail prospects in the first month (when they are most likely to buy) compared to the third (where their propensity to purchase is lower).

Include the necessary analytics to track the effectiveness of these strategies by segment. 

Sound a bit too farfetched?

Google launched their re-marketing module back in September 2012 . This feature provides part of the solution. This article from the May edition of Vanity Fair edition explains how Facebook is working with advertisers to help them market in a very similar way.

Part of the technology puzzle is already there from these two marketing giants. We feel there’s enough to become dangerous in most markets. Sound interesting? Give us a call today to learn more.

 

blog3My experience in online marketing started with email marketing. I saw my first HTML email message in late 1999 thinking it was a thing of beauty that could transform direct communications. I was not alone.

Back then, all of the marketing managers I presented to in my previous role had the same opinion and the company’s client list grew at speed. Email marketing was a very popular subject area at the time. The company I worked for did a good job at captilizing on this with a very effective (think pushy) PR company shoving me in front of reporters at every opportunity.

Moving forward 14 years and a few things have changed. Email marketing is now seen as an “old school” form of online marketing – being at the opposite scale of it’s “uber cool” social media cousin. Nevertheless from the results that I see our clients achieve with this channel, there are still some amazing results available for those willing to invest the time.

With email there’s no hype, no complex buzz words, no promise of large societal change – just straightforward campaign tactics that make sense. These are campaigns that every business should have running as they apply to problems that most businesses need to solve. Thirteen years of experience supports its use. So what are you waiting for?

Here are four of these problems that suit email so well:

Problem #1 – Your are a different company than you were a year ago but nobody knows.

The humble email newsletter. This was the first strategy people began with back in 1999 and to this day it is probably the one that applies to most businesses today. For those who want to know – it makes sense to keep in touch and let them know what has changed.

So if you sell capital equipment across New Zealand and Australia, your purchasers may not be the right audience for a message each month – they may not need to buy again for another 10 years. However the dealers who represent you are ideal. What tips and tricks can you provide to help them sell more or know more about your product?

Sending an email newsletter is a strategy that should fit in every business or else there’s a bigger problem that needs work. If you can’t think of anyone who would value what you will say, or you have nothing to say, then things are quite dire.

Problem #2 – It’s taking prospects too long to decide to buy.

In this month’s customer conference call we talked about delivering online marketing to help close sales that take time. In these situations the lead may arrive in mid February but the purchase order isn’t confirmed until say the end of July. Many businesses have either some or all of their products / services fitting within this category.

What you say and how you say it between these extended periods can make all the difference to the likelihood of success. Generally a mix of communication styles – face to face, phone, direct mail and even email are required to all work seamlessly together to move things along.

The smart marketers – those who want to manage the sales process as much as they can – employ each and every one, and within this some good old email marketing can work wonders.

It could be a simple monthly email message that introduces new features of the product that the prospect is not aware of. Perhaps one note that lists out some recent case studies that apply to their particular needs. Small, simple messages that ideally are run on auto pilot to help build some rolling momentum of sales activity.

Problem #3 – They bought before but not enough are buying again.

It could be another batch of office supplies, or maybe replacing their Revlon foundation using you instead of a local pharmacy. Whatever it is, usually you are trying to influence a decision that is made frequently and for which there are a few alternative buying options.

All of this is an ideal place for a humble piece of email marketing to fit. By sending on a frequency that makes sense to those that receive it and including a few relevant tempting offers, these types of messages make great commercial sense. That’s why the bond between e-commerce and email marketing is so strong. Working together they are a winning team.

How much they achieve is something that ideally you will be able to track inside your website analytics application with the traffic driven from your newsletter correctly tagged as its own individual stream.

Problem #4 Your customers are not being thanked for making the right decision.

Customers make many decisions that frequently go unacknowledged by those who benefit from them. Here are a few that initially come to mind from my own experience – leaving a hotel after staying three days over a long weekend, subscribing to an email newsletter, ordering my umpteenth piece of computer gear for the office from a supplier we have used for at least 5 years now, and agreeing to an appointment with someone from Telecom to talk about upgrading to the super fast Fibre Internet connection that is now available in Grey Lynn (they didn’t turn up :0).

All of these could have done with a short email of thanks that would have been greatly received and possibly even automatically generated. Not surprisingly, messages that are triggered by a customer’s behaviour are naturally better received than those which are triggered by a marketers desire to make money. It just makes sense.

So there you are. Four very basic problems each with a very basic form of online marketing that is ready and able to solve it. I would be very surprised to find a business that does not experience at least one of these four problems.

Next month why not think about how you can look at email marketing in another light with a specific focus on any of these four areas. And of course, do give us a call if you would like a chat about how we could help you out along the way.

blog1
Living in a household with teenage girls, as I do, means that my Sunday and Monday evenings have been recently hijacked into becoming an X Factor viewing experience.
Yes it can be cringe worthy TV, but there are a few nuggets in there. You just have to look for them.

We have seen the auditions, the judge’s retreat and now the top 12 – or whatever number we are up to now. Annabel has her favourite, as does Maddy and it seems Fletcher, the most audibly challenged of them all, is there just for one thing… His looks. How shallow those teenage girls are.

Not wanting to be left out I have snuck a space on the sofa and been annoyingly critical as all fathers should be at times like these. There’s some talent in here that I hope manages to go on to good things once the razzmatazz has died down. And as hard as it may seem – when I look back on what will make the winner stand out from the rest, there are some lessons in here for you and your online marketing.

Here’s four that immediately come to mind:      

Lesson #1 Being good isn’t enough – being noticed is.

First up – for the contestants left, having a good voice is not going to be enough to succeed. There are a lot of good singers in the last dozen. But what the judges have mentioned again and again is the “marketability” of the person and the way they sing.

Your “voice” online is the content you present and the messages you impart. There are plenty of websites that do both of these well but still fail convert their visitors into leads. It’s not how they say their message that’s lacking, it’s the message itself.

So for instance, there are dozens of websites for electricians in Auckland that all say the same thing – great service, reliable technicians and a desire to clean up after they have done the job. Think of them all “singing” the same way and achieving average results online due to it.

However, the sites that stand out are the ones that say different things that appeal to those looking for their service. And it’s that last point that is the hardest to achieve. Knowing what to say that sets you apart from the crowd AND has appeal to your customers – it’s another way of providing what the judges refer to as “marketability”.

Lesson #2 The public is voting on your performance too.

Part of the X Factor experience is the ability for the viewers to get involved after each Sunday nights performance by voting for their favourite singer. The two with the lowest public votes then perform and the judges then decide who should leave.

Things are a bit harsher online. Instead of once a week, everyday your visitors “vote” on the effectiveness of your website with the attention they give it. Statistics like your website’s bounce rate reveal how well you fare. A site’s bounce rate is represented as a percentage and relates to the proportion of visits that look at just one page and then leave the site. The lower this number the better.

This month we conducted a number of online marketing reviews for prospects and over half of them had problems in this space. Their bounce rates were way too high – I’m talking 60% and above. This was news to them.

Other stats like “time on site” and “pages per visit” are similar pointers of visitor engagement. Track and measure all three and you will see the public “voting” on your website each and every day they arrive.

Lesson #3 Practice what needs practicing.

It’s quite interesting to see the change in contestants as the show progresses. In the audition they come across as mild, meek mannered but obviously gifted souls who are overawed by the whole TV experience. Then as the weeks pass their confidence starts to grow and with it their voice and stage presence.

As viewers we see snippets of this on the Sunday recap when contestants are shown practicing their moves and flexing their vocal muscles. I suppose they all work hard – but it’s the ones that work on the right things who end up making the most change.

When it comes to online marketing there’s a lot to practice every week. Of the three areas we focus on – Analytics, Growing Traffic and Growing Conversions – each one includes a dozen or so points that could be worked on. The magic comes by focusing on those that will provide the greatest return on the time invested.

The online marketing review stage we take people through partly solves this problem. One outcome of this is a list of points that need fixing and a relative priority for each. After completing dozens of these reviews there is always one area that is high up on the list of priority fixes – website analytics. It is always either wrong or failing to work as well as it should.

Harking back to the last lesson – think of it as being blindly unaware of a poor voting result each and every day the results come through

Lesson #4 The right mentor can make all the difference.

Fortunately the contestants are not left on their own to navigate their way through the final stages of the live shows. Each judge is allocated a group to mentor to help them along.

So during the re-cap part on the Sunday program you see the mentoring from the week prior with the pair training towards the live performance. I imagine that some of these relationships work better than others. Nevertheless, each of the judges has previously achieved success and they are ready and able to pass on any advice they can to enable their candidate to win.

The same theory transfers nicely to online marketing. As a business owner you can try to transform your website into the selling machine all by yourself – or you could engage a mentor to speed up the process.

We obviously work in this space. But if I was helping others choose a company to help in this regard I would offer one tip – advice is predominately autobiographical. People will tell you to do what they have done / experienced before themselves.

So ideally you need to match your problems with mentors who have solved similar issues before. It sounds very basic but it’s easy to get wrong. This is especially the case when a prospective mentor of dubious ethics can do a very good job of convincing you that your most processing “problem” just happens to be the one that they have strong experience in solving. For instance SEO services being sold when the core problem is not the traffic a website is receiving but its inability to convert it into leads or sales.

The sofa beckons for this Sunday’s session. I have no idea who will win this year’s competition, but I do know that these four points will somehow be part of their success. This month why not take my translation into their relevance for online marketing and see if they can ensure your website produces a winning performance?

Every month we hold a customer conference call that all of our customers are invited to join. At the beginning of these conference calls we have a section on what is new in the online marketing world that we believe is worthy of your attention. This is a video of the introduction of May’s conference call 2013.

This month we talk about decoding not provided traffic that appears in Google Analytics, new hyper localised Google Maps, the new local business listing rating system and a great new resource to check out from Google!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95RRRvggq24