Considering online advertising, but not sure where to start? Or maybe you discovered one website you feel is a direct fit for your target audience and want to test it. The key is to develop and assess an online advertising strategy evaluating all opportunities across the web, rather than just relying on one or two sites that may seem attractive.
The first step as with all marketing and advertising strategies is to develop measurable goals. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? If yes, by how much? Do you want to increase online and/or retail sales? If yes, by how much? How much are you willing to spend per e-commerce or retail sales conversion?
Second, consider what type of online advertising is the best approach. Options include search engine display advertising programs like Google Adwords, search engine pay-per-click (PPC), industry specific websites, media (magazines, newspaper, television, radio) websites, blogs and social media advertising (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) – or a combination of these.
Research options based on where you anticipate your customers and prospects are most active and engaged, and then confirm this with the outlets. For social media sites, blogs, industry and media websites ask for and review media kits – which should include visitor statistics and demographics – and case studies based on the success of other advertisers.
For search engine display advertising research the website categories you can target and talk with the search engine advertising reps to determine what you can expect as far as results. It is more challenging with search engine display advertising to gain specific website visitor stats, demographics and advertising results since these sites sell advertising through a company like Google rather than directly.
The benefit of working with search engines (PPC or display advertising) is you can track results virtually real time. This includes sales if you effectively incorporate your shopping cart into the search engine reporting system. This will allow you to make adjustments to the campaigns whenever you see fit. Working with industry websites, blogs or media websites you will need to rely on their tracking methods and reports to help you determine results.
Similar to traditional advertising, there are many options and considerations when determining if online advertising is right for your brand. The best way to determine how to move forward is to do your research, put measurable goals in place, develop compelling creative and a strong call to action and then test, test and test again.
We are constantly finding new online tools that keep us fresh and provide inspiration. Check out our top three picks that have been inspiring us this week!
1. Media Relations Tool: When it makes sense for their brand, many marketers are using Twitter to connect with media. But, check out this Pinterest board featuring leading media brands on Pinterest to discover what they are interested in, and get inspired to deliver better pitches: http://pinterest.com/pinterestpower/media-brands-on-pinterest/
2. Video Inspiration: YouTube has taken the liberty of gathering some impressive examples of creative video marketing. Check out some excellent video case studies here: http://www.youtube.com/showandtell
3. Branding: We love TrendWatching.com’s monthly Trend Briefing reports. March 2012 focuses on the theme of Flawsome: the idea that brands that behave more humanely and show flaws are more well-received by consumers. For a longer explanation, the research behind this idea and real life examples, visit: http://trendwatching.com/briefing/
When it comes to website design and functionality, there are myriad options and levels of complexity to choose from. However, no matter how large or small your budget, here are the top five things you absolutely need to get right when you undertake a website redesign.
1. Engaging Home Page. If customers are not immediately intrigued by your home page, chances are they will immediately navigate away from your site without a second thought. Using color strategically, incorporating exciting photography and visible callouts and presenting a clear picture of what your company actually does are key elements of an engaging home page.
2. Clear Call to Action. What is the main goal of your website – to sell product, build a long-term prospect database, provide a clear picture of your brand, show customers which stores carry your product? Whatever the goal, your website should display prominent communication on every page that allows customers to accomplish that one goal.
3. Properly Packaged News Coverage/Media Information. First, this means providing media coverage (intended for review by consumers) and media resources/contacts (intended for use by media) in separate sections of your site. Consumers want to see what media say about your product; media want to know how they can reach your corporate experts (see our recent post on media rooms for details on creating one).
To ensure an attractive media coverage section, provide visual elements (mastheads, cover pages and media logos) so big hits are easy to recognize. Pair each visual with an excerpt from the news story and link the visual component to the full story (hosted online or in PDF format) that opens in a new navigation window.
4. Intuitive Navigation. If you have a clear call to action in place, this is simple. Visitors to your website should be able to accomplish key tasks within 1-2 clicks of anywhere on your site. While viewing the news coverage section, customers should see a clear link to buy your product or find a store that sells it. From the products page, customers should be able to easily locate customer service contact information, shipping and return policies. Think like a shopper when building your new site.
5. Collecting Customer Contact Information. Visitors to your website are already engaged and interested in learning more about your company, products or services. Make it easy for them to stay connected with a clearly visible email sign up forms, a link for creating an account, or links to social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and company blogs).
Need help developing your new website? Contact me at Kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.
If you frequently, or even occasionally, use Google Analytics to monitor, assess and analyze your website traffic, you have likely noticed a new phrase in the key words section recently. (If you are not currently using Google Analytics to better understand your website traffic, you absolutely should be. It is a free tool, takes 10 minutes to install on your website, and provides a wealth of valuable information.)
The new term: (not provided)
Where you will see it: In the keywords section, likely representing at least 10 percent of search traffic.
What it means: The keyword section in Google Analytics provides insight regarding which keywords consumers are searching that lead them to your website. The appearance of the term (not provided) represents a certain percentage of keyword searches that Google is no longer providing data for.
Why: In October 2011, Google announced the decision to encrypt keyword searches by logged in Google users to make them private. Essentially, any visitor that reaches your site through a keyword search while logged into Google will be categorized under the new (not provided) category. Google originally predicted this would only impact 10 percent or less of searches. However, several months into the program, many website owners are reporting double-digit percentages.
The Exception: Whether a user is logged into Google or not, Google Analytics WILL deliver information on keyword searches leading to your website on one condition: if the user reaches your website by way of paid search. So if a consumer searches for a key word and accesses your site via a paid Google ad, you WILL still be able to assess key words driving paid traffic.
Are you driving quality traffic to your website but experiencing a disconnect when it comes to converting that traffic to online orders? While the design and usability of your site are not the sole factors influencing a consumer’s decision to buy, simple missteps – like those listed below – can help ensure you lose a sale that is already knocking at your door.
1. Ask for the sale too soon. Light boxes, screaming videos, pop ups and shopping carts are key conversion tools, but should not be the very first thing a consumer encounters when visiting your site. Site visitors either know what they want and want to get straight to it OR they want to shop around without some pesky virtual clerk annoying their experience. Give visitors the chance to breathe.
2. Bury critical product information. Information about your products should be accessible directly from the home or landing page you are driving traffic to – either by way of content (if you only sell one product) or very visible links that allow consumers to access product information in one simple click (two clicks at most).
3. Force content. Be careful not to make videos, animations and testimonials the focal points of your website’s content. Video and sound should not play automatically. Likewise, overbearing or too many customer testimonials can actually hurt your brand and product. The key is to integrate these tools with your content in a way that adds value and provides the consumer additional information without the pressure. Shopping should be fun!
4. No visible call to action. Once a visitor decides to buy your product, it should be very easy for her or him to complete the purchase. Every page on your site should have a visible call to action and direct link to check out.
5. Inconsistent branding. From the color scheme to the mood to the tone in your web copy, your website should be consistent with the type of product you are selling. Correctly using the creative components of your website confirms you can deliver on the promise your product offers.
6. Mobile unfriendly content. If mobile is part of your marketing strategy, ensure you complement it with a mobile version of your site. If you cannot create a mobile version of your website, at least ensure the landing page is viewable on a smart phone or device. If users cannot see your content or find the checkout area, they will get frustrated and leave before converting to a sale.
Let’s be honest, when most people think of successful consumer publicity, monthly glossies like Real Simple and Good Housekeeping are at the top of the wish list. However, securing coverage with the right online media sites can make just as big of impact for your brand and/or product and help support organic search engine optimization.
At a time when the number and size of traditional print consumer magazines is shrinking and competition for prime editorial coverage is fierce, the online magazine industry is growing and online publishers are learning to deliver content in a format familiar to magazine readers. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times highlights The Thriving (Online) Shelter Magazine Industry.
1. Focused target audience. As the New York Times article identifies, many online publications are focused on one particular niche or topic. For example, an online shelter magazine is entirely dedicated to design while a national glossy like Good Housekeeping may only have five pages worth of home décor and care tips. There is more opportunity for your company or product to be featured in an online publication dedicated entirely to one subject. Also, the publication’s audience is already interested in the topic, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site.
2. Coverage appears sooner. Typical lead-time for a national consumer print publication is about 6 months. That means even if you start pitching today, the earliest you will see coverage is November. Online magazines and news sites operate on a much shorter editorial cycle, providing an opportunity to secure quick media coverage.
3. Coverage lives on. Once an article is published online, it exists on the Internet indefinitely, while print pubs are often tossed or recycled after reading. Online media coverage has the longer shelf life, and, if it is positive, serves as a testimonial for your brand for consumers conducting online research for years to come.
4. Drive consumers directly to a website. Often online media include a link directly to a product or service website. This can make measuring online media simple. With Google Analytics properly set up, it is easy to track how much direct traffic a particular article resulted in, and whether any of that traffic converted to sales.
5. Enhances organic search engine optimization: If a well-known media site, especially one with a good Google page rank, includes a direct link to your site, it will help to increase your organic search engine optimization. Media sites are seen as more credible sources by search engines than your average site.
6. Reach mobile consumers. As we shared in our recent post on QR Codes, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by this Christmas. Online media is easily accessible to smartphone users through apps and mobile sites.
7. Gain feedback. Some online publications – those not developed in e-reader formats – provide readers with the capability to post in response to articles. Marketers can gain feedback about their company/products and even respond to consumer comments/concerns/questions.
8. Powerful reach. A common misconception is that online publications do not reach nearly as many readers as traditional media. Whether it is the online counterpart of print media or an online-only publication, these sites reach large numbers of unique monthly visitors. Find the site’s online media kit or use free tools like compete.com or quantcast.com to identify an outlet’s monthly visitors.
9. Real-time sharing. If a reader thinks your product or story is useful or compelling, they can share a link to your story immediately. With print coverage, pass-along readership has value, but often takes longer to occur. With online coverage, your message has the potential to spread faster and bypass geographic barriers.
Need help launching a traditional and online publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.