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Posts Tagged: SEM

I’m Running for the WAA Board of Directors

Posted by & filed under Web Analytics.

Hi everyone, this is Olivier. I wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I’m running for the Web Analytics Association Board of Directors.

For those who read this blog, I would like to explain briefly the reasons behind my nomination and why I’m asking you to vote for me (weird feeling now… requesting your vote! I feel like I’m entering into politics).

Anyway, I have presented my candidacy because I feel that our industry needs as much help and support as we can provide. And having been in the Web Analytics and Online Optimization space for more than 10 years now, I felt it was time for me to give back to this industry that has given me so much. My objective with the WAA if I have the chance to be elected is to put much effort in helping web analytics and online marketers solve the challenges of spending more time on what matters. For the past 10 years, and everywhere I go, it’s the same challenge.

What matters is the analysis, the interpretation, and more importantly the actions/recommendations/changes we can make base on the data that has been collected. Testing new marketing or web design ideas, improving the user experience, watching the online conversion rates increase, that’s what is fun and rewarding.

But unfortunately, most people are bugged down with data accuracy, implementation challenges, best practice measurements, etc. Too many individuals are spending their time trying to reconcile numbers, understanding and explaining why A and B don’t match as they should, figuring out the best way to measure specific web content (i.e.. flash, video, Social Media, mobile, offline data, etc.), and finally coordinating efforts with IT to implement (or re-implement) their web analytics tags for the 10th times to capture all this. There’s got to be a better way. And that’s the challenge I would like to tackle with all the players in this industry if I’m elected.

I really think that the WAA could be more proactive as an organization. Look at the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and how they create web standards ahead of time for everyone, especially for technology vendors to follow. As a WAA director, I would love to list all the key challenges expressed by the WAA members (some of them listed above) and figure out proactive standards and best practices for measurement and implementation with all the key players in this industry so that WE (all of us) get to spend more time on what matters.

For more information about my candidacy, you can visit the WAA site.

I appreciate everyone’s support, and I wish you all a successful 2009.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
3 comments

Social Media Marketing & Search Engine Marketing

Posted by & filed under Social Media.

As more companies are leveraging social media marketing and online PR in their marketing mix, one of the questions that is brought up is the relationship between social media marketing and search marketing (or pay-per-click advertising). Do they complement each other or do they target the same audience?

To assess this, we’ve used our own press release campaign as a case study. More specifically, we were interested in knowing the overlap between the PR and PPC audiences. The results: the two are very complementary.

First the background: the press release was launched on January 21 and can be found here. The release was also picked by a number of bloggers covering the social media and online PR measurement landscape. Simultaneously, we ran a series of PPC campaigns around social media and PR measurement as shown below. The question to ask is whether these two campaigns are reaching the same audience or are different ones.

In order to analyze the results, we’re using web analytics solutions (Google Analytics and NetInsight in our case). The results inside the web analytics solutions reveal no overlap whatsoever between the two campaigns. In other words, those who came to our site as a result of PPC did not have any exposure to either our press release or the blogger coverage of it. This is done thanks to the Tealium Social Media product. Let’s look at some of the analysis.

First, we’re going to look at the AdWords report inside Google Analytics. This is shown in the figure below. However, we need to also look at the overlap of the report with the social media segment. The social media segment is an additional segment that clients of our social media measurement service get access to. It allows you to compare what percentage of your traffic has been previously exposed to your social media and online PR (examples are PR stories and blog coverages).

We expected very little overlap between the two campaigns. In other words, we expected that our press release and blogger coverage targets a different audience than AdWords. But we did not expect the two to be mutually exclusive. Out of the 107 visits generated to the site as a result of PPC advertising, not a single one previously viewed our press release or read any of the blogs covering the release. This even holds true for the contextual advertising portion of our PPC campaign.

Now let’s take a closer look at the effectiveness of these two campaigns. For this, we’re going to look at the key performance indicators of the two campaigns, which is shown below. We can see surprisingly strong performance by the PR campaign. For example, the site conversion rate of the social media campaign is at 11.5%, only slightly lower than search advertising. At the same time, the cost per visit for the PR campaign is just slightly lower than search advertising.

The benefits of search advertising have long been known: you reach an audience that’s ready to buy at the most critical stage. But the fact that PR campaigns enjoy a similar performance means that online PR can be as effective as search advertising.

To reiterate, this study is for one site only and other sites may not experience the same effect, so you should take this into consideration. But marketers are well served adding online PR and social media marketing into their marketing mix. Not only does it target an audience that’s complementary to search advertising, but it also enjoys a level of success that’s in tune with PPC advertising, with similar cost per visit, cost per conversion and conversion rates. So go ahead – start experimenting.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
7 comments

Tealium is Now a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC)

Posted by & filed under Web Analytics.

Tealium is proud to have accomplished the Google Analytics accreditation process to become a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC). This is in addition to our recent accreditation as a Google AdWords Consultant.

The combined certifications allow us to extend our web analytics and online marketing expertise to clients of Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

You can find out more information about our Google Analytics services via this link.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
1 comment

Using Google to Track the Spread of Flu

Posted by & filed under online marketing, Social Media, Web Analytics.

A while back we published a post on using Google to predict elections. A similar post has recently been submitted by Jeremiah Owyang on the use of social networking stats for similar analysis. Obviously, in both cases, one cannot heavily rely on these numbers to predict elections, as they’re a reflection of interest and one cannot guarantee that interest turns into votes. But in both cases, there’s a great deal of entertainment value associated with the data.

However, a recent article in New York Times reveals a much more powerful side of Google Trends. In this case, Google is using its search data ot track the spread of flu within the United States. More specifically, deta from last year revealed that Google saw a spike in number of searches for terms such as “flu symptoms” about two weeks before the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reported regional outbreaks. The graph below shows the comparison between the two data sources.

Using Google to track flu outbreak

I must admit this is one of the most clever uses of Google Trends as it captures real data in a manner that can be used to actually predict trends. Congratulations to the folks at Google.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
2 comments

Cost Per Qualified Lead

Posted by & filed under online marketing, Web Analytics.

One of the most popular KPIs for lead generation sites is “Cost per Lead”. It lets marketers know whether they’re spending the right amount on marketing campaigns. However, a better KPI for such customers is “Cost Per Qualified Lead”. It provides a more accurate picture of the campaign performance.

The following is what a customer has recently shared with us regarding their use of WebToCRM.

Note: the numbers have been revised in this post.

After running a number of online campaigns, they were able to use their web analytics solution to determine high-level performance metrics such as campaign clickthroughs, conversion rates and cost per lead. The sample data is shown in the first graph below.

Cost Per Lead

The campaign conversion rates are mostly within the same range. However, because of the higher conversion rates and lower cost per click (CPC), newsletters end up generating a much better cost per lead (CPL). Based on this data, it would make sense to take some budget away from search engines, which have the highest cost per lead and put that money towards more newsletter sponsorships.

However, the customer did not stop there. Thanks to WebToCRM, they integrated their online campaign data into their salesforce.com implementation and decided to break down their leads into two classifications:

  • Qualified leads: these are defined as leads with complete and accurate information, including the person’s full contact information, job title and decision making timeline.
  • Unqualified leads: these are leads with incomplete or inaccurate information such as fake email addresses, etc.

How do the numbers hold up when you look at qualified leads instead of just the raw number of leads? The picture turned out to be quite different and is shown below.

Cost Per Qualified Lead

With a simple “Cost per Lead” KPI model which is what many web analytics practitioners use, the company would have diverted money from search engines into newsletters. However, the more relevant “Cost Per Qualified Lead” KPI shows that the customer would be well served doing the exact opposite. Although search engines provided fewer leads per click than newsletters, they also provided a far higher percentage of qualified leads. The client is therefore going to continue its investment in search engine marketing.

Still wondering about the value of cross-channel analytics? Think it’s expensive? Take another look at WebToCRM. It lets you integrate your online campaign data into your CRM application, regardless of what web analytics or CRM tool you use. Best of all, the Free edition give you the same level of data that you see in this example.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
0 comments

Search Marketing and Customer Sales Cycle

Posted by & filed under online marketing.

Today’s major search engines let you show your ads both through their search (keyword advertising) and content networks (contextual advertising). One common mistake that we see happening in the industry is that companies run both their search and content advertising the same way: same keywords being targeted, sames ads and same landing pages. By doing so, they also compare their search and content network performance side-by-side and typically see better results through their search network.

Does this mean that you’re better off discontinuing the contextual advertising and putting your budget towards search advertising? Not necessarily. The reality is that these two networks serve very different audiences and with proper strategy, you can leverage them both optimally. We’ve even seen customers who do much better within content network compared to search networks.

In order to explain this, we’re going to look at the customer sales cycle first, which is shown in the figure below. This is a simplified version of the AIDA model (Attention > Interest > Desire > Action).

Customer sales cycle

Within the online world, the sales cycle consists of three key stages:

  • Awareness: clearly the first stage is that future customers will have to be aware of you or your company. How can someone do a search for you or your products if they don’t even know your industry or what you do? Awareness is mostly created through channels such as press releases, news sites, blogs and many of the social media outlets.
  • Influence: once people are aware of your product or industry then you can influence their sales decision. In the online world, this is done through the traditional online marketing channels such as banner ads, PPC advertising, email and newsletter campaigns.
  • Action: this is the step of actually converting. This component can either be an e-commerce transaction, an online lead generation, a newsletter registration or else.

From here, we can now see the different audiences that search and content networks serve. The search network is serving those who are doing an actual search. That means that they’re already aware of the industry or the product and as a result, search generates high click-through numbers and high ROI.

The content network on the other hand has to be treated differently. You cannot assume that those who see your contextual ads are already aware of your products and you will very likely see much lower click-through numbers within content networks. So for many companies with complex sales they’ll be well served to use content networks as a venue to generate or increase awareness. We’ve even seen companies serving new industries that have seen much better performance on contextual advertising. This is because they’ve been able to leverage the content networks to increase customer awareness about their products.

This also means that you cannot rely on click-through and conversion rates to compare your search and content network performance. Instead, you’ll have to look at the effect of your content network at increasing your search click-through and ROI.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
0 comments

Using Google to Predict Elections?

Posted by & filed under online marketing.

An unscientific approach!!!

One of my favorite tools to see trends, patterns and seasonality associated with search terms is Google Trends. It lets you see trends associated with specific keywords and compare up to 5 keywords together.

With all the buzz around the democratic primaries, it was only fitting to use Google Trends to see if we could see patterns that could shed some light into the outcome. The results, although not scientific are pretty revealing. First off, here’s a comparison of searches for the terms “barack obama” and “hillary clinton” over the last 12 months. We’ve obviously filtered out the international traffic and the results are shown in the figure below.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton

The interesting trend here is that Obama was behind Clinton in terms of searches till January of 2008. January 3rd happened to be the date of the Iowa caucuses which showed a surprising win by Obama and one can speculate put him on the map as far as the general audience is concerned. To test the hypothesis, lets look at a similar comparison, but this time between “huckabee” and “mccain” and interestingly, we see a similar pattern.

Huckabee - McCain

Within the GOP front, we see a spike in interest for Huckabee prior to the Iowa caucuses and a decrease after McCain gains momentum from consequent wins.

How accurate is this?

So you’re wondering, how accurate is this? While Google Trends is a great tool for search engine marketing, it is simply not built to forecast elections and markets. For example, if you look at the breakdown by states, you can see that the term “barack obama” gets higher traffic than “hillary clinton” in all states, including Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio – where Hillary Clinton won by a large margin. This is shown in the image below.

State by State comparison

In fact, in terms of popular vote, both candidates were neck and neck. And you can make the argument that most people did not know much about Obama before the primaries began and therefore what we’re seeing is people educating themselves about the candidates. But it’s certainly fun to see the trends in terms of peaks and valleys around some specific events such as the start of primaries and caucuses.

The purpose of this post is not to endorse any one candidate or make market predictions, but rather showcase what you can get from Google Trends. The information can be very useful in determining peaks and valleys in user interest associated with specific events of relevance to your business.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
1 comment

SEM Agency Fees

Posted by & filed under online marketing, Web Analytics.

In the traditional offline media (TV, radio, print), agencies typically charge 15% of the marketing spend as their fees. So for example, if your company is spending $100,000 on print advertising, the agency that you’ve hired gets $15,000 for their services, which could include ad design and creation, media engagement, etc.

I recently came across a great column by Kevin Lee mentioning that because of all the optimization work that has to be done around SEM, the 15% fee may not be enough and clients should be willing to spend more on agency fees. Kevin is right. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the area of SEM optimization. Here’s a few must-dos for an effective campaign:

  • Research the list of potential keywords to be targeted
  • Select the keywords to be targeted through SEO, those through SEM, and those through both
  • Create the right ads for keywords. You simply cannot use the same ad for all your keywords and the rule applies as you go from one outlet to next
  • Determine the budget to be allocated to each
  • Create specialized landing pages for each ad
  • Well, you get the idea …

This becomes especially an issue with smaller clients since they won’t be able to leverage the economies of scale and scope enjoyed by larger clients who spend more money on more keywords.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the disincentive between CPC and agency fees. I understand why agencies use a 15% fee on offline ads – there’s no viable measurement beyond the output. You can only reasonably measure the number of times and the money spent on ads. But in the online world, things are different. You can measure the entire visitor cycle – from impressions, to clicks to conversions.

Think about it: would you rather spend $10,000 and generate 10 leads or spend $1,000 and generate 50 leads? Of course you’d like the latter, but in the world where agencies are paid by CPC, their incentive is to spend more money. They’ll benefit from having you spend $10,000, whether the campaigns are optimized or not, whether the conversion funnels are streamlined or not.

Ideally, agency incentives should be the same as the clients: get the most you possibly can from your marketing budget. This means that their fees should be tied to your conversions – online purchase, leads, registrations or whatever they may be. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying agencies should not be paid for all the optimization work that they do. They absolutely should. But perhaps it’s time to introduce more complex pricing schemes that do every body justice: a one-time fee and maintenance fee to cover the work to be done to get the campaign going, and a conversion/engagement bonus that gives the agencies the incentive to outperform.

This way, the agencies will get compensated with all the leg work necessary to get started and will be incentivized to constantly outperform, to constantly work on ways to increase their campaign conversions.

I’d also like to hear about some of the payment schemes you’ve used that have worked for you.

by Ali Behnam
Co-Founder, President
1 comment