Editor’s Picks: February 2-6, 2009

3 comments

Here are some of this week’s posts that you might find interesting.

Blogging. Way too often we just follow the mantra that a blog is essential to any business trying to make it online. Although true in most cases, this does not mean mindlessly posting is a good strategy. Barry Welford has a good writeup down at the Directory Journal on writing an engaging blog posts. Engaging readers is key but it will come much easier once you are clear on your own business objectives.

Speaking of business objectives and goals, here is a great post by Chris Brogan on building useful media. In his post, Chris writes, “Here’s a thought: what if your project isn’t best suited to be a blog? Or, what if a blog is just one format, and there could be others?” This idea applies to anything you do online, not just blogging. Consider if blogging or twitter, or Facebook make sense for your business before jumping in and dedicating valuable resources.

Online-offline integration. One area in which we, as marketers, still lag behind is bridging the online and offline worlds. Things are simple enough when selling merchandise online. Start a PPC campaign, track visitors and sales and you have at least some idea of how your campaign is performing. What happens if your product/service is difficult to sell online? One way around this problem is to run a lead generation campaign instead, offering something in exchange for visitors’ contact information. Even in this situation, it is still notoriously difficult to calculate the branding effect of your ads and figure out how many offline sales your online marketing efforts generate. PPC Hero has an useful post on some of the ways to track phone calls generated by your search marketing campaigns. This is not an ideal solution but it is a step in the right direction. For more information on the state of search integration, check out our cover story in the Winter 08/09 issue of the magazine.

Website usability. A tireless advocate for the importance of website usability, Kim Krause Berg, has a long list of usability resources. Check it out.

Improving website conversion. There is an ongoing debate in this industry over the poor, or what seems like a poor, conversion rates most website experience. Plenty of website survive by converting just 2% of their traffic. It’s difficult to imagine your local supermarket or Macy’s surviving on 2% conversion rate. Add to that the rates of shopping cart abandonment of over 50% and things look grim. The difference can be accounted for in part by the user behavior online, where there is a lot more price checking and comparison going on. Still, just like supermarkets have turned a simple act of buying milk into a science (why do you think the most common products like bread and milk are all the way in the back of the store), there is a lot today’s website operators can learn and improve on. For starters, take a look at this post on website conversion optimization from Search Engine People. By the way, Jeff Quipp from Search Engine People has a great article on recycling old blog posts in the upcoming Spring 2009 issue of the magazine (already in print). Make sure you are subscribed.

Hope you’ll find these posts useful. Until next week.

About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention, Andrey. I think it is great that more people are spreading the word that it is sales goals that count and there is much more to that than just being visible to a search engine. Your selection of items shows the variety of skills you have to develop to make those sales.

  2. Thank you! You provide some great resources here. I do have one comment however about your grocery store analogy. Your local store can afford to put the milk in the back because you're already in the store and you need milk. Who is really going to say, "Shoot, the milk is in the back. Let me get back in my car and drive to the next store"? What you grab on the way up to the register is a bonus for them because you're not going to leave. If an online store tried to put "the milk in the back", they would lose countless visitors to the next store that had the milk up front! This is why we have adopted recommended products and companion products into ecommerce engines. This is our "milk in the back" solution! If we don't give users exactly what they're looking for right up front we lose them. Internet behavior right? The solution to increasing conversion rates comes from adding features that remove the desire/ reason to leave your site. If they are comparing prices, show other prices. If your prices are higher, compare benefits. If your benefits are weak, rework your products to be more competitive. Follow me on twitter . . .

  3. Ryan, Excellent point. What I was trying to point to with my analogy was the fact that places like supermarkets have turned their customer shopping behavior into a science. Too often, ecommerce sites are behind in that respect.