Final Update from Online Marketing Summit in San Diego

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And here is my final update from OMS in San Diego.

After a quick break to catch up on email, I attended the social media case study presented by Jason Breed at Neighborhood America. Breed outlined primary objectives for (and examples of) social media strategies, including brand marketing (Dove’s Real Beauty), product development (Del Monte’s ILoveMyDog), partner network (Microsoft’s Channel 9), decision support (Sony Station) and employee networks (IBM’s Beehive and Atlas). When deciding whether or not a social strategy is right for your company, and you get pushback from executives, fire them and start over. But seriously, Breed’s point was that no company should be truly concerned about the negative impact of constituents talking about your company. It’s a tremendous opportunity for insight and outreach that shouldn’t and can’t be ignored. Breed then outlined the POST method as developed by Forrester Research: people, objectives, strategy and technology. He walked through the POST method by sharing examples of poorly executed social strategies, including sites for Mandy Moore and Pepperidge Farms. Key takeaways include: knowing your audience and their needs, develop and implement an overall strategy and utilize the best technology. He did caution that a social strategy should lead with needs, not technology, which is simply the enabler. Breed outlined an example of Kodak’s Gallery and its use of promotions to encourage new uses of products and services within the community. An example of mobile social networks was the adidas NBA All-Star Week, featuring SMS and Mobile (WAP) Web site highlighting parties, venues coupons and special events. The adidas campaign results: store receipts were 20 times greater than previous day’s average and two lines of shoes sold out within an hour. Based on the results, adidas then rolled out a mobile strategy for the Brotherhood National Web site, which included calls, text messages and ring tones from Kevin Garnett and other adidas athletes. Campaign results: 80,000 opt-ins, 120,000 IVR calls, 240,000 SMS messages and 5,000 wallpaper downloads. Breed also highlighted an HGTV social campaign: Rate My Space, which generates 22 million monthly page views, which fueled 3 additional campaigns and a new TV series based on the online content. One brilliant answer to a question about how to deal with negative product reviews was to improve the product. So true! Breed clarified that it’s still important to use the opportunity to gain insights and address the issues directly.

Next up, Oliver Chaine of Magnify360 and Shawn Vicklund of Continental Warranty co-presented a case study on optimizing conversions. Chaine outlined Continental Warranty’s PPC campaign, walking through screen shots of the landing page and profiling questions. To maximize conversions, the data is fed real-time to the companies lead management system. In one example, he talked through an extended auto warranty to illustrate the difference in design, copy and conversion elements. Chaine then discussed the various data elements that can be collected and used for targeting, including lead origin/source, responses, behavioral data, contact information. The goal is to create actionable, smart profiles that include lead qualification, buying process, etc. Vicklund then took over to discuss the results, which includes an increase in lead volume by 90 percent (based on the same spend) and an incremental increase in annual revenue by $1.5 million. Continental’s next steps for their PPC campaigns include taking advantage of lead scoring (qualifying) and pass along new data to the sales team. The relationship between magnify360 and Continental Warranty also includes an SEM vendor that manages the PPC, as magnify360 is actually the platform provider, which is also optimized for mobile search. Insights from the campaign analysis include performance differentials depending on factors like duration of visits, day of week and warranty features selected. The keyword list has expanded from 20,000 to 70,000 due to the improved profiling. Continental recommends asking customers for additional feedback, as 75 percent are happy to provide it, based on their experience. The PPC campaign includes 30 microsites for each audience segment. Responding to a question regarding the impact of PPC microsites on SEO, Chaine recommends using no index tags if the content isn’t ideal for organic search. He also recommended treating online customers like offline customers by tailoring communications based on background and need. The presenters left the audience with key takeaways, which included: segment your traffic, test like crazy and stay on top of campaign analytics.

Ben Hanna with Business.com followed with a presentation on business-to-business (B2B) search marketing best practices. He kicked off the presentation with a comparison between B2B and B2C. Major differences include: general complexity (product/service), higher price point, longer sales cycle, rational decision process, and multiple decision makers that are more experienced buyers with a lower tolerance, From an SEM perspective, B2B companies face challenges with keyword selection, including multiple meanings (acronyms, etc.), targeting, volume and competitive intensity. At the same time, B2B is similar to consumer in that it still comes down to process and ROI. Hanna outlined the 5 key rules for B2B search marketing: cover the entire buying cycle, focus on traffic quality, drive visitors to action so you can play to your marketing strengths, measure what you can and acknowledge limitations and mastering both return on ad spend (ROAS) and return on time. In terms of business search options, there are three categories: general search sites (business.com, Dex, Superpages and Local.com), niche search (ThomasNet, KnowledgeStorm and Capterra) and industry specific sites (BusinessWeek, Forbes, EDN, IDG and cnet). Hanna displayed a helpful charge from Enquiro regarding purchasing process and resources in decision making. General search engines led the pack with as the primary resource throughout the purchase process: general awareness, research, negotiation and purchase, followed by vendor sites, which increase steadily in use through the process, supplanting search engines. When it comes to covering the entire buying cycle, Hanna recommends leveraging the entire spectrum of B2B sites, from general search and business portals to niche and second-tier search engines. Additionally, different sites serve different needs and phases of the buying cycle (i.e. awareness vs. negotiation), so it’s critical to synch search marketing strategy to the buying process and audience. Examples of mapping content to the audience include: white papers for IT, ROI case studies for CFOs and product demos for users. He highlighted an interesting statistic: 85% of business buyers will use the Web during the purchase process (Enquiro) yet relevant decision makers are a very small subset of that audience. Hanna advised B2B marketers to avoid keyword phrases that have multiple meanings (i.e. pumps) and incorporate industry-specific vocabulary for optimal targeting. In terms of driving visitors to action, try to capture information in order to remarket to them over time instead of buying them multiple times from various channels and searches. In terms of best practices, Hanna recommends including specific offers in ads and send them to landing pages with focused content. He also reminded the audience that search visitors may be earlier in the purchasing process and may require additional nurturing as compared with other channels. Challenges with B2B companies include: long sales cycle, incompatible measurement systems, IT and limited resources. Research indicates that in-house SEM professionals spend 30% of their time on SEM. Additional Business.com research indicates that the top 5 most-tracked metrics include cost per click (CPC), online conversions (downloads or purchases), click through rate (CTR), traffic volume and total clicks. A quote from Leslie Carruthers at The SearchGuru reminds us that the B2B buying process is not linear and is often measured by activity in a given site visit instead of considering the entire process (latent conversions). Hanna reminds us that measuring search on the value of conversions instead of site traffic will generate the best ROI. He recommends working from the niche business sites and moving outward to general search sites for best ROI, but then again, he’s representing Business.com…

For my final session of the conference, I attended covered marketing strategies for your brand in Facebook, presented by Rodney Romford with Gravitational Media. Romford opened with fairly stunning statistics about Facebook’s growth: 64 million users (40% of which are over 35), 15,000 applications and a 20 minute average stay. According to Romford, the primary benefits of marketing on Facebook include facilitation of customer acquisition, lowering acquisition costs and provides targeted demographic marketing. The new platform Facebook is developing “platform 2” is going to be mind-blowing, based on a conversation he had with an employee. I can personally verify that fact based on the presentation I saw at WebCon 2 in Bend Oregon earlier this year. Basically, Facebook is going to start integrating Facebook into third party sites like Yahoo, retailers and manufacturers to increase usage as well as value to advertisers, partners and members. Romford mentioned a travel application for Facebook, Where I’ve Been, which has basically launched the creator’s company into the stratosphere. There are currently 16,000 Facebook applications, of which Romford has personally evaluated over 1,000. You can purchase users anywhere from .25 to $1 to drive awareness and adoption. Marketers should monitor Facebook for brand hijacking, as it’s quite common, yet could be turned into an asset of managed correctly. He advises creating applications that leverage Web 2.0 capabilities like ratings, reviews, friends, walls, fans and profile widgets. Romford recommends applications look and feel like Facebook. Marketing applications include applications, groups, paid groups, targeted ads, news feed ad buys, pages, beacon (30 partners) and guerilla marketing on other group pages. For $100,000, Facebook will build a custom Group and include visibility on the home page news feed, which is the Holy Grail. Romford outlined metrics from the Jeep group, which contains product, video and swag: 18,884 fans, 523 discussions, 3,240 photos and 4,802 wall posts. Advertising options include pages and targeted ads. Possible Facebook marketing objectives include installs, page views and engagement (frequency of return and percentage of new users). Currently, Facebook provides very limited reporting, so Romford recommends utilizing your existing platform (i.e. Google Analytics) to gain more robust insights. One observation from Romford was that colors do matter (yellow performed 300% better than blue in tests). Romford ended his presentation by recommending tips and tricks for developing applications and how to market them, but he flew through them too fast. His presentation will be available on his blog in the next few days, if you’re interested in getting the details.

Overall, OMS was an entertaining and informative conference and worth the visit. I hope you’ve found value in my updates. I encourage you to add your comments to the blog or contact me via Anvil Media Inc. Stay tuned for my next round of on location updates from SEMpdx SearchFest at the Oregon Zoo March 10th and the following week at Search Engine Strategies in New York City.

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