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Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

Lengthening B2B sales cycle challenges online marketers

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

btbThe sales cycle has lengthened for many B2B companies, increasing pressure on the marketing organization to boost brand awareness to help deliver leads and effectively nurture them through a prolonged buying process, according to a survey by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and Bizo.

At the same time, marketers are struggling to optimize their online marketing mix, with many unable to segment and target the right decision-makers or measure program success across the entire marketing funnel.

Crain’s BtoB Magazine and Bizo will host a free webinar on April 25, 2013 at 2pm ET to discuss in-depth findings from the survey. To register for the webinar, please visit http://bizo.me/lTq6O.

Bob Felsenthal, VP & Publisher at Crain’s BtoB Magazine, said, “The survey results reaffirm that most B2B marketers still need to improve their online marketing mix to meet the needs of the sales pipeline, as over half stated.  However, the report also confirms that technology continues to improve the ability to identify the right buyers and measure the results of marketing initiatives.”

Key conclusions from the survey include:

1. The marketing mix is still not meeting the needs of the sales pipeline.

The survey shows a continued gap between the needs of sales organizations and the ability of online marketing to deliver and nurture leads.  Less than half of respondents (40 percent) say that their online marketing mix is meeting the needs of the sales pipeline; this measurement has been consistent for two consecutive years.

In fact, 60 percent say that their greatest marketing challenge is generating more leads, while 55 percent say that reaching more of their target audience is their biggest challenge.  Only 36 percent feel that their current marketing programs very effectively address stakeholders in the buying decision.

The survey also revealed that for many companies, the sales cycle has actually gotten longer over the past three years: 43 percent of respondents report a slowing of the sales cycle, putting more pressure on the online marketing mix to nurture leads through a prolonged purchase process.

2. Brand differentiation is becoming increasingly important, but marketers struggle to achieve it.

As a result of the perceived weakness of the marketing mix and longer sales cycles, branding has come to take a paramount position for B2B marketers: 79 percent say that differentiating on brand is a priority for their organization.

However, most marketers (60 percent) report that they are not fully satisfied with their current efforts to differentiate on brand.   There is also confusion about which marketing channels drive brand awareness.  For example, 27 percent believe that the corporate website – a lower-funnel channel – works best at driving brand awareness.

3. B2B marketers are not able to effectively target and engage decision makers.

Another challenge for today’s marketers is targeting and engaging decision makers in the buying process. The vast majority (81 percent) of B2B marketers must contend with multiple decision-makers during the sales process, but only about one-third (36 percent) feel their current marketing programs effectively address all these stakeholders.

One reason for this may be that only about one-third of marketers are incorporating targeting and segmentation in their digital advertising, search and social programs.  When they do use targeting and segmentation, only 40 percent of respondents say that these tools very effectively help them reach the people involved in the typical buying decision.

4. Marketers need better visibility into the value of their marketing programs.

Measurement continues to be an issue for B2B marketers.  More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents report their biggest online marketing challenge is accurately measuring and attributing online conversions to the correct marketing channels.  Less than half (42 percent) of marketers say they attribute success across the entire marketing funnel.

One major obstacle to measurement is poor data infrastructure: 34 percent say they do not have the right tools to collect and analyze marketing program data.  Another challenge is a lack of understanding of the metrics needed at each stage of the buying decision, with 22 percent citing this as a top obstacle to meeting the evolving needs of the market.

Maximize the benefits of your online campaign

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

By Russell Trahan, President, PR/PR

social media logosJanet is a savvy small business owner. She successfully navigated her way through the recession and is enjoying steady growth. She’s well-versed on her clientele and knows their individual likes and dislikes. She knows who her competition is and what they’re up to.

She keeps up with trends, so she has a Facebook profile and a Twitter handle. So, why has she seen a marked increase in the growth of her competitors’ business and not her own? When she hears people speak of her product, why do they associate it with her competition?  What can Janet do to make sure her company is foremost in her customer’s minds?

Regardless of the size of your company, or your position within its ranks, you know how important it is these days to be established on social media, spending ample time actively engaging your client-base.

When it comes to social media, most companies are online networking when they need to be social media marketing.  The same principles apply to marketing your company on the Web as they do in print – frequency and repetition are imperative. You need to be in front of your target audience again and again on multiple platforms to build top of mind awareness.

Here are some areas to concentrate on while building your social media marketing strategy:

Avoid the ‘Field of Dreams Fallacy’

You have a firm presence on a variety of social media platforms and have carved out a stout digital footprint? Terrific – now, are you taking time out regularly to engage your client-base? Despite the optimistic ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality, creating social media outlets without frequent, active participation is like fashioning a clipper ship without a mast or sails.

In order for your efforts to produce a spike in business or revenue, you need to get into the trenches with your clients. Use ‘@’ replies on Twitter to demonstrate light-speed customer service; post valuable, thought-provoking status updates on Facebook and participate in the conversations that unfold.

Never underestimate the value your customers place on actively engaging their questions, concerns and compliments.

Market, Don’t Network

A critical misstep many business owners make when launching a social media campaign is immediately adding or following everyone they know. While inflated friend statistics may serve to massage your ego, they do little to promote your business or cause.

Instead, you should be participating in social media marketing. Priority one should be positioning yourself in front of your customers to generate online traction and expand your reach. Social networking should be confined to your personal profiles, where you’re free to follow your neighbors, and their Great Dane named Pickles, should you choose.

Limit your interactions on your company profiles to providing useful content and information to those who frequent your establishment, and restrict any exchanges with colleagues, friends and family to your personal profile.

ROR Trumps ROI

social mediaMake no mistake – the endgame in a social media marketing campaign is to turn a profit; but many new adopters often fail to utilize the interactive aspect of their online presence.

The immediate value of websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the relationships you build along the way, and an appropriate measure for this is ROR, or Return on Relationships. Any owner of a Mom and Pop corner store that has enjoyed decades of success can tell you that the reason they have remained in business is because of the friendships and rapport they’ve developed with their clientele.

Product loyalty stems from strong relationships, and this is the inherent payoff that social media marketing provides. Stop framing your online success in an immediate monetary return, and instead, view your success in a long-term mindset, where you’re crafting long-standing, profitable connections.

On the Run? Go Mobile!

Businessmen and women are highly aware of the hectic travel schedules and deadlines that accompany their chosen profession.

The bad news: in a society that increasingly revolves around the Internet, being ‘too busy’ for social media is no longer an excuse to let your platforms lay dormant. Thankfully, software developers recognize the needs of an ‘on the go’ culture, and have created apps that allow users to access and update their social media cache while heading to a meeting or waiting for a flight.

FacebookUtilize “check-ins” on Facebook when entering an annual conference or leadership seminar to let your followers know what you’re up to. Snap a few pictures and upload them to your Instagram feed – just ensure there is no lull in your Internet activity when things get busy.

Now armed with a practical and effective understanding of social media marketing, Janet is well-equipped to best her competition online and ensure that her product is associated with her business.

By streamlining her digital footprint to only encompass her customers and potential clients, and dedicating a bit of her daily activities to interacting with her followers, she has realized the full-potential of social media and will enjoy the return on relationships that her web-presence provides. Follow Janet’s example and become engaged with your customers online.

Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represent experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization.

Online small business marketing site Manta nabs $44M in backing

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

MantaColumbus, Ohio-based Manta, which says it is the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business, has received a $44 million minority equity investment from Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), a global investment firm.

Manta has built the leading online community that more than 89 million small business owners are leveraging to improve their online presence, gain increased visibility with customers and prospects and ultimately increase sales.

While we don’t report a lot of funding stories these days, we pick a couple a week we think will be of interest to TechJournal readers, particularly those focused on small business or digital commerce.

Manta enables small business owners to create, manage and share their online identities, promote their companies, products and services, build and engage with an extensive network and access shared knowledge and insights.

“Manta provides a one-of-a-kind online community for small businesses and the company’s remarkable growth speaks to the clear demand for its unique value proposition,” said Jon Kossow, general partner, NVP.

“Manta is the de facto platform for small businesses to connect with customers and each other, as evidenced by the company’s more than 25 million unique monthly visitors and over 3,000 business owners joining the community daily.”

“Our investment in Manta is in line with NVP’s strategy to invest in profitable, rapidly growing business leaders,” said David Su, vice president, NVP. “The $40B+ addressable market in which Manta plays is immense, and the company continues to grow rapidly as small businesses look to expand their online presence.”

“Our investors share Manta’s commitment to helping small businesses grow, and NVP’s support will allow us to stay focused on delivering the most powerful online community for these businesses,” said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta. “Eighty percent of U.S. businesses have fewer than nine employees and we will continue executing our vision for meeting the unique needs of this important market.”

With this investment, NVP’s Jon Kossow and David Su have joined Manta’s board of directors. The board includes directors from existing shareholders, Athenian Venture Partners and Reservoir Venture Partners, who have supported Manta in its growth to date and will continue their support going forward.

 

Small businesses plan to increase online marketing in 2012

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

social media logosNearly 60% of small businesses surveyed plan on spending as much or more in 2012 as they did in 2011 on online marketing efforts, according to the 2012 AT&T* Small Business Technology Poll.

Inexpensive, modern grassroots marketing techniques – both online and offline – have grown to be among the most popular for small businesses in the past several years likely due to ease of use and general affordability.

While 79% of small businesses surveyed are using word-of-mouth to promote their business, 63% are using their company website, and 39% are using social media channels.

The AT&T Small Business Technology Poll**, which nationally surveyed more than 1,200 small businesses with two to 100 employees, also revealed the following:

Social Networks

  • Since 2010, the use of location-based social channels, such as Foursquare, among small business owners has nearly doubled from 5% to 9%.
    • 25% of small business owners using location-based services believe that the application is important for sales generation, compared to just 2% in 2010.
  • Small businesses with a LinkedIn presence increased from 25% in 2010 to 31% in 2011, a jump of 25%.
  • Small businesses with a Facebook presence increased slightly from 41% in 2010 to 44% last year, while those with a Twitter presence dropped slightly year-over-year from 19% to 18%.
  • While LinkedIn has always been a popular resource for recruiters, small business owners are increasingly using the social forum for networking with other businesses and gaining awareness from other businesses and consumers in the local community.
  • Surprisingly only 4% of small businesses are using daily deal sites (i.e. LivingSocial, Groupon) for marketing purposes, led by leisure/tourism/lodging, of which 14% are using these sites.
  • Of those businesses using daily deal sites, more than 90% are running promotions at least several times per year.

Digital Presence

  • Male business owners are more likely to rely on their company website for marketing than female owners (65% vs. 58%), while female business owners are more likely to rely on social media than their male counterparts (48% vs. 34%).
  • Among small business owners that are using wireless mobile devices, those in the education and non-profit fields are accessing social media at the highest rates, 50% and 52% respectively, compared to national average of 43%.
  • Three in four (75%) small businesses surveyed have a website, about the same as last year, with nearly a third (31%) having a mobile website – i.e., one designed for viewing on a smartphone.

Mobile marketing poised to overtake online marketing?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

DigitalMarketerMarketers should take note of the exponentially rising sales of smartphones as a sign that mobile phone marketing is going to replace online marketing as the main way that advertisers reach the public. Mobile marketing advertisingbudgets will also see huge increases in 2012, according to the managing editor of Digital Marketer, the world’s leading online marketing newsletter.

About 43% of Americans with cellphone service own smartphones, according to Nielsen. But even with so many smartphones out there, the actual purchases made on smartphones have been low. In fact, prior to 2011, mobile marketing sales on smartphones accounted for less than 2% of all ecommerce in the USA, which was a clear sign to internet marketers to avoid the mobile hype until smartphones begin to command more of the ecommerce marketplace.

Some teachers selling mobile courses in the last few years have claimed 300% increases in overall USA ecommerce sales on smartphones; however this was a slightly deceiving number, as the full disclosure shows that the numbers were 0.2% increasing to 0.6% over several years, yes 300% but still less than 1% overall.

Overall ecommerce on smartphones in 2011 totaled approximately $5 billion.

Increase expected in mobile ad budgets this year

While this sounds like a big number, it represents less than 2 percent of the overall online commerce market in 2010. With less than 2% of all ecommerce being on smartphones, it has not been an attractive market for advertisers.

According to Digital Marketer, a pragmatic approach to mobile marketing has been wise up until now, but all signs point to increases in mobile marketing advertising budgets this year, driven by the exponential increase in smartphone sales.

In 2011 only 0.9% of advertising dollars went into mobile advertising; however, the mobile ecommerce statistics should start to improve in 2012. With the sheer number of smartphones being purchased, methods for purchasing using smartphones will surely be improved and then advertising should follow.

According to a survey by e-tailing, consumers cite the lack of shopping on smartphones to be due to the small screen size. But with bigger smartphone screens, there should be an increase in ecommerce purchases on smartphones as well.

Two 2012 predictions

Digital Marketer’s managing editor has made two predictions for 2012 in regards to mobile marketing trends:

“1) In 2012 , the marketers that best understand what mobile really is — the greatest self-selection marketing tool ever invented — will get in the fast lane and leave the rest behind.”

“2) Mobile technologies like NFC, GoogleWallet, and one-tap mobile payments will drastically change the way we pay for things — and it will make credit card companies very uncomfortable.”

Online ad targeting is like politics: it’s all local

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Brendan Morrissey

Brendan Morrissey

By Allan Maurer

Nowadays, nearly all of us do online research before buying anything of consequence. But how often do we actually buy online? Take a guess. If you guessed more than 6 percent, you missed the mark.

Brendan Morrissey, CEO of Netsertive, a Research Triangle, NC-based company selling a platform that connects national brands to local channel marketing.

Prior to founding Netsertive, he was VP of Business Development at Motricity, an interactive marketing technology company serving media, entertainment and mobile carrier clients.

Before that he was a VP at Los Angeles based startup GoldPocket Wireless, whose technology platform connected media firms and brands with mobile carriers and consumers, where he helped drive rapid growth leading to its successful acquisition by Motricity.

He is one of dozens of digital media and marketing thought-leaders participating in the Internet Summit , the largest digital marketing event in the Southeast, at the Raleigh, NC Convention Center Nov. 15-16, which still has a limited number of seats available.

Most commerce still occurs in local markets

“We’re 15 years into the consumer Internet, but lots of people don’t realize that most retail commerce still happens in local markets,” says Morrissey. He points to what he calls “the three 90s.”

While 90 percent of people use online search, online reviews and so on to research before buying a product or service, 90 percent of consumers still buy most items within 50 miles of  their homes, and 90 percent of retail sales still occur over brick and mortar retail counters.

One problem that raises for online marketers is that even when working with 100 percent of the information available, you might know that a given consumer clicks your ad, hits your site and looks at specific products. But when that same consumer finally goes to a retail store to buy, how to you attribute that sale to online marketing?

Online discovery absolutely necessary

“Only now are we seeing deep pockets of expertise on how to connect online discovery with local consumer sales offline,” Morrissey says. “Most marketers are still trying to apply the old rules of e-commerce and old measurements such as click through rates or conversion rates.”

He notes that it’s absolutely necessary for retailers to be online so consumers can find them. “People don’t use the Yellow Pages anymore,” he says. They discover merchants or services online.

“Yet,” he says, “figuring out a return on investment (for online marketing) is tricky. As soon as the consumer leaves the web site to visit the store, you can no longer connect him to what brought him there.”

But, “You have to get there,” says Morrissey, even more so now with mobile coming on like the railroads that once steamed across the nation changing commerce. “People want to be targeted based on the device they carry and the location they’re at with a message that makes sense for what they are doing there.”

Tracking digital connections to offline sales

There are ways to track those digital connections, though.

“You can try to hook people with special offers and coupons with tracking codes. You can make it easy for someone online to contact you for more information about that new washing machine – but not with 19 required fields on a form. You can connect online discovery at the product level – tell me where I can get one within 20 miles from my house.

He adds, “You can have a process in your local offline business. Ask customers where they learned about you.” That can be useful even if a business only does it by tracking 30 days at a time a couple of times a year. “That’s enough to know if your online marketing is driving any business.”

Few businesses are doing that with any rigor, he says.

Netsertive, founded in 2009, works with small to medium-sized businesses with $2 million to $20 million in annual revenues, to bring national brand advertising to local markets with dealers and retailers selling their brands.

It’s similar to the “Co-op” advertising that puts advertisements for national products in local media outlets such as magazines and newspapers.

Morrissey will elaborate on this at the Internet Summit.

Tablets deliver higher-click-through-rates at lower costs

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Advertising on tablet computers delivers a 37 percent higher click-through-rate than ads aimed at desktop users, and at a lower average cost, according to a new study by Marin Software.

The Marin Software Q3 Benchmark Study, which includes data from Google, shows that tablet users click more ads and deliver better ROI to advertisers, although mobile only has a 7 percent market share (across all devices).

With new tablet models and smartphones flooding the market, that share is bound to increase rapidly.

Improved targeting of ads likely accounts for the success of those aimed at tablet or other mobile users.

According to the report, paid search targeted at smartphones was 5 percent of the total and tablets 2 percent in Q3, with 93 percent aimed at desktop users.

Better ad targeting appears to be lifting the click-through-rates for other paid advertising as well, the report indicates. Yahoo and Bing paid search ads provided a 43 percent higher CTR at a 10 percent lower cost than a year ago.

For the first time, the report (which requires filling in a form to download) measures Facebook ad performance. In Q3, Facebook had as .09 percent average CTR, a 21 cent average CPM, and a 24 cent cost per click.

Right marketing mix creates search demand, expert says

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee - Founder & CEO, Didit

By Allan Maurer

People don’t get up at 3 a.m. and search for cruise vacations, says Search Engine Marketing expert Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit and first chair of SEMPRO.org. “Marketing initiatives – including paid advertising – stimulate search,” Lee says.

Getting the right marketing mix to drive search interest and harvest the resulting demand requires some “high level communication between search marketing, public relations, paid marketing and social media teams,” Lee adds.

Otherwise, “You can end up shooting yourself in the foot.”

If a company ships a million product catalogs, for instance, “Search goes through the roof,” says Lee. If the people doing the catalog were not part of a wholistic campaign, he notes, “The company may not have enough staff budget to harvest the demand created by other marketing activity.”

Speaking at Digital East

Lee will be discussing how to create media mix models, given any size budget, to create demand and interest the way traditional media does at TechMedia’s upcoming Digital East conference in Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 28-29.

Lee’s Didit was part of the 2007 Inc 500 (#137), and has received a #12 position on Deloitte’s Fast 500 for 3 years in a row. Kevin authors a “Paid Search Strategies” column for ClickZ and has written several books, his most recent is Search Engine Advertising. Kevin was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008

A set of strategies and tactics for a marketing media mix “Boils down to applying economic theory to media and advertising,” Lee explains.

Strategic thinking required

In the end, though, he says, “Trying to allocate a marketing budget across options is a mathematical challenge, although it is more of a process than a formula. You may end up with a formula that does a good job for each marketer, but the way you arrive at it is different depending on what business you are in. The way a person makes a decision to buy flowers is different from the way they decide to buy an automobile.”

So, he says, “Someone in charge of the media mix model needs to understand the buying triggers and the processes people go through for each purchase. You can’t build a buying crescendo to get someone to buy a dozen roses. It’s an impulse decision made in the hour of purchase. But the process of buying a car or deciding where to go on a honeymoon may take a month or more.”

It requires a lot of strategic thinking, Lee says.

He adds, however that companies with smaller marketing budgets – under $4 million a year or so – may not have enough resources and data to accomplish that, but “If you have a couple million a year in your marketing budget, you need to figure this out.”

Online tactics are three of the top five used by marketing pros, survey says

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

SagefrogThree of the top five marketing tactics being used by more than 125 marketing pros relate to online marketing (website development, email marketing, and Social Media Marketing) according to the sixth annual Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketing Mix Survey that monitors and reports marketing mix plans, activities and performance.

Respondents also reported using marketing practices such as press releases, direct marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and seminars. Other survey questions examine a range of marketing topics, including most-used social media tactics, top areas of marketing spend, and top sources of sales leads.

“Marketers are reporting that our B2B Marketing Mix Survey is helping them to allocate their marketing resources wisely, optimize their marketing mix investments, and maximize business results,” said Mark Schmukler, managing partner at Sagefrog Marketing Group.

Key results include:

  • The areas of highest marketing spend involve digital marketing, including website development, direct marketing (email and direct mail), and online marketing
  • Tradeshow and event marketing remains a top source of sales leads
  • The most utilized social media tactics are social networks (66%) such as LinkedIn and Facebook, blogs (34%), and video sharing sites (29%)
  • About two-thirds of respondents (68%) reported that their 2011 marketing budget is 5% or less of their overall revenue
  • Forty percent (40%) of respondents expect their marketing budget to increase in 2012

To see all the results of the 2011 B2B Marketing Mix Survey, download a free copy of the report here: www.sagefrog.com/pdf/2011_B2B_Marketing_Mix_Survey_Results.pdf

Facebook’s “Like” button trumps reviews as way consumers show brand support

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Facebook logoAccording to a 2011 National Online Consumer Behavior study released today by CityGrid Media and conducted by Harris Interactive,  the Facebook “Like” button, launched last year, has already trumped the review as the way consumers prefer to show their support online for local businesses.

The findings also indicate that consumers are doing their homework when it comes to making decisions about which local businesses to frequent, but no one factor or source overwhelmingly influences the final choice–including those highly-touted deals and discounts.

CityGrid Media commissioned Harris Interactive to field this study, which was conducted by telephone between March 16—20, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 1,006 adults.

“Surprisingly enough, Likes are trumping reviews when it comes to sharing feedback, but this does not translate to Facebook being the first or only place consumers turn when deciding to try someplace new,” said Kara Nortman, SVP, Publishing at CityGrid Media.

“What this means for small businesses on the Web is that they should encourage Likes, but also round out marketing efforts to reach consumers across a variety of touchpoints. The truth is, there’s no one silver bullet to influence people that are choosing local businesses on or offline.”

Personally, we have not used the Facebook like button much off of Facebook itself yet. Have you? Do you think it will have an increasing affect going forward?

In any event, Facebook is certainly transforming the online marketing environment a step at a time.

Detailed findings include:

Likes Trump Reviews; but Face to Face Wins Over All

As Sally Fields famously gushed during her 1984 Oscar win, who doesn’t want to be liked? With the popularity of the Facebook Like button, businesses don’t need the Oscar stage to broadcast their popularity to the world. Even still, a whisper in the ear trumps a click when people want to show their support for local businesses. So, what are the leading ways that users show support?

  • Three-quarters of people (75%) tell their friends
  • 20% of people say they “Like” it on Facebook to show their support, compared with only 13% who write a review
    • Millennials are even more likely to hop on Facebook over Yelp, as are women:
      • 40% of people under 35 “Like” a business; that went to 49% in the 18-24 group, versus 18% who said they would write a review
      • 25% of women hit the “Like” button, versus 11% who write reviews

People do Their Homework, but The Deal’s Just Extra Credit

While Facebook may be one of the first places people go to give feedback on a business, it’s certainly not the only stop. Surprisingly, despite a sluggish economy and the frenzied attention as of late, discounts and offers are not a major factor in how consumers choose a merchant.

  • More than half (52%) of adults under 35 visit more than two websites before checking out a local business
    • 63% of respondents under 35 head to Google
    • 24% visit Facebook; 21% look at reviews sites and 17% copped to clicking on the first link on the search results page (whatever that link may be…)
  • Less than one in ten people (8%) said a deal is the number one thing that influences them to try a local business

People Care About the Face Behind the Name

When doing their homework, those under 35 report that the business owner’s feedback may carry equal weight to input from friends or social networks. So, when doing online marketing—be it Facebooking, tweeting or responding to reviews—be sure your spirit is represented along with your specials.

  • Almost half (47%) of people under age 35 are more influenced to try a business from the owner of the establishment than a friend

Feeling the Pain at the Pump

While the majority of adults go to a local business or out to eat at least once a week (73%), rising gas prices and distance are also impacting consumers’ decisions about which hot spots to hit

  • 67% of people overall said they agree that gas prices factor into their decision around which businesses to visit
  • Women may not only be the fairer sex, they may also be the frugal sex:
    • 87% of women ages 18-34 said gas prices and distance influence their decision, as compared with 67% of men in the same age range

“The economic conditions of the past few years have led to people being increasingly conscious of how and where they spend their money,” continued Nortman. “This means it’s all the more critical that business owners are casting a wide net and putting their dollars as many places as possible since it’s clear there’s no one magic tactic to attract new customers and keep your patrons happy.”

 

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:

SoutheastVentureConference: www.seventure.org

Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com

Digital East: www.digitaleast.com

Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com

Meebo seeing success in extending social across the web

Monday, March 21st, 2011

By Allan Maurer

Martin Green

Martin Green

MT. VIEW, CA – Where do you get your suggestions for movies or music you might like, a restaurant to try, or a new video game to play? Most of us always got the recommendations we trust most from friends. These days, most of us online get still get them from friends, but via Facebook, Twitter, email and other digital social connections. Meebo extends that online friend network across all of your web and mobile experiences.

Meebo enables users to share content and communicate in real time with the people who matter to them, connecting people to their friends on the numerous websites that have installed the Meebo Bar, through mobile devices and via Meebo Messenger.

Martin Green, chief operating officer of Meebo, says Meebo currently has 78 million unique users in the U.S., 165 million worldwide and a syndicated toolbar that runs on about 8,000 web sites.

Founded in 2005, Meebo has raised  $70 million from investors who include Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, JAFCO, Time Warner and KTB.

Persistence of the experience important

Green acknowledges that the company has competitors attempting to unite users’ digital social experiences. The differentiator at Meebo, he says, “Is the persistence of the Meebo experience. If you use it on the web, it’s in the same place and on every page. No matter what network your friends are on, we make them available to you, so you stay connected with the ones you want to.”

He adds, “It keeps a user connecte with the people who matter to him as he navigates interests and content around the web. We make the web social. You can go to a game, news, or product site and your friends are there so you can talk to them or share a link. It’s a very reliable experience, and that’s important.”

Green oversees the company’s product management, business development, sales, marketing and revenue operations teams. An early Meebo user, he was the first executive to join the company.

Participating in Atlanta Digital Summit

Green is among the digital media mavens slated to participate in TechMedia’s Digital Summit at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta May 16-17. Green says you will likely hear him talk about the way “A lot of social discussion today is focused around who you know. We think a lot of the future will be in taking advantage of connections between people who don’t know each other, but who share interests.”

That’s actually already happening via sites such the Internet radio station Pandora, which shows you more music based tunes liked by people with interests similar to yours, or Netflix, which does the same thing with movies, and Amazon, which does the same thing with books.

It’s not an exact science yet, Green notes, mentioning the million dollar contest for an algorithm that better predicts user preferences (won by BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, which beat the Netflix algorithm by 10 percent).

Green worked with Meebo’s founders and initial team of 10 to focus the company’s strategies and objectives. It now employs 150 people and is growing from 20 percent to 30 percent a year.

A lot of the growth came from building up its sales team to pitch its rather unique advertising deal.

Web is filled with impressions no one clicks

“The web is filled with ad impressions no one clicks on,” says Green. Meebo has developed a system that not only grabs ten times more clicks than usual with a display ad, it gets about 60 seconds of engagement with the user, which is longer than most TV ads these days, Green points out.

“The user chooses to interact with that content,” he explains. “They remain in control.”

How does Meebo accomplish the higher click rate and greater engagement?

“It’s a lot of little things,” says Green. “One of them is persistence. The Meebo bar doesn’t scroll away. Lots of banner ads are bigger, but they scroll away in seconds. Ours are smaller but stay around longer, so they have a better chance of being noticed.”

Also, he says, “The way it’s designed it takes away the anxiety of interacting with normal ads. You hesitate because you have no idea where it’s going to take you. Meebo ads all work the same way. You don’t leave the site. The message comes to you.”

Go to a site that uses the Meebo system, such as TVGuide.com, look in the lower left hand bottom corner of the page and give it a spin.

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Google changes to paid ads will make them resemble organic results

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

GoogleGoogle has disclosed upcoming changes to the way it displays the ads that appear on top of its search results in two ways that make them look more like the unpaid organic search results. This blurring of the lines between the two types of results could boost hits for advertisers and revenue for Google.

Google has said on its adwords blog that it will change the top line on the paid ads, creating longer headlines. It will also display URLs completely in lower case, as it does with organic results.

It’s no wonder that Google rakes in the money with these paid ads. Personally, we often find the paid results as useful as the organic ones now, especially when shopping.

Toronto, Ontario-based DAC Group, a search engine optimization and search engine marketing agency, questions how these changes will impact the influence of paid results. DAC Group SEM SpecialistI, Ian Spencer comments, “With this new format, Google could be seen to be blurring the lines between organic and paid results. If more searchers are clicking on these ads in favor of organic results then this could be a very profitable move for Google.”

He continued, “Even if more people click on these ads in favor of the traditional ads, which will continue to appear in the right hand column, then this could also be particularly advantageous for Google as the ads that appear above the search results are generally more expensive.”

Google continually performs tests on searches and corresponding results. While such changes often offer improvements for search users, Google is now also changing the face of paid search results. Google noted that click-through rates improved in paid searches when these changes were present.

DAC notes that as Google evolves, so do the practices of marketers and searchers. “We need to constantly adapt,” says Ken Dobell, DAC Group president of Digital.

For more information see:

adwords.blogspot.com/2011/02/longer-headlines-for-select-ads-on.html

adwords.blogspot.com/2011/01/change-to-appearance-of-search-ad.html

Do Not Track list proposed in FTC report on online privacy

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Capitol BuildingWASHINGTON, DC – Are you concerned about your activities or those of your children being tracked by marketers? A recommendation from the Federal Trade Commission report proposes creating a “Do Not Track” list similar to the existing Do Not Call list that would help consumers protect their privacy.

The proposal suggests that web companies voluntarily create the do-not-track mechanism.

It was only one proposal in the FTC report, which is intended, among other things, to guide lawmakers as they tackle the increasingly complex problem of consumer privacy in the digital age.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the FTC wants to help ensure that the information marketplace is built on a framework promoting privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice.

The issue is of growing concern as digital marketers increasingly track the online behavior of consumers, including their actual location via cell phones and online services such as Facebook or Twitter.

I suspect it will be much harder to enforce a Do Not Track list than it is a Do Not Call list.

The number of marketing calls I received dropped dramatically after I put my name on the Do Not Call list and people bothered by cookies and marketing ploys online might be tempted to sign up in droves.

On the other hand, many of us take proactive measures now to ensure the level of privacy we want online, such as deleting tracking cookies regularly or preventing them from downloading.

Personally, I prefer marketers to deliver ads or offers tailored to my personal tastes and needs. Seeing the same ad for some service or product I have no interest in every time I go to a web site becomes annoying, and I’ve often wondered how long we’ll get the “Skip this ad” option common on larger sites now.

What I would like to see is a do not track option on every web page I visit that applies, perhaps, just to that company or publication.

– Allan Maurer

TJS Editor/writer Allan Maurer: Email Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Digital media advertising growing with increase in data and devices

Friday, October 15th, 2010
Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood, CEO, AIMatch

By Allan Maurer

RALEIGH, NC – Although it’s only been six months since its founding, aiMatch, whose technology delivers a single solution for publishers to create, forecast, deliver and analyze their online media, is landing customers such as top picture and video sharing site Photobucket. “We didn’t anticipate being this far along in six months,” says aiMatch CEO Jeff Wood.

(For TechJournal South’s profile of aiMatch see: aiMatch ready for digital ad explosion.)

He attributes the company’s early success to its focus on an area of digital advertising with a strong need and the “exponential” growth of digital advertising.

That growth, says Wood, is fueled by both the proliferation of devices on which people access digital media, and the rivers of data they’re creating. After a recessionary pause last year, digital advertising has resumed double digit growth, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.

“There are so many more ways digital media can be used now,” Wood says, “on iPads, phones, tablet devices.”

On top of that, new ways of using the devices for location-based targeting and through social media, present marketers with challenges, he adds. “The amount of data that can be used to be more effective and the digital media you can use are growing exponentially,” he says. “That creates challenges, but also opportunities for a company like ours.”

Now it’s really taking off

Wood says all the complexity and growth throwing new challenges at aiMatch makes it “Fun to be in the industry right now. It moved fast during the first ten years, but now it has really taken off.”

Essentially, Woods says, aiMatch has taken tools that already exist but previously required using three or four different products and combined them and simplified their use. “That removes the complexity of integrating multiple databases, multiple programs, and different terminology,” he says.

But, he notes, getting a handle on digital media “Is always going to be a moving target. There are so many ways of tracking effectiveness. One company has come up with 100 different buzz factors of things that go viral. We think about the scale of all that every day and how to simply it so it can be used.”

The consumer privacy question

Another factor in the business is the question of consumer privacy. Wood thinks the industry is moving toward self-regulation. He sees large firms, at least, moving toward strong privacy policies and opt-out options. “The industry will be better off if it’s self-regulated,” he says. “The government doesn’t understand our industry and could make mistakes that would hurt the Internet economy.”

Wood does see plenty of activity in the digital media marketing sector. “There seem to be a good amount of companies funded in our industry and a good number of job openings.”

One reason is that it doesn’t take a fortune to start an Internet company these days. “A company can use the latest technology to start and test their ideas in ways that don’t need so much upfront cash,” he says. “We used a lot of those technologies ourselves to avoid the need to take large investments.”

We asked him who the big spenders are in digital media these days.

“Who isn’t spending on digital?” he replied. “Everyone is trying to find their angle to get into online advertising.”

A look at old and new tools at the Internet Summit

Woods is one of more than 100 Internet experts, thought leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs and 1,000 attendees expected at the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 17-18.

“I’m going to cover the evolution of online advertising, going back 15 years and walk through the changes, then discuss some of the challenges for the future and how much more complex it is getting and what to do about that. I’ll talk about the tools used in the past and the tools we’re using now that let us handle scale.”

Previoulsy on TJS:

AIMatch founders go from startup to Microsoft to startup

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