Monthly Archives: February 2009

Twitter – to be or not to be that is the question (surely?)

I was in a meeting the other week with a client. I was giving them an update on online marketing and I suggested that they should seriously start thinking about blogging and building their online brand awareness as a way of driving traffic to their websites.

The client asked ‘if something that’s written about your company that isn’t good – can you get it deleted off the forums or blog or similar’.

Once I had picked myself up and dusted myself down – I tried to explain that would be the worst thing that they could ever do. Why are companies are so frightened of only being custodians of the brand and opening the brand to their community?

If someone has a bad word to say about your company, this should be a prime opportunity to put right a wrong. It also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate to the online community that you are engaging with them and take their opinions seriously. Shunning them can only lead to a back lash.

I remember when I worked as ASDA on their graduate training and they introduced the ‘no quibble guarantee’ at customer service. The customer services team at the specific store were up in arms – worried that all the customers would scam them and ASDA would be out of pocket.

Strangely the reverse happened, for the odd customer that obviously was trying to scam ASDA, there were many more that were genuine customers with a problem or wanted to return a product, no quibble. What happened to the sales – from what I recall they increased, as people were more confident buying items if they new they could bring them back…

My parallel online is that if companies operated a feedback welcome policy online or got involved in twitter or forums, there would find that the feedback they got overall probably would be positive and could only boost the online traffic and brand awareness for the company….if only they would take that leap of faith.

Like it or not twitter had reached tipping point and it is here to stay. Remember the good ol’ days of beta or VHS videos…………companies that are early adopters of twitter will grow their business substantially online. Those who stick there head in the sand will be like the beta videos and will become extinct.

I came across an article on E-Consultancy about All atwit over nothing which states that

Right now, given that the loudest conversations on Twitter are still about Twitter, I don’t think most businesses have much to gain by investing lots of time on Twitter. Resources are better allocated elsewhere, be it PPC or SEO, affiliate marketing or offline advertising.’

Personally I don’t agree with the article. I have been in the online marketing industry for over 12 years now. Back at the start when Google was launched – search engine optimisation was prehistoric to where the technology and techniques are currently.

Likewise for twitter as new tools and techniques develop – this will open it up to the general public, not just the early adopters and will become a new form of online marketing. However, those companies that did realise the potential for search marketing, soon enjoyed a new source for generating more business……for those companies which ignore twitter and other social media sites….do so but at your own peril.

Yours, feeling better after a rant

SearchWiki – being tested in Adwords?

Back in November Google launched SearchWiki where Google Account users can modify search listings. I did a blog posting about it in January. Using Search Wiki, users can add, delete, amend or comment on a listing. So what’s big about that?

Google stores this data so you can view other people’s combined results. So ultimately I can see Google integrating this into the search algorithms. So the listings on your website would be influenced by your visitors overall experience of the website / company / customer services etc. Since I read the article in November I have long seen this as a new tool to be integrated.

Google Adwords – is this the test?
Today there are articles on Search Engine Land and E Consultancy both saying that they have seen this being tested on Google Adwords. The question of the moment is that if enough people remove the ad will it effect the Quality Score on the PPC………is this is the software being tested in earnest.

I guess if the testing is successful then it might get rolled out into the search listings.

So what does this mean for Ads and natural optimisation?

  • Companies can’t be lazy when setting up their PPC campaigns and tailor the content to the ads
  • People need to take a holistic approach to web design / customer service / operations / usability – as these are the criteria your customers will be judging websites on. Unless customers get an all round good experience, then in one click they can remove you from the search listings
  • Companies need to engage with their customers online – either through blogs, twitter,…… this could be a turning point and unless you’re an early adopter you’ve missed the boat.

Brighter Marketing Bible – how refreshing!

Brighter Marketing Bible £14.97 from Amazon

I have known Joanne and Siobhan at Brighter Marketing for sometime as we set up our businesses at the same time (I set up Pollenation Internet which I have subsequently sold). So when they approached me to give them my feedback, I leapt at the chance. They have supported me through some tough decisions and wanted to give back!

The book is aimed at making marketing simple and easy to understand for small to medium businesses. It is written in bite sizes chapters that are easy to understand with techniques / tasks that are relevant to a small business.

I am believer in life long learning and always have a business book on the go. I have read many marketing books and have always felt overwhelmed by the content and find it hard to put into practice. This book couldn’t be more different – relevant, focused on business and simple ways to implement ideas.

Google Invalid Promotional Code for Free Advertising – has anyone else had this?

I got my copy of the Director magazine this week (as an IoD member you get a free subscription). I have tried using the Google free advertising leaflet which is coming up as ‘invalid code’ when I enter it into Google adwords. I have contacted Google Support who said:

‘Thank you for your email. I understand that you are having trouble entering a promotional code. I have searched for your coupon but i am unable to locate it. To this end, I ask you to please contact the third-party provider with which you signed up for AdWords and they should issue you with a new one.

Google AdWords works with certain third-party providers to offer promotional coupons to new AdWords advertisers. If you signed up for AdWords through one of these third-party providers, you will receive a promotional code to enter in your AdWords account.’

With that in mind I contact the Sales Exec for the Director Magazine. He too contacted Google and got this response:

There was a problem with the Google AdWords voucher codes in the last edition of this publication. Google quickly realised this was an issue and have taken steps to sort it out, but unfortunately not before some people received incorrect codes. They will be issuing an apology, along with an increased £40 voucher offer, in the next issue of Director’

What I find stunning is that the Director magazine goes out to 52,000 IoD members (and others that subscribe independently) so every individual could potentially have an invalid code. Considering the size of Google, I really cannot believe that they could quite manage to make such a blunder. What’s more, is that the IoD members are all on company boards (or equivalent), so it really couldn’t happen to a better bunch of influencers in business.

Anyhow, I have a new code and have applied it to the PPC account and have a happy customer. So I got there in the end 🙂

So my question is this – has anyone else had such a bad experience of Google free promotional vouchers as I have?

More business is being done online – so where are you at?

When you switch on the news or logon to a news website all you hear is the doom and gloom of the recession. There are always winners and opportunities at times like these, and it is making sure you are on the right side of it.

Looking at some statistics always focus’s the mind on the opportunities:

  • In the UK people spend more time online than in any other European country, averaging 33 hours per month. That’s 8 hours a week, double the time spent reading newspapers and magazines. (comScore World Metrix, Sep 200, JupiterResearch, ‘Media Consumption Patterns: Online Vies with TV As Primary Medium)
  • 30% of consumers are more actively seeking out promotions than they were 12 months ago. (The Retail Bulletin ‘Consumers seek out promotions as economic downturn bites’, Jun 2008)
  • 73% of users find search engines an important resource when researching a product, ahead of personal recommendations (63%). (EIAA Mediascope Europe Study, Nov 2007)
  • Around 30% of online consumers in the UK, France and Germany post a comment to an online newsgroup or a website during a typical week. (Harris Interactive ‘Digital Influence Index’, Jun 2008)
  • Social networks now receive one in, every five page impressions in the UK.— Hitwise ‘The Impact of Social Networking in the UK’, Nov 2007

What this means for businesses is that:

  • More people are spending more time online.
  • The user of search engines when researching a purchase is key.
  • More people are searching for discounts and vouchers
  • People are actively getting involved with online communities and posting comments.

Getting involved in doing business online is key to surviving the rocky road ahead. The slow down will drive the adoption of new technologies and the use of the internet.

Businesses that embrace the new technologies and building business online will grow their competitive advantage. Companies that ignore online marketing, do so at their peril.

Google Glitch on Saturday 31st Jan

I was at my brothers this weekend and made chocolate muffins with my nieces. I went to Google to search for buttercream icing and got the warning on all search engine listings ‘ malware warning: “This site may harm your computer,”.

I initially thought it was the MAC I was using but then decided it had to be Google and perhaps it had been hacked or something. Anyhow, it didn’t last for long and I got the recipe (and the muffins were yummy!).

Anyhow yesterday in the news the headlines were:Google Glitch Briefly Shuts Down Search Engine Saturday

I then wondered what was the impact of this glitch on traffic to websites on Saturday and if this had a real impact on the bottom line for companies. I hear that it was down for 1/2 an hour and the data from the website analytics would reflect this. Looking at the websites that I manage, this downtime in Google must have been for quite a short time – as there is no correlation in a drop in traffic or sales for that day.

The traffic was slightly lower than for other saturdays but who can tell what is an average day anyway in these erratic economic times!


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