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The Thrive Hive

Tips on digital marketing you can apply today.

The Size of the Search Marketplace

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, October 05, 2005

ComScore released August search volume numbers yesterday, and there were some winners and some losers, naturally.

U.S. online users conducted over 5 billion searches in August, up from 4.8 billion in July. Share of searches:

Google: 37.3%
Yahoo: 29.7%
MSN: 15.5%
AOL: 9.6%

MSN and Google gained about a percentage point of share of searches in August, while Yahoo and AOL languished.

How does your search volume on your website break out? Is it roughly similar to these shares? Or very different? Though either may be alright, most websites gain traffic from search engines at least in order of ranking: the most traffic from Google, followed by Yahoo or MSN, followed by Yahoo. If AOL is your number one search engine source, this is a dramatic departure from search share, and you may want to investigate.

These numbers are also interesting if you conduct a lot of pay-per-click advertising. Fortunately, the search market continues to grow, which means that the number of searches for our products and services on search engines should grow, increasing the ability to reach more people.

Are your search engine shares for your site similar to this? Different? Let me know!



Consumer Email Provider Trends and Their Impact on You

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, September 29, 2005

eMarketer, with data from aWeber, has released the results of a survey on email providers with some interesting findings and observations:

  • Yahoo gained market share slightly, while MSN/Hotmail and AOL lost share slightly
  • Google's Gmail product jumped to 4th overall, though with a share only of about one fourth of the other, larger providers
  • About 20 percent of all personal email users change their address in a year
  • A large number of email providers users define as for "personal use" are actually business email addresses. The research indicates that almost 40 percent of respondents use their work email address for personal email use
  • Outlook is the dominant email client used by businesses

Why should you care about all this? If you have a business-to-consumer email marketing program, this data can frame some of the steps you need to take to ensure maximum deliverability of your messages, including:

  1. Test accounts for the top 10 email providers to monitor how well your emails are delivered are vital to determining deliverability success.
  2. Since almost 40 percent of "personal use" emails appear to actually be business email addresses, then focusing solely on personal email providers like AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo is not enough. Evaluating the impact of corporate email filters and Outlook filtering functionality is important for a significant portion of your email list.

Deliverability is one of the toughest aspects of a successful email marketing campaign. Do you have any stories of how focusing on deliverability has boosted your results? Comment here and let us know!



MSN to Launch Demographically Targeted Ad Network - to Launch in U.S. in Spring

Kristen Lindsey - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Microsoft announced today that it is launching its own pay-per-click ad network, according to the New York Times.

Pay-per-click advertising has been the highest growing area of online advertising, which has been the highest growing area of overall advertising in the past year. Tight inventory, among other things, has boosted pay-per-click costs, and a new MSN ad network will be a welcome addition.

Microsoft's demographically targeted ad serving model will be new in the industry. Demographic information gathered from Hotmail and Passport subscribers will allow ad targeted not previously available.

The example provided by a New York Times article is a search for the keyword "roses." Though other networks would serve ads based on their bids only, the MSN network might serve florist ads for men and garden supply stores for women.

Advertiser tip: generally getting on board right at launch can get you in the door with less expensive bid costs and an opportunity to evaluate performance of the system for your own business.

It remains to be seen if this will hold true in such a hot ad market, but the first to play can gain advantages on competitors and evaluate best ad opportunities.



SideStep Wins Best of Travel in Business Week Poll

Kristen Lindsey - Friday, September 23, 2005

SideStep out polled Expedia by a commanding 17 points to be voted the Best travel website in Business Week's "Best of the Web" poll this week.

Granted, Business Week freely admits that though they prevented ballot stuffing, some sites were successful at exhorting their fans to get out and vote, and this wide margin for SideStep kind of makes you wonder. Any thoughts?

That being said, this poll is very interesting and reveals some really interesting sites across many categories - work blog, home blogs, podcasting, research sites, and more.

Check it out at Business Week's website for the full story and some online extras.



Ten Steps to Killer Content

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jonathan Krantz wrote an excellent, two-page summary of web copy writing basics, "Before You Write: Your 10-point Checklist" at MarketingProfs.com this morning.

If you are writing any web content, whether web pages or email newsletters or landing pages, Jonathan's ten points are a fantastic tool to consult as you write. Though you'll definitely want to read the article in its entirety, I wanted to highlight several key concepts that I tackle daily with client websites:

  1. Decide: "what do you want the reader to do next?" The web can be very overstimulating, with links everywhere to take a visitor elsewhere, so it is critical  you make it very clear what the reader would benefit most from to do next.
  2. Jonathan calls the next critical step "make an offer." Basically, he is saying to include a call-to-action within your copy. You are not out there on the web huckstering; you have a product or service that is a great solution some people out there seek, and you are simply getting this product or service into the hands of those that need it. Ask for the sale!
  3. Listen to your customer's voice. This is one of the hardest things for many copywriters to do, especially when they are internal, part of the organization. We often are surrounded with our own "company speak" all day, and it can be very difficult to put ourselves in our customer's place and think about how they communicate. This can be as simple as using "you" and "yours" rather than "we" and "us." Jonathan takes this idea a step further and encourages us to really learn how our customers communicate about their needs and make sure our web pages reflect that.
  4. Focus on one thing. Each page should tell a story. Try not to tackle too much at once on one page.

These are just three of Jonathan's ten points, so I highly recommend tackling the entire article when you have time, but just incorporating these three important factors when writing for the web will boost your content performance.

An example of one of my clients who effectively implemented many of the ten points is Puffin Fishing Charters. Take a look and see if it helps you brainstorm some ideas.

How about you? Have some good examples of web copy that demonstrate some of the ten points? Please post them here -- we can all learn from them!



Microsoft to revamp Its Marketing...Over Ten Years???

Kristen Lindsey - Saturday, September 17, 2005

A lead marketing executive spoke with ClickZ's Pamela Parker about Microsoft's efforts to retool its marketing structure to be more in tune with the changing marketing landscape.

Microsoft has, as Pamela points out, in many ways been as much of a marketing company as it has been a technology company over the years. But trends like viral marketing successes like Mozilla's Firefox browser, which has cut into Internet Explorer share, and increased effectiveness of the Open Source movement have caused Microsoft to rethink their approach.

The one kicker, which is lost on me: ClickZ reports that Microsoft expects this change to take ten years to implement.

When reading the article, it is obvious that Microsoft is rethinking some very fundamental processes.  But the article also points out that many Microsoft competitors, including Google and Apple, shoot a little more from the hip and develop products from the perspective of their company vision as much as from understanding audience.

My question -- what can Microsoft possibly think about and implement over ten years in this marketplace that will still be completely relevant in ten years?

What percent of your marketing approach were you doing ten years ago? If I think back, it is a very low percentage.

What are your thoughts? What major changes in your marketing approach have you made in the past ten years? Let me know!



Why Care About Those National Ad Spend Numbers?

Kristen Lindsey - Friday, September 16, 2005

eMarketer reported significant growth in online ad spending, according to a forecast through 2009. Highlights:

  • Online ad spend will exceed $10 billion for the first time in 2005
  • eMarketer expects online ad spending to reach over $22 billion by 2009

Is this a huge growth in the overall advertising market? Perhaps, according to eMarketer. What is influencing this growth:

  • Online ad spend growth is coming at the expense of other media, like television, print, etc.
  • Increased advertiser budgets
  • Larger percentages of ad budgets being moved to online advertising
  • Increased prices for some online advertising options

Do these numbers have a direct impact on your business? Well, seeing the overall advertising trend can help you evaluate your own advertising mix. For example, there has been a decided shift in budget allocation to online options recently. Are your competitors moving online? Can you make the move and gain an advantage over your competitors?

eMarketer also reports that though online ad spending is growing, the online advertising audience is growing even more rapidly. I smell o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y.

Have you had experience taking advantage of this trend? I would love to hear about your experience!



Online Advertising Continues to Overtake Traditional Counterparts

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Aegis Group reported yesterday that their worldwide advertising outlook is showing major upheavals in ad spend of all types of media.

Specifically, digital media, which includes pay-per-click advertising, online advertising, etc., is overtaking a number of traditional media. It has already overtaken radio in terms of ad spend and is expected to surpass outdoor advertising this year.

What role does online advertising plan in your advertising budget? Compared to radio? To outdoor? Are your competitors taking advantage of this trend and exploring digital options? If not, this could be an opportunity to gain competitive advantage.

Do you have a good story of how digital media has boosted your marketing program's performance? I would love to hear.



.travel is Here

Kristen Lindsey - Saturday, August 27, 2005

Travel and tourism companies can now apply for .travel domains. EnCirca, the company granted the right to administer the domains, is accepting applications, and the domains will go into effect as a limited launch on October 1, 2005.

Who can get this domain? According to the registrar, travel agents, hotels and resorts, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, camp facility operators, bus and coach operators, tour operators, conventions and visitors bureaus, theme parks, ferries, airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines, and national tourism offices are eligible.

Who should get this domain? While .com and other, older, primary domains continue to be dominant on the web, it is affordable and good business to obtain the .travel extension for your website domain.

Should this domain take off, it will give you step up on competitors who don't apply. And it is also a strong defensive move so that others cannot snag your .travel domain.

Have you already registered for your .travel domain? What were your reasons? Let me know!



Branding, Reputation, and the Internet

Kristen Lindsey - Friday, August 19, 2005

Del Galloway, a partner with Husk Jennings Galloway and Robinson, recently presented an excellent seminar and luncheon in town about branding.

Now branding in some ways is a maligned and misapplied marketing concept these days, but Del provided and excellent thread of thought about how branding interrelates with other intangible but important aspects of a company's image.

A main theme was a discussion about the difference between a company's reputation and its brand. As a case study, we discussed Wal-Mart.

Wal-mart has had many hits to its company reputation recently. It is facing a lot of bad press and lawsuits regarding bullying treatment of suppliers, disregard for local land-use guidelines and community attitudes, labor relations problems, discrimination against women, and more.

But has that impacted its brand image, which is the lowest prices anywhere? For example, if you disagree with these policies Wal-mart pursues, have you stopped shopping there? Or, if you do shop there, do you think about these policies when you shop and feel any guilt?

Del features the Internet as a primary venue where this interrelation between brand and reputation can take place. For example, a search on Google for "wal-mart Internet protest" brings up a number of sites using the Internet to organize and rally supporters, yet a Wal-Mart ad displays right next to these sites.

As with so many other aspects of our lives, this is another example of how the Internet impacts even the most obscure conversations in our society.

Do you have any examples of how you have experienced the impact of the Internet on your efforts to brand your company or build its reputation? I'd love to hear them.