Gregory Hamilton

Creating Product Names to Maximize Digital Exposure

August 3rd, 2015

While generating the maximum exposure isn’t always the first thing your product development team thinks about when developing a product, it falls to marketers to inform our company’s prospective customers about this new and exciting product.

Unfortunately, rarely is the marketing team able to lead the product naming conversation; thus, by the time the product is ready to go to market, we are often handicapped in our options.  Below you will find three guiding principles for product naming that enable maximum exposure once your product hits the market.

After all the hard work of developing a product, why name it in a way that reduces your ability to market?

Following the guidelines below when choosing a product name gives you the best chance to achieve the maximum amount of exposure while expending the least amount of resources.

Each rule below can be broken or ignored if necessary, but doing so will mean increased marketing costs over the life of the product.


Principle #1: Don’t allow search engines to guess

While massive strides have recently been made by modern search engine algorithms in their ability to determine the user intent behind a given search query, they are not perfect. In order for your product to achieve the maximum level of exposure, your greatest weapon is to remove as much guesswork from the equation as possible.

Principle #2: Don’t create product names that resemble a mistake

Avoid misspellings

Search engines automatically make adjustments for queries they deem to contain spelling errors.

Google has even gone so far as to automatically show users the results for what the algorithm assumed they were intending to spell. This greatly reduces exposure of your product until your misspelling is adjusted for in the algorithm.

Examples:  Sinc, Sync, Reli, Mi, EZ, Lazer, Xport


In the past I ran the Search Marketing Program for a large global brand whose product name included a clever misspelling. Despite our efforts to promote the brand — including the expending of considerable resources — the top traffic driving keyword used by customers to access our 30+ global websites was the correct spelling.

Avoid Excessive Capitalization or Punctuation

In addition to the potential for search algorithms to categorize these types of names as misspellings, you may find that you’re prevented from fully advertising due to search engine regulations.

For instance, should you want to engage in pay per click (PPC) advertising tactics on Google, the search engine with the largest global market share, you may find your name is in opposition to their Editorial & Professional Requirements.



Avoid product names that could be considered web code or incorrect parts of web code

In addition to search engines, even modern web browsers are now making automatic adjustments for these common mistakes.

Examples:  com, Log, Meta, Bold, Link, Flash, Zip, Dash

Avoid using search operators

Search engine algorithms can become confused when a user performs a query which includes search operators such as certain punctuation, symbols and code. The query may look incomplete if these operators are included.

Examples:  +, –, OR, $, @ and ”

While the examples above are all less common, over the past few years the #, or hashtag,  now signals to many algorithms that a user is looking for trending topics. A full list of the search operators for Google can be found here. Fair warning — these do change over time.

Avoid using stop words

Stop words are words that search engines typically do not consider when determining results of a search query. There is no definitive confirmation of every stop word that any specific major search engine uses, as that’s part of their secret sauce, but as a general guide they are good to ignore when naming your products.  If a search engine doesn’t even consider your name as part of the query, you’re not getting maximum exposure.

Example: all single letters are considered stop words — A, Z, X, P, M

Example: all phonetically spelled numbers are considered stop words (six, nine, one hundred)


Principle #3: Don’t create a product name that forces an automated system to choose between you and a location.

Names without a modifier that correspond to a city, state, region, territory, country or continent will force search engine algorithms to decipher if the intent was to look for a product or find out more about a location. In today’s hyper mobile environment, which one do you think will win?

Examples: Paris, Berlin, London, Champaign, NorthWest, Scandinavia, Burgundy, Catalonia


Avoid using animal names, especially ones which that correspond to sports teams.

Examples: Bears, Lions or Hawk


Principle #4: Create a unique product name that maximizes your potential to be matched for any and all related search queries

Avoid using common words or broad categories

Using a common word ensures that the first few results returned when a prospective customer searches for your product will not belong to you.

These types of searches typically return definitions from multiple sources and other enhanced search results like images, videos and news. While these results reduce your visibility on desktop searches by pushing you lower, it can completely banish you on mobile devices due to a decreased number of available slots. When it comes to promotion, the broader the common word, the more competition it has and the more expensive it will be to compete on.

Examples:  Orange, Laser, Zen, Bridge, Bucket, Pale


Avoid using two and three letter words, acronyms or abbreviations

This is the most cost prohibitive rule to break as there are multiple overlapping uses for two and three letter search terms.

Stock symbols (CAT) and trade associations (ADA, AMA) are common results for three letter search queries.  Acronyms and abbreviations are often used in email, messenger programs, SMS, Twitter and other types of communications that require shortened lengths. These meanings can change quickly over time.

Examples:   NEO, NOW, ACT, AIM, ATM

Examples:  iNi (I’m not interested), AKA (also known as), AFK (away from Keyboard), BG (Big Grin), JIC (Just in Case)


While the list above may instill a sense of hopelessness, take heart because all is not lost. There are several good options to name your product.

  • Do create product names that are verbs. Verbs are treated differently than nouns in search queries and are therefore much easier to search for.

Examples:  Aspire, Inspire, Quick

  • Do create product names that contain four or more letters. Essentially, the more clues you give the search engine algorithms, the better. Using four or more letters will help you completely avoid all of the issues associated with two to three letter names.

Examples:   Verve, Pulse, Vibe, Pure

  • Do create product names that are multi-word combos. Multi-word combos contain two signals that help search engines algorithms understand that the search is product related and not informational. Successful products that use this tactic include “QuickTime,” “TurboTax” and “Wet Jet.”

One special note here: if you are creating a multi-word combo, do not hyphenate or otherwise punctuate the combination. This will result in the product name not following several of the previously mentioned rules.

Examples:   “Easy Step,” “Quick Test,” “Easy Edge” and “Quick Check”



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Kayla Cobb

Email Marketing: Tips for tech support selection and contract negotiation

July 30th, 2015

In the world of marketing, there’s always a push to stay ahead of the curve and, more importantly, ahead of competitors.

However, it’s hard to dedicate the time, money, manpower and technical know-how to launching truly eye-catching (and revenue-generating) campaigns. This is especially true for smaller companies with marketing teams consisting of only one or two employees.

Enter the potential best friend to most campaigns: the vendor.

At the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 Media Center, Erin Hogg, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, sat down with John A. Caldwell, President and Founder, Red Pill Email, to discuss the finer points of vendor negotiation. Specifically, John explained what to look out for when considering tech support vendors and what you should — and shouldn’t — negotiate when it comes time to draw up a contract.

Watch the below interview to learn tips on how to handle vendor negotiation:

Read more…

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Ken Bowen

The Psychology of the Searcher: How knowing how our prospects search can help us to optimize our campaigns

July 27th, 2015

As marketers, most of us are familiar with the basics of search engine optimization, and how we can leverage certain industry-specific keywords and headlines in order to increase page visibility for our target audience.

Without a robust understanding of how prospects are actually interacting with search engines, how can we be confident that our SEO strategies are grounded in reality, rather than based on hunches or our own individual search biases?

Blue Nile Research recently carried out a study to discover how real customers are actually searching the Internet. How long are their queries? What form do they take? Are there universal patterns in the way that people search?

For this study, a sample of randomly selected test subjects were asked to search for solutions to three routine scenarios:

  • A technical problem (broken coffee pot)
  • A health issue (injured ankle)
  • An ecommerce scenario (buying a new laptop)

When testing was complete and researchers aggregated all of the search queries, the most interesting finding wasn’t that one search pattern outperformed another. Rather, researchers were fascinated to find that few underlying patterns existed at all in the search data.

Instead of there being a learned, established protocol for the way people search, the search terms, length and form that subjects used appear to be the intimate expression of the individual human that created it.

It seems that, just as our genetic makeup is unique to each of us individually, so is the way in which we choose to search the Internet.


Key Findings

When analyzing the data, Blue Nile found that subjects were split evenly in terms of searching in short fragments (“sore ankle”) versus fully-formed terms (“causes of sore ankle”). This suggests that users are equally predisposed toward either speed of search (fragments) or depth of search (more specific terms).

Read more…

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Courtney Eckerle

Bet on Horses, Not Customer Assumptions: How the Kentucky Derby tested content for relevance with customers

July 23rd, 2015

Assumptions can be a dangerous territory — especially when it comes to being relevant with your customers.

When a brand has a large gap between purchases, keeping customers engaged becomes a consistent concern.

The team at the Kentucky Derby faced that issue when they decided to use the weekly newsletter to identify and validate customer segments.

“When we look to grow a brand like the Kentucky Derby, that breadth of engagement is really core to our growth path,” Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, Kentucky Derby, said in this session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

To solve this issue, Jeff and Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, Kentucky Derby, decided to begin segmenting and directing content directly towards the customers who wanted it most. Within its established customer personas, the Derby focused testing on three segments:

  • Social content interests
  • Equine enthusiasts
  • Betting/wagering information

Once they set up segmentation and supported it with relevant content, the team began optimizing for maximum engagement.

Read more…

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Selena Blue

Website Optimization: How to reduce friction in purchase and registration processes

July 20th, 2015

Sometimes getting consumers to the landing page is the easy part.

The ingrained friction the buying, and even registration, processes create for users can cause them to hesitate in completing the process. After all, you don’t visit a site to register; you come to consume whatever information they have to offer. The registration part gets in the way.

When the registration process seems unusually long, you give up and leave the site. The value beyond the registration no longer outweighs the time and effort needed to get to it.

The same goes for purchases. When we create additional friction through design, copy and overall experience, it can push a customer to abandon their cart instead of pushing through the mental resistance certain elements create in their mind.

The good news is that we can indeed reduce the friction present in the conversion process. We can do that in two ways: length and difficulty.

For length-oriented friction, look at:

  • the length of your process as a whole
  • the layout of fields
  • the number of fields

For difficulty-oriented friction, examine:

  • the format of your pages
  • the number of options provided and how they’re displayed
  • the button design and placement

Sometimes it can be hard to look at a page and immediately pinpoint these things, so we’ve designed a checklist of sorts for you to go through while analyzing your processes.

We’ve also included some “Not this, but this” examples to show you possible alternatives. Remember, what might work with one audience doesn’t always work with another. That means you’ll want to test your changes to make sure you’ve found the best process for your customers.

Read more…

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Andrea Johnson

Holidays Ahead: Market with caution

July 16th, 2015

Every holiday presents both opportunity and danger: you can either engage audiences or you can alienate them. It just depends on if you choose to jump on the seasonal bandwagon and how effectively you make the leap.

The most recent Marketing Experiments Web clinic examines holiday marketing lessons learned, and what you need to do to ensure you take full advantage of seasonal campaigns while dodging pitfalls.  Watch it here.

Consider this test, which has been anonymized.

Background: A large financial institution.

Goal: To convince customers to take out a mortgage or refinance an existing one.

Research question: Which email treatment will generate the highest clickthrough?

Test: A/B sequential test


The Straightforward Control

The Control was an email that focuses on low mortgage rates and how to take advantage of them.

  Read more…

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