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Live optimization with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin at Email Summit 2011

January 24th, 2011 No comments

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011Earlier today at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011, in front of 700 marketers at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin worked without a net and engaged in live optimization with actual examples provided by Summit attendees.

Live Optimization #1: Email newsletter

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

The first was an email from Savings.com. The objective of the mail was to drive clicks and the mail itself is Savings.com’s email newsletter, so the mail went out to the entire newsletter subscriber base.

Flint’s immediate comment is that the information isn’t being presented at the right time in the right way, the mail doesn’t look like a typical email newsletter so there could be confusion on the part of the recipient, and the mail does not have a clear value proposition.

The submitter commented, “We’re trying to deliver the best coupons for that particular week.”

One attendee commented, the best value of the mail — the 30% off offer, etc. — is the hardest to find and read.

Flint’s additional comments were that the mail has no eyepath, enormous friction with seven calls to action and there’s no way to tell the difference between brands and button. Read more…

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B2B Marketing: Take established tradeshow best practices and adapt them for an online audience with virtual events

August 27th, 2010 1 comment

“Many tradeshows have experienced a decline in attendance and exhibitors in recent years. In addition to companies cutting back on their tradeshow attendance due to financial reasons, many attendees are also scaling back their tradeshow participation, due to travel costs and time away from the office. Virtual events eliminate some of these issues.”

philanthropyThe above quote is from Chris Chariton, Vice President of Supplier Marketing & Marketing Services at GlobalSpec – the engineering search engine. To help you incorporate virtual events into your marketing mix, we conducted a virtual interview with Chris… Read more…

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Categories: Events Tags: , ,

The Google Slap: Affiliate Marketers must stay in compliance with Google and the FTC

January 25th, 2010 5 comments

Affiliate SummitMy colleague, Robert Reynard, and I just returned from Affiliate Summit. Special thanks to Shawn Collins and Missy Ward for having us. This is not the first time I have been, but nonetheless it impresses me to see the number of people who have an interest in this space.

Affiliate Marketing Regulation

One of the most interesting topics this year was around government actions which are threatening many who have profited from this space for many years. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on Internet sites that profit from promoting other’s products or services without disclosing within that promotion that they received some sort of compensation from the company.

Compensation in this instance is not limited to cash. Let me give you an example that I heard at the show:

Let’s say a stay-at-home mom begins a blog to help other stay-at-home moms. A diaper manufacturer sees that blog and decides to send her a box of diapers with the hope that she would try them on her children and then blog about how well they performed.

That mom must disclose that this was a gift from the manufacturer and she must disclose that this blog post is partial to them for that reason, even if she would have blogged about “the diapers making it through the night without leaking” anyway and was in no way influenced by the fact that the diapers were a gift. In other words, even mommy bloggers could be held liable for product reviews.

This may be an extreme example, but thanks to some who may have been taking advantage of consumers through use of exaggerated claims and fake reviews and testimonials, it has become a necessary part of affiliate marketing.

Google Adwords frustration

Another hot topic surrounding this event was affiliate frustration with the Google Adwords program. Over the last year, many affiliates who used Google Adwords to advertise their site(s) were notified that they were no longer welcome to use the Google advertising platform.

OK, so “notified” may be a bit of a stretch, typically the way they found this out was without any sort of notification at all but rather by noticing that sales are lower or perhaps non-existent and logging into their Adwords account to troubleshoot.

After looking around for a bit, they probably found that everything seemed to be in order. On the surface at least. They then may have scrolled over a status column which, when hovered over, opens a small box showing a users Quality Score. To the affiliate’s surprise, the Quality Score ranking that once read 7/10, 8/10 or even 10/10 now says 1/10.

A 1/10 Quality Score ranking in Google Adwords is about as effective at removing advertisements as deleting the campaign altogether. Worse yet, starting over with a new campaign will not help. An advertiser’s Quality Score remains with their domain.

I have heard, but this has not been confirmed by Google, that the only way to receive a 1/10 Quality Score across an entire account is for a Google Policy Team Member to manually place this on the account…meaning that this does not naturally occur. Perhaps this is why affiliates have affectionately labeled this occurrence a “Google Slap.”

Can you imagine being in business one day and out the next? That is what is happening to some of these affiliates. So why would Google do this? After all, affiliates are paying them, right? Well, Google, like the FTC, is probably reacting to the bad apples. Google is fanatical about protecting its customers (i.e. search users) and if it takes hurting some legitimate affiliate’s business to protect customers from the bad apples, it looks like Google is okay with this concession.

What this may mean for 2010

It will be interesting to see how both of these situations play out over this year. I counted 46 businesses from the advertising and marketing industry that made last year’s Inc 500 list of the fastest-growing companies, private companies.

Many of these businesses have deep roots in the affiliate marketing business. Their growth rates have skyrocketed on the backs of affiliates using Google Adwords to advertise, and in some instances have grown off of sites that now must alter their pages to abide by the new FTC guidelines.

Will these companies be able to adjust their business models and continue these impressive growth rates in the face of these new obstacles? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post or start a conversation with your peers in the MarketingExperiments Optimization group.

(‘DiggThis’)

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Email Marketing: What’s the biggest buzz at MarketingSherpa Em@il Summit ’10?

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

Right now, 650 of the lead email marketing practitioners and thought leaders are gathered in Miami for MarketingSherpa’s Ema@il Summit ’10. To get the inside scoop on the biggest buzz from the event, we pulled MarketingSherpa President Bob Lorum out of one of the sessions to get his real-time insights.

As Bob said, there is an emphasis on strategy versus just tactical implementation across the board. And email integration with social media and other mediums is becoming more relevant and important.

In his keynote presentation, Joseph Jaffe commented that “retention is the new acquisition.” Organization will be more successful if they use email and other mediums to retain existing customers.

There is clearly a consensus that email is on the rise and becoming an even more important part of an organization’s marketing arsenal. Of course, creating email campaigns that truly drive revenue in such a crowded market is easier said than done. That’s why MarketingExperiments launched a new, focused research offering at Em@il Summit ’10 to help you address your unique challenges and opportunities.

Since our lab can’t meet the demand of marketers seeking intensive Research Partnerships, we have started a program to create custom Email Response Optimization Packages that will allow more marketers to leverage our scientific email campaign optimization strategies. These Packages can help you connect the dots between our research into “discovering what really works” and finding specific ways to make those discoveries really work in your organization.

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Google adds more flexibility and intelligence to Analytics and Website Optimizer

October 20th, 2009 7 comments

As I sat in the conference room of building 14 at the Googleplex last week, my excitement about what Google was doing to improve its analytics and testing platforms went through the roof. At the 2009 Partner Summit, Google gave a preview of the new Website Optimizer (GWO) features as well as soon-to-be-launched, feature-packed version 4 of Google Analytics.

So what’s new with GWO? Well, there is not a lot, but the few features Google added to its testing platform are HUGE! For me, two of the most notable updates are:

  1. Management API for the creation and management of experiments outside of the Website Optimizer interface
  2. Daily conversion tracking

The GWO API will allow you to much more easily set up tests and record stats, especially if you are using a content management system or a third-party shopping cart. Basically, you will be able to do almost anything you can do in GWO, but with your own interface.

As for the daily conversion tracking, I have always been one of those people who like to see test results to the minutest detail. Until now, Google has only allowed you to see aggregated stats for the entire testing period.

As of today, we can now see daily conversion rates:

Daily Conversion Rate

This will give us much more intelligence regarding daily conversion swings and subtleties between the performance of experiment combinations. To read more, visit the GWO blog.

Now, I am even more excited about a couple of new features Google Analytics has included in its newest version. My favorites are:

  1. 20 Goals, including brand new engagement goals
  2. Custom alerts
  3. Advanced filters built into report interface

I’m sure many of you have shared my frustration when trying to track more than four goals for one website. Before, we would have to create a duplicate profile of our website just to add goal five, six, seven….

Well, that’s all changed! Google has announced 20 goals for each profile. These will be grouped into four sets of five, but you will be allowed to use the 20 slots however you want.

Screenshot of new 20 goal limit:

More Goals
But it doesn’t stop there. Add on top of that the fact that you will now have the ability to set user engagement goals. And you are no longer limited by a goal being attributed only to a pre-defined conversion page. The new engagement Analytics goals are:

  1. Time on page
  2. Pageviews per visit

Engagement Goals
You will also be able to set custom alerts to be emailed to you. By “custom,” I mean you set the variables however you want. So if I want to know if my website’s New York PPC traffic drops 15%, Google will let me know and I can act accordingly.

Screenshot of custom alerts:

Custom Alerts
Finally, they have added custom filters to the report interface. Sure you could export the data to Excel then sort, filter, and do whatever you wanted to make the data make sense to you. But now, Google has added the flexibility to get a clear and intelligent picture of what’s going on with your website without having to go back and forth between its interface and Excel.

Screenshot of advanced filters:

Advanced Filters
Say I’m looking at my Top Content report and I want to sort by bounce rate to see which pages are performing poorly so I can dedicate new resources for improvements to be made. Previously, I would see many pages with a bounce rate of 100% simply because they just had one or two visits.

Now, I can set the filter to only look at pages with a minimum of 100 visits and a bounce rate of less than 70%. This will allow me to make much more sense out of the heaps of data that Analytics is collecting.

You should be seeing all of these new features and many more appear in your Analytics and Website Optimizer interfaces over the next few weeks. We will be taking advantage of them right away with our research partners.

Check back next month — after we’ve tested some of these new features, we’ll offer suggestions on how you can make the most out of them.

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Affiliate marketing clinic study guide: 12 resources to get you going

August 26th, 2009 2 comments

If you’re an affiliate marketing novice, you and I have plenty in common. A few weeks ago, I knew little about the ins and outs of affiliate programs: how they work, the players involved, how to get started or how it fits into the typical multichannel marketing mix.

That’s partly how we arrived at today’s web clinic on the subject.

Back in 2003, MarketingExperiments tested affiliate programs, interviewed affiliate industry pros, and published an extensive, two-part research report on the topic: Affiliate Marketing Tested, Section 1 & Section 2. In 2006, further experiments by our team led to another research brief: The ROI on PPC vs. Affiliate Marketing.

Upon review, it seems many of those findings and recommendations still hold true for affiliates and merchants today.

And after our director of channel optimization, Aaron Rosenthal, and analyst and affiliate specialist Rob Reynard returned from the buzzing Affiliate Summit East show, we felt the time was right to revisit this topic and look at some new affiliate experiments we’ve conducted — including how those tests achieved gains of up to 165%.


Research and resources for affiliate marketing novices

For our web clinic, 57% of early registrants characterized themselves as “novices”  and 27% called themselves “experienced” in this area. So the following shortlist contains a dozen of the best articles, research, forums, and related resources we’ve seen that can help those who are just starting out.

Let us know if you find these resources helpful and be sure to check back next week, when we’ll be posting Q&A and takeaways from today’s clinic.

Reminder: Our web clinic hashtag is #webclinic and you can follow us @MktgExperiments.

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