Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

According to Kelsey Group’s research, 97% of consumers use the Internet to research products or services in their local area. That’s why SEM is important.

Lets break down the terminology. Yes, there is a difference between the two: Search Engine Marketing refers to all of the forms of Internet marketing that seek to promote to websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages. SEM consists of two basic aspects that are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of designing the website code and content so that it so that it would result in higher visibility in one or more search engine’s results. SEO is generally considered as “free” way of optimisation, since in SEO you wont pay for the search engine for optimising your search results. However, I would avoid using “free”, since though there’s no transaction between the company and the search engine, there’s always someone internal or external resource, who has to do the design and optimisation, that is, producing labor costs. Other terms for SEO are organic search, natural search and less frequently, algorithmic search.

Pay Per Click (PPC) refers to paid advertising where by the companies pay for the search engines to arrange and optimise the website’s visibility and/or ranking in the search results of a specific, or multiple search engines. Companies bid on certain “keywords” to rank high in specific search categories using e.g. Google AdWords, which is also often referred to PPC advertising and Cost-Per-Click (CPC).

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Rob Stoke provides a good compilation of the pros and cons of each:

It matters where you rank in the search results. A key term to remember is “Above the fold”, which refers to a search engine results page ranking on the first page that is visible without having to scroll down. Most users will click on the first Google result, and much fewer will click on the second, etc. When you get to the second page, the probabilities for being found by the prospective customer will decrease dramatically. The only time I pay attention to the search results on the second page is when I am desperate to find an answer to something. They say that “the best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results”, so when optimising through SEO or PPC, make sure your website stays “above the fold”.

http://www.biakelsey.com/

http://www.ecreativeim.com/seo-vs-ppc

http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/19?e=fwk-105454-ch05_s02

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Responsive design. What is it and why is it important?

Are you reading this blog with your computer, tablet or perhaps with your smartphone? Did your mobile browser ask you to switch to mobile version? That’s right, it didn’t because this web site is responsive design and adapts to the device you are using instead of asking you to adapt to its own. Hopefully you are enjoying the design. The quality of the content is another story…

IMG_7601

Responsive website design on WordPress. Outlook on iPhone5.

So what does responsive website mean? According to Nielsen Norman Group, a responsive web design (RWD) is a web development approach that creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website, depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it.

Tech-wise, in responsive design, the content and page elements reshuffle as the viewport grows or shrinks. For example, while you are browsing a site with a laptop, you might see multiple columns on the site, but as you access the site with your smartphone the columns might be reshuffled to two or a single column. Also content and other design elements might be rearranged by proportion-based grids.

This all comes down to the usability of the website, which According to Nielsen is based on:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks when they land the website.
  • Efficiency: How quickly the users can perform tasks on the web site?
  • Memorability: Can users reestablish proficiency after a period of not using the web site, and how easily?
  • Errors: How many errors the users make and how easy is it to recover from these errors.
  • Satisfaction: How convenient is the design for its users?

The mobile penetration and usage rates suggest that there is a high demand for multiple platform design. Responsive design is an excellent solution to respond to that.

Sources:

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/responsive-web-design-definition/

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/

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Why to automatize your marketing?

marketing automation

According to SalesForce, Marketing Automation is a technology that allows marketing and sales departments to create, deploy, and automate online marketing campaigns and sales activities that increase revenue and maximize efficiency.

Marketing automation helps in scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns and caters to efficient use of the company’s marketing resources. Marketing automation can also significantly reduce the faults and the inconsistencies in the company’s communications. Furthermore, marketing processes, when performed automatically, enable the company to allocate their resources to other tasks that cannot be automatized, such as planning and design.

If you are planning on investing to one, Jay Ivey from softwareadvice.com provides with a list of the best marketing automation software on the market. The list is based on the average rating of the software.

  1. SalesFusion
  2. eTrigue DemandCenter
  3. ActOn
  4. HatchBuck
  5. PlanPlus Online
  6. Oracle Eloqua
  7. Sales Achiever
  8. Pardot
  9. Marketo Lead Management
  10. Silverpop

The majority of solutions can be grouped into B2B and B2C solutions. The two groupings are very different and so are their functional needs, so make sure you communicate your needs to the service provider rigorously.

So what is that can you do with these automated marketing software and programs? To name a few, you can develop and implement email marketing campaigns, automate repetitive business tasks, create a database for present and potential customer, employ a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) campaign, use within a small business environment and develop an automated campaign to increase business sales.

All of the before mentioned tasks cater to better and more efficient Customer Relationship Management that can result in better lead conversion rates, bigger deals, higher team attainment of quota and better forecast accuracy. Marketing automation helps to nurture the customer relationship as the company approaches their customers frequently and with consistent message. Eventually marketing automation is all about simplifying the business world that is getting way too complex, much too quickly.

Sources:

http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/10/what-is-marketing-automation.html

http://marketingautomationtimes.com/about-us/marketing-automation-definition/

http://www.softwareadvice.com/crm/marketing-automation-comparison/

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Conversion Rate

What is that fancy word all online marketers are talking about? According to MarketingSherpa, The definition of conversion is “The point at which a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action.” Typically conversion is seen as a completed purchase. Though, for example in social media marketing, the conversion goal can be a like on a Facebook page. Simply put, conversion is simply getting someone to respond to your call-to-action. Ryan Lillis provides a good aggregation on what conversion means in different contexts:

Site Type Common Conversion and Aggregate Goals
E-Commerce – a site that sells things for users to purchase online.
  • Completed purchase
  • Each step within the checkout funnel
  • Products added to cart
  • Product page views
Media/Content – a site focused on article or other content consumption.
  • Page views
  • Articles read
  • Bounce rate (when measuring within an A/B testing tool, this is often measured by seeing if the user clicked anywhere on the page)
Lead Generation – a site that acquires business through name capture.
  • Form completion
  • Clicks to a form page (links may read “Contact Us” for example)
Donation – a site aiming to collect donations.
  • Form completion
  • Clicks to a form page (links may read “Send a donation” for example)

Generally, a good conversion rate is somewhere around 2% to 5%. A good conversion rate is not that unambiguous; it varies from merchant to merchant and from industry to industry segment. You might have read one of my earlier posts about the marketing affiliate, Kiosked. The conversion rates they are able to provide their customers with are over 5%. Not bad?

In the physical retail world, the conversions are totally on a different level. Think about a visit to a grocery store: You have seen an effort when you have been driving there, trying to find a parking spot, maybe picked up your friend and paid for gasoline. Perhaps you don’t wanna see the effort again by changing the retail store and you don’t wanna leave empty-handed either. In the offline environment, the customer’s “switching costs” are higher, either in time, money or effort. When online, changing the retailer is just a click away and that’s why, online merchants have to pay attention on their conversion rates.

Sources http://sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com/marketing/conversion-defined/ http://meclabs.com/training/publications/browse-by-publication-type/handbooks http://blog.optimizely.com/2013/01/16/what-is-a-conversion/ http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/17/what-is-a-good-conversion-rate#what-is-a-good-conversion-rate http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/17/what-is-a-good-conversion-rate#

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Study Experience at California State University

I wanted to write something personal to my blog as well, just to convince the readers that I’m actually not a robot, cranking out posts from the conveyor. Hence, I might as well write about my student experience in California State University of Fullerton, where I am finishing up my minor in International Marketing Management.

It has been a great journey. I have met a lot of nice people, and seen some must sees’ within the close range. Unlike my friends think, the exchange studies in here are not much of a holiday (compared to my previous experience in Spain in 2008-2009). Studying in here is a bit more guided, tied to schedules and attendance than it is in my home university, LUT. Studying in here requires a lot of time and effort.

But it has been worth it! The studies in here have been very intriguing and I have met so many nice people during my stay. It wasn’t like someone just asked me to come here and arranged everything, but it was a process that was in my mind for years and took six months of planning. I feel honored that I got the opportunity to study exactly what I wanted to, and so my minor consists of Strategic Internet Marketing, Marketing Information Technology, Retail Business Strategies and Consumer Behavior. I couldn’t have asked for better collection.

IMG_7605Our team presenting our eCommerce business idea at the Strategic Internet Marketing class.

I’m excited about finishing up the studies, so that I can finally start traveling and experiencing things in here! I am also stoked about the internship opportunities there are in California and I’m looking forward to start mapping out the prospective employers in the area! Studies are not over yet though, as I’m still preparing for my last two consecutive exams tomorrow. While I’m writing this blog post, I have been in the library for 16 hours in a row, and it’s 5.30 AM. This describes pretty much the past couple of weeks I have had in here. So it’s time to go home take a couple hours of sleep and then back in business studies! Thank you CSUF!

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“Dude, you still got a wallet? That’s so obsolete!”

The future of payments may be controlled by quick response (QR) codes.

When I was a kid, I used to wear watch to see what’s the time. Then I got my first cel phone (Nokia!) and I didn’t feel the need to carry a watch anymore, since I could see the time from my phone that I carried with me everywhere. Today there are over 6 billion mobile users in the world. I wonder how many wallet users are there.

The technology is not anything new, as you might remember for example The Coin’s initiative. But now the smartphone giants, such as Samsung and Apple are catering to the advent of mobile payments by (reportedly) partnering with credit card companies, such as Visa, American Express, and Mastercard. Though, they are yet to confirm anything official. Seems like the mobile technology is gearing towards a cashless society.

Let me introduce four major models for mobile payments:

  1. The Premium transactional SMS payments. Their advantage is that since the transaction is carried through SMS (e.g. instead of an app), they work also with the more modest cel phones. (Yes, you can start using your good old Nokia’s again that you can run over a truck with without scattering them!)
  2. The second one is mobile billing, which is already getting very popular in some parts of Asia.
  3. Mobile web payments that include the online wallets, such as PayPal, Amazon Payments and Google Checkout.
  4. Lastly, we have the Near Field Communication (NFC) solutions that are suitable to, for example retail store checkouts.

Mobile payment is convenient for consumers. By providing mobile payment solutions, the merchants can, not only serve their customers better, but translate the new technology to a higher value for themselves: A mobile payment through NFC can significantly reduce the checkout time for the consumers, as they don’t have to stand in line for the register. Correspondingly, when the consumers embrace the self-checkout, the need of human resources at the cashiers could be significantly reduced. The question is, what happens to the retail employment when the mobile payment is reality?

Sources:

http://www.blackenterprise.com/technology/apple-partners-with-major-credit-card-companies-for-payment-system/

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/mobile-billing-systems/

http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/07/18/8-awesome-ways-to-pay-with-your-phone/

http://www.crimsonhexagon.com/business-intelligence/social-analytics/product-launch/analysis-of-mobile-payments-reveals-bullish-consumer-sentiment-part-1

https://onlycoin.com/

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Content Monetization, what is it? A sneak peek to Kiosked.

I wanted to give my readers a glimpse about a company that I have been following for years with a great interest. This company is Kiosked, a Finnish startup company that has so far raised $12.7m in funding. The company was founded in 2010 by Micke Paqvalén and Antti Pasila, fellow countrymen of the author. Kiosked has gained a lot of attention and created buzz ever since the launch of their business. Furthermore, the company has been selected as one of the world’s best technology companies and has won many major advertising and design awards.

So what is it all about? Kiosked is a leading platform for enabling Smart Content. Kiosked turns any online content, images, videos and applications into interactive and viral storefronts. Kiosked monetizes content by providing the publishers with a proprietary platform through which they are able to turn content into unique targeted ad placements based on contextual and behavioral data. Marketers still pay for advertising for the publishers.

Let’s take a hypothetical example using a real case company of Kiosked: Say a jock is skimming through sports articles on rantsports.com, he wants to see the result of last night’s soccer game. He finds an article concerning the game, where is a picture of the team celebrating the goal Messi has just scored for Argentina. In the picture, he notices the sports outfit he has been trying to find for some time already. Instead of starting researching and browsing through different online retailer’s websites, he just moves his cursor on top of the picture on the article, makes a couple of clicks and the products are already on their way to his door. Much fast and convenient, isn’t it?

rantsports

Content monetization enabled by Kiosked on rantsports.com.

Kiosked’s Display Ad solution on rantsports.com provides a new way to generate revenue for them and enables rantsports.com to serve their readers contextual services directly within the visual content. RantSports reaches the sports masses as a premiere destination for media consumption to the tune of 96+ million people with over 1.4+ billion page views in 2013. A rather valuable reference customer.

Kiosked’s solution caters to the affiliate merchant business model as it provides the purchase opportunities wherever people may be surfing. Their revenue model is transaction based, where in a brand pays a commission to the publishers whenever their site generates sales in the web store. The commission rate starts from 10%. Another option is to choose an interaction based pricing model, where the brand pays only for the engagements that the kiosks create.

Kiosked’d click-through rates average at 5.5%, which is significantly higher than traditional forms of online advertising. Furthermore, they have been very progressive in mobile. I believe Kiosked’s solution caters to better targeted marketing, and according to the Chairman of Kiosked (also the chair of Rovio Entertainment), brands and publishers look for new ways to engage with their customers in a way that is useful and non-intrusive. Though customer acquisition and selling the idea might take some time and resources, I strongly believe on Kiosked’s stride! Kiosked is definitely a company to benchmark!

Sources:

http://www.kiosked.com/about/

http://www.kiosked.com/press-releases/kiosked-secures-6-9m-in-funding-and-appoints-senior-board-members/

http://www.kiosked.com/business-model/

http://www.kauppalehti.fi/omayritys/brittilehdet+innostuivat+suomalaisesta+startupista/201404670274 (in Finnish)

http://www.kiosked.com/

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