Really Bad Search Marketing Advice Abounds

Idk what’s going on this week, but it’s only Tuesday and I’ve gotten more than the usual number of questions that fall under the heading of “Really Bad Marketing Advice.” To the credit of my friends and clients who’ve been asking, they knew something was fishy. So they got a second opinion from, well, me. And for those of you who know me, I always have two cents to add 🙂

This week, the questions all relate to search and mobile marketing. These are complex topics; if anyone tells you either are easy, they’re lying or they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s incredibly easy to waste a lot of money on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, search optimization of web sites, and mobile marketing.

Today let’s focus on Blogsvertise as this is a sink hole for technology marketers. (No, I’m not going to link to it to give it any inbound link points; it doesn’t deserve them.) This site has a dual purpose:

(1) They pay bloggers to blog about advertisers’ products and services, and to run PPC ads from same on their blogs.

(2) They take money from advertisers who want their products blogged about to raise their search rankings, and/or who want to run PPC ads on blogs.

If this sets off your warning bells, there’s good reason. First, why all this focus on blogs? Because Google has taken steps to give blogs more visibility in search rankings. So Blogvertise has come up with a way to talk unwary marketers into parting with their Internet marketing dollars by claiming to help you get higher search rankings. ThomasNet and GlobalSpec say the same thing, but at least they are in the technology / engineering / manufacturing space and their site visitors are engineers and purchasing agents. Who knows what you’re getting with this other site?!

Kinda reminds you of link farms, eh? If you don’t already know, search engines don’t like link farms cuz they only exist to trick them into thinking you have more incoming links than you deserve so you get higher search rankings. But search algorithms are looking for RELEVANT incoming links, not random ones. For more info, see the article “How Google Works.

Second, who are these bloggers? From what I’ve seen so far, they are mostly people looking to make a few bucks. I’m a big fan of capitalism, but when it comes to talking about my product, I want someone who comes out of the industry and is familiar with the underlying technology. If they aren’t, I run the risk of associating with people who can undermine the brand I’ve so carefully built (another strike against link farms, too).

Third, this approach undermines the whole world of blogging. The money is lousy unless the bloggers do a lot of these paid gigs. That means their blogs will, over time, end up being one big advertisement…either a copy/paste of press releases or a hatchet job on a lot of different topics. But for you, the marketer, blogging is like public relations — its power lies in its IMPARTIALITY & CREDIBILITY. As soon as you lose those, the blogger loses all reason for anyone to read his/her blog.

On a related note, there are still a few 3rd-tier tech magazines out there that will run your press release for a fee. Most are out of business because quality readers abandoned them, but I still get the occasional request for $$.

Last, let’s look at the PPC advertising side. Yes, there is a time and a place for advertising. Oh look, Blogvertise offers PPC ads, too. But why would you want to pay for a random blogger to run your ad when you can find a higher quality blogger via Google’s AdWords / AdSense PPC program?

Ok, rant over…for today 😉

SlideShare – The Quiet Giant

I came across information on SlideShare and wanted to share.  SlideShare is one of my favorite social networks, as many highly valuable searches for content are conducted there every day.  If you are looking to  find information on just about anything, start with a search there – chances are that someone has posted a presentation or paper about it.  We’ve been recommending to our clients to start a SlideShare account to share all types of content from PPTs, PDFs of all kinds (brochures, white papers, etc), and for a small fee it will host videos and web casts that are larger than YouTube standards.  The even offer a service to host a web meeting among other things.

Check out the data below.  And set up your account pronto!

I found this originally from a Twitter Share by @b2bspecialist, its origin is from a collaboration with SlideShare and ColumnFive.

What’s Working in Marketing Now an App

I love the speed with which new Internet development tools hit the market. Here’s one that let’s you create a mobile app in just a few minutes. App Factory from $20 to create the app, $750 each for distribution in an app store. Android and Windows Phone 7 are currently supported. The iPhone is due out shortly. Or you can distribute the URL for use in web browsers for FREE.

So we decided to test it out. We converted the Telesian “What’s Working in Marketing” enews & blog into app format. You can input four RSS content feeds, so we included the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit blog, as well.

Download the What’s Working in Marketing app to see the final version.

The design elements include the company logo and a new mobile icon:

Here is the final app:

Whats Working in Marketing app

Here is what you see when you click on an article:

It appears that the initial design will only show one image per article, so at the end, you get a link to the full article on your blog or web site or wherever…

Whats working in marketing

And, finally, here’s the control panel where you can make changes:

All in all, quick and easy to create an app. The hard part is…and always way…creating informative and compelling content. Feel free to call us for help with that 🙂

What Eye Tracking Studies Reveal About Gen Y and Web Sites

In a new research paper by WPI Professor Soussan Djamasbi, we have our first look into Gen Y’s likes and dislikes when it comes to web pages. Gen Y’s are particularly interesting because they’ve been exposed to technology since childhood. They’re tech savvy and they’re short on attention span. That makes them an interesting target market. They’re entering the workforce in large numbers and, due to their sheer size, could account for half the spending in the economy. What does this mean for those of us interested in gaining their patronage?

Generation Y (18-31 years old) is a large, economically powerful group that spends about $200 billion annually. They are children of the Baby Boomers. In the US there were about 76 million births in the Baby Boomer generation. Gen Y has surpassed those numbers, coming in at about 80 million, according to Wikipedia.

According to Djamasabi:

They are significantly more likely than older Internet users to create blogs, download music, instant message, and play online games. Additionally, Generation Y searches for health information, conducts job research, banks online, and makes travel reservations. For this generation, who has grown with technology, usability is a given and aesthetics are not a bonus but an EXPECTATION.

This study looked at four main web design elements: large images, images of celebrities, small amount of text, and a search feature. For the purposes of B2B marketing, most of us don’t have the budgets to get celebrity endorsements. So let’s focus on the results of the other three areas with our goal being to answer the question:

–> What can we do to keep users from moving away from our web sites?

According to the study, there are 6 primary factors that influence where a person’s eyes fall on a web page.

Ok, so we know that animation, large size objects, images, bright colors, text style, and top elements draw more attention. How does that actually play out on a web page?

Let’s take a look at several heat maps generated during the study. They show us that Gen Y responds to:
• Large pictures because they draw the eye in quickly
• Images of people as they generate a sense of warmth
• A search bar in the upper right hand corner because they have shorter attention spans and like fast service; this is especially important on a site with lots of elements that can appear confusing
• Low word count on the home page; the maximum number of words on a page in the study was in the low 200’s

Here are the MOST LIKED web pages:

Here are the LEAST LIKED web pages:

While heat maps tell us what part of the page attract the most attention during the entire time of the test, it’s also important to consider what was viewed during the first few seconds and the order the components were viewed. This tells us what information is being used to generate a web site visitor’s first impression.

The study’s eye tracking data shows that users fixated on main large pictures, faces of celebrities, and the search feature. It also shows relatively few fixations on the text. Pay attention to the order of the fixation below.

Fixation order for the MOST LIKED web pages:

Fixation order for the LEAST LIKED web pages:

Of course, these observations are specific to Gen Y and may not apply to all audiences. We know there will be some leeway in dealing with Gen Y engineers, for instance. But the general trend is probably true for most in this age group:
• No more big blocks of text, use shorter blocks and more bullets
• Add big graphics that add to the story you are telling, not just eye candy that wastes their time
• No matter what the size of your site, include a SITE SEARCH function

Download the full research report, “Generation Y, web design and eye tracking” for additional details.

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