Marketing|Demand Creation Blog: Thoughts on strategy, lead optimization, social media and the digital space

Monday, December 26, 2005

One Year of Marketing & Graphic Design ROI: Looking Forward & Back

Well, it’s the one year anniversary of launching this blog and since we’re also on the cusp of a new year, it seems the right time for both an introspective of the past year as well as a look at what lies ahead.

Over the past year I’ve blogged about multi-channel marketing, podcasting, RSS feeds, web video, and more. I think the importance of these channels will only increase in 2006, especially as we find better ways to measure their effectiveness. Greater budget percentages will likely be pushed into web-based channels over print, although print and other offline outlets are still an important part of a well-rounded marketing plan. Conferences and other in-person events, if executed right, still have some of the best ROI and demand creation potential you can find in the business-to-business space. BtoB Magazine (one of my favorite reads) also sees Vertical Search and Direct Marketing on the rise1, although it remains to be seen how much the U.S. postal rate increase for first class mail will put a damper on the latter starting in January 2006.

Underlying nearly all of my blog topics in 2005, of course, were measurement, analytics and ROI. A 2004 poll by the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association (SVAMA) found that while 88% of respondents measured their marketing activities, only 52% of them measured at least half their activities.2 In the second quarter of 2004, only 38% of U.S. executives polled by Blackfriars said their companies measured the results of their marketing.3 This was scary stuff at the time, at least for someone like me who hates the marketing equivalent of driving at night with the headlights off, but I wonder how much these numbers really improved in 2005? Certainly increased budget for measurement and marketing operations management are called for in the year ahead.

In any case, I remain committed to studying and blogging on strategies and techniques to improve marketing ROI and measurement in 2006.

1 Maddox, Kate. “New Media, ROI, Deliverability Key to Success in ’06.BtoB. December 12, 2005. pg 1
2 Taylor, Suzanne. “Five Fundamentals for Useful Marketing Metrics.” November 2, 2004.
3 Patterson, Laura. “If you don’t measure, You can’t manage.” November 23, 2004.
Joseph Mann Monday, December 26, 2005 Permalink | 1 comments |

Friday, December 23, 2005

How much should PR contribute to your web site?

A few days ago I posted two case studies I captured on how press releases can be great tools to drive targeted traffic to your web site. The next most obvious question is “how much traffic should PR be driving?” Although it is somewhat of a subjective determination, one benchmark I dug up comes from a project commissioned by Kodak and Shandwick Interactive PR after 53-day beta measurement project to determine how PR and other traffic driving tools affect web traffic. This study says 5% of weekly traffic and 4% of page views should come from PR.1

I tend to think this number is a little low, even for the time the study was done. Today, as the internet and electronic tools have become even more firmly entrenched in business and put into use by the media, I’d expect a good PR strategy and consistent release schedule coupled with frequently updated relevant site content should drive double the traffic, if not more.

I’d love to hear some of the metrics others are capturing out there on press release contribution to site traffic, and of course there is the larger world of activities that fall under the PR umbrella beyond just press releases. These also have the opportunity to drive site traffic.

1 Sterne, Jim. Web Metrics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2002. p. 91
Joseph Mann Friday, December 23, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Call That Analytics?

In it’s December 12, 2005 issue, BtoB Magazine highlights Google’s latest freebie: Google Analytics. Don’t get me wrong: I love free and this would be a great way to get some stats for a low/no-budget web site, but for the sake of precision I have to take issue with the name Google chose for the services formerly offered by Urchin. Calling it Google Analytics is a misnomer because this offering has little to do with true analytics.

Let’s back up a bit. Web servers produce log files of raw data based on site hits — the who, what, where and when of visits to a web site. Reporting tools crunch those huge log files — lines and lines of obscure code — and group the data into related sets for human consumption (often with eye-catching charts and graphs). Most of the companies out there calling their software products “analytics” packages stop at this stage.

True analytics are the end result of human professionals examining the computer-generated reports (and quite often going back to the raw logs) to look for trends, unusual spikes, and other nuances of intuition that computers can’t duplicate (yet anyway). This is the Why of visits to the web site. Without the Why, everything else is useless. Combined with offline market, customer and competitive knowledge, web analytics forms a greater whole of business insight to enable company leadership to make informed decisions.

Call me a marketing curmudgeon, but Google should have called their tool “Google Reporting” instead. The chosen name sounds more like slick marketing rhetoric than truth.
Joseph Mann Thursday, December 22, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

“Podcast” Chosen as Word of the Year

If ever there was an indication that something has transcended fad-ism it is to be included in the dictionary. “Podcast” has been chosen word of the year by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary. According to Erin McKean, editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary: “Podcast was considered for inclusion last year, but we found that not enough people were using it, or were even familiar with the concept. This year it's a completely different story. The word has finally caught up with the rest of the iPod phenomenon.”

I’ll say. With more than 6 million MP3 player owners having downloaded podcasts1 and Apple Computer reporting more than 15,000 podcasts are available through its iTunes Music Store2 alone, we’re not exactly at the critical mass stage yet, but those are still no metrics to dismiss. The numbers are sure to climb steadily as more businesses realize the value of podcasts in branding and demand creation and figure out how to integrate them into their communications.

1 Pew Internet & American Life Project
2 Apple Computer
CMO Magazine
Joseph Mann Wednesday, December 21, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Get Thee a PR Strategy: Two Case Studies for Driving Web Site Traffic with Press Releases

You may already be saying “PR? Doesn’t that mean an expensive Public Relations firm on retainer month after month?” Well, maybe. I’m not a PR guy and there are probably many good firms out there that are worth the money, but if resources are tight you can start small on your own and still see measurable results while working up to a full service PR firm.

If your goal is to drive increases in qualified web site traffic, a PR strategy in general and press releases in particular contribute significantly to web site traffic, which when combined with robust and continuously updated site content leads to greater brand understanding and ultimately greater demand creation for the business.

Two case studies illustrate the traffic building potential of news releases, one for a “material” (financial) press release and one for a non-material announcement of participation in an industry conference:

It’s important to note that these traffic gains will be short-lived if you constantly dump un-newsworthy fluff on the wires or if your site is not kept fresh with content of interest to your target audience (and the media). Achieving both of these goals is not easy, but well worth the effort.

What is Press Release-Worthy?
Press Release-worthy Topics can include:

Keep in mind that although there is an art to writing a good release, if you have decent writing skills and a thorough understanding of your company and its value proposition to its various constituencies you can write and submit a decent release on the newswire. The site not only provides good tutorials on how to write a release, but also allows you to send out releases for FREE (there are fees for certain value-added packages).

1 Internal Study, August 2004
2 Internal Study, June 2004
Joseph Mann Saturday, December 17, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |