Monday, December 26, 2005
One Year of Marketing & Graphic Design ROI: Looking Forward & Back
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.” MarketingProfs.com. November 2, 2004.
3 Patterson, Laura. “If you don’t measure, You can’t manage.” MarketingProfs.com. November 23, 2004.
Friday, December 23, 2005
How much should PR contribute to your web site?
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
Thursday, December 22, 2005
You Call That 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.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
“Podcast” Chosen as Word of the Year
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
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Get Thee a PR Strategy: Two Case Studies for Driving Web Site Traffic with Press Releases
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:
- Two days after the material press release, traffic to one section of the web site showed a 185% increase over normal traffic 1
- After the non-material press release, two different sections of the site measured 260% and 271% increases in traffic 2
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:
- New contracts & extensions
- New business acquisitions & alliances
- Additions and promotions of senior management
- Important additions, upgrades or changes to business functions
- Industry awards and recognitions
- Speaking engagements and media exposure
- Participation in media forums
- Business milestones (when appropriate)
- Positive industry milestones that can be commented on by senior management
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 PRWeb.com 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