Search Joe's Blog 

Digital Dollar Blog from Joe Wozny

By Joe Wozny 21 Jul, 2016
In the space of little more than a week, Pinterest, Google and Facebook announced new or expanded initiatives to connect the dots between digital media and offline consumer behavior. There are well over a dozen companies that are doing similar things for mobile display or cross-platform display: Foursquare, NinthDecimal, YP, UberMedia, Swirl, Verve, PlaceIQ, Factual and others.

For years, digital marketers have associated location based marketing with “local”. Local has also been associated with small businesses. Most have assumed that local was a niche segment or a difficult and not-very-lucrative market.

National advertisers and brands generally have had trouble localizing and thus local has been ignored for the most part. Some marketers continue refer to local and localization as a “vertical.”

With technology enhancements, our view of location based marketing (or local) is changing. In fact, it’s received a new name - offline consumer behaviour - because it’s defined by a different set of parameters. Offline consumer behaviour features being created by major ad, search and social networks aim to assist marketers with reaching and influencing consumers before they buy something - in most cases offline at “a location” near them.

Some say this opportunity is many times larger and more important, than e-commerce. For example: In 2015, approximately $4.8 trillion in retail spending happened “offline.” That compares with roughly $350 billion in e-commerce in 2015. This does not include the services industry (restaurants, entertainment, professional services, etc) which is reported to be several times larger than retail, where trillions of dollars more are spent on each year.

Google, Facebook and several others are also trying to go beyond “mere visits” and track the impact of actual sales from ad exposures. The implications of you having visibility into offline consumer behaviour for these networks include:

  • Optimizing campaigns for offline actions. Media planning can be measured in terms of what’s actually working (vs. clicks/impressions).
  • Offline data can be used for online retargeting and personalization plus audience segmentation and targeting based on real-world actions.
  • Location analytics offer deeper insights into both offline and online actions.
By Joe Wozny 06 Jul, 2016
In our Spring edition, I discussed changes to how Paid Search Text ads have been removed from the right hand side of search return pages (SERPs) and the possible impacts to your business. This edition shares a brief overview of the 5 BIG changes Google announced shortly after Paid Search Ads.

Google continues to emphasize mobile-first, which means that the look of the SERP is changing in ways that favour the mobile experience. Paid ads are adapting to the mobile-first world including new ad formats and features you want to know about.

Search Ads to Appear on Google Maps - Get Local! Maps will be part of the Search Network moving forward. Expect to see significantly more ads appearing on the map platform. New ad formats allow you to place brand logos and offers directly on the surface of the map, rather than just alongside the map. Google Maps now has more than a billion users and people visit 1.5 billion destinations based on their Google searches. As Google noted, location-related searches account for nearly a third of all mobile searches and have grown 50 percent faster than overall mobile searches in the past year.

Expanded Text Ads Get Double Headlines & More Characters - Sorry Mobile SEO Text ads are about to undergo a significant change through expansion. With new, expanded text ads, headlines are about to get much bigger – advertisers will soon be able to have two 30-character headlines, up from a single headline of just 25 characters. In early testing, Google found this change dramatically increased CTR – by as much as 25 percent. In addition to more clicks, Google said longer headlines will be more useful for advertisers in terms of better qualified traffic. This change is huge, particularly with so little space on the smartphone screen, and for Organic in Mobile, this change has large implications.

By Joe Wozny 13 Apr, 2016
Advertising on Facebook has become very popular over the last couple of years, and with good reason. With consumers becoming increasingly reliant on online sources and social media to assist in their purchase decision process, Facebook has become the most popular ad platform behind Google AdWords for online advertising.

With the ability to double your sales (see the success story of GOAT STORY ), to enabling businesses to recapture bounced traffic with Facebook retargeting, there's a lot to like about Facebook ads.

Stats show that business looks to companies specializing in Digital Advertising to assist them with their online advertising. In fact, over 50% of companies note that PPC advertising is an area they outsource given the complexity of planning, operating and producing true measurable value from these advertising networks ( DD&S 2015 ).

Adopting a solid process with Facebook advertising (or any other advertising campaign) - whether you advertise internally or outsource, is important to ROI success. Consider the following:

Match Ads to Goals - Ads with different formats have different purposes. For ads targeting broad audiences, Facebook CPM ad types, may be an option provided they are positioned with calls to action such as “Learn More”. For highly targeted CPC ads, calls to action such as “shop now” or “sign up” are more appropriate. In each case the creative execution of the ad may be different based on the goal of your campaign.

Love Your Ads If Your Audience Does - Testing is an important rule for any ad campaign. The audience is always the judge – ‘The customer is always right’. Even if you love an ad the target audience may not. This means you will have different ads within Ad Sets.

Have a Great Landing Page
- If you're trying to get people to take an action on your web page, then it's crucial that your page (the landing page) actually be attractive with high converting text, images, and a call to action.

Specific Targeting - Simply put, you want your ads to be in front of the right audience rather than a huge audience. Facebook offers a number of targeting tools that are useful provided you have defined your “perfect” customer.

Use Text in Ads Wisely - Make your ads clear. Don’t repeat either your business name, the product, or some other important feature/aspects numerous times in the same ad.

Make Your Advertising Work Hard - Not everyone who visits your page from an ad will take the action you want, immediately. Use features such as Intent Pop Ups and Remarketing in order to place more opportunities in front of anyone who has clicked on your ads.

Refresh Your Ads - Take advantage of new formats. Exchange ad creative regularly when you see ad performance declining.

Bottom Line: Facebook is going to continue to develop into an even better place to advertise on. Ensure your ad process can evolve too … adopt a simple process to build from.

By Joe Wozny 08 Apr, 2016

Right Hand Side Paid Text Ads are gone and with it much speculation on the impact of Google’s new policy to advertisers, business, industry related companies and users of Google’s search engine.

What’s the Google Change? There will now be four paid search ads at the top of a search return page now that Paid Search Text ads have been removed from the right hand side of search return pages (SERPs). With the addition of a fourth paid search ad at the top of the page, this pushes organic search return listings further down the page and in some cases, organic search return listings will only be “below the fold.” The Bottom paid search ads remain unchanged. Google Knowledge Graph, Rich Answers and Shopping Feeds also remain on search pages, in the same location.

What’s the Impact to Google Paid Advertising Campaigns?  

  • A decrease in “above the fold” Paid Search advertising opportunities, means there will be more competition for the top 4 placements, which could translate to higher CPC costs. 
  • You may wish to consider other Google paid advertising products such as Google Shopping feeds to ensure you have paid advertising placements above the fold - (Figure 1 below).
By Joe Wozny 19 Feb, 2016
2016 will be yet another year for “continual improvement” with many websites. According to industry surveys, there’s four areas to focus on; five if you have not yet created a mobile site.

Limelight Networks conducted a survey in 2015 of 1,302 Internet users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Singapore. Key questions asked included what elements of a website matter to most people and what makes them decide to continue using a site?

Consumers say website performance (fast page-load times, no buffering of videos, etc.) is the the key to a successful digital experience, with 50% of respondents rating it as most important.

The next most important element is fresh and updated content (43% of respondents rank it as the top factor) that easy to understand and that can convert your visitors to customers.

A consistent mobile to desktop experience (23%) has become important to consumers: Respondents say they are not willing to wait longer for a Web page to load on a phone/tablet than on a desktop.

Personalized content weighed in as a factor with 15% of customers wanting a website to remember them and provide recommendations.

By Joe Wozny 19 Feb, 2016
The future of SEO continues to be very relevant to any organization who wishes to be found in Search by their target audience. In 2016 these trends will be important to maintain and grow your organic search engine positioning.

Attention Grabbing Features Compete with your Organic Listings. Click-through rate (CTR) will continue to be correlated with search return positions. However, there are new attention grabbing opportunities to be found at the top of search engine return pages (SERPs). This includes Paid Ads, Carousel results, Knowledge Graphs and Rich Snippets … and the way searchers interact with a SERP, given theses opportunities, varies from query to query. Action: Review your SEO strategy and add attention grabbing opportunities on key SERPs.

Rich Answers are on the Rise. I’m sure you have noticed ‘rich answers’ appearing at the top of your search returns, particularly around topics that are public domain data (like Prime Ministers of Canada or Song Lyrics). If your SEO strategy was built on public domain data, it’s now time to update it. Google has focused their returns on Rich Answers product and is now returning 35% of all answers to these types of queries on SERPs (a 38% increase in the last 6 months). Action: If you have high-quality, proprietary content that can help Google answer searcher’s common questions, then Rich Answers is an opportunity for you.

Page Speed is Very Important. Page speed is considered a ranking factor. If all other things are equal, page speed will outrank a competing site. For example, Google has allocated a specific time for crawling your site and Google’s bot will only stay on your website for that specific period of time. But more important is your visitors perception. Research indicates that 40% of visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load and 50% of visitors expect a site to load in 2 seconds. Also, one second in loading speed is shown to decrease conversions by 7%. (ex: Form completions, eCommerce, etc.) Action: Less pages may get indexed by Google if your pages are slow to load. Test your pages for loading speed and adjust slow loading pages. Google Search Console is a good place to start to check page load times.

“Dark Traffic” Affects Organic Reporting. According to Define Media Group, (November 2015) when Google Analytics is unable to identify where your site visits are coming from, the visits are now recorded as direct traffic. These “less precise” reports do not allow you to fully understand how organic, social and mobile traffic is growing and reported in relation to your marketing efforts. Is this happening in your reporting environment? Action: Begin reporting on Dark Traffic as part of your marketing measurements. Create a direct traffic report in Google Analytics and filter out the traffic to pages that are naturally visited “directly”, such as your homepage, front pages and important content sections.. Also, if you identify this as an issue and have the budget consider other tools to assist with your marketing reporting/analysis.

Keywords have become Thematic. Google’s Hummingbird update shifts the keyword research focus from researching separate keywords to researching keyword groups. Now that Google is able to recognize the meaning behind a search query, it gives a common answer to a number of "different-in-keywords" and "same-in-meaning" queries. This means your pages can be relevant not only to the core term, but for a whole group of its synonyms and related terms. Action: Consider a shift in focus to groups of related terms instead of individual keywords.

User Behaviour may soon be a Ranking Factor. Search engines deny this exists but many experiments prove the opposite. Action: It’s important to a) revise your page titles and descriptions for accuracy b) examine the way users engage with your content (do they go back and select another page? do they stay on your page, proceed to other pages, or bounce in a second or two?) c) review the social signals/metrics as experiments show that pages with a lot of activity and fewer links outperform those with more links and fewer shares.

Bottom Line: To maintain your digital dollar investment and stay on top of search trends and ranking, include these new SEO activities as part of your digital marketing strategy in 2016.
By Joe Wozny 08 Dec, 2015

One of the biggest reasons business is involved and/or interested in social media marketing is to find new customers for their products or services. Social customer service is important, but without finding customers in the first place, a business would have no one to serve.

Does social actually help find us customers? The answer is yes but you have to choose techniques appropriate to the social network you participate in, and you have to choose a network appropriate to your B2C or B2B focus. Current research from Salesforce.com shows that:

  • 54% of B2B marketers say they've generated leads using social media
  • 77% of B2C marketers have acquired customer on Facebook
  • 43% of B2B marketers have found customers of LinkedIn.
  • 34% of Marketers generate leads through Twitter and if you can get someone to follow your brand on Twitter, that person is 67% more likely to buy your product than a non-follower.

The Top 5 techniques for acquisition include:

    • Understand and adopt the top brand and industry keywords that describe your product or service.
    • Utilize brand advocates.
    • Get involved in relevant groups and chats.
    • Post on networks that create a lead generation opportunity.
    • Adopt a paid social program. Most social platforms offer lead and advertising solutions even for small budgets.

Joe Wozny, author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and business strategist, author, executive and presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of internet, social and digital media initiatives. He is passionate in his interest in online technologies and their practical applications in our personal and business lives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders advance their businesses, personal and product identities online using sound, well planned strategies.

By Joe Wozny 30 Nov, 2015

It’s interesting to read that the Gartner Group has added risk based security and self protection to their Top 10 Strategic Technology trends for 2015, just at the time we were creating this article (see Infograph on page 7 of this edition). We also note hosting companies, web providers, social networks, cloud providers and third party apps, have added new terminology to their licensing agreements such as, "without their consent", "after adequate disclosure",and use"contact details for antisocial, disruptive, or destructive purposes", including "flaming", "spamming", "flooding", "trolling", and "griefing" as these terms are commonly understood and now used on the internet".

So what is the implication to your business set by these examples? Simply put, "It's time to be diligent about your cyber security" The majority of larger organization that have the benefits of an I/T department have been securing online assets for some time as part of their overall security policies.

But have small and medium businesses focused on online security in their policies and daily activities? In a recent poll over 70% of small and medium businesses owners say they know that security is important and plan to "get around" to it. The biggest challenge they identify is that they are unsure of what the scope of this security work should be and where to begin this process. They also wonder why someone would be interested in their business versus attacking the larger and more lucrative "fish in the pond."

Realities - Not Scare Tactics
The unfortunate reality today is that the majority of malicious attacks on your online business are committed for bragging rights. "Hacking" has it's own social media following (as do the hackers) and bragging rights are part of social influence for this community.

Rest assured that the infrastructure of your social channels are somewhat protected by your social network provider. However, channels that are not part of a larger service (example: email, websites, etc) may be more vulnerable. If you believe that your business would be impacted if all outbound emails were rejected because your service was blacklisted or if you believe your sales could suffer if you could not launch the next online marketing campaign due to hackers "hijacking" your home page, then consider starting with this process now.

Starting Point
Ask to see the "Access List" for all your Online Properties (ids, passwords and links). If this is not available, if it's incomplete, if id's/passwords have not been updated for quite some time (3 months) you have found the place to start.

Review and/or Implement an Online Security Policy The minimum items you should outline/define in an online security policy include a) where passwords/ids are stored b) how often online software should be updated c) when passwords and ids should be are changed d) how to manage vendor(s) access e) what multiple access attempts (example on your email server or hosting environment) will trigger an alert to you f) how often are site and system backups made and where are they stored.

Run a Quick Check Here's a few great tools to use to check static code security, blacklisting, malware, viruses, etc: Sucuri Site Check - More, MX Super Tool - More, CheckMarx - More

Security Policy Maintenance - Assign someone to this task or place it permanently in your schedule. Meet as a team to discuss and check that policies are implemented and how they could be improved.

Bottom Line:   The best way to minimize online security risk is to turn it into a competency. You still may have a crisis to manage but you will be better prepared. (Just ask the company who can recover from a "hack"in a few hours, due to keeping good backups!)

Joe Wozny , author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and business strategist, author, executive and presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of internet, social and digital media initiatives. He is passionate in his interest in online technologies and their practical applications in our personal and business lives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders advance their businesses, personal and product identities online using sound, well planned strategies.

By Joe Wozny 08 Nov, 2015

An authority brand on the Internet is a brand and domain name that dominates non-paid organic and social search return listings pages for a particular subject category. Authority brands usually possess the following characteristics:

  • Visibility – they are found everywhere, sometimes in different domains.
  • They make the company the "go-to location" for related subject matter.
  • They dominate the majority of search terms for a specific information category.

Online, authority brands have the ability to shape market discussion and harvest new customers. They enable companies to establish a strong leadership position online. They can service and represent a specific geographical region.

Once a basic "digital" infrastructure has been established, a goal of many online strategies is to have their products recognized by search and other digital technologies as the authority brand in a certain subject matter/topic category. However, building an authority brand takes time, concerted effort and digital doll$rs. Characteristics typically associated with authority brands and their creation include:

  • Relevant and on-topic content is associated with the domain name (both self and community generated).
  • Domain name recognition is often supported both by paid advertising and word-of-mouth social tools.
  • Digital products (web, mobile, social etc.) have been created and maintained in accordance with proven SEO structuring practices, ensuring they are in the top listing locations in organic and social search returns.
  • A number of deep inbound and outbound links from authority figures have been established.

When combined with social media and the ability of social media participants to share information quickly, authority brands have infinite opportunity - and great potential for stumbling blocks. Dominating search engines using content and SEO techniques is still important, but, in the transparent world of social media – where customer commentary influences service and product adoption and purchasing decisions – authority brands have to ensure they deliver a truly valuable customer experience and encourage their customers to tell their social networks about it.

The Contractor Services category provides an example of the dominance an authority brand can have.   TrustedPros , a Canada-based company, is the "authority brand" in Canada for the home contractor category.   HomeAdvisor   dominates the same category in the USA. Both companies amalgamate contracts and contractor listing content to gain this positioning. Home and Garden TV, due to content leadership and publishing in multiple media (unlike TrustedPros and HomeAdvisor), is also an authority brand in this category. In other words, two completely different types of services are authority brands in this category and both are driven by providing relevant content to their target audiences. Visit trustedpros.com   and   homeadvisor.com   to view how both companies have similarly structured their Websites, navigation, SEO configurations, social and content to establish their positions. Note that the relative rank of each site is based on regions served.

Bottom Line: There's great value in having a simple digital naming strategy to represent your business, product or service and taking the time and effort to become an authority brand. Represented as an equation, the value of an authority brand in relation to making it easy to find and to remember (Value of an authority brand = VAB) can be stated as follows:

VAB = Easier for Customers = Benefits to Businesses and to Customers = Increased "Word of Mouth" = Benefits to Businesses

By Joe Wozny 01 Nov, 2015

One of the primary advantages "digital" promises over traditional media is the ability to directly attribute the value online channels provide to your business (performance metrics). This was an attractive advantage/benefit over television or print, where a deep level of attribution is still challenging, despite big steps in the right direction.

This article discusses the "click" as a common performance metric, where it's best applicable, how to improve click as a measurement and insights into the questions to consider when looking at your latest analytics reports.

Counting Clicks

When it comes to online advertising, clicks are one of the most common measurements of success. It's tempting to look to clicks as "THE performance indicator" because they represent a very tangible action. But while clicks are often an accurate measure of effectiveness for search ads, when it comes to display, the click does not correlate well with ad effectiveness and is not the outcome you should be optimizing for.

A comScore study, for example, found that clicks had absolutely no correlation with conversions for display ads. So even if people click on your display ads, they're no more likely to convert than those who didn't. With display campaigns, clicks are rare, but that doesn't mean the ads don't work. Evidence suggests that clicks are not an accurate measure of performance for display.

View-Throughs

The idea that display ads lead to conversions even when users don't click (referred to as a view-through conversion) is often met with skepticism. But there is strong evidence to suggest that display ads can and do encourage users to return to a website directly or through using a search engine.

Salesforce has reported that running display campaigns led to an 80% increase in branded search, or users searching directly for the brand name, which means that people who saw an ad used a search engine to visit Salesforce.com instead of clicking on an ad.

A more comprehensive comScore study found that retargeting campaigns, on average, led to a 1,046% increase in branded search—a clear indication that retargeted users were using search engines to return to the advertiser's site. The comScore study covered 103 campaigns run by 39 different advertisers in 7 industries.

Retargeting

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a cookie-based technology that uses simple code (pixel) to anonymously 'follow' your audience all over the Web. This unobtrusive code is placed on your website. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code shares an anonymous browser cookie. When your cookied visitors browse the Web, your advertising provider will serve your ad on sites within their retargeting network.

Retargeting advertisers who have set up tests to check the validity of view-throughs consistently find that retargeted users convert at higher rates than those who don't.

Setting up a test to ensure view-throughs are valid can be a good strategy, but the evidence consistently shows that view-throughs are valid.

Bottom Line:   Make your display ad campaigns work harder for you. A click doesn't necessarily indicate brand recognition, recall or awareness, and for display advertising it may not correlate directly to sales. Configure retargeting in your display ad campaigns to assist with understanding the view-through component of your advertising digital dollars.

By Joe Wozny 31 Oct, 2015

Can your company afford to ignore the rapidly expanding mobile marketplace?

A recent poll from the Mobile Marketing Association (see Figure 1) confirms that disregarding the mobile market is a mistake that business owners and marketers want to avoid. Tech research firm   Gartner   finds that global sales of smartphones and tablets will surpass 1 billion units in 2013. ("Smart device sales to hit 1B next year," Mobile World Live); sales estimates for 2012 exceed 800 million.

As a marketer, are you ready to ease your organization into yet another cultural shift related to online marketing?

Yes, most of you have just finished with the social media shift and many are still working through the integration of analytics with your marketing programs. But, as noted by   Pete Christothoulou , co-founder and president of Marchex, "Executives are demanding that their marketing departments have a mobile strategy." (AllThingsD).

The next cultural shift must be to ask that your organization pay attention to mobile marketing—at the strategic planning level (while building your mobile digital road maps) and at the tactical level (while you pick "low hanging mobile fruit").

With mobile culture-building and mobile leadership in mind, here are seven tips to consider within your organization.

1. Understand the context: mobile apps vs. mobile pages

In the most basic terms, mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—come in many forms; but, essentially, you have two main approaches to mobile for using those devices in marketing.

"Mobile Web" refers to browser-based access to the Internet or Web-based applications using a mobile device. "Mobile app" refers to a software application (it could also connect to your website) that usually resides on a smartphone or tablet.

Mobile apps take considerable time and money to develop and maintain. And after a mobile app has been created, you will most often need third-party infrastructure to help deploy (e.g., the Apple or Google app platforms).

Mobile Web development also has time and dollar costs associated with it; however, you can often use your website as its content and infrastructure base, allowing for a quicker deployment to your market.

2. Commercial Web services drive mobile visits

Today, various commercial Web services present/provide information in a mobile-compatible form. Visitors can navigate large service providers such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, and Amazon with browsers on their smart devices. Accordingly, the information your organization places within those services is also mobile-enabled, including organic search results pages commonly found from searches on Bing, Yahoo, and Google, or from your listing on eBay and Craigslist.

Finding your Web page should be just as easy for a Mobile Web user as it is for a desktop computer user. However, unless your Web pages are mobile-enabled, your visitors may not be receiving the experience you want them to receive when they click through from one of these services to visit you.

3. Your Web pages are a good place to start

Making your Web page "mobile-compatible" is a more practical way to join the mobile evolution that creating a mobile app. Many website content management systems offer responsive-design features that detect mobile device visits and display Web pages in a mobile-compatible manner.

Services such as Mobify and Duda Mobile allow you to create mobile versions of your Web pages if your website does not have responsive-design features. Take these considerations into account as you make your Web pages mobile-compatible:

  • How visitors surf on smart devices is different from how they surf on a personal computer. Define the navigation and content of your mobile-compatible pages accordingly.
  • Not all phones support technologies such as Flash, and visitors would prefer not to increase their data-plan bill due from downloading graphics that do not provide value.
  • If you plan to use a third-party service to create your mobile pages, check to see the type of HTML standards your pages should be compliant with (such as those of the WC3).
  • For page access, will your pages have their own mobile URL (for example: m.NAME.com), or will you will use the existing URLs of your Web pages?

4. Subscribers read and share your communications via mobile devices

Mobile does not end at a website. Many device owners read their email using their smart phones and tablets... and some of those device owners are most likely subscribers of your email communications.

Ensure the email you send out as newsletters, notifications, marketing messages, etc. are formatted for mobile phone or tablet viewing and interaction. Your subscribers also share the emails you send them, so ensure that your new-subscriber forms also support mobile devices.

5. Mobile can provide a new set of metrics

Mobile analytics offer a new way of looking at how customers interact with your products and brand. You may gain a deeper understanding of visitor habits that help you grow your business, so ensure that you isolate mobile visits on your analytics to see whether new patterns emerge.

6. Mobile opens new doorways

After joining the mobile evolution, you may find that new marketing options are available to you.

Among the activities that organizations consider after clearing the first mobile hurdle are segmenting email to mobile and nonmobile campaigns; using quick response (QR) codes within advertising campaigns, packaging, or at tradeshows; and delivering new information services to customers via SMS (text messaging).

Mobile marketing can open up new doorways for "out of the box" thinking that enable your business to better apply "traditional" Web services and offerings.

7. Outbound opportunities also abound!

Mobile advertising, such as display ads, can build brand exposure and heighten awareness. Display advertising is easy to buy and relatively inexpensive, so keep an eye on mobile advertising trends to see whether an opportunity is right for you. As with all advertising, ensure that you receive campaign analytics validation and make sure your ads are as targeted as possible.

Without a doubt, the mobile segment is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of online growth; better yet, it is being fueled by consumer and business demand. As Carolina Milanesi of Gartner notes, "the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices." (Mobile World Live).

Given the market forecasts and trends, "the shift" to mobile seems like a logical choice for marketers to focus on when building and expanding the marketing culture within your organization.

Consider a mobile strategy when looking for opportunities to extend your online marketing efforts and when looking for ways to make your products accessible to all markets.

Joe Wozny , author of   The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and online media thought leader, strategist, author, blogger and international presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of Internet, social and digital media initiatives. Through his company, Concentric, he helps leaders leverage their businesses using smart, well planned digital strategies.

If you liked this blog you might like this blog on   Creating a Successful Online Strategy

By Joe Wozny 08 Oct, 2015

In the brick-and-mortar world, individuals and companies are investing a lot of time and money generating the best name and brand for their businesses. In the online world, it’s just as important to reserve a name for your product, brand, and/or business. This requires research, co-ordination, registration and documentation skills, and sometimes a bit of luck, too. Business leaders should continuously devote time and effort to reserving names as part of their ongoing operations and strategic initiatives.

Reserving your name is a little more complex than purchasing a domain name, particularly in this age of social media. A coordinated naming strategy requires making name reservations across multiple online channels — like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn among others — if you plan to expand your business or products beyond a simple domain name.

If you do not pay attention to name reservation it could cost you time and money in the future. You could end up having to change business or product names mid stride. You may have to make a compromise around a brand you feel attached to. You could bring the momentum you have with your online initiatives to a halt until a good naming convention across online channels is established. Figure out your online “name game” first!

So given the importance to your online identity that naming can have, here are a few “Insights, Tips and Advice” ideas to consider for Name Reservation:

1.)   Establish your name in an uncontested fashion in every digital doorway possible, even if you don’t think you will use the name now or in the future. As you work to establish a master domain name, verify that the same name — or a very similar one — is available with the many social networks or service providers whose networks your organization may use during its digital lifecycle (examples: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter).

2.)   Conduct the same thorough due diligence on a desired Internet name as you have in the brick ‘n mortar world to make sure the desired name does not conflict, business-wise, translation-wise or legally, with any currently in your target market.

3.)  
For a business — even one serving a limited geographical area — target the purchase of a . com   name for your website. For the present and the foreseeable future, consumer perceptions equate .com to business.

4.)   Prior to reserving a name in the brick-and-mortar world, it is a good idea to check domains on the Internet to see if there are domains that:

  • as closely as possible reflect your business name or an abbreviated version
  • are available to purchase at an affordable price
  • have other derivatives available, such as .ca and .net, that can also be purchased in order to ensure that customers find your business
  • have common “misspelt” domains similar to the master domain available

5.)   Once you have registered a name, verify registration by logging on to the service. While logged on, pause the service specific to your name registration, so visitors searching for your business do not encounter “empty” pages before you are ready with your messaging in place.

6.)   Ensure you store your names, IDs, and passwords and even the email they were registered from on a list that is in a safe place. This information is a corporate asset and should be treated as such.

I admit, naming and name research can be a tedious process. But it’s well worth the time — safely reserving name space for your organization across all networks can preserve the integrity of your identity in the future, make it easier for customers to find you, and helps to build and execute a solid online strategy.

Joe Wozny , author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and business strategist, author, executive and presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of internet, social and digital media initiatives. He is passionate in his interest in online technologies and their practical applications in our personal and business lives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders advance their businesses, personal and product identities online using sound, well planned strategies.

© 2012 Joe Wozny, author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success

If you liked this article you may wish to read   Identity Management - Who Are You on the Internet?

By Joe Wozny 01 Oct, 2015
Success comes in many forms . . . including digital marketing success. The digital marketing promise has always included the ability to measure the impact of your online marketing dollars. Delivering on this promise has been a challenging activity that many leaders grapple with when measuring digital marketing benchmarks for success.

How can digital marketing deliver on measurement – particularly in an increasingly, socially saturated world? Should and can digital marketing success be gauged on items broader than just analytic measurement?

Framing ROI
The reality is: business needs to measure things. Measurement creates a context of success and progress. Without measurement, you can't address where you are generating value or profits nor gauge where new or continued efforts should be directed.

Regardless of how it's asked, "are we earning a return for our digital dollars" is a "hot button" marketing question poised by leaders, management and operating staff. Agreeing to what is being measured, and how to measure it, are natural follow up questions to this "hot button" item.

To address return on investment in the digital landscape, many organizations collect digital marketing costs and then treat these costs as a percentage of sales, on an overall or per unit basis. This measurement, while good, can fail to answer the question of effectiveness. In others words, what/where amongst our multiple digital channels is delivering the best return and what/where requires more focus, etc . . .

Understanding what comprises the digital marketing "envelope" prior to creating return on investment calculations is an important step. From experience, many organizations differentiate between digital marketing, digital business and digital branding to make calculations easier to manage and understand:

Digital Marketing can refer to online programs, that activate an audience to take a specific and directed action and which provide an ROI measurement
Digital Business – can refer to engineering or re-engineering the way business is conducted online. This can include modifying processes to create efficiencies in areas such as accepting customer service inquiries, or publishing a frequently asked question and reference material database.
Digital Branding – can refer to placement of content, brand messages and your brand in online "locations" to create associations and a perception of your organization, for example, sponsorship of a community event. Subscriber growth, not ROI, can often be measured.

Digital Marketing – ROI Measurement

Digital marketing measurement presents the challenge of knowing which metrics are most relevant to pay attention to, given the plethora of activities you can measure. Some measurements become indicators that help with operating and strategic direction. Other measurements provide hard ROI data.

The Cost Per Acquisition – CPA measurement is a ROI measurement used in digital marketing. CPA is a measure of the total digital media or channel cost divided by the number of completed actions. For example, if your objective is to drive purchases through an email campaign that cost $1,000 to prepare and you activated 500 purchases during the campaign execution, your Cost Per Acquisition is $2.00.

It's relatively straightforward to generate a CPA model for a paid online advertising program, and for your SEO initiatives. Analytics can tell you which of these channels (down to the specific ad) are driving leads or online sales. By reviewing ads (display, CPC) you can also gain insights into the messaging that generated activation, allowing you to further optimize your marketing communications programs.

Social media can provide the same CPA opportunities when call to action messages are integrated into activities that are measurable (example an activation page). Experts suggest that engaging your customers in social media naturally results in more sales. They point to the fact that engagement correlates with reach and reach should translate into sales.

The question of balance between digital branding activities and digital marketing activities is an important item to pay attention to. Social media followers, when surveyed, note that they will not recommend a social media channel to their trusted networks if the channel focuses solely on solicitation.

Frequently Asked ROI Questions

These frequently asked questions resonate with the theme of "where's the return for our digital dollars"? Your digital marketing, business and branding success will benefit if these issues are clearly addressed within your organization.

1. Is our email communications "sticky"? . . . meaning do we have an email database that we can activate. Email marketing is an excellent vehicle to connect with your subscribers. Email analytics provide great insights into who is active and what content in your email communications resonated with your readers. CPA can measure customer activation.

2. Is social "working" for us? . . . meaning how do we turn these participants into customers. Social media builds a connection to your business. The best recommendation for your products is from a trusted source – your followers, fans, etc. Ensure your organization agrees to and understands what activities are digital branding related and which activities are digital marketing related.

3. Do people read the content we post on web pages? . . . meaning is the web page messaging, positioning, etc. hard working enough to provide value. If your page content is 'call to action oriented' you can use CPA to measure it. If the page is informational in nature, it's purpose is related to digital business or branding. Analyze the frequency of visits and what actions the visitor takes when they leave the page.

4. Where are we getting the best return on our "digital dollars"? . . . meaning give me the short answer on what is either activating visitors or generating visibility. Always understand the marketing mix between digital marketing and digital branding. Apply CPA calculations (on a per online channel basis) for digital marketing activities where relevant.

5. Do we have a strong online presence/brand? . . . meaning can we or are we recognized as an authority brand. Combining CPA calculations with the visitor insights on a per channel basis could provide a great starting place for a discussion.

6. How are we doing in search? . . . meaning do we show up when people look for us. Analytics on what type of visitors you are are attracting (by interest or their activity) should be at your fingertips. CPA for your organic activity is easily measured. There may also be additional insights from visits that you can use to assist in digital business and digital branding activities/initiatives.

7. Is our online advertising working? . . . meaning what's the return on investment for the money we are spending. Start with separating the online advertising used for branding purposes and online advertising used for activation purposes. Then provide CPA analytics together with insights (analytic plus anecdotal) gained from branding advertising activity.

Final Word . . . for now . . .

Digital marketing success includes leading and sometimes wrestling with the measurement of return on "digital dollar" investments. In fact, the act of assessment opens broader opportunities for your organization as you discuss where and how you can measure ROI.

Be sure to educate your organization so that all participants understand the difference between digital branding, marketing and business activities. Open up debate on social call to actions and create an analytics culture. With these foundational concepts in place, your company will be well underway to make decisions on new digital opportunities as they come your way.

Joe Wozny , author of   The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and online media thought leader, strategist, author, blogger and international presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of Internet, social and digital media initiatives. Through his company, Concentric, he helps leaders leverage their businesses using smart, well planned digital strategies.

If you liked this blog you might like this blog on   Creating a Successful Online Strategy

By Joe Wozny 30 Sep, 2015
Five-Step digitalroadmap Process  

Martin Zwilling recently noted in a Forbes review of The Digital Dollar that “The route to success is not a random walk.” (Forbes, 2012). He further notes that “From a strategic perspective, all the above should start with an overall digital roadmap, where you define your goals, outline the steps required, and articulate your success measurements.”   Click here   to read Martin's review.

This article outlines one proven method of creating an online strategy through the digitalroadmap process found in The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Strategies. The key components of roadmap building are reviewed together with Insights, Tips and Advice including the “Must Haves” to to review or get started on your process.  

“Must Have” Prerequisites
Successful online strategies are created when you have the following in place:

• An articulated vision, business plan or list of business goals you wish to accomplish. Online programs are enablers for organizational goals, they are not business drivers, so. Without clear stated business goals and objectives, a digitalroadmap has nothing to enable.


• The ability and culture to factually audit your existing online programs, and their performance where necessary. You may find yourself asking questions like, “Is what we are doing now working?” or “How are we measuring it?” or “How is this information we are collecting meaningful”, etc.


• In general terms, a practical and clear idea of the human and budget resources available to allocate to any plans made, so the planning process can make realistic recommendations.


• Not absolutely necessary, but highly recommended, is access to a trusted,, neutral source of information to help answer any questions that may arise around the online products and services you are considering. Knowledge resource(s) are important to the success of any venture.

Building a digitalroadmap  
Following a defined process assists you in synthesizing the best ideas into a customized strategy suitable for your situation, business and objectives.

Step 1 – Frame the Objectives and Deliverables
In this step, define the specific goals, deliverables, project sponsors and team members your business wants to get from its online activities. This can be done in a one-page document often referred to as a “project scope”.

Step 2 – Assess Your Current Environment
Current situation analysis and summary – In this step, note and assess your current online channels and how these are performing in relation to your goals, costs, and time taken to maintain them. It’s often helpful to use analytics tools to understand how your organization is found online and who your customers are, as well as their current comments about your products and services.

It is also important to understand how much social or community equity you have during the assessment step. Questions to ask include - Who are your advocates? Who is in your immediate community? Who comprises your indirect community? What is their opinion on your brand, products and services? How do they react to items you request from them? Who are the influencers? Who are the followers? etc.

Step 3 – Option Mapping
It’s time to look at your online product and service (channel) options, once you have defined your goals and how you are doing now in relation to your goals. One of the challenges we all face in the online world are the number of channel options to choose from. The channel options you review and eventually choose should be determined by how they can assist in furthering your business goals - for example Facebook is a great channel to connect and engage with consumers where as LinkedIn is a great channel to connect and engage with business contacts.  

Each channel will consume a portion of your budget and available resources. You will need the ability to deliver meaningful content to your audience through the channel. So review your options and assessments from this perspective as well.  

Step 4 – Collaborative Review

Now that you have developed the basic outline of a strategy, review this strategy within your organization, with all your stakeholders. These discussions form the basis of recommendations and uncover any items not yet fully explored. Include discussions on how services from strategy decisions will be deployed and operated. Examine worst case scenarios to test how you would overcome adversity in your plan.

Step 5 – Recommendations and Communications
Your strategy needs to be documented and reviewed with all parties who will help you implement and
maintain it. The detail within your documentation depends on the culture of your organization. Effective plans should include a one-page visual document outlining what actions you plan to take over time, key speaking points, and resource requirements - see Figure 1. Always include a budget with estimated one-time and ongoing costs and of course state your assumptions about your strategy plan so you can refer to these as your get measurable results, plus new information about your activities and the activities of your competition.
By Joe Wozny 08 Sep, 2015

Can your company afford to ignore the rapidly expanding mobile marketplace?

A recent poll from the Mobile Marketing Association (see Figure 1) confirms that disregarding the mobile market is a mistake that business owners and marketers want to avoid. Tech research firm   Gartner   finds that global sales of smartphones and tablets will surpass 1 billion units in 2013. ("Smart device sales to hit 1B next year," Mobile World Live); sales estimates for 2012 exceed 800 million.

As a marketer, are you ready to ease your organization into yet another cultural shift related to online marketing?

Yes, most of you have just finished with the social media shift and many are still working through the integration of analytics with your marketing programs. But, as noted by   Pete Christothoulou , co-founder and president of Marchex, "Executives are demanding that their marketing departments have a mobile strategy." (AllThingsD).

The next cultural shift must be to ask that your organization pay attention to mobile marketing—at the strategic planning level (while building your mobile digital road maps) and at the tactical level (while you pick "low hanging mobile fruit").

With mobile culture-building and mobile leadership in mind, here are seven tips to consider within your organization.

1. Understand the context: mobile apps vs. mobile pages

In the most basic terms, mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—come in many forms; but, essentially, you have two main approaches to mobile for using those devices in marketing.

"Mobile Web" refers to browser-based access to the Internet or Web-based applications using a mobile device. "Mobile app" refers to a software application (it could also connect to your website) that usually resides on a smartphone or tablet.

Mobile apps take considerable time and money to develop and maintain. And after a mobile app has been created, you will most often need third-party infrastructure to help deploy (e.g., the Apple or Google app platforms).

Mobile Web development also has time and dollar costs associated with it; however, you can often use your website as its content and infrastructure base, allowing for a quicker deployment to your market.

2. Commercial Web services drive mobile visits

Today, various commercial Web services present/provide information in a mobile-compatible form. Visitors can navigate large service providers such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, and Amazon with browsers on their smart devices. Accordingly, the information your organization places within those services is also mobile-enabled, including organic search results pages commonly found from searches on Bing, Yahoo, and Google, or from your listing on eBay and Craigslist.

Finding your Web page should be just as easy for a Mobile Web user as it is for a desktop computer user. However, unless your Web pages are mobile-enabled, your visitors may not be receiving the experience you want them to receive when they click through from one of these services to visit you.

3. Your Web pages are a good place to start

Making your Web page "mobile-compatible" is a more practical way to join the mobile evolution that creating a mobile app. Many website content management systems offer responsive-design features that detect mobile device visits and display Web pages in a mobile-compatible manner.

Services such as Mobify and Duda Mobile allow you to create mobile versions of your Web pages if your website does not have responsive-design features. Take these considerations into account as you make your Web pages mobile-compatible:

  • How visitors surf on smart devices is different from how they surf on a personal computer. Define the navigation and content of your mobile-compatible pages accordingly.
  • Not all phones support technologies such as Flash, and visitors would prefer not to increase their data-plan bill due from downloading graphics that do not provide value.
  • If you plan to use a third-party service to create your mobile pages, check to see the type of HTML standards your pages should be compliant with (such as those of the WC3).
  • For page access, will your pages have their own mobile URL (for example: m.NAME.com), or will you will use the existing URLs of your Web pages?

4. Subscribers read and share your communications via mobile devices

Mobile does not end at a website. Many device owners read their email using their smart phones and tablets... and some of those device owners are most likely subscribers of your email communications.

Ensure the email you send out as newsletters, notifications, marketing messages, etc. are formatted for mobile phone or tablet viewing and interaction. Your subscribers also share the emails you send them, so ensure that your new-subscriber forms also support mobile devices.

5. Mobile can provide a new set of metrics

Mobile analytics offer a new way of looking at how customers interact with your products and brand. You may gain a deeper understanding of visitor habits that help you grow your business, so ensure that you isolate mobile visits on your analytics to see whether new patterns emerge.

6. Mobile opens new doorways

After joining the mobile evolution, you may find that new marketing options are available to you.

Among the activities that organizations consider after clearing the first mobile hurdle are segmenting email to mobile and nonmobile campaigns; using quick response (QR) codes within advertising campaigns, packaging, or at tradeshows; and delivering new information services to customers via SMS (text messaging).

Mobile marketing can open up new doorways for "out of the box" thinking that enable your business to better apply "traditional" Web services and offerings.

7. Outbound opportunities also abound!

Mobile advertising, such as display ads, can build brand exposure and heighten awareness. Display advertising is easy to buy and relatively inexpensive, so keep an eye on mobile advertising trends to see whether an opportunity is right for you. As with all advertising, ensure that you receive campaign analytics validation and make sure your ads are as targeted as possible.

Without a doubt, the mobile segment is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of online growth; better yet, it is being fueled by consumer and business demand. As Carolina Milanesi of Gartner notes, "the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices." (Mobile World Live).

Given the market forecasts and trends, "the shift" to mobile seems like a logical choice for marketers to focus on when building and expanding the marketing culture within your organization.

Consider a mobile strategy when looking for opportunities to extend your online marketing efforts and when looking for ways to make your products accessible to all markets.

Joe Wozny , author of   The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and online media thought leader, strategist, author, blogger and international presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of Internet, social and digital media initiatives. Through his company, Concentric, he helps leaders leverage their businesses using smart, well planned digital strategies.

If you liked this blog you might like this blog on   Creating a Successful Online Strategy

By Joe Wozny 01 Sep, 2015

Choosing the best advertising solution for your company involves many factors, not the least of which are a) your level of experience with configuring and managing an advertising campaign, and b) your spending preferences. These five steps should help you choose the best solution for your organization.  

Step 1 – Define Your Customer

Defining your customer (demographics, geographies, interests, related activities, and so on) is necessary if you want to be efficient with advertising dollars and ensure they are targeted to generate results.

Step 2 – Define Your Offer and Goals

Be clear on what action you want the customer to take in terms of value measurement (goals). For example: visited my store, completed a survey, became a “friend” and so on.

Step 3 – Set Your Budget Range

Budget will dictate the type of service you choose. Small budgets often have simple solutions since spreading a small advertising budget over too many suppliers may not provide the volume of impressions to make an impact in the marketplace. Larger budgets allow you the flexibility to try more options, which may require more complex solution reviews and supplier contracts.

Step 4 – Understand Where You Are in the “Advertising Cycle”

Twenty percent of solutions work for eighty percent of organizations.

Industry reports ( Advertising Age , 2011) and activity tracking counters ( gs.statcounter.com ) tend to mirror this “rule of thumb.” Examples of solutions that may work for your organization include:

  • The “Testing the Water” Method — You’re new to advertising and most likely have a “smallish” budget. Many companies in this category consider search advertising with the most popular search suppliers given search popularity, self-management tools and pricing.
  • The “Surround Sound” Method — Your budget is usually larger and your goal is to ensure your ads are in as many customer “doorways” as possible. You are most likely running a branding campaign or a campaign where CPA is difficult to measure. Search, ad network, publisher, daily deals and social ads often will comprise your advertising mix. Usually the most popular and topically relevant publisher/ad networks are chosen as suppliers; however, supplier longevity depends on the CPA they provide.
  • The “Only Want to Pay for Completions” Method — You may have a large budget and can negotiate a deal with most suppliers of any network type. If your business model is to only pay for leads and your budget is small, affiliate networks may be your only choice, since daily deals programs may be too expensive. Services such as affiliatedirectory.com   are good sources to review when looking for the right affiliate network for you.
  • The “Hyper Community” or “Local” Method — You need to connect to a specific community and most likely have tried out — or are already using­ search advertising, media Websites, social sites, and daily deals, which often provide the opportunity to connect to specific communities. Local dominant media sites can be found through a simple Web search. For many businesses, social sites for advertising usually include only the Big 4.
  • “Less Travelled and Complex” Method — You have the time to consider researching and reviewing a number of niche networks to add to your current advertising strategy. You usually have a larger budget and are constantly looking for alternatives. You have someone on staff whose job it is to manage advertising, or you’ve hired an agency to perform this work.

Step 5 – Choose Your Preferred Network

Understanding your supplier options is very important. Suppliers generally fall into the following categories:

  • Search ad networks such as Google, YouTube, Baidu and Bing. These networks are known for “selling/renting space” for text format ads. However, they also support other formats, including display ads and video ads. Some also offer features such as re-marketing, which is a tactic that allows networks to display ads to Internet visitors who have already shown an interest in them through their browsing or searching history. Advertising is almost always sold on a CPC basis. Advertising can be targeted toward many of your customer attributes, including their keyword search patterns, age, geographic location, language and content consumption type. These networks provide a number of tools to allow you to self-manage and report on your campaign (ad creation, tracking, modifying a campaign, bill payment), if desired. Search networks are the place to start for new advertisers, and are a necessary part of the mix for the majority of advertisers. Consider social search networks as equivalent options and refer to comments in the Social Search Network section.
  • Website ad networks such as Casale, ValueClick and 24/7 Real Media often amalgamate a number of private Websites into a network and sell the ad inventory — usually in a display format. CPC and CPM rates are often available and a minimum budget commitment may be required. Re-marketing options may also be available. In some cases, you can manage and report on your campaign and options, though this varies by network. In most cases, you should have covered the basics with search and social pay-per-click advertising networks prior to using these advertising networks, unless one of the networks provides access to the perfect demographic you can’t reach in any other way.
  • Publisher Websites such as local newspapers, radio stations and subject­ matter portals (example: cars, cooking, Chinese language, weather). In some cases, publishers own more than one Website. Ads are usually in a display format. CPC and CPM rates are often available and a minimum budget commitment can be required. In most cases, tools to self-manage and report on your campaign are not available; instead, reports/status updates are provided by the publisher. These networks can be great after you’ve covered search and/or social pay-per-click advertising, or if you need to reach a target language/culture demographic you can’t effectively reach with search mode .
  • Social ad networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace now sell ads in multiple formats, mostly on a CPC basis. For example, Facebook ads include an image and text. Such sites provide a number of tools to allow you to self-manage and report on your campaign (ad creation, tracking, modifying a campaign, bill payment) if desired. Don’t forget StumbleUpon, which has a completely different and intriguing CPC model on the way to execute a campaign on their network. Paid social network advertising often delivers a tremendous number of clicks at a low price per click. However, check the bounce rate in your analytics to ensure the clicks are delivering real value (see the Measurement section). If your traffic is not “bouncy” then social ad networks are a good option to consider in conjunction with paid search networks .
  • Affiliate ad networks operate differently. They usually charge only for a completed action. Ads are placed on a target network of online products (Websites, browser bars, and such), often in a display format. How you manage and report on your campaign and options can vary by network. Affiliate networks have earned a bad reputation due to the amount of spam-related advertising people associate with them. If you can profitably set up a network where there is no spam included in your advertising, the audience matches your target market, and you can maintain your brand integrity by vetting the sites that run your ads, then consider this solution.
  • For the right retailers, daily deal networks such as Groupon, Living Social, and Dealfind — which promote discounts (often in coupon form) to their subscribers — provide a good option. Industry studies show that using an existing social media infrastructure, particularly Facebook, improves participation and success.
  • Link ad networks sell link opportunities.

Choosing a paid advertising solution based on the above five-step process is sometimes an easy decision:

“We’re a small company with a limited budget and limited time. We chose two large search engine suppliers as our solution. Pay based on demand and the fact that so many prospective clients use search were part of our considerations.”
– Mark Lyle, owner of a local auto dealership.

In other cases, choosing an advertising solution can be a more complex decision:

“Search is great and we have it covered. We’ve had time to experiment with our messaging, ads that get a response and how we measure success. We now need to surround all spaces where our target customers are active when they shop, research or need to know about products like ours. We know our customers also visit dominant subject-matter sites like the Weather Network and Yahoo Weather, and we are looking for opportunities to communicate to them through these sites and others. Some sites are not part of a search supplier content net­work, so we have to deal directly through an ad network.” – George Savice of Umbrellas to Go.

Joe Wozny,   author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success, is a digital and online media thought leader, strategist, author, blogger and international presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of Internet, social and digital media initiatives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders leverage their businesses using smart, well planned digital strategies. More blogs from Joe about online strategy topics can be found here . For more information please visit http://TheDigitalDollar.com , and follow the author on Facebook   and Twitter

By Joe Wozny 30 Aug, 2015

Urban myth leads many to believe that Online, Internet and Social Media success stories are created by happenstance. Common sense, however, suggests that success using Online is created through good planning and hard work.

That includes articulating your goals, developing and implementing a plan, monitoring your activities, and making adjustments as needed.

Online success is also defined in terms of your intent. For many businesses, this means profits and return on digital dollar investments from their activities. For brand marketers, governments and not-for-profit organizations, this could mean growth in both audience and their engagement. For individuals, it could mean designing and creating your own website page, analyzing and creating a great linking strategy, ensuring your business is advertised correctly in directories, or setting up and executing your own paid search advertising campaign. Regardless of what success means to you, the common elements in reaching it must include both planning and follow-through.

If you agree with what you've just read then you need a digitalroadmap. From a strategic perspective, digitalroadmaps ask you to define your goals, review your options, document a direction and articulate your success measurements. From an implementation and operations or tactical perspective, digitalroadmaps allow you to plan content, product, service and communications activities, ensure the product and services you implement become part of your new day-to-day activities and review performance against your original goals.

By Joe Wozny 08 Aug, 2015

Sometimes the online basics fly under the radar and are not obviously visible amongst the hyper sensitive and supercharged social and digital landscape. This became apparent to me through several recent examples.

The examples included cases of business listings with incorrect information, old information, information that was not solicited, listings competing with your business for organic search positioning and lots of social commentary that was left unanswered. Since most directories now have a “social” component to them, I thought that this quote from eMarketer was fitting:

“This buildup of negative buzz on social media can have a significant impact on brands because social media is more public and moves faster than customer complaints via traditional channels,” ( Brands Ignore Negative Social Buzz at Their Peril   July 2012). I’d broaden this statement, further, to include the fact that incorrect and outdated information in a simple directory listing can also be perilous. You can’t underestimate the importance of online brand and reputation management.

A Bit Of History for Context

Traditionally the “Yellow Pages” publication held the power between your business and the consumer. Print directories arrived at our homes. The information was static and only changed from year to year. Customers used these listings for reference and as a shopping guide.

Today numerous online business directories are on the world wide web. Many of the directories feature embedded social commentary tools. Your business may be listed in these directories, sometimes without your permission or knowledge. These listings can influence purchasing decisions.

Real Life Examples to Think About

  • For some time, a marina had been receiving calls for marine engine repair services. The marina does not provide an engine repair service. After a significant volume of calls were received, the owner of the marina discovered that an unsolicited listing/ad imitating his business was appearing at the top of the search listings. The ad contained a link to a blank web page, a telephone number that was forwarded to the marina’s main telephone number and text noting that the marina provided an engine repairs service. With little information to refer to on who had posted this ad, the marina owner was hard pressed to find a resolution.
  • A dentist recently sold his business to another dentist. The new owner made changes to their website to reflect the transaction. While searching on Google to verify the changes they found that the top listings about their business were from dentist directories who had posted information without their permission. When they contacted the dentist directories to ask them to change the address information, they were advised there would be a fee for the change.
  • I was looking for the telephone number of a local pizza place through a search engine and was surprised to see that the return page included a number of reviews about this favorite pizza eatery. The owners were unaware of the reviews and of the online services that listed their restaurant. Some of the reviews definitely required a reply.
  • Google Plus and Google Places recently integrated service offerings making listings and reviews part of Google Plus’s service offerings. Customers who heard the news and did not understand the change called with questions. Other businesses I spoke with had never checked their original listings for accuracy, made updates to the listings or looked at reviews. Few had developed Circles or knew what a Circle was.
  • While not a directory, Facebook account owners received a new Facebook email address for their Facebook page (June 2012). This email address became the default address for the Facebook page and required users to adopt the email as default or change the facebook settings to return to their previous address. At the time this was made public through the media (example:   Mashable , June 2012), several customers called feeling both confused and alarmed at the change, asking what actions they should take in order to have their previous email restored as the default email for their page.

Insights, Tips and Advice for Your Online Directory Listings

  1. Consider the fact that there may be activity taking place around your business online that you did not initiate. Spend an hour or two and review what the online directory footprint of your business is. Start with a simple name search on popular search engines such as Google or Bing and see what is presented. Expand this using keywords associated with your business and try some key works indirectly associated with your business. Read what people are saying . . . or not saying, check that listings are accurate
  2. Your actions in step 1 will give you a good idea of who complements you, who is competing with you, where or if your listings contain incorrect or outdated information, and what is being said about you . . . In some cases you will be provided with some good marketing information that you can use in promotions (example: positive customer testimonials). Document this information.
  3. You are now able to decide what actions need to be taken. Create a short plan outlining actions and priorities. Priorities can include making adjustments to highly visited services first, determining which type of comments you plan to reply to and to preparing key messages if appropriate.
  4. With your plan in hand, its time to make adjustments . . . In some cases it won’t be easy and it may be time consuming . . . If you find a serious case of misrepresentation, fees to change things you did not request in the first place, spam ads, etc, you may have to contact a third party for assistance such as   BrightLocal , etc, who specialize in directory postings.

Final Word . . . for now

Include directory reviews into your online operations plan. Your online listings, their integration with social media tools, third party directory services and information accuracy, represent the first view your potential client may see. Document where you are listed online and schedule regular checkups – it will assist with your future success and protect and enhance your reputation.

Joe Wozny,   author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success, is a digital and online media thought leader, strategist, author, blogger and international presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of Internet, social and digital media initiatives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders leverage their businesses using smart, well planned digital strategies. More blogs from Joe about online strategy topics can be found here . For more information please visit http://TheDigitalDollar.com , and follow the author on Facebook   and Twitter

By Joe Wozny 01 Aug, 2015

Can your company afford to ignore the rapidly expanding mobile marketplace?

In short, no … To quote Google, businesses ‘best friend’ for being found online, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” (Source; SMTD February 26th 2015)

As a business leader, easing your organization into the mobile cultural shift is necessary ... at minimum to preserve your current return on investment in Search ... and to get the best return on your digital dollars. With mobile culture-building and mobile leadership in mind, here are six tips to consider within your organization to take advantage of this opportunity.

1. Understand the context: mobile apps vs. mobile pages

Outside of advertising, essentially, you have two main approaches to mobile in terms of content. "Mobile Web" refers to browser-based access to the Internet or Web-based applications using a mobile device. "Mobile app" refers to a software application (it could also connect to your website) that usually resides on a smartphone or tablet.

2. Commercial Web services drive mobile visits

Today, various commercial Web services present/provide information in a mobile-compatible form. Visitors can navigate large service providers such as Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, and Amazon with browsers on their smart devices. Accordingly, the information placed within those services is also mobile-enabled. Ensure your Web pages are "mobile-enabled" to ensure your visitors receive the best experience when viewing from their mobile device.

3. Your Web pages are a good place to start

Making your Web page "mobile-compatible" is a practical way to join the mobile evolution vs. creating an app. Many website content management systems offer responsive-design features so Web pages are displayed in a mobile-compatible manner. Commercial services such as Mobify and Duda Mobile allow you to create mobile versions of your Web pages ,if your website does not include responsive-design features.

4. Subscribers read and share your communications via mobile devices

Mobile does not end at a website. Many device owners read their email using their smart phones and tablets... and some of those device owners are most likely subscribers to your email communications. Ensure the email you send out as newsletters, marketing messages, etc. are mobile phone, phablet and tablet compatible.

5. Mobile can provide a new set of metrics

Mobile analytics offer a new way of looking at how customers interact with your products and brand. You may gain a deeper understanding of visitor habits that help you grow your business, so ensure that you isolate and include mobile visits in your analytics to see whether new patterns emerge.

6. Outbound opportunities also abound!

Mobile advertising, is still not proven for many. However, if you do execute mobile campaigns ensure features such as click to call and social sharing are enabled on your landing pages to provide convenience for visitors. Assess your campaign analytics validation and ensure your ads are as targeted as possible.

Bottom Line: Given Google's announcement, mobile usage and growth trends, "the shift" to mobile is upon us. Don't forget to include a mobile strategy when looking for opportunities to extend your online efforts and when looking for ways to make your products accessible to all markets.

Joe Wozny , author of The Digital Dollar: Sustainable Strategies for Online Success , is a digital and business strategist, author, executive and presenter on strategies to improve the reach and success of internet, social and digital media initiatives. He is passionate in his interest in online technologies and their practical applications in our personal and business lives. Through his company, Concentric , he helps leaders advance their businesses, personal and product identities online using sound, well planned strategies.

By Joe Wozny 30 Jul, 2015
We often think of merchandising as an item that only retailers must keep in mind. However as organizations of all sizes have become more focused of growing the number of repeat visits on every web page, merchandising takes on a whole new meaning. According to Certona, the most successful companies approach digital merchandising strategically across their entire digital platforms to ensure that customer engagement is high, web page abandonment is low and conversions are top of mind.

The key to merchandising success (eCommerce and otherwise), is to align your merchandising strategy with the customer's wants and needs. This means understanding your potential customer and ensuring that the content, products, product placements, calls to action and recommendations on your "web pages" are clear, concise, visible and timely.

Data analytics is critical to extracting meaningful insights about your customer's actions, what they did during their visit, and if possible what key messages (advertising or other) triggered their next action.

Marketing Automation (example:   Act-On ) can enhance the analytics and content serving portion of these activities helping you deliver the right message and the right content to the right visitor at the right time.

If you are fortunate to have customer's register with your business then personalization technology can use login insights to create unique customer profiles within a few clicks. You can then deliver even more unique content based on a registrants historical profile. This increases the likelihood that a visitor will receive promotions and offers that will be most effective for them ... and your business.

For many of our businesses, customers want what they want, when they want it. Yet pricing, content layout, and inconsistencies across channels can often turn shoppers away. The best organizations recognize that the most effective digital merchandising strategy begins with the customer. With the right tools and technologies in place, your business can deliver the best "customer journeys" to help maximize every customer visit and boost sales. Ensure merchandising is part of your corporate culture and online digital marketing and advertising competencies.
By Joe Wozny 12 Jul, 2015
People today care about data security and privacy more than ever before, and new behaviours have arisen that affect all advertisers. With online advertising, readers' tastes and habits can be tracked, and ads tailored accordingly. But consumers are increasingly using software that blocks advertising on the websites they visit. If current trends continue, half the ads aimed at consumers are forecast to never reach their screens (Economist 2015). This puts at risk online publishing's dominant business model, in which consumers get content and services free in return for granting advertisers access to their eyeballs.

GlobalWebIndex (GWI) surveyed online adults to see how prevalent these behaviours are. Survey results indicated that many have been acquiring the help of ad blocking methods to protect their online footprints. According to GWI, 46% of online adults are using a private browsing window, which prevents cookies from saving any online activity and another 40% are deleting cookies off their computers manually.
By Joe Wozny 01 Jul, 2015
Would you allow someone to redesign your website, online store and unique voice without being involved? If you answered no to this question then read on ... because there's a great opportunity for you to develop the integrity of your brand message prior to Google's Knowledge Graph doing for you.

The Knowledge Graph is Google's big data machine, now matured. It stores more than data points and facts about your company. In fact, the Knowledge Graph is being programmed to recognize relationships between those data points and facts.

In search returns, information from the Knowledge Graph shows up on search Sidebar Panels (see Virgin Atlantic example) and may have the biggest branding implications ... and opportunities for your company.

Sidebar Panels are training searchers to look to the sidebar for quick answers, and to trust the information they find there. As more brands show up in sidebar panels, searchers are increasingly expecting to see your brand there, and when it does they will trust what they see.

DIGITAL DOLLARS AND SEN$E
Get Actionable Tips, Advice and Digital 
Insights from Joe and his team. 
Free Quarterly e-Magazine.
Delivered via email.
Subscribe Now
SUBSCRIBE TO BLOGS VIA RSS
>
THE DIGITAL DOLLAR: YOUR GO-TO GUIDE TO CREATING RIDICULOUSLY GOOD DIGITAL STRATEGY
"Its great to follow this book and have an in depth understanding of the new age ..."
- James Ho
Find Out More >>
Share by: