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BOGUS DIGITAL MARKETING: Impressions Do Not Equal Sales

One of the most over-hyped metrics in the digital marketing world is the “impression”.  The idea is simple – if an ad is shown on a webpage or search engine result, it’s an impression. However, this can give advertisers a false sense of exactly how much their ad has made an impact.

Google has just put out their own stats, showing that 56% of ads aren’t seen. Nothing new to see here! But please keep wasting your money on CPM ads!

A comScore study in 2013 found that 54% of display ads are never seen. Maybe they were displayed on the page, but they were below the fold, or the person left the page before the ad was fully loaded, or a million of other issues.

This feels like the in-joke of the internet, a wink-wink between traditional agencies and publishers – those that sell display ads to unsuspecting clients and the sites that accept ad revenue. Both of these parties know that display ad metrics aren’t just inaccurate, they’re a hollow and not but ash.

Impressions have ended up being the “look how great we are!” measure that agencies that are more focused on trying to obfuscate what’s really going on so that they look good, rather than report on real results. It’s a big number and it looks amazing to say that your ad had 1 million impressions instead of the sad trombone of 10 clicks. This kind of reporting is particularly rife within so-called “traditional” advertising agencies, who are used to reporting on offline campaigns and are still struggling to understand all this internet stuff.

Impressions are also sacrificed to the altar of vague reporting metrics such as “brand awareness”.

We had a real-life example of this recently when working with a client who used another agency for their web design and marketing before talking to us. The client claimed that an ad had resulted in “brand awareness” due to the large number of impressions the ad received. But in reality, the creative was boring and blended into the site. There wasn’t even a call to action. Just because your ad had 1,000 impressions, it doesn’t mean that:

a) 1,000 more people know about your company.
b) 1,000 more people feel good about your company.
c) 1,000 people looked at your ad at all.

If you need to measure brand awareness, try measuring it on social media or count people visiting your landing page. Did someone talk about your brand on social? Did they go to your site, maybe sign up for your newsletter? That’s brand awareness! Someone glazing over your display ad on a web page that they viewed for two seconds isn’t brand awareness.

Someone glancing over your display ad on a webpage that they viewed for two seconds isn’t brand awareness.

(Facebook is also guilty of this. The “boost” button on page posts is paying per impressions, although they call it reach. Reach is also a poorly understood metric that’s becoming a stand in for impressions on social media. Buyer beware.)

How did we get here? In the beginning of advertising, we paid per impression. Billboards cost a certain amount depending on how many cars drove by. Nielsen ratings determined how much advertisers should pay for TV shows — sweeps weeks were how television shows inflated their numbers so they could charge more. We didn’t have a better way to measure things.

Then, the internet happened. Instead of thinking “hey, we can measure all kinds of things now!”, pageviews became the default metric of success because it was comfortable and nobody in advertising had to shift too much. You could say “this site gets 10,000 pageviews a day”, put down your client’s money and then tell them that they got 10,000 ad views. Just like buying a radio ad, right?

Pageviews should never have been the default measure of advertising. It’s resulted in awful clickbait headlines (You won’t believe what happens next!) and multi-page slideshows used by these types of sites. But pageviews are a metric that could be easily measured and sold to people who understood the old school of advertising.

What they didn’t understand (or willfully ignored) was banner blindness. Spend 5 minutes on the internet, and you’ll start to zone out the ads. Some pages make it hard by shouting at you, showing popups, and pushing giant page takeovers, but loud isn’t the new good. You can’t make someone want to pay attention to your creative that was recycled from a billboard. The internet is not just a cheaper billboard. If your ad isn’t compelling, if it doesn’t speak to me, then you might as well save your money and take yourself out for a nice dinner instead.

We can target based on behavior, what you’re searching for, your age, your Facebook interests, whether or not you already visited our site – a million different ways to show exactly the ad that you’ll be interested in at the moment you see it. But instead, most advertisers submit web page visitors to the blunt force trauma of multiple ad impressions, hoping for a nice big number they can show on their PowerPoint presentation the next time they’re at a client meeting.

People on the internet aren’t lemmings, just waiting around to be shown something flashy so they can jump off a cliff after it. We all see ads every single day, and we’re smart enough to decide what’s interesting and what’s just more crap to ignore. Recycled creative and scattershot advertising isn’t just lazy, it’s disrespectful to you and to your client. Reporting on impressions reinforces the idea that if you show an ad enough times, we’ll just have to give in to the message. And we all know that isn’t true.

Contact Us for a free website and social media presence evaluation and learn how we can help your business in the age of digital and social media marketing.

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The 800 Pound Gorilla: The Internet eTailer

Amazon is just revolutionizing retail, any other adjective or any other verb would suffice. They are changing the way every retailer on the planet is thinking about retailing, and if they aren’t, they should be thinking about it differently because of Amazon, even Big Box retailers have had to change the way they do business because of Amazon so why should independent retailers be any different?

It’s important to keep in mind that the online consumer is wealthier than average. According to a report by Forrester Research, online buyers with household incomes of $75,000 or more represent the largest group of the online consumer population. In fact, they make up more than 40 percent of all online buyers—almost twice the number of those with household incomes of $50,000 to $75,000. These consumers have considerable spending power, making it important for businesses to invest in the e-commerce space.

Here are a few tips for how retailers can build an e-commerce business to compliment your retail shop fit for today’s demanding consumer:

1. Offer free shipping, or at least pay for returns. Having to pay large shipping fees on a domestic order is a huge turn-off for a customer. Retailers like Amazon have created the expectation that postage is free. Studies have shown that many consumers would rather pay extra for the product than have to shell out for shipping.

2. Create loyalty programs to reward the best customers. Big retailers are basing these off of airlines’ programs, where the more you buy, the more perks you get. A loyalty program gives the consumer a big incentive to shop at the online store. The online format also allows customers to track their “points” or rewards and be involved with the retailer on a personal level.

3. Demonstrate how an item looks or works using video merchandising. Zappos.com (which is owned by Amazon) gives shoppers a video demonstration of most of the shoes, garments and accessories it sells so they can better evaluate them. Rather than trying to read the dimensions in the fine print, a customer looking for a tote bag can just watch a video of a model carrying it on her shoulder to gauge whether it is the right size. If a business can’t do videos of products, photo demonstrations will do.

If customers can order easily with free shipping, there is no reason for them to order on Amazon over any other retailer online, we’d also point out specialty retailers have the advantage of offering better products than anyone else.

With a few steps to make the consumer happy, any business’ website can compete with Amazon.

Is Your Business Trapped In A Time Warp? 12 Signs that You Are Stuck & Will Lose Business To The Competition

Once upon a time we all lived in small towns, or at least tight knit communities and neighborhoods.  If you needed your hair cut you’d go to Kelly’s Barber Shop, you bought your sandwiches from Sub Shop #10, and the pharmacy on the corner didn’t belong to Walgreens.  Businesses didn’t have to market, network, advertise, tweet or blog about their services to get and keep their customers.  They offered their goods and services, and people came for them.  It’s how business was done.

That was then.  Welcome to the modern world!   If you think you can rely on your business surviving the old fashioned way, where people buy from you because they always have, stop and think again!  Even if you’re located in a sparsely populated burg, the town folk now have the internet, smart phones and all kinds of other techie gadgets… they can find it cheaper, better and quicker on Amazon if you don’t get your head in the game and convince them they want their money flowing in your direction.

Are you going to just trust fate?   You basically have two choices:  To be passive or to be proactive.   Obviously choosing to do nothing is about as passive as you can get… might as well throw in the towel now and save yourself the hassle and grief.  If you are immobile and stuck, you are in serious trouble.  The protective bubble you are wrapped in may feel comfy, but this cloak is indeed deceiving.  You are trapped in a time warp and will eventually lose your business to the competition.  Make sure these obvious issues don’t apply to you:

  1. RESISTING TECHNOLOGY: This is how you’ve always done things and this is how it shall be done.  You just keep it status quo and let the other guys use the new technology and processes.  Stay in this time warp and watch your clients high tail it away from you quicker than you can say 8-track tape or plastic pink yard flamingo.
  2. AVOIDING SOCIAL MEDIA: Can you say “FREE ADVERTISING”?  If you don’t have time to post things yourself, find someone to do it for you.  Take advantage of all the resources that are available.  Keep your name out there.  Let people look for YOU to see what you have to say… Don’t let them find your competitors because you don’t want to take the time…
  3. TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF: Why would you try to do it all?  Delegate!  If you can’t afford a staff, or if you don’t want one, at least get a Virtual Assistant to do the things you don’t like to do (or that suck up all your time!)
  4. USING A ROLODEX: Seriously?  How about a CRM or at the very least pop those numbers into your phone! Get an app like Inigo and exchange contact info with a simple text message even if you forgot or ran out of business cards! Who even has a Rolodex anymore?!
  5. GETTING THE SAME RESULTS AND STILL DOING IT THE SAME WAY: Hello… McFly!  If what you have done has been ineffectual, or at the very least yielding minimal results, why are you doing it the same way again and again and again?  Find what works!  Move on from what you have been doing.
  6. FORGETTING YOUR PURPOSE: Remember why you wanted to be an entrepreneur.  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate those goals and recall what got you onto the path of being a small business owner in the first place.
  7. NOT NETWORKING: You say you’re not a people person?  Well who do you think buys your goods and services?  Exactly!  Step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there.   Use the opportunity to rub elbows with some people who may be able to help you grow your business.  Listen to other people… what are their stories?
  8. LIVING BY THE CLOCK: Business ownership is not for the meek.  It’s also not for the basic nine-to-fiver.  If you’re looking for a 9-5 gig, perhaps being an entrepreneur isn’t your thing.  You don’t have to breathe business 24/7, but you have to be open to the occasional early phone call or late appointment if you want your business to thrive.
  9. STAYING DISORGANIZED: Simple things like losing phone numbers, forgetting appointments and not being able to find important documentation will destroy you.  Can’t do it alone?  Get a Virtual Assistant to help you get your act together.  Don’t let your ADD stand in the way of your personal and professional success.
  10. RANDOMLY SWITCHING IT UP: Switching it up from time to time may sound like a good thing, but you need to let your ideas come to fruition too.  Constantly changing things around will not let you get an accurate feel for what works and what doesn’t.  Make sure you are constantly evaluating progress.
  11. KEEPING YOUR POSSE: Are some of your partners, staff or even the vendors holding you back?  You may love them but make certain you share the same goals and passion.  If not figure out an amicable way to go your own way.  Keeping your posse when they no longer share your dream is a big mistake.
  12. ALWAYS PLAYING IT SAFE: You need to take a risk from time to time.  Look around you.  What is your competition doing?  Why are you playing it so safe that you are blending into the background?

Being an entrepreneur takes courage.  It takes knowing when to walk, when to sprint, and when it’s time to run away from the habits that have you stuck… It’s knowing how to get out of your own way, how to move on, and how to get out of the time warp before you lose your butt to the competition.

Support The Organization That Supports Your Community

Why Join A Chamber of Commerce

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We are 5 months into a new year with new opportunities to grow and renew. But it’s also a time to look at expenses and re-evaluate where we’re spending our resources of time and money.

Among the decisions that many local area business owners will face this year is whether to join or renew their membership in our local Chamber of Commerce.

If you don’t want to support a local organization that supports you, your business and community year round then don’t join the chamber of commerce. If you don’t want to support the group that is often the first personal point of contact with an opportunity to make a positive first impression for people considering visiting or relocating to our community or the surrounding area then don’t support the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers of commerce have been around for decades.  You might say that with the Internet and social media a chamber of commerce is not needed. You might say it is not always the first point of contact for information because potential visitors and new residents can surf the web to get information on The Dalles and surrounding communities.

While it is true that people can gather a lot of details on the Internet it is also true that information may have been placed in prominent digital locations with the help of the local chamber.

And, regardless of where or how potential visitors, new business owners or residents got their initial information, the chamber often serves as the first real personal point of contact for those folks. If they have already done research and determined they might like to pay the city a visit there’s a good chance they may pick up the phone or make a point to stop by the chamber offices on their first visit for a more personal contact.

On the down side, like most investments, joining a chamber of commerce has cost associated with it. There is the cost of a membership and the potential cost of time to attend meetings and show support at public events by helping out.

Each of us needs to weigh the positive and potential negatives of joining or renewing our membership. We need to evaluate whether money spent or the time invested in going to ribbon cuttings, helping out at events like the annual NW Cherry Festival, the Starlight parade or other events is worth our time.

That is one of the positive attributes of supporting our chamber. It offers a wide variety of networking opportunities and we can pick and choose which ones to participate in. If we want to get full value for our investment we will get involved in at least some of those events and activities.

For a new business starting up the outlay of dollars and lack of available time may deter the owner from joining the chamber. On the other hand, what good is investing in a new business if there are no customers and if you are not taking full advantage of marketing opportunities.

Your firm may have a web page. You may be aggressive in your social media marketing. You may know people in town already. Regardless, there is nothing like the personal touch of meeting potential new customers and clients face-to-face and one-on-one.

The chamber offers plenty of those types of opportunities. The organization also does a lot to help support its members with publicity.

The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce offers increased exposure for your business through its Website, its Social Media Posts, Membership Directory and through other avenues both online and offline such as photos and mention of new member’s ribbon cuttings published in the pages of local newspapers.

Even if your products or services are something a person might not need on a routine basis just the fact that you are a member in good standing of the chamber helps validate your business to potential customers. For visitors and residents alike, being a chamber member can give a business the needed boost for having people make contact when the need does arise.

Networking can be a pain if you’re cold calling. But if you’re in the same place, whether it’s the annual membership meeting, a chamber hosted ribbon cutting or monthly meeting, it is easier to make those contacts.

Being a member of the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commence by itself is not going to make or break your business. But it can be an important part of your business’s marketing plan.

When time comes to consider joining or renewing membership please support the organization that supports you, your community and your business throughout the year and throughout the decades.

Promote Black Friday & Cyber Monday Offers With AdWords Structured Snippet Headers

The extensions can start showing starting November 20

This post originally appeared on SearchEngine Land written by Ginny Marvin

Google has added two new short-term headers for structured snippet extensions designed to help merchants promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers in their AdWords ads.

Structured snippet extension headers for Black Friday will be eligible to appear in ads November 20– 27, which is that Friday. Cyber Monday headers can appear November 20–30. During the overlap period, Black Friday headers will trump those set up for Cyber Monday.

Here are some examples from Google of how these headers and snippets might look:

  • Black Friday: Stores open at 6 a.m.
  • Black Friday: 25% off electronics
  • Cyber Monday: 10% off sitewide
  • Cyber Monday: Free shipping on $50+ orders

Advertisers just have to enter one offer in the snippet, unlike most structured snippets, which require multiple values.

black-friday-structured-snippet

Structured snippets can be set at the account, campaign or ad group level.

This is the second push this week by Google to promote merchant offers during the holiday surge. On Tuesday, Google launched a new test that lets consumers subscribe to text alerts for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or holiday deals when they search on related terms.

50 Business Directories For Local Marketing

As a local business, attracting new customers can be a major challenge. Quickly disappearing are the days when people go to the Yellow Pages to find local businesses. Today, people are turning to the internet as a way to find trusted business recommendations.

One way local businesses can get found is through inclusion in online directories. Adding a listing to these online directories is easy, but if you only list in a few, you’re really missing a huge opportunity to get found by online searchers.

Every individual directory that you submit to is another chance to get found online, so it’s important to make sure you’re listed in every directory possible. I have compiled a list of many popular local directories available on the internet. Filling out the forms over and over again can be a big pain, so here’s a link to an autofill add-on for Firefox that should help prevent carpal tunnel.

 

50 Business Directories For Local Marketing

1. Google
2. Bing
3. Yahoo!
4. Yelp
5. Merchant Circle
6. LinkedIn
7. YellowPages.com
9. Whitepages
10. Supermedia
11. Yellowbook
12. CitySearch
13. Mapquest
14. Biznik
15. Local.com
16. Foursquare
17. ThinkLocal
18. CitySlick
19. USYellowPages
20. SuperPages
21. Outside.in
22. Dex
23. BizJournals.com
24. TeleAtlas
25. JustClickLocal
26. Discover our Town
27. Metrobot
28. EZ Local
29. twibs
30. LocalEze
31. Kudzu
32. CityVoter
33. Manta
34. Zipweb
35. MatchPoint
36. UsCity.net
37. Local Site Submit
38. InfoUSA
39. Axciom
40. Infignos
41. Yellow Assistance
42. Get Fave
42. My Huckleberry
43. GenieKnows
44. MojoPages
45. Brownbook
46. Magic Yellow
47. CitySquares
48. TeleAtlas
49. Navteq GPS
50. Judy’s Book 

Making sure that you have a presence everywhere your potential customers might find you is critical to any local marketing plan. Don’t wait! Add your local business to these directories today!