Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Google Adwords. The Rationale, The Stragegy And The Architecture Of An Effective Ad

Background

 In recent times whilst delivering the half day free coaching sessions for the Federally funded Digital Enterprise Program (DEP), I have received many requests to discuss and in most cases set up Search Engine Sponsored links or paid ads which of course for the Google search engine are called: Adwords.


 AS you can see from the screen shot above the Adwords are typically displayed down the right hand side of the page of the search engine listing and usually also occupy the first few spots at the top of the left hand column, just above the organic results that occupy the remainder of the left hand side column. 

The Rationale

The most compelling argument for why Adwords (and sponsored links in general) are necessary for so many marketing campaigns stems from the fact that around 70% of search engine users don't go beyond the first page of results. Similarly 90% of users don't go beyond the second page of displayed results for any given set of search results. What this means in real terms is essentially that if your product or service is ranked organically on page three or beyond, then you are only being seen by less than ten percent of those searching for that term. 

Thankfully regardless of where you rate in terms of organic search, you can usually achieve first page placement with a well written and targeted Google Adword.The Strategy
 Simply put the key strategy is to combine SEO tactics and the use of cost effective adword  spending that will ensure that your product, brand or service is routinely able to be seen on page one of Google for the most important search key words and terms as revealed by Google's own Keyword Tool.

The Strategy

Simply put the strategy adopted here is to ensure that at all times there is at least one listing visible to your target market either through Organic Ranking and /or through the Search Engine Marketing Ads such as Adwords.  This combined strategy involves concurrently ensuring that quality content is consistently written and professionally formatted and optimised to fully meet with Google's expectation of content, whist still investing appropriately in paid ads that appear only to precisely targeted customers and prospects based on the key words submitted to Google as part of the campaign design.

In every case the key words selected are paid for at a known and agreed price that when clicked on will add to the daily budget also nominated by the ad organiser. When this daily maximum budget is reached, the ad simply disappears until the next day where it then reappears to those that search for the specific words and terms listed. In this way the traffic is perfectly targeted and each key word has a much greater chance of achieving a  suitable click through rate (CTR) required by Google to key each key word active.

The Architecture 

Google Adwords are very simple in design and can be effectively written for any product or service once the basic required format is fully understood. For each ad there are four separate lines as follows: 




The first line is the heading which can be up to twenty five characters in length including the spaces between the words and of course should contain the likely key words being used in the first place to bring up the ad. Google has constantly reported that the most successful Adword ads consistently have the most important key words as part of the heading. Hint, Hint.

The second line and third lines are thankfully longer at up to thirty five characters each and are used to provide a key benefit that the product offers and importantly a call to action to drive the customer to perform some required behaviour.

Finally the fourth line is the destination URL where your landing page resides on the server.
Although it can be the home page of your website I encourage you to set up a specialised landing page that will more precisely be able to direct the arriving inquiries.

So there you have it.  Simple, practical, cost effective and ultimately another formidable marketing tool in your weapons array. Naturally if you would like to learn more about Adwords or any other aspect of digital media I would encourage you to also come along to any of the seven free 2 hour workshops for the Digital Enterprise Program and obtain a free half day coaching session just for showing up.  Simply sign up here to sign up:

http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program


So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards
Daniele





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Australian Online Sales Continue To Grow And Grow

The Early Years of E-Commerce in Australia

I remember six short years ago whilst delivering a marketing presentation for the NSW Chamber of Commerce during the Think Big Seminar, I was asked about the percentage of sales in Australia that at the time were online as a percentage of overall total sales. The answer for which was less than one percentage point.



Rationale

The reasons for this slow adoption of the online purchasing rate in the early days of e-commerce remain speculative but it's a reasonable bet that the slow embrace was largely a consequence of some well publicised, horror stories of customers being defrauded while trying to make online purchases.
This publicity certainly instilled a sense of fear and caution in most Australians for many continues to the current day.

Current Levels of Adoption

However in more recent times with a raising awareness of the protection afforded by SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates and especially SSL's with full extended validation as used by larger businesses such as financial institutions, more people have gradually made the transition to online purchasing. Currently in Australia around 7% of total sales are made online  highlighting the more than 700% growth over the last 6 years demonstrating the increased levels of confidence in the protective measures around the protective systems employed.

Additional Challenges to Increasing Adoption Levels

As fully illustrated by the recent data showcased in the Marketing Sherpa, E-Commerce Benchmark Study 2014, there are several perceived issues that businesses are still grappling with regardless of the size of the business in question.

Issues such as technology, fulfillment, access to capital and availability of appropriately trained, quality human resources, being amongst the expansive list generated by the study data.


Despite these ongoing challenges the data also reflects that specialist online retailers continue to grow at an even faster rate than hybrid businesses that offer both retail and online purchasing options.  Perhaps having a singular focus with a niche positioning allows these businesses to more fully appreciate the needs of their customers and ultimately present a more fully rounded solution thereby attracting a faster growth rate.

Suffice to say the percentage of online sales will surely continue to increase in coming years with a simple imperative for all businesses to follow and that being to make the e-commerce option available and user friendly with intuitive customer interfaces that continue to deliver a convenient and rewarding customer experience as a valid option to offline options.

To learn more about e-commerce and all things digital please also join me for any of the free Digital Enterprise Program (DEP) workshops with the added bonus of a free four hour coaching session for your business simply by attending any on eof the seven workshops. Simply go the link below and register your interest now.

 http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.












While online sales have been growing at around 20-30% annually, the overall market share was still only around 5-7% of the overall market in early 2013. Many users cite the reasons of availability, convenience and pricing as well as delivery options as some of the reasons for purchasing online. - See more at: http://www.budde.com.au/Research/Australia-Digital-Economy-Online-Retailing-Trends-and-Statistics.html#sthash.yzp1DiQu.dpuf
While online sales have been growing at around 20-30% annually, the overall market share was still only around 5-7% of the overall market in early 2013. Many users cite the reasons of availability, convenience and pricing as well as delivery options as some of the reasons for purchasing online. - See more at: http://www.budde.com.au/Research/Australia-Digital-Economy-Online-Retailing-Trends-and-Statistics.html#sthash.yzp1DiQu.dpuf

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Forever Loyal: Turning Loyalty By Default Into Loyalty By Design

Last week we spoke about customer loyalty and how in many cases even clients that are supposedly loyal to a business are only loyal essentially through habit and not through any more meaningful rationale and are therefore more than vulnerable to rival attacks should their the offer be more attractive or better targeted to their specific set of needs.

Level of Dependence

Simply put the goal of every marketer is to translate weak, uncommitted levels of customer loyalty into stronger, longer term and more intentioned levels of support. To do this you must form less of a transactional relationship with clients and instead start to design ways to migrate across to the strategically based relationship quadrant which by definition is associated with far closer working relationships, higher levels of loyalty by design and ultimately advocacy where the client proactively sings your praises to others. In these situations both client and corporate have a mutual high level of dependence and act intuitively to help, support and protect the other.





 Transactional Relationships

 Imagine the scenario of someone entering a newsagent on a busy weekday, picking up a copy of the daily newspaper and seeing the store owner is busy taking with someone at the counter with other people already waiting in line, makes a hand gesture catching the owners attention and throws the  exact change on the pile of papers adding to the other money that has been deposited in exactly the same way. This example albeit an extreme example, is an example of a purely transactional customer relationship where there is quite literally no relationship, connection or level of engagement between the two parties. Put another way neither the buyer nor the seller really need each other. The buyer can obtain a copy of the paper across the road  at the convenience store and the newsagent will survive if the customer chooses to take their business elsewhere. So the key question remains how do you transition from transactional to strategic?



Strategic Relationships

Now imagine another scenario. That of a product brand manager that is launching a new product and requires a consultant to help them build a promotional product that will help position the product, drive its awareness in a market that knows nothing about it and deal with the vagaries of the market within which it will operate.

This example comes to my mind because at the time I was that product manager launching Australia's first combination anti hypertensive medication Monoplus and tendered out the project to four respected firms but through the process of determining the right candidate, the decision became increasingly obvious each day as the other three positioned themselves as transactional players with a stance of simple in and out, no unique skill, no shared risk, no meaningful differentiation and an eye for price and price alone.

The eventual winner of the tender on the other hand ticked all the strategic buttons. Namely: Sharing in the risk of the project, clearly defined and unique skill sets, differentiated approach and an unmistakable strategic role in the deign and roll out of the package which meant higher levels of barriers to exit for both parties.

I'm pleased to say I was able to convince senior management of my preferred choice and history shows that the launch of the product was an amazing success with the product achieving a staggering 250% of its budget in its launch year.

So moving forward always see suppliers, distributors or clients as being in one or the other of these two discrete groups and make your mind up as to which one s have the potential to be moved effectively in the strategic space because these are the type of relationships that build businesses not simply sell papers.

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.  And of course remember to sign up for any Free workshops you haven't already seen in the Digital Enterprise Program through:
http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops
where you will automatically qualify for the free, one on one, 4 hour coaching session for your business with a leading marketing consultant.

Regards,
Daniele.















Thursday, July 31, 2014

Understanding Customer Loyalty

The Goal of Every Business

Understandably most businesses everywhere are constantly looking to increase and consolidate the level of customer loyalty they have with both individual  customers and the group as a whole and when you consider that numerous research reports have consistently reported that it is many times more difficult to win a new customer over rather than keep and existing customer, you can fully appreciate why. But two important questions that arise from this underlying premise are:
1. Does every customer have the same potential for being loyal  and
2. Of those customers that are loyal, are there different groupings of loyalty?

Does Every Customer Have The Potential For Loyalty

Simply stated, the answer to this first question is no and rather than take this as an admission that the business is unable to provide quality service or the customer is unable to respond in kind with loyalty, the issue is often one of pure practicality where it is unreasonable to be loyal.

For example let's assume you are taking some time away from work and taking an extended road trip where you have chosen to drive around the country and experience first hand the many wonders your nation has to offer.  When you are on the opposite side of the country you pull into a petrol station to fill up on fuel before starting the long trek back. At this station you receive an excellent level of customer service, an excellent meal, the opportunity to withdraw cash from an ATM, and so on. Kudos to the management and staff but are you now loyal to this business. Clearly not, because no matter how well your needs were met her you probably wont be back any time soon and realistically the best the business could hope for is a favorable review on a review site such as Urban Spoon or Trip Adviser.  So no not all customers have the potential for loyalty, but for those that are what types of loyalty exist?

Loyalty by Default and Loyalty by Design

There are two key types of loyalty, namely Loyalty by Default and Loyalty by Design.
So what is the difference?  As the name suggests customers through repetition may be loyal to you by default where it is for the most part out of habit that they continue the association but  in truth see no great advantage in dealing with you and feel no great degree of connection with the brand or business.

Customers who are loyal by design on the other hand have made a conscious choice to do business with you and are overtly aware of and appreciative of the value that you provide for them and will therefore be much less likely to look elsewhere for a replacement provider or service regardless of what other alternatives may present themselves, whereas the customer that is loyal be default will much more easily be swayed to try and potentially adopt another alternative provider with only marginal improvements to what you are offering.

In a recent training session to CEO's I asked the group to write down on a piece of paper what percentage of customers they felt where loyal by design versus those that were loyal by default.
Suffice to say you could have heard a pin drop as the people in the room started to ponder their situation and realise that for most people, the answer lay squarely in the default category where the potential to lose significant amounts of business was only as  far away as a rival business uncovering some part of the need that was still undelivered and provide it to a higher level than them.

If you're reading this and thinking this dynamic also applies to you, you have plenty of company. The good news however is that the business can proactively do something about this situation and gradually position itself squarely in the other camp. On our next blog post we will fully explore the strategic change needed to drive this change in approach to further enhance and maintain your customer loyalty.

And until then, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele














Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The FDA Release Social Media Guidelines for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Firms

 Some of you who have been following the Road Scholars Marketing blog since it started several years ago may remember that one of the first posts involved the important issue of what rules and guidelines would be placed on the pharmaceutical manufacturing firms by the FDA in terms of how they could and couldn't promote their medications to the market.


New FDA Release

I'm now pleased to report back to you all that after five years last week the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now formally released two key guidelines that will control how both pharmaceutical and medical device companies will need engage with the market utilising social media.

The Two New Areas

1. Instructions on how companies go about correcting any erroneous product information on any digital platform controlled by third parties.
2. The way in which both the positive and negative aspects of a product are to be presented whereby the key risk or potential hazard along with the key benefit are presented in an open digital forum which can be any form of website, networking platform, blog or discussion forum as possible examples.

The FDA has spoken directly about the fact that these guidelines were developed whilst working in conjunction with pharmaceutical industry representation as well as that from other key stakeholders.

In the case of prominent third-party websites such as Wikipedia, companies when correcting errors that have been made in ddesribing a device or medication must be done so in a balanced way and always validated with a source from which the information is given such as the official product information for the product or a reference from a key clinical study.

Specifically the revised text would be placed along side the flawed text and would be included purely as a means of correcting a previous mistake and in no way to promote the brand in question.

The FDA guidelines go on to say that when any proprietary firm finds any mistake in content, they should immediately contact the website, blog or form to  provide the correct information so that the misinformation can be quickly and completely addressed to provide accurate information.

In the absence of these formal guidelines before now, many companies have understandably been somewhat reserved and have been less than fully engaged within the digital space, however with this much needed and somewhat overdue arrival of rules, would be now in a much better position to proactively leverage this powerful promotional tool to above all else, provide more accurate and meaningful information to the market and by extension better customer service.

Currently this release is being used by the FDA as a starting point for on going discussion and as needed the basis for further discussion, review and change. Naturally as any new information is released, the Road Scholars Marketing Blog will present a full evaluation and review.


So until next time, good luck, (good health) and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Need For SSL Certificates

As I have mentioned in a previous post, there are an amazing number of businesses nationally still don't have a website. Specifically forty four percent. Yet as incredible a statistic as that is, perhaps a more stunning and concerning one is that of the businesses that do have a website and are actively involved in transacting eCommerce on line and / or taking non financial, personal information through their site, still do so without having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on their site.


The SSL certificate is the necessary layer of security that needs to be set up to provide communication security over the internet and ensure that no unauthorised party is able to illegally listen into a discussion that they have no right to hear.

The technology works through the use of a symmetric key between the server and the user. This session key is then used to encrypt data flowing between these parties. This ensures that the message or information being transmitted is encrypted and thus unable to be understood by anyone eavesdropping on the conversation. 

There are various versions of the SSL protocols that are widely used in different applications such as web browsing, email, faxing, SMS messages and VOIP communication.  One of the key elements to ongoing security is forward secrecy which protects against a session key can not be generated from the long term asymmetric secret key.

 From a functional point of view having the SSL Certificate in place adds key steps to the communication process as described in the picture below. If there is no SSL security layer in place you simply have the blue and green steps performed. 

However by protecting your internet portal with an SSL or TLS (Transport Layer Security) Certificate, your system adds the additional layers of Sessional Key Exchange and Cipher Suite Negotiation that establishes the authenticity of the parties and ensures that they alone access messages that are not encrypted and therefore unusable.

The cost of not having an SSL if you’re routinely take personal or financial data online can be very high but thankfully the cost of having it is fairly modest and can be easily afforded by most businesses including SME's.
A business need only approach their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to have this installed at around $120 for an extended validation SSL that is a premium level protection as used by major businesses.

To learn more about SSL certificates, e-commerce, data privacy and all key aspects of digital media please feel free to go to the Digital Enterprise Program website on:  
 http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops

You will be eligible to attend any of the seven, free, two hour workshops, after which you will also be offered a free 4 hour one on one coaching session specifically on how to plan, position and promote your business with both digital and traditional marketing tolls.

So I hope to see you all there and until next time, good luck and good marketing.

Regards,
Daniele Lima.