June 28, 2013

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SEO is a Must-Win Organic search is the base line digital marketing tactic for most marketing campaigns. Considered an important, if arcane, art it is characterized by a constant cat-and-mouse game between search practitioners and Google or Yahoo/Bing and a dynamic tension between SEO specialists and copywriters. Unfortunately too often its taken for granted. New research from Chitika, based 300 million search impressions in the Us and Canada during the week of May 21-27, 2013, indicates that winning and losing at natural search is clear; you either win big or die quickly. If you don’t place among the top 3-5 positions on the search engine results page (SERPs) you get none of the benefits of your investment. It’s win big or go home. Get the complete report here. If you earn the top listing on Google, you get 33 percent of the traffic. If you come second, you get 18 percent, roughly half. And if you place third, you receive just 11%, or almost half again. The results mirror classic direct marketing response rates. Seventy-five percent of all traffic is accounted for by the fifth position on the first results page. If you don’t make page one (92% of all traffic) the maxim access you can hope to achieve is a mere 8% of the total search-driven traffic. Evidently people click on the first result then quickly scan roughly to the fold. Compete found that 53% of all clicks go to the first link and just 15% to the second. These results were directionally validated by a 2011 Slingshot SEO study that found 18% of clicks go to the top ranked result and just 10% to number two. Searchers are finicky and impatient. They jump to the next page or two if they aren’t satisfied. Given this typical search behavior, its better to be number one on page two or three than number 6 or 7 on the first page. The data supports a similar degradation in traffic from the first listing even on subsequent results pages! For most marketers rankings drive traffic; that’s the pay off. There’s not much value in bragging rights to a SERPs position that doesn’t pay off in site traffic. Although it sounds like a mother’s classic scold, “it doesn’t pay to be number two.” SEO is an increasingly important part of digital marketing, especially as content plays a bigger and bigger role in brad awareness, lead generation and loyalty campaigns. But SEO looks like a zero sum game. Marketers need to bring their “A” game to win and keep playing their “A” game to keep on top by routinely adjusting to Google’s changing algorithms.
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Facebook Goes Direct From the moment, the first brand on Facebook collected 10,000 fans, marketers have been asking about the relationship between “likes” and sales. Initially Facebook found a dozen ways to deflect the conversation. Facebook doesn’t really sell, they’d say. Its about relationships, buzz and engagement. Facebook is a tool for generating comment, creating warm fuzzies and enrolling fans as advocates for products and services and creating some sense of loyalty. But the guys paying the bills kept asking. How many fans, followers or likers are buying my products? How many are referring friends? How many are buying repeatedly? Finally Facebook created ad units to address these ROI concerns. The latest innovation, launched in May called Facebook Exchange (FBX), is inventory in the News Feed (the primo real estate on Facebook). FBX cannot be bought directly from Facebook. Units must be purchased only through an FBX qualified company. Unlike right hand side (RHS) Facebook ads, which are sold on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) or cost-per click (CPC) basis, FBX inventory is priced as a cost-per-insertion, limited to one each day. These units, a 154x154 pixel image and several lines of copy, were created to enable precision targeting, links to outside websites where marketers actually sell stuff and pixel tracking to enable retargeting on Facebook and across the web. Consumers can like, share and comment on FBX ads, so a measure of virility is baked in. Adroll, a Facebook retargeting partner and FBX qualified company, looked at 547 advertisers across industry verticals spending between $1000/month and $20,000/month to generate over one billion impressions using FBX and using ad inventory on the right hand side of everyone’s page. They zeroed-in on retargeting, their specialty, and compared results against traditional display and retargeting inventory from online ad exchanges like Google’s DoubleClick, Yahoo’s Right Medias Exchange and AppNexus. The research validates FBX alone and in combination with RHS as a potential direct marketing tool. News Feed retargeting had a click-thru-rate (CTR) 49% greater than RHS and 21% better that standard web retargeting. News Feed cost-per-clicks (CPCs) was half of RHS ads and 1/5th of web retargeting. Conversion fared less well. FBX ads yielded 9% fewer clicks than the web and 16% less than RHS, which are generally considered anemic by direct marketers. FBX plus RHS drove more clicks at lower costs, even though combined their reach is significantly less than standard web targeting. Finding the right inventory mix will be our next challenge. In the first seven days of adding FBX to RHS, Adroll discovered a 62% increase in total clicks with an average decrease in CPCs of 30 percent. In the campaigns studied FBX was just 0.5% of the impressions but drove 14.7% of the clicks – promising results. Clearly Facebook is trying to create the right inventory to help brands link social activity with sales and loyalty. FBX is a step in the right direction worthy of further testing.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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