28
Jun

Early Stage ISVs Can Use email2lead from netFactor To Rapidly Add Business Information for Website Visitors Produced by eMail Campaigns

Emerging technology businesses, and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), in particular, often operate with a small group of staff members who are comfortable multi-tasking between administrative, sales and support requirements. Email campaigns are a popular promotional method for these businesses. But the multi-tasking nature of daily activity can make it difficult for these businesses to extract the full value from their campaigns. When two people are doing the work of twenty, how will they find the time to collect background information on campaign recipients who pay a visit to the company website?

We’ve been using email2lead from netFactor. We think this product can fill the gap we’ve just described. The online report produced by this tool (which works very well with most email service providers, including MailChimp, iContact, Vertical Response and Jango Mail, just to name a few) provides a very rich set of information in one view, including:

  • Business Background Information for Website Visitors produced by email campaigns
  • The date and time of visits
  • the name of the campaign producing them
  • and the landing page for the visitor on your website

Business background information includes a link to the business’ website, the industry for the business, each geographical location for its facilities and the parent company name.

Exposing all of this helpful information online fuels a very rapid process of collecting important information on site visitors, responding to email campaigns, literally as they happen. Once the campaign is sent to recipients, the report starts to compile, and is ready for access. Sales teams can work with the results in optimum fashion, meaning as soon after a site visit occurs as possible.

Subscribers to the email2lead service can distribute accesss to online reports of campaign activity to all of the personnel who should have this access. This feature streamlines the process of notifying sales teams about prospect site visits. With email2lead there is no need to wait for one or two administrators sharing costly access rights to spread the word. Everyone with access to a web browser can get the same information simultaneously.

We’re keen on the product and also like the business information features, which smaller businesses can use in lieu of separate accounts with marketing lead services and likely save some substantial cash in the process. But the condensed report format is the biggest draw for us. Having all of the information available on one screen, with an option to click on a link to get further information, makes email2lead into a rapid response system, which can be used to capitalize on prospect interest with a perfectly timed sales call.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

19
Jun

comScore Rocks the Boat on Online Advertising With a New Report

Jack Neff wrote an article, Worse Than You Thought: Nearly Half of Online Ads Aren’t Viewed, which was published on June 11, 2013. The intended audience for this article looked to us to be larger businesses, meaning enterprises in the $100MM and up category. But the points made in the article should be mandatory reading for any smaller business with a big commitment and a matching expectation for a pay per click advertising strategy.

Jack Neff notes: “ComScore raised eyebrows with research last year showing 31% of online display ads are never actually viewed, but upon further review, things are even worse: its latest data indicate 46% of ads are never seen by website visitors.” (quoted from Jack Neff’s article as published on the Ad Age website on June 11, 2013. We have provided a link to the entire article above). If ComScore is right, and only 54% of website ad impressions are ever seen by website visitors, then the cost of pay per click advertising is a lot higher than even we expected it to be.

In a post to this blog published this month, we reported on some new marketing collateral we received from Google. This collateral attempted to explain the new sophistication of online buyers, who may click on an ad, but then take a much longer amount of time than had previously been the case, to actually buy something as the result of what actually amounts to an online research mission.

Most of our clients cannot be satisfied with this kind of likely scenario. So we recommend smaller businesses implement a service like VisualVisitor or netFactor in lieu of a pay per click advertising campaign. VisualVisitor and netFactor provide anonymous website visitor recognition services. These services will provide the business names behind website visitors. Internal direct marketing teams of telemarketers or outbound email marketers can then, proactively, attempt to engage with these “leads”.

Certainly pay per click can work for an advertiser, but, in 2013, the marketplace is much more sophisticated. The expertise required to deliver, successfully, on a campaign will have to match the same level of sophistication and can translate into a higher management cost for the advertiser.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

7
Jun

Tracking Website Visits Should be a Mandatory Component of Online Marketing

In 2013 a business website has certainly become a critical component of product promotion and public relations. So it makes sense to gain as thorough an understanding as possible about the visitor experience to a business’ website.

Google Analytics is a free tool capable of producing some useful information about website visits. But getting data into “useful” shape with Google Analytics, alone, can be very difficult. The task becomes even more challenging when a business opts to advertise with Google Adwords. Correlating visits, keywords, and visitor paths through websites requires expertise. When the real need is simply to identify businesses visiting a website, engaging in a highly complex process to tie all of these factors together makes little sense and promises little return on investment.

We’ve written on several occasions about VisualVisitor. We will soon add some posts to this blog on another service, netFactor. The latter service also provides business users with a method of identifying business visitors to sites, along with business intelligence about the business visiting the site, and even a method of collecting online business visits to web sites and visits facilitated through other electronic media (eMail, social media, etc) into a collection of data useful for business intelligence gathering about specific site visitors.

When the information produced by either of these services is coupled with data collected by Google Analytics, business users can gain an understanding of not only website visitor experience, but also the features of websites producing intended visitor responses and those failing to do so. So it is possible to improve features in a meaningful way, once accurate data becomes available about visitor experience on a website. Acting quickly to fix online marketing communications problems makes sense. The early warning promised by the combination of tools mentioned in this blog post should provide most business users with an attractive return on investment, not to mention better revenue from online sales efforts.

If you’d like to hear more from us about this combination of tools and services, please send us a message, we’ll be happy to elaborate for you.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

6
Jun

Reducing Online Opacity is a Must do for Tech Businesses

On June 1, 2013, The WorldWideWebSite.com website reported the estimated size of Google’s index of web pages at in excess of 48 billion. It should not be difficult to understand the enormous challenge facing online marketing efforts, given the size of this index. In 2013 the web is a serious obstacle to business promotion. There are simply too many web pages.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Marketing (SEM) techniques rarely deliver on their promise. Despite high Search Engine Results Placements (SERPs), businesses still fail to magnetize the right visitors. Even Google’s promotional collateral for its pay-per-click advertising product now speaks of online purchasing as a complex process. In an eMail we received on May 20, 2013, from Google Analytics, the call to action, to “Better Understand the Customer Journey to Online Purchase”, amounts to an acknowledgement of the complexity–which this piece now claims to be typical–of the purchase process for businesses looking for technical solutions. The collateral reports on a new depth of buyer scrutiny, which can be challenging for advertisers after a simple return on investment in click advertising. “A user may see a display ad, click on a link from a friend, or do a search before buying something from your site.”

When we put this promotional eMail together with another offer we recently received from Google, this one for a credit card for Adwords purchases, we can’t escape an important conclusion. Fewer online advertisers are realizing a comparatively easy return on their investment.

There must be a better way with a meaningful return on investment than those offered by SEO, SEM and pay-per-click advertising for tech businesses after an effective online marketing method. We think a combination of gaining a better understanding of the Internet as a unique medium for marketing communications, a willingness to act on opportunities for market engagement offered by social media, a highly targeted pay per click advertising campaign, and procedures to capture website visitor data (through a tool like Google Analytics) will deliver superior results.

If you would like to hear more about what we have in mind, please contact us.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

29
May

Internet Acquisition Malaise: Bulking Up On Eyeballs But Going Easy on Compelling Revenue Models

On May 24, 2013, the Online edition of the Wall Street Journal published an article by Jessica E. Lessin, Why Tumblr Won’t Move Yahoo’s Needle. As Ms. Lessin points out “Tumblr isn’t going to earn Yahoo orders of magnitude more revenue—or even a new revenue stream.” (quoted from Ms. Lessin’s article, a link to which has been provided here).

We think Ms. Lessin’s comments make for extreme understatement. She notes the disparity between a purchase price of $1.1 billion and Tumblr revenue for 2012 at an approximate $13 million, but claims “Yahoo’s sales team will likely be able juice that number” (ibid). We don’t think so. We don’t see the rationale for the purchase. Here’s why:

Tumblr is not a new Internet property. There isn’t anything technically earth shaking about it. The editorial and visual content maybe appealing to an affluent audience, but there are some other similar enclaves online. So why spend so much to acquire Tumblr? Ms. Lessin postulates it all came down to “users” (we put this in quotes. We’re dubious on the claim. Are all these visits from humans, or are some large proportion generated by computers. We’d rather revert to the legacy phraseology — “pageviews”). With Tumblr rolled in, Yahoo gains ” . . . some 300 million monthly unique users, it claims” (ibid). We respectfully reply “big deal.” Facebook has even more “unique users” but we don’t see where they have an effective method of monetizing this traffic.

But what’s worse is the lack of pushback from the Yahoo board of directors on this purchase. The acquiescence of the board to this acquisition is disturbing. Perhaps they know something more than they have publicly disclosed. We certainly hope so.

We had first hand experience in 1999 when the Internet business bubble first burst. In Yahoo’s acquisition, Facebook’s grossly overpriced IPO, the poor performance of Zynga, Pandora and Groupon, we see a repeat.

We’re much more optimistic about online business models built on SaaS Cloud offers for businesses and enterprise class organizations. If you’re thinking about where you’d like to go with an online business idea, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to share more of our thoughts on this topic with you.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

2
May

Facebook Doesn’t Look to be the Game Changer Markets have been Seeking

A lot of industry analysts have spoken about the comparative enormous size of Facebook, at now over 1.1 billion users, as an exceptional (and earthshaking) statistic. With an audience of this size, massive success is a given. Or is it? The first quarter 2013 results are not indicative of the kind of game changer technology the analysts have been discussing when they talk about this business.

Certainly the online marketing market is poised for a revolution in technology. But we don’t see where Facebook is a leading example of it. Given the rapidly growing audience of small smart mobile devices, we would have expected to see triple digit growth in advertising revenue. The starting numbers from the previous year’s quarter weren’t very large, so 100% growth for a business with over 1 billion members should have been a given. But it wasn’t happening.

We don’t think there is really much difference, fundamentally, between Facebook as a membership driven site and Homestead during the mid 1990s. We think Facebook can’t get a handle around its members. On paper, one billion users is certainly impressive. But when they are disconnected, even more, when the content isn’t indexed into something useful, the actual mass of users is not very relevant to the vitality and velocity of the business.

Even worse, when management eschews a deep sense of why products make sense from a revenue perspective, we really need to wonder where this train is going. The mediocre, minimal bounce of the stock after markets closed tells us our views are not alone. Certainly management ought to rethink prioritize. Perhaps it would make more sense to accelerate the pace of “Graph Search” (we recently tried enabling this feature for our corporate site and receives the same message a few months back “We’re in Beta . . . We’ll be sure to let you know right away when you can add this feature”

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

30
Apr

Use Leads from Anonymous Website Visitor Data to Build Online Exposure

We’ve been using VisualVisitor for just about a week as of today, April 29, 2013. The best application we’ve found is to use this tool to build online exposure for our websites.

Once a business is verified as a website visitor we search our existing contacts for matching names. If we can’t find any (often the case), we use LinkedIn, JigSaw, etc. to identify any contacts likely to have an interest in the products on our websites. If we find the names we’re after, we’ll place a telephone call to solicit a valid email address for the person. If we aren’t able to locate a legitimate email address for one of these leads, we usually delete it. There have simply been far too many leads coming in to spend extra time trying to engage with prospects where we can’t produce a working email address or telephone number.

But where we’ve come up with reliable contact information, we’re using it to spread word about our sites. We compose an email message with a broad set of information about our sites. We don’t try to determine if a specific contact actually visited our site, or not. A couple of conversations we had with contacts early in this trial produced revealed contact sensitivity about the sites they visit, why they visit them, etc. So we decided to entirely drop this effort from our campaigns.

As we mentioned in earlier posts on this topic, where a business is small enough to produce a workable set of prospects, a prompt follow up email should produce some useful results, meaning opportunities for direct engagement. But we can’t make claims to have produced this type of result, at least as of now, with the follow up editorial content we’ve sent out to date. We expect to see an increase in site traffic, as well as some repeat visits and will report any successes we experience right away.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about VisualVisitor, or its competitors please contact us.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

23
Apr

Successfully Using a Service like VisualVisitor Requires a System to Manage Lead Volume

For a moderately high traffic website, meaning one with at least an approximate 4K new visits per month, a successful implementation of a website visitor identification system like VisualVisitor requires a method of managing the volume of “leads” the system will produce.

We maintain a site targeted to a B2B audience. Our site meets the traffic profile of a moderately high traffic web site. We implemented VisualVisitor on Friday of last week. We’ve received in excess of 200 “leads” since implementing the system. What to do?

A management system is required. This system can either be built with inhouse resources, or a service provider (for example, IMB Enterprises, Inc., please contact us to learn more) should be selected to manage the supporting system.

A broad objective of the lead management system is to identify high value prospects. One of at least two options can be used to organize leads to successfully deliver this objective: either face the leads to a key account and prospect lists, or structure website architecture to provide a path for higher value prospects to traverse, thereby automating the process of unearthing where it makes sense for your staff to spend time.

Here’s how the latter system works. We implement the type of “call to action” structure for web site pages usually used for pay per click advertising campaigns, but now applied to our campaign to expand the visibility of our website via organic promotional efforts. So when we receive leads from VisualVisitor of visits to our call to action pages, and other important spots on our site (for example, a page with a download link for whitepapers, case studies, etc), these visits are immediately scrutinized. Staff takes the steps required to attempt to engage with these prospects as soon as possible. Keep in mind that freshness is absolutely crucial to maintaining the pace of a progressive engagement with prospects.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

22
Apr

How to Successfully Reach Out to Otherwise Anonymous Web Site Visitors Once You’ve Identified Them

We got our demonstration code for the VisualVisitor website visitor tracking service going on Friday of last week. As we wrote in an earlier post, the service cannot identify specific individuals from the businesses identified as visiting a specific web site. But we still think there is a very good chance the service will quickly pay for itself (the monthly cost is $39.00 per website).

It is certainly possible to identify web site visitors without a tool like VisualVisitor. JavaScript developers can likely use the core Google Analytics tag structure, or their own custom design, to match IP addresses to the businesses that own them with publicly available WHOIS servers. The same developers can also write filters to exclude visits from ISPs. But the cost of writing this custom code far exceeds the $39.00 per month charged by VisualVisitor.

Once site visitors are identified by business, VisualVisitor can be configured to connect to a specific LinkedIn account. We experimented with using our LinkedIn account to identify personnel at these businesses involved with the type of product our web site promotes. We went as far as to identify the right people at these visiting businesses, and used the groups feature of LinkedIn to send messages to contacts.

But we need to highlight the importance of keeping the content of these messages very closely aligned to a product or service announcement (in other words, a press release type of format). As we noted in the last post, be sure to include an acknowledgement at the start of your message of the unsolicited nature of the engagement attempt. A couple of the responses we received back through LinkedIn included an assessment, by the recipient, of the “appropriateness” of our message. LinkedIn very carefully monitors the basis for engagement between members. Be sure to carefully build the right content to avoid any restriction on your ability to use this service in the future.

Wherever possible, use either a web site form or an actual email address of a recipient rather than the LinkedIn feature.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

19
Apr

VisualVisitor and netFactor Combine Lead Lists with Web Site Data

We refer to VisualVisitor and netFactor as hybrid lead services. Both offers combine the kind of data Hoovers, and its competitors, offer along with the web site visit data we’ve discussed over the last few posts to this blog.

It makes sense for any service in this category to present a similar combination of features. As we explained in the last post, it’s simply not possible to positively identify a specific business (let alone a specific individual within the business) as a visitor to a web site based solely on an entry to a traffic log. So these services combine lead lists with the visitor data. If nothing else, the lead list information will be useful.

At an advertised monthly cost of just $39.00, VisualVisitor is certainly less expensive than either a monthly subscription to Hoovers, or even a monthly subscription to a direct competitor, for example, netFactor. We’ve registered for a free trial of the service and plan on reporting on our experience shortly.

But it makes sense for small businesses to consider a subscription to a service like VisualVisitor for other reasons. Inside sales teams can be tasked with reaching out to the companies identified as probable visitors to a web site. We recommend opting not to refer to the site visit at all. Just to recap: you can’t be sure anyone from the prospect actually visited your site. Even if they actually visited the site, they decided not to complete your contact form, or any other call to action on your site.

Either a carefully scripted outbound telemarketing call, or an email message makes sense as a first effort to engage with these anonymous visitors. We like to include an apology in the script for the call, or the content of the email message. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your prospect never requested the call.

Once the apology is out of the way, a short statement of why it may make sense for the prospect to give you some of his or her time should follow right away. We refer to this “slight taste of product presentation” as a method of qualifying the real interest level of the prospect as early into the engagement process as possible.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved