Tagging Mass eMail Campaigns to Track Visits by Recipients to Target Web Sites and Pages

Online marketing is a big business, powering the efforts of large and small businesses, alike. The objective is to cash in on the potential benefit of a very low cost direct marketing campaign, light on the printing and mailing cost, but high on the return on investment. But for one reason or another these efforts often fail.

The missing piece is the otherwise anonymous nature of communications across the internet. The network powering web pages, Ethernet over TCP/IP, simply doesn’t support the handshaking, error checking, etc., which would be required of a data communications protocol capable of supporting the type of clear, point-to-point communications online marketers definitely need. Ideally, such a system would help consumers learn more about just who is responding to a mass email, etc.

Enter VisualVisitor and Salesforce.com. These two cloud solutions can be used, together, to provide any size business with a very effective method of sending targeted mass emails and tracking web site visits by specific campaign recipients.

Certainly some mass email management services can make similar claims. In other words, a service like iContact® offers subscribers the option of tagging campaigs to show:

  • eMail opens by recipient
  • and clicks on web page links by recipient

But what iContact, and comparable solutions, cannot do, is indicate visits by email recipients over time. Nor can these services provide web site visit information of email recipients clicking on embedded links who then proceed to look at other pages on a website. For any business marketing intangibles and complex solutions, this latter information is very important and highly useful.

I can personally attest to the usefulness of VisualVisitor and Salesforce.com for the purpose of closing the loop on 1) Who received my email campaign?, 2) Which campaign recipients came to my web site? and 3) What’s the historical record of visits to my web site by these recipients?

If you would like to learn more about how these two SaaS offers can be used together, please contact me.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Tools Like VisualVisitor Promise to Boost the Value of Online Marketing Campaigns for SMBs

With increasing frequency industry analysts are drilling down to some disturbing characteristics of online marketing. Not the least of these is a pessimistic, but nonetheless popular, conclusion about the likelihood of engagement with website visitors — or the lack of it. The unfortunate consensus is website visitors are much less likely to engage with online promotions than promoters would hope them to be.

Solutions like VisualVisitor can be very useful tools for online promoters in need to accelerating the timing of opportunities to engage with website visitors. If lead generation solutions like Marketo and Oracle’s Eloqua can attract substantial investor interest, I can’t help but think businesses like VisualVisitor will soon follow.

The lack of engagement issue is actually a very big deal for online promoters. Google’s recent investment forays into business sectors otherwise completely disconnected from its core online advertising revenue generation machine leads me to suspect click ads aren’t delivering the profits they used to. If I’m right on this point, then at some level the reason for profit drop has to be attributable to changes in customer behavior. Google’s online advertisers are largely made up of the same SMBs (Small to Medium Size Businesses) engaged with high effort/comparatively low return online promotion campaigns. This base is primed for offers capable of delivering the missing engagement component.

My clients use VisualVisitor to reduce the length of the sales cycle for bigger ticket tech product buys. The website visitor recognition service VisualVisitor provides is especially effective for re-connecting with existing customers. We recently identified a website visit from a past subscriber to one of my client’s SaaS offers. When we reached out to the key customer contact we were pleasantly surprised to find the visit was actually made by this person, who immediately disclosed to us an interest to double the size of an expired past subscription. Needless to say my client was very pleased.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


On Recent Enhancements to the VisualVisitor Anonymous Website Visitor Recognition Service

VisualVisitor is a comparatively low cost option businesses can use to mine more information from visits to their websites. At $39.00 per month, the subscription should be within the reach of most businesses. Some recent enhancements to the product are worth a mention.

The visit report template now includes historical information. So sales team are not only notified about current visits, but are also presented with a summary of earlier visits, from the same internet end point, to a given website. Knowing who’s been to your website before, and the amount of time between visits can be useful information. This historical information is also valuable as a method of determining return on investment in email marketing campaigns. The VisualVisitor tagging system can be incorporated into email campaigns, to provide a richer set of data about email recipient behavior.

Customer service organizations should welcome this feature. If, for example, specific information has been exposed on a website to mentor customers about important product features, then a review of historical visit information should determine whether customers are finding the information, and using it as intended, or not. The process of modifying the way information is exposed on a website becomes much easier when data, like the VisualVisitor historical information, is available to test assumptions. Certainly any organization benefits when no more than a few modifications need be made to website branding to deliver a targeted visitor experience. Best of all, less work usually translates into lower costs.

There are many other variations on the above example likely to be attractive to businesses considering a solution like VisualVisitor. A free trial is available, which may be the “right way” to determine whether or not this service fits with the needs of your specific business.

We have clients actively using the service, and can attest to its value.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


Online Marketers Need to Look to Tools Like VisualVisitor to Fill the Gap Left by Changes to Google Analytics

Online marketers need to look to tools like VisualVisitor to fill the growing gap between their need to gather information from website visits and the information available to them from widely used tools like Google Analytics.

Analytics offers a tremendous amount of functionality, at absolutely no cost, to the majority of its users. But the features, increasingly, seem to be designed to support Google’s Adword product. In the summer, and early fall of 2013, there was a substantial amount of discussion, online, about whether or not the “keyword” feature of Analytics had been removed from the product. Adwords users could still access the keyword data they needed, but locating the same information in Analytics became a very difficult task. (as of November 21, 2013, “keyword” information is still available in Analytics. But the “keyword” feature is now nested within the “Acquisition” tab, and under “Advertising”)

For readers unfamiliar with Google Analytics, this “keyword” feature provides Analytics users with some highly useful information about website visitors. If a website visitor used a search engine to find the Analytics user’s website, then the search query string, meaning the actual keywords input to the search engine, were provided to the Analytics user. Armed with this keyword data, an Analytics user can accelerate the task of improving the online content of specific web pages within a website to better magnetize the right visitors.

The “keyword” feature is still included in the product. But website visitors arriving to a site as the result of “incognito browsing” (meaning browsing without cookies, history, or most other personalized indicators) no longer leave a trail of keywords. The keyword string is left encrypted, and is no longer available to the Analytics users.

But VisualVisitor, which provides users with identifying information about otherwise anonymous website visitors, can be used to fill in some of this gap. For example, by better understanding the sequence of pages visited, online marketers can determine whether content is leading visitors in the right direction, or not. VisualVisitor provides users with detailed information about specific pages visited by specific website visitors. Campaign specific tags can be implemented to provide even more information. These tags are useful to increase the value of email campaigns.

If your organization would like to implement a solution like VisualVisitor to fill in the information gap I’ve described, and would like some help, please let us know.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


Anonymous Website Visitor Information can be a Useful Component of Successfully Managing Online Advertising Costs

We’ve written on the topic of online pay per click advertising options. We’re not convinced they are a worthwhile investment for technology businesses. If a customer’s decision to buy a product can be categorized as a “considered purchase”, there are certainly better ways an ISV can find to invest cash in online promotion.

A useful tool to collect the information your specific business will need to evaluate, to make a correct decision on the true value of pay per click advertising for your product line, is an anonymous website visitor service. VisualVisitor is one of the businesses providing these services.

One of our clients has been using VisualVisitor to track visitor activity on several product pages on his website. We also use the same service to collect information about anonymous visitors to our website, and to blogs we write for clients, for example, Talking-SharePoint.com.

This client is also a customer of Google’s Adwords pay-per-click advertising service. With VisualVisitor, we can identify businesses visiting our client’s website from the client’s online advertising campaign. This access provides us with

  1. a method of verifying the accuracy of billing for the client’s click advertising campaign, and
  2. a glimpse into the website behavior of prospects produced by the pay per click advertising campaign

We’ve noted no conversions from our client’s click advertising campaign to actual customers for the client’s corporate product offers. So we’ve advised the client to, at a minimum, discontinue the pay per click advertising campaign and, for now, sink the same investment into Google’s online brand awareness campaign. For those readers unfamiliar with how the brand awareness online advertising campaign works, our client will not be charged for actual clicks on ads. Rather, the cost for the client is calculated on the number of impressions of the client’s ads on Google’s Display advertising network and its search engine.

Over the longer term we are working with this client to identify a reputable search engine optimization service. We think investing the same budget in a reputable search engine optimization campaign is still a much more promising investment for our client.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


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