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


Is Twitter Another Search Engine Like Google?

In this second of two posts built around an article by Alexander Eule, “How Twitter Might Actually Be Worth $31 Billion”, which was published on November 9, 2013 on barrons.com, I’ll take a closer look at one of the assumptions at the core of Eule’s argument — Twitter is competing in Google’s market.

In his article Eule states “In fact, at current prices, they assume that Twitter’s nascent Internet ad strategy will be even more effective than the groundbreaking model created by Google . . . ” I disagree. As I wrote in the prior post to this blog, Twitter is not competing in Google’s business. The public can’t find anything on Twitter. The same restrictions hold true for facebook. Without a facebook account it’s still very difficult to access content published on facebook. So Twitter is much more a competitor to facebook than it is to Google, or even to LinkedIn.

So all of the financial projections included in this article (most notable of these being the $18 Billion “operating” profit on $47 Billion in sales, presumably, for the current fiscal year, which Eule claims for Google) aren’t relevant, at least as I see it, to Twitter. Google is available to the public for unlimited viewing of content. It doesn’t have a facebook-like product, despite a lot of effort to craft Google Plus into one.

Neither do I find the products Google offers to be comparable to Twitter’s online real estate offer. Google is in an ever growing number of horizontally managed businesses. Increasingly, quarter after quarter, the real Google revenue drivers can be elusive. Are they making money from click advertising, only, or is Motorola Mobility, or Chromebook hardware contributing substantially to their bottom line? Further, if Google’s Q3 2013 Quarterly Earnings Report can provide us with useful information about the true profitability of their business, then I don’t see how Eule gets to the $18 Billion figure. GAAP net income for the quarter was $2.970 Billion, a little over 40% of Microsoft’s total ($6.4 Billion) net income for the comparable business period (Q1 FY 2014).

In my opinion Twitter, like facebook, will face some daunting challenges monetizing its precious online real estate to its real customers — the 230 million “Twitterers”. If Google is posited as being in some enviable position, I prefer the Microsoft story.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


What Does Twitter Sell and Who Buys Their Products?

On Thursday, November 7, 2013, Twitter became a publicly traded business. The opening price for the TWTR stock, set on November 6, 2013, the day before the IPO, was $26.00 per share. TWTR closed the first day of trading at $44.90, 73% above the opening price. Based on the float, meaning the number of share issued on Twitter’s first trading day, the book value of the business is approx $25 Billion.

The Barrons November 11, 2013 edition includes an article written by Alexander Eule, “How Twitter Might Actually be Worth $31 Billion”. Eule states “We now know what the broad market is willing to pay for a company with an unpaid workforce of 230 million people that creates (sometimes) compelling content for a global audience”.

But do we know anymore about what they sell, and what their target market looks like? From Eule’s article, it’s safe to conclude “no, we don’t”. So how do we get to some useful understanding about the product marketing strategy for this business?

Eule’s 230 million people, in my opinion, are consumers of Twitter’s product, and not an “unpaid workforce” for the company. They buy the Twitter product, which for 99+% of them is absolutely free of charge. These 230 million “Twitterers” can build a page, at no charge, on the Twitter website. As long as they respect Twitter’s publishing guidelines, they can publish as frequently as they want to their page, “retweet”, reply to “tweets”, etc. Twitter’s product is a spot on one of the most highly trafficked websites on the Internet. The product marketing opportunity on Twitter’s horizon, in my opinion, is to scale the types of space offered to these 230 million (and, hopefully, growing) people, and to build a method of monetizing their consumption of the product.

The public Eule assumes, meaning all the folks reading the content published by Twitter’s unpaid 230 million employees, do not exist. In fact, the general public can’t review anything on Twitter. Reading content on Twitter requires a Twitter account. So if one tries to extrapolate a Google-like click ad experience for the public on Twitter (which Eule’s article suggests to be the case), one is not likely to succeed. The real comparison is with facebook, which has a very similar accessibility requirement.

In the next post to this blog I’ll dig a bit deeper into Alexander Eule’s article.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


New Publication Policies Implemented by Prominent Online Social Media Test Consumer Commitment

On Thursday, October 10, 2013, Google published its plan to provide its advertisers with an opportunity to include consumer testimonials in their ads. I recommend reading this article by Joshua Brustein as published in BloombergBusinessWeek, Google Is Going to Include Your Face in Its New Ads, to get an idea of where they plan to take this new notion of just how far they can go with your content if you opt to publish it on one of their products.

Broadly speaking there’s little new about this announcement. Advertisers routinely include real life success stories and other types of testimonials in campaigns. But what is very new about the announcement is the treasure trove of endorsements Google plans on exposing to its advertisers for their use. All of the blog posts, alerts, status updates, and, perhaps, even emails produced by Google consumers are now fair game for these advertisers.

This decision is not likely to be well received by Google consumers. When this tactic is put together with very similar announcements from facebook (and, I believe, LinkedIn, as well), the average consumer of these services should be able to clearly see the boundary, perhaps for a first time, between online social media with attractive offers, versus online social media to be avoided.

The catalyst for these new positions, in all likelihood, is yet another round of efforts by Google, and other online social media hosts hungry for profits, and revenue growth, to monetize the enormous amount of content published by consumers.

Click advertising efforts have not been producing the profits of the past. Plans like the one Google announced will likely provide them with a new set of products they can offer to online advertisers at a premium, over and above normal click ad rates. The plan also serves as a tacit acknowledgement that more of the market for click advertising opportunities is after a method building brand awareness, and market exposure, than in the past. The “bread and butter” segment of these click advertisers used to be after an opportunity to sell products and services directly to the consumer. But those days are long gone.

These tactics may create an opportunity for paid media to offer completely private venues where consumers of these services can publish, in privacy. It’s hard to envision a large proportion of social media publishers simply accepting these new policies and continuing “business as usual.” It’ll be interesting to observe just how consumers actually react to these new tactics.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


Adwords has Become an Accessible and Valuable Tool for Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs to Drive Sales Interest

We have had direct experience with Google Adwords as a premium online advertising option over several years. Originally we undertook some management of a campaign established by a client in a retail business for formal apparel. Most recently we are managing campaigns for clients in enterprise IT technology businesses. We can finally say, with confidence, that Google Adwords is now a method of product promotion that meets our standards for accessibility and likelihood of return on investment (ROI).

The biggest difference between then and now is the availability, for 6 weeks at the start of any Google Adwords campaign, of unlimited technical assistance for any Adwords advertiser. This new feature goes a very long way to help technically knowledgeable organizations like ours to make better use of Adwords features, particularly as they can be coordinated with Google Analytics. For example, we can now get very granular as to how we manage keywords, literally turning them on or off, as required, on a daily basis as we fine tune client campaigns.

This granular control is a very big plus as our clients, across the board, have let us know that a big issue with Adwords has been the comparative high cost of utilizing this method. A familiar phrase that we used to hear from clients about Adwords was “out of control.” Somehow campaigns got out of control. Costs escalated and, in keeping with this escalation, true return on investment contracted. In contrast, today we can say with confidence that we can truly turn off what is NOT working very promptly to keep client costs within a workable range. Of most importance, for a likely few hundred dollars in click or CPM costs, at the onset of a campaign, our clients can develop a useful set of keywords that will deliver the sales required to maintain campaigns and grow overall business.

We would like to see a same day view of the “visitor flow” feature. Further, we would like to see a timely display of click costs where the display network is in use for a campaign. Finally, it would be very helpful if the documentation for Adwords was subjected to a thorough edit. The instructions and editorial content are still very opaque and certainly beyond the reach of non technical users. Nevertheless, we give very high marks to this promotional opportunity, and applaud Google on this effort.

If you are contemplating an Adwords campaign and would like to hear what we can do for you, then please contact us. Our monthly retained plans start at $3200.00.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has the resources to successfully execute on this type of requirement. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


2 Important Points Emerge from Microsoft’s Unsuccessful Acquisition of aQuantive

Innovative tech CEOs studying Microsoft’s public announcement on July 2nd that it would take a $6.2Bil charge against earnings as it writes down an unsuccessful acquisition of aQuantive should note two important points:

  1. Companies like Microsoft that have proven to be enormously successful servicing the needs of enterprise IT computing are not necessarily going to be successful should they choose to enter into other technology-driven markets like online advertising. In fact, we think that the two markets are largely dissimilar. Enterprise IT ISVs like Microsoft would do better to either allow acquisitions to self manage or to stay out of these markets, altogether
  2. In our opinion the online advertising market built around click ads (regardless of whether revenue models are built on pay per click, or pay per action) is not the cash cow that it is generally taken to be. At some point Google will catch this same cold.

The inevitable conclusion that must become apparent as the result of point 1) is that innovative tech businesses planning on entering enterprise IT markets should staff up with talent in marketing and sales with demonstrated success in these markets. Enterprise IT is a world unto itself. It is not possible to extrapolate from online sales success, even with business to business products, to success in enterprise IT markets. Better to source candidates from known competitors than to chance a hire with little if any experience in the enterprise IT computing area.

The second inevitable conclusion should be that innovative tech businesses looking to online promotion and advertising as a revenue model should exercise skepticism as they formulate and then review revenue projections. As we mentioned above, we think the online click ad market will not display the exponential year over year growth that was formerly the case, despite an opportunity to extend advertising efforts to a growing list of mobile devices. Bottom line: click advertising is an expensive method for almost any business that opts to avail of this approach to advertising. Until a better return on investment can be found, better to assume attrition in the size of this market than to bank on a strong flow of easy money.

Of course, we think it makes complete sense for CEOs to keep both of these points in mind and plan accordingly around them. If you are grappling with a need to improve planning and market position for your business, we would welcome an opportunity to connect with you. Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved