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


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


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


Does facebook’s Graph Search really make a difference?

Investors have been buying up shares of facebook stock very aggressively over the last 2 months. Their bet hinges on two assumptions:

  • that facebook will continue to make a lot more money from advertising than had been the case in the past and
  • their visibility on mobile devices will continue to grow exponentially

A key component underlying both of these assumptions, as I see it, is a better method of connecting the tens of millions of personal and business pages on facebook. As long as each page is isolated from other pages, regardless of whether the reasoning is to offer tenants a privacy factor, or simply to leave each page in a standalone state for lack of technical tools to tie them all together, the result is the same: the facebook universe becomes much less attractive for marketers who will be no more capable of addressing all of it with a single set of solutions than was the case in the past.

The best way, of course, of connecting these pages is to index them, to build a complex taxonomy that realistically represents the entire facebook user community and then to enable a search method, to endow users with an ability to span pages in search of information.

The graph search component has been touted as the answer to this need. This search method is reported to offer users all of the capabilities I’ve described. But does it deliver? In my opinion it doesn’t. Here’s why:

  1. It is not available to users with business pages
  2. It does not permit users to search for concepts, to which they are not directly associated. For example, one of my clients maintains an online brand name including the name of a popular, common piece of software (Microsoft® SharePoint®). When I used the graph search feature from my personal facebook page, I successfully searched for people who like my client’s brand, but failed when I attempted to search for “people who like SharePoint”
  3. When I attempted to search for keywords likely related to facebook’s new hashtag feature, My queries did not produce results

Of course, I may be wrong. Perhaps I used the tool incorrectly. But from what I noted, I am not sold on how great the ad results will be for those people that really count in this equation — the advertisers.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


On Mobile Ad Sales and Their Importance to Facebook Growth

Since July 21, 2013, the price of Facebook shares has substantially increased. As of August 4, 2013, the price of these shares has finally crossed the share price on the day this company went public. But does this dramatic increase in share price signal a pivotal turn in the road for this business?

We don’t think so. In an article titled Facebook Crossed Its $38 IPO Price, Ms. Evelyn M. Rusli, who wrote the article, sums up the last 6 months history for the stock: “[s]ince hitting a nadir closing price of $17.73 on Sept. 4, Facebook’s stock has more than doubled in 10 months, powered by increasing ad sales and signs that Facebook is finding its footing on mobile devices.” Ms. Rusli quotes Chris Baggni of Turner Investments who comments on the punishment Facebook shares have received (up to this point, that is) since the IPO: “[I]t only made sense that if they did the right thing, they would get paid.”

We think Wall Street has impatiently pushed Facebook forward into the position of a business doing “the right thing” (to quote Chris Baggni), when it is far too soon to reach this conclusion. There are two sides to any advertising deal. Publishers print ads and sponsors pay for them. Chris Baggni comments on one side of the transaction, but no one, to date, has commented on the other (meaning from the perspective of the sponsors).

Certainly there was the notorious comment from General Motors, published coincidentally with the Facebook IPO, of their intention to discontinue advertising on “the social network.” But mobile sponsors are a different set. We have yet to hear any opinions as to what they are getting from their click ads on Facebook’s mobile feed.

Unless and until verifiable, positive results can be ascribed to the sponsors paying for the ads, we can’t add our own congratulations to Facebook for “doing things right.” We think investors will do well to maintain a highly vigilant attention to news on this topic. The fact is share prices will likely change dramatically, either way.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


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


Innovative Tech Businesses Should Pick Social Media Venues with Care

At present social media like Twitter require substantial amounts of daily management. In our opinion the effort/reward ratio presently emphasizes effort at the expense of reward. It is important to note that we say “presently” as this could change in the future. It is also important to define “reward.” We are interested in leads to sales of technology products to larger businesses and/or comparably sized groups in the public sector; therefore, reward in our parlance amounts to leads to business. Simply stated, we see very few leads and a lot of work to maintain presence.

For some businesses there is no option as regards presence. Large players in the technology arena cannot afford to go without social media presence. But our posts are not particularly directed to larger players; rather, we try to talk to the needs of emerging businesses that think they have innovative technology worth a look from corporate buyers and other larger prospects.

For our audience we still think it makes sense to be quite particular about the specific social media venue to be pursued as part of an online marketing campaign. True, we think the amount of work required to maintain a healthy Twitter page is very high. Twitter follower churn is very high. Our experience has been that businesses with a healthy online SEO presence tend to do much better with Twitter pages than is the case for businesses with otherwise obscure websites. Obscurity is often an intentional tactic implemented by businesses that opt to operate under the radar; therefore, for businesses that need to maintain some obscurity we don’t see where Twitter will produce much useful lead flow.

We think that blogs, on the other hand, make lots of sense. Blogs are great vehicles for targeting specific SEO keywords with the level of attention required to build healthy SERPs, especially where a blog can be used with an external website. Better to keep specific product promotion and any transaction apparatus on an external site (can be a sub folder of the same root site domain) where it belongs. The fact is that blog pages do not serve well as product pages. Nevertheless, and as mentioned, blogs can and do produce lots of useful leads. Further, we have interacted with prospects who have told us that they like the information they found on our blogs. In fact, our blog content facilitated greater confidence in claims made by our clients, saving prospects the effort of digging deeper to learn more about our clients online.

We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience with Twitter, blogs and, though not mentioned here, Google Plus. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

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