Say it with me, Conversion

Recently, a friend and fellow marketing mind, Hubert Sawyers III, reminded me about the need for all messages to create action when he wrote this post on his blog Frying in Vein. Action is key for a business to garner responses that move the consumer down the sales funnel. This is perfect material for the Hand Raiser Marketing team. We love talking about inspiring consumers to engage further with businesses to increase sales; it’s the water to our gills. While marketers are not charged with ringing the cash register, they do need to convert consumers. It’s not easy but a necessary part of the marketing equation. So, say it me me, conversion.
Conversion can mean, getting an email, inspiring inquiry, inspiring a phone call or getting prospects to walk through the door of a business. Many tactics can be used to convert, but certainly one mantra that will always ring true is “make it easy.” A business will want to have contact information prominently placed on their website, where reader’s eyes will naturally flow. In general, a business will want to make sure they have ways to be contacted on every page; they will likely need to reduce clutter and be where their customers and prospects can find them. For instance, a destination business will need to have accurate information on Google Places, Yelp and rank high on search pages.  [Read more...]

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TV – Old Platform New Media Ad Buy

Many customers have been asking me about TV lately. What’s interesting, is that there still seems to be a major disconnect between the actual barriers to entry and the perceived difficulty and cost of advertising on television. The buying advances in local, online video and cable television have changed tv from the old difficult and expensive to purchase platform, to one that is more akin to a new media ad buy.

Television is the ultimate platform to integrate media so it should never be viewed as a standalone purchase. Of course, integrating ideas and marketing concepts holds true in media advertising buys as well. So, there are many options to help you accomplish various things when it comes to television buying. The way I see it there are a number of different ways a small business can take advantage of television viewing time, with their advertisements.  Let’s explore some that may not be as difficult or expensive as you think, to help you reinforce your message on the main screen. First, there is traditional local tv buying direct from the cable provider; second is using online tv buying networks, like Google Display Network, Microsoft Exchange, Simulmedia to name a few; and lastly there’s Video On Demand/DVR ad buying. [Read more...]

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Online Advertising: The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Yes, it is true. While I don’t claim ministerial prowess or even great oration skills, I do knowThe More You Know a truth when I hear/read one – whether from the pulpit or the pdf. Delivering truth is the situation the digital advertising industry currently faces. How, you ask? If you haven’t noticed, there is an onslaught of negative press and backlash about what digital marketers are collecting regarding online behavior; personally identifiable information; how their creating target audiences and which companies are “going too far.”

One only need go to the Wall Street Journal to read an article of carefully crafted and curiously self-omitting half truths about what the industry is about and why advertisers feel the need to gather information about online behavior. Many of the articles, interviews and generally accepted myths I’ve read and heard have been not only off base but close to fear-mongering. As an online advertising industry, of which automotive represents roughly 10%, we have done a poor job of getting ahead of the story with education and transparency. We all know what follows lack of understanding…fear.

One of my favorite organizations, the IAB, has done some good work putting together a document that proposes we self-regulate the industry and educate the constituents. It can be found on their website, under ‘Self Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.’ There are 7 tenets (they call them principles) that we all on the data and customer facing sides of the industry should follow. They are:

  1. The Education Principle
  2. The Transparency Principle
  3. The Consumer Control Principle
  4. The Data Security Principle
  5. The Material Changes Principle
  6. The Sensitive Data Principle
  7. The Accountability Principle

To learn more about each, and see how they are proposed to be put in to practice please click on the above link to the document. The most important thing we can do to keep the internet a place where people can inexpensively exchange ideas, is to bring relevant advertising content. Without ad dollars, the internet will lose some of its egalitarianism, creativity, and public support so we must all do our part to make sure it continues to grow unfettered by complicated pay-for-content models.

I’m proposing each advertiser take a good look at what they can do to increase education in an effort to reduce fear. Once people learn about what is actually being done by reputable companies, they see much less need to worry and regulate a growing industry designed to bring the most relevant content to the eyes of web surfers. As long as you heard me I’m stepping off of my soapbox.

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Direct-Response Digital – Mobile

You may have thought that the direct-response digital series had lost some steam. Au contriare, mon frere. There have been some technical difficulties at the Hand Raiser offices, but Ryan Meray at C! Tech Solutions got us back in the game…we’ll be at 100% capacity soon – but I digress. The real reason we’re here is because I want to talk about mobile. While thinking of ideas for this topic, I was serendipitously introduced to this eMarketer article in my Twitter stream. I am so lucky sometimes, people might confuse it as good.

In brief, the article states that mobile banners out perform standard banners in Click-Through Rates (CTR) and Conversion. In fact, for rich media formats (like floating ads and commercial breaks) the metrics on mobile double up standard web ads in the positive column. Everyone – including myself – have been predicting mobile to blow up like a smoker at a gas station for the past couple of years. It has not happened. At least not yet, that is.

Statistics such as the ones in the eMarketer article suggest that the proverbial shark should be jumped very soon. Total smartphone purchase intent, as represented in the following chart, is at an all-time high of 16.4% according to Change Wave Research. With 52% of those surveyed planning on buying an iPhone, the iAd purchase of Quattro means solidarity among that ad platform. Plus, their $148 Earnings per Thousand (in some instances) number doesn’t hurt either. Android, the other big market share winner doesn’t realize as high of a return on the AdMob platform they run, but I think it is coming soon.

Smartphone Purchase Intent

So, if you follow the money it is clear that demand from advertisers and app developers will be there soon. Why? It all comes down to purchase intent study. Whether it is SMS, mobile video, or mobile ads purchase intent is higher on mobile/smartphone devices than online in almost every category, says Mobile Marketer.

Not until recently have I seen data this compelling. Between the growth of smartphone purchase (where most of the mobile ads and purchase decisions are made) and the high dollar opportunities for brands, advertisers, and app developers alike – the explosion is as inevitable as death and taxes.

My recommendation to you, Mr./Mrs. Small Business Owner, is if you’re thinking about getting into mobile do so now. The benefits realized from a quality direct-response campaign could be colossal.  Just make sure that your program is integrated with the rest of your messages (as I will always tell you) because ad awareness, brand awareness, and acceptance are all raised with smart, relevant and well targeted mobile campaigns.

If you’re already using mobile, what ad platform do you use? Have you found one OS to be more or less effective for your products?

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Direct-Response Digital: Online Video

In my last post, I started on a bit of a rant, which has led me to do some research on digital direct response ad effectiveness. That research has gotten me all fired up to do the second post in the Direct-Response Digital series – online video.  In the product life cycle of technology, one could hardly say that online video is in the growth stage. With the statistics that I’ve reviewed, I would have to say that it lies somewhere in between growth and maturity. Sites like Hulu, DailyMotion, Netflix and even YouTube continue to gain users and grow, but the heaviest users are fairly mature – sort of like a 24 year old with their head on straight.

So, what does this have to do with Direct-Response Digital you may ask?  Everything. Video represents an opportune growth area for businesses attempting to go small to be big. As Comscore put it, “getting small (and relevant) is the new big.” While economies of scale and that’s a lot of zeros ad buys dominated television, online finds relevance in hypertargeting to be more beneficial for advertisers. You might be able to target 18 year and older business travelers who watch video and use multiple screens to consume media. As comScore put it, 52% of the 39 million users in this category watched online video in the last 7 days. Do you think that it would be nice to hit this nearly 21 million person population with a call to action?

Okay, you might be saying, people online don’t want to be hit with direct response messages. This is why you started this whole quest, right? My answer: no. I started this whole quest to prove the opposite, and data shows that a certain segment of the population do want to be messaged in this way. Supposedly, there are two types of online video viewers. Population A is looking for transportation and escape. Population B is looking for information and education. Population B is the sweet spot for direct response messages. Their profile states that they want to elevate, in general. More specifically they’re (amongst other things) in action mode and more likely to take action on a relevant message, immediately. This is the part where you tap your index finger against your pursed lips as if you’re about to come up with something profound.

The statistics back this up, also. When compared to other forms of direct response ads, online video performs quite well. Direct response metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) are 0.1% for online images/display ads, while online video realizes a 0.74% CTR. These metrics were taken from reelseo.com in 2007, too! I’m guessing the growth in online video is probably followed by a correlating increase in acceptance of direct response video – especially by the information and education seekers.

Plus, you have to think of all of the other benefits of online video with a direct response call to action.

  1. More local search engine content (Great for any small business)
  2. Content for your own website/blog
  3. Useful for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  4. Brand building (even though this is the anti-brand building series, I couldn’t resist)
  5. Post to your social media pages

Finally, cost is not nearly as prohibitive as television video production. Some businesses have gotten away with professional online video cost of $300. For $300 and a local ad buy, I would be more than willing to take the risk. In fact, be on the lookout for the Hand Raiser Marketing online video call to action. What’s that? Probably not the best idea for selling professional services? Well, I guess there go my dreams of creating a jingle and imploring you to come on down to the car lot off of exit 12 just past the Sonic! Home of the guitar playing consultant!

There you have it, the nays are drowned out by the cacophony of yeah’s for direct response online video. What’s next? I haven’t decided yet. Let me enjoy this win for the next 24 hours before I get back to work. Have any case studies of online video successes? Inquiring minds want to know.

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