Search Engine Optimization

Beat the Price Creep
July 1, 2006

The industry has witnessed much discussion and hand-wringing lately over the fact that the average cost per click (CPC) in the major pay-per-click (PPC) programs steadily has been increasing. This increase squeezes the return on investment (ROI) of the program for all participants, especially those at the top of the auction. Because PPC operates on an auction model in all the major engines, the end result is that prices inflate to whatever level the market will bear. What’s driving the pricing climb? The biggest factor is the ever-increasing number of advertisers entering the auctions, including brick-and-mortar companies with deep pockets looking to get into

Never too Small to Test
June 1, 2006

Just because your database isn’t in the millions and your budget isn’t the size of Dell’s, that doesn’t mean you can’t test. But if your housefile is only 25,000 names and your usual mailings are no more than 35,000 pieces, how do you get statistically reliable data from your tests? The answer lies in repetition. Whatever testing rules you are following, the statistical hurdle of 50 or 100 orders can be daunting for a small business. Overcome that problem by testing the same concept repeatedly. For example, if you are curious about whether installment payments will benefit your product but are unsure how much of

Multichannel Testing
June 1, 2006

From our days as neophyte direct response marketers, we have heard the mantra: “Test, test, test. And when you’ve done that, test some more.” The reality is there’s no substitute for well-planned and carefully executed testing to move your brand’s direct results to the next level. The complications of multichannel marketing add to the complexity of marketing programs and, as a result, testing plans. But the Web offers opportunities as well. Everything on the Internet happens quickly. And it offers significantly lower testing expense—without incurring major production costs. So why not take advantage of the benefits available online to improve your entire direct response program?

Always Room for Improvement
May 1, 2006

Problem: Office Depot’s Web site search tool, while strong, was one of the weaker links in its user experience. Solution: Wholesale change of the search tool. Result: Improved conversion, average order value and customer return rates. Most online retailers would have been thrilled with a Web site search tool as effective as Office Depot’s, converting sometimes at rates higher than 80 percent for certain keywords. According to Noah Maffitt, Office Depot’s director of e-commerce, the multichannel company even wondered how much it could actually “move the needle” with a redo of its site search functionality. But there’s always room for improvement, and after identifying a few

A Formula for Success
May 1, 2006

Five years ago, extra doughnuts and rich coffee were bestowed on anyone who could provide the top 10 keywords that brought visitors to the company Web site. Two years ago, it was hip to show which keywords generated the most revenue—and the worthy marketer might earn some bran muffins and a chai. Today, bragging rights go to marketers who can assess keyword value based on visitor volume, revenue, conversion and perhaps the most important Web marketing metric: time on site. Here’s a look at the criteria and limitations of some of these most common metrics to measure keyword success, and a look at

The Analytics Hiring Imperative
April 12, 2006

Stylman adds that even better is for marketers to set up their online analytics in a way that they can compare results in this channel to those achieved by their offline channels, enabling a 360-degree view of marketing ROI.While some marketers already might have this on-staff expertise, to a degree, they likely have not trained these analysts how to interpret the online channel, says Lisa Wehr, found and CEO of SEM firm Oneupweb.

Tech Fever
March 6, 2006

Having spent the past few months delving into relatively new technologies such as pay-per-call, mobile search, RSS, podcasts and more, I’ve found it’s a tech jungle out there. New applications are springing up all over the globe, with some of the most exciting—and certainly the most talked about—solutions related to new media opportunities. These technological developments are rooted in marketers’ increasing displeasure with the performance of traditional media, causing them to look for different avenues by which to reach and influence a populace that continues to resist mass-media push advertising methods. But amidst the hype of these promising new tools is a bigger, more important

The Many Paths of Direct Marketing
March 1, 2006

To remain relevant to customers and boost the bottom line, today’s direct marketing campaigns must move across the borders of direct marketing media nimbly and fluidly. More importantly, marketing channels need to work in unison so that prospects and customers receive not only a consistent message, but one that builds a case for your products and brand. Does your direct mail creative prominently feature a Web site address where customers can find out more about your product and the particular offer being pitched? Do your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts coordinate with your print ad copy? There are many ways to integrate offline and

Talking Tech
March 1, 2006

It’s one thing to size up how fast a new technology might be adopted based on customer market size, user interest surveys and other progress measurement tools. To provide an additional layer of perspective, Target Marketing caught up with JoAnne Kim, director of e-Marketing services at e-Scholastic, the e-commerce and online communication arm of children’s publishing company Scholastic. She provided insight on which tech developments are powering her company’s online endeavors, as well as those emerging solutions that are on e-Scholastic’s radar going forward. Target Marketing: How do you stay abreast of the latest technologies? JoAnne Kim: We find out about the latest technologies in multiple

Bid Fight
February 1, 2006

Paid search advertising has been with us for nearly eight years now, since pioneered the concept in 1998. Growth was rapid, as Overture and Google fought for paid search supremacy. Google alone boasts about 400,000 advertiser accounts worldwide and exceeded $5 billion in revenues in 2005, 97 percent of that from advertising. Judging by my clients’ accounts, Overture (now Yahoo! Search Marketing) generates about half the spend and click volume of a typical Google AdWords campaign. The typical layout on sites such as Google Search places small text ads in the right-hand margin next to search results on a given user query, as