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March 27 2009

Hooray for Yahoo Search Engine Marketing Additions

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Of the 3 main search engines, Google is known for being the most advanced when it comes to detailed settings and targeting.  However, Yahoo has made a series of improvements, especially with the recent interface updates that have been added.

The layout might not look that different, but Yahoo definitely has added some new features that are worth talking about. For starters, Yahoo allows the user to change geo-targeting, ad scheduling, and set demographic bidding for each campaign, all on the campaigns tab. This makes it easier for a user to make or check changes quickly without having to go deep (several clicks within a campaign). In fact, I just changed the demographic bidding for a client in less than five minutes for the search network. That’s right, the search network.

Yahoo is upgrading the way demographic bidding is done for search.  In fact, they’re leading the way. On Yahoo’s interface the user has the option to increase their bid based on gender and pre-specified age ranges. You might be thinking, doesn’t MSN offer demographic bidding for search? Yes, they do, but the difference is the user has full reign to set and increase their bid by dollar amount or by percentage on Yahoo. For example: If I want to bid $0.23 more for females, I can. If I want to increase my bid by 22.2% for males and females ages 25-29, I can. At present, MSN only offers percentage bidding by 10% increments on their interface for search and Google only offers demographic targeting for their content network.

Yahoo has also beefed up their geo-target settings. The user has the option to target by country, state, DMA, city or zip code.  This is especially helpful when someone only wants to target a specific area; and from what I’ve noticed, they have most of the cities, and zip codes available to geo-target. The reason I mention this is because I’ve gone to other engines who claim to have detailed geo-target settings. However, when you go to choose the cities for a state, let’s say New York. The engine only gives the user seven cities to choose from. Everyone knows that there are more than seven cities in New York.  This can be a challenge to overcome at times.

Speaking of time, Yahoo now allows you to do ad scheduling, and gives you some cool options. Not only can you do regular ad scheduling, but a user can also bid to pay more at a certain time of the day. For example: If  a pizza shop owner wants to bid higher between noon and 2pm (lunch time) to ensure he’s in top position during that timeframe,  he has that option. One of their best features is the time zone option. Yahoo gives the user the option to target their time zone or the audience’s time zone at the campaign level. This means, one campaign can target my local time zone and another campaign can target the audience’s time zone. It’s a plus because now a user doesn’t have to say I want to run between 9am and 5pm Eastern Time zone, but I don’t want to miss out on the people that run on Pacific Time. The time problem is now solved.

Yahoo’s addition of ad scheduling, and demographic bidding as well as advancing their geo-target settings is definitely a plus, especially, since a user can access these options quickly and with ease on the campaign tab. I would recommend taking advantage of these new features as soon as possible.

March 20 2009

Don’t Let Your Doctor Unclog Your Sink Pipe

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Would you want your doctor to unclog your sink pipe? Would you want your plumber to perform surgery on a clogged artery? I’m thinking most people would give a resounding no. Why? Because neither one is an expert in the other’s field.  Now, why would you want to take your advertising in-house when that’s not your area of expertise?

Everyone has an area of expertise and the best way to expound on that is to partner with other experts.  The purpose of working with an agency is to create a partnership where you work hand in hand to accomplish a goal. Let’s say for example that you are a college administrator looking to get more students to sign up for admissions. Working with students may be your strength, but you may be clueless on how to reach potential students and get them to sign up for your program via the internet. However, an internet ad agency would know how to reach those students via the internet. What most companies don’t realize is that the internet is always changing. There are always new sites coming out, new venues, and new ad strategies. A perfect example would be an article I read in Florida Trend about a site called affluence.org. A person can only join the site if they can prove they have an annual household income of $300,000. This would be a good niche site to advertise on if wealthy households are you target audience. To quote an article from Media Post’s Search Insider, “One of the biggest advantages an agency has over in-house teams is that we are exposed to a wide variety of accounts, which accelerates our learning in this rapidly changing industry.” It’s a simple concept, but it makes sense. Just like a clothing company keeps up with the recent fashions, advertisers keep up with the latest and greatest industry trends. If you tried to make your own clothes you might end up making a tie die shirt, and as far I’m aware, they went out of style awhile ago.  You might save a few dollars, but after a week or two you’d probably go back to buying clothes.

Speaking of money, some people think taking their advertising dollars in-house will save them money. However, that’s not usually the case. Number one, if you decide to pay someone to do the advertising in house their annual salary will likely be more expensive than paying an agency, especially if you hire someone with experience. If you decide to do it in-house, you may get distracted. Not only will you have to run your business, you’ll have to try to keep your campaigns in the engines up to date. A myth that some people believe is that campaigns run themselves. NOT!! Bids need to be updated constantly, ad copy checked, negatives added in and so much more. Managing a campaign isn’t something to be taken lightly.

The best way to get top performance for advertising dollars is to work with a qualified agency. Tell them your expertise and then they can match that with their expertise and together you can run successful campaigns. After all, you wouldn’t ask your doctor to fix the clog in your sink, would you?

February 12 2009

“Thank You” Keeps Customers Happy & Brings in Revenue

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Do you remember when you were little and one of your parent’s friends gave you a piece of candy? What did your parents tell you to say? That’s right, “Thank you.” In this economy a thank you can retain customers and increase bottom line revenue. 

Believe it or not people still like to hear the words thank you, especially clients and customers. Customers will become loyal to a brand or service when they know they’re getting good service and they’re not just a number. Whenever the customer completes a transaction, (lead generation form, etc) it’s always good to have a thank you page. It’s simple, but it lets people know that their business is valued. Even better, offer an incentive on the thank you page

I recently read an article about a woman who brought Harry and David products online. After completing her purchase, she was taken to a screen that gave her a 20% off coupon to use within the next month. Although she hadn’t planned on spending more, she went back to the website a few weeks later and bought more products.

A simple 20% off coupon, as a way of saying thank you:

– Increased Harry and David’s bottom line 
– Caused a shopper to do repeat business.
– Made the customer feel appreciated
– Strengthened the customer’s loyalty for the brand

Saying thank you is a great revenue booster and relationship builder, especially to current clients and customers.

Recently I received a thank you coupon from Ann Taylor on my birthday.  I hadn’t planned on going shopping, but reasoned that if I could find something I like (which I normally do) I would buy it.  Guess what? I found a cute top and a fabulous skirt.  It’s money I hadn’t planned to spend, but it was well worth it.  Just so you know, it’s not only a female thing (to go shopping).  I asked a male co-worker to give me an example. He said he received a thank you coupon from Omaha Steaks. He ended up buying steaks again because he was getting a great deal and felt valued by the company.  In all the prior examples, no one had planned to buy, but a simple coupon made the customer happy and increased the revenue of Ann Taylor, and Omaha Steaks.

Even in a strong economy, it’s not enough to get new customers; you also have to retain the ones you currently have. A simple thank you incentive can keep customers happy and increase revenue.

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