Article Archive by Gerard Tollefsen

June 2 2009

The Relevance of Social Media to Drive Purchase Decisions

by Gerard Tollefsen

Do social networks have the power to influence what we buy?  Do people actually turn to social media sites for guidance on products or services?  If the answer to either of these questions is NO, should businesses ignore the social networks as a viable marketing channel?  The answer to that last question is ‘absolutely not’.

I recently read a report conducted by Knowledge Networks and found the information both interesting and ridiculous at the same time.  Here are some of the “highlights” from the report that I found interesting:

  • 83% of the Internet population (ages 13 to 54) participates in social media
  • 47% of these users participate in social media on a weekly basis
  • 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites

The report continued by indentifying how social networks are used by their loyal followers for guidance on making purchases.  Here are some of the “highlights” from the report I found ridiculous:

  • Less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions
  • Participation in social media is widespread among those ages 13 to 54, but when asked whether they regularly turn to these sites when trying to make a purchase decision, the highest percentages among nine categories were 4%, for travel and banks/financial services.

I won’t list the other 8 categories (all the stats were lower than the 4% for travel) but the overall message from the report was that people spend time on social networks for many reasons…the least of which is to get guidance on buying products and services.  That sounds a lot like television and radio to me.  I do not know a single person who says, “Hmmm, I need to turn on the TV so I can watch the commercials and get some help buying my next car”.  In addition, I do not know a single person who turns on their radio while driving home from work, so they can switch off the songs to find radio commercials in order to help them buy their kids next birthday present!

The premise that people do not use social networks, like Facebook or MySpace, for guidance on purchasing decisions is ridiculous…of course they don’t (well 96% or so do not).  They visit and spend time on social networks to be entertained, and that’s the same reason people turn on their TV at home or their car radio during a long drive. But TV and radio can be powerful advertising mediums because you can reach a large (and somewhat targeted) audience.  The same applies to advertising on social media sites…you can reach a large and highly targeted audience to promote your message, product, or service.  The notion that people don’t “turn to” social media sites for purchasing decisions should not stop you from marketing to this large, targeted audience…it works for TV and radio…and can work for social media networks as well.  Add Google Analytics into your marketing program and you can track how well these social network sites perform in terms of driving quality visitors to your site.  This is something TV and radio advertising cannot provide as a measurement of success (yet I still see and hear commercials on TV and radio all the time, interesting).

May 18 2009

Tips to Maximize Dollars When Targeting a Budget

by Gerard Tollefsen

If you’ve ever managed a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign you probably ran into the situation where your campaigns were tracking to go over budget.  Google, for example, allows up to 20% increase in ad delivery on high traffic days for AdWords campaigns.  If you experience a few of these days during the early part of the month, you could be faced with making decisions on how to stretch out your ad delivery in the month’s final days.  Do you turn off your campaigns altogether and wait for the next month to start?  Do you only run the most profitable keywords; if so, what are they?  Do you change the ad delivery so your ads only run during the day or night, weekday or weekends?  A good way to determine which strategy is best is to analyze your Google Analytics (GA) data (assuming you have a GA account).

You can leverage the data captured in Google Analytics to identify your top producing keywords.  In addition, you can run specific reports in Google Analytics to identify what times of the day your PPC keywords convert the best.  Google Analytics can help you identify the optimum time to run your ads, the best mix of keywords for Return on Investment (ROI), and the geo-targeting areas to deliver those ads.

Next time you need to make decisions about your PPC campaign when targeting a budget, take advantage of the market intelligence Google Analytics can provide.  Here are three reports that can help you make smarter campaign decisions:

  1. In the Google Analytics main dashboard, click on Visitors Map Overlay to identify the local, state and or national areas to focus your campaign.  If your budget requires a more narrow focus, this report can help you geo-target your ads.
  2. In the Google Analytics main dashboard, click on Traffic Sources Google/cpc choose the Dimension “Keyword” to help identify your top producing keywords.  Whichever metric you feel is most representative of success (E-commerce, lead generation, site usage) can be sorted in descending order for a quick reference of your best keywords.
  3. In the Google Analytics main dashboard, click on Goals Total Conversions or Conversion Rate and at the top right of the main graph click on the Clock Icon to see the peak times your campaigns convert.

Once you have the business intelligence from these reports, you can make sharp decisions on which keywords to pause and which to keep running when you are up against a firm budget. In addition, you can focus your ad delivery to specific geo-target locations and dictate the times of day to run your ads.  These campaign changes can help maximize your advertising dollars when you need to find ways to stay within your monthly budget.


April 27 2009

Content Targeting vs. Placement Targeting in PPC Campaigns

by Gerard Tollefsen

If you are looking for additional ways to market your brand and increase your visibility online, Content Targeting and Placement Targeting campaigns can be excellent options.  It is important however, to understand the differences between the two channels and align your goals with the strengths of each.

Content Targeting gives you the opportunity to reach a huge audience.  The Google content network has thousands of publishing partners from widely known websites to very small forums and blogs.  Google will automatically deliver your ads to content network sites based on the relevancy of your keywords and ads to the site publisher’s content and themes.  Content Targeting gives you a chance to increase brand awareness and you can expect to receive thousands of impressions per day.  But the Google system is not perfect and this type of campaign must be watched and managed closely.  Google offers a report titled Placement Performance which provides performance data from the content network sites where your ad(s) have been shown.  This report is extremely useful in identifying sites within the network that are not performing to your expectations.  Be proactive in running this report daily and add sites to your “excluded sites” list to optimize your content network campaign.

Placement Targeting allows you to deliver your ads to a much more targeted audience.  Instead of your ads being shown across all the publishing partners who Google determines have relevancy with your ads, you choose the sites from the content network.  Many site publishers within the content network allow both text ads and banner ads.  If you have banner creatives already in place this can be valuable way to test your banner ads against text ads on specific websites.  This type of campaign must also be watched closely.  There are usually only a few available ad positions on these content network sites and if you simply set up the campaign and let it run you may find your ads are not being displayed.  It is important to assign a value to visitors from placement targeting sites.  You may have to bid much more aggressive in order to achieve ad delivery on sites with a lot of competition.

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