Article Archive by Gerard Tollefsen


April 8 2009

How is Your 10% Discount Different from Your Competitor’s 10% Discount?

by Gerard Tollefsen

In today’s economic times, many companies are promoting discounts to attract and entice customers to buy.  It makes good business sense to come up with creative ways to provide an incentive to customers when they are shopping around.  So what do you do when everyone in your industry is offering the same (or maybe steeper) discounts to attract shoppers?  You need to convey value in the purchase, not just a good percentage discount. 

The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is as relevant today in search engine marketing as it was when first spoken.  Shoppers are inundated with deals offering 10%, 20%, even 50% discounts.  As mentioned in a recent Advertising Age article, you must rise above the commotion of all these “discounts” and position your product or service with true value to the shopper.  Yes, they are getting a discount…but are they getting value with their purchase?  How do you convey this message inside a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign?  Get creative in your ad copy and your landing pages.  Promote not just the 10% or 15% discount, but also the value of that discount to your customer.  Target your value proposition across banners ads and text ads and be consistent with your message.  The discount gets their attention but the value they receive is more important and if they recognize the value of the discount you gain an advantage over your competition.

When I first entered the world of marketing, a wise manager once said, “If you gain a customer on price, you will lose a customer on price”.  Given all the price discounts companies are offering today, it would be wise to promote your product or service with that in mind.  Remember to explain and promote the value of your discount, and avoid making the discount itself the prime focus of your marketing campaign.

March 25 2009

Local Search Marketing and the Smartphone Redux

by Gerard Tollefsen

About a month ago, I wrote a blog about the expected increase in local search advertising due in large part to the rise of Smartphone usage.  Since that blog post, I have seen some extensive research and statistics I would like to share that further support’s those expectations.

According to the latest report from the CDC’s Department of Health and Human Services, “More than one out of every six American homes (17.5%) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2008, an increase of 1.7 percentage points since the second half of 2007. In addition, more than one out of every eight American homes (13.3%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite having a landline telephone in the home.”  Those are strong figures, but I am not surprised…I am included in the 13.3% because I do have a landline, but never use it.  All of my inbound and outbound calls are done from my Smartphone (the Motorola Q).  If it wasn’t for the fact that I need a landline for the Visitor’s gate to my development, I would be counted in the percentage of households who only have wireless phones.

Another strong indicator that local search advertising should be a critical aspect of a company’s online advertising strategy lies in the growing number of people using their mobile phones for accessing news and information.  According to a recent comScore report, “the number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009.  Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.”

The Smartphone has made these activities easier than ever.  More and more people are relying on mobile phones inside their house and out.  So the next time you are allocating budgets and determining your optimum marketing mix, remember to include local search advertising.  The technology inherent in today’s mobile phones have made it easier than ever to access news and information.  Make it easy for your potential customers to find you with a presence in online local search directories like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and YellowPages.com.

March 6 2009

How Many Hits Can I Expect?

by Gerard Tollefsen

Spring training is in full swing and if you are playing baseball this is probably an important question.  When it comes to measuring the success of a website, however, the term “hits” should be banned like performance enhancing drugs are banned in baseball.  Wait, they are banned right?  Remember the days when websites would brag about how many hits they received per day?  You would visit a site and they would have the “Hit Counter” at the bottom of the home page.  The perception was the higher the hit count, the more popular the website.  Those days are long gone, but I am still surprised people refer to their “hits” as a measurement of their site’s success.

As defined by Webopedia.com, a “hit” is “The retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a Web server.  For example, when a visitor calls up a Web page with four graphics, that’s five hits, one for the page and four for the graphics…”  Given this reality, the number of hits has no bearing on the popularity of a site.  If one visitor can count as many as 10 “hits” or more in one visit depending on the number of graphics on a page, I’m sure you can see the reason website “hits” as a measure of success is so flawed. 

It’s said that Page Views or Unique Visitors are better metrics to determine the success of a website and that’s true when comparing them to counting hits.  But if you run a website that offers a product or service, you ultimately want visitors to convert into customers.  If your average visitor navigates through 10 different pages and spends 10 minutes on the site, would you consider your site successful?  If you had 1 million unique visitors a month, would you consider those visitors qualified?  I don’t think either one of those metrics, by themselves or together, provide enough data to determine the quality of the traffic or success of your site if you’re selling a product or service.  They’re an upgrade from counting “hits”, but then again batting .200 is an upgrade from .175, but neither will keep you in the big leagues!

When evaluating the success of a website, if I had to choose just one metric to hang my hat on, it would be cost per conversion.  But I would recommend you review all the metrics together to get the best picture of the “health” of your website.  Ultimately, you want visitors to make a buying decision and engage in a transaction whether it’s purchasing a product or subscribing to a service before they leave.  Does it matter if they spend 10 minutes on your site or 1 minute before they convert?  Maybe, but I am sure it matters more if they convert first and foremost.  Next, look at the other metrics to determine how to lower your cost per conversion and optimize your site’s usability.  Just don’t count hits, unless you are in spring training.

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