As per my headline, for this issue of Catalog Success: The Corner View, I hand my pen — um, keyboard — over to Catalog Success E-Commerce Insights columnist Alan Rimm-Kaufman. Alan heads the Rimm-Kaufman Group, an online agency providing large-scale paid search bid management and Web site testing services, and was formerly a marketing executive with the Crutchfield catalog of consumer electronics. I leave the stage to Alan, who starts with a potential scenario followed by nine predictions for the future of the catalog/multichannel business as it affects you. Scene: A bar at a conference hotel during a marketing trade show. Bill:
Are you on top of today’s hottest ideas in free and paid search? Here are 14 easy-to-implement ways to get your site to the top of everyone’s results. Each could support a full article in its own right, so I’ve also provided additional links to help you dig in further. Free Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 1. Social media sites drive links; links drive rankings. Get familiar with Digg (digg.com), StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com), Netscape (netscape.com) and Reddit (reddit.com), because these social-media sites can drive huge traffic. More importantly, that traffic leads to numerous inbound links, which are the rocket fuel powering your organic rankings.
Your phone buzzes just after lunch. Your boss is shouting, “Some new Web site appeared today out of nowhere and it’s advertising heavily against us! Who is it? Find out everything you can about it and report back by day’s end!” Today’s Web provides easy tools for competitive research. This month’s column provides a road map for sleuthing a competitor in a few of hours, at no cost, using just a Web browser. This is a link-heavy article. Once you finish reading this, you can go to the CatalogSuccess.com Web site and find a sidebar containing all the links mentioned. First, ready your browser.
As a cataloger/multichannel marketer, you’ve long understood the importance of double-checking all aspects of your marketing programs to make sure everything is in order. No doubt, you visit your printer when you’re on press to monitor print quality. You do bindery checks to inspect book assembly. You likely use mail decoys to confirm delivery. You also probably “mystery shop” your own company to monitor your call center and shipping teams. You surely double-check your printing and postal invoices for accuracy. The same attention to detail applies to online marketing. As paid search marketing grows in importance and consumes a larger share of catalogers’
Is your company blogging yet? With the soaring cost of postage and pay-per-click advertising, blogging offers catalogers a powerful channel to get their message to prospects and customers worldwide. The cost is low. The impact is high. Here are 11 steps to get you started. 1. READ LOTS OF BLOGS. Before you start your own blog, spend at least two weeks voraciously reading. Choose an RSS reader; I recommend Google Reader. Get familiar with blog search engines, such as Technorati. Find bloggers writing about niches related to your company, products, industry, customers, etc. Add bloggers you like to your RSS reader. Follow
After considering visitors’ words, I visit The Webmaster Central Page Analysis tab to review my words. Page Analysis reveals the key phrases Google believes characterize your content. For this characterization, it studies the words on your site and the words in external links pointing into your site (“anchor text”). For example, suppose you’re a widget cataloger who can’t figure out why Google doesn’t display your site for “widget” searches. The Webmaster Central Page Analysis tab can help you see your site as Google does — the first step to making improvements. Page Analysis shows that my site scores highly for “rimmkaufman” and “rimm-kaufman”
If you’re not using Google’s Webmaster Central, you should start. Google Webmaster Central is a great bundle of free Google tools to help you understand how Google indexes your site. It’s essential to ranking well in Google’s natural rankings. And as a bonus of sorts, by fixing problems revealed by Webmaster Central, you often can improve your positioning on secondary engines, too. For starters, you need a Google account. Go to: https://www.google.com/accounts/newaccount. Next, go to (and bookmark) the Google Webmaster Central homepage: www.google.com/webmasters. The Help Center, blog and forums are worth monitoring. These resources provide valuable advice from Google and outsiders for successful
Speed is an often-overlooked component of Web site usability. Users perceive faster sites as more functional. Usable Web sites sell more. If a site responds quickly, users are less likely to abandon ship if they get confused. Case closed. Read on! Best-of-class organizations, such as Google, Craigslist and Amazon.com, deliberately strive for site speed. Regardless of your size, your Web team can and should do the same. There’s no “magic bullet” to speed up your site, however. Speed comes from implementing many simple changes. Here are four broad strategies and 24 tactics to speed up your site. Strategy 1: Manage for Speed
During a session at last week’s ACCM conference in Boston, Anne Vargo, e-commerce supervisor for B-to-B computer products cataloger CDW, and I both concluded that many of the best practices for B-to-B search are the same as consumer. These include comprehensive term lists, smart bidding, focused copy and landing pages, strong tracking and ongoing testing. But we described several unique challenges specific to large scale paid search. We discussed the $6.8 billion CDW’s search program of more than 100,000 active search ads and the “long tail” of search terms, noting that the 100,000 active ads are the “survivors” after testing more than 500,000. Vargo noted
Scratching your head over the interaction between your online and offline marketing efforts? Not sure how much to advertise online? Unclear of the true impact of your catalog mailings? You’re not alone. This column won’t completely solve these puzzles, but it’ll offer some relevant ideas. How Much to Advertise First, assume you’ve already established your high-level financial goals, either for your online program or for the business as a whole. Such goals should be specific, numeric and time-based. Be sure the whole team understands and buys into these goals, and works toward meeting them each week. Typical goals are profit-and-loss-based, and include a revenue
Catalogers and other search advertisers are justly concerned about click fraud. Click fraud is when a person (or computer) imitates a legitimate user clicking on a pay-per-click ad, without actual interest in the ad’s target. Like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography — “I know it when I see it” — click fraud escapes precise definition. To know when a click is fraudulent, one needs to know the clicker’s internal motivation for clicking or be able to prove the clicker was an automated ’bot. Most experts agree that few individual clicks are “good” or “bad.” Instead, investigators assign quality scores that indicate the probability
For many catalogers, paid search will be the single most important channel for new customer acquisition this year. Here are what I believe to be the 12 best ways to do it. 1. Focus on Google. The reality is, Google controls more than two-thirds of the search market and is growing rapidly. Yahoo! continues to lose market share each quarter. MSN is a far distant third. Ask.com is even further back. Allocate your attention proportional to your ad spend. Don’t completely ignore Yahoo! or MSN, but invest the most love and attention in your Google campaigns. You’ll be rewarded with the largest return for your time.