Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Missing Blog Posts

So as some regular readers of my blog will have noticed I haven’t posted any articles recently.  Firstly I would like to apologise, this isn’t because I have lost interest but due to the fact that I have recently changed roles and endure a daily 2 hour commute each way.

So what am I doing now?

Having made my career progress at DSGi taking over all Online Marketing, Design and Content for Currys, Dixons and PC World,  I dBest Buy Logoecided it was time to seek a new challenge.  Thankfully plenty of offers were on the table and I was lucky enough to choose from some fantastic opportunities.   I decided to opt for remaining in Consumer Electronics retailing but try my hand at delivering my experience within a start-up.  The opportunity at Best Buy (as reported in NMA) allowed me to set up a department and functions from scratch.

Carphone Warehouse Store Front

Whilst Best Buy aren’t your traditional start-up (part of the World’s largest Consumer Electronics Retailer) it does mean you get involved in absolutely everything.  Formulating strategy, developing plans and ensuring buy-out throughout the entire organisation.   Add in the Carphone Warehouse (who I am supprting on a consultancy basis)  element and you get an organisation of amazing scale and opportunity.

 

 

Back to tradition

In addition to truly formulating the online marketing approach I am also, driving the overall brand and comms strategy, everything from brand architecture and positioning through to developing a fully integrated comms strategy.  All this in conjunction with the Head of Marcomms, allowing us to really plan from a joined up foundation from day one.  A really refreshing approach and one that has to be the way forward.  The main obstacle blocking generally preventing this from happenning is the fact that many online marketers don’t have experience in branding or ATL comms.  Luckily my experience at both Reuters and Nationwide is helping me lead and define the approach

More to come

Whilst I can’t promise to be as active as I once was on this blog, I will start to try and produce more articles again.  Thanks to everybody for reading and thanks for the positive and constructive feedback both through the comments on the blog and via e-mail.  Also look out for updates on Best Buy as we get closer to our 2010 UK launch.

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Google Adwords for Dummies

PPC – Guide to Google Dummies?

As I have mentioned previously, during these slow economic times people are striving to master the really transparent channels.  The ones that can be tracked.  The channels that produce a positive ROI.

When you think PPC, these days the majority of us think Google.  Even though I have called this a dummies guide, I could have easily said a guide to Google dummies.  Those marketeers that know they need to be on Google, but don’t have the first clue.  So what do they do?  Do they invest in learning? Do they invest in tools to make things easier?  Generally no!  These marketeers generally pump thousands, sometimes millions of pounds to an agency, with very little control or understanding of what is or isn’t possible.

Obviously there are some good agencies out there.  Even some very good agencies that add real value.  In certain sectors it also makes more sense to partner with an agency rather than invest internally.  This isn’t an attack on agencies, just an expression of thought that says before employing an agency you need to understand the basics yourself.

How long do things take?

Getting a campaign live – agencies often say it takes weeks.  In the main this isn’t true.  The basics can be live within minutes.  Obviously complex campaigns can take a period of time to set-up from scratch, but not weeks.

Getting a campaign up to full pace – agencies sometimes say it takes months to get a campaign fully up to speed.  Its no denying most campaigns don’t get up to full speed within the first couple of weeks.  However, there are quick wins.  Don’t accept ongoing claims of missing targets due to optimisation and unrealistic objectives.  A decent agency will challenge your objectives and targets it they aren’t achievable.  You should be able to get close to your targets within at least the first couple of weeks

Broadcast Vs Targetted

Don’t accept any old clicks.  Match type is incredibly important to quality score.  Your quality score is apparently reviewed after every 1000 impressions.  Broad match means your keywords and ads will be called on much less relevant content.  For instance, if I was bidding on desktop computer, my ad may appear when people search for desktop diaries, computer engineers, computer assisted design.  None of these keywords are related to our search term.  This means that in theory our quality score could go down and if people do click, chances are we will pay and it won’t convert.  Broad match is the defauly setting on adwords, great for Google to get away your budegt, not so good if you are on a tight budget or tight ROI KPIs.

I would personally recommend using broad match sparingly and concentrate primarily on Phrase and Exact match.  This controls both relevancy and costs and in-turn should improve quality score.  What this will obviously do is lower your potential traffic volumes, but it should all be more qualified traffic.

Be Negative

This isn’t asking you to be cynical of Google or PPC.  This is outlining that you must use negative keywords in your campaigns.  If bidding on Dixons, my negative keywords could include estate agency, this would ensure that when people are looking for Dixons.co.uk they don’t end up at Dixons Estate Agency.

Other things to look for

There are many other things the PPC beginner needs to look out for.  Consider your overall budget, your daily budget, how your campaign is structures, your ad copy, bidding strategy, landing pages, URLs.  I will cover these areas with tips for beginners in future posts.

Working with agencies

As I commented when I opened this post.  There is no problem working with agencies.  But you must adopt a challenging relationship.  You must challenge them to optimise to the fullest and you must encourage them to challenge you.  Above all learn yourself.  Even if you learn the very basics such as the points I have highlighted.  It gives you a better understanding and can help manage expectations.

Don’t forget

There are other search engines (Yahoo, MSN and Miva) that offer PPC, although they are much smaller they also offer good traffic.  It is also worth searching around if you are setting up an account from scratch, most of the major engines often run promotions for new customers giving sign-up bounties with Free credit.


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Affiliates – One Network or more

More the Merrier?

One of the questions I am regularly asked is “Should merchants partner with more than one network?”  I have been on both sides of the fence.  At Nationwide I ran with both single and multiple networks at different times.  For the majority of DSG brands we run exclusively with Affiliate Window

Competition and Loyalty

A common argument for running more then one programme is:

The networks are just virtual sales forces.  Surely an element of competition will improve performance as the networks try to beat their rivals.

On the face of it, that is a sound argument.  In certain circumstances that is true.  However wherever there is competition, there are generally winners and losers.  Whilst in the initial stages, competition is rife, often the losers motivation deteriorates.  This results in more work for the merchants and less focus on those affiliates.

In addition, some affiliates do have preferences with certain networks.  This could be down to personal relationships or the technology the network provides.  Whilst very few affiliates do work exclusively with one network, they often prioritise merchants based on the network they are with.

So do merchants on exclusive agreements miss out?

Management

Merchants on single affiliate networks benefit from a number of efficiencies.  The de-duping becomes less of an issue.  You don’t have to worry about double paying through affiliates or integrating two tracking technologies.

Processing of payments, affiliate approval and communication is streamlined.  The main benefit is the fact that relationship building with the networks become easier and more focussed.  In turn the network can talk in much more depth about your programme and sell the benefits to affiliates.

Affiliate Choice

So does one network reduce affiliate choice?  Well in one sense yes, if an affiliate really wants to work with Currys for instance, then there would only be one network.  However it does make choice easier for the affiliates and they know exactly who they need to speak with  in order to resolve issues or to negotiate incentives and optimisation.

Decision

The end game has to be based on your objectives.  If you are meeting your KPIs with one network do you need the additional work of two networks?  There is not one single answer, different approaches work for different brands with different objectives.  For me Affiliate Window offer great technology for retailers and affiliates alike.  For that reason sole networks could be the way forward.


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I can’t hear for all the Tweeting

Twitter.  Tweeting. Twits.  Whatever vernacular you use, there is know denying Twitter is gaining prominence as a media channel.

Fuelled largely by the growing exposure given to the site from celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Philip Schofield and Chris Moyles.  Are you on Twitter?  What can you use it for?  What can you fit into 140 characters?

Whilst there is no doubt it is an easy to drop in and out of tool allowing you to communicate with friends are contacts, is it a really useful tool?  I have tried to keep my Twitter account  basic.  I don’t really want to add Tweet Decks, Twit Pics etc.  For me, that is the domain of Facebook.  I want to keep Twitter nice and simple.  Nice and tidy.  No doubt I am missing out and will probably take the plunge.

Does Twitter offer anything as a commercial medium?

In essence it can. It offers a free communication medium to enable brands to talk directly with target customers and prospects.  If a brand undertakes the correct strategy, it also enters into the realms of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) – where users can choose which brands they like and endorse and share with friends.

However, if Twitter decides to charge (as has been mooted) is the channel strong enough to survive as a medium?  It will depend on how the charges are made and will the basics remain FOC?

My personal opinion is, although you can share latest offers, new releases, codes and discounts etc – you shouldn’t measure it on sales.  It should be measured on impact and shift in brand perception and opinion.

If anybody has any real success stories on Twitter or other Social Media, it would be great to hear from you.

Follow me on Twitter – Richard Clark

See what Dixons are doing on Twitter – DixonsOnline