Rich Clark Marketing

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


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The Internet Landscape

NetImperative.com published a number of latest stats on internet usage this week.  But what does it all mean?

Rise and Fall of the Internet

So you probably thought that everybody that wanted to use the internet at home probably already has access.  Well according to the latest numbers from Nielsen (featured on NetImperative) there is still room for growth in major markets.  The US and UK saw significant growth, 10.4% and 3.1% respectively.    There was also growth of over 1% in Australia, Italy and Germany with more modest growths in Japan and Brazil.  Most startling isn’t the fact that some markets have continued to grow, more that some major markets have declined, including France, Spain iPhone 3GSand Switzerland. 

Whilst I don’t think the numbers should be read in pure black and white terms, it does demonstrate the issues of using data on such a small time frame and not looking at longer term trends.  The data was based only on May 09 Vs June 09.  If you were to read this on face value, it would seem USA is leading the way on the internet whilst some mainland European counties are turning their backs on the Internet, which obviously isn’t true.  I am not 100% certain but I can’t imagine the numbers Nielsen uses takes into account convergance and the growing move towards accessing the internet on mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone or the HTC Google phone.  This is also set to continue with newer style netbooks with mobile broadband capability built-in.

Top Social Networking Channels

So Facebook are the kings of social networking.  That is the widely held view and judging from the Hitwise numbers featured in NetImperative show that it represents 47% of all UK visits to social networking sites.  Interestingly Bebo has twice the traffic of Twitter and MySpace.  Another dark horseSocial Media Pic that many people completely ignore is Yahoo!Answers with 1.19% of all traffic. 

Whilst these numbers prove that Facebook cannot be ignored by marketeers, it does demonstrate the next tier isn’t as obvious and clear cut as many think.  All Marketeers should look at their target segments and choose which channel best suits their needs.  They should also consider what they have to offer each network and create firm reasons for being involved.  Despite Bebo‘s claims within their advertising sales packages, I doubt they are as big in the 25+ market as they would lead you to believe.  You must therefore determine if you have anything to offer a younger audience and if you brand belongs.

Top UK Online Retailers

Once again on NetImperative they list the Top 50 Online Retailers within the UK (listed at the foot of this post).  The list published in conjunction with IMRG and using Hitwise data is based purely on visits.   The list is fine as a benchmark but to label its output Top 50 Online retailers is somewhat over the top.  The numbers fail to recognise usability, conversion, online SoV or the obvious benchmark of turnover and profit.  If all these factors were incorporated, I am sure there would be some differing positions and maybe even some change of faces in the Top 50.

Withstanding the rationale of creating the list, the top 10 is made up predominantly of names you would consider when talking about Top 10.  Amazon (1st and 5th), Argos, Play.com, Next, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Thomson, Expedia and EasyJet.  OK so the final few wouldn’t be in my list of Top 10 online retailers.  Despite this list IMRG claim a massive rise in spend online, largely driven by the fashion sector (none of whom really appear at the top of the list, with the exception of Next and M&S)

The most interesting element of the top 10 is that all are recognised brands.   This shows that Internet Marketeers also need to recognise the importance of brand and cannot base every business decision purely on immediate ROI or DM metrics.

Top 50 Online Retailers List  – August 2009

Source: NetImperative

1 Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/
2 Argos http://www.argos.co.uk/
3 Play.com http://www.play.com/
4 Next http://www.next.co.uk/
5 Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/
6 Marks & Spencer http://www.marksandspencer.com/
7 Tesco.com http://www.tesco.com/
8 Thomson Holidays http://www.thomson.co.uk/
9 Expedia.co.uk http://www.expedia.co.uk/
10 easyJet http://www.easyjet.co.uk/
11 Apple Computer http://www.apple.com/
12 Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com/
13 ASOS http://www.asos.com/
14 Tesco Direct http://www.direct.tesco.com/
15 lastminute.com http://www.lastminute.com/
16 Thomas Cook http://www.thomascook.com/
17 B&Q http://www.diy.com/
18 John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com/
19 Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com/
20 Littlewoods http://www.littlewoods.com/
21 HMV.co.uk http://www.hmv.co.uk/
22 River Island http://www.riverisland.com/
23 Currys http://www.currys.co.uk/
24 Ticketmaster UK http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/
25 Topshop http://www.topshop.co.uk/
26 Odeon Cinemas http://www.odeon.co.uk/
27 New Look http://www.newlook.co.uk/
28 LOVEFiLM http://www.lovefilm.com/
29 O2 Shop http://www.shop.o2.co.uk/
30 Cineworld Cinemas http://www.cineworld.co.uk/
31 TravelRepublic.co.uk http://www.travelrepublic.co.uk/
32 Comet UK http://www.comet.co.uk/
33 Vue Entertainment http://www.myvue.com/
34 The TrainLine http://www.thetrainline.com/
35 British Airways http://www.britishairways.com/
36 ASDA http://www.asda.co.uk/
37 First Choice http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/
38 Dell EMEA http://www.euro.dell.com/
39 Halfords http://www.halfords.com/
40 Screwfix Direct http://www.screwfix.com/
41 PC World http://www.pcworld.co.uk/
42 GAME http://www.shop.game.net/
43 IKEA http://www.ikea.com/
44 Travelodge UK http://www.travelodge.co.uk/
45 Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk/
46 Sainsbury’s http://www.sainsburys.com/
47 Boots http://www.boots.com/
48 ASDA Direct http://direct.asda.com
49 The Orange Shop http://www.shop.orange.co.uk/
50 QVCUK.com http://www.qvcuk.com/
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Ask.com brings back Jeeves

Ask.com brings back Jeeves

askjeeves_logo

OK, so cast your mind back a number of years.  A day when Google weren’t as dominant a player in the internet space as they are now.  A time when multiple search engines were available.  Yahoo, MSN (or one of its many labels), Excite, Lycos and Ask Jeeves.  It seems odd now talking about anything outside of the “Big 3”, it is almost peculiar to use the term the “Big 3” given Google’s dominance.

It came as a reminder when trawling through industry sites this morning that other search engines do exist (and there used ot be a few of them).  Revolution magazine have highlighted that Ask.com have rebranded for the second time in 18 months.  Now this isn’t some fancy all singing affair with new Web 2.0 images and fancy bits everywhere, no its back to the olden days with our little butler pal Jeeves. 

Revolution outline the move is going back to the initial notion that people will type in questions to search.  Jeeves will now display answers and make recommendations.  In theory this sounds like the perfect solution.  Yet it probably did when AskJeeves was first formed.  However given the way people have adpated their search habits to use Google, their learned behaviour means (in my opinion) they don’t type in many questions anymore. 

I am not saying Ask have made a mistake here.  More people are now using social networks and platforms which means they are adapting their behaviour again and moving towards a different type of English (text and short-terms are common), however search hasn’t moved.  The fact that the Ask model promises to deliver more news, blogs and videos etc could be a good thing for them and people in the social spectrum.  However, if I am looking for a supplier or retailer, I am not sure typing in “Where are Halfords” and then getting some forums is really what I need.  Especially when one of the posts is how useless are Halfords from the AVForums.

I am keen to keep an eye on the developments at Ask (Jeeves) and see if their latest efforts can take advantage of the current social media wave.  It would be great to have a serious challenger to Google.  This isn’t a criticism of Google as they are still the most relevant of all the large search engines, its just as an advertiser it would be good to have a credible alternative.

Either way, good to see you back Mr Jeeves.  Just a shame when I type in “Who is Richard Clark?” – a picture of Dick Clark appears.


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Top Organic Search Terms – Helps with PPC development?

Fastest Growing Search Terms

So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that finding the top search terms can help your PPC.  You don’t have to be a Marketing guru to comprehend that allowing your PPC and SEO to work hand-in-hand enables you to create maximum efficiencies from you SEM.  But what else can this simple analysis provide?

Well the 2008 Search Reviews from the major players, gives us some fascinating yet simple views.

Search as Navigation

Of the Top 10 search terms in Google in 2008, only three could be described as non-navigational.  This could be the output of lazy typing or perhaps a result of Google toolbar being installed on more regular internet users.   Does Google’s feeling lucky help make it quicker than typing a full URL in the address bar?  Maybe it is a consequence of the new generation of surfers typing addresses in the toolbar and thinking it is the navigational tool.  (I know people that do that).

Aside from the obvious trend of people typing in simple websites that need little investigation, e.g. BBC – it also uncovers a growing influence of Social Media.

Has it evolved?

In 2006 there were different terms, however navigational searches still dominated, as did “Web 2.0” – a major sporting event also dominated with World Cup being in position 3.  Interestingly the word video was number 7.  No sign of YouTube at the time.

The Difference Between Engines

The Top 10 UK Searches on Google in 2008

facebook

1. Facebook

2. BBC

3. YouTube

4. eBay

5. Games

6. News

7. Hotmail

8. Bebo

9. Yahoo

10. Jobs

Compare this to Yahoo

britney-spears1

1. Britney Spears

2. Big Brother

3. X Factor

4. Oasis

5. High School Musical 3

6. US Election

7. Amy Winehouse

8. Heath Ledger

9. Kate Moss

10. Eastenders

The comparison would clearly indicate a difference in behaviour between the two main search engines in the UK.  Google Top 10 contains more navigational and generic searches (possibly related to toolbar), whilst Yahoo contains more celebrity based enquiries.  The queries also centre more around topics with potential scandal or gossip attached.

What does this mean?

Well whilst it could be argued that this comparison can be taken with a pinch of salt, there is an indication of searchers.  If I was responsible for a Finance brand, I would feel more alliance with the Google base.  If however, I was running PPC for a DVD or music retailer, I would push more towards maximising my presence on  Yahoo.  Whilst this is easy to push in pure black and white, one must remember that Google dominates the search market spectrum in the UK.  No matter what sector, who your audience is or what you are trying to say, unless you are very specific in your targets or operate in a niche, you must always use Google.

The findings in the comparison may however help you to adapt your ad copy to a certain degree.  Depending on your brand you may wish to adapt your tone of voice as well.

As a quick bonus tip, use a site called GrabAll, this tool allows you to see the search results of the major search engines side by side.  Not great for complex research or reviews, but very useful for quick snapshots.


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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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Free Online Promotion

Free Lunch?

OK, so not everybody is an SEO genius, able to generate copious amounts of free website traffic.  What other options are there?  The beauty of “Web 2.0” is that most of the concepts are still trying to find their commercial purpose. A a consequence the majority still offer free possibilities for any business. If you are clever and have something decent to offer you can also find your message or promotion spreading exponentially.

1.Facebook offers real opportunities to get your message out there, via your personal profile, a company page and/or groups
2. Twitter – its one of the most talked about sites at the moment and you can easily send your message to thousands
3. MySpace, if you’re related to music, this is still the place to put your messages – millions still look at MySpace
4. YouTube – depending on the concept, good video with a viral element will gain great mass coverage and quickly
5. Classifieds – places like GumTree and even eBay are great place to put your message out there
6. Directories and search engines – these are critical to your success
7. Guerilla – use tactics on forums, chatrooms to get your message out, but make sure they are relevant or you will be hounded out and lose any credibility
8. Produce blogs and articles, some good resources have already been listed in terms of areas to place and feed content.
9. Yahoo! Answers. Become a knowledge partner, great source if your area is interesting and has a number of questions
10. Do some real PR and contact online publications or journalists. You really need to sell yourself – I don’t think Press Releases are enough, you need to make contact with the key figures.

These are just ten ideas, however there are endless opportunities and if you want to put even just a small amount behind it, you can really make it take off.