Craig Greenfield’s Redefining Performance Marketing: The Search Engine Results Page of the Future

Although impossible to predict exactly how tomorrow’s SERPs will look, marketers can position their brands for future SERP domination by focusing content creation strategies on some known trends that are currently influencing or will soon influence tomorrow’s SERPs. 

Take, for example, Google’s integration of rich media (e.g., photos, videos) into SERPs in recent years. This trend will likely continue and could easily evolve into paid video search ads in the SERPs of the future.

Search engine results pages (SERP) continue to evolve before our eyes, consistently becoming more relevant to consumers. Marketers seeking to stay ahead of these advancements in usability and relevancy to own more of tomorrow’s SERP should focus on developing three types of content:

  • paid content: paid search ads;
  • owned content: native websites, videos, social media, local information and blog posts; and
  • earned content: user-generated materials like YouTube videos, tweets and consumer reviews

Although impossible to predict exactly how tomorrow’s SERPs will look, marketers can position their brands for future SERP domination by focusing content creation strategies on some known trends that are currently influencing or will soon influence tomorrow’s SERPs. 

Take, for example, Google’s integration of rich media (e.g., photos, videos) into SERPs in recent years. This trend will likely continue and could easily evolve into paid video search ads in the SERPs of the future.

Real-time owned content from blogs and social media; user-generated earned content from blogs, tweets, and videos; and such local brand information as addresses, phone numbers and maps will likely all continue to be important in the SERP of the future. These represent just a sampling of the trends directing SERP evolution, but let’s take a closer look at the following three other likely influencers:

Sitelinks and deep navigation
.The SERP of the future will continue to incorporate more anchor links and clickable ad text, clickable search snippet text and clickable URLs. Sitelinks and deep navigation enable users to more easily find the exact page they’re looking for right from the SERP. Incorporating sitelinks into paid search ads, utilizing breadcrumb navigation, clear URL structure, and clear sitemaps helps spiders display more links in natural search listings. Expect more links in body content to permeate the SERPs moving forward.

The growth of mobile
. Predictions say that mobile search will rise to 73 percent of the mobile ad market by 2013 (Kelsey Group, Sept. 2009). With more than 140 million worldwide mobile social network users, consumers increasingly hold the future SERP in their hands; therefore brands must ensure visibility in mobile search by catering to an altogether different and separate SERP experience.

Personalization . Based on the search results that users click, Google already changes the results over time to make them more relevant and personalized. Google’s social search also pulls in results from the searcher’s social circle, such as tweets or Picasa pictures from friends. The highly personalized SERP of the future makes search marketing more complex—brands must have a deep understanding of their consumers to be able to most effectively target them, and this only becomes truer going forward.

How can brands manage the SERP of the future? Simply put, marketers must create and embrace holistic strategies to fully manage owned, earned and paid content that lives on the SERP of today to succeed on the SERP of tomorrow. A working combination of these trends – and more – can help marketers develop a comprehensive search strategy to take advantage of the SERP, while enhancing user experience and relevancy.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: A Social Media Sweepstakes Platform, From a Traditional Direct Marketer

Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the traditional direct marketing arena — Publishers Clearing House — is partnering with social media marketing tools provider Wildfire Interactive on a cool platform that enables companies to launch, administer and fulfill social media sweepstakes.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the traditional direct marketing arena — Publishers Clearing House — is partnering with social media marketing tools provider Wildfire Interactive on a cool platform that enables companies to launch, administer and fulfill social media sweepstakes.

To me, it’s another example of traditional and social marketing worlds colliding.

Wildfire Promotion Builder, according to a press release that appeared in my inbox this week, is a “scalable and self-service social media marketing platform that makes it easy for companies and agencies to build online sweepstakes and simultaneously publish them on Facebook fan pages, Twitter and company websites, which are automatically integrated with Facebook Connect.”

Promotion Builder has also been integrated into PCH Boost, an application programming interface that automates the legal and fulfillment aspects of running sweepstakes — also known as the unsexy stuff. With PCH Boost, according to the release, “companies can easily offer their customers winnings of up to $100,000 without having to deal with the administration, high costs, legal issues and logistics associated with managing sweepstakes and awarding prize money.”

I think this will be a great and useful tool for online marketers who want to launch sweepstakes programs — which have had a rebirth of sorts thanks to social media — with the expertise of a traditional direct marketer.

Young Affluents Love to Go Social Shopping

Many young affluents are using a social networking niche — social shopping sites — at least according to a new report from Unity Marketing.

Many young affluents are using a social networking niche — social shopping sites — at least according to a new report from Unity Marketing.

What are social shopping sites? They’re sites like Woot.com, Gilt.com, HauteLook and Rue La La that offer “in-the-know-shoppers” deals on cool merchandise. Woot.com, for example, has one product for sale daily until it’s sold out or the clock strikes 11:59 p.m. CST, when it’s replaced by the next day’s item.

Rue La La, on the other hand, is an invitation-only social shopping site, which means you have to be invited by an existing member to enjoy its benefits. Exclusivity adds to the interest factor in this site. It also features premium designer clothes and accessories in private-sale boutiques that are only open for a limited time.

The report, How the Affluent Luxury Consumer Uses the Internet and Social Media: An In-Depth Profile, found that one in three affluents surveyed have visited a social shopping site in the past three months. Social shopping sites are most popular among young affluent consumers under the age of 45. In fact, 43 percent of these young affluents use social shopping sites versus 33 percent of affluents as a whole, the report found. What’s more, affluent consumers’ use of social shopping rose from only 3 percent in 2007 to a whopping 33 percent this year.

“Social shopping sites are going to continue to grow in popularity among the affluent market, especially among young affluents,” said Pam Danzinger, president of Unity Marketing, in a press release about the report. “They offer young affluents shopping experiences they enjoy: quick action, limited access and value pricing. For luxury marketers targeting young affluents, these are the places to be.”

For the study, 1,614 affluent consumers with incomes of $100,000 or more and who bought luxury goods or services in the fourth quarter were surveyed from Jan. 8 to Jan. 27. The average age of respondents was 45.9, and the average household income was $239,300.

Almost 20 percent of those surveyed were classified as “ultra-affluents,” or those at the top 2 percent of U.S. households with incomes of $250,000. Virtually all respondents use the internet for personal uses, including shopping, and nearly 80 percent are social media users.

So if you target affluents (and who doesn’t?), examine the sales models of these sites to see if you can emulate anything like them on your site. Can you offer your customers or subscribers a “special, one-day only” promotion or the like? Or try selling a different, cool or unusual item each day? I bet this approach will keep your customers coming back to your site each day. I mean, everyone wants to be “in-the-know,” right?

Have you ever tried social shopping techniques? Have they worked? Do tell by leaving a comment here or sending a message to me at mcampanelli@napco.com.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Two Signs That ‘Traditional’ and ‘Social’ Online Marketing Are Becoming One

Two announcements were made this week that in my eyes signify a true integration of traditional and social marketing.

Two announcements were made this week that in my eyes signify a true integration of traditional and social marketing.

The first was the announcement that Omniture and Facebook have joined forces to provide online marketers with solutions to optimize Facebook as a marketing channel. The partnership builds on the Facebook analytics and Facebook application analytics capabilities Omniture announced last year.

This alliance is designed to help companies integrate Facebook as a marketing channel and connect to relevant conversations with the site’s 400 million active users.

Initially, “the two companies will focus on the most fundamental needs of online marketers today: the ability to automate Facebook media buying and access analytics that measure customer engagement on Facebook,” according to an Omniture press release.

The solution, for example, will enable advertisers to buy media and track media on Facebook through Omniture tools such as SearchCenter Plus. It will also enable them to generate reports designed to understand ad effectiveness of Facebook pages and other Facebook applications.

The two companies will continue to expand their partnership as marketers increasingly use Facebook to optimize visitor acquisition, conversion and retention, Omniture said.

The next announcement came from email marketing provider ExactTarget, which announced this week that it has acquired CoTweet, a web-based collaboration platform that allows companies to manage multiple Twitter accounts from a single dashboard, support multiple editors, track conversations, assign roles and create follow-up tasks.

The acquisition will enable ExactTarget to offer marketers a solution for managing communications across all interactive marketing channels, including social media, email and mobile.

A key reason for the acquisition was because ExactTarget was finding that while “organizations are moving quickly to try to capture the potential of social, they’re also discovering that it’s siloed and not integrated effectively with other forms of digital communications,” said Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget co-founder and chief executive officer, in a press release. “By combining the power of ExactTarget and CoTweet, we can provide businesses with a complete solution to tie together all forms of interactive communications and drive deeper customer engagement online.”

I’ll bet there’ll be more announcements like these to come in 2010, as digital marketing software and service providers really begin to understand the impact social media is having on consumers and marketers alike.

Michael Della Penna’s Conversations: A Marketer’s 12-Step Program to Accepting Social Media

The rise of social media as a critical communication channel cannot be ignored. In fact, according to a 2009 Nielsen study, social media has overtaken email as the most popular online consumer activity. Yet it remains the most misunderstood and feared of any communication channel.

The rise of social media as a critical communication channel cannot be ignored. In fact, according to a 2009 Nielsen study, social media has overtaken email as the most popular online consumer activity. Yet it remains the most misunderstood and feared of any communication channel.

While the proliferation of social networks, social shopping and the corresponding tools needed to facilitate these connections is new and exciting, social media can also be overwhelming to marketers as they struggle to learn the new skills necessary to reach and engage key audiences across the social web.

Consequently, the thought of engaging customers and the fear that those conversations may not go as intended often cause the most experienced marketers to cling to the traditional marketing channels they’ve become most dependent upon. So, how to break free of old habits? Like any good rehab, it starts with a solid 12-step program.

1. Admit you’re an addict. Advertising, direct mail and, yes, even email are seen as comfort food. While still useful, they remain, for the most part, one-way communication channels. Recognizing this and embracing the need to change and be “open” to truly creating dialogues with customers is the first step.

2. Get wet.
Use social networking in your personal life to familiarize yourself with the tools. Don’t be shy because you’re new to the party — you’re not the last one in the pool.

3. Learn some history. Find case studies in your industry, as they’ll often help you identify new opportunities, best practices, cautionary tales and potential business models. Two dozen good ones can be found on my association’s (PMN) website.

4. Evangelize and find an advocate.
Often, embracing social media requires a sea of change, and support is critical. Find an executive sponsor to help push your program through, and continue to evangelize.

5. Get to work. I love starting with Forrester Research’s POST methodology. Take the time to understand your customers, set some objectives, build a strategy and search for the technologies you need to embrace the medium. You may also want to start by socializing some of your traditional channels to test the waters. For example, try adding sharing capabilities within your emails.

6. Build incrementally and listen. Ultimately, you want to be everywhere your customers are. But you need to start somewhere; take small steps. I always recommend starting narrow, but going deep. Take the time to understand each channel, and listen and learn before adding additional networks into the mix.

7. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Be open to the possibilities of the social web, but keep customers’ needs front and center.

8. Create value. Take the time to understand the value of each channel and how each channel and program can add value to your customers’ experiences with your brand.

9. Be honest, transparent and responsive. Anything otherwise will be quickly noticed in a social environment.

10. Be a team player. Create cross-functional teams to brainstorm and share learnings.

11. Measure success. Review and track activity, measure programs against your business objectives, and calculate ROI. And don’t lose sight of how your programs impact customer satisfaction, as well as customers’ likelihood to recommend and purchase more products.

12. Communicate success. After all, it’s about creating conversations. Share your insights and create excitement for your efforts both internally and externally so others can learn from your experience.

Building conversations and relationships is hard, but when it’s done right and with the best of intentions it can be very rewarding. Welcome to the Age of Conversations.

Michael Della Penna is co-founder and executive chairman of the Participatory Marketing Network, an industry association dedicated to helping marketers transition from push and permission marketing to participatory marketing. He’s also the founder and CEO of Conversa Marketing, which helps brands build social and email marketing programs. Reach Michael at info@thepmn.org.

It’s Official: Social Media Marketing Is Here to Stay

Despite some grumblings out there in the blogosphere that social media marketing is a fad, difficult to measure and a waste of time for marketers, a recent study I came across this week says social media will become the focus for many marketers this year.

Despite some grumblings out there in the blogosphere that social media marketing is a fad, difficult to measure and a waste of time for marketers, a recent study I came across this week says social media will become the focus for many marketers this year.

Sixty-six percent of 1,068 marketing professionals surveyed by Alterian recently for its Annual Survey said they’d be investing in social media marketing (SMM) in the next 12 months. Of those investing, 40 percent said they’d be shifting more than a fifth of their traditional direct marketing budgets toward funding their SMM activities.

What’s more, the survey revealed that the majority of respondents (67 percent) feel SMM is either “increasingly important” or “critical to success.”

“2010 marks the start of the digital decade for marketing,” said David Eldridge, Alterian’s CEO, commenting on the results in a press release. “Untargeted and irrelevant marketing techniques are now redundant and the results of this survey show many in the industry recognize this.”

Thirty-six percent of respondents also said they’re investing in SMM and analysis tools this year. In my opinion, this is key: I think this year will be the year marketers finally figure out how to monitor, measure and track their SMM programs and investments. Many marketers consider this the holy grail.

The survey also explored whether organizations integrate marketing technologies across their organizations. Surprisingly, almost half of the respondents (42 percent) said they don’t incorporate clickstream and web analytics data into their customer and email databases.

The research also explored the importance of customer engagement, finding that more than half of respondents (51 percent) are placing a “fair” or “significant” amount of effort on moving from a campaign-centric direct marketing model toward multichannel customer engagement. In fact, only 7 percent are making no effort at all, the survey found.

Email Strategies & Tactics Exposed – An Insider’s Look at Mint.com

There’s been a lot of talk lately about socializing email, and it makes a lot of sense. While social media is the hot topic of the moment and adoption continues to increase, many brands continue to struggle with measurement. In fact, according to a recent Mzinga and Babson Executive Education survey, 84 percent of professionals worldwide do not currently measure the ROI of their social media efforts.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about socializing email, and it makes a lot of sense. While social media is the hot topic of the moment and adoption continues to increase, many brands continue to struggle with measurement. In fact, according to a recent Mzinga and Babson Executive Education survey, 84 percent of professionals worldwide do not currently measure the ROI of their social media efforts.

Pretty shocking, considering the economic environment we’re in and the increased pressures placed on marketers to deliver results. On the other hand, email’s ROI has been analyzed to death and remains the most efficient marketing medium used today.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these two communication and marketing powerhouses join forces to drive success and efficiency for today’s leading brands. The only questions that remain now are: “How?” and “Who’s doing it well?” One brand that’s been successful doing it to acquire new customers is Mint.com.

Launched in 2007, Mint.com has quickly become America’s No. 1 online personal finance service. Mint’s intelligent and easy-to-use approach to money management has quickly attracted more than 1.5 million users to date. Given its online audience and technologically savvy user base, Mint.com recently turned to the power of email marketing and socialized it to further drive new customer acquisition.

Building a successful social email marketing campaign
Taking the time to understand user motivations is key, and Mint.com did an impressive job in a recent campaign that tested a series of offers appealing to a diverse spectrum of user needs.

The winning campaign, analyzed below, appealed to Mint.com users’ desire to achieve “insider status” – or access to beta features and products prior to their rollouts to the general user base. In return, users were encouraged to tell friends. If three of those friends became Mint.com users, they would be granted exclusive access. The campaign also helped Mint.com identify key influencers – those who self-identified by indicating their desires to know more and demonstrating the ability to drive new users. In the end, the results were impressive – the effort drove one new user for every 2.6 invite clicks.

Looks like Mint.com is well on its way to making a mint thanks to some great planning and testing, and by combining two incredibly powerful and relevant mediums – email and social media. However, like all campaigns, Mint.com has a great opportunity to take it a step further by considering the following:

Testing personalization. Mint.com could strengthen its relationship with users by making it more personal and conversational. Using the subscriber’s/user’s name, such as “Dear Michael,” and signing the communication with an actual Mint.com employee (i.e., “Bob Smith, director of new product development”) may improve performance even further.

Add additional response mechanisms. The email might benefit from including a text link, in addition to the “Tell Your Friends About Mint.com” button, in case images are blocked.

Flagging responders for future marketing efforts. Given these users’ desire to know more and ability to drive new users, Mint.com should consider building an influencer communication program around these users to further leverage their knowledge and reach.

Great program with lots of learnings. Congratulations, Mint.com.

Note: Michael Della Penna currently sits on the board of directors at StrongMail Systems, Mint.com’s social marketing technology provider.

Michael Della Penna is co-founder and executive chairman of the Participatory Marketing Network, an industry association dedicated to helping marketers transition from push and permission marketing to participatory marketing. He’s also the founder and CEO of Conversa Marketing, which helps brands build social and email marketing programs. Reach Michael at info@thepmn.org.

Point-Counterpoint Emerges Over the ROI of Social Media

It started out innocently enough.

Earlier this month, I posted a simple question online about how marketers measure the ROI of social media. I was blown away by all the responses I got.

The question was posted on eM+C contributor Jim Gilbert’s popular LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Questions & Answers.

It started out innocently enough.

Earlier this month, I posted a simple question online about how marketers measure the ROI of social media. I was blown away by all the responses I got.

The question was posted on eM+C contributor Jim Gilbert’s popular LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Questions & Answers.

Perhaps the most interesting response came from an exchange that took place in the discussion section of the LinkedIn Group between Steve Goldner, a social media/social network consultant who goes by the name Social Steve, and Doug Garnett, the founder and CEO of Atomic Direct, a brand DRTV agency. To me, it exemplified the ongoing battle between traditional direct marketers and new media executives when it comes to how to measure social media ROI.

Goldner started the discussion by posting a link to an article he wrote titled, “Measuring the Value of Social Media.” He noted that the article explained there’s a way to measure the ROI of social media, but marketers should be careful not to use “sales metrics” when measuring it.

That got Garnett thinking. “Steve’s article seems to suggest that ‘a metric of tweets, for example, is a valid ROI analysis.’ I don’t think that’s at all related to ROI,” he wrote.

He went on: “Having lots of tweets just might contribute to ROI. OR, it might be entirely tangential. You might have higher ROI with fewer Tweets if they’re of better quality.”

Garnett suggested that marketers stick with it and look for true ROI from social media, which he described as “increased sales (at some reasonable point) or same sales with lower marketing costs.”

Goldner countered that what Garnett considers true social media ROI — increased sales (at some reasonable point) or same sales with lower marketing costs — is really lead generation and that “social media should be measured in lead generation and increasing the probability of sales, not sales. Same is true for all other marketing endeavors.”

Garnett countered, “[I] guess one place we part ways is the goal of marketing. The advertising and communication goals are not necessarily focused on sales. But to me, marketing is the process of bringing an entire range of efforts (yup, the ‘4P’s’ are still quite valid) together to create revenue, profit, and market share.”

To read the whole discussion, click here.

I guess it all really depends how you look at it. Coming from the direct marketing world, I hear what Garnett is saying. But as I get more immersed in new media as editor of eM+C, I see Goldner’s point as well. So, I guess I haven’t made up my mind yet about what is the right way to look at it. What’s your take on the ROI of social media? Or the role of marketing in general? Let’s start a similar discussion here.

Point-Counterpoint Emerges Over the ROI of Social Media

It started out innocently enough.

Earlier this month, I posted a simple question online about how marketers measure the ROI of social media and was blown away by all the responses I got.

The question was posted on eM+C contributor Jim Gilbert’s popular LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Questions & Answers.

It started out innocently enough.

Earlier this month, I posted a simple question online about how marketers measure the ROI of social media and was blown away by all the responses I got.

The question was posted on eM+C contributor Jim Gilbert’s popular LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Questions & Answers.

Perhaps the most interesting response came from an exchange that took place in the discussion section of the LinkedIn Group between Steve Goldner, a social media/social network consultant who goes by the name Social Steve, and Doug Garnett, the founder and CEO of Atomic Direct, a brand DRTV agency. To me, it exemplified the ongoing battle between traditional direct marketers and new media executives when it comes to how to measure social media ROI.

Goldner started the discussion by posting a link to an article he wrote titled, “Measuring the Value of Social Media.” He noted that the article explained there’s a way to measure the ROI of social media, but marketers should be careful not to use “sales metrics” when measuring it.

That got Garnett thinking. “Steve’s article seems to suggest that ‘a metric of tweets, for example, is a valid ROI analysis. I don’t think that’s at all related to ROI,’ he wrote.

He went on: “Having lots of tweets just might contribute to ROI. OR, it might be entirely tangential. You might have higher ROI with fewer Tweets if they’re of better quality.”

Garnett suggested that marketers stick with it and look for true ROI from social media, which he described as “increased sales (at some reasonable point) or same sales with lower marketing costs.”

Goldner countered that what Garnett considers true social media ROI — increased sales (at some reasonable point) or same sales with lower marketing costs — is really lead generation and that “social media should be measured in lead generation and increasing the probability of sales, not sales. Same is true for all other marketing endeavors.”

Garnett countered, “[I] guess one place we part ways is the goal of marketing. The advertising and communication goals are not necessarily focused on sales. But to me, marketing is the process of bringing an entire range of efforts (yup, the ‘4P’s’ are still quite valid) together to create revenue, profit, and market share.”

To read the whole discussion, click here.

I guess it all really depends how you look at it. Coming from the direct marketing world, I hear what Garnett is saying. But as I get more immersed in new media as editor of eM+C, I see Goldner’s point as well. So, I guess I haven’t made up my mind yet about what is the right way to look at it. What’s your take on the ROI of social media? Or on the role of marketing in general? Let’s start a similar discussion here.

Good News: Online Sales Expected to Rise This Holiday Season

If you’re like me, you noticed that on Nov. 1, right after the bags of Halloween candy were pulled off the supermarket and drugstore shelves, the holiday items began to appear.

Folks, the holiday shopping — and selling — season has begun.

This year, there’s actually some good news leading into the holiday season. For starters, on Nov. 5, major retailers announced their best sales in months.

If you’re like me, you noticed that on Nov. 1, right after the bags of Halloween candy were pulled off the supermarket and drugstore shelves, the holiday items began to appear.

Folks, the holiday shopping — and selling — season has begun.

This year, there’s actually some good news leading into the holiday season. For starters, on Nov. 5, major retailers announced their best sales in months.

What’s more, U.S. online sales are expected to rise 8 percent this holiday season, according to a recent report from Forrester Research. Online retail sales in November and December are expected to reach $44.7 billion this year, up from $41.4 billion a year ago, according to the report, providing a bright spot to a retail industry that could still see total sales for the season fall.

So, how are online retailers planning to increase sales this year? Through social media and free shipping promotions, at least according to the results of Shop.org’s eHoliday study, conducted by BIGresearch.

Since many shoppers today use Facebook and Twitter regularly — and because these tools are more cost effective than traditional advertising — 47.1 percent of online retailers surveyed for the study are increasing their use of social media this holiday season.

More than half of the online retailer respondents have updated their Facebook pages (60.3 percent) and Twitter pages (58.7 percent) this year, while two-thirds (65.6 percent) have added or enhanced blogs and RSS feeds. 



As for the multitude of free shipping offers expected during this holiday season, 79.4 percent of those retailers surveyed said they will offer free shipping with conditions at some point during the holiday season. More than half (57.4 percent) also plan to offer free shipping without conditions. More than one-third (35.7 percent) said their budgets for free shipping are higher than last year, and nearly as many (30 percent) said free shipping offers will start earlier than a year ago.

Many online retailers have also revamped their websites this holiday season to make it easier for people to shop. Many, for example, have added or revamped their sites’ shopping carts (45.2 percent), search capabilities (44.3 percent), suggested items (42.9 percent), customer ratings and reviews (40.6 percent), and featured sale pages (37.1 percent), according to the study.

So, are you ramping up your use of social media or free shipping promotions this year? Doing anything else you’d like to tell us about? Leave a comment here.