Embracing online customers is more a matter of commitment and
strategy than financial expenditure. It does not need to be
expensive to reach online customers effectively. Using a market-led
approach to Internet marketing, you can build an effective website
and attract customers through various Internet-based marketing
Internet marketing tactics—like other methods of promotion,
marketing, and PR—do not stand alone. Rather, they should be part
of an integrated marketing approach. Internet marketing strategies
should be included within your company's overall marketing plan.
Businesses that want to boost the results of traditional advertising
need to dovetail their advertising strategies with Internet strategies
rather than viewing them as independent channels. A good Internet
site, for example, improves the effectiveness of other advertising
because many customers who see your company's advertising will
evaluate your company's products and services online.
Internet Marketing for Small Business
Integrating Internet marketing tactics with other advertising ensures
that your company provides a consistent brand experience.
Be sure to consider the following topics when developing your overall
Internet marketing strategy:
• Chapter 1: Your Company's Website
• Chapter 2: E-Commerce
• Chapter 3: Search Engine Marketing
• Chapter 4: Search Engine Optimization
• Chapter 5: Online Advertising
• Chapter 6: Email Marketing
The centerpiece of your Internet Marketing efforts is your company's
website. A decade ago, discussions of whether an organization needed
a website or whether it should be viewed as a marketing tool were
common. As Internet use increased among target markets at the turn
of the century, discussion changed to how prospective customers were
using the Internet.
Internet media users can be broken into four categories based on their
general pattern of Internet use. Heavy users access the Internet daily.
Frequent users access the Internet weekly. Infrequent users access the
Internet monthly. Lapsed users access the Internet in periodic bursts
of typical use. These categories are shown below:
Categories of Internet Media Use
The categories of use among customers vary. The ages, incomes and
occupations of customers influence the best way to reach them online.
Besides Internet usage patterns, it is also necessary to identify the
online activities of your target markets. For example, prior to
implementing e-commerce, you must identify the online shopping
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patterns and preferences of your target markets. The most popular
online activity is information-gathering. Much of the information
gathered relates to identifying products and services to buy—even in
cases when users do not plan to purchase the product and services
By identifying the expectations and needs of your target markets
before you begin marketing on the Internet, you can build the
foundation of an effective, market-led website.
This is why market research is an important component of Internet marketing. For
example, it would be ineffective to distribute weekly product updates via the
Internet to a target market comprised widely of infrequent Internet users.
You can use the demographic and behavioral trends you've gathered through primary research
and secondary research to identify the categories of use among your target markets.
Your website will serve as a natural consumer destination. Customers
who visit your website are looking for meaningful information to
distinguish your company's products and services from your
competitors. Use the website to highlight distinct features offered by
your company. Provide side-by-side comparisons of products.
Customers spend less time thinking about your products, services and
industry than you do. Provide them with the information they need to
know about your industry, your products and your services in order to
make an informed buying decision.
Educate customers online—even when you are selling to them offline.
In creating your company's website, consider these discussions:
• Adopting the Market-Led Approach
• Developing a Website Project for Your Business
• Building a Website for Your Small Business
• Selecting a Website Developer
• Choosing a Website Hosting Company
ADOPTING THE MARKET-LED APPROACH
When developing your company's website, it may be wise to step back
and take a "macro" view of your customers and the Internet experience.
Your Company’s Website
A market-led approach to Internet marketing provides customers with
a personal brand experience by combining the benefits of mass
marketing with those of customer relationship marketing (CRM).
The goal of mass marketing is to constantly acquire new customers by
differentiating your company, and its products, from competitors. This
results in a strong brand identity, but does not always adapt well to
Internet marketing. Mass market-oriented messages are often too
general to meet the needs of information-seeking Internet users.
The goal of CRM, by contrast, is to continually increase the volume of
business with existing customers by offering a range of personalized
services and products. This results in good customer service, but does
not adequately differentiate your organization from its competitors
among potential customers.
Website content needs to guide target markets from discovery,
through exploration and interaction, toward action. The first 10
seconds your target markets spend on your company's website are
among the most crucial. Site visitors determine whether they will
become site users. They perceive the value of your site. They form
first impressions about your company and predict the likelihood of
finding useful information on your website. Many visitors will leave
your website immediately because the site seems unrelated to their
search. Others will explore your site.
The chart below illustrates how consumers interact with the Internet.
The first challenge is to get consumers to discover your website. Once
they're on the site, they need a reason to explore. Typically only 60
percent of visitors will stay on your site long enough to skim or read
some of the content. Approximately 15 percent of your visitors will
interact with the tools to help them make a purchase decision, and 2
percent with act on that decision.
Your Company’s Website
Consumer Interaction with the Internet
All visitors to your website are seeking information. During the
exploration phase, each page of content has less than a minute to
communicate with a site visitor. The amount of time visitors spend
exploring your website, and their perception of value of the time being
spent, varies based on their ability to progress toward the desired
Site visitors interact anonymously with your website. Through these various
T interactions, they form lasting impressions about your company, its products, and
its level of service. This includes comparing the information that you provide with
information they have received from other sources. Getting customers involved
through interactive elements, such as a self-assessment, can be an effective
method for cultivating strong customer relationships and gathering additional
Successful websites typically include the ability for customers to act
online—to call, purchase a product, find a local distributor or retail
location, or request a proposal. All websites should include the ability
to follow-up offline, by telephone, since some customers prefer
speaking with someone to submitting an order or other information
online. Be sure to include these elements when planning a company
DEVELOPING A WEBSITE PROJECT
The development plan for your company's website can be broken into
• Planning — Define the scope of the project. You should
identify Internet objectives and strategies for an effective
website. You will also create a content plan. From there, you'll
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either create an implementation plan (if you're creating the site
yourself) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) if you'd like vendors
to bid on the project.
• Design — Determine design features, content considerations
and technology to be implemented on the website.
Deliverables during this phase include design concepts and a
proposed site map. Each concept also includes a summary of
any related budget/timeline considerations.
• Implementation — Create the website, on time and on budget.
You must manage the scope of the project and identify the
timeline/budget implications of any changes requested by
others. Stakeholders in your company may need an
opportunity to review all site content once or twice during
• Testing — Ensure error-free implementation of the site.
• Distribution — Publish the new site and register it with search
engines, as appropriate.
Once the process is complete, you'll need to monitor, update and
evaluate the site on an ongoing basis.
Establishing Internet Objectives
Your objectives represent the projected impact your website project
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will have on customer behavior and perception. These objectives
identify how you plan to use the Internet to support or achieve some
of the specific communication goals and marketing efforts you've
For example, say your overall marketing goal is to create an unaided
awareness objective among the target market of 18 to 25 percent. You
should create a related objective identifying a percentage of the target
market that will visit your website.
Objectives for your website should be based on your overall
communication, marketing and sales goals. Such objectives might
• the number/percentage of site visitors that subscribe to your
• the number/percentage of site visitors that request additional
information about your products or services
• the number of customers who successfully resolve customer
service needs online
• the projected volume of products and services sold online, or
transactions originating from Internet visits
• the number of new monthly visitors and repeat monthly
visitors to your website
Setting quantifiable objectives for your website that relate to your
overall marketing and communication goals is critical. Equally
important is the ability to effectively measure whether objectives are
T Each time visitors access your site, information about their visits can be saved.
This information can be used to generate "web statistics" that characterize your
site's overall use.
• Site visits by hour
• Top trails followed — Most common routes from page to page followed by site visitors
• Top exit pages — Visits typically ended at these pages
• Content use by directory
• File types (or extensions)
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• Top proxy sites
• Top web browsers (or user agents)
• Top refering URLs — External pages that link to the site
• Top search keywords — Used to reach site via search engine
• Top search keywords by server — Used to reach site, indexed by search server of origin
• Top visitor domains
• Referring URLs by document not found — External sites linking to pages that do not
exist on site, sorted by unfound page
• Site visits by day
• Top entry pages — Visits typically begin here
• Example visits — Documents accessed by a sampling of visitors to the site
• Most popular pages
• Authorized users
• Top proxy domains
• Top operating systems — Used by visitors
• Top referring sites
• Top search server to reach site
• Top visitor sites
• Referring URLs by document — External sites that link to this site, sorted by document
Web statistics are a useful tool for measuring site usage. For example,
using web statistics, you can calculate a number of useful marketing-
• Penetration = [unique visitors to home page] / [unique visitors] —
Penetration reflects the percentage of site visitors that go
beyond your organization's home page. It's not uncommon for
websites to lose 50 percent or more of its visitors before the
home page finishes loading.
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• Conversion = [unique visitors taking desired action] / [unique visitors]
— Conversion reflects the percentage of site visitors that take
a desired action. You can measure the conversion for several
actions simultaneously. For example, the percentage of site
visitors that purchase online; and the percentage site visitors
that subscribe to your organization's electronic newsletter.
• Connection = [referral click-thrus] / [desired page views] —
Connection refers to the number of site visitors to your site
from an external location, such as another website or online
advertisement, that view desired content. Online promotions
with a high connection rate are more effective.
• Migration = [visits to content area] / [site exits from the content area]
— Migration refers to the number of site visitors that leave
your site from a specific content area. Content areas with the
highest migration are typically less effective than areas with
• Clicks to action = [average number of clicks from home page to desired
action] — CTA reflects the number of clicks it takes from the
home page to reach a desired action. For example, reducing
the CTA to complete an order should result in a measurable
increase of customer conversion for online orders.
• Intro skip factor = [number of visitors to Intro page] / [visitors that
bypass intro] — This indicator reflects the number of visitors
that view your site's intro page, if applicable. If a large
percentage of site visitors bypass the intro, it can indicate an
ineffective intro, or a high percentage of return visitors.
Since web statistics are not collected with marketing, communication,
or sales objectives in mind, other methods of measuring objectives are
also required. Data for measuring the success of Internet objectives
can be incorporated within the processes used to determine the
success of communication, marketing, and sales goals overall.
By establishing objectives prior to setting website strategies, it may
also be possible to integrate objective specific reporting features. In
the same way site visits collect information for web statistics,
information can be collected for measuring objectives.
Setting Website Strategies
When developing a company website project, consider how website
strategies are used to achieve Internet objectives. Formulating the proper
strategy to achieve an Internet objective requires an examination of your
target market, available technology, and the rationale for the proposed
strategy as it relates to alternatives, cost and support requirements.
Your Company’s Website
Target market. For any strategy to be effective, the target market
must contain an appropriate level of Internet users. The most effective
Internet strategies will fail if the intended target markets are not
online. Although Internet use is steadily increasing among nearly every
conceivable target market, usage can vary greatly among target markets
based on their demographics and their motives.
Patterns of Internet use should be identified as well. The lower the
Internet use for target markets, the higher the benefit needs to be for
using Internet media. Otherwise, users may continue to use other
methods. For example, an online catalog may fail if Internet-wary
users are satisfied with telephone orders. However, as benefits of
online ordering surpass the benefits of ordering by telephone, the
conversion rate for online orders should increase.
Technology and Infrastructure. Potentially effective Internet
strategies are often delayed or quickly become cost-prohibitive
because the technology and infrastructure required to implement the
strategy are not present within the organization. For example, it may
be desirable for a company to sell its products/services online.
However, doing so requires the ability to update product information
and process incoming orders.
Once implemented, Internet strategies may require ongoing support or
third-party maintenance that needs to be considered.
If your objective is to increase the number of subscribers for an electronic
newsletter, you may consider several strategies. You might, for example, develop a
strategy to promote the newsletter. Or you might change the content of the
newsletter or its method/frequency of distribution so that it has a wider appeal to
your target market. Although many strategies may address a desired objective,
your business will need to distinguish the best strategy for a given set of
Alternatives. When creating Internet strategies, its important to
consider alternative methods of achieving the desired objective. For
each strategy, alternative strategies need to be considered. This
includes non-Internet strategies that could achieve the same objective.
Rationale. After identifying the considerations for each proposed
strategy, summarize the benefits of this strategy in comparison with
others. Why is the proposed Internet strategy the best strategy for
addressing the desired objective? How will it achieve the desired goal?
What are the cost, technology and infrastructure advantages of this
strategy as compared to alternatives?
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(See the appendix for a worksheet to help you devise website
Devising a Content Plan
A content plan is the blueprint for your website project. It identifies
the objectives and strategies of your site. It defines who the website
needs to reach and the information that needs to be included for the
site to be effective.
A content plan collects the decisions you made within your marketing
plan that will influence the design, tech structure and content of your
website. It provides individuals working on the website (who may not
have been involved in creating your marketing plan) with the
information they need to define the scope of the project.
Content plans typically include the following:
• Purpose — A description of website goals and strategies. The
purpose statement is provided within the context of overall
communication, marketing and sales goals developed during as
part of the marketing plan.
• Audience — An overview of customers and how needs of
customers then will be addressed by the website.
• Content summary — A detailed list of content that will be added
to the site, where existing content can be found, and what
content needs to be created from scratch.
• Sitemap — The sitemap is a description of how content will be
grouped, organized and linked. Sometimes this is done
graphically with boxes representing web pages and lines
indicating hyperlinks that exist between pages.
• Feature list — A list of things your website will do. For
example, the information you want to collect, if possible, from
site visitors. Basically, anything that requires programming.
(See the appendix for a worksheet to help you devise a content plan.)
When creating a content plan, always include your company as a
secondary target market. Identify the information you need to obtain
from the site and your needs to update the site. For example, if you
anticipate adding weekly news, then the functional inventory should
include a means of easily adding/modifying/deleting news from the
site without requiring ongoing assistance from a web programmer or
The content plan provides the basis for creating an implementation
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plan if you're building the website yourself—or the basis for drafting a
Request For Proposal if you'll be selecting a vendor to create the
Creating an Implementation Plan
An implementation plan is an evolved content plan that includes the
following: scope, timeline and budget for your company's website
• Overview — This includes the purpose and audience
information from the content plan. It also provides a
condensed description of the project and its general scope.
• Scope — Here you'll find a description your project, the tasks
to be completed, the proposed technical approach for dynamic
elements, and any limitation/process parameters inherent to
the project. The content summary and feature list from the
content plan should be integrated into the scope of the
• Timeline — Although the timelines for rolling out websites vary
depending on the size of the site and the scope of the project,
a 12- to 14-week timeline is common. A typical timeline
includes planning, design, production, and testing milestones.
Timelines often need to be adjusted to reflect the workload of
staff, the selected vendor, and related project dependencies.
• Budget — While creating the implementation plan, staff will
provide estimates for time, outside suppliers, and required
resources for completing the project. These costs are then
combined to create an overall budget to implement the
The production time needed for building your company website only
reflects a portion of the overall cost, typically half of the budget. Costs
associated with planning, design, and testing also need to be included
for an accurate budget.
(See the appendix for a worksheet to help you implement a timeline
Of course, drafting a Request For Proposal (RFP) and hiring a website
developer to complete the project will affect the implementation plan.
Drafting a Request For Proposal (RFP)
A Request for Proposal (RFP) provides the basis for selecting the
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website developer who will implement your company's website
project. An RFP is an evolved version of an implementation plan that
includes information requested from vendors to aid in selection.
If the project scope is well-defined, RFPs need not include a proposed
budget—particularly if budget will be part of the criteria for selecting a
Information often requested for vendor selection includes the
• Company background — This includes corporate information
including financial details. How long has the company been in
business? How many employees does the company have? Of
its employees, how many are dedicated to implementing
• Capabilities — In addition to capabilities associated with the
RFP, what other services does the vendor provide? Can the
vendor provide representative samples of related work?
• Company qualifications — How experienced/qualified is the
company for the project? Have they completed similar
projects? Can they provide a list of previous clients with
contact information and relevant URLs?
• Staffing — What is the proposed team that will be working on
the project? What are their individual qualifications? Can a
resume be provided for key members of the proposed team?
• Process — What is the development process used by the
vendor? What are the project stages and milestones? What are
their processes for quality assurance and testing? How will the
completed project be delivered or implemented? What
documents are included as deliverables in the processes used
by the vendor?
• Proposed solution — How does the vendor recommend
implementing the project? What is their proposed technical
approach? What changes to the project scope would they
recommend? Is their proposed solution scalable? Will it work
in cross-platform environments?
• Timeline — What is their proposed schedule for completing the
project? What dependencies are included in the timeline that
may influence the anticipated deliver date?
• Budget — What is the anticipated cost for the project? What
variables exist in the budget and what is their process for
identifying changes in cost? How do they accept payment?
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What portion of the payment will be paid to outside suppliers?
How are tasks completed by outside suppliers billed? What
ongoing maintenance costs does the vendor anticipate after
the project is completed?
Selecting a vendor is a three-stage process.
The first stage is designed to glean through the crowd and select a
short list of companies for consideration. These are companies that
will be asked to respond with proposals to your RFP.
The second stage is to prepare an RFP for selected vendors. Based on
the RFP, vendors will provide proposals for implementing your
The final stage is to select a vendor. This requires a face-to-face
meeting with final candidates to resolve questions about the RFP,
vendor proposals and final project implementation.
(See the appendix for a worksheet to help you develop an RFP.)
BUILDING YOUR COMPANY WEBSITE
Once you have laid out all the aspects of your company's website
project, including the setting of Internet objectives and strategies, you
are ready to act on your content plan and implementation plan. It is
time to start building the website.
As you go through the process, keep in mind that Internet projects are
not like other marketing projects. There are specific considerations of
which you must be aware—if you want your Internet marketing
efforts to succeed. Among them:
• Writing Content for the Web
• Website Design and Usability
• Special Technology Considerations
Writing Content for the Web
There are few better ways to promote your business than by writing
good, helpful articles and sharing them on your business's website.
When building your website, remember: Good content attracts good
traffic. On an average day, 68 percent of all American adults are on the
Internet, according to the PEW Internet and American Life Project.
While online, the most popular activities include getting news and
finding information via search engines. This means that if you've got
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good content on your site that can be found by search engines, you'll
have a natural advantage over competitors.
Good Content. Good Internet articles attract and engage readers.
They do this by recognizing that Internet users aren't readers when
they arrive on a web page. Instead of reading web page content
immediately, site visitors typically conduct a "quick scan" of web page
content to determine whether it's a "good hit." If it is, they'll continue
reading. If not, they'll return to the search engine and look at the next
result in their query.
Even in cases when individuals find page content interesting, it's
estimated that 80 percent of site visitors will still only scan the content
on a given web page for "highlights" and move on. As little as 15
percent of site visitors actually read the entire contents of a page.
A recent Google query on "writing for the web" returned nearly a half million
T results. Some readers will find the information they're looking for in the first three
pages of the search results. Others will give up after browsing the first page of
entries and narrow their search for "Internet writing"—where they can browse
another 200,000 results.
Multilevel writing is the practice of writing for "browsers" and
"readers" simultaneously with the goal of providing a good experience
for each audience. This way of writing is important because: 1)
individuals are less likely to read content that cannot be easily scanned;
and 2) content written in a multilevel writing style is easier to read on
screen than traditional text.
The guidelines for multilevel writing are easy for anyone to follow:
• Create meaningful subheads — Content with subheads is easier to
scan. The more relevant subheads are to a site visitor, the less
likely it is that the user will move on.
• Use bulleted lists and jump lists — Bulleted lists are an ideal way to
summarize information for online visitors. If each bullet point
requires lengthy conversation, consider linking several pages
together instead of including the entire article on a single web page.
• Indent — Indenting text is a great way to identify subpoints.
• Use tables and charts — Many readers respond to visuals better
than text. For these readers, a picture in the form of a chart is
worth more than 100 words. And, they'll find tables a
meaningful way to browse related data.
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• One idea per paragraph — Online prose is best expressed as
"topical bursts." Break topics down into subtopics and limit
each paragraph to a single topic or subtopic that contains no
more than three or four sentences.
• Shorter paragraphs — Paragraphs that fill an entire screen are a
signal to potential readers that reading your content will be
more work that finding another resource.
• Start with the conclusion — Like a newspaper, online articles
should begin with the most relevant information and end with
the least relevant. When you're using subheads, the content
within each heading should also follow this rule.
In most instances, online writing should have a "conversational" tone.
The best online writers, like the best journalists, use an open, natural
and uncontrived writing style. They avoid techno-speak, buzzwords,
and jargon—unless their content is intended only for individuals who
understand the jargon.
Experienced online writers share experience, opinion, dissenting
argument, perspective, and their sense of humor whenever it's
Good Traffic. It's important to publish your articles elsewhere
whenever possible. After adding an article on your web site, it's a good
idea to manually submit each new article to search engines like
Google, Yahoo and MSN. It's an even better idea to syndicate your
articles and make them available on other Internet sites providing
Article submission websites include:
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You can use many of these sites for free. Those that require you to pay
also offer the convenience of submitting an article to multiple web
sites at the same time.
Writing articles and submitting them to other web sites is a great way
to build web site traffic. It will also boost your credibility, bolster your
brand, and provide opportunities for you to educate customers. Your
website will become a great place to go for information — and
Website Design and Usability Issues
When building a business website, frustration is a common experience
among business owners trying to judge the quality of website design.
Everyone wants to implement the best looking website, but opinions
of what constitutes a great site vary. Fortunately, good websites aren't
based on opinion. They are based on evidence.
Although the look and feel of many well-conceived websites may vary
greatly, good websites tend to share a number of common
characteristics. These characteristics provide the basis of the
"Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines" developed by
the federal government as part of its usability.gov initiative.
The federal guidelines provide marketers with a good overview and
deep understanding of the wide range of web design issues they may
encounter while managing a website. The guidelines provide marketers
with standards that can be used to judge web designs. Marketers can
request that their web designers and developers follow relevant
portions of the guidelines and can use them to set priorities.
While the number of guidelines can seem daunting, usability.gov
provides a tool developed in cooperation with AARP that allows site
visitors to sort guidelines based on their overall relevance and
supporting evidence. So it is possible to identify and focus on the
most important guidelines for success.
For example, the four guidelines that score highest in both relevance
and supporting evidence include:
• Use an iterative design approach — Designs should be tested with
customers before they are implemented. Use paper prototypes
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to test the design and make revisions to the design based on
• Provide useful content — While it seems like common sense, it's
not uncommon for sites to contain a company's sales pitch
instead of the information that site visitors want. Studies have
reported that content is more important than navigation,
visual design, functionality and interactivity.
• Ensure visual consistency — Design creativity must be balanced
with consistency. Studies show that tasks performed on more
consistent interfaces resulted in reduced task completion
times, fewer errors, higher user satisfaction and a shorter
• Use dark text on plain, high-contrast backgrounds — Use white text
on dark backgrounds sparingly. People read black text on a
white background up to 32 percent faster.
Special Technology Considerations
The Internet offers a world of possibilities when building your
For each Internet objective and strategy, you will find a wide array of
website developers offering "off-the-shelf" technology solutions,
turnkey Internet services, and pre-packaged content. As a result, it's
important for your company and the vendors you select to evaluate
existing products and services, and how existing technology will
integrate with your website.
This allows your organization to consider the costs/benefits associated
with selecting pre-existing products and services, versus custom
solutions that may be provided by a vendor.
There are three areas that would benefit from your analysis:
• Content Management Systems
• Ongoing Website Maintenance
• Internet Accessibility for the Disabled
Content Management Systems
The biggest asset of an organization is its information, which is why
content management software can prove invaluable. But how much
content management does your organization really need?
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Implementing a content management system (CMS) delivers many
benefits to an organization: lower operating costs, shorter publishing
deadlines, greater efficiency and a wider range of features for your
website. However, with nearly 1,000 CMS solutions to choose from,
identifying and implementing the right content management solution
can seem mind-boggling.
Before selecting a CMS solution, get to know your content, authors,
processes and business systems. Organizations that overlook this step
are likely to choose the wrong solution.
An organization must identify the nature of content to be published;
the number of individuals who will need the ability to update
information; and any advanced features that can be added to the
website to increase overall efficiency, profitability and the quality of
the website experience.
Once an organization knows what it needs, the next step is to identify the
right type of CMS solution and, ultimately, the right software for the job.
There are five types of content management systems to consider:
• Static — These solutions allow organizations to publish content
online without a database. Static solutions can be easy and
inexpensive to implement because they require limited, if any,
server-side installation. Contribute from Macromedia
(www.macromedia.com), for example, allows companies to
provide employees with easy-to-use templates for publishing
information. It manages permissions so users can only edit
content in specified folders. Employees don't need to know the
specifics of HTML programming since CMS solutions typically
provide simple word-processor-like interfaces, or web-based
forms that don't require HTML knowledge. Static solutions are
well suited for small companies with modest publishing needs.
• Hosted — With hosted solutions, you're replacing software
with a service. This means your up-front implementation costs
may be lower—but that you'll be obligated to pay an ongoing
subscription fee. Hosted solutions are easy to implement and
can provide a wide range of advanced features. The setup cost
and monthly cost of hosted solutions varies widely. It's
possible to subscribe to simple, blog-oriented CM solutions
for less than $10 per month. Or, you can go all out.
Clickability offers a full-featured, hosted CM solution called
cmPublish with a wide range of features beginning at about
$750 per month. Hosted solutions can be a good choice for
tiny organizations that don't want to deal with the headaches
of installing a CMS on their website, or for organizations that
require advanced functionality but don't want to dedicate their
own IT resources toward system set-up and maintenance.
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• Open Source — These solutions are free and customizable.
Open-source CMS systems are free to download and include
all of the programming source code used to create the
program. Typo3 is a full-featured CM solution that can be
extended with a wide range of plug-ins adding advanced
functionality such as image galleries, visitor tracking, and ad
management when you need them. By having access to the
source code, companies with IT resources can change the
program to suite their needs. Companies without IT resources
can find themselves limited by open-source solutions that
become unsupported and unscalable as their needs grow.
• Commercial — Like their open-source counterparts, commercial
CM solutions provide a wide range of features and functions,
offered as "ready to use" and extendible "turn-key" solutions.
They provide better documentation and support than open-
source solutions and are less expensive than enterprise
solutions. Companies that have a clear understanding of their
immediate and long-term CM needs can be well served by
choosing the right commercial solution.
• Enterprise — Enterprise CM solutions are extendible CM
platforms. Since these solutions target large departments and
corporations, they are designed to integrate with custom
internal databases and IT systems. Implementing an enterprise
system typically requires dedicated IT resources and a sizable
budget. However, the business efficiency obtained from a CM
system that integrates with existing organizational databases
and technology typically overshadows the sizable investment.
Before implementing a CMS, consider getting help from an expert—particularly if
you are considering enterprise solutions, costly commercial solutions, or open-
source solutions that require ongoing resources to implement. In these cases, an
expert will reduce the time-to-launch, increase the chances of finding the right CMS
solution the first time, and reduce financial waste.
Ongoing Website Maintenance
The cost of your organization's website involves more than the cost of
your project. You must consider the total cost of owning and
maintaining your Internet site. Be prepared to ask related questions:
How often will the site be updated? Who will update the site? What is
the anticipated return on investment?
Your Company’s Website
It's a good idea to prepare a maintenance plan that identifies ongoing
tasks associated with the website, who will complete the tasks, and the
anticipated costs of site maintenance. A maintenance plan ensures that
your site is functioning and up-to-date on a regular basis. It does so by
meeting five objectives:
• Define site-related tasks — The maintenance plan identifies daily,
weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks associated with
maintaining and protecting web related content.
• Define responsibilities associated with each task — Every site has
associated maintenance responsibilities. The maintenance plan
identifies maintenance tasks and identifies appropriate levels
of responsibility for the client and its vendors.
• Identify ongoing procedures — The maintenance plan identifies
ongoing procedures for updating and revising site content and
reviewing site visitor information.
• Identify planned additions/enhancements — The maintenance plan
provides a tentative schedule and plan for enhancements/additions
to be implemented within the next 12- to 18-month period.
• Identify maintenance costs — The maintenance costs associated
with a website are based on the scope of site. The maintenance
plan identifies all ongoing and anticipated costs related to
maintaining the website and integrated applications.
If your site is developed by a vendor, it may be appropriate to require
a maintenance plan within the scope of the project.
Internet Accessibility for the Disabled
Individuals with vision, hearing, or other disabilities use the Internet to
conduct research, engage in business, and seek entertainment. By
taking the appropriate steps, your organization can ensure that
disabled computer users can effectively utilize your website.
Internet media should be compliant with Section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act, as defined by the US Federal Access Board and
guidelines defined by W3C/WAI. These standards prevent use of the
kinds of designs that depend too much on one sense—such as sight,
hearing or touch. Those who are blind, deaf or can't use their hands
will still be able to use the website effectively, if you are compliant.
Since these accessibility considerations comprise the most stringent
guidelines for web developers, following them ensures the site is also
compliant with other requirements, such as the Americans with
Disabilities Act and Section 255 of the Telecom Act.
Your Company’s Website
SELECTING A WEBSITE DEVELOPER
When you've got the budget to implement your planned web project,
there is no shortage of website developers who want to be your friend.
But how do you determine the best choice for building the website?
Selecting the right web developer, web designer or interactive media
company to work on your website can be a challenge. You want to be
sure that the vendor can fulfill the objectives and strategies for the site,
take care of your technology and marketing needs in the process, and
maintain an adequate level of attention to your project.
Good web developers are good communicators. They contact
potential clients before providing a proposal to ensure they have a
clear understanding of the project, its goals, and project-related
technologies. Based on discussions with the client, they can fine-tune
the timeline, budget, and their proposed approach. Based on their
experience, they offer processes for managing changes to the project
scope and offer tools that make it easy for clients to provide feedback
and monitor project status.
No vendor is an island. Like a building contractor, most web
developers have general web development skills, but need to call in
experts when special needs arise. A good developer is connected.
Many developers have in-house staff or additional vendors that can
contribute to implementation of the website. So, it's a good idea to
evaluate a vendor's flexibility. Inflexible vendors increase project cost
and frustration. If a vendor only does development for .NET and
you're not sure you want to implement a Microsoft-oriented site,
consider vendors that are agnostic when it comes to technology.
Given the opportunity, you'll also want to work with a vendor who
takes responsibility when problems arise or delays occur. Many
companies using offshore developers from India and Pakistan are
pleased with the initial budget for projects, but find it difficult to deal
with foreign vendors when things go wrong.
A vendor who is experienced handling potential problems is more
desirable than one who will convince you that nothing can go wrong
and that all projects are completed on time.
You'll want to select an experienced developer or web designer. When it comes to
the web, there's always someone who will recommend hiring the proverbial
"teenaged nephew who seems to know a lot about the Internet." Many small
businesses have picked this option. [
Your Company’s Website
For a number of reasons it's the worst choice you could make. Familiarity with HTML
programming and/or graphic design won't make up for the lack of experience most teens have
with running a business, developing effective marketing communication, and implementing
sophisticated web-based technology.
And it's not just teens—during the late 1990s people who learned a bit of HTML could set up
themselves as web developers, even if that was their only experience. Some still do today.
Consider this: Would you ask the hopeful vendor, however good at writing code, to develop your
advertising campaign or write a customer brochure? If the answer is no, then seek a professional
for your web project too.
Tips for Selection:
• Get three estimates — This ensures you get a well-rounded view
of project-related issues and costs. The likelihood of bad
communication is less when your project is reviewed by three
• Make your selection based on overall value not just cost — Spending a
little less on a website that generates a lower return on
investment isn't a good investment.
• Understand that your project will probably cost a little more than
projected — And, it will likely take a little longer than you think.
Going in prepared will help you keep your peace of mind. If
the vendor has a good change management process, changes
to the budget and timeline will be justified and well
• Create a request for proposal (RFP) — Be sure to use valid
• Use a consistent process to evaluate potential web vendors — Consider
using a checklist/scorecard that ranks vendors on important
Once you have made your final decision to award your project to a
vendor, it is important that you both agree, in writing, to all aspects
that make up the project.
Your web developer or designer should draw up a project agreement
that details of all the services to be provided. The agreement should
also include project-related expenses, such as hosting, training and
ongoing site maintenance. If the vendor is creating unique
functionality or content, the agreement should also specify copyright
and software licensing restrictions.
Vendors who balk at the rigors of your selection process or
requirements to provide a detailed project agreement are candidates to
Your Company’s Website
be avoided. Experienced web developers and designers, on the other
hand, are more likely to value your level of preparedness and
organization. It will make their job easier and your project more
An informed client is a good client—whether selecting a website
developer or choosing a website hosting company.
CHOOSING A WEBSITE HOSTING COMPANY
Now that you've planned your web presence and built a website, you
need to get your online efforts seen by others. Web hosting companies
are the "silent partner" of every online business. A good partner makes
going online a natural extension of your business. A bad one costs you
time, money and customers.
An important part of Internet marketing is finding the right web
host—the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides you with the
server space, database and Internet connectivity you need to share a
site with the world.
The three issues to consider are location, service and storage.
Location. From a customer's perspective, the geographic location of
your web host provider isn't important. Whether they are located
within 30 miles or 3,000 miles doesn't matter if they are providing a
good connection to the Internet. National providers tend to create
generic hosting environments to maximize their economies of scale.
This means if your website doesn't require anything special you can
often find cost savings with a reliable national provider.
From a business perspective, local web host providers offer some
advantage—particularly if your company's knowledge of networking
and Internet technology is limited.
Local providers usually provide their customers with higher levels of
support and accountability than national providers. Local providers
tend to have a more intimate business relationship with their
customers. They know their client's objectives and strategies for a web
presence, and they can design, implement and support Internet
solutions that better meet the needs of their clients.
National providers tend to be less personal and less responsive than
local providers. It's not uncommon for it to take 24-48 hours before a
support request is resolved.
There are many free hosting services available on the Internet. If
you're designing a website for business purposes, never host your
website with a free host.
Your Company’s Website
Service. You can't overestimate the importance of service when it
comes to selecting a location to host a website or an off-site server. If
your website is complex or an essential part of your company's day-to-
day business, it's probably the most important factor to consider.
The best way to determine the level of service that a web host
company provides is to talk with other businesses that use its service.
Web host companies should provide you with references of businesses
that use their service and have similar needs to those of your company.
It's important to call the references provided by the web host
Ask the following questions of the references: How long have they been with the
T provider? How many unscheduled outages have they had with their provider? How
timely are technical support issues dealt with? How accurate is the ISP's billing?
What procedures are in place when dealing with customer service issues? How
long do they have to wait on "hold" when they call for support?
Read the fine print. Specifically, read a web hosting company's Service Level Agreement (SLA) to
see what they're actually guaranteeing. Does their SLA go beyond network availability? Do they
provide a service level for responding to technical or customer support issues? Do they monitor
and evaluate your websites availability? Do they support complex or specialized applications?
Offerings. Any competent ISP should be able to host the site in either
Windows or UNIX environment. However, there are some basic
features to look for when selecting any web host:
• 24/7 technical support
• your own domain name (www.yoursite.com)
• 10GB or more of monthly transfer (traffic)
• a minimum of 20MB - 50MB of server space
• unlimited POP email accounts - firstname.lastname@example.org
• unlimited email aliases
• email forwarding
• unlimited autoresponders
• access to SSL Encryption for secure transactions
• MySQL or SQL Server Database
Your Company’s Website
• htaccess password protection
• Server Side Includes (SSI) support
• unlimited free access to your server via FTP/Telnet
• easy access to your log files
• statistics on visits to your site
Stability and experience are important when seeking a web host. Web
hosting companies with a history of providing reliable service and a
healthy client list should always be selected over less experienced
hosting providers. Unlike inexperienced providers, experienced ISPs
solve problems faster. They also cause fewer of them in the first place.
E-commerce is the practice of advertising, buying and selling products
or services over the Internet. It is the logical extension of most
Internet marketing efforts. E-commerce benefits many business
owners by providing them with the ability to offer their products or
services worldwide and the ability to compete with larger companies.
Since customer activities and transactions are managed electronically,
e-commerce also provides business owners with a wealth of
information that is unavailable offline. For example, online retailers
know the number of customers viewing each product in the store and
the percentage of viewing customers that purchase. This information
can be used to determine appropriate inventory or to suggest popular
items to like-minded customers.
From a business owner's perspective, the process of selling online is
very similar selling offline. It requires researching your business plan,
creating a store, promoting your business, receiving customer
payments, delivering products, and providing after-the-sale support.
But the ways in which you accomplish those tasks online is different
• Creating an Online Store
• Setting Up Online Shopping Carts
• Accepting Payment on the Web
• Using Express Pay Services
• Addressing Shopping Cart Abandonment
CREATING AN ONLINE STORE
An online store is a place located within a website where customers
can view and select products or services. It is the online equivalent of
a printed catalog. The e-commerce role that an online store plays
within the website of a given business can vary greatly:
• Supplement business activities — Online stores can supplement
existing businesses by offering a limited selection of items that
complement an existing business. For example, the website of
a sit-down dining establishment may include a small online
store to sell gift certificates and promotional clothing such as
T-shirts, to offsite customers.
• Integrate business activities — Online stores can increase the
revenue and efficiency of an existing business. For example,
the website of a pizza restaurant may allow customers to place
takeout and delivery orders online. This might improve a
restaurant's efficiency by taking orders and processing
payment without using employees. It might also increase
revenue by attracting customers who prefer to place orders
• Drive business activities — Online stores can create new revenue
opportunities. For example, an independent bookstore can use
an online store to sell its entire inventory online. This creates a
worldwide market for the bookstore's products which could
far exceed revenue generated by in-store customers.
The key to developing an effective online store is making it easy for
customers to find what they want. This requires organizing the store in
a logical manner and including the appropriate amount of information
about each product. Business owners must anticipate product-related
questions that customers may ask and arrange product information in
a manner that answers these questions in the order that they occur:
• Does this site sell what I want? Items in an online store must be
easy to find. Most stores provide multiple ways to find the
same information. For example, site visitors may be able to
simultaneously click on a product's name or photograph, click
on the name of a product category or manufacturer, or use an
online search form to select products of interest.
• Does this site have what I want? When customers browse
individual product pages, they need to know as much
information as possible about an item to ensure it is the item
they are looking for. Product pages with good photographs
sell more products than pages without them. Since
photographs don't accurately reflect product dimensions or
colors, it is equally important to specify all product attributes.
This includes product name, manufacturer, size, color, weight,
availability and price.
• How much is it? Online customers need to know the total price
of an item. This includes the selling price, handling charges,
shipping costs and applicable taxes. You must also specify
how you will accept payment. Credit cards and express
payments are commonplace methods of payment for online
Once the customers find what they're looking for, they typically put
the selection in a "shopping cart" and search for other items. This
makes it easier for the customer to purchase multiple items, as well as
to buy things he may not have been looking for.
SETTING UP ONLINE SHOPPING CARTS
In an online store, shopping cart pages act as a gateway to a website's
order form. Like their offline counterparts, online shopping carts
allow customers collect and organize products they wish to buy.
Shopping cart pages must be generated dynamically for each order to
reflect accurate quantity, pricing, sales tax and shipping for every
Shopping carts are typically available to business owners in two e-
• Licensed software — In this instance, shopping cart software is
downloaded and installed on a web server. This approach
requires more setup time and more diligent maintenance than
a hosted solution. However, licensed software typically
provides a greater opportunity for customization.
• Hosted service — Hosted cart solutions allow businesses to offer
shopping carts without installing software on their own server.
Instead, e-commerce is conducted offsite using a web-based
infrastructure maintained by another company. Hosted carts
generally require payment of a monthly or annual subscription
fee. Some hosted services also charge a percentage of sales in
addition to the monthly fee. This model typically offers turn-
key templates that a business owner can customize.
Once a customer has filled his shopping cart, you are ready to accept
payment, unless the customer abandons the shopping cart.
ACCEPTING PAYMENT ON THE WEB
Shopping carts act as the front end for e-commerce. Payment gateway
services, such as Verisign or Authorizenet, drive the backend of the
online store. The handoff between these two components takes place
via a secure connection to ensure that customer data remains safe.
A payment gateway service channels payment requests throughout
relevant financial networks, including the merchant account with your
bank. The result of each payment request is exchanged between a
website's shopping cart software and the gateway service to determine
For example, if payment is accepted, an order confirmation is
provided and the order is fulfilled. If payment is rejected, the customer
is asked to resolve the error, provide an alternative method of
payment, or place the order by another method.
T An alternative to using these gateway services for accepting payment is to use an
express pay service on your site. In fact, you may want to offer it in addition to
using the gateway services, letting the buyer decide which to use. It may prevent
Unfortunately, some customers never present their shopping carts for
payment, resulting in abandoned shopping carts.
USING EXPRESS PAY SERVICES
No one likes waiting in line, and e-commerce is no exception. Express
payment options from companies such as PayPal and Google provide
online shoppers with what they're looking for—a secure, hassle-free
shopping experience. And they provide advantages to many online
store merchants too.
Shoppers like eBay's PayPal (www.paypal.com) service because it
allows them to purchase online without giving out their credit card
numbers to individual merchants. PayPal accounts are easy to setup
and provide shoppers with a single area to monitor all of their online
According to a 2005 Forrester survey, 43 percent of U.S. online
consumers rely on PayPal's services. Of these shoppers, 80 percent say
they are more likely to buy from a merchant that offers PayPal. And
these are shoppers that merchants desire: 60 percent of PayPal users
are high-net-worth individuals, aged 35-64, and 75 percent are college-
educated. These are the types of customers you'd like filling your
online shopping carts.
PayPal's overwhelming market share is likely to diminish with the
introduction of Google Checkout (checkout.google.com). Like PayPal,
Google Checkout offers a process that makes shopping faster, more
convenient and more secure for online shoppers. With Google
Checkout, shoppers complete transactions by entering their login
information, avoiding the hassle of filling out multiple forms.
Like PayPal, Google Checkout improves a shopper's security by
concealing the buyer's credit card number and providing
reimbursement for unauthorized purchases. Google Checkout also lets
shoppers choose whether or not to keep email addresses confidential
or turnoff unwanted email from the stores where they shop.
Early adopters of Google Checkout include Dick's Sporting Goods,
Buy.com and Starbucks. Google Checkout is used by uBid, but
prohibited by eBay.
For sellers, competition between Google and PayPal is a good thing.
As an incentive to merchants, Google takes a smaller cut of payments.
PayPal starts at $0.30 plus 2.9 percent of the total payment. Google
requires $0.20 and 2 percent, respectively. In addition, merchants that
use Google AdWords get a break on these fees. For every $1
merchants spend on AdWords, they can process $10 in sales through
Google Checkout at no charge.
PayPal and Google Checkout provide some valuable benefits to
merchants. Merchants using these systems don't store the credit cards
numbers of customers. As a result, there is no risk that credit card
information provided to your company will be stolen or misused. Both
systems provide a secure turn-key payment system for merchants.
While these solutions can be more expensive, over time, than operating your own
credit card gateway, they provide an easy way to get online. And it's an ideal
means to test online sales volume before developing your own credit card payment
Merchants who provide their own credit card processing can benefit by adding PayPal and/or
Google Checkout as an additional payment option. Although it seems redundant, consumers using
these services are more likely to buy from you if you accept their preferred payment method.
According to various research reports, typical shopping cart
abandonment rates can range from 50 to 90 percent. Although the
reasons for abandonment vary, common ones include enduring long
checkout processes, requiring too much personal information,
mandating customers create site-specific logins, and expressing
concerns about website security.
For many online shoppers, payment services like PayPal and Google
Checkout do a good job of lessening these concerns. That may be
reason enough to consider using them.
ADDRESSING SHOPPING CART ABANDONMENT
People used to abandon online shopping carts because they didn't
understand how online stores and e-commerce works. Now, it's
because they do.
Despite ongoing efforts to streamline online purchasing processes,
online retailers continue to experience staggering abandonment rates:
studies estimate that 50 to 90 percent of all shopping cart purchases
are abandoned midstream.
This is because online-savvy consumers are using shopping carts to
browse more than to buy. Knowing that shipping costs, handling charges,
sales tax, product availability and delivery methods vary widely among
online retailers, customers use shopping carts to compare vendors.
To distinguish the best online offer, many consumers visit three to
five different online vendors and use their shopping carts to determine
the final cost of buying before deciding where to make the purchase.
By knowing that shoppers use their cart for comparison, online
retailers can serve customers better:
• Flexibility — A shopping cart should allow customers to adjust
their order without returning to product pages. Customers
should be able to change quantities and options. If a product
comes in multiple sizes or colors, make it easy to select or
change options in the shopping cart.
• Shipping — Provide complete shipping information. If you
offer multiple shipping methods, show the cost for each. If
customers print out the shopping cart for offline comparison
to other vendors, they can compare different methods without
returning to your site.
• Availability — Specify whether products are in stock. If items
aren't in stock, indicate availability dates. Allow customers to
leave an email address if they want to be notified when an out-
of-stock item becomes available.
• Contact — Include contact information in your shopping cart.
Providing telephone and email contact information puts
shoppers at ease, and allows them to contact you easily if they
print out information for offline comparison.
• Remember — Have your shopping cart remember customers'
orders even after they leave your site. This allows them to
place the order quickly if they return to your site after
• Simplify — Make the checkout process easy for new customers.
Allow individuals to place orders without creating an account.
Limit the amount of marketing data you collect when
someone places an order.
• Survey — Implement a survey to random visitors who abandon
their shopping cart. Ask them to identify the top reasons they
decided to leave the site without making a purchase. And
allow them to rate your prices and shipping charges in
comparison to other sites.
Ultimately, the best means of finding out why consumers are leaving
abandoned shopping carts at a website is to ask them.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of promoting your
websites through paid text ads that appear on the results pages in
search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.
To determine when your paid text ads appears in search engine results,
you must select desirable keywords and keyphrases, and bid against
competitors to determine which ads will appear. The order ads appear
is influenced by bidding, relevance and other factors.
Launching an effective SEM campaign is a three-step process that
involves keyword research, the initial setup of your search engine
campaign and day-to-day management of SEM efforts.
Keyword research is the process of selecting keywords and keyphrases
to include in your search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. The goal
of keyword research is to identify as many keywords and keyphrases as
possible and organize them into logical groups. The end result of
keyword research is a 'keyword portfolio' which can be used as the
basis for all SEM campaigns.
To create your own keyword portfolio, begin by creating a keyword
seed list of 30-50 keywords and keyphrases that describe the full range
of your company's core products and services. Then, separate your
seedlist into categories. Categories should be specific enough (mutually
exclusive) so that keywords don't overlap. They should also be general
enough to allow for an unlimited number of groups within the
Search Engine Marketing
For example, a cafe that conducts business online and in three cities
may begin with a seed list that includes the following terms:
coffeshop, coffee shop, free wifi, free wireless Internet, café,
lunch, dinner, breakfast, bakery, organic coffee, barista, latte, espresso,
keurig, coffee roaster, coffee supplies, cappuccino, coffee supplies,
coffee grinder, coffee press, espresso beans, coffee pods, Kuerig cups,
coffee cups, bistro
The owner of the cafe might organize the seed list into the following
mutually exclusive categories:
Location Supplies Services
café Organic coffee Latte
cafe Keurig espresso
coffee shop Keurig cups cappuccino
coffeeshop coffee pods breakfast
bistro coffee cups lunch
barista coffee grinder dinner
coffee roaster coffee press bakery
Internet cafe espresso beans free wifi
coffee supplies free wireless
Search Engine Marketing
Next, each category is divided further into groups. Keywords within
the same group must be related closely enough to share the same text
ad. In the example above, "coffee pods" and "coffee grinder" are
different groups within the "supplies" category. Each keyword group
required a unique text ad. People who seek coffee pods aren't seeking
the same thing as individuals seeking a coffee grinder.
Once groups are established, you need to expand the keywords in each
group to increase the size of your keyword portfolio. Although our
coffee shop may begin with a seed list of 20-30 words, the number of
keywords and phrases will grow based on iterations and combinations
of different words. A typical coffee shop can easily end up with 500 to
Developing an effective search engine campaign is a lot like managing
any investment portfolio: You want to save as much money as
possible while simultaneously investing as much money as possible in
areas that are likely to achieve results.
SEARCH ENGINE CAMPAIGNS
To advertise on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN,
business owners specify the keywords that trigger their ads and the
maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. This determines
how their ad will be displayed within search engine results as
The display order of paid ads is influenced by advertisers' bids and
other less tangible factors such as the "quality score" of ads and the
quality of destination landing pages on your site.
With nearly 50 percent of market share, Google is the most popular
search advertising program, followed closely by Yahoo with roughly
17 percent of the market. As a result, most business owners will want
to begin by creating and optimizing search engine marketing
campaigns for Google. Thereafter, successful campaigns can be
adapted for other search engines.
Search Engine Marketshare 2007
Google 28,454 46.47%
Yahoo! 10,505 17.16%
Baidu 8,428 13.76%
Microsoft 7,880 12.87%
Search Engine Marketing
NHN 2,882 4.71%
eBay 2,428 3.9%
Time Warner (includes
Ask.com and related 728 1.1%
Yandex 566 0.9%
Alibaba.com 531 0.8%
Total 61,221 100.0%
With Google, you can spend $10 and send your advertisement to 50
million people instantly. Marketers who jump into Google Adwords
for the first time often get a crash course in street-smart direct
response marketing. Too often, the result is overspending. To prevent
overspending, take these into careful consideration when planning an
• Use many, inexpensive keywords — It is extremely useful to find
inexpensive keywords in bulk. These can be variations of your
primary keyword behaviors. These terms can be tested and
distilled along with your ad layout during an A-B ad split. This
is another reason why more keywords is better. In essence you
will discover more about your market by creating as many
combinations of keywords associated with a primary keyword
in a distinct campaign. Most people are bidding on too few
keywords and missing the right ones.
• Relevant ads are rewarded — Your position on the page is
determined by the cost of your bid. However, the higher the
percentage of prospects that click on your ad, the less you
have to bid to keep your position.
• Ads must be clicked on 0.5 percent of the time — This means out of
200 exposures, your Google Ad must be clicked at least one
time. If it does not get clicked the minimum amount, Google
will flag the keyword for removal and raise the minimum bid
price. This means you suffer financially if you cannot write
• Ads are syndicated to other locations — You can deselect this
feature if you so choose. Be very careful with this feature if
you are bidding on expensive terms. Sometimes website
owners seek out expensive high-bid Adwords in order to
receive the high commissions from the Adsense click. They do
Search Engine Marketing
this by getting their friends to click on your ad placed on their
theme website. You can avoid this fraud by choosing the kind
of websites you want to syndicate your ads to.
• Headlines should match the primary keyword — This has been
proven to increase relevancy and click-thrus.
• Provide a relevant landing page — Have many variations of your
primary keyword under one campaign. Let them sort out
automatically. Just be sure you know how to write ads with
Yahoo and MSN attract different users, and search engines have
strong brand loyalty. Yahoo is a strong favorite with 18- to 34-year-
olds, while MSN and AOL have a stronger preference among the 35-
55+ age group.
MSN offers one of the best tools to understanding the demographics of customers.
In the research area of the Microsoft Ad Center, you examine the traffic,
geography, age, gender and lifestyle of users by keyword. Within a few seconds,
you would be able to find out that women age 24-35 and men age 36-50 are the
most frequent seekers of information about "cheese." These individuals are often
affluent and often lead a "bourgeois prosperity" or "career and family" lifestyle.
What more could a marketer ask for?
Although, according to comScore, Yahoo has higher market share
than MSN, it’s unclear to most marketers whether MSN or Yahoo will
provide the most cost-effective solution. It's also uncertain what effect
Yahoo's partnership with eBay may have on market share as
individuals begin to see eBay listings mixed with their Yahoo search
Developing a search engine campaign is just the beginning. If you truly
want to be successful, you must constantly refine your SEM plans.
REFINING SEM PLANS
Once you have done keyword research for your search engine
campaign, and implemented your search engine marketing plan, you
need to monitor your results.
And based on what you learn, you need to continually refine your
campaign accordingly. Trends change, marketers and their keywords
come and go, and the landscape is constantly evolving.
Search Engine Marketing
The areas you should focus on include:
• Keyword Refinement
• Testing Ad Positions
• Improving Your Landing Page
• Scheduling Google Dayparts
• Retargeting Lost Sales
Don't limit your search engine campaign to 20, 30, or even 500
keywords. Having more keywords is better because you can discover
which inexpensive keywords are working over time. You should start
with a massive amount of keywords and filter the ones that do not
generate sales. This helps you to minimize waste by cutting your bid
price and generate more income from sales.
Continue to add specific terms and filter them out, both through
Google and your own market testing. The key to the entire operation
is well written ads that are tested for actual sales conversion. You may
test these conversions by adding third-party tools in order to track
actual shopping part sales.
When refining search engine marketing plans, there are always
more keywords and untapped markets to add to your Google
Adwords campaigns. It will require continual research and
experimentation to add keywords drawn from new markets and
Avoid keyword stagnation with your Google Adwords campaign.
Testing Ad Positions
While marketers continue to vie for the top advertising position on
search engines, many are beginning to question the wisdom and cost
associated with the battle for first position. This evolution shows the
wisdom of constantly refining your search engine marketing plans.
Many savvy marketers use a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model for
online advertising. This defines the success of an ad based on the cost
it takes to convert one visitor into a customer. Given this, a top
position that costs $10 per click and generates a negative CPA may be
less desirable than running the same ad in a lower position at $4 per
click if a positive CPA is possible.
Search Engine Marketing
Although Yahoo had allowed marketers to target specific ad positions,
until recently, it wasn't possible to do so on Google.
If you find that your ad gets the best results when it is ranked third or
fourth among all Google ads, Google now allows you to set a
preferred position for those spots. Google will then try to show your
ad whenever it is ranked third or fourth, and avoid showing it when it
is ranked higher or lower. If your ad is ranked higher than third for a
given keyword, the system will automatically try to lower your bid to
place your ad in your preferred position.
You can request that your Google ad be shown only when it meets
your defined criteria, such as when it is higher than a given position,
lower than a given position, within a range of positions, or in an exact
position. Google position preferences are not immediate or
guaranteed. It can take a few days for a preferred position to kick in.
And ads will still appear in other positions, though Google makes
every effort to display ads in the preferred spot.
MSN allows you to target ads by day and time. If individuals are
logged into MSN as a user, you can also target them by location, age
Improving Your Landing Page
When monitoring your search engine marketing plans, if one of the
things you notice is a high volume of clicks, but a small number of
conversions, one of the first places to look is your landing page.
A landing page is the destination page on your website where
individuals go after clicking on your ad. For a search engine campaign,
a good landing page is just as important as a good ad, good keywords
and strategic bidding.
In order to achieve a desirable cost-per-acquisition (CPA), you need to
provide good content to individuals who click-thru to your site. Site
visitors are impatient. If they don't find answers immediately, they'll
often return to the search results and visit another site from their
original search results. Headlines, subheadings, navigation, bullets and
copy are necessary when writing content for the web, making them
very important components of a landing page.
Consider improving your landing pages with the following strategies:
• Remain focused — Don't use landing pages as a brochure. Keep the
landing page specific to the topic/product described in the ad.
• Sell — Landing pages need to ask visitors to buy. Links to
place an order must be prominent. Make a conversion the next
step in the process. Test promotional offers that encourage
Search Engine Marketing
visitors to act immediately. Include an 800 number for
individuals who want to place an order by phone.
• Eliminate distractions — Limit use of photos. Remove as many
links and navigational elements as possible.
• Synchronize landing pages with ads — Make sure the content of
the ad is present on the landing page. Claims that are made in
the ad should be included and expanded on within the landing
• Build your brand — A landing page is an opportunity to link
your company with the very specific needs of site visitors. It's
an advertising portal where you can associate your brand with
their keyword search without isolating anyone else.
By creating an effective landing page, marketers increase conversions
and make Google, Yahoo, and MSN campaigns more competitive and
Although the search engines are competing for your advertising dollars, it doesn't
mean that marketers should elect using one search engine over another. The most
successful marketers strive to operate unique MSN, Google and Yahoo campaign
simultaneously — with each of them performing at enviable CPA levels.
Scheduling Google Dayparts
When refining search engine campaigns, marketers should consider
dayparting tactics and strategies to improve the results of their Google
Until recently, Google AdWords tactics were limited to four big
elements: keywords, bidding, creative, and geography. However, when
Google began offering ad scheduling in 2006, they provided marketers
with another way to control AdWord spending and optimize the
effectiveness of campaigns using dayparting strategies.
Ad scheduling (aka "dayparting") lets you tell Google exactly when
you want your ads to run. It also allows marketers to modify keyword
bids based on time of day and day of week.
A daypart is a consecutive block of time on similar days (weekdays or
weekends) when the target audience or campaign environment shares
characteristics that can influence the effectiveness of a campaign. For
Search Engine Marketing
example, prime time TV audiences are larger than daytime TV
audiences. And the daytime TV audience is characterized by a large
proportion of women.
The Internet contains five distinct dayparts: early morning (M-F 6am-
8am); daytime (M-F, 8am-5pm); evening (M-F, 5pm-11pm); late night
(M-F, 11pm-6am); and weekends (Sat-Sun, all day). Each of these
dayparts can be characterized by their usage levels, demographics and
the type of content sought.
Did You Know?
Contrary to TV, daytime is the largest daypart for Internet use. Working people
make up a largest share (nearly 70 percent) of daytime users. Working people
also comprise the largest share (more than 50 percent) of early morning users.
News and information content is sought during the early morning and daytime
During the evening, late night and weekend dayparts, you're likely to reach more users at home.
This may be why entertainment and sports content is sought more often during this time. A large
share of e-commerce activity also occurs during evening and weekend dayparts.
Google recommends that some marketers may want to schedule their
ads to run only during business hours, and others may want to raise
maximum bids during high-traffic times of the day. Companies that
sell consumer goods online can reduce costs and optimize their
campaign by focusing on high-conversion time periods during evening
and weekend hours.
Google's ad scheduling feature occurs at the campaign level and
requires two steps to enable: First you enable ad scheduling for a
campaign. Then, choose the times when you want your ad to run.
Thanks to ad scheduling, you can also determine when you do not want ads to run.
An important element of dayparting strategies is to remove ads during times when
conversions are low or when keyword prices are high. Jonathan Kendall, of
MediaPost's Search Insider, discovered that campaigns they analyzed saw a sharp
spike in cost-per-click fees after 11pm.
"As the day progresses, those advertisers with smaller budgets gradually begin to disappear from
the bidding process, leaving the remaining advertisers paying far less for each click (which was
noticed across all three of these campaigns)," he said. "Conversely, when budgets are then
restored at the end of the day, many advertisers will see their cost-per-clicks soar, as they now
have to outbid several additional listings."
Search Engine Marketing
To get the most out of Google's ad scheduling features, you'll want to
conduct a daypart analysis of your campaign to determine the times
when your ads are most effective. By collecting and analyzing data
about conversion percentages, you can tune your dayparts and increase
the effectiveness of your search engine marketing.
The most difficult part is deciding how deep you want to go, since
daypart results can be applied based on a variety of geographic,
keyword and creative factors.
Retargeting Lost Sales
Some 98 percent of Internet shoppers leave e-commerce sites without
buying. So to help refine search engine marketing plans and possibly
recapture lost sales, Internet-savvy marketers are starting to use
retargeting technology to pursue customers who have left their
Retargeting works by placing a 'tracking pixel' from an ad network on
specific product pages of your website. When site visitors leave the
website after visiting these pages, they'll see ads describing your
products and services on sites and search engines within a given
retargeting ad network.
BlueLithium's network retargets based on the individually tagged pages
that correlate with that search term. Once a user reaches the tagged
page, AdPath identifies them as a person who came via search.
Advertising.com's network groups visitors by keywords and allows
advertisers to track a variety of behaviors, including clicks,
registrations and sales.
The network offered by Revenue Science offers a second chance to
convert interested leads by placing tags on the top search landing
pages and matching creative to the retargeting banners for those
Retargeting makes search engine campaigns more effective. According to
T Forrester Research's survey of marketers using behavioral targeting, the top three
benefits include generating more click-thrus, increasing conversions and improving
return on investment.
Here are some tips to consider when targeting lost sales:
• Focus your follow-up — Don't use a general ad in a retargeting
campaign. Use different tracking pixels for each product or
Search Engine Marketing
service. Take the opportunity to provide relevant, focused ads
to each prospect.
• Better offers — To recapture lost sales, provide a second chance
to reach prospects. Provide a new, better offer than they've
already seen on your website.
• Multiple offers — During a retargeting campaign, you're not
required to have one offer that attracts every prospect. Try a
variety of alternative offers that appeal to different types of
customers. One offer might include a discount. Another offer
might include free shipping.
• Multiple formats — By necessity, retargeting occurs on a variety
of websites beyond your control. Many limit the types and
sizes of ads they serve. Be prepared. Provide ads in a wide
range of sizes and formats.
• Upsell opportunities — Retargeting can be used upsell to existing
customers. Retargeting can be used to market product-related
accessories and complimentary services to your existing
Retargeting also improves a company's share of voice (SOV) by
pumping up the number of times someone sees a company's brand
while actively shopping. This can be important. When individuals shop
online, it's not uncommon for them to visit several competing online
stores in a short amount of time to compare services, products and
costs. During these intense periods of research, it's not uncommon for
website visitors to forget some of the websites they visited.
Retargeting keeps a website top of mind.
According to Dakota Sullivan, CMP for BlueLithium, marketers who retarget see a
34 percent increase in brand awareness and an 18 percent increase in intent to
Most effective search engine optimization (SEO) tactics have one
thing in common: keywords. By anticipating the search terms used by
customers and incorporating them into a website, marketers can boost
their site's natural search engine ranking, which is vital to Internet
Obtaining a desirable search engine ranking requires good information
about the keywords and keyword phrases related to your website's
industry or topic. A good place to start is to examine the keyword
density of pages on the website.
Keyword density is measured by the number of times a word appears
on a page divided by the number of words on a page. Keyword density
is used by search engines to help determine the rank of a website for a
One of the best ways to determine the keyword density of terms on
your website is to create a keyword cloud. A keyword cloud is a visual
representation of a web page based on the way a search engine sees it.
To generate your own keyword cloud, try one these free tools:
• Icon Interactive's Keyword Cloud Tool generates a keyword
• SEO Tools generates a keyword cloud that includes phrases.
In a keyword cloud, some of the keywords that appear in your cloud
are in larger fonts and some are in smaller fonts. The keywords in
larger fonts have a higher "keyword density". This means that they
occur more frequently in that website. Popular search terms should be
the largest words in your site's keyword cloud.
Search Engine Optimization
It's important to incorporate popular keywords and keyphrases on
your site that potential customers will be using to find your site on
search engines. The addition of new popular and highly relevant
keywords will improve the ranking of your site in natural search engine
results. To find keywords you may be overlooking, try these free tools:
• Icon Interactive's Keyword Suggestion Tool help find keywords
related to the words you enter and display's the popularity of the
• Adapt Keyword Finder Beta emails you a report of alternative
keywords related to those you enter. (keywordfinder.adapt.com)
• Google Trends can be used to explore and compare the
volume of queries over time, by city, regions, languages, etc.
Based on what you learn, you can rewrite pages to include popular and
effective keyphrases throughout your site. Place keywords in the page
title, headings, metatags, comment fields, "alt" tags, URL link text, and
throughout the body of your web pages where a keyword or phrase is
The trick is to improve density and placement of important keywords
and keyphrases throughout the site without negatively affecting the
content. Keywords need to be as specific as possible to each page.
This ensures that people who find the site through search engines
won't be disappointed with the content they find.
Search engine optimization isn't based on keywords alone. Importance is also a
factor. "Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank," according to
Google, which uses its PageRank system to determine the best sites to display in
natural search engine results.
"Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all
aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a
good match for your query." An easy way to measure a site's PageRank is to visit a site like
Google and other search engines reward sites that are linked from
other popular and reputable sites. Sites linking to your site should have
an equivalent or higher page rank. Text for incoming links should
include keywords and phrases.
Incoming links that contain keywords within the text of a link are also
viewed as more relevant than links without keywords. Links that use
phrases like "click here" or "learn more" are less relevant. And text
Search Engine Optimization
links that only contain a company's name aren't relevant for keyword
searches that leave out the name.
SEO is not about being highly ranked for every possible keyword or
getting incoming links from every possible website. It's about being
highly ranked for the right keywords and linked from the right kind of
For more information about search engine optimization, see our
• Link Popularity
• Sitemap XML Feeds
• Selecting an SEO Vendor
While having the best website in your industry is a noble goal, a far
more satisfying one is to have the most popular site. This is the goal of
search engine optimization.
The best means of measuring your website's popularity is by
determining its link popularity—that is, the number and quality of
other websites linking to it. Each time another website adds a link to
your website, it's a vote of confidence in your site and the quality of its
content. This confidence is monitored by search engines, which
reward popular websites with higher search engine rankings.
To measure your website's popularity, use any free, web-based link
popularity tool. IconInteractive.com provides one of the better link
popularity tools on the Internet. These tools will provide you with a
summary of incoming links to your site from the most popular
Did You Know?
Sites with fewer than 1,000 incoming links are virtually invisible. Sites with 1,000 to
5,000 links are average. To be considered among the 'popular' set, a site should
have 20,000 or more incoming links. The most popular sites have more than
100,000 incoming links.
A website's link popularity indicates the perceived value the site has to
the Internet community at large. It indicates how easy your website is
to find—and whether others believe your site is worth finding.
Popular sites become known as must-see destinations on the Internet.
Search Engine Optimization
If your site's link popularity is lower than expected, or than desired,
there are a number of things that you can do to improve its popularity
• Write articles — Articles are the best way of attracting visitors
and incoming links to a website. Writing about your
company's industry in a meaningful way will lead to a higher
volume of incoming links. This does not include sales-oriented
content that is specific to your company's product offerings or
why they should buy your products.
• Publish press releases — Press releases are one of the best means
of attracting new visitors to your website. And when you
publish your press release using media outlets such as
Marketwatch or PR Web, the natural result is incoming links
to your website.
• Create RSS feeds — RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication."
Providing an RSS feed is the easiest way for you to offer
content to other websites. RSS files include article headlines,
summaries and links back to your website. When new content
is added to your site's feed, all of the sites that use your feed
are updated at the same time. Several sites exist to promote
your RSS feed to other websites and to Internet surfers.
• Offer a web-based affiliate program — An affiliate program is a
referral program that pays commissions to website owners that
link to your site. When their site visitors buy from you, they
get paid a portion of the sale. An affiliate program is a
twofer— it increases your link popularity and generates
additional sales at the same time.
• Advertise online —Paid advertising can make huge contributions
to a site's link popularity. When you purchase pay-per-click or
display advertising from popular websites, the byproduct is a
boost to your link popularity. Kicking off an online advertising
campaign is a good short-term tactic to boost popularity, while
you deploy other popularity-boosting tactics.
Building a site's link popularity takes time and persistence—
particularly if you take the best approach by only seeking links from
high-quality directories and websites. Don't seek links from sites that
aren't reputable or relevant. Avoid companies promising hundreds of
links to your site overnight.
Like hanging around with the wrong crowd in school, the results of
exchanging links with disreputable websites can be negative.
Search Engine Optimization
SITEMAP XML FEEDS
Search engine experts have been hounding Google to accept XML
feeds from webmasters who want to update their site information.
When Google recently introduced the beta version of Google
Sitemaps, they showed experts that they have been listening—at least
Google Sitemaps is a very useful feature for large shopping sites and
other sites with frequently updated or changing content. It ensures
that the search engine result listings related to their website stay fresh
and up to date, a must for search engine optimization.
The initial results of Google Sitemaps seems encouraging. In a recent
test, pages were crawled by Google within 14 hours of submitting a
sitemap file. Without a sitemap file, it had taken weeks until updates to
the pages were detected and applied.
Some search engine experts are discouraged that Google didn't go far
enough. They didn't implement a real-time ping server allowing
sitemap submissions to occur within seconds, and that feeds need to
be continually submitted when changes occur. Nevertheless, offering
Google Sitemaps is a step in the right direction.
It's also an empowering one.
Did You Know?
Until the availability of Google Sitemaps, Yahoo was the only search engine that
offered webmasters the ability to submit an XML feed to notify the search engine of
site changes. However, it has only been offered by paid inclusion. Google argues
that no one should pay to be included in the regular search results and is
apparently not planning to implement a similar fee-based service.
Submitting the XML feed. The Google Sitemaps protocol uses very
simple XML tags. Four tags are used to define individual pages:
• Location — This is the URL path to your web, beginning with
http://. For example, http://www.mywebsite.com
• Priority — The priority of the page within your site on a scale
of zero to one. By placing high priority on these pages, you
will increase their importance in Google. The least important
pages in your site should be assigned a priority of 0.0. The
most important pages should be ranked 1.0. Pages that are
common should be ranked 0.5.
Search Engine Optimization
• Last modified — When the page was last modified. This
timestamp allows Google to avoid re-indexing pages that
• Change frequency — Specifies how often a page is likely to
change: never, weekly, daily or hourly. This helps you identify
pages that need to be indexed by Google most often.
These tags are wrapped inside tags used to define the sitemap. The
result is a XML file that looks like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
The restrictions on sitemap files are modest. URLs must not include
embedded newlines. You must fully specify URLs because Google
tries to crawl the URLs exactly as you provide them. Your sitemap
files must use UTF-8 encoding. And each sitemap file is limited to
50,000 URLs and 10 megabytes when uncompressed.
When you submit a sitemap file to Google, you're notifying Google
what URLs on your website are ready to be crawled. Each time a
change occurs, such as the addition of a new page, you need to
resubmit your sitemap file for changes to be considered.
You can submit it in a number of ways: on Google Sitemaps home
page using a URL or with Google's Sitemap Generator installed on
your web server and scheduled to run automatically.
SELECTING AN SEO VENDOR
Companies that offer search engine optimization (SEO) services are
full of promises. With a little bit of knowledge, you can identify SEO
firms that can deliver.
Many SEO companies are resellers, not innovators. They confuse high
search engine rankings for smart search engine ranking. Search engine
Search Engine Optimization
technology is useless without smart marketing know-how. An SEO
firm should have huge amounts of experience in both areas.
Whenever an SEO firm guarantees top-ten results for a certain keyword
or phrase, you will often find that only six people have queried that term
in one year. What good is a guarantee like that? This adds zero value to
your bottom line, but makes the guarantee compelling at first.
The other side of the coin is an SEO firm who actually delivers results
on difficult keywords. This looks exciting but what you can't see will
often hurt you. Welcome to the dark side of SEO, where black-hat
search engine ranking techniques are seductive on the surface.
Avoid "black-hat" tactics. Don't hire a black-hat SEO firm that
uses single-IP advertising networks, cloaking software, or link-farms
that negatively affect your ranking.
There are many horror stories about black-hat search engine optimization
methods that have gotten web-sites banned from the search engine. Marketers
continue to be seduced by the temptation of quick results and instant traffic. At the
2004 SEO strategies conference in Chicago, a famous black-hat search engine
analyst known for selling instant results on difficult keywords spoke about his
practices. When his clients are banned from search engines, he profits. It's an
opportunity for him to convince a client to purchase a new domain and start the
process over again from the beginning.
Make sure your firm adopts the SEO code of ethics. It is better to
simply optimize the website correctly the first time based on timeless
search engine parameters: good content and good website structure.
Recognize quality. Don't confuse keyword quantity for keyword
quality. A higher volume of keywords doesn't translate into a higher
return on your SEO investment. The best way to accurately predict
what the return on investment that a keyword has is through KEI
(Keyword Effective Index).
The most popular keywords don't always get the highest quality
response to your product or service. There may be higher quality leads
and sales that come from less popular keywords that are well-
Do they know you? Don't hire an SEO firm that can't pass a test
about your products or services.
After interviewing a prospective search engine optimization firm, ask
them what they think of your product or service. Quiz them. Drill into
the basic facts that any customer or prospect should know after
Search Engine Optimization
browsing your website. If the SEO firm doesn't have a basic grasp by
the first or second interview, move on. If they don't have some basic
questions about your products and services, and your industry,
reconsider their level of marketing know-how.
Living and dying by the search engines is not appropriate for most
business models. Your SEO must understand your industry, your
products/services, and your business model. If an SEO firm doesn't
understand your vision, they cannot possibly perform a proper KEI
Search engine analysts tend to become absorbed in the tangled web of
search engine relationships, algorithm tricks and techno-babble. They
don't really connect to your real-live business model. They don't
believe in your product in order to become an evangelist for it. In fact,
they may not even care what your product is.
Do they know your strategy? Your SEO firm should have excellent
knowledge of your market strategy and use it to generate an online
SEO plan. The information you would like to acquire is not which
keyword phrases are most popular but which keyword phrases are the
most popular in your niche with zero websites competing for that
This requires lateral thinking and the ability to think about your
business model while researching your keywords. It also requires a
really excellent set of tools and the knowledge of how to recognize
Find an evangelist. An SEO firm should become an evangelist for
your product or service. You don't want to hire an impersonal media
buyer or an agency that already has a template-procedure for your
niche industry. Pat answers are not appropriate for long-term natural
A template won't do. Template solutions don't allow for keywords and
strategies that are unique to your business. This template thinking can
become extremely costly and is common in agency environments.
Your business is very likely unique. There are local search aspects of
your business to account for and unique branding considerations as
well. Your current business relationships need to be added into the
equation before time is spent optimizing. Search engine marketing
companies that cannot customize for your unique business model will
cost you money over the long term, guaranteed.
SEO marketing firms tend to be resellers, and you may discover that
you needed more from them. There is more to strategic marketing
than a good website and top ranking for useless keywords.
Avoid order-takers. If an SEO firm accepts your suggested keyword
list without researching their effectiveness, move on. A lot of SEO
Search Engine Optimization
firms don't care what you're selling or who you're selling it to. They
just want a list of search terms even when these keywords are useless.
There is an easy way to test an SEO firm. Just say: "I have a list of 1000 keywords.
Will you include them?" If they say "Yes," fire them. T
Online advertising is the closest thing on the Internet to traditional
advertising. It differs from search engine marketing (SEM) by the way
it targets prospects. SEM targets prospects based on keywords. By
contrast, online advertising targets prospects by behavior and
Like print publications, individual websites attract unique visitors that
share common interests, behaviors and demographics. The goal for
marketers is to identify websites that attract the largest audience of
potential customers and create online ads that will draw customers to
Online ads are typically purchased on a cost-per-thousand (CPM),
cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-acquisition (CPA) basis:
• Cost per thousand (CPM) — You pay a fixed fee per thousand
advertising impressions. The M in CPM is the Roman numeral
• Cost per click (CPC) — You pay a fixed fee every time a user
clicks on your ad and is redirected to your website.
• Cost per acquisition (CPA) — You pay a fixed fee every time
someone clicks on your ad and completes a desired action on
your website, such as submitting an order or signing up for
Many types of online advertising options are available to you. Choose
the ones that best suit your unique business needs. Consider:
• Ad Networks
• Text Ads
• Display Ads
• Rich Media Ads
• In-Text Ads
Since there are millions of websites available for online advertising,
one of the most convenient and efficient ways to purchase ads is to
use an ad network, which sells advertising on behalf of hundreds or
thousands of participating websites.
Ad networks serve as a single point of contact for many sites. This
saves you the time it would take to contact 20-30 websites individually.
Ad networks provide a single invoice for all websites you select for
advertising. They provide standardized reporting to compare the
performance of individual sites, and they standardize the ad units.
There are three types of advertising networks: representative networks,
blind networks and targeted networks.
• Representative networks — These are ad networks that represent
specific websites. Advertisers select sites they want to advertise
on from the network's portfolio and pay specified market
• Blind networks — Blind networks buy remnant (unsold)
inventory in volume from websites and offer low pricing to
advertisers. Since website offered by the network will vary
based on inventory and demand, potential customers are
targeted by demographic characteristics across many websites.
In exchange for lower costs, advertisers relinquish control
over where their ads run.
• Targeted networks — Targeted networks are evolved blind
networks than incorporate user behavior into their ad server
technology. This allows them to target potential customers
across their entire network based on behavioral triggers. For
example, if a customer has visited a website related to your
industry, the network can continue displaying your ads to the
same user—even when they visit unrelated websites.
When selecting a network, consider the quality of websites a network
represents and the quality of ads that appear on the network from
other advertisers. You should also consider the type of ads supported
by the network. Ensure you have the appropriate text ads, display ads
and rich media ads for the given network.
Text ads are the most popular format for Internet advertising. They
are easy-to-create, offer good click-thru rates and contribute to your
company's unaided brand awareness. Although less immediate than
click-thrus, unaided brand awareness is important to marketers
because it contributes to future sales when web surfers remember their
Unaided brand awareness is also an important indicator of brand
dominance. There is a high correlation between unaided awareness
and market share. When people shop, they begin with the brands that
they know first. The most effective text ads are designed to work on
both levels—whether they are clicked on or not. They inform
potential customers about specific products and provide a relevant
Tips for creating effective text ads:
• Be an expert — People use a search engine to learn about
products and services. Use text ads to promote an informative
article and product guide on your site. From a branding
perspective, this can position your company as an
"approachable expert" in the mind of site visitors.
• Be active — Replace self-descriptive phrases like "We provide
savings" with active phrases that describe the benefits of your
expertise, such as "Increase your Profits." This provides
incentive to click-thru. Ads are more memorable when they
• Use hot buttons — Hot buttons are emotional triggers related to
the keywords associated with an ad. People value emotional
rewards. Incorporate words that exemplify the benefit of your
product or service. A "problem solver" is more relevant (and
memorable) than an "experienced professional."
• Think "ads" not "ad" — Create multiple ads within a campaign.
For each, use a variety of keywords, hot buttons, active verbs
and click-thru offers. This allows you to target each ad within
a specific context where it can remain effective. When using
multiple ads within a Google ad group, ads that have higher
click-thru rates will be favored over ads with lower click-thru
percentages. To boost the rotation of ads, you can define
separate groups for related ads.
When you create text ads, consider whether you've addressed the
underlying needs of website visitors. If you understand the reason they
buy a product or service, you can use your findings to create an ad that
is relevant and memorable—which means they'll click if they need
your service now, or remember your company when they need it in
Display ads were once the most popular form of advertising on the
Internet. In recent years, however, text ads, driven by search engine
marketing, have become more popular. The effectiveness of banner
ads relies on volume because click-thru rates are very low, averaging
0.5 percent. This means for each thousand display ads purchased, you
can expect five click-thrus.
Since the average Internet user is exposed to hundreds of display ads
each day, most have learned to look at display advertisements without
seeing them—a practice referred to as banner blindness. Banner
blindness means Internet users focus on the content of a page and
ignore the advertisements. This is especially true for bright, flashing
ads, and ads that are unrelated to the website content being viewed.
Since display ads have a lower click-thru rate than text ads, many
marketers challenge their effectiveness as a tool for generating sales.
At the same time, however, marketers recognize the contributions that
banner ads make to a company's unaided brand awareness. Unaided
brand awareness is important to marketers because it contributes to
future sales when web surfers remember an ad they've seen—even
though they never clicked on it.
Unaided brand awareness is also an important indicator of brand
dominance. There is a high correlation between unaided awareness
and market share. When people shop, they begin with the brands that
they know first.
Standard display ad sizes include:
• Banner ads (common)
⎯ full banner (468x60 pixels)
⎯ half banner(234x60 pixels)
⎯ vertical banner (120x240 pixels)
⎯ leaderboard (720x90 pixels)
• Skyscraper ads (common)
⎯ skyscraper (120x600 pixels)
⎯ wide skyscraper (160x600 pixels)
• Button ads (infrequent)
⎯ button 1 (120x90 pixels)
⎯ button 2 (120x60 pixels)
• Rectangular/pop-up ads (infrequent)
⎯ rectangle (180x150 pixels)
⎯ medium (300x250 pixels)
⎯ square (250x250 pixels)
⎯ vertical (240x400 pixels)
⎯ large (336x280 pixels)
The effectiveness of display ads is determined by their size and location on a given
webpage. People read web pages in an "F-pattern", narrowing their focus as they
scroll down a page of content. Readers focus on the content at the top of a page,
read a little bit further down, then give up and go back to the beginning of the
same or subsequent page.
This means that display ads that appear on the top and top-right side of a page have higher
visibility than ads placed on the left or further down the page.
When creating display ads, marketers can optimize their click-thru
rates by considering best practices:
• Target your message — Tailor the design, content and offer in
your display ad to appeal strongly to a specific subgroup
instead of to everyone in your target market. Create several
versions of the ad that appeal to different subgroups and
rotate them. Determine those that perform best and use them
• Keep it simple — Avoid clutter. Don't try to use a display ad as a
substitute for visiting your site. Choose complementary colors
that grab a visitor's attention. Highlight a specific offer.
• Create a sense of urgency — The best display ads promote a
product or offer with high demand, but limited availability.
Phrases such as "Hurry!", "Limited time!", and "Special offer!"
• Promise and provide a better destination — Your display ad should
promote your ad's landing page as a better destination than the
current website. Create a landing page that's specific to the ad,
rather than dropping visitors on your homepage. The landing
page should be targeted toward the consumers and the specific
offer described within the ad.
Don't be discouraged if your display ads don't generate instant click-
thrus. As with any advertising format, it's important to experiment
with different designs, content and offers to determine what works
best for your company.
RICH MEDIA ADS
Wide-adoption of high-speed Internet has made it possible for
marketers to integrate video, audio and interactive features within their
online advertising. This makes it easier for marketers to reinforce their
print and TV ads by repurposing photos, video and music from those
campaigns for online ads.
Rich media ads allow viewers to submit information by filling out a
form, or even make an online purchase, from within the ad. They can
also include programming that provides immediate feedback or
alternates the content of the ad based on predefined criteria.
A 2007 report from DoubleClick, a leading source of online media
research, identifies video ads as the fastest growing segment of rich
media ads. According to their report, 8 percent of video ads generate a
Key findings of the report include:
• Users click video "Play" buttons more than they click on
• Video ads generate about three times the replay rate as image
ads generate clicks through to advertisers' sites.
• On average, video ads play two-thirds of the way through.
Play-through rates do not vary greatly by expandable or
standard video ad formats.
• Video click rates are far higher than image format ads. Users
click on video ads about five times as often as they do on
By 2009, rich media ad units will account for over half of all online
display ads by spending, according to Jupiter Research.
The prevalence of display banners and text ads has made all but the
most annoying online ads nearly transparent to online users. To stand
out from the crowd, some marketers are turning to a simple, relevant
and transparent advertising format: the text link.
In-text ads insert hyperlinks into ordinary website content around
keywords in order to trigger advertising.
Many online marketers have recognized the benefit of in-text ads.
Amazon offers in-text ads to all of its affiliates. By placing a few lines
by integrating links to products sold on Amazon.com. Keywords that
appear in their website content (authors, book titles, and brand names)
automatically link to product pages on Amazon. Like Konetera,
Amazon also integrates pop-up ads on mouse-over that include
product name, image, rating and price.
The benefits of in-text ads aren't without cost, though. Sites using in-
text ads tend to load slower (as in-text ads are integrated) and can
make pages less user-friendly. For example, as users scroll down the
page they may inadvertently cause ads to flash on/off. And, while the
ads begin subtly as text links, some users are offended by the sudden
appearance of uninvited multimedia ads in the middle of their
A less risky, and more promising, use of in-text advertising is available
without the use of pop-ups. In addition to attracting customers
without use of pop-up ads, this approach allows marketers to
organically grow their website's link popularity and search engine
ranking by gaining incoming links that search engines can't identify as
Sending email is fast, free and far-reaching. This is why email
marketing has become a popular way for businesses to communicate
with existing and potential customers.
The advantages of email marketing make it a natural addition to your
company's Internet marketing program:
• Fast — Email marketing allows you to communicate
immediately with customers. This makes it an ideal method for
time-sensitive offerings. For example, a hotel or restaurant can
boost their occupancy on short notice by sending local
customers a special offer that may only be valid for a 48-hour
• Free — You can use an existing email account to implement
email marketing tactics. This means that you can communicate
more often with customers at no additional cost. Also, when
you extend discounts or special offers, you can do so without
paying incurring related printing or media costs.
• Far-reaching — Email is an effective way to get the word out to
all of your customers simultaneously. You can reach
international customers at the same time as local customers.
E-newsletters and special email offers can build strong relationships
with your current customers that increase customer loyalty and result
in repeat sales. The same tools can also attract new customers by
increasing the awareness of your company and providing a platform
for offering prospects additional incentives to buy your products.
Viewing email marketing solely as a low-cost alternative to direct mail is a common
This artificial paradigm can lead to a scenario where, in order to maintain a reasonable
conversion rate, a company has to constantly increase the volume of email addresses collected
and messages sent. In doing so, their email marketing efforts eventually fail when the company
runs out of fresh email addresses or becomes ineffective by sending too many email messages to
the same email addresses.
The following are important considerations when developing an email
• Building Your List
• Sending E-Newsletters
• Using Email Promotions
• Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act
• Avoiding Spam Filters
• Increasing the Open Rate
BUILDING YOUR LIST
The first rule of ethical email marketing is to never send unsolicited
commercial email. This means you should only send emails to
customers that have willingly provided their email address and have
extended permission to send commercial messages.
The practice of sending unsolicited commercial messages is referred to
as spamming and is not tolerated by customers or the companies that
provide customers with email accounts. Businesses that have a
reputation of sending spam are blacklisted.
This means the email address is placed on a shared list of banned
senders, and none of the outgoing messages will be delivered to
recipients. The process of being removed from a blacklist is difficult,
time-consuming and avoidable by following best practices when
building your email list:
• Offer many opt-in opportunities — Allow individuals to sign-up for
your email list from several locations. On your website,
provide a page for visitors to subscribe to your e-newsletter or
email-based promotions. Additionally, integrate the ability to
subscribe with your shopping cart, so that each new customer
is invited to subscribe. Offline, provide an opportunity for in-
store customers to subscribe to your e-newsletter and email-
based promotions at checkout. Ask store clerks to extend an
invitation to customers.
• Set expectations — Let subscribers know, before they choose to
participate, how your company will use email to communicate.
Describe how often you are going to contact individuals who
provide email addresses. Describe what information will be
sent. If they are subscribing to a newsletter, provide examples
for them to review prior to subscribing.
• Double opt-in — This is the practice of validating email
addresses provided by your customer to ensure that the email
they provided is accurate. The process works as follows:
1. Customer provides their email address to your company.
2. Your company sends an invitation to the email address
provided by the customer asking them to confirm they'd
like to be added to your email list.
3. Your company adds appropriate customers to its list:
⎯ Customers that respond to the second invitation are
added to your list.
⎯ Customers that do not respond to the second
invitation are not added to your list.
Double opt-in is the best method for building your email list because
it verifies that customers are providing accurate email addresses and
provides customers with opportunity to initiate their own subscription
to your list.
• Offer an opt-out — Individuals receiving email from your
company should be able to remove themselves from your list
at anytime. This is best achieved by including the ability to
unsubscribe from every email your company sends. Opt-out
ensures that individuals are removed promptly from your list
when they no longer want to receive email from your
• Never purchase or trade email addresses — Email addresses should
never be bought or traded. Protect the privacy of your
customers. If another company wants to extend a special offer
to your email subscribers, send the offer yourself.
Successful email marketing isn't based on volume. It's based on knowing the
person behind each email address, managing their expectations, and crafting
relevant communications for each user.
Due to their low cost, flexible designs and quick production time, e-
newsletters have become the most effective email marketing tools for
businesses of every size. You don't need to be a big company or have
a large subscriber list to create an effective e-newsletter, as part of your
Internet marketing strategy.
E-newsletters are a great way to build strong, long-term relationships
by communicating with prospective and ongoing customers each
month. For many companies, it may be more effective to create
separate multiple newsletters that are targeted at unique audiences in
order to provide the most relevant content possible.
For example, an e-newsletter focused at prospective customers may be
very different than a newsletter for existing customers. Also,
companies that provide products and services that service multiple
industries may wish to create unique newsletters for each of the top
industries they serve.
Many similarities between e-newsletters and their off-line counterparts exist. For
example, both should be written in an informal or industry-specific tone. However,
e-newsletters are typically shorter than printed newsletters because they are
typically read on-screen in a single sitting.
E-newsletters are often designed around a lead article (the longest and
most detailed in the issue) that relates to an important aspect of your
business. Good topics for lead articles include the announcement of a
new product or service, industry trends, or problem-solving tips.
In addition to a lead article, e-newsletters generally include a handful
of headlines with a hyperlink and short descriptions. These generally
promote larger topics that can be explored in more detail on your
website or a recommended website. Here are some tips for a
launching a successful e-newsletter:
• Keep articles brief — Online readers are typically looking for
information that is quick and easy to read. If you want to
provide articles with more than 8 to 10 paragraphs, consider a
shorter article that can be used as a teaser that links to longer
articles on your website. Subscribers receiving electronic
newsletters are typically looking for material that is quick and
easy to read. Or consider the longer article for a printed
newsletter, since it's easier to read long content offline.
• Serve the subscriber — E-newsletters should not be treated as a
sales brochure. For an e-newsletter to be effective, it needs to
serve the needs of the subscriber first. E-newsletters should
demonstrate your company's broad understanding of the
customer and its expertise within the industry. Your products
and services can be mentioned periodically or tangentially in
• Become a subscriber — The best way to generate a good e-
newsletter is to be an active subscriber of e-newsletters.
Subscribe to e-newsletters related to your interests, your
company's industry and for related industries. Make note of e-
newsletter designs, features, topics and formats that you like
and apply these lessons to your own e-newsletter.
• Don't send an e-newsletter as an email attachment — ISPs are likely
to block e-newsletters from subscribers if they are delivered as
attachments—particularly if the file size of the attachment is
large. Attachments also require readers to take an additional
step before reading the newsletter.
• Evaluate the open rate — Use a bulk email service for sending
your e-newsletter that can track the open rate of individual
articles. Use the open rate for each article to determine the
interests of subscribers. Then, give them what they want!
• Survey readers — It's a good idea to survey subscribers
periodically to determine their level of satisfaction. Invite
readers to suggest topics and newsletter features. Have them
evaluate the relevance, frequency, and overall design of the
newsletter. Use survey information to improve e-newsletter
E-newsletters offer a high level of measurability and cost-
effectiveness. Successful e-newsletters gather open rates that are much
higher than typical email promotions. Open rates of 30-40 percent are
common—and open rates above 60 percent are not impossible.
The benefits of a successful e-newsletter are numerous—it enhances
your company's reputation, generates leads and improves your
company's relationship with existing clients.
USING EMAIL PROMOTIONS
While the effectiveness of e-newsletters is measured over time by their
ability to retain customers, email promotions are intended to have
immediate results for your email marketing plan. Email promotions
should increase purchases, sign-ups, downloads or registrations.
As a result, the conversion rate (the percentage of email recipients that
take the desired action) is a better measure of its success for an email
promotion than its open rate.
To induce recipients toward immediate conversion, email promotions
need to be more compelling than in-store offers. Common incentives
include free shipping, reduced prices or complimentary gifts. Studies
show flat-out dollar amounts generate more conversions than
percentages off. However, results vary.
For example, free shipping on small, lightweight items isn't as
compelling as for large items where shipping cost rival the purchase
price. Test several offers to determine what works best for your target
market. The more unique an offer is, the more likely it is to spark
interest. If customers don't show up, you haven't given anything away.
Incentives are paired with a deadline that encourages recipients to act
immediately and provides a timeframe for measuring results. Since
email promotions can be delivered quickly, at no cost, they are an ideal
tool for boosting short-term performance. For example, a restaurant
or hotel with low reservations for a specific upcoming weekend can
send an email promotion that boosts attendance by offering a discount
or free gift on those days.
Put time limits on offers so customers will use them immediately.
Take advantage of natural deadlines such as holidays, tax deadlines,
birthdays and seasonality. Consider limiting the number of offers that
can be redeemed. For example, on peak shopping days, retail stores
offer incentive to the first 100 or 200 customers to boost early in-store
When planning an email promotion, consider the timing. For some retailers, sales
T during November and December account for more than one-third of their annual
income. There are only 19 business days after Thanksgiving where online retail
businesses can guarantee timely delivery of purchases. As a result, many
businesses consider free shipping a cost of business during this time—rather than
a promotional offer.
The format of an outgoing email can influence the success of an email
promotion as much as the offer itself. Prior to sending an email,
ensure that you've addressed best practices:
• Include plain text — Most email promotions are optimized for
delivery in HTML format. Nevertheless, email promotions
should always be sent as a multipart email with HTML and
plain-text versions of the email embedded. The benefits of
multipart emails are twofold: They allow the message to be
read using email clients, such as mobile devices, that don't load
images; and they require marketers to provide a substantive
and compelling description of their promotion.
• Don't replace text with images — Avoid using images headlines,
links and calls to action. This process of 'flattening' text
increases the likelihood that the promotion will be rejected by
spam filters. Also, many email clients are set to block images
and require the recipient to download images separately.
• Consider the preview panel — Begin your promotion with the
most compelling content. This way, if a recipient's email client
is set to preview incoming messages, they will have an
opportunity to see persuasive information about your email
promotion before they open it.
• Remind Subscribers — Remind recipients that they asked to
receive your offer and provide them with the ability to opt-out
of future offers. Prevent a reputation for spamming.
COMPLYING WITH THE CAN-SPAM ACT
When designing your email marketing campaigns, you need to be aware of
some restrictions. The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-
Solicited Pornography and Marketing) established the country's first
national standards for the sending of commercial email and requires the
FTC to enforce its provisions. The affects of the CAN-SPAM Act are far-
reaching. Virtually every e-mail sent by your business is affected.
The CAN-SPAM Act was passed in December 2003 in an effort to
reduce the flow of unsolicited email (spam). According to the new law,
businesses sending commercial email to customers must:
• Clearly label commercial e-mail as advertising
• Use a truthful and relevant subject line
• Use a legitimate return email address and provide a valid
physical postal address
• Provide a working opt-out tool
• Process opt-out requests within 10 business days
The Act applies to nearly all businesses in the US that use email to
generate commerce. It also prohibits acts of "harvesting" email
addresses from websites.
All e-mail newsletters and other promotional emails are governed by the law. And,
[ businesses are responsible for all email they send, even if they outsource the
marketing. If you have an affiliate program, you could also be held responsible for
the emails sent by your affiliates to market your goods.
Although difficult to enforce, careless email marketers could face fines and penalties if they fail to
comply with the new laws. The greatest thing email marketers have at stake is their reputation.
Few individuals benefit from unsolicited commercial emails, and businesses that use it are viewed
as fly-by-night operations.
Compliance seems simple if you rely on best practices for email
• Make sure your unsubscribe system works — It needs to be
reasonably easy for someone to opt out from future emails.
After you remove them, remember them. Keep a current list
of all individuals who have opted out to ensure they don't get
added to your list again through other sources.
• Know the source of email addresses — Make sure your list is
obtained legitimately. Be suspicious of any email addresses
offered by CDs, download services, or linking partners. Better
yet, only send email to customers who have given you
permission to do so. Or go one step further and use a double
opt-in system. This will ensure that people have given you
express consent to send them email.
• Don't let messages get mistaken as spam — Remind individuals
receiving the email how they opted-in. Use a recognizable
return email address and clear statements that describe your
subject in the content line.
• Get to the point — Short emails are more likely to be read and
less likely to be mistaken as spam. Use good grammar, spelling
• Don't overdo it — Most industries don't need to send email out
daily or even weekly to their customers. Only send out an
email when you have something valuable to share.
Experts agree that the CAN-SPAM Act is only the first step toward
stricter legislation of commercial email. The law calls for the FTC to
investigate the implementation of a "Do-Not-Email" list.
The reduction of illegal and annoying spam will be good for legitimate
businesses that use permission-based marketing and honest business
Good email marketing practices will keep you out of trouble and
ahead of the competition
AVOIDING SPAM FILTERS
Despite your best email marketing efforts, not everything is always in
With the increasing prevalence of spam filters, there is often no
guarantee that the email your company sends to prospects and
customers will reach the intended inbox.
Spam filters are rules used by most Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
and email software programs to reject and remove unwanted email
messages. Since spam email messages can be difficult for spam filters
to distinguish from other messages, they sometimes block legitimate
emails sent by your company.
Often, the more aggressive or sophisticated a spam filter is, the less
likely it is to deliver legitimate messages that don't comply with best
• Avoid complaints — Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe.
The most common reason a company's email messages get
filtered or blacklisted is because the intended recipient
complains to the ISP. When recipients contact their ISP, your
domain is likely to be blacklisted or added to the ISP's spam
filter to avoid future complaints.
• Avoid using "cc" and "bcc" for email campaigns — Outgoing
messages should be addressed individually "to" each recipient.
Use a bulk email program or service that can send individual,
• Have valid DNS entries for your domain — Ensure your ISP had
proper DNS entries, SPF records, and Sender ID records for
your domain. ISPs receiving your mail often check your DNS
record to ensure that your DNS entry is configured properly
and isn't identified as a known spammer.
• Send blasts in batches — When ISPs identify a large volume of
incoming/outgoing messages from the same sender, it looks
like spam. Contact your ISP before sending emails in large
batches to ensure they will be supported. Otherwise, your
messages may be rejected or flagged as spam.
• Write a meaningful subject line — The subject line of outgoing
messages is important. Subject lines that are missing; use all
capital letters; include too many numbers, question marks or
exclamation points; or include common spam phrases are
likely to trigger spam filters.
• Avoid common spam phrases — Spam filters examine incoming
email messages to determine the likelihood of spam. Messages
that include common spam phrases are often rejected or
deleted. Here are some terms to avoid:
50% off! Free! Guaranteed
Amazing Get Paid Save up to
As Seen On… Great offer Search Engine
Buy Direct Guarantee, Listings
Call now! Guaranteed Serious Cash
Cash Bonus Information you Special
Click Here requested Promotion
Collect Join millions Stop or "Stops"
Compare Loans Subscribe
Consolidate Million Dollars Time limited
Your Debt MLM Vacation
Credit No cost, No fees Visit our website
Discount! Offer While Supplies
Don't Delete One time last
Double your Opportunity Why pay more?
income Order Now Winner
Earn $ Please Read Work at home
Easy Terms Promise You You're a Winner!
Eliminate Debt Removes You've been
Avoiding spam filters ensures that your email messages are delivered.
Thereafter, the challenge is to ensure that your email messages will be
INCREASING THE OPEN RATE
Since an email marketing campaign can only be effective when
individuals read your messages, campaign success is often influenced
by its open rate (the percentage of delivered emails that are opened).
The open rate is measured by sending emails in HTML format with a
snippet of code that triggers a counter when messages are rendered by
a recipients email reader.
Email campaigns that achieve an open rate of 40 to 60 percent are
typically considered successful. However, open rates of 20-30 percent
are more common.
A number of factors influence the open rate:
• Subject line — Subject lines should invite recipients to open
your email. Subject lines should be creative and action-
oriented. For e-newsletters, relate the subject line to the
content within each issue. If you have demographic
information, consider personalizing the subject line to make it
more meaningful and personal for each recipient. If possible,
make the subject timely by relating to upcoming events,
weather or current trends.
• Time of day/day of week — Test different days and times until
you find what works best. Performance will vary depending on
your recipients and the content of your email. For example,
you may find that your e-newsletter has a peak open rate at a
different time than the peak open rate for email promotional
offers. Consider sending email to free email accounts during
non-business hours, since individuals checking their personal
email account from work may be less likely to read incoming
messages while at the office.
• Persistence — Within 8-10 days, resend the message to
individuals who didn't open it the first time. An open rate of
20 percent for the second delivery will increase the overall
effectiveness of the email marketing campaign.
• Time of year/seasonality — Summer months generally produce
lower open rates due to vacation schedules. Holiday seasons
may raise open rates for e-commerce retailers, but may
produce lower open rates for e-newsletters.
• Frequency — Sending email too infrequently may cause
recipients to forget why they subscribed to your information
(lower awareness). Sending emails too frequently
(oversaturation) can also drive open rates down.
• Recipients with free accounts — Recipients who use free email
accounts provided by HotMail, Yahoo and Google typically
don't access their email as often as recipients using business or
• Subscription method — The more familiar a recipient is with your
company—and the more they are involved in the subscription
process—the more likely they will be to open email from your
company. Opt-in lists typically have higher open rates than
lists generated automatically from customer email addresses.
Double-opt-in lists typically have the best open rates.
The open rate can only be measured for individuals who read your
email in HTML format. Individuals who elect to view your email
messages in text format will not be monitored. Nevertheless, open rate
is an important indicator of the success of an email marketing
Internet Marketing Objectives Worksheet 80
Internet Marketing Strategies Worksheet 81
Internet Marketing Content Plan Worksheet 82
Internet Marketing Implementation Plan Worksheet 84
Internet Marketing Request for Proposal (RFP) Worksheet 86
Internet Marketing Objectives Worksheet
Internet Marketing Strategies Worksheet
Target Market Considerations
Internet Marketing Content Plan Worksheet
List content to be included in your Web site. For each content item,
identify the source for the content. This may include specific
documents and/or individuals within your organization who will
prepare/create the content.
Content Item Source/Location of Content
List interactive features/forms to be included in your Web site. For
each item, identify the person(s) within your organization that have
information needed to create the interaction.
Item Description/Contact Person
Create and attach an outline of content to be included in your website.
Main headings in the outline should correspond to groups of content
that should be available from the home page of your website.
Internet Marketing Implementation Plan Worksheet
Estimate the hours and costs associated with the project. Costs should
include staff time, vendor costs, and anticipated hosting/maintenance
Item Hours Cost
Create a general timeline for completing project milestones:
Competitive sites/industry/Web stats analysis
Define site requirements/site map
Create design/content options
Content to Web developer
Database design review/approval (if applicable)
Site implementation (create site)
Proofing and testing
Internal beta review
Client final review and approval
Final changes, proofing, and testing
Site goes live
Internet Marketing Request For Proposal (RFP)
Vendors for Consideration
Identify 3-5 vendors to receive your RFP:
Proposed Timeline for RFP process:
Evaluate potential vendors
Select 3-5 vendors to receive RFP
Send RFP to selected vendors
Require vendor proposals (three copies)
Meet with final candidates, as needed
Project kick-off meeting
Site goes live
Vendor Selection Criteria
Identify the criteria that will be included in your RFP for vendor
selection. Identify the possible scoring for each one.
Criteria Scoring Possible
Company Background 10
Vendor Capabilities 10
Vendor Qualifications 10
Vendor Staffing 10
Proposed Solution 20
Budget Proposed by Vendor 20