Wanted: Smoking hot hotel room in Kansas City Kansas

Google-Fiber-Rabbit

Of course, I mean a “smokin’ hot internet connection”.

Late last week, I was heading north through western Missouri, I planned to make an overnight stay in the Kansas City area.

Knowing full well (though with a little jealousy) that Kansas City, Kansas was the first winner of the Google Fiber lotto, I thought it would be nice to stay at a hotel in KC hotel that offered Google Fiber.

So I searched for “hotel kansas city kansas google fiber

While there are plenty of search hits about Google Fiber, most were stories about Google Fiber’s choice of KCK and deployment in the area. The only thing that even comes close to a hotel room in the search responses is a story about a “Home4Hackers“, an AirBnB property that offers Google Fiber.

Either there are no hotels in the Kansas City Kansas area that have Google Fiber (a distinct possibility), or the ones that do offer it need to work on their search engine positioning. A simple Google Local entry would have been first in my search, if it existed. Simple. Five minutes work.

What are people searching for when they look for you and don’t find you? Have you asked them when you meet or speak with them?

Finally – be sure you’ve taken care of your local listing on Google and Bing.

Six simple questions about your website

I received these questions in an email from Tony Robbins last year.

The premise was to ask if you could answer these questions without doing a bunch of research, much less if you could answer them at all.

  1. How many visitors come to your website per month?
  2. How many of those turn into sales?
  3. How many emails are you collecting per month through your website?
  4. How long has the site been up?
  5. How many emails are in your database that have been collected through your website?
  6. What are you doing to follow up with visitors and close sales?

Seems to me they’re as important now as they were in 1995, much less last year.

A lot of businesses pay attention to #1. Many pay attention to #2.

Number 3 and 5 get plenty of attention from some, not so much from others.

The Big One

Number 6 is the one that I see the least effort on across the board.

Are you assuming they’ll come back? Are you doing something to get them to come back? Are you doing something to keep them as a customer over the long term?

So many questions…

Rather than being overwhelmed by it all, deal with the lack of an answer one at a time – particularly if it requires work.

Having one answer is much better than having none.

Habits and Heatmaps

Here’s your sign.

While it is a well-known “redneck” comedian punch line, it’s also something you should be looking for.

Some signs you must seek out, while others have been right in front of you all year long.

Many of those signs are buried in your existing business data.

Habits

Your business data illustrates your customers’ behavior, including buying and service calls. Some companies use it, some don’t.

For example, I realized today that I hadn’t sent out thank yous to a few clients. It’s been a very hectic, deadline-filled November and December and this is something I usually do right after Thanksgiving.

Not this year. And no, it wasn’t on my calendar because it’s just ingrained behavior. Bad Mark. Bad, Bad, Bad.

When I do remember this (and now, when it pops up on my calendar), I use high-end vendors to ship items like fresh or smoked salmon to a short list of folks that I do business with year-in and year-out.

One of the reasons I forgot? I didn’t get a catalog from either of the two vendors that I usually use. Well, sort of. I got a catalog two months ago, but that isn’t prime ordering season for “corporate gifts”.

The problem with this is that these businesses know when I order. If they look at the data from prior orders, they could *predict* when I place an order and what I might buy, much less where I’d send it.

Predictable Male Behavior

If I bought a two pound smoked salmon for the last five years, they know this because the ship to isn’t my name or address (not to mention the “It’s a gift” checkbox on the order form).

Given typical male shopping predictability (“get in, get out, move on”), they could have won the order by simply dropping a card in the mail or sending me an email saying “Hey Mark, we appreciate that you’ve ordered our delicious smoked salmon as a gift for the last five years, would you like us to send Joe another two pounds or would you prefer something different but in the same price range, such as our crab sampler?”

Or something like that. How tough would that be? No cold call. No catalog. Just an email from data that already tells them how I behave.

Do you want to do this for everyone? Probably not, but it would be of use in concept at the very least. Look at your order/sales data. Not just across the board, but for your best customers, however you define that. When do they buy? Might be a good time to place a reminder in front of them.

Look for the heat

Have you ever looked at a heat map?

On a heat map, the “hotter” looking places are either the locations where most people click or they indicate where eye-tracking tools determined that people are looking most of the time when they view a page.

Below, you can see an example website heat map illustrating click locations.

The red places indicate locations where the most people clicked.

The yellow and green areas are slightly less popular click locations and the blue are even less frequently clicked.

In other words, red is hot, yellow is warm, green is cool, blue is cold – just like on a graphical heat display – only this one shows the locations where people click on this web page.

 

Videos also do a nice job of illustrating data on a heat map, like this click location map.

This video shows a heat map eye movement on a video advertisement and the results aren’t what you might assume from seeing the still preview image.

Stir

Like any other measurement device, tools like the heat map help you understand if your site is well-designed for your user community (they are not alike from niche to niche) and can indicate usability issues, copywriting problems (and wins) and design strengths and weaknesses.

Your sales/order data is full of behavioral information.

People tend to be visual learners. What if we stirred these two together?

What would you learn if you looked at your calendar overlaid with a heat map based on your lead, sales, order and service data?

Why they leave

Why do they leave your site?

Why don’t they buy?

Why do they abandon a shopping cart after going to the trouble to shop on your site, select items and add them to a cart in the desired size and color?

This might give you an idea or two…

How to get results from newspaper advertising?

This has been in the queue for a while, and the source of the discussion is BizJournals.com, which I’ve read regularly for years (yes, that’s a hint).

While there are some good points in this piece, some parts of it read as if it was written by a Yellow Pages salesperson (not traditionally a person experienced in running a small business, nor in results-oriented marketing).

Here I quote the author’s advice (which isn’t all bad) in plain type and include in bold my thoughts on their “6 fundamental points”.

  1. People buy based on familiarity. That said, the primary value of advertising is branding and name recognition. In other words, you cannot control timing â?? when a person needs what you sell â?? but you can heavily influence who they think of first. This means that you should not invest in any advertising media unless you are willing to commit to a minimum of six months, and preferably a year, of consistent, repetitive messaging to your targeted demographic. Print publications are still king when it comes to reaching the local audience â?? but people need to see your message repeatedly if they are going to remember you when it is time to buy. We’re familiar with a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean we buy them. Give me a compelling case to buy, not “familiarity”.

    No question that timing advertising to purchase time is difficult (exception: search-based advertising), and no doubt, you can and should be invested in influencing who people think of when they consider what you sell (what I call “top of mind” positioning). Consistent messaging to your targeted demographic is part of creating that top-of-mind positioning. This is one of the reasons I remind you to consider using direct mail (among other things).

    But to claim that newspapers do such targeting is crazy in most cases. Further, the implication that you shouldn’t expect success for 6 months to a year is unacceptable. In some markets, large papers (often via national newspaper insertion service vendors) have successfully used insertion technology that lets you target demographics quite narrowly. In most markets, this kind of targeted marketing is not available to newspaper advertisers.

    The real shame is that this kind of targeting does not extend to display ads or classifieds, though given the nature of newspaper print technology, it is understandable. The large service vendors I mentioned above are not built to service your local town daily or weekly newspaper.

    Newspaper advertising performs best in small communities. The why should be obvious and it explains the numbers you see on the continued success of weekly papers vs. big city dailies.

  2. Mix up your marketing channels. Print publications today are the only media resource that can provide you with multiple reach products â?? print ads, inserts, online campaigns, Post-It notes, specialty magazines, etc. â?? in ways that are customized to attain specific marketing objectives.The “only” resource of multiple reach products? Direct mail houses, web designers, email vendors and a number of others would be surprised to learn that. You don’t “mix up your channels” just for the sake of doing so. You choose them strategically. Who reads that? Who watches (and when)? Who listens to that (and when)?

    Each media/each piece, while integrated with the overall plan/message still needs to perform. It still must be measurable and produce a desired result (financial or otherwise). It still must make an offer or induce the next desired behavior.

  3. Work with a qualified expert. A skilled, well-trained newspaper ad rep can replace your need for an ad agency by providing well-designed, targeted ideas to attract new customers to your door â?? at no additional cost to you. While it is true that using their design department can save you some money in the short term, newspaper ad reps are primarily concerned with design from a designer / artistic perspective. Sure, the agent wants you to come back and buy more ads (see #1 above) so they are tangentially vested in your success, but they are not typically well-versed in direct marketing, and have rarely owned their own business. The mindset is important.

    Small business owners know that results are what matter over all else. Winning ad contests and design awards mean nothing if the ad DIDN’T produce an acceptable ROI.

  4. Utilize a combination of print and online media. Contrary to conventional wisdom, newspaper readership is not declining, it is simply migrating. More people are reading the newspaper than ever before; the growth in readership is coming from people who are reading the news online instead of in a print product. The point? Newspapers still deliver excellent results, but you must advertise in both print and online to attain maximum reach of your message. Depends on who you are trying to reach. This has traditionally been the difficult thing about newspaper advertising. They have largely been unable to deliver (and thus charge) for ads (for example) that should be sent only to married women 35-55 with a household income of $xx,xxx or more. Instead, they charge a lower rate to advertise to a large portion (or all) subscribers with very little if any targeting.

    In many cases, a zip code, a specific section or a certain day of the week is the best you can get as far as targeted marketing in much of the newspaper world. In some cases, it’s all or nothing. That’s OK, but you must take that into consideration when designing your ad, much less deciding whether or not to place it.

    To business owners that understand and leverage direct marketing and expect more than the tired “1% is typical” response, the inability to target specific types of readers is not acceptable.

    As for the assertion that readership isn’t declining, ask your newspaper to show you Google Analytics to back up their claim that they are recovering lost print readers via *their* online site. Don’t take no for an answer. Ask for references, as you would with any other advertiser.

    Pick a few ads for similar markets and be sure to choose those whose ads are sized much like yours will be. Call them and pin them down. Ask them if their ad is performing, but don’t settle for “yes”. Ask what the return on investment is. Ask how many new customers the ad brings in each issue (or each week). What are your criteria for calling the ad “successful”?

  5. You will get much better results by running a smaller ad for a longer period of time than by running a large one for a shorter duration. When budgetary constraints are an issue, the duration of the campaign is of paramount importance.In general, I agree with smaller ads for a longer period vs larger ads for a shorter period, but the duration of the campaign isn’t the paramount issue. If you put $10 into an ad and get $20 back each time, wouldn’t you want to run the ad until it stops working? Producing results is what matters.

  6. When using online advertising, always include a link to your website in the form of a â??clickâ? button, and include a special offer in your message. This serves as a portal to drive traffic to your website. A button and a text link should both be tested (response varies depending on the audience). The ad’s job is to get you to do the next thing – click through. The page where the click through goes had better be a specific landing page for that ad’s offer, NOT the home page of the website.

    The landing page is your responsibility. The link is theirs, so make sure they include the right analytics parameters and landing page address so that you can measure response, know exactly where it came from and present the proper in-context offer that matches the ad that the prospect clicked. If the paper wants to send clicks to your main website page, they don’t understand online marketing.

  7. During your ad campaign, change your message every four to six weeks, but always include your logo, and maintain a consistent look to your messages. This serves to reinforce your brand. Remaining consistent is fine as it concerns your logo and look (think “Apple”). However, changing your message just because the calendar says so is foolish. There are successful marketing campaigns that have been in use for decades with only trivial changes after initial fine tuning.

    If your ad is returning 20-30% ROI consistently over a long period, why would you change it just because the calendar said so? When you make changes, test them. Every single one of them. Always be trying to beat the current “best performing” ad, not simply swapping it out because you’re tired of it.

  8. Newspapers employ highly skilled design professionals who create thousands of ads for customers â?? at no cost to you. Work closely with your advertising rep and their design team to create high-quality copy that you can utilize in other marketing efforts for your business. Yes, the newspaper does usually have highly-skilled design pros, but are they highly-skilled / trained in direct marketing as well as graphic design? Hopefully so. Would you rather have an ad that wins design contests or an ad that brings in 10x what it costs each week? Id prefer both, but I’ll choose the 10x response if I can only have one of the two.

  9. Take advantage of appropriate special sections as a â??booster shotâ?? to your overall ad campaign. This is an inexpensive way to reinforce your message in a product that has a highly targeted audience and an extended shelf life. Make sure your message and the audience fit the ideal audience for the special section. Ask for placement in the section that complements what you’re selling.

  10. Be patient. Look at any quick sales that you make as a bonus, but not as the primary measurement of advertising effectiveness. Recognize that it takes time to build brand recognition, particularly if you are a new business or are entering a new market.Horsehockey. This is about setting low expectations so they can sell a long ad placement. There’s nothing wrong with a long ad placement that works. Your ad, your offer should be compelling enough to create business the day it appears. If it doesn’t, then it needs work.

  11. Finally, remember that it is the newspaperâ??s job to bring new customers into your door; it is your job to keep them. Word-of-mouth marketing and repeat customers are the lifeblood of your business. These do not depend on advertising; they depend on your ability to provide an outstanding, memorable experience to your new customer. Advertise to bring them in, and the rest is up to you. Couldn’t agree more.

(end of point/counterpoint)

If you think I’m anti-newspaper, keep in mind that I write a successful newspaper column. I’m not anti-newspaper (and in fact, was recently involved in a successful newspaper insert campaign). However, I am against wasteful, ineffective advertising.

Make your advertising decisions for the right reasons so that you can advertise even more. When you can afford to advertise more than your competitors because every advertising dollar produces positive ROI, you’re on the right track.

Taking the kids – and your website – on a long road trip

Today’s guest post is from Jill Whelan of HighRankings.com.

Jill describes a nice parallel between the preparation necessary for taking the kids on a long road trip (vs having them cry) and the symptoms your website uses to tell you what a crying child is trying to tell you.

It’s a good read, go check it out. Your website will thank you.

Woopra web analytics: Mom, I take it all back

Over the last few weeks as I (im)patiently waited for Woopra approval for this site’s URL, I said a few grumbly words in the middle of the “Why is it taking 3 weeks to get approved?” kinds of sentences.

Finally, I got notice of approval last night.

With that, I have to say: Mom, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean it.
It took a few hours to get some results worth viewing in Woopra, but when they came in – holy moly.

It takes a moment to get used to the serious eye candy in the interface (which isn’t a supermodel, but for a screen, it’s pretty nice), but then you find some pretty cool stuff  – including customizable visitor behavior alerts.

More on this in a future post, but I just had to say – this thing is pretty cool. If you study your site’s visitor behavior (and you should), it’s worth taking a look at.