Business, Marketing, Technology

Marketing With Microsites: The Good and the Bad

From time to time, you might see a microsite on a brand’s website. These sites are the ones that talk about a new promotion, collect contest entries, display photos or become online voting centers. They’re often part of a marketing campaign.

When well-executed, the advantages of microsites in a marketing campaign are plentiful. They offer efficient data collection, reach a broader audience, encourage positive and negative feedback, start an online dialogue, build relationships between the customer and the brand, and collect customer data.

Despite these perks  microsites can lose their appeal when they aren’t presented well. For example, some sites will continue to ask for information the customer has already submitted either in a profile or somewhere else. This can ultimately tick the customer off and in the worst case scenario cause the customer to either alienate or have a negative view of the brand.

Here’s another caution for businesses, while these sites are beneficial, sometimes they can overshadow the brand name when they have their own Web domains. In addition, “limited content, few links from other sites and competition from the brand website push these sites down the rankings,” for search engines, warned Andrew Walmsely, co-founder of i-level marketers, in the Marketing magazine article, “Microsites: approach with caution.”

Marketing campaigns can use the help of microsites, but businesses should consider having a finite shelf-life so as to not interfere with larger objectives.

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Marketing, Technology

What to Do with All that Data

The difficult questions marketers are often presented about the value of their marketing activities are better answered with a set of concrete data. This is known as data-based marketing.

The growth of online marketing has benefited from the wealth of readily available data, and over the years this data has become cheaper.

However, many marketing departments weren’t too comfortable with the data and didn’t even make the most of the information uncovered. The marketers were unaware of its value. A cultural gap is one of the reasons for this phenomenon. Generations clashed. The younger generations are more receptive to technological advances versus older generations who are more comfortable with traditional techniques.

Ultimately, marketers found data-based marketing has many benefits:

  • Using the collected data helps understand what makes people spend, and this information, especially in tough economic times, can turn it into a modern-day goldmine.
  • The use and understanding of the data give a company an edge over its competitors and can result in a better financial performance
  • Those marketers who take the time to understand the data and ultimately master the information are more valued and more likely to receive a promotion.
  • This type of marketing further helps all major marketing activities.

Remember, economic downturns can spur innovation; therefore, new data sets are deployed to help businesses’ critical needs.

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Business, Marketing, Technology

Web Analysts Are Hot

The Web analytics market has undergone a rapid boom that’s expected to continue over the next few years. However, businesses aren’t as prepared for this boom as they could be.

That’s because expertise is needed to turn the complex and enormous amount of data companies receive from various sources into actionable insights that ultimately generate profits. This “data” is coming from many different channels, for example, the Internet, social media, mobile devices and email, and the information is leading to more effective decisions.

In this period of economic turbulence marketing teams and chief marketing officers have to show that their strategies are paying off, that they’re bringing in revenue for their organization.

Over the past five years some brands have poured more money into their Web analytics budgets for outsourced analysis and in-house analysts and other related staff. However, a shortage of qualified experts exists as the recent “World Web Analytics Market” report published by Information Technology pointed out.

Businesses are in need of experts who can not only design the right kinds of data generation, but they also need to know how to report it and come up with actionable strategies for the site success. The skills sought after for these positions include knowledge of Web technology, statistics, marketing and brand building, and they must be detailed-oriented and able to develop a communications strategy. These experts know the value of Web analytics is based on their ability to collect, read, interpret and integrate the complex information into performance improvement and long-term strategies.

The report indicates this shortage of expertise won’t last too long, but in the meantime it appears to delay the impact of Web analytics integration.

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Marketing, Technology

Cooking up a Web Analytics-driven Marketing Campaign?

Developing a marketing campaign for a business may begin with crafting a message, but using Web Analytics programs requires some additional ingredients.

Web analytics software programs used in marketing campaigns have provided valuable information to identify online marketing efforts and to target a segment of consumers. For instance, they can allow marketers to improve a cross channel campaign through follow-up emails once a shopping cart is abandoned, or they may allow for the delivery of ad impressions on other Websites to be calculated, surveyed and examined.

Virgin Atlantic understood the importance of its website in its marketing campaigns, according to IT Week. In 2006, The airline concluded to improve performance of the site it would attempt to track each marketing campaign to find out how they affected business. It had upgraded its WebTrends version, a web analytics software program, from 7 to 8 to get a better gauge of performance.

Today, web analytics and marketing campaigns are more associated. The plan of action for your marketing campaign needs to consider your web analytics software’s abilities.

Distinguish the parameters of the information from the web environment. 

By this you need to identify exactly what it is you intend to track and what will indicate a success. Will you be watching for pageviews? Subscribers? How about the bounce rate? This rate, by the way, is the percentage of entrances on any individual page that caused a visitor to quickly leave the site.

Gather additional customer information.

Web analytics shouldn’t be your only tool. Merge other reporting systems with the web analysis. For instance, information from Customer Relationship Management systems or CRMs have been merged with web analytic data. Customer Relationship Management systems group information related to interactions a business has with prospects or customers.  It may include surveys, sales history and forecasting, mostly information gathered offline.

Ultimately, stay cognizant of what your Web analytics software can do, how much of the technology will benefit your campaign and how the combination of the data with other resources can increase success.

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Business, Marketing, Technology

Gauging your Business Website’s Popularity

Don’t let hits and pageviews confuse you. Many people often think website hits are pageviews, but that’s not right. Even worse they think that these two measurements are by far the most significant and only terminology they should know when it comes to web analytics; however, this is not the case.

Here’s what you should know about hits. Think of hits as if you are visiting a web page with photos, text, graphics, sound, and PDF documents. Each of these file types represent a hit. So, each of those types of files I mentioned plus the page itself equates to six hits. Now, if you said “my website had 6 hits in one minute,” it may give the impression that many people are visiting your site when the truth is only one page with many different types of files was visited.

A better testament of the popularity of your site are the pageviews it received. Whenever, a visitor looks at a section or page on the site, that look or view is recorded.

An even better or more truthful assessment are unique visitors. Here’s what you should know about this group. It doesn’t matter how many times the visitor has come back to your site or the pages the person views or the images on the page; this number shows those individuals dedicated to the site. This tells the number of visitors engaged with the site’s content.

These web analytics metrics used together can help gather a significant amount of information when analyzing the popularity of your website.

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Marketing, Technology

Web Analytics…What Is It?

Do you remember looking at a Web page and seeing a counter with white numbers perched in the corner? For the most part, during the mid-1990s the measurement was what many Web statisticians had to analyze. These numbers tallied how many people came to look at a website. This little counter was the dawn of Web analytics. This new tool originally helped IT staff locate broken links and troublesome spots on a business’ website, but marketers took over when they saw the information raked in profits when a few tweaks were made.

Web analytics studies site visitors’ behavior. It answers the who, what, where, why and when about your site’s visitors. This tool enables you to determine whether the visitor is human or an automated program combing the web. It can help find out which keywords or phrases were used to find the site; the length of time the visitor was on your site; specific areas visited; and the partners, operating systems and browsers used to get to the site.

This knowledge lets businesses rearrange or adjust content offerings, identify trends and show the effectiveness of promotions and sales, and it lets them strategize with partners.

The two significant benefits this tool provides are the ability to strategize and eliminate errors. Businesses can identify new approaches to sell products and services and further identify innovative ways to stand out from other websites and competitors. They can also find problems preventing customers from making purchases.

Visitors to a site need to feel comfortable as they navigate through its pages. Their ease equates to dollars spent on products and services. Today, Web analytics provides businesses with more relevant and clear data that yields more outcomes. They have a better ability to understand the reasons surrounding a visitor’s attraction.

 

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Business, Small business, Technology

Getting to Know: Software-as-a-Service

Thinking about incorporating cloud computing into your business? It has a few variations, but Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, has been the most popular of the three available options. It’s known for its ease and accessibility, and, according to Gartner, an information technology think tank, it’s expected to rake in more than $10 billion in revenue this year.

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Businesses can access applications, such as Quickbook and Oracle whenever they want, wherever they want using SaaS. They can do this on a pay-as-they-go subscription typically for a monthly fee. Providers deliver and manage the software applications that are accessed over the Internet.

SaaS allows a company to get more and pay less. It has a speedy implementation and its accessibility can help broaden the workforce. It reduces cost savings by limiting the need for specialized equipment, costly software, onsite data centers and servers. It also allows businesses to pay for what’s used with the option of cancelling the subscription.

Many companies, however, have worried about SaaS security risks, the availability of the service and the vendors’ size and maturity.

These concerns are easing, Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner, indicated in a news release. “Initial concerns about security, response time and service availability have diminished for many organizations as SaaS business and computing models have matured and adoption has become more widespread. Usage and vendors’ on-demand ecosystems continue to evolve to provide additional business and technology services, more-vertical-specific functionality, and stronger communities of partners and buyers.”

Global companies have taken advantage of SaaS to help reduce complex tasks, such as accounting. However, small and midsized companies are adopting cloud computing more quickly, according to Compliance Week, a newsletter that provides information on corporate governance, risk and compliance. These companies don’t have a large IT infrastructure or the same security concerns as large companies.

Prior to 2000 organizations purchased copies of applications and installed them onto computers paying annual maintenance fees. Vendors wanted to reduce costs, hardware and maintenance issues, so in the past decade they came up with the idea of hosting applications and letting the companies access the software online. As SaaS took off, with the help of faster Internet connection speeds, it drew attention for fast implementations, low upfront costs and limited technology issues.

Now the use of SaaS, the way it’s sold and its perception have changed. “SaaS deployments are larger,” Gartner said. Also, social media and social software, such as Facebook and Twitter, are incorporating more SaaS solutions; and some businesses are encountering issues and challenges because more of them are using an assortment of SaaS applications from various vendors that were acquired or set up without help from IT.

Businesses can anticipate new SaaS-based product offerings. Cloud-hosted “big-data” analytics, e-discovery and the hosting of individual desktop systems are a few uncharted areas for SaaS eWeek cited.

However, use caution with suppliers that indicate they are “in the cloud.” Many are rebranding their hosting or application management or outsourcing capabilities as SaaS and this can cause confusion, Mertz claimed. “Hosting and application management are not synonymous with SaaS, nor do they necessarily comply with the definition of cloud computing,” she explained.

SaaS is a version of cloud computing known for its quick implementation. It can help expand a business and alleviate IT frustrations, and although security concerns still exist, vendors are at work fixing those issues and enhancing the system.

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