Review of Black Friday 2010 digital marketing strategies and activities undertaken by the world's largest retailers
While anticipation of the November beta release of SpyFu's "SEO Recon Files" grows throughout the search industry, SpyFu is releasing a free portion of the product early called "Keyword Groupie" on Monday complete with clever messaging and supporting video content including this SpyFu Keyword Groupie Intro.
Exciting news indeed, not only because we are able to get an early glimpse of the parent product release, but more importantly, because it's actually useful! The product is advertised to take a look at both paid and organic keyword coverage by domain, both identifying current coverage, and showing a larger set of data including keywords not currently in existing campaigns. Breaking these keywords out into a topical hierarchy, keywords can be easily exported, ready for loading into paid search campaigns and planning tools for SEO's and content creators.
Here's an example of what data a "groupify" returns for Nike.com returns:
Organic keywords that Nike is ranking for are available in the first category, as paid keywords appear in the second. Then, all related organic and paid keywords show in the next categories providing keyword insights for PPC campaign expansion, and SEO keyword and content targeting. Above, keyword clusters reveal both top sorted results as well as clusters based on "trailhead" keywords and their derivatives, extremely useful for categorization in paid campaigns, and the avoidance of extensive excel keyword sorting tomfoolery. It is assumed that the recommended results come from derivatives based on SpyFu's extensive SERP database, a goldmine of information indeed for keyword research usage.
As part of SEO Recon Files, it will be interesting to see the full product offering. From someone who does more keyword research and categorization for content planning than should ever be admitted in public, I see great value for usage beyond search, including developing content strategy and social media planning. On my wish list, I'd also like to see keyword search volume to help with keyword and cluster prioritization as well as the ability to enter specific competitor domains to control my "universe," both obvious requests that I would anticipate in future releases.
In sum, bravo SpyFu for finding extra value in the data you've been collecting for some time now. On behalf of the interactive community, I'm proud to be the first to say thank you for providing more access to it.
How to Information: SpyFu Keyword Groupie University
Intro Video: SpyFu Keyword Groupie Video
PPC Video: SpyFu Keyword Groupie Video - PPC
A special thank you to Mike Roberts and SpyFu for allowing DigitalMarketingStrategy.com a pre-release product sneak peak-we're already using it and look forward to the full SEO Recon Files later this year.
Content Relevancy is key to enhancing any email program and as ISP's move to add engagement stats to there bulk/spam filters, you need your customers to be more involved in your email program. A recent stat from Jupiter Research says 51% of those surveyed will unsubscribe if content is not of interest.
Online Marketing Summit Phoenix 2010 - Search and Social Data Mining to Improve Content Relevance - Follow-up
As many of you know, Digital Marketing Strategy was honored last week to be included in Aaron Kahlow's Online Marketing Summit regional conference in Phoenix (Mike Corak - "Relevant Content is King" session, David Hibbs closing keynote panel - email expert). A great show, and like an avalanche, OMS continues to gain steam with many of the digital industry's best and brightest attending and speaking. The Phoenix summit was the kick-off of the new Online Marketing Summit tour, a 23 city show with stops across the US and Canada. If it's coming to a city near you, I definitely recommend checking it out - a perfect mix of local and national insight, with strong networking opportunities. The Phoenix version featured topics including social media, content strategy and distribution, search, email, usability and loads of case studies presented by tactical experts and communication executives alike. It appears future shows on the tour will have more of the same - a great formula - fantastic! As a follow-up to my presentation at OMS Phoenix (Relevant Content is King)
I would like to share some of the Q&A generated at the event and directly to me over the last few days:
Q - With Yahoo!'s purchase of Associated Content (slide 14), and the growth of other large content publishers like Demand Media, what can smaller publishers do to compete with these entities?
A - The content production and distribution game will not be won solely through the quantity of content produced, but rather, by the return on investment the produced content provides. Extremely relevant, link worthy content that results in conversions, more than eyeballs and visits, is what both advertisers and target audiences desire, and what publishers will eventually be held accountable to. While small publishers may not possess the ability to build content in the same mass and with the efficiency of larger players, they will have the opportunity to outwork and outsmart larger publishers through niche understanding of communities and target audiences, and frankly, creativity and relentless elbow grease. Let's remember, content publishers don't determine what content is noteworthy - the public does, and by understanding what content is in demand (through search demand research), and what that interest means (through search and social conversation analysis), smaller publishers can get one-step closer to outperforming the competition.
Q: In reference to your navigation naming example (slides 43 and 44), should smaller players that have a harder time ranking for competitive phrases use less popular keywords?
A: No. While it's tempting to leverage the power of a site's architecture to rank in search for all targeted phrases including less competitive long-tail phrases, you're better off using the most common vernacular in way-finding messaging to ensure you make the most relevant connections possible with the user. Further, this behavior, along with matching linguistics in titles, meta, headlines and copy, is shown to encourage those linking to your pages to use this common vernacular in their links, helping sites rank for those more competitive phrases over time.
Q: How do you know that consumers use the same language online as they do offline? Have you seen improved results from this type of research for communications in both online and offline communications?
A: The short answer is that we've tested this theory and it holds true in all online and offline communications. Why? Because requests for information and conversations online are conducted by actual real people! More scientifically, typical offline to online behavior shows that people take interest generated offline to online tools like search engines to fulfill their interest, meaning that data taken from search shows offline content interest by nature.
Any other questions? Feel free to ask them here. For the record, we're looking to improve the content of this presentation for future speaking opportunities, and would appreciate any feedback you may have. Thank you as always!
ou may have heard the buzz about Google's latest development. You may even already be using it and not know it. But Google didn't just release a new product; it has dramatically changed the way we look at the inbox.
First off, I love Pei Wei - great food and affordable prices. The other day though I received this email in my inbox:
Look closely, what do you see? Not much here for me to take away, but at least I'm a valued guest. So as a fan of Pei Wei, I'm going to offer up some advice on how they can make some minor improvements to their email marketing efforts and improve their overall success, and you can too!
1. Be aware of potential delivery issues
The from name is good, I quickly know this is an email from one of my favorite restaurants, Pei Wei. The subject line is good as well, as I'm expecting a free voucher on a new item. The problem though, was this was put in my junk folder (after releasing it from my spam filter). I'll save all the details about spam filters for a later post as their are many factors that can play a role in getting blocked: reputation, email size, text to image ratio, content and a laundry list of many other factors play a very important role and help explain why this email didn't make it to my inbox. Proper testing and monitoring can help limit the likely hood of getting caught in filters. Make sure to monitor your programs this year to help limit the likelihood of getting junked! And remember email delivery doesn't equal number of emails sent minus number of bounced.
One other thing to note is some email clients will display a warning to the subscriber if the click a link within an email that was placed in the junk folder. This is another reason why staying out of the junk folder is very important.
2. Know the inbox - not everyone will see your "entire" email
Not everyone will see the whole email, so you need to take into consideration preview panes and how your email looks to those viewing email within these panes. Luckily there is only two types - horizontal and vertical. If your call to action is too far to the right, or too far down in the email, it has a greater chance of being missed by this audience. Remember, people are busy and move quickly so make it easy for them to take action.
3. Images are worth a thousand words but when turned off they are worth nothing
Imagery can really help add to your messaging, but when your whole email is an image and images are turned off by default, you are essentially saying nothing at all. Images should be used to enhance the overall message and call to action. So in this email from Pei Wei it would have been great to see a voucher, or even the new dish. In this email, your copy becomes invisible without enabling images, and the imagery is focused on the holiday event...incorporating some of this other imagery would help get this message across far easier than having to read and decipher the entire content of the email.
4. Add Content (but not as an image)
Similar to the last point, your textual content (unless it is brand related and requires a certain font type) should be placed into the email so when images are off it is still visible. This comes in handy when someone may be getting this email on their mobile device like Blackberry or Windows mobile device.
5. Clear call to action
Make sure it is clear to the subscriber on what is is they need to do next, and make it very apparent. Here is a quick mock up I created in order to drive home the simplicity that could have been added to this email. (Sorry for the lack of design, I was in a hurry to mock this up.)
In this layout, you can quickly see the things you need to do in order to get your Free Caramel Chicken dinner. I don't need to read through tons of copy in order to learn about what is needed to take advantage of this offer.
6. Keep your promotions simple and measurable
In the Pei Wei email, there is no call to action. Finding the nearest location should be front and center. This will help Pei Wei determine if people are interested in the offer. If not, maybe future offers should be adjusted in order to create more interest among their subscribers. Adding a printable coupon or show this email to the cashier will also help determine the traffic generated from the campaign. Over time, you can start to tailor your offers to each subscribers interests (opens, clicks, bounces, etc.).
7. Utilize space efficiently
The canvas for your email is somewhat limited, add in preview panes and various monitor sizes and your really left with 600 pixels of good horizontal space. As mentioned before in bullet two, you want to keep your important information higher up in the email so your "canvas" becomes pretty small. As you can see in the Pei Wei example the content of the email is pretty far down from the top, with the top adding no value to this communication. This layout may work well as a print ad, but email is an entirely different medium. Space becomes extremely important, make every pixel count.
8. Add viral components to your campaign
Email was the first form of social media, you can forward email to friends and family to spread the message. Now more and more email service providers are incorporating sharing with social networks into their software. What better way to get your email to work harder for you then to give your subscribers the capability to spread your message and promotion through forward to a friend and share with your network. In this case, let the subscriber promote this offer through their facebook or twitter accounts. Kudos to Pei Wei for including references to their social accounts, but "check us out on" is missing the point of what happens there...interactions and conversations with people who have the same interests in Pei Wei!
9. Use the opportunity to further your brand
Use your ongoing communications to continue to build upon your branding. Don't send your subscribers a new, redesigned email every time you send an email. It will take your subscribers "time" to make sure that what they are looking at is really an email from you. By keeping colors and fonts similar, you lessen the time it will take them to familiarize themselves. That doesn't mean you can't create campaigns that add in new elements, but keep a few of the elements the same. It is interesting to see that Pei Wei has chosen to move there logo to the lower portion of the email versus front an center to ease the subscribers mind that - yes, this is an official Pei Wei email, not spam...even though this was in my spam folder.
10. Analyze the post click experience
Where are you sending the subscriber? Does the page the subscriber land on match link they clicked? In the case of this Pei Wei email, it took me to the home page (which for some reason wasn't working in Safari). Not bad since the same lantern promotion was a feature on the home page, but landing on the promotion page would have been a far better landing area. Make sure to use your web analytics to track your email subscribers and see what they do when they visit the site. You'll be surprised on the results you may find!
Bonus tip: Stay away (far away) from linking generic text like "here" or "click here." This adds zero value to the reader, especially those who scan the information in front of them. Use the opportunity to explain what they will get when they click - Visit our website, Download 10% off coupon...
If you try some of these out on your own email campaigns, leave a note in the comments and share some the results you get!
It's 5 a.m. in Arizona , which equates to 4:00 a.m. PST, 7 a.m. EST, and 6 a.m. CST. This puts me close enough to the middle of the launch of the annual shopping feeding frenzy that I'm unofficially ringing the bell, and calling this the online observer's start of what we've all been schooled to know as "Black Friday," the biggest shopping day of the year for retailers and consumers alike. While traditionally an in-store experience, more and more retailers are bringing Black Friday online, not only advertising promotions occurring at their brick and mortar locations, but also fishing for sales through their web stores. Let's see what's happening at this early hour, shall we?
Examining PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, activity is always a good way to get a quick lay of the land. Paying for a phrase is an important indicator of corporate level interest as there's a financial investment attached, all be it relatively small, and not necessarily an indicator of true revenue production as we can only see the ad and its placement, not its conversion through this lens. None the less, looking at the term "Black Friday" we see the following:
Some points of interest:
- Black Friday advertisements are largely dominated by big box retailers these days with very little action from local players, likely due to the cost to compete. Additionally, some Black Friday entrepreneurs (coupon sites, blogs, etc.), and odd-balls like Visa are advertising under the flag of "savings," have entered the conversation.
- Open competition exists between online only retailers like Dell and Amazon and multi-channel retailers, and the lines are blurring more than ever.
- Few are maximizing the budget they're spending online by implementing according to best practice, and creating relationships beyond Black Friday. The remainder of this post concentrates on opportunities to improve results.
The Post Click Experience
The largest opportunity for improvement across the board starts with the point of engagement, most commonly, the website. Few retailers go the extra mile to optimize the post click experience for their customers, ensuring relevance between the ad and the offer, and therefore maximizing results. Note this post will largely ignore impediments like requiring users to choose a store, or the balance between promoting online and offline sales realizing that these business decisions go beyond what we are able to examine from the outside.
Relevance to Black Friday - About half of the retailers above acknowledge that visitors came from a "Black Friday" related search phrase and ad, a start but too low. Example, Target takes the visitor to a page touting its "2 Day Sale." The urgency of Black Friday is not there, nor are any calls to action to purchase online. While spending across all sites, this is the effort that leaves the most to be desired.
What I do like about Target's effort is the concentration on collecting contact info to further the conversation. Linking to social media outposts would have been wise, as would exposing the fields required to subscribe to Target's communications.
Call to Action, Creating Relationships Beyond Black Friday - Walmart does miss the opportunity to create a connection beyond picking a local store (email, social links, etc all can build relationships past this visit should a web visitor not purchase on or offline).
It should be noted that Walmart does have links to social media outposts, however, they exist near the bottom of the page and therefore may as well not exist.
Ease of Use - Others like Sears who create a great connection to products and the brand, unfortunately bombard the visitor with a non-consumable product listing page (see the craziness at here - below is one of three screen shots required to capture the page). I'd guess the bounce rate of this page to be equal to Target's if not higher.
The Winner? - While far from perfect, the best multi-channel retail experience that I've seen thus far comes from JCPenney.
Driving store traffic is huge for most retailers believing you'll buy more than the sale you come to the store for - no argument - and JCPenney definitely provides information for users to make the connection. JCPenney however also understands that an online sale is valuable, and promotes them online with vigor, and links. As well, navigation exists to shop all deals, and links exist that allow visitors to connect with the brand in social media. The user experience is underwhelming visually, borrowing from print ads, but the info is there and ready for visitor action.
Of course, Dell and Amazon (who is leading the twitter buzz war per Mashable) are doing a great job and get it. Not unexpected, their business is online and their effort is superior, and frankly, easier to execute upon promoting a singular point of purchase. Amazon makes a quick connection to products and purchase, the name of their game, allowing their strong website to do the rest. Dell however goes the extra mile, allowing visitors to share their deals and connect via their strong social media presence.
The lone knock on Dell? A visitor is forced to click on another ad on the Dell site prior to arriving here.
Creating One-to-One Relationships
Forget the sale today, the lifetime value of an engaged customer more often than not outweighs the short term profit sacrificed to begin a relationship. With a strong push for contact and interest acquisition while customer attention is high, it's quite possible that the brands listed could exceed their revenue totals from today through proper customer lifecycle marketing to these audiences over the next 12 months. Here's how:
Data Capture - Improving data capture is an opportunity for all advertisers mentioned in this post. Email and mobile are great opportunities to provide a subscriber the information they want at the time of need, with the later often being enough incentive to supply it. What about providing deeper savings to those already on the contact list as an incentive to sign-up?
Social Media - Social media provides a unique opportunity to bring actual brand and community interaction to the relationship building process. The social media possibilities could spawn five posts of their own as my notes go for miles, but a few tidbits:
- All retailers at this point should be allowing visitors to share the deals they are finding with their social networks using the method and outpost of their choice.
- Retailers should absolutely be promoting contact aggregation and membership in their social media programs at every turn in the communication cycle. On the topic, it's unbelievable to me that not a retailer on this list appears to be utilizing Facebook Connect to help the cause!
- Utilizing geo based applications like foursquare or GoWalla are no-brainers, and custom applications and widgets based on location could also be amazing. What if smart phone users could find special products and deals only known to them in-store using their devices? Augmented reality? Implementation is a real possibility, and not outrageously expensive.
Other Opportunities for Improvement
Search Engine Optimization - Given the media budgets spent today, it only makes sense that search engine optimization (SEO) be ephasized to lower the reliance on one-time spend. As far as I can tell, Black Friday isn't going anywhere, and a permenent, indexable presence wouldn't hurt. If an off-site permanent presence is preferred, procurement of an existing Black Friday site or URL would provide a buffer from the main site, and could be obtained for a similar budget to the media that is being spent.
Content Improvement - Across the board, it should be noted that quality content was completely absent, often times substituting offline ads for engaging and actionable copy, images and video. The most overlooked, and critical to conversion, strategic and engaging copy is proven to move the needle, and the user through the digital experience to the conversion desired.
Testing - If you're not testing, you're leaving money on the table, and the landing pages and ad copy reviewed today didn't seem all that dynamic. Even if your promotion is a day long, there's always opportunity to improve results, much of which can be done through automation.
Breaking the Mold - Just being different can often separate companies from the competition and create some much needed buzz, and digital couldn't be a more malleable implementation medium. Live inventory reports online by store? Local advertising online? Online product demos before Black Friday? Offers through new technology? Releasing products throughout the day with live messaging? The options are bound only by the imagination.
So how was your Black Friday experience in 2009? Were your expectations met? Are you expecting more from Cyber Monday?
Mike Corak lead the strategic planning practice and account management efforts at the time of this post at Off Madison Ave, now performing similar tasks at www.tallwave.com, and is co-founder of www.digitalmarketingstrategy.com. An active member of the digital marketing community and frequent blogger and speaker, Mike's passion is interactive marketing. Mike's developed and implemented winning digital and integrated strategies for hundreds of companies over his 12 year career including the likes of Coca Cola, ConAgra Foods, ConocoPhillips, FedEx, Fujitsu, Nike, Office Depot, and Walt Disney. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org, or interact with Mike here: twitter, LinkedIn.