Monday, April 27, 2009

The Secrets Your Bounce Rate Tells You

I don’t know about you, but I do a lot of online research and media monitoring on company web sites, blogs, online newspapers, product sites, etc. I Google everything and check out roughly 100 new web spaces each week.

Many of these sites have spent a fortune so they are on those first 2-3 Google pages when you type in a search term that is part of their business. But what most SEO firms don’t like to talk about is what happens when potential customers get to their site and can’t find what they are looking for.

Simple answer: You’ve wasted a lot of marketing money.

What does bounce rate mean? It measures the number of people who came to your site and never made it past the home page or as Google puts it “I came; I puked; I left." Bounce rate tells you what percentage of people weren’t impressed with what they found. Didn't think you were worth a second click.

Bounce rate is hard to misunderstand because the higher it is, the less effective your web site, blog, etc. is. Of course there will always be a small bounce rate but if you are exciting and engaging people in your site it should be pretty low.

It's a much more important measure than length of time on-site because people will forget to close all the windows they've opened and may leave some open all day.

Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro, a search engine marketing firm, said in a recent article that he likes to look at the differences in how people of different ages, gender, etc. react when they get to a page.

He pointed out two distinctive difference, and said there are many others.

1. How males scan a page versus females

2. How those who grew up online and those who didn’t search web sites.

How can you learn more about the way potential customers and other visitors react to your site? There's a tool that's pretty easy to use and it's free. In Google Analytics, check out your referring sites. Then visit them and find the source of how they are presenting your web site and the information it delivers. Find out which people, who came from which sites, stayed and those who bounced.

So what does this mean for marketers? More scrutiny. One client of mine tracks referring sites like he is mining gold, and in a way he is. Remember when PR wasn’t measurable? Now it is. He can look at the stories, mentions, etc. run about his company and see how much traffic it drove to his web site and how long it stayed. And we can make decisions on where we want to place stories based on the referral sites.

For instance, we’ve been using a regional strategy for one client and measuring how many hits they get from online stories in that market on the day and day after the story runs. It tells you a lot about the power of the story, the positive or negative slant (whether one or the other drove more traffic), and where he can get the most bang for his buck in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Consumers Brands Chase Boomer Dollars

Show me the money - oops you don't have any but your daddy still does.

A new column today by New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott -who I used to write for years ago when he was at Manhattan Inc. - reminds us that the baby boomers are still spending money. And that big consumer brands know that.

Chrysler, Kraft Foods, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Target are embracing the Geritol Generation's favorite CBS - News, 60 Minutes and CSI among other programming are drawing more ad dollars away from shows aimed at younger viewers. After all, this generation grew up with TV and they still watch it. That's probably why CBS is first in network ratings - everyone else is on Facebook.

Boomers have a lot to offer. Their kids are older, they (OK we) still have some savings and advertisers who chased youth and flagrant spenders are acknowledging once more that this generation isn't dead yet.

Elliott's anecdote is about grandparents (yes they cannot help but spend) but it applies more broadly. When Brian Gordon and his partners started, which sells children’s learning toys online, they expected most of business to come from younger consumers starting families. But a recent customer survey found that up to 40 percent were actually older, mainly grandparents.

“If you’d asked me if 4 out of 10 people would be grandparents, I’d have said, ‘No, that’s not going to happen,’ ” Mr. Gordon said.
Among those aiming more at the older demographic are giants like Chrysler, Kraft Foods, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Target.

Another big benefit of the boomer generation - you don't have to build brand loyalty. They grew up with these brands - and in tough economic times familiar brands are comforting. Even if you sometimes end up buying the generic.

Oh and AARP Magazines ad revenues are not anywhere near as far down as everyone else's.

Here's the link:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marketing Science at the White House

For the first time in more than 30 years, science made an appearance at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science) had a booth at the annual event where kids could compare and examine eggs from multiple species and play with a variety of hands-on science activities.

The AAAS table drew thousands of visitors - from young children - to teachers and parents who were encouraged to learn about animal diversity by exploring an array of replica eggs and their animal parents.

Evidently the invite came from the White House but as marketers we can certainly learn from this. The Obama Administration is working hard to bring science back on the national stage. Scientific, health and education organizations specializing in these disciplines can use this interest to get far more attention than a year or two ago. Some ideas:

Hands-on science activities supporting hospitals and companies at local street fairs and in other venues.

Meet the scientist events where companies and associations open their doors to the public and let them learn about what they do.

Equipment give-aways by technology, health and science organizations to local schools in a public setting.

Invite local media to tour your facility and show them the incredible work that you do.

Contact local politicians and find out where they are speaking in the next couple of months and ask if you can set up a science booth at the event.

Be creative - your time is now.

Here's the link to information on the AAAS event.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Let's Make A Deal and Return to Barter

I got my hair cut at the nice salon a couple of weeks ago. I noticed how empty it was – on a Friday afternoon at 4:00 PM.

The salon’s story is not a good one. The two partners spent much of their savings creating a small place with every comfort and amenity that their upscale Washington, DC clientele could want. One had worked in an upscale salon for the past decade and took her clients with her. The other was the business partner.

They opened right before the stock market fell apart – and now clients who once paid close to $100 for a haircut don’t want to do it anymore. Or they're only getting haircuts every 3-4 months instead of every six weeks. I hadn't been there in six months.

The hair cut expert partner jumped ship and got herself a deal at another upscale salon. The business partner is stuck with an expensive rent, pricey fixtures and a clientele that no longer wants many of the salon's services. And she lost the partner with all of the contacts. The remaining partner, I'll call her Gayle, has no idea how to market past word of mouth.

Her latest promo idea is bring a friend and get a free haircut. It's OK but it doesn't really build the client base beyond the neighborhood she's already in. Her other promo is a sign advertising an adult's cut for $65.00 and a child's haircut for $30.00. Eighteen months ago that would have been cheap for Chevy Chase. But not anymore.

And that’s when I remembered the last recession and the benefits of barter. We’re marketers. No one’s skills are in as much demand as ours – especially in a bad economy. I turned to Gayle as I was walking out the door and said, “If you give me free haircuts and color, I’ll do some PR and marketing for you.”

In the early 1990s in New York, when you could buy a two bedroom apartment for under $200,000 (yes I know you are gasping for breath), we were all bartering. Many of us were unemployed. We bartered for the services we needed, and traded our skills for theirs.

Write a brochure for me and I’ll give you free design services. Help me get the editor’s attention for the top 100 new restaurants' list and I’ll give you free dinners. Help me write a marketing plan and I'll give you a year of free legal services. Write theater reviews for free and we'll get you tickets to see new shows. Be creative - there are a lot of people you can help - who also need you.

Marketing services - particularly in this economy - are invaluable to someone who is trying to increase their customer base. What about customers who are about to pull the plug on a campaign because they can’t afford it anymore? Can you help them design a social media program? What about your vendors - are their businesses hurting? Can you get a deep discount on that new computer system you desperately need, if you help your supplier prospect for new business?

Have a conversation about how you can help each other through these tough economic times. When things are better your relationships will be stronger for it.

What about all the other service providers who are hurting too - your lawyer, your accountant, etc. How can you help them?

Barter isn’t a panacea of course. One thing you learn pretty quickly is when you’re not a paying customer, you are not at the top of the list of things to get done. But in most cases you’ll find a way to make it work. There are services springing up on the Internet too - that will connect companies that want to enter a barter relationship. Check them out, but make sure you get references before you agree to a deal.

Oh and the hair salon had an artsy movie theater a block away showing a film that took place in you guessed it - a hair salon. I suggested doing a special promotion with them – helped iron out the details - and several new clients came in the door.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A New Free Tool for Media Relations 2.0

Peter Shankman, CEO of Geek Factory, is my new best friend.

He's recently launched a great new resource for reporters and PR people that I learned about through one of my young professional friends - I'll tell you without them we grown-ups would be living in the dark ages. It's called HARO (the acronym stands for Help a Reporter Out).

HARO is perfectly positioned for success in the Web 2.0 world. As more reporters, editors, producers, etc. lose their jobs and shift over to freelance - and as more media outlets depend on them - services like this are desperately needed. HARO started on Facebook but got too big so now it's a web site.

The URL is

Freelancers and independent PR people, even those within associations and small agencies, cannot afford to pay the $1500 beginning prices for PR Newswire's ProfNet. And as more reporters learn about HARO, more will come.

You get up to three emails each day with 15-30 queries in each, so clearly ProfNet is far bigger. But HARO is up to 50,000 sources so far and it's growing like crazy.

To test HARO versus ProfNet, I posted information about people I need to interview for my book on science, alcohol and kids. I'm looking for teachers, psychologists who specialize in adolescents and alcohol, and people in their twenties who started drinking young and do not drink anymore. We want to tell their stories as a wake-up call to parents. The book called "Delaying that First Drink" is due out in the fall.

I got several resources who contacted me through HARO and about double the number from ProfNet. The HARO contacts came from smaller companies and independents and the ProfNet from bigger firms representing bigger entities. All of the ProfNet people were media stars, they had books out, they had the "top" clinic for adolescent addiction in the country, etc. Good resources but you get what you pay for right?

Not really. My HARO resources were good too - like Dr. Mitch, who runs a clinic in Florida for kids and families with alcohol problems, and has done so for decades. He has a voice that reminded me of my Brooklyn relatives and Jerry Seinfeld's parents. And he was very helpful.

HARO queries are divided by subject into categories making it easier to find stuff. They include: Business and Finance; Health and Fitness; Lifestyle/Entertainment; Technology

You do have to put up with a bit of Peter hawking his advertisers - one plug comes with every update about stories reporters are working on. But he tells you upfront that's what he's doing and turns it into something funny and easy to read.