28 October 2008

CMOs of the Roundtable

Well, well, well.... the Google site optimizer has a valid competitor! HubSpot won two Silver W3 awards for its website grader which provides FREE feedback and recommendations for smaller companies to be sure their sites are being found and listed on popular search engines. What makes HubSpot different from Google??? Well, as they put it -- their site can be used by marketing people, not techies (ouch!). Once you get past that slightly inflammatory statement, you'll fall in love with HubSpot. It's a nice complement to use with Google's optimizer to be sure all your bases are being covered, because, believe it or not, there are people out in the world who use other search engines. For real.

HS also carries a blog which is chock full of tips and advice for keeping your company's internet presence at the top of the search list. Today's topic: landing pages! It seems kind of obvious that a company website should be using these to increase conversions. In the days of paper coupons, there were often preprinted codes on the slips that allowed a company to track what coupons were being used and where. When did marketers forget this? Just because we are getting green and saving paper, doesn't mean we should stop tracking where our leads are coming from!

Next, we arrive at at a CMO roundtable article on Advertising Age. Towards the end, the interviewer asks the CMOs of Denny's, Hyatt and Wachovia how their marketing plans will change for 2009 and what ideas they are considering now. All agree that the investment in online marketing dollars will be a bigger slice of their budgets next year.

Mark Chmiel of Denny's talks about the chain sponsoring bands online to get their brand identity out to a new late-night audience. When their tv purchases weren't returning well, Denny's focused on how to reach the consumer where they are, not where Denny's thought they were or wanted them to be. Chmiel also reminds us that marketing is not always about ROI for sales, but is a method of shoring up brand identity - something it seems a lot of executives and boards forget about when asking marketers why sales increases don't match periodic department spending.

Ranjana Clark of Wachovia goes on to say her marketers will take some time now to be sure their websites are optimized, but more importantly easily laid out for the customers to use and find the information they need to make important decisions about their accounts or investing with Wachovia. I for one appreciate these CMOs getting back to a consumer-needs focus instead of trying to figure out the cleverest way of driving up sales.

Finally, here is an article from the Wall Street Journal that discusses the imminent disappearance of many online-ad networks. This may just be a little bubble burst, as the market had become inundated with firms that could all pretty much do the same tasks, while the cream of the crop will stick around because they provide quality, up-to-date results to their clients. Despite what the CMOs in the above article said, the WSJ feels that online advertising investments will also be cut during this current downturn in the economy.

I think more than just the economy falling apart, internet marketing is being reshaped because consumers are getting smarter, ignoring obvious advertising, and expecting real and valuable content from online channels. Like tv and radio, people don't go online to see commercials - they just change the station or look away. The current challenge for online marketing is to package the sales pitch in such a way that the consumer is getting value through information which will then translate into sales for business.

Rain Delay!

I'm joining the World Series in a rain delay -- even though I haven't been stuck in the rain since last week.

I flew back to Chicago from New Orleans this morning and didn't have a chance to update my blog before I jump on the CTA to class tonight. I'll have something posted before Wednesday, so come back soon!

If you are totally let down, read this article.... you'll encounter someone you already know (promise)!

12 October 2008

Show me the (marketing) money!

Ok, let's get the Google talk out of the way early.... the monster company is set to release its 3rd quarter earnings numbers on Thursday, followed by Yahoo on October 21. A market analyst has downgraded the ratings of both of these internet companies based on the overall deterioration in the economy citing that he sees "no business model based on advertising or consumer spending that will be immune to a downturn."

Hmmmmm..... honestly, I feel that internet marketing is the least expensive advertising method, especially considering many people may cut back on newspaper, magazine, even cable/satellite programming purchases. Most people will still have access to the internet, either at home, school or work. During the upcoming days of belt-tightening and penny-pinching, I think consumers will turn even more to the internet to do research on necessary big purchases and more scouring for coupons and deals on everyday items and utilities. If a company cuts out or lessens its web presence, it most certainly will be missing out on sales or at the very least increasing brand exposure.

Check out the NY Times
article for details.

What if a company just doesn't know where to push its marketing dollars? TV is too expensive with ever-decreasing audience size, newspapers and magazines are also diminishing on audience returns, so how can a company tackle internet marketing with more than just its corporate website?

As mentioned in class, blogs are the place to be and be seen these days. But a branch away from blogs are online articles. This
story in the American Chronicle suggests companies should write articles about themselves and their products, post them online, then take the step their competitors seem to stop short at - spending the hours of time necessary to submit these articles to online directories. It seems so simple, but many businesses can't seem to grasp the return on investment of someone's time seeking out all these directories. Even so, the benefits are clear - the more places your article is linked, the higher your article will likely place in a keyword search on the big search engines. Money in the bag!

Ok, one last return to Google.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, they have made their oldest available search index available online (it's from January 2001). It's kind of fun to search for today's big names and businesses and see where they were ten years ago. A tip - click on the "View the old version...." link to get a blast from the past!

06 October 2008

Is that Google underneath Johnny's bed?

I've just riled myself up posting on our class discussion board. Sure I looooooove Google to death and can't imagine using another search engine for my daily queries, but in the back of my mind is a creeping fear that one day Google is going to take over the world.

When I noticed all my friends were getting Gmail accounts, I asked one of them for an invitation --- ooooh, I was going to be part of the exclusive Gmail club. However, what they don't tell you until you've mostly signed up and filled out the registration screens is that Google actually SCANS YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL for advertising! They try valiantly to frame it as good for you and from what I've seen, the Gmail program itself is really well laid-out and very productive, but even though it's cost-free, what is the price people will ultimately pay?

So, I don't have a gmail account, but I seem to be in the minority of my peer group. It seems like most of my generation is fairly comfortable allowing strangers, brands, and companies to have access to their personal, used-to-be-private information. How far will we let internet marketing go? Like James mentioned in one of our earlier classes, online marketing is getting smarter and companies are using cookies to track where we go online in order to optimize the ads we see during our web browsing. Are we going to turn around one day and say "Hey! What are you doing there?" By then, won't it be too late?

I also posted an article on the boards I'll link to here as well.

I think as more and more of the corporate sector gets fed up with spam, junk websites, and brand infringers, those highly regarded lobbyists (one day I'll get my sarcasm formatting button) will start whispering in the ears of politicians, but by then, will it be too late?