Archive for 'Advertising'

2010 Super Bowl Ads

Ok, so the SuperBowl is over, and there are a new set of commercials to judge and discuss. Since a 30 second spot during the game costs anywhere between $2.5 to $3 million, advertisers need to bring their “A” game for this once/year event.  The thing I don’t like about SuperBowl ads are that the big budget corporations dominate the space so the rich tend to get richer.

Here’s an idea: have a contest where some lucky small business gets a 30 second spot “sponsored” by the network airing the game. It would present a fabulous opportunity for us little guys and inject some new blood into the mix as well. Probably won’t happen, but it never hurts to toss the idea out there, right?

Which ones did you like best and least? Post your comments below the video.


In my completely informal poll (conducted via Twitter, Facebook and text message), the early winners seem to be:

1. Snickers (featuring Betty Davis)

2. Budweiser (no shock–they always bring it for the SuperBowl)

3. Dorritos – all were well received in my “straw poll”

4. Hyundai (like him or not, the play on Brett Favre in 10 years was great)

5. eTrade (the “Milk-aholic” line was classic!)


1. Diamond Foods (Pop Secret & Emerald Nuts) “Let’s Get Aquatic” with people as dolphins (seems as though the message wasn’t clear)

2. Charles Barkley’s Taco Bell spots (I love Barkley, but I didn’t care much for the commercials either)

3. GoDaddy (I disagree but it seems as though some of my “constituents” don’t like their ad campaigns; as competitive as the online world is today, you have to do something to stand out especially for something as mundane as domain registration)

Go ahead, share your thoughts!

The internet is a fast-paced environment. People can come to your website at any hour from a wide range of locations, each of them with different intentions or needs. Unlike physical retail stores, you can’t see who is coming in and browsing around. You don’t know much about the people reading you. How can we develop a rough profile of all these individuals?

You already get a glimpse of them everyday when they interact with your website. Some may register for an account, leave a comment or send you an email. But many are ‘invisible’. They get to your site, see what you put out, click on a outbound link and disappear.

What you currently know about these individuals comes from a combination of visible user actions (e.g comments/emails) and statistics (e.g visit frequency/visit length). Is this knowledge sufficient for most businesses or bloggers? Yes. But I think it would be tremendously helpful to learn even more about your audience.

In marketing and advertising, we proactively define our target audience. We start with our end goals and then structure our website/ads with the right buzz phrases, pitch, style, keywords and angle to appeal to people we want to attract as a consumer/user/reader. Gathering information on visitors to our website makes us more effective marketers.

It is helpful to analyze and construct a general profile of your audience, however shifting it may be, because it provides you with information that will allow you to better improve your content scope, site usability, conversation rate or marketing campaign. Let’s split this process up into two sections: statistical analysis and data collection.

Statistical Analysis: Start Working With What You Already Have

Image Credit: Mint

Depending on the stats tool you’re currently using, you can get a lot of information on how visitors are using your website, where they come from and what they are looking at. There are obviously a lot of different metrics to look at but I’m listing what I think is more relevant to understanding visitors in general:

  1. Visitor loyalty, bounce rate, recency, time on site. These sites measure one critical thing: the level of engagement. They reveal how often people visit your site, the last time they used it and the depth of their visit. While these numbers aren’t a definitive interpretation of on-site user actions, they are a gauge of their enthusiasm.

  2. Visitor Location. This allows you to make cultural and linguistic assumptions of your visitors. If you know you receive the most visitors from a few specific countries, you might want to create landing pages/offers or content with a geographic focus.

  3. Visitor search terms/keywords. This includes both search engines and on-site search boxes. The clearest indicator of visitor interest, search terms tell you what they want to get from your site and it reveals information gaps you can fill up. This is where data collection gets specific. If you consistently get a lot of queries for a specific phrase, you can safely assume that there will be visitor interest in content or offers related to it.

  4. Traffic source. This includes search engines, referrer sites, type-in/bookmark traffic and ad campaigns. Pay attention to referrer sites: it reveals what visitors are reading or using. Traffic sources also tell you where to improve for greater visibility.

Take some time to look at these statistics. Instead of only looking at them at each single point in time, it makes more sense to regularly study them to see how they trend over the lifespan of your site or the course of a marketing/ad campaign. On the whole, they will give you a good idea of what users want and what draws their attention.

How to Get More Audience Data: Using Polls, Surveys and Features

Now for the fun part: the active solicitation of user information. Instead of simply monitoring web statistics, you create opportunities for visitors to voluntarily reveal personal data and opinions. These can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Polls. An excellent and informal way to get information on user preferences, they are very easy to set up and maintain on any website. The questions asked can be diverse and they are a good way to gradually accumulate a lot of information without being too invasive. Run a poll for two weeks and change the questions to pull in more information. They can be integrated on a regular basis alongside articles or they can be left alone on a visible corner of the website.

  2. Surveys. Depending on their length and how they are created, surveys may be more labor intensive. Some visitors will avoid them if they are too long. They are ideal when bundled with competitions or special offers which provide incentives for completion. Short surveys can be used for exiting visitors or as a follow-up after a user completes a specific purchase or opts-out of your payment plan/subscription.

  3. On-Site User Features. If you’re running a community, social media service or even a blog, you can get more information by simply offering more user features (ways users can interact with each other and your site). For example, allow users to input more biographical info in profiles or give them the option to favorite/rate your blog posts and the contributions of other users. Features also add value to users and increase their engagement with your site. Think strategically about what data you want and create a feature that allows users to indirectly reveal it. Facebook is a good example of a site with features that generate a lot of mineable data. Of course, it is always good to have an appropriate privacy policy and allow users to opt out easily from their side.

  4. Audience Feedback. To understand your visitors, its useful to ensure that you monitor your feedback channels. Comments, emails, incoming blog links, mentions on online communities and even tweets allow you to get an intuitive feel of what people think about your website. Subscribe to the right feedback channels (Google alerts, blogsearch etc.) and track them daily. Either do it yourself or get someone to be the official feedback/community coordinator. Audience feedback is often unsolicited, although you can easily get more comments/emails by specifically asking for them. This provides you with clues on how to better cater to your target market.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, some of these methods can be applied online and offline simultaneously. For polls and surveys, you should be able to find some plugins or software available for your site platform. Alternatively, you can always use external online services like SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, 4Q and Wufoo.

After obtaining this data, setup a system which allows you to segment and compare your findings over a period of time. This can be a simple spreadsheet or something more sophisticated. When combined with the visitor statistics you already have, it’s easy to understand your audience, allowing you to to better accommodate their needs or interest.

Can you think of any other ways to get more audience data?

To receive updates on new articles, subscribe to Dosh Dosh today.


How to Understand Your Audience: Data Collection & Analysis

Social Bookmark

Continued Growth For Online Advertising

Online advertising will continue to grow despite economic woes according to the latest analysis from eMarketer.

The majority of analyst firms expect to see spending growth for online advertising to continue to show double-digit increases in 2008 and 2009.

read more

Introduction to Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

Online advertising is becoming more popular among small businesses that want their site to display on the first page of search results for specific keywords. Pay-per-click advertising is a great way for businesses to do just that. PPC advertising allows websites to list their sites in search engines almost immediately by setting up an advertising campaign that displays your ads on the major search engines.

A PPC campaign works as follows:

  1. You choose specific keywords that are relevant to your topic and bid against your competitors for display spots in search results.
  2. You write ad copy that encourages people to click on your ad rather than all your competitors’ ads.
  3. When people click on the ad, they are taken to a “landing page” which should be a page you’ve created specifically for people who click on your ad. Your page should explain what you do, the benefits of buying your product or service, and some type of “call to action,” which may be to buy your product or fill out a form to contact you.
  4. You measure the results of you ads by analyzing specific metrics, revise your campaign, and repeat the cycle.

Search engines run your ad either above or beside the regular (organic) listings whenever someone searches for your specified keyword. If the searcher clicks on your ad, the search engine charges you an amount up to your maximum bid – the exact amount is determined by a number of factors including the maximum amount you are willing to bid, the maximum amount your competitors have bid, and how effective your ad is in getting people to click on it.

How the ads show up on the search results page depends on two factors:

  1. How much the advertiser is willing to pay – Advertisers bid on keywords much like an auction. They set a maximum amount they are willing to spend every time someone clicks on their ad. This is known as the maximum cost-per-click. Google analyzes all advertisers bidding on your keywords and sets a pricing structure. The higher you bid, the more likely you will show up in the No. 1 or No. 2 position, but the price you actually pay for each click is determined by what other advertisers bid. For instance, if you bid $1 per click but your nearest competitor is only bidding 50 cents, most of your clicks will probably cost in the 50-60 cent range.
  2. How effective the ad is at getting people to click on it – To encourage advertisers to write better ads, Google incentivizes its program by giving priority display space to ads with the highest click-through rates. A click-through rate (CTR) is the number of times someone clicks on an ad divided by how many times the ad is displayed. So if the ad was displayed 100 times and 5 people clicked on it, the CTR is 5 percent.

The Advantages of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising offers a number of benefits to businesses who want to get listed in search engines quickly, such as:

  1. It’s inexpensive to get started. You can get started with Google Adwords or Microsoft adCenter for a nominal $5. Yahoo Search Marketing has no setup fee.
  2. You get immediate results. It can take months of work to get a first-page ranking on Google. With pay-per-click advertising, you can set up an account in a few minutes on Google and start generating traffic to your site that day.
  3. You can target your audience. Google and Yahoo make it simple to target your audience by location. You can choose regional and city locations, or even use their local search capabilities to target prospects within 25 miles of your business.
  4. You pay for only those who click on your ad. Many online advertising opportunities ask you to pay each time they display your ad (called an impression). They usually sell advertising blocks per 1000 impressions (called CPM or cost per thousand). With PPC, search engines keep track of impressions, but they bill you only when someone clicks on your ad.
  5. You have control over how your site is displayed. Those sites that show up in the organic results have very little ability to affect how their site is displayed. Google chooses the page from your site that it calculates as most relevant to the query and pulls some content from the page to display. By contrast, with PPC advertising, you have complete control over the ad’s title, description, and even which page it links to within your website.

Pay-Per-Click advertising is a great place to start for any online marketing campaign because it gives you control over how searchers find your site and which page they land on when they enter your website.

This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)

I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?

  1. I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
  2. I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
    • Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
    • Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
    • Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
    • Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
  3. I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
    • I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
    • Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
  4. I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
    • I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
    • I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
    • I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
    • I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
    • I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
  5. I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.

As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.

My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.

So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?

 Page 1 of 9  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »