Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conversational Writing and eBay Descriptions - Marketing Mojo

We talk a lot about conversational voice and tone in these pages. Conversational style engages and persuades people. That's the gist of it.

A lot of businesses still shy away from this type of writing in their Web sites, eBay listings and marketing collateral.

I came across validation for the conversational approach in another book (which is great, by the way). It's called Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas On Presentation Design and Delivery and it's written by Garr Reynolds.

Here's a quote from the book (p. 83):

"When you are in a conversation with someone you are naturally more engaged because you have an obligation to participate. You are involved. Formal speech and formal writing devoid of any emotion whatsoever is extremely difficult to stay with for more than a few minutes. Your conscious mind has to remind you to "stay away, this is important!" But someone who speaks in a natural, human, conversational style is far easier to stay engaged with."

I urge you, as always, to write with conversational tone and style. That means speaking as if in a one-on-one conversation, adding emotion, using imagery, and communicating as you would with a friend.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Downright Fascinating Social Media and Web Commerce Trends

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee wrote a great article on Web trends in the November 26, 2007 issue of InformationWeek. There is so much going on in this market.. the mind reels. Here’s a taste from the lead:

“The old days of companies tightly controlling a marketing message are gone…The interactive forces of the Internet - including social networking sites, online discussion boards, and blogs - are arming consumers with tools that can quickly and exponentially spread the word to other would-be customers if a product stinks or a company blunders... Companies such as Charles Schwab and OnStar are creating Internet platforms to literally read the minds of consumers, seeking out insights that directly drive their new product strategies.” [my emphasis]

This reminded me of AdWords, of course. AdWords is great for driving business or clicks to your site via general advertising techniques. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that AdWords is a great tool for testing promos, floating new ideas, and reading the minds of consumers. And it’s cheap!.. given the right niched-out keywords.

The article details various ways companies like FedEx, eBay, Schwab and others are using the social connectivity of Web 2.0 (I hate saying Web 2.0, but I did, shame) to their advantage. FedEx’s CIO Rob Carter says, (paraphrased from the article) “The explosive growth of this connectivity has been ‘completely underestimated’ in how it will affect society and markets.” I concur.

The article also talks about some fascinating new trends, like having your Second Life avatar or character purchase things for you or book reservations for you online. I know, that sounds crazy. But think about it. Why the heck not? If you build the right character, with all your tastes, desires, wish lists and so forth, why not set him free on a shopping spree? I’ve never played Second Life, but I assume there are vendors in there, like Amazon.com. (If you know how this works, please comment below and enlighten us.) FedEx’s Carter comments in the article, “Second Life has enough momentum to make us wonder: What if this identity I’ve built could spill over into my daily life and get things done for me?” Your avatar would be like an information robot – tuned to all your preferences and guided by “business rules” that determine decisions.

Carter extends the concepts further, saying, “The greatest opportunities lie in socially networking corporations together – horizontally, across business processes, which don’t necessarily live within your four walls anymore.” Great example = Gaming like Second Life supporting commerce like FedEx and Amazon.com.

The article describes how some companies like OnStar use Nielsen BuzzMetrics to analyze how they’re performing in “consumer-generated media.” This is another hot topic, worthy of another post, probably.

There’s a cool story about Dell’s celebrity advertising campaigns, too. I’ll blog more on that later, too.

In the mean time, read the article. It’s a mind bender.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Product Reviews, Social Media and New Online Buying Trends

The following comes from the Online Marketer Blog:

“Not only are 1 in 4 internet users consulting reviews before purchasing offline, but they are willing to pay more if the service is ranked as excellent. It seem that after the year of exuberance that was all about Facebook and twitter, business is finally getting around to answering the question of how social media effects ROI.

“..Users that [sic] sort the list of products by customer ratings spend 41% more than users who search with other methods like popularity or price… Emails that feature customer review content receive 50% higher clickthrough rates.”

Here’s the main article, titled Good For Consumers (And Businesses): Social Media Gets A Glimpse Of Measurable ROI.

So.. for online marketers, it’s now more critical than ever to be building review/social functions into your Web sites and product pages. Customer service performance counts bigtime, too, of course.

And, as consumers, we have to make sure we maintain clear, critical thinking when checking product reviews. I’d like to see some some numbers about the veracity and integrity of online reviews. How much of it is “bro” reviews? How much of it is genuine? Are really nasty reviews the result of competitor campaigns? That would be interesting, yet difficult to quantify.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Target Niche Audiences with Facebook Advertising

If you haven't tried advertising in Facebook yet, it might be worth a shot. Facebook is the social network site that brings friends together according to interests, existing connections, networks and groups.

You can place ads and display them to anyone on Facebook based on demographics, interests, hobbies and so forth. It's a good way to reach very targeted audiences. User information is current, updated often, and accurate.. unlike a lot of direct mail lists, which can be outdated, inaccurate and expensive.

Since Facebook doesn't tie results to exact searches, your ads are not as granularly exact as something like Google AdWords. However, you can reach really targeted audiences for very little money. If you're selling archery gear on eBay, for example, you can run ads that only display to people who list archery in their profiles.

Barbara Boser writes more about Facebook advertising pros and cons here.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Driving Traffic with Link Tagging and Urchin Tracker Scripts in Google Analytics

This is an advanced tip that concerns Google Analytics and link tracking. If you don't know what those are, I'd suggest taking some time exploring Mark McLaren's site, McBuzz.com (you can ask him questions, too, of course). McBuzz has a good mix of resources concerning SEO, SEM and Google Analytics. He offers video tutorials, articles and so on.

Ok - so link tracking.. or more specifically, Urchin Tracker scripts for Google Analytics. First the why: As an online business, you want to figure out exactly where your traffic is coming from and which links on your pages are getting clicked. You can do these kinds of things with regular Web pages and Google Analytics. This is especially useful in situations where you educate customers and prospects about your particular products and industry then drive them to your product listings.

There are several ways to analyze traffic. This post covers just a couple (and links to an article that shows you exactly how). Google Analytics is very robust and does more than what's covered here. With GA, you can set up goal pages, track conversion success, and figure out exactly what's working on your sites.

Let's say you want to figure out who's clicking on what links in your site. Google Analytics works if you set up pages within your site as conversion goals/targets. However, if the links are external, you can't place the Urchin Tracker code into someone else's page. If that's something you'd like to track (which is often the case), then take a look at the following link for the solution. This is from Sulli's Google Analytics Tips and Tricks by SkiSulli. He shows you the right script to place into your pages and recommends some ways to set it up. As you'll see, he also shows you how to make this work for email or "mailto:" links. If you want to figure out how many people are clicking on your email address link (and when, how fast, etc), then this is a great solution.

You can then track all of this activity automatically from within Google Analytics. As you get a better sense for what's driving traffic to your listings, you can then tweak your pages to get better conversion rates and more business to your product purchase Web pages and sites.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Quick Blogging Tool for Marketers that Blog - Blogger Bar :: Firefox Add-ons

Blogger Bar :: Firefox Add-ons

This is a handy little tool that allows you to write quick blog entries about a page that you're visiting. I used it to create this post. You simply click the "blog this" button, and it pops up your Blogger account, with the title and link fields all set.

As a marketer/writer, you should always be blogging, posting and generally writing about your personal expertise to generate interest in your business and establish your authority. This makes it quick and easy.

The more you tell (even indirectly), the more you sell.

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