internet marketing

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Conversation Marketing: Your Internet Marketing Strategy

We’ve come back around now. In this book you’ve moved from the old, accumulation-based internet marketing style to the leaner, more efficient selection-based marketing method: Conversation Marketing.

So you’re done now, right?

Sorry, no.

Conversation Marketing is a cycle, not a straight line. You have to move through the steps:

Use what you learned to refine your picture of the room, then start all over again. It’s a conversation, remember? It never stops. It pauses now and again, but if you make a connection, and if what you have to say is of value, then there will always be new participants.

Conversation Marketing works. I’ve used a hypothetical company through this book. But here’s a dose of reality.

Real Life

One of my clients (product and names changed to protect the innocent) sells a household product online. The first time he met with me, he told me he was very unhappy with internet marketing and thought he might just give it up. When I asked why, he told me he was paying $15,000 per month in pay-per-click charges. Wow, I said, that’s a lot. Are you selling enough to justify that? Yes, he replied, but I don’t know if my pay-per-click investment is helping, or if I’m just flushing money down the toilet.

Simple enough. We used conversion-tracking software provided by Yahoo Search Marketing and Google and spent a week watching which terms generated sales, and which ones didn’t. At the same time, we surveyed the client’s audience, asking potential customers what they looked for in an online resource. The results showed us that most of the terms our client was using were far too broad — imagine someone advertising under the word “snow” when they make skis, and you’ll understand what I mean. He was accumulating traffic, not selecting it.

We reduced the scope of his campaigns by removing terms that were neither audience-relevant nor productive. We kept some phrases and terms that were not generating sales, though, if our audience research showed those terms were promising for return customers.

His monthly pay-per-click costs decreased to $6,000, saving him $9,000 per month. Sales went up. When we first proposed our plan to him, he was concerned that reducing the volume of traffic to his site would hurt sales. But by researching his audience and switching to a campaign based on selection, rather than accumulation, we got the best of both worlds.

Another client in a services-based business received plenty of traffic on their site from word of mouth and free search results. They weren’t worried about return on investment. But they felt their site wasn’t generating any real business. After a little research, we discovered that most folks were going to the site for the wrong reason — to look at pretty photographs and a particular scrolling news ticker that their previous developer had installed on their site.

This was a perfect example of ego-driven design — the designer and client worked together to build something they liked, and got a lot of notoriety for it, but they didn’t generate any real business.

We restructured their site around their intellectual assets, and placed on the home page an offer to download a free white paper from the site — after registration. traffic fell steeply, but they began getting a steady stream of qualified leads to their site. With a measurable conversion goal — the white paper download — in place, we were able to track how efficiently we were selecting traffic. Over time we expanded their online marketing efforts to newsletter sponsorships and other advertising venues — for each campaign, we could measure the results and narrow or refocus our efforts as the data indicated.

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