Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Research the voice of your user

My original plan was to finish my recap on OMS, but I feel that this is an important topic to touch on.

The success of your company depends on how you are able to align your business to the needs of your audience, The best way to do that is to make sure it's in a way that they understand. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well it's harder then most people think because they don't take the time to research their audience. The easiest thing you can do is tap into your current customer base. You already won them over, and they will be happy that you value their opinion. Find out what they like or dislike about what you have to offer, and how can you do it better. Too many companies don't do this because they are scared of negative criticism. If we all agree that everything should be about the user, they should be the first person you turn to when you need feedback. They are the ones buying your product. Not only do you have to listen to their needs, but you also have to put it in a way that they understand it. On Saturday I got to hear a session on Business Intelligence by Doug Lenos, and he said you need to harvest the voice of the user. Well how do you do that you might ask. When you are doing your keyword research you need to find out what types of keywords that your users are searching on to get to your site, and use those keywords to write your copy. You don't want to make it hard on them, because you would have lost them before they even got to your door. The reason why this topic is fresh on my mind is because I had a friend come up to me and ask me to help him do some research on a product that he wanted to buy. I sure no sweat, and spent an hour or so on google, and sent him a whole list of links to check out. He was shocked to see that I was able to find so much "useful" information. He was shocked to hear that all I did was search on google. I asked him what resources did he use when he was researching, and he said google. Then I asked him what keywords did he use. The keyword phrases that he used were very broad. He told me that he didn't spend much time, and was hoping to find something rather quickly. He also told me that not once did he go past the first page. When I told him what phrases, and techniques that I used he said he would have never thought of that. This is a perfect example of how end users search. If you do your homework, and research what keywords and phrases your customers are using to get to you and provide them with relevant information you will get them every time. Sometimes I forget that figuring out keyword combinations is what I do, and this is not something that the average user does.

When we are marketing our product a lot of the time we don't take the time to view it from the eyes of the user. I guarantee you this: If you take the time to research the voice of your user, and align your business around them you WILL be rewarded.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Greatings from the Online Marketing Summit!

Today was day 1 of the Online Marketing Summit here in San Diego. I feel that this is one of the best marketing summits of the year. It's a place were marketers from all markets could get together and talk about best practices, strategy, and get feedback on marketing ideas. It is a vendorless environment, and the sponsors that presented provided advice and case studies on what worked. In fact if they plug their company we are encouraged to boo them. =oD Leading up to the event we were asked to participate in the OMS forums so that we could get the ball rolling, and give the presenters an idea of what what we wanted to learn about. Some of the topics of discussion were Social Media, SEO, Paid Search, and Email Marketing. I am a big advocate on education, and I think the topic is excellent. If we all get together and go over the issues we can work things out, and build a better environment for the user.

With that said I will step off my soapbox, and get to the good stuff. The day started out with a panel discussion on Social Media and it should be leveraged by marketers. The big idea from that discussion was Social media is still too new to pinpoint the best ways to provide ROI. When it comes to Social Media ROI shouldn't be the focus. The focus should be more on building connections, and providing a platform for communication between you and your end users.

In the SEO session, lead by Ray "Catfish" Comstock we went over SEO best practices. The highlights from the session included using Goggle's Webmaster tools to better understand your organic positioning. Also the best way to optimize your site is to provide authoritative content. Finally the end result for all your SEO efforts should be about the end user.

In the Email Marketing session they covered that you should treat your different subscribers different. You shouldn't market to your new users as the same as you would frequent buyers or lapse visitors. Also you should consider your subject line early in the process.

After lunch I got to lead a round table discussion on online conversion. It was refreshing to know that even though we are all in different markets we all share similar challenges. Some of the challenges included being able to bring in targeted leads, and dealing with internal politics.

The advanced tactics in paid search provided the Ah-ha! point of the day. You should include your channel partners in your search efforts in order to take over the google ad space. Also you should work with dayparting and geotargeting, to increase clicks, and provide a more targeted campaign.

At the end of the day we had another panel discussion where the gurus gave insight on the future of marketing. We all agree that the web should be the epicenter of all your marketing efforts. All of your marketing activities should point back to your website.

Finally we had a town hall meeting were we got to get everything off of chest, and go over what worked for the day.

Day one was awesome, all the panelist had an excellent insight on all the issues, and where the market is headed. The day ended on a high note with cocktails and dinner.

I'm excited to see what's on deck for day 2!