Tag Archives: online buying

“Last Click Syndrome” Simplified

A brief story illustrating the dangers of relying on the “last click” to measure the effectiveness of online marketing expenditures using a simple “offline”  analogy to bring the point home.

To understand how the credit for the sale is “unfairly” being attributed to Google; consider this “offline” analogy:

Let’s say it’s the morning of Super Bowl Sunday and you decide you want to throw a couple burgers on the grill for the game – so in your head you already plan on hitting the grocery store for burgers. This is what we would call “pre-existing interest”…but first you’re scanning the paper – catching up on all the pre-game hype…while doing so; you notice an ad for a store you don’t typically frequent. This ‘gourmet’ store is advertising a sale on buffalo burgers for $5.99 a pound – bingo!

You had just read an article a few days before in your favorite health magazine courtesy of a friend’s facebook post about the benefits of buffalo meat and just like that – you shifted from buffalo curiosity a few days earlier to buffalo interest because that ad triggered your memory of something that had previously caught your attention – so off you head to the gourmet supermarket to buy your burgers.

You park your car and on your way into the store you happen to notice a big sign in the window advertising Buffalo Burgers for $5.99 a pound – good to confirm you’re in the right place…a contextually placed relevant ad as you enter the store..so you walk back to the meat department wondering where the buffalo burgers might be…and lo and behold there’s a  bright neon-colored sign advertising the $5.99 buffalo burgers with an arrow to a special section of the meat cooler.

This bright neon-colored sign is the last ad you see before selecting the burgers and heading to the checkout.

Under the last-ad-seen model, the article you read earlier touting the benefits of buffalo burgers over traditional beef burgers, the newspaper ad you read in the morning advertising the buffalo burger sale and the sign hanging in the window viewable from the park lot were all worth nothing and did not contribute in any fashion to your ultimate purchase. Instead, the reason you bought the buffalo burger was because of the neon sign pointing to the meat in the meat section.

Ludicrous if not idiotic right?

But using this analogy; you can see the danger of relying on counting only the last ad seen as not all advertising is intended to be immediate direct response and transaction driven.

Now tell this story, or a similar one, using online vehicles as the same can be said for online advertising in the b2b space…guess what the “last ad seen” tends to always be…a search engine link driven from Google…leading unfortunately to them unfairly getting too much credit for the sale happening vs. contributing to a later stage of the buying process…

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Forrester Floats Five-Year View…FIFTY FIVE BILLION

The fact that online advertising is continuing to grow while traditional media declines is of no surprise to anyone anymore really; but Forrester has put out a “fresh” contemporary view on where online advertising marketing might be heading and it’s a staggering $55 Billion by 2014 – a 4x increase from where they expect it to top out this year…link to follow.

I wrestle with 5-year views like this mainly because five years ago platforms like linkedin, facebook, twitter and even the IPhone didn’t exist…so change can and will occur in terms of platforms and technology that have a high likelihood of impacting these “projections” – but at the same time; you can’t sit idle and say “why bother…it’s just going to change…” – successful businesses and marketers are always skating to where the puck will be.

That being said – a few things stand out to me:

1. Despite the growth…looks like online will still only account for 21% of all advertising spend; is it because it’s still “cheaper” and therefore throwing the ratios off or are people really going to still be allocating 80% of their resources, time and manpower against traditional declining / dying stuff? I hope it’s the former…

2. Search will continue to dominate – hovering consistently around 60% of allocated online spend…clearly this last click mentality where Google gets overkill credit for customer wins / conversions will still prevail for years to come while I’ll continue to hope for enlightenment in thinking and measuring for all aspects of the buy cycle (see my posts on marketing to the buy cycle).

3. Social media will grow from 3% of budgets to 6% of budgets – but I suspect a disproportionate amount of time and resources are getting haphazardly thrown against this today as people either attempt to “figure it all out” or “play around” or try and “catch up”…look for a future post on measuring social media and what I’ve learned while playing around in the social media sand box

Link to Forrester research via their blog: http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2009/07/interactive-marketing-nears-55-billion-advertising-overall-declines.html

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Understanding the Buying Process Online, Part III: Specific Interest & Search

In part II of Understanding the Buying Process Online;  we reviewed from a sales & marketing perspective, the importance of being discovered as early in the buying process as possible. In that post we covered creating overall awarness, interest and even curiosity through push marketing online.

In part III; we’ll talk about the second phase of the buying process – specific interest and search. This is the phase where your potential customer is getting more proactive in their information research. We’ll also introduce more “pull” marketing tactics in addition to maintaining the “push” initiatives.

Buy-Cycle Phase 2: Specific Interest & Search

As potential customers “get serious” about their interest in a topic; they begin to become more proactive and specific in their research online and potentially more urgent in their need for relevant information or solutions. Various research studies, surveys and opinions indicate that b2b professionals go online first anywhere from 85-95% of the time they have a specific interest or need.

In most cases, their activity begins on a search engine (either a general search engine such as Google or Yahoo!, or a B2B search engine such as Globalspec, Business.com, Knowledgestorm etc.). The exact percent of individuals who use a search engine at this phase varies greatly from study to study; with ranges from 65 – 85%; however no study pegs this number at “100%”; meaning resources like industry portals, community sites, B2B sites and vendor websites are still the first choice option for some professionals; but search engines remain the choice of the majority.

As a result, at this stage most marketers put the emphasis of their online budgets against search engines. However, too often the “last click” from a search engine gets all the credit for ultimately creating a sale, even though the conversion was the outcome of multiple influences over time. A study by the Atlas Institute titled “How Overlap Impacts Reach, Frequency and Conversions,” asserts that 90 percent of the clients that converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen, and that far too often the proper credit for the sale is inappropriately given to search. The study found that two out of three clients who eventually took a responsive action were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before actually going on to ultimately make a purchase. To understand how the credit for the sale is “unfairly” being attributed to Google; consider this “offline” analogy:

You’re headed to the supermarket to buy some food and on your way in you see the big sign in the window advertising Hamburger for $3.99 a pound. You need some anyway and it was on your “list” so you buy it. In the online world, which measures the last ad seen, that sign alone would be given credit for your purchases in the store. But it’s quite likely that you were going shopping in the first place because you saw something in the weekend circular that you wanted to buy or maybe you heard a radio ad or your spouse asked you etc. Under the last-ad-seen model, the circular ad is worth nothing and everything else far less than the ad for hamburger hanging in the storefront window. Using this analogy; you can see the danger of relying on the last ad seen as not all advertising is intended to be immediate direct response; and the same can be said for online advertising.

Marketing Tactic Considerations:

Based on the overwhelming use of search engines by potential customers in this phase; search engine campaigns (both paid and unpaid) should be considered to ensure you are visible when individuals are searching by keywords. You should also continue to consider

e-newsletter campaigns to targeted prospects and customers and targeted banner advertising on industry portals and b2b sites to ensure your message is getting in front of individuals using these resources to find solutions to their problems and answers to their research questions. These types of tactics are more often associated with the term “pull marketing”; as you are attempting to pull and attract “web surfers” to your website when they have a need vs. “pushing” your message to them and trying to stimulate a need.

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Understanding the Buying Process Online, Part II: Curiosity & Awareness

In a posting last week, I described the buying process online. In that post, I mentioned that it’s important to remember that when we evaluate our marketing strategies and tactics; it’s critical to remember that new client acquisitions (new sales) are generally the outcome of multiple influences over time. I also made reference to maximizing your visibility to your target customers during all aspects of the buy cycle.

In this week’s post – we’ll review the earliest phase of the buy-cycle; curiosity and awareness.

From a sales & marketing perspective, being discovered as early in the buying process as possible is critical.

Buy-Cycle Phase 1: Curiosity & Awareness

Since the primary goal of most overall marketing campaigns is to eventually create new customers; getting these potential customers to think of you first when they need to satisfy a need, want or desire should be among the target outcomes of any marketing campaign. Generally referred to as “exposure”; creating curiosity or general awareness about what your company does or offers provides familiarity to those that have not yet discovered you or visited your website. The overarching idea is that when a person needs to satisfy a need, want or desire they remember your name or your site and visit you directly. A strong curiosity or awareness component of any marketing campaign will keep your company in the minds of people who might not be ready to act now, but who might take action down the road.

As a prospective customer first becomes aware of your company and / or your offerings, they might be curious as to what else you can do or whether your company or your solutions or products can do everything they need for the price they can afford or in the time frame they require. At this stage, your organization is in good position to be one of the top of mind vendors for your potential customer; but you still potentially have a knowledge and / or a credibility gap with the potential customer.

The best thing any organization can do at this stage is to build a bridge across the knowledge or credibility gap. The bridge is as simple as providing something of value as soon as possible to your potential customer. More times than not, that “something of value” will be in the form of sharing information that the company has and the prospect does not. In other words, your goal at this stage is continue to educate. This education can take shape in numerous ways that provide value to your potential customers:

  • Whitepapers,
  • PDF data sheets or catalog downloads
  • Case Studies or Application Notes
  • Online videos or Webinars
  • Email newsletters or blog postings
  • Press Clippings / PR and any number of other methods

Marketing Tactic Considerations:

To promote the availability and accessibility of this information; you should consider a combination of E-newsletter campaigns, broadcast banner advertising to a wide, but targeted audience, and direct email campaigns to your target market.

These types of campaigns are often referred to a “push” marketing as you are attempting to push your message in front of your target market to create interest and demand as opposed to waiting for them to be looking for a solution, as in the later phases of the buy cycle, and attempting to “pull” them towards you as a vendor of choice.

As potential customers “get serious” about their interest in a topic; they begin to become more proactive and specific in their research online and potentially more urgent in their need for relevant information or solutions. We’ll cover more about this as next week I’ll cover “Specific Interest and Search”as we continue to talk about marketing alignment to the buy-cycle.

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Understanding the Buying Process Online: Part I: Overview

While evaluating marketing options and strategies, it’s important to remember that client successes (new customer conversions) are generally the outcome of multiple influences over time. To maximize your online marketing effectiveness; consideration should be given to maximizing your visibility to your target customers during all aspects of the buy cycle.

 

From a sales & marketing perspective, being discovered as early in the buying process as possible is critical; as the impressions and results from the first few exposures and searches by a potential customer creates the baseline criteria that the buyer will use to compare all options under consideration as final selection and purchase gets closer.

 

The graphic below illustrates a typical buying process in the B2B space from initial awareness straight through to purchase. Although the buyer may not articulate the buying process in this specific way, even the most casual purchases are made with a similar process.  

 

Typical Buy Cycle

Typical Buy Cycle

 

 

 

 

 

In future posts; we’ll review the specific details and importance of each of these phases of the buy cycle and the marketing considerations for maximizing your visibility during them.

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