Mischief Night: A Look at Online Retail Hijinks

Mischief Night Hijinks with online marketingDoes anyone remember URL targeting, in which through a “normal” media buy, an advertiser was able to hijack a person trying to go to one site and navigate them to another?   This was legal, as was Gator  — another popular ad-supported media machine that eventually went away for similar, deceptive reasons.

There is some tremendously illegal and egregious internet activity in 2014 that deserves the attention of the serious security people trying to catch it and shut it down.  Not nearly as serious but annoying nonetheless is the legal, albeit black hat activity, that happens occasionally with online retail. Continue reading

Digital Strategies to Drive Retail Traffic

Driving retail foot traffic from digital marketingMost retailers rely on media to support store openings and store events as well as for lifting sales of struggling retail locations. Drive-to-retail marketing plans have typically consisted of radio, print and TV in order to build awareness, but more recently, digital has become an increasingly important component of the media mix.

What makes digital unique relative to traditional forms of media is the level of targeting and sophistication that the others can’t provide.  Continue reading

What is a Paid Search Restructure, Anyway?

Paid search campaign restructureMany paid search advertisers turn over the keys of their campaign to an agency to manage it and don’t typically get under the hood too often to see how the campaign is structured. There is a lot of minutia in the search tools, and if someone is not a regular, taking a look now and again exposes a world that is potentially too complex from which to draw any meaningful, actionable conclusions.

However, there is much industry buzz right now around the campaign restructure and the belief that it could be the magic bullet that improves paid search performance. Continue reading

Troubleshooting Paid Search Performance

Identifying a decline in paid search performanceWhen sales from paid search suddenly spike in the wrong direction, it can be a nightmare figuring out how and why. It shouldn’t have to be, though. There is always a reason, and it can be found. If conversions from paid search suddenly fall off, here are some ways to troubleshoot.

Contribution: If the paid search channel typically makes up a steady percentage of total online sales, check web analytics to see if the percentage is the same or has fallen.  Continue reading

Staffing for Digital: More Important Than Ever to Get It Right

Hiring good staff for digital marketing is importantBefore talking about present-day staffing needs in digital, here is a quick look back at the evolution.  For a time, digital marketing was a sexy new career choice.  People in offline businesses were jumping ship to digital.

Now, though, for any company who sells something, digital marketing is a means to an end:  customers need to be followed and serviced in the channel in which they have chosen to interact with the business.  First it was offline, then it was the internet, and now it is shifting quickly to mobile.  People are choosing digital careers because it is where the jobs are.  Continue reading

Close Variant Match Type: Time to Benchmark is Now!

close-variant-match-typeWith the recent announcement that at the end of September Google will remove the ability for search marketers to opt out of close variant matching for exact and phrase keywords, there is less than a month away to benchmark the impact of this change before it is gone for good.

When Google first implemented the close variant match type feature in 2012, which enables search queries that contain plurals, abbreviations and misspellings to trigger exact match or phrase match ads, 80% of search advertisers began using it (granted, using it by default since they have to manually opt out to disable it).  Continue reading

Real-Time Marketing: How to Leverage a Sudden Surge in Impressions

Real time marketing leverages a surge in impressionsOne of the hottest trends in digital right now is real-time marketing.   The goal of real-time marketing is to leverage an abberationally high level of impressions in order to yield sales.

We are in the midst of one of those moments in which back-to-school searches and social impressions are at their peak for the year.  By now, most retailers for whom back to school matters have already built strategies and are executing against them in an attempt to win the highest impression share possible on key terms.  Other important retail events that drive huge impression volume throughout the year are Continue reading

The Role of Non-Brand Text Ads in an Evolving SERP

Non-brand paid search text ads are decliningThe Google SERP now presents three types of formats when someone searches for a product:  Organic, PLAs, and Non-Brand Text Ads.  These same three options have existed for a few years, but the PLAs used to be buried below the fold and were called Product Search (and Froogle, a really long time ago).

All search marketers know that visibility drives volume, and with PLAs now showing at the top of the page and non-brand text pushed below the fold, clicks to the image-friendly PLAs have soared; whereas, clicks to non-brand text ads are on the decline.  Continue reading

Finding New Customers Online (Part 2)

New Customers for Retail BrandsPart 1 of “Finding New Customers” addressed why new customers are important to a brand or retailer.

Part 2 will cover how to find new customers from among the choices of online media programs that are in widespread use.  Note that all of these channels are effective at yielding sales, but some drive more new customers than others.  Here is a rundown:

Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs):  Consistently one of the top media sources for yielding new customers – often in the 80%+ range.  Continue reading