Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Polls didn't see Winston coming...but Google did!

(Click to enlarge)

A look at web search interest in NZ for the keywords "winston peters" and "nz first" during November suggests that public interest in the party rose sharply in second half of the month, and appears to be correlated with the "teapot" tape saga.

Web search interest for Winston picks up following the emergence of the "teapot" tape on Nov. 13, and spike after his claim on Nov. 17 that he is privy to the contents of the tape.

Interest in the keyword "nz first" follows a similar pattern - suggesting that web search interest in the party itself may have been impacted by the publicity gained by Winston.

Source: Google Insights for Search

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Google 'predicts' John Key to win the Election!

In the lead up to the 2008 US Presidential election, search experts noticed that search interest was consistently higher for Obama than McCain, and joked about Google ‘predicting’ the outcome of the election.

We decided to investigate Google searches for the leaders of our two major political parties, to see if Google can ‘predict’ an outcome in NZ as well.

We looked at web search interest in NZ for the keywords “John Key” and “Phil Goff” over the past 30 days. Based on this method, Google is currently ‘predicting’ a win for John Key!

Source: Google Insights for Search

Google+ Pages for Businesses

Google have released their eagerly anticipated Google+ pages allowing businesses, brands and organisations to have a presence on Google+. Previously, only personal profiles were available, with reports that Google had deleted pages found to be using Google+ for business purposes.

So – does your brand need a Google+ page?

We’ve compiled a list of Pros and Cons from the many recent blog posts on the subject.

Pros include:
• One feature unique to the platform are ‘Hangouts‘; the Google+ group video/audio chat feature. These provide an exciting opportunity for live interaction with fans, although the fact that they can only have a maximum of 9 participants limits their reach. The Black Eye Peas recently hosted a ‘Hangout’ backstage prior to one of their concerts, check out the video here. Note that Google are working on a “Hangouts on Air” feature, which allows a Hangout to be viewed by any users who have added the brand to their Circles. In the meantime, some brands have taken to broadcasting their “hangouts” to a wider audience, using TV and YouTube.
• Integration with search via the 'Direct Connect' feature. Users searching for a brand on Google.com with a “+” sign in front of the brand name have the option to add that brand’s Google+ page directly to their Circles from the results page. See Direct Connect in action in this video.
• Brands can sort their audience into ‘Circles’; segmenting their audience so they can target groups of followers with particularly relevant posts.
• Opportunity to capture more +1’s for your brand; Google aggregate +1’s across your website, ads, search results & Google+ page. Your +1 total is displayed on your Google+ page.
• The potential for integration with other Google products (e.g. Google Search, Places, Maps and YouTube) in the future is another reason to create a Google+ page.

Cons include:
• Smaller user base – Google+ has an estimated 40 million users worldwide vs. Facebook’s audience of 800 million.
• Unlike Facebook pages, running contests and promotions is not allowed on Google+ pages.
• Only one person (or email address) can be the admin of each page; meaning you’ll need to share an email address, and won’t be able to track who posted what on the page. Multiple administrator support is promised in the future.
• The mechanism to follow a Google+ brand page is not as simple as it is on Facebook (where you just click the “like” button). With Google+, users need to add a brand to their Circles in order to see its posts in their Stream; depending on the user’s preferences, this may require creating a new Circle. This requires a little more effort, and may be confused with the “+1” button on the page (which publicly recommends the page, but doesn’t result in the brand page being followed).
• Google+ pages are currently totally separate from a business’ Google Places page, and the two must be managed separately; it would be ideal to be able to link the two pages.
• Vanity URLs (e.g. https://plus.google.com/brandname) are not available, so Google+ URLs tend to be lengthy and difficult to memorise.
• Currently, there is a lack of analytics capability, so it is difficult to gain insight into who your fans are and which content they’re interacting with on your brand page. 'Ripples' (a visual representation of the reach of individual pieces of content) give some insights, but not to the level of other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Google say that more advanced analytics tools are coming soon.

Should your company set up a Google+ page?
The short answer is – it depends.

Whilst Google+ pages are lacking in some areas when compared to similar platforms like Facebook, it’s important to remember they’re still very new, and that Google are working on a number of updates. It really is too early to dismiss them!

I feel that future integration with other Google products – and the potential for improved visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs) – will be Google+’s differentiating feature. This will certainly be something to watch.

Another consideration is the competitive landscape – if your competitors are developing a presence on Google+, it may be wise to consider adding it to your social media activity.
Additionally, the possibility for fraudulent activity may be a motivating factor. It is reasonably easy to set up a fake Google+ page for a brand or company; creating your own page may reduce the likelihood of a fake page being set up in your business’ name.

Like any social marketing activity, brands should ensure they understand their target market and have a clear content and engagement plan in place. They will also require a suitable resource (either internal or external) to maintain page content, as well as specific objectives to measure success.

Want more information?

• Watch Google’s video about the new Google+ pages for businesses.
• New Zealand companies who are already using Google+ pages include Air New Zealand and NZ Herald.
• We found some great blog posts at Search Enginge Watch, Likeable, Search Engine Land, Clickz, Ad Age & TechCrunch, which were used to research our post.

And in breaking news...

The HMS Rawalpindi has just been sunk by a German battleship - exactly 72 years ago today.

How do we know? And why do we care?

We know because a 24 year old history grad Alwyn Collinson has embarked on a six year project to Livetweet the entire second world war.

And we care because this is the most creative use of Twitter we've heard of in a long time. Emerse yourself @RealTimeWWII.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gorgeous Girls, Gunslingers & Kung- Fu Masters: Heineken makes big NZ ‘Entrance’ online

By now you would have seen him on your screen. Perhaps you watched enviously as he dazzled those around him with an array of quirky talents that earn the admiration of both men and women as he ‘does the room’ in style….

I’m talking, of course, about the colourful protagonist of Heineken’s new The Entrance campaign.

The immaculately produced series of character vignettes that make up The Entrance are the key components of Heineken’s global brand piece for 2011/2012 and we here at PHDiQ were only too happy to help bring the campaign to life in the New Zealand digital space.

The NZ adaption of The Entrance sees five character mini-stories eventuate from their encounters with our lead man in the principal 30” and 60” pieces. While the digital activity utilises the fundamentals of video banners, bespoke interactive video units, homepage takeovers and a variety of On Demand spots, here the advantage of a large and impactful online campaign launch is an ability to provide thematic sense for our viewers with the use of sequencing in adserving - a simple yet very effective tool.

By ensuring a serving of the principal 30” or 60” piece and introducing the main character foremost, we are able to set the campaign platform and provide key linkages to the remaining content. Following this with a fresh character story on each Entrance impression (up to six, then repeated) our audience are more inclined to remain engaged with the campaign and enjoy a narrative cohesion difficult to achieve across other mediums.

To date, full video plays across the campaign’s multiple formats are totaling over 200,000 and engagement rates among banner units are far exceeding our pre-launch expectations. It goes to show how beautifully produced creative and a simple approach to banner/video sequencing can work together to provide consistent entertainment and engagement for an audience and a great campaign entry for Heineken.

If you have not already, meet the man and view the story.

More on The Entrance launch in NZ.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Google +1 Button

If you’ve been searching on Google recently, you may have noticed the Google +1 button accompanying Paid Search advertisements. As you know, Google’s focus is to constantly provide users with results that best match what they are searching for (organic and paid) and in order to achieve this are now looking to leverage social referrals (think Google Buzz and now Google+).

So, what exactly is the +button and how does it work?

In short, the +1 button is a link that offers a Google account holder with the ability to recommend content (websites, images, articles, ads etc…) to their social circles (think the facebook “LIKE” button). In turn, this assists Google in best matching its search results to a user query by factoring in the recommendations of an individual’s social network.

To quote Google’s rational behind the +button; “we believe that incorporating personal recommendations into display ads has the potential to change the way people view advertising. A display ad becomes much more powerful when people can see which of their friends and contacts have chosen to endorse it.”

At the end of the day, the more accurate and relevant Google’s search results are, the more likely an individual is to click on an ad and the greater the potential ad revenue for Google (be it from Paid Search or adisplay advertising).

What does this mean for AdWords advertisers?

Firstly, it is important to note that advertisers will not be charged for clicks on the +1 button.

Secondly, if a particular ad receives more +1’s than another then it is possible (but not guaranteed) that this ad will receive a higher number of impressions and improves its chance of success.

Also, for Paid Search, Google have stipulated that +1’s will have no impact on Quality Score, so you do not have to be too concerned with competitors attempting to manipulate their ad positioning within the search results deceitfully.

Furthermore, because +1’s are trackable, advertisers will be able to see how many people have +1’d their ads. This means that an ad’s +1’s can be used to evaluate that ad’s performance and because an ad which has received more +1’s is likely to have resulted in a greater percentage of clicks should be used to optimise Paid Search ads.

Finally, you may be able to improve your campaigns performance by educating your existing brand loyalists about the benefits of the +button as they will then be sharing their affiliation with your brand amongst their social circle. So consider ways to encourage your customers to +1 your ads and organic listings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

6 Common Mistakes NZ Businesses Make When Spending Money Online!

Whether you’re driving traffic via display banners, paid search, social media sites, organic search engines or mobile platforms, it’s highly likely you’re leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

Many companies both small and large throw up a swanky looking website, invest thousands of dollars in paid traffic and think they have a robust online marketing strategy - but they miss an opportunity to maximise conversion through poorly optimised landing pages.

Driving targeted, cost-efficient traffic to your website is only half the battle. Increasing the on-page conversion rate of your landing pages can explode sales numbers halve acquisition costs and propel you years ahead of your competition. This post includes invaluable information to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your landing page to ensure every cent of your online budget is being spent effectively.

Six Tips to Turn More Visitors into Customers
• The Structure of an Optimized Landing Page
• Why Headlines Are So Important + The Magic Recipe
• Long Copy or Short Copy – Follow Amazon.com’s Lead
• Images – 7 Styles of Photo That Convert the Best
• Extracting information – How To Avoid Scaring Them Away
• Plug the Leaks – Don’t Let Them Escape

Conversions vary for every website but there are several techniques that can drastically increase the conversion rate of landing pages.

1. The Structure of an Optimised Landing Page [1]
The structure of a highly optimised landing page varies greatly and depends on many variables such as the target demographic, the conversion type (lead application, purchase, download etc.) or traffic source you use, just to name a few. However, a well optimised landing page should include some of the following elements.

  • A simple design to make it easy for the prospect to follow the path you wish them to take. The page should be uncluttered and clean (important)
  • A bold, prominent headline that includes the biggest benefit (important)
  • An image (not always)
  • Bullet points that include key benefits (3-5 is a suitable number)
  • Social proof (e.g. testimonials, Facebook likes, reviews, positive comments from customers etc.)
  • Authoritative logos or endorsements (e.g. endorsements by a well-known association, membership or news logos)
  • A strong, clear call to action which appears multiple times on the page include one above the fold (is visible to the user without having to scroll down).
  • Animation such as flashing buttons, graphics or borders.

Urgency. Create urgency with a limited time offer which expires on a certain date or time.

2. Why Headlines Are So Important + The Magic Recipe [2]
People scan pages especially when reading online. A good headline will capture the reader’s attention and draw them in to read further. If your headline is too long or complicated, you’ll lose their attention.
Check to ensure your headlines communicate the biggest benefit and are written in “plain” English – clever headlines may be creative but they don’t reassure the prospect that they are in the right place. Try to avoid using product features in the headline; people don’t care whether your company has 500 staff, or whether revenue grew by 10 per cent last year. They want to know “what’s in it for them!” A good headline should be relevant to the prospect, clearly communicate the end benefit, the problem you will solve and build interest.

3. Long Copy or Short Copy – Follow Amazon.com’s Lead [3]
We’ve all seen the landing pages that scroll for ever but, do they convert? They do, but it depends on the type of conversion you’re optimising toward. If you’re selling a product or service – where the prospect requires a higher level or persuasion – try testing well written long copy on your landing page; it will often result in higher conversion rates.

Often, websites undersell on their landing page by not including enough information about a product – conversely, others bore their prospects with too much information! The optimum length will vary depending on the value of the product, the length of the consideration cycle, and your target audience. Therefore, the best option is to ‘split test’ different landing pages with short, long and medium length copy.

A good example of a company utilising optimised landing pages is Amazon.com. Amazon.com is a prolific split tester, and due to the sheer volume of traffic the site receives, a small increase in conversion rate for a top-selling product can yield tens of thousands of dollars in incremental revenue.

The length of an Amazon product page varies and tends to include social proof such as Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, customer ratings, product recommendations, forum discussions, multiple calls-to-action and images of the product in use – all of which increase conversion rates. See examples below:

Amazon long product page for a high-value product, such as a camera
Amazon short product page for a low-value product, such as a pack of batteries

A general rule of thumb is that when a prospect is investing a reasonable sum of money in a big ticket item, they need more convincing, and therefore longer landing pages tend to be successful. Whereas, the risk of buying the wrong packet of $10 batteries is less of a concern and therefore, less selling is required and a shorter landing page is adequate.

Ultimately, we recommend testing to ascertain the optimum length for a landing page.

4. Images – 7 Styles of Photo That Convert the Best [4]
Using appropriate imagery on landing pages can improve conversion rates significantly. Conversely, removing imagery from a landing page can raise interest and increase conversions too; so the secret, again, is to test. Action shots (i.e. showing the product in use) often perform better than static product shots; whilst images of children, animals, celebrities, women with babies and food are also generally considered to grab attention and be more persuasive.

Using images that are relevant to your target market or the product/information they are searching for will increase relevance and on-page conversions rates. For example including an image of a European car on a landing page promoting a product or service targeted at European car owners. If you’re targeting an Asian demographic, you could test images of Asian people versus other nationalities (e.g. Pacific Island, Caucasians) to see if this resonates with the audience, and in turn, results in more conversions.

Building relevance by communicating consumer benefits, using trigger words in headlines and using relevant images on landing pages will reassure your prospects that you offer what they need and that they are in the right place.

5. Extracting Information – How To Avoid Scaring Them Away [5]
In general, the less work a visitor has to do, and the less information they have to surrender, the more likely they are to convert.

If you require a visitor to supply their full name, address, home and mobile phone numbers and credit card details in order to download a free PDF report, chances are they’ll hit the back button faster than Google will charge you for the click! Ensure that all requested information is necessary and reasonable. If capturing an email address and first name is all you need to continue a sales conversation if the prospect abandons the sales funnel, then it’s best to just ask for this. By asking for less information, you will increase the number of visitors who complete your online form, and you’ve still got another opportunity to pitch them again via their email address

Obviously, there are times when capturing more information will improve the quality of your leads. In this instance, I suggest capturing this information across multiple forms starting with the prospects name and email address and ending with the more sensitive information such as their age, income or financial details (if required). It’s more likely a prospect will complete the last page because they have invested their time completing the first few pages.

6. Plug the Leaks – Don’t Let Them Escape
Including unnecessary links on a landing page gives your prospect an easy way to escape the sales funnel. This is common as web developers often use the main website template for landing pages which includes the main navigation and other unnecessary links. Ask your web developer to exclude them and any other unnecessary links, to avoid distracting your prospect. Ensure there is a clear “path to purchase” on every page.

The #1 Tip to Increasing Conversion Rates
The online environment is dynamic, so what works for one website won’t necessarily work for another. I have only included a handful of known techniques used to increase on-page conversion rates but the most import part is to understand your sales process. Understand how your customers research information. Know what information they require during the different stages of purchase. What are their needs, concerns and desires? What are their emotional triggers? Why did your current customers buy? The following information is vital to the process and should be the first thing you do.

The process of researching, planning, tracking and implementing an optimisation project takes time and resource to complete effectively. If you don’t have the time or confidence to complete this work, and you want reassurance that you’re using your online marketing budget effectively, contact the digital team at PHDiQ for a no obligation chat.
Get onto it today! Contact PHDiQ

1. Book: “Don’t Make Me Think” By Steve Krug.
2. http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/site-headlines.html
3. http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/scrolling-tips/
4. Book: “Ca$hvertising” By Drew Eric Whitman
5. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/9-effective-tips-for-a-better-landing-page/8413/ (point two)