The WebMarketCentral Blog
The WebMarketCentral Blog
B2B Marketing, Web 2.0 Social Media, Business Blogging Tools, Micromarkets, B2B lead generation, interactive PR and web marketing tools and resources
New on WebMarketCentral: Marketing Careers and Events
Two new sections have recently been added to the fastest-growing web marketing portal—a Marketing and Sales Career Opportunities section, powered by CareerBuilder, and an extensive calendar of Marketing Events .The Career Opportunities area enables you to search for jobs by category, including Advertising, Public Relations, Graphic Design and B2B Sales. You can refine searches by location and keyword, and access a variety of job-seeker tools. For those who are hiring rather than looking, this section also provides an array of tools for employers.The Marketing Events calendar features marketing-related event dates and descriptions from around the world, displayed by week and frequently updated. Use this page to make sure you don't miss any important events (such as the upcoming Blog World & New Media Expo in Las Vegas) or to promote your events.These two new sections continue to expand the B2C and B2B marketing resources available on WebMarketCentral, including the top marketin...
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Blog Marketing for Non-Bloggers
Rarely do I drop what I'm doing to read a newsletter article, but that's what happened when I came across Elge Premeau's Using Blog s to Attract Attention (Without Having Your Own) in the RainToday newsletter. Premeau accurately points out that while writing your own blog is hard work, promoting your company, product or service through blogs doesn't have to be: "60% of bloggers have not updated their blogs in the last 60 days...So, why not tap into the audiences other blogs attract (presumably the blogs that are updated more frequently) and participate in the blogosphere without doing the hard work of creating and marketing a blog?"Premeau recommends commenting on popular (and relevant to your business, obviously) blogs as a way of getting exposure and demonstrating your own thought leadership in your field without making the commitment to your own blog. She helpfully provides advice on how to find relevant blogs to comment on, track them, and write appropriate, productive commen...
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WMC Interviews: Dale Underwood
This week I caught up with Dale Underwood , CEO of EchoQuote, an automated lead capture web service provider. EchoQuote enables B2B companies to automatically create customized price quotes based on the requester's email address and distribute lead information to an internal sales team or channel. The philosophy behind the product is simple: between your website, analysts, publications and social media, prospects can now learn pretty much everything they want to know about your product or service before ever contacting you—except the price. EchoQuote fills that gap, on a pay-as-you-go pricing model that minimizes risk.WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before EchoQuote? What’s your background? Dale Underwood (DAU): I’ve been directly involved with information technology my entire career. I started out as a datacenter operator (I worked in the computer center at Virginia Tech while in high school), turned programmer, sales engineer, salesman and finally business owner....
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The TruthLaidBear Comes Out of Hiding
If you're not familiar with The Truth Laid Bear , it's a kind of cool blog tracking site that's been for the past three years by the eponymous N.Z. Bear (no one knows what "N.Z." stands for except that it's not "New Zealand"). Today, the Bear came out publicly. Here's the bulk of his message:Folks:I hope you’ll forgive a brief commercial interruption. After five+ years as a pseudonymous ursine fellow online, the time has come for me to step out from behind the curtain.Hi ! My name is Rob Neppell. You may know me from such websites as The Truth Laid Bear and Porkbusters. I’m not actually a bear, but I play one on the Internet.The occasion? I am now ready to publicly announce the real "big thing" I've been hinting at for some time: TTLB is now part of my new company: Kithbridge, Inc.I’ve described Kithbridge as follows:Kithbridge, Inc. was launched as an evolution of one of the blogosphere's original and most successful blog-tracking sites, The Truth Laid Bear. While The T...
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The New "Relations" in Interactive PR
The umbrella term of "public relations" (PR) has always covered a number of specialties: media relations (primarily), investor relations, analyst relations, community relations, even employee relations. The social networking of Web 2.0 and interactive PR has added two new "relations" to the mix—let's call them market relations and blogger relations.Market relations is the practice of writing news releases (not press releases) that are targeted directly at your prospects rather than journalists (though media folks may pick up on these as well). This is a central concept of David Meerman Scott's recent book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR (reviewed here). While press releases are about you—you've released a new product, or hit a milestone, or signed a new partner alliance for example—news releases are about the interests of your market. They aren't designed to promote your product or service directly, but rather to position your company as a thought leader.News release ...
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How to Improve SEM Conversion Rates
To optimize the results of a Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing or other SEM program, start with best practices in search engine marketing. I've written previously about typical SEM click-through rates (CTR), which are important—balancing your budget against driving as much traffic as possible to your website.Ultimately, however, what's really important isn't raw traffic, but conversion of that traffic into buyers or B2B leads. Dan Briody recently wrote a helpful article for Inc. magazine, Turning Browsers into Buyers: How to Improv e Conversion Rates that provides some practical guidance.From my own experience, here are a few basic practices to help maximize conversion rates (which average 3% according to Dan's article) and minimize your cost per conversion: Keep content short. Your landing page should have one-two paragraphs (a couple of sentences plus 3-5 bullet points is even better) of compelling, straightforward copy: this is what my product/service will do for you a...
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The Wrong Way to Build External Links for SEO
Anyone who's worked on search engine optimization (SEO) for any length of time understands the importance of building relevant external links to a website. But whether you do choose to SEO internally, outsource it domestically, or offshore the effort, it's important to get this process right. If you're doing it internally, follow established best practices for this effort (including the information below). If you outsource your SEO, ask your vendor exactly how they perform their SEO work.I frequently receive reciprocal link requests for WebMarketCentral.com. Some of the requests are well-written, some inelegant, some spammy. But I recently received the following message, which was among the worst I had ever seen:Subject: Link exchangeDear Webmaster,My name is (name), and I run the web sites.:http://www.clickatest.co.uk/(PR>2) http://www.clickajob.co.uk/(PR>3)http://w ww.freshpromotion.com/I recently found your site and am very interested in exchanging links. You can add yours link ...
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An Online Presentation Tool for Sales Pros?
Online presentation tools such as WebEx and LiveMeeting are helpful for collaboration, and GoToWebinar or ON24 are great for webcasting, but these services generally aren't practical for the typical road warrior, bag-carrying sales rep. Now, Alan Hill of IPresent2You.com, a 20-year sales veteran, believes he has the answer—a set of software tools that enable sales people to deliver web-based presentations, customized on the fly to address the specific needs and interests of individual prospects.The I Present to You! software provides an interesting set of capabilities that separate it from most online collaboration and webcasting tools: There is no software or plug-in for the viewer to install; it's 100% browser-based. Yet, like other online presentation tools, it enables you to demonstrate virtually any other third-party application from with the tool, as well as transfer control of the presentation to any other individual. It lets you create a personalized microsite portal for...
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New B2B Lead Generation Report from RainToday
The professional services experts at RainToday have just released a free report, The One Piece of Advice You Can't Generate Lead s Without—From 10 Experts on B2B Lead Generation . If your role centers around B2B lead generation, how can you resist a report with a title like that? As the introduction to the report states, "We've read a lot of advice about B2B lead generation, and there are a lot of people who claim to know it all. But when you boil it all down, people want to know, `What's really important? What do I need to know?' To answer this question, we asked 10 experts in B2B lead generation."The report is filled with great ideas from an impressive list of B2B experts. Among them:Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies: Avoid "trash talk"—over-used marketing-ese such as "unique methodologies" or "one-stop shopping"—in favor of focusing completely on your prospect's business and the impact you can have on it.Brian Carroll, head of B2B lead generation firm InTo...
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Off Topic: Who Does MyHeritage Think You Look Like?
After coming across Web 2.0 - Your Inner Celebrity on Harry Hoover's blog, I had to try this out the Celebrity Collage from MyHeritage.com. Amusing, but how it's possible for anyone to simultaneously resemble Usher, Helen Hunt and Johnny Damon is beyond me. I have been told before that I look a bit like Glenn Frey, but never any of these people.If you've got a few minutes to waste, try it out.*****Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom
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WMC Interviews: Sharat Sharan
This week, I had the opportunity to learn more about how Shara t Sharan, president and CEO of webcasting and rich media platform provider ON24, has built this company into a leader in online lead generation and communication. ON24 provides a hosted platform to help B2B marketers and other business professionals produce webcasts, podcasts and rich media presentations for prospects, customers, employees, analysts and investors.ON24 is also the company behind Insight24.com, a hosting service for thought leadership rich media B2B webcasts, podcasts, videos and demos from leading B2B vendors.WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before ON24?Sharat Sharan (SS): I was Group Vice President of Hearst New Media Group in New York. Before that, I was responsible for business development for Wireless Networks at AT&T.WMC: How and when did you get started in this business?SS: When I joined ON24, the company had a different business model. During the downturn, the business model was challenge...
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New on WMC: Guide to Web-Based B2B Lead Generation Programs
The web marketing plan development section on WebMarketCentral continues to expand with the recent addition of a Guide to Web-Based B2B Lead Generation Programs . An overview of online B2B lead generation tactics, this page provides an overview of the most common types of Internet advertising and online B2B lead generation programs, including: Search engine marketing Advertising on Internet ad networksWhite paper syndication Email marketing Webcasts and podcastsThe goal of all of these B2B lead generation activities is to make it easy for your prospects to find you when they are looking for a solution to a problem that your product or service provides, then guide them through the process from information-gathering to purchase. Research shows that 75-80% of B2B buyers and influencers use the Internet to find information about vendors rather than responding to outbound efforts.Web-based lead generation programs supplement and complement offline efforts such as trade shows, direct mail ...
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Google AdWords Average CTR and Best Practices
A previous post here covered average click-through rates for email newsletter advertising, email campaigns and website banner ads. As noted, DoubleClick provides fairly reliable data across those media.It's surprisingly difficult, however, to get meaningful data on the average click-through rate (CTR) for Google AdWords ads. This discussion on Webmaster World reports various experiences: 0.6%-1.2%, 1%-2% and 3%-5%. PayPerPost puts the figure at 0.5-1.5%; and Hochman Consultants pegs the average at 0.7-1.5%. Across all of the sources I was able to find, the average fell into the range of 1.1-2.2%. That range includes both B2B and B2C ads (the latter tend to generate higher CTRs). On the B2B side, I'd place the average Google AdWords CTR in the range of 0.9-1.4%.So—how can you optimize your Google AdWords CTR to beat those averages? Recently added to WebMarketCentral is a list of 14 Best Practices in Search Engine Marketing. These best practices include: Use free online tools such...
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Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing and PR
There are two kinds of readers who won't like David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing & PR; fortunately for the author, both groups are small. The first is that small group of ahead-of-the-curve web marketers and PR professionals who have already figured out how to integrate online efforts between optimized news releases, blogs, social media sites, podcasts and all of the other content distribution and promotional tools now available online (though the ranks of this group will be swelled by the readers of David's book).The second group is the diminishing number of old-school PR and marketing practitioners, those who still believe that press releases are only for the media, that you have to interrupt people with your marketing message to get their attention, and that campaigns aren't real unless they are on TV. This book explodes their old view of the world. Scott performs two important services with this book, one tactical and one strategic. Tactically he pulls toge...
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MarketingSherpa Releases 2008 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide
MarketingSherpa recently published its Search Marketing Benchmark Guid e for 2008, providing data on cost per click (CPC), conversion rates, SEO and other key online marketing metrics. The study is designed to help online marketers set PPC and SEO budgets, forecast results, test online marketing programs, and even (toughest of all)—explain search marketing plans to your client or CEO.Among the key findings: Search marketing continues to grow at an incredible pace, with spending up 39% globally in 2007. A third of respondents anticipate double-digit spending increases on both SEO and Google PPC programs in 2008. Marketers rate SEO second and search engine marketing (PPC) ads third in terms of ROI, behind only house-list email marketing. Online banner ads and print advertising receive the lowest grades for ROI. The return on PR spending is viewed as the most difficult to measure. Thinking of bringing SEM and SEO in-house? Nearly a third of corporate respondents said that finding tale...
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Podcast Promotion vs. Blog Promotion
While there are several similarities between blog and podcast promotion, as an audio medium, podcasts offer several addition avenues for distribution. So, podcasts are somewhat of a different animal when it comes to promotion.Blog s use RSS feeds to get indexed by search engines, as well as promotion tools such as Technorati, TruthLaidBear, Pingoat, BeeTooBee (for marketing blogs) and social media sites like BlogMarks. RSS feeds can be distributed through numerous sites; Robin Good still has one of the best lists ever.Podcast s also use RSS feeds for distribution and are indexed by search engines based on the surrounding content—podcast files are generally placed on blogs or web pages along with text describing the subject and participants in the podcast. However, podcasts can also get added distribution through services such as iTunes, ODEO, Yahoo Podcasts, Podcast.com, Podcast Alley and Podcast Pickle. Want to really go nuts? Check out podCast411's directory of roughly 150 podcas...
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WMC Interviews: Jonathan Treiber
I recently had the chance to interview Jonathan Treiber, CEO and co-founder of loyalty rewards marketing provider OnCard Marketing and the man behind iBakeSale.com. iBakeSale is an innovative "painless fundraising" program that allows consumers to save money through cash-back rewards from popular merchants while supporting their favorite charities. The program has signed up hundreds of popular merchants such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, 1-800-Flowers, Nordstrom, Lillian Vernon, Old Navy, GAP, PetCo and Linens-N-Things. Any charity can sign up and ask supporters to join.iBakeSale is a great opportunity for shoppers to do well by doing good, and has been written up in numerous blogs including The Parent Bloggers Network, midwesternmommy.com, The Mummy Chronicles, The Karianna Spectrum and Phat Mommy, as well as Jonathan's own blog. Here's our conversation:WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before OnCard Marketing?Jonathan Treiber (JT): I worked at Citigroup in New York City doing inv...
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PR Through Bloggers
To add a few of my own thoughts to the last post by Cece Lee, "blogger relations" are becoming as important as media relations in PR strategy. Connecting your content with bloggers is increasingly important for several reasons: Bloggers have increasing influence. As previously reported, when making purchasing decisions, B2B buyers spend more time with social media than any other content except vendor materials, and trust social media more than any other source. Blogs are a key component of the social media B2B buyers are reading. Bloggers tend to be subject matter experts (although some might point to this blog as an exception to that rule). After all, it's difficult to write on a regular basis about a topic outside of one's expertise. That's why, for example, you'll find few Minnesotans who blog about surfing (okay, Graeme Thickens being an exception). Bloggers are passionate about their subjects. They have to be, to write about it week after week, when there's generally very ...
PR and Blogging Outreach: Practical Tips
Note: this is the second of two guest-posts from PR guru-ess Cece Salomon-Lee on how Web 2.0 has changed the practice of PR. The first covered macro issues; this piece focuses on how PR professionals can best approach bloggers.In my first post on PR and blogging, I had discussed the macro issues impacting the quality of outreach—both traditional media and blogging. I've been thinking about this topic over the past few weeks realized that good blogger relationships is one part doing your research, one part old school PR and one part transparency.In some cases, bloggers will provide you with rules when contacting them. Some of these rules are included below, while others may be more specific to the blogger's interest, for example, CK's Rules for PR folks.Based on these three components, here are 8 Tips about Blogging Outreach :1. Bloggers are not journalists: One mistake is believing that bloggers are like journalists but they're not. Bloggers write because they are passionate ab...
Off Topic: 8 Random Things
Since Brian Carroll at the B2B Lead Generation Blog tagged me for this, I guess I'll play. For what it's worth, here are eight random things about me:1. I think Boston is the greatest rock n' roll band ever.2. Speaking of music, my trivia expertise is one-hit wonders from the 80s.3. My mother wanted me to be a priest.4. I have four brothers. We've all owned our own businesses at one time or another (financial services, trailer manufacturing, wholesale supplies, painting, and marketing consulting in order from oldest to youngest).5. My undergraduate degree was in industrial engineering. I'm an efficient marketer.6. I graduated second in my class in MBA school at the University of Minnesota. I would have been first in my class, but I got a B in, of all things, Marketing Management.7. My wife is named Jolene. Dolly Parton released an album in 1974 titled "Jolene." The engineer on that album was...Tom Pick (no relation). How spooky is that?8. Two of my great-grandfathers fought on ...
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My Podcast with Paul Dunay
Marketing guru, podcaster and blogger extraordinaire Paul Dunay has developed a reputation for interviewing smart, interesting people about their knowledge of web marketing, blogging and social media tools. In case you missed it, last week he took a break from that practice—and interviewed me instead.In this podcast, Paul and I discuss blogging, thought-leadership content and how social media sites can be used to drive B2B website traffic. I cited three specific examples of promoting client thought-leadership content through Web 2.0 social media tagging: Customer stories from telephony migration, voicemail list management and unified messaging software vendor Unimax. The glossary of business service management terms from ITIL service catalog software provider Kinetic Data. An explanation of redundant Internet access from bandwidth aggregation and load balancing appliance maker Astrocom.I also talk about the results of my research on using Web 2.0 social tagging to drive B2B websit...
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Optimizing B2B Lead Generation through White Papers
White paper syndicator KnowledgeStorm and the marketing case study experts at MarketingSherpa recently published the third white paper in their series on Connecting Through Content, Putting It All Together—Driving Content Marketing Program Success. The series focused on research and best practices in using thought-leadership content, primarily white papers, to drive B2B lead generation efforts. The key findings from this study include:Marketers need to make better use of privacy policies to improve registration quality. While marketers rated the quality of lead registration data from their own website twice as high as that from syndicator or other sites, B2B technology buyers said they provide valid registration information regardless of site type—as long as they are confident that their contact information will not be misused. Buyers rate IT publications and vendor websites as the least trustworthy, with just 30% expressing confidence in these sites. To improve lead registratio...
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The ROI of Website Redesigns per Forrester
Forrester Research makes a collection of its past webcasts on various online marketing topics freely available (registration required). I recently checked out one of their presentations from about a year ago titled "The ROI of Web Site Redesigns Made Simple" by Harley Manning and Jeffrey North. Like any presentation from one of the big analyst firms, the research focuses on very large companies, and is vertically unfocused (in this webcast, they divided websites into three groups: e-commerce, manufacturing [including B2B] and financial services), but still provides some nuggets of value for smaller organizations.Forrester's key findings from their website redesign research: By Forrester's standards, 97% of business websites fail to earn a passing grade for usability. Among the biggest sins—79% fail at basic legibility (adequate font size and contrast with background). They cite the New York Times website as the gold standard for legibility (not logic, truth or common sense mind ...
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B2B PR - Social Media and Press Release Optimization
Melodramatic and obvious perhaps, but news sites, online press release distribution and social media tagging have radically altered the PR landscape. PR is no longer just about writing press releases announcing your internally-focused company news to select industry media (though you should still do that), but also about writing news releases that demonstrate your expertise and provide valuable content for your prospects. These releases need to be written and distributed differently than traditional press releases, with the goal of reaching both traditional and new media outlets indirectly through increased market exposure.All press releases and news releases need to be search-engine optimized. Much has been written on this topic, but the best single piece I've seen is Rob Garner's Yes, You Should Still Optimize Press Release s. Rob brings all of the elements together in one excellent, concise post. Among Rob's tips: Include popular keyword and keyword phrases in the release summa...
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Possibly the Coolest Tradeshow Toy Ever
More crowd-pleasing than a premium trinket give-away, more alluring than booth babes, even more powerful than free beer—Danish advertising film agency viZoo has teamed with engineering firm Ramboll developed what may be, thus far, the ultimate tradeshow gadget: a giant 3-D holographic projector. Check out the movie here:http://vizoo.com/showreel_wmvs/EPK_C heoptics360_XL.wmvScott at the MediaPost blog said it gave him a "nerdgasm," a term I find deeply disturbing, but nonetheless, you've got to see this.The 3-D projector is available in various sizes from a relatively compact 5x5x5 foot unit up to a massive 30x30 behemoth, with prices ranging from 85,000 Euros (about $100K) to 575,000 Euros (close to $800,000). Both indoor and outdoor models are available.You can more about the Cheoptics 360 XL here or check out the online brochure (PDF).*****technorati tags: Ramboll, viZoo, Cheoptics 360 XL, trade show marketing, 3D holographic projector, 3-D, MediaPostdel.icio.us tags: Ramboll, ...
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Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)
When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial.It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads.Email newsletter advertisements Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick . The average CTR for indu...
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PR and Blogging Outreach: Macro Issues
Note: this is the first of two guest-posts from PR guru-ess Cece Salomon-Lee on how Web 2.0 has changed the practice of PR and how PR professionals can best take advantage of blogging and other social media.When Tom asked me to contribute an article about PR and blogging outreach, I was both flattered and yet apprehensive at the same time. I mean, I admit it. I've been guilty of sending inappropriate pitches to reporters—and in the age of growing blogosphere influence and shrinking print staffs—bloggers as well.But as I thought about this further, I realized that this is more than how to pitch bloggers versus traditional media. It goes to how today's generation of PR practitioners are being trained—or maybe not trained—to communicate effectively with media, and by extension bloggers. It goes to the core skills of what being a GOOD PR person is or isn't. And it may also be applicable to how PR agencies staff accounts.I've had discussions with my colleagues about this over...
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Quick Personal Note on the 35W Bridge Collapse
Thank you to everyone who emailed inquiring about the safety of my family following last week's tragic collapse of the 35W bridge here in Minneapolis. Thankfully, my family and I are safe, as are our close friends and relatives in the area.Still, it is amazing and a bit frightening how close to home a disaster like this can hit, even in a large metropolitan area. Two of those listed as "missing and presumed drowned" are just two degrees removed from me professionally. And two of the confirmed dead were neighbors.Patrick Holmes, a young father of two and a baseball and soccer coach, lived just four blocks to the north of us. Paul Eickstadt, the driver of the truck so horrifically engulfed in flames in the initial videos of the collapse, lived just a few houses down. A couple of years ago, when our little dog went missing and my kids were frantically scouring the neighborhood on their bikes searching for her, it was Paul who found her and returned her safe and sound.We all respond di...
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