Search Engine Optimization As Part Of Your Marketing Mix – July 1st, 2014

sdseocmThe history of search engine optimization is not very long, but the industry has been developing so fast that next year we will maybe see new terms that will replace the SEO. No matter the term we use, any quality search engine optimization agency will admit that SEO will remain necessary as long as there are search engines on the Internet. In the beginning of massive Internet usage, the SEO was not so known like today. Nowadays it’s widely common term that attracts both professionals and people who simply want to be educated about what’s going on in the online world.

The term that is now taking leadership is content marketing and it includes more than search engine optimization. It is indeed a complete strategy for people who run a business online. A company without content marketing strategy is less likely to succeed like the one who has planned the complete activity of online promotion. Try to ask your San Diego search engine optimization company whether they can prepare a strategy for your online business. Competition is strong, so each online business owner should prepare on time in order to beat the competition or at least successfully coexist with others from their niche.

Where Do Search Engine Optimization Companies Find The Keywords

Anyone who has at least basic experience in internet marketing will know the importance of good SEO. To optimize a website for search engines is not an impossible task, but it demands time and knowledge. If you are searching search engine optimization, you will probably be interested not only about their prices but also about how they do what they do. The SEO experts like to say that search engine optimization is not a secret and that it is something almost anyone with basic computer knowledge can do, but the truth is a bit different. Search engine optimization should be done thoroughly and give results.

The main thing in content marketing is to write about the right topic. This means that the text a SEO writer is writing about should have proper keywords that will help in link building and, finally, in better positions on search engines. But the customer may wonder how to find the right keyword and where do the San Diego search engine optimization companies find the keywords. There are few tools available online that are being used for getting the keyword. One of them is offered by Google, but it’s not free for usage any more.

Posted in Web Advertising

Web Marketing Consulting Is Stronger Than Ever – May 19th, 2014

wmeAfter spending most of his career on the agency side, Keith Sanderson went to work for Komatsu America International Co., the U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese heavy-equipment manufacturer. As the company’s sales literature manager, he somehow found himself immersed in creating Komatsu’s Internet strategy, beginning in 2010.

“It was an unbudgeted skunk works project,” he says.

Mr. Sanderson jumped into the Internet, he says, because he feared ceding control of the Web, which he viewed as a marketing tool, to Vernon Hills, Ill.-based Komatsu’s management information systems department. “They didn’t want anything to do with it, really; it was just another job for them,” he says. “But it wasn’t just another job. This is the future.”

Part of seizing control of the Internet, Mr. Sanderson learned, was selecting an electronic-business consultant. Because his project was an isolated type of undertaking, he moved the fledgling site along in what he calls “baby steps.” So in selecting a Web consultant, he chose a company that had experience but was willing to move cautiously.

He selected Studio North, a small shop in North Chicago, Ill., that was transforming itself from an ad agency to a Web site designer and had experience with companies such as Abbott Laboratories.

“If you’re just starting out, you should look for somebody to take some very elementary steps with,” he advises.

Today, as Komatsu America’s manager of electronic-commerce and Web site development, Mr. Sanderson is one of many b-to-b marketers playing a role in shaping Internet strategy.

In a second-quarter study conducted by Zona Research, Redwood City, Calif., 28% of companies polled said marketing executives are “most responsible for formulating and directing e-commerce strategy.” That was up from Zona’s first-quarter study, which found that only 15% of companies gave marketing executives that responsibility.

One of the most important pieces of that responsibility is choosing an e-business consultant. The selection could set the course for a company’s next decade and could be worth billions of dollars.

“The opportunity cost of hiring the wrong company is incalculable,” says Susan Goodman, exec VP-marketing and strategy for Think New Ideas, New York.

Types of consultants

E-commerce consultants have sprouted from coast to coast and range from wired b-to-b agencies such as Hensley Segal Rentschler, Cincinnati, to newfangled Web consultants such as Razorfish, New York, to traditional consulting companies such as Ernst & Young L.L.P., New York.

E-commerce consultancies are available in three basic flavors. Some provide e-business strategy. Others offer Web design and marketing support. A third kind focuses on information technology support, the nuts and bolts of building a Web site.

And now some e-business consultancies, such as USWeb/CKS, are offering combinations of the three services. USWeb/CKS was created when an IT operation merged with an ad agency. The new entity recently acquired Mitchell Madison Group, a business strategy consulting company.

Through its pending merger with AnswerThink Consulting Group, Miami, Think New Ideas is another e-business consultancy looking to provide one-stop shopping.

“We offer branding and positioning strategy and off-line advertising all the way through the systems integration,” Ms. Goodman says. “Any client building a multimillion-dollar Web site or involved in a major Internet initiative needs to be working with either an end-to-end provider or a general contractor.”

Andrew Bartels, senior research analyst for e-commerce at Giga Information Group, an e-business technology research company in Cambridge, Mass., disagrees.

“The reality is that each of these different things . . . typically requires a different skill set,” he says. “It is possible for a consultant to hire top-notch talent in all of these areas-in theory, yes. But in practice, it’s much more questionable. Even if they have it, the question is do they have it in sufficient depth?”

It seems there are as many approaches to choosing a Web consultancy as there are b-to-b companies on the Web.

Dave Goudge, Boise Cascade Office Products’ VP-marketing, is responsibile for the Itasca, Ill.-based office supply company’s e-commerce strategy. He uses e-business consultants sparingly, and only in their area of expertise.

For most Internet work, Mr. Goudge prefers to rely on his e-commerce department, which started three years ago with two people and now has 40. He does use a host of project-oriented consultancies, and when choosing, one thing he doesn’t worry about is whether a consultant has office supply experience. “You have to retrain them every time anyway,” he says.

Claire Zinnes, director of business information at Pall Corp., East Hills, N.Y., which manufactures high-end industrial filters, eschews the project-oriented approach.

A former marketing communications manager, she hired Hensley Segal Rentschler three years ago-a lifetime in Web years-and has stuck with the agency, which is responsible for Web site design and improving navigation and readability.

“I’m a big believer in finding a partner, not finding a supplier,” Ms. Zinnes says. “I want someone who has longevity, some staying power.”

She chose Hensley Segal Rentschler because she wanted an agency that could provide strategic advice and could focus on the goal of the Web site: to sell products.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in bells and whistles, very easy to get sidetracked by technology. `What’s the business model?’ is the question you always have to keep in mind,” Ms. Zinnes says.

Mark Taylor, who has a sales background, helped launch Provo, Utah-based Novell’s e-commerce application, shopnovell, earlier this year. He believes in finding a consultant who is willing to wade into the Web slowly, step by step.

“Everybody wants to be a power hitter, hitting a huge home run,” he says. “But once you have your strategy, you have to understand how you can deliver base hits in incremental fashion and continue to move forward on a day-by-day basis.”

He also is partial to consultants who are able to adjust for Web feedback. “That’s the reason why you have the customer in the cycle,” Mr. Taylor says. “When you put the stuff up there [on the Internet], you know immediately what they like and don’t like. Get rid of what they don’t like.”

Site testing

Komatsu’s Mr. Sanderson is wary of the prevailing conventional wisdom that says companies must invest in back-end hardware and software before putting new features on a Web site. “Before you spend a million or two on the back end, make sure people are ready to receive what you’re giving them on the front end,” he says.

Nearly every element of the Komatsu Web site-from its new virtual trade show to the feature that points visitors to the nearest distributor-has been tested on customers before it has been linked to Komatsu’s back-end procedures. And much of it has been accomplished hand in hand with Studio North.

“Boy, if it works,” Mr. Sanderson says, “then, whammo, maybe we hook it to the back end. People argue that technology is the difficult part. I say it’s the people part of the equation that’s the hard part.”

Posted in Business

SQL Server Smoked The Competition – May 7th, 2014

sqlsAlan Bourassa wasn’t looking forward to Christmas this year. Barnesandnoble.com Inc.’s director of systems planning and design was facing retailing’s busiest time of year with computer systems he knew wouldn’t be able to handle the load–not a merry thought.

So Bourassa and colleague Jeanette Seip, senior project manager, decided it was time for a new approach. They dropped the Dayton, N.J., online bookseller’s outdated Hewlett-Packard Co. Unix-based order fulfillment system and moved to a Windows NT platform running Microsoft Corp.’s new SQL Server 2014.

The HP system was terminal-based and needed a daily batch processing window, during which staff couldn’t generate up-to-date packing lists. The site needed something interactive–a system that would provide real-time data about orders and stock levels 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Searches through the millions of books listed in the site’s catalog had to come back within seconds, or the system would be unworkable.

The decision to change platforms was easy, but the decision to move to SQL Server was not. The site was using SQL Server 2008 in other applications, and it struggled under the load.

Bourassa’s experience with SQL Server goes back to the first release of the product, Version 4.2, and his history with it made him dubious about the PC-based system being up to the online book retailer’s tasks. The company has approximately 1 terabyte of catalog and book order data that must be stored in its database systems–database sizes that PCs haven’t been able to handle until very recently.

Explosive growth was another factor to consider. The site already has 2.6 million books in its online database and had plans to add another 2 millions books.

These size and speed requirements had knocked SQL Server out of the running before. “We looked at Version 6.5 for robustness and stability, [but] it clearly was not there for enterprise computing,” Bourassa said. He added that in tests SQL Server 6.5 took hours to complete some queries. Bourassa also found SQL Server 6.5 unreliable; at times the database server corrupted indices that would have to be deleted and rebuilt.

Bourassa considered using Oracle Corp.’s Oracle8 on NT instead of SQL Server but had already decided to base the rest of the retail system on Microsoft components and the company’s Distributed Component Object Model architecture.

The clients on the three-tier Web-based order management application would be using downloadable ActiveX components, while Microsoft’s Internet Information Server would serve up dynamic Web pages at the midtier. Its Transaction Server would function as a back-end application server.

To minimize system integration issues, Bourassa decided to give the new version of SQL Server–which Microsoft had rebuilt from end to end–a go. Early SQL Server 7.0 code was implemented at barnesandnoble.com in July, and, even in beta form, the new release proved fast and stable.

“When we tested [7.0] against 6.5, we saw tremendous performance improvements,” he said. “[Microsoft has] gone down now to row-level locking, and we’ve had zero corruption issues with 7.0.”

The bookseller’s developers and database administrators found the upgrade’s new performance analysis tools a big step forward as well. “It’s all graphical in 7.0,” Bourassa said. “That’s been a big win for us also because our developers spend a lot less time figuring out how to improve the performance. Basically, the graphical analyzer tells us how to do it.”

Besides the new software, barnesandnoble.com went for a full hardware upgrade. The company is using Compaq Computer Corp. ProLiant 7000 servers, each with four 400MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, hooked up to Compaq Fibre Channel drive arrays.

The database software (which can now use multiple CPUs to process a single query, something 6.5 couldn’t do) and hardware combination proved to be a real barnburner. “What used to take hours on 6.5 now takes less than a minute on 7.0 for us. It’s phenomenal,” Bourassa said.

The new system has been in production for about a month, and overall system performance has more than doubled. Bourassa said his company is breaking daily shipping records with the new system and is still only running at between 30 percent and 40 percent system capacity–all while providing 24-by-7 uptime. “I’m planning on going away, this is running so smooth,” Bourassa said.

Now that’s a Christmas present any IT manager would love.

Posted in Platforms

7 Rules For Successful Web Advertising – April 8th, 2014

Is your business-to-business advertising as successful as it could be? An effective way to find out is to measure advertising against the seven tenets below. If your communications programs omit these principles, chances are your efforts are not as successful as they could be.

rfswm1. What’s in it for me?

Focus on benefits, not features. Customers don’t care that your product has the most innovative, state-of-the-art widget. Customers care that this product will save them time, increase productivity, decrease costs or make them look good.

2. The wow factor.

Let’s say the unwritten advertising rule in your category is that you must always show the product, even though the product looks like everyone else’s. Why not take the unexpected step of not showing the product? Instead, show a visual that represents the product’s benefits. The idea is to take an approach that’s more involving and shows that your company or brand is not like every other player in your category.

3. Take it personally.

Even though you’re targeting other businesses, remember your real target is the people at other businesses. Most of us gravitate toward messages that have personality, that treat us like a human being. One tool is to read the ad copy aloud as if you were talking directly to the person. With limited chances to talk to your audience, why not talk one-to-one?

4. Speak up.

Effective advertising speaks with just one voice – always. A company’s voice is part of its personality – it’s a key indicator of its positioning and reason to exist. Many companies go to the market with more than one voice, creating audience confusion and eroding the company’s image.

5. Keep in touch.

Successful b-to-b advertising should create awareness and generate interest. It also should support and facilitate the sales process. Advertising should move prospects into the sales cycle through offers, calls to action, demonstrations and easy ways to get in via e-mail, toll-free numbers, etc. From there, other communications tools – such as the Internet or brochures – should be used to maintain interest. Never let a qualified prospect out of the sales cycle until you close the loop. Once that prospect is a customer, keep in touch. Product updates, special promotions, etc., reassure customers that they made a good decision.

6. Get more bang.

For years, b-to-b advertising was viewed as rote, particularly media buying. Agencies always negotiate for significant value-added media for their consumer clients to stretch the media dollar, why not their b-to-b clients? Let’s say you buy media space in a trade publication. What else can it do for you? Will it provide direct mailing lists? Will it conduct readership surveys for free? If you, or your agency, has a creative marketing idea, talk to your favorite trade publication. The odds are it would be willing to partner with you to get some value-added media.

7. Many happy returns.

To be successful, you need to evaluate each assignments’s potential return on investment. Sounds simple, yet few marketers fully embrace this concept. If the goal is to increase awareness, you should do pre- and postawareness research to measure results. If the goal is to increase leads, determine in advance how many are needed. If the objective is to increase sales of a specific product, quantify how much needs to be sold.

Direct marketing is the easiest to measure. A pro forma ROI should be done before spending your first dollar. Project the cost and the potential return. based on predetermined objectives, everything can and should be measured.

Posted in Web Advertising

The Trade Publisher IPO Fad Was Just That – February 19th, 2014

ttpipoPenton media became the latest trade publisher to go public, joining the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 10 in a move driven by a spinoff from parent Pittway Corp., Cleveland.

Penton joins such publishers as CMP Media, Manhasset, N.Y.; Primedia Intertec, Overland Park, Kan.; and Ziff-Davis, Needham, Mass., all of which have gone public in the past 14 months.

“We’re an $18 billion industry this year . . ., but we’re not particularly a high-profile industry,” says Thomas Kemp, CEO of Penton, Cleveland. “The financial community really has just discovered on a more broad basis that we’re a fairly significant and fairly large industry.”

Trade show increase

Mr. Kemp said one of the reasons for the spinoff was that Penton’s revenue from trade shows has increased from less than 3% in 1996 to 13% in 1998. It’s expected to reach up to 30% of the company’s revenue by the turn of the century, he said.

“Traditionally, Penton has been a magazine publishing company,” he said. “But our strategy is to be more of an information company with strength in certain market segments and an array of media properties: Trade shows, online services, custom publishing.”

Trade shows and magazines “complement each other extremely well. And when you marry a trade show with a magazine, you add value to the position both of the magazine and of the trade show,” Mr. Kemp said.

The spinoff from Pittway also allows Penton to make these strategic acquisitions to boost strength in the company’s market segments.

Different motives

While Penton is just the latest in a list of trade publishers going public, those in the industry say the publishers’ motives are vastly different.

Bob Krakoff, chairman-CEO of Advanstar Communications, said CMP’s July 1997 deal was initiated by the Leeds family, which owns the company, because the company was trying to become more liquid. ZD’s IPO in April 1998 was initiated by a foreign investor who wanted capital.

CMP declined to comment; ZD had not returned calls at press time.

Daniel Ramella, president-COO of Penton, said, “Even though the individual reasons are different, the fact that we can all go public is a fairly recent phenomenon.”

Despite their reasons, the bright future of b-to-b publishing companies lends itself to public offerings, said Gordon Hughes II, president-COO of the New York-based American Business Press.

“From 1995 to 1996, the industry’s [advertising] billing was up 10.2%,” Mr. Hughes said. “For the past year, it was up 11.6%. We’re estimating 1998 over 1997 will be in the range of 8% to 10%. Those are three very dynamic years.”

He said the percentage of revenue from the high-tech and computer publishing segment has dropped from more than 40% to 35%. But overall ad revenue has climbed.

“The good news is that the strength of this industry comes from a broader base of advertisers [than computer titles],” he said. “Wall Street has taken notice of that.”

Hal Greenberg, managing director at Veronis Suhler & Associates, New York, said there hasn’t been a lot of competition for similar offerings on the public market until recently, when CMP went public.

Leo Kivijarv, director of research for Veronis Suhler, said his company’s latest projections for b-to-b publishing and trade shows forecast annual growth of 8.9% from 1997 to 2002 in U.S. spending.

The forecast for magazines is 8.8% compounded annual growth, and for trade shows, 9.1%, both well above the growth rate of 6.8% for the previous five years.

A key trend

Advanstar’s Mr. Krakoff said publishing houses historically have been represented on the stock market, noting The McGraw-Hill Cos., New York, which has been publicly traded since 1929.

He said Advanstar, which has been on an aggressive acquisition track the past two years, is considering a public offering.

Even for those private media companies that remain private, Mr. Greenberg said, acquisitions and mergers will be a key trend to follow.

“I see more consolidation and integration between business-to-business and trade show producers,” he said. “I think the advertising base is quite strong and those that get into trade shows will be able to serve their clients by offering more services.”

Stock compensation

In conjunction with Penton’s spinoff, the company acquired Donohue Meehan Publishing Co. of Chicago. Company executives William Donohue and John Meehan received stock compensation that totals about 6.8% of Penton’s shares.

Mr. Kemp said Penton expected its stock to trade at $14 to $15.

He warned that although the industry is reporting consistent growth above inflation and Penton’s stock is trading higher than expected, few media companies with less than $100 million in market capitalization should consider a public offering.

“You have to be a certain size and scope in order to be a successful public company,” he said. “People have to recognize they have to have not only good sizzle, but good meat to their story.”

Posted in Business

Summer, B2B and Booming Business – February 3rd, 2014

b2bbbWhatever happened to the summer doldrums: The lighter workloads, the longer lunches spent outdoors, the institution of summer hours? Summer used to mean more time off, less pressure, an opportunity to get caught up, to daydream. It was the perfect time to refresh one’s creative side without making a project out of it.

No more. Summer has blended into the rest of the business year. The only significant difference these days, it seems, is a drop in office temperature as even the air conditioning unit kicks into overtime.

The increase in workload is perhaps one sign of a strong economy and increased productivity. Times are good for everyone, and many in business-to-business think this area is making real headway, in dollars and perception, and that means more time at work and less time in the sun.

As one advertising agency executive told Business Marketing: “When I first started in the business, the market was dead in the summertime. Now it’s a 12-month market. It just keeps going and going.”

It seems that for our readers, that lack of summer space is in reality a reflection of the big growth in business-to-business marketing. In putting together this year’s list of business-to-business advertising agencies, for example, we saw some real growth in revenue. We also saw a lot more agencies wanting to be counted – a jump from 174 agencies last year to 208 in this issue. And many of these agencies are experiencing not just a boom in business, but a boost in status.

In talking to people about the industry, the overwhelming reaction is that the business-to-business arena is suddenly red hot. In the past 12 months, business-to-business has actually moved beyond its also-ran status, in relationship to consumer marketing and advertising, to become a powerhouse in its own right.

Of course, this didn’t happen on its own. It took years of hard work on the part of business-to-business marketers for their efforts to even approach center stage. They’ve committed their time and their energy to making their businesses grow and their work flourish.

But the hours had to come from somewhere – and, ultimately, that means summers, for many people, have ceased to be the light, easy family-oriented months they once were.

While the payoff for many is good, growing workloads and responsibilities can also lead to increasing stress levels and worker burnout. The Chicago Tribune reported recently that the average workweek has risen over the past 25 years to 50.8 hours a week with 19.5 hours of leisure activity. That compares with 40.6 work hours and 26.2 leisure activity hours in 1973.

In addition to a growth in business that requires people to spend more time in the office, some also blame this shift to longer workweeks on the growth of technology. Those laptop computers and wireless phones and beepers that once made it so much easier to work at home now just make it harder to get away from the office (and of course that summertime sand and saltwater is just murder on these convenient little electronic gadgets).

So how do you put summer – or, at the very least, the concept of summer – back into your life? Peter McLaughlin says the best way to re-energize your business life is to make sure you get some time away from the day-to-day grind, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a stretch – enough time to stare out a window and munch a piece of fruit.

In his work with the Denver-based Hibbert Group (see Page 14), Mr. McLaughlin, author of “Catch Fire” and president of his own consulting company, promotes exercise and eating right. He also puts a lot of emphasis on humor in the workplace and the need to create an environment that’s energizing and fun.

So far, the plan seems to be working for the Hibbert Group, says President-CEO Bill Walsh, who hired Mr. McLaughlin after a rapid growth spurt in business left Hibbert employees somewhat listless and stressed out.

In other words, it seems that if we can’t get to summer, we’d better make sure summer gets to us. Our business rhythms often run counter to our life rhythms, and the only way to remain energized on the job is to make sure we get the space we need. Easy summer hours may seem like an old-fashioned idea, but sizzling-hot work doesn’t come from burnt-out people.

Perhaps, amid the hot times, it’s a good idea to remember the easy times. Productivity has its limits, and while daydreaming won’t pay the bills, it does go a long way toward kick-starting the creative mind.

Posted in Uncategorized