Thursday, March 29, 2007

Local Search Language: The Diversity of Search Behavior

The sheer number of local search sites operating today is astounding. Why are there so many? The answer lies within consumer search behavior trends and search engines' ability to translate so many different ways of asking for the same things. Every consumer has their own search language and trying to get a local listing ranked for all of these, or even a few different semantics is very tough. Think of it as one person typing in English (the consumer) for a Spanish speaking person (the web crawler) to read, comprehend and rank accordingly. So while one web crawler might read your English keyword and translate it perfectly to be ranked highly in the SERP( define), another web crawler may not even comprehend or rank the keyword.

It is the search marketers job to expand the number of keywords and track the behavior of the listing to figure out what search engines are ranking the listing and which ones are not. The abundance of search engines, each with its own language makes the search marketers ability to get the ad listed in good rank in every search engine near impossible. It would be the same as having to learn Spanish, German, Swahili, French, and Chinese all at once and then having them change next month.

Does anyone know of an easy way to track where your local listing might be in several different search engines? Rather than just endless searching.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Companies allow negative criticism? Why would they do that?

Being in a customer service position myself I find the previous post to be absolutely true. Your company will not exist without satisfied customers who tell others about your company. Having open forums for customers to express their feelings (good or bad) is crucial. You may ask "Why would I let someone voice negative feedback about my company? First, there is probably a reason the customer is upset and though you can't make everyone happy all of the time, you can certainly try. Second, putting these opinions out there lets potential customers know you are a genuine company with enough self awareness to admit some weaknesses but are working to correct those weaknesses. It's like a celebrity who goes through a hard time and is bashed everywhere, if they take the criticism with maturity and make it constructive, they come out of it with even more fans.

Provide customers with a way to communicate and use that communication as free press. Use these discussions as free search marketing. Feel free to give me your thoughts...they could become my own free marketing tactic. :)

Servicing Search: A Better Ad Model?

If you search a typical wireless provider on Google, you'll receive 40 million or more search results. If you filter the query and add the word "service," you'll get roughly half as many results. In addition you'll find 25 to 40 percent of all the indexed content is in the first person, which means it's a form of CGM (define).

The customer service topic drives a disproportionate amount of CGM content creation. This service-centered commentary reroutes itself to curious, unsuspecting consumers via search.In some cases, it may bring consumers closer to the brand; in other cases it pushes them away.

Viewed in this light, it becomes obvious that customer service is about far more than just satisfying consumers. It's equally about priming, positioning, and ultimately painting the brand's public billboard.

In this era of word-of-mouth and search, the stakes for getting the customer service equation right are enormously high. Consumers love to talk about service, and they leave a digital trail in the process. As we ponder media's future and optimizing marketing spending, it may well prove a far more efficient, high-return investment than pouring more money into paid media.

Although there are many levers or activities a brand can pursue to have a material effect on service perception, you should first home in on what I call the I's of customer service: the invitation, the interface, and the interaction.

  • The Invitation
    The invitation is about the right first impression. Does the brand care enough to hear my voice? Does it really want my feedback? Is my voice valued?
  • The Interface
    The interface gets to the heart of usability, simplicity, and a sense of genuine empowerment. Is it easy to provide feedback? Can I get through the process without a hitch?
  • The Interaction
    The actual interaction hits deeper consumer-brand connection drivers. Did the service interface or representative actually address the issue? In what way?

Each of these key dimensions of the service experience affects consumer attitudes and feeling toward the brand. Those feelings, in turn, drive varying levels of advocacy and CGM creation, which in turn finds new audience via search. Remember, you are what they search.

~Servicing Search: A Better Ad Model? By Pete Blackshaw March 20, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How Will Non-Social Companies Become Social Online?

This year will likely see an increase in the number of brands using social marketing to reach consumers. In 2007, as many as 48 percent of brand marketers will deploy marketing on social networking channels. Last year, about 38 percent were messaging on the channel.

Adoption of social marketing tactics stems from the discovery "30 percent of frequent social networkers trust their peers' opinions when making a major purchase decision, but only 10 percent trust an advertisement," said Emily Riley, JupiterResearch analyst and lead author of the report.

To demonstrate the power of such sites, Rinaldo cites a recent post by Hillary Clinton to Yahoo Answers. The presidential hopeful posted a question about the healthcare system, and received over 37,000 responses. "Monitoring social networking sites and other Web 2.0 venues is seen as important, but having a presence on these sites is possibly more important. "I think that many advertisers, even those with fear, understand that if they're not there it's worse than getting negative feedback," said Riley. "It's more important to be there with some risk than not be there at all. Your competitor will surely be there."

I know certain types of companies get good responses from creating their own profile pages on sites such as Myspace, but the niche businesses that actually succeed in drawing an audience already have a social audience. Bars, tattoo shops, and chic restaurants are some of the only Myspace business sites I have visited. The reason these businesses have such large Myspace networks is because the establishments themselves are places where people go and create a social network. The customers then go home and look to keep their relationship with the business and it's other customers by joining the online network. How will companies that don't have a lifestyle or social element tied to their brand, such as tech and service companies, make these networks work for them?