I ran across a case study on Orabrush that I thought was interesting for a couple reasons. First off I’m always interested in how a successful viral campaign is engineered. By “Viral” I mean that it was a campaign that was made successful because users forwarded the advertiser’s message to friends. In this case it was done using witty but compelling videos on Youtube. The second thing that is interesting about this case study is that the study itself was promoted by Google (the owner of Youtube) and I believe that the video attempts to make it appear that this was a do-it-yourself campaign that was done with almost no financial backing. Although I would definitely agree that this campaign was run on a shoestring compared to something that would be run by Procter and Gamble, it was by no stretch of the imagination done for nothing. I’m quite sure hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on this campaign since it began. There is some real talent in the writing, acting, video production and online marketing and generally speaking real talent costs real money. That being said, I still think it’s a great story. Please check it out.
Let me start out by making it extremely clear that we here at BP have a lot of respect for the skill of all the folks over at Google. They build a lot of really great applications and tools and we use many of them in our projects. With that being said, I want to take a moment and toot our own horn over here because we’ve recently been tested by Team Google and came out glowing!
We’ve been a certified Partner with Google Adwords since the program began. Through the program we help clients get the best possible return on investment with advertising campaigns on Google Search. Over the years we’ve gained a lot of experience, worked with a lot of clients and literally managed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising for clients.
That’s where the story gets interesting. Recently a client was approached by the Google Adwords team and a deal was made that if our client made a significant increase in their advertising budget, the team of experts over at Google would manage their campaign for free for 6 weeks. During that time Team Google told our client that they believed they could increase their results 10 fold over what our BP staff was producing.
The client asked me what I thought about the offer. I told him that I really hoped that they could do what they said they would, but I was a little skeptical. He went ahead and accepted the offer and the Google Team got started. I have to say that even though I have great confidence in my staff, I was a little nervous that the Google guys would make us look like amateurs. After all, these guys were from Google! Google is a fantastic company that pays top dollar for really great staff members.
It turned out I had nothing to worry about. The 6 weeks are now nearing completion. Instead of increasing their results 10 fold, the new campaign has yielded about a tenth of what the BP campaign did. Although this gives me reassurance about the quality of the service that we provide to all our clients, the downside of course is that the client was not always receiving the best possible results for their advertising dollar. That being said, I’m please that before we turned the reins over, I asked my staff members to make a backup copy of the campaign so I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to quickly get them back to the results that had previously received.
At the end of the day I have to say that I’m surprised at how this situation ended up. Probably the smart thing to do is simply mark it up to the Google Team having an off project. That being said I certainly am pleased that my staff was up to the challenge.
Please excuse me for dancing on Flash’s grave. Flash is a technology that has been used for the last 5 or 10 years to help create multi-media websites. For most of that time it was the only show in town. If you wanted a lot of animation, you didn’t have any choice but to use flash. Additionally there was a crop of poorly trained “web designers” that only knew how to build websites using flash technology, regardless if the website called for it. This lead to a whole lot of really bad websites being developed.
The problem is that Flash really isn’t a very good technology. It can be expensive to build with. It’s more work to maintain/update than tradition web development methods. Flash files can be quite large which can slow content delivery. Often Flash websites are constructed in such a way as to make websites virtually invisible to search engines. Additionally Flash is owned by Adobe who has been having a little war with Apple recently. That means that Flash elements will not display on iphones or ipads. Apple claims that Flash technology uses computer memory poorly and often causes the user’s browser to crash. With all that in mind, how can you blame me for being happy about Flash going away?
So if your web developer says that your site needs to use Flash, there is a small chance that they are right….but there is a large chance that they are wrong. Please give me a ring and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.
For years now we’ve all been told that the future of the web is mobility. Honestly I’ve heard so many things are “the future of the web” that I’m a pretty tough sell at this point. That being said, the iphone and now the ipad have given “mobility” a swift kick in the pants and we seem to be off and running in that direction. I’m now starting to believe that “mobile web” could indeed be a game-changer. Here’s a case-in-point:
My wife and I were recently driving back from a camping trip on a major freeway. Our habit when driving the family mini-van with 3 grade-school aged children is to stop and grab some food at a predictable (if boring) franchised restaurant that we can visibly see from the free way in time to pull off the appropriate ramp. This system has worked well for years although I would be first to admit that I wouldn’t mind if I never see a fast food chain restaurant again. Sooooo…. this time we were coming up on a town that my wife and I had stopped in 10 years ago (pre-kids) and I happened to remember a restaurant that we had enjoyed that was not immediately on the freeway. I jumped onto my Droid smart phone (oh so much better than an iphone in my opinion) which opened to google search. Google was able to use my Droid’s on-board GPS to see where we were and list all nearby restaurants. I quickly spotted the restaurant that I was thinking of, click on it and my phone gave us GPS enabled turn by turn directions to get there. As we rolled to a stop in front of the restaurant I realized that we NEVER would have gone there if it were not for “mobile web.” Score one for the little non-chain establishments out there that are slightly off the beaten path!
As the popularity of these high-speed Internet connected smart phones increases this will sort of thing will happen more and more often. Please drop me a line if you’d like to talk about how we might be able to use it to help your business.
The Yellow Pages see the writing on the wall. They know the phone book won’t last in its’ current incarnation so they figure, if you can’t beat them…join them. Every year for the last few years when my rep calls me up to renew phone book ads, they also pitch a couple extra things. Here’s why you shouldn’t buy online marketing services from them:
Inclusion in their online directory
Generally speaking the phone book guys try to sell these services for a flat monthly rate and they want to lock you into an annual contract. Flat fees are simply a way to try to hide that the advertising is not competitively priced. They simply don’t tell you the per-click price. Additionally if the big boys like Google don’t lock you into a long term contract, why in the world would you do it with a dinky little website like the phone book’s directory? Usually they don’t guarantee you that a single person will click through the ad to your website. Recently a client showed me a report that was provided to them as part a pitch to get the client to renew the service. The report only showed “impressions” (number of times the ad was shown to someone) and didn’t even mention click throughs. Google doesn’t charge anything at all for impressions. They are totally free. You only pay when a user clicks through and visits your website. And if all that isn’t enough to cool you off on this idea….when was the last time you needed a product or service and thought…”Gee, I think I’ll look for it on the phone book’s online directory?” Never.
Ads on Google/Yahoo/etc.
Generally speaking the model that the phone book companies use for selling search engine ads is a flat fee for a specific minumum number of visits to your site. When you do the math the cost per click is usually substantially higher than buying directly from Google. You usually have little to no control over the search phrases that are used to attract your visitors or the geographic location that the ads are shown. Of course when you buy directly from Google you have direct control over these variables and many more. Even given all that, the thing that really turns me off to this pitch is the general lack of professionalism. The pitch is usually given by a sales rep that knows little to nothing about how search engine advertising actually works. If you hire them the work is often off-shored to a firm who’s primary concern is the speed at which they complete the task not the success of the campaign.
If you are serious about getting the most bang for your buck with an online marketing campaign, talk to a professional that specializes in this area. Of course we’d love to help you out here at BP, but honestly just about anyone that claims to be a search engine marketing specialist is probably going to do a better job for you than the Yellow Pages in my experience.
I’m sure your mother taught you that “it’s not always about being first.” That being said, it seems that a lot of you have forgotten that rule when it comes to search engine ranking. When I start talking about search engines to web site owners, usually the first thing out of their mouth is that they want to show up first. To that I have a couple responses (specifically with regard to paid campaigns):
You can pretty much always be first if you want….it’s just a matter of paying for it. It is not terribly complicated to achieve. If you outbid all your competitors on your desired search phrase and Google feels that your “page quality” is as good or better than your competitors, then you WILL show up first. It will however often cost a significant amount for that privilege.
Although the general school of thought is that ranking higher means that you are getting more of an “instant gratification” type of visitor that is less likely to shop your competitors (ie more likely to buy from you), I have not always found this to be the case. As a matter of fact, I have seen many instances when the 4th place placement (often top of the right column) does very well for itself.
Most importantly, business success is not defined by Google ranking. It’s defined by profit. Much more important than an ego-driven desire for “firstness” is desire for profitability. When you work with a professional consultant, they should be able to help you find what position yields the best return on investment. One of the bonuses of that 4th position mentioned above is that it can be significantly less expensive that the first through third position.
Here’s a great 3 minute video that Google put out that explains how its search engine works. This is a great video for people who are new to search engine marketing. Please check it out and feel free to call/email our office with any questions you might have.
Kermit the frog says “it’s not easy being green,” however I beg to differ. Last week a new potential client called and asked if we would be interested in working on a website for a “green fair” that he was putting together. I thought it sounded like a good project and I set up a meeting. I was telling my wife about it and she was surprised we received the call because she didn’t perceive that our company is particularly “green.” That got me thinking.
I think there is a perception in the business community that green companies have to be “so green that it hurts” in order to genuinely be green. Then of course they need to qualify for some sort of certification to prove their green-ness. They can then proudly wear it not only as a badge of honor, but also as a notice to perceived unethical bloated resource wasters that their green company is superior. On the flip side of this there is a perception of disdain for “green washers” who trump up their claims to green-ness for marketing purposes while not truly subscribing to green ideals.
I’d like to try to do my part to break down these perceptions by submitting that there is a “new green.” Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I think it would be better described as the “old green.” It’s a common sense green that means that stewardship is important in all areas including the environment. To that end I believe there is a title wave of green businesses (a silent majority if you will) that quietly go about their daily work making significant environmental contributions that are never acknowledged.
Here is a list of “green” items that I found while conducting an audit here at bpwebdesign.com. I think the important thing to note is that I never set out to have a “green” business. I simply wanted to have a responsible business that took care of our client’s needs as well as our own. I think it’s that type of attitude that can popularize the green movement.
recycling receptacles through out the office
print-free project management system (web based)
print-free billing system (web and email based)
print-free staff time clock (web based)
staff can telecommute (saves gas and car/road wear & tear)
Modular office furniture salvaged from a closed office
Exclusive use of NiMH rechargeable batteries
Water cooler instead of bottled water
We use doors/windows and our ceiling fans more than our Air Conditioner
I’m sure I could dig up many more, however I think you get the point. Honestly I have no idea if we would qualify for some sort of green certification and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. My point here is, it’s easy and fiscally responsible to incorporate many green functions into your business, many times without really trying. So….three cheers for all you accidental greenies out there! Keep it up!
Over the years I’ve noticed a tendency for folks to build websites out of order. By that I mean that sometimes they will build before they plan, or choose a particular technology without thought to their overall goals. Your website will never achieve your goals if you don’t know what your goals are and adding flash to a website doesn’t automatically make it “cool.” With this in mind, here is a procedural list that I recommend when developing a website. Certainly there are many details that could be changed depending on your particular circumstance, but the underlying premise of planning and ordered development should stand up in most situations. Please note that all steps must always support the overall site goals.
Determine site goals
Determine general communication that needs to take place to achieve the site goals
Develop online marketing strategy (search engines, social networking, etc.)
Develop specific content and logical grouping of this information
Determine specific technologies to be used to present content
Determine the graphical needs to achieve your desired goals with your specific audience
Develop the graphic design
Build out the site shell and develop interactive programming