By Caroline Ramos | Director, Client Services
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts focusing on best practices for lead generation in the online education industry.
Year after year universities struggle with enrollment rates. At the same time marketers are testing new advertising channels, shifting budgets, designing new creative assets and everything in between to reach that seemingly elusive enrollment goal.
But why is nothing changing? Why are enrollment rates dropping after all that investment in time, money and effort?
It’s simple, really: The ﬁrst point of contact is your ﬁrst impression and it can make or break the success of a prospect’s enrollment. The best advertising campaign in the world is frustratingly useless if the admissions process deters prospective students.
Many universities with large marketing budgets fail to focus on what’s happening right under their nose, and in most cases, right down the hallway. I have seen everything from a first point of contact being a direct-mail piece to callbacks that occur two weeks after an online information request is submitted.
A successful online marketing campaign for a college or university isn’t just measured by a conversion rate. Performance marketing in education requires three critical components to be successful:
- High-quality traffic sources: You need to have traffic (students) who are interested in learning more about a particular school.
- Optimized creative: A high-quality landing page, great email design and banner ads that really catch the eye of prospective students.
- Structured workflow: A cohesive admissions process that is ready to work a lead. (more…)
By Giles McGrath | @GilesMcGrath | Creative Director
Last year there were a plethora of logo changes across many major businesses. In the case of American Airlines, not every logo change is welcomed by customers or the general public.
Logo changes can play a major role in developing a new image for your company, but not all logo changes require major design changes; just ask the Minnesota Vikings.
Recently, MediaWhiz Creative Director Giles McGrath took some time to answer questions related to the benefits – and potential pitfalls – of brands redesigning their logos. He also offered some best practices you can use to ensure the successful redesign of your logo.
1) How do you know when it’s really time for a redesign and that you’re not just listening to others who say you need a new logo? How do you make your new logo/branding stand out?
There is no simple answer as to when a logo should be redesigned. Often companies will undertake a redesign prematurely. Some questions brands should ask themselves prior to undertaking a redesign include:
- How does my logo reflect on my brand positioning and personality of my business?
- Is my logo still unique in the market?
- Has the focus of my business changed?
- Would a new logo reflect the new direction of my business? (more…)
By Marc Purtell | Director, SEO
Today, we released a new eBook on content marketing. Titled, “Content Marketing Like a Pro,” the report outlines the key pillars to content marketing and advises marketers on best practices for crafting and executing successful content marketing programs.
This eBook also provides a framework marketers can use to improve their brand’s SEO and generate leads via a content marketing program.
When consumers first encounter a brand digitally it’s not always the brand’s website that makes the first impression. What makes the greatest impression is the authority of the brand’s website measured by where it ranks when a consumer searches.
Content marketing is a method to build this authority and rank.
Learn how to use content marketing to generate leads and improve your brand’s SEO with MediaWhiz’s new eBook, “Content Marketing Like a Pro.” (more…)
By Keith Trivitt | @KeithTrivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
An article written by Marc Purtell, director of SEO at MediaWhiz, and published Nov. 20, 2012, in Search Engine Journal, has been honored with a “Best of SEJ” award for 2012. Titled, “SEO in 2013: The Rising Influence of AuthorRank,” it was the most-read article on Search Engine Journal in November, according to the publication’s editors.
In honoring Purtell with the “Best of SEJ” distinction, former Search Engine Journal Editor-in-Chief Phil Butler described the article as an “insightful look at the emerging value of authors in search [that] from one of the industry’s most knowledgeable authors, or a super digitally influential company, MediaWhiz.”
Below is an excerpt of the article.
SEO in 2013: The Rising Influence of AuthorRank
By Marc Purtell | Director, SEO | @MarcPurtell
When considering major trends that will impact SEO in 2013 it’s clear that AuthorRank will play an increasingly important role in marketers’ search and SEO strategies.
PageRank has long been the standard high-level metric used to identify the relative quality of a Web page. There is arguably limited value in using PageRank as a quality metric over the last few years, but it can still be meaningful in conjunction with other quality metrics (i.e. domain authority, page authority, etc.)
In 2013 a new quality metric will take the spotlight when it comes to page quality and search engine ranking. This metric is affectionately known as AuthorRank (or Agent Rank, according to Google’s patent).
Here’s why AuthorRank will help reshape SEO in 2013:
AuthorRank: A Brief Overview
Content quality, as measured by search engines, is no longer based solely on the authority of a domain or Web page. It is increasingly based on the reputation and authority of the individual that authored the content. This reputational score grades authors on the Web and used that grade when ordering natural search engine results.
Read the full piece at Search Engine Journal.
By Marc Purtell | @MarcPurtell | Director, SEO
Every webmaster’s and SEO professional’s nightmare is seeing a sudden plummet of those hard-earned Google rankings. The chaos that ensues in trying to pinpoint just what happened is never a welcomed experience.
The good news is that Google has been as transparent as ever in recent months. It offers new information, tools and methods to help webmasters beg for mercy, such as Webmaster Tools alerts, re-inclusion requests and the Link Disavow tool.
Begging for mercy isn’t always the best course of action, however, depending on the circumstances of the issues surrounding the drop in ranking. It should be a last resort once you have identified the reason for the issues with a great deal of certainty, done everything possible to resolve the issues and still don’t see a positive result. In order to take the right course of action after a Google manual review, the first step is to know if a manual review actually took place.
By Peter Klein | SVP, Media Services
There’s no doubt that performance marketing is a significant force in online marketing, and will continue to grow. What will 2013 have in store for the performance marketing industry? As I see it, there are four key trends that will influence performance marketers’ work in the new year:
1. More brands will invest in performance marketing. The 2012 IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report indicates that more than two-thirds of all marketing transactions will be paid for on a performance basis. Total U.S. spend on performance marketing will grow by almost $5 billion, to $25 billion in online advertising revenue, versus 2011 spend. This indicates that performance marketing will continue to dominate the online ad-spend model. Brands that consistently miss their online marketing ROI targets will comprise the majority of new spend on performance marketing campaigns, as they seek to take advantage of the industry’s guaranteed results. Traditional agencies will continue to focus on branding for their clients in the digital space, and farm out performance marketing budgets to trusted affiliate networks and marketers.
2. Lead quality and compliance take center stage. As brands continue to invest their marketing dollars in performance marketing, they will place increasing pressure on performance marketers to achieve their investment goals. The SaaS and lead quality product market will blossom. These two dynamic sectors of online markets will help advertisers pay for only top-quality leads, enabling performance marketers to get paid appropriately for such quality. The government will continue to get involved in online marketing regulations, such as Do Not Track legislation, and more states will attempt to pass nexus tax laws. Efforts will likely be minimally intrusive, and the industry will push for self-regulation efforts as a means to limit involvement.
3. Mobile lead-gen has its moment in the sun. Mobile marketing will become a much larger piece of the advertising budget in 2013. eMarketer forecasts 138 million smartphone users in the U.S. next year, comprising 43% of the total population. It will be critical for advertisers to optimize websites and create shorter lead-generation forms with click-to-call for mobile devices. In our “always on” world, consumers need instant gratification from the brands they allow into their online world. Advertisers that provide consumers with access to immediate customer service will win their business.
4. Consolidation of media channels. A larger premium will be placed on internal media sources to provide quality and consistency. As such, the lead-generation industry will see a continued and more aggressive consolidation of affiliate networks. Many affiliates will merge with or acquire one or more of their affiliate media sources. Specifically, many mailers and media buyers will join forces with networks to increase margin, reduce compliance risk and deliver on allocated budget to survive and create a competitive advantage.
By Peter Klein | SVP, Media Services
Editor’s note: The following post was originally published at CMO.com.
Long dismissed as a niche form of online marketing, performance marketing has become a multibillion-dollar force in the digital-media ecosystem. For CMOs, performance marketing, of which affiliate marketing comprises the largest share of revenue growth, is no longer a marketing strategy that can be ignored or delegated to junior-level marketing managers. It is now a driving force behind many brands’ online growth and customer-acquisition efforts. As such, it requires CMOs’ devout attention to properly use and scale in order to realize long-term customer-acquisition value.
The rise of affiliate marketing, and its growing influence with digital marketers, is no accident.
Affiliate marketing has existed for more than a decade. It helps advertisers achieve their ROI goals by using publishers (affiliates) to conduct their marketing efforts via multiple media channels on a pay-for-performance basis.
Affiliate marketing can be used for any vertical, brand, company, language, time frame, or demographic. Importantly, it is a useful testing ground for CMOs who desire online marketing channel options, instant gratification, speed, and a clear measurement of return on advertising spend (ROAS) or return on marketing (ROM) investment. In fact, many affiliate marketers are experts in industry metrics and traffic sources, and can help CMOs develop campaigns based on long-term brand and customer-acquisition. This is critical as the industry evolves into a larger mobile-consumer target.
But affiliate marketing’s benefits extend beyond lead generation. Affiliate marketing professionals and networks are at the forefront of innovative online marketing campaigns. The rise of social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pandora, were largely built on affiliate marketing ad spend revenues.
Every brand in the digital age needs a strong lead-generation component to its online marketing strategy. Affiliate marketing is CMOs’ answer to that need.
Read the rest of the article at CMO.com.
The benefits of affiliate marketing are more thoroughly explained in a new MediaWhiz insight paper from, “The CMO’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing.” It outlines critical steps CMOs should take to begin working with an affiliate; defines core terminology; and information on why it is critical for CMOs to invest some of their marketing spend in the affiliate marketing channel.
Will “nonline” shopping help thrwart the negative retail effects of showrooming?
By Keith Trivitt | @KeithTrivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
As the 2012 holiday shopping season heats up, one trend many marketers and analysts will closely monitor is the concept of “showrooming.” Showrooming occurs when consumers try out merchandise in stores then go online to buy them, often at a discounted price.
Fifty-six percent of American consumers are expected to participate in some aspect of showrooming this holiday season, according to Mobile Marketer.
Showrooming is driving many brick-and-mortar retailers crazy as they attempt to thwart the effects of Amazon and other online retailers on their bottom line. It’s also causing several well-known global retail giants, including Best Buy, to seriously rethink the physical size and make-up of their stores.
So what’s a savvy retailer marketer to do in the wake of showrooming’s rise and dominance of commerce?
The marketing geniuses at Google might just have the answer. After surveying 1,500 holiday consumers about their shopping habits, Google has found that the “lines between online and offline commerce are blurring,” according to Direct Marketing News. Google details these findings in its recently released Pre-Holiday 2012 Consumer Intentions study.
Despite dire predictions within marketing ranks that consumers would start to skip physical stores entirely in favor of online shopping, Google’s study finds that isn’t the case. In fact, the distinction between online and offline shopping are disappearing.
The concept is called “nonline” shopping. And it may harken the next great wave in-store shopper marketing.According to the Google study, 51 percent of surveyed consumers intend to research a product online and visit the store to buy it; 32 percent plan on researching an item online, inspecting it in the store and then retreating back online to complete the transaction.
“I think the whole concept of nonline is customers are connected to brands at all times of the day, and they’re going to choose how they want to interact and, at the end of the day, purchase,” Brett Goffin, Google’s retail head of industry, told DMNews. “The retailers who understand that are going to be ones in the long-term that, we believe, are going to succeed.”
‘Nonline’ Shopping’s Lessons for Marketers
The Google study presents a multitude of insights for digital and shopper marketers.
According to Google’s Goffin two factors are contributing to the blurring of offline and online shopping: consumers’ rising comfort with online shopping and their decreased fears over online credit-card fraud. (more…)
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of an interview with Jeremy Leonard, SVP of strategy and operations at MediaWhiz, that was published Oct. 9, 2012, in Website Magazine. Read the full interview here.
If you’re looking for an edge (and who isn’t) check out Website Magazine‘s interview of Jeremy Leonard, the SVP of Strategy and Operations at digital media agency MediaWhiz and a real whiz when it comes to conversion optimization.
Numerous well-known names fill the MediaWhiz client roster including Nielsen, Home Depot, Discover and many others – and Leonard’s experience with these brands and their challenges shines through in the interview below, providing Website Magazine readers with compelling insights into high-level lead generation and conversion optimization, some guidance on the debate over form length, and how traffic quality and mobile devices are forcing advertisers to shift their approach quickly.
WM: FOR THOSE IN OUR AUDIENCE THAT AREN’T FAMILIAR WITH MEDIAWHIZ, DISCUSS THE AGENCY’S ROLE IN THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE.
JL: MediaWhiz is an integrated digital media agency that works with brands to help them more profitably engage, acquire and retain customers. Clients include a broad range of leading advertisers such as Unilever, Nielsen, CarpetONE, The Lasik Vision Center, Home Depot, Discover and First PREMIER Bank.
Historically an online performance marketing agency we have evolved into a digital customer acquisition agency focused on direct response and lead generation. We have practice areas in affiliate marketing, search, creative display advertising, email, data acquisition and social media.
WM: WHY SHOULD AN AGENCY (OR ANYONE) BE CONCERNED WITH CONVERSION OPTIMIZATION WITHIN LEAD GENERATION SPECIFICALLY?
JL: Great question with several compelling answers:
Everyone should be concerned with conversion optimization for a very simple reason: consumer traffic to your website isn’t free. Even if your site traffic is coming from SEO or Facebook “Likes,” you spend time and money to generate that traffic. Marketers should naturally demand a return on that investment. That ROI should be in the form of consumers completing a specific call-to-action. In the world of lead generation, that call-to-action will be in the form of a qualified lead or sale.
Some advertisers may look at lead generation specifically and think, “Well, I’m only paying a publisher for a lead – why would I need to go to the trouble of making a site optimize properly? I don’t pay for anyone who doesn’t convert.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Performance-based lead generators have hundreds of advertising offers that they can run to their display inventory, drop to their email lists or make SEM bids. The offer represented by your website is no better than if the publisher can’t generate a fair return on its media investment.
Poorly converting sites will result in a high number of clicks but a low number of leads; this instantly tells the publisher that the problem is not with its traffic but with your site. Your offer will be taken out of rotation, and you will be lucky if anyone sends traffic to your site again.
Read the rest of the interview here.
By Sultan Riaz | @Riaz_MediaWhiz | Marketing Coordinator
Programmatic buying and premium display advertising were a big a topic of discussion this week at MediaPost’s OMMA Premium Display conference. Keith Trivitt, director of marketing and communications at MediaWhiz, moderated a panel, “Battling The Transformers – Can Media Maintain Its Value Against The New Ad Machine?” which focused on the state of premium display advertising among high-end publishers.
The panel was stacked with an all-star cast of speakers, including:
- Andrew Sollinger, Managing Director, The Americas, Financial Times
- Jason Oates, President, LiveIntent
- Bill Rowley, SVP, Business Development & Publishing, Martini Media
- Kathryn Kulik, Global SVP, Media Sales, CBS Interactive
- Kristine Welker, Chief Revenue Officer, Hearst Magazines Digital Media
- Premium display advertising is clearly helping publishers and advertisers adapt to their customers’ needs.
- Programmatic buying will not be completely eliminated from a company’s budget.
- The appropriate balance must be found between publishers using programmatic buying to sell their low-end display inventory and meeting the high end of the premium online advertising market.
- According to the Andrew Sollinger, managing director, The Americas, of the Financial Times, the biggest issue for publishers will be “moving [advertisers] from programmatic to premium.”
- Although ad exchanges and networks are beneficial to high-end publishers, the best way to keep advertisers happy it to focus on what they want; and what they want is premium display advertising that is designed with value to the consumer in mind.
High-end publishers and brands continue to value premium display advertising, even as the sector gets squeezed at the margins.
Here’s a recap of what was a spirited 45-minute discussion about premium display advertising.
Programmatic Buying: Friend or Foe?
While all panelists agreed that programmatic buying is an important, if not vital, aspect of the business, they differed on its impact on the value of premium display advertising. “Custom premium is here to stay,” noted the FT’s Sollinger.
Through the discussion the point being driven is that premium display advertising is focused on the consumer and provides content that both consumers and advertisers want. “Premium display starts with the consumer or it won’t work. Ad experience needs to be built around the customer,” according to Katerine Kulik, global senior vice president of media sales at CBS Interactive’.