Are customers really that dumb?

I am quite often designing new marketing collateral for several products and services.  The most recent is a 2-sided 8.5x11 page that is included with the "welcome kit" explaining what a brand new customer can expect from the service they have just signed up for. Just before going to press, the president of that company called me and asked that we put one small sentence on the bottom of each side.  Our chat conversation went much like this:

Him:    just add "See reverse side for more information."
Me:    do you really think it needs it?
Him:    yes. people are dumb.

So the question is this: Are consumers really that dumb?

I'll admit, sometimes consumers need to be helped along.  Surf the web for just a few minutes and you'll see "click here," "next," "go to," "sign up here" and similar messages plastered all over your screen.  On outdoor advertising, "Exit now," "Next exit," or "X miles ahead" are also common.  But let's put that in context.  The average time available for a driver to read an outdoor sign is 7 seconds.  On the web, it's estimated that the average time a visitor spends per page is just over 20 seconds.

What does that mean? You've got to get the customer's attention! Tell them what to do, where to go, and when to do it!  And you need to do it in no uncertain terms because if you don't, their going to miss it.

In contrast, this printed piece was being delivered to someone who has already invested time and money into this service. 

IMO: No, customers are not that dumb.

What do you think?

I recently wrote A Revolution for Tracking with Google Analytics to share with you a few advanced tools developed for Google Analytics.  Here's the ultimate source for Google Analytics Hacks, Plugins, Tips and Tools.

The Ultimate Google Analytics Plugins, Hacks & Tricks Collection - A list of 24 Hacks and plugins from Bryan Eisenberg:

"Google Analytics provides some great information about what is happening on your website. But what if you want to take it to the next level? Thanks to the many smart people who have created these wonderful hacks and plugins to get you some powerful additions to Google Analytics. Please note most of these need the truly awesome GreaseMonkey FireFox extension."

GA Hacks from Advanced Web Metrics
    Tracking social networks with Google Analytics using filters

    Tracking regional Search Engines in Google Analytics
    Updated auto tracking script for file downloads, outbound links and mailto links
    Tracking error pages from Wordpress
    Tracking links to direct downloads - Automatically

8 Awesome Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks from SearchLight Digital -  The last post you'll ever need on Google Analytics, covering ecommerce, advanced PPC keyword tracking, cross-domain analytics and more!


I was lucky enough to get one of the original Google Analytics accounts right after it was released in November 2005, just before they put a halt to the open enrollment and went to a invitation-code system. Since then, Google Analytics has definitely improved with features such as new tracking to improve over the old urchin.js, a new interface, the release of comparison reports, and even benchmarking.

Even so, there are many features that still are just a little off the mark.

Enter ROI Revolution. I've never met or worked with these guys, and am not affiliated in any way. But I can say that after reading their Unofficial Google Analytics Blog and implementing some of their Google Analytics tactics, they know what they are doing.

I suggest you click on over there and spend some time reading.  What will you get?  Advanced Google Analytics training.  That's right, figure out how to track, report, filter, or whatever else to whatever using Google Analytics. Here are a few of my top pics on their blog:

Exact Keyword Tracking with ga.js - A must have for pay-per-click marketers out there!  In the "Keywords" report for cpc medium traffic, Google Analytics doesn't report the exact search term queries.  This presents a HUGE problem if you phrase or broad match.  Read this post to find out how to generate a user-defined report of the exact queries your visitors are typing in.

Installing Website Optimizer if you use Google Analytics - If you use Website Optimizer, here's the quick and easy way to marry it with Google Analytics for the best results.

Excluding Internal Traffic the Easy Way - I visit my own websites failry often to use the CMS or administration backends, and useful tools on the public side.  A few sites I've worked on have dozens of employees who so this also.  So how can we make sure this internal traffic doesn't skew our analytics reporting?  The handy-dandy internal traffic filter.

Great explination of Google's PageRank

I just watched two videos by Rand Fishkin regarding Google's PageRank, and I think that these are easily the most succinct education about Google's Pagerank that I have seen in quite a while.

The first video, What's PageRank Got to do With It?, describes how Google uses PageRank for:
1. Crawling - How Google's spider determins what to crawl.
2. Inclusion - Divided into 2 pieces, importance and uniqueness
3. Freshness - How often content is updated, and therefore how often to re-crawl a page.
4. Ranking - how pages in Google's index are ranked.

IMO, the important comment to draw from Rand's video is that #4, Ranking, may be the least important function of PageRank, especially when anchor text, link quality, link source, etc are becoming less important or trustworth.

After the helpful education session, we can move on to Rand's next post, Whiteboard Friday - PageRank Part II.  Here's the information that you will find really useful, because Rand goes into how PageRank can help you optimize your site better.  So, rather than trying to translate the video, watch it for yourself:

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday - PageRank Part II from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

Before search as we know it, internet search engines seek help from Madison Avenue to find more users and advertisers. That's right, early search engines like Excite, Lycos and Yahoo! turned to big traditional ad agencies to find users.Over a decade and one huge role reversal later, users rely on search engines to find everything else.

And the most interesting turn of events is that digital agencies are poised to take the lead for major ad accounts away from the big boys on Madison Avenue. Brian Cross notes in his recent post Digital Agencies Are Taking the Lead that digital agencies, with a slight improvement in their overall strategy, are poised to overtake traditional agencies. He says about larger ad agencies:

"The hill is steep for them.  They are built into those old structures, and it's hard to break out of those.  These structures run deep, and no CEO blog and PR pitch that the agency is getting turned on to Digital is going to be the way to compete.  Something needs to fundamentally change."
Just last year - well after digital hit it big in the advertising world - ad executives at traditional agencies are scrambling, denying its coming, or trying to keep up in digital realm
"The digital age is bringing about fundamental changes in the way in which both the media industries and advertising agencies operate. The traditional broadcast and print media are having to reinvent their finance models in order to compensate for declining advertising revenues as advertisers chase audiences across the plethora of media platforms that are now available."
- Digital Age Transforming the Way Advertising Agencies Operate.
Not only that, but soon even traditional ad mediums will have the capability to be digital with the growing acceptance of HD Radio, Sattalinte or fiberoptic TV, even broadcast TV will be all digital in early 2009. It's not out of the question to think that all agencies will be digital agencies in the next few years.

IMO, that's not a bad thing for three main reasons:
  1. Users have more control over what advertising they are exposed to.
  2. Advertisers can plan and account for their marketing dollars more responsibly.
  3. Targeting ads and marketing will be much more focused, so the ads we are exposed to will hopefully be much more relevant.

What is your IMO?

Are Spammers Corrupting Social Media?

Max Kalehoff post SEO Spammers Are Corrupting The Social Media Commons in the Online Spin section for MediaPost suggests that 

"...all the businesses that blindly hire such SEO spammers should be held accountable. Businesses and affiliate marketers that turn a blind eye or knowingly fund such practices are nothing more than enablers. They should also be blacklisted in a universal database. They’re corrupting our social media commons."
Wow, a harsh judgment to be sure, although it may not bee too off base.  But where is the line?  Just read the few comments already posted to Max's blog and you'll see that, although they agree, most people consider any form of regulation to be a slippery slope.

I've seen the same thing in the blogs that I have managed in the past.  It's been increasingly common to see a quick "great idea" or "you hit the nail on the head" comments to a posting, and then see anchor text and a link in the signature line that greatly outweighs the actual comment.

IMO, blogs are already set up to self-regulate.  Moderate your comments, delete spam, and keep quality comments.  Sure, some bloggers may whine about the added time and effort that it takes to regulate your comments and weed out the crap spammers are posting, but what's the saying... "No pain, no gain."

(By the way, this IS a blog, and I DO accept comments.  I am not suggesting anything that I myself am not willing to be a part of).

What do you think?  Is social media corrupted by spam? What should be done?  All comments are welcomed.  Even if all you say is, "great idea!"

Matt McGee at recently posted Study: Fortune 500 Doesn’t Get SEO.  The report suggests that a majority of Fortune 500 companies rank extremely poor in natural search for keywords that they heavily advertise on. 

"With very few exceptions our research found that Fortune 500 companies are doing an extraordinarily poor job of ensuring that their ‘money’ keywords are even moderately well represented in natural search."
- Natural Search Trends of the Fortune 500 Q3-2008, by Conductor, Inc.
Does this mean small and mid-sized companies have found a way to compete with - and outperform - the corporate giants?  In fact, the internet has leveled the playing field for companies of all sizes has been around for over a decade.  Many have considered natural search as the great equalizer for years, also.

But consider this: poor performance displayed by these large, sucessful companies is not necessarily due to incompetence.  I can think of one specific reasons that may explain the lack of visibility among large companies: lack of trying.

IMO, there is room for interpretation because of the 'money' keywords this report focuses on.  Forture 500 companies are spending money on these keywords with excellent results using search engine marketing, which provides much more controllable, trackable, and immediate results than natural search. 

And that would mean only one thing. Beware small and mid-sized compaines.  Once the Fortune 500 underperformers wake up and reach into their wallets to allocate the funds and resources to natural search optimization, we all may catch it right in the SERP.

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