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With eMail Delivery Worsening When Will RSS Step In?


by Jeff Molander
jeff-at-thoughtshapers.com

We should be asking when (not if) RSS-powered technologies will be more widely adopted by advertisers considering Return Path’s recent study along with Lyris Technologies’ study... each citing large increases in “false positive filtering” of spam.  In other words, the verdict is out on e-mail delivery: users’ desired communications (i.e. from marketers and other trusted senders) is, increasingly, not getting delivered, rather is being categorized as “spam” or “bulk email.”

“Hotmail’s rate of “false positive filtering” increased from 5.6 percent in 2Q05 to 9.4 percent in the third quarter, and Gmail’s from 4.1 percent to 7.17 percent...”

and

“21 percent of permission-based emails did not reach the inbox during the first half of 2005 because they were either blocked or filtered into the junk folder, according to a new email deliverability study from Return Path.  Senders’ deliverability problems stemmed as much from their own practices (e.g., low list quality and number of complaints against the sender) as zealous blocking of emails by ISPs; blocking rates for individual mailers were as high as 54 percent.”

October 12, 2005

Emerging Technologies

Multi Channel Retailing

Interactive Business



MarketingSherpa 2005 Search Engine Benchmark Guide released


by Marty Fahncke
jeff-at-thoughtshapers.com

MarketingSherpa held a conference call today to discuss the initial results of their 2005 Search Engine Benchmark Guide.  You can download the slides from the presentation here

As to be expected from MarketingSherpa, some very enlightening things came from this briefing. Just a few key points:

Eyetracking - A compelling chart to show what people are looking at on the screen when on a search engine. (In this case, Yahoo) I was surprised at how LITTLE the paid links were viewed and clicked vs. the organic listings. Contrary to what the PPC search proponents would have you believe. Also interesting to see the pattern of what searchers look at (upper left), and what they actually click on (middle left).

Trademark use by affiliates - Clearly, the practice of letting affiliate utilize your trademarks is becoming much less common. 39% of merchants no longer allow affiliates to use trademarks, vs. 21% just eight months ago. (Slide has a misprint, purple bar should be January 05, not January 04)

SEO Agencies - One slide I had a hard time believing was the one that showed companies who launch an internal SEO strategy see a 38% lift in overall traffic, while companies who use an SEO agency see a 110% lift in traffic. Now keep in mind, agencies responded to the survey as well as marketers, so who knows how accurate this might be.  I’ve certainly never seen a 110% lift from any projects I’ve worked on where an SEO agency was brought in. Have you?

There was a lot more information contained in the slides, so I encourage you to check it out.

October 11, 2005

Resources



Googlewashing: What it is and Why Marketers Should Care


by Jeff Molander
jeff-at-thoughtshapers.com

Googlewashing is a new term used to describe a growing practice by the Almighty search engine (among others).  In practical terms, it describes a cleansing process.  You’re probably thinking. “how did Google get dirty?” In fact, its index has gotten rather filthed up over the years as many… ranging from outsourced SEOs to marketing affiliates… have tried to “game” its search algorithm by making commercial information look like non-commercial information and other technical trickery.  It is critical for all marketers and publishers of original content to pay attention to this trend as early signs indicate that Google, itself, is having a difficult time keeping track of who to index and who to de-list/purge. 

The latest e-plague, in the eyes of search engines, is being dubbed “duplicate content.” Recently, Google has begun to scrub itself clean of this unwanted phenomenon; hence, the term “Googlewashing.”

Duplicate content is largely what it sounds like: information that has an original source but can be found in many other places.  Sound like plagiarism or “syndication gone wild?” For the most part you’re starting to understand the problem for search engines.  In the simplest of terms, “too much of one specific thing in too many places” makes it difficult to distinguish the original, (hence, “good” or “high quality") information from the stolen or regurgitated stuff. 

Who steals and/or regurgitates… and why?  Yes, affiliates of all sorts have been known to.  For simplicity’s sake, here’s the skinny:

October 05, 2005

Multi Channel Retailing

Interactive Business



You Opted out of AdSense… or Did You?


by Jeff Molander
jeff-at-thoughtshapers.com

If you’re like me, you buy advertising on Google AdWords and have opted out of having your advertisements displayed across Google’s network of syndicated affiliate partners.  The syndicated product is called AdSense and features less tracking functionality than Google AdWords (i.e. you cannot track your ads to a conversion/desired action such as a purchase or sign-up).  For this, and other reasons I won’t get into here, AdSense simply isn’t of value to me (for an interesting read on pros and cons check Mark Glaser).

Does this mean that my AdWords ads won’t appear on Web pages filled with real or “fake” content?  No, it does not fellow advertisers and this means you too.  Your ads may end up here, here or here just as mine are in the case of Yahoo! Search’s ContentMatch product.

October 03, 2005

Multi Channel Retailing

Interactive Business



New Studies Show Affiliate Marketing Shrinking Among Some Marketers


by Jeff Molander
jeff-at-thoughtshapers.com

Are revenues associated with affiliate marketing programs moving beyond flat-lining and actually declining among multi-channel online retailers?  The answer would appear to be yes given my recent conversations with executive decision-makers at large and mid-sized marketers alike who, broadly speaking, report the below factors driving this phenomenon:

EXTERNAL
1) Decreased competition in organic/natural search engine listings (with affiliates; due to search engine algorithm changes that penalize search-based affiliates)
2) Increased competition in paid search advertising (with affiliates and competitors) resulting in new rules that decrease affiliate sales volume

INTERNAL
1) Decreasing expectations of affiliate marketing programs
2) Decreasing funding of affiliate programs (shrinking budgets)

To be clear, my comments focus exclusively on multi-channel retailers and direct marketers… and conversations I’ve been having via executive level consultations and/or networking at conferences. 

Decreasing Expectations
In summary, multi-channel marketers are reporting a decrease in expectation when it comes to affiliate programs as evidenced by Internet Retailer’s report released last week wherein they asked…

“How effective is affiliate marketing in generating online sales compared to other forms of marketing that you use to promote your retail web site?”

How did retailers rate affiliate marketing?

17% highly effective
20% somewhat more effective

47% about the same or slightly less effective (versus other online marketing strategies)

That’s only 37% of retail organizations suggesting that their affiliate program is more effective than other strategies.... leaving a clear majority suggesting otherwise.  In fact, an equal number (37%) told Internet Retailer that affiliate marketing was “somewhat or much less” effective.  What happened?!  Needless to say this is being under-reported in trade media yet is dramatically “off” of countless surveys past where retailers touted the pay-for-performance model as the hands-down-most-effective. 


Source: Internet Retailer Mag.

October 03, 2005

Multi Channel Retailing



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