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marketing strategies, insights, and opinions that matter.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Direct Marketing Planning Tool Reviewed

My ROI calculator -- designed for b2b marketers seeking assistance in calculating campaign and annual marketing plan ROI -- was just reviewed in Sales and Marketing Management Magazine in a review entitled "Charting ROI on the fly."

Here's an excerpt:

"Measuring return-on-investment may never qualify as a fun endeavor, but thanks to homme6, it's now become a much easier one to undertake."

Visit for more information and to purchase the spreadhsheet tool.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Marketing ROI and Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI) Book Reviews

After a two year hiatus, I am pleased to report that I am back to blogging. The topic today: brief book reviews for 'Marketing ROI, The Path to Campaign, Customer, and Corporate Profitability,' and 'Return on Marketing Investment, Demand More from Your Marketing and Sales Investments.'

Marketing ROI, by James D. Lenskold'

Marketing ROI aims to serve as a comprehensive reference for marketers to understand marketing ROI formulas and principles and apply marketing ROI.

In my opinion, this books is meant exclusively for senior marketers - marketing directors to VPs of Marketing - as well others in executive management, and primarily for larger Fortune 500 type companies.

The strengths of this particular book are its areas of focus on the foundation of marketing ROI principles, outlines of key financial concepts, identifying where ROI measurements go wrong, analyzing investment and return patterns - acquisition and retention, assessing ROI thresholds, reinforcing the marketing manager's responsibility for campaign performance, and reviewing issues that are prevalent within larger corporate settings.

This is worth the cost of investment, but additional information would be useful in any future editions - more detailed implementation tactics, strategies for small and mid-market companies, and emphasizing in greater detail the decision making trees for acquisition and retention, and direct marketing ROI forecasting.

Want to know if this book is right for you?
Here are some keywords from the book: ROI, profitability, formula, methodolgies, CRM, financial concepts, point-of-decision perspective, incremental measures, calculating return and investment, customer lifetime value, acquisition and retention, cross sell and loyalty, campaign metrics, marketing budgets, multilevel ROI measurements, benchmarking, market resting, customer segment investment strategies, the Marketing ROI Control Panel

Return on Marketing Investment, by Guy R. Powell

Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) was developed to deliver tools and methodologies that tie successful marketing communications and sales programs together. It is meant for any sized organization, but will be particularly relevant to marketers at small to mid-market companies - marketing managers and upwards/director-to-VP and downwards/associates-to-coordinators -- as well as less analytics- and technology-driven companies.

The strength of this book is practicality, which translates into instant usability by the reader post-reading. The strongest sections and topics covered in the book are its program selection guide, its risk comparison overview for marketing tactics, its section on the appropriate allocation of funds between different marketing programs, sales alignment messages, and its ROMI Hurdle Rate Calculation Worksheet, and Return on Marketing Investment Calculation Worksheet. The examples given are also practical and extremely useful in "showing" the concepts presented.

The only suggestions I'd have for improving this book would be to present marketing ROI decision making trees, to look at benchmarks and present industry data, and to present a case study briefing on going from zero marketing ROI calculations to a successful implementation. A greater emphasis on the importance of research and marketing ROI forecasting would also be good.

Want to know if this book is right for you?
Here are some keywords from the book:
ROMI, accountability, measuring risk, hurdle rates, acquisition, retention, markting nirvana, calculation worksheet, expenditure, investment, yield, budgeting, hit rates, invest more or less, budgeting process, sales lead generation, risk factors, marcom programs, brand awareness, tradeshow, PR, direct mail, advertising, e-mail, telemarketing, telesales, contribution margin, fixed costs, competitive pressures, growing markets, costs for cost centers, cash basis vs. accrual accounting, tracking revenue and costs, sales feedback, tool, web, cross-selling

marketing forecasting, marketing ROI, sales analysis calculators, homme6, B2B direct marketing response rate calculator, bookings forecast calculator, forecasting marketing, campaign ROI measurement calculations, marketing campaign ROI spreadsheet, excel ROI calculator, forecast per lead calculators

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Monday, September 11, 2006

21st Century Marketing Defined....Simply.

Marketing has changed profoundly in the last 5-10 years, fueled by advances in data accessibility, targeting capabilities, technology-enabled interactivity, etc. It is no longer the marketing of old, before the Internet and the advent of brand management. Spend five minutes looking at job postings of today and compare versus your recollection (or your paper archives, if you've beeen around long enough!) and you'll see what I mean.

So, how should "marketing" be defined in this day and age?

But first, you may ask why this matters....well, it matters in as much as it has become a driver of the business-world of today that many of us now live in for up to 12 hours a day and six or seven days a week. It also embodies aspects that have permeated the entire non-work ecosystem that we live in as "consumers."

So, back to the question at hand: marketing defined. To describe it in a simple, straight-forward fashion (hint: think "what would you tell your grandma" simple), and taking account of its most fundamental components and functions, then my definition of marketing is as follows:

A function of building relationships, demand, interest, and/or sales for a brand, utilizing: segmented audience targeting and engagement, words, numbers/data, data capture and measurement techniques, analysis and pattern recognition, and iterative planning.

Of critical importance for marketers like me are the two variables : data and words. Critical for the offline world and connecting with targeted audiences, and critical for the online world of search and promotions.

Compare this from definitions on Wikipedia:


* Marketing, as suggested by the American Marketing Association, is "an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders".[1]

* Another definition, perhaps simpler and more universal, is this: "Marketing is the ongoing process of moving people closer to making a decision to purchase, use, follow...or conform to someone else's products, services or values. Simply, if it doesn't facilitate a "sale" then it's not marketing."[2]

* Philip Kotler in his earlier books defines as: "Marketing is human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange processes". Add to Kotler's and Norris' definitions, a response from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) [3]. The association's definition claims marketing to be the "management process of anticipating, identifying and satisfying customer requirements profitably". Thus, operative marketing involves the processes of market research, new product development, product life cycle management, pricing, channel management as well as promotion.

All three definitions are somewhat abstract. Two of the three describe only the pursuit of marketing, but do not present the methods. The third definition, from the reputable Kotler described methodology but at an extremely high macro-level. The variables that I've presented in my definition all apply to the Kotler version, but provides marketers and non-marketers alike with something more tangible to grasp.

It is my hope that the definition of marketing continues to evolve within industry and academia into a more suitable form, one that captures its true nature of the science and the art that ties business to its various audiences. For marketers, reminding ourselves of these basic building blocks is ideal. So whether you're spreading the marketing bug to junior cohorts or simply planning the next marketing campaign and you remember to start with your segmented audience profiles and move to keywords that will resonate with them and the audience of search engines, hopefully this fundamental reminder serves you well.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Websites - 70 Practical Tips from Ian Palmer

I had an all too quick vacation to the Pacific Northwest and a quick jaunt out to Taiwan recently, but I'm back!

For this post, I'm not going to jump on my blogsoapbox regarding the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), prospect and online data capture, the power of content, and online or web marketing in general.

What I will do, however, is share with you all a running list of items that I know to be important when creating or re-tooling a website according to SEO best practices.

Please use this if you are marketer, web designer, web developer, editoral staff member, product or brand manager, or just a geek like me looking to do things right. We live in a world of convergence, so we must do our part to make it work.

Finally, if you've gotten lost and found your way to this website, feel free to add your two cents.

- Ian Palmer

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION - A Quick checklist of 70 dos and donts to consider.
(Warning: lengthier than a normal top-10 SEO tips & without technical explanations or prioritization by importance - I'm not doing all of your work!)
1. create a list of keywords & key phrases for each page that already exists, and create a list for any new pages BEFORE starting content

2. ensure that keywords and phrases are used in content, particularly near the top paragraphs, in page titles (browser and on the page), as well as in any meta description or meta tag fields in the source code

3. label all images with keywords that describe whatever is on the image

4. include meta tags and a meta description for as many pages as possible

5. create a site map with hyperlinks to other pages or sections; create google site index too

6. create your website in thematic sections as much as possible

7. For dynamic pages:
- 1,000 or fewer characters in URL
- 2 or fewer dynamic paramaters
- no session identifiers usually displayed as 'ID=...',
- ensure spider path to every valid product number if you have a catalog
- rewrite urls, especially critical ones to ensure key identifiers/words used

8. try to avoid javascript as much as possible or meta-refresh redirects; if using javascript then move from web page to an extended file

9. use 302 redirects for vanity urls (e.g. marketing campaign for if redirect to another url)

10. keep to 100,000 character limit per page (for Google and Yahoo!)

11. test and measure as much as possible; if re-vamping a current site then measure-test-measure-test-etc.

12. when measuring effectiveness, use search results rankings, traffic analyses, site search results, log files, data from web analytics packages (entry pages, exit pages, paths, funnels, etc.).

13. make sure all (current) pages are indexed in search engines and are not banned; use Google "", MarketLeap tools, or others; CALCULATE inclusion ratio vs. total, and use this to measure improvement in a dashboard

14. create a dashboard of metrics - SEO projects will be lengthier than ongoing metrics

15. ensure spiders are visiting the site

16. check if other sites are linking to you, enact a linking campaign to recruit links, and ensure links back to you include your company and product name and keywords NOT just

17. check site for major internet browsers and versions

18. if not listed in search engines then manually submit, but DON'T oversubmit or use all-in-one submission software

19. create a search engine site checklist for creating webpages to complement keywords and key phrases

20. consider / model the ROI from a Yahoo! paid inclusion program which will include you in the search results versus the paid advertising portions; uses an XML feed

21. add site search to your site: critical to helping prospects and customers (more important than search engines, since they've already found you!) find what they want and provide you with data on what they're looking for

22. eliminate spider traps and create spider-friendly paths and links

23. reduce ignored content

24. use robot.txt on pages you don't want search engines to follow: important so as not to include useless pages, to become spider traps, and to use up your currency for paid analytics web pages

25. create page, section and site templates

26. create/use a metatag for language (e.g. English)

27. keep urls shorter if possible with not too many levels

28. create webpages and optimization plans by (measurable) objectives

29. build your website and optimize pages based on user groups / is all about segmentation and personalized messaging

30. don't use words that are too hot or too generic

31. if optimizing campaigns, tie keywords across both campaign copy, search engine marketing (SEM) copy, and web page copy

32. understand your keywords and phrases - multiple audiences? multiple meanings? multiple intents? singular vs. plural? variations? etc.

33. validate site html to make sure no errors and no broken links

34. add text links at bottom of key pages, ordered in terms of importance

35. Google: free xml rss feeds (hint: on sections with reguarly new content added, for example blogs and press releases!)

36. audiences: customers & prospects, search engines, and possibly a salesforce if you have one (e.g. business-to-business B2B instead of business-to-consumer B2C)

37. as part of metrics, include organic search rankings, search referrals, and web conversions

38. back your way into your page creation or re-creation: check and not page ranks in search engines for each keyword (and more importantly phrases)

39. ensure keywords in title of page - the fewer the keywords the greater the density and impact, so be selective

40. keywords: bold keywords where it makes sense on the site since this is an indicator to search engines about increased importance, just like hyperlinks are; keyword frequency also matters as well as prominence (in first 25 words, near top, high density, etc.)

41. have a call to action in mind and identified on each page: this is optimization for humans. what do you want them to do or what do you want accomplished? links, buttons, actions, should all be clearly identified here

42. dynamic pages can be difficult but have benefits, for example are good for trusted feeds. optimize through the addition of titles, custom description fields, etc.

43. create hub or authority pages (text from...links to...) - related sites, site with lots of traffic, etc.

44. perform a link audit of your site: to, from, text in links, location of links vs. ideal location, missing links, etc.; list business partners and trade associations

45. ensure marketing, product teams, community/pr, and any editorial departments or divisions are aligned and communicate

46. keep description tag to 150 characters per page (a larger and still acceptable range is 100-200)

47. develop a link strategy for your site and understand what each click reports in any post-click analysis (call to action)

48. if using cascading style sheets (css) then make sure not too big, use few images, and add alt text to images

49. understand your off-the-page factors (e.g. link popularity)

50. set objectives and ROI estimates for any SEO or SEM work; marketing is a science as much as an art

51. if you don't have the expertise in-house, know that your options are: firm, individual consultant, offshore such as India

52. for large website development or multi-department authorization, utilize wireframes before creating webpages, to support strategic early stage discussions so as not to waste time and money on aesthetic execution, etc.; wireframes allow for talking points on a page-by-page objective basis

53. create 'person paths' - keywords, key phrases, topics of interest, what they need to know

54. before creating content and site architecture, understand each customer type and the buying process: current versus ideal

55. include customers/prospects in any major SEO projects or website re-design/re-architecure

56. add new content often

57. remove bad/unused content (if moving it or paths to it don't make an impact)

58. text content should be greater than html

59. use text links instead of images where possible

60. use heading tags where possible, start with H1, if H1 is too big use CSS, follow H1 by text or graphics instead of H2 where possible

61. use hyphens (-) NOT underscors (_) to separate words in directories

62. ensure the web server and service provider have 99.9% or higher uptimes - this is critical

63. don't use flash when possible, especially on homepages

64. keep design aspects simple (sounds basic, but trust me!)

65. absolutely do NOT use black hat SEO tricks

66. review other sites and see what they do, particularly those at the top of results pages that you'd like to be at for keywords or key phrases

67. study, study, and study more - keep on top of seo/sem news, tips & tricks, etc.

68. do not use frames, doorway pages, multiple pages, subdomains or pages with duplicate content

69. if you delete or move pages, use a redirect

70. make sure all links on the site work

Okay, that's all for now. Here are a few links (not using anchor text or keywords this time!) for your additional viewing pleasure...and utilization!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Audience Types for B2B Marketing

A quick pre-4th post...was cleaning up my library tonight and found notes I'd made during a few good reads lately. One, in particular, caught my eye - the three major audiences for those in marketing within most mainstream B2B organizations. The first audience and first audience sub-category below being the most important, of course:

1. Customers/Prospects
a. Existing Customers
b. Potential Customers
c. Former Customers
2. Sales Teams
3. Search Engines

Perhaps the most underrated unifier within a strong market management program is CONTENT. Content that educates, influences, persuades, engages, and motivates. It is applicable to all audiences. Many marketers and non-marketers (even in the executive rank) underestimate or don't even bother to think about content as a critical-to-success factor in a company's marketing and financial success.

My two cents for the night...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Better/Alternative Way to Market Automobiles?

Okay, after a long hiatus...I'm back. Was taking a stroll through Brentwood today with my colleague Karl S. during lunch. Somehow we wandered onto the topic of cars and marketing.

My two cents.....

From my outside-the-industry/consumer perspective, automobile "push" marketing is primarily split into three segments: (1) brands targeting existing owners, (2) mass marketing to potential owners based on demographics from media outlets, and increasingly (3) online and experiental marketing.

Kudos for #1 and #3 above, for the segmenting by #1 hits the loyalty segment while #3 leverages the power of the Internet for enhanced targeted....thus driving more specific messaging, promotional call to actions, etc., to increase the likelihood of a greater return-on-marketing (ROM).

As for #2, in the brisk walk I was on it dawned on me "wouldn't it make sense to get them in the car?" Most consumers may not be committed to the idea of buying and therfore, not committed to dealing with a local salesman should we want to actually test drive and kick the tires of a new automobile, whether a BMW, Hummer, Mini Cooper, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Hyundai Santa Fe, etc.

So....why not try to get them in with free or discounted day or weekend rentals. Not only could they test drive it, but they could actually "use" it - transporting items, picking up others, etc., and really EXPERIENCE the ride. The concept is simple: strike a business development deal with a rental car company (e.g. Enterprise Rent-A-Car "we pick you up"), find a list of auto owners for autos 5+ years old (e.g. banks and financing cos.), offer the promotion with tie in to financing co. for whatever special financing offer, follow-up with respondents after the car rental, and have a real list of targeted prospects and additional market research.

I confess that I am not an auto industry marketing professional, but I would love the opportunity to crunch some numbers and pass the idea by a focus group or trusted group of individuals who've agreed to be contacted for research to see if this concept had legs in this form or a variation.

That's all for now. Until next posting....

Ian Palmer

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Revival of the Lowest Common Denominator

Can you guess what DHL, Travelocity, and Citi have in common? Well, as you guessed, I plan to tell you.

Besides the obvious fact that they are service providers, they have all brought back the theme of better or guaranteed service in recent campaigns as part of overall brand re-positioning.

DHL touted the fact that service is back in the shipping business. Travelocity has the 'Travelocity Guarantee' that your orders will be correct without fail, and Citi now offers a credit card that helps you to better manage your account by being able to press '0' on your telephone to speak with a real person.

These occurrences and their success are all very interesting from a strategic marketing perspective. I say this because it defies so many of the assumptions that are so frequently clung to by marketers in industry and academia.

This includes the belief that service businesses must provide a certain level of quality to stay in business, however quality may be defined: speed, personalization, reliability, etc. Many agency folk, academics in higher education, and more senior-level literature on the matter assume that this is the lowest common denominator for business survival and therefore are not uniquely viable long-term positoning strategies.

In the fact of technologically-optimized (read: computer automated) businesses and increased outsourcing, it will be interesting to see if "better service" remains viable in campaigns or actually finds itself defying textbook strategy and becoming a pillar of successful brands and their overt positioning and messaging platforms.