It's Friday: Honesty, Transparency and Lessons From Direct Mail

The Week in Search

The importance of honesty and what we can learn from traditional marketing.

Agency Transparency and Tech Crunch Says Oops (Again...)

A big topic this week has been regarding transparency and openness. Here at WordStream, the marketing team got together to discuss our own policy for disclosure, specifically for blog posts. If we find something that works in search marketing, should we share it with our audience as a helpful find and newsworthy topic or are we giving away a trade secret? When weighing reward (interesting topics generate more blog visitors and WordStream coverage) against risk (consider what happens if the strategy gets adopted by the masses and suddenly it's no longer such a great tip), how much transparency is too much?
Are you being honest enough with your business?

Dave Fleet wrote a great post yesterday titled Social Media Agencies and Tranparency and there are thoughtful comments that follow the post as well. Considering the number of scammers out there (check out our blog post on Google scams and the danger of search agencies that promise a first page listing on Google) while also taking into account the need for a business' strategy to remain proprietary, how much should you know about what your pay-per-click agency is doing with your search or social media campaigns? Dave's view is that agencies can be transparent in execution without sacrificing strategy, but even that may not be a viable long term solution. If your agency wants to maintain a client long-term, is "teaching him to fish" the perfect way to work your way out of a job? It all comes back to figuring out what you want.

We put together a suggested SEM agency checklist to make sure you've done the proper research before committing. Likewise for agencies, what kind of clients are you looking to attract? Is your goal to instruct your client so he or she can eventually take over the responsibilities in-house, or do you prefer to work with clients that simply don't have time to execute these tasks and are looking at you to take over?

Also, I suggest reading Michael Gray's post on Sarah Lacy and her contradicting stances on transparency with TechCrunch. TechCrunch continues to find itself in hot water after releasing Twitter documents that were obtained by a hacker, and many have altered their view of the site as a result of their arguably unethical practice. Together with Lisa Barone's article, In Business, It's all A Matter of Trust, it makes one wonder...

Were our mothers right? Is honesty always the best policy?

The Purchase That Led to Receiving An Embarassing Catalog: What to Learn for PPC

Have you ever bought something online and then found yourself on an unexpected mailing list? A friend of mine (it was a friend, I swear...) recently moved in with her boyfriend and hadn't realized there would be any repercussions to sharing a mailbox. The first week, her boyfriend asked her why she receives catalogs for menopause relief and other anti-aging remedies; did he miss a memo? Little did she realize that in a moment of weakness when she ordered anti-wrinkle cream, she had been categorized by this company as a middle-aged woman despite her 1980 birthyear. What's the lesson, you ask? It's simple-are you targeting the wrong people in your PPC campaign?

RKG's George Michie wrote a smart post this week reminding us what we can learn from direct mail. Direct mailers learned long ago that audience is more important than the offer, and the offer is more important than the presentation. In terms of paid search:

  • Audience = Keywords: Just as catalogers learned that their mailing list is their most valuable asset, generating clicks from the right people is the most important piece of the game in paid search. That comes from serving ads to people who are most likely to buy their products, revealed most by the words used in their search.
  • Offer = Landing Page: The depth of the landing page needs to reflect the depth of the user’s search. Showing all the available choices that respond to the user’s search and only offerings that respond to that search is tremendously important.
  • Presentation = Usability: If the look and feel of the landing page, site navigation and shopping regime are poor, a retailer will lose sales they could have had if the shopping experience was easier.... Site design and selling features play a role in PPC marketing performance, too.

We've talked a lot about the dangers of neglecting proper keyword research, and Michie is clever in his prioritization of paid search tasks. Sure, it's fun to play around with your landing pages and flex your creative muscles, but there's no point in a pretty landing page or great usability if people can't find your site to take advantage of them.


Michael Flint
Jul 31, 2009

Nice mix of information here. I love this: Audience = Keywords, Offer = Landing Page, Presentation = Usability. What a 1-2-3 punch for effective online marketing. Wordstream has a great product to manage your keywords too.

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