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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - December 2007

Welcome to the last edition of our monthly web search and marketing newsletter for 2007.

In this issue we look at the growing opportunities for advertising on social networking sites like Facebook. We also continue our review of the new features being added to the Google AdWords system to help improve advertising on the content targeted network of sites. We also review some recent research results from the UK that look at small business attitudes towards search engine marketing and the implications that this can have for online companies.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered.

On to this month's edition...

Advertising on Facebook

If you're looking for a new channel to market your business online, then you might want to consider using one of the numerous community websites or 'social media networks' that are springing up, following the phenomenal growth of sites like MySpace and Facebook. It's Facebook which has grabbed media attention recently with frequent stories about the increasing influence and value of this tool, which has also been launching new services for online marketers.

The popularity of social media networks, or SMNs, like Facebook have given them huge market reach and not just in younger demographics. Research over the last two years has shown that the majority of users of SNM's are over 25 although these figures vary across the networks, but it is now estimated that only about one third of Facebook users are under 25 years old - in contrast to MySpace, where some 70% of users are under 25 years.

These sites are increasingly looking to introduce revenue schemes like marketing programmes. In theory, because of the profile information held about site users, marketing can be very closely targeted to user preferences which should make for more effective campaigns.

Facebook already allows companies to set up a company page, and form connections with 'friends'. It has recently begun to offer paid advertising on a limited basis through the Facebook Social Ads programme. This extends advert targeting so that companies can be more selective about their target customer profile. A Cost Per Click (CPC) pricing option is introduced, as well as the CPM (cost per impression) model that currently operates. Products can also be featured and customers who love these products can become 'fans' - their comments can be used to endorse the product alongside your advert.

Further facilities for the Social Ads programme are being planned, and it is claimed that these will include options like a storefront and registration interfaces. All of these developments should enable marketers to take advantage of new market reach and create effective and targeted advertising. User reviews and recommendations are seen as a powerful marketing tool. However, not all comments could be positive and it's not yet clear what will happen to negative reviews or comments, which many large corporations are likely to attract.

If you would like advice on these new marketing options and how to choose the right SMN to market your business, contact us now for details.

 

Placement Targeting from Google AdWords

When Google AdWords first launched their content targeted network to extend the reach of their PPC campaigns, advertisers had limited controls over what was happening with their adverts, but Google has recently been developing and refining a much better range of tools and reports to control this option, which now makes it a more appealing route for advertisers to test and develop.

A recent example is the renaming of AdWords Site Targeting, to now be called AdWords Site Placement, which reflects a couple of refinements to this service. Site Placement now enables advertisers not only to choose specific websites, but also areas or individual web pages on these websites where their adverts can be displayed.

Adverts can therefore be fine-tuned to reflect relevant areas of content. It should give even more scope for targeted marketing and advert variations, resulting in campaigns that work harder for advertisers.

As well as choosing where to place adverts, advertisers using placement targeting can now choose to pay using the CPM ('cost per thousand' impressions) model or the core CPC (cost per click) model. It is also possible to use maximum cost or preferred cost bidding (to set an average price) and which payment model you choose will depend on your marketing objectives - those looking to raise brand profile may opt for CPM and those wanting conversions, like sales or sign ups, normally choose CPC.

Campaigns have to be set up to use the new placement service and accessing reports to review and refine campaigns are essential. If you would like more information about Site Placement or if your business would like to create an Adwords campaign that takes advantage of this new targeting service, please contact us now.

 

UK survey reports on 'wasted' websites

A recent survey of 400 UK small businesses conducted by Microsoft and research company Vanson Bourne has revealed that 62% are not using search marketing and, of these, 33% of business owners thought that search marketing was too complicated, 44% thought that search marketing was too time consuming, and 55% thought it too expensive.

The report estimated that, as a result, UK small businesses could be wasting some 3 billion (AU$7.5 billion) on websites that cannot be found in search engine results. So, having spent hard earned money on website development, many companies are failing to capitalise on this investment, even where they are aware of the need for continuous promotion and have some knowledge about how to go about it.

Unfortunately, it's not enough to build a business website in the hope that customers will simply stumble across it. There are billions of web pages on the web and each one needs to hold its own for specific content or else its presence needs to be advertised in some way. All small businesses in the UK - and elsewhere - should therefore ask: are we currently marketing our website effectively enough? Should we be testing PPC search marketing? And is our business website optimised and visible in search engine results pages, even for the most niche terms relevant to our market?

Small businesses can gain competitive advantage by building search marketing, website optimisation and other online marketing methods into their overall marketing strategy. Some 76% of the UK businesses surveyed that invest in search marketing do report an increase in sales. And, if done well, marketing through online channels can compare very favourably in terms of cost, return on investment and responsiveness with using traditional offline marketing.

To find out what else you could be doing to drive more traffic to your website, please contact us for advice.

 

Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular web marketing blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:

 

We hope you've found this month's issue useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.