The 5-point plan: how to increase marketing ROI from call conversions

September 22, 2014

Guest post by Luke Rees.

Every marketing executive wants to know when their efforts are getting through to consumers, and the online world is certainly making it easier to do so. Whilst there is still no way to track impressions from offline marketing (human interface programmes just aren’t that advanced yet…), the online world makes it possible to track real time results via impressions and clicks.

Increase ROI from call conversionsBut although online is great for understanding your customer base, it may not be the best platform for converting leads into customers. In fact, a recent study found that two thirds of people get frustrated when they can only interact with a company online. 

65% of businesses still consider the phone their strongest lead source, so how can marketers track when their online efforts are generating phone calls?

Here are five techniques marketers can use to better understand their customers; to streamline their experience with the contact centre; and to ultimately improve ROI.

Click-to-call tracking

Click-to-call tracking allows advertisers to identify and measure calls to their business after an ad click through occurs. Google recently announced they are offering this service free for their AdWords users.

How it works:

  1. a code is placed on the company’s website or mobile site;
  2. this code generates a unique forwarding number for each AdWords click;
  3. when a customer calls from a unique number you can link it back to a specific page on your website, as well as publisher sites within the display network, to see the types of calls that are being generated;
  4. with the help of Google Universal Analytics it is possible to track the keywords (i.e. search phrases) the customer used before clicking on your webpage. Your call centre staff are therefore already clued-in about the specific needs of the customer.

Data from this new free feature allows marketers to understand which keywords and ads are driving the most phone calls from your website, as well as where the most valuable calls are coming from.

Customer acquisition

Google’s call conversion tool allows marketers to optimise each page of their website by seeing the amount of engagement it’s getting, but there are also more sophisticated methods available for tracking where customers are coming from.

Here are two more techniques for tracking customer acquisition:

  1. IP and ISP (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) tracking software allows agents to see the exact geographical location where calls are coming in from;
  2. integrating call tracking with bid management software can allow marketers to see the keywords that lead to the most offline telephone conversions. Having this data means they can fine tune their PPC and SEO campaigns.

Companies who understand the needs of their clients and know how to target them are likely to significantly reduce their cost per lead. For one company who had their data reviewed this was as much as 50% reduction.

Conversion to call

Call tracking companies like ResponseTap provide software which allows marketers to track the entire customer journey, not just the initial call.

With the help of web analytics programmes it is possible to see:

  1. which keywords the customer used before calling;
  2. the publisher which drove the visitor to the website;
  3. the webpages they looked at before, during and after each call.

Integrating call tracking with analytics software like Google Adwords tracking, Adobe SiteCatalyst, or DC Storm can further improve customer understanding and increase the conversion to the right kind of call.

One company wanted to reduce information only calls to make capacity for Sales calls. By reorganising content for existing members and non-members differently they were able to increase the conversion to the right kind of call by 66%.

Conversion to sale

Wouldn’t it be great if your call centre staff new exactly the needs of the customer before they’ve even picked up the phone? These three strategies do just that, which significantly increases your chance of making a sale:

  1. Call screening alerts the agent about the campaign that has motivated their call. A phrase is read out to the agent before or after a call, telling them information like how the caller found your website, and what keyword they typed in;
  2. Dynamic call routing allows companies to route a call depending on to how a visitor have found their website. The call can then be directed to the best team, department or person within the business;
  3. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) can be integrated into your call centre tactics. SIP is a signalling protocol that makes it possible to implement services like voice-enriched e-commerce, web page click-to-dial, or Instant Messaging depending on the preferences of the individual customer.

Using smarter and more sophisticated routing to get the calls to the right people will result in increased ROI. One of the businesses who had their data reviewed saw an uplift in sales of 15%.

Higher order value

Increasing the average order value (AOV) at the end of the customer journey is the final part of the customer journey which marketers can optimise through clever call tracking.

Two way to ensure customers spend bigger are:

  1. URL callbacks allow you to send data about the caller to an online system at the start or end of the call in real time. By storing this data in a database, you can integrate with other online solutions like web analytics or CRM solutions to better understand the customer experience and needs.
  2. CRM Integration: instead of using your CRM to just be a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your website and call tracking software brings in valuable customer information directly into your CRM. It also enables complete end-to-end reporting of lead to conversion through the call channel.

One company presented the call handler with the actual landing page the customer arrived at so that they had an immediate understanding about their intent. As a result they believe AOV went up 20%.

Conclusion

By taking each point of the customer’s journey in isolation, businesses will begin to notice real results.

Let’s take a look at the example company numbers for each metric, before and after they integrated four call tracking strategies.

So initially traffic acquisition went up 50%, then conversion to phone call improved by 66%, conversion to sale went up 15% and finally AOV increased by 20%:

Before 

  • 1,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1% from visit to call
  • converting at 20% from call to sale
  • at an AOV of £1000

= £2,000,000 revenue

After (assuming some fairly typical conversion metrics, and the improvement percentages taken from each of the businesses above)

  • 2,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1.66% to call
  • converting at 23%
  • at an AOV of £1200

= £9,163,200 revenue

The difference on these metrics is a 458% improvement. By implementing some clever software with a few smart tactics to connect online and offline efforts, it is possible to improve marketing ROI exponentially.

Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology and trends in the search market industry. You can contact him on LinkedIn and Google+

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19 Excellent Guides to SEO Link Building

September 16, 2014

Contrary to articles and blog posts claiming link building is dead, the reality is that  it’s not—as even Google’s Matt Cutts has confirmed. But like SEO more generally, it has evolved.

Link building - the right way in 2014 and 2015

Image credit: SEO Book

The days of getting high search rankings based on high-volume, low-quality, easy-to-get links are long gone. Building quality links that will still positively impact rank now requires more work, more creativity, and a more sophisticated strategy for developing owned, earned, and shared links.

Are there any “easy” ways remaining to build worthwhile links? When should you disavow existing links? Which link building tools and tactics still have value? What link building techniques are “Penguin-safe”?

Find the answers to those questions and many others here in some of the best guides to link building in today’s search environment, from the past year or so.

The Low Hanging Fruit of Link Building by imFORZA Blog

Vinny La BarberaWhile acknowledging that the “low-hanging fruit of link building” (links that are relatively easy to obtain) are not incredibly valuable on their own and represent just one component of a broader link-building strategy, Vinny La Barbera points out that such links nonetheless form a basis, particularly for new websites, and explains how to build such from sources like social profiles, local business directories, news releases, and social shares.

Link Madness by SEOBook

Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo serves up an entertaining rant on link disavowing, recovering from Google penalties (or not), and “link paranoia.” He reminds readers that trying to “game” Google rankings is never a good strategy; diversifying traffic sources always is; and outlines a handful of “approaches to link building that will likely stand the test of time, and incorporate strategy that provides resilience from Google’s whims.”

How to Get Backlinks – The Ultimate Guide by Interwebs Institute

Though written primarily for SEO novices, even seasoned experts may find it worthwhile to skim this comprehensive post covering basic links types, how links convey authority, backlinking guidelines, black hat practices, backlinking tools, expert SEO resources, and common link-building tactics.

The Value of Referrer Data in Link Building by Search Engine Watch

Dave DaviesWriting that “link building is not dead…links matter. The death is in links that are easy to manipulate,” Dave Davies explains the value of looking at referrer data in Google Analytics (“Apart from the fact that traffic is probably one of, if not the best, indicator of the quality and relevancy of a link to your site, your traffic data can also help you find the links you didn’t know you had and what you did to get them”), key questions to ask about those links, and how to find competitors’ link referral data.

12 Scalable Link-Building Tactics by The Moz Blog

Jason AcidreJason Acidre outlines a dozen tactics for non-spammy link building, such as creating your own database of premium images, conducting interviews with popular personalities (particularly helpful for new websites), reverse engineering competitors’ links, and link reclamation (i.e., reclaiming broken or outdated links to your site that have already been created).

7 FREE Link Building Tools For Post-Penguin Success by WebMechanix

Arsham MirshahArsham Mirshah reviews seven free tools to help with link building efforts, including the SEOBook SEO Toolbar, about which he writes, “Not only is this a must-have for link building, but it’s also a necessary tool for anyone in SEO, period.” Do be a bit cautious with link building tools however; despite abiding by Google guidelines, the MyBlogGuest tool was hit with a Google penalty.

How Link Building Changed in 2013 by Search Engine Watch

Julie JoyceJulie Joyce looks at what changed in link building during 2013, and how those changes impact link building tactics in 2014 and beyond. She covers Google’s major algorithmic updates, link disavoiwing and cleaup, changes made by Bing and Yandex, and changes in the industry (for example, “People talked more about building relationships than building links. This whole concept has been around for ages but in 2013, it really started to get much more attention”).

Link Building with the Experts – 2013 Edition by Sugarrae

Rae HoffmanRae Hoffman interviews 10 SEO pros as well as providing her own answers about link building strategies and tactics for the post-Panda and Penguin search environment. Asked if links are becoming less important in Google’s ranking algorithm, Julie Joyce (again) pretty much sums up the opinion of the group, stating that “they are becoming a slightly smaller portion as other factors are being added in but not to a significant extent…Unless they (Google) rebuild the algorithm from the ground up, I don’t see the importance of links drastically decreasing.” This is a long piece but well worth a read.

The Future-Proof Link Building Strategy by Search Engine Journal

Aaron AdersAaron Aders lays out a link building strategy he says is future-proof because it “aligns with the ‘why’ behind search engine technology…At a high level, the strategy consists of creating and promoting great content. The tactical process is broken up into four sections: Research, Creative, Promotion and Conversion.” Hmm, sounds similar to the web presence optimization model.

How to Use Google’s Disavow Links Tool the Right Way by Search Engine Watch

Chuck PriceChuck Price outlines a seven-step process for using Google’s disavow links functionality, from conducting a link audit (using Google Webmaster Tools (alone), to submitting a reconsideration request (“Only if you’re under a manual penalty, will you need to file a reconsideration request. When filing your request, here are some key points to consider.”)

Google’s Disavow Tool: What You Need to Know, and 4 Common Myths by Search Engine Journal

Jayson DeMersJayson DeMers explains how Google’s link disavow tool works, and importantly, what to do before [ITALICS] using the tool. He also dispels four common myths, such as that disavowing links can damage your site’s reputation in the eyes of Google: “Proper use of the Disavow tool is not going to cause Google to label you as a spammer, nor will it negatively affect your web profile.”

How To Get Out Of A Google Penalty [VIDEO] by Vertical Measures

Ben HollandIf, God forbid, you try to do link building the right way but get caught up in a Google penalty anyway (perhaps because of past link-building activities by a less conscientious link builder), Ben Holland shows you how to recover using a six-step process that starts with downloading your backlink list from Google Webmaster Tools and running these through another tool, like Link Detox, that can help separate the good links from the dodgy ones.

5 Ways to Protect your Website from Google SEO Penalties by Search Engine Journal

Marcela De VivoIn the good old days of link buidling, low-value links didn’t hurt, they just didn’t help. Addressing the (justified) paranoia caused by Google’s nasty Penguin, Marcela De Vivo recommends a handful of ways to avoid trouble, like auditing links monthly and creating Google Analytics Alerts for triggers such as “Google Organic Traffic decreased by more than 5%.”

Link Building Without Magic by SEOCustomer

Henrik-SandbergAccording to Henrik Sandberg, Google is the only link-building tool you need–and he steps through his recommended process for tool-free link building, using tactics including blog commenting, guest blogging (“guest Blogging will not only give you traffic – it will also give you some great SEO juice”), directory and resource listing, and forums.

10 Powerful White Hat Link Building Strategies by Blogging Wizard

Adam ConnellAdam Connell walks through 10 Penguin-safe link building techniques that he says “will give you the best results possible if you use them to build relationships,” such as linking out to other blogs (which, yes, is occasionally done here) though he warns that “An important thing to remember is this tactic won’t result in a link most of the time (at least not until you really get on the map and get right in front of the bloggers you’re linking to).”

Top 25 Free and Paid Link Building Tools for Serious Link Builders by Blogging Wizard

As a follow-up to the post above, Adam Connell provides brief reviews of more than two dozen helpful link-building tools, including Wordtracker’s Link Builder: “you can add a bunch of competitor URLs and immediately find where they are getting their links from. You can then also find link prospects by searching for pages that rank for a particular keyword which can be very useful.”

Transform Link Building into Brand Building for 2013 by Search Engine Journal

Pratik DholakiyaPratik Dholakiya believes that “Links are important, crucial even, but sustainability means brand comes first,” and offers 10 tips for using traditional “link building” activities for more focused brand-building (or web presence building) instead–including news releases, guest posting, infographics, forums, and commenting.

High-Value Tactics, Future-Proof Link Building – Whiteboard Friday by The Moz Blog

Cyrus Shepard“The past 12 months have been brutal for many traditional forms of link building. Techniques that once worked are now penalized,” according to Cyrus Shepard, who goes on to explain the “right way” in the current environment to do link building (or earning) using infographics, guest posts, media relations, and direct outreach.

Inorganic vs. Organic Backlinking Strategies: Getting Back to Basics by Search Engine Watch

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software provider gShift Labs, makes the case that links are still vital in the post-Penguin world, but in order to have value (rather than causing problems), backlinks need to pass the RAID test (relevant, authoritative, influential, and diverse).

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The Biggest Roadblock to Social Business Success

September 9, 2014

Stories about how top executives just don’t “get” social media and the concept of social business were common four or five years ago. But it’s jarring to still come across such reports today.

Despite the fact that 82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media, and 77% are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media (those stats themselves nearly two years old), “64% of CEOs do not use social media at all, with only 5% of all Fortune 500 company CEOs on Twitter,” according to The Guardian.

Don't fear social businessWorse, C-level executives who don’t use social media themselves are also much less likely to understand how to capitalize on the social media savvy and reach of their employees to benefit their companies. And those benefits can be considerable. Per recent research from GaggleAMP:

“Connecting your business with your employees in social media can boost your social media presence. Employee advocacy not only has the ability to acquire new leads, but also can help create original content and bump your search rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN…Prospective clients are more likely to recognize your brand when you’ve got a network of employee advocates helping to sell your product through social media. This can cut down on the time it takes to gain the trust of clients as well as help solidify the relationship more quickly.”

Expanding a company’s social presence through its employees’ networks requires some give and take. Employee participation must be voluntary. Employers will need to do some level of monitoring, in order to measure results, share best practices, and incentive employees for social amplification.

That monitoring activity needn’t be excessive or intrusive; it should be limited to work-related social media activities, and social networks on which employees are active on the company’s behalf (an individual employee may, for example, choose to use his or her Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to promote company content and interact with customers and prospects, but use Facebook strictly for personal relationships).

Yet too many companies, regardless of their progress as social businesses, already take or plan to take this monitoring to excessive, even downright creepy, levels. Per per research from PricewaterhouseCoopers:

“More employers plan to begin or increase their monitoring of employees’ social media use and other personal data over the next decade…the idea is frankly kind of Orwellian in that terrifying corporate kind of way: The data profiling that drives customer management will increasingly be replicated among employees as screening and monitoring move to a new level. Sensors check their location, performance and health. The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests. Periodic health screening gives way to real-time monitoring of health.”

Of course, employees need to actually be engaging in social media activities on a company’s behalf in order for their to be any social activity to monitor. Nearly as disturbing as excessive monitoring, more than a third (36%) of businesses block social networks completely within the office, and more than half (57%) permit workplace social media access only for select employees (e.g., marketing and HR).

The fundamental barrier to embracing a social business strategy seems to come down to one word: fear.

  • • Fear of bad, or even unmeasurable, results. While precise social media ROI may or may not be measurable, many indicators of success certainly are. Social media amplification is like any other business process: test, measure, improve, repeat.
  • • Fear that employees will waste time on social sites. Employees have been finding ways to distract themselves, and others, and generally waste time at work, for pretty much as long as groups of human beings have worked together. Employees intentionally wasting work time are a sign of poor hiring, poor motivation, and/or poor management. Those determined to waste work time will do so regardless of social media policy.
  • • Fear that employees will be unproductive. This is different than the point above; it’s not fear that employees will purposely waste time, but rather that employees, with the best of intentions, will use social networks inefficiently. Monitoring, measurement, and training are the answer.
  • • Fear that employees will say the wrong things. They’ll get brand messages wrong, or argue with customers, or reveal trade secrets, or disclose sensitive financial information, or bash competitors, or bash management, or tweet while drunk, or say something racist or sexist, or…whatever. Actually, in a healthy work environment, employees are far more likely to appreciate trust than to abuse it. And, backed up with training and clear policies, they deserve it.

Most fundamentally of all, however, is the fear that a surprising majority of companies still seem to have in acknowledging that they are staffed by actual people. Try this experiment: pick 10 business websites, from companies of any size, pretty much any industry. See if you can find a way to directly contact a specific individual (e.g., the head of marketing, the top HR exec, anyone in customer service, the webmaster, the VP of sales, even the CEO) at any of those companies, through information presented on the company’s website.

Many sites won’t list any individual employee or management names at all. Some will have “management team” pages that list a handful of top executives (though not with any direct contact information). Most will not provide any email addresses beyond the generic “info@” or “sales@” variety. Many will link to the company’s social media accounts—but not to the accounts of any individual employee, even if used strictly for business purposes. In some cases, you’ll be able to find contact information for the individual in charge of public relations—but often as not, this will be someone from an outside agency rather than a company employee.

That may be the most fundamental fear of all: being social means being human. That is what needs to change, first and foremost. As social media guru Ted Rubin notes, “A smart brand supports its employees in building their personal brands because it expands their reach right along with that of their employees.”

How do executives who want to overcome these fears and embrace social media start? Search for guidance and resources online, watch videos like this one, read books like The Social Employee by Cheryl and Mark Burgess (a veritable field guide to social business best practices, based on case studies of brand-name social enterprises), and begin by getting employees involved with the business socially internally, using tools like Yammer or Chatter.

But whatever you do, start. With regard to social business, the only rational fear top executives should have is fear of being left behind.

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Blogging Labor: Top 10 Posts of the Past Year

September 2, 2014

In honor of Labor Day, here’s a summary of the 10 most-viewed posts on Webbiquity since the summer-ending holiday weekend of 2013.

There’s no question which type of posts here generate the greatest interest: statistics and research account for five of the 10 most-read posts (and eight of the top 20). Posts about marketing strategy were also popular (two of the top 10, four of the top 20), followed by content marketing, tools, and WordPress.

Top 10 blog posts of 2014If you’ve missed any of these, here are top 10 (actually, 11) posts, in ascending order. Note that these are the most-read of the past year; some were written recently, but others as long as four years ago(!). Enjoy!

Honorable mention: 10 B2B Marketing Lessons from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios
April 22, 2014

Theme parks really do hold lessons for B2B marketers; here are 10 B2B marketing and business lessons from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Though written in April, this came in #14 over the past 12 months.

10. What’s the Best Social Media Monitoring Tool? It Depends
October 13, 2010

Reviews of nine tools at various price levels that are among the most popular and capable traditional PR and social media monitoring tools. Hmm, this one may be due for a new version.

9. What are the Best Social Networks for B2B Marketing? (Research)
August 27, 2013

More than 80% of b2b marketers now distribute content on social networks. But are these efforts paying off? If so, which social networks are most productive?

8. 14 Brilliant B2B Marketing Strategy Guides
June 17, 2014

Find out how b2b marketers should evolve their strategies, what types of messages matter most to today’s buyers, which long-held beliefs to discard, and more.

7. The Ultimate List of The Best WordPress eCommerce Plugins
October 10, 2012

Get the combined and consolidated wisdom of 10 top WordPress experts on the best WordPress ecommerce plugins, along with ratings and download stats.

6. 102 Compelling Social Media and Online Marketing Stats and Facts for 2012 (and 2013)
January 2, 2013

What do buyers really want from social media? What’s the source of the largest share of social traffic to websites? (It’s not what you almost certainly think.)

5. 101 Vital Social Media and Digital Marketing Statistics for (the Rest of) 2013
August 5, 2013

How do marketers and consumers view social media differently? How do top execs use social media? Growth companies? B2b? Find those answers and many more here.

4. 18 of the Best Content Marketing Strategy Guides of 2013
December 11, 2013

Here are the best practices and frameworks for creating a content marketing strategy, along with critical elements to include and pitfalls to avoid.

3. 83 Exceptional Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014
April 14, 2014

Here’s some marketing-related big data for you: 83 useful facts, stats, and research findings covering strategy, social media, SEO, online advertising and more.

2. The Top #Nifty50 Women Writers on Twitter for 2013
October 28, 2013

Last year’s #Nifty50—the second-most-viewed post on Webbiquity over the past 12 months—highlighted men and women who write business-related online content and who actively engage on Twitter.

And the #1 most-read post here since Labor Day 2013 is…(drumroll please):

1. 103 Compelling Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2013 (and 2014)
November 12, 2013

Discover the role of social media in brand visibility, how social media use differs in B2B vs. B2C companies and between large and small businesses, and more.

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Why More Members, Money, and Ads Don’t Always Mean More Success: A B2B Marketer’s Survival Guide

August 26, 2014

Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.

Historical Lessons

B2B marketing lessons from Facebook and MySpaceThere is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?

My answer is certainly–yes! This question is particularly compelling today as we see Facebook set new records in terms of users, market valuation and revenue growth and wait with anticipation to see if Myspace can reinvent itself after conceding its market leadership position in social networking back in 2008. How can the respective histories and behaviors of these two companies inform the best practices for B2B marketers?

Background on the two social media sites

From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.

In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.

Lessons

The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes.  These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.

A bigger user base is not always better

Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.

Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.

But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.

The importance of the Network Effect

Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.

This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray.  Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.

Make customers happy before you worry about money

While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.

Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.

In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.

Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.

The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing.  Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.

The importance of targeted ads

Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.

Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads.  Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.

Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”

It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.

Example of bad MySpace ads

An image of Myspace inbox screen with advertising ranging from a spammy new scientific way to lose weight and free credit reports, to sour candy

Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate

Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.

In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.

While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.

Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”

For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.

About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.

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