The NMA held a conference this week, in London, on the future of online marketing. The discussion covered a lot of interesting topics surrounding the increasingly popular world of search engine marketing.
Website usability and conversions
Peter Ballard from Foolproof spoke about improving website usability to improve conversion rates from your search engine marketing campaigns. Useful tips from this sessions were as follows:
- Buying decisions aren’t always immediate. Visitors return to sites they had bookmarked or printed out
- Comparison shopping is very popular, and visitors view comparison sites as true guides, often a wrong perception
- This results in lower visitor loyalty and the need for sites to convince users why they should buy from them
- Provide users information they might need to make a decision… don’t just push for a sale.
Search marketing in the future
Nick Cox from Mirago spoke about the future of search engine marketing – both optimisation and paid advertising. His session highlighted the following:
- Regional search and Europe-wide search are both growing initiatives. Whilst Google is pushing towards regional search, Tier 2 search engines are driving for Europe-wide search services
- Shopping comparison sites are gaining popularity
- As Google slashes agency commission, there may be motivation for agencies to return to SEO to make up for lost commission revenue
- Personalised search might make search engine optimisation nearly impossible if different users see totally different results.
Peter Chapman from Blue Streak discussed email marketing – yes, email marketing! – it is not dead, and when done well, it still provides great results. The main tips provided for the future of email marketing were:
- Email marketing is most effective when segmented according to:
- Stage of customer life cycle
- Product usage
- Email marketing will be integrated with SEO and PPC even more in the future, to provide a more robust marketing model with multiple customer touch-points
- New avenues of marketing such as RSS and SMS will complement email marketing in the future.
Web site visitor analytics
The current market leading web site analytics providers, WebTrends spoke about a handful of issues currently surrounding analytics packages and the future of analytics. The main points to be noted were:
- Not all users accept cookies. An estimated 5-10% systems do not accept 1st party cookies, and as much as 28% of users do not accept 3rd party cookies. Therefore always lookout for solutions offering multiple tracking method options.
- Conversions are not always detected by the Google AdWords, or Overture system. Users often come back to sites later to make a final decision or purchase. Analytics packages should be tuned to count these conversions
- Ways to calculate conversion rates include:
- Number of conversions / Total visits
- Number of conversions / Sum of daily unique visitors
- Number of conversions / Absolute unique visitors
- Pay attention to segmentation information provided by website visitor data analysis, especially new versus repeat users, and referral sources.
The future of analytics providers seems to indicate a shift towards providing business analysis services rather than just tools. This need is being driven mostly by smaller businesses recognizing the need for visitor analysis but not having the skills to do it in-house.
Integration of analytics solutions with all forms of marketing, from PPC to email to banner marketing seems to also be on the upswing as client awareness improves.
The most immediate effect the above changes will bring about will be better navigation on website’s, as businesses realize their customers’ needs and optimise their site navigation to facilitate finding the information easily.