Archive for November, 2009
Social Search – The Basics.
What is social search? For many this is a fairly new concept. Just a few short years ago, search itself was developed to access content easily. Search was effective and efficient and in light of its importance; search optimization at that time was pretty bland. Optimize your web property, setup your keyword list, markup and test ad copy, rinse repeat.
Now search has become much more…strategic. Honestly, without a well thought out search plan, it will be extremely difficult to succeed in the social search world. If you have a well thought out, integrated strategy in place your chances of success will increase dramatically.
Search has moved from a study in two dimensions (paid and organic) to a discipline with at least five or more activities (paid or organic search, video, Twitter, Facebook, and other social tools). With the addition of social networks, another set of dimensions come into play. These networks are driven by content development or client relationships.
Frequently we hear that YouTube is the number two search engine. Sure that makes sense, considering the size and diversity of its massive content library, and the rate at which it expands. What’s even more interesting is the content that users are searching for.
Will you create videos that help consumers find and inform of your product? Create viral content videos that will ideally get passed along? Can you do both?
Twitter and Search
The recent PR surrounding the announcement that Google and Bing will be indexing tweets in search results should come as no surprise to anyone. To compete here means you must have a twitter strategy in place
If Google could be teaming with tweets about you or your product, then being involved on Twitter just got moved to the top of the to do list.
The Social Graph and Search
Similar to Twitter search, but highly more encompassing, is the broader category of social search: Social Search is Google Labs newest experiment. Your social graph is defined as the social networks you add to your Google profile. This should be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.
The new format allows user to compare multiple relevant offers and make ads more useful for users. Comparison ads also helps advertisers reach the people who are most interested in their products and services said the announcement.
As an example, Google uses a mortgage scenario where users searching for “mortgage” may see a promotion from Comparison Ads prompting them to select the type of loan they’re looking for and to compare rates offered.
If users click the promotion, they’re taken to a page with more detailed sponsored results. They can choose directly from the offers listed on that page, or they can further refine their search by providing additional information like income and home value.
By giving users the ability to refine their search on a number of relevant attributes, Google says it can show more targeted ads and provide its customers with more valuable leads.
Advertisers will only pay when a user calls the phone number on the business offer (Google will provide to track) or fills out a form to request a quote.
While Comparison Ads is still an early-stage feature, Google is focusing on a number of ways to enhance the user experience:
- Speed — Comparison Ads shows targeted offers in less than a second. There are no long forms for users to fill out – Users see specific offers immediately and only need to fill in additional information if they wish to further refine their results.
- Transparency — Comparison Ads only shows real products. There are no teaser rates, or bait and switch offers. Comparison Ads also standardizes the information presented to users, making it easy for them to sort and compare offers on a side by side basis.
- Privacy — Comparison Ads won’t send advertisers any user information, including anonymized phone numbers, unless the user explicitly requests more information about an advertiser’s offer.
Why is this a big deal for the reverse mortgage industry? Google has provided targeted traffic for lead providers like Bills.com and Lendingtree through its search engine which they use to generate leads for reverse mortgage lenders. In a way, Comparison Ads take the “middle man” out of the equation and allow the advertiser (lender) to reach consumers directly through the search engine.
Comparison Ads also provides advertisers with a Cost per Acquisition (CPA) model where they no longer pay for clicks like the traditional AdWords model. Now, lenders will only pay when an action (phone call, form filled out) is completed.
However, reverse mortgage lead providers don’t seem all that worried. One company that spends a significant amount of money using Google Adwords to generate leads told RMD it’s skeptical of how much an impact the new format will have because reverse mortgage lenders don’t compete nearly as much on rate as most “forward” lenders.
While the new format is only being shown to a small amount of users in certain states, Google says it will increase the number of users who see Comparison Ad offers as well as the number of advertisers able to participate.
Currently, it only allows traditional direct mortgage lenders (non-reverse mortgage) to participate. You can see an example of how it will look at the link below.
“There is tremendous interest in the whole category,” said Phil Greenough, Greenough Communications, a company helping marketers and brands get the most from green communications. “There is a pent-up demand for information – from the investor level, government level and the business opportunity level.”
For Joe Consumer, the key is doing the right thing. Does a company have a green product? Does a company use green shipping materials? Are companies doing their part to leave a green footprint?
“Particularly for people coming into their 20′s,” Greenough said. “They are much more away of the environment and as they make decisions we’re finding that the interest level is in the ‘green footprint’ and understanding the impact for products and services.”
A recent Generate Insight study found that, while all consumer demographics are at least somewhat interested in going green, Mature consumers (89%) are the group which always recycles, followed by GenX (consumers between 26 and 40; 69%) and Boomers (67%). The study also revealed that many younger consumers currently feel that green products are inconvenient or require too much effort.
Which leads us to the “Don’t's” portion of this article. Greenough suggests:
• Don’t make claims that are untrue because consumers will discover the truth
• Be authentic – “Even if you’re not making a big splash,” Greenough says, “it is more important to be true than to dress [a product] to be different than it really is.”
• Be real – don’t make the Wal-Mart mistake of using ‘fake bloggers’ to push traffic or sales
“Everyone is trying to understand, at a high level, what the trends are. People are looking for the innovations that will make change. [Green businesses] have to show leadership through innovation, that is what grabs the consumer and then they can make decisions about how to live a more green lifestyle.”
But, is there a true marketplace for green products and businesses? Greenough insists that there is – but the green must come with a value proposition. Consumers will use green products if the product leaves a better green footprint, saves them money or benefits the environment.
Which brings us to the “Do’s” section of this article:
• Make time to really explore the issues so you can speak to them
• Give the clients value from the green product
• Use social networks – “There is a lot of consumer generated content. At the core. . .is a story. Understand your story and make it commanding. You’ll start to build an awareness for the company/brand.”