Author Archives: Jim Peake

The Joint Commission Badge Equals Trust for your Website

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Once a health care provider is accredited by The Joint CommissionThe Joint Commission Badge one of the benefits is the provider will be able to proudly display the Joint Commission badge on their website. Not just any business can get a Joint Commission badge it has to be earned. There are several criteria that have to be met to earn the Joint Commission distinction.

The value of being accredited by a third party like The Joint Commission is that there are experts who provide impartial evaluations on the quality of care, treatment and services that the treatment center is providing. Because the patient or the patient’s family don’t purchase this type of healthcare like they do food or clothes it helps having experts do the evaluation on the center so the families don’t have to.

In providing badges or trust icons it immediately tells the user that they are not just on any old website they are on a professional services authority website. The people behind the business have put in their training and expertise to earn the badges. At the end of the day we know that the trust icons help convert visit to call ratios.

In the addiction treatment field having several supporting trust icons especially from places like The Joint Commission and HON Code it will only help boost your position of authority to the website visitor. Being a direct marketing professional I can tell you that the single biggest converting factors for any business online or offline is TRUST.

Think about it for a minute, if you are searching for a drug rehab for a family member and had to review a bunch of websites, would you rather read some marketing copy from the treatment center’s marketing team or would you rather know that they have 3rd party validation from places like The Joint Commission or testimonials from past clients/patients singing their praises?

Bottom line: If you are in the Health Care space you should become accredited by The Joint Commission and proudly display the badge on your site for improved trust which leads to better website conversions.

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Advertising Direct Response – Show Me the MONEY

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Advertising Direct Response – Brave New World for Agencies and Advertisers Alike

Moving products and services using advertising direct response methods can deliver ROI that will allow for a sustainable revenue flow if what we spend on advertising is less than the revenue we generate from the direct advertising spend.

Having spent the first 15 years of my career working with some of the top direct response advertising agencies in New York City most of our direct response advertising was only direct mail. During this time the DRTV Infomercials were taking off and direct response direct mail agencies were taking off. In my experience it seemed that the direct mail and direct response TV agencies were completely separate disciplines and cultures and a typical direct mail agency tended not to be in DRTV production and vice versa.

The DRTV direct response agencies seemed not to delve into the direct mail world. I think that this was a cultural issue more than anything else. For example, the direct response advertising agencies that specialized in direct mail had suppliers who were mid-sized and large direct mail printers and list companies. So too for the direct response agencies that specialized in television, infomercial and video production along with media buying these outside suppliers were of a completely different culture than the direct mail print people. It was like oil and water they did not mix well.

Depending on the genesis of the direct response advertising agency founders background the agency seemed to lead towards DRTV or direct mail but not both. Also during the 1980’s and 1990’s and even today there was and is mass consolidation in the advertising world. There are a handful of holding companies that control most of the large advertising agencies. When a client required advertising direct response media the holding companies could easily acquire a smaller boutique shop that specialized in direct mail or infomercial production and keeping them operating as a separate business so not to create disharmony in the culture.

Fast forward into 2012 and direct advertising response methods have had some tectonic shifts. The television and newspaper industry have taken the biggest hit in their advertising revenue. Why, because it is clearly much harder to measure their advertising effectiveness and their impressions and circulation have declined. We can measure the response rates in terms of phone calls and website visits and different offers in different markets in television and newspaper advertising. However, from a testing standpoint it can become expensive to test so direct response advertisers have moved primarily towards the Internet just because it is so easy and cost effective to test on a smaller scale.

Companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Bing have become the biggest direct response ad agency facilitators helping them advertise using direct response. Google is so tuned into direct response advertising that they are not only running auctions on PPC advertising they have expanded into other media including television. Where Google is seeing huge success is in speed to market, scale, ease of use and tracking efficiency for the advertisers.

Google in effect has become the biggest advertising direct response agency or facilitator in the world but Facebook is nipping at their heels. It will be interesting to see where this all evolves because it appears that Facebook defiantly has the upper hand in consumer engagement, eyeballs and time on site however they really aren’t there in buying mode as if the consumer is on a search engine looking for a pair of blue suede shoes.

The direct response advertising business is a moving target experienced professionals can help set expectations and guide you through the process. If you want some ideas or want to learn more about what is direct response marketing call Jim Peake at SpeechRep Media, Inc. at 781-990-8844 or click on the button below.

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Website Speed Achieves Overall Goals: Conversions & Satisfaction

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We live in a “now society” and we all seem to want instant gratification and when we visit websites we expect the site to load ASAP or we hit the back button or do another Google search. We keep doing this until we find another website that does deliver content we are seeking that has speed and relevance.

The problem with website speed becomes pretty technical pretty fast. The good news is that usually speed can be had pretty fast and at a fairly cost effective rate. Just some of the factors to consider when optimizing our websites for speed are:

• Website Host
• Enabling Compression
• Browser Caching
• Content Delivery Network
• Compressible Text
• Persistent Connections
• Combining Static CSS and Javascript Files
• Proper Cookie Usage
• Minimize Redirects
• Etc

Many studies have been commissioned supporting the speed argument. Even Google has been calculating site speed and incorporating it into the organic and Adwords rankings. If this is so then why aren’t more of us paying attention to this critical factor? Maybe because it is not clearly as visible ad content or links?

There are a couple of useful tools that you can use to check your website speed.

http://www.webpagetest.org/

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/

In the 2011 – 2012 Webreep Online Consumer Behavior Report they rate Trust, Website Attractiveness and Webspeed as the primary factors for online consumers.  Website speed is fairly easy to calculate this is why is it so easy to do.   Website trust and attractiveness are much more subjective.

In terms of website trust it makes sense to get testimonials, trust icons, link out to authority sites like the BBB and have quality incoming links.  Website attractiveness is all well and good but there has to be some meat under the skin.  Paying attention to your website is like maintaining your car it is not a lot of fun but they both can take you places if you treat them well.

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Online Advertising Agency – Focus on industry niche(s)

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In my experience since about 1994 I have been working for an online advertising agency before the Internet got white hot and Netscape was all the rage and the browser wars were in full bloom.  I had been working in direct response advertising for fifteen plus years and in the “direct marketing” world and the direct marketing disciplines was the step child divisions of the big ad agencies.  However, the financial guys noticed that the direct marketing guys were holding their own with the general agencies in terms of profits.

Fast forward to 2012 and almost anyone who is a web designer can technically call him or herself an online advertising agency.  But if we go back in time in this Wikipedia citation in 1864, ad agencies had to be flexible and “create demand,” i.e. William James Carlton began selling advertising space in religious magazines.  James Walter Thompson joined this firm in 1868. Thompson rapidly became their best salesman, purchasing the company in 1877 and renaming it the James Walter Thompson Company, which today is the oldest American advertising agency. Realizing that he could sell more space if the company provided the service of developing content for advertisers, Thompson hired writers and artists to form the first known Creative Department in an advertising agency. He is credited as the “father of modern magazine advertising” in the US.

The distinction here is that the “true ad agencies” not only bought media for their clients they also created content as described above.  Today we see some of the very same similarities where an online ad agency will create content such as a video, game, widget or maybe an infographic then place these bits of content on various outlets and hope the viral buzz of social media can pick it up.  The challenge for both client and online advertising agency is that this really is not “bought media” but more like bought content with the hopes of getting some viral distribution.

There is a very distinct cultural divide between general print and TV ad agencies vs. an online ad agency.  In my experience the online guys tend to move a little quicker and also tend to be a little more willing to learn and take on new challenges just because in the online world change happens at a much faster clip.

Back in the late 1990’s many of the large multinationals felt the need to supplement their advertising spends by hiring smaller interactive and online advertising agencies just because their larger general agencies just weren’t up to speed with digital and online advertising.  However, it did not take long for the “big boys” to get up to speed by not only hiring away some of the best talent in the smaller firms but just outright acquiring firms like Modem Media at record pace.

While many of these smaller online advertising agencies could provide “online advertising” for just about anyone, in my experience the larger ad agencies broke down some of their skill sets into “healthcare advertising niches.”  Having this level of focus allows the ad agency to focus on some of the technical aspects of HIPAA, OTC and DTC regulations especially when it came to pharmaceuticals and privacy.   This can be extremely important because when the regulators come into play and liabilities for the clients.  A lot of this type of online and offline advertising requires different writing and editing skills for “normal advertising.”

In summary if you are considering hiring an online advertising agency see if they have been working in your niche industry because this can help shorten the learning curve for testing different marketing strategies.  At the same time even if the online advertising agency does not have experience in your field it always helps if they have experience in media buying in print, tv and radio and the traditional standby’s.  The biggest reason I think this is important is I think you can usually test online advertising for a lot less than traditional media and should you want to go to tradition media since your online advertising is so successful it is an easier pathway having the same agency involved in both online and offline.  For any questions or immediate pricing call Jim Peake @ SpeechRep Media, Inc. 781-990-8844.

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Direct Response Media – How Sprint Does Direct Response

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John Wanamaker came up with one of the greatest business quotes ever in my opinion, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Back in the day there were only a few big advertising methods, print/newspapers, TV, radio and catalogues or direct mail.

While receiving a Montgomery Ward or Sears Catalog was not the sexiest form of advertising they were one of the early adopters of “direct response media.” Eventually these catalog type of operations transformed into direct mail and direct response marketing, mostly through print.

Over the decades however direct response media has certainly grown and expanded in to other types of media especially the internet and all things electronic like e-mail. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why direct mail eventually surpassed TV in media dollars spent on advertising, it surpassed it because it is measurable on a much more granular level than TV. You can customize the “media” to individual consumers, 1:1 marketing.

With multiple different measurement points or multiple variables (think multivariate testing) we can finely tune the offer, finely tune the customer profile who we are sending the offer to, finely tune the tracking of the responses and when we do this we can ultimately know what works and what does not work.

Knowing what our customers like and don’t like allow us to determine where we need to spend our advertising dollars. Like Wanamaker implied, he wanted to spend his advertising dollars on the half that generated the results for him.

If you are reading this you are probably familiar with cookies and website tracking with unique visitors, basically we know who you are and where you have been…..but we don’t know who you are when you visit us from a website search query for the first time. We have to take a few guesses and ask the user to register on the site or sign up for our newsletter or take some other specific form of unique identifier direct response trackable action.

Sprint.com is taking direct response media to a whole new level by asking the user who they are by category before they enter the site. Actually when they enter the site they are entering 4 different customized sites, 1 for each type of visitor:

Current Customer
Personal Account
Business Account
Just Browsing Sprint.com
Personal Account
Business Account

The opening message says: “Welcome let us know a little bit more about you so we can help you better.”

This is direct response media on steroids. There is not a better opening to a business….period. The guy who wrote this is nothing short of genius. Tell us who you are (which gives the business the ability to direct target the customer or non-customer and whether they are personal or business) and oh by the way it is for YOUR (customer) benefit if you tell us who you are.

In this Sprint.com example it only shows the “on-page” direct response example but there are literally dozens of other direct response opportunities that they can deploy after the users come into the website. As a direct response website consultant I would make sure that they are collecting e-mail addresses for continuity programs. I would make sure they get their cell phone numbers for SMS Text promotions. I would add a drip campaign sequence to collect all of their unique identification information so we can consistently provide them with multi-channel communications. This about adding them as fans to Facebook and followers on Twitter the points of contact are endless.

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PPC Alternatives

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Google has been called a 1 trick pony over the years but as Eric Schmidt has said it is one hell of a trick. I have to agree with Mr. Schmidt 100%. At the same time Google is developing a lot of PPC alternatives to their one trick pony. What Google has more than any other business is traffic to their homepage, millions of users per day looking and researching different subjects, basically everything under the sun and over the sun.

What Google has going for it is unmistakable, they have traffic and relevancy. If you are looking for blue lampshades you can find them on Google and if you are willing to bid on “blue lampshades” as a key term Google is willing to rent that first page and that first position if and only if you are willing to pay for it. While it is possible to use SEO to rank for blue lampshades, SEO takes time and there are no guaranteed that you or anyone else will rank in the first position for blue lampshades in their organic search results. This is why PPC is so powerful; you can get immediate results, if you have the money.

So the challenge is to find other PPC alternatives that can boost your traffic with relevant clients. I think that while you might be able to use Facebook’s PPC solution I’m not so sure that the folks on Facebook are in buying mode when they are the social media site as they are in buying mode when they are on Google. So let’s take a look at 3 other so called PPC Alternatives that will get you immediate traffic and relevant traffic.

1) Direct mail –still the 800# gorilla
2) Newsletter ads – targeted audience
3) E-mail Marketing – listing building is essential for any business

Direct Mail Marketing

With direct mail we can rent a mailing list from a list rental company like InfoUSA. We can select the list based on the users’ preferences. Let’s say our current client base has an income of $86,000, female between the age of 35 -50 and they live in metro areas like New York City. We can ask InfoUSA to pull a list from their database and see how many people come up based on those demographics and preferences.
If too many people come up in the list we might want to narrow the geographic area or the age range we are selecting. In terms of testing I probably would test a list of 5,000 names to mail to and mail to them 5-7 times. Sending out 1 postcard or direct mail brochure just does not do the trick, we need multiple “impressions” in order to be heard from the client.

Next I would make sure that I drive the prospects to a 800# and a landing page, more specifically a “personalized landing page” known as PURL. This way we can track the people who chose to visit the landing page and track the people who call us. One of the other suggestions is to make sure that there is a call to action on the PURL, or make that multiple calls to actions. We want the user to call, add themselves to our newsletter, follow us on our Twitter account, become a fan of our Facebook Fan page, in other words we want them to TAKE ACTION!

Direct mail marketing will drive traffic to you quickly and with relevancy.

Newsletter Ads

Newsletter ads are great because like direct mail we are reaching a targeted audience. I would recommend finding the magazines and websites that your audience reads and visits and then contacting those publications. Once you contact those publications ask them about their demographics. Do their demographics map back to yours? Ask them about their open rates. If they have a list of 10,000 and an open rate of 20% then you might have 2,000 people view your ad. So the real number you are going to be in front of is 2,000, not 10,000.

The same goes here as in direct mail. You need multiple impressions in front of these folks. If the publication mails once per month you might want to buy a 3 or 6 month spend, this way your ad is repetitive 3 to 6 times over the next few months. You can easily track click through rates back to your web site as well as phone calls from this source of traffic using something like a Keymetrics tracking system.

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing is the holy grail. It costs virtually next to nothing to manage and send. I use Infusionsoft for most of my e-mail marketing. However, e-mail marketing does require maintaining and fine tuning. Every business if they aren’t already should be building their list both in e-mail and direct mail. List building and PR or public relations are the 2 most cost effective ways to market and build a business. If you don’t have a list go into your contact manager and make one. Find 100 people who can use your products and services. Add them you your list and start building and mailing. Ask them to opt in to your new list about blue lampshades. You will be surprised at how many people actually appreciate that you stay in touch with them.

It is interesting sending out e-mail to your list. You might not think that your customers and prospects read them and some don’t but you still might get a call anyway because they see the mail come in and it reminds them to call you on a completely different topic. I try and mail not so much on a regular basis but only when I think I have something of value to offer my readers.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or call 781-990-8844.

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Direct Response Consulting – A view from an Oldtimer

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Direct Response Consulting

When I first broke into the direct mail printing business as a printing broker I worked with many paper dragons like Readers Digest, Dreyfus Service Corporation, The Danbury Mint, Consumers Union (Consumers Report) and American Express just to name a few. This was when direct mail better known as “junk mail” and direct mail was king back in the early 1980’s. This was back in the Chicago heyday where there had to be 2-3 dozen big strong direct mail printers who used web presses rug at 2,200 feet per minute on a fast sheeter. Most of these companies were billing from $15 Million to $75 Million per year each.

We literally printed train loads of paper and converted the paper into “junk mail.” The reason why it was called “junk mail” was because 98% of it was thrown out. Hello landfills! It only took 2% of the mailed pieces to convert into orders to make a business go into the black. The interesting thing today is we have very similar parallels with the internet. If we can get 2% of people to respond to our website with a phone call or an e-mail or a 2% click through on a banner advertisement we usually have something. However the difference is the other 98% is not called “junk.” In
online the other 98% just doesn’t work!

In order to make the 2% conversion number go higher in the old direct mail days we changed a “black plate” on the press which usually was something like a simple copy change or a pricing change. We had to stop the press from going 2,200 feet per minute and make the change. This cost money and time, however it saved a ton of money if we could optimize the right price with the right offer. Many times we would change 200 plus plates on a single creative package and get them into the mail and wait for the responses. If the responses pulled well over 2% we had want we called a “rollout” and would print millions of pieces and drop them in the BRC’s (bulk mail centers) around the USA.

So here we (direct response consultants) are some 30+ years later, nothing and everything has changed! Black plate changes are a thing of the past. Today we change codes on web pages and 800#’s and run multiple landing pages at the drop of a hat. We can do this for minimal costs as well as in a few hours in some cases. A good example might be today where I have a client who has been successfully running Google Adwords and wants to test other search engines.

We are going to run some PPC traffic at Yahoo and Bing as well as start up a new Facebook PPC campaign. The Facebook campaign is more effort than redirecting the same Adwords traffic from Bing and Yahoo to the same website as Google sends traffic to. Since Facebook is a propriety walled garden platform we have to create a special landing page or “fan page” designed to convert the traffic. This effort does cost money and time and it would need to be run so that enough impressions are accumulated to make some smart decisions if this is the place to advertise, ideally 500,000 to 1 million impressions is a good sampling of Facebook traffic. Time will tell. I will alos tell you that direct mail still works just as well today as it did 30 years ago, however we now have the direct response know how to test online first before we us the more expensive direct mail services.

Here is a secret about Facebook, Facebook is probably the single greatest Direct Response Platform ever invented. The point to all of this long winded article is to test and track the people and how they use the Facebook Fan Page, (or any other media) this is direct response consulting whether it be in direct mail or in Facebook. If they, the users, take action (CPA) and give us the desired and measured results it is an area we will continue to re-invest in.

If you have any questions please call Jim Peake @ 781-990-8844. Thank you.

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