Oh You Social Butterfly, You!


I guess maybe I’m showing my age when I use the term “social butterfly.”  I haven’t heard it used in a while.  We all know one, that person that shows up to a party or a networking event and spends the entire time flitting about, from person to person (or flower to flower), landing very lightly, then moving along without staying long.  Although beautiful to watch, it is hard to put into words the impression left by the butterfly, they are there for such a brief period of time. With the social butterfly we find it difficult to recall much about them, other than they were there.

We are all in the business of branding, whether we represent a company we work for or own, or whether we are branding ourselves.  As such, when using social media as a form of brand awareness and marketing, one can get into a lot of trouble if not paying close attention to online “social graces.”  As Kendal Allen puts it, “a lot of damage can be amassed to a brand over time; the idea of death by 1,000 cuts comes to mind.” See his entire article at:


And if you’re not using social media like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg or any one of a number of other social/community based sites, then you are missing out on major venues with which you can nurture and improve your brand.  There is a catch though.

I brought up the analogy of the butterfly to illustrate a personal observation I have made experiencing what some social marketers (and microbloggers) do with their comments.  I find that I have favorites that I always read; people whose blogs or comments are especially helpful or thought provoking, or who I even find humorous and therefore I bookmark them, share them, subscribe to them or request their RSS feeds.  Seth Godin is a good example.  It is these people who in my mind have established a brand awareness, an image that is positive and one that is easy for me to recall.  These are people I would purchase from.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who don’t really have much to say; all of their comments centering around what small event is taking place in their lives, or who is making them mad or just general bitching.  I’ve even read comments that made no sense at all.  Joel Comm in his book “Twitter Power” encourages the use of tweets that aren’t always about marketing yourself and your brand and are more an effort to show yourself a real and genuine person, a human being with concerns, wants and desires.  And I couldn’t agree more.

I believe that it is variety that adds spice to life.  Social commentary should reflect this variety by containing a rich mixture of personal anecdotes, observations, references and valuable information.  I believe that by providing value, be it new information, a provocative thought, quotes from bright people or even a good recipe, you can go a long way towards building a brand that people will remember.  Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, not only promotes his company but also builds a personal brand through the tweets he sends.  It is possible to have your own personal style and solid marketing principals at the same time.

Brands try to increase awareness and considerations to purchase, hopefully resulting in a sale.  But the social butterfly, whose impression with us is barely memorable, cannot possibly build much awareness.  They are here and then gone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



It’s Just Touch and Go

What, another landing page blog!?

Please indulge me for just one more post about how best to convert visitors on your website. I have had a number of my readers comment that they appreciated the subject so much that they wanted more. It isn’t really surprising. Thousands of dollars are wasted each day in email and Adword campaigns that drive lots of traffic but no conversions. Regardless of how you define a conversion, or what you want someone to do when they come to your website, it is the conversion that ultimately rings the cash register, right? Are you concerned that your visitors are doing the old “touch and go?”

I enjoyed attending a webinar the other day by Tim Ash of SiteTuners titled “The 7 Deadly Sins of Website Design and What to Do About Them.” He did such a great job of illuminating some very common design mistakes that I will do my best to sum up what his hour and a half webinar covered.

Sin #1
An Unclear Call-To-Action

Since the call-to-action is the actual conversion, it has to be extremely clear, even stupidly clear. The key here is “please don’t make me have to think too much.” If it takes too long for the visitor to figure out what to do, they will get frustrated or confused and hit the “back” button. Also, there are times where competing visual elements demand so much attention that the call-to-action is lost. Be sure that the call-to-action is obvious and it’s best if it’s above the fold.

Sin #2
Too Many Choices

Tim provided a great example of a Home page that had 146 clickable links! What exactly is the visitor supposed to do? For the sake of simplicity it is best to reduce the amount of detail so early in the process. The visitor doesn’t know you, therefore give them only what they need to know then provide sub-pages that they can go to for more detail if they choose. This grouping of choices into higher level categories will reduce confusion.

Sin #3
Asking for Too Much Information

This is especially true when someone is completing a form to be contacted or to receive a whitepaper, or sometimes even as the part of a shopping cart. If you ask for a lot of extraneous information (many times just for the purpose of gathering marketing information) it becomes too personal or it is not appropriate. If the process is too imposing or takes too much time, you’ll also lose them. Ask only for information that is absolutely necessary. If you don’t need a zip code, don’t ask for one. Reduce the number of fields in the form to the bare minimum which will also simplify. You can always get more details later, once you have established a level of trust.

Sin #4
Too Much Text

“Do I really have to read all of this?” How many times has that happened to you? We humans have very short attention spans especially online. In this case, less is definitely more. Unless you want your visitors to suffer some serious information overload, create very clear headlines and sub-headings in bulleted format. Use imagery if you can (only please, no overused stock photos). Most of all, put the important stuff, what you want them to know, first.

Sin #5
Not Keeping Your Promises

Every visitor to your website is there with a clear intent and in a particular frame of mind. They arrived because your email or pay-per-click ad gave them the expectation that they would find what they were looking for. The worst thing you can do is go back on that promise. Many times, because of a disconnect upstream, expectations are not met, and the “back” button is hit, only with vigor. Be sure you are representing what your ad talked about by repeating ad text or keywords. Provide clear access to information. Remember, your brand is a promise, keep it.

Sin #6
Too Many Visual Distractions

This used to be a huge problem back when Flash animation was all the rage. You would go to a website and be inundated with so much color and movement you’d thought you were having an epilepsy attack. Be clear about where on the page you want your visitor to look. Gratuitous graphics is like a visual assault, it interrupts the whole experience. I’ve seen websites where I can’t even separate content from navigation from branding. It’s just a hodge-podge. Studies have indicated that actually boring can convert better because there is no competition with the call-to-action. If your web designer is frustrated with boring, let them cut off their ear and be an artist!

Sin #7
Lack of Credibility and Trust

When a visitor comes to your website their first question is, “why should I trust you and buy from you?” Be prepared to answer that question and calm their concerns. You can do this with clearly displayed endorsements, trust symbols or social proof. In some cases, companies have featured the trust mark so prominently that is carries a heavier weight than the brand. Now that makes a statement: you are more concerned about your customer than you are about blowing your own horn. Whenever you can, use client logos and make sure you are providing generous money-back policies and guarantees.

My thanks again to Tim Ash and the folks at SiteTuners.

If you follow these guidelines and avoid these sins, your website visitors will not do the “touch and go” but will do the “touch and stay for a while and maybe even spend some money.”

As always, I welcome your comments.



That Was a Great Landing!


All of us hate a bad landing; it’s an unpleasant experience, it can at times be scary, and it does not meet our expectations. No, this isn’t going to be a post about flying, however you have to agree, a great landing is something we can all appreciate, right?.

I want to continue from my last post to explore the intricacies of website landing pages (or offer pages) and the effect that their design can have on overall conversion results. Of course the landing page should be designed for simplicity and ease of use, using the same brand identity of your company. They should be very specific to the offer you made in your direct mail piece or pay-per-click ad and should integrate your keyword research into the copy and design for each individual campaign. These are all the “must do’s” the very basics of landing page design. But, let’s think about what the next step might be, what could potentially take your campaign from good to great in terms of conversions.

As I stated before, there is not any two of us humans that are exactly alike, even if we’re twins. We have all come from different backgrounds and upbringings which can affect our tastes and preferences, not to exclude the differences in ages, sex or ethnicity. We have all had unique experiences, both good and bad. You can remember the time when you “bit” on an offer that was so unbelievably amazing that you just had to do it, later to find that the offer fell well short of its promotion. These kinds of experiences cause us to have hesitation as our trust factor has been violated. In “Marketing Experiments,” Hunter Boyle and his writers discuss the relationship between anxiety/friction versus incentive/value proposition in landing page design and testing.


What we’re really trying to understand is the emotional and psychological makeup of the person who has clicked on our email offer or PPC ad and by anticipating their needs, present to them the best and most optimized landing page experience that we can. Not an easy thing to do. Consider also that the time of day may come into play. The person that is up at 2:00 a.m. searching and browsing, unless they work during the night, we can assume is an insomniac and has more time to delve into the details of the landing page. Contrast this to that same person who is searching during their lunch break. They really don’t have time to spend, so the design of the landing page needs to facilitate finding the offer, realizing the incentive or value and converting, all very quickly. To complicate things further, if your product is sold internationally, you simply must take nationality into consideration.

The intricacies of landing page design and layout should not be taken lightly, as time and money is at stake without a careful plan of implementation and most importantly, continued testing. Even though you may think you have a fantastic design, if it doesn’t convert, it’s time to throw egos out the window and make changes. It is also important to partner with companies that have the expertise, experience, and technology needed to help you achieve your goals. You too can have a great landing.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

David Soxman



What Happens After The Click?

I have a question for you: Have you ever participated in an Adwords campaign (or other form of paid search) for the purpose of on-line lead generation or to sell your products through a shopping cart? Were you really happy with the results? Did you come away saying, “I don’t think this really works?” What about an email campaign that you put a lot of time, effort and expense into, specifically designing a strong call-to-action and a link to your website only to be frustrated that the lead generation results were dismal at best?

I’ve run across many clients that have experienced these same frustrations. When they looked at their website analytics they found that many people simply abandoned after clicking through. You spent a lot of money getting people interested enough to make that click, but then sent them to a website page that simply didn’t offer them what they were looking for. And guess what, it is estimated that you have less than three seconds to make an impression, perhaps the first and only impression that the visitor will get of your company and what you have to offer. If they don’t see what they want, you’ve lost them.

An optimized landing page (sometimes referred to as an offer page) is one viable solution to this problem. If all you’re doing is sending the person that clicked on your link to the Home page of your website, you’re forcing them to find what they were initially interested in with lots of clicking and perhaps even some frustration. Of all the products and services you may offer, they were really only looking for the specific one you mentioned in your email/direct mail or what they typed into their search query and since they didn’t find it immediately, they abandoned your site.

A landing page on the other hand is very specific to what you are promoting in your email/direct mail piece or for what they were searching. Without the distractions of other offers or products, you make it easier for your customers to focus on what you want them to do: buy something, enroll in a class, download a whitepaper, request information etc. It’s all about making this process as easy as possible and giving them exactly what they want. The other great benefit to the landing page is the ability to track the success of specific campaigns. You can have one landing page for your email campaign; one for your direct mail piece and one for your pay-per-click campaign giving you the ability to monitor how each is performing, not only from the standpoint of click-throughs but also who actually did what you wanted them to do.

Now it’s not just about throwing any old landing page up and hoping for success. Spend some time in the design of this page. Most importantly, it should carry the same look and feel as all of your other marketing efforts, both online and offline. We generally like the email or direct mail we send to have the same exact look as the landing page that we will take them to. Be sure that your branding is consistent. BNET Editorial does a very good job of describing the attributes of a landing page and what to avoid. http://www.bnet.com/2410-13237_23-168347.html

Now, since we are all unique individuals, with different experiences, tastes, upbringings, ages, ethnicity, sex, does it really make since to present the same landing page to every individual that responds by clicking on your link? In my next post I’ll deal with the concept of multiple landing pages for individual campaigns. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Regards,

David Soxman


Mobile: 816.590.5038

That’s My Company Name, That’s Not Fair

I recently had a client contact me in a bit of a rage about the fact that when they put in the exact name of their company in a Google or Yahoo! search, their competitors came up in primary positions in the sponsored search engine results page (SERP). What was even more aggravating was the fact that their own company didn’t show in any of the sponsored SERP. What is up with that, and how can they get away with that? This company and this name has been in existence for 20 years and there’s no way to just sit here and take this. (Insert appropriate explicative here or substitute #@!ᔐ$) Something must be done, this isn’t fair!

First of all, we would strongly recommend that “self searching” is not the best way to see what is happening when the rest of the world searches, however this is certainly a legitimate concern.

It doesn’t seem particularly fair that one of your competitors can go to Google or Yahoo!, request key words and phrases that contain your company name, plunk down enough cash to “buy” a number one or two position and wait for those folks looking for your company by name to instead click on their ad and go to their website. This seems especially brutal when you’ve worked so hard to build the business, its brand and your customer base, or maybe it’s a family business that has an extremely long history and you know the sacrifices that your parents made to get the company to where it is today.

The direct answer is not necessarily reassuring.

As of the date of this post, there is nothing to stop your competitors from purchasing key words that are your company name, although a recent court case just ruled on may change this. And, yes, it kind of seems like dirty pool. Now, this is what they cannot do: If you have a trademark on your company name, a complaint can be filed with the search engines, which means that even though your competition can bid on key words that contain your company name, they cannot use your company name in their ad copy. A perfect example is the word “BotoxTM” and even though I can bid on this key word and build it into my sponsored search inventory, I cannot use the word “BotoxTM” in my ad copy.

Now before hitting the panic button, I think it’s important to step back, without emotion, and look at the intent of the person doing the searching.

That individual has obviously heard of your company name, either as a result of other marketing efforts you are doing or by word-of-mouth (always the best), and they are using the search engine to locate you because they don’t know your website address. It is not uncommon for people to use a search engine as their browser. If the proper work has been done to optimize your website for organic search, the results page should give you good visibility, and in fact, if you are blogging or have optimized video or other media on your website, the likelihood is very good that you will have multiple organic listings that are highly visible (i.e. “blended results”). Now if the individual was particularly interested in learning more about your company by name, what do you think is the likelihood that they really have much interest in your competitors who may only be showing up in the sponsored search results? Those companies that are showing up in the sponsored SERP probably have a lower relevancy to the requested search, are therefore likely to have a lower quality score and hence must pay even more to keep that high position. Talk about driving up the cost of sale!

Okay, you say, I get that there is a higher likelihood that my organic listing will be clicked instead of my competitor’s sponsored ad, but why don’t I appear in the sponsored SERP as well as my unscrupulous adversaries? Great question.

We would always recommend that your include the name of your company in your sponsored key word inventory but let’s look at Google’s intent when they do not show your ad in the sponsored SERP. They see that someone has specifically requested your company by name, and they know that you have a daily allowance limit on your Pay-per-click campaign. Why would they waste an ad impression and a possible click on your ad, when the searching party already knows you exist? Google is actually doing you a favor (I know, you Google haters are saying when does a behemoth like Google ever do anyone a favor?).

The reality is that the proper strategy behind a Sponsored Search or Pay-per-click campaign is to attract website visitors that don’t know you exist, have never heard of you and simply want the product or service that you provide. Those are the folks we are after. Why pay for people that already know who you are?

Subtleties like these are a part of what makes Search Marketing a specialty and why our clients appreciate the expertise we bring. Call me if you have needs that relate to search or any of the other marketing needs. I can be reached at 816.590.5038 or at http://twitter.com/davidsoxman