Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
MagnetStreet realized they were not utilizing an SEO or SEM strategy. So they leveraged Google's Keyword Tool to learn more about terms such as “magnets” and “promotional magnets", and how they could expand their keyword selection to be in front of actively searching magnet customers.
David Baird, Vice President of Marketing at MagnetStreet, was surprised to find out that “save-the-date wedding magnets” stood out as keywords of rapidly growing interest. This new product keyword trend spurred an information-gathering project that started with understanding what a save-the-date magnet was, and ended with a solution regarding how to enter the wedding market.
MagnetStreet was also pleased to learn, via Google Trends and Insights for Search, that this new venture revealed an interest peak in January, with a more consistent level of interest throughout the year than the real estate market. These Google tools also offered geographic data that gave MagnetStreet the opportunity to intelligently market to the local areas that showed the most interest in their product suite.
MagnetStreet continues to use Insights for Search to help them expand into new markets, discover additional product offerings, and to inform design, staffing and media decisions. They have expanded into selling wedding invitations and programs in addition to various occasion invitations and announcements.
When looking back at his business’ success, Mr. Baird credits Google’s tools with helping him to make smarter, low risk decisions and giving him the opportunity as a small business owner to compete with Big Box players.
Click here for more information on this success story.
Posted by Keri Overman, The Google Retail Team
Sun Windows is a family-owned business that dates back to the 1930’s when V. E. Anderson, Sr. invented and built storm windows in his garage at night and sold them door-to-door during the day. Today, Sun Windows is run by his grandson, Frank Anderson, and offers an expansive product line of high quality, energy efficient windows and doors with a focus on customer service.
The window and door business is seasonal, following trends in new construction and peaking in summer. At the height, we have around 120 employees made up of about 80% production workers who manufacture the products, and 20% office staff and outside sales who use email and other office software regularly. Keeping everyone connected and communicating effectively is one of my main goals.
We originally used a local provider for web hosting and email and there was a lot of downtime when email just wouldn’t work. I’d get phone calls from individuals throughout the company and would have to contact our email provider about once a month. Adding to this, we received significantly more spam than good email. Sun Windows even got flagged as a spammer because all our emails went through the local provider. We’re a small company and everyone wears a lot of hats so these issues took up a lot of time I didn’t really have.
I used Gmail at home and had even set up Google Apps for my personal website so I knew about its robust spam-filtering and other great features. Given all the email problems we were having at work, I decided to switch the company to Google Apps and have never looked back. The amount of spam in our inboxes is almost nothing and having web-based email accessible from any Internet connection is a big plus for everyone. At the time of the switch, I hadn’t even considered the added benefits of other products like Google Calendar and Google Docs.
After setting up email, we quickly created shared calendars to keep various departments organized, track company events and schedule customer visits for the field service unit. Then we slowly started to use Google Docs. Most people in the company were familiar and comfortable with desktop office software but once they realized the power of collaborating and sharing documents online, almost everyone switched to Google Docs. Production line supervisors use a spreadsheet to track labor hours at the plant, and sales reps create and share customer presentations. We’ve also moved existing documents over to Google Docs which we use to store files of any type.
Now when new computers are purchased, I don’t renew our Microsoft® Office licences. The company saves money but even more importantly, I save time in administering licenses, installations, security patches, and training. Google Apps has been one of the smartest decisions I’ve made for Sun Windows and I continually look for new ways to take advantage of it to improve how we work.
Posted by Steve Stepp, IT Manager, Sun Windows
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
In 2010 people researched their travel options more frequently, for longer periods of time, and on various online channels. This is good news for Travel marketers because you now have more opportunities to reach customers -- and many of these channels can help you more effectively promote your businesses. With marketing tools like YouTube and display ads, Travel marketers can actually show images of their destinations. For example, Hawaii’s official travel site showcases amazing beaches and palm trees on their YouTube channel. Don’t these videos make you want to take a trip to Hawaii?
We saw travel bookings pick up in 2010 and we’re expecting this trend to continue into 2011. This is the year of reaching your customers at every phase of the research process -- and compelling them with visual imagery. We’ve included our recommendations for doing so below:
Seasonality: Spring break travelers don’t start researching their options in March. Our research shows that the average traveler spends almost two months researching travel options before booking. As such, we suggest using Insights for Search to see when certain destinations are on the rise -- you can plan your search ad campaigns based on this seasonality. For example, searches for ‘hotel cancun’ actually peak in January.
Search: Our research shows that 78% of travel transactions involve research on a search engine.* In fact, the average traveler searches eight times prior to booking. In addition to timing your search ads campaigns with proper search seasonality, we recommend taking advantage of new search formats. For example, if you are advertising a destination, you can create a free listing on Google Places and include detailed information and pictures.
Content pages: Rather than consulting travel agents, consumers are turning to online reviews, videos, and blogs. This means consumers are more engaged and involved in the research process -- it also means you have more opportunities to reach them as they research their options. The average hotel booker, for example, conducts 20 research sessions on multiple sites prior to transacting.* What’s more, ad inventory on these sites is generally less competitive than search: The median Travel advertiser’s cost per acquisition on the Google Display Network is 2% less than that on search.** You can even measure the impact of your display ads using Campaign Insights.
YouTube: 81% of all travelers who watch online videos do so on YouTube. And the number of travel-related online videos has increased dramatically since 2009. Video is a compelling way to showcase travel destinations -- If you are marketing a destination site or a hotel, we recommend shooting video footage (it doesn’t have to be high-budget or flashy) and uploading this content to a YouTube Brand Channel and promoting this channel on your website. From there, you can explore advertising options to drive additional traffic to your channel.
Mobile: Personal travelers more than doubled their usage of mobile devices for travel purposes in the past year.** Research also shows that among travel consumers, purchase intent is five times higher on mobile ads than on desktop ads.*** New mobile ad technologies present a fantastic opportunity to reach these customers when they’re ready to actually take the leap of booking their trip. In particular -- and for Travel advertisers who do not have mobile websites -- we recommend enabling the Click to Call option, which allows customers to call you directly from their mobile phones.
The possibilities are endless -- and if you reach a customer at various phases throughout the research process with compelling messages and images, chances are he or she will be more likely to book with you. Have fun this year!
*Data from a ComScore Behavioral study.
** Data from an Internal Google study.
*** Data from an InsightExpress study.
Posted by: Sarah Travis, Team Manager, AdWords Travel Team
Friday, February 18, 2011
At Hammock, we develop and manage a wide array of content, helping our clients engage with customers to increase loyalty and extend the length of the relationship. Since I founded the company 20 years ago, our work has expanded from print newsletters and magazines to include a range of digital media, such as websites, blogs, event media, and more. We’ve grown to 20 full-time employees and have developed a network of over 1,000 freelancers across the country. Technology has played an important role in what we offer our clients and how we work together as a team.
A couple of years ago, when our Technology Director left the company, we decided to experiment with using an outsourced solution for networking and systems so our internal technology staff could focus on development and creative duties. The experience gave us confidence to outsource other parts of IT so when the email server became unreliable and couldn't filter spam as well as our personal Gmail accounts, we started researching alternative solutions. With the help of an external IT service, we unplugged the email server and switched to Google Apps.
Fixing our spam problem – which Gmail has done amazingly well – would have been enough to make the switch to Google Apps worth it. We did a cost analysis per employee, however, and keeping servers in-house for just email would have been more expensive than the entire suite of Google Apps. Plus, adding calendars, contacts and documents, all of which sync nicely to our smart phones, tablets, and home computers has changed the way we work for the better.
Collaborating across our expansive network of contributors is critical and most of us use Google Docs for sharing and updating documents. Spreadsheets have also helped us manage our own newsletter subscriptions – a Google form is embedded on our website to collect information from individuals who want to receive our newsletter. Information from the form is imported directly into a Google spreadsheet that we access internally.
The ecosystem around Google Apps is helping us further meet our unique needs. We use Manymoon, a 3rd party application from the Google Apps Marketplace, to help with project management and it has resolved a number of workflow issues. Manymoon is a little like an in-house social network where, instead of setting up pages related to your favorite club or cause, you set up project pages where you can consolidate information and track progress. Because Manymoon integrates directly with Google Apps, it’s easy to add Google documents, calendar entries and emails related to a project.
For some people in the company, there was a reluctance to give up traditional desktop applications. However, it has been easy for me to evangelize Google Apps internally and I think we'd all agree now that the switch has had a positive impact on how we work.
Posted by Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO, Hammock
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Knowing that time is a key factor for all AdWords advertisers, we created the Opportunities tab to provide you with automated and customized keyword, bid, and budget ideas. Here are two stories of advertisers who used the Opportunities tab to find new keywords quickly and easily.
Chris Mattioli founded Fitness Singles, a fitness-focused online dating website in 2003. With Chrisís dedication and some help from AdWords, he has grown his business to over one million global members today.
Like many small business owners, Chris wanted to improve his AdWords performance, but didn't have a lot of time to work on his account. When Chris discovered the Opportunities tab, he knew it was a good fit for Fitness Singles, since it allowed him to uncover new keywords quickly and easily.
Chris scans the keyword ideas in the Opportunities tab regularly to find terms related to fitness, online dating, and singles. He's found many ideas that are similar to the keyword combinations and variations that are in his account, but that he may have accidentally overlooked. He's also found completely new relevant keywords to include in his campaigns. In one instance, Chris saw terms such as promotion code and coupon among his keyword ideas. From there, he decided to add a number of discount-based keywords to his campaigns. Chris says, "The Opportunities tab can often find new keywords that are relevant our ads and that don't currently exist in our account. It also helps you identify new keyword areas--even when you thought you had it covered."
Ryan Bailey, President and Co-Founder of resortsandlodges.com, describes his company as a full-service agency rather than a travel directory. "We have a rapidly growing client base of two thousand-plus and a business model that gives our clients turnkey marketing and advertising support." While part of a large company, VEMGlobal.com, resortsandlodges.com runs as a small business and keeps its operations small and scrappy.
On the site, you can 'book your spot' to save your travel information, plan your next trip, and more
click for full size image
Mollie Moore, the company's interactive marketing manager, also used the Opportunities tab to help with a website redesign project in March 2010. The previous version of resortsandlodges.com had dozens of links at the bottom of the page, and Moore was tasked with de-cluttering and limiting these links to the most important content. Looking at the number of keyword ideas associated with a particular theme as well as the traffic estimates for each keyword idea, the team learned that ìthe most effective content sections were top destinations, popular resort types, popular trips, and so forth," says Moore. "We also used ideas from the Opportunities tab to build out our meta titles, descriptions and keywords embedded in the back-end of every page on the site. Using the Opportunities tab, we can reduce guesswork in determining the most effective content."
To learn more about Fitness Singles and resortsandlodges.com and how they use the Opportunities tab, read their full case studies in the AdWords Help Center. You can learn more about the Opportunities tab in the AdWords Help Center or our YouTube video series.
Posted by Nathania Lozada, Inside AdWords crew
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Editor’s Note: Last week we kicked off a local marketing campaign for Google Places in Austin, Texas, to spread the word about all the Google tools business owners can use to connect with customers. Here, our new friend Rebecca with the Austin Chamber of Commerce talks about why Google’s a great fit for the Austin small business community.
Several weeks ago Google called us. They were looking to work with the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Austin’s local business community for a new marketing campaign about Google Places. Google’s been taking a new approach to marketing Google Places, their business listings, and a recently launched tool to help connect customers to those businesses, Hotpot. We were thrilled to hear about their interest in Austin.
Why Austin? Our national recognition as a tech-savvy hub for business development means the city is a natural fit for Google’s initiatives. The Google Places Business Kits will be introduced to the Austin Chamber’s network of business leaders in central Texas. These kits include a sampler of marketing materials that can help businesses get more exposure, get them reviewed online, and get more customers through their door.
Business owners also will have the ability to connect with potential customers through Google’s new rating tool, Hotpot. With Hotpot, people now have the ability to rate and review local businesses and share those opinions with friends. When that person uses Google to search for local places, their search results become more personalized based on their tastes and those of their friends.
At the Chamber, we’re always working to understand the small business climate as we develop our benefit programs. One trend we’ve noticed is the convergence of social and mobile computing, along with the growth of location technology and services. Google Places and Hotpot act as a great set of tools business owners can use to take advantage of these trends.
As small business owners look to expand their market reach, online promotion plays an increasingly important role in both attracting new businesses and retaining loyal customers. Easy access to accurate information online and helpful reviews work toward business stability. Google’s partnership with businesses in our city will support and enhance the opportunities for raising a branded level of awareness to the consumer. Certainly, it will be exciting to witness what happens in the marketplace when Google, with its global reach, meets Austin, whose reputation for innovation and creativity is well-earned. We at the Chamber are forecasting exciting new developments ahead in 2011.
Posted by Rebecca Martin, SVP, Austin Chamber of Commerce
Friday, February 11, 2011
A typical day for a DeyFischer consultant doesn’t often involve our corporate offices, and they’re rarely in the same city as the week before. Our more than 50 consultants are out in the field, working side-by-side with clients around the world to deliver SAP business solutions. Back at our headquarters in Missouri, and SAP retail office in Atlanta, we have DeyFischer business managers, recruiters and an administrative team – but no IT personnel on staff.
At any given time across the company, we’re operating in dozens of countries and time zones. Before Google Apps, we were using a variety of different email clients and calendar systems – it was a free-for-all when it came to which office tools individuals wanted to use. Supporting all these tools was very labor-intensive. Our administrative team had to send each new consultant instructions on how to set up their email client so we could forward DeyFischer email to them. Corporate contacts and calendars, which are vital in our business, were sent out only once a month because sharing them was so cumbersome.
With Google Apps, communication is seamless and our administrative team can go back to its core job: driving revenue for the company, rather than serving as a help desk. To set up Google Apps, we worked with Umzuzu, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller. Umzuzu designed a strategy to help us transition to the cloud that included migrating old emails and comprehensive training for all employees. The whole process was painless and during it all, we had no downtime or lost emails – which our employees were grateful for!
Part of the transition included migrating our more than 3,500 contacts over to Google Apps. With advice and technical support from Umzuzu, we implemented Floreysoft’s Shared Contacts application from the Google Apps Marketplace. It’s integrated directly with Google Apps so when someone at DeyFischer adds a contact to the database, it’s immediately available to consultants across the company.
With Google Apps, communications have changed for the better and employees are now more productive in the office and on the road where they can easily access email, calendar and other important documents on their laptops or mobile phones. Scheduling is even easier with many consultants using Google Calendar to send meeting invitations directly to their clients.
We’re growing fast and Google Apps is helping us keep up the pace. Unlike before, email accounts are now created quickly and easily, and new employees are directed to a welcome site created with Google Sites. This frees the management and administrative teams to focus on hiring exceptional consultants rather than on-boarding new ones. Google Apps is helping us expand and reach new heights.
Posted by Tom Dey, co-Founder, DeyFischer Consulting
Editor’s Note: Starting today, we’re kicking off a local marketing campaign in Austin, Texas, to spread the word about Google Places and Hotpot among local business owners and those who live and work in the area. To get the Austin party started, we’ve teamed up with Torchy’s Tacos to give away delicious free tacos to their customers (get ‘em while they’re hot!). We asked Tiffany Harelik, a fourth generation Austinite and member of the Torchy’s team, to write a little something for the blog about working with Google and some of the amazing food Austin has to offer.
|Photo courtesy of Jared Tennant Photography|
|Photo courtesy of Jared Tennant Photography|
Thus, I'm exceptionally excited to announce that we’ll be giving away — on Google — the Hotpot taco (or for those familiar with our menu, the Migas) at all six Torchy's Tacos locations until 2pm today. Keep in mind this is while supplies last and one per customer. Woohoo! Thanks, Google.
Now back to Hotpot. It’s a tool that supports local businesses by allowing users to share the places they love with their friends and discover new places they might like. As both a local Austin business owner and someone who reviews other local businesses, I'm excited about Hotpot and very happy to see big dogs like Google collaborating with unique trendsetters like Torchy's.
One of the fun features of Hotpot is the Best Ever medal, reserved only for the most deserving of favorite local spots. The Google girls asked me about some of my Best Ever trailer food vendors so they could check them out while here in Austin. (This, as you know, is always my most dreaded question. Trailers, you’re all pretty.) But for you, Google and readers, here is just a tiny portion of the awesome trailers not to miss, in addition to our beloved Torchy's:
G'Raj Mahal – fine Indian dining al fresco on Rainey Street
La Boite Cafe – unique local bistro cuisine in an eco-friendly box on S. Lamar
Franklin Barbecue - a must-have mouthwatering bbq experience east of campus
Hey Cupcake! - selling thousands of swanky cupcakes a day in multiple locations
Mighty Cone - gourmet fried chicken from the creators of Hudson's on the Bend on South Congress
Lulu B's Sandwiches - one of the best-kept underground secrets of sandwich teases on S. Lamar
The Flying Carpet – incredible Moroccan food from a loving family on South Congress
|Photo courtesy of Jared Tennant Photography|
Posted by Tiffany Harelik. Tiffany started her company Trailer Food Diaries with nothing more than a blog in February 2010. Attracting the attention of C3 Presents, she partnered with them to create the first annual Gypsy Picnic trailer food festival last fall. Her successes led local trailer food ambassadors Torchy's Tacos to hire her, and she consults with other trailer food vendors across the country. Her trailer food cookbook will be coming out this fall. She remains inspired by the foodie-entrepreneurs she encounters on her trailer food journeys.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
- Figure out when your hot season actually starts. Many marketers assume they know when their hot season starts and ends or they base this year’s strategy on last year’s season. Use Insights for Search to better understand when customers begin to search for your products. If you look at search volume on ‘swimsuits,’ you’ll notice that queries actually begin to rise in January and maintain steady volume throughout July. Don’t fall into the trap of advertising swimsuits only in the summer!
- Use different types of campaigns at different times. Once you fully understand your seasonality, think critically about the different types of advertising you’ll do throughout the year. For AdWords customers, for example, I recommend exploring theRemarketing Tool to keep track of customers who may have visited your site during the down season. When hot season strikes again, you’ll be able to reach these customers when they are more actively pursuing your products. Remarketing is also a great way for AdWords customers with multiple seasons to reach people throughout the year. For example, if you sell flowers, you can set up a cookie to target people who purchased flowers from you on Valentine's Day, and then begin showing them ads for your Mother's Day specials in April.
- Through it all, continue to optimize your account structure. Once you’ve established the initial structure of your account, be sure to track performance and optimize your keyword lists and ad texts, particularly during down seasons. I recommend using the ‘Search terms’ report on your broad match keywords or the Opportunities Tab to identify new keyword ideas as well as negative keywords. For your ad text, look at which ads converted best in the previous hot season, and see if any consistent themes jump out. You may notice that mentioning ‘Save 20% on Gifts’ worked better than ‘Save Big on Gifts’ and you can edit your text accordingly for the next hot season.
- Take advantage of free offerings, particularly during the down season. For Retailers with physical locations, it’s imperative that you create a listing on Google Places. Particularly as consumers increasingly search while they are on the go, it’s important that people know when they are near your physical location!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Back in November, we introduced Hotpot, a new local recommendation engine powered by you and your friends. Using Hotpot is simple: you rate places on google.com/hotpot—restaurants, hotels, cafes—and add friends on Hotpot whose opinions you trust. Then the next time you perform a search, Google will serve up personalized results, listing places based on your tastes, as well as recommendations from your friends.
We’ve watched Hotpot grow and change over the last couple months, and today Hotpot is really going places: to a Google search box near you and around the world.
You can now enjoy Hotpot recommendations in your regular search results on Google.com. So say you’re looking for a restaurant in Barcelona. Go to Google and search [restaurant barcelona]. If a friend has rated a particular restaurant, you might see their rating and what they had to say about it—as well as their name and photo—directly beneath that restaurant’s listing. To see all recommendations by your friends, click “Places” on the lefthand side of the page, and choose “Friends only.” Remember, you’ll need to be logged in to your Google account in order to see recommendations.
Seeing place recommendations based on your tastes and those of your friends across more Google searches will make results more relevant to you and maybe lead you to discover a new gem. If you don’t have Hotpot friends yet, you can invite them to share all the places they love with you by using the “Friends” tab on google.com/hotpot.
But Hotpot will only be half the fun if you can’t share it with all your international friends. So starting today, we’re making Hotpot available in 38 new languages—including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian and Spanish—allowing people to share their favorite places in their native language.
Start rating and sharing recommendations with Hotpot everywhere, anytime: at google.com/hotpot, on Google Maps, using Google Maps for Android with an easy widget, and on our new iPhone app.
Posted by Lior Ron, Product Manager
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
- Be an industry expert. As a member of the Financial Services industry, you must be an expert on the economy as a whole -- not just an expert of your own particular niche. One thing we’ve learned from the recession is just how interconnected the Financial Services industry is: decisions and regulations in one sector often impact dealings in another. For example, as interest rates were lowered through the recession, consumer interest in refinancing increased at a sustained level. As a marketer, you must stay on top of these trends to understand how they impact your business and your customers.
- Adjust your online advertising strategy in reaction to consumer behavior or industry trends. If you notice a particularly pertinent financial ruling or piece of news, use Insights for Search to learn how this change has impacted search behavior. For example, as Congress considered extending the Bush Tax Cuts recently, consumer searches spiked. What an excellent opportunity to get your name in front of your target audience in order to get the most out of your marketing budget!
- As an example, Humana insurance recently noticed changing consumer behavior and incorporated industry trends into their marketing strategy. In reaction to changing healthcare reform and later medicare enrollment, Humana took the opportunity to educate their customers via a YouTube brand channel and edited their ad text to include pertinent terms, such as ‘affordable.’
- Manage your online brand and reputation. For better or for worse, there are now countless channels through which you can influence your brand online. I recommend setting up Google News Alerts that trigger when your company name is mentioned. I also recommend creating Profile Pages, listing your business on Google Places (only, of course, if you have a brick and mortar address), and testing new Google ad formats that showcase your product or service, such as SiteLinks.
- Engage with your customers online. And finally, to build upon your online brand, it’s important to interact with your customers online. Engaging with your customers online can also help you better understand if/how economic trends are impacting them -- and this can help you make business and advertising decisions. I recommend creating Twitter, Facebook and YouTube identities to solicit feedback and engage with your customers!