Google may be the king of search engines in terms of market share, but it appears that the search engine giant may have a bit of work to do when it comes to relevancy. Most recent stats show that it holds a whopping 85% of the US market share for search. By Eric Schmidt’s own account “Every 2 days we’re generating as much information as we did up to 2003?. So, I realize that this is not a routinely easy task even for the Harvard and MIT-educated scientists working at Google.
Now, I am no search-engine optimization guru myself, but as a consumer (as I am sure you’ll agree) I expect Google to display results that are relevant to my search term or phrase. It’s imperative that a company like Google is front and center in realizing that in this every increasing world of content, relevancy matters more than ever! The birth of other vertical-specific search engines (e..g Kayak, Dohop, Lawyers.com, etc.) proves my point that users are desperately seeking relevancy. Microsoft took a stab (rightfully so!) at Google with its series of Bing: The Cure for Search Overload Syndrome Ads although their search results were no better (see example below) than Google’s.
They all seem to be poking fun at each other by claiming that their results are the best, but in my opinion “quality” trumps “quantity”. The reason for singling out Google (for this article) is it’s size and the fact that it owns the lion’s share of the market.
Search Irrelevancy by Example
So, to demonstrate Google’s search results irrelevancy from a consumer standpoint, just this morning (Apr 28, 2011) I entered the search term “Art 101 Artist Essentials 93-Piece Kit” on Google to see if I could find reviews of the art kit that I was considering buying.
Of the 10 organic search results 1 was for Woot and the remaining 9 were for sites that linked to Woot! Now I am a big fan of Woot myself (in fact that’s where I found this product) but the “intent” of my search was to read some reviews before making the purchase. What’s the point of displaying results where 9 of the search results point to the 10th one? I am going to coin this phenomenon as the Circle of Search. Great for Woot! Sucks for the consumer.
Have you been a victim of the Circle of Search? Please share your experiences on some frustrating search results that you may have come across. Hopefully we can gather enough content around this topic to rank at the top of the search results for the term “circle of search”!!! I am sure Google will take notice then.
As marketers we all agree that when it comes to online marketing or lead nurturing, email marketing is a very cost-friendly and effective medium. Companies from Walmart to the corner deli are engaged in email marketing initiatives testing everything from creative, offers, behavioral targeting, etc. Especially with Marketing Automation, companies are able to maintain a constant dialogue with their customers without heavily investing into time and resources.
But, whether you’re Walmart or own the corner deli, you face the same challenges when it comes to delivering your emails viz. how to avoid SPAM filters. According to the Message Anti-Abuse Working Group, 88-92% of the email messages sent in the first half of 2010 were spam (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-mail_spam). So, how do you ensure that your email doesn’t end up getting trashed in some spam folder.
Well, here are 3 simple tips to deliver a better email marketing experience and improve your chances.
1. Choose Your ESP Wisely
Unless you are delivering the emails yourself using Outlook, your choice of an Email Service Provider (ESP) is crucial to the delivery of your email. What you want to look for in an ESP are the following:
a. Find out what kind of relationships they have with vendors like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, etc. i.e. with companies who control a bulk of the email volume. There are ESPs who have a Tier-1 relationship with these vendors making it easier to deliver email.
b. How aggressively do they manage their reputation. The better the reputation of the ESP, the higher the chance of the email being delivered when sent through their servers.
Here’s a list of some of the most reputable ESPs (in no particular order)
Net Atlantic (SaaS-based reseller of the Strongmail platform)
2. Use a Creative yet Non-spammy FROM Email Address
A lot of companies don’t realize the importance the FROM address plays in email delivery. For the untrained deli owner, it’s easy to use an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org
as his "From" address and send the emails through an ESP. However, this is the equivalent of sending someone a piece of mail using your neighbor’s from
address. Email servers are setup to detect this as email spoofing, and will mark such email as SPAM.
That’s not to say that you can’t use a custom FROM address. There are a couple of ways to do this effectively using either an SPF record (Sender Policy Framework) or DKIM, both of which require a discussion of their own.
3. Create Powerful and Relevant Subject Lines
When it comes to subject lines, there’s no magic bullet, but there are tons of best practices. A subject line acts as an elevator pitch for your email summarizing everything in 50-70 characters. A cleverly crafted and well thought subject line allows you to:
- Creates an emotional bond to your brand
- Creates instant engagement
- Entices your users to open and read the email
- Helps you steer clear from SPAM filters
Remember, for every 10 emails that the user receives, 9 are irrelevant. So, you have a few seconds until the person decides whether to open and read your email or hit delete! So, make the most of it, by creating a thoughtful subject line.
Here are some resources that will help you get started.
15 Rules to Write Them Right
Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say in Email Subject Lines
Beyond this, your choice of content and offer also plays a role in email delivery. Assuming you aren’t using “spammy” words or phrases and not pushing offers for “Viagra”, you stand a pretty good chance delivering your email if you follow the 3 simple tips above. Just make sure you are communicating with the right audience!
To those of you who are not familiar with the sport, Wikipedia has a great article on the 2011 Cricket World Cup. And, now that India has won the World Cup 2011 (28 years later!), Indians everywhere should be proud of themselves. The last time they won, I was in school and equally proud. An estimated 2 billion people worldwide watched the game!! So, I thought I’d share some interesting marketing lessons that I learned from today’s game.
Just like any other sport, if you don’t set a goal, you don’t know what you’re chasing and your team won’t be aligned around that goal. As Sehwag mentioned during his post-game interview, India had set the goal to win the World Cup and for 35 days they aligned themselves, on the field, off the field, in the dressing room and everywhere in-between to chase after that goal until it was finally achieved.
Similarly, set your campaign goals, communicate those goals and align your team around it.
Experiment, Take Calculated Risks
Do you really know the performance of a campaign when you launch it? No. No one does. Your job is to employ best practices, leverage your highly qualified resources, build on your personal experience, not to mention some gut feeling. and work towards your goal. And, just like in real life, not every marketing campaign will turn out to be a blockbuster. However, your job as the Campaign or Progam Manager is to take calculated risks around design, content, offers, etc. to help your clients achieve their ultimate goal.
The parallel I saw today was when Dhoni made changes to the batting order after India lost 2 quick wickets in Sehwag and Tendulkar and then promoted himself in the batting order when the middle order had to be protected from collapsing. He experimented. And, boy did it pay off for India big time!
Last but not the least, it’s all about teamwork. I’ve seen the Indian team come a long ways in this aspect. When players work together, to achieve a single goal, extraordinary things can happen, as we saw today. India won the World Cup after 28 years. The glue that kept everything together for India were the stellar partnerships between Gambhir and Kohli and winning partnership between Yuvraj and Dhoni.
So, here are some key takeaways from the Indian Team.
- Set goals
- Take calculated risks
- Encourage teamwork
- Foster partnerships