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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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December 18, 2014

Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (3rd Edition) by Bill Hunt and Mike Moran: Book Review of the Week-ish

December 18, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

You know why Google names all its search engine updates — Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc. — after animals? Because keeping up with search engine marketing is a frickin’ zoo. Just when you think you’ve figured out how it all works, Google goes and changes the rules. Again.

Happily, Bill Hunt and Mike Moran’s newly updated “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website (3rd Edition)” can really help you stay on top of not just the latest changes, but also the underlying logic behind what really makes pages perform well in search. This updated classic provides the right mix of search engine marketing fundamentals, strategic insights, and practical knowledge to help you think about how to make search work for your business no matter what changes Google makes.

If you’re just starting out with search engine marketing, you’ll appreciate the easy, conversational style and clear explanations Hunt and Moran offer, laying out a straightforward, yet scalable framework you can apply to your marketing activities. At the same time, those of you who’ve been around the block a time or two will find new insights into how to increase the value of your search marketing efforts for your business.

I’ve known Mike Moran for a number of years and consider him both a friend and mentor. The same traits that make him a great guy to know — intelligent, funny, and genuinely interested in helping people grow — shine through in this latest edition of “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.”

You can expect Google to continue to change its algorithms and enhance the features of its signature search engine all throughout 2015. But with knowledge as valuable as what’s offered in “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” in your hands and in your head, you’ll be able to handle Google’s zoo next year and beyond. Grab a copy today.

Interested in learning more about search engine marketing, e-commerce, and digital marketing overall? Check out some of our past posts on those topics, including:

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, if you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Tim Peter

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November 26, 2014

What Google Fears – Thinks Out Loud Episode 100

November 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

Iphone search app homescreen

What Google Fears – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 59s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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September 5, 2014

8 Digital Marketing Posts Worth Reading This Week: E-commerce Link Digest

September 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile ecommerce and marketing postsIf it’s Friday, it must be time for another e-commerce link digest. So, without any convoluted setup, let’s just jump straight to these 8 great digital marketing posts for you to read this week. Enjoy:

  1. Chris Brogan, writing at The Customer Edge, explains “The Rise of Warm Data,” which looks at how businesses can use data to really assist their customers. It’s an idea that Forrester Research’s Julie Ask calls, “big mother, not big brother.” It’s also an idea whose time has come.
  2. While we’re on the topic of data, you might want to review what your mobile e-commerce data isn’t telling you.
  3. Marketing Charts offers up this review of where North American digital marketers rank their key goals and challenges. They also show how large enterprises are allocating their digital dollars. Good data, well presented.
  4. Search Engine Land shows why Google’s push for HTTPS is more about PR than search quality that also serves as a strong lesson in being too reactive to Google’s changes. Yes, you need to respond when Google makes algorithm changes. But, some times exist when you need to have some patience. And this sure looks like one of those times.
  5. Think that companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft (the AGFAM group), eBay, Yahoo or others can’t be beat? Think again. Business Insider details why Alibaba is becoming a huge threat to Amazon and eBay. The simple fact is that any business can get disrupted. Time will tell how this plays out.
  6. Amazon and eBay (and you) might benefit from this Entrepreneur.com list of the 6 things Mark Cuban says you need to be great in business. Excellent resource.
  7. eMarketer talks about kids heading back to school with shiny new devices — and, of course, what that means for your business. With this shift to mobile (which I may have mentioned a time or two in the past), it’s time you take a close look at whether mobile search works for your business.
  8. Finally, while the long holiday weekend is (sadly) behind us, you might still want to catch up on these 9 Prime Digital Marketing Reads for a Long Weekend Getaway and The Big Reading List for Labor Day 2014. Good stuff to get you through until next week.

Just as a quick reminder, you might want to check out a webinar called Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year that I’m presenting on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. You can read all the details here.

You may also enjoy this look at growing your email list and its importance as an e-commerce best practice as well as reviewing the slides from a talk I gave all about email marketing in an age of mobile:


(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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August 21, 2014

The Big Problem with Paid Search on Mobile

August 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Paid search on mobileI hear from lots of people that they’re not seeing the benefits they’re accustomed to when using paid search on mobile. So much so, that it’s caused a number of businesses to ask, “Does mobile search work?” The answer, as you might imagine, is complicated. But you can essentially assume that, yes, mobile search does work for many (if not all) businesses.

Why’s it so complicated then? If it’s really working, shouldn’t you be able to see the answer clearly? Well… yes and no. As I point out in my latest post for Mike Moran’s Biznology blog:

“…analytics for tracking mobile search aren’t as robust as desktop search. Put more simply, mobile search doesn’t suffer from a performance problem; it suffers from an attribution problem.”

I’d mentioned in yesterday’s podcast that marketing doesn’t have to be hard, noting in particular the need to focus your energies around what works best. But, it’s important to note that without the right measures in place, you might not easily know what’s working. And, today, most of the measures around mobile conversion — for instance, tracking phone orders, measuring mobile-driven in-store traffic, etc. — either undercount the effectiveness of mobile, or don’t work at all.

This isn’t a problem that’s going away immediately, but we’re beginning to see some progress. Soon, with iBeacon, NFC, location-tracking, or other services, expect to see Google and Apple provide information on when customers carry their phones into your restaurants, retail outlets, real estate offices, auto dealerships, hotels, and more for more detailed, end-to-end tracking of customer behavior. And, expect similar details on phone tracking.

Even better, you don’t have to wait for these more futuristic tools. Start looking at more advanced attribution models to track your marketing’s effectiveness. Again, as I noted over on Biznology:

“…start moving away from last-click attribution and begin exploring more robust attribution models within your favorite analytics tool. I’m particularly partial to time-decay attribution as a starting point, which gives more credit to each action closer to the final conversion.”

Because of the rise of millennials in the marketplace, and mobile use across all demographic segments, your business will increasingly depend on the effectiveness of your mobile paid search marketing, to say nothing of social and local services, too. Recognize for now that mobile search works. It’s likely just not getting enough credit for what it delivers. Work on developing the skills and finding the partners who can help you measure its effectiveness. Mobile search is here to stay. Now it’s time to make sure it gets credit.

You can learn more about how customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing by registering to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You may also want to attend a webinar called Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year on Tuesday, September 16. You can read all the details here.

Finally, whether you work with Millennials, Boomers, Gen X, or the Silent Generation, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 30, 2014

The State of Search Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 83

July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

What's the state of search

The State of Search Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy this look at what your customers expect from e-commerce in 2014 and my slides from the “Digital Marketing Directions – Exploit the Trends that Shape Travel Marketing” talk I gave recently:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 19s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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July 8, 2014

6 Key Secrets Every Hotel Marketer Should Know (Travel Tuesday)

July 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Hotel marketing secrets to drive bookingsWant to know what separates the best hotel marketers from the also-rans? While there’s no one single thing, a few trends have emerged that contribute to success. Here are the 6 key secrets you ought to know for your hotel marketing efforts:

  1. Mobile is here. Now. I’ve talked — at length — about how big mobile travel really is. And it just keeps getting bigger. Scarcely a day passes without some new bit of data showing how frequently your guests use mobile to search and browse and find and book travel. It’s time to take mobile seriously for your business. OTA’s have invested significant amounts of money, time, and people into improving their mobile experiences for guests. It’s time you do, too.
  2. Millennials have arrived. Ignore them at your own risk. Data shows that millennials will spend more on trips this year than Gen X, increasing their spending almost 20% from last year, and that roughly one out of four millennials are planning more overnight leisure trips for leisure than last year. This doesn’t mean that you abandon Boomers or, if they’re a big part of your mix, Gen X. Not at all. However, as Jeff Bezos of Amazon recently pointed out, “All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s.” Consider how often senior executives from the big brands — Marriott, Hilton, Airbnb, Expedia — talk about millennials publicly (hint: Often). Boomers are beginning to age out of the marketplace, while millennials are coming on strong. You need to think about your next generation of travelers now.
  3. Search is getting expensive. Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m a huge fan of search marketing. It works well for most hotels to drive traffic and reservations. Unfortunately, for a whole slew of reasons, it’s getting increasingly expensive. More hotels use paid search than ever before. OTA’s increasingly use paid search to dominate the search results. And, guests have shifted to mobile in a big way — brining with it lower conversion rates and higher acquisition costs. As a result, you’re almost certainly seeing increased costs for paid search. A number of approaches exist to improve your booking costs from search. Use these approaches to hold your costs down. And you must also continue to look for additional sources for traffic and reservations beyond search (and you can ask me for help too).
  4. Metasearch will continue to evolve. Sadly, metasearch probably isn’t one of the ways to find traffic and reservations — at least not for long. Metasearch isn’t a product. It’s a feature. Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and, yes, Google, can add metasearch features to they’re products anytime they choose (and some already have). Metasearch doesn’t represent the “Holy Grail” that will break the dominance of OTA’s on travel search. Hell, most of the big metasearch companies are owned by the OTA’s. Instead, metasearch as a feature represents just the latest step in the long evolution of price transparency in the hospitality space. Use them accordingly, highlighting why guests can expect to get the best rate and, more importantly, the greatest value when booking direct.
  5. Reviews matter. A lot. On the flip side, reviews offer a great way to reach guests and convey your hotel’s story. In fact, effectively managing your reviews represents the single best way to improve your digital marketing. Check out the current review landscape: Review volumes are way, way up. Guests continue to value reviews. And management (i.e., your competitors) are getting better at responding to reviews. Again, it’s about transparency. Use dedicated review sites such as TripAdvisor, Google+, and Yelp, as well as OTA review management tools to help answer your guest’s questions and drive more engaged guests.
  6. Your customer data is better than anyone else’s. Despite its age, email marketing remains among the most effective ways to engage with guests. Why? Well, you’re talking to a guest who travels, who has stayed with you before, and, as long as you’re following best practices for email collection, has agreed that he or she wants to hear from you. Even better, that guest is someone your competitors can’t reach as easily. Continue to grow your email list. Focus on testing what works in terms of open rate, click-through, effective rate, and conversion. Then apply what you learn from those tests the next time to improve your overall customer acquisition costs.

The simple fact is, whether you’re a single-property owner, management company, or major brand, independent or chain, you can compete with the Big Boys. But only if you’re smart about it. Trying to go toe-to-toe with large brands or OTA’s, trading blows in the center of the ring, is a terrible strategy. They have more money, people and data than you do. But, you can change the rules, and focus on improving your interactions with guests at every step in the process — regardless of marketing or distribution channel — to highlight your value and your values. Guests increasingly appreciate knowing more about their hosts and how they fit into the community (note the rise of Airbnb, for instance). Use that to your advantage. You may not be able to go toe-to-toe with the OTA’s. But the biggest secret of all is that, if you do this well, you won’t need to.

Interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And, if you’re curious about other trends shaping travel marketing, take a look at my recent presentation, called, aptly enough, “Digital Marketing Directions – Exploit the Trends that Shape Travel Marketing”:

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

June 6, 2014

What Google Won’t Tell You About Search Engine Marketing

June 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Do you know what a search engine really is? Do you know how search engine marketing is continuing to evolve? No? Well, eMarketer has some crazy research out this week that talks about how companies are shifting US mobile ad dollars to search apps and how that will affect your business:

“As smartphone and tablet usage continue to increase, users are becoming more sophisticated, blurring their mental division between browsers and apps. Mobile marketers are responding to the fact that mobile search behavior is becoming less comparable with its desktop/laptop counterpart, and as a result, the market for mobile search advertising continues to fragment.”

Once upon a time, I posed a trick question, asking you all to consider the following image and answer which of the apps shown were search engines:

What is a search engine?

The reason it’s a trick question is because all these apps are search engines, with many vertical apps today taking the place of “traditional” search. As eMarketer notes:

“Google owned 82.8% of the $2.24 billion mobile search market in 2012… Google still dominates browser-based searches on mobile devices, but niche search apps are also becoming much more prevalent. This caused Google’s share to drop to 68.5% in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates, while the long tail of “other” companies increased share from 5.4% to 22.9%. This year, we expect Google’s share to fall again, to 65.7%, while the “other” category reaches 27.3%.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that Google’s shrinking, only that the use of mobile apps is growing faster than search overall as a means for customs to get answers to their questions.

So, who’s winning? It’s not just “search engines.” While “…search stalwarts like Yahoo and Bing” do well, a whole category known as “Other” has gained significant share. Who are they?

““Other” also includes niche service providers such as travel metasearch apps like KAYAK, job search apps like Indeed, e-commerce sales apps like Amazon and contextual search apps like Shazam… and Yelp is one of the companies beginning to emerge from the pack”

So, Google’s fallen from roughly 83% of all “searches” to only about 2/3rds in less than two years, with Yelp, Amazon, Kayak, and others gaining huge volumes. This demonstrates why I’ve suggested that local search increasingly is all about apps and that search engines will look very different in the coming months and years.

That’s also why I continue to recommend you improve your marketing through a variety of tactics:

  • Build your email list and social connections. Bypass any intermediary — search engine or otherwise — and talk directly with your customers.
  • Explore alternative marketing channels. Evaluate channels in use by your customers and seek ways to help them accomplish their goals in those channels.
  • Learn from market leaders. A number of outstanding companies are using mobile to deepen their relationship with customers. Watch for best practices and look for opportunities to apply them to your business.

I can’t tell you for sure what search engines will look like in a year’s time — or whether your customers will use “search engines” at all. However, I can tell you how to prepare so that no matter how your customers search, you want to be sure they can find you.

Interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing:

Finally, if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

May 12, 2014

What in the World is Happening with Local Search?

May 12, 2014 | By | One Comment

Man using smartphoneThere’s some interesting stuff going on in the world of small business web marketing, particularly with regard to restaurants that has huge impact on local search. Check this out:

Now, some folks suggest this is all about Google competing with Yelp. And I suspect that’s true.

But I also suspect that’s only part of the story.

For one thing, that doesn’t take into account what other players offer at all. Square’s Order app (only available in New York and San Francisco, at the moment), TripAdvisor (though only in France, I believe), and OpenTable, for instance, provide similar functionality and, more importantly, valuable relationships with restauranteurs.

On top of that, most of the write-ups I’ve seen about these acquisitions fail to note that, according to Yodle, “…more than half of SMB owners do not have a website (52%) or even measure the results of their marketing programs (56%).”

Instead, here’s what I think is happening — and why you should care.

I suspect the real reason for these moves is the current shift among consumers towards app usage. Google has relied on search to fill its coffers for years. And as consumers instead use apps to find, research, browse, and buy from local vendors they know and trust — and all evidence suggests they do — Google could easily find itself on the outside looking in. Square, by offering low-cost credit card readers to many small businesses, has gotten a toe-hold with those businesses directly. And they’re starting to use that toe-hold as a stepping stone (if I can mix metaphors), to drive customers to those businesses.

Just like a search engine would.

OpenTable already does the same thing. So does Yelp. And TripAdvisor.

All these tools rely on content from their small business partners. Content that used to be the domain of search engines and, increasingly, appear as the domain of apps.

What all this reflects is the reality that consumers don’t search on the desktop the way they once did (this is the part you should care about). Mobile is changing customer behavior in seriously meaningful ways.

Google sees it. Square sees it. TripAdvisor and Yelp and Foursquare and Facebook and plenty of others see it too. The question is whether you’re doing everything you can to ensure your business benefits, too.

[Note: Updated to include reference to TripAdvisor’s purchase of LaFourchette (which I left out originally) and Yelp’s launch of Yelp Reservations, which, literally happened about 12 hours after I first hit publish. Again, interesting times, well worth watching.]

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, you might want to register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing:

Finally, if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

May 8, 2014

Why Search and Social Aren’t What They Claim to Be

May 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Social and search don't play by the rulesMost of my clients use a combination of paid media, earned media, and owned media to reach their customers. My latest post for Biznology, “What’s wrong with search and social media marketing?” looks at what those mean:

“Historically, media has been broken into three categories:

  • Paid
  • Earned
  • Owned

Paid media is exactly what it sounds like: You pay someone to share your brand’s message. Paid media also powered broadcast and print’s business models for decades, with broadcasters/publishers enjoying a comfortable living from fees charged to advertisers.

Earned media, by contrast, focused on getting others to tell your story without giving them anything (tangible) in return. Traditionally, PR reflected the most common form of earned media.

Owned media, of course, are media channels that businesses controlled. That would include things like your website and mailing list (both email and snail mail).”

Search and social, however, don’t easily fit into these categories. Sure, you think you pay for search and promotions on social, and that you earn “Likes” and “Shares” and “Follows” and “Friends” across various social channels. But, in fact, you don’t. You don’t own the customers. You don’t even buy access to them. Not really. Because Google and Facebook and Twitter and others can change the rules at any time regarding how and where and when you can talk to your customers. In fact, they do — all the time.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use search or social. Nor does it mean they can’t be valuable channels for reaching the right customer at the right time. What it does mean is that how you use search and social matters.

A lot.

And if you want to know how to use search and social most effectively to reach those customers, check out the full post over on Biznology, “What’s wrong with search and social media marketing?”

And if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, you might want to register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing:

Finally, if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

February 23, 2014

Tim Peter Moderates “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” for the HSMAI Digital Strategy Marketing Conference

February 23, 2014 | By | No Comments

Tim Peter will moderate a panel, “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” as part of the 2014 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference. Featuring a distinguished panel that includes representatives from Google and two veteran search marketers, Tim will walk the panelists through a look at where search is today, where it’s going, and how hotel marketers can benefit from these changes in the future.

The event program describes the panel as follows:

“As user behaviors shift, demographics change, and search channels expand and converge, it’s important to understand what’s changed and how best to capitalize on the speed and direction of this change. During this session, experts will help guide you through the tangled web of ‘Search 2014’ and leave you with tips to help you stay ahead of the game.”

You can still register for this year’s conference onsite at the NY Marriott Marquis, Broadway Ballroom, 6th Floor and learn more about having Tim speak at your conferences here.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including: