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Best of 2007: Marketing Research

How is online consumer behavior changing? Which SEO tools and techniques produce the best results—according to the experts who use them? Does advertising on social media sites really work? What do marketing professionals need to know about online video? Get the answers to these questions and more from this collection of some of the best articles and blog posts from 2007 on marketing research.

There’s Still Room on the Web for Small E-Tailers by

Writer Fredric Paul cites a study showing that smaller web-based retailers have an opportunity to take share from more established sites by implementing solid SEO. Many larger e-tailers (and B2B vendors as well) have left the door open to more nimble competitors by failing to search optimize their own sites: "only 20 of the top sites were considered 'well-optimized' while another 20 qualified as 'moderately optimized.' On the other hand, 34 were 'nominally-optimized,' and 27 showed 'no signs of optimization.'"

The 18 Mistakes That Kill Start-Ups by Paul Graham

After pointing out that the single mistake almost universally responsible for the failure of start-up companies is "not making something users want," Paul Graham goes on to detail the "list of 18 things that cause startups not to make something users want," including picking a marginal niche, relying on a derivative idea, launching a new product or service too early, and "not wanting to get your hands dirty." Graham provides an excellent list of strategic mistakes to avoid for any start-up enterprise.

People Do Read Online -- Who Knew? by Marketing Interactions

After citing research showing that online readers are more likely to read an entire story, or a least a significant portion of it, in an online source than print, blogger Ardath Albee drives home the key takeaway from the research for marketers: "People want to read content that has benefit to them...a story about how their lives will change if they use your products, or even better, why they should disrupt the status quo and bother at all, in the first place."

Creativity & You by THINKing

Blogger Harry Hoover comments on the results of study into the roots of creativity. The good news is that we all have more creativity within us than we probably give ourselves credit for. Among the keys to unleashing that creativity are training, practice, and most importantly self-confidence.

Most Searchers Have Two Words for Google by Search Engine Watch

In this brief article, Enid Burns quotes research showing that two-word searches are most common across the major search engines, accounting for nearly a third of all searches. Searches using four or more words collectively account for about 26%. For SEOs, particularly in the B2B space, it's important to point out that although multi-word searches are less common than for shorter phrases, searchers using longer search terms usually have a much better notion of specifically what they are looking for, and—if they are potential buyers—are likely to be further along in their buying cycle.

Best SEO Resources, Practices & Conferences : Reader Poll Roundup by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Search guru Lee Odden provides a mega-post detailing the results of 14 separate online polls tallying the votes of SEO professionals on questions such as how many conferences they attend each year, which online communication and networking tools they use most frequently, favorite keyword research tool, and best search marketing newsletter.

The writers of the MediaPost blogs also frequently do a great job of covering online research findings. Here are some of the best marketing research-related posts from MediaPost bloggers last year.

Happy World Internet Day by MediaPost Online Spin

Seana Mulcahy provides a brief history of the Internet, some interesting statistics, and her list of favorite web research-related sites.

Pure Viral Marketing - A Pipe Dream? by MediaPost Online Spin

Max Kalehoff notes research showing that viral marketing campaigns aren't like a pyramid, where you tell 10 friends, who each tell 10 friends, who each etc. until the entire planet has seen your content, but more like bouncing a basketball--if you throw the ball against the ground, you'll get a big first bounce, followed by a series of successively smaller bounces. The key to viral marketing success, therefore, lies in getting as big a first bounce as possible.

Advertising On Social Networks: Risk or Reward? by MediaPost Online Spin

Seana Mulcahy observes that while social media offers a powerful way to reach prospects, traditional advertising probably isn't the way to do it. "Web users do not view social networking sites as a place to buy products and services." Instead, marketers should view these sites as medium in which to track user feedback on their products and services, offer valuable content, and build relationships with prospects.

Generation Net-Obsessed by MediaPost Online Spin

This post provides some interesting statistics and observations about the "net generation," 16-to-29 year olds who have "grown up with computers, video games, the Internet, instant messaging, online music and the like." It provides that top ten themes of research on this generation, and not surprisingly notes that "77% of the net generation could live without television but could not live without Internet access."

Just An Online Minute… Web Video Watchers by Just an Online Minute

In this short but informative post, Wendy Davis provides some interesting data on who's watching online video, what type of content they watch most frequently, and how frequently they watch.

Online Debate #2 Today, As Survey Delves Into Who's Watching by Online Media Daily

Citing research into the use and consumption of online media for political campaigns, Les Luchter finds that although "traditional media reigned as the overall choice...for getting 2008 campaign news, with 86% planning to use TV and radio for info about the candidates, and 63.5% planning to use newspapers and magazines," online sources are becoming more important, and the demographic group most likely to tune in to online debates may surprise you.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


All Time Greats

Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)

When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial.

It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads.

Email newsletter advertisements
Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick.
The average CTR for indust…

How to Use SEO: Leverage SEO To Be Found Online and Boost Your Online Marketing

All businesses that want to attract customers online, no matter the business size or age, have few options other than Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 
There are roughly 1.8 billion websites online, and basic SEO allows Google to find and index or catalog your webpages. 
After that, Google serves you up to searchers in the organic section. The question remains: where they list your site, on page one or page 22 or further back? SEO controls your positioning.
Do you want to be found online or not?
If your business is online or you want your product or service to be found online, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must, and knowing how to use SEO to leverage the power of the internet is vital.
Arguably, an effective SEO strategy gets you on the organic results section of the search engine results pages (SERP). Organic traffic is highly valuable and requires high-quality SEO. But even businesses that use limited or basic SEO techniques will benefit. 
It doesn’t matter if your business …

Twitter Twaddle, Part 2: Best Practices, Tools and The Future of Twitter

This is the second of a two-part series. Part one covered what Twitter is and why it's cool; this post discusses Twitter etiquette, tools, and speculation about its future.

How to Twitter Properly

Like any other social setting, Twitter has its own etiquette. This can be confusing to new users. (And, as you can see by spending more than a few minutes on Twitter, it's apparently elusive to many long-time users as well.) Margaret Mason has written an outstanding primer on Twitter etiquette, offering advice such as watch your ratio ("If only a few people follow you, but you follow a thousand or more, many people will assume you’re a spammer. That’s because you probably are. Go away, spammer."); never Twitter if you're drunk or high; and most importantly, "remember that everyone can hear you."

The brilliant Mike Volpe of HubSpot takes a different approach to offering his advice in 5 Things On Twitter That Annoy the Crap Out of Me. His practices-to-avoid incl…

Twitter Twaddle, Part 1: What Twitter Is and Why It's Cool

Most Web 2.0 sites fall into one of a few increasingly well-defined categories, such as social bookmarking (Digg,, Searchles), social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) or file sharing (YouTube, Flickr, podOmatic). Twitter, however, stands alone. (Okay, there's also Pownce, but Twitter is better.)

Self-described as simply a real-time short messaging service and often referred to a microblogging platform, to those new to it, Twitter resembles nothing so much as a giant cocktail party where everyone talks at once and hopes others listen. You can tell who's important by how many "followers" that person has, though that's no guarantee anyone is really paying attention. People (or rather, Tweeple in the Twitter lexicon) can come and go without really being noticed, just like at a real (very, very large) gathering.

Twitter can be difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with it. Jennifer Laycock writes that Twitter is like Post-It notes; lots of them and in mu…

Google and the Parable of the Turkey

In The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the life of the turkey: for 100 days, the turkey is sheltered, fed and cared for by the farmer. The turkey grows to trust the farmer completely, even perhaps developing a fondness for the farmer (and of course the feed). Then, on the 101st day (with Thanksgiving quickly approaching), the relationship between the turkey and the farmer changes abruptly and permanently. The rationale behind the farmer's apparent benevolence become clear in a final flash before the turkey takes the necessary step preceding de-feathering, vacuum-packing, freezing and shipping off to the market.

Taleb's lesson for us from this: don't be a turkey. More succinctly, don't assume that the future will resemble the past, or, in the words of mutual fund prospectuses, "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Also, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Of course, that doesn't take into account the perspec…

SEO Link Spam - What Is It and Who's to Blame?

Over the years, unscrupulous black hat SEO scammers have used a variety of tricks—keyword stuffing, link farms, white text and others—to try to manipulate search results, and the algorithms used by Google, Yahoo and the other search engines have evolved to identify and squelch the effectiveness of such nefarious tactics.

A more vexing issue for the search engines is dealing with link spam, not only because it is difficult to detect and address algorithmically, but because there isn't even a clear definition. As a website owner, the term represents emails like this:

Dear webmaster,

As a part of ongoing campaign to increase the Link Popularity of My website I am looking for some good potential sites like yours. I review your site and find that, in SEO perspective your site is Perfect. Also, this would be a great resource for my visitors too.

I would request you to consider listing my site.

Title:- My Spammy Website
Description:- miracle weight…

WMC Interviews: Albert Maruggi

This week, I had the chance to sit down with Albert Maruggi, principal of St. Paul-based marketing agency Provident Partners (and huge baseball fan). His agency assists companies in a variety of industries in all areas of marketing, with particular expertise in PR, events management, integrated marketing and podcasting.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before founding Provident Partners?

Albert Maruggi (AM): Worked in radio for a number of years. I was a television reporter and anchor. I also shot and edited video for news stations. I was a political reporter who made the jump to being a press secretary for a Member of Congress. From there I became Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee and then held public affairs management positions in the Bush '41 Administration.

WMC: How, when and why did Provident Partners get started?

AM: When I could not get my flight from LA to MN on September 11, 2001 I drove back home. I did a lot of thinking on that trip and I made tw…

Email Click Rates Stable in Q3 2017; Open Rates Decline

Email click rates in North America have failed to increase on a year-over-year basis for 18 consecutive quarters, per Epsilon’s latest quarterly review [download page] of client activity. The Q3 2017 report shows the average click-through rate at 3.1%, consistent with the year-earlier period. That in itself could be considered a success: click rates had been trending down for several years, with each passing quarter seemingly registering a drop from the preceding year’s rate. But if – and it’s a big if – click rates are stabilizing, that doesn’t mean marketers are out of the woods yet. Now it looks like open rates are a concern: the average open rate of 31.2% in Q3 2017 was down from 34.1% during the year-earlier period, and marked the third consecutive quarter featuring a year-over-year decrease. That comes after a sustained period of growth in open rates. Clearly these are aggregate trends – and individual results vary – but they’re nonetheless instructive in understanding overall …