Finally, a great local digital conference: Digital Summit Denver

ImageIt’s finally here! A world-class digital marketing summit coming to Denver!

Please, all, try to get to the Digital Summit Denver being held June 17-18 at the Denver Performing Arts Center.

The latest in digital marketing news

Hello Readers!

After a 5 month break, I am back! It’s clearly not best practice in digital marketing to leave readers stranded for a while, but I am hoping you found other sites on the internet to get your digital marketing tips. :)

Here’s what I have been up to since my last January post- all exciting things in the world of digital marketing:

  • mShopper Ken BarberMoved on from my start-up in mobile commerce – They are doing amazing things in the world of increasing mobile phone conversion rates for retailers. Please check them out if you are a retailer needing to boost mobile sales, or have a client who is getting a sub-1.0% conversion rate for phone users. And add the blog to watch list, since they provide hard-to-find posts on things like improving mobile commerce findability, how to select a mobile vendor, and how to increase mobile sales via SMS.
  • The Search Monitor Ken BarberStarted working at a very exciting marketing software provider called The Search Monitor. The Search Monitor provides two extremely helpful services to marketing departments at clients or agencies:
    1. Competitive Monitoring: Give us any vertical, company name, or list of keywords and we can tell you everything you wanted to know about their search marketing activity, including number and names of advertisers, number of ad variations, average ad rank, copy of PPC and organic ads, SEO listings, CTR, CPC, monthly ad budget, local listings, listings for news and videos, and even the offers run inside the ad. We can do this for every country in the world all the way down to the city level. Amazing stuff – your campaign performance will improve with this kind of visibility into competitive and industry best practices.
    2. Compliance Monitoring: Give us any vertical, company name, or list of keywords and we can make sure your brand is being protected and your affiliates are complying with your program rules. Yes, your affiliates would dare do such a thing as act in their own financial interest–and we have lots of proof–so it pays to use an advanced, automated compliance monitoring service to keep a close eye on them. and alert you when any of your program rules are broken 
  • CU Leeds Business School Digital Marketing ClassStarted teaching the only Digital Marketing class at the University of Colorado’s Business School (Leeds). I have worked with a professor there since 2009 to get more digital marketing offered to the business school students, and we finally have an amazing class taught at both the undergrad and MBA levels. Topics include:
    • Website development and usability, including semester-long assignment “How to drive traffic to a website”
    • SEO and PPC
    • Social Media, including assignment on Listening to Social Media
    • Email marketing and marketing automation
    • Mobile marketing and commerce
    • Display Ads
    • Digital Marketing Analytics
    • Content Marketing
    • Careers in Digital Marketing
    • Case Study on local Boulder business
    • Ethical dilemmas in digital marketing

8 surprising things Black Friday Weekend taught us about search marketing

Happy 2014, readers!

Wanted to share The Search Monitor’s infographic about Black Friday weekend in 2013. It provides some compelling data points about how retailers used search marketing to drive record online sales.

Click the image below to view ‘8 surprising things Black Friday Weekend taught us about retailers’ search marketing strategy” by The Search Monitor.


Monitoring your search marketing competition: a business necessity

Denver-Business-Journal-Ken-BarberThe word “spying” definitely has a negative connotation at first. Call it “competitive market research,” however, and it quickly becomes an essential business activity.

Whatever you call it, having insight into your industry and specific competitors leads to better decision making than if you were operating in a vacuum. If a competitive golfer only benchmarked his performance against a personal best, he would be unprepared to face other golfers who had been training against each other and the best golfers in the world. The more precise and realistic the benchmark, the more likely you are to improve your performance.

Search engine marketers, in particular, can benefit from increased competitive knowledge. Search marketing is a competitive sport at its roots since advertisers are forced to bid against each other to determine where ads show and what they pay.

A search marketer well-versed in his competition can make simple changes to a campaign — such as bumping up a cost-per-click or borrowing ad copy from the market leaders — and improve performance significantly and quickly.

Further, the major search engines make it extremely easy and inexpensive to test different marketing approaches and campaign settings and get the results very quickly. The result is that the industry is always improving and if you don’t know what’s working, you will fall behind.

Highly effective search marketers need access to three things:

1. Benchmarks for their particular vertical. Comparing themselves to electronics if they sell bath soaps isn’t going to help.

2. The names and performance of the leading advertisers in their vertical. This tells them what’s possible in terms of maximum performance — so they do not sell themselves short — and who they should be researching closely on an ongoing basis.

3. Actual performance of specific competitors. This data will tell them how to perform to stay competitive, and what they must do to steal share from the competition

Many search marketers don’t realize that this data is readily available. A whole industry has built up around monitoring search engine activity and selling it to search marketers.

What exactly is available? You’ll be surprised. For starters, you can discover how ads from your competitors appear to searchers. More specifically, you can learn what they say, what rank they show up in, how often they appear, when they start and end, and even in what parts of the country they appear.

You can also find amazing engagement data, including clicks and click-through rates and what retailers spend for these clicks (example: cost-per-click and even monthly ad spend).

The next common question is: How is this data collected? These tools use automated scripts to ‘crawl’ the web as often as every few hours and record everything they see. The really good tools crawl the web from different locations—both in the US and globally–to paint the richest picture possible. These tools then combine this screen-capture data with other data sources and proprietary algorithms to produce a broad and deep portrait of industries and competitors.

A few popular companies providing competitive search monitoring tools include: SpyFu, iSpionage, KeywordMonitor, and The Search Monitor.

How do you select?

  •  First, the data must be precise. Precision is a function of how often websites are crawled and how many data points are captured. Precision also comes from how rich the data is. You want lots of history and lots of categories.

One last note on precision. Make sure you select a company who has been monitoring search engines for long enough to be able to accurately estimate the harder-to-get metrics such as cost-per-click and monthly ad spend.

  • You also want lots of control. You want to be able to select your own keywords or have the tool tell recommend keywords to look at. Control also includes the ability to customize the data to produce benchmarks for your specific industry and competitive set. It doesn’t help if your competitive data only compares you against the Walmarts and Amazons of the world.
  • If you are a retailer, make sure to select a tool that monitors Google’s new Product Listing Ads (PLAs). The future of search is definitely more visual and retailers need to know how to best leverage this new ad format.
  • Lastly, you want to avoid vendors that simply take what Google puts out for free — which is infrequently updated and not that detailed — and then re-packages it.

Go ahead, spy on your competition. Everything you wanted to know about the search marketing activities of your peers and your industry leaders is available. If you pass it up, you can be sure that many of your competitors won’t.

NOTE: This article originally appeared here in my Digital Marketing column in the Denver Business Journal on December 23, 2013.

Infographic: Best practices in contact form creation

Wanted to share a great infographic on the best practices for creating lead capture forms on a website. The creator of the infographic (Singlehop, a cloud computing company) aggregated lots of findings from different companies.

When you read it, you definitely see that there is a trade-off between completion rates and quality of the lead. With anything in marketing, I would recommend just testing multiple versions of your forms to find the happy medium for your audience.

Was definitely surprised by the following two findings:

  • The 1st person (‘my’) worked better vs. the second person (‘your’)  —  I would never had thought yo say something like ‘Start My Free Trial’
  • ‘Click Here’ was the most effective call to action —  I thought we were smarter than that, that we needed it to be spelled out so clearly. But hey, apparently simple works!)

Nice work, Singlehop!


Wine of the Month club video impresses with focus on customer service

Wine-of-the-month-club-customer-service-video-ken-barberWanted to share this video I just came across while shopping for gifts for the holidays on It’s from the original wine of the Month club, started in 1972.

It stopped me in my tracks because of how genuine it is, how unscripted it comes off, how they focus on in-sourcing vs. outsourcing, how they have a no-questions-asked guarantee, and especially how the CEO gives you his personal email at the end and tells you to contact him if you are ever unsatisfied with the wines.

You just don’t see customer service that good these days. Well, Zappos is the last company that I saw that was this laser-focused on customer service!

Tips from Neil Patel: Growing your blog readership exponentially

kissmetrics-grow-blog-readershipJust listened to an amazing webinar by Neil Patel about how anyone can grow a blog’s readership exponentially. In his case, he grew the KISSMetrics blog from 0 to 350K readers. And then did the same with a few other blogs. He’s the real deal.

A few of his tips, then, definitely watch the webinar

Create amazing infographics!  Tips:

  • He created 47 in 2 years, spending an average of $600 each. He outsourced the research and insourced the design
  • Make sure the data is actionable, not just interesting. Needs to make someone say…”I can use this to help me do my job better”
  • Use 5-7 points
  • Make sure it is beautiful!

Create amazing blog posts! Tips:

  • Use simple words and use the word ‘you’ often to create a connection with your readers. Italicizing also works well for creating a conversation feel
  • Be very detailed and use lots of keywords. Google rewards these posts (think wikipedia)
  • Use how-to topics and lists, which get shared. Also, prove your points.
  • Hook your readers with amazing but proven headlines. See this post for examples.
  • Show your authority. Tell people where else you have posted, how many years you have worked, etc.
  • Care about readers. Respond to comments

Promote your content! Tips

  • Create a list of bloggers, website owners, and twitter account owners.
  • Become a guest blogger on these sites. Use a template for outreach to these blogs, asking if you can contribute
  • Find guest writers from other blogs that are proven to be effective – look for lots of comments and shares and followers. Don’t be afraid to pay for blog posts!
  • Link out to bloggers – get them to know your out there
  • Ask for a tweet (And offer a tweet in return!)
  • Email website owners
  • Create a Top 100 list (and then distribute badges…interesting idea)
  • Leave comments on other blogs
  • Buy readers (this is an interesting one)

Monetize Your Readers

  • Here, the presenter changes and he walks through how the KISSMetrics software helps follow users from a blog to the other more important parts of your website



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