Monday, August 31, 2009

Discussion 7

For my blog, the visitor engagement could be measured through the metrics such as their average time on the site and the number of return visits. If these viewers are truly engaged, they will return constantly to check out the new offerings of my blog. One other tool is the content overview, which was a bit disappointing because my blogs were rarely opened for comments, which I begged for. (Thanks Benay for the only comments!) By blog had a very low average time on the site, which was just under a minute. This tells me that I should have or could implement something more user friendly and attractive, unless my content was just not what they were pursuing. One of the most disappointing metrics, however, was the lack of success with my facebook. For a month and a few weeks, I promoted heavily through this social media tool but to no avail. Only one referral through Facebook occurred, although I have very few friends on there that are interested in marketing. The bounce rate was high at 80% but then again everything could be seen with a single view until the last days of the course, but the time reflected that they couldn’t have actually read much. Engines and direct traffic were tied with 38% of visits with referrals taking 23%. My map overlay was interesting and showed visits from the UK, Japan, and India, which was not expected when we started. My blog seemed effective at bringing in new visitors, however, with 2/3rds being new to the site, although sadly I only had 31 visits.
With this blog, I counted on Facebook to bring in visitors but should have kept tabs on its lack of success so I could seek out other methods sooner. My email address book has only a few people in it, so it wouldn’t have been effective but could have shared about the site with friends and family to get the viral marketing going, especially if they were to send it to their friends and family, post it on their facebook, etc. I also wish I would have continued to add the discussion questions to my blog more diligently so it could bring in visitors due to key words. For example, Frito Lay marketing was a keyword that brought a visitor to my site and other searches could have brought even more. With a small budget, I could have made simple fliers or advertisements for the different subjects/keywords that my blog focused on, although the fliers would be difficult to trace as far as success unless I implemented a survey into the blog, which could have been a unique challenge. Also, I would have delegated some time/resources into seeking out and adding other professionals, students, and respected bloggers to become friends with or follow their blog so that some of their traffic would bounce over to my blog. If I did any sort of advertisement, it would be geared toward this same demographic, although fliers would have to be more specific, such as a room full of potential marketers. Although I first thought the analytics were just a bunch of complicated code, Google actually breaks it down very well and explains everything in simple terms, especially when you click on the ? above the titles for results. They do a great job of tracking visitors and their behaviors to help marketers guide their efforts more effectively and address any irregularities. If you guys are interested, you should look over by 6th bulletin for an interesting issue referred to as click fraud. This is something that our knowledge of analytics could help us battle in the business world to preserve our resources.

Discussion Question 6

In the lectures for this course, we discussed the many opportunities that technology has made possible, especially in the world of Emarketing. In reading this article, I learned about a unique new challenge for marketers today: click fraud. The article starts out with some background on a karaoke company in Arizona that has seen a major increase in the number of clicks from paid search engine ads. This increase in clicks has been to the magnitude of four times their normal level of traffic. The twist to this company's situation, however, is that there has been no lift in sales and a loss of profit despite this skyrocket in traffic. Traditionally, they would convert 2000 dollars of expenses into 6000 of sales. In sharp contrast, the company has lost over 400,000 in 2.5 years, showing clicks are made with no intention to buy. They have traced this loss to their competitors who use strategies to force them to burn up their advertising dollars on viewers that never turn into sales. They have even used hitbot software that automatically generates clicks on their page, although some companies use small teams of workers. Although click fraud auditing tools can be used to fight this, it usually costs more to do so than just spend it on advertising. Furthermore, search engine companies are rarely willing to give up advertising activity records. These two challenges make it very difficult for any company to fight back and are forced to just factor this cost into their advertising budgets. I was very surprised that this actually happens in the real world of business and also could lead to the ineffectiveness of search engines- many engines may lose their accounts with companies if the online advertising gets too exensive due to worthless clicks and some, such as the company the article was about, actually lose money by advertising online. Hopefully some of the larger search engines can take some measures to combat these issues with search engine marketing and the auditing software and consulting becomes less expensive. In the end of the article, it said that an ex employee of the competitor emailed an anonymous tip with a video of automated fraud software making clicks on the site, burning through their advertising dollars.

Discussion Question 5

For this bulletin board assignment, I chose to cover Dillard’s. This retailer is positioned in a very unique place: it uses a differentiation strategy to offer high end products to customers who can afford it. They are in the upper end of clothing retailers and have appeared relatively flexible with their strategies over the past years.
The competition for Dillard’s is mainly the other upper end retailers consisting of Nordstrom’s, Saks 5th Avenue, JC Penny’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and other specialty, fine retailers. This retailer offers many upper end brand names that cannot be found in other stores and has built partnerships with high end companies like Coach, , Ugg, Dooney and Bourke, and various others that have distinguished their brand. One other thing that comes to mind in our geographic area is the existence of Dillard’s in a place with relatively no competition, which leaves you with no choice if you want affordable luxury goods. In the recent years, however, I believe they have differentiated themselves by creating more store-owned, high quality brands that they offer at lower prices to give an alternative to those not looking to pay quite so much. Although my first instinct would have been that this would dilute the high end name they had initially established, that seems to not be the case. They also use a pricing structure that allows for major discounts on lots of items, specifically through drastic clearance reductions. Specifically, they offer 30% off clearance prices somewhat frequently throughout the year. I believe, however, that their primary source for differentiation is the high level of service they provide for their customers. This covers everything from first impression of store layout, clothing adjacencies and display, customer interaction and knowledge, on up to return policies and other methods to enhance the experience. For example, I have been personally greeted on various occasions in different stores by the store manager, which is a rarity in the retail world of that scale. Although competitors may offer similar service levels, they also come with higher price tags or may not have as much variety in goods, such as kitchenware, appliances, and others that Dillard’s offers.
The target market for this company is generally covered by a successful, more sophisticated customer base that is looking for reasonably priced luxury goods. Traditionally, they targeted older customers with more refined tastes and were the place to go for top end women’s and men’s dress clothing. In recent years, I have seen that Dillard’s has placed its focus on catering to a younger, trendy base as well by offering a variety of brands like Ed Hardy, Sean John, RocaWear, EckoRed, Sinful, and various others, but has not compromised the sophisticated appearance of its stores to do so. They have targeted this larger market well, and I would probably recommend they simply continue to do so because pursuing a larger market may prove trying to their success since they are already after such a large base. If they were to offer any lower priced goods, it would run the risk of hurting their high end image. For the younger, trendy segment of their market, Dillard’s does a great job of getting the best brands and make them a very exclusive item. They do this through many in-store displays, as well as extensive online and TV advertising. These show exclusivity and show the biggest names modeling products. Furthermore, they tend to have a knowledgeable sales staff that matches the area in which they work. There is definitely specialization for the different departments, unlike many big box retailers that have the same person running maternity and junior section.
To improve their strategies, I would recommend they do more advertising online and also offer a bit more publicity with their brands: in larger cities I have often seen stores that will model their clothing out in the malls to build the image of the store and display all that they have. They may also reconsider their slogan, “the style of your life,” since it seems a bit out of date for this younger market. Their website, however, is easy to navigate and does display the high fashion theme well. Overall, Dillard’s is placed well in the luxurious fashion industry and has proven flexible with their strategies over the past years and are not afraid of change. They have maintained their positive brand image as well and should have no problem remaining their position in this business if they continue to harvest their relationships and industry knowledge.

Discussion Question 4

For my discussion question, I reviewed “Consumers Have Changed, So Should Advertisers” By Augustine Fou. This article addresses the ever-changing business environment and the provisions that marketers must make to their efforts and the new expectations that consumers have. In the past, marketers would just throw their marketing efforts out to the masses and hope that some target customers would take the bait and it would eventually turn into a sale. However, he comments that in this day and age, consumers to target are “harder to find, block advertising, and have new expectations paired with irreversible habits.” I find this very true and relevant, which tells me that all marketers need to severely step up their efforts in order to gain or maintain their competitiveness and stay up on the newest trends. Because the advertising dollars are a scarce resource, we as marketers must do all we can to stretch them to the fullest and as discussed in class, remain focused on ROI and focusing on conversion to actual variables(sales, visits, brand image, etc).
Consumers Search Rather Than Navigate: In this section he breaks down the demands of consumers in today’s market and discusses the importance of a properly formatted and easy to navigate webpage, paired with the ability to search for information in an efficient manner. In today’s digital age, it is a demand and expectation from consumers that information they are requesting is available aat their fingertips.
Consumers Want Information Now Rather Than Later: This section is a very relevant one to all of us I am sure. As an end user we expect at the very least information at a moment’s notice and various opportunities at our fingertips. This is tied back to the availability of technology in our world and we cannot handle a wait for anything with the expectation to have our needs met.
Consumers Want Lots of Information: This is also tied back to the availability of technology in our lives, and we all utilize it to search for more and more information. If I see an ad on TV, I am enabled to immediately search for more info on the internet and in the same sense, expect information to be effectively disclosed to me or I may not bother to investigate it further.
Consumers Seek Trusted Sources for Information: Amidst years of distrust from the government, corporate scandals, and other sellers, consumers have come to trust only people like themselves. In our class discussions, everyone trusted consumers like us and very few trusted our political leaders and similar figures. For example, Wikipedia has numerous editors who catch issues almost immediately and can often be found more credible than publications and the like.
Consumers Prefer Collaboration Over Isolation: This is very true in our world where we rely on one another through our various networks for information and use the channels for communication to facilitate those relationships. This also stretches out to things like epinions, Zagat, and the like to get credible information.
How Marketers Should Respond to the Irreversibly Changed Consumer: He gives various tips in this section for how marketers can leverage their understanding of marketing to the new consumers in this digital age and how to best overcome their challenges ahead of them. These are the following recommendations he made which are very relevant to us in this new world of marketing that I would like to share:
• Consumers won't ever stop using search to find what they want in their own terms so marketers should deploy search on-site if they don't have it and make their information findable by search.
• Consumers won't ever want less real-time information and communications so marketers should make their information easy to access and use (e.g. on mobile devices) and respond in real-time to customer complaints or compliments.
• Consumers won't ever demand less information so marketers should make lots and lots of information available and let the users judge for themselves.
• Consumers won't ever just take an advertiser's word for it so marketers should create venues and mechanisms that allow people to judge the trustworthiness of the information.
• Consumers won't ever be alone in making a purchase decision so marketers should facilitate the sharing of information and empower others to review and recommend their products.