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What are the secrets to Internet marketing?

I was honored to take part in a panel discussion at the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising (OMMA East) Conference in New York City and I am pleased to see how mainstream search marketing has become. Not only was it the topic of my panel, but it was a big part of the keynote address to the entire conference. But the biggest message is one that is even more important than whether search marketing is the latest effective tactic. If you can measure the impact of what you do, and keep trying things, you will eventually succeed at search marketing and any other kind of marketing.


Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer kicked off OMMA East with a warning to Chief Marketing Officers—you’re in danger. The average tenure of a CMO is less than two years. Geoff says the reason is that most CMOs can’t measure the impact of marketing spending in terms that CEOs can understand.
Geoff related a typical CEO rant: “What happens if I cut 10% of your marketing budget? Don’t know? OK, then I’ll cut 20%!” He emphasized to the audience that measurements are the key factor in changing the way we do marketing and that Internet marketing (including search marketing) can be measured and its impact can be shown.
He went on to say that the new way of marketing depends on measurements to show you what you are doing wrong so you can make course corrections, even quoting my approach of “Do it wrong quickly—and then fix it.” I agree with Geoff’s bottom line: “If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t working.”
All of which was a great introduction to the next speaker, Cammie Dunaway, the CMO of Yahoo!, who provided the audience with excellent insights of what to try first, based on her Yahoo! experience. Cammie emphasized that no matter what you try in online marketing, you are playing excellent odds, because the Internet makes up only 6% of media spending but is 15% of consumer media usage.
And Cammie was refreshingly honest about how her background before coming to Yahoo! did not prepare her for the Internet. She admitted that “My instincts are not well-honed here” and that she is constantly being told by her experts that an ad that she hates is working well and is a good message online. That’s why measuring what you do is so important—metrics are what the experts use to determine that a particular campiagn is working.
She was insistent that her blind spots are far from unique, and challenged the audience: “People need to know that tacky pop-up ads are not the state-of-the-art in Internet marketing.” She went on to list some best practices in Internet marketing and showed excellent examples of how Yahoo! follows them:

  • Match your creative to your target. She showed a great example from Yahoo! Personals on gender targeting. Women want to see a picture of a couple with a relationship message (“Find your one”), whereas men want to see an attractive woman with a different message (“See who’s out there”).
  • Connect emotionally. Yahoo! Sports hawks its fantasy leagues with their “Rekindle the rivalries” slogan because guys love to set up their football team each year and compete again.
  • Communicate a clear benefit. It takes more than just emotional appeal—find the single most important thing and make sure it comes through. For Yahoo!’s desktop search offering, “we radically shortened the process for finding files,” says Cammie, so that was the basis for the pitch.
  • Use meaningful activity. Engage your customer—let them search for jobs right from the ad page. Get people involved. Yahoo! is even allowing search from within the ad—customers can enter zip codes to see where to buy in their area.
  • Integrate the customer experience. As we emphasized in our book, Search Engine Marketing, Inc., you should use the same graphic on the ad, the landing page, and even on the product page itself. Cammie showed how the latest campaign for Yahoo! PhotoMail does just that.

But Cammie’s biggest message is about metrics. The only way she knows that these are best practices is because Yahoo! measures everything they do, so they can do more of what works. Cammie suggested several metrics that may help you, ranging from surveys that measure impact on brand awareness and brand perception to the length of time spend on an ad. As I have pointed out in the past, you can use search marketing to measure brand awareness, but you can also measure impressions, clicks, and most importantly, conversions and revenue—all of these were on Cammie’s list also.
Are you measuring your marketing effectiveness? If not, take a page from Cammie Dunaway and Geoff Ramsey and learn how to do it.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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