As many of you know, we run a seminar on using a blog (specifically WordPress) as a content management system for a business website. The news section of The Next Wave site (where you are now) was added in January of 2005 and now accounts for most of the traffic on our site.
Although we got an early start on having a website (our first site went up in 1994) and we soon figured (back while everyone was still on dial-up) that Flash wasn’t the way to build an entire site (later we looked really smart- since search engines and Flash don’t go together very well)- we were pretty slow to realize how important webstats are to providing customer feedback and marketing opportunities.
The reason: when our content didn’t change often, neither did our web stats. That all changed with the news/blog- and analyzing web stats has become one of the most important parts of our seminar. As you add content- people find your site using different search terms- and link to you for different reasons- these are all opportunities to do business or learn about your customers.
It’s how we decided to begin the seminars- and it’s also taught us a lot about how to build websites for our customers- so they can get more customers. Just like there are keywords- or trigger words in print advertising (Free- being the “best” one), search terms can tell you a lot about your customers hot buttons. For us, guerrilla ad campaigns, viral marketing, and non-traditional advertising have been hot topics- as have low-budget ads. In a highly competitive media environment, it’s become obvious that just spending more on traditional media isn’t a cost effective solution. The flip-side is, many of these potential clients aren’t willing to pay for the services to get the “more bang for your marketing buck” to the agency for coming up with the “big idea.”
One of the places we find the big idea for a client- or at least get a start on the idea, is by searching through their well crafted website stats- where the search terms can show what’s on customers minds. Think of a website stats package as a way to eavesdrop on your virtual sales floor- as if you had a way to listen to every single customer that had an interest in your products.
When we land a retail client, we like to do site studies- where we observe customer interactions with our clients staff, the environment, the product, the sales process- and then make suggestions on improvements. We also visit the competition and do the same analysis. We want to discover what drives your most profitable customers to shop with you – and how to find more like them. We can do the same with visiting your sites backend- analyze, review, and build new strategies to connect and close the sale.
To repeat what we’ve said before– it’s imperative for a business to post all marketing materials online, in a place with a unique url link, and in a format that can be shared. Let the customer print your ad, own your TV spot, be able to listen to your radio spot over and over if they so choose. Even better- let them link back to your page, comment on the ad, be able to find out everything they can about it- because it most probably is what brought them to your site in the first place (isn’t that the reason you ran the ad in the first place).
One of our most popular posts was where we scanned and posted a BMW motorcycle ad, and placed the copy in a Google friendly format (remember, search engines can’t read flash- or the text in the contents of a jpg file) – another was where we compared an Apple TV campaign to a Burger King TV spot– which brought us mad traffic for information on the BK spot. For all the creativity Crispin Porter Bogusky showed in the BK spot and the strategy, they made it hard for people to find out where “I am man, hear me roar” came from.
So instead of driving people to Burger Kings site, where they could have been rewarded with a special offer, or discovered additional information about the product- like the exact ingredients in a Texas Double Whopper- they were on our site.
One of the outcomes of the BMW ad- is that when people search for “BMW motorcycles in Dayton” they end up on our site- and are disappointed that we were mentioning that our market has lost it’s closest dealer- partially because BMW hasn’t been successful at driving traffic to the shops- in our opinion, because of lackluster advertising and a poor web strategy.
We are now getting a lot of traffic on our site for people searching out answers to marketing questions- so we’re starting a new category: Practical marketing 101. We will be writing about ways to build successful marketing plans- utilizing well built websites as a basis for formulating sales plans that generate high traffic- especially for smaller businesses- independent businesses and our favorite type of client- the underdog.
We hope this helps you understand what The Next Wave means when we say we aren’t just an “ad agency”- but a source for marketing and innovation.
What do you think?