Category Archives: Tech Talk

Success is a .07% Click Thru Rate??

Facebook, the current darling of Wall Street, is being hammered in the stock market today, down some 10%+ based on their earnings just released.  Why?  Simply put — because their sales were lower than expected.  I think I know why.

In a recent article on Mediapost titled: “Is Clickthrough Rate Still A Good Measure For Success?”, in the body of the article is the punch line from recent Facebook Ads engagement data:

“More statistics emerging on Facebook advertising statistics. I still am baffled that marketers are so lathered up about them. POINT-ZERO-SEVEN percent CTRs?”

I have to admit I am too. The writer went on to talk about “a program last year that generated a 14% conversion rate” (now that’s not bad). The friend/experts response was even better:

“…Don’t doubt there are some instances. But when the CTRs are on average that low, I can’t fathom why a medium or small business would even try…..”

What is interesting about this remark is that in their recent earnings call, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg offered that sales to local SMB’s were “… the holy grail of the Internet” and that Facebook is uniquely positioned to capitalize because of the 7 million businesses that market from their Pages each month.

I turned to the fountain of all knowledge on the web for another comparison point, Wikipedia, to get this gem about CTR’s in general:

The average click-through rate of 3% in the 1990s declined to 0.1%-0.3% by 2011.  Since advertisers typically pay more for a high click-through rate, getting many click-throughs with few purchases is undesirable to advertisers….”

Gee, you think so?

Someone help me out here.  If CTR’s are less than half a percent, why would any SMB spend money on Facebook when even a direct mail campaign would bring better responses for the targeted area that business is after???  Has a sub-one percent response rate become the new definition of an “effective” advertising campaign on the Internet?

And people say print Yellow Pages is irrelevant these days?  Seriously?

 

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It’s always the right time to advertise in the Yellow Pages

The nice folks at American Express sent me an article about when the best times are to tweet and post on Facebook, times when you can get the maximum exposure.  These emerging social media are examples of  new platforms that some marketers are frothing over to use their advertising dollars on, I assume to help grow their businesses.

Any guesses??  Early morning?  Late at night?  For the record, beyond the YPTalk.com website, I use both Twitter and Facebook to share business information with the greater industry, but have always been a bit doubtful that these platforms could ever really attract and retain customers anywhere near as well as Yellow Pages.

The source of this analysis was Bit.ly, the URL shortening service which recently analyzed retweets and clickthroughs that tweets get when they’re posted at certain times of the week and times of day. Bit.ly also analyzed Facebook links.

And the results were….

Time to Tweet:

For Twitter, peak traffic time for Twitter in general is around the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST window, Monday through Thursday.  As an marketer, your best chance at getting the most clickthroughs is 1 to 3 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday.  Posting after 8 p.m. should be avoided and Bit.ly even noted in a blog post: “….Specifically, don’t bother posting after 3 p.m. on a Friday, since as far as being a gateway to drive traffic to your content, it appears that Twitter doesn’t work on weekends.”  Wow.   That doesn’t sound like a very effective advertising platform.

More depressing news is that the half-life of a link on Twitter is something like 2.8 hours.

Getting More Likes:

For Facebook, traffic starts to pick up about 9 a.m., but Bit.ly suggests waiting to post until 11 a.m. Facebook traffic begins to fade after 4 p.m.   The absolute highest number of clickthroughs comes at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, with links posted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. picking up the highest average clickthroughs.  Links posted after 8 p.m. and before 8 a.m. perform terribly.  As with Twitter, weekends are less than ideal.  But if you miss Wednesday at 3 p.m. there is always next week.

The Bit.ly analysis conflicts a little with a study from last month by Buddy Media, showing that Thursday and Friday were better for engagement on Facebook. One possible reason for the difference was methodology as Buddy analyzed 200 clients’ Facebook posts over a two-week period, in addition to the comments and Likes spurred by those posts, whereas Bit.ly focused just on the sharing of links.

As a disclaimer of sorts, Bit.ly adds that it is important to keep in mind that these times are meant only as “a guide”, and may not apply to breaking news. In addition, the ideal post times may vary by a  particular business, customer, or type of content.

Yellow Pages:

So let’s take this theme a little further.  When is the best time for someone to use a print, online, or mobile Yellow PagesAnswer24/7/365.  Results are not limited to 1 to 4 pm EDT on alternate Thursdays.

So why should a savvy SMB advertise in the Yellow Pages?  Answer:  to be available to those buying customers  24/7/365.  Three examples of why that’s important:

  1. Do you know when a strong wind is going to blow down your fence (as mine just did several weeks ago)?
  2. Can you predict when the garage door opener is going to jam and not work (as in the door will not open so I can’t get the car out of the garage) like it did on a recent holiday for me?
  3. Why is it  that the dog always seems to get sick and need professional veterinarian care on a Saturday evening?

I’m sure you can think of dozens of other similar life events that occur when you least expect them, or even those purchases you know you need to make for something you are not an expert in.   Where would you turn?  Facebook?

It may not be very sexy, but the Yellow Pages work, every day, weekend, holiday, at any time the need arises for a local product or service.

 

 

Does your company have a disaster recovery plan?

The last few weeks, and just this weekend, have seen the startup of a very unpleasant part of spring in the Midwest – dangerous tornadoes.   These terrible natural disasters can be devastating to life, property and personal belongings.  But they can also ruin an otherwise successful businesses.

Back in 2005, we wrote about disaster planning in this YP Talk article.  Many of the comments we made at that time are still true.  For example, in just the area of IT related disasters such as a major loss of business data, 43% of companies never reopen, 51% close within two years, and only 6% will survive long-term (source).

How much should you spend to develop and implement your plans?  Estimates vary but by example,  most large companies spend between 2% and 4% of their IT budget on disaster recovery planning, with the aim of avoiding larger losses in the event that the business cannot continue to function due to loss of IT infrastructure and data (source).

Disaster recovery is a broad topic covering more than just IT and data.  Considerations need to include buildings, people, customers, financial, etc.   Here is a partial list of events that could affect your company:

  • Data security (virus, denial of service, unauthorized access)
  • Telecom failure
  • Power outage
  • Data center hardware/software failure
  • Structural fire (internal)
  • Water pipe break
  • Gas/chemical spill or leak
  • Physical security (workplace violence, terrorism, etc.)
  • Natural disaster (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, wildfire,      etc.)
  • Labor disputes

Given the human tendency to look more on the bright side, many business executives are subject to ignoring “disaster recovery” because disasters seem like such an unlikely event, and will never happen to their business.  If you are in the camp, let me offer you one example of how naïve that thinking can be.

While I was working for a large publisher, our operations were based in the lower level of their secure data center, on its own security controlled property, with all of the latest innovations to prevent most disasters.  I’m sure we thought we were totally safe.  But then we arrived one morning to 5” of standing water in the lower level of our building from a blocked sewer connection just 50 yards outside the building property. Our phone systems were fried, anything on the floor (such as pc’s) was ruined, and we were displaced from the building for over a week while cleanup was done.  And our plan ….. didn’t exist.  It took months before things got back on track.

Here are some general steps we offered in our 2005 article that on developing a disaster recovery plan:

1) Determine the impact of being out of business for X amount of time.
In the middle of a major book campaigns, the answer to this question can be expressed in monetary terms: “We would lose $xxx,000 in sales/potential revenue in a day if our sales effort was stopped.” But you should also consider customers who won’t be served, print windows that may slip, customers already served that have now gone out of business, employees that are still hoping (expecting) to get paid, etc. etc. etc.

The purpose of this step is two fold. First, it provides you with a benchmark against which you can access the costs of varying levels of redundancy and backup (in some ways-not all-more protection means more money). Second, it will help position each part of the business within the context of the organization’s priorities (e.g., which function must get restored first).

2) Identify potential threats.
A disaster recovery plan, like an insurance policy, is most effective if all the risks and threats are realistically identified. While hurricanes and earthquakes do happen, most threats do not arrive in dramatic, news-making fashion. You will need to prepare for water damage (from broken pipes, backed up drains, failed condensation pumps, roof leaks, ground or flood water, discharging fire sprinklers or the fireman’s hose), fire and smoke damage, component and network failures, cable cuts, power losses from blackouts and brownouts, sabotage and lightning strikes. Given the integrated information world most mid to larger size company’s operate in, you will also need to identify how your systems will behave if a key component goes down-e.g., what happens to calls when/if a major telecom link fails at a remote site?

3) Take Preventative Measures.
As you identify potential threats and areas of vulnerability, preventative countermeasures will emerge. Hardware and networks are protected primarily through redundancy and diversity in equipment and services. Specific steps usually include subscribing to services from multiple carriers, deploying fire detection and suppression equipment, working with suppliers to identify critical system components you should keep on site, equipping your system for power backup and ensuring you have good wiring and adequate power line protection against lightning strikes and voltage surges.

Regular record keeping and off-site backup is critical to prevention. Key information and database files should be regularly backed up and stored both onsite and offsite.

Let’s not forget about your most valuable resource – your employees. Home and mobile contact numbers for key people should be collected. Do you have a plan if you need to totally relocate the whole operation (yep, moving the whole shebang to an alternative site)?.

4) Develop an Escalation Plan.
An effective escalation plan outlines appropriate responses to each potential disaster and specifies the thresholds at which they should be deployed. It should address the following:

  1. What constitutes a disaster?
  2. Who in the organization declares  a disaster and puts the disaster recovery plan into motion? How can they be reached?
  3. How will key people inside and  outside the organization be notified of a disaster, and what roles will they fill in the recovery effort?
  4. What’s the appropriate escalation plan for the disaster, given its type and magnitude?

The plan should be simple to understand, easy to follow and up to date. For example — plans and vendor references in the disaster impacted area should contact the ABC-based Disaster Recovery Team at 123-456-7890 or at http://www.<ourhomepage.com>/disaster-plan.

5) Practice and Update the Plan.
Your carefully constructed plan will be of no value if it sits on the shelf during a disaster. Reviewing and practicing recovery plans may be reminiscent of school days, but these drills are worth a lot more than nostalgia. Many disasters happen quickly and without warning. People have to know what to do!   We just had our tornado shelter drill last week.  When have you scheduled yours??

These are just some general thoughts. We’d like to hear what your company is doing in this area. Drop us a note at ken@yptalk.com.

Surfing Web NOT The Same Thing as Buying Locally

Yellow Page publishers take note — a growing number of Americans are going online for fun, or to just kill time.

That’s not just my opinion, it’s the findings in a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey talked with 2,260 U.S. adults from July to August. On a given day, more than half (53%) of those 18-29 year olds go online for no specific reason except to have fun, and 81% use the Internet as a diversion at least occasionally.

One of the perceptions vs. reality comments I often hear is that “young people” (that famous 19-35 year old age group) never use print yellow pages. Based on this confirming research, those comments are somewhat correct. But the fact remains it is not as if they are on exclusively going to the web to shop/buy either, at least not during the majority of the time they are playing around. The findings do point to the extent to which the Internet has become a competitor to other types of advertising media, since things such as “watching TV” and “listening to radio” can now be done online. For example, Americans watched a record 42.6 billion videos online in October (comScore data). And for those that follow the stock market, you may have noticed the new $1 billion IPO that Zynga filed on Friday for a company that is in the growing online social gaming segment.

More results from the survey show that 58% of American adults overall (and 74% of those online) go online for fun at least sometimes, up from 29% in 2000 and 40% in 2005. The shift toward more people going online for fun cuts across various demographic segments. For example, the proportion of whites, African Americans and Hispanics using the Internet as a diversion has increased between 25% and 28% for each in the last decade. In terms of gender, the share of men and women doing so has roughly doubled to 62% and 54%, respectively. Similarly, large jumps were seen across varying education and income levels.

The main point being that just because “everyone” is online/using mobile apps, doesn’t necessarily correlate that all of their buying activating is constrained to those media, or even in using those media exclusively for their shopping/buying information.

Given that reading a print Yellow Pages has never been confused with “having fun” or “killing time”, the ROI that a local advertiser can expect from their Yellow Pages advertising program is still solid…

Tech Talk – How will new electronic gadgets impact Yellow Pages print usage?

A recent Pew Internet & American Life bimonthly report – Americans and their gadgets provided some interesting stats on how the “digital” world has exploded far beyond the traditional PC desktop and is now showing some significant impact to many industry segments.  But will it also impact print Yellow Pages?

The pace of adoption of new, lower cost tech toys into everyday life is certainly startling.  No long are the hot new toys only available to just the tech geeks.  The average consumer has a dizzying array of devices they can now choose from which offer the “anytime, anywhere” access to news, information, friends, and entertainment.

Some of the key findings were:

  • 85% of Americans now own a cell phone. Cell phone ownership rates among young adults (18-29 year olds) has now reached an eye popping 96%.  For this demographic, mobile phones have almost become a “necessity” of modern communications.  How did we use to survive without them?
  • 76% of Americans own either a desktop or a laptop computer. Since 2006, laptop ownership has grown dramatically (from 30% to 52%) while desktop ownership has declined some.
  • Just under half of American adults (47%) own an mp3 player such as an iPod, an exponential five-fold increase from the 11% who owned this type of device in early 2005.
  • E-book readers (such as the Kindle) and tablet computers (such as the iPad) — the hottest new toys are still relatively new arrivals to the consumer technology scene and are owned by a relatively modest number of Americans.  Expect that to change after this upcoming holiday season.
  • Adding it all up, eight in ten American adults (78%) own two or more of these devices.

So where does all this leave the Yellow Page industry?

First and foremost, who is going to work with small businesses to recast their advertising messages onto these new media? Obviously their traditional advertising programs will need to be modified, updated, and resized to work in each of these different digital worlds. Publishers clearly understand this need as they have begun to reposition their sales teams as true multimedia consultants who were delivering leads to the doorstep of the advertiser and asked they not be as focused on what the platform is.

Secondly several publishers have indicated that despite the perception that the print product usage is rapidly declining in larger metro areas, call tracking volumes continue to go up. This isn’t possible if people aren’t using the print books.  Print is NOT dead, and won’t be for a long, long time.

Clearly we are headed towards a more diversified digital world with the advancements now available across a wide range of technology. For these new platforms to succeed robust, informative, and accurate content will be needed. When it comes to small and midsize business advertising, the yellow page industry is ideally positioned to be the supporting provider across all of these platforms whenever they are ready for local advertising information.

 

Tech Talk: SuperMedia Adds QR Technology To the Mix

SuperMedia today announced it will be integrated Quick Response (QR) code technology into its Verizon(R) SuperYellowPages directories, Frontier(R) Superpages directories, and SuperpagesDirect(R) direct mail.  By scanning and clicking on the code consumers can download the free SuperpagesMobile(R) application, view and search from their local Superpages home page, register for SuperMedia’s free SuperGuarantee(R) program and view online local coupons.

new QR code from SuperMedia

How it Works

  1. First you may need to download a QR code reader application to your smartphone/iPhone/Driod (if your phone doesn’t already have one). Most QR code readers are free.
  2. Access the QR code reader (which will act like a camera in most ways) and take a picture of the QR code appearing on the covers or in the SuperYellowPages.
  3. A picture of the QR code with the Superpages.com URL will appear on the screen.
  4. Click on URL and be taken to your local Superpages.com page where you can download the SuperpagesMobile app or to an array of local online coupons.

Our Take:

Interesting use of new technology.  Very hip and current.  Like that it also linked to the traditional print product sources.  But at end of day will it drive more usage???  Not sure.  Jury is still debating.  We need to give it a chance.

Kudos for making the effort.  How will their sales reps position it with their client base???

Twittering Away

You can now follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KenYPTalk