With a lot of press attention surrounding the already popular Wikipedia website, Hitwise data shows an increasing trend in market share of visits to this site, which ranks at number one in the Hitwise Education category, and number 44 in All categories.
The chart below shows the trend in market share of Visits to Wikipedia.org and NYTimes.com since February 2005. Wikipedia.org overtook NYTimes.com in mid-September 2005.
Hitwise is the world's leading online competitive intelligence service. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories.
By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights on how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment, in efforts such as search marketing, affiliate programs, online advertising, visitor segmentation, content development and lead generation.
Hitwise collects internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Founded in 1997, Hitwise is a privately held company, headquartered in New York City and operates in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. More information about Hitwise is available at www.hitwise.com.
Designing a website via internal stakeholder committee
Take a look at any random corporate homepage, and you will notice they all have something in common: poor design. Too few corporate websites are actually designed with the end user in mind (prospect, customer, partner, shareholder, Google, etc.). As such, the sites lack intuitive navigation, appropriate architecture hierarchy, relevant keywords, or clear calls to action.
The primary reason for the lack of user-centered design is that most websites are built by a host of departmental managers, who have ultimate say on colors, fonts, images, and copy. The problem with committee-based design is that each representative makes decisions on their personal tastes and preferences versus those of the site's intended user.
The frustrating part is that larger companies have available resources and budget to "do it right" with focus groups, surveys, and other forms of user testing, yet rarely bother to ask or even listen when valuable feedback is provided. The most common mistake in corporate website design is failing to ensure every page of the website has a clear call to action relevant to the content, user, and your own business objectives.
Managing digital marketing campaigns to impressions, clicks, or budget forecasts
In the "Mad Men" days of yore, marketing (particularly advertising) budgets were set based on limited historic and forecasting data. More recently, budgets during the dotcom heyday were based on generating "eyeballs." Today, any marketer worth his or her salt will be managing all marketing (digital and otherwise) based on conversions and ROI.
The days of managing paid search campaigns to achieve a No. 1 position in Google, spending $50,000 a month on Yellow Page ads, or buying a 30-second Super Bowl spot, and not measuring the impact on revenue, are dead. Instead, companies should be managing paid search, print, and broadcast advertising based on conversion rates, whether it be a target cost-per-action/acquisition or relative ratio.
Paying third-party vendors to represent your brand in social media
We all know social media is the shiny new penny with marketers these days. Unfortunately, vendors have been able to exploit the opportunity by selling their "expertise" and becoming "brand advocates" out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites. In this scenario, social media "experts" lurk on Twitter, forums, and blogs and look for opportunities to "spread the word" about clients' products or services, not fully disclosing their relationships with the companies.
The most common excuses for outsourcing social media management include a lack of internal resources and overall proficiency with social platforms. My response: Every employee, partner, and shareholder is a potential social media evangelist. In regards to the lack of proficiency issue: Hire experienced consultants or agencies to help develop the overall strategy and provide necessary training and support. There is a big difference between getting help with strategy and having someone represent your brand when they've never purchased or used your services or even visited your offices.
Let us not forget that that social media is an inherently transparent community, and stakeholders will lash out against companies that are quick to outsource its brand. The issue is not unlike outsourcing customer support call centers, which can also damage your brand by providing a poor customer experience. Unfortunately, these experiences are then shared on social media for all to read, thereby compounding the issue.
Beyond the potential dangers of brand erosion from customer backlash, legal liability is also tremendous when outsourcing. A third party might not understand industry regulations on what can and cannot be disclosed via social media. The bottom line is that nobody knows your brand better than your employees, partners, and other advocates. Let them spread the good word, not a low-paid college graduate working from home.
Doing black hat SEO
In 10th grade, I learned the hard way that cutting corners doesn't pay off when my Spanish teacher caught me cheating on a test. Google, like my Spanish teacher, penalizes websites that fail to follow its rules. Unfortunately, large corporations are just as capable as small businesses of "cutting corners" in the world of search (and paying the price).
So how do you know if you've cut corners in Google's eyes? The first rule of thumb is to put your "end user" cap on and judge whether or not the website experience is positive. Is the content in search results relevant to the page once I click through? If not, Google might feel you are pulling a bait-and-switch.
Google has developed a detailed set of guidelines for search-friendly website design. If you follow its rules, you will be much more likely to rank for desired search terms. Bing and Yahoo operate on very similar terms: no IP-spoofing, redirects, hidden or duplicate text, etc. To boil it down, do good marketing, and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
Renting email lists
In the fall of 2001, I joined forces with two friends to form an email marketing agency, emailROI. We realized there was a tremendous demand for a reliable, yet affordable email marketing platform for small and mid-sized businesses. Those same companies also benefitted from our strategic consulting and creative design services. Unfortunately, we quickly ran into a problem: list rentals.
Some of our bigger brand clients (think world's largest retailer and one of America's largest emergency relief organizations) felt the only way they could effectively reach new audiences was through renting email lists from brokers. Even early on, we realized renting email lists was not a sound strategy, as few brokers and list owners properly groomed their lists.
Against our best wishes, these companies pushed forward with significant list buys, resulting in a large number of spam complaints. Our clients then threatened to sue the list brokers and owners for selling names of people who did not expect or want to hear messages from third parties. At that point, we adopted a company policy not to advise or provide our clients with email lists for rent or purchase.
With the understanding that building an email database in-house is still a highly effective sales and marketing strategy, how then can a company grow its list? Some of the more effective methods of building a house email list include: direct (mail) marketing, co-registration (email) with partners, contests (via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook), and most importantly, search marketing.
Of course I'm biased toward the use of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) directing toward key pages on your site with an email registration as a call to action. The ideal scenario is to embed an email newsletter registration into your website template (every page), followed by registration for demos, trials, and content like seminars and white papers.
Sending unsegmented or untargeted emails
Perhaps one of the most egregious but all-too-common obsolete marketing strategies still in use is the regular email blast to a house list. Most commonly occurring as monthly newsletters or weekly email promotions, far too many companies send the same email to the entire list.
Sending one email to thousands if not millions of people with varying needs and interests is an efficient way to generate unsubscribes and generally disengage prospects and customers. Although email targeting and segmentation has been available to marketers for more than a decade, too few companies make a serious effort at leveraging the capability to maximize response and conversion rates.
Spend the time to understand your email list by digging deep into the analytics and contact profiles. Consider expanding available data points by surveying your list. From there, create and target content based on the indicated preferences and demographic and psychographic information. Watch the value of each subscriber increase exponentially, with incremental effort.
In order for a business to succeed in this increasingly complicated and noisy digital world, marketers must let go of obsolete ideas and embrace the concept of continually testing evolving techniques and technologies. What worked yesterday won't necessarily work tomorrow.
P&G "Thank you, Mom"
In this advertisement, Proctor & Gamble celebrate the less-appreciated, behind-the-scenes contributors to the success of Olympians. It touches us in a way that is hyper relatable -- to fall and fail and get back up again. The story told in this advertisement is powerful and makes its viewers want to share.
Tomcat "Dead Mouse Theatre"
Now, these ads are just weird, but strangely effective. Tomcat produces mouse-killing bait and it decided to take a spin off what the bait actually does -- kill mice. It created a sort of "theatre" where these dead mice go to play and act out strange scenarios that most of the time don't make sense. But, you leave after watching these ads, knowing what Tomcat does and very intrigued by its marketing strategy.
Carlton Draught "Big Ad"
This is taking beer to a whole new level. The perfect balance of humor and seriousness, the clip features the most serious of soldiers who are heading into a battle to get drunk. The ad is from 2010 but resurfaced this October. Just a sign that sometimes humor can help with longevity.
Not every famous photograph was taken with a Leica, but Leica impacted the taking of every photograph. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Leica camera, Leica released a video advertisement that recreates 35 famous photos. It's delightful and beautiful and absolutely memorable.
Adobe "Mean Streets"
I can't write an article about good advertising without mentioning Adobe's mean streets ads. These ads take cultural stereotypes within the marketing industry and add a layer of humor that marketers can relate to. Adobe Marketing Cloud honed in on its specific audience and built an advertisement completely tailored to them. Click, Baby, Click achieves the same level of humor and relatability as well.
Morris the Cat "Cat's Eye View"
The 9Lives cat food ads are all over YouTube, but after 20 years away, the brand launched a new campaign including a cat wearing smart-cam glasses. Sure, it's a play on some of the best memes on the internet, but who doesn't love a cat plus wearable tech all in one video?
Samsung Galaxy Tab S "What you really need"
In this incredibly charming ad, real-time couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are captivated by the Galaxy Tab S. The ad follows them through some of their daily routines, and when they're given the opportunity to actually leave their house and experience real life, the Galaxy Tab S draws them in and keeps them watching. The ad is creative and clever and also leverages the adorable couple to their full potential.
IKEA's "Experience the power of bookbook"
Now, this ad is just funny. For the 2015 print of their IKEA catalog, the brand created a parody video that mocks the predictable Apple advertisements showing just how easy it is to flip through a print catalog. "If you want to share a particularly inspiring item, you literally share it" is one hilarious quote among a sea of well-written Apple spin-offs. "It's not a digital book, or an e-book. It's a bookbook."
Bissell Symphony "Subway"
Ravi Dalchand really believes in his product. And honestly, it's disgusting how he proves it. The senior brand manager at Bissell Canada leads a product demo that is both impressive and vulgar at the same time. Well, at least they succeeded in the shock factor, right?
Audi "Barely Legal Pawn," feat. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston united outside of Breaking Bad? Yes, please. The duo play colleagues in a sketchy trade -- running a pawn shop together. Julia Louis-Dreyfus tries to pawn her 1996 Emmy so she can pay for a private island she bought in a fit of FOMO on Celine Dion. Now, this is funny and a great way to bring these stars together, but the correlation between the skit and Audi is a bit of a stretch.
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"Businessman share the work with a tablet" image via Shutterstock.